The wind stung like a hundred tiny needles, the dust in the air was suffocating. Even the light exuding from the Dragon gave off a sickening aura. If it was to be described in one word, it would be despair, plain and simple. But none of them flinched. They were mere humans, they were Shepherds, they had no business opposing the Fell Dragon. There was a dancer, a scholar, a child, a farmhand, a princess, a noble, a merchant, and a near cripple amongst their motley ranks. But they stood, and they did so with conviction, with a flame in their eyes, because they stood together. Because despite what they once were… now, they were warriors.
Recklessly they charged, leaving all doubt behind, charging forward towards the slightest glimmer of hope, cutting down all in their way. Perhaps this was why… this was the reason they stood a chance.
The group’s tactician broke free from the advancing cavalier and, striking down a knight, turned to the Dragon. His death was assured one way or the other, but maybe that’s why he stood a chance.
“Grima! I’ll end you!” Robin called charging forward, his silver sword firmly in his hand. He dodged several arrows from a nearby archer, who was suddenly struck by a bolt of lightning.
“You seek to end me? Fool, I’m the ender of all things, of every living being! Everything shall fall before me!” Grima mocked, waving his hands, shooting out spikes of an unknown dark energy, at the tactician.
Robin rolled out of the way and drew his fire tome. Calling out the tome’s inscription, he shot a ball of fire towards the dragon. Grima raised his hand to catch the fire, which quickly extinguished in his palm.
Grima scowled in annoyance. “Pesky fly… I’ll swat you!” Grima called firing more spikes at Robin. Robin dodged the first wave, but a second wave approached immediately after, catching him off guard.
He dove out of the way, narrowly dodging the assault, but was unable to control his landing, tumbling and eventually falling facedown, disoriented. He heard footsteps and raising his head, seeing a warrior with an axe standing over him. Robin tried to reach his sword, which had gotten lost in his unspectacular dive, but it seemed just out of his reach. The enemy raised his ax, looking to capitalize on the Shepherds vulnerability, but before he could deliver the swing, he was impaled by the Falchion. Chrom removed his sword from his foe’s gut and shoved the corpse down. As he dropped down, Chrom offered his hand to his friend.
“Napping again? And you had the gall to worry about me,” he teased. Robin pulled himself up and grabbed his sword. The pair turned to the dragon who was busy keeping Lucina and Nowi at a distance. The latter seemed to be giving the Grima more trouble than just a minor annoyance.
Nowi’s long tail swung against Grima, causing him to stagger back a few steps. She continued the assault firing several orbs at the Fell Dragon, who regaining his ground, shattered them with his fists.
Lucina took advantage of the distraction and swung her sword at the Dragon, who, predicting her attack, merely had to side step it to avoid the assault. The princess bit her lip and dashed towards Grima and began stabbing repeatedly and desperately at high speed.
Grima chuckled as he dodged each attack with minimal effort, weaving between each of her swipes like a leaf in the wind. “You’ll never save your future this way,” he taunted.
Lucina grunted and quickly swung her sword over her head at Grima. The dragon simply grabbed the sword and punched the stunned princess. Even as she crumpled, falling to her knees, she still gripped the sword tightly, refusing to let go of her father’s heirloom.
Grima looked down at Lucina with contempt. “Shame this is the best you can do. Not that I expected you to be able to save anyone. Not your aunt, not your mother, not even your father. You may have saved them some time, but they will still die by my hand. It makes no difference to me!” He chuckled sadistically and began wrenching away the sword.
In anger Lucina launched herself at Grima, revealing a small spear from a hidden pouch in her clothes, which she plunged towards his chest. Before it made contact, he plucked the lance from her hand with a look of indifference. Knocking her down with a swift side kick, Grima stood above Lucina in disapproval.
“Was that the only trick you had up you sleeve? Pitiful.” The attack had been pointless, and Grima looked down in floccinaucinihilipilification. “You can’t win. Not against me.”
“Maybe she can’t, but how about me?”
Grima turned to see a man with a sand colored swordsman robe, wielding a common ebony blade, soaring through the air, sword coming down towards him. Two other swords hung at his side.
“Come Owain. You never could beat father. Hit me with your best shot!” Grima challenged, but raised his arms to protect himself, relinquishing his grip on Lucina’s Falchion.
As Owain drew closer, he readied himself, drawing his sword closer to him in preparation to strike. “Come Missiletainn, save the future! Burning Attack!”
As Owain reached Grima he slashed repeatedly, hacking back and forth as quickly as his body could manage. Eventually, when he managed to make a cut on Grima’s iron-like body, Grima grabbed the sword and tossed Owain aside. “Come now… you didn’t really think you stood a chance did you?” Grima mocked and beckoned Owain forward with his hand in a taunting motion.
Owain rolled as he collided with the ground and quickly dashed back at the Fell Dragon, drawing his two other silver swords. “Bring it! Saitama, Medaka, let’s finish him… Tsunami Razor!” Owain began spinning his swords at high octane, forcing his opponent backwards.
Finally, Grima stopped retreating and sprinted towards Owain, using Missiletainn to disarm Owain. Both Medaka and Missiletainn clattered to the ground and Grima snapped his fingers, sending spikes towards the future warrior.
“Look out!” Lucina called, dashing forward, dispersing the spikes when they came into contact with the Falchion. Owain dashed towards Grima, brandishing his lone sword, Saitama, in an attack.
“Ten Bloody Fists: Jū Chimamire no Ken!” Owain called out as he swung his blade, quickly following up with nine other equally broad swings.
Grima staggered back slightly, but the head of the Fell Dragon rose from the front and positioned itself towards its host, releasing a demonic gas as he breathed, knocking the two cousins back.
“Fools. You should have run when you had the chance,” Grima scolded, raising his hands threateningly.
Before Grima could finish the duo off however, his attention was diverted by a solitary arrow streaking towards him. He turned his body away from the sword fighters and intercepted the projectile with his fingers as though it was a piece of rice and his finger were chopsticks.
