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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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  #1  
Old 12-14-2005, 10:06 PM
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Default False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

Okay, I know I already have a One Piece fic going, but I wanted to to start a serious one as well, so I did ^^. I'm not sure which one I want to continue first, so I decided to let the readers decide! Sooo, tell me which one you guys think should be continued. Now then, on to the fic!

Reading key: Stuff in italics and equal signs =example= denote thoughts
Stuff in italics and ~...~ denote telepathy
Ani-Shifters: Ani is prounounced "Ah-nee"
Hum-Shifters: Hum is prounounded "He-yoom"
~~//~~


False Appearances
***

It’s said that the Shifter kind on Shizu Island in the West Blue were born of the coupling of the Gods and the animals that lived there, and that the two different races of Shifter were created in order to give them both a certain advantage over the island they lived on. The Ani-Shifters were Shifters who could take the form of any creature they wished, though they could become nothing else. The Hum-Shifters could assume any kind of form that was human and could change their appearances at will, though these were the forms they were restricted to.

And so the two Shifter races lived in harmony, while the Ani-Shifters lived among the wilds with their animalistic kin and the Hum-Shifters built great cities and towns around the shores of Shizu Island. This peace lasted for many generations, though it was not to last forever.

It is now the 15th year of the Age of Piracy, and things are not as peaceful as they once were…
***

Chapter One: Abandoned and Alone

Shifters live in Clans, which are like packs in the sense that they are made up of various family members and strays that have found a place in any given Clan. But Clans have a tendency to be very large, with up to and sometimes over thirty members. This was the case for Elnorin Shai (often referred to as El), one of the Ani-Shifters who lived in the wilderness. Her Clan was one of the largest on Shizu Island, and because of this family clashes were often.

“We’re not going into the Civil’s (which was the term the Ani used for the Hum, and it was not used kindly) area!” said El father, a huge Shifter named Calo. His long black hair was spiked this day, and his coal-gray eyes were glittering with impatience. His clothes, which barely fit his towering muscular frame, threatened to burst as the huge Shifter threw his arms around in agitation “We need nothing from them; we are the Ani, the masters of the earth and the animals! We will care for our own!”

“But Calo, Shiin is sick, and none of the herbal remedies are helping him!” replied El’s mother, a wisp of a creature who, even in her chosen human form (for the Ani can take the form of a human, but once they take a certain human form that is the one they live with for the rest of their considerably long lives) much resembled a frail deer, her favored animal form. Her large brown eyes were showing whites all around, like those of a distressed doe, and her delicate body shook slightly as her flowing tawny hair was played around her gentle face by a soft breeze. “We must go to the Civils and buy him a more complicated medicine, or he will surely die!”

The center of the argument, one of El’s younger brothers named Shiintoko, or more commonly called Shiin, was standing between his parents, while the rest of the Clan, including El, lazed around. His dark green eyes rolled as he shoved a stray lock of short gold hair from them, folding his strong arms over his chest as he looked back and forth from his mother to his father.

“Oi, Derla, Shiin is fine! See, look, it’s nothing, he just has a cough and a bit of a fever,” Calo said, giving his young son a roughly affectionate cuff on the back of the head. The young Shifter grinned and waved his father’s hand away as Derla wrung her hands, looking quite aggrieved.

“But it’s lasted for two straight weeks, and I’d feel so much better if I could just get him a little something from the Civils,” she persisted, her eyes showing more white now as she suddenly changed tactic. “Please Calo, just a little something, what if it’s something more?”

El and the others sniggered as Calo blinked, then gave a grumble of irritation. Despite his vicious appearance and intimidating size, Calo was actually quite the softy, and he could never resist his mate’s doleful stare and soft, pleading voice for long.

“Well…” he started, and Shiin made a noise somewhere between a grunt and a snort, earning another not-so-affectionate cuff from his father. The young Ani glared at his dad as he rubbed his head and Derla smiled gaily, clapping her hands before her bosom and giving a soft laugh.

“Does that mean I can go then, Calo? Oh please say it does!” she exclaimed, and Calo sighed heavily, running a hand through his spiky hair.

“Oi, very well then, but make it quick.” He then turned to El, waving at her. “Oi, Elnorin, go with your mother and make sure nothing happens, alright? You’re one of the fastest of us, and if need be you can easily outpace those Civils and their cowardly weapons. Go with your mother.”

“Aye Father,” said El as she brushed her long, dark purple hair behin and ear and smiled, her pale, strangely colorless eyes shining with eagerness. Her dark green and silver clothing even seemed to shimmer as she danced over to stand by her mom. If it was one thing El (and most of the younger Ani for that matter) loved, it was bothering the Hum. The young Shifter grinned at her Derla, who returned the smile and then bowed her head to her mate.

“We’ll be back soon, Calo, and everything will be fine, you’ll see.”

Yet nothing was to be fine that fateful day.
***

And so El and Derla went into the “Civil’s area,” which was the portion of the Island that the Hum-Shifters had inhabitated and turned into cities and towns. They were easily spotted for Ani and not Hum by the fact that they wore no shoes. They were thus relatively ignored, the way a particularly smelly dog is disregarded in the hopes that it’ll go away. This made things easy for the two Ani, though, and they quickly made their way to one of the few medical distributors without being challenged.

There was no one else inside the store other than the owner, an old Hum who was one of the few who didn’t view the Ani as filthy feral beasts (this happened nearly two years ago, when a short but very bloody and heated battle was fought between the Ani and the Hum races over who was the superior of the Shifters, and negative feelings prevailed even to this day).

“Good day to ye, Derla, and Elnorin!” said the old Hum, his once bright blue eyes now clouded with cataracts and his hair, which used to reach to his ankles and had been the color of a calm sea, now hung in white wisps. He smiled at them as the two Ani approached the counter, smiling back.

“Good day Klon,” said Derla as El wandered off to look at some of the more interesting medicines, leaving the two older Shifters to talk.

It was nearly five minutes later when El’s animal instincts told her something was wrong, horribly wrong, and at the same second her mother sensed it as well. Both of them growled, a deep rumble in their chests, and Klon frowned at them.

“What’s this then, all this growly noise?” he asked, as the Hum-Shifters had, like the humans they resembled, lost most of their own animal senses and instincts to civilization. Derla, who now had a small bottle of pale blue liquid in one hand, shook her head and turned to El.

“Quickly Elnorin, away with us! I fear something is happening to the Clan!” she hissed, and El needed not be roused anymore than that. Shifters are fiercely protective of their Clan-members, especially the Ani, and within a heartbeat they were out of Klon’s shop, running quickly towards the forest not far away.

“Now Elnorin! Shift and let your paws carry you swiftly to our beloved ones! I’ll catch up!” the Ani cried to her daughter, and El nodded once before a bright purple glow surrounded her. When it faded, there was a huge purple wolf flying with speed no normal wolf could dream of towards the trees. After a moment Derla also allowed a light to surround her, this one the same soft tan shade of her hair, and when this light faded the woman stood as a deer, her eyes rolling white. She turned to face a small mob of Hum that had followed her and El, knowing instantly what was going on even as the lead Shifter let fly the arrow he’d had drawn.

=How could this happen?= she thought as the arrow found a new home in her chest, burying its sharp head deep within her body and landing home dead in the center of her heart. She gave a soft cry as her legs buckled and collapsed, dropping her to the ground as her head lolled, her eyes beginning to fog in death, the pain not getting through to her dying brain. =How did things come to this? Oh, my dear one, fly to our loved ones, for I fear I may not be the only one to fall to the hate of the Hum this day.= She gave a faint moan now, her head lowering to the ground, her eyes becoming glassy as the last breath sighed from her body. =If only it had never come to be…=

Somewhere, a wolf howled as the doe died.
***
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Last edited by Dog of Hellsing; 01-15-2006 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 12-14-2005, 10:16 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

False Appearances, Chapter One con't

When El finally reached the area her Clan made its den, the sight that met her was horrid indeed. Within the few minutes that she and her mother had sensed the danger to their Clan and the time it had taken El to return, much havoc had been wreaked here. Everywhere she turned, her eyes were met with the agonizing images of dead and dying Shifters of both races, with images of vicious battles going on between beast and Hum weaponry. It was only that deeply emblazed instinct that saved her from the bullet of a Hum that had spotted her and shot at her. Her ears flat against her skull, her plumed tail tucked tightly between her legs, she threw herself to the right, her lips curling back as she snarled in fear and anger and grief. Just before she could jump into the fray, though, an enormous black bear bellowed and flung itself before her.

~Go! Go from here, Elnorin! Before you are taken by the cowardly way these disgusting beasts that DARE call themselves Shifter-kind battle with their pathetic weapons!~ his mindvoice boomed, seeming to echo within her skull. Then, without waiting for her to answer, the bear gave another bellow and charged a small group of Hum, oblivious as they added more wounds to the collection he already had.

Again a bullet whizzed by her, and again El’s swift actions were the only things to save her as she leapt to the side, watching the last few members of her Clan being surrounded and slain by the Hum. Hating herself, she hid among the shadows of the trees, watching as her father was last to fall, a countless number of wounds oozing blood upon the already saturated earth.

After a few moments of gathering up their wounded and dead, the Hum left the bloody scene with a quickness that any others would have been ashamed of. It was well past nightfall before El could move from the spot she’d hidden herself in, having been frozen to the spot as her mind and heart grew numb at the sight of the slaughter laid before her. Finally, her paws stumbling, she padded forward, her ears dropping, tail still between her legs, giving a faint whine as she approached her father’s massive frame, lying broken on the ground, his lips frozen in a dead snarl.

~Father…?~ she said softly, nosing his already cooling and stiffening body with her muzzle. She then sneezed a few times, trying to ignore the thick, heavy scent of death clinging to the bear and to the area in general. After a moment she lifted her head, staring out over the expanse of corpses, and suddenly she dropped to her belly, unable to stand as grief and hatred and fear swept through her.

And again, for the second time that day, a wolf could be heard, howling her anguish to the empty night sky.
***

It was well past midnight when El finally managed to rouse herself enough to stand and stagger off, her stomach drenched in cold blood that had soaked the earth where she’d lain beside her dead father. She walked for a long time, though she didn’t notice the distance or the length of time she traveled. Her paws simply moved her, moved her away from the awful scene behind her, moved her without thought or care. So she was quite shocked when her paws splashed in cold water and she realized that she had come to the eastern shore of Shizu Island. After a moment of standing there staring into the water, a faint purple glow engulfed her and when it faded, she sat as a human once more, her clothes still soaked and now plastered to her body by the blood on them.

