Akame ga kill and One Piece does not belong to me nor FernandelDeLaFrance. It is own by Takahiro and Eichiro Oda respectively
Another day, another killing.
Prime Minister Honest munched on a leg of turkey as he looked over the reports from the Military Police. One of the men of his inner circle, Ohmit, had been found dead along with his guards at his estate outside the Capital City.
And the note claimed a group of murderers—Night Raid, as they apparently called themselves—as the responsible party.
Honest didn't grieve Ohmit's death too much. He had warned the fool to return to the safety of the Capital, but the man had always been stubborn. Well, perhaps the others in his little circle would heed his warnings more carefully now.
"This is troubling," said young Emperor Makoto, who was sitting across from him.
Honest perked up. He might be on this side of the Imperial desk, but both he and his friends knew the truth of who ran the empire. "Sire?"
"I read the reports. This Night Raid group has been terrorizing the populace while the bulk of our army is out fighting our enemies. This is terrible, Minister!"
The boy sitting across from him - the boy who was the centre of everything - stared at him with wide, innocent, hurt eyes. Honest had known him all his life, and knew him better than he knew himself. He was so very pure, so very innocent, so very gentle; and so very easy to manipulate.
This time it had been a police report, carefully edited to make the murders seem so much more gruesome than they had actually been. The recipe was a substantial amount of gold, a few willing young ladies, and a police inspector with a taste for both. Those ingredients, carefully applied, saw Makoto sign a number of banker's drafts, funnelling even more money into the army.
"Ah, yes indeed, Sire." Honest dabbed at his greasy mouth with a napkin, coughing to clear his throat. "The crimes of this Night Raid group are truly evil and terrible. But rest assured, the Military Police is on duty around the clock, every day of every week. You need not worry." Honest smiled warmly.
The young emperor was not convinced. His youthful face fell into a frown. "But I do worry, Minister… I feel like I should do something."
This sudden enthusiasm for action was a little worrying to Honest. He didn't want to have to replace this one, at least not yet. He had worked to hard to cultivate his fatherly image. "Oh, Sire, the care you show for your subjects truly is beyond compare! But you need not worry yourself at all, I—"
Makoto raised his hand, and the large man fell into an uneasy silence. "Minister," Makoto began as he rose from the enormous, throne-like chair and approached the window to look out over the capital. "I want to help. I cannot go out into the streets and bring these assassins to justice myself, but I believe I know people who can." Makoto turned away from the window, eyes burning with rare conviction.
Honest was glad for the privacy the Imperial office afforded them; he didn't want any of them seeing this scene. Even the slightest hint, the merest suggestion that he wasn't in control could be his undoing. "Oh?" He sunk his teeth into his turkey leg and swallowed the chunk whole. "And who would these people be, Your Highness?"
"I mean to call them." Makoto made to walk away from the breakfast table.
Honest did something he rarely did with food: he coughed violently and spat it out onto his plate, turning towards the Emperor in utter horror. "T-them? You don't mean—"
"Yes. My relatives in Mariejois, the Holy Land, far across the Eastern Sea."
The Prime Minister's amber eyes flashed in panic. He had foreseen many challenges to his rule, but he never thought that this would happen. He cursed the boy's idealism, but more than that, he cursed his own foolishness. He should have anticipated this!
"Sire, surely you don't need to call upon the World Government! I mean, the Empire has long been one of its founding members, yes, but our country has always prided itself on its independence and autonomy! Surely there is no need to seek help, is there? You just need to have faith in your soldiers, your government, your adv—"
"The Military Police hasn't captured Night Raid yet," the Emperor interrupted him sharply, "and I fear that the rebellion might spread to other cities and towns. With the bulk of our military fighting the Revolution and the enemies beyond our borders, we are left with the Military Police who are scattered throughout the Empire, and the Imperial Guard here in the palace." He drew himself to his small, unimpressive height, and did his level best to stare Honest down."I understand keeping faith in the people, Minister, but a good ruler utilizes every resource available to him. That is what you taught me, no?"
Honest chuckled nervously, scratching at his cheek. Breadcrumbs tumbled to the floor. "Hehe… Well, yes indeed, I did! But Sire, some of your subjects… well, they may not take too kindly to another nation—"
"Must I order you, Minister, to help me make the call?"
The glare on his delicate face looked out of place. Honest forced himself to remain silent, to appear the dignified elder statesman, even as his mind ran in circles. Never had the emperor resisted him, not even in so mild and genteel a way as this. Had he misjudged this little emperor?
