There was a loud knocking at the door as Coby bolted upright in bed, eyes wide and turned. There, a door cracked open and Garp peeked his head in.
"Ah, you're awake." He said, and Coby blinked before he rubbed his head and groaned.
"Gnnngh… my head…"
"Tch, hung over huh? Well, this will get you out of it in a hurry." Suddenly he heard water, and Coby gawked and floundered about, feeling the cool water splashing on him.
"Come on! I gave ya the entire day to sleep!" Garp said as he stood in the door, a pail still dripping water by his side as he picked his nose. He was dressed in his normal suit attire with the big jacket donned as a coat. "It's been, what, over twenty-four hours! You've been sleeping like death. It's about time we begin your training!"
"T-Training?" Coby asked, his anger fading away into curiosity and hope as he got out of bed, tossing his drenched sheets aside.
"Yeah. I'm making you my Understudy, Cadet. Now up and at'em! It's about time I show ya hell, and then," Garp turned, and the Kanji of 'Justice' was on full display. "You'll be wearing this coat someday!"
Garp staggered, and felt someone hugging his leg as he turned down. "Gwah?! You're that fast?!" Seems like there's some speed to him yet!
"Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou~~!" Coby blubbered, hugging his leg through his jacket as the old man rolled his eyes, sighing as he put down his pail and plucked up the blubbering pink haired boy by the scruff of his wet shirt.
"Don't thank me yet brat, we still haven't even gotten to the starting line." His scowl turned into a cheeky grin. "I've already taken care of the paperwork. As of now, you're a Seaman Recruit." He said as they walked through the hallway, soon leaving the building out in the crisp morning air of the Naval Base grounds. Soldiers were up and at work, cleaning the areas, moving crates, and inspecting shipments, firearms, and all other sorts of things. Men were also drilling as well. "But, you're my Understudy, so you won't be going to Anapoli or Marineford for standard boring-ass training. See, you're gonna be training under me, all the time!" Garp declared as he set the boy down, hands on his hips. "Now, follow me to the jungle."
Coby blinked, seeing the man walk off and he followed. Then he felt his stomach grumble, and his head still ached from the hangover. "Gnnngh…"
"You'll eat when you're done. I need to get a grasp of what you can do." Garp replied, marching out to the jungle. The boy had his hand on his temple to massage his headache, but he followed the man out there regardless.
They made their way deep into the jungle outside of the base and Foosha Village, climbing up some hill now as Coby followed him, the air getting more and more humid under the shadow and various rays of sunlight. Before long, they made it to a clearing and Garp sat down on a stump of sorts, grabbing out a bag of chips from his coat and ripping the top open.
Coby's stomach growled, wincing.
"Alright! Time to see what you're made of, kid. This is the beginning of your training! Push ups till you drop," Garp ordered, munching on a chip.
The pink haired boy obliged, getting down and pumping his arms…
Before he dropped, arms burning after a good forty-two.
"Now squats till you drop!" He said, Coby gawked, but he kept quiet. He placed his hands behind his head and began to follow through…
He stopped, yelling in pain after seventy. Garp simply sat on the stump, looking unimpressed.
"Sit ups till you quit." Garp droned, munching on a chip loudly. The boy obliged, and began to follow through, doing his best to ignore the aching in his arms and legs. After fifty, Coby felt like his stomach was gonna split open as he lied down, panting. "We got a ways to go then... '' Garp mused aloud, and Coby sat up somewhat, taking in as much oxygen as he could. He was looking up, and remained unperturbed, even if he looked pained.
"Okay, let's test your endurance." Garp grabbed a nearby stick and used it to draw a line in the dirt beside him. "Run from this line to…" He tossed the stick away, reached for a pebble and chucked it a tree at the far end of the clearing. "That line, till you drop."
Garp knew this was a bit over the top, but now he had a clue on his core, arm, and leg strength. Gotta see his endurance next…
The boy obliged, eyes going wide at first before he nodded. "Understood…" He walked over to the line the old man made, and got to running.
"Faster! Pirates will outrun ya or chase ya down and gut ya like a turkey!" Garp barked, and Coby perked up, and the running became a sprint.
He went back and forth, which was about twenty or so meters, before he began to slow down after the fifth set, going in a run as he was heaving oxygen. Garp simply munched on his chips, intent on watching him as he spotted movement in the trees.
Ah goodie, his pals picked up on his scent.
Coby was in a sauntering drag after the tenth one, before he fell to his knees and Garp finished the last of his chips, crunching up the bag and pocketing it as he stood up.
"Okay, I have a clue on what your body can handle." Garp said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a flask. "Drink up, it's water." The pink haired boy looked up, and swiped it from his hands as he began drinking. It wasn't much, as Garp kicked himself mentally for not bringing canteens, but the boy didn't seem to complain even as he was covered in sweat. "It's not much, but it'll do for now. Not like we are gonna be spending the whole day here. Gotta break you in first."
Coby wiped his lips as he finished the flask and looked at him. "What… do you mean?"
"First thing about being a Marine is to become an expert fighter, especially one under my command. How can you expect to uphold and deliver justice, when you don't have the power to enforce that justice?" Garp said with crossed arms. "Simple, you gotta have power. Need to have that big stick to keep evildoers at bay."
"Okay… So I have to get stronger… which is what I'm doing with this training, right?"
"In a way, but you wanna know what helps you survive fighting even the most dangerous of Pirates?" Garp asked, to which Coby stood up straight as he wiped his brow to get off sweat.
"You gotta be stronger…"
"Wrong, m'boy!" Garp barked, making Coby flinch.
"It's not just that! The most important aspect, along with strength." He smirked, and snapped his fingers. "Is experience."
Suddenly, three shapes darted out of the woods, landing in front of Garp as Coby gawked by surprise. Before him, three smiling monkeys, all around his height, landed on all fours, then stood up on their legs… and began to punch the air lots of times!
"Heya kids." Garp said, beaming down at the primates as they chirped and barked in approval. "Say hello to my little pal here? Show him a Mt. Corvo Welcome!" He had a dark smile on his face as Coby blinked, the monkeys and their wide eyes and big grins turned on him.
And then they leapt at him!
Coby yelped in surprise as the monkeys attacked, but not in a biting, gnawing way like most animals would do. Rather, they jumped and pranced about and struck him with punches, kicks, and headbuts as the boy was unable to fight back, only to raise his tired arms up.
