Reader Reviews - Chapter 11/Recent
TealEyedBeing: Aw, sorry! But I'm really glad that you liked the story enough to be sad about the lack of new chapters! Gah, I love writing for Luffy and Zoro! Especially in these kinds of extreme situations. I think their personalities really shine through in tough times. Happy that you like the way I portray them here though! That means a lot! ^^ Hope you like this chapter and continue reading!
Seriously (ann.): … I know. -.-' I'm SORRY. It was a terrible cliffy, and if I ended the story there I'd be the biggest jerk in all of jerkdom. But! I didn't! So I hope you can forgive me. :P
NothingIWon'tGive: (Heeey, nice username! I'm a big Vic Mignogna fan myself~ 3) Oh goodness. I think that's the most serious threat I've ever gotten from one of my stories. Haha, but I'm glad you like it! Just don't have withdrawals, then I feel like a bad person! D: Hope you continue to enjoy it! Thanks!
Falcon Dragina: I am continuing! I promise! I know, it was super mean to stop at such a cliffy and I apologize! Hope you like this chapter!
Merucha: Hahaha, actually that's what I thought when I first came up with the idea of the title. XP I used to be a HUUGE Linkin Park fan, so that's probably where part of the inspiration came from!
Yuu13: Bahaha, I know. I tend to love writing cliffies. :P Though I never intended for you to wait a year for it to end…. For that I apologize. -.-' Thank you for reviewing a few times! I really like it when readers take the time to do that. :) I'm glad you like the story and hope I can be more consistent with these updates. : /
Lenighma: Wow. First of all, thank you for reviewing so much! Like I said in the last response, I really appreciate it when my readers take the time to review each chapter because I know it's kind of a pain. So thank you! Jeez! Three years, huh? That's rough! Well, I wish the best of luck to you! I hope you can still revive your fic! Thanks so much again for all the wonderful comments!
BlackxValentine: Thanks for the multiple reviews! :D Really glad you like the story! Yeah, Zoro's got a tough time ahead of him… Let's just hope he can stay strong! Thanks again!
cy-grl:Thank you very much! Hope you like this installment! :]
Merucha: Oh my gosh, thank you! That's such an awesome compliment for me! It really makes me happy that you liked the story enough to actually start an account! And YES, this fic is NOT DEAD. I will continue it to the very end, no matter the roadblocks! Thank you again! Hope you'll continue to like this story!
(ann.): Yeah….. So incredibly sorry about not updating like a reasonable person. -.-' I feel pretty darn bad… Anyway! Yeah, I'm really mean to poor Zoro. XP Aah, he's kind of a 'tough guy'. He's trying to hide as much pain as he can from his Nakama. Zoro? Die? Well, I don't know… The poison's pretty bad. You'll just have to keep reading! :D Thanks again for the review~!
Zephyr (ann.): Well thank you for the detailed review! I love those. :D Thank you very much for the compliments! Yes, there truly is never enough Zoro/Luffy friendship moments… Not even as much as I try to include them! XP There should be plenty more coming up though, so I hope you'll keep reading! That's okay; you don't have to review for each chapter. I know how that is. XP Leaving nice reviews like this is just as good I think! Haha, hooray! I think you're the only reviewer who has mentioned the Kite Runner reference I used. :] As well as the only one so far who mentioned the Thriller Bark-ish foreshadowing in Luffy's words. Kudos! Yup, Luffy finding out about the time limit on Zoro's life is gonna be intense. No telling when it will be though! ;) Thank you again for the lengthy review~!
AvinaCandela:Thank you for the understanding! XP Aah, a month or two isn't that bad! Now EIGHT months… Eeep. Thanks for the review! Hope you like this chapter! :]
roronoa94: Thank you so much! It really excites me when readers say that they made accounts on the site just so they could read my work! ^0^ And thanks as well for saying that you think this could actually happen in the anime/manga; that's always important! Well, poor Zoro's going through a rough time. I guess we'll just see what happens! Hope you enjoy this chapter!
Sarill: Aww, thank you so much! That's a really great compliment! :] I'm glad the characters seem in character to you! Really hope you continue to read and enjoy this story, despite my horrible tardiness with the update!
ZeldaAddict42:Zelda-chan~! (I think I might just call you that from now on in these Reader Reviews; I do it with all my very favorites ;) ) Haha, that's okay; I constantly get distracted after reading chapters and forget to review. XP Baha, I make Zoro seem like he's going to die to torture my dear readers, dontcha know? :D While Zoro may be going through a tough time, Sanji's having some issues as well! Glad you addressed those! ;) Haha, that's true, isn't it? I've never seen any low-ranked Marines smoke… Though I figure if you're as scary as some of the higher ups are, they would let you do whatever the heck you wanted. XP And yes, Luffy has a peculiar talent for knowing just what to say when the time is right! As for Robin and Chopper telling Zoro…. Read on, my friend! :D (I'm pretty sure that's my favorite smiley) Thanks, as always, for your lovely reviews! I do enjoy reading them every time! Hope you like this chapter as well!
