I do not own either One Piece or Justice League Unlimited.
Beta read by the wonderful rose7anne101 and MasterQwertster. Make sure to check out their own stories! Also thanks to other readers who have given incredible help, like Kolomte'49, lincoln time, mellra, scl04, King of Fans, Anycents, Crossovernaru, TheWhiteTitan, coalface, Creation Teller, Bellduke, Bkaa19, and VixenRose1996. I know several of you will see your contributions here, even if they will be a surprise ;-)
Guest Review answers :-D
Awesome to hear! :-D
Here is the latest chapter, and I hope it was worth the wait! Thank you for your Review and Support! :-D
The viking 04
Yeah, for two-parters like that, I did them both together, and mostly delayed in case there were any valuable reviews made. The scars being a key example.
Minor spoiler, but as you will see here we do not see Batman's immediate reaction to the debriefing. I felt I have done too many of those already.
Q1: Even if in my previous review i said there was a good power balance between justice league and strawhats, i've come to believe that's not the case. While I do believe that a no morals justice league would be a near perfect match for the strawhats, the current leaguers with their current beliefs are no match for them. I honestly believe any two man combination from the monster trio (plus luffy and jimbe) would be able to defeat the current justice league. Having not seen the show i would like to know how/if the justice league will fill up this massive power gap.
A1: LOL yeah, the heroes are hilariously outgunned here, and are working to correct it. Although as you will see a bit here, part of it is that before they were never truly challenged in a manner which forced them to grow. Now they know better.
Q2) In chapter 19 when the deckhands ask the strawhats why ace was made a strawhat they simply said because she asked. Does that mean luffy and the others see the deckhands as strawhats even if they haven't asked yet?
A2) Currently the Deckhands are regarded more like Carrot or Law than say Vivi. However that is subject to change.
Q3) I always like the stories i read to have some elements of romance in them. While I don't expect neither want romance to be a central part of the story, I was wondering if you had any plans to incorporate some elements in it.
Even though they have had limited interaction between them, I really like the idea of a sort of romantic relationship between zoro and harley, especially with what zoro said to harley in chapter 15 and how harley says he inspired her in her conversation with mercy in chapter 16. While it may be difficult to write into the story maybe you could have zoro teach harley swordsmanship since she doesn't really have powers like volcana or ivy do.
I was also thinking maybe you could write a couple of scenes of usopp and ivy together working on the plants since ivy did seem to have her own reservations regarding the team.
A3) There are some romances planned, but yes they will not be central to the story. If people give a strong enough argument for some, I may incorporate them.
That said, I do not see Zoro/Harley working, because while he is strong and inspiring, even if he was not married to his Dreams and ambitions, I do not see him finding enough to interest him in her. Certainly not someone so emotionally and physically fragile still, and aside from the occasional piece of advice, not the type make someone stronger unless they do so enough on their own to make it worth his time.
Hmm, that is a good suggestion, but unsure of how I would do it. LOL really not a plants expert!
Great questions! :-D
Here is the latest chapter, and I hope it was worth the wait! (Sorry so much longer than two weeks). Thank you for your Review and Support! :-D
Ah ha ha ha! I am looking forward to "A Better World"! Wait and see! ;-D
Here is the latest chapter, and I hope it was worth the wait! Thank you for your Review and Support! :-D
I felt I have done a bunch of debriefs already, so decided to move it along past the immediate reactions to that. But yes, while the heroes know more about what the pirates are capable of, they do not know everything.
Ooh, Luffy basically frying Joker's mind with Conqueror's Haki is pretty tempting…
Wait and see for Darkseid and Brainiac ;-)
Here is the latest chapter, and I hope it was worth the wait! Thank you for your Review and Support! :-D
My Wannabe Arch-Nemesis a.k.a. Who? a.k.a. That Guy a.k.a. Evil Reviewer
Fool! It is in retaliation for those head baps that this took so long! All the blame lies upon you!
But yes, I did not want to change much of "The Savage Time." I felt there was a lot there which deserved to be explored on the heroes' characters from this, not something to be brushed aside as just another adventure. As well as the rest ;-)
Here is the latest chapter, and I hope it was worth the wait which YOU caused! Thank you for your Review and Support! :-D
Awesome to hear that! Here is the latest chapter, and I hope it was worth the wait! Thank you for your Review and Support! :-D
Pretty much. I did not want to change much of "The Savage Time." I felt there was a lot there which deserved to be explored on the heroes' characters from this, not something to be brushed aside as just another adventure. Along with the added introspection of course.
LOL it was actually someone who reviewed for the first part that suggested that Zoro's scars were permanent, and thus I decided to make it Conqueror's Haki as well. The heroes were just unable to recognize it.
Time travel makes no sense -_-
LOL yes, having Kureha's secret to eternal youth would certainly explain the "everything is alright" versions of the future Straw Hats! :-P :-D
Time for the heroes to pump some iron if they want to get better!
Weather Wizard has some DCAU scenes coming up ;-)
You have no idea how much I want to include Yamato. But the particulars on how the Straw Hats got here aside, including her would make the pirates far too powerful. As for being separated, if she were on Earth, somebody would have heard about the woman with horns and 8'8'' tall…
No worries, your review was still nicely appreciated!
It is tricky to say how J'onn's intangibility would work, as he is out of phase with reality a bit there. That said, yeah the haki seems to hit directly at the spirit… Even without that though, he is a terrifyingly powerful enemy.
…Are you talking about Livewire when you say "It's also nice to see someone finally remember that voltage exists. I've talked to a bunch of people who just don't remember or acknowledge her." Or Volcana?
That is list of weaknesses for Superman seems about right. At the very least he takes pain from those things a lot more than in mainstream stuff.
More heroes will be getting involved, especially since frankly the League needs all the help they can get.
Huh, definitely a tempting idea for Luffy to mistaken Plastic Man for an alternate reality version of himself… But yes, no way he can defeat Luffy, even if he can do some incredible things Luffy is incapable of with his own rubbery body.
Unfortunately that is all Zoro, with Sandai Kitetsu just being along for the ride, relishing in the bloodlust being allowed. But yes, the heroes were VERY lucky in that fight against him.
LOL agreed though for Zoro's over-developed fight detector! And yeah, his conscious mind is trying to go one way, while his body tugs him another :-P
Nah, the knowledge of how many episodes OP has reached truly needs to be shared! :-D
LOL exactly for how the heroes are on the wrong side of comics vs. anime physics/biology, and it is costing them dearly!
Those things never really came up in the DCAU, so just magic and haki here.
Nice to hear this is one of your favourites!
The Justice League is definitely considering further recruits. They need ALL the manpower they can get. I have it planned out though who will join and when. Although I should note that Supergirl still got into the canon Justice League.
Honestly, the connection between the gods and the Amazons is left very vague here, and not wanting the solution to be Zeus and his ilk coming in to save the day. That said, the Olympians show up more later in the DCAU…
Oh goodness, Gear 5! Man, part of the delay getting this out was me having to go back and rewrite some big chunks of my writing plan! But yeah, I think I have it down now.
While there may be ancient connections between Earth and Gaea, none exist here for Krypton and Gaea, but I admit that is a pretty cool idea of Rao = Joyboy.
Honestly, there are many reasons why I would love to have Yamato here with the Straw Hats. Unfortunately she is so powerful that frankly she could dominate the entire Justice League as it is on her own. Given the timing of when they came over, she is even arguably stronger than Luffy. Plus there is no way somebody like her would go unnoticed this long. Her attitude aside, she is nearly nine feet tall with horns.
Door to Nowhere
Yeeeeeeeah…I was busy with real life, my other stories, and having to do a massive revamping of this story.
I considered Brook in "Hereafter," but honestly I tragically feel that if Brook lost his entire nakama like that while trapped on Earth still, he would find the first suitable body of water and throw himself in D-X
Your idea of other versions of the Straw Hats from the multiverse sounds cool, but already got too much planned out for this to put a chapter in just for that. Although as you noted an omake is more doable. Because yes, I too now want to see an "axe-wielding cyborg Nami," and hope someone will write it… *Hint, hint you guys!* ;-D
How about even sooner! ;-D Thank you for your Review and Support! :-D
Chapter 24: Learning Their Trade
In a harrowing adventure to an alternate future, the Justice League received a better idea of what the Straw Hats are capable of when they go on a full-offensive, including arguably losing a clash between most of their strongest members versus just Zoro and Wonder Woman. Consequently, they conclude changes are necessary.