The fat Minister sighed in resignation, and gave his sweetest smile. "Very well, Your Majesty! Let's go make the call!" He faked a loud laugh, patting his belly. "Never let it be said that I didn't follow your wisdom, eh?"
The Emperor smiled. "I knew you could see reason, Minister! I must change my wardrobe. We must make a good impression on my relatives. I'll meet you outside my chambers!" He jogged away and out the door.
Honest sighed again as he reached for a glass goblet, filling it with wine. As he raised it to his lips, he was suddenly overcome with anger - he jumped to his feet and threw the goblet at the wall with a furious roar, smashing the glass and staining the carpet crimson.
'Damn it all to hell!' He gripped the back of his chair tight in an attempt to bottle his anger, but he could feel the veins bulge in his face and on the back of his hands.
'If the World Government were to establish their presence in the Empire, they would do their utmost to interfere in our business, all to make sure that we follow their laws! We'd be subjugated to their inspections, their military would be stationed here, and I wouldn't be able to control them or maneuver as freely anymore! And if my kickbacks were discovered...'
He bit his nail, feeling sweat run down his round face as his mind ran through the worst scenarios. 'I could be sent to the gallows…or worse, to their prison Impel Down…and the Revolution would only use the presence of a foreign power trying to take over the continent as a rallying cry to call even more of the populace to their side…'
Honest breathed in deeply through his nose and readjusted his grey jacket, forcing his mind to work in the cool and calculating manner that had lifted him up to such lofty heights. He began to pace back and forth, thoughts shooting back and forth.
'It really can't be helped… For all of my influence with the Emperor, it was inevitable he would one day exercise his authority. Damn it all.'
The prime minister growled as he grabbed his unfinished turkey leg, tore the meat off in one violent gnash of teeth, and stomped from the dining room, slamming the door behind him.
"Glass half full, Honest," he muttered to himself, almost admonishingly. "The glass is always half full…" He stalked along the corridor, hands in his pockets, trying to think of a way around the situation.
'I must try to use them,' he thought. 'I must find a way to profit from this. But how?'
His thoughts turned to the Empire, to the vast administration that ran it, and those creatures of his who populated its most important positions. For the vast majority of its subjects, the Empire was only ever an idea. They didn't see the emperor—they saw his magistrates, his tax collectors, his soldiers, his policemen. They judged the empire solely on its ability to solve their problems.
And it was failing them.
If he really were an honest man - an amusing notion - he would have removed the incompetent and the cruel from the administration, replacing them with the honourable and the capable. But this he dared not do, for to do so would be to sign his own death warrant. If he promoted the honourable, they would see him and his allies for what they were, and work to destroy both. If he favoured the capable, their ambitions would grow with every promotion, until only his job remained to be taken.
So he favoured his 'friends', those beasts who tormented the empire even as they sucked it dry. He knew all their dirty secrets, their nasty little peccadilloes. There was the regional governor who put lit matches under the toes of her serving girls, watching them kick and scream while nursing her son. There was that family in the capital who would lure unfortunates into their home with food and kind words, then slowly torture them to death. He tolerated their excesses, because he could rely on them to obey his every command. They knew what would happen to them if they didn't.
But now this was happening. The World Government's armies would come, with all its agents and officials. They would see, they would hear, they would tell, and worst of all, they would act.
'This will require careful handling,' he thought grimly. At the very least, he had to ensure that none of it could be traced back to him. If his hands were clean, it didn't matter how many of them got caught. As for finding reliable replacements, he would have to cross that bridge when he came to it.
He took a deep breath as he stepped up the double doors of his ruler's chambers, as if in preparation for a great task. The Imperial Guards stationed there—Budou's loyal hounds, no doubt—eyed him coldly. He only smiled.
The doors swung open. The Imperial chambers were sizable, but it did not take Honest long to find the boy emperor. He was standing before a set of tall mirrors, while a couple of maids and an effeminate-looking courtier arranged a set of suitably regal robes on his small body. He had a scepter in his right hand.
"Ah, Minister!" he called out, noticing him. "The communication room is within the royal chambers."
"Of course, of course…" Honest waited, his nervousness growing with every passing second, until the servants finished fussing over their young emperor. As the three withdrew, Makoto led the way towards the bathroom.
The bathroom. Of all places!
