Chapter 11 - Plans

Zoro took a deep breath and let his eyes wander. At times like this, he found it best to meditate on the present. To remain in the moment, but to focus on things that are not the giant pile of girl flesh attempting to grind him into the carpet.

Luffy, for example.

Tonight had been another perfect illustration of the boy’s ability to find the flaw in even the most well executed plan. One of the guards told Zoro – between gasped breaths - that it had taken a team of fifty men more than three hours to find Luffy in order to dress him for the banquet. When they finally did find him, he’d managed to destroy his handcrafted gold sash within a further five minutes flat. Then he’d swung on the tapestries, eaten the entire main course while it was still being delivered from the kitchen and sat in the decorative fountain just for good measure.

Zoro could feel hands gliding across his midsection, dozens of them caressing his clothes, massaging his skin

Don't send them flying don't send them flying don't send them flying...

Ok… Luffy. What else did he do?

Yes, that was it. He’d screamed, ‘I will have pie!!!’ while jumping in a fluffy dessert Sanji made especially that sounded like chrome pansy. The cook had loved that.

It was hard to respect Luffy as a warrior when he acted like a monkey on a day out from the zoo… but it certainly kept him entertained. Soon it would be time to move on though, the swords on the walls reminded him of his destiny…

Oh Kami, the girls were really starting to squirm now… their bodies pressing closer and closer…

Don’t send them flying don’t send them flying don’t send them flying…

Focus… focus…

The swords.

The Sultan sure had an amazing place here; it was huge and decorated with the weapons employed by all the previous Sultans of this land. From where Zoro was standing, he could see three crooked scimitars, one sickle blade curved like a crescent moon and a set of three unwieldy broadswords. From this unusual vantage point, he could also see the hilt of a squat short sword on the wall of the entrance hall that he had never seen before. Was that some kind of tempered steel…?

A high-pitched whining cut through Zoro’s minute contemplations. It was kind of a rolling giggle of sorts, something that was familiar but difficult to place… with a sigh the swordsman returned from his happy place and surveyed the scene before him.

“Yohohoho!!!” Brook shouted, as he ran through the swordsman’s middle vision, his coat tails flapping in the faces of a dozen palace guards who were racing after him, trying to eject him from the palace.

That explained that part of the noise at least.

The rest of the din was still coming from the heaving mass of harem girls that had the swordsman pinned from all sides. He was not allowed to touch them, although they could obviously do whatever the hell they liked to him. The only exception was security, which was why, he supposed Nami thought it was so damn funny to make him search that blonde girl.

At least he knew now that she didn’t have a weapon. As she was one of the first girls to grab a hold of him she had been squashed to his side the entire time. Not only did she not have a weapon, she also wasn’t wearing any underpants. He hated being so damn observant sometimes.

Between snatches of ‘Zoro why don’t you come to the pool anymore?’ and ‘Zoro come and see my room, it’s really comfy’ he could hear the Sultan laughing indulgently and tutting at his many girls,

“Now, now ladies you can’t all have Sword Master Zoro, you need to save some energy for me, my petals…” His deep voice was soothing and perfectly calm, it sounded as if he was stifling a chuckle. No rescue from that corner then.

“Yohohoho!!!” Brook zoomed into view once more but this time he stopped directly in front of the swordsman. Several guards piled up around him and grabbed him from all sides. He was undeterred,

“Please, oh most beautiful ladies, may I see your panties?” the skeleton asked, earnestly.

The effect on the ladies was electric. As one they turned and as one they advanced upon the offending musician.

“Not all at once my lovelies!” Brook cried ecstatically, “If I was to see them all at once I’m sure my heart would explode from pure rapture… if I had a h…” but the last few words of his bad joke were smothered by the wave of women, each boldly clawing, forcing and fighting her way forward to be the first to hit the impudent skeleton with her shoe (or handbag, whichever was more pointy).

“Thanks Brook!” Zoro called cheerfully to the brawl as he stretched his muscles and enjoyed the tingling sensation as the blood started flowing to his limbs once more. Now that he was freed from his sweaty, jiggly prison he was able to investigate the real question.

Where the hell had Luffy gone?


Sanji continued hurling his body from side to side, struggling, burbling and generally being a pain. Halfway up the path to the Eastern wing of the living quarters the two guards stopped. Some sort of commotion had broken out near the main rooms of the palace. The cook was dropped like a sack of potatoes,

“What is that noise?” the bigger man with the dark purple hair asked.

“How the hell should I know?” the smaller guard asked, more affection than malice in his voice.

Half a dozen guards came out of the side entrance and started running in every direction.

“Well, we could go and find out,” the larger man’s entire body inclined towards the noise – he was itching for a fight.

“We could… this guy will take half an hour to make it back to the palace in the state he’s in…” the blonde guy rolled Sanji over with his foot, the cook grumbled but didn’t move, “let’s go!”