Spoilers for up to chapter 1,044.
Total and utter defeat.
Straw Hats laid where they had fallen, unable to move.
Helpless before the figure who approached them.
Grasping onto consciousness with all he had, a groaning Luffy turned his head to stare up at the one standing over him.
"Are you still in a food coma!?" demanded Ace in disbelief. "Captain," she belatedly tacked on.
"Turkey coma sounds better," chimed in Maureen as she joined in. Fearlessly she poked Luffy's bloated belly. "I mean, usually he'd have digested this ages ago."
"And it is a testament to my respect for him, that I don't kill him for that alone," Volcana chimed in as she came up.
"Mrnph glrmff, jolana?" mumbled Luffy.
At the confused looks she got, Volcana huffed. "Trust me, you'll understand when you're no longer teenagers, and have to watch your weight."
"Okay, 'cause I still don't get it," admitted Maureen.
"Stupid rubber-head," grumbled Sanji, as he came over to give Luffy a kick to the gut which he doubted Luffy even noticed. "How dare you upset the ladies!? This is a mess even by your standards!"
With a scowl, Nami came up as well, taking in the sight of Chopper, Brook, Usopp, Zoro, and Jinbe —Jinbe! — all lying around too. "Are you sure there was nothing else in those Thanksgiving turkeys?" she demanded.
"Yes, Nami~swan. It's just that tryptophan really hit them hard. Possibly just our bodies being unused to it."
"Tryptophan?" said Ace.
"A natural drug in turkeys to make you sleepy," grumbled Volcana.
"As smart as ever, Volcana! But honestly it's probably because these idiots ate so much of it!"
"Smirif fuff ivink," protested Luffy.
"The spirit of giving doesn't mean you get to eat enough to feed a small country!" snapped Sanji, easily translating it. "And that's Christmas! Right, Volcana?"
"Yes. Thanksgiving is what you are thankful for." Unspoken was how the Deckhands had recently learnt how unthankful the pirates were to be marooned on Earth. Their newfound friends being one of the few silver linings.
It had still been an excellent feast though, with everyone having fun.
"So for your birthday, maybe no turkey," Ace told Maureen.
"Yeah, agreed. 'Sides, I'm sure Paris has other stuff."
Sighing as she rubbed the base of her nose, Nami said, "That's not important right now. What is, is that we've got a limited window to grab the stuff Karrde had told us about."
"Excuse me!" huffed Volcana. "Maureen's birthday is plenty important!"
"It's okay Volcana," assured Maureen, patting the older woman on the arm. "I get what she means."
Now outright pinching herself to stave off a headache, Nami said, "Okay, first, sorry Maureen, that came out harsh. Second, yes, we still need to do that heist. And because of the chance it's a League trap, we've got to take some muscle."
"Well," said Robin, appearing out of nowhere, "I can stay here." She gave her crewmates another look and chuckle. "To think the secret to defeating Luffy was a cooked bird!"
Releasing a long sigh, Nami slumped despondently. "I'm not even surprised."
She straightened up. "Okay! Newbies! Get your rears into gear!"
At that, the Royal Flush Squad ambled over. Only Queen was smart enough not to keep eying their boss when he was lying helpless like that. Not that Nami was truly concerned, well aware that even 'helpless' as half-dead and near-comatose made him, Luffy remained a monster. The mountain of blubber would probably roll on them to squish them, and gnaw on whatever he could. It might even prove amusing.
Promptly before they were in for a real world of suffering by the rest of the crew.
"Yeah, what?" glowered Ten, trying to look fearsome. It was almost adorable to Nami. Especially when wearing such a weird shirt: what was with that muscular man with a panda's head?
"This is your chance to help out and figure out if you want to stay," she said firmly. "Or if we even want to keep you around."
They stiffened at the implied threat, although honestly they would just be kicked to the curb or something. Especially since Nami figured Ace would be upset if it were anything worse.
Grinning wide, Franky chose then to stroll up. "Soooo, no pressure, right?"
"Me too?" asked Ace in confusion. She would have thought they would have said something to her.
"No," said Robin gently. "We're going to be doing some different training together."
"Wait, what?" said Ten angrily, making Ace stiffen.
She and the others were . . . not friends. That was impossible given how and where they had met. Yet she had the same unspoken bond with them as the rest of the Squad had with each other. A solidarity that came from being taken away by the government, and coexisting under the brutality of the warden.
"Sorry," said Queen quickly. "We're just trying to figure out what our roles are."
"For now it's just a little, light burglary," informed Nami. "Your job is getting in, and getting the stuff out. Taking care of the guards. Carrying anything else we see. That sorta thing."
"So what?" said Ten. "That's it? What if we don't want to be just some dumb muscle?"
"Then go to college!" called Harley as she walked by the doorway.
"Oh, like you've got a degree!" Jack shot back.
A rocket burned, and next thing Jack knew, his rubbery body was pinned to the floor by a hammer, and an oversized gunbarrel was pinning one eyeball down into the floor as he looked up in terror at his quack of an invasive and non-consensual psychiatrist.
"That's. Doctor. Harley. Quinn. To you. You high-school drop out! I did my schooling and residency!"
"Same here," growled Cheetah, having ambled over to glower down. "Doctor Barbra Minerva."
"Doctor Pamela Isley," as a certain redhead threw in, appearing beside King to trace a delicate hand across his chest in a way he found very threatening.
"He still hasn't learned about women," sighed Robin, omitting her own credentials, and how she was the only Straw Hat to have any. Although Chopper certainly have them if he wanted to. Or if he was not a wanted man in turn.
"Do you have any idea how much work goes into being a professional actor?" huffed Clayface as he got on a roll too.
"Trust me, get your diploma while you can," added Volcana. "It really helps your options. If you can fake a new identity, of course. Why do you think I have Maureen doing home-schooling?"
By the looks of the Royal Flush Squad, this was news to them. Not that it was easy to tell given the general appearances of stunned shock they were all wearing.
"Well then," said Nami, clapping her hands together with a sunny smile which made Ten and the rest flinch away. "Glad to hear we're all on the same boat. Let's get going!"
For an instant, the various people sleeping lightly enough to hear, nearly turned over in their beds to go back to sleep.
Then they remembered whose voice that was, and the primitive parts of their brains had them out of bed before they even fully registered it. In a panic they shook their cellmates awake out of solidarity and obedience.
Not loyalty. Not here in Blackgate Prison, home of Gotham's sane criminal elements. This particular cell block was chock full of henchmen from various gangs from across the city, carefully split up so they were less likely to work together. Crooks, thieves, and hired guns doing whatever they were told for a quick buck on behalf of the likes of Thorne, Daggett, Zeus, Riddler, Two Face . . .
Anxiously they stared through their cell bars to see the figure standing in the centre of the big space.
Even the hardened killers swallowed at the sight of his unsmiling face, twirling Shade's cane in hand. Word had spread of how his throat had been slit. Of Grodd stuffed as a trophy. The true, treacherous nature of the so-called 'Injustice League.' The psychopath had probably chosen that name from the start as another sick joke.
The concept of 'honour among thieves' was a lie, as precious few crooks had any 'honour' or knew what it meant. The closest they had was a sense of 'courtesy' amongst each other, which was one part pragmatism, an illusion of trust to prevent themselves from devouring one another. While the second part was most of them acknowledging even they had limits to how far down they would go towards barbarism.
However, if you sold out one of your own, if you killed them for something beyond regular business, and gloated about it, then even the scum of the Earth would look down on you.
Even if they would do the same if they could get away with it.
Here and now though, they were all locked up, and the grabid wolf was prowling before them.
"Oh, don't you worry, fellas," he said cheerfully, "I'm here to set you free for a big, mutual venture I'm sure you'll all enjoy! There'll be profit for all!"
Or tried to be cheerful.
Even those unfamiliar with him caught how stilted it sounded, with his face fixed into a frown.