“Now what do I do?” she whispered weakly, still gazing blankly into the water, her eyes dull as emotions warred just behind them. “Where will I go? I can’t stay here…” She fell silent, staring at her reflection as it stared back, silently accusing her for her actions. Finally she could stand it no longer and got to her feet, tears suddenly pricking at her eyes as she began to walk into the icy ocean, her emotions swamping her as much as the waves that slapped against her knees with quite a bit of force.

Just as the waves reached to her chest, El stopped. Drowning herself wasn’t what she had planned. Instead she glanced into the water, and couldn’t see her reflection now as the water was too choppy. She gave a faint sigh as a few tears fell into the ocean, adding their salt to it as she then turned her gaze up to the dark night.

“I’ll leave, and never come back,” she said, her voice barely audible even to her keen ears. “That’s what I’ll do.” But at that moment, a large wave that seemed to materialize from nowhere rose before her, and she had no time to think or act as it crashed down on her, sweeping her out into the strong tide of the ocean. The Ani gave a wordless cry as she broke the surface, dazed by the force the wave had hit her with.

Again and again she was towed underwater, not having time to Shift into a form more suited to her situation. Each time she bobbed back up and broke the surface, she spent the precious few seconds she had to spit the foul-tasting seawater from her mouth and suck in a lungful of fresh air before she went under yet again. But then, as if Fate had decided she’d paid enough for not helping her Clan, she was swept right onto a large boulder poking up from the water.

Clinging to it as she spit out seawater and gasped for breath, she never noticed the dark sky growing even darker with storm clouds, and that the ocean was growing more violent as chill winds started to blow.

And just as she thought that everything would be fine, that she could catch her breath for a moment and then Shift and swim safely away, Fate seemed to take a cruel change of heart as the skies opened in a great downpour and the sea around her was whipped into a vicious frenzy. Within moments she was numb to the bone and once more swept out to sea, this time tossed around like a small toy.

=I suppose this is what I deserve,= she thought weakly, not noticing a dark shape rising before her from the darkness, or what appeared to be two arms stretching out towards her as she began to sink below the surface, her vision growing darker and darker. =At least I will be with my Clan again…= And then, darkness embraced her, even as something wrapped around her, and she slipped into oblivion.
***

End Chapter One
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Old 01-15-2006, 07:52 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

WHOO! I finally found my disk and can post chappah two! *Bows repeatedly.* I'm so sorry it took so long, I'd lost my disk and was very close to redoing chapter two all over, but last night I found da disk, and thus I can post chappie two! Now, on with da fic!
***

Chapter Two- Banished and Befriended

Cold. Wet. Moving. Lifted. Lowered. Hard. Voices. Soft. Warm. Quiet…

El drifted into and out of semi-consciousness as she was pulled from the raging sea and lowered onto the deck of a ship, the voices shouting in order to be heard over the howling winds.

“Is she alive?”

“Yes, she’s just knocked out.”

“Let’s get her below deck and anchor the ship before we get blown away!”

She was wrapped in a thick, warm blanket a moment later and carried from the deck into a room, where she was settled onto a bed. Knowing she was safe, her body relaxed, and her mind let her slip into a deep and healing slumber.
***

When she woke up some time later, El lay there for a moment, her body frozen as she struggled to remember where she was and what had happened. All too soon, the memories of the events that had transpired some hours ago came crushing down on her, and for a long time she lie there, sobbing quietly. Eventually, the tears ceased and she sat up, her clothes still damp with seawater, still stained with the blood of her father.

She stood and took a moment to get her bearings, as her legs were still a little wobbly, before making her way to the stairs that led to the deck above. She took her time in climbing them, though she wasn’t used to pacing herself so. She could hear the voices again, sounding rather cheerful. It made her mood more depressed.

“Geez Luffy, slow down or you’re gonna choke!”

“But I’m hungry!”

“You just ate less than an hour again! You can’t POSSIBLY be hungry after that meal!”

“Well I am,” replied the voice with a laugh as El slowly made her way onto the deck, seeing a table set up with five people sitting around it, eating. One of the people, a young woman with short red hair, noticed her and grinned, waving at her.

“Oh hey, you’re up!” she said, causing the other four, who were all men, to turn and face her. El shifted, uncomfortable at being studied by so many people at once. Before she could speak, one of the men spoke.

“Boy, you sure can sleep!” he said grinning widely. He wore a red vest and blue pants. On his feet he wore sandals, and atop his head sat a strawhat. The young man gave her a thumbs up and also waved at her, though he clearly meant for her to join them. The other three were a man wearing a black suit with blonde hair and a cigarette poking out of his mouth, a younger man with goggles on his forehead and a rather long nose, and a man with sea-green hair and three swords strapped to his right side. El just stared at them, not moving, and after a moment the woman stood.

“Maybe we should get you changed, what do you think?” she asked in a soft voice as she approached El. The Ani didn’t answer, but instead mutely nodded and without looking at the others, followed the woman back down below the deck to another room.

A few moments later, the two re-emerged, with El now dressed in a pale white shirt and baby-blue shorts. She seemed to be in a slightly better mood as sat between the woman and the strawhat-wearing boy, who grinned at her once more.

“So,” he said, jerking a thumb towards himself, “my name is Monkey D. Luffy, captain of the Going Merry and soon-to-be King of the Pirates! That there is Nami, our navigator and map-maker” he pointed to the girl who had given El fresh, dry clothes, “and sitting beside her is Sanji, our cook,” he now pointed to the blonde-haired young man, who smiled at her and passed her a plate of food. “And that’s Zoro, our swordsman,” the sword-wielder nodded at her, “and there’s Usopp, he’s the marksman,” he said, motioning to the long-nosed youth, who lifted a hand in greeting. “Chopper, our doctor, is busy right now making some medicines and stuff, but you’ll probably meet him in a while,” Luffy added, and El simply nodded as she looked down at the plate of food before her.

“So what’s your name?” asked Nami, and El blinked.

“I…uh, my name is Elnorin Shai, but most people call me El. Or at least, they did,” she added softly, looking back down at her plate. The five crew members shot each other curious looks, but none of them asked what she meant.

“So what were you doing out there in the ocean like that?” Usopp asked, and El smiled a little.

“I was trying to leave Shizu Island, but before I could do it properly I got washed out.”

“Shizu Island? That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it Nami?” asked Zoro, glancing towards where Shizu was looming in the not-to-distant distance, and Nami nodded. El gave a sort of half gasp, which she quickly cut off.

“What’s wrong? Why were ya leaving the island?” Sanji asked now, and El shook her head a little.

“I…my family was…” She sighed and looked at them. “I can’t go back there. If I do they’ll probably kill me.”

“Huh? Who will?” Luffy asked, in the process of raising a chicken leg to his mouth.

“The Hum,” El answered simply, and was met with five blank looks. “The Hum-Shifters,” she added, and the only one who looked confused this time was Luffy.

“The what?” he asked, and was promptly smacked in the face with the salt shaker, which was thrown by Sanji.

“The Hum-Shiftahs, ya dork,” he said, sitting back in his chair. “Shizu Island, that’s right, dere's shapeshiftahs dere, ain’t dat right?” El nodded. “Yup, n' dere’s the Ani-Shiftahs too.”

“Wow, shapeshifters!” Luffy cried, ignoring the salt shaker now sitting in his lap. “Cool! Are we gonna meet any?!”

“You wouldn’t want to,” El answered. “They don’t much like humans, neither of the races. Not to mention the way things are because of that little war a few years ago. Tensions are high between the Hum and the Ani, let alone between them and other races.”

“You seem to know a lot about it,” Zoro said, watching her. “Exactly why would the Hum-Shifters want you dead?”

“Well, they killed my family, for one thing,” she answered, feeling slightly angry. “Just because we were-“

“You were what?” Usopp prompted. El swallowed and shook her head, suddenly picking up a piece of meat from her plate and staring at it with an intense glare.

“Nothing, it’s nothing. I wouldn’t go there at any rate. If you need to restock, go somewhere else.”

“We can’t,” Sanji said, shrugging. “We’re almost outta food n' other supplies, n' da closest island besides Shizu is a three-day sail from here. We’d run outta food by nightfall. So we got no choice but ta stop by n' pick up da stuff we need.”

“You could stay on the ship,” Luffy said, while at the same time gnawing on the chicken leg. “You don’t have to go ashore with us when we get there.”

“I’m telling you, it’s a bad idea,” El said, scowling at them. “But if you REALLY need to restock, I’ll go with you guys. Both races will be more tense than usual now, after what happened last night…” She sighed and popped the meat in her mouth as the others watched her, expecting her to finish her sentence once she’d swallowed. Instead she looked to where Shizu was growing closer and narrowed her eyes a little. ”I’d say we’ll be there in about an hour. We’d better get ready.” She took another few quick bites of the food on her plate, despite the fact that she’d completely lost her appetite, before standing and sighing.

=And I thought I’d put that place behind me for good.=
***
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Last edited by Dog of Hellsing; 01-15-2006 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 01-15-2006, 08:02 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

False Appearances, Chapter Two con't

As it turns out, El’s calculation was only off by about five or six minutes. Once Usopp had guided the ship into the nearest port and dropped anchor, the group set to deciding what all needed to be done and what the needed to buy while they were on Shizu. However, just as they started discussing it, a voice from somewhere behind El spoke, causing her to jump.

“We’ve reached Shizu, then?” asked the timid voice, and El turned to see a small, blue-nosed, bipedal reindeer wearing a rather large red hat. For a moment, she was painfully reminded of her mother as Luffy nodded.

“Yup,” he said, grinning. “You coming along, Chopper?”

“Chopper,” El muttered under her breath, cocking her head to one side. “He’s the doctor?” No on seemed to hear her, and if they did they gave no indication of it. The little reindeer shook his head.

“No,” he replied, glancing at El with a mingled expression of curiosity and wariness. “I sill have to finish preparing some of the medicines I started, and anyway, someone has to stay behind to watch the ship. But one of you could stop off somewhere and pick me up some stuff. Hold on while I get the list.” And a second later he was gone, having disappeared down into the hold. El shrugged and turned back to the others, not noticing Zoro watching her once again as she became lost in thought. Nami stretched, then crossed her arms.

