My father says that almost the whole world is asleep...

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Thoughts on a Snowy Cliff
spiral_brow wrote in thewakelogs
Who: Sanji, Open
What: While - and after - making the snow-sculpture for Kergan, Sanji finds himself reflecting - and brooding - on what being in Nautilus means to him.
Where: Eastern District, on the cliffs by the Eastern Welcome House.
When: Dec. 14th, mid-afternoon-ish.
Warnings: It's Sanji, so possibly language. A warning for angst? ... Sanji is not really too happy by the end of this tl;dr. ^_^;;
Notes: !guest character. Feel free to backtag this! Threadjacking allowed, too, if you wanna hop into a scene in progress, unless otherwise noted.

Sanji had seen the post about some people planning a gathering to make snowmen up in the Northern District, but he didn't feel like being part of a crowd, nor did he want to enter the North. Sure, that big metal... thing had said if no one caused trouble, there was no issue... but the threat had rubbed him the wrong way, and he had no desire to step into his territory as of yet. He wanted to explore the East a little more, anyway. He'd been in there before, when he came to the Eastern Welcome House to give Miss Dana her cooking lesson, and he'd attended his first Bending lesson that morning.

He found a clear spot on the cliffs near the Welcome House and overlooking the beach, and began to build up piles of snow to make a snow sculpture of Kergan, and thought about what he'd learned. It was a weird sensation, Bending. To create something out of... absolutely nothing. It had sent a shudder up his spine, at the power one could have, with that ability. What people could do with such power. His first attempt was to try and Bend up an orange, but it had failed terribly -- it was overripe, very squishy, and way too sweet. It had still been edible, barely... but after eating it, Sanji had steadfastly refused to practice Bending on food, until he was sure he could get it right. He wasn't about to risk spoiling, and wasting, any more food with his practicing.

He also had asked how long it would be until he regained all his strength. Before leaving for the Bending lesson, he had kicked out at a thick tree on Budehuc's grounds. It had been a solid kick, but the impact did nothing more than perhaps knock a few loose shingles of bark off, and send a jolt up his leg. That was no good. He should have splintered that tree. His strength had definitely taken a knock, with his arrival here. He didn't know if his speed and flexibility were likewise affected, but it was a safe idea to think that they were. He'd been told it would take a lot of focussed effort, and work on regaining each ability one at a time, and that it would take weeks for his abilities to regain their full strength. Sanji had frowned, but nodded. Well, he was used to hard work and training. He would just have to make sure to lay low, and avoid any serious fights until he'd regained his abilities. He wondered if he could build up each ability gradually. Spend a week working on his flexibility, for instance, and work on strength the next, then speed the week after...

...was he already thinking about spending weeks here? Months?! What about returning to his crew? He had to get back! They needed him! ... He needed them, if he was to be honest with himself. Sure, people were nice here, but... they were his crew, his nakama. He pushed those thoughts aside for the moment, as he focussed on carving out the details on the sculpture he was building. After a while, he stepped back, and surveyed his handiwork. A female figure, representing Kergan, was lounging gracefully on some rocks... snowballs carved into various flowers scattered all around her. Sanji smiled. It looked good, if he did say so himself, and he hoped she liked it. He was no artist, but this wasn't too different from making shaped cakes... and the flowers at least were easy enough to do.

Sanji turned his gaze towards the sea, and found himself taking a few steps towards it. He stopped near the edge of the cliffs, and listened to the surf crashing against the rocks. He closed his eyes, and for a moment imagined he was back home, docked on some island, somewhere, and let the sounds of the sea soothe him. Or attempted to, anyway.

Thinking about the sea only reminded him of everything he'd lost since he came here. It wasn't even the loss of his strength that upset him, as it was being separated from everyone and everything he knew, and dropped into a wild, crazy place, full of metal giants and god-like figures and the ability to make reality shift to your will... and there really was no way home. Oh, sure, you could return to your world, but... it wasn't the same. You had no control any more over your life. Everything was pre-ordained, nothing you thought or felt mattered. You had no freedom in your own world; you were a prisoner of fate.