"H-Hey! You gotta give me a warning first!" Coby yelled.
"Will Pirates give ya warning?" Garp asked, sitting down on the stump as Coby didn't notice the sound of shaking trees or the quaking earth. "Because that's an awfully kind, stupid, or incredibly powerful one! There's a lot of dumb ones as there is strong ones in the Grand Line! Roger, Shiki, Whitebeard, they all give their pomp and bluster BECAUSE they can back it up!" Garp said as Coby saw the monkey trio prowling around him, light on their toes as they took turns in attacking him with punches and kicks. "Come on, fight back! Even when you're tired and spent, ya gotta dig deep within your heart and pull out that lil extra!" Garp urged.
Coby grunted and yelped as more and more blows landed. They weren't even all that strong, being more like strong shoves as if… as if they were playing with him! Coby growled, and took some wild swipes with his fists when he saw one of them near, but they dodged it and counter-punched, catching him in the jaw. Another caught him in the back and sent him stumbling to the ground.
The trio landed in front of him, shadow boxing with those grins as Coby did his best to stand and rise to his two feet, teeth gritting as he got back up, legs wobbly. "I… I can keep...going…" He uttered out, and Garp gave him a look and remained silent as he munched on his chips. The monkeys looked at Coby, and then at Garp, almost as if confused.
"That's all for today.." Garp stood up, finishing the last of his snacks and pocketing the trash. The monkeys let out cries of acknowledgement and nodded, running back into the forest as he turned. "Say hi to the missus for me ya hear!" He yelled. Even as Coby was on a knee, he could hear deep guttural grunts and a massive shadow move within the forest, before three smaller ones jumped into the trees as he could hear the quakes. He was still trying to regain oxygen, groaning as he got back up to his feet finally, and Garp looked back.
"Alright, come with me. Time to wash up."
"But sir… I said that I…" Garp paused, turning back and seeing the boy, sweaty and disheveled and aching to the bone with his current body, get into a boxing position. Even when covered in bruises he still wanted to fight on… "I can keep go-"
"Your spirit is admirable, don't get me wrong. But, we're on a crash course here, and we need to get you back to shape." Garp began to pick his ear a bit. "Now follow me, we're going to a hot spring."
"A hot spring… on this mountain?" Coby asked aloud as he walked, and followed after Garp.
"Yeah, Mt. Corvo has a few hot springs, thanks in part due to being on a lava chain of islands. Natural too. Now come along, this is another part of your training." Garp looked back, seeing the boy perk up and walk with extra pep in his step. "And of vital importance for your body, too."
"What's that, Vice Admiral, sir?"
"You'll see. Now come on, less talkin', more walkin'!" He exclaimed, and continued his trek as the mountain's slope began to get steeper.
Garp was having no issue traversing up the mountain, but he can hear the pained grunts of Coby behind him. This was vital to building some leg muscle and stamina after all. He had that will to keep on going after all… otherwise he might have just carried the poor kid.
"You sound like you're ready to cry." Garp mused cheekily as he looked back. "Don'tcha quit on me no-YOU ARE!"
Coby was doing his best to avoid the tears, but they were on it as he took step after painful step up the dirt path, following mainly in Garp's footsteps as to avoid digging his feet into the soil. "I-Iaaaahhmm.. I'm fiiiine...haaaa…"
The old man winced and sighed. "R-Right… that face you made though…" He turned, and his shoulders began to shudder… In snickering laughter.
It was too damn funny!
"N-Nothing, just uhhh, got some pollen in my eye. Come, the spring shouldn't be far!"
"Eh?" Coby's voice sounded so hopeful.
"Just a few hundred meters still… Oh yeah I recognize that tree! Yep, definitely four hundred meters and change.."
"EHHHHHH?!" The voice sent birds from the trees.
After what seemed like ages, Garp got up to the edge just fine, and he looked down, seeing a weak hand dig into the dirt and pull himself up. He stood arms crossed, stepped back to give Coby room as he pulled himself through and rested his dirty soil-crusted self on the ground, heaving for oxygen. Garp reached into his pocket and held out a canteen for him. "Here, you'll need it more than me." He said, something which the boy graciously accepted… but swiping out of his hands with lightning speed, tossing the cap up and guzzling down like a man dying of thirst.
Coby coughed, gasping for air as he sniffed. "I...I...haaa...smell...rotten eggs? No… s-sulfur…"
"Yep." Garp turned, and saw the sight before him. A leveled outcropping against a cliff-face, with it leading higher up Mt. Corvo's slopes. All around them were trees, and before them with rocks paved around the edge was a bubbling mineral hot spring, steam rising up from it. Garp looked down at Coby as the poor boy tried to pull himself up. After his legs gave out he resorted to climbing with his bare hands, and Garp again contemplated helping him… but that look in his eye again. That drive that he was going to finish this…
'Few kids your age have that.' The old man thought. 'I know even less men who do possess that, and they all wind up going places.' He put his hands on his hips. "Need help getting in?"
"Quit being so stubborn." Garp squatted down, elbows on his knees as he looked at the fourteen year old with his face against the dirt. "You've done enough. All good Marines are able to achieve their aims with a drive…" He reached out, and picked up the dirty boy in his strong arms. "A great Marine knows when to accept help when offered, and to offer help in turn." He adjusted the boy's glasses, brushing aside some soil and grass on it. "That is how you make a difference in this world…"
Coby was silent, mouth agape, before he nodded. "I...I see...haaa...s-sorry Sir, I-"
"Don't mention it. Be glad you're screwing up now. Because this way, you learn easier than being perfect all the way through." Garp mused as he went over and began to remove Coby's shirt from his person. He set him down on one of the rocks by the edge as he stepped back and began to unbutton his own shirt before going behind a boulder.
"Well, go ahead and strip down! We're taking a bath here! This place is pivotal for your training!"
"R-Right sir!" Coby replied, and Garp gave him his privacy as he finished stripping. The man then went around the corner, and slowly stepped inside the hot spring. The smell of natural sulfur in the air as he waded down, and found… ah there it is. His favorite rock seat.
He let out a deep sigh of contentment, the steam of the spring rising and giving him murky visibility. He can see Coby by the edge stripping slowly, no doubt due to his aching worn down muscles. Until finally he seemed to be finished in the buff, and stepped in. He couldn't see much over the steam and he heard Coby yelp and retreated from the spring.