“Okay then, back to what we were talking about…what are we all going to do?”

“Well, I’m going to stop by any weapons shops,” Zoro said, turning from the distracted Ani.

“I’ll be going with whoever’s getting the main supplies; I want to pick up some things for a new sling stone I’ve been working on,” Usopp answered, and Nami lifted her hand to indicate she’d be the one doing the main shopping.

“I’m gonna go git da food, o’ course,” Sanji offered, and Luffy grinned.

“I’m going with Sanji!” he exclaimed, earning a round of snorts and eye-rolls from the others.

“What about you El?” asked Nami after a few moments of silence.

“Ne?” the Ani grunted as she was snapped from her distant thoughts. She blinked a few times at the map-maker. “What?”

“What are you going to do? The rest of us have already decided,” Zoro replied, sounding slightly impatient as Chopper returned and handed Nami his list. He then turned to El with that same look from before. El gave him a fleeting smile before realizing something and scowling.

“Wait a moment, d’you mean you’re all planning on splitting up?” she asked, her voice sounding slightly higher-pitched than normal as the others nodded. “No!” she said sharply, her tone causing the others to jump.

“If you’d been listening, you’d have realized before that we were going to go our own ways for a while,” Zoro muttered, and El ignored him as Nami frowned a little.

“No? Why not?” she asked, and before El could answer Zoro added, “We are capable of taking care of ourselves, you know.” The comment earned him a withering glare from the purple-haired Shifter as she narrowed her pale eyes.

“Yeah, well that’s good and all, but splitting up would be a very bad idea. The Shifter races barely tolerate one another these days.” Here she paused for a moment, sighing, before continuing. “Let alone humans. You know, you should really come along too,” she added, glancing at Chopper.

Me?” the reindeer squeaked, hooking a hoof towards himself. El nodded and his eyes widened as he started to shake, looking absolutely terrified. “But-but-but-but…I’m not a human! Why would they bother me?”

“Because, and don’t take this the wrong way, you look the perfect size for a meal. The Hum would probably leave you be, but if an Ani came by and was feeling hungry, well, I’m sure you get the idea,” El answered, and Chopper gave a wordless squeal, his eyes threatening to pop from his skull. Sanji gave a faint sigh.

“Ya know,” he muttered under his breath so the stricken reindeer wouldn’t hear him, “ya’d think he was used ta the threat o’ being eaten, seeing as me n’ Luffy nearly had him fer lunch when we first saw ‘im.” El gave a laugh at this, then smiled at Chopper, who now looked as if he were going to have a heart attack.

“Come on now, I didn’t mean to scare you. I just wanted you to know the danger of being here on your own is all,” she said, and Chopper gave a twitch.

“But who’ll watch the ship?” he asked, though he sounded now like he wasn’t keen on remaining there all by his lonesome.

“No one will bother the ship, trust me,” El said with a snort. “The Shifters don’t think the humans deserve their presence and all sorts of other junk. The harbors and ports here aren’t for them to leave, but for the Civi- er, the Hum to import and export various goods. Even if they inspect the ship they won’t bother anything.”

“So I could come and nothing would happen? They wouldn’t mess with my medicines and all?” Chopper asked, looking, at this point, like he could care less if a giant rampaging bran muffin stole his medications. El smiled more and nodded.

“The Hum make their own meds from stuff they get in trades from other islands and all, and the Ani make things from the forest. They won’t bother your stuff.”

“Then let’s get moving!” the reindeer said, looking to be thoroughly relieved. El nodded and looked at the others.

“We really should stick together, but since Luffy’s the captain,” she shot him a somewhat meaningful glance, “it’s up to him to decide, not me.” Everyone now turned to Luffy, who was grinning like a complete idiot.

“Let’s just stick together this time,” he said. “We can make it like a group outing or something, it’ll be fun!” He gave a laugh and proceeded to jump onto the ship’s railing. After a moment he lifted one leg and stretched it down till it touched the sand of the shore, and then waved to the others before lowering his other leg in the same manner. El watched him for a moment, completely shocked. She’d seen a Hum Change right before her from a handsome man to an ugly old crone, and she herself had once Changed into a mighty cloudhawk (a kind of giant hawk with a thirty foot wingspan and three-foot long talons), but she’d never seen someone stretch their limbs in such a manner.

“Something wrong?” Usopp asked at El’s startled expression. Zoro snorted.

“Never seen someone who’d eaten a Devil Fruit, huh?” he asked, smirking. The Shifter shot him such a heated glare that the swordsman shut up and almost took a step back.

“No, I haven’t, I’ve lived on this island my whole life and I’ve never heard of Devil Fruit,” she snapped testily. “And this island doesn’t trade things like that. What are Devil Fruit, anyway?” she asked after a moment.

“Dey’re fruits dat give people powers,” said Sanji as the others disembarked the Going Merry. “Luffy dere ate a Gum-Gum Fruit, n’ Choppah had a Hume-Hume Fruit.”

“Hume-Hume? I can understand the Gum-Gum thing,” El said as they joined Luffy,” but what’s Hume-Hume do?”

“It’s why I can stand on two legs and talk,” Chopper answered. “I can also take different forms.”

“Oh, nifty,” El replied, and Luffy, having divined what they were talking about, grinned so widely El was worried his head would split soon. It was then she remembered something; before she’d gone under the water, she’d thought she had seen two arms reaching out for her.

=Musta been him, I guess,= she thought.

“Well, I can’t swim now, once I ate the Gum-Gum I couldn’t anymore!” Luffy said, laughing again as the group walked off. El lifted an eye at the rubber boy.

“That doesn’t seem like something to be so happy about,” she said, shrugging.

Luffy just laughed again.
***

After a few the group came upon the first town, which just happened to be the one El and her mother had gone to in order to get Shiin’s medication the other day. Being here gave El a very uncomfortable sensation, as if someone were walking over her grave so to speak. Still, she kept her unease from the others as Chopper halted the group.

“Hold on,” he said, and suddenly he stood as a normal-looking reindeer, all except for the blue nose and the hat. He nodded at them and they started off again.

“Nice idea,” El said, giving Chopper a smile. He tried to smile back, but it looked more like he was baring his teeth at her than anything else. “People may wonder why there’s a reindeer with us, but at least you’re less conspicuous in this form than you were in your other one.”

“Well then, what should we do first?” Nami asked as they made their way into town. El looked around, feeling suddenly quite worried. She wished with all her heart that she could just Change into a little mouse and hide in one of Luffy’s pockets or something. But even if she did feel like revealing what she was to the others, Changing would do her no good. She’d still be easily recognized because of her purple coloring. Giving a sigh she shook her head.

“Well…the nearest shop is the armory and weapons store,” she muttered, trying her best to keep her face and her marking hair hidden from the various Shifters that were ambling around. She pointed to a store a few hundred paces away. “That place, aside from being the closest, would also be the one most likely to sell something to humans. Luckily for us there’s at least one person at each shop you need to go to who won’t be too hesitant to sell you stuff, what with you being human and all.”

“Well, let’s get to it then,” Zoro said, and the group headed off for the store. They reached it a few moments later, and without incident, much to El’s relief.
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Old 01-15-2006, 08:06 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

False Appearances, Chapter Two con't

They spent only about fifteen minutes in the shop, were Zoro spent the whole time trying to decide which of two swords he wanted to get. Finally he made a choice and after receiving some praise from the Hum who owned the shop about his taste in blades, the group left and headed to get their main supplies.

“They have some pretty complex chemicals here,” Usopp mentioned as Nami hurried here and there, her arms soon full of items. Luffy helped her carry some of the load as El watched Usopp choosing various chemicals with an intense pickiness.

“What do you use those for? You said something about sling stones,” El asked after a few moments, her curiosity getting the better of her. Usopp grinned, obviously pleased that she was interested in what he was doing.

“I use a sling shot, with specially made stones,” Usopp responded. “The ones I’m cooking up now are going to be designed to blind the enemy by using a tar-like substance that’ll stick to their faces like super glue. Of course, I need to make a counter-substance, in case it backfires or something,” he added as an afterthought. El nodded, rather impressed, before moving off to help Nami and Luffy carry the things they’d gathered.

So nearly forty minutes later, they left the shop with a considerable number of bags, some of which Chopper obligingly carried on his antlers. Next was the food store, where Sanji spent almost an hour talking with the store owner about various recipes and such. The Hum was so impressed by Sanji’s extensive knowledge of cooking that he even knocked off quite a large chunk of what the total for everything came to.

Finally, they headed towards the medical shop, the same one El and Derla had gone to, since it was the only one that would sell things to Ani. After all, El knew Klon well enough to hope that he’d not mind selling things to humans; the others hadn’t, and she hadn’t even hardly known them at all. But she was also getting highly anxious. Suppose he said something that would give away her Shifter heritage? She could only hope that she’d be able to head him off subtlety before he could say anything of the sort. They headed inside, and the door had barely clicked shut before the old Hum had noticed El was among the throng that had just come in.

“Oh, dear Elnorin, I’m so sorry, when I heard what happened yesterday, why I was so mad, I couldn’t believe those young, brash, uppity fools could do such a thing!” he cried, hurrying over to grab the startled Ani in a tight embrace. El, aware that the others were watching this spectacle with interest, returned the hug and took the opportunity to lean in, muttering in the elder’s ear.

“They know nothing about what I am, they don’t know I’m an Ani.”

“Very well dear, I’ll say nothing about it,” the old Shifter murmured back, and El gave a grateful nod as the two broke their embrace.

“So sad, so sad,” he said, shaking his head. “Well then, whatever you need, whatever you need, just let me know and I’ll do anything I can do to help you.”

“Thank you,” El said, and she meant it. Klon nodded and headed back to the counter as El sighed and looked at the others, who were wandering the shop and acting as if they’d not heard a thing. But seeing as Nami and Chopper were the only ones who were actually reading labels and pulling things from the shelves (well, Nami did the pulling, seeing as Chopper couldn’t very well hold anything at the moment), El had a feeling that they were the only ones who hadn’t been paying close attention to the short exchange.