Sanji's jaw clenched around the cigarette he held in his mouth, and he glared - albeit sadly - out to sea. He hated this. He was adjusting, but he had no choice. He didn't live a sheltered life. He knew life was unpredictable, and unfair, and you had to roll with the punches and take what you were given, in order to survive. He'd put his own dreams and desires on hold, to pay back all that he felt he owed to Zeff... to make his dreams come true... to make sure the Baratie flourished, and was protected... But his dreams were still there, still possible even then... And now, even if he was chasing a legend, he was part of a crew that supported his dream... that had dreams of their own...

A dream that was useless, here. There was no All Blue, here. There was no NEED for the All Blue to exist. What good was it, if all you had to do was WISH for the fish you wanted, and BOOM! You had it! And what good was his dream back home, now that he had no CONTROL over finding All Blue himself? Oh, sure... it was his body, his dream, still... but it was none of his effort. If what these people said was true, it was like being a puppet... pulled by strings, manipulated by someone else. He was in that world, it was his body, his actions, but... not at the same time. It confused him, and gave him one horrible headache, trying to figure it all out. A part of him dreaded going back to his world, and discovering just what this would FEEL like... to see events playing out through his own eyes, but only be a passive observer.

It took the goal out of his dream. Even if it was his body, even if it was 'him' that eventually found All Blue... it wasn't the him who he was now... not the Nautilus Sanji... that had done it. His body had gone through the trials, his mind had followed the clues, his heart was still yearning for his dream... It was, and it wasn't, and it nearly made Sanji sick, trying to understand it all.

And if he felt this way, about his dream, and what it meant here in Nautilus... ...then how would the OTHERS feel, if they ever got dragged here?

He didn't like the answers he was coming up with.

Some of them would take it better than others, no doubt. Usopp would be freaked out upon arrival, but Sanji was sure he'd take to Bending easily. He had a great imagination, and that probably worked really well with Bending. His dream was to become a great, courageous warrior... and either here or at home, that was an accomplishable goal. Their newest crewmate, Chopper... he'd be scared upon arrival, too... but he was starting to warm up to humans, and was a friendly soul at heart... No doubt he'd make friends here. Sanji didn't know how Bending affected medicine, but if it all was just will, and re-shaping reality, well... that made almost anything possible, didn't it? And so many different worlds were here... How many different forms of medicine and healing were represented? Chopper could probably gain his dream here, too.

The others, though... Nami's dream was to map the world. Their world. A huge, daunting task... but if anyone could do it, he was sure his brilliant Nami-san was the one to do it. Was... mapping THIS world comparable? Or was this city all that existed, in this reality? How far did that sea stretch? Was there anything on the other side? At all? Sanji had no idea. He wondered if anyone else knew, either. And what'd he'd heard, of the city changing to suit its inhabitants... of buildings appearing all on their own... Was it even possible to map this place? Was it a futile effort? .... And the Marimo... what of his goal? To become the world's best swordsman. He had no idea if there were any swordsmen in this place, and he didn't care (though it would be nice to have SOMEONE to spar with, he grudgingly admitted. Doubtful they'd match up to the idiot, but... the Marimo was a class all his own. They knew each other's limits, too. Sanji snorted to himself and abandoned this line of thought). Would the shit swordsman consider them worthy opponents, though? If he arrived here, the idiot would probably just say he'd be the best of THIS place, too... be the best of both worlds, but... how much of that would be bravado, and - though it pained him to admit this - would the Marimo feel the same as himself? Would he consider the fact that he had no real control himself, over his life back home, a cheapening of his dream? That he really wasn't the one to obtain his goal? That he really hadn't been the one to fight Mihawk, and claim the title of World's Greatest?

And what of Luffy?

Sure, their captain would find this place an amazing adventure... full of fun and excitement to be had, but... There were no pirates here (as far as he knew, in any case). There was no Grand Line. There was no One Piece.

There was no Pirate King.

