Title: Blood and Beli
Fandom: One Piece
Dramatis Personae: The Straw Hat Pirates(A Captain, a Cook, a Swordsman, a Navigator, a Sniper, an Archaeologist, and a Reindeer), another Cook, a Waitress, Seven Villains Most Foul
Rating: I'd like to say PG, but I'm going to say PG-13 just to be on the safe side.
Summary: The Straw Hat Pirates land on an island, only to find themselves beset by a mysterious group of villains after their bounties.
Status: This is but the first chapter. I'm not sure how many more there will be, but there will be more!
A/N: Set post-Alabasta, pre-Jaya. Footnotes do not, as a rule, work in a format that is not divided by pages, but for my sake let us pretend that they do.
The sound of eating could be heard for miles around.
Every head in the small restaurant was turned to watch, first in curiosity, then in fascination, and finally in mounting horror as the Straw Hat Pirates attacked the mountain of food set in front of them. Their appetites seemed insatiable as the stack of dirty dishes grew higher and the tableful of food grew smaller. And still they were shouting for more. From the kitchen, one could hear the chef protesting that he had no more food to cook.
Thanks to Marine pursuit and a navigational foulup*, it had been weeks since they had made landfall, and with Luffy's voracious appetite, the Merry's meagre supplies had long since been depleted. The last week of their voyage had been made on little-to-no food, and when they pulled into port all seven of them staggered off the ship and into the nearest restaurant.
It was a measure of how hungry they were that Sanji, who would normally critique and bemoan the food before finally commandeering the kitchen to produce his own culinary masterpiece, was tucking in with as much enthusiasm as Chopper and Zoro. Even aloof, dignified Robin was chewing vigorously on a hunk of tough meat. Of course, nobody could match Luffy's love for food, and he was responsible for at least half of the empty plates. They had already collected two piles of plates that extended from the tabletop to the ceiling, and were working on a third.
Gradually, they began to slow down as their stomachs caught up with their mouths. The clatter of knives and forks quieted from a deafening din to a low clatter. One by one, each of the Straw Hats leaned back with a contented sigh, rubbing their full bellies. Except for Luffy, but he had to stop eating after Nami clapped a hand over his mouth to keep him from calling for more food.
"You guys sure eat a lot of food!" the waitress said as she began taking the enormous pile of dishes away. Sanji, immediately enamoured, leapt to his feet with hearts in his eyes and offered to take care of it for her. Nami swatted him on the back of the head, and he sat back down.
"Well, we did just go a week without food," Nami said as she handed the waitress her plate. "And the food bill's always huge with these idiots."
"Speaking of the bill," the waitress said cheerfully as she pulled a long piece of paper out of her pocket, "Who's picking it up?"
Nami looked around at the rest of the table. She could probably get Sanji to pay it...except that he didn't have any money. Actually, she was the only one at the table who did have money. The rest of them were buffoons who had already squandered their money on a series of bad investments('bad investments' here meaning 'card games with a certain orange-haired thief'). Sighing the deep sigh of the long-suffering, Nami extended a hand and took the bill.
When she saw the total, she had a series of small heart attacks.
"Luffy!" She yelled, grabbing the captain by his vest collar, "How could you possibly order this much food? Don't you have any idea how much this costs?"
"But Nami, I was hungry!" Luffy protested as Nami began to shake him back and forth violently.
"I don't care!" Nami shrieked. The way she was shaking Luffy now would give a normal person whiplash. "How do you expect to make any money when you eat away all the money every time we hit the shore?"
Whatever protest Luffy was about to lodge was interrupted by the sound of the door bursting open. Nami stopped shaking Luffy and both turned to gaze at the ruined threshold. An enormous muscular man was standing in the doorway. He had to duck his head as he stepped inside.
"I am here to collect the tribute," he said gruffly. His voice was thickly accented. "You are overdue, and you will give us what we are owed now."
The waitress ran out, holding up her hands palms-out in an appeasing fashion. "Please, sir, just wait a few more minutes. When these people pay their bill, we'll have enough to pay you and more!"
"No. We have waited long enough. You will pay now or you will not pay at all."
"Please, just a few minutes-"
"Not good enough!" the huge man roared. "If you cannot pay the tribute, then you must pay the price! So speaks Baraba the Ox!" And with that, the huge man lashed out with a back-hand swipe that sent one of the piles of dishes crashing towards the ground. The waitress cried out, and covered her face as the huge pile of porcelain tumbled down towards her.
Suddenly, Luffy was there, shielding her from the falling china. Broken dishes bounced harmlessly off his rubber body. When the last plate had fallen to the ground, he turned back to the table and gave an order. "Sanji," he said simply. The cook understood immediately.
"Aye-aye, Captain," he said, rising to his feet and blowing out a lungful of smoke. "I will teach this shitty weight-lifter what it means to harm a woman in my presence." The enormous man burst into laughter.
"Is this some sort of joke? This runt doesn't look like he could swat a fly!" he said, holding his sides with mirth as Sanji walked slowly around the table until there was nothing in between them.
"Then come get me, shitty musclehead," Sanji said in a cold voice, fixing Baraba with a steely glare with his uncovered left eye.