They only took about ten minutes in the store before they had what they needed. The elderly Hum refused to take their money, insisting that after what El had gone through yesterday, it would be wrong to take pay from her or her friends. So, after thanking him profusely, the group headed out of the shop, restocked and ready to leave. However, they were just turning to head back to the ship when suddenly a loud crack rang out, and a long, thing bullet much like a dart buried itself in the shop’s thick wooden door, barely missing El’s face by less than a breath. The sound caused everyone within range to stop what they were doing and look as El and the others turned to face a young Hum-Shifter. It was, in fact, the same who had slain El’s mother the other day, though she didn’t know it. She did, however, know this particular Shifter, and didn’t like him at all.

“Xeo,” she muttered, her eyes narrowing to slits. But she noticed something then, as Luffy and Sanji both looked ready to hit the Hum for shooting at their new friend (even Zoro looked angry as he glared at Xeo, his hands twitching on his sword hilts as if he wanted desperately to draw his blades); the Hum’s gaze was averted, and his hand seemed to be shaking, as well as the gun it held. In fact, as El looked around, she realized that none of the Hum were looking directly at her, and now she could smell the unpleasant tang that was the scent of shame. It had been the same smell the other various Hum had had when they’d looked at her, or sold her and the others something, though El hadn’t noticed, having been to keen on leaving before something happened.

“El,” the Hum replied, his voice soft and trembling like his hand. “You’re not welcome here. I thought we made that clear. You should have left and never come back.”

“I did leave!” El snarled, a sound that caused everyone in the vicinity to wince. “I did leave, and I didn’t plan on coming back! But I did it because…” here she stopped, unsure of how to proceed.

“Because we’re her friends and she didn’t want us to get into trouble while we restocked our supplies. So she came with us, instead of staying aboard the ship like she could have. But she’s not a coward! Not like you,” Luffy said, his voice having lost all traces of friendliness. His gaze was cold and hard, and El was a bit surprised at his sudden switch in personality. But then his words reached her, and she felt tears pricking her eyes. They barely knew her, but he’d said it, that they considered her a friend. El didn’t know why this touched her the way it did, but that didn’t matter. Xeo snorted, but it was a weak noise.

“Whatever, human. She isn’t welcome here, and neither are you lot. Now leave,” he said, still refusing to look at El. However, some of the others chanced a quick glance at her to see what she’d do now. There was a strained silence for a moment, but it was soon broken as El turned from Xeo, placing a hand on Luffy’s shoulder.

“Come on guys, he’s not worth it. This whole damned island isn’t worth it,” she said. “Let’s just leave.”

For a moment, she was sure that the others were going to ignore her and attack Xeo. Finally, though, Luffy nodded and turned as well. But a sudden, ringing noise drew El’s attention back to Zoro, who’d drawn one of his swords and was stalking over to where Xeo stood. The Shifter gave a flinch as his hand shook more and Zoro stopped about two feet in front of him.

“No! Stop it!” El said, watching him with a scared look. “Zoro, come on, let it go, these Civils aren’t worth it.” Again Xeo flinched, as did the other Hum who’d heard the comment. Zoro didn’t answer her as he lifted his sword, holding the tip a bare inch from the Shifter’s throat.

“You’re very lucky,” he said softly, his eyes burning with unmistakable dislike. “that she’s got some mercy in her. If it were up to me you’d have been dead before you could even think of firing that thing again.” With that, he slowly sheathed his sword and turned from Xeo, giving the other frozen Hum a cold glare as he walked back over to join the others. “Let’s go,” he said simply, heading off towards the ship, and a moment later the others followed him.
***

Nearly an hour later they were aboard the Going Merry and long since gone from Shizu. Chopper had finished making his medicines, Nami had gotten to starting a new map, Sanji had gone to cook them something, and Usopp had vanished to his room to work on his sling stones.

Now El found herself standing with Luffy and Zoro, the three of them watching the sea as the ship sailed along in the gentle breeze. For a while they said nothing, as El was unsure of what to say and both Zoro and Luffy didn’t seem to want to talk at the moment. Finally though, she felt she had to speak up.

“You know, you didn’t have to do that,” she said, looking at them both. “You didn’t have to get involved like you did. You could have gotten yourselves killed.”

“I wasn’t gonna let that guy talk about you like that,” Luffy said, and suddenly he was grinning. El was dazed by this sudden mood swing. “Anyways, nothing bad happened, we’re all still alive and whole, so everything’s okay!”

“Is he always like this?” El asked as Luffy chuckled, and Zoro nodded.

“It takes a while to get used to it, but eventually you won’t notice it,” he answered, cocking an eye at his captain. “And he’s right, you know. We weren’t going to stand there and do nothing.”

“Luffy didn’t do anything too rash,” El said, giving Zoro a look, “but you could have gotten yourself shot or something, threatening a Hum like that. I’m amazed they didn’t do anything. Normally, Xeo wouldn’t have hesitated to put a few of those shots of his in your skull.”

His skull would have been on the ground before he could,” Zoro said, grinning in a decidedly spooky manner. El blew out a breath and shook her head at him.
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Old 01-15-2006, 08:35 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

False Appearances, Chapter Two con't

“Well, all in all I’d say it was a pretty nice trip, eh?” she said after a moment. Luffy put on a thoughtful face before saying, “It would have been better if we could have gotten more meat.” There was silence for a moment before the three of them started to laugh at the stupidity of the comment, and by the time the others came out to see what the commotion was about they had all gotten painful stitches in their sides.

“Eh, I don’t wanna know,” Sanji sighed as he looked at them. Zoro looked at him, trying to talk between laughs, which caused Luffy and El to laugh more.

“Oh, shut-heheheheahaaa-up you-hehahaaaa-stupid cook,” he finally managed to say. Nami chuckled and Usopp started to grin, though poor Chopper, who had no idea what was about to happen, simply looked at the lot of them like they were nuts.

“Don’t start, ya crap swordsman!” the cook replied with a glare.

“Pretty-boy,” Zoro countered, chuckling madly.

“Sea-head,” Sanji retorted, starting to grin himself.

“Curly-brow,” Zoro said, snorting and nearly choking himself.

“Give it up ya moss-haiahed twit!” Sanji said, laughing now as well. In fact, the whole group was cracking up, except, of course, for Chopper, who was seriously considering strapping the lot of them down and giving them some sedatives. Instead he scooted away from them, before realizing that while Sanji was up here goofing off, their food was probably burning.

“Oh!” he cried, turning and rushing to the kitchen. “For crying out loud!”

“Geh,” El gasped a few moments later, tears trickling from her eyes as she tried to catch her breath, still giggling every so often. “You two sound like a married couple.”

“Take that back!” Sanji and Zoro replied at the same time, and they shared another few moments of insane chuckling before finally calming down. El smiled as she sat down, feeling the grief that had gripped her all day fading just a little.

“So now what?” she asked as the others caught their breath. Luffy shrugged.

“I dunno, we’re heading for the Grand Line, but we’re just drifting towards it, you know?” El nodded.

“No particular rhyme or reason?”

“No what?” Luffy asked, cocking his head at her. Usopp shook his head.

“It means without any pattern or clear destination,” he explained, and Luffy brightened, nodding.

“Exactly!” he said, grinning once again. The others rolled their eyes but said nothing else.

It was in the quiet moment that followed that Sanji suddenly remembered he’d been cooking, and he promptly leapt up, a horrified expression on his face.

“Ah, da food!” he cried, tearing off towards the kitchen. “I fergot all about it!” The others snorted as he ran off.

“So, we’re just drifting along huh?” El asked after a time, looking up at the clouds. “I don’t suppose that the next island you come to, you could stop long enough for me to get off?”

“Get off?” Luffy and Usopp asked at the same time.

“Well, I mean, I don’t want to be a burden or anything,” El muttered. Nami grinned and shook her head and Luffy suddenly jumped onto the ship’s railing again, striking a pose.

“You can’t leave!” he cried. “You have to join our crew! We could always use more people!”

“But, ah…I can’t do anything, you know, helpful,” El lied, and was surprised when Zoro let out a loud snort.

“Beh,” he said, giving El a look, and she was suddenly aware of the fact that it was possible Zoro knew what she was. In fact, she was certain he knew. She sighed and looked at the others, and Luffy waved at her.

“I’m sure you can do something,” he said, grinning once more. El ran a hand through her hair and sighed again.

“Well…I…” she trailed off, not wanting to reveal her secret. After all, it was possible Zoro knew what she was, but then again it was just as likely that he didn’t. But then Luffy’s words to Xeo came back to her.

“She’s our friend…she’s not a coward…”

“Go on, tell us,” Usopp said, and the others nodded. El shifted a little, then nodded. She was their friend, and she wouldn’t be a coward anymore. If they accepted her, great, and if not, well, she could just Change and fly off or something.

“Okay, but I think I’ll show you,” she said, standing and moving away from them. Taking a deep breath, she let the purple aura surround her. After a moment, the light faded, and she sat as a large purple wolf, her bushy tail around her legs as she looked at them anxiously.

For a moment the others simply stared at her, looking shocked. Then Luffy let out a great cry and jumped down from the railing, running over to her and kneeling by her.

“COOL!” he cried, running a hand over her muzzle and poking at her ears and tail.

“So you’re a Shifter?!” Usopp asked, eyeing the wolf cautiously. El nodded and whumped her tail against the ship’s floor boards.

~Yup,~ she said, her mindvoice causing them to look around before realizing she was the one speaking. ~But aren’t you…you know, don’t you think that I’m a freak? Most humans don’t like Shifters, or at least that’s what I’ve heard…~

“You? A freak? Have you seen Luffy really eat yet?” Zoro asked, grinning. “Now THAT’S freaky.”

El gave a huffing laugh, then jumped to her paws and leapt around, barking happily. Luffy also jumped up and, in a sudden rush of great joy and affection for the group, El leapt at him and knocked him to the ground, her tail waving like crazy. Luffy laughed and the two wrestled around for a few, until Sanji and Chopper came out carrying trays of food.

Sanji recovered quite quickly, deciding that, when he noticed El was missing, she must be the wolf and that she was an Ani. Chopper, however, took one look at the great purple wolf and squealed, fainting. Luckily, Luffy saw this and stretched his arms out to catch the tray the little reindeer had been carrying before it could smash to the floor.

~Heh, sorry,~ El said, backing off of Luffy. A moment later the purple light engulfed her again, and when it faded she sat as a human once more. Grinning, she stood and dusted herself off before taking the tray from Luffy and helping him up.

