Old Van ventured alone into the Grand Line, where Arabasta's intelligence agents had arranged for him to join CP5.
CP0 and CP9 had strict requirements for their members' origins and loyalty. Many of their recruits were even groomed from a young age, making it difficult for outsiders to enter. However, no matter how good the system was, it still relied on people to execute it, and nowadays, the system was no longer as strict as it used to be.
Currently, the head of CP9, Spandam, had previously led CP5. As a weakling with a Doriki value of only 9, Spandam needed to suppress the unruly elements within CP9. This meant he'd have to select assistants from his old subordinates, and someone like Old Van, who had no moral boundaries, was bound to catch his attention. The plan would be easier to execute then.
The remnants of the Winged People and the Golden Lion Pirates were left for the Marines to deal with. Vivi, accompanied by her pet duck and two bounty hunters, sailed away alone on a small boat.
A week later, they arrived at a small town called Orange Town.
"Quack quack!" Karoo pointed with its wing towards the western part of the town, indicating that its little brother was there.
"Let's go! Keep up the pace!" Vivi and the duck were the first to disembark from the boat.
Johnny and Yosaku looked around, realizing they had been here before. The town seemed safe, boosting their courage as they followed suit.
Compared to Loguetown, this town was much smaller. Vivi rode atop the duck, so she wasn't worried about getting lost. However, she glanced around frequently and unexpectedly noticed that there wasn't a single townsperson in sight.
"Hey, Johnny, do you guys know about this town? Why haven't we come across anyone?" Vivi asked Johnny.
In reality, she felt a bit uneasy as well. The whereabouts of Golden Lion were unknown, and she worried he might suddenly appear from some obscure corner. The town seemed peaceful, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
"We've been here before. Let us go check out the mayor's house!" Johnny and Yosaku were inseparable partners, fighting together and gathering information together.
Vivi waved earnestly, "Alright, go ask around quickly. I'll go find my target first."
Karoo's sense of direction was quite good. Coupled with the guidance provided by the panel extension, it didn't take long before Vivi, riding atop the duck, arrived in front of a slightly run-down house. There, she spotted a dirty little white dog sitting alone in front of the door.
"Hahaha! This should be the little one! Confirm it?" Vivi compared the little dog before her with her memories. She felt like this was Chouchou, but to be sure, she needed Karoo to confirm.
After all, she couldn't see any cues related to "commission" or "command." To her, observing Chouchou was no different from observing any other animal.
This panel extension, rather than being hers, belonged more to the duck. Naturally, this little brother was also affiliated with Karoo.
"Quack, cuckoo quack!"
"Karoo, stop cuckooing," Vivi patted the duck's head. "You're a duck, not a chicken!"
Karoo turned its head and gave her a resentful look, making her feel a bit guilty.
"Woof woof!" The little dog might have a small body, but its bark was quite loud. Seeing Vivi and the duck fooling around, it couldn't help but bark loudly a couple of times to remind them that it was there too.
Vivi, relying on her ability "Voice of All Things," could partially understand the dog's thoughts, but more would need to be conveyed through Karoo.
The duck and the dog conversed with their "quacks" and "woofs," while Vivi, who had a duck language proficiency level of six and a dog language proficiency level of four, stood by, crossing her arms and "listening."
"So, you're saying it still has some reservations about us? Did I get it wrong?"
"Oh, it's wary of me? Fond of you? I really couldn't tell."
"Oh dear, Karoo, you're terrible at talking. You're too blunt! How come I interpret its intentions as wanting to bite you...? Quick, let it go! No, release your grip!"
With some effort, Vivi finally managed to pry the dog's jaws off the duck.
Seeing that Karoo was clearly not suited for coaxing the dog, Vivi had to take matters into her own hands.
She placed "Kashu" aside, then raised her hands in a gesture to show she was unarmed. Then she squatted down, trying to make eye contact with the small dog, conveying a sincere expression.
"You should be able to understand me, at least to some extent, right? I know a bit about your situation, and I assume you know too, don't you? Your owner has passed away, not due to some revenge or illness, but because his time had come to an end. He passed away peacefully."
"Woof woof!" The little white dog Chouchou conveyed a message roughly equivalent to "Don't want to listen, don't want to listen."
Vivi carefully pondered the meaning within this message, making sure she hadn't misunderstood, before continuing, "You want to continue guarding this pet food store, waiting for your owner to return, right? But this... this isn't possible. Your owner has passed away, and no one can bring him back to life. He probably wishes for you to be happy and joyful, rather than staying cooped up in this house..."
Half an hour later, Vivi took out a bottle of milk from Karoo's backpack and gulped down most of it, eliciting complaints from Karoo. That milk was its rations after all! And now, an unscrupulous owner had guzzled it down!
Vivi could do nothing about it. She had spoken for half an hour, her mouth parched, but this little thing remained completely unresponsive, living up to the phrase "deaf to reason and impervious to persuasion."
No matter how she phrased it, it was all in vain. The dog was determined to continue guarding this pet food store that had lost its owner. Vivi gleaned a vague sense of this from its emotions. Chouchou was waiting for a miracle to happen, but how could that be? This world was engulfed in chaos and violence. Miracles? There were far too many people in need of miracles. Why would a miracle resurrect someone who passed away peacefully?
"Sigh, what do we do now? This is your little brother after all. Think of something, quick." Vivi said to her pet duck.
Karoo rolled its eyes at her as if saying, "Aren't you making this difficult for me? What can I do? I'm just a duck!"
Vivi had no choice but to resort to the simplest method: bribing with food! - You eat mine, drink mine, and you can't possibly ignore me, right?
Dog food! Big bone treats! Cornmeal! She even borrowed Karoo's frying pan to cook two eggs on the spot. She also tried to play with Chouchou using a cat teaser toy. As a result, the dog became so angry that it wanted to bite her, but she skillfully evaded using "Soru."
Without an owner to care for it, Chouchou was clearly famished and had no "picky eater" thoughts. If you gave it, it would eat. Once it finished, it would do whatever it wanted. Playing with it? No chance.
"Come with me. I'll take you to a place called Little Garden. Just listen to that name, Little Garden! What a fun place it is! Let me tell you a secret - on Little Garden Island, there are two giant uncles who love to fight when they have nothing else to do. You can watch them fight and have fun every day. How lively and interesting it will be!"
Vivi rambled on with her words, without much regard for logic or coherence. She just spoke whatever came to her mind.