Belle Mere took one last drag from her cigarette, snuffed it on a nearby window sill, and went back to patrolling the halls of Marine Base 55.
â€œWhy did I ever agree to rejoin the Marines?â€? she mused to herself. True, she was now getting triple standard wages, what with the base being located on the Grand Line, and she was fortunate the Major at the recruiting office helped her find a base the allowed families.
Belle Mere chuckled a bit as she heard the sounds of childrenâ€s shrieks and laughter coming faintly from outside. No doubt Nojiko, Nami, and the rest of the Marine Base 55 children were out playing in the first rainfall in two months. A desert country wouldnâ€t have been Belle Mereâ€s first choice, but her choices were limited if she wanted to bring her daughters with her.
As Belle Mere continued her rounds, she heard the sound of at least two men in conversation coming near. A shudder ran through her body as she recognized the voice of her commanding officer. No doubt he was buttering up some local dignitary for a huge donation, most of which would go in his own pockets. Belle Mere silently prayed for a closet or something to duck into so she wouldnâ€t have to deal with the jerk. No such luck.
Right around the corner came, in Belle Mereâ€s opinion, one of the worst Base Captains in the history of the Marines. Instead of standard uniform, Captain Slique wore a leisure suit with the Marineâ€s symbol on the back, cuffs, and pant legs. As if that wasnâ€t tacky enough, Slique also wore a large number of rings on his fingers and gold chains around his neck. He also probably used about a gallon of gel when slicking back his dark purple hair. The first time Belle Mere met Slique, she had to bite her lower lip to keep from laughing at his sunglasses with the Marineâ€s symbol on each lens.
â€œAh, Lieutenant Belle Mere, what perfect timing. I want to introduce you to a very important person.â€? Captain Slique exclaimed as he draped his left arm on Belle Mereâ€s shoulders. Though he wasnâ€t actually touching anything, his hand was just a little too close to Belle Mereâ€s chest. With his right arm, he pointed towards two men who, just as Belle Mere guessed, looked like local nobles.
â€œLieutenant Belle Mere, this is his Royal Highness King Nefertari Cobra of Alabasta. He played a great part in establishing this base.â€? Cobra put a hand behind his head and chuckled a bit.
â€œNow really Captain, I only sold you the land on Alubarnaâ€s riverbank for you to build the base on. Itâ€s the people who actually built the base who deserve the credit.â€? Slique let out that annoying, almost feminine, laugh of his.
â€œUhuhuhuh, how like you, Your Majesty, to stick up for the little people. And speaking of little peopleâ€¦â€? Slique motioned his right hand back to Belle Mere. â€œThis, Your Majesty, is one of my favorite subordinates. Allow me introduce the lovely Lieutenant Belle Mere.â€?
The only thing keeping Belle Mere from introducing Slique to all kinds of pain was that she was in the presence of royalty. In fact, Belle Mere knew quite a bit about King Cobra and she had a lot of respect for him. It was refreshing, in this day and age, to know there was a ruler who considered himself his peopleâ€s servant instead of the other way around.
Cobra was about to introduce Igaram in turn when a loud bell started sounding from outside. Just then, Cadet Tashigi rushed in and made a beeline for Belle Mere. Slique was more than annoyed.
â€œCADET TASHIGI! What is the meaning of this uncalled for interruption?â€? Tashigi made a clumsy salute then stammered out an explanation.
â€œWell, err, Captain, I just thought that the Lieutenant here, Iâ€m really sorry about the interruption, by the way, might want to know that Namiâ€s in trouble.â€? Belle Mere quickly slipped out of Sliqueâ€s grasp.
â€œWhat sort of trouble?â€?
â€œWell, I really donâ€t know the details, but sheâ€s in a fight with some local kid just outside the base.â€? Belle Mere sighed and put a hand over her face.
â€œAw geez, I just bought her that dress a week ago. OK Tashigi, take me there.â€? As Tashigi led Belle Mere outside, Slique made a desperate attempt to save face.
â€œUhuhuhuh, I apologize for that disruption. A well meaning Admiral decided to make this a base where officers could bring their families with them. Iâ€m not one to speak ill of higher ranking officers, but I donâ€t think he took into consideration what a bother children can be sometimes.â€? Cobra let out a hearty laugh.
â€œDonâ€t worry Captain; I have a little girl of my own. I know exactly how the Lieutenant must feel.â€?
â€œExcuse me sire,â€? said Igaram â€œBut wasnâ€t Vivi pla- pla- Ahem ~Ma, Ma, Mwa~ playing with some of her friends just outside the base?â€?
â€œAh yes, youâ€re right Igaram. Why do youâ€¦â€? Cobra and Igaram looked at each other, and suddenly took off after Belle Mere and Tashigi. Slique, left all alone, made a fist and gritted his teeth.
â€œArrrrrgh! That brat Nami is going to get it this time!â€?
â€œAw, come on Leader. Let them fight.â€?
Belle Mere and Tashigi arrived just as Nojiko and some boy were pulling Nami and her opponent away from each other. Before saying anything, Belle Mere took a moment to assess the situation. Just as she feared, Namiâ€s new dress was a mess. But that was probably more from rolling around in the damp ground than anything else. Nami would still have to be punished a bit, but overall things werenâ€t too bad in that department.
As for Nami herself, she had bruises all over, her nose was bleeding a little, and there were a few light scratches here and there. Nothing she hasnâ€t gotten before. As for the other girl, Belle Mere could see it was a girl now, she was pretty much the same as Nami except she had a black eye instead of a bloody nose. The girls were just now starting to calm down, but Belle Mere didnâ€t think Nami was ready to talk just yet. So she turned to Nojiko.