kallakkala: Ah, I know what you mean about taking breaks from FF. As you can see, sometimes I'm gone for a LONG time. XP Anyway, thanks for the review! I'm glad you like the story! And I do hope I was able to update this while you were still alive! XD
Sora-chan: Congrats, Sora-chan! Only very, very special reviewers get to have nicknames on my Reader Reviews! :D Yup. Poor Sanji. I could never pass up an opportunity to torture him as well as the marimo! :P Yus! Things are about to get tense at this Marine Base! And Zoro, of course, is progressing pretty fast. But he's trying to hide as much pain as he can from his crewmates, you see. He's Zoro! Yeah, Robin is a very good watch guard! Haha, probably the best on the ship, actually. XP As for her info on the poison, you're just gonna have to reeeeeead~! :D Haha, yes, I imagine Sanji would be trying his hardest to stay relatively cheery during this horrible time! And that's perfectly okay; cheese and humor are both good! Whew! Well, in that case, I'm not quite dead to you yet. That's a relief! I'm sorry for the uber lateness! Thanks as always, Sora-chan; I love reading your reivews! :D :D
Yahoo (ann.):Haha, first of all, I like the name. XD Thanks so much! Oh, It's totally fine if you can't draw! I will take a devoted fan over artwork any day! :3 Thanks for that! So SO sorry this is so dreadfully late. : / Aww, thanks! Hugs! Hope you like this one!
kakashifan7: (Diggin' the username first of all! ;D ) Thank you! :] I'm glad you find it helpful! I'm always afraid of completely confusing my readers. Plus, sometimes there are just funny little quips I have to add. :P Thanks again! Hope you keep reading!
zoroluver003: Oh noes! Don't skip dinner! O.O Food is important! Nevertheless, your review made me very happy! :) I was actually having kind of a bad day when I received it in my email, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! So thank you! :3 I take it as a huge compliment when readers say that my stories could happen in the actual One Piece story! Hope you keep enjoying this story!
callosum: Aww, that's alright! You have no idea how often I skip reviews on chapters. Bahaha, that's okay too! Flail away! I'm always happy if my stories can inspire flailing. XP Yesss… Commander Gorgon means business! I guess we'll just see how he plays out in the story! Yeah, the Luffy part was difficult for me simply because I knew what I wanted Luffy to know, but I was concerned about how much he was talking to Zoro about it. But thanks! Glad you thought it was good overall! Momentum is good! Hope you enjoy this chapter and the upcoming ones! I hope to be more consistent in the future!
ArabianNinja:Oh my goodness, if you actually were able to draw something, that would be absolutely SWEET. No pressure though! If you have the time! If not, that's completely fine. ^^ I really appreciate the thought though! Yeah, the last sentence was a little bit of a slap in the face for Chopper. XP Poor thing. I'm so mean to the entire crew! I guess we'll see if Zoro makes it or not, huh? I really hope you like this chapter! Thanks for the review, and the willingness to draw a picture for this story! XP
Red Voident Dragon:… Did you change your username? O.o Maybe I'm crazy… Anyway! I'm glad I surprised you! Aww, thank you! That's really awesome! Don't feel pressured to hurry and draw something though! I really appreciate your saying you'd give it a shot though! :3 Really hope you continue to like this story!
cb O chan:Time is ticking away, it's true! Well thank you! :D I'm glad you appreciate the research! I didn't want to just start making things up. XP Thank you very much for the review! Hope you like this chapter!
-RoronoaToki-: Haha, I think you're the first reader to call the cliffy 'awesome'. Kudos! XD I hope the invasion is written up to snuff for ya! Thanks! I always love writing for scenes with Luffy and Zoro. Those two are just such besties~! Really? That's amazing! Thanks so much! Don't feel pressured to have the picture done super fast. (I know how that goes!) I'm just happy you're making the effort. :] Thanks again!
Iryann: Y'know, I re-read your fic 'Wind With Ice' (That's what it's called, right? For some reason, its name always eludes me! ) for like the third time a while ago while on a horrible Writer's Block for this story. I really love it! 3 Anyway! I digress! Ahh, I love cliffhangers far too much, I'm afraid. XP Thank you so much for the compliment! Keeping the crew in character in really important for me, so I'm always happy when readers say I'm doing a good job at it. Hope you enjoy this chapter~!
KiaCoral: I'm sorry! I've been absolutely horrendous about updating! T.T I feel really bad…But I'm glad you like this story enough to be impatient for the updates! Hope this chapter will be up to your expectations! Thanks for the review!
PaperBagGhost: Haha, hooray~! I'm not the only one who unhealthily like cliffies it seems. XP Suspense is indeed good. I'm glad you keep enjoying it more and more! That's exciting for me! :] WOOHOO! A Franky thumbs up~! That's awesome! :D :D Hope this chapter keeps you liking the story!