"Well duh, It's a hot spring. Now get in fully." Not that he can blame him, he had a similar reaction when he was a wild child and owning these woods.
"O-Okay…" He replied shakily, before slowly toeing in, wincing at the heat of the water before getting adjusted, and slinking in. Coby saw Garp lean back against the rocks, his immense powerful arms resting along the edges as he sighed through his nose.
And...even Coby felt a bit weird too. The aches in his body remained but...he was feeling a little sleepy.
"Haaa...Oh man...Maybe that training took a lot more out of me…" He saw Garp shuffle along the side closer, but his eyes were teetering to close as the smell of the minerals was overwhelming him. "Then I thouuuu-" He slumped his head and with it, slinked deeper into the water.
Garp had to pull him by his hair to sit up straight, and even though his entire body was just submerged, he remained asleep with his eyes closed.
"Good, it's taking effect." The old man mused as he sat by his side and crossed his arms over his broad hairy chest. "Mt. Corvo has a unique mineral that only a seldom few know about...One of the rarest substances in the world, called Kalathite." He looked up at the cliff face that faced them as the water continued to bubble around them. "It's used in medicine and healing balms, and this mountain has a load of it underneath...Thankfully, the Kingdom doesn't know of it, otherwise it would have torn down this entire forest to mine this mountain." He sighed. "And with it, the minerals will soak into your body and jump start your healing process, but will sap your stamina and knock you out most of the day." He turned towards Coby as he snored lightly.
"It will be hell for your sleeping schedule...but hey, I said I was gonna take ya to hell to make you the strongest, so I guess I am fulfilling my end of the bargain! Bwahahaha!"
The next day…
"Come on, lug those cannonballs, brat! We gotta get them to the ship! Move, move!" Garp bellowed as he walked ahead, looking back and blowing into a whistle. Behind him, Coby struggled as he was bent over carrying a single cannonball across the foyer from a warehouse towards a ramp leading up into a Navy vessel.
"Gnnnnnnngh!" Coby was gritting his teeth as his arms tensed as he took step by precious step, seeing the man pace around him blowing that whistle obnoxiously. He was dressed in new clothes thankfully, now in the brand new Navy Cadet's uniform of a simple white shirt, blue pants, and a cap which read 'MARINE' in big green letters.
"Come on! This is only cannonball number one! After this, it's forty-nine to go from that crate alone!" Garp yelled, hands on his knees. "Move those legs, straighten that back, use those arms! One-two! One-two!"
Coby's ordeal was starting to gather an audience. Several soldiers on a jog nearby slowed down to watch the groaning pink haired boy get onto the ramp as he began to almost comically waddle up, all the while the Hero of the Navy was yelling at him as if he broke his mother's urn or something.
"He seems to be a cadet… but he's so young!"
"I remember getting that kind of yelling at Anapoli back in my day…"
"Still, what did he ever do to get Vice Admiral Garp's wrath is beyond me!"
Coby finally got onto the ship, and his fingers, so tight around that cannonball as he lugged the heavy object on that he wound up dropping it.
Right on his toes, causing him to yelp.
"Gah, dagnabit ya had to go and do that!? Pick that up and finish lugging it ya fool! Come on, we're wasting sun here!" Garp yelled as Coby was rolling around holding his feet in pain. More whistle shrieks, and the Marines sighed and continued on their run.
Coby held onto his foot and pressed it as he felt his toes utterly ache in pain, but he saw the cannonball roll across the deck of the ship, even as Garp was bending down to yell at him to get up…
Coby did so, limping lightly as he began to roll the cannonball across the deck, Garp pausing in his ranting and raving as he got to the cannonball rack. He bent down, grunting as he picked it up, and placed it on the rack and sighed.
"One down…" He panted, shaking out his arms and looking back and giving his teacher a pained smile.
Garp blinked, but he returned it in kind.
"Well, those forty-nine ain't gonna move themselves! Move it!" Garp yelled, and Coby trotted past with a limp. Garp took a deep breath and looked up past beyond the base's walls, seeing the mountains and Mt. Corvo in the distance.
They'd be going back to the spring for a soak after this grueling experience, which was likely to take up most of the day, leaving the boy just enough time to eat his dinner by sunset. Maybe. "He has a good head, no doubt on that…'' Garp muttered to himself. "But gonna need more than that if you're going to become somethin' special!"
"Forty-Nine ain't all that bad!" Coby exclaimed with pride, going past him as he got down the ramp.
"That's only one crate." Garp called back, and the pink haired boy stopped in his tracks like a statue. "And we got a whole ten to go, including this one!"
Coby as if on cue, slumped and fell face first to the ground. "Those balls ain't gonna move themselves! Mush!" Garp reached into his pocket, pulling out a cookie bar and munching on it. "It'll go by faster once you're strong enough to lift those crates on your own! Gotta crawl before you can walk!"
"Yes sir…" Coby got back up and returned to going back towards the warehouse.
"That should be all, Officer," Ain replied, holding the clipboard as she finished checking the inventory from a shipment of long-life food from the Capital City of Goa. "Take them along to the Mess Hall and you'll find the stockmaster there." She pointed, and the Officer nodded before relaying orders to his subordinates. The blue haired woman sighed, looking around as she felt the breeze of the sea pouring from its waves into the base.
Garp couldn't have picked a better spot to create a base. Then again, Foosha couldn't have picked a better spot to establish a town. For Ain… this was a decent change of pace from her days as a teenage Warrant Officer, before becoming a Captain by the Age of eighteen and then…
The blue haired beauty shook her head. No time to dwell on the past. She had to go over patrol routes and island checkpoints with Bogard today, and pass it along to Vice Admiral Garp-
"Come on! Roll it faster! Pump those legs of yours, chunky!"
-who was still busy berating the pink haired boy like Drill Sergeant Barbara did back in Anapoli when she was a fresh recruit. She was able to get in as a cadet to the Navy Academy thanks to her parents paying a pretty penny, but it was only thanks to the Sergeant that she was able to rise high and fast in the ranks of that school, even becoming the president of her presiding class and then the Captain of her Barracks.
That pink haired boy, who despite not having the physique of most fresh recruits, didn't so much as reply back in frustration and rebellion as most Cadets did at least once, often earning them additional ire from their instructors.
