Guys, I really hate to have to do this so late in the game, but...

April Fools! Of course it's a chapter! Now that that's out of the way...

Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece.

Chapter LXII: Aiming High

Sabo wasn't sure what to make of Luffy. On one hand, he was about what he'd expected to find from someone who had led his crew to victory over a Marine Admiral and caught the attention of both Dragon and Whitebeard.

On the other hand, there was another part of him, some obscure aspect of his psyche that he couldn't quite identify, that was clearly expecting something different. Luffy had greeted him enthusiastically—the giant bear hug he'd received had ironically been the only part of their meeting that hadn't surprised him, despite how out of place it seemed for a notorious pirate that had the World Government running around like wingless seagulls.

But then he had proceeded to bonk Ace for the head with a Haki coated fist, shouting at the flame man for being so reckless twice in a row...and everything he unconsciously seemed to know about his younger brother promptly fell apart before his eyes.

Luffy was scolding someone for being reckless. He didn't know why that image was so bizarre, but it was.

Something about his straw hatted brother's demeanor—warm, yet wary, outgoing, yet hardened—seemed to make his unconscious mind scream that there was something wrong here. He simply couldn't shake the nagging feeling that Luffy shouldn't be like this.

Deciding that trying to compare this Luffy to the one he didn't remember was an exercise in futility, Sabo let it go...for now. He would be sure to grill Ace about it later.

As Luffy and his crew prepared to leave to find a coater for their ship, Sabo pushed his thoughts aside and gave his brother one last warning.

"Keep your guard up, Luffy," he advised. "We don't know what it is, but there have been signs that the Marines are planning something big."

"Yeah, I'll be careful!" Luffy promised, still on a high from seeing both his brothers, even as he ignored Ace muttering something about the Fist of Love being hereditary under his breath. "It was good to see you guys again!"

As the Straw Hat captain left with his crew, Koala caught the contemplative look on her superior's face.

"What's wrong, Sabo?" she asked curiously.

"I might have just remembered something," he replied uncertainly. "Something about Luffy."

As Sabaody Archipelago was the crossroad at which the various routes of the first half of the Grand Line converged, it was only natural that the most infamous of criminals from each generation of pirates would also cross paths there. In recent months, there had been a rather high number of notorious pirates to reach the archipelago, each wanted for a number of nefarious crimes in the eyes of the World Government. This elite group of Paradise veterans was unaffectionately referred to as the 12 Supernovas, two of which were currently facing off in the depths of the lawless zone. One was a towering brute of a man with an ever-present grin on his face who effortlessly wielded a large pillar as a makeshift mace. He was known as Mad Monk Urouge, Supernova Captain of the Fallen Monk Pirates, with a bounty of 108 million.

His opponent was a shorter man with a wild mane of blonde hair and a mask that covered his entire face, who was wielding a pair of spinning scythe blades, one on each arm. He was another Supernova, the First Mate of the Kid Pirates, with a bounty of 162 million.

As the two clashed again and again, a crowd warily gathered around to watch, at least until the fight was broken up by yet another member of the Supernovas.

Red Flag X Drake, a former Marine Rear Admiral turned pirate captain with a bounty of 222 million, fearlessly jumped in between the two with a weapon in each hand to block their strikes.

"There will be plenty of time to wreak havoc later," Drake intoned. "Leave the hostilities for the New World."

The two wordlessly agreed to a ceasefire, seeing as their disagreement has been trivial to begin with. As X Drake walked away, one of the bystanders addressed him from the barrel he was sitting on.

"Damn, and it was just getting good," the onlooker commented. It didn't take Drake long to identify him as the Surgeon of Death Trafalgar Law, Supernova captain of the Heart Pirates with a bounty of 200 million. "If your intent was to end the hostilities, you might have some work ahead of you, Red Flagger," Law said with a calm smirk. He gestured for Drake to look over his shoulder, and the former Marine officer obliged. His eyes narrowed as he caught sight of Eustass Kid walking towards them.

Knowing Captain Kid's penchant for conflict, he and Urouge both readied themselves for a confrontation with both Captain and First Mate. Surprisingly though, Kid ignored them both.