And with that, they strode off to join the commotion.

Sanji watched them go out of the corner of his eye; they went up to another guard and chatted for a minute before the three of them made off toward the main banquet hall, away from Nami. Good.

The cook stood up slowly and dusted off his clothes. They were horribly crumpled and stained. What if Nami saw him like this? She would think he was a savage!

He walked over to a seat sitting on the paved walkway between buildings and hid himself in the shade of a large pot plant, sitting with his good eye turned to the clearing. At least now that the guards were out of the way he could have a minute to dust himself off before his sweet Mellorine saw him… and have a cigarette. Zoro could hold the fort for five minutes, surely?

He was just about to light his well-earned smoke when the bush behind him rustled abruptly. He jumped half out of his skin but then regained his composure enough to turn slowly around. A huge white skull was inches away from his face.

He made a rather unmanly squeaking noise and jumped to his feet just in time for Brook to leap into the air and start waving madly,

“Don’t do that! You scared me!!!” the skeleton shrieked.

I scared him?

“You were the one hiding in a bush,” Sanji grumbled as he retrieved his dirty smoke from under the bench where it had rolled when he dropped it in shock. It would do, he didn’t like to waste anything.

“You nearly gave me a hernia cook-san, even though I don’t have a… what is it you get hernias in again?” Brook tapped one finger on his bony chin and mused.

Sanji just stared at him.

“No need to be so glum, not on a night like this! You’re almost as bad as Swordsman-san.”

“So why is he so pissed off?” Sanji asked Brook. He leaned back and flicked his hair carefully out of the way before lighting his cigarette.

“He has no appreciation of the true beauty of the world,” Brook sighed in pity.

“What do you mean?” Sanji asked, turning his eyes on the skeletal face and seeking a confirmation where there could be none.

“All of the ladies… Ah,” Brook sighed in jealously at the memory, “they swamped him… they were climbing on him an..”

“WHAT!?!?!” Sanji screamed, biting his cigarette in half, “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN THEY WERE CLIMBING ON HIM???”

“They wouldn’t even give me a single pair of pants, and yet they were rubbing all over him… he has no taste, no ability to savour what is precious… it’s so sad I want to write a song about it…”

“FUCK THE SONG!” Sanji bellowed, leaping to his feet.

Pulsing with the power that can only be summoned by a jealous pervert, Sanji advanced on the palace like a desert storm.

He entered through a side door, winding his way through some of the back rooms of the kitchen and then into some of the Sultan’s reception and dining areas. He knew where Nami would be now; if he just took the next left instead of the next right… a series of turns and he would be at the other end of the long walkway where the Sultan kept his treasures. He could be there for her in case she needed anything…

She had told him to wait. She had told him to get the guards away and then go back to help keep the distraction running in the main banquet hall. One simple right turn.

He wanted to go there. He wanted to scream at Zoro for being a dirty meathead and make Nami proud of him by following instructions. It would be easier, it would be sensible and it would also be fun (mostly the Zoro screaming part) but in the end, what he wanted didn’t matter.

He turned left.


It was renown throughout all the lands for miles. Countless Kings had seen it and made life hell for all their staff because they had to have one just like it.

It was heavy with jewels and solid with precious metals, a thing of exquisite beauty that had a mythology all of its own.

And it was here.

Right here before her very eyes with the candlelight flickering all over it, it gleamed like golden fire. It made her giddy, dizzy with delight. The amount of money that this was worth was more than she could fit on any ship. More than she could hold in any spacious hold. This was it. The heist of her life. This could make or break her, she could have her island back by the end of the week or she could be locked in a dungeon until the day she died.

The golden fire burned bright in her eyes as she reached out to take the staff. It was so heavy, so perfect in every way…

And then suddenly, as if by magic, everything happened.

Luffy happened first. He struck like rubber lightning, sweeping into the hall in one long scream and bouncing Nami right off her feet and away down the corridor. She saw the world falling away. For a tiny instant, the world was a blur and then she was flying – a split second again and then white – bright, bright white.

In what seemed like the same instant, Sanji happened.

“Nami-chan! Your prince is here!” He threw himself towards his Mellorine and somehow managed to get his body just close enough to feel the wind as she was knocked out from under his grasp. His clutching fingers closed on thin air as she was borne away by the momentum of the giant furry lump that had hit her.

In the banquet hall, Robin smiled quietly to herself as she saw the moment unfold. Interesting. This was not quite what she had expected.

Zoro could feel the air shiver. Something was happening, something big. He stepped a safe distance away from the tables, drawing his swords without thinking. He felt constrained, bound and unable to move to his best ability… enough to make a crucial difference. The swordsman expanded the muscles on his chest and tore through the thin ruffled silk. He discarded the pile of expensive rags with a contented sigh.

Much better.


Luffy sat up. He saw Nami sitting in a pile of rubble. When did she take up sleeping on the floor like that? It looked like fun but she had never done that before.