â€œThanks for looking out for Nami, Nojiko. You can hand her over to me now.â€? Nojiko let go of Nami just long enough for Belle Mere to take her in a gentle, but firm, grip. â€œNow, what happened here Nojiko?â€?
â€œWell, we Marine base kids and these Alabasta kids were throwing mud balls at each other. It was all fun until Nami accidentally threw a mud ball that hit that other girl in the eye. Nami was going to apologize, honest, but then that other girl started yelling at Nami right in her face. Nami, being Nami, yelled right back, and before I knew it they started fighting.â€?
â€œKohza is that what happened between Vivi andâ€¦ Nami, wasnâ€t it, Lieutenant?â€? Tashigi jumped a bit when she saw King Cobra himself had arrived. Belle Mere simply nodded to let Cobra he had gotten her daughterâ€s name right. As Igaram took hold of Vivi, the boy who helped Nojiko break up the fight turned to Cobra.
â€œThat Marine Base girl pretty much summed up what happened, your Majesty.â€?
â€œSo, Nami, you even cause trouble for your betters even when theyâ€re your own age.â€? Belle Mere took a second to pinch the bridge of her nose. Slique getting involved was the last thing any of them needed right now. Slique walked up to Vivi and kneeled in front of her as best he could without actually getting his pants in the mud.
â€œPrincess Nefertari Vivi, I deeply apologize for what that awful Nami did to you. I assure you she wonâ€t get away with it.â€? Slique got up and turned to face Belle Mere. â€œLieutenant Belle Mere! I hereby order you to finally discipline that beastly little bullyâ€¦â€? Here Slique was cut off by several of the children.
â€œHEY! Namiâ€s no bully!â€?
â€œYeah, it was a fair fight!â€?
â€œShe did throw the first punch, but only after Sub-Leader Vivi started pulling on her cheek!â€?
â€œTHATâ€S ENOUGH FROM YOU BRATS!â€? Slique bellowed at the children. Clearing his throat, Slique turned backed to Belle Mere. â€œAs I saying, I order you to take Nami over your knee, right here in front of everyone, and give her ten hard smacks on the bottom.â€?
Belle Mere felt Nami tense up. No way, no way was she going to embarrass Nami like that. Sheâ€d take the punishment for disobeying an order, but she wasnâ€t going to do it.
â€œUm, sirâ€¦â€? Slique turned to a shaking Tashigi.
â€œWhat is it NOW Cadet Tashigi?â€?
â€œWell, I canâ€t remember anything from the protocol manual, but Iâ€m fairly certain you canâ€t give an order like that.â€?
â€œSheâ€s right,â€? Sliqueâ€s heart nearly skipped a beat when he heard Cobra speak. â€œThis is a parenting matter, not a Marine matter. We can deal with this without your help, Captain.â€? Slique silently hissed, then turned on Tashigi.
â€œCadet Tashigi, would I be right in assuming you had your little brother ring the alarm bell?â€?
â€œUmâ€¦ Yes sir.â€?
â€œThen youâ€ve just forfeited two daysâ€ wages and earned yourself a week of toilet duty. A childrenâ€s fight, even if royalty is involved, is NOT worth sounding the alarm over.â€? With that, Slique stalked off to his office to brood.
â€œNow then,â€? Cobra stroked his beard for a bit, and then snapped his fingers. â€œIâ€ve got it. Since it was just a childrenâ€s fight, and neither of them got hurt too badly, letâ€s just have them apologize to each other and shake hands.â€?
â€œHeh, that sounds just fine to me Your Majesty.â€? Belle Mere released Nami and gave her a light shove towards Vivi. â€œYou go first Nami. You were going to apologize to her in the first place anyway, right?â€? Nami let a sigh. She didnâ€t feel like apologizing to that jerk anymore. But it was a much better alternative to Slimy Sliqueâ€s idea.
â€œOK. Vivi, Iâ€m sorry I ACCIDENTLY hit you in the eye with a mud ball.â€? Cobra turned to Vivi.
â€œVivi, donâ€t you have something to say in turn?â€? Vivi took a few deep breaths. Captain whatâ€s-his-name was being completely unfair. Nami was a clod and a dirty fighter, but she was fighting too. Her father, though still smiling, was giving her â€œThe Lookâ€?. She might as well get it over with.
â€œNami, Iâ€m sorry I overreacted a LITTLE.â€? As the two girls shook hands, Cobra nodded with approval. Belle Mere wasnâ€t so sure. From the way Nami and Vivi were grunting and glaring from behind fake smiles, she guessed they were letting each other know this was far from over.
â€œAnd now itâ€s time for all good children to be heading home.â€? The children let out a collective â€œAwwww.â€?, but followed Cobraâ€s suggestion without any further protest. Belle Mere made sure no one was looking, and then motioned for her daughters to follow her.
â€œCome on girls, weâ€ll stop at Docâ€s and have him look at Namiâ€s nose and the lump on her head.â€?
â€œHuh? What lump on my- OW! What did you do that for?â€?
â€œThatâ€s punishment for getting rough in a new dress.â€? Belle Mere answered with her trademark grin.
DISCLAIMER: â€œOne Pieceâ€? and all related characters are the intellectual property of Eiichiro Oda, Toei Animation, and Viz Comics. Only Captain â€œSlimyâ€? Slique belongs to me.
Questions for reveiwers
1. What did I do right?
2. What did I do wrong?
3. What would you like to see in future chapters?