Duchess92: I am indeed alive! Even after this long nine months… It's been a tribulation for sure. Hahaha! "Spidey-senses"? That's awesome. I'll be honest with you; I've never thought about Sanji's nightmares like that. XD But I'm glad you think they serve a purpose! I didn't want it to just be Sanji fan service angst. (Which it is to an extent, really) Thank you for patiently waiting! Hope this chapter keeps you wanting more! :]
Hiding In My Writing: (Ooh, I like the username! Nifty! :D ) Haha, that's really how cliffhangers work, right? You love 'em but you hate 'em at the same time! Yikes… If Zoro's time limit was set in with our own time in the real world, he'd be long dead and Luffy would have hunted me down… *shivers* Scary… O.O Anyway, thanks for the review! Hope you like this chapter!
Velkyn Karma:I always smile when I see that you've reviewed for the chapter. I love your long reviews. :] Glad you liked Sanji's thoughts! He, Zoro, and Luffy are probably my favorite to write for in One Piece. I'm sorry about your mom; that must have been very difficult for both of you. But I am glad that you can sympathize with Sanji though; that kind of relieves me in a way. Yes, Gorgon is kind of a suspicious man that way. We'll just see what happens~! Yup. The cards just keep on getting stacking against our poor Zoro. The little Marine group has quite a task ahead of them! Thanks! Glad you thought so. Yeah, I've gotta admit, I was super nervous about that part. There were a bunch of things that I wanted to add in to just show how wounded Zoro really is, but I was worried when I finished because Luffy really doesn't usually talk that much… : / Glad you still thought the interactions were in character though! Thank you for the well-wishing! I do hope that the horrible Block will leave me alone for at least a little while. It's quite awful… Hope you like this chapter too! I appreciate your lovely long reviews! :D
AllBlueChaser:Haha, I really don't blame you. It's been a long time! Even longer now! You'll probably need to go back and reread, to be honest. XP Thank you though! Sanji's having some tough times, the poor boy. I really enjoy causing him pain WAY too much. Hope you like this chapter too!
lochrann: I say this a lot, but I really love cliffies. A lot. :D And SO SO sorry for the horrendous late update. I really need to be better about that. Bahaha! Gorgonzola? That's awesome! XD Y'know, I think you might have given me an idea for later on in the story…. *thinking* Anyway, yeah, he's pretty scruffy and scary and all that. :P That's true! Zoro has lost a LOT of blood on several occasions… Let's just hope he survives this, eh? Thank you for the review!
Taryn Steambattle: Thank you for the compliment! :) Hahaha! I think you're the first reviewer to actually tell me that I'm mean to Zoro! XD It's true though; I can't deny that at all. Sanji WOULD be quite angry if his brother died. ;) Thanks for the compliment about the withdrawal! I was nervous about making sure that it came on as realistic! Haha, yeah, I think Sanji is picking up a few personality quirks from Nami! There's no shame in being a Chopper fan girl! I am too! XD Whenever I write for him I just feel all warm and fuzzy. Thanks! I've been concerned with the length of Luffy's little 'speech', but I'm glad you found that it worked out! You're right; I'm pretty sure the True History is one of the only things Robin DOESN'T know about. XP Hoo boy, if you think the Marines are in trouble NOW…. :D Thanks for the nice review! Hope you like this chapter!
Pom Rania: Yeah, Zoro's pretty frustrated with himself right now too. :P Aw, thanks~! That's totally okay! I'm sure you don't fail at drawing, first of all, and if you even do any quick doodles send me a quick message. I'd love to see it if you ever got around to it! That said, no pressure to draw one. No worries. :] Oh no! Coughing up blood is never good! Well, I'm glad it's not some serious horrible thing… Anyway, thank you for the review! Hope you enjoy this chapter!
borednerdsunited: Yosh! :D The next few chapters are going to be pretty action-packed, so let's hope the StrawHats can keep their strength up! Haha, that's totally fine! XP They're OC Marines, plus they don't get a whole lot of screen time, so that's totally understandable. Hooray! Glad you liked it. I do enjoy writing for a serious/angtsy Luffy every now and again. ;) I'm pretty sure Robin IS psychic in some ways! She always seems to know things that other people don't! Uwa! I know! Zoro? Die? I am just that cruel to the crew and my readers. XP But I'm glad you liked it! Hope you continue to! Thanks for leaving constant long reviews! I appreciate it!
-Arashi-Storm-Guardian-: Yus… Time IS ticking away for the crew… I'm glad you're getting excited! That's definitely the response I'm going for in the next few chapters especially! My goal is to keep it building up! Glad you like the Nakamaship as well! It's definitely underrated I think! We could always use more! :D Thank you for the review~! Hope you like this chapter! (Sorry it's so very late… -.-')
So, due to the horrendously late posting of this chapter of From the Inside, I would highly recommend that you guys go back and reread, just to get the story back in your heads again. You certainly don't have to, but as the author I feel like it's been such a long time since I've updated that more than a few of you will be a little fuzzy as to what's going on. Maybe you'll remember as you read, I dunno! It's just a suggestion. :]
Also, on a separate note, I'd like to thank each and every one of you for being patient with me and for giving me SO many wonderful reviews. For this chapter's Reader Review section alone, I typed up five pages. WOW. That's the largest amount I've ever written for that section for any story. So thank you guys so, so much. You readers are truly what makes writing this story special for me. I really appreciate your input. :D
On that note, I hope you enjoy this (horribly) late installment~!