"Killer, gather the rest of the crew, vacation's over. We have bigger fish to fry," Kid said with a grin stretched across his face that wasn't entirely sane.

Although Drake was slightly annoyed by that comment, he allowed Kid to collect his crewmate and leave without protest.

"To think Captain Kid would pass up the opportunity to scope out his competition," Urouge remarked. "I wonder who this bigger fish could be."

"You mean you haven't heard?" Law asked as Drake sheathed both his weapons. A certain gleam had entered the Surgeon of Death's eyes, one which was hard to interpret. "It seems the 500 Million Man himself has graced us with his presence."

As Drake walked away, a bead of sweat rolled down Urouge's face, despite the wide grin that never left it.

"So he's here, is he?" Urouge asked no one in particular as he watched Kid's back fade into the distance. " you have a death wish?"

As the Straw Hat Pirates were on their way to meet their ship coater, being led by Hachi, Luffy and Zoro were communicating via Observation Haki.

Zoro, it feels like Rayleigh is already there, Luffy conveyed to his First Mate.

Well, that's different. Are we going to tell him about the time travel?

I think so...he can be trusted. Also, he might know more about it, come to think of it.

The two were soon broken out of their thoughts by Usopp's voice.

"Have you guys noticed that everyone is giving us a wide berth?" the sniper asked, referring to the fact that everyone seemed to be clearing a path for them.

"It's probably because of Luffy and Zoro. Even for the end of the first half, their bounties are extremely high."

Chopper looked amazed. "Are they really that scared of them?"

"It's only natural," Robin commented. "They defeated a Marine Admiral together."

While the rest of the crew silently conceded the point, Brook's jaw visibly unhinged. "A Marine Admiral? Luffy-san and Zoro-san did? When was this?"

"Oh, that's right. This would be the first you've heard of it, huh?" Franky realized. "It was after they arrived on Water 7, before they recruited me again."

"I—I see," Brook stuttered.

"Why else did you think they had such high bounties at this stage?" Sanji asked the skeleton.

Brook coughed in embarrassment. "Well, it's been 50 years since I've sailed the seas. I might have assumed it was due to inflation."

The rest of the crew laughed at this, and Brook's face actually reddened despite his utter lack of flesh.

"Nyu...I'm a bit worried that we're attracting too much attention, actually," Hachi commented. "But at least we're in the lawless zone."

"Don't worry so much, Hachin!" Camie said with a beaming smile. Luffy-chin and everyone are really strong! Besides, we're here anyway."

Pappug, Camie's starfish friend, stared at the up at the sign in disbelief. "Shakky's ripoff bar? Where in the eight seas are you taking us, Hachi!?"

"Nyu, we're not here for drinks," the octopus fishman pointed out. "We just need to find Ray-san. He'll coat their ship for them."

From the moment the door opened, a pairs of brown eyes fell upon their group, belonging to a seemingly young woman with short black hair.

The woman's eyes soon settled on Hachi. "Hachi! It's been a long time, hasn't it? It's good to see you again," she greeted. "And it seems you've brought along some interesting friends."

The woman waved happily at the Straw Hats. "You can call me Shakky. I'm an old friend of Hachi's."

As the crew grew acquainted with the friendly woman, Chopper stared at her in apprehension.

"She seems so nice! Is she not going to rip us off after all?" he asked innocently.

Shakky's eyes landed on him, causing him to jump, realizing he'd spoken out loud.

"Well, aren't you adorable?" she said with a smile. "Don't worry, I won't scam any of Hachi's friends. Besides, I'm actually a big fan of your crew."

Chopper's eyes widened. "Really?"

"Of course! Cheering on rookies one of my favorite pastimes. Your Captain and First Mate have the highest bounties of all the 12 Supernovas, and they achieved them without killing civilians like the Kid Pirates. The Straw Hats are also the only crew to have three Supernova members.

"12 Supernovas?" Nami asked curiously. "What are those?"

Shakky lit a cigarette as she explained. "They're well known throughout the entire First Half of the Grand Line, and their infamy even reaches some parts of the New World. The 12 Supernovas are the only rookie pirates of the current generation to reach Sabaody Archipelago with bounties of over 100 million."