He… seemed to be smiling half the time, when he was conscious, just as he rolled the cannonballs across the stone ground, then up the ramp with some squatting and pushing it up in an explosive motion. Like how one would do a power clean.
She remembered seeing that boy a few days ago looking in awe and wonder around the base, now here he was, doing some of the more menial tasks that would take some Marines out of a good mood and tackling it with pride, all while being clearly not in the best shape judging by his panting and the sweat he dripped.
She smiled lightly and let out a sigh. Sensei would have loved to have a student with that drive. Closing her eyes, Ain walked back to her office.
"Okay… these go up here now…" He pushed in some canisters of polish against the back of the shelf and stepped down the stepladder. It's been a few weeks since Coby has been living at Branch 1, in the barracks in a special cot which was more of a janitor's closet. Better than sleeping on the floor of a rickety old pirate ship or in a dingy hut-by-the-sea, so he didn't complain. As of now, the pink haired boy was busy organizing stock around in one of the warehouses. This was a rest day for him, and the constant non-stop training under Garp has borne fruit.
His former belly was shrinking, and he had to get new slimmer pants, and his face looked a little trimmer too. Seeing his reflection in a window, he put a hand on his head and ran it through his hair. He had his usual bowl cut, but it was beginning to grow lightly. He'll have to visit the on-base barber for a trim-up at some point.
With Garp out on business to the Capital City, he pointed Coby to the direction of the most beautiful woman he's ever seen: Lieutenant Ain.
He still felt uneasy thinking about that! She's his superior! Sure, some Marines have had relationships with their subordinates before, even having marriages like the famous Fleet Admiral Leahy and his wife Vice Admiral Clytie from over a hundred years ago, but still…
She has been very kind to him, giving him a list of tasks to do around base while she tended to other duties, what with Captain Bogard accompanying the Hero of the Navy, she had to pick up his slack. Garp didn't seem all too pleased to see the Capital City again, but Coby could only hear grumblings on top of his body language. Coby has to pull his own weight here after all!
"Let's see… That's all the polish and cleaner." He took a pen out and checked it off. "Now inspect the condition of the ropes." He filed through the paper, seeing some space to the side. He'll write some notes there if at all possible. Rope is a key factor for Navy Warships after all! Got to get those sails in place and what not!
And so Coby walked through the warehouse, noticing how the sun was setting from the light pouring in from the windows overhead. His stomach rumbled a bit as he looked down. "I'll get you fed, don't worry." He meant to go on a nice run to Foosha for some of Ms. Makino's onigiri rice balls!
That and several tuna to scarf down too. Gotta get that protein!
"Gah, that's no good!" Said a voice, and Coby perked up, turning as he saw a corner office within the warehouse. He could spot some other Marine officers going about the warehouse and checking in with the local quartermaster for supplies and tools, but who would be in there? Well, it's not like it's his business to eavesdrop, so better check in on that rop-
"Gnnnngh… this ship design will never tackle the Grand Line…"
Coby perked up, pausing as he turned, and saw the door open. Striding out was a tall and muscular young man, dressed in a white shirt and blue pants of the Marines, and Coby could see spiky blonde hair atop of his crown and rippling muscles on his biceps. The pink haired boy peeked into the room, seeing that the office had a drawing workbench and there were… several waste baskets filled with crumpled up paper to the point it was overflowing.
The floor on that side of the room seemed to be almost flooded with paper! Coby saw him walk on, and curiosity got the better of him as he followed.
"Ah well!" The down mood was gone, and now he walked with a pep in his step and a chipper attitude! "I'll go check on the ladies outside! I'm sure they can use a nice once over!" He sighed. "The curves on that one… woo boy that's gonna be an all-nighter!"
"E-Excuse me?" Coby gawked, and the taller youth perked up and turned, and Coby can see a bright smile on the man's visage, a stark contrast to the look of utter confusion on the pink haired boy's own.
"Oh! Hi there!" He beamed, waving. "Say, aren't you that kid who's gettin' drilled by the Vice Admiral?" He asked, hands on his hips as he looked down at him. Man, he's practically twice his height! "I've seen ya 'round these parts, but usually with Vice Admiral Garp."
"I-Uhh… y-yeah… I am." Coby gulped as he saluted, clipboard on his arm. "S-Seaman Recruit Coby!"
"Easy, buddy, easy." The man raised his hands. "I'm the same as you! Well, same rank with some add ons of course." He beamed as he offered his hand to the shorter boy. "I'm a Junior Naval Engineer, Lemil Rico!" He flashed a million-Belli smile. "Nice to meet you!"
Coby blinked, then he took the hand, noticing how small his own slightly calloused hands were. "L-likewise, Junior Engi-"
"You can call me Rico! No need to be so formal, we're both on the lowest rung of the Totem pole!" Rico exclaimed as he turned around. "Heck, I'm surprised someone as young as you is a Recruit like me!"
"Ummm, well, fourteen is young I guess bu-"
"Wait, you're fourteen?!" Rico laughed. "Haha! Wow! I got ya by two years!"
"Eh?!" Coby gawked. "You're sixteen!" He looked up and down his body. "How did you get so big?!" Rico laughed, and flexed an arm.
"Eatin' your meats, greens, and putting in some elbow grease! Come on, I want to show you the girls I'm gonna be working on all night!" He took Coby's hand and began to tug him.
"W-What d-d-d-do you mean?!"
W-Wait?! Girls on an all nighter?! Sixteen and so promiscuous! They let someone like him in the Navy!?
"Come on, don't you wanna see them! They're all big and sturdy and so firm!"
This is getting out of hand. "I-Uhh, I just need to finish up m-my inventory f-for Lieutenant Ain f-f-f-"
"Oh that? Don't worry, it'll be just a peek! All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy, after all!" A peek?! Coby's face was burning brighter than his hair as he tried to pull away, but Rico had a strong grip and they opened the door out into the dusk sky. His head was on a swivel, trying to identify these 'girls' Rico has mentioned. He's got to get his head on straight! S-Somehow! He's heard rumors of some girls from the village having dates with Marines on base… but this! He's gotta finish his duties first!
"Ah there they are!" Rico exclaimed, and Coby felt his grip loosened as he turned dreading (but not too much) to see whoever these ladies were…
And only saw a row of Navy ships stationed in the harbor, as people ferried back and forth up and down the ramp.
