A Force Against Inertia
By Dixxy Mouri
It was a harmless enough looking ship flying a Jolly Roger that wore protective eye goggles and had bubbling flasks on either side of the grinning skull. Nami and Sanji stood just beyond the dock, eyeing the ship carefully as the navigator decided the best way to sneak on board, find the treasure, and get out again.
"Okay. What we can do is climb up those shipping crates over there and jump on board from there. It doesn't look like they're keeping a heavy guard on the ship, so I doubt they have a LOT of money, but the ship is in good enough repair that they're likely to have something. If not, we'll leave and try another ship," Nami said.
Sanji nodded dumbly at her, cigarette clenched in his teeth and a stupid grin on his face. "Anything you say, Nami-san!" Nami rolled her eyes and sighed – it was probably better that she had Sanji with her than going alone – just in case something happened – but he could really be obnoxious sometimes.
The two snuck closer to the crates, keeping their eyes open for the goggle ship's crew and dock workers. It seemed like the coast was clear, so Nami started to climb the crates. Sanji started behind her, but she turned and glared at him. "Wait until I get up. You have no business looking up my skirt, idiot," she said.
"And keep quiet!"
Sanji agreed more quietly and Nami gave him the go-ahead to join her once she reached the top. He showed off, ascending the crates with powerful leaps and bounds in a manner of seconds, getting to where she stood in less than half the time. He grinned stupidly, waiting for her approval. Nami rolled her eyes at him and sighed.
"Let's just get this over with." The two made the easy leap to the ship, high fived when they boarded, and proceeded to find their way into the hull. They didn't notice pirates in white lab coats appear once they descended into the bowels of the ship and signal for the crates to be brought back on board. In particular, a stoic woman with brown hair in a bun and thick rimmed glasses was giving an order to their navigator.
"Set course before they're missed. We've got them."
"Nami-san, this almost seems too easy," Sanji said. He scratched his head as they found what appeared to be the treasure stores which, as Nami had suspected, was more than enough for them to feed the crew and for her to have a little extra. Although being around Nami usually put him a good mood, Sanji felt a sudden sense of uneasiness and a desire to grab the navigator and not stop running until they were off that ship.
Not that he expected to feel safe on another pirate crew's ship, but he didn't expect to feel this sense of impending danger. He chewed on his cigarette. Something wasn't adding up. A ship this big should have had someone on watch but they hadn't seen anyone – not even a cabin boy. Why was this ship devoid of people? It didn't make any sense.
Nami didn't seem as bothered, too busy thinking over what she would spend her cut of the treasure on. "Huh?" she asked, barely paying any attention. "Yeah, yeah, whatever Sanji-kun." She took a few steps forward and turned on her heels, grinning as she clasped her hands together. "We need to find some-" Nami paused when she saw the cook's frown. She sighed. "What?"
"Shouldn't we have had a harder time sneaking on board?"
The navigator seemed to consider this. "Yeah. Where was the watch?"
"Crews don't survive on the Grand Line this long by just leaving their ships unguarded in busy ports," said Sanji. "I mean, our captain's a complete idiot but even we never left Merry or Sunny alone. This is weird." He reached over to take Nami's hand, which she pulled away from him and replaced with a harsh glare. "Nami-san, I think we need to get out of here."
Nami looked longingly at the treasure before nodding and sighing. "Okay. Let's go."
Sanji breathed a sigh of relief and closed his eyes, just as the ship started to move. They looked at each other in confusion before realization hit and their eyes widened in shock. "They came out of hiding or came back and now they're leaving!" Sanji said. "Shit, Nami-san, we gotta leave right now!"
Nami swore under her breath – this was probably some kind of trap and she and Sanji were the rats. "Damn, and me without my ClimaTact!" she whined, cursing Usopp for taking so long to fix it after that Marine had broken it. She followed Sanji out the door as the two of them started to run through the hallways of the ship.
Sirens began to scream.
"Enemy pirates below deck. Capture and detain immediately."
The sound came from everywhere as they ran through the underbelly of the ship. How did they know we were here! "Damn it, they know we're here!" Despite her earlier protests, Sanji swept Nami off the ground and started to run, the navigator screaming and yelling at him the entire time, demanding to be put down as the cook flew up the stairs towards the deck.
"SANJI-KUN, PUT ME DOWN! I CAN RUN ON MY OWN!"
"FORGIVE ME, NAMI-SWAN, THIS IS FASTER!"
Through the bowels of the ship they ran, passing screaming pirates and a few men and women in white lab coats. Sanji wondered why in the world a bunch of lab researchers would be on a pirate ship but decided he'd rather find out AFTER he'd gotten Nami off the ship and someplace safer – there was no time for that.