"Holy crap, it's huge!"
Usopp stood with his mouth slightly agape, trying to remain as cool as possible. He swallowed, "So that's… Red Fetter."
The giant base loomed over Flagship #12 as it slowly sailed into the harbor. What looked like hundreds of smaller buildings surrounded one very large building in the center. 'MARINE' was plastered on the huge white building, boldly proclaiming itself to the world.
There were tons of other ships, Usopp noticed, stationed at this harbor. It even seemed like they completely encircled the manmade island. And though he knew this was all part of the StrawHats' plan, he couldn't help but feel frightened by coming straight into the front of the base. The infamous base, he reminded himself, where even some of Gold Roger's men were executed.
The rough voice from behind startled Usopp. He quickly turned around to see a corporal staring at him with a hard gaze. Corporal… Oh crap, what was his name?
"Y-Yes, sir!" The sniper saluted, trying to act as confident as he could. Unfortunately, he couldn't hide all of the stuttering.
"Step lively, Ensign," The corporal stated, "I know that we've come back again after a month, but you shouldn't be so on edge."
"M-My apologies, sir! I suppose I'm just a little excited to be back!"
The corporal smiled in a soft friendly way that caught Usopp off guard, "I know, Ensign. You have a wife here, right? I'm sure she's ecstatic that you're coming home again."
For a split second, Usopp's face froze, "…Wife? Shit! I-I have a WIFE?" The sniper frantically thought back to when he was looking over Kappei's file. He thought he memorized everything important! His rank, age, unit, fighting capabilities, years in the service… "Holy crap…" The man was hit with an epiphany, "I FORGOT TO LOOK AT HIS BACKGROUND!" Usopp could just picture Sanji kicking him into tomorrow. How in the hell could he forget to look at something so obvious! Of course they would have family back at the base! Didn't Nami say they lived there?
"Quick! Hurry you idiot, just roll with it! Before he gets suspicious!" Usopp yelled at himself mentally. He made the best attempt at a smile as he could, "O-Oh, yes sir. I hope so. I sure can't wait to see her again. Wow, Usopp, way to make it sound as cheesy as possible."
The corporal clapped Usopp on the back, "As you were, Ensign. We're almost there now."
"Yes sir," Usopp saluted as the man walked away. He sighed in relief when the higher officer was out of sight, "That was close…" He muttered to himself. Suddenly startled by the yells of other soldiers, Usopp remembered to go back to his job of manning the starboard sails. He hoisted his leg up to the railing where he began to grip the ropes. He was thankful that ship procedures were basically the same here as they were on the Merry…
Usopp looked over at Red Fetter, a determined frown set on his face. A vision of the green-haired swordsman popped into his head, "Zoro…" He thought, "We're almost there. Don't you worry, we'll get that antidote for you. Then you'll be all better again."
Chopper's hooves shook. How could he have made such an error in the diagnosis? He thought he did everything perfectly! He never messed up… Not like this.
Robin's brow furrowed as a drop of sweat began to work its way down her face. This was horrible news… She would never have expected the young doctor to be wrong in his diagnosis of their swordsman. He always seemed to be so thorough with his work.
"… It may not be your fault, Doctor-san," the archeologist said after a moment of thought. Chopper looked up at her confusedly. The hopeless look on his face was enough to even make Robin's heart sink, "It may very well have something to do with the poison itself. How it was designed, I mean. After all, Swordsman-san didn't seem too ill of health when you examined him a few days ago, correct?"
"No!" Chopper quickly said defensively. He backed off a little, looking down at the floor, "Well… He was still sick because of the poison…" The defensive look came back as his gaze moved back up to Robin, "B-But it wasn't anything that would have cut his time down so severely!"
"Exactly," Robin nodded, "I'm sure that your examination was flawless as usual, so really, there is no other explanation for how Zoro's condition could have gotten so bad so fast. It must have something to do with the structure of the poison."
"Y-You think so…?"
Chopper's body shuddered with a sigh as he settled onto his stool. It literally looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He rubbed his face with his hooves, bringing out dark circles under his eyes. His voice came out in barely a whisper:
"… I don't know what to do, Robin…"
"We'll find a way to fix things, Doctor-san," The woman reassured him gently. She felt a great amount of sympathy for the young reindeer, "We've reached the base, so now all we have to do is lay low and wait for Navigator-san and the others to find the antidote and make it back to us. I bet it won't even take them a day."
"… Really? Well, I-" Chopper suddenly looked startled, "Wait, Robin, where are we going to be hiding? It's going to be really hard to hide a big ship like this!"
"Ah, that's right. You weren't there when we examined the map Navigator-san procured… Well, conveniently for us, Red Fetter is surrounded on almost all sides with tall jagged rocks; much like cliff faces, actually. This is said to be a 'man-made island', though in all reality, it was likely built on top of a platform of rock protruding from the sea. What I'm getting at is-"
"Oh! We can hide out by those rocks!" The little reindeer exclaimed in a sudden revelation.