Moreover, where were the giggling guards lying upon the ground? Being awoken by thunderous explosions as he blew his way right in. It was just after American Thanksgiving, and not so much as a rubber turkey!?
Instead, there was no grandstanding, no laughter, just sheer, lethal efficiency.
Whatever he had in mind, whatever payoff he had planned, they were not sure they wanted to be a part of it if they had a choice, but they all knew they did not.
Throats bobbed, murderers fidgeted, and they found themselves praying for the guards to come.
The one time they would had been truly joyous to see the Bat appear, even if he had beaten them up in the process (at least they would be alive).
"Well, let's get started." One lock at a time he melted them down with acid, greeting the occupants with a twitch which was probably supposed to make his perma-frown less scary.
It did not.
"Alex, glad to have you."
"Mad Dog, I feel like we'll get along well."
"Frankie, keeping fit?"
"Mo, nice to meet you. I know another Mo somewhere here who works for me. You'll like him."
"Oh! Rocco, good to see you. Don't worry, we'll grab Henshaw too."
In short order, there were a few dozen people free and assembled before him. A few exchanged glances, considering their odds of just rushing the one man, yet they knew better. Over the years, many 'up and comers' had imagined making a rep for themselves by dethroning the likes of Joker. Muscling in with bravado and maybe their own gang. Their messy executions had been an example to the rest of Gotham. Some of them had even had powers.
So as alarming as the wrongness of this new version of the Joker was, they stayed put.
"Now," went on the Clown Prince of Crime, "I know what people are saying about me, but don't you worry, all I need from you is to kill some people. Not to worry, I'm not so insane as to expect you to kill some certain pirates for me. Just help me get some other prizes to pull that off, and the lot of you will be well rewarded. How's it sound?"
"Uh, sure boss."
"'Course we're in!"
"Great to hear it! Don't you worry, lads! Soon you'll have all the violence you can stomach. And then some more!
"First though, we've got to make a stop to see a certain doctor . . ."
With a rumble, Franky pulled their transforming truck into an alleyway a few blocks from their objective.
They were in one of those seemingly unavoidable parts of all the big cities, where it was nothing but streets of warehouses for as far as the eye could see. Many of them seemed empty even.
"Alrighty, everybody out!"
"Does this mean we finally get to find out what we're doing here?" asked King sullenly as he exited.
"Sorry, kiddo," said Franky. "Yeah it sucks, but this is also to see how you improvise! Super important."
"We gonna wear disguises?" said Jack.
Queen elbowed him. "Idiot. If they get a look at Franky, everyone'll know who we are anyways."
"Yup," grinned the cyborg.
Sanji gave a look at Clayface, the only other member of the Deckhands present besides the Royal Flush Squad. With a nod, the large figure shifted to look like a regular Human in a distinct uniform. "Alright, follow my lead."
After a moment of hesitation, the newbies followed after the figure as he stalked off.
"Wait," went Ten, "you're in charge?"
"Heh, more like Nami can't be bothered to teach you." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the third and last Straw Hat present. "Plus, you really don't want to be dependent upon them."
They walked down the alleyway between depilated warehouse buildings, before Clayface got cautious. Peering around a corner, he spotted something. "Okay, we got video cameras now. And . . ." he pulled out a device to wave it a little. "Yep, thermal sensors. What do you do?"
". . . Jack and I can lift these two over?" offered Queen.
"Might be something on the roof," pointed out King.
"So we go slow, and check."
". . . Fine."
A punch of dented trash cans reshaped themselves into a platform for Ten and Queen to rise up on, while Jack stretched to grab the edge of the roof of the neighbouring building, grasping King in his other hand. Clayface did the same with his own arm extending. Carefully they reached the roof, with the shapeshifter extending an eyeball to peer about, and cautiously waving his device. "Clear."
On top though, they discovered that was not quite true. A blocky, modern device they almost missed except for Ten noticing the colour texture was off.
Deftly Queen stripped away the metal cover. "What is it? Cameras?"
"Or something," mused Clayface. "Aimed at the sky for people flying over though. We should be good."
Down below, the three Straw Hats barely broke their stride as they passed by. A wave of Nami's baton, and they were invisible, and Sanji held onto his companions tight (particularly Nami), and in a burst of speed had them crossing by so fast no alarms were triggered.
"Okay," said Jack, looking down as the trio seemed to blink out of existence. "I get what you're saying."
"Well I don't," said King mulishly, hating to admit it, but having a bad feeling this was something he should definitely know. "Why do they even need us?"
"Because they've got such big jobs going on, and growing heat, they won't always be available to do these sorts of jobs. So they'll, like . . . what's the word?"
"Delegate?" offered Ten, not enjoying the implications.
"Makes sense," nodded Queen. It certainly fit the mentality the military had tried to impose upon them.
"Oh, and seeing how well we can handle ourselves for when we do work together!" declared King.
"Uh huh," nodded Clayface sagely. "That's pretty much it, kids. They hire us Deckhands to cover the angles they can't. Now c'mon, we'll keep to the rooftops a little further."
An hour later
Slowly and gently, Ten pushed through a wall, trying to make as little noise as possible.
Slipping his head and neck past, Jack cocked his ear. "No dice. Somebody's coming by to check it out." No surprise as they were now so close to their actual target.
"Let's vape 'em!" leered King, eager to prove himself while his fist lit up with power. "Finally actual people!" It had been grating at him to keep sneaking around the tightening web of security.
"No. Alive," warned Clayface in a low voice.
"Why?" demanded Ten.
"Don't get me wrong, kid. I've killed before, and I'll do it again. Doing it needlessly is how amateurs get caught. So, how're you going to handle this?"
Scowl plastered over his face, Ten stomped up to the corner, and waited. Half a minute later, someone started to come around, only for him to grab the man by the shirt and yank him around to slam into the wall beside him. Metal snapped out to bind the guy's arms and legs, a rubbery hand covered his mouth, and a glowing hand was held ominously before his face.
Deftly Clayface reached over to take the guard's earpiece. "Let go of his mouth, I need him to talk."
Darting a quick look at King, even as the heat of plasma made him sweat, the henchman came to a quick decision. "We're to report in every half hour I didn't mention I was going to check out a noise and my call tag is W-3 please don't kill me please!" The Deckhands were duly impressed by what he managed to blurt out in one breath. Jack allowed the man to get some air before covering him up again.
"Right," said Clayface, shifting his body and voice to match their captives. "Now Ten, knock him out without killing him. Practice makes perfect."
Eager and ready, Ten's fist snapped out before the guard's eyes could do more than widen, and he went slack. A quick check confirmed he was still alive, and his skull was probably intact.
"Okay," continued Clayface, "so what do you think we do next?"
". . . You cover us while we break in?" offered Jack, jerking his thumb over his shoulder.
"My turn this time," said King, crossing his arms.
"What? You think you can do better?" scowled Ten.
"Y'know what? Yeah." Holding up one finger, King glared at it before he slowly concentrated his plasma there, and then pressed it against the wall, burning a noiseless hole straight through.
"That works," acknowledged Queen. Ten's expression darkened, yet did not protest.
"Well, what do you think?" asked Franky.
"Eh, got potential," answered Nami.
"Do you think they'll want to come back with us?"
She huffed at the pointless question. "Too soon to tell."
"As right as ever," praised Sanji, flicking away a used cigarette. "But it would truly be a shame if Queen didn't come back with us. She could do so much with us!"
Obviously they could leave the other three behind.
His magnificent goddess gave a lovely sound he knew meant exasperation for anyone else but him. Meanwhile the cyborg barked out a laugh. "You got a point, bro! Be perfect for disarming the rank and file, and depending on whether it works despite haki, she could disarm even the likes of Kaidou or Big Mom!"
"Assuming she could remain standing in their presence," warned Nami.
A tragic point. Although if she swooned, Sanji would be there to catch her.
Unfortunately, the chef was uncomfortably aware that most of the ladies might not be going back with them.
Volcana would not risk Maureen, and bringing a child to Wano was risky. Especially how awful they feared things had gone there. As strong as their Mink, samurai, and ninja allies were, without the Straw Hats, without Luffy, the raid on Onigashima had most likely ended in disaster.