Nami continued to protest, but eventually just gave up and wrapped her arms around his neck as she held on for dear life. Part of Sanji was thrilled she was clinging to him so tightly, but mostly he was concerned with getting them the hell off of that ship. The announcement that there were "enemy pirates below deck" and the blasting of the sirens were making him start to panic.
He had to get Nami out of there. He just HAD to.
Nami, for her part, was looking around the inside of the ship as they ran (or, rather, as Sanji ran). Funny, this didn't seem like a normal ship – the interior was largely metal, not wood, and looked very, very clean for a den of pirates (although between Sanji, Robin, herself, and surprisingly enough, Brook, the Thousand Sunny was another exception to the "dirty pirate ship" rule). Moreover, the place smelled really clean, too, almost like a hospital or Chopper's infirmary – it was the sterile kind of clean, not the "freshly done laundry" or "just out of the shower" clean.
Something about this ship was very, very weird and Nami regretted choosing this ship to rob.
Sanji kicked the door to the outside open and burst onto the deck, where a mixture of crewmen and rifle-bearing pirates had flooded the previously abandoned deck. The pair gasped, wondering where they had all come from, before the cook made a beeline for the side of the ship. They could still see the island, and even the Thousand Sunny on the western side – all they had to do was swim, and they were both strong swimmers.
Nami wasn't as thrilled with this plan and started to yell as the pirates began to shoot at them.
"YOU IDIOT! WE CAN'T JUST JUMP IN THE OCEAN AND SWIM!"
"WE HAVE NO CHOICE, NAMI-SAN!"
"SANJI-KUN, THIS IS INSANE!"
"I'M GETTING US OFF THIS – DAGHHH!"
Sanji collapsed to the deck after another shot was fired, nearly crushing Nami in the process. The navigator was ready to yell when she realized he was quickly losing consciousness and had several darts protruding from his back. Her eyes widened. "Tranquilizers?" Before she could stand up, however, they were surrounded by gun wielding pirates, all of the barrels pointed at her.
The navigator wanted to protest, but there was nothing she could do. Sanji was out cold and there was no way she'd be able to stand up to all of these men unarmed and by herself. Nami watched the Thousand Sunny disappear from view out of the corner of her eye as she raised her hands above her head in surrender.
Captain Thomas Tesla looked up from his research and crossed his legs. "Yes?" he said, lifting his safety goggles to look at his first mate better. "What do you need? I'm in the middle of observing the effects of sulfuric acid on seastone." He looked down at the hunk of seastone in his petri dish and sighed – nothing was happening.
First Mate Curie stepped into her captain's office, a clipboard clutched to her chest. "We had an incident, sir, although I must admit the incident was partially my doing. We laid out The Crates to find replacements for 0541 and 0542," she said. She sat in the chair across from his desk, neatly placing her glasses on the end of her nose as she looked over the contents of the board. "A pair of pirates from another crew decided to break onto the ship – it appears their goal was our research grants."
'Research grants' was a loose term the crew used to describe their haul of treasure.
"Oh?" Tesla said. "What can you tell me about them?"
Curie smiled. "Both human, one male and one female. Male subject is approximately nineteen years of age and in good health, though he appears to be addicted to cigarettes. Female subject is approximately eighteen years of age and also in good health. Both have been secured in Lab 16 with seastone restraints, although we've determined they are not Devil Fruit users."
"And how did you test?"
"They were not disturbed by the seastone, sir."
"Do you know who they are?"
"Yes – reports indicate they are members of the Straw Hat Pirates under captain Monkey D. Luffy. The male subject is known as Black Leg Sanji – he carries a bounty of 77 million berries. The female subject is known as Burglar Cat Nami – she carries a bounty of 16 million berries. Their captain has a bounty of 300 million berries and is currently listed as a Supernova along with their first mate, Roronoa Zoro, whose bounty is 120 million."
The captain nodded. A 77 million berry head on his ship wasn't a small affair, and having an angry 300 million pirate captain with a 120 million first mate was even more troublesome if they were found. They would need to keep moving and ensure that this Monkey D. Luffy man didn't find his captured man and woman.
"We wanted to wait for you before we began the rest of the experiment cycle."
Tesla felt his lip curl into a grin. He'd been itching to test his latest research as well, and here he finally had a pair of test subjects to work with. "Of course, Curie – we should start right away." He stood, recorded the final observations of the seastone experiment and summoned one of his assistants to clean up. He was very interested in the contents of Lab 16 and the experiments he would get to run on them.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed or commented on "Vanished"! Definitely let me know what you think about the first bits of this story.