"Geh, couldn't ya have waited till aftah we'd eaten before ya made 'im faint?" Sanji asked, shaking his head at the out-cold reindeer.
***


Note: The rest of chapter two is saved to another comp, as soon as I can get it saved to my disk, I'll post it up ^^.
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Old 01-18-2006, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

Yay, here be the rest of chapter two! And if I have time, maybe chapter three two.
***

False Appearances, Chapter Two con't

It took nearly twenty minutes to bring Chopper around, and the first thing he did was completely freak out.

“Waaaaaah, the-the-the wooooolf! I saw it, the big purple wolf, where did it go?!” he cried, looking around wildly, as if expecting it to pop out of nowhere and gnaw his antlers off. El restrained a chuckle as she held up a hand.

“Right here,” she said, and couldn’t hold back the small giggle at Chopper’s blank stare. “I’m an Ani-Shifter,” she added, grinning as comprehension dawned on the little creature.

“I-I knew that,” he said, glaring at the others as they chuckled. “I did!”

“Of course you did,” Nami said, still smiling. “Now come sit down so we can eat.”

A moment later, the group was seated and enjoying their meal, which consisted of a variety of meats for El, who was mainly a carnivore. Luffy kept looking enviously at her plate, as he had only a few steaks and three different kinds of fish on his own. Just as they were getting into the food, Luffy suddenly faced El, this time not interested what she was eating.

“Hey, can you change into any animal?” he asked, and El held up a hand as she swallowed before nodding.

“Anything I’ve seen, and as long as it’s a real creature,” she answered. “If I try to Change into something I haven’t seen, I can’t do it for obvious reasons. And on Shizu we have a legend that pretty much encourages us not to try Changing into creatures that are made up or don’t actually exist.”

“Legend?” Usopp asked, sounding curious. The others turned to listen better, all of them looking interested. El nodded and settled into her chair a bit as she stretched.

“Yup,” she said, sitting back up. “See, there was a Clan hundreds upon hundreds of years ago, and they worshipped three animals: the eagle, the snake, and the crocodile. This was because they considered these animals to be the Three Kings. The eagle was King of the skies, the snake was King of the snakes, and the crocodile was King of the waters.

“One day, the Clan decided that, in honor of the Kings, they would combine the three into a single creature and call it the TriKing, and this would be their most cherished of forms.

“So, the entire Clan went to a large plains area on the island on which they lived, and all at once they called upon their Shifter heritage, Changing into what they thought would be the greatest of beasts. But when the glow of Change had faded, the Clan was shocked at what had happened.

“You see, the Clan had thought they would all look alike, despite obvious differences color (when we when we Ani-Shifters Change, our pelts, hides, coats, scales, of feathers are the same color as our hair, which is why every time I Change, I’m purple). But this didn’t happen, as every Ani looked different from his or her Clan-mates. But what was more shocking, not to mention very upsetting, was the fact that none of the Clan could Change anymore!

“So, the Clan spent the rest of their lives in the forms of the first Dragons, having unwittingly Settled, sacrificing their ability to Change in order to create the first of a creature that had never existed before.”

“Whoa,” Luffy said after a full minute of silence, and the others nodded.

“No wonder you don’t want to turn into anything that doesn’t exist,” Zoro said. “If that whole thing is true, you wouldn’t be able to shapeshift anymore.”

“Exactly,” El said with a nod. “It’s not a risk I’m willing to take.”

“What do you mean by the Settled?” Chopper asked, and El waved a hand for emphasis as she answered.

“A Shifter can decide whether or not they want to live the rest of their lives in a certain form. If they choose to do so, they permanently lose their ability to Change. Also, if a Shifter spends too long in one form they may end up staying that way whether or not they want to. That’s what Settling is, when a Shifter truly becomes whatever form they’ve chosen and are no longer Shifters.”

“So, you could become a Dragon now and not be stuck as one?” Usopp asked after a moment, and El nodded again.

“Yeah, but a Change like that requires a great deal of energy, and I wouldn’t be able to do anymore Changing for a few days at least,” she said. “So I only use that form in emergencies.” Here she paused, a pained expression spreading over her features. The others didn’t need to ask to know what was causing her to grieve, and even Luffy had sense enough to say nothing on the subject of El’s slaughtered Clan.

“So,” Chopper said softly after a moment, “could you turn into a deer?” Instantly, he wished he hadn’t asked as El turned a mournful gaze towards him, looking dangerously close to tears.

“Well, yes,” she said quietly after a second, “but…my Mother was the one who loved deer. I’m a wolf person.” She then sighed heavily, and once again silence descended over the crew, though this one was considerably weightier than the last.

Just as Chopper was opening his mouth to apologize for his question, Luffy cut him short by asking, “Hey, could I ask you a favor?”

“Me?” El asked, and Luffy nodded with a faint grin. “Sure, what do you need?”

“Have you ever seen a blast viper?” Luffy inquired, and El cocked her head as a thoughtful expression momentarily replaced her pained one. Finally she nodded as she leaned forward a bit, crossing her arms on the table as she did.

“Yeah, once when I was a lot younger. I had the misfortune of running into one who was guarding her eggs. My ears rung for a week afterwards. Those things can hiss, let me tell you.”

“I know,” Luffy said, laughing. “When I was younger me and my friend Shanks used to catch ‘em. I haven’t seen one in years, ever since I left home to become King of the Pirates.” He paused for a moment, then, grinning hugely, he asked, “D’you think you could turn into one?”

“Well yeah,” El replied, caught off-guard by the sudden request.

“Luffy,” Zoro said, shooting the grinning captain an exasperated look, “don’t you think it’s a bit tactless to just ask something like that?”

“No no, it’s alright,” El said, smiling a bit. “Really, it’s fine.” Zoro shrugged as the Ani quickly took a few bites of food before standing. “One blast viper, comin’ up!” she said, and a second later she was hidden from view by the purple light. When it died away, in her place was a fifteen-foot purple snake, with seven spines running down her back and a series of slightly darker spots and blotches running the entire length of her body.

“Awesome!” Luffy said, moving with almost supernatural speed from his seat to where El was resting her fist-sized head on the table as she pulled her body into her chair, draping it in coils in order to fit all the way. “You’re big!” he exclaimed as he poked at her head and tail. El gave a hissing laugh, which was expelled with such force that it sounded more like an explosion or a blast (which is how the snake got its name), causing the others to wince.

~Sorry,~ she said, her tail twitching in obvious amusement. ~But yeah, Ani tend to be bigger than the true animal we Change into. I’m not sure why, that’s just how it is.~ She then glanced at Chopper, her pupils contracting a little as she flicked her tongue out. After a moment, she let herself down to the ship’s floor and the purple glow flared around her again. When it faded, though, she stood not as a human, but a fairly large white-tailed deer, with a deep purple coat.

“Oh, wow,” Chopper said, deeply touched that El had taken this form despite how hard it must have been for her to be reminded of her Clan in such a manner. A moment later, Nami suddenly asked if she could Change into a lynx, and El spent the next hour or so Changing into different forms.

Later that night, El perched upon the ship’s railing as a large falcon, her purple plumage ruffling a bit as she settled down, her sharp beak opening in a yawn.

=I never thought I’d spend my time Changing for the entertainment of humans,= she thought sleepily as her eyes slid shut. For a moment, she thought fondly of her new friends, who were already asleep. =Then again, they’re not just any humans, they’re my friends…my Clan.=

And with that affirmation, she fell into a deep, contented slumber.
***

-End Chapter Two-
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Old 01-18-2006, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

Chapter Three- Crisis and Capture

The next morning, El awoke to the sensation of her head being petted. Groggily she opened a pale eye to see Luffy standing beside her, grinning like an idiot, one hand on her head.

“Morning,” he said cheerfully, patting El’s back now. The Ani clicked her beak as she yawned and then blinked, focusing both eyes on Luffy, who was now running a hand over her left wing.

~What are you doing?~ she asked, her head cocking. Luffy laughed and jumped onto the rail, sitting down beside her.

“I’ve always wanted to pet a falcon!” he exclaimed. “One that wouldn’t bite my fingers off!”

~Oi,~ El said, shaking her head and cuffing Luffy in the gut with her wing. The rubber boy laughed again as El clacked her beak at him.

“Come on, Sanji’s almost got breakfast ready,” he said, flipping back off of the rail and giving El a final pat on the head. He then ran off just as El’s beak clamped down where his hand had been, laughing.

~I’m not a pet you know!~ she called after his retreating form, but when she Changed to her human form she was grinning. Before, she’d never tolerated anyone petting her, not even her parents. But now, it didn’t seem to irritate her as much as it once did.

“Food food FOOD!” Luffy was chanting as she headed to where the table was set out for breakfast. “Breakfast!” he would cry at intervals, clapping before going back to chanting, “Food food food!”

“Does he do this every morning?” she asked Usopp, who stifled a yawn as he shook his head.

“Only when someone joins the crew,” he replied. “We’ll probably be celebrating later to-o-o-day,” he added, finally unable to hold the yawn back any longer.

“Joins the crew?” El repeated, blinking. Usopp grinned a bit as Zoro suddenly plopped down beside her from nowhere.

“Yup. Remember what he said yesterday, about you needing to join the crew? You’re gonna be the next official crewmember of the Going Merry. And don’t bother arguing, Luffy won’t take no for an answer, trust me. Especially not that we know now what you are,” he said, stretching.

“Why would I argue? Well, anymore than I already did, at least. I’d love to join the crew!” El responded happily, and Luffy stopped his chanting long enough to exclaim, “Great, we’ve got a new crewmember!” He then cried, “Food!” once more before sitting down, grinning like usual as Sanji began bringing out the morning’s meal and the rest of the Strawhat Crew joined the table. “Once breakfast is over, we’ll initiate you!”

“Initiate?” Sanji asked as he and the others began to fill their plates. Luffy nodded as he heaped a small mountain of food on his own.

“Yeah, El’s joining the crew!” he said, and then abruptly set to inhaling his food.

“That’s good,” Nami said, nodding. “It’ll be nice to have another woman around.”

“Yup!” Sanji intoned, smiling, and earning himself a not-so-gentle kick from the navigator. El chuckled as they bickered for a moment, then helped herself to some bacon and toast.

About twenty minutes later, El helped Sanji clear the table and clean the dishes as Luffy and Zoro stowed the table away in the hold. When they were all done they met at the bow, where Luffy had set up a barrel with what appeared to be a miniature version of the ship’s flag draped over it.