“Nami! Wake up Nami!” he shouted, shaking her by the shoulders. Her head lolled a little from side to side but she started to groan. Great! It had worked!!!

“Nami! You have to come and see the crossbow me and Usopp made, he’s this amazing new weapon smith from a wonderful Island covered in poisonous beasts, he’s a mighty warrior! This crossbow is amazing! It’s so much fun!!!”

Nami moaned and started to prop herself up, still swaying a little bit,

“Luffy… what are you…”

“We went to the armoury, it was just… sugoi!!!” Luffy waved his arms about madly, sending Nami reeling off in a different direction. Luffy caught her shoulders and held her steady, looking into her glazed eyes, “What’s wrong?” he asked innocently.

“What hit me?” Nami said, slowly.

Luffy shrugged, “I don’t know… I was just testing out this crossbow,” he scratched his chin in a fair imitation of thought, “then I climbed into it and then I was here. We should look for clues…”

Nami sighed and biffed Luffy on the head. It was satisfying and made a nice solid thump. Much better.


It was then that Nami’s world crumbled.

She noticed several things in very quick succession. 1) The huge Luffy shaped hole in the wall, which continued for several rooms. 2) The guards running through said hole and coming closer by the second. 3) The golden staff, lying on the ground half covered in rubble in front of her. And last of all, 4) The sound of Sanji’s voice full of horror and dismay coming toward her.

In a desperate rush of adrenaline, she decided her next move. She scrambled forward and grabbed the staff, shouting above the din, “Sanji, Luffy, get back!”

Then she pulled out her Clima Tact and began to summon the biggest rain cloud the inside of a desert palace has ever seen.


The dining hall was silenced by an almighty boom, followed by the muffled sounds of masonry falling to the ground.

There was a collective in breath and before it was released, Zoro was off. He could see Robin running behind him out of the corner of his eye and with each passing corridor, more guards joined them.

They cleared a corner and Zoro saw Sanji at the end of the hallway, along with the errant son-of-the-Sultan. Behind Luffy, there was a gaping hole in the wall and the wall behind that one and the wall behind that one… and so on. He should have known that the noise would be Luffy.

Static electricity filled the air and Zoro felt the hairs lift up on his arms just before the lightning bolt struck. It tore up the hallway in front of him and he saw the silhouette of Sanji leaping away from the blast.

Zoro blinked as his eyes adjusted, Nami was standing under a cloud in front of the hole with some kind of knobbly weapon.

Che, whatever.

Luffy was standing right in front of her giggling, “It tickles!”

Sanji was striding up the corridor toward him.


Zoro nodded. Yes, it was him. Was he meant to be surprised?


“You want to tell me what your problem is or you just want to scream at me?” Zoro grumbled, putting his swords away carefully.

“Scream!!!” Sanji shouted, “How dare you abuse the faith and trust of such sweet delicate ladies!?!?”

“Sweet… ladies..?” the swordsman blinked in confusion.

“You know very well what I’m talking about!!!”

“Che, you make no sense cook,” Zoro shrugged.

“They were all over you and you JUST STOOD THERE,” Sanji spluttered.

“What was I meant to do, bake them a cake?”

“You let them just bump and grind all over you without doing a thing?”

Zoro started to get a bad feeling in the back of his neck. It was the kind of feeling he used to get before he got in trouble with his sensei, he knew it pretty well.

“Am I in trouble?” the swordsman asked.

Maybe this whole thing was more serious with Sanji than he thought. He didn’t really think that being groped against your will was cheating but if Sanji felt that they had something more… Zoro racked his brains; this whole touchy feeling thing was not really his thing.

“Damn right you’re in trouble! How humiliating for those delicate flowers to be embarrassed in public in that way! You afforded them no dignity, no respect!” Sanji drew a big huff for a fresh tirade and it was suddenly all too clear to Zoro.

“You’re jealous!”

Sanji didn’t care about the indecency of a public pile-on; he just wished it was him at the bottom of it instead of Zoro.

Typical ero-cook!

“I am not!!! I am just pointing out to your thick-as-moss-Marimo head tha..” Sanji trailed off halfway through his sentence and turned to Zoro, “Where is your shirt?”

“Uh-n-oo,” Zoro shrugged.

“YOU TWO!!!” Nami shouted.

They both turned as one, suddenly aware of the chaotic scene in front of them. Nami was standing in the middle of a smoking pile of guards and Luffy was giggling and poking them.

“Come on, guys. We have to leave now!”

Nami could already see more guards pouring into the new corridor, the longer they stayed, the worse it would get.


And with that, she scruffed both the offending men and dragged them out through a maze of side doors to the gardens.

Luffy followed. He’d eaten all the good stuff already anyway.


Chapter 10 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Zoro/Sanji ~~~~~~~~~ Chapter 12



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