"This one has a lil' rust on her broadside, but some polish and she'll look as fine as she did coming out of HQ's shipyards!" Rico exclaimed, pointing at the first one. "The Arrowhead has also got some barnacles by her rudder if I recall… gotta get to scraping those off when I can."
"What," Coby blinked, trying to make sense of it all.
"Oh! And Javelin over there is definitely in need of some new sails too!" Rico pointed at the other one. "Just patching it over and over again simply will not do! But boy, does that hull look refined… at least that crew is able to maintain it well."
Then it clicked. "Oh-Ohhhhhh… yeah, ships can be called girls sometimes…" He gulped, and blushed. Of course it was so obvious! How else can such a sincere looking man speak of women in such a way! It was about ships not being some… playboy!
Although he was a little disappointed in not seeing girls of the more traditional kind…
"Oh man, the Silver Bullet's missin' an anchor! Can't have you be all off balance like that!" Rico exclaimed as he walked along a pier, Coby following him as the man had that same grin on his face. He then ran up to the ship and jumped, landing on the side and grabbing some rope as he began to climb up with ease!
"Cool! That jump must have been like… fifteen meters!" Coby exclaimed as he stood by the side of the dock, hearing seagulls sing overhead. He saw Rico get up to the deck, giving Coby a mock salute as he trotted across the ship, leaning down and...picking up that anchor by himself! With one hand! "So strong!" He exclaimed in shock as the blond man tossed it overboard, the Naval cruiser that was a little tilted now going back to normal in terms of level. With a jump, Rico left off the ledge and landed beside him, smacking his palms.
"There ya go girl, now you can sleep easy and not get any kinks in your side. Wouldn't want your underside to be exposed or anythin'." Rico looked down and smiled at Coby. "Sorry for dragging ya away from Inventory and what not. Didn't ya need to finish up for Lieutenant Ain or somethin'?"
"Me? Oh, yes I do! Gotta check on that rope and see if we have stock, and if we do, ensure it's in prime condition…" Coby nodded.
"Well, check around the back left corner of the warehouse. You'll find a lot of'em rolled up." Rico beamed. "In any case, I'll see ya around, fellow Recruit!"
"Y-you too Engin-I mean, Rico. And Rico?" Coby called out, the fellow teen pausing as he turned back with that same grin. "You can call me Coby, by the way."
He got a thumbs up, and the strong young man trotted off towards the Mess Hall. Coby did nothing but smile back at him. This Rico seemed like a nice guy...
A gurgling noise came forth and Coby winced, hand on his stomach as he walked back to the warehouse. "Gotta check in that rope and get to dinner…"
Days later Coby was groaning as he pushed crates on top of a wheeled skid, sighing as he wiped his brow. It was late in the day again, and after another training session against those monkeys and a quick soak, Garp had him back down on base doing more tasks. This time taking all of these armaments to the Armory.
It was better than simply lugging them all in. And he was grateful that Quartermaster Lindsey provided the wheeled skids. Apparently Garp kept the woman in the know on his status in regards to training. No one is to help him with putting the arms where they belong, but he can be properly guided.
Coby pushed along, knowing that this task would take all night if he dilly-dallied along. He guided the first crate into the Armory Warehouse on the skid and through the open door. Helps to prepare in advance and not have Garp just yelling in his ear constantly. Gotta give those eardrums a break…
"Okay…" He looked around the warehouse, seeing some open spots along the wall. The interior was vast and filled with countless racks with weapons of all kinds. One side was full of melee weapons of all types, swords, maces, spears, and clubs on one side. In the other part farther along were racks of firearms. Pistols, rifles, Heavy Rifles, grenade launchers, you name it!
"I should probably brush up on my firearms soon... " Coby mused aloud, pushing the crate along as in the center of the warehouse were various desks and tables for weapon maintenance. He could see signs reading 'blacksmith' and 'gunsmith' at the far end. On his end, with all of these crates were most likely ammunition and-
He heard a door crash open and it made him jump, and the pink haired boy turned. There standing at the gunsmith door was a shapely young lady with long blue hair, bright matching color eyes with a bright and eager grin. Her head turned, and Coby saw her perk up.
"Oh! Someone's here! Whatcha doin'?" She asked, trotting up in her attire of a white blouse with blue trousers. The pink haired lad bit his lower lip.
Her garments were… very form fitting.
"Ummm… just bringing in ammo from one of the supply ships."
"Training." He then got back to pushing the crates back into the specific slots along the wall, taking the time to push the massive crates off of the dollies as well.
"With inventory assortment?"
"Well, yeah, gotta move a ton of these." Coby said, grunting as he pushed them until they touched the concrete. He saw the girl still beaming at him with a wide ear to ear grin, eyes wide.
And very close, as he blinked and scooted away.
"Is there...something I can help you with?" He asked.
"Well, for one, you got that in the wrong spot!" The girl declared and Coby perked up. He backed off, and on the floor, was a mural chalked down detailing the type of ammunition… Heavy Slug shells…
"And I just put down normal firearms there." Coby winced, hand going to his face. "I need to pay attention…"
"Sorry for distractin' ya there! Hope I didn't cause ya too much trouble!" The girl said, her smile still present. It was as if it was glued to her face.
"No, it's just one crate." Coby shrugged, going around and looking at the floor at the various icons chalked into the floor. "Normal bullets… normal bullets…"
"They're over there!" The bluenette pointed down the other end of the warehouse near the door. "Normal ammo goes there, with heavier slugs for Hand Cannons going here, and farther down you can find the heavy ordinance like bombs and grenades!"
"You seem to spend a lot of time here… who are you, miss?" Coby inquired. The girl perked up, saluting proudly as her chest… bounced, lightly but unmissable, as Coby froze and puckered his lips at the sight.
"Gunnery Ensign Jirene Seidella!" She said with a grin. "I've seen you a few times 'round base, but you're with Vice Admiral Garp most of the time!" She settled down and looked at the boy as he got back to putting the crate on the dolly, straining as he pushed it. "You gonna be his Understudy?"
"Understudy? Well… kind of… he's training me… to become a Marine!" Coby grunted out, pushing as he pumped his legs, finally getting the crate back on the dolly. He let out a sigh, going around and propping the dolly up and back into the fray of moving this heavy thing he went, pushing it as he put his body into it.
"Sounds like an understudy to me! You're lucky! Didja come from Anapoli? Or Marineford?" She asked as she walked along as he pushed the crate to the allotted area. Finally getting there, he set it down, and Coby began to push the massive ten by ten foot crate into its area.