“Time for your initiation!” Luffy said as the seven of them gathered in a circle around the barrel. “So then, my name is Monkey D. Luffy, and I wanna be King of the Pirates!” he said, putting his right hand on the mini flag.

“My name is Roronoa Zoro, and I’m going to be the world’s greatest swordsman!” Zoro said with a grin, smacking his hand down next to Luffy’s.

“My name is Sanji, n’ I’m gonna be da world’s best chef once I find da Great Blue, where all fishes live!” Sanji exclaimed, putting his hand down on the flag next.

“My name is Nami, and my dream is to make a map of the entire world!” Nami said now, setting her hand on the barrel.

“My name is Usopp, and I’m going to be the world’s bravest marksman!” Usopp claimed, nodding as he put his hand down.

“I’m Tony Tony Chopper, and I’m going to be the world’s first talking blue-nosed reindeer doctor!” Chopper finished, placing a hoof upon the flag. The six of them looked to El and Luffy grinned like a little kid inheriting all the toys and candy in existence. (*)

“What’s your dream, El?” he asked, and the Ani thought hard before smiling and nodding.

“My name is Elnorin Shai, and my dream is to unite the Shifter races so there can be peace between us all like there used to be,” she said, placing her hand down with the others’.

“Our dreams together, together we’ll make them reality!” they cried in unison, and El joined in the cheering as they grabbed the small flag and let it fly in the air.
***

The rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon were spent celebrating. The guys held drinking competitions, El told legends and myths of Shizu, and the whole group joined in a bit of singing and dancing.

El had just finished a slow, intricate dance called Feline Grace when she noticed the tiny outline of an island in the distance.

“Hey Sanji, didn’t you say Shizu was the only island around her for a three-day sail?” she asked, frowning as the others turned to face where she was looking.

“It should be,” Nami muttered, her eyes narrowed.

“That’s definitely land of some kind,” Zoro commented, and El made a noise in the back of her throat like a mix between a growl and a snort.

“Should we check it out?” Chopper asked, and Usopp shook his head fiercely.

“Of course not!” he cried. “It’s not supposed to be there, the last thing we should do is stop there!”

“Come on, it could be fun!” Luffy exclaimed.

“I could check it out,” El offered. “I can fly over and have a look around. If there’s anything that looks suspicious or unsafe we can just avoid the place.”

“And if it’s not we can explore!” Luffy added, grinning now. El nodded as the others scowled and Usopp looked as if he couldn’t believe what he had just heard.

“Are you sure about that?” Chopper asked, and El winked as she nodded.

“Yup, leave it to me. I’ll be back in no time.” She allowed herself to Change into a large purple eagle, and after a moment she soared into the sky, circling the ship. ~Well, off I go,~ she said as she dipped a wingtip and veered off towards the island.

“I really don’t like this,” Usopp muttered as he and the others watched the Ani fly off.
***

El flew towards the island, her keen eyes seeing, that even from this distance, there didn’t seem to be any types of houses or buildings.. Once she drew close enough she even noticed that there were no ports or harbors of any kind, at least not here. As soon as she reached the island, she rose a couple of yards higher and circled it.

The first thing she was aware of was how small the island was; was it considerably smaller than Shizu, which was saying something because Shizu was one of the smallest islands. She also confirmed her earlier suspicions of there being no buildings, ports, or harbors anywhere on the island.

=Not a single house, port, or harbor,= she thought, her eyes narrowing. =If there are any people here they must live like Ani.= Indeed, she’d seen a multitude of animals, but not a single person.

As she circled, she’d noticed a large clearing in the trees, stretching almost the entire length of the eastern side of the small island. Now she flew to the cleared area and once she was above it, she suddenly dropped like a purple, feathery stone towards the ground. Just as it seemed like she was going to smash into the earth, she Changed into her human form and landed gracefully on her feet. She then glanced around as she brushed herself off.

“Huh,” she grunted, walking around. “This place doesn’t look like it was cleared by nature. But then, who or what did clear it, and where are they?” So distracted by these mysteries was she that El didn’t notice the well-concealed hole suddenly appear before her until her right foot sunk into it. The Ani yelped in surprise as she started to pitch forward, but after a moment she managed to regain her balance before toppling over. She then glanced down at her foot, which had sunk to the ankle in the hole. Scowling, she sighed and shook her head.

“Oi,” she muttered before tugging her leg. Having expected her foot to come free of the small pit with little trouble, she was startled when the hole seemed to shrink just enough to hold her foot in place. “What the…?” She gave a faint growl and tugged again, and once more the hole contracted a bit. It was not tight enough to cause the Shifter a goodly amount of discomfort.


(*): Credit goes to Anime Crazy K-Chan, because I got the idea for this from her fic The One Piece Story, though rest assured I did change it quite it a bit.
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Old 01-18-2006, 08:15 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

False Appearances, Chapter Three con't

Beginning to feel slightly nervous, El glared at where her foot vanished into the ground. For a moment she simply stared, then suddenly nodded. A second later she Changed into a small purple wood mouse. No sooner had she completed the transformation had the hold shrunk (with amazing speed no less) enough to firmly hold her tiny paw. Without hesitation she Changed again, was trapped as a wolf, Changed yet again and was still held fast even as a snake.

Finally she returned to her human form, her stomach writhing with worry and anxiety. Still, she tried to stay calm, as she knew that panicking would only make things worse. After a bit of effort she managed to sit down, and even though the position was awkward, it wasn’t as uncomfortable as standing up.

“This is just perfect,” she grumbled with a sigh. “Nothing to do now, I guess, but wait for the others to come and hope they travel this far back. Lucky me if they don’t,” she added as a grim afterthought. She then remembered Usopp’s urgings that they not bother with landing on the island and groaned a little. The last thing she wanted was to be seen caught like this. For a minute she contemplated trying to dig herself out, but somehow she knew it wouldn’t help, and she didn’t feel like wasting her energy at the moment. “Bleah,” she grunted in irritation, giving her leg a last tug, not expecting anything to happen (accept, maybe, for the hole to tighten a little). So she was more than a little shocked when the hole expanded beneath her, and before she could react she was falling into darkness. Above her, the hole disappeared as it closed completely.

For a second, El was thoroughly dumbfounded as she tumbled through the blackness. Then, a tiny voice told her that no matter how dazed she was, it would not be at all fun to slam into the ground at this speed. Snapping out of her shock, El tried to see how close the walls were. But the inky darkness was too complete for her to see how much room there was or even if there were any walls at all. Finally, she reached a conclusion and changed again, this time into a tiny crimson topaz hummingbird. Instantly, her diminutive body was overcome with exhaustion. In her rush to Change to a form more suited to her situation, she had forgotten one of the first things she’d learned when she was younger. Smaller forms were more prone to weakness after a few Changes than larger ones. El had already Changed ten times (reverting back to human form also took a bit of energy) in less than an hour, and only now that she was so small was the drain on her energy apparent. And to make matters worse was the fact that a hummingbird’s body took a great deal of energy to keep going, making El even more worn out. Still, it was either this or splat into the ground.

Steeling herself, she beat her tiny wings and ignored the burning in them, and the constriction in her chest caused by weariness. However, a second later she became aware of an unsettling matter; she was still falling, and so instead of wasting her energy by trying to fly, she simply went limp and let herself fall.

~If I somehow survive this little tumble of mine,~ she said to herself, ~I swear I’ll always listen to Usopp’s warnings.~ And no sooner than she’d said these words did she suddenly stopped falling, feeling solid ground beneath her exhausted body. She blinked, once again shocked. How in the world had she just landed? As she tried to figure this out, a sudden light glared to life above her.

Eyes watering and smarting from the sudden brightness, El attempted to get to her feet. Unfortunately, a hummingbird’s body was built for flight, not standing, and she immediately fell over. She tried to make do by rolling herself onto her belly. but she before she could she was abruptly lifted into the air. She looked up, narrowing her still-teary eyes against the light as she studied the watery visage of the old man holding her. He was bald and clad in dark blue robes, and in his other hand was a lantern. The elderly man grinned at her, and the sight of perfect, gleaming white teeth made El feel a little uneasy as he chuckled softly.

“Poor little Changeling, caught in one of our holdings, so tired now, no? Rest you now little Changeling, your friends will be here soon and all will be well, yes yes well indeed. Sleep, sleep little one, so deeply as to be like a dead little Changeling!”

Despite the thrill of terror suddenly bolting through her at the old man’s disturbing words, El almost instantly fell into a troubled slumber, chased by his shrieking laughter into the blackness.

“She’s not back yet,” Usopp said, his voice slightly high-pitched from worry.

“We know that,” Zoro said with a sigh. “You’ve said it fifteen times in the past twenty minutes.”

“D’you think she’s alright?” Usopp pressed, and Nami gave a faint smile.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” she replied, though she didn’t sound as if she believed it. There was a moment’s silence as each of them had their doubts about El’s safety and well-being, but finally Luffy spoke.

“Well, we just have to go and fine her,” he said. The others nodded in agreement and Usopp headed off to set the ship on a direct path to the island.

“I really hope she’s okay,” Chopper said softly, and Sanji gave a solemn nod as he patted the teary-eyed reindeer’s head.

Nearly twenty minutes later they reached the tiny island, only to come across the problem El had noticed on her initial inspection: the complete and utter lack of any kind of port or harbor.

“What do we do now?” Chopper asked as they sailed a bit closer to shore.

“I’ll get us as close as I can,” Usopp responded, giving the helm a spin, “but from there we’ll probably have to swim to shore, though someone would have to carry Luffy and Chopper. I can’t get too close or we might end up getting beached or something.”

“Not if I can help it,” Luffy said, folding his arms and grinning. “Just get us close enough and I’ll handle it from there.” The others gave him a curious look, but Luffy just grinned and said nothing more.

After a bit of maneuvering, Usopp got them as close to the shore as he could before turning to face Luffy and the others gathered around. There were still at least four or so yards between the ship and the shore.

“So, what now?” Nami asked, and Luffy walked to the railing before facing the others, grinning hugely.

“Now, we get off the ship and look for El!” he said, laughing as the others simply stared at him.

“How?” Chopper asked, looking down at the small expanse of water that separated them from the island. “Unless we swim like Usopp said, which you and me would have to be carried, I don’t think we’re going to be going anywhere.”

