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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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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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