“Hurry up!” Virion called, notching another arrow, his blue hair flowing magnificently despite the chaos surrounding him. “We’re doing our best to hold his followers off, but their numbers are overwhelming. Finish him off so we can end the suffering he has brought.” As he aimed his arrow towards Grima he smiled. “Die, with magnificence!”
While this was happening, Robin had pulled Chrom aside. As the two were dispatching Grimeal who threatened to blindside Lucina and the others Robin whispered to Chrom.
When the white-haired man finished speaking, the Exalt looked at his friend in horror. “What the hell! No way!” Chrom shook his head. “There’s no way I’ll do that! So many things could go wrong?! And so easily!”
“It’s okay… I trust you. Besides, there’s no time!” Robin stared Chrom down gripping his hand tightly. “I’m your tactician. I give the strategies. You put them into action. Trust me, the same way I’m putting my trust in you.”
The harder Chrom looked, the more assurance he found. He had seen Robin pull off genius, he’d seen him pull off the insane… he had even pulled of the impossible. He wasn’t the same tactician that failed to save his sister. He had grown, as had they all. Finally, Chrom nodded. “Alright… but I don’t like it.”
Robin smiled, and mouthed the words, ‘thank you’. He began rushing towards Grima to execute his plan and Chrom ran towards the dragon to catch up. As they approached him, Grima had finally succeeded in knocking down his attackers. They managed to get within a few feet before Grima turned to them. Throwing his sword at his unsuspecting foe, Robin abandoned his weapon. The sword lodged itself in Grima’s shoulder causing him to stumble back a few steps in surprise. Taking advantage of the distraction, Robin leaped onto his future counterpart linking his arms and legs, restraining him and constricting his movements.
“Now Chrom!” Robin yelled, his voice raw and worn as he clenched his muscles.
“What are you doing? This will not save you! You cannot hold… me… BACK! I AM GRIMA!” Grima snarled in fury, slowly wrenching his arms out of Robin’s grip.
Chrom hesitated for a brief moment, but took his sword, sprinted forward and plunged his sword forward, it went through Robin’s stomach, which then pierce Grima’s chest, right where his heart was, if he, in fact, possessed one.
Grima cried out in agony, his howl echoing through the night sky. “That sword… it bears Naga’s blessing… You! How?!”
Chrom quickly removed the blade and Robin gasped in pain, the excruciating feeling overriding his senses. Even though he had prepared, the shock still made his body unresponsive. Trying to focus, he bit his tongue hard. For a moment it was all numb, but then the stimuli registered and was able to retain control. Quickly pulling out the Thoron tome, calling forth the lightning, he gripped it in his hand, wielding it like a blade. Thrusting his hand forth, he plunged it into the crack Chrom formed.
As the magic made contact with the crack, it began shaking violently. Without warning, the magic exploded and Robin was thrown off his future self. He slammed into Chrom, who supported and steadied him. As he laid his injured companion down slowly, he began frantically scolding him. “That was crazy! I can’t believe that worked. What if I’d hit a vital organ!?”
“Stop asking. I told you I trust you.” Robin smiled assumingly.
Perhaps… that was why he had stood a chance.
Suddenly he began coughing violently, blood spurting out his mouth. He fell forward onto the dragon’s back, hacking up his own insides.
“Step back Chrom,” Robin’s wife, Lissa ordered, leaned over her husband with her staff. “You’re so reckless,” She scolded as she healed him. She held her staff above him, green light emitting from it as the magic alleviated his injury.
Once again offering his hand, Chrom pulled his brother in law up. The trio turned to Grima who was spasming violently and howling menacingly. In his state of defeat, he behaved the same as the mindless Risen he’d unleashed to plague Ylisse. Mindless monsters that knew only mayhem and carnage.
Robin approached him, with the rest of the Shepherds following closely behind. The Grimeal were no longer being teleported to the battlefield, now that Grima was unable to properly concentrate and those that were already there had put down their weapons in surrender.
Grima struggled to look up at his host. Coughing, he uttered his disbelief. “That… that attack… it was…”
Robin nodded. “The same magic you used to kill Chrom in your timeline. I picked a pain I thought you’d be familiar with. Except this time, I didn’t betray my friends. Just like I promised.”
Grima struggled to his feet, clutching his heart, which seemed to be leaking some strange black liquid. “Don’t think this is the end… I don’t die… I won’t die… not like this… not with one measly lucky shot… I won’t die… this easily.”
Robin nodded. “I know.” He opened up the tome and formed the lightning magic in his hand. “I’ve always known. That’s why I’m ready to die. But rest assured… I’m taking you with me.”
“ROBIN!” The shepherds all yelled in an attempt to stop their friend. They dashed forth to prevent his attack, but they were too slow. Robin ignored their cries and shot the spell through the dragon’s head, causing him to crumple. Grima could be seen gasping for air, but all eyes were on the tactician.
Said tactician turned to his stunned comrades. “Sorry guys… it looks like this is the end.”
Robin turned in surprise to see Vaike shaking his head in disbelief. “You won’t die… there’s no way… no matter what happens… you’ll find a way back to us.” He pounded his chest. “I believe in our bond. Didn’t you hear what Naga said? It’s our bond vs. fate. And if I was a gambling man, I know what I’d bet on.”
Sully chuckled. “That’s right, so dry your tears you damn lightweight.” She teased, but Robin could see her eyes were beginning to get misty as well. Not that she’d ever admit it. “We’ll see you again, pushover. And I’ll be twice as strong as I am now, so you better watch out.”
Ricken nodded in agreement. “You will come back to us. I don’t care if I sound immature… you will come back… you got it! Do whatever you have to,” the tiny mage ordered, taking heavy breaths to prevent tears from flowing.
Brady raised his staff in agreement. “Come on boss, like hell I’ll let you leave me! If you even think of abandoning us, I’ll kick your ass!” He scowled. “I already lost my ma and pa. If I can’t save people, why bother being a healer. I’m not a fighter. So, until you come back, I can’t consider this a victory!”