“We’re not swimming!” Luffy said as he suddenly grabbed the small reindeer. “So this is how we’re gonna get ashore!” He then snapped his arms out, and Chopper gave a yelp of surprise as Luffy’s arms stretched out. A moment later he was deposited on the beach, still slightly dazed. After the others had joined him, they all pitched in to help Luffy ashore. In the end they ended up in a pile on the ground when Luffy slammed into them after being tugged a bit too much.

“Told you I’d handle it!” Luffy exclaimed, laughing as the group untangled themselves and stood. He quickly grew serious though, and a moment later they headed off.

“Maybe we should split up?” Sanji asked as they walked. “We’d be able ta covah more ground fastah dat way.”

“Good idea,” Zoro answered, and Luffy nodded.

“We can meet at that tree there, the really big one, when night falls” he said, pointing to a giant old oak tree about half a mile into the forest. The other nodded and Usopp twitched.

“I think maybe we should kind of stay together,” Usopp said, trying to keep his knees from knocking too loud. “After all, we don’t know what kind of people or creatures might live here. It might be safer to go in groups.”

“You’re just saying that because you’re too scared to go on your own,” Zoro muttered, looking irked, but Nami smiled a bit.

“Well he has a point. What do you think Luffy?”

“I agree. Why don’t we go together Nami?”

“Sounds great!” Nami said with a grin, and the four of them headed off into the trees, leaving Zoro and Sanji alone. The swordsman sighed heavily.

“Well, let’s get going,” he said, and Sanji nodded as they walked off as well.
***
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Old 01-18-2006, 08:38 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

False Appearances, Chapter Three con't

Chopper pushed his way through the undergrowth and sighed as he waited for Usopp to untangle himself for the third time from a clinging branch.

“Come on!” the little reindeer exclaimed, and Usopp finally managed to get free from the branch caught on his shirt.

“You know, it’s not that easy when you’re wearing things that can get caught on everything,” he muttered as he now had to stop to free the strap of his pack from a large bush. Chopper shook his head and looked around.

“We’ll never get anywhere this way,” he said as Usopp joined him a moment later. “Let me change. You can ride my back and we can move faster that way.”

“Sounds good,” the marksman replied, moving back to give Chopper some room.

A few moments later, the two of them were making much better progress. Chopper used his antlers to clear a path, and Usopp sat hunkered on his back to keep from getting anything caught in the plants Chopper missed. From this height he also had a somewhat better view than before, and used it to search for clues as to where El was, since Chopper was too busy with cutting through the thick plant life to look very much.

“She could be anywhere,” he said nearly an hour of vain searching. Chopper, back in bipedal form, was taking a break as the two shared some fruit and bread from Usopp’s pack. The reindeer sighed and nodded sadly.

“As anything. We could’ve passed her a hundred times and never noticed her once.”

“We, we know none of the animals we’ve seen were her, none of them were purple,” Usopp said, The he frowned. “You know, I haven’t seen one person or house ever since we’ve been here.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” Chopper responded, nodding. “Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that there aren’t any ports or harbors, either.”

“Well, whatever it means, I have a bad feeling that this whole thing isn’t going to end well,” Usopp said darkly, and Chopper absently nodded as the two of them stood. “At any rate, let’s get back to looking. Maybe we’ll find something.”

“Or maybe something’ll find us,” Chopper replied, giving a shudder.
***

“Man, this place is thick!” Luffy exclaimed as he and Nami made their way through the closely-packed trees and various low-growing plants.

“Bad phonics aside, the plants here are pretty tightly-packed, aren’t they?” Nami responded. Luffy gave her a look and was ready to ask what she meant by “bad phonics,” but was cut off as his hat was got snagged on a branch. As he worked to free it, Nami looked around with a growing sense of dread.

“Got it!” Luffy called after a few moments. As he brushed it off, he grinned at Nami, then scowled when he saw her anxious expression. “Something wrong?”

“I just have a bad feeling about all of this,” she answered, rubbing her arms. “I mean, think about it. We haven’t seen a single person or any kinds of buildings. What could have happened to her?”

“I dunno,” Luffy said, placing the hat back on his head. “But we’ll find her, even if we have to search every centimeter of this place.”

“Well of course we would,” Nami said, giving a weak smile. “We’d never leave one of our own behind.”

“Nope!” Luffy said firmly. “So let’s keep looking!”

=I just hope we find her before anything else happens,= Nami thought as they continued on.
***

“D’ya think she’s okay?” Sanji asked as Zoro paused to catch his breath, taking a small breather from clearing a path with two of his swords.

“Hard to say,” the swordsman replied with a sigh. Sanji watched him for a moment before leaning against a tree.

“What changed you mind, anyways?”

“What are you talking about?” Zoro asked as he scowled back at the cook, who rolled his eyes as he took the cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth between two fingers and waved it around.

“When she firs’ came aboahd, you was acting like a complete jerk. But when we landed on Shizu n’ dat Xeo guy got all mouthy, you was da firs’ one makin’ a show o’ standin’ up for ‘er. And aftah dat, you was both actin’ like ya’d been best friends you whole lives. Why da sudden change o’ haht?”

“I wasn’t acting like a jerk, I was just being cautious,” Zoro replied testily. “You guys might have no trouble trusting just anyone, but we had no idea who or what El was when Luffy bought her onboard the other night. When we got to Shizu, though, and she got treated the way she did, I figured she must be okay. After all, it would be a bit extreme to set up a trap the whole island was involved in, not to mention a bit hard for them to have known we’d needed to stop and restock our supplies.”

“Riiiiight,” Sanji said slowly, and Zoro snorted.

“Anyways, why would you care?”

“You should always give beautiful women da benefit o’ da doubt,” Sanji replied, grinning. Zoro just grunted and shook his head.

“You know, your logic scares me sometimes. One day you’re going to give the wrong person that benefit and it’s gonna get you killed. You do remember our little trip to Arlong Park, when Nami took our ship and the money?”

“Dat’s not my point, you crap-swohdsman,” Sanji said, sounding a bit irked. “My point is it’s bettah ta try ‘n make friends ‘nstead o’ enemies. Even if El had been sent ta lure us into a trap, she mighta changed ‘er mind about it if ya’d been nicah ta ‘er.”

“You don’t really believe that, do you?” Zoro asked, and Sanji shrugged as he placed the cigarette back in his mouth, still grinning.

“Just remembah, you can catch more flies wit’ honey dan wit’ vinegah. Ya’d be sahprised at what a li’l kindness can git you.”

“Yeah, well, if you’re done playing fortune cookie, we should get back to work,” Zoro answered, standing straight and lifting the swords. “We’re not gonna find anyone just standing here.”

“In dis place, we might not find anyone,” Sanji said softly as they started off.
***

Night came, bringing with it a sudden, vicious cold. The sun had just finished setting when Luffy and the others rejoined near the huge oak tree.

“Any luck?” Luffy asked, and the others shook their heads.

“Nothing,” Zoro said. “You?”

“Not a thing,” Nami said, giving a shiver as a chilled wind blew over them. “I don’t get it, what on earth could have happened to El?”

“Whatever happened, we can’t leave till we find her!” Chopper said loudly, his voice shaking.

“Let’s get back to the ship, Usopp said after a moment. “We need to get some blankets and things.”

“Good plan,” Luffy said, nodding. “It got cold so fast.”

“And who knows much colder it’ll get,” Zoro added as the crew set off, all of them in a forlorn mood. However, their moods soon turned to complete dismay when they reached the area the ship had been anchored.

“Where is it?” Chopper cried, eyes wide. “Where’s the ship?!”

“It couldn’t ‘ave just floated off,” Sanji said. “Not wit’ da anchah down!”

“Could someone have stolen it?” Luffy asked, and Nami shook her head.

“Luffy, there are no people on this island!” she said, rubbing her temples in agitation.

“I beg to differ, child,” said a voice behind them, causing them to start and turn. Zoro had his swords drawn before he’d even turned all the way. His teeth clenched so hard into the hilt of the sword in his mouth that it made his jaws hurt.

“Who are you?” Luffy asked the old, robe-clad man standing before them. The elder smiled in a somewhat unsettling way, facing Zoro, who backed up a step and narrowed his eyes as he took a defensive stance.

“I’m Dayo, I am,” he said, still smiling in that eerie manner as he folded his hands into the large sleeves of his robes. “And yes, there are people who live here, we do, we live underground, yes.”

“Where’s our ship?” Zoro snapped around his sword, every muscle in his body tense as the others also stiffened, all of them sensing something was very wrong here.

“Ship? Ship?” Dayo scowled a bit. “I’m afraid I don’t know, indeed I don’t, though it does make sense, yes yes.” He then smiled again, showing his white, strangely unsettling teeth. “After all, I doubt you all just changed to eagles and flew here, yes, highly doubt.” He then laughed, causing the group to jump.

“Where’s El?” Luffy demanded suddenly. The meaning of the old man’s words hadn’t been lost on him or the others, who remembered clearly El’s soaring off as a large eagle earlier that day. Dayo chuckled a bit.

“El? Aahh, you must mean the little Changeling girl, yes yes. She had the misfortune of falling into one of our holdings, she did. See, we aren’t used to visitors, and we never de-activated the holdings when we moved underground, we didn’t, because when we moved underground people quit coming here, yes they did. See, we moved because of all the weather problems that this island regularly experiences. Torrential rain, floods, tornados, tidal waves, hurricanes, tsunamis, not to mention the extreme change of temperature between night and day, yes, extreme indeed,” he added, seeing the others shivering in the cold.

“Ah yes, your friend. Well, she completely fatigued herself, indeed she did, trying to escape the holding she fell into. She’s sleeping now.”
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Old 01-20-2006, 12:01 AM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

Its really good. I enjoyed reading it.

I liek how your setting it up. Howeve ri'm confused abotu ne thing. When does this take place.

Since Vivi isn't there i can asume its after the Alalbastia Kingdom Arc, yet no Robin.

All I noticed that was weird. Also, please include soem fighting scenes. Violence is good.
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Old 01-20-2006, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

XD Thanks Pika, I have an explaination as to why there is no Vivi or Robin. This fic is slightly AU, which explains why there is no Robin (or Vivi), and also explains the time period. It takes place a few weeks after Chopper joins the crew.