Sanji ground down on his cigarette, hissing faintly, frowning. No. They might adjust to things, if they arrived here... but he was sure it would hurt them, too. Their dreams had no substance, here. They had no goals here. Everything they had lived for... everything they had fought for... everything they had dedicated their lives to... was all for naught. Sanji had shoved his dream away for the sake of others, to repay a debt, before... he could do it again. His dream could be expendable. He would NOT want to see his nakama be forced to give up the same. If his being here in some way prevented anyone else from arriving, then... that was his toll to pay, and he'd accept that burden. It would hurt, and he already felt terribly sad and lonely... but if it meant that the others would never realise that their lives were just a 'dream'... if they could keep on living and dreaming... following and achieving their goals... then so be it.

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Rex gets a small nod of acknolwedgement. "I'm Sanji." He smirked faintly, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "Paying it forward, then? Real big-hearted of you."

Well, you've distracted him at least, Rex. He still wasn't in the best of moods. But he wasn't about to let any of what he'd been thinking, or feeling, slip to a stranger.

Sanji had learned about the drop in power; he wasn't as strong as he should be. Rex's explanation still made him raise an eyebrow in surprise, then. "Just... how did you get that power? Is it something natural in your world?" He wondered if it was anything like the Devil Fruits in his world, or something completely different.

"Yeah, but I'm also the heroic sort. I do a lot of world saving back home, so helping people is what I do normally, anyway." Which was completely true. Rex may have been prone to pranking and being a nuisance at times, but most teenagers have those kinds of issues. On the whole, however, when the crud hit the oscillating device, one could always count on him to be there and at the ready.

"It's something in my world, yeah, but I wouldn't call it natural. More like a bunch of scientists messing with experimental stuff and things going really wrong," Rex explained as he held out one hand, lines of neon blue running over it and his lower arm. "Something happened more than six years ago that we call The Nanite Event. Pretty much the most catastrophic event in human history. A laboratory exploded and scattered all these tiny machines into the atmosphere called nanites. They're so small, the naked eye can't see 'em...and they got into everything. The air, water, dirt...people, plants and animals. As long as the nanites in someone are off, they don't do anything. They're just kinda there. If they turn on, though, they cause changes in their host. Most can't control those changes, but I happen to be one of those lucky ones who can."

Sanji couldn't help himself, and smirked in wry amusement. So this kid was the 'do-gooder, noble hero' type, huh? Well, in some way, Sanji could relate, sometimes picturing himself as a dashing prince saving fair maidens, when in need and all... but that was only the barest of connections. They were from different walks of life... and would most likely be on different sides, had they been from the same world. Sanji could see Rex as an idealistic, honest Marine. Better than the absolute-justice obsessed bullies, in any case!

Sanji's eyes just widened as Rex displayed his powers, eyebrows creeping up to his hairline as he explained the situation on his world. He couldn't really understand it all too well -- technology was not his strong suit -- but he could get the gist of it, at least. He removed his cigarette for a second to let out a stream of smoke, brows now furrowing and expression growing serious, before replacing it and looking up at the man again.

"So these... tiny little things... What are they? Bugs? Bugs you can't see... get in everywhere, and change the person they're inside of? And that gives them powers?" He frowns, then shakes his head a little. "They sound like a Devil Fruit, only you've got no choice in eating 'em," he muttered lowly. "Oi. You can still swim, right?"

"Microscopic machines. Nanites. Saying that people get powers from them is...sorta true. The problem is that most of the time, the changes drive them insane and they rampage. It's a huge problem if it happens in a city or even small towns because people get hurt and the amount of property damage is a total nightmare."

Of course, that's where Rex came in as the hero. Someone had to stop his fellow EVOs from going berserk and trashing everything in sight. It was not a job he had taken to well at first. Truthfully, he'd enjoyed the showing off part more than anything. But over time, he'd come to realize the importance of simply helping other people.

"No idea what Devil Fruit is," he said with a shrug. "Swimming's no problem for me, though. In fact, I'm a pretty strong swimmer."