Maribelle smiled curtly. “I believe what my son is trying to say is that we will not let you leave.” She wiped her eyes and smiled sadly. “You better come back to us! You hear me, Robin?!”
Chrom looked down and spoke through tears. He was holding up better than Robin had expected. “You’re gonna come back… you have to… you’re strong, so I believe in you. And when you get back, we’ll throw the best damn party ever!”
Gregor laughed heartily, clasping Chrom’s shoulder merrily. “Gregor will drink to that! He will eagerly await brave man’s return. Gregor will miss you, but not as much as you will miss Gregor.”
Robin chuckled, bittersweetly, memories of the times he’d spent with his comrades and friends, flooding his brain. But despite that, or maybe, because of that, he still felt he made the right decision. “You’d drink to anything Gregor.”
Gregor rubbed his chin in thought before hollering in laughter. “Then Gregor drink extra hard at your welcome home party.”
Lucina patted her father’s back and nodded. “I’ve learned… hope is never lost. Even when everything is against you, even when you’re backed up against a wall, break down the wall! No matter what you may believe… no matter what curveballs life throws… you can always get back up! Keep going, Robin… keep running until you come back to us! No matter what darkness”
Lissa held her husband’s hand for what may have been the last time. “Robin… come back. You have to.”
Robin sniffled, trying to hold back the tears that were gushing out. He embraced his wife, pulling her close to him. “If that is what you wish. I will return. If I have to go through hell… I’ll live for you. If it’ll make you happy… I’ll do anything. I promise.”
He heard cheering and clanging of weapons, and then suddenly, his vision got blurry, he began staggering and his head started spinning. Up was backwards and down was left. All the sounds he heard felt like he was hearing the noise through a filter. His vision went black and he thought he could make out individual voices… but… they were so far away… all clustered and intangible…
He couldn’t hear their voices anymore… they were gone. But he kept pushing…
He stopped fighting the inevitable… and slipped away into the darkness.
He awoke to what sounded like loud cannon fire. Cannons weren’t things his army used, though they did use the occasional ballista once they joined up with Say’ri’s resistance. However, a few platoons in Plegia employed the weapon. Robin had attempted to study the device, but its instructions were nearly unreadable to one who could not read Plegian’s alphabet. Though their spoken language was the same, their written one varied immensely. He tried to get Henry to read it to him, but he was unable to read some of the more complex technical terms. The fact that he didn’t care all that much didn’t help. He had thought about asking Tharja, but that possibility brought up… different concerns.
Springing to action he suddenly fell, underestimating the distance. Pain shot through his nose but he quickly jumped back up, then paused after taking a glance at his surroundings.
Right by his feet was a bed, with tussled sheets and a pillow that had fallen off the bed, which he assumed he had been resting in. He also saw a table with various kinds of herbs and various medicinal equipment. There was another boom that sounded like a cannon and he was thrown back onto the bed. “Am I on a ship?”
The rocking sensation subsided, but it reminded him of all the time he spent whilst traveling to Valm. One time Sully tried to drive the boat and managed to run into every rock and to make matters worse, Henry accidentally conjured up a storm, when he was trying to charm the corpses of the fish they’d passed. He’d figured out how to reanimate the corpse later but was much more interested in the storm he’d accidentally caused. That was a rough week.
Suddenly he recalled the past… hour… day? He squeezed his fists experimentally, the blood rushing to his knuckles. They seemed to be working normally, somehow. He couldn’t remember what had happened after he lost his senses, and his experimental clenching didn’t seem to do anything noticeable in terms of remembering. He began looking around for any clue to where he was.
Seeing his silver sword and two of his tomes on the floor next to him, he scooped them up and examined them. They seemed to be normal, but how they stayed with him he wasn’t sure. He didn’t have any idea about anything, so he just took the weapons at face value. As weapons, just like he had used them.
Rushing out of the room, he bumped into a long-nosed man who was running somewhere.
The two were both thrown back and Robin got a good look at the man. He was wearing brown coveralls and an odd green bandana on his head. Goggles rested on the bandana and a white sash was tied around his waist. He was holding a small green slingshot in his hand. Robin tried to get up and hopefully figure out where he was but the stranger beat him to the punch.
“AAAAAAAHHHHHGGGGGGGGG! It’s a marine!” He pointed at Robin and quickly drew his slingshot and jumped back. “I don’t know how you got here but I’ll stop you! Take this. Lead Star!”
With speed that Robin could barely track, the man grabbed a small iron ball from his pouch and fired it. Robin’s well-trained reflexes caught it with his hand before it hit him. ‘Why is he attacking me? And what is a marine? And I still don’t know where I am,” Robin thought despondently. ‘Still this man appears to be quite skilled; hopefully, I’m not stuck in enemy territory or I’ll have a tough time getting home alive.’
“AGHHHHHHHHHHHH!” The man called out in fear, his eyes popping out of his head though they were still eclipsed by his long nose. “You…you’d better not make me mad. I’m the brave Captain Usopp of the sea and I’ve got ten thousand brave warriors right behind me!” He informed Robin, though Robin noticed his knees were shaking quite obviously.
What interested him more was the “of the sea” comment. Robin looked quizzically. ‘Captain of the sea? So we are on a ship,’ Robin thought. He quickly surveyed the area, looking for any other hints that could help him out in this predicament.
Being in so much war developed Robin’s ability to stay calm during times of stress, but he saw nothing of any use. ‘Still, though, this man seems terrified of me. His knees are knocking like one of the unlucky soldiers Fredrick used as demonstrations. He’s got to be bluffing.’
Usopp swallowed heavily, presumably since he noticed Robin was not taking his threat seriously. “So you want to test me?! Well, bring it; Triple Exploding Star!” He called out, and, once again, began rapidly shooting out several pellets, all of which Robin dodged. Something about the name “Exploding Star”, didn’t appeal to him. He later heard them explode and was glad he didn’t choose to grab those like he did the iron ball.
At that moment a man with three swords hung at his side strolled into view, yawning. Two of his swords looked ornate and stylish, masterfully crafted, whereas the third looked like a practice weapon used for duels between pupils. Why he’d only have two good swords struck Robin as odd, but those two were of higher quality than any he’d seen.