As for the violence, you'll love chapters 4-6, I think ^^. Especially chapter four, where our favorite pirates get..."tested..." That's all your getting for now, if you want to find out what happens you'll need ta keep reading! XD The rest of chapter three and the beginning of chapter four should both be up within the next week and a half or so, since I have to type out what I've written and edit it and all.
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Old 03-07-2006, 08:54 PM
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Default Re: False Appearances (One Piece fic [yes another one XD])

OMFG!!! I finally updated! I'm SOOOOOO sorry that's it's taken me so long, but I lost my disk...again -_-'...anyways, here's more of chappah three! ^^

False Appearance, Chapter Three con't

“What did you do to her?” Zoro growled, the swords in his hands twitching in anger. There had been something in the old man’s voice the swordsman hadn’t liked when he’d said “she’s sleeping now.”

“I did nothing, yes yes, nothing at all.”

“Some’n’ tells me dis guy ain’t bein’ honest,” Sanji said, his tone hard as he stepped forward, his hands hooked into his pockets. “Maybe he needs some help rememba’n’ da truth.”

“I can assure you, youngsters, I do not lie, indeed I do not,” Dayo said, his smile vanishing as he stepped back, half-turning. “Now, if you wish to see your Changeling friend, you should follow me, yes yes, indeed you should.” He then turned fully and began to walk away, his pace oddly brisk and vigorous for one who seemed so old.
Luffy and the others shared a wary look before following the old man.

After a long, cold, and thoroughly mind-numbing trek through the dark forest, Dayo stopped suddenly and knelt down, running a hand through the thick carpet of dead leaves and other debris. A moment later he stood, a thick cord in his hand. Gripping it tight, he tugged it back, and a large trapdoor opened up.

“Go on then, but watch your step, yes yes, the stairs are thin, indeed they are,” he said, waving them towards the opening in the ground with his free hand. One by one, the group vanished into the hidden passageway. Dayo was the last one to head under, pulling the trapdoor shut above him.

When the group reached level ground a few moments later, Dayo turned and took a lamp from a hook in the wall, giving the tiny flame within a bit more air and nodding as it grew a bit larger.

“First door on your left, yes yes, you’ll find her in that room. But first I must unlock the door, indeed.”

“Why is she locked in a room?” Usopp asked as Dayo brushed passed the group, pulling a key from a pocket within his robes.

“This underground complex stretches the entire length of the island, yes, indeed it does. We didn’t want for her to wake up and get lost by wandering about, we didn’t,” the old man answered as he placed the key into the keyhole and turned it. There came a tiny click as the lock gave and Dayo put the key back into his pocket, then gripped the handle and turned it. Smiling at the others, he pulled it open. “Remember now, she’s asleep, so be quiet. I’m going to go see what I can do about getting you all something to eat and drink, yes yes.” Before any of them could say anything, the elderly man had turned and walked off, placing the lamp on another hook by the door.

“How can he see with so little light?” Chopper asked as the group went into the room, which was dimly lit by three more low-burning lamps.

“Who knows?” Nami replied as she pulled the door shut behind her, leaving it open a crack before joining the others around the bed El was sleeping on. “I just want to get out of here now that we’ve found El. This whole set-up is freaking me out.”

“We can’t go anywhere without a ship,” Zoro muttered darkly as he practically fell into a chair by the foot of the bed. “I have a feeling that old man knows more about what’s going on than he’s letting on.”

“Well, we have to get away from here somehow,” Usopp said, settling himself on the bed. “I agree with Nami, this place is creepy.”

“Just…three days…” El said suddenly, and the group turned to face her as she struggled to sit up.

“You look awful,” Chopper said, moving to the side of the bed and gently pushing El back down. The pale, exhausted Shifter offered no resistance, giving a small groan as she laid back.

“What did you say?” Usopp asked as El closed her eyes tiredly.

“Three days,” she said weakly. “After then I…can get us away…after I’ve regained my strength…”

“How?” Sanji asked, looking a bit worried. “Choppah’s right, ya look awful. Ya shouldn’t go pushin’ yaself too much.”

“Dragon,” El muttered, her voice falling to a whisper as she sunk back into sleep. “Fly us…away…”

“We need to either find the Going Merry or get a new ship,” Chopper said, running a hoof over El’s forehead and scowling.

“Is she that bad off?” Zoro asked, and the small reindeer nodded.

“I might not know anything about Shifters, but if El were human I’d say she’d be close to death from fatigue. She’d need at least four or so days of rest. El is a Shifter though, so she might not need to so long to recover. Still, she did say that turning into a Dragon takes a lot of energy. The strain of so much energy loss after being this drained might…” He trailed off, shaking his head.

“Then let’s go fine that old man and get him to find us a way off the island before three days,” Luffy said. “They live underground, so they won’t have ships. We’ll just have to have them build us something that can last long enough to get to the next island.”

“You know, sometimes you say something that makes so much sense that it makes me forget what a complete goof you are,” Zoro said, giving a faint smile as he stood. Luffy grinned back as the others who’d been sitting stood as well.

“How much d’ya wanna bet we’ll need ta do a bit o’ pahsuading tag it ‘em ta make us something’?” Sanji inquired as they exited the room, Nami taking the lamp Dayo had left as they headed down the hall.

“That’s a bet you’d most likely win,” Usopp commented as they walked.

The group had barely gotten a few yards when a door not too far ahead of them on the right suddenly popped open. A moment later, Dayo stepped into view, followed by a younger man with long gold hair and pale blue eyes that clearly showed he was blind. He was clad in the same dark blue robes as Dayo, though he also wore a black sash tied around his left wrist. It hung down about a foot and had a tiny silver bell attached to the end.

“Aah, I see you’ve left your friend to her rest, yes yes,” Dayo said when he saw them. He went to stand before them, the younger man following him, causing the small bell to chime softly with each movement. “Morik, these are the ones I was just telling you about.” The young man smiled as he turned his dead eyes to the group.

“Well, allow me to welcome you, and to introduce myself properly. I am Morikdan Zashin, though most people call me Morik. And while these eyes no longer see anything, I can see much more clearly than when they could view the world.”

“What d’you mean?” Luffy asked, and the two blue-clad men chuckled.

“Morik ate a Devil Fruit, indeed he did,” Dayo replied, putting a hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “The Spy-Spy Fruit destroyed his sight by killing his eyes, yes yes, but it granted him the ability to perceive the qualities of others, it did indeed.”

“If this troubles you, I can assure you I will not read you without your permission,” Morik offered, smiling more. “Not then, Dayo was telling me that you all might like some food, and perhaps something to drink. Is there anything else you need?”

“Actually, there is,” Luffy said as Dayo and Morik led them through the door they’d come through. “Since our ship has vanished, we’ll need some other way to leave.”

“Why, of course you do,” Morik said as Dayo motioned for the group to sit around the already-set table, which took up a great deal of room. “We should be able to get something prepared in, oh, I’d say about three days. We’ve been quite busy this past day or so.”

“Until then, be sure to rest and make yourselves at home, yes yes,” Dayo added as he and Morik backed from the room. “I’ll be back to show you your rooms shortly. Now, dig in!” He then stepped back and shut the door before any of the others could respond.

“I’m liking this less and less,” Usopp said as he stared at a plate of potatoes.

“Nothing to do now but wait though,” Nami said with a sigh, and Luffy filled a plate before looking at the others.

“Let’s eat. We need to keep our strength up, just in case.”

“But what if the food is poisoned? I doubt I’ll be able to get a hold of the ingredients for an antidote…” Chopper asked, warily eyeing a bowl of sauce. Zoro shook his head and also loaded up a plate.

“Not likely. Why go through all the trouble? I think that whatever these people are planning, and you can bet they’re planning something, they want us alive and healthy.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Chopper muttered gloomily as he and the others filled their own plates. “But what do they want us for?”

“I can tell ya one thing,” Sanji replied with a somber tone, “it ain’t gonna be fun for da whole fam’ly…”

Dayo and Morik stood by the door, Morik’s eyes half-closed as he stared at it.

“Well? Dayo asked impatiently, and Morik waved a hand to silence him. Finally, he spoke.

“The Devil Fruit I ate lets me see their souls,” he said in a soft voice. His eyes flicked and despite his blindness and the closed door, he clearly saw Luffy and the others, sitting in strained silence as they ate. His gaze fell upon the Gum-Gum boy as he smirked a bit.

“What do you see, Morikdan? Tell me, yes yes.”

“I see the boy in the strawhat,” Morik answered. “I see that he is pure of heart, viciously loyal and infinitely kind. I see his deep love for his friends. He is of Spirit. And now, I see the swordsman,” he said, his head turning a bit to face was Zoro was sitting. “I see his determination, his burning spirit, and his undying devotion to all he believes in.. Next I see the blonde-haired one, and his powerful will that shall always guide him, no matter what he faces. They are both of Fire. Now I see the girl, and her desire to remain true to her friends forever, the vow she made to never lead them astray or into danger. She is of Water. The one with the slingshot is who I see now. He may be as cowardly as a beaten dog, but his heart is growing brave and his spirit strong. He is of Wind. Finally I see the small reindeer, and his passion to heal the world, to help as many sick ones that he can. He is of Earth.”

“Good, that’s good, yes it is,” Dayo said, smiling widely. “One for each element, two of Fire no less, yes yes. That meant we can proceed with the experiments right away.”

“Yes. That’s the problem with being exiled to this puny, uncharted, forgotten hunk of land. It’s so hard to find suitable subjects. This truly is a good fall of fortune,” Morik replied as he turned from the door to face the older man.

“Yes indeed,” Dayo said, his head bobbing like an overly-active owl’s. “But Morik, why go through all this trouble? Why did we not simply take them as our subjects the moment they landed? I was informed by my sentry-beasts the second they came ashore, indeed I was, and no doubt you saw their arrival through the powers of the Devil Fruit you ate. We had the girl to use as bait as well, yes we did, remember the scout hawk that reported seeing her leave their vessel? Thus we knew they’d probably do most anything to keep her from harm. Why this farce?”

“Dear old Dayo. These people, and the reindeer, are not like the others that have had the…misfortune…of coming across our humble little island. These ones are strong, their bonds of friendship to one another gives them great strength. These ones have power here. So we be cautious, feed them our food, offer our drink, and once they are under our will and their own false senses of security, we shall cast our net over them and watch them ensnare themselves when they try to flee and escape. Even now the food they eat is carrying the special herb we use to make it easier for us to place our will over their own. Also, this way gives us time to test them properly and ensure we can use them. Morik explained, walking off and waving a hand to indicate Dayo follow him.
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