None of the Straw Hats talked about how bad it could be there. They all remembered what had happened to Zou when they had defied the Beast Pirates.
Cheetah might be intrigued enough to go, except she had also originally said her dream was to find a cure for her condition. A regular civilian would be in significant danger in the New World, and protecting her would not be easy.
As for Harley and Ivy . . .
The problem was . . .
Releasing a long sigh, Sanji lit up a fresh cigarette as he contemplated a terrible possibility.
The problem was that as brilliant, beautiful, and fearsome as Harley was, he wondered how much of that was her being the sort of person she believed the Straw Hats wanted her to be. Becoming a pirate because that was what her protectors were, and not because it was something she was genuinely interested in.
Even worse, he was not sure it was a conscious choice either.
He did not know enough about her history, and it was never a gentleman's place to pry, but he would bet a soufflé that this was a survival mechanism she had developed under Joker's unforgivable abuse.
Knowing what he did now, Sanji would have only started with disfiguring that man's face, and then moved on to crippling his ability to walk!
Although speaking of her past . . .
How much of her re-finding her psychologist roots is because of her generous, womanly heart, being truly remorseful for what she has done, and how much of it is because she is afraid of how we might judge her for the many lives she's taken or ruined before we found her? Seeking a form of redemption to avoid our disappointment?
Not that the Straw Hats were given to holding a grudge, or judge someone for their past after Luffy's approval. There was no point.
Just look at Robin-chan for instance, who had done many . . . questionable things before, and yet showed her angelic side when they had met her! Surely it would be the same with Harley, in that she and the Straw Hats merely needed to spend more time together, right?
Although Harley's recovery was incomplete as well. As confident as she had been to generously start providing that therapy to others, particularly those who had been under the control of abusive men themselves, she had relapsed after learning Joker was after them. Unable to accept that he would still hurt her again.
Of course, he knew she would get better. All the passion she unleashed during their training was proof of her spirit. For when she fought, it was with a wildness and violence that they did not see elsewhere. She was a fighter! Someone who would never again lay down and take a beating, striking out at the whole world if necessary! So that was all good.
As for Poison Ivy, she was, like all women, beautiful as she was mysterious.
For some reason Sanji could not fathom, she seemed to be drawing away from the Straw Hats of late. Except for Luffy, Luffy being Luffy after all, and Usopp, who she did her plants with.
Given the, well, awkwardness of their first meeting with her, Robin had done some of her usual diligent research in the brief window before Luffy had accepted Ivy, and passed it on to the rest. The nature of her past crimes had changed like the seasons, as she had begun as an eco-terrorist, only to later become more interested in robbing and dominating men so she was treated as a queen.
Such a woman would be unsatisfied with the savage lifestyle of the New World, especially due to how the salty seas would limit her power.
Maybe she had already realised this for herself, and that was why she was distancing herself from Sanji and the others! It was because she did not want to break her heart when she was forced to say good-bye to her chef and knight! Why she was not interested in talking more about different sorts of edible plants and herbs!
Yes! Sanji would have to—
Nami slapped Sanji over the head, having caught how he was starting to blush and pant once more. "Focus, Sanji!"
Like royalty the Straw Hats marched into the innermost room of the warehouse.
The remnants of the guards were lying about unconscious, while the Deckhand and four potentials were standing proudly before a safe. King was already at work, carefully burning his way through the hinges and bolt, while Clayface shifted his appearance (that of a different guard than before now) back to his usual form.
As the door popped off, Queen made a show of gesturing as she caught it with her power, and spun the combination wheel until what remained of the lock bar popped out on its own. Furthermore, she levitated out the metal case which was the only thing inside.
"What is it?" asked King in confusion.
"Pro-tip, kid," said Clayface, "don't ask stuff like that."
"It's okay," reassured Nami. Goodness, she was not that strict.
The mountain of clay shrugged. "It's a good habit to remember."
Letting that pass, she said to Queen, "Open it."
Green light blossomed as the lead covering peeled away.
"Kryptonite," whispered Clayface, the word carrying across the suddenly silent room.
"A little something Intergang acquired to try and make a name for themselves again," said Nami, softly yet unyielding. Honestly, it had been sheer coincidence which had led Robin to uncovering this particular secret; most of the general public was ignorant of the specifics of this weakness of Superman's. Now however, the Justice League was becoming a problem, so they would prepare as necessary. While her crew had kept quiet for ages, the sheer fact was that they were becoming too visible. Moreover, even she was straining at their self-imposed leash. They were meant to be free!
Hiding in the shadows was always something they could only manage for so long.
So yes, they would use the local equivalent of seastone if that was what it took to win. They were pirates after all. 'Sides, using it would actually end fights with less property damage or hurting the man, so win-win for both sides, right?
Truthfully, Luffy had not been happy about it. For all that he was a pirate, he disliked boring fights, or disrespecting those he liked —or who gave him food, which . . . same difference— and that included Superman. However, her Captain had been the first to acknowledge that handling him quickly like this would mean less danger to people the alien had sworn to protect, so it worked out.
She took it in her hand, turning the glowing rock over as she studied it. So very fascinating. Maybe worth bringing back with them to sell just for the novelty value.
The hairs on her spine rose just as she realised she had dropped her guard. They had dropped their guard.
Crates on the far side of the otherwise abandoned warehouse erupted in explosions, unleashing a wall of fire and noise which tossed everybody aside.
Rolling with the impact, Nami came up while stuffing her hand down her shirt. The kryptonite abandoned in favour of her familiar Clima-Tact.
Left shoulder and leg having light burns. Half dozen or so cuts, only shallow, she assessed, even as she popped out Zeus to fight, the cloud going overhead.
One wall gone, and two more shattered, the roof collapsed down upon them, only for Franky and Ten to grab the burden, and heave it aside.
Bombs. Timer attached to an alarm they missed, or a trap?
Sanji was tense, and his coat visibly scorched. Instead of checking on her or Queen, he was focused on the raging fire where the explosives had been.
Idly Sanji reached into his pocket for a fresh cigarette, taking his time in lighting it.
In a flick of her weapon, Nami disappeared, leaving behind an illusion.
Franky began tapping his nose to cycle through hair styles.
Unseen, Nami began helping King stand, while Ten stepped forward like a good little tank. Glowering, Clayface created a blade out of one hand, and a maul out of the other. Queen covered herself in metal from the safe, and stood up by either her muscles, or moving the armour with her mind.
"Oh wow!" said Zeus. "What's happening here, Nami?"
"Shush," she hissed, and he obediently buttoned up.
Belatedly she remembered to activate their emergency GPS alert, even if they were too far away for the others to get here in time. Still, it was one of the few perks of this world to have available.
Finally their ambushers made their appearance, striding arrogantly through the flames.
It took her a moment to recognize any of the mob, and she knew they might be in for a fight after all. Dang it Luffy! Of all the times to be too stuffed to help!
In the lead was a hunchbacked figure, top-heavy build like Franky, and vaguely cat-like features with wild hair. A wide grin split his face, showing all teeth.
"Savour your fear, mortals! For I, Kalibak, shall bring you to bow before mighty Darkseid as his slaves!"
"Whoo," puffed out Flash, plopping down onto his seat at the cafeteria.
"I know," nodded Green Lantern, taking a seat himself. "Feel's better, don't it?"
"Yeah," said the speedster a little awkwardly.
"Enforced down time does feel weird," agreed Hawkgirl, coming to join them. "But it's for the best."
Before his friends could get worried, Flash straightened up, and started gobbling down the food he had brought with him. His friends did the same, if at a more sedate pace. Say what you will about Bats, he kept a well-stocked kitchen. Sure, most of it was frozen and pre-cooked, yet still tasty. At a guess, it was the sort of stuff rich people could afford when not paying for space stations, and their cooks were on holiday. Not that he had any idea who the guy was. Although he had joked once that Bats was a vampire with long-term investments.
Dude had not been impressed, or at least that was Flash's interpretation of the glare he had been given.
Maybe he should start categorising them?
Nah, he had better use of his time. Like eating and impressing the ladies.
Hmm . . .