Sanji doesn't completely understand, as he can't fully comprehend how machines can be made so small... but he understands it's at least possible in other worlds, as this guy is saying. He winces a little at the 'rampage' bit. He was a pirate, and with his captain, getting quickly used to chaos following them around. He understood how hard it'd be for average folk, though. "Ehhh. Sounds like a headache. And you're part of the restraining and clean-up crew, then?"

He grinned a little. "Ah, good. So don't have to worry 'bout hauling your ass out if you ever fall into the water. That's a relief." He took a drag on his cigarette, then shrugged faintly. "Devil Fruits are these things in my world. You eat one, you gain a specific power. One bite is all it takes, and only one power per person... there are no duplicate powers at any one time. Downside is, the things taste like shit, apparantly... and what's worse, it completely robs you of your ability to swim. The sea rejects Devil Fruit users, turning them into hammers; completely helpless if they're submerged in water."

He paused, chewing on the end of his cigarette, then glanced at Rex. "You haven't heard of Devil Fruits before... Has anyone ever mentioned the Four Blues? East Blue, North Blue, for example? Or the Grand Line..?" He knew that the possibility of anyone from his world being here was rare, from what he'd heard and seen on the Network so far, but he had to try.

Rex nodded. "That's the basics of it. Providence specializes in curing, containing or killing EVOs."

The teenager listened to Sanji's explanation, one brow rising a bit over what he was hearing. Magic fruit, huh? Interesting. Likely Doc Holiday or his brother would try to attribute the gifting of powers through some sort of genetic alteration, much the way nanites changed DNA. The part he didn't quite get was the sinking instead swimming, however. How did that work?

"'Turn into hammers'?" he repeated, one hand moving to rub the back of his neck as he thought that over. "So it isn't that they forget how to swim, it's that they literally can't because...they're suddenly too heavy? Denser than water? Sooo...they sink. That is bizarre."

Said the guy who grew massive battle axes out of his arms.

"I've never heard anything about different kinds of Blue or the Grand Line. Though they do sound kinda cool, whatever they are..."

So, to his mind, this 'Providence' were essentially the Marines of Rex's world, and EVOs the pirates. Sort of. Only these EVOs had no choice in the matter and go crazy, so someone had to take them down.

Sanji shrugged. "Hammer is a slang term," he clarified. "Means someone that can't swim, and just sinks instead. I'm not exactly sure how or why it works. They certainly don't feel any heavier or anything. But if the water starts coming up any higher than, say... hips or something, the start feeling weak, and sluggish. If they get completely submerged, they find all their strength and energy has been zapped, and they can't move at all. One of us non-users have to dive in after them to fish 'em out."

Sanji closed his eyes and nodded. He pretty much knew that would be the answer, but he had to have at least a little hope, right? "My world's divided up into four major seas. East Blue, North Blue, South Blue and West Blue. They're separated by the Grand Line, which is a long, treacherous strip of sea circling the world, running west to east... and the Red Line, a long, massive continent circling from north to south."

"Whoa, so it's almost like some freaky allergic reaction to water." Rex chewed his lower lip a bit, considering that...then realized he was starting to sound like his brother. Gah, Caesar would probably have a million questions for Sanji about all this, trying to apply science to everything. "But you've never had Devil Fruit before so you've got no powers. Kind of ironic, really. Other people having awesome powers, yet they need a more normal guy to save them from water of all things."

The description of the world Sanji hailed from conjured up an interesting image in Rex's mind. Like a big blue globe with a red rocky belt running vertically around it. The way he imagined it, it seemed like a heck of a lot of open water. And these guys were eating fruit that took away their ability to swim...? Now that was living dangerously!

And truthfully? That rather impressed the young EVO.

"Sounds like a place that might be worth a visit, sometime. You know, just to have a look around," he said thoughtfully, a small smirk tugging at the corners of his mouth.

Sanji rubbed the back of his head. "I've never thought of it that way. I guess you could kinda call it that." He then gave a little snort. "No way I'm giving up my ability to swim for some random power." Well, there was one fruit he was kind of interested in, but there was no way he was explaining about that. And besides, he didn't want to lose his ability to swim, and become a liability. "Some fruits have been identified, but there are a lot that haven't, too. And once you've bitten one, that's it. You've got that power for life."