The man himself was also mysterious. He had mossy green hair and three gold earrings adorned his left ear. His pants were a shade of dark green and a black bandana was wrapped around his arm. He had a plain white shirt on and a large green sash tied around his waist that Robin couldn’t identify. “Hey, Usopp? What’s gonna on, are we under attack or something? I heard some explosions,” he asked lazily, as though he couldn’t be bothered and was, more than anything, annoyed he was awoken from his nap.
Usopp ran back to the swordsman and cowered behind him. “Oh thank goodness you’re here Zoro… one of the marines got onto our ship.”
“I’m not a…” Robin began but Zoro interrupted him, forcing him to dodge a quick slash from a sword the green haired man had just drawn. Fortunately, there was sufficient distance between Robin and Zoro, giving him adequate time to react to his attack. Despite this, the swordsman had closed the distance in a flash, and now there was barely a meter between them. His next strike would definitely be faster than the last.
If Robin’s mind hadn’t already begun registering the surroundings to search for additional enemies, he would have marveled at how quickly this Zoro went from a casual stroll to a full on charge. It was like he had a warrior switch, and it had been flipped.
“I don’t know how you got on this ship and I don’t care. I’m taking you down, Marine,” Zoro scowled and drew his two other swords, one of which he put in his mouth. The action raised Robin’s eyebrow, but he had seen people turn into giant rabbit monsters. It’s hard to be surprised after that.
‘I don’t even know what a marine is. Not that me saying that would make much difference. I’m sure I’m already an enemy in their minds.’ Robin sighed and drew his silver sword. “It doesn’t have to go this way.”
Robin was fairly confident in his swordplay. He had dueled with the likes of Chrom, Fredrick, Lon-Qu and his own son Owain, and performed well enough that he almost considered dropping magic and pursuing the role of a swordsmen. It was a simpler pursuit, if more exhausting on his body. Magic was much more about feeling and experiencing a breakthrough, which could take anywhere from a day to a year, and the timing came seemingly randomly.
Physical training was much less luck based. It could be as easy as a simple ‘rinse and repeat’ system if the individual had the will and determination. Improvements came in gradual, but noticeable bursts, whereas one morning, Ricken had woken up stronger than Tharja and Henry, much to the first’s eternal anger, and the second’s curious amusement. While he appreciated the power increase that made his seniors notice him, he could do without the attempts on his life, both intentional and accidental. The two surpassed him shortly thereafter and became bored with the once again, bottom of the heap, Ricken.
Robin’s notion had been a grand one, with him standing atop the peak of physical prowess, handily defeating his friends and mentors, but it was also short-lived. He knew that Fredrick and Lon-Qu trained as frequently as he studied tactics and planned. Chrom was a bit more occupied than the two, more dedicated fighters, but even he managed to sneak in a good four or five hours a day. Robin had realized that his army needed a tactician far more than another swordsman, especially with the arrival of Severa and Inigo.
Regardless, he felt that even if he was put up against a master, he would be able to hold his own, and potentially turn the tables with his superior strategic mind and unique skill set. Despite that, he couldn’t shake the feeling of danger his opponent seemed to be exuding. He scanned him and his clothes, looking for any exploitable weaknesses. He noted several but doubted any of them could feasibly be used in a fast paced fight.
Zoro snickered and spoke, though he was a bit difficult to understand with the sword in his mouth. Fortunately, Robin had been in many situations that relied on hearing and delivering critical information, efficiently and quickly amidst chaotic, and usually, obstreperous battles, so figuring out a little bit wasn’t difficult. He pieced together his sounds to form the taunt “Ha… like I’d surrender to the likes of you.”
‘You don’t even know who I am!’ Robin thought angrily and brought the sword up in a defensive stance. Zoro charged forth, swinging the two swords in his hands at Robin. The first was able to knock Robin easily off his guard, staggering him backwards, with a force Robin thought couldn’t be delivered with a sword, and the second easily knocked Robin’s weapon out of his hand. As the last sword, the one that Zoro put in his mouth, came towards him, Robin dodged the swing by rolling away at the last second.
While he avoided a fatal blow, this warrior was on a much higher level than he was, and he hadn’t managed to escape completely unharmed. His shoulder had been slashed by the sword and a few drops of blood were spilling on the floor. Thankfully, it didn’t have the force that the other two had behind it, presumably because the mouth couldn’t produce as much kinetic energy as arms. It was also dulled, being the subpar sword. If it was a real sword… Robin didn’t want to think about that.
As Robin finished his roll, he managed to grab his silver sword, but he could feel it straining, threatening to shatter one more clash and it would break... and it had barely been used! Not to mention the fact this was a silver sword. Silver didn’t strain as far as he was aware before today.
‘He’s fast… so fast. I’ve never seen anyone as fast,’ Robin thought, panicking. ‘There’s no way I can beat this guy in a straight up fight. Any strategy I could come up with would be pointless against someone like him. My sword can't handle another strike. Retreat is the only option.’ He quickly pulled out his tome, winced at the pain from his wound, and, forming a fireball, shot it up between the two of them. It hit the wooden floor and caught fire, spreading quickly, but despite this, the wood didn’t seem to change color or even burn. It was quite fascinating, but Robin didn’t have time to admire or ponder it.
Robin turned, with a ‘tactical withdraw’ to try and get away from the monster. ‘I just need to get back to Ylisse, then I’ll be fine, even if that monster follows me, I’ll be fine with Chrom and the others. Even as strong as he is, with a few friends we could overwhelm him. Lucina, Morgan, and Owain might be able to hold him off if they work together, but for one person to have that much power is insane! It was like Gregor, Cherche, Vaike and Minerva plus Fredrick thrown in there for good measure! And he’s fast!’
He paused when he heard Zoro begin to yell “Three Sword Style… Tatsu Maki!” Robin turned around just in time to see Zoro spinning and creating a tornado that not only extinguished the flames but also sent what looked like slash waves at him. Robin quickly pulled out his tome and shot a Thoron blast through the slashes, dispersing them and going right at Zoro.