As conflicted as he was thinking about Luffy, the guy really had hot babes hanging around him. Now, Flash was not the type to say the bodacious Nico Robin could break him and he would thank her, not even in jest before seeing her while insane, but she was a whole lot closer to that than anyone else. Because, yeah, wow, ten out of ten. However, that said, another thing he and Luffy had in common was their love of food. Which could get expensive. And also noteworthy, as he knew from personal experience. The Flash got life-(and wallet)-saver discounts thanks to the generous people of Central City, and ate massive amounts of food without anybody batting an eye. In contrast, if he went as Wally West, then eating a full-course meal and treating it as an appetiser would gain all sorts of unwanted attention.
So if Luffy ate like him, how were the pirates getting enough grub? Something to mention to Bats maybe?
Further thoughts were cut off as his two companions started talking again.
"It'll do you good to get back in the action," Hawkgirl assured Flash. "I do hope you made sure to properly use your vacation time," she added with a foreboding look.
"I did, I did!"
"Good. Just like when exercising, you can't overstrain yourself. And when it's just the eight of us, it'll be hard giving you time off if you didn't rest when you were supposed to."
"Especially since some of us have lives beyond the suit," added John, shooting a look at Hawkgirl, who like him did not really have a civilian identity.
"Right," she agreed tersely.
"Hey, hey, I need to keep up the secret ID," said Flash. "It's a shame you never wore a mask, GL, because let me tell you, the ladies love a man of mystery."
"Sure they do," said John back lightly, while Hawkgirl gave the younger man a shove to the shoulder. The speedster allowed it with a chuckle, which was reassuring, but his teammates could not shake the impression that sense of cheer was mostly false.
"But yeah, you've got a point. Of course, you could just drop this whole training exercise. Or, y'know, do less than we've got scheduled. I mean, we've done pretty well so far."
In response, John just leaned back in his seat. "Look, Hotshot, we're a team, and a darn good team. We've accomplished a lot together. But just imagine what we'll be capable of once we put some more work into teamwork, and pushing our limits. I mean, look at what you accomplished against the Injustice League. No!" A raised finger emphasised him cutting off Flash. "You did what you were supposed to do there. What happened was on Joker, not you. And you still took down two major-league supervillains without breaking a sweat. That whole posse of them could have been a major global threat, and we still handled them. And I'll bet next time we'll do something like that even better."
Suddenly looking irritable, Hawkgirl bit out, "How likely is that to happen? As much as it seems an obvious idea for them, they're not really suited for it."
What's her problem? John growled to himself. "We can't risk assuming otherwise!" he snapped back. "Especially if they can hold it together long enough for innocent people to get hurt!"
"Yeah, but what about the Straw Hats?" cut in Flash grimly. "What?" he said at their expressions. "Nobody 'cept Bats really wants to talk about it, but we gotta! Mr. Sword Lover gave Supes his toughest fight since ever! Do you really think some trust falls for teamwork are gonna cut it?"
Instead of getting angry, John just snorted in amusement. "Just wait and see what we've got planned," he promised. Even just the basics should show enough improvement to make Flash get the message.
Time to pull out the big guns, as much as it hurt personally.
"And then there's how badly we all messed up during the War," he continued, which got the speedster to flinch and look away. Even with the mask on, he screamed a confused mixture of guilt and anger.
"We were thrown into a no-win situation," said John sternly, pointing his fork at his friend for emphasis despite considering it rude. "Or at least not the wins we're used to, where it's over if we can just punch the right guy, and stop the doomsday weapon. No black and white, just a mess of shades of grey. We were left with choosing from the least awful of bad choices, and frankly I'm still having trouble sleeping over what we had to do. So we've got to do better if we want to keep something like that from ever happening. Working on our teamwork's only the first step in that."
As he spoke, startled at the mention of sleep, Flash turned to awkwardly regard his friend. ". . . You're having trouble sleeping?"
To the surprise of both men, Hawkgirl laid a gentle hand on Flash's upper arm. "Yes. You're still having nightmares too, aren't you?" she said not unkindly.
". . . Yeah. I mean, I've had them before with this gig, but . . ."
Briefly, John considered the benefits of getting a therapist for the heroes, before dismissing it. Personally he had little faith in shrinks, and figured the same was true for the rest. Plus they all had too many secrets to risk getting out.
"My point," he said sternly, refusing to let them sidetrack him, "is that now we've got a better idea of what we're up against, and can prepare for it. Like you said, we've always pulled through before, and we'll do so again. But that doesn't mean we can afford to underestimate the villains, or not do our very best."
Because as traumatic as the whole ordeal had been, it had provided an immense amount of intelligence about the Straw Hats, including information the pirates had no way of knowing the heroes had.
For starters, the discovery the Straw Hats had come here by some sort of portal against their will, helped Batman start to find a pattern in the sort of thefts being done which actually mattered, and likely building a spaceship was not the plan. Planetary scans had already been done to look for the sort of energy signatures which would indicate someone was trying to create an interplanetary transporter, yet nothing had been found. Yet. Regardless, Batman was likely right that whatever they were developing was carefully shielded.
Although given what the Straw Hats had implied about their homeworld, and assuming they were being truthful, John was fully on board with Batman's caution about contacting that place. Not originally, for sure, but certainly after getting a better idea of what those pirates were capable of, and the chilling nature of those scars Luffy and Zoro wore. The sheer implications of how wherever they came from, there were people there able to nearly kill them, was frankly unnerving.
There was the option of trying to contact the pirates and finding a way to help them leave, only to be dismissed. Putting aside the issue of having to prove their sincerity, it was wrong for them to help criminals like that, letting them off scott-free without answering for their crimes. When they had come here, there had always been the option of reaching out for help, especially with the very public examples of Superman having done so in the past. Instead they had chosen to engage in theft and assault across the country, maybe the whole world, on a scale they were still trying to unravel.
"Yeah. Yeah you're right!" John perked up as he heard enthusiasm which sounded like the regular deal from Hotshot.
"We'll stop them from hurting other people, and make sure they don't have to worry about Luffy dying at all," said Flash, a familiar smirk on his face. "After that, we'll be able to help them get home, and after that I'll bet we can start to figure things out more. Who knows? Given what Supes told us from the mall, maybe we'll end up helping them solve what else is going on there. Wouldn't be the first time we've done that!"
Unreal, thought John with disbelief, and he could see the shock on Hawkgirl's face as well. That said . . .
"First things first though," he said back, trying to sound stern and knowing he was failing.
"I know, I know. Let me take another look at that training plan after I've eaten."
In a red blur Flash's tray was so empty you could think it had never been used.
Chuckling John dug into his food, glad to have his friend back, while Hawkgirl just grinned as she did the same.
Yes, the Justice League would get through this, just like every other time.
This sort of nonsense right here was precisely why the Straw Hats wanted to get back home to their nice normal life in the New World.
Not enough they had to deal with 'heroes' and 'villains,' now they had to deal with aliens too?
Okay, so the blue and red pervert was tolerable, and Sanji really wanted to meet this Maxima chick he had heard about; surely those stories about her wanting a man to beat her up to marry her were scandalous, gross exaggerations. Outright lies even. Because hmmmm someone like that from beyond the heavens was truly an angel, and someone he would—
"Now, bow down before your gods!" roared the ugly one.
Ah. Right. The examples of the annoying aliens. Even worse, the world conquering type. Who did not even have the decency to include any ladies amongst their number.
Wait . . . did they say . . . ?
"Did you say gods?" demanded Nami incredulously. Well, not really her. He knew she had created an illusion, and was likely standing behind it to help sell the act.
"We are the New Gods of Apokolips!" sneered ugly, whose name Sanji was deliberately ignoring. Also, sweet Robin-chan would be upset that her notes were missing a detail like that.
"Pass," grinned Franky.
Nami-swan said nothing, but he could guess her illusion made some sort of beautiful gesture with her hair and/or face to make clear her contempt.
"Well," said Sanji lightly, "how about a compromise? If you guys perform well enough, maybe we'll let this Darkseid serve us. How's that sound?"
The aliens froze.
Oh, wow. That stunned disbelief was almost worth a picture, even if it was of men, as they all, even those fanged, winged creatures behind them, just stared in shocked disbelief.