"Exactly," Robin smiled at his enthusiasm.
Zoro gripped his swords instinctively as the Merry grew closer and closer to the base. His eyes narrowed on the target. Part of him groaned mentally when seeing how huge the place really was. But another part of him- the stronger one -didn't give a damn about the size. It just wanted the poison to be safely out of his body so that he could get on with his freakin' life.
Luffy stood by his First Mate loyally, staring up at the base with a hard expression on his face. Normally he'd be jumping up and down, yelling about how cool this place looked and how excited he was to go in, but this situation warranted slightly different feelings. It definitely excited him to see a new place that he'd never been to before, but the young Captain had heavier things weighing down his mind; namely his swordsman. He didn't know a lot of things about the whole ordeal, but he knew that Zoro was in trouble and that he needed his Captain and crew to help him. And that was all Luffy needed to know.
"Excited, Zoro?" Luffy asked the man without looking at him. A large somehow ferocious smile took up his face; one he always wore before an adventure started.
Though this was a serious matter, the rubber boy couldn't deny the amount of energy he felt at the idea of breaking into a huge renowned Marine Base responsible for killing some of the most famous pirates around to find a cure that they weren't even sure was there. It seemed like an impossible mission. Luffy liked that.
"Who do you think you're talking to, Captain?" Zoro smirked at Luffy before turning his gaze back to Red Fetter.
Luffy laughed, "Guess that was a pretty dumb question!"
Suddenly, the boy seemed to notice how Zoro's left hand started tapping its fingers on the railing. The other hand was wrapped around his white sword. His favorite. Zoro never told Luffy much about himself besides the basics, but that white sword seemed to mean something very special to him. He certainly favored it over his others. Luffy wasn't about to pry, though. That was Zoro's business.
Zoro was anxious, Luffy thought. Well of course he was anxious, they were almost to the place that held his cure. And if Luffy knew Zoro half as well as he thought he did, he knew that the man hated only being able to work at partial capacity. Having to do so for even this long must have been driving him crazy.
The raven-haired boy planted a hand on top of his straw hat firmly, glaring at the opponent before him. The same wild smile took up his face again, "Hey, Zoro."
"How about you and me make a deal?"
"… A deal?"
"Yup!" His smile widened impossibly, "If we can find that cure thingy for you in a day, then you'll go with me into the next town!"
Zoro rolled his eyes. Now Luffy was using his First Mate's condition as leverage. The Captain persisted:
"Aw, come on! Usopp's been complaining a lot lately about going into towns with me and you never want to come when I ask you!"
"Complaining?" Zoro cocked an eyebrow up.
"I dunno. Something about his neck hurting or something…" He was oblivious.
Zoro couldn't' help himself. He chuckled. Whenever Luffy 'brought' someone into a new town to explore with him, it usually involved landing face-first into some hard substance like concrete or cobblestone. Luffy looked confused at the man's laughter. Zoro sighed in defeat, though a smile was on his face.
"Well… Why the hell not? Sure, Luffy. Sounds like a deal."
Luffy's face brightened, "Really? Woohoo! This is gonna be awesome!" He threw his hands in the air victoriously.
Zoro shook his head, "Jeez…"
"This place is really bustling… It's like a city in and of itself," Nami mused as Flagship #12 sailed into port, "It's definitely big enough to be…"
She didn't know what freaked her out more; the mass amount of Marines that littered every area she could see or the fact that she and two other crewmates had successfully made it to the base without a hitch. Honestly, she didn't expect their plan to be going so well. Granted, Nami was relieved that no one seemed to have seen through the ruse yet, but it put her on edge at the same time.
"The farther we go into this base, the more at risk we become," She thought, "I can only hope that Sanji-kun and Usopp are able to keep up appearances long enough to find that cure. Me too, of course," She swallowed, "And with any luck, the rest of the crew will be waiting nearby for us in case we need to make a speedy escape. We probably will…"
Nami was called away to help lower the anchor with other members of the Flagship's crew once the ship had pulled safely into the docks, a prospect that she wasn't exactly excited about. As she and a small group of others lifted the heavy object, a dull and ironic thought occurred to her. Usually she was the one yelling at Zoro to weigh anchor. The swordsman did it all by himself too, no help required. Nami quickly dismissed the thought from her mind, however, as it brought a strange bad taste to her mouth.
As soon as the anchor hit the water, a flurry of movement overtook the ship. Nami (who was trying not to show how much she was panting and sweating from lifting the anchor) stood for a moment, astounded at how quick these Marines were to get down to business. For some reason it made her nervous. Before she could attempt to move around and figure out what was going on, an officer approached her.
"Yes, sir!" She saluted; a motion that was becoming rather automatic.
"Don't forget your reassignment orders," He continued, "You are to report to the Training Grounds today. Another officer will be there to receive you."
"Of course, sir," Nami nodded, "Crap, where is this Training Grounds place? Does this mean I'm going to be separated from the others?"