Robin turned and kept running down the corridor, knowing that his attack probably wouldn’t even scratch the swordsman. Even though that spell killed a weakened Grima, he was sure Zoro would shrug it off the same way Walhart had.
Finding a door that was unlocked, he opened it and slipped inside, praying to Naga that he wouldn’t be discovered.
Robin realized quickly that he had run into the kitchen. He realized this immediately after seeing a young man, barely more than a teenager, with a yellow straw hat and simple red vest throwing more food into his mouth than Robin thought was physically possible. And he had watched a literal army feast, all night long, fueled by barrels of ale, mead, and their most recent victory. Robin identified pork, beef, poultry, even bear meat on the table.
The teen turned to Robin and spoke. “Hwugh reor hugh?” Robin shot a quizzical look but was forced to catch his breath before he could respond. The teen beat him to responding, however. He swallowed and tried again. “Who are you?” He thought for a minute and added, “And how did you get on my ship?”
Another large boom was heard and the ship began wobbling. “What was that!?” The teen asked, grabbing his meat to keep it from falling off the table. Despite this, he sounded surprised, not concerned.
“I think this ship is under attack, if I’m not mistaken,” Robin answered approaching slowly, hands raised in a peaceful manner. “Can you tell me where I am?” He asked, sensing this man would be much more peaceful than that monster swordsman.
The boy waved off Robin’s concern and grabbed another piece of meat. “Oh, that's fine. The others will handle it. As for this place; this is the Thousand Sunny, it’s my ship.” He chuckled. “I’m Luffy.”
Robin sat down at the table with him and sighed. “I’m Robin.” ‘Finally… a normal person… well… sans his appetite... Maybe this is normal here… not that I know where here is.’
Robin paused a moment, one of his previous comments clicking. ‘Wait, his ship? Does that mean he’s the swordsman’s boss!? How strong must he be!?’
Robin surveyed the young man. He didn’t seem like a warrior. He had some muscles, sure, but nothing that would put him on a level like the one Zoro was on. Based on his looks, even Donny could take this guy.
‘Perhaps he’s hired him for protection,’ Robin thought. ‘Yes, that makes much more sense. Perhaps he was some kind of noble… maybe that straw hat is a sign of nobility wherever I am. He sure doesn’t behave like one though…’
“Huh? No, I know Robin and she’s a girl,” Luffy countered, pausing in his quest for meat to argue.
“What? Another Robin?” Robin thought back to when he and the Shepherds had been visiting the Outrealms and saw copies of themselves. ‘Could I have landed in some kind of Outrealm? But then why don’t I know who Luffy is? Is he a Plegian or perhaps from some minor country of Valm like Virion?’
Robin ran his hand through his hair in frustration. ‘I’m just getting more questions!’
“Yeah… she reads lots of books and is really smart,” Luffy explained. “She’s a member of our crew. She’s really funny.” He chuckled again, giving Robin the same naïve grin he’d been wearing the entire time.
‘Certainly sounds like me,’ Robin thought. ‘Well, at least, I can get back if I find an Outrealm Gate.’ The last time they had found the Outrealm Gate completely by accident, a la one Vaike’s drunken rampages. They managed to find him, passed out from the alcohol, and after finding the inhabitants of that land, who all bore near identical features to the rest of the Shepherds, they were directed back to the gate from which they came. Finding this realm’s gate on his own would be tricky… unless this Luffy fellow knew more about it.
Their conversation and Robin’s concentration was interrupted when a cannonball came crashing through the ceiling and onto the table, crushing the meat. Luffy’s eyes shot out in surprise and jumped through the hole in the ceiling. “You’ll pay for that!”
Robin was taken back by the speed he flung himself out the ceiling and the hostility in his voice. ‘He’s going to fight? Maybe he is the leader after all.’ Robin thought, clambering up onto the deck.
He saw several soldiers that shared the same uniform, all of which Luffy was pummeling by stretching his body in ways that defied the skeletal structure. “WHAT?!” Robin called out in surprise. ‘I guess he can fight. How is he doing that, though? Is he some strange kind of Taguel?’
Several of the soldiers came rushing towards Robin with swords drawn. Robin pulled out his sword and sidestepped the warriors, and slashing at them with his weapon. He didn’t know who they were or why they were attacking him. They might be the good guys, but he was unable to decipher anything from the current predicament and set about to protect his own life. He had someone he needed to return to.
When other soldiers broke away from the suicide mission that was attacking Luffy, they rushed him. As they came into his line of vision, Robin saw some kind of inscription on their hat but was unable to make out the words. Whether he was just exhausted and thus not seeing clearly, or if it was some kind of language he didn't recognize, Robin couldn't tell. The rocking motions of the ship were much harder to handle now that he was no longer below deck.
The fight didn't last long; even if Robin was a bit woozy, his enemies were unskilled and Robin easily deflected their blows and countered with his own. It wasn’t as precise as his moves normally were, but they didn’t need to be.
However, as he finished the last combatant, his head suddenly began tightening and he collapsed. It was like his head was being crushed by a giant boulder. He gripped his head and cried in agony. Then the pain changed. It felt like his skull was being drilled through, each tender part of his bone being violated and pulverized. The pain subsided briefly and, surveying the battleground to look for threats, he found one. He looked up in time to see the soldiers poised to strike, but he had no way of moving.
“Leave him alone! Gum Gum Whip!” He heard Luffy yell, and suddenly the soldiers were knocked down by Luffy’s outstretch foot. Robin chose not to think about it too much. His brain already hurt plenty.
Rushing over to the incapacitated man, Luffy bent down and offered a hand. “Are you alright Robin?!” Luffy asked, seemingly unaware of the soldiers directly in his blind spot. Even though he seemed to know his way around a fight, he clearly had no grasp of the more intellectual going ons.