"There are actually only nine crews total, but as I said, some have more than one of these members in their ranks. There's Mad Monk Urouge, with a bounty of 108 million, Capone Gang Bege, with a bounty of 138 million, the Glutton Jewelry Bonney, with a bounty of 140 million, Black Leg Sanji, with a bounty of 155 million, Massacre Soldier Killer, with a bounty of 160 million, Roaring Sea Scratchman Apoo, with a bounty of 198 million, Surgeon of Death Trafalgar Law, with a bounty of 200 million, Red Flag X Drake, with a bounty of 222 million, the Magician Basil Hawkins, with a bounty of 249 million, Eustass Captain Kid, with a bounty of 315 million…"

Her speculative eyes shot to Luffy and Zoro. "...And then there's Demon Wind Zoro, 360 million, and Straw Hat Luffy, 525 million."

Nami sighed in a mix of exasperation and fondness. "Well, that really puts things into perspective."

"It does, doesn't it?" Shakky mused. "The world we live in is one of precedents, and those precedents act as limits. So when those limits are broken, it's unprecedented, and that leaves people like the World Government, who rely on those limits, scrambling for order." She grinned. "But as for me, I'm just here to enjoy the show. Which is why I'll be rooting for you guys!"

Zoro smirked. "We'll try not to disappoint you."

While they'd been talking, Hachi's eyes had settled on a seemingly unremarkable old man taking shots at the counter.

"Nyu, Ray-san! I didn't think you'd actually be here already," the fishman admitted, sounding amazed.

This brought the rest of the crew's attention towards the old man, who turned around in his bar stool to face them. "So, this is the crew I've been hearing so much about lately. Your auras are certainly more impressive than I'd expected." His eyes landed on Luffy and Zoro. "Especially you two. I've been waiting to meet you, Monkey D. Luffy."

"Uh, so who's the old man?" Usopp asked. "I'm getting a "badass legend" vibe from him."

Sanji, on the other hand, was sweating, having realized from his aura that this wasn't just some old man.

"You're surprisingly observant," Shakky commented. "Ray-san was an infamous pirate back in the day."

"That's a bit of an understatement, isn't it?" Luffy asked with a grin. "Right Hand of the Pirate King?"

Upon hearing that, most of the crew were shocked into silence, with the exceptions of Zoro, who already knew, Robin, who accepted the information calmly, and Nami, who started yelling.

"Come on! Not again!" the navigator complained. "Tell us these things sooner, Idiot Captain!"

Rayleigh smirked. "You're well informed. But I'm retired now. I prefer to go by Ray-san the ship coater. Still, Shanks once told me about his bet on the New Era, and you seem more than capable. Why do you aspire to rule the sea, Monkey D. Luffy?"

Luffy's grin widened. "I don't want to rule anything. I just want to enjoy my freedom." His smile turned solemn. "I'd give up ruling the sea in a heartbeat if it meant being able to keep sailing the seas with my crew. After all...I already did once."

Rayleigh's eyes widened.

In the silence that followed, the Straw Hats looked back and forth between the two in apprehension, while Shakky watched with a raised eyebrow, and Hachi, Camie, and Pappug just looked confused.

"This was...unexpected," Rayleigh admitted after a while of staring Luffy down. "I might actually be able to enjoy my retirement after all." He pushed the thought aside. "Alright then. Since you're so determined, let me tell you all a story," he said, addressing the rest of the crew moreso than Luffy and Zoro. "Of my Captain and friend, the Pirate King Gol D. Roger."

About an hour later, Luffy and company exited the bar, most of them reeling at the information they had just been made privy to.

"To think the reality of what happened was so different than what history recorded," Robin mused. The situation had hit entirely too close to home for her.

"It's super surprising," Franky agreed, starting to understand Tom's unwavering respect for the Pirate King.

"But why didn't you tell us any of that, Luffy?" Usopp asked, still excited about the retelling of Roger's ascension and subsequent fall.

"It wasn't my story to tell," Luffy said quietly.

The group's path was suddenly obstructed as another pirate crew stopped in front of them. At their head was Eustass Kid, who was staring at Luffy with a maniacal gleam in his eyes.

"So you finally show your face, Straw Hat Luffy. I was starting to think you'd never show up."