"Neither… was saved by Vice Admiral Garp… from pirates!" He grunted out. The pink haired boy finally got it done and looked at the massive empty row of areas where the crates would go. One down, many to go. "I'm gonna be at this a long time…"
"If you need any advice on guns or ammo or anything that goes 'bang!' or 'boom!'," Seidella offered, "I'm your girl! Now I gotta go finish some inspection and testing out some guns at the range, so don't be surprised if you hear those! Later!" She then bounded off with a pep in her step, and Coby saw her go.
For a pretty girl, she seemed very into firearms…
"Okay… Gotta finish up small arms ammo, then… " He turned, looking out to the ship that had all those ammo crates and sighed, patting his cheeks to get psyched up. "Cannon balls."
He would be at it until it was late in the evening and his body was sore.
"Gah!" Coby fell to the ground, for what felt like the hundredth time today. He leapt back into the fray, fighting the monkeys as he lashed out with punches and kicks and swipes. The triplets were dodging, grinning all the while as they responded with counter strikes.
Garp sat on the stump, munching on his chips as he noticed the increase of movement in Coby's legs…
'He's getting there…' He thought as he chewed with his mouth open.
"Come on! Push em!" Garp bellowed. "Ya ain't got no cheatin' dollie this time! Put your back into it!" He said into a megaphone, walking beside a straining and sweat-covered Coby as he pushed the crate (on a sled this time) towards the storage house. "Ships and bases need cannon balls! And they don't grow on trees! It's up to you to move'em, so bust that ass, move move move!"
Coby let out a gargled closed mouth cry as he continued to pump his legs, putting his all into the crate as it moved bit by bit along the sled.
Several Marines close by who were doing their daily run could only look on in sympathy. To earn Vice Admiral Garp's wrath was a position no one wants to be in…
"Ya ain't comin' down for dinner until I see that new coat of paint covering this eastern wall!" Garp spoke over the megaphone. Before him, using a pulley to pull himself up and down the wall, dressed in only his paint-splattered pants, Coby was busy going up and down, using a pulley lock to set himself in place to paint and cover a part of the stone wall that faced out to sea. "A Navy Base is home for all Marines! And we can't have our house looking like a pigsty, now can we?!" He bellowed.
Sitting under an umbrella in a lounge chair, book about the recollection of past Reveries in hand, Bogard kept an eye on his superior as he commanded the boy to paint the entire eastern wall with a new coat of white. He let out a scoff, for all that talk of making sure a house is clean, Garp's own sleeping quarters seems fit for an animal.
"Rules of thee but not for me, huh." He uttered, turning the page as he began to read up on the 98th Reverie. Coby is gonna be at this all day, maybe even all night…
That said, that chubby boy is beginning to change…
"That's it! Eat boy, eat!" Garp said as he ripped and teared into his meat shank, munching as the two sat in the inn. Coby was eating up seafood like a man possessed, his hair an utter mess and looking disheveled overall after sparring in the mountains. "A Marine will be called to duty at any time! So it's necessary to keep your strength up! You'll never-!" He paused, taking a swig of mead as Makino brought Coby another plate of fish and scallops with rice. He took it, nodding and giving a thumbs up in gratitude before starting to scarf it down. "-know when you may eat again! It can be days! Weeks!" Garp swallowed another hunk of meat before going onto a rib and ripping into it. "Get that energy in ya! And you'll outlast any pirate!"
"Mommy, how do they eat so much, but not puff up like a balloon?" Shiv asked as she collected a plate. Other patrons within the inn were looking in bewilderment at Garp and Coby's feast.
"Well, they are strong men and train hard every day to keep us safe, Shiv." Makino said with a light smile, ruffling her daughter's dark green hair. The young girl couldn't help but giggle before they were cut off by the sound of someone falling over.
Coby had a bulge in his shirt and was keeled over, foam at the mouth and a mug of mead toppled on the floor.
"Oh come on, your water was on the other side you mook!" Garp bellowed. "Gah, lightweight... " He brought him up, and Coby was slouched against the wall, the alcohol knocking him out. He looked back to Makino. "Send me the bill, I'll take him back myself." He then eyed the big bowl of meatballs and grinned. "Aaaaafter I finish dinner." And he went back to eating like a pig. Shiv blinked.
"Mommy, could I eat like tha-"
"No, Shiv dear."
Garp sat on a stone, hearing rustling in the bushes as the boar came roaring out, Coby being dragged around with his arms around its neck. The beast squealed and kicked and squirmed, the boy soon losing his grip as he was back on the ground, rolling back to his feet and pulling out the hunting knife Garp had leant him prior to this little exercise.
The boar was the size of a large dog, and squealed angrily as it charged. Coby gasped and jumped to the side, only to get a tusk graze against his leg. Seeing the boar charge again, Coby dodged again, knife out in front as the boy was panting, covered in dirt and leaves.
"Let's see how you hunt for your own dinner." Garp said, and Coby yelled as he charged with his knife. The boar dodged, and he got tossed over and fell onto the ground with a thump. The beast then ran into the woods, and Coby sat up, rubbing his chest and wincing as Garp sighed.
"You ain't eating until you get your own kill." He gestured into the woods. "Go follow it, and try to kill it."
Coby had a look of frustration on his face, and Garp could see the beginning of muscles beginning to be made on his arms. "Right." He didn't complain, and grabbed the knife and ran back into the woods after his unwilling meal.
He couldn't kill the beast for another two days, and Coby's tactics were sharpening, driven by both anger, hunger, and determination as Garp stood by a tree. He tailed his understudy, seeing him finally corner that same boar into a clearing. He'd been running after it for the last two days, and Coby's only respite has been to drink the water from the nearby streams. He looked filthy…
But he was able to corral the boar into a corner, right against a cliff face as Coby did his tango. Dodging boar charges from an angry and equally exhausted beast.
"A cornered animal is perhaps the most dangerous foe to face. Running on fumes, survival instincts are gonna take over!" Garp declared as he pulled out a bag of chips from within his coat. "The same applies to pirates! You can chase them down all you like! But when you think you got'em by the throat, they'll pull something out of their ass just to survive and live to plunder another day! Ya gotta think as they do! Fight just as ferociously, if not more so, than them! Use anything and everything at your disposal!"
