61 Chapter 61: CP9's Gaze

"Mr Randolph, I saw your play two years ago and it was truly magnificent. I never expected to see you here in Water 7."

The middle-aged man, Iceburg, had short blue-violet hair and was impeccably dressed. With every gesture he made, he pretended to be mature, although his true inner nature tended towards a more playful disposition.

The meager accommodations provided by the Galley-La Company couldn't fully express his gratitude. He straightforwardly asked how he could help the troupe.

You've resorted to performing on the streets, it's hard to believe there are no difficulties — was his meaning.

The old man Randolph refrained from mentioning the unpleasant incidents in Enies Lobby. He simply recounted an encounter with pirates and expressed his desire to purchase a new ship from Galley-La Company.

Without pausing for a second, Iceburg readily agreed. After all, he was the Ship King of Water 7, and ships were something he had in abundance!

Iceburg was pressed for time. Having made his intentions known, he politely took his leave, leaving behind a few shipwrights from the Galley-La Company. Their task was to custom-build a new ship for the troupe.

Kaku, a young man with a square-shaped nose, was amiable and diligently inquired about the troupe's needs, occasionally making notes.

Next to him, a man in a white undershirt and suspenders, with a pigeon perched on his shoulder, presented the troupe with various models of ships to choose from.

The troupe had many requirements: spaciousness, the ability to accommodate a stage, and enough room for a large audience.

The man in the white undershirt exuded an air of aloofness. As the group discussed the models of the ships, a faint furrow began to appear on his forehead. His eyes scanned the surroundings. He noticed actors passionately reciting lines, crew members arranging props, and a woman feeding a duck. A vague feeling of being watched lingered. But as he scanned the area, he found no suspicious characters.

'Pretty sharp, this one!' Vivi thought, averting her eyes as she continued to feed her duck.

She adhered to the principle of non-contact and non-confrontation when it came to these CP9 spies. In Water 7, she was just an ordinary passer-by, and whatever plans or missions they had were none of her business.

She picked up the nearby World Economy News Paper and began to read.

Three days had passed since the explosion in Enies Lobby, and the conclusion of the official investigation was quite interesting: it was a gas explosion!

There was no mention of Buggy the Clown, the Revolutionary Army or even Baroque Works.

Vivi had considered washing her hands of Baroque Works situation and returning home to inherit her family's legacy.

Now it seemed she could continue her promising undercover work.

The news of Crocodile's 'employment' of Mr 5 was known to many. Arabasta had already revealed that Crocodile had taken a Marine warship to Mary Geoise on the day of the explosion. She wondered what price he had paid to protect Baroque Works.

...

A month passed quickly.

"Purupuru, purupuru," sounded the call of a Den Den Mushi. A man in a white undershirt and suspenders, accompanied by a pigeon perched on his shoulder, answered the call - ostensibly a shipwright from the Galley-La Company, but in reality CP9's senior agent, Rob Lucci.

A voice on the other end, one he found rather distasteful, spoke: "Rob Lucci!"

As the strongest member of CP9 in the last 800 years, Rob Lucci had a deep disdain for his superior. He could easily crush that guy with one finger, but life wasn't fair. Who could change the fact that the man had a powerful father? Even the leadership of intelligence agencies could be passed down through generations, a notion that defied belief, yet it was happening openly now.

An incompetent fool had risen to become his superior, relegating him, the strongest in 800 years, to undercover work. He had spent four years in that role, and given the current circumstances, another four years wouldn't be surprising.

Despite his disdain, his loyalty to the World Government was unwavering and he obeyed orders without question. He replied curtly, "Yes."

"Crocodile, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, visited Mary Geoise last month. The World Government suspects he's not telling the truth. They believe he has a significant connection to the Enies Lobby explosion."

Officially, Crocodile had offered explanations to the World Government and once again pledged his unconditional obedience to their orders. In theory, this should have ended the matter, but both Rob Lucci and the CP9 chief on the other end knew that the situation was far from over.

The intelligence agencies never felt obliged to keep promises; they only cared about results.

"Are you asking me to investigate Crocodile?" Rob Lucci inquired.

His superior neither confirmed nor denied. Instead, he shifted the conversation to another matter. "The giants that guard the gates of Enies Lobby, Oimo and Kashii, have left the island. Are you aware of this?"

'I spend my days toiling away at the construction site, building ships for a bunch of stage performers! How could I possibly know?!'

Rob Lucci's voice grew cold. "I am not privy to such information, Chief. Do you want me to arrest them?"

"Not at the moment. They don't have government warrants. They've left Enies Lobby and gone to the front of the Grand Line, to a Kingdom called Arabasta. It seems they've joined the local bounty hunter organization and are targeting pirates. Coincidentally, Crocodile is in the same Kingdom."

Rob Lucci let out a soft "oh," finding it difficult to make out his superior's intentions. All he knew was that it couldn't be something favorable.

"We have reason to believe that there's a significant connection between Crocodile and Baroque Works. As for these two giants..."

The voice transmitted from the Den Mushi was suddenly filled with anger, "Baroque Works! That organization actually took in those two bumbling giants. I'm furious!"

Rob Lucci, growing increasingly frustrated with his foolish superior, replied impatiently: "You let me risk exposure just to tell me this? Mobilize nearby Marines to take them out. If you want to deal with Crocodile, call in the Marine Admirals."

"Heh, heh, heh," laughed the voice at the other end of the Den Den Mushi. "You see, this organization has some skills. They've managed to hide their individual identities quite well. I suspect they're being led by a professional, or perhaps there's someone inside who's been on our wanted list for a long time. We haven't found any other information from within the organization. Who's the President? Who's the Vice President? Could it be Crocodile? It might be or it might not be. The details elude us."

Rob Lucci grasped the meaning of his superior's words, his voice growing gruff, "You're not suggesting that I abandon my undercover mission and join this what's-its-name Baroque Works along with Kalifa and the others, are you? Quit mission now? Four years! We've been here for four years! Do you have any idea how we've spent these four years?"

Knowing his superior well, Rob Lucci expected a few insults. This was within his expectations. He was loyal to the World Government, but not to this stupid pig of a superior. Considering that their conversation had reached this point, it would have been appropriate to hang up.

But this time, his superior's reaction was far beyond his expectations.

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