Luffy stared at him blankly, having recognized the rival Supernova from his dealings with him in the previous timeline. "What do you want?" he asked bluntly.

Kid chuckled lowly. "Well, since you asked, Straw Hat...what I want is to rule the become the Pirate King, and until the day I achieve my goal, I won't be outdone by anyone." His body tensed, preparing for a fight. "Even someone who was acknowledged by Whitebeard!"

Zoro smirked. "So in other words, you're just throwing a fit because your bounty is lower," he inferred.

Immediately following Zoro's bold statement, the swordsman was attacked by Killer, but effortlessly blocked his spinning scythes with a single katana.

"Hasty, aren't you?" Zoro asked, despite the challenge that was clear in his tone.

"If you're going to insult Kid, I don't care how high your bounty is!" Killer declared, before engaging Zoro in a close range sword fight.

Soon, a brawl had ensued between the Straw Hat and Kid Pirates, with Zoro facing Killer, Sanji intercepting a man with the likeness of a scarecrow who had tried to assist his First Mate, Franky attacking a tall man with a red trident who had tried to stop Sanji, and Luffy facing off with Captain Kid himself.

"Oh dear. That escalated quickly," Robin commented, clutching a duo of lower level grunts who had tried to run her through.

"Yohohoho! My nonexistent heart is about to beat out of my empty eye sockets! Yohoho! Double Skull Joke!" Brook exclaimed as he disappeared behind another pair of foes who didn't realize they'd been cut until they turned around.

The man with the trident was dodging Franky's swipes with little difficulty, but once he went in for the kill, he was shocked to see that his weapon of choice rebounded off of Franky harmlessly. "That won't work on my super body, dumbass!" Franky shouted, before aiming a Coup de Vent right at his face. The man clearly wasn't expecting such a manner of attack, and was soon launched through a building by the air cannon.

"Wire!" one of the lower grunts shouted in concern.

Sanji was casually weaving in between the scarecrow lookalike's swords, occasionally sending out a kick that was blocked by a cross guard. He was slightly surprised when the man, having made no progress in hitting him, suddenly spewed fire from his mouth in an attempt to roast Sanji alive.

He was surprised when instead of being burned, the chef started rapidly spinning, the fire rendered virtually ineffective as it dispersed around him before he erupted in a shroud of his own flames.

"Did you think a chef would fear an open flame?" Sanji asked with a smirk, before using Soru to charge forward faster than his opponent could react.

The flame enhanced kick smashed into the Kid pirate's skull, instantly rendering him unconscious.

Meanwhile, Zoro grew bored of the low level sword fight he was partaking in, and decided to end it. "You have some skill," he admitted. "But you'll never measure up to me as a swordsman!" He accentuated the declaration by effortlessly cleaving through Killer's spinning blades, delivering two slashes across his torso.

"Are you ok with this?" Luffy asked curiously as he dodged a barrage of metal projectiles, courtesy of Kid's magnetism. "Your crewmates are falling one by one."

"That just means they'll have to learn from this defeat!" Kid shouted, undaunted, as he formed a colossal arm out of all the metal in the vicinity.

Luffy smirked. "You'll have to take your own advice soon," he stated.

A force of the magnetic repulsion was enough to launch the makeshift arm at supersonic speeds, but Luffy simply imbued his arm with Haki and and blocked its trajectory, causing it to explode into a shower of metal.

Taking advantage of Kid's shock at seeing one of his strongest attacks thwarted so easily, he charged forward and drilled his opponent with a Haki enforced punch, causing him to cough up blood and sink to ground in pain.

Luffy walked passed him, but stopped once he realized Kid was getting back up. The rival captain glared at him with blood dripping from his mouth.

"Bastard…is that the best you've got?" he asked, struggling to his feet.

Luffy hummed as he turned to face him. "Well, what do you think?"

Kid gritted his teeth as he mentally gauged the level of the adversary before him. As much as he didn't want to admit it to himself, that probably wasn't anywhere near Straw Hat's true strength. That punch had been casual.

"Just the tip of the iceberg, huh?" Kid muttered. From his prone position on the ground, Killer struggled to raise his head in order to watch the proceedings.

"Captain…" the First Mate rasped as he fought against his blackening vision.