The officer chuckled, "Now, this 'officer' is a little wet behind the ears. He's a corporal, from Fifteenth Division, and he probably doesn't know how to handle such a large amount of recruits very well. I'm counting on you to show him what Twelfth Division is made of."
"Yes, sir!" She saluted again and smiled to the best of her ability, "You don't need to worry about a thing!"
"That's what I like to hear," He quickly nudged her on the shoulder, "Now hurry and start unloading the new equipment!"
"Sir!" Nami turned around and started to walk away, glancing over her shoulder to see the officer going in the opposite direction. She bit her lip, "I have to find Usopp and Sanji-kun."
"Which one is that, Ensign?"
"Right. Set it over there by that group to the left."
Sanji set the box down on top of a few others, brushing his hands together to get rid of excess dust. He glanced around, trying to pick out a familiar face amongst all the blue and white that was passing by. Now that they were actually at the base, the buddy system seemed as important as ever.
"Ah, Ensign Hiroaki! Could I see you for a moment, please?" A hand grabbed Sanji's arm and yanked him backwards, startling Sanji into almost losing his footing. He muffled a surprised grunt and twisted his neck around to see who was dragging him down the docks. Once he stopped moving, he turned around fully.
"Fellow Ensign Yamaguchi, what a surprise," His tone held no friendliness, "Don't you think there was a better way of getting my attention?" He hissed, "You nearly gave me a heart attack."
"Sorry," Usopp said sincerely, "I just thought the most direct approach might be best. Pretend like we're taking inventory of these boxes," He and Sanji turned around to face the group of boxes. His voice lowered, "We won't look too suspicious this way. Have you seen Akemi-san?"
"No," Sanji followed suit, "I've been looking for you guys, but its been a little difficult because of all this stuff we've had to bring out of the ship. I haven't had much of a moment to just look around."
"Yeah, same here," Usopp said, "I'm in the Supply Unit too, so everyone keeps coming up and asking me questions that I only know half-answers to," His voice faltered in defeat, "I didn't really think about that part…"
Sanji chuckled, "Well, you're obviously doing an okay job if you haven't been caught yet," He frowned again, "But something else has been bothering me. Did you-?"
"Do you require help with inventory, sirs?" Sanji and Usopp turned around, "Ensign Akemi Okamura reporting."
Sanji bit back a smile, "Your help would be greatly appreciated, Akemi-san."
"Good," Nami deflated with a sigh, walking up in between Sanji and Usopp, "I finally found you guys. If I have to carry another box of rifles, my arms are going to fall off."
Usopp smiled, "I know what you mean."
"… Back to what I was saying earlier," Sanji said, "Akemi-san, Yamaguchi-san, did you both get reassignment orders?"
Nami looked surprised, "How did you know that?"
"Yeah, I only thought the lieutenant who told me knew about mine," said Usopp.
Sanji chewed on his lip. God, he wanted a cigarette, "Because I got 'reassigned' too."
"That's a convenient coincidence then, isn't it?" Usopp's face brightened up.
"No, it's not," Nami said sourly, "How do we know we all got reassigned to the same place, idiot?"
"Oh, that's right…" Usopp's face fell, "Well, I'm supposed to go to the Market District in the Housing Complex. Something about helping deliver new shipments of goods."
"I got assigned to the Training Grounds," Nami said.
"I'm supposed to report to the R&D Department," said Sanji with some anxiousness.
"Wait, R&D Department?" That caught Nami's ear, "They have a place specifically for Research and Development here?"
"Yeah, it doubles as the Storage Grounds," nodded Sanji, "But that's not what interests me about it. What interests me is that I'm supposed to deliver new shipments of equipment to the scientists there."
"And since it's the science department…"
It dawned on Usopp, "It would be the perfect place to find the cure!" He had to keep his voice from getting loud.
"… But it also means that Hiroaki-kun will be on his own…" Nami muttered.
"Exactly," Sanji sighed, "But we don't have any other choice. If you two were to follow me, it would look suspicious. We can't afford to be caught now. We're too close."
"I don't like it, but you're right," Nami shook her head.
"But… We can't just let Hiroaki-kun go there by himself!" He turned to Sanji, "If you're going to be snooping around there looking for the cure, you're already going to look suspicious. What if you're caught?"
Sanji shrugged, "Let's just hope I can be sneakier than Luffy."
"… We need to come up w-" Nami started before a loud voice interrupted her.
"The 6 o' clock Tram departure is scheduled to leave in ten minutes!" The three looked around them to see that there were various den-den mushi devices acting as speakers scattered throughout the area, "Again, the 6 o'clock Tram is scheduled to leave the Docks in ten minutes! All units please respond accordingly!"
"The Tram?" Usopp questioned.
Nami eyed groups of recruits that all looked like they were headed in the same direction, "If I remember correctly from the map we had on the Merry, there's one central transportation system on this island that they use to reach different sections of the base faster. I bet that's this Tram that we're hearing about."
"Then I suppose that's where all those Marines are going," Sanji commented, "And where we probably need to go too."
"That sounds like the best idea," Nami nodded.