Coby gave the barest of nods, eyes fixed on the beast as the hulking boar charged, roaring. Coby ran at him, and Garp thought the boy lost his senses as he too roared. Then the pinkette pivoted and jumped to the side at the last moment, the boar skidding and hitting the rocks.
Coby used that to push himself, knife out and plunged it into the beast's neck. The boar roared as Coby was thrashed and tossed, but with one simple tug downward, it was over and the beast fell onto its side.
Coby was heaving, panting as his hands were covered red as he looked back at Garp. "Dinner?" He asked.
'Baiting him into a charge and then dodging at the last minute, and instead of going for the side as before… taking the open shot when it presented itself…' Garp thought, replaying the encounter in his head as he approached. He grinned back down at the boy, ruffling his messy pink hair as he pulled out a skinning knife.
Before long, the boar was skinned and cleaned, and it was cut up into shanks and various cooked bits of meat on bone by Garp while Coby cleaned up at a stream. At the fireplace, the old man saw Coby approach wearing his worn out Marine Cadet fatigues, and saw the spread laid out before him. He went down, grabbing a rib and bringing it to his lips before pausing, then looking up at Garp. He winced in hunger, his stomach growling, but the boy offered the rib to him.
"Want one?" Coby asked, and Garp smiled.
"Nah, I can pass on this tonight. This here? Is your kill. Your meat." He patted him on the back and rose back to his full height. "I'll meet you up at the springs. Then we can retire for the next few days…"
Coby looked back at his Master as he walked off, before smiling as he turned towards his new spread of meat shanks and ribs and went to town happily, digging in with a gusto.
And Garp couldn't contain his own big grin.
'I just simply bashed my way through a brick wall no matter what.' He stretched his arms as he gave one look back at the feasting pink haired youth. 'You found a way around the brick wall, and went for its weakest point. It's been only a quarter of a year, and you're well on your way, Coby.'
The man walked off, happy to hear the sounds of happy feasting from his Understudy, who would go on to tell him that night that although it was plain, it was the tastiest meat he ever had.
It has been three months since Coby has begun his training under Vice Admiral Garp. And as Garp sat on a stump, arms crossed, he could hear the quakes of something coming. Something large given the sound of trees being uprooted, along with the massie shadow coming in as.
With a yell, Coby lept from the trees, landing in the clearing in the Goa Mountains. Before him, a giant, carriage-sized boar came billowing out with a roar. Coby landed on the ground, and Garp could see the changes. He's almost unrecognizable.
Taller, the fat gone, carved with muscle, and his eyesight good enough to have his signature glasses upon his head in a bandana. Coby looked up at the beast, hunting knife in hand. He looked back at it, grinning lightly. No doubt to the adrenaline.
That and this beast was to be their lunch.
The boar charged, and Coby charged forth, as if in a game of chicken. Garp raised an eyebrow. Straight on?
The boar opened it's maw to eat Coby, only for the boy to slide under the beast. He saw him gauge his underbelly with the knife, carving it right down the middle!
The slide got him out before the beast could react, it roared in pain as Coby got out under it. Running to the stunned beast and yelling as he jumped, propelling himself on a tusk during the beasts flailing and coming down.
With the knife right in the skull. Garp saw blood gush out, no doubt the knife punching deeper thanks to Coby's weight assisting in the mortal strike.
The boar let out a gurgle, staggering before it crashed onto its side. It was a large beast, fat, and strong. Lots of meat for today!
But those reflexes, his current level of strength and agility.
"He's ready." Garp mused as he stood up from the stump, seeing Coby walk out from the beast with blood on his shirt and trousers. "Smart way of killing it."
"Considering I cut it up around the manzone on my slide through, no wonder he was flailing crazy." Coby panted, shrugging a bit. "Feel bad for him but… meat's meat." He looked at the beast, looking back at Garp. "You want to carve this up Sir?"
"Sure, but watch me. I'm gonna teach you how so you can do it on your own next time." Garp was thankful he was wearing his casual get up as he walked forth.
The next hour or so was spent teaching Coby how to skin the beast, along with taking out the undesirables and setting the organs on the skin. Can toss the organs out, but save the skin. Can be useful for clothing for the tailors and leather makers in town!
"So…" Coby breathed as he had finished, and was busy digging up a pit for a fire. He would then need to proceed to take off some branches on trees, or use the bones of the beast to make a rack to cook up their meat. "What's next? After the spring?"
"After that, you're heading back to base and resting." Garp said, taking a swig from his canteen as he watched Coby preparing their meal. Coby looked back in confusion, to which the man smiled.
The lad needed his rest now that his body is looking ready to begin the harder training. "But tomorrow? We're going to go beyond the training of what normal Recruits and even normal soldiers undergo. Something only specially assigned Marines or high ranking officers are taught." Coby perked up, his interest peaked even as he began to rip off a giant rib bone to shed off some meat to use as a stick to help roast and cook their meal.
"What would that be?"
The man grinned, arms crossed.
"Starting tomorrow, you're going to be learning how to become a master of the Rokushiki!"
"That concludes the session review for today," Lieutenant Ain said with an absolute lack of enthusiasm adequately masked by a layer of professionalism. Whenever Garp was away doing whatever Heroes of the Marines did when they were not doing their duty, and in the times Bogard decided to abscond too, the responsibility of running Dawn Island Base fell to the dark-blue haired woman.
Today was one of such occasions. And if she factored the delegation from the Grand Line that docked, oh so casually, scant hours after the Vice Admiral had buggered off and that locked her in a four hours long torture masked as a general meeting of the staff of the base that could be adequately summarized with: 'Vice Admiral Garp must be back to the Grand Line, when will you convince him to come back to the Grand Line?'… it could be confidently asserted that there have been occasions when Lieutenant Ain's mood has been better. Plus, HQ wanted Garp on the Grand Line to strike the fear of God back into whatever pirates were on the prowl there.
Such as, for example, on any other day of the last year.
"Are there any questions?"
'Please no questions, please no questions, please no questions! I can't leave Makino hanging again!' Not for missing the one time she could find a babysitter for little Shiv and could actually go to a nice club in Capital City instead of grabbing a drink in the inn. Makino would never let her hear the end of it.
Thankfully, it seemed the collection of off-bluers had had enough too. The expressions on their faces ranged from 'bored to half death' to 'Please! Let me get away from here!' with a tinge of contempt directed at her alone.
Still nothing new.