"Will there be more opponents like you once we enter the New World?" Kid asked, staring Luffy straight in the eyes.

Luffy grinned as he gave the question some thought. "How should I know?" he asked. A misleading answer, but not a lie.

Kid was sweating. Perhaps it had been his semi-consciousness speaking, but for a moment, he'd completely forgotten that he'd been speaking to a fellow rookie.

"Well damn…" he muttered, before forming a coat of metal around his arm and charging at Luffy. Even in his barely lucid state, he knew he was hopelessly, hilariously outmatched.

And he didn't give a single flying fuck.

Luffy dodged the punch and responded with a ruthless uppercut to the face that lifted Kid off the ground before he once again landed with a dull thud. As Kid's consciousness began to fade, he could just make out the next words that came out of Luffy's mouth.

"The level of strength I just showed'll be lucky if it's all you have to deal with in the New World." With those words lighting a flame of determination in his soul, Kid drifted blissfully into unconsciousness.

Looking around and seeing that the rest of his crew had dealt with their attackers without too much trouble, Luffy called everyone together, and they proceeded to leave, heedless of the crowd that had gathered to watch the one sided grudge match in awe.

Seeing as the Straw Hats had successfully attained a ship coater, they were basically free to enjoy their remaining time on the archipelago, something which Franky soon pointed out.

"So, Straw Hat, any plans for the next three days, or are we just going to be sightseeing here?" the cyborg asked curiously.

"Weeeell, I wanna stop by the Sabaody Park, it was fun the first time," Luffy grinned. "But first, I'm planning on making a pirate alliance."

"Ah, that sounds goo—WAIT, WHAT?!"

"Why are you even surprised?" Zoro asked…everyone. It was a little exasperating that even Robin looked surprised.

"Why are we—how were we supposed to know—?" Franky sputtered.

"Zoro, go find Trafalguy," Luffy interrupted casually. "And Sanji, go find Bonney. We'll meet back at the Sunny."

Zoro nodded, focused for a minute with his eyes closed, and then began heading in a specific direction.

"Kind of funny that he can only see where he's going when his eyes are closed," Luffy said under his breath. The rest of the crew laughed, and Zoro shot Luffy a glare that promised pain later before continuing on his way.

"Luffy?" Sanji asked once he got his laughter under control. "I didn't know Bonney in a past life like you did, and there are too many strong auras on these islands for me to count on Haki alone. Where should I look for her?"

"Ehh, she's always hungry," Luffy said nonchalantly. "Just follow the complaints about someone eating more than they should be able to."

"And double-check that it's not you first, got it," Sanji added with a smirk.

"Hey, I resemble that!" Luffy protested.

Trafalgar Law was enjoying a meal with this crew, having wandered through much of the lawless zone already. After his most recent encounter, he could safely say that he had thoroughly scoped out much of his competition. That's not to say he'd been searching for weaknesses or anything to gain an advantage over them. That endeavor could be saved for the New World. He simply liked to judge for himself what he was up against. Thus, he had taken to some sightseeing...with purpose.

In fact, only one Supernova crew had been excluded from his diligent observations by now. The Straw Hat crew was one that he hadn't felt the need to scrutinize. It may have seemed counterintuitive to his crew to leave the biggest fish in Paradise Pond out of his calculations, but the reason why was actually fairly simple.

You don't need a magnifying glass to examine a mountain. You just need one look to know it towers over you.

Straw Hat Luffy was an enigma. He didn't think anyone could deny that at this point. But he was an enigma in plain view. He had no doubt that he'd unravel the mystery that was his fellow rookie eventually, but he was in no rush.

It was only a matter of time.

As the tavern door suddenly creaked open though, Law didn't need to turn his head to know that his day had just gotten better. The immediate silence in the establishment was enough of a sign. Turning to the green haired swordsman that had just entered the bar, Law inwardly smirked. It seemed fate was telling him to get a move on.

"Yo, Trafalgar. My captain sent me to find you," Roronoa Zoro said lazily. "Will you meet with him?"

Law hummed. "I don't see why not," he replied, before letting the smirk appear across his face. "But only if you can prove it's not a waste of my time."

If he'd been trying to get a rise out of the other swordsman, Law would have been disappointed. If anything, there seemed to be a satisfied gleam in his eyes.