The Emperor stood on tiptoes and pressed his hand against a certain tile of polished porcelain. With a clunk the wall sank into the floor, revealing a hidden passage. Honest blinked, and made a note to pay someone to find out more about the architecture of the Imperial Palace. Secrets like these were dangerous, especially if they were kept from him.
"This way." Honest followed his ruler, the low ceiling forcing him to stoop. Fortunately it did not take them long to reach their destination; a dust-choked, stale-aired, wood-panelled room. At the center of the far wall was a blank, rectangular screen, and to the screen's side was a most peculiar creature. It was a yellow snail of sorts, larger than any shelled creature Honest had ever seen, with mechanical dials, knobs, and cables attached to the shell.
Honest always feet unnerved by Transponder Snails. They always seemed creepy, especially their human-looking lips and eyes. But Honest knew well enough that he had no choice but to get over his queasiness, though his stomach still lurched when the wizened snail slowly opened its eyes to peer blankly at the two of them. Makoto went up and clicked a button on the stoic snail's shell and, after wiping the couch free of its dusty coating, claimed a seat. As the obese Minister sat next to him, the snail's shell rattled and shook, and the screen flickered to life.
The screen blurred with black and white and a scratching noise could be heard from the Snail's mouth as it became active. Colour bled in, and the picture began to move.
It was an old, bald man with round glasses perched on his nose, wearing one of those white training uniforms the martial artists at the temple were so fond of. His face was stern and hard, and his eyes cut as sharp as honed daggers. And yet, they weren't nearly as sharp as the curved sword he held across his lap.
Honest took a deep breath to calm himself. He had heard legends of the fear the Five Elder Stars could strike into the hearts of men with their presence alone, but he had dismissed them as just that—legends. He had not imagined it being anything like this; the man in the screen seemed to be staring into his very soul rather than at him.
Makoto didn't seem to mind; he smiled. "Uncle! It has been so long!"
"Hmmm? Oh." The bald man noticed the boy emperor, and his eyes narrowed, and as his lips and eyes moved, so did the Snail, mimicking the man on the other end of the line. "Emperor Makoto. I first thought this was a trick of some kind, but it really does appear to be you." His face and tone were expressionless. "You've grown."
"I have, Uncle! I would love to catch up with you, but I am in dire need of your help. You see, my empire is in trouble. A lot of trouble."
Honest swallowed again as Makoto spoke, and he saw the look in the old man's eyes change from sharp to borderline predatory, like a tiger eyeing its prey.
"Oh? Do go on, child. Whatever is ailing you, my nephew, rest assured that we of the Five Elder Stars will do everything in our power to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our family. And you are a part of that family, for our blood has been one for over a thousand years." The boy emperor blushed faintly at the obvious flattery, and Honest fought the urge to roll his eyes. "Now, what is wrong with your Empire, nephew? Tell me of it, and don't leave anything out."
Makoto explained the Empire's misery in detail, repeating the reports Honest had given him word for word. Honest began to wish he hadn't doctored them quite so... liberally in order to get the emperor to agree to some of his necessary measures. It could very well come back to haunt him, and soon.
"So that is why I call upon the Marines and Navy of the World Government to answer my call to uphold peace and justice within my Empire. If they can assist us in keeping the peace, our armies can make short work of the Revolutionary Army rebelling against our government," Makoto finished with absolute certainty in his voice.
The Elder's eyebrows rose at the mention of a 'Revolutionary Army'. "Did you say… I see… Well, nephew, I will consult with your other uncles and great-uncles on this matter. Rest assured, before long help will be on the way." His fingers tapped the handle of his sword thoughtfully. "Call me again tomorrow, nephew, and I will have an answer for you. I hope this satisfies you."
"It does, Uncle! Thank you very much!"
"Think nothing of it, child. I am merely doing my duty. Goodbye for now."
The screen flickered and died, and the boy emperor turned to face Honest with a bright smile on his face. "Did you hear, Minister? My family is sending help!"
Honest could just glimpse the slow, ponderous inevitability of it all. Now the World Government would come calling for sure, and nothing would be the same. He was going to have to be careful from now on, more careful than he had ever been.
Then again, so long as he was able to conceal any connections to...certain people, he might actually be able to profit from this.
Honest smiled back, his mind already running a hundred miles a minute with plots and plans. "Oh, Your Majesty, I can hardly wait."
Feel free to give feedback! Time to get the story on a roll!