Ain busied herself tidying up some documents, letting himself be lulled by the noise of chairs pushed aside and hasty but full of demeanor footsteps.
The smile that was rising on her lips was stoned half to death when she noticed a man tarrying in the, now empty, conference room.
"Lieutenant Ain, if you may I'd like to take a few minutes of your time." The only reason why Ain didn't scream was because she recognized the lean physique and slightly graying hair of Infirmary Head Jile: the head of the clinic of the base. The man was fiddling with his spectacles and, knowing him as much as she did, it was a likely sign that he had something consequential to say, and not one more attempt to invite her to dinner.
Even though it had been a long time since he had tried. Maybe he realized she wasn't interested. At least he didn't regard her with distrust and contempt as most of her fellow Navy officers did.
If so, thank the Blue for small mercies.
"Is there something more, Head Corpsman?"
'Please say no, please say no, please say no, please say no.'
'Damn it!' She could feel Makino's stern look piercing her through walls and time. "What is it then?"
'Please just ask me to dinner, at least I can immediately tell you no.' Ain couldn't hide a longing look toward the door. The Head Corpsman didn't miss it.
"It's more a personal concern, nothing official." He made a show of looking at his watch. "Actually, I have a personal commitment in Capital City soon. Would you mind if we walk towards the lodgings while we talk? It would really help me."
Ain could've kissed him there and then. On the cheek. Maybe a handshake would be more appropriate, but she would put lots of affection in it. Platonic, of course.
Not many in the base would offer her such a gratuitous kindness.
"Wouldn't it be better to wait and talk directly to the Vice Admiral?" Ain despised herself for the pleading tone in her voice, but just a tiny bit. The Head Corpsman was a good man, but it was her night out on the line.
"I guess it would, and I tried to share my doubts with him many times," he took a deep breath. When he resumed talking his tone was far more frustrated. "Anytime I approach the office of our esteemed and most glorified Hero of the Navy, I find the door locked and a suggestions box next to it. And I have reason to doubt he actually reads the notes he finds in there."
'Damn it, Garp!' She could feel her girl's night out flying far, far away.
"I see," she sighed while forcing back out her mask of professionalism and getting ready to cringe at her own next words. "The Vice Admiral is always really busy, but I am sure he offers due consideration to the advice he receives from his subordinates."
Judging from his snort, the Head Corpsman didn't buy it. "I'm not so sure of that: the slot was just painted on the wood. That and my latest suggestion was to, please, burn the box."
The two officials shared a small laugh, before Jile became serious. "It's in regards to that boy he's training for the last three to four months... Multiple bruises, muscle lacerations, a first-degree burn, three cracked ribs and one broken, two glancing gunshot wound, one of which was self-inflicted, not to mention a persisting case of severe exhaustion. Last week he suffered a concussion due to falling asleep on his feet while carrying cannon balls. Two nights ago he accessed the infirmary with both of his big toes dislocated."
"Both his toes?"
He nodded again.
"He would only say: 'push with your back.' I decided not to press anymore. However", he continued, gaze hardening. "I'm not here to talk about the physical aspects of his injuries; although they are many and varied, they also are fairly minor. My main concern is Seaman Recruit Coby's tendency of running off as soon as he is able to walk, without allowing the treatment to reach a satisfying degree of completion. He usually gets up to do this, training with Garp, going with him the forest and doing this practically daily."
He stopped walking. Ain kept going for two steps more, before she stopped herself and turned.
She found the eyes of Head Corpsman Jile locked on her own.
"This is a serious matter, Lieutenant Ain." The doctor took off his spectacles and cleaned them carefully for a few moments before putting them back on. "The young man is pushing himself too much. He feels he has too much to live up to and he seems dead set on proving Garp right by concentrating years of injuries and accidents in just a few months. Whatever they're doing in the forest maybe helping in that regard, but this body cannot keep up at this rate."
Jile's tone became nostalgic. "I've seen young people like him in the Grand Line, even if not for long. He is young and enthusiastic, and his body is strong if not as fit as he would need. If he keeps going on like he is now, he will break himself beyond our possibility to mend. At that point, if he is lucky, all he will get out of his career will be an early disability pension." He let out a small smile. "You don't need to worry too much right now. As I said, he is in no immediate risk. Waiting a day, or a night, would change nothing." He said the last world with a knowing glance toward her.
Ain let out a small smile herself.
"Plus, right now the boy is sleeping. I decided he is less of a pain if he is kept sedated until dismissed."
Of course he would. The Head Corpsman wasn't known for half-assing things.
"Thank you, Jile. I will talk to Coby tomorrow."
"And with Vice-Admiral Garp too, I hope."
"Of course," Ain's lips raised a bit more, just enough to show her canine teeth. "They won't escape me."
Somewhere in the Grand Line while chasing after a pirate ship, Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp, Hero of the Navy, felt a cold shiver run down his spine, making him pause in his chucking cannon balls.
In the infirmary of Dawn Base, Seamen Recruit Coby turned in his narcotics-induced sleep. The nurses blamed the drugs.
Big thanks to Paperman and ShinigamiMaster for helping on this project. As promised, here is the next chapter, and the beginning of the Warrior's Beginning Arc! The next one probably won't come around until August or even September. This is a backburner project after all.
But yes, Coby's training begins! As you can see, unlike in canon, Coby has Garp's full attention here, not just Helmeppo and didn't do it on a whim. And he's training him as he trained himself back when he was a kiddo. But, Coby isn't Garp, and even using a spring filled with a healing mineral of sorts isn't enough to stop the breaking down of his body(that and the Monkey bloodline just seems to be made of tougher stuff). There is significant changes sure, but there's a lot of bruises and injuries to boot. Such is a shounen training arc with a an extra dose of reality.
Plus, Coby was able to use Soru 6 months under Garp with half-on-half-off training. Makes ya think how strong Coby will become with a fully invested Garp. And how his methods will change when Ain talks to him. And of course, as humans are social animals, Coby meets some fellow Recruits! They'll be central later one down the road of course.
It's gonna be fun explaining what an Understudy is, but I'll have to wait on a lore post on that, combined with Marine Firearms and ships once I get in deeper. I don't think Oda really puts in much though regarding firearms and naval craft of the MArines. It's usually just the typical Navy big blue hulking ship whose size tends to vary.
Anyway, hope you all enjoyed. I'll see you in several months. Back onto FFESS.