"That," Zoro replied, radiating bloodlust, "is something you're welcome to find out for yourself."

As the patrons at the bar started sweating, and the bartender tried and failed to gather his wits enough to tell them to take it outside, Law obliged the challenge and shot out of his seat without a single indicator that he was about to move. Before anyone could so much as blink, the entire tavern was contained inside a blue, transparent bubble, and Law's nodachi was reared towards Zoro's neck.

Zoro effortlessly drew Shisui and blocked the sword strike in one smooth motion.

That slash was imbued with the powers of the Ope Ope no Mi, but he blocked it all the same.

"I had figured that you were an accomplished Haki user, Demon Wind," Law stated, though his expression didn't quite match the nonchalance of his tone.

"I'm not the only one in my crew," Zoro said, confirming Law's suspicions. "So? Will you meet with him?"

Law sheathed his long sword. "I think I'd be a fool not to."

Sanji grudgingly admitted to himself that Luffy's suggested method of finding their potential alliance member was surprisingly effective. He didn't even had to stop to ask anyone where she was; since she was quite famous, Jewelry Bonney's insane appetite was apparently a hot topic of conversation, and he just had to follow the gossip.

He soon arrived at a local restaurant with high penchant for noise. As soon as he walked in, several eyes fell on him, causing murmurings to break out, but he ignored them. His eyes soon settled on the pink haired woman in the middle of the establishment, piling plates on top of each other with every passing second.

That's quite the appreciation for food. A woman after my heart. But haven't I seen her before?

He soon recognized her. She'd been with Ace when they'd met up with him upon arriving on Sabaody, but had merely offered Luffy a searching look and a nod before slipping away into the crowd.

"Hey, you!" Bonney shouted with her mouth full, snapping Sanji out of his thoughts. "Are you just gonna stare forever, bastard? You're a member of the Straw Hats, aren't you? The hell do you want?"

Sanji bowed. "Greetings, Mademoiselle. My name is Sanji. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I've come with an offer to sate your appetite."

As her crewmates started snickering, Bonney scowled, unamused. "Flirting with a rival Supernova? Seriously? I know that's not why you came, so skip the innuendos and get on with it, asshole."

Sanji sighed wistfully. "Ah, but I had to try. Very well then, down to business. My captain wants to meet with you."

"Hell no," Bonney said bluntly. "I've seen enough of Straw Hat's ugly mug for one day. Besides, I haven't finished my meal."

Sanji sympathized with her plight. "Of course. I'll give you a moment to finish. Food shouldn't be wasted, after all. But when you're done, can I at least invite you to dine with my crew? I'm quite the accomplished chef, you know. I'd be more than willing to prepare a full course meal for you should you accompany us."

That caught Bonney's interest. While pizza was pizza, and therefore good by default, most of the chefs in the lawless zone were admittedly quite mediocre. Sanji inwardly smirked at her visible interest, knowing he had her attention.

Bonney sighed as if she knew she was being manipulated, but couldn't quite bring herself to care.

"Fine! I'll meet with him. But the food better be the best I've ever had!"

"But of course."

The Straw Hat, Heart, and Bonney Pirates all converged at the Thousand Sunny. Although there was a certain degree of tension in the air that was expected of a meeting between rival crews, Luffy was all smiles.

"Hey guys!" he shouted, addressing not just Zoro and Sanji, but also Law and Bonney with a surprising amount of familiarity.

"Straw Hatter," Law said, ignoring the informality. "I heard you made quick work of Kid and his lot. Making waves already?"

Bonney raised an eyebrow, having not heard that bit of news yet, while Luffy pouted. "That wasn't my fault," Luffy protested. "He just attacked me." He soon recovered though, and invited everyone into the dining room. "Sanji! Food!"

"I'm already on it, Shithead."

The entire meal was ready in less than ten minutes, much to the shock of the Heart and Bonney Pirates. No one commented on the otherworldly culinary feat, though. The Bonney pirates looked ecstatic.

As the three crews dug into the food in a manner only befitting pirates, Law spoke up. "Not that I'm gonna turn down free dinner, Straw Hatter, but exactly why did you call us here?"

"I'm glad you asked, Trafalguy!"