Usopp gulped, "S-So… After we get on this Tram thing, we're all gonna be separated?"
"That's the way it looks right now…" Nami said with a frown. She turned back to the two of them, "But be very careful you guys. We probably won't be able to talk on the Tram because of all the people that are going to be there. If all goes according to plan, the Going Merry should be moored to the east of the docks behind a rocky outcropping by tonight. If something goes horribly wrong and you have no other options, make for the Merry. I know it's not a good idea to just expose ourselves, but if we all get captured then we're screwed anyway. Plan to meet at the Merry tonight regardless. Later is probably better. The sun's going to set here soon though, so we don't have a whole lot of time. Got it?"
Sanji and Usopp nodded. Sanji frowned in concern, "You be careful too, Akemi-san. Don't put yourself at an unnecessary risk."
Nami gave him a thumbs up, "Ah, I'll be fine! The Marines can't outsmart me."
"More like can't out-swindle you," Usopp said.
"We've been through this. I'm going to hell in a hand basket, I know."
"… A normal person wouldn't be smiling as they say that."
"Why do we have to stay inside? This is boring!"
"So we can save our strength for the next battle or whatever. Do you ever listen when other people talk?"
"Yeah I do!"
"Okay, then what did she say?"
"She said we were going to have a barbecue or something, right?"
"… How the hell did you arrive at that?"
"Well, she said it!"
"No she didn't! She said that we needed to come and stay in the men's cabin to get ready for the fight that's coming up. How did you think of a barbecue?"
"She said something about getting fired up, and fired up means there's a fire which means there's meat cooking!"
"You really are an idiot! She was talking about getting 'fired up' for the battle with the Marines, not starting barbecue! Besides, why in the hell would we have a barbecue by a Marine base?"
"Because barbecues are fun! Duh! Jeez Zoro, you can be kinda dumb sometimes… Ow! What was that for?"
"I may not be able to stop your stupidity, but I sure as hell can hit you for it."
Chopper ran into the men's cabin, "You guys! Why are you being so loud?" He spoke in a frenzied whisper.
"Zoro hit me!" Luffy complained, rubbing his head.
"Oh, don't be such a baby," Zoro rolled his eyes.
"We put you in here so you wouldn't cause a big commotion!" said Chopper, "So that means keep your voices down too. You two are so loud we can hear you clearly up on deck."
"Wait, you put us down here to be quiet?" Zoro asked.
"Yes, and lie low. You two are walking targets out there as we get closer to the base," He sighed, "Also, when Robin said 'fired up', she didn't mean a barbecue, and she didn't mean we were going to fight someone."
"Hm?" Luffy and Zoro answered in unison.
"She was saying that you two get fired up really easily and that you should hide out until it's safe," Chopper thought in the back of his mind that it was like talking to two-year-olds, "I'm going back out to help Robin. Remember! Ssh!" Chopper closed the door behind him.
Zoro and Luffy looked at each other in silence for a moment.
"… My guess was closer."
Chopper shut the door behind him with a sigh before trotting down to Robin on the main deck. She looked up from the map of Red Fetter that she had been studying, "Were you successful?"
"I hope so," He grumbled, "It's like talking to children..."
Robin giggled, "Indeed."
"Do we have our course planned out?" Chopper asked anxiously, standing up on the tips of his hooves to try and see the map.
Robin crouched down to give him a better view, "Yes. We're going to moor the Going Merry behind this outcropping of rocks here," She pointed it out to him on the map, "At nightfall of course. We still have to stay a close distance away for now so as not to be spotted."
"So… Are they gonna have guards posted all around?" Chopper asked.
Robin nodded, "When Navigator-san and I were working out this plan, we were almost one-hundred percent positive that there would be sentries posted around the base with spotlights on the water. We're going to have to be extremely careful."
Chopper swallowed, "Y-Yeah…"
"I'm going to be counting on you to man the rudder and follow my instructions when the time comes, Doctor-san."
"Yeah!" Chopper responded with more conviction this time.
Robin looked out at Red Fetter again, "The sun's beginning to set… We have to be ready as soon as it's dark enough for us to move."
"Right! … Say, uh, Robin?"
"It's only sunset. We won't be moving until it gets dark, right?"
"So, um… Why lock Luffy and Zoro below deck so soon? I mean we won't-" Chopper paused in the middle of his sentence to consider what he was saying, "… Oh. Never mind. Stupid question."
"Last call for the 6 o'clock Tram!" The conductor of the vehicle announced over a small den-den mushi.
Sanji shuffled in his seat, glancing around the Tram. If circumstances were less grim, he would have marveled at how spacious it was. Granted, everyone was packed together like sardines, but he assumed that was normal. He looked quickly to Nami and Usopp, who sat in seats in front of him. The moment the three of them made for the Tram, they cut off all contact so as not to draw attention to themselves. Even sitting near each was probably dangerous.