That image was pretty darn accurate, Rex. Aside from the continental "ring", the world was mostly filled with islands of various sizes; some small, some quite large. And as for living dangerously? You didn't know the half of it!

Sanji's brow rose, and a confused expression crossed his face. "Perhaps, but... that's my world, not yours. People can't visit other people's worlds... can they?"

"Where I'm from, it'd be like force activating your own nanites and hoping for the best. You know, getting good powers and not losing your humanity instead of ending up like a rabid animal. At least some EVOs can be cured, though... It's not always a permanent deal."

Rex had to grin knowingly at Sanji's expression when he expressed confusion over world visiting. No one had explained the duties and powers of the higher Ascended, apparently.

"Regular Wakened like you can't, but if you stay here long enough and work your way up the ladder to a higher Ascended rank, you can go to other worlds that aren't yours," Rex explained, unconsciously squaring his shoulders in a proud sort of way. "It goes Wakened to Angelii to Ashura to Deva. Sometimes worlds get damaged and need to be repaired, like a ship that's been taken off course. If it's not fixed, it can end up splitting and creating weird splinter worlds. Angelii can enter any world and search it for flaws. Once they find the flaws, they tell an Ashura, who has the power to fix the problem. So yeah... Since I'm already one step up the ladder, I can enter your world if I want."

Sanji couldn't help the little smirk as the guy puffed himself up. Reminded him a little of Usopp, and how he'd build himself up when telling stories about himself. Only this guy had the confidence, the ability, and truth of his statements, to back up that pride. The guy's words wiped away the grin, though, and he chewed on his cigarette stub thoughtfully.

The ship analogy helped to clear things up his head a little. "So... you're an 'Angelii', then... You higher Ascended are like ships, that can travel from island to island... or world to world in his case." He frowned, folding his arms. "What do you mean by 'damaged worlds'?" he asked lowly. "I ... doubt you're talking about something like a war, even a massive one..."

Rex's expression turned somber again. The best example he knew to give of world damages was also the most depressing one. It also didn't help that he hadn't witnessed the fall out in Kalliste, either. He'd only heard about it from people like V, Tally and Starscream.

"Actually, there was a war that caused a lot of damage, but it was outside the worlds on like a big, multiversal scale between the Deva and their Ashura and Angelii. Some time ago, the Deva of Glass, Isis, decided that she wanted everything in existence to fit her idea of perfect Order instead of everything being in balance between Order and Chaos like it's supposed to be. So she started invading the worlds, changing them to fit what she thought was best. People were being brainwashed into following her laws, not able to think on their own anymore. Any world she couldn't bring under her control, she turned to glass.

"When she got to Nautilus, the Wakened fought her. Her brother, Ameras the Deva of Green, had been getting everyone here ready to face her. She turned some here to glass and the rest chased her out into the old City of Glass, Kalliste. Then Ameras got some forces together and they invaded Kalliste, fought Isis and defeated her."

He folded his arms across his chest, glancing out to the sea as he recalled V's stories about how the battles had gone. Rex really wasn't giving out all the details. Apparently, the battle in Kalliste had been horrific.

"Trouble is that even though Isis is gone now, the damage she caused is still a problem. Angelii have checked some worlds for damage and when it's found, an Ashura will get a group together to travel out and fix it. We don't know how many worlds Isis got to, though. We just have to keep hunting around when we have the chance and hope we find them."

Sanji frowned, darkly. That sounded like the worst type of Marine, to him. The absolute-justice, complete and utter order, people punished for the slightest of transgressions. It was definitely a world he wouldn't want to live in. As much as he didn't like people attacking women, even he had to admit that this Isis had needed to be stopped.

He clicked his tongue, thoughtfully. "Must be a hell of a task. Looking at the various people in this city, I can't begin to think how many worlds there must be." Sanji had only met a couple people so far, but he could imagine. Say, for example, all the stories in his world, ended up being worlds of their own... It could be infinite!

"How can you tell if a world is damaged?"

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