"You're all here because I want to form an alliance."

That threw them for a loop. A pirate alliance, already? They hadn't even entered the New World yet.

"I have a plan…" Luffy continued. "To take down Kaido and Big Mom."

Shocked silence met his proclamation. Almost every set of eyes in the room widened, many of which were those of his own crew members.

After a while, the silence was broken. "You're aiming high," Law said with a smirk, "Gunning for the Yonko before you even enter the New World."

Bonney also seemed interested by the proposal, if skeptical. "Is there a reason why you chose those two in particular?" she asked.

"Well, I happen to be on friendly terms with the other two."

They both looked stunned at that. "Your connection with Whitebeard is common knowledge," Law allowed. "But Red-haired Shanks too?"

"My childhood hero," Luffy said with a shrug. "But there's another reason why I chose those two, actually. Do you two know about the Road Poneglyphs?"

Both of them shook their heads.

Luffy turned to his archaeologist. "Mind explaining, Robin?"

Though she was still caught off guard, Robin recovered quickly. "There are four total. Each has a location inscribed, and where the four locations intersect, the hidden island of Raftel can be found."

As Law and Bonney gave their undivided attention, Zoro smirked. Luffy had them, hook, line, and sinker.

"Would I be right in guessing that Kaido and Big Mom both hold possession of one of these Road Poneglyphs?" Law asked.

"Spot on. So here's my offer. When we take down Kaido and Big Mom, I'll let you guys know where Raftel is. And from there'll be a race."

Bonney smirked at his challenging tone. "A race, huh? And now that you've kindly given us this information, why can't we just go ahead and use it for ourselves?" Of course, she already had no intention of doing that. She wasn't that ungrateful, and she knew someone like Straw Hat would be a huge help in taking those two Yonko down. But she still wanted to hear his answer.

Surprisingly though, it was Law who spoke up. "Because the poneglyphs are written in the ancient language of the Void Century," he reminded her with a narrow eyed smile. "And that makes Nico Robin here the only person in the world who can read them."

The silence descended once more as both rival crews stared at Robin in a mix of shock and awe. Robin hummed in thought, before she gave Law a smug smile and nodded.

"Yes, I'd say that's accurate."

"So," Luffy said. "You guys interested yet?"

" know full well we can't say no after that," Bonney said with grudging respect. "Fine. I'm in."

"As am I," Law stated. "I happen to have my sights set on Kaido anyway. But I have to ask...why did you choose us?"

"Because of all the other crews aiming for the top, I trust you guys the most not to betray me," Luffy answered.

"That's a lot of faith you have in someone you just met," Law pointed out with a menacing smile.

Luffy just smirked. "Call it a hunch."

Law leaned back in his seat and gave him an accepting nod.

"It's settled then," Luffy said. "One of the captains in this room will become the Pirate King."

It was amazing how in sync everyone in the room was at that moment, as they all raised their glasses and gave their approval as the meal continued.

"Hey, Trafalguy!" Bonney shouted. "You've got to try these sandwiches. They're amazing!"

Law briefly considered showing his fellow Supernova why it wasn't a good idea to indulge Straw Hat's whimsical nickname. But he decided that it was bad form to attack a member of their alliance just moments after said alliance had been formed.

"No thanks. I don't like bread."

On route from Marine Headquarters to Sabaody Archipelago were ten battleships, sailing in tight formation. Aboard the lead one, a tall, lazy eyed man with yellow clothing and red tinted sunglasses stared down at the Baby Transponder Snail on his wrist. The man was Marine Admiral Kizaru, and behind him stood the Royal Warlords Boa Hancock and Bartholomew Kuma.

"Admiral, we'll reach Sabaody in a few minutes," came the voice of Vice Admiral Onigumo from the Transponder Snail.

"Hmm, thanks Vice Admiral. I have to say, the Elder Stars have put us in a tough position. But I suppose we'll have no choice...but to wipe out the Straw Hats."

Mavric sat atop a building on Sabaody Archipelago, staring out in the direction of the ocean. As he squinted his eyes, a nervous grin appeared on his face.

"Again, huh? Well damn…"

AN: I really liked writing this chapter. Hope you liked reading it! Lost out.