"Ha ha ha ha! Man that's good!" laughed Jack. "You just told off Kalibak like that!"
"This is no joke!" scoffed Queen.
"Yeah, well, Parademons are something we were trained to fight," said King, fist lighting up.
"I call Kalibak!" leered Ten, which made sense, given how the alien had supposedly given even Superman a tough fight.
Although, using his haki to compare the two, Sanji figured there was more to it than that. Granted, the 'sound' and 'colour' of someone else's haki did not provide a guaranteed comparison of who was more powerful, and certainly not who would win if they fought, yet there had certainly been far more to Superman than this guy.
For all that anyone other than the Straw Hats were incapable of using said haki.
"Not today, kid," said Franky cheerily. "Not for your first fight with us."
"YOU DARE!?" raged ugly. "YOUR SCREAMS WILL SOOTH GREAT DARKSEID TO SLEEP AS YOU BEG FOR—"
Lasers blazed out of the knuckles of Franky's metal hand, shooting the guy in the face.
"Boring conversation anyway," grinned the cyborg.
"RAAAAAGH!" Ugly screamed back, hurt and surprised, yet unharmed, before charging in.
"Did you do that just to get a movie quote in?" deadpanned Sanji.
"How often do I get the chance to say a Han Solo line?"
Flames engulfed Sanji's forelegs, as he silently conceded the point. The bulk of his attention however was on the big one in green also charging in the lead, and possibly stronger than ugly, and moved to meet him halfway. "Flanchet Strike!" he yelled as he kicked.
A muscular arm blocked the strike, and successfully braced against the impact. "Foolish!" he cried back, in a booming, gravelly voice.
Observation Haki flickered, and Sanji retreated just as lightning crackled over the arm, a few tendrils still licking at him.
"Here is where my greatness shall be revealed! Where I shall prove my worth to the mighty Darkseid with your broken body! Bow before the power of Mantis!"
"A pirate bows to no one," said Sanji. "Also, you guys are really obsessed with doing that. Is that what Darky has you do while you're licking his boots?"
"HAAAAH!" The alien charged forward with a palm-strike, hand visibly charged with electricity.
Ducking under, Sanji spun around for a back kick. "Bien Cuit: Grill Shot!"
Unfortunately his target shifted at the last moment, and was only nicked, but a grill-shaped fire still erupted over his torso.
A backhand fist sent Sanji flying back into rubble.
Shaking his head, he opened his eyes just in time to be hit by a bolt of lightning.
On reflex he shoved his spasming body aside, dodging a follow-up shot.
Not as bad as Niji, he told himself, already shaking it off. But he didn't even flinch from that. Also not even a singe on his suit.
"Bow down before your better, Human!" boasted Mantis—and yeah, unlike Ugly, Sanji might actually use his name.
Huffing, Sanji just pulled out another cigarette, bemoaning how many he had gone through already. Predictably, the act infuriated Mantis into making another shot of lightning, allowing him to assess it further, noting how it stayed concentrated in the hands.
Soooo . . .
Dodging, Sanji closed in to engage once more, dodging around another shot, before jumping and swerving up to kick Mantis in the neck. "Collier Strike!"
This time the 'god' went flying, carving a trench through the ground before hitting a wall, scattering dead Intergang members as he went. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Mantis was already getting up.
Taking to the air, Sanji spun and came down heel first to the guy's head even as he rose. "Concassé!" The blow flattened Mantis to the ground.
A hand snaked out to grab Sanji's heel as he touched down, shocking him, yet he was released as the fires on his legs overwhelmed even Mantis' pain tolerance. However it remained enough of a distraction for the massive figure to come up and head-butt Sanji in the gut. Pouncing, the Apokoliptian connected with another palm strike, then briefly pausing to gather electricity to it for a second.
It was still enough for Sanji to recover, and kick him in the stomach. "Flanchet Strike!"
Mantis tumbled back, only to roll with it and come back up on his feet.
With a huff, Sanji acknowledged this would not be easy.
Back at their base, Zoro's eyes popped open from his turkey and sake-induced nap, and he frowned.
"So help me, if Curlybrow's actually getting a proper fight while I'm here . . ."
Roaring, Kali charged straight through Franky's laser fire to tackle him right out of the warehouse, breaking down the wall as he went.
Grunting, Franky grabbed the small figure and hoisted him up even as he fell. "Franky Southland Suplex!" Not letting go even as he slammed his victim's head into the ground, he twisted to throw him away.
Unfortunately, Kali was heavier than he looked, and by the time Franky was back on his own feet, the little guy was back and too close for guns. "Strong Hammer!"
The hit staggered Kali, but he moved with it, and clubbed Franky in turn with his mace. The cyborg raised his left arm to block it, only to step away at the distinct sound of metal crumpling. Concerned, he chanced a quick glance to note a small dent in his thick arm. Okay, this was no joke.
Looking back, Kali had a sneer plastered over his feline face. "Now you—"
Making some space would not be an option, so he had to restrain the glorified trespasser in turn, and do something about that weapon. Leveraging his greater size, Franky engulfed his metal hands over Kali's whole arms, trying to pin him down. Little guy's legs were not a concern.
Grunting, Franky struggled to keep him in place as he fought a contest of strength. "I dare!? What about you, huh!? What're you doing, setting off a bomb like that to kill all those people to get to us!?"
"Bah! Are all those on this planet so naïve? On Apokolips we are taught even as children, that no one is innocent. And those pathetic worms too weak to get away were scum even by this planet's mewling standards. Someone like you must know that life breeds death. Anything that lives must kill something to survive," sparks began to fly up and down Franky's arms as the strain grew, "and I am a survivor."
In that, Franky caught the important bit of how familiar Kalibak was with the Intergang members here. "So you were baiting us to be here from the start," he noted, gritting his teeth against the growing physical pressure.
With increasing desperation Franky tried to force his will, his ambition, into his arms to reinforce them, yet if it was doing anything, it was not enough.
"Franky Fireball!" the flames spat in Kali's face did not seem to hurt him, yet the surprise did let Franky disengage. Hatches opened on his shoulders "Franky Cannon!" The more powerful lasers peppered his foe, making him grimace in pain. It was a distraction though as Franky sucked in air to his left hand, calculating that the damage would not be an issue for those mechanisms.
Kali braced himself, and surged forward just as Franky raised his hand into his ugly face.
"Coup de Vent!"
A hurricane erupted into the Apokoliptian's face, sending him flying back and through another warehouse. Or two?
Now, technically this would be a good time to practise his Observation Haki a bit more, but instead he chose to activate his new heat vision and x-ray sensors. And yep, guy was getting back up. Franky checked something else on his digital vision.
"Thirty seconds," he said. "Heh, almost feel sorry for him; we're way too Super for this lot."
Honestly, with all that screaming while smiling as he charged out, Kali seemed like he would probably be a good fit for the Beast Pirates. Not that Franky had fought any really.
The sky roared at the 'god' as lightning struck him dead on, making him cry out in pain. However he did not fall, which was impressive for something Nami had had so much time to prepare.
"Radical Left!" said Franky once more, unleashing another devastating bout of laser fire, and honestly it was concerning how it barely seemed to faze someone, when each was as strong as his old Franky Radical Beam. A warning sign lit up, highlighting that the coolant for them had been damaged, so he stopped.
Grinning, Kali sneered. "Do you understand yet, Human?"
A six wheel semi-truck broke through the walls of yet another warehouse, engines belching rocket jets as it rammed the alien head-on.
"Hah!" crowed Franky, glad he had signalled for their ride as soon as the guards had been dealt with earlier. Further updates had established the situation.
Except then the truck stalled as Kali dug his feet in. Bracing as best as he could with one arm, he brought his mace around to knock the vehicle aside, damaging the chassis.
Without missing a beat, the trailer was disengaged and started reversing on its own even as with shifting metal, Optimus Prime transformed and stood tall. Sheer surprise stalled Kali long enough to allow for this to happen.
"Freedom is the Right of all Sentient Beings!" cried Optimus.
That snapped the alien out of it. "That's a lie!" he roared, leaping up with a two-handed strike of his mace. Metal crumbled beneath the blow, caving in part of the robot's chest.