A sharp hissing sound came from the front of the Tram as the conductor started it. Within seconds, the vehicle lurched forward and began to move along the tracks with a low hum. The Marines began to chat amongst themselves. Sanji took this opportunity to look out the window to his left. He gaped at how large the place really was. The Tram's railing was up on higher ground than most of the rest of the base, so he was able to get a more comprehensive view. For some reason the height was threatening.
The cook sighed into his seat as he took his gaze away from the window. The soldier next to him chuckled empathetically, "Rough voyage back, huh bud?"
"Ah, yeah. You know how it is. Sometimes fatigue just catches up to you all at once, know what I mean?" Sanji smiled, stretching for good measure.
The soldier agreed, quickly becoming entangled in another conversation about fatigue with a different Marine. Sanji was glad for that. He didn't want to get too friendly with the Marines here.
"Approaching the Housing Complex," The conductor announced, "Prepare to stop at Station 2 near the Market District."
Sanji looked back out the window. They were passing a huge cement wall down below that seemed to separate the Loading Grounds from the Housing Complex, "Must be how they section off all the areas…" He thought, "I wonder if that means the Tram is the only way to get around the different parts of the base?" His brow lowered, "That could be trouble."
The Tram slowly came to a halt. While Sanji was deep in thought, they had passed into the Housing Complex, and several Marines were already beginning to stand up.
"All Marines bound for the Housing Complex or Market District, please exit the Tram and proceed to the second car to unload necessary equipment."
One by one, Marines filed out of the Tram and walked behind to the second car to unload gear. Sanji's eyes immediately went to Usopp. The young man exited in the middle of the group, almost unrecognizable amid all of the blue and white. Sanji eyed him carefully as he went to the second car. When the supplies were unloaded and the Tram started to move again, Sanji took one last look behind him before closing his eyes.
Robin gazed at the outline of Red Fetter. It became clearer as sharper as the sun fell behind the horizon. Slowly, scattered round lights began to appear all over the base. The archeologist's eyes narrowed.
"Doctor-san," She spoke to the reindeer beside her without looking at him, "Are the hostages secure?"
"Yes. Not a thing to worry about."
"In that case, go ahead."
Chopper nodded, "Yeah," He ran up to the Going Merry's kitchen, throwing the door open. Turning into Heavy Point, he manned the rudder with a firm grip, "Just give the order."
Robin looked down at a map of the base she had been holding. A breeze ruffled the page. She clenched the paper tighter, "Hard to starboard. 3 o'clock."
The floor of the ship shifted underneath them. Suddenly they were turning sharply. Luffy staggered to the side clumsily, holding onto his hat. He looked up, "What's going on?"
Zoro sat on the floor across from his Captain with his eyes closed. He held his three swords to his chest with a vice grip. As the ship moved, his eyes opened slowly. A fire burned in the man's tired eyes.
Author's (Apologetic) Note:
Words cannot even BEGIN to describe the amount of shame I feel for leaving this story hanging for so long. Over a YEAR. I'm not going to give excuses, as there are many I could give, and they would span several pages I imagine. I would, however, like to offer my deepest apologies to all of you dear readers who have been waiting so very patiently for me to get off my duff and continue this thing.
I'd like to take this time also to say that this fic is indeed NOT dead, nor will it ever be dead. I refuse to completely let this story die. I've invested quite a lot of time and energy in it, and am actually proud of what I've accomplished so far. So, rest assured, I will finish this story! (Who knows how long it will take, but I will)
I do aim to ultimately dish out these chapters faster. This one was a nightmare. I spent months trying to make myself write, and this chapter was actually written in the span of this last year. In light of that I'm going to learn from my mistakes and be timelier with my updates. (Though do be somewhat patient my dear readers. I also have 'Cursed', my other big story, to update, and that one's been taking a back seat to this one recently.)
The man was hit with an epiphany, "I FORGOT TO LOOK AT HIS BACKGROUND!"
It seemed like an impossible mission. Luffy liked that.
Luffy IS incredibly famous for defying any and all odds that come his way, after all.
Sanji shrugged, "Let's just hope I can be sneakier than Luffy."
Not a hard thing to accomplish, Sanji dear.
"We've been through this. I'm going to hell in a hand basket, I know."
In FUNimation's One Piece English Dub (which I can't praise enough; they do a fantastic job), when the crew's at Whiskey Peak, and the only ones who aren't passed out are Nami and Zoro, Nami swindles Zoro into yet another favor by hovering his ever-growing berry debt over him. Zoro says something pretty nasty to her, to which Nami replies, "Oh yes. And I'm sure I'll go straight to hell." I thought it was absolutely hilarious, so I wanted to put in something like it in this story somewhere. :P
"I may not be able to stop your stupidity, but I sure as hell can hit you for it."
Perhaps the motto of the StrawHat crew… XP
Well, I do hope you all enjoy this chapter regardless of the ridiculous amount of time it took me to give to you. It's actually a little longer than my chapters are normally (I figured that I at least owed THAT much to you guys!), and I hope that makes you guys somewhat appeased with my absence!
Thanks so much for all of your love for this story! :) You make writing worthwhile!
Please review and tell me your thoughts!
(P.S. Anyone still considering doing fanart? :D )