Robin nodded, grabbed the outstretched hand and tried to rise to his feet. The pain had subsided to a near tolerable level, but he knew he needed to get away from the fighting. Even these small fry could defeat him should his head begin rebelling against him again. “Get out of here!” Luffy called, thinking the same thing as Robin.
Robin nodded and began staggering away from the battlefield. He looked back at Luffy who charged the soldiers, yelling out another attack name. “He’ll be fine.” Robin assured himself before hobbling up to the higher deck.
“Gum Gum… Gatling!” Luffy called, delivering punch after punch on the helpless marine soldiers, who flew backwards like rag dolls in a hurricane.
“He’s too strong.” One of them called as he sent them flying. He collapsed on the other side of the ship and fell unconscious, hitting with a loud thud.
“Commander, save us!” Another called, before suffering more or less the same fate as his partner.
“That’s quite enough.” Someone called out, and Luffy paused, turning to look for the source of the sound. “You’ve done quite a number on my men, but that ends now. I understand your fighting style. That means I can defeat you.”
“Who’s there? Show yourself!” Luffy called, circling in frustration.
“Very well… hello, Straw Hat Luffy.” A shrill voice called out from the gangplank the Marines had used to board the Thousand Sunny. Luffy turned and saw a highly decorated marine leader stepping forward from behind all of his soldiers. He stepped in front of the Marines by a considerable margin, and all the Marines backed up slightly in response.
He stood arrogantly, wearing a condescending grin. His long marine overcoat was adorned with several badges on his shoulders and he sported plain light black suit underneath. His blue hair spiked up like it was afraid of touching the ground.
“Who are you?” Luffy asked, tilting his head as a sign of confusion. He hadn’t met him before, or at least he couldn’t remember meeting this man.
“That’s very simple, Straw Hat. The man who will capture you and claim the three-hundred Million Beri bounty on your head. I am Marine Captain Baku Shidori,” The marine declared arrogantly, pointing a gloved finger at the pirate.
After the declaration, all of the Marines began cheering triumphantly. A few even began giving a sigh of relief.
“You’re toast now, Straw Hat! Once the boss gets serious, no one can stop him.” A voice chimed in from the crowd, though Luffy couldn’t tell who said it.
“I don’t know what ambitions you had as a pirate, but they end today! I am going to catch you like a fish!” Baku declared, extending his hand in front of Luffy and clenching it, in an attempt to symbolize his capture of the pirate.
“I won’t be caught because I’m going to be the King of the Pirates!” Luffy exclaimed stretching his fist far back. He whipped it forward towards the Marine and called out the attack’s name. “Gum Gum Pistol!”
Unfortunately for Luffy, his fist harmlessly went through the captain’s stomach, which liquefied. Luffy dropped to the ground panting heavily, his Devil Fruit reacting to the water that now extended to cover his body.
“I’m afraid that won’t work on me, Straw Hat Baka. I, too, have eaten a Logia type Devil Fruit. I ate the Water Water Fruit. I’m a water man!” Baku explained, taking off his Marine coat and tossing it aside haphazardly.
Several of the Marines sighed. One of the more heavily decorated officers stepped forward and glared at the Commander. She had short, dark green hair and a modified version of the Marine overcoat that wrapped snugly around her alluring body. She swaggered forward, her movements exaggerating the swaying of her tight hips. Her eyes were large and sharp and seemed to have flames dancing in them. Her succulent lips only highlighted the rest of her gorgeous face.
Most of the soldiers were too busy admiring the woman with obvious infatuation to sense the tension in the air. The few that did were watching in fear, praying the two didn’t fight.
She stopped in front of the Marine, who seemed to be observing her out of the corner of his eye, while he continued to drown Luffy.
Her words came rolling off her tongue seductively, sultry, deeper than expected from a woman of her small size. Hearing it sent a shiver down the Marines’ spines, the way a deep yawn would, making them all tingly all over. “Captain, please stop speaking in Japanese. We told you to knock it off.” She urged, her sexy Russian voice having no noticeable effect on the captain. “Ponyal?” Most of the Marines were too entranced by her lovely voice to notice that while scolding the captain for not using Ocean Standard, she slipped into Russian, her mother tongue, asking if the captain “got it”. Those few that had noticed decided they didn’t want to correct her.
“What are you saying Momi? Why should I?” Baku asked in legitimate surprise. He turned to one of his higher ranked minions and pointed at her. “You there! Why should I be forced to speak Ocean Standard? I’m mostly speaking it anyways!”
The woman pointed to herself to clarify, and when she received a nod, explained. “Sir, Japanese it… well… it’s mostly a dead language. If you use Standard, then everyone would be able to understand you.” She spoke timidly, her gaze shifting between the other female officer, her captain, and the ground, her gaze never staying on just one for more than a few seconds.
“Uncultured swine.” Baku insisted proudly. “Justice is the only thing we should conform to.” Baku spoke several languages, a skill that if you didn’t already have when you joined the Marines, you would quickly attain just to safely communicate with locals whose language was too different from Standard for a proper translation. But while his mother tongue was English, he had a strange affinity for Japanese that he forced onto his subordinates. Not that they complained much. He had made an example of the one soldier who went too far in sharing his opinion.
His rantings were interrupted by Luffy’s coughing and desperate gasping for air. The pirate was flopping around, trying to escape the water that followed his every move.
Baku turned to Luffy and snapped his fingers, signaling for his underlings to get the sea stones. While he would never admit it, using the water was exhausting, especially when transporting a prisoner. He kept several sea stones on hand for all the Devil Fruit users he captured. “You can’t stand water can you, Luffy? Can I call you Luffy?” He snickered and then began laughing. “Not that it matters what you think… tootootootootootootoo.”
“What a stupid laugh…” Luffy coughed, somehow still unconcerned despite his predicament.
“Grh. You do realize the situation you’re in, right?” The captain looked at him in disgust as his water began covering Luffy’s entire body. “Perhaps you’re just a complete and total baka.”
A few of Baku’s subordinates sighed, but none dared say anything. Momi looked like she thought about it for a second, but shrugged, ultimately deciding it wasn’t worth it.
