A roar of sound greeted Sanji as she mounted the platform. She resisted the urge to run and hide, and gritted her teeth, forcing herself to embrace it.
She found herself looking out over a sea of faces. Some were afraid. Some were eager. Some were angry. All were hopeful.
How have things changed so quickly? Sanji wondered. Their numbers had grown. And yet, they had done nothing. They were nothing to the angels. Not even a nuisance. The angels didn't care. They were a weak excuse for a rebellion. And yet, they tried. And now Sanji had to convince them. Convince them to follow her.
I never imagined I would come this far.
Korden was dead. And so were the ones that had come after her.
It all seems like a dream.
They needed a leader. They had come to Sanji- begging her to lead them.
I will lead better than any other leader ever has. I will bring us to victory.
Sanji raised her hand into the air, and instantly, all chatter in the room died. She took a deep breath. It was time to speak. Time to say something.
"My friends," she began. Her voice was weak. This was the voice of the child she had been- not the voice of the leader she was now! She gritted her teeth, and spoke again. "My friends." Much better. Her voice rung out, strong and powerful- showing none of the fear that she felt. "My brothers. My sister. My neighbors. You have come here today because you want to make a difference. Because you want to break free of the chains of the angels. They have wronged you, and you are here to avenge yourself."
Images of Kadai flashed before Sanji's eyes, and for a moment, she faltered. She closed her eyes, and a single tear slipped down her cheek.
Nervous mutters ran around the room, and Sanji felt a flash of anger. They saw her as weak. Pathetic. Hopeless.
Her eyes snapped open. "You believe it's impossible," she kept going, her tone strengthening. "Well let me tell you something. It is not impossible. Do you know why I am worthy to be your leader? I killed an angel. And we will kill many, many more. For each of us that they have killed! Too long, we have hid in the shadows. If you have any strength to fight left, then do so! Take up your weapons, and follow me. You believe it is hopeless, but I will lead you to victory. I will lead you to redemption. I will lead you to justice!"
For one, terrible moment, there was silence. Then a wave of sound hit Sanji as the entire room erupted into cheers. Fists were thrust into the air in a salute to her, as thousands of voices cheered. At first the cheers were a jumbled mix of sounds- cries for vengeance, cries to take action, and simply giving noise to the hate they felt in their hearts. But slowly, surely, they coalesced into one word, roared with millions of throats.
"SAN-JI! SAN-JI! SAN-JI! SAN-JI!" they bellowed.
Sanji waited patiently until the cheering died down. She had more to say.
Slowly, the crowd realized she wasn't done speaking. They quieted down- expectant eyes shifting back to Sanji's face.
"Thank you," Sanji murmured. "I'm glad that some of us here still have the fight left in them. But it is not enough to say that we will fight. We must prove ourselves." She took a deep breath. It was time. Time to reveal her plan. Time to commit. Time to avenge Kadai. Time to avenge all of them. "We will attack," she spoke with conviction- letting none of her doubts show. "And we will destroy. Our target is Avalon- the center of the angel's power. There, it is said, is a crystal that holds all their power. Without it, they are nothing. We will take it. And we will claim it for ourselves, or otherwise destroy it. But tonight, the rebellion will prove itself. We will destroy them once and for all!"
"It's impossible!" someone yelled.
Sanji's eyes snapped in the direction of the offender. The speaker was teenage boy- no more than 16. Sanji let an expression of scorn cross her face. "Impossible is a word for the weak. A word for those that would submit to the will of the cruel angels. If you do not believe, then you have no place here."
Silence filled the room.
"The question comes down to you," Sanji continued. "Do you believe it is possible? Are you willing to fight back? Or will you slink back to your homes and hide? If you cannot face our mission, then leave now, and do not come back!"
No one moved.
"Follow me, and I will lead us to victory!" Sanji yelled. "Who are we?!"
"THE FIRE!" the crowd screamed back.
"What do we want?!"
"When will we take it?!"
"NOW! NOW! NOW! NOW! NOW!"
"Death to angels!" Sanji screamed, thrusting her hands up to the sky. The crowd- worked up into a frenzy- roared the words back at her.
"DEATH TO ANGELS!"
Sanji dropped her hands, and smiled. I will destroy them. Just as they would have destroyed me.