Baraba the Ox hesitated a moment, then let out a great bellow of rage and charged. His thunderous footsteps shook the building as he closed on the blonde-haired pirate. Sanji, for his part, stood impassively, as if the large man did not exist...
Until Baraba was but two feet away, and then Sanji shifted his weight, pivoted on his left foot, spun around, and with a loud cry of "Boyeaux!" dug his right heel into the larger man's belly. The Ox doubled over with a gasp of expelled air, and Sanji wasted no time in delivering another pair of kicks in rapid succession, one to the left shoulder and another to the chin. The hulking man fell onto his back.
"Damn you, boy-" he said as he pulled himself up to one knee, but was cut off as Sanji walked forward and put out his cigarette between the large man's eyes. Baraba gave a cry of pain and clutched at the burn mark. Sanji grabbed him by the collar and hoisted him in the air.
"Now, get out!" Sanji yelled, releasing his grip at the same time as he delivered a crushing kick to Baraba's face. The huge man went flying backwards through the doorway, and slid to a halt in the middle of the street. "And don't come back," he said, lighting up another cigarette.
Baraba stood up, a small burn mark between his eyes. "This is not finished yet!" he roared. "I will return, and when I do I will stomp your puny store into the ground!"
"How are you planning on stomping anything with a broken leg?" Sanji asked threateningly. You could see the gears of Baraba's mind working behind his face as he tried to work that one out. Baraba's gears were old, rusty, and probably due for replacement, but when they finally spun he figured the implication out quickly enough. He ran away as quickly as he could, his heavy footsteps echoing into the distance.
Sanji stood facing the door, as though to ensure that the large man did not return, and then dashed over to the waitress' side. He took her hands in his and began gushing over her.
"Are you unharmed, Miss Waitress? He didn't hurt you, did he? If he so much as bruised your beautiful skin, I'll drag him back here and make him hurt in ways he's never even contemplated!"
"I'm fine, sir. Thank you for defending me like that. It was very brave."
She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek. Sanji's eyes went wide and a bright red flush spread across his face. His expression shifted to one in the throes of Nirvana. The effect was somewhat spoiled by Luffy hopping up and down behind him and asking "What about me?"
"You too," she said with a giggle, and gave him a light peck right below his scar. Luffy rubbed the spot with his right hand, inspected his hand, and then sat down mumbling that he didn't understand why Sanji got so worked up over this.
The cook, on the other hand, was less impressed by Sanji's show of power. "What on earth did you do that for? Now he's going to return with the others, and they won't stop until they've stomped this whole restaurant into the dirt!"
"I'm serious, Amina! You know how they are. They'll come down here and burn this place to the ground, and if they aren't feeling merciful, they'll kill us too!"
"You mean there's more like him?" Chopper asked, awestruck. Amina nodded.
"He's part of a group of bandits based here in town." She said. "Every few months they come through and demand tribute. Everyone's afraid of them, but nobody can stand up to them because they're so strong."
There was a silence as the Straw Hat Pirates thought that over. It was Robin who finally spoke.
"That man...he said his name was Baraba the Ox?"
"Yes, that's correct."
"Am I correct in saying that there are 7 bandits in total?"
"Why...yes, you are! How did you know?" Amina asked, puzzled. Robin sighed.
"Then I'm afraid that they are not bandits.
"You were defeated?"
"By one man?"
"I beg your forgiveness, Lord Ronas." Baraba was kneeling on the floor in the center of a dark room. Standing around him, shrouded by the darkness, were five figures. And in front of him, seated on his throne, was a sixth.
"Enough of that," the man on the throne said with a wave of his hand. "The important thing now is avenging your defeat. Was there anybody else?"
"There was one other, Lord. A short man, with a straw hat and a scar under his left eye." There was a slight stirring from the figure on the throne.
"A straw hat, you say?"
"Were they also travelling in the company of a green-haired swordsman?"
"I...I think there was a person by that description at the restaurant, but I cannot say if they were together."
"Oh yes, they were. Monkey D. Luffy and Roronoa Zoro...The former worth one hundred million Beli, the latter worth sixty million. Quite a catch. And both of them credited with taking down some very powerful fighters, if rumour is to be beleived. Yes...I do believe that we will be able to turn your loss into our gain, Baraba."
"Then...you forgive me, Lord?" Baraba's face held pure relief.
"Yes, Baraba. I do. But you would do well to remember..."
There was a sense of movement, and suddenly the man on the throne was standing behind Baraba. Baraba buckled as though he'd just been hit from every direction at once, and fell to the ground, clutching at himself.
"...the price of failure," the man on the throne finished. He turned and looked at Baraba with disgust. "Someone pick him back up. We are going, gentlemen."
He strode forwards, towards the hidden exit, and as he did the other five figures fell in behind him. Two of them picked Baraba up off the ground and marched him along between them. The seven of them were on the move again in a way they hadn't been for years, and the very earth seemed to tremble at their walk.
*Which was, if you asked any of the crew, absolutely not Nami's fault. Obviously not. There was no way Nami could ever incorrectly read her charts, or sail into a storm that could have easily been avoided. That island just happened to be twenty miles east of where it should be, and the storm was clearly unavoidable. That's the God's truth. At least, it is while Nami is within earshot.
Cross-posted to one_piece and onepiece_fics.