As the captain was preparing to ensnare Luffy, loud, rapid footsteps could be heard and the Marines turned to the right.
“AHG! Luffy.” Usopp called, having appeared from the stair leading to the lower deck and seeing the scene with his captain. “Oh no, you don’t. Take this; Firebird Star!” Usopp yelled, firing another pellet that morphed into a fire in the shape of a bird. Baku shot a blast of water out of his hand reflexively, extinguishing the flame.
“You call that a firebird? Please. I’ve fought a pirate that embodied that name. He’s the only Devil Fruit using pirate I’ve been unable to capture.” His face contorted in a menacing snarl. “I even managed to get him away from Whitebeard and his followers… Someday I’ll get him.”
“Wh… Who is this guy Luffy!?” Usopp asked in fear, slowly edging away from the enemies.
“Ba…baka?” Luffy guessed, mistaking his name for the word idiot.
To be fair, Luffy had only learned Ocean Standard, modern English and Japanese were much more complicated for him, so he probably didn’t even realize he was insulting the Marine. Even the mountain bandits that caused him and Shanks some trouble many years ago spoke a fairly standard dialect of Ocean Basic. Everyone in town spoke it, as did the pirates, so Luffy never bothered to learn any other languages beyond the little bits he picked up from Shanks.
“Oh no… the captain hates being called that word.” One of the marine soldiers whispered. Proving the soldier right, Baku’s body began literally steaming, smoke rising from his arms as he let out a loud scream.
“No, you’re the baka… I’ll drown you! I’ll drown you all! You and you pathetic crew… Water Water Cannon!” He called putting his hands together and firing a tremendous amount of water at Usopp and the stairs he was trying to retreat to. Usopp shrieked and dived out of the way, the water instead hitting Sanji and Zoro who appeared to be bickering at the bottom pf the stairs. The impact knocked them back into the wall and the two collapsed, momentarily stunned. Nami quickly reacted to the situation and grabbed Chopper, running away with him to keep him from drowning.
Franky, who was only a few feet behind the bickering swordsman and cook, round the corner and pulled a lever causing an emergency hatch to close over the stairs, keeping the water out. “Phew… that wasn’t super at all. If we open the door, the Sunny's gonna flood.”
“What about Luffy!?” Zoro asked, having recovered from his dosing. “He needs our help!”
“Nothing we can do. We’ve just got to believe in him. He’ll pull through. He always does.” Sanji answered, pulling out a cigarette, trying and failing to light it due to all the water it absorbed. He shook it but it still didn't light. “Besides, he’s got Usopp…” He paused realizing that that might actually make it harder for their captain.
“Robin… can you help them?” Zoro asked turning to the archeologist.
She shook her head. “No… I can only use my Devil Fruit power where I can see. Even if I could, my limbs would just be an easy target for that water man. Sorry.” She apologized.
‘Dammit! You better beat that guy, Luffy!” Zoro thought, pounding his head against the wall in frustration at his helplessness. He briefly considered cutting his way through the roof, but Franky had insisted that that would be impossible. The Adam wood the Sunny was made of was supposed to be almost indestructible.
Resolving to wait, he sat down impatiently.
“Don’t feel too bad Luffy, you never actually stood a chance to begin with. You might not have heard of me, but I’m famous for capturing Devil Fruit users. Wakatteru? I’m the real pirate hunter.” Baku snorted, asking if Luffy ‘got it’, not that the pirate understood. “It’s almost a shame I can’t let your friends out, but we don’t have enough men to deal with all of them. I would’ve liked to take Zoro’s head back to Marine Headquarters and make my status as the true Pirate Hunter official.”
Baku snickered and pointed at Usopp. “We’ve caught your subordinate here and the others are trapped below deck. He doesn’t seem to have a bounty, so we’ll just throw the baka overboard. You lose.”
Momi stepped forward, holding a bounty in her hands. “Sir… I think this Usopp fellow is actually the man on this bounty.” She held up the paper and Baku snatched it away, scanning its contents.
After a moment he laughed. “Momi you baka! This is for someone named Sniper King… can’t you tell the difference?” He insulted, tapping the mask on the bounty.
“Does he honestly not see that it’s just him in a mask?” Several of the Marines murmured amongst themselves.
“Captain’s actually kinda dumb don’t ya think?” One whispered his response, wary of their captain overhearing them.
“Like I said, we’ll dispose of the long nosed one and drag Luffy here back to Marine HQ. Then he can be killed for all I care. Once we’re away, we’ll sink this ship. The cannonballs weren’t very effective, this wood is strong, but good old fashion fire should do the trick.” Baku smirked, looking up at the mast of the Thousand Sunny.
“We’ll start with the mast, it should catch fire along with the sails. It’s up high so I can keep them trapped below deck and burn the ship at the same time. Worst case scenario, the wood doesn’t catch… the sails will be burnt, they’ll be stranded out here and left to starve to death. It’s genius.” Baku explained and pointed at a cluster of soldiers. “Go gather some torches.”
As the four Marines began rushing back to the ship Luffy struggled above the water for one bold but quiet declaration. “I can’t die here.” Luffy solemnly told his captor.
“Hmm? Did you say something, baka?” The Captain asked sarcastically. “Think you can survive? I wouldn’t test that if I were you. You’ll get hurt bad.”
“I can’t die until I become the King of the Pirates and see Shanks again!” Luffy cried and tried to raise. The water quickly rose to swallow him again, forcing him to ground.
“Pitiful.” The Marine said, disgusted. “There are thousands of pirates out there. What makes you think you can beat all of them? You aren’t special Straw Hat, you’re one of the thousands. You are just a worthless baka that can’t even…”
Baku’s rantings were interrupted by a fireball that flew past him and hit the two Marines that were holding Usopp. It moved too quickly for his instincts to react to it, and his eyes had trouble following it. The two unlucky soldiers scrambled overboard in an attempt to put out the fire. A slash of wind knocked the four Marines that were handling the torches overboard. The few that weren’t extinguished by the wind were doused by the ocean.