Even as he fell down, Optimus felt no pain and thus compensated with the motion and blasted Kali in the face, rocking him back.
Meanwhile Franky moved to the trailer. He fell to his knees even as treads for his Franky Tank emerged from his legs, while the jetpack installed in his back shifted to provide horizontal thrust.
He reached the door and was tapping in the passcode even as Optimus fell back with an arm ripped off.
"Tornado Tempo!" yelled Nami as she revealed herself, unleashing her own air attack, throwing aside Kali once more. "Now, Zeus!"
"Right!" called the sentient cloud, dark with thunder and his mistress' wrath.
"Ninpo: Lightning Blast!" she called as she swung her Clima-Tact downward with Zeus following the movement to strike the 'god.'
The explosion of electricity lit up the area, throwing sharp shadows against those already made by all the fire.
"Ha ha! Take that!" crowed Zeus.
Releasing a breath, Nami took a moment to check on the transformer. While she was not a fan of it, it was on their side. Unfortunately it did not look like it would be able to stay in the fight much more. Which went to show how tough their opponent was.
"Oh come on!" snapped Nami at the figure climbing out of a small crater. "You—Ha ha ha ha ha!"
She could not help it!
The alien's hair was all sticking out!
Zeus was laughing alongside her, the thundercloud curled up and crying even.
"You shall suffer for this mockery!" he tried to threaten, but honestly there was no way she was taking him seriously any more. "I will crush you all beneath my heel, and prove my worth to my sire! He shall reward me with another chance to kill Superman!"
"Dude," the trailer walls split open, releasing a cloud of smoke, "you've got no idea who you're messing with."
Yellow eyes glowing, as a massive battle-suit stepped out into the fray.
"But you will come to respect the might of the SUPER General Franky! OW!"
A few minutes ago
The moment that Franky got tackled out, and he saw Sanji rushing at another heavy hitter, Clayface made the executive decision to pull the others out of the burning warehouse.
Shifting his mass, he grabbed King and Jack, and stretched out a limb to the hole they had cut in the wall to get in in the first place, and yanked all of them out. "This way!" he yelled to Ten and Queen. "Cover us!"
While disgruntled, thankfully Ten obeyed. Queen flew by on metal right behind him, putting up shields, while the Parademons started taking potshots at them with their spear-guns. King managed to scatter a few shots back in turn.
Once outside, he told them, "Our job is to take this lot out, and then go back-up the bosses. Capiche?"
"We'll show 'em what we're made of!"
"Have to respect us after this!"
The aliens boiled out of the hole they made, only to run right into plasma and javelins.
"Like fish in a barrel!" crowed King.
"Keep an eye out for flankers," warned Jack as he punched more who were bursting through other parts of the wall.
"Ten, cover the right," said Clayface, splitting them up. Then he split himself.
A copy of Clayface each went to reinforce Ten and Jack, shaping their hands into blades, as they swung extending limbs to hack apart the vermin. It was well accepted that lethal force was perfectly acceptable when dealing with alien invaders. Especially Apokoliptian ones. A third version of himself remained behind with the shooters. It was a risk to divide his biomass so much, yet as much as he hated the responsibility, he needed to keep an eye on things. Anxiously he tried to get his head into gear like when he was playing the role of a soldier or army commander.
This was nuts though! He was an actor playing thief to help get his body back, not fight a war!
Fortunately there were not too many of them compared to what they had hit Metropolis with before.
Queen was starting to use the Parademons' own spears against them, yanking the fallen ones off the ground to then thrust them back.
Ten was laughing as he shrugged off hits, but they were also throwing him off.
Jack was having the most trouble, as the best he could manage was to restrain the Parademons with his elastic limbs, leaving it to Clayface's copy to put them down.
King was firing both hands now, yelling a wordless war-cry.
No cover for any of them though, even if they were funnelling the mindless aliens, and not giving them time to shoot at them.
How long would it last though?
Seeing Franky's trump card at play, Nami was happy to take a step back.
"More of your toys?" mocked Kalibak.
"General Launcher!" boomed the General Franky, unleashing a hail of rocket-propelled grenades.
With a scream of pain and rage, their attacker was buried under fire and shrapnel.
"Good grief," she sighed. How far away would this ruckus be heard?
Then the street collapsed under Kalibak.
Ah, a sewer. He would love that.
Franky held his position even as he drew his oversized blade, and she could tell he was baiting his opponent, as his sensors were giving him a clear picture of what was happening. There was no macho-masochistic respect for a worthy opponent in this fight, only pure pirate.
Sure enough, Kalibak erupted out of the ground, only for the massive General Franky to deftly sidestep with impossible grace, and bring down Franken in a two-handed blow. "V-For-Victory Flash!"
Surprisingly, instead of cutting into Kalibak, it just slammed him into a crater.
"GRAAAH!" went Kalibak as he got back up, swinging his mace wildly, and managing to knock the sword away with what looked like a lucky hit.
Quickly adjusting, the mecha hammered down with its fists, using careful footwork to maximise its greater reach. The alien was doing what he could to try and block and push ahead, but was not getting anywhere.
In fact, thinking back on it more, this guy had really fought without any real technique this whole time. Nor with any of the lethal fluidity or balance so natural to Luffy and the others. All muscle and no brains too, not even trying something like disrupting the ground under the General Franky with those two small, metal legs. Pathetic really.
Although that really did imply a lot about how Kalibak typically fought.
Great, she sighed to herself. It's a, what was that term? Ah, right, a tank fight. Just like Franky's usual.
. . . Yep, definitely just like his usual.
Nami had neither the time nor the patience for it. Twirling her Clima-Tact, she set up her preparations.
Then she saw it. The brief flicker of black on the metal hands. For a moment she thought she was imagining it, only to realise that yes indeed, her friend really was making some progress using his haki in a fight. Awesome!
Sadly, they really could not afford to hang around.
"Thunder Lance Tempo!" she shouted, and a bolt of lightning pierced through Kalibak from the cloud she had formed. Throwing him off for more blows. The General Franky was resistant to electricity, but she should not throw it around too much. So she took a moment to adjust for all the wind the fight was throwing up, and then gave another flick of her staff she played her next card. "Mirage Tempo: Illusion Fairy."
Mirages of Franky surrounded Kalibak, confusing him so much that now he was not even blocking, just taking punch after punch as now Franky pummelled him straight into the ground.
Laser fire pinged against his metal shoulders, making him stop and turn to the latest threat.
A squad of Parademons swooped in, throwing themselves at the General Franky, trying to restrain him, while two more grabbed their leader.
"Oh no you don't!" called Nami, only for Zeus to go, "Nami!"
Turning at his warning, she saw a few more heading for her, so she turned to deal with them first. A few heart attacks later, she turned to see Kalibak being carried away.
"Sorry," said Clayface as he hurried up. "Some got away." She gave him a quick look over, and he seemed fine. So were the kids, except from a few scuffs, and a scratch or three on Jack. "All okay?"
"That was intense!" said King, wide-eyed.
"Insane," nodded Jack.
"Didn't know you guys could be so ruthless," admitted Ten, folding his arms over his chest.
"Why'd you keep yelling your attacks?" blurted out Queen.
Ignoring that, Nami turned back to Franky, and he gave her a thumb's up.
"Is it to be cool?" offered Jack.
"You beat Kalibak," said Ten. "It took Superman to do that last time."
"Ah, I'm sure the pervert was only going easy on him," said Franky. "Now, what about Sanji?"
The whole warehouse was shaking at the ongoing fight, and she could see how flames had engulfed most of it, to the point that it would be hazardous to even go inside. "He'll be fine," she smiled. "His kitchen stove's hotter than that."
Another dozen or three kicks later, and Sanji was frowning.
He was getting the most hits in, and the electricity was never enough to keep him down long, but they still appeared deadlocked because this guy just would not. Go. Down.
Plus while the heat was not a bother, it was getting harder to breathe as the oxygen was consumed.
"Hah hah! Are you shocked? Afraid? We of Apokolips train in the harshest of conditions to ensure we can endure whatever it takes to fulfil the desires of our lord!"
"So you're a slave," noted Sanji.
"He is our god!" frothed Mantis. Once more his hands glowed, yet this time he slammed them down to the ground. A straight, yellow line of electricity traced across the ground before him, and then Mantis bent to heft up the massive rock he had just cut out, chucking it straight at Sanji.
Taking the break in visual contact, Sanji went maximum speed to appear behind his foe. His leg blurred as he delivered a flurry of kicks at such speeds it looked like Luffy's Gatling Gun. "Diable Mouton Shot!"
Mantis rocketed away, yet Sanji used Sky Walk with his other foot to propel after him to keep on striking until he had rammed Mantis straight into his own projectile, pinning him there.
Desperately Mantis wrenched free to spin around with a glowing blue hand. Too close, it struck Sanji head-on, and ice froze over him, cutting off the oxygen to his legs and killing the fires.
Instantly he raised his internal temperature with his passion, considering this paltry in comparison to what Maureen could manage. Even as he broke free though, a panting Mantis unleashed his own barrage of electrical hits, pummeling Sanji into the ground, with rocky rubble digging into his back to make it worse.
Mantis reared back for a two-handed blow, so Sanji used Sky Walk again to shoot out from underneath, narrowly dodging the blow which pulverised the ground into a crater, throwing up dust and ash from the ongoing fire.
. . . and glitter?
Blinking, both men paused to look down to see the piece of kryptonite broken into powder.
Okay, so now Sanji was angry, and he knew it, because something made Mantis take a step back.
"Y'know, a part of me was actually grateful for this fight. Sure, we've all been training like crazy, but it's only with actually strong opponents that we can experience real growth. So thanks for that."
Stunned, Mantis could only gape before his face darkened at the sheer insult of him helping an enemy.
"But you just wasted my afternoon, and this is taking too long."
Plus, this guy really is strong. Maybe not up there with Superman, but a good test for outside of sparring with the rest and Mosshead.
Reaching inside his suit, he pulled out a lighter, but not his regular one. This was twice as long, and the cover was silver with a rose engraved on it.
Smirking at Mantis, he flicked it open and hit the striker.
"Hey, Franky, you got a minute?"
"Ugh," groaned the cyborg, plunking his head down on his desk. "Please interrupt me. My brain's getting clogged up." Strewn before him was a bunch of heavy writings and formulas which made no sense to Sanji, but then his job was the art and science of cooking and baking, not making interdimensional portals.
Grabbing a massive barrel of the cola they were now producing locally, Franky chugged it back. "So what's on your mind?"
Grimacing, Sanji dug out and slammed down the offensive canister.
A beat of silence, and Franky's jaw dropped. "Is that . . .?"
"Yeah, Germa's little Raid Suit. I threw away my pride to use it once, but if we're stuck here, I was wondering if you could take out all the offensive stuff. Make it clear I'm not a part of them."
After all, if they were stuck here, they might as well try and get some silver linings out of this place.
In particular, Sanji was thinking of a little something they had started up with a certain fellow blonde, who he was very glad to know.
"Well now!" lit up Franky's eyes. "Hand it on over! I'd love the chance to look over such advanced tech!"
"Pretty sure they said Vegapunk used to work with them," noted Sanji.
"What!? Why didn't yah say so sooner!? That's pretty SUPER!"
"No it's not," said Sanji. "Caesar did too."
"Well I'm sure Vegapunk had nothing to do with the bad stuff," said Franky, except he was already distracted looking over his prize.
. . .
Of course it would not be so easy.
For starters, half the thing was safeguards against anyone non-Vinsmoke, or non-former Vinsmoke, from accessing it. Sanji had to keep his hand on it the whole time, while Franky looked over what he could with his various tools and instruments. Even some from Earth.
If anything though, Franky was more intrigued than frustrated, so Sanji kept his impatience in check.
"Honestly," mused Franky stroking his chin, "This is some Super complicated stuff. More than I even found left behind by Vegapunk. I'd say we can probably modify it, but only because they allowed for that in the suit itself, probably for future upgrades or something. Not sure I'd be able to duplicate it. Also, we're going to need you to wear the suit."
"Just let me get Chopper and Usopp first, they'll want a look-see too."
. . .
Currently the chef was trying to remember how he had ended up laying down on an examination table, Stealth Black get-up on, and an unnerving number of instruments aimed or strapped to him.
"This is so fascinating!" gushed Chopper. "The way it just interfaces with your body!"
"Interfaces," he repeated.
"Well yeah, how else do you think it turns your hair and skin invisible?" pointed out Usopp.
"Or keep you from hurting yourself if you're making kicks stronger than what you could regularly manage," added Franky.
"Exactly!" said Chopper.
The heart rate monitor was beeping a little faster now, yet the chef was reassured by how calmly his friends were handling it. No matter how much they were being dorks about this, ultimately they cared for—
"Wait!" snapped out Chopper, peering closer at whatever was on his screen. "This is . . . SANJI TAKE IT OFF!"
Keyed up already, Sanji exploded into action and tore his way out of the suit and threw it across the room.
"WHAT IS IT!?" he yelled.
"WOW! WHAT'S HAPPENING!?" cried Usopp.
"OW!" boomed Franky, coming to read over Chopper's shoulder in concern.
"Hey, what's all the racket?"
It was then and there Sanji truly knew the universe hated him, as Mosshead opened the door to come in.
The stupid swordsman lazily took in the sight of the chef standing naked, sweating and panting upon the examination table, and raised an eyebrow before his stupid face shifted into a sneer.
Biting off whatever he was about to say, Mosshead turned to Chopper who shook his head. "Not the time. This is serious."
At that, the swordsman's hand drifted to his hilts. "What do you need me to do?"
"Just tell the others we need some privacy."
"Right." Without another word he turned and left.
Coughing into his fist, Usopp passed Sanji his shirt to provide at least some cover. "Sooo, what's the matter?"
"That thing was starting to change Sanji!"
He was not entirely sure what happened next . . .
. . . Fire and screaming and vision going red . . .
. . . But the next thing he remembers clearly is waking up on the table with a blanket on, a little achy. As soon as he was awake, his friends apologised profusely for pinning him down and sedating him when in the midst of a panic attack he had tried to burn down the whole room in his need to incinerate the suit.
With all due humility, the sheer fact they were able to pin him down proved how bad it was.
Also a relief that Mosshead was not there to see it. Probably lecture him about how this meant he would be useless if it had happened during their intended raid on Onigashima, but as if Sanji would let himself get that bad in a life and death battle!
"Why aren't there any ladies to see me when I wake up!?"
"Because we still don't have more than a shirt to cover you," deadpanned Usopp, satisfied that their chef was healthy again. So being the generous soul he was, he passed over to their patient his lighter and a cigarette, which he desperately lit up.
"Sanji," said Chopper seriously, hopping up in his Brain Point form to sit beside his nakama, "do you know what it was trying to do?"
". . . Those monsters I was born with, they were all altered to have enhanced strength, durability, and healing factors, all at the expense of having hearts of ice. Unable to feel emotions or care about others. Only Reiju and I were different, and in my case, it's because my mother crippled herself by taking a drug to leave me a regular Human. That suit . . . was trying to make me the same as them, wasn't it?"
Sighing, Chopper shook his head. "I can't confirm it, but something was happening. Trying to synchronise with your cells, and maybe to undo whatever your mother accomplished. If they knew what chemical was used to do it in the first place, they could've figured it out at some point. However, it's too complex for me to tell you for sure, and you'd have to wear it longer for me to know."
"Yeah, that sounds like them. So we're going to destroy it then," concluded Sanji flatly, starting to lever himself off the table.
"Now hold on there," said Franky, a metal hand resting lightly on Sanji's shoulder. "Remember why you originally came to me?"
It takes a second for him to figure it out. "You can take that out?"
"Sure can! It'll take a little work, but we can fix it up so it'll only do what you want it to do! How's that sound?"
He could feel his smile stretching his face until it was probably a bit feral, but could not bring himself to care in the least.
"It sounds like an excellent way to stick it to my former family."
The rainbow fire poured over Sanji's arm and then raced across his body as the nanotech got to work, and when it was gone, he was revealed clad in the combat uniform of a true