Baku’s head shot towards the upper deck of the Sunny where the fireball and wind blade had come from. “Who the hell did that?!”
“I did.” Robin answered standing the head of the Thousand Sunny’s Lion. "I felt it was time to tip the scales." He announced as the wind blew his hair and coat dramatically.
“So that’s what marines are… I’d been wondering.” Robin noted to himself, doubting anyone could hear him from his perch. He looked down at his robes. “I guess they do have some similarities, but the pattern and coloring are totally different.”
“And who the hell are you? Another no-bounty member of Straw Hat’s crew?” Baku asked, looking through the bounties he had kept in his pocket. “Not that it matters. Tootootootoo.” He decided, shooting the arm that wasn’t holding Luffy down at the tactician. “Water Water Spear!” His arm morphed into a large trident and charged at Robin who drew his tome.
As Robin began to chant, Baku chuckled, his laughter temporarily halting the progression of his spear. “Fire won’t work on water baka! Didn’t you see what happened to your sniper buddy?”
“You’re the idiot.” Robin countered smugly. Lightning formed at his fingertips and once the spear reached him, he thrust his hand into it. “Thoron!” He yelled, sending the lightning back to the marine. It traveled through the water, evaporating it as it went. Robin saw Baku’s eyes widened right as it reached him, and smirked.
The bolt hit his arm and using the conductivity of the water, struck Baku’s chest, narrowly avoiding his heart. The resulting explosion blew a hole in his chest, threw the Marine against the rail guard like a rag doll, and created several sparks, which were quickly put out by his body.
“AHAGAHGA PAIN IT BURNS!” Baku cried out in pain, clutching the spot where his right arm had been before it had evaporated. Painfully concentrating with a look of anguish, Baku manipulated the water around his arm and the hole in his chest refilled, returning him to his original state. After the mending was complete, Baku dropped to the ground, panting as Luffy had merely moments previously.
“Lightning has a temperature of over 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can easily turn your water to steam, but unlike fire, it doesn’t extinguish. You have no choice but to retreat. I’m not in the best mental condition right now, but I know I’ve got at least four more shots left in this book. This is checkmate.” Robin declared jumping down from the lion’s head, landing softly on the main deck. ‘Now I’ve just got to hope my head stays normal,’ He thought, praying he hadn’t just jinxed himself.
“Ugh… you bastard!” Baku called out, but Robin began forming more lighting at his fingertips, to which he responded by turned around and relinquishing his grip on Luffy. The pirate began gasping for air and squirmed away from the marines, collecting what little composure Luffy could manage.
“Your orders captain?” Momi asked, reaching slowly into her back pocket, waiting for the order to strike.
“Can you take them? You’re a Lieutenant Commander right?” Baku asked, quickly surveying the battered state of his soldiers. While some of them could fight, none of them looked to be in a position where they could accomplish any good in a fight, especially against someone with a 300 Million Beri bounty.
“Yes sir… As for our enemies… this lightning man and the rubber man shouldn’t pose much of a problem. Straw Hat Luffy is basically out of commission and I noticed this other fellow hobbling around earlier.” She paused for a moment, closing her eyes in concentration and, after a moment, opened her eyes and relinquished her grip on the object in her pocket. “There are more of them on the lower deck. I can’t take that many. They won’t attack us though… they’d have a minimum of six casualties just from me… but unless you think you can pin them down we need to retreat.” The Lieutenant Commander stated passively, but the fact she had already dropped her aggressive stance told Baku that she knew they’d lost this battle.
Baku pounded his hand on the guard rail and cursed but eventually sighed and walked back towards the gangplank. “Come on men, we’re leaving.” The soldiers looked surprised but followed their captain to their ship.
As the Marines sailed away, Baku called out to the Straw Hat provocatively. “I won’t forget this Straw Hat! I will find you, and your little magic friend, too!”
After they sailed off, Robin collapsed next to Luffy, both of them gasping air. “I’m glad that worked. I don’t know how many more uses I’ll get out of this thing.” Normally Robin kept a precise tally of all of his tomes, allowing him to restock when his arsenal was running low, but the recent events and his throbbing headache seemed to keep him from recalling precise details from the recent past. On the rare occasion the stress got to him and he lost count, Miriel or Cordelia helped out, but neither of them were here at the moment.
Robin thought back, trying to remember now that his headache had subsided. He remembered Grima and his sacrifice, though he wasn’t sure how he had survived, why he was here, where here was, how much time had passed, or even the specific details of his fight with the Grimeal.
“You… you saved me!” Luffy exclaimed, grinning widely. He stood up and offered a hand to Robin. “Thank you!”
“You saved me first… I was just returning the favor.” Robin dismissed, helping himself up and then waving his hand as if to wave away the thanks.
“You saved me too. I’m sorry for attacking you.” Usopp apologized sheepishly. “But that fire move was so cool! How did you do that!?”
At that moment, the hatch opened up and Zoro burst out from the lower levels, all three swords drawn, followed by the rest of the crew. Robin screamed and hid behind Luffy. “Not the monster again!”
Zoro narrowed his eyes upon seeing Robin. “You,” was his simple and incredibly terrifying response. He positioned his swords towards him menacingly and glared him down.
“Knock it off Zoro.” Luffy yelled, surprising Robin. Zoro was a bit taken back as well but sheathed his weapons.
“Robin… meet Robin.” Luffy introduced, waving his crewmember over and introducing her to the tactician, laughing madly.
‘She looks nothing like me…’ Robin thought but shook her hand anyways. “I’m Robin.”
She chuckled lightly, her voice calm and collected. “Nice to meet you, I’m Nico Robin, the ship’s archaeologist.”
“Archeologist?” Robin asked, seeking to inquire, but his head suddenly began pounding again and he doubled over. The mind numbing pain had returned like his brains were being torn apart by some unseen beast.
He could hear Luffy and Usopp calling out his name, but the noise was unclear and distorted, like after the fight with Grima. Once again his eyes ceased to work and all he could see was an unyielding darkness.
“Huh… so familiar…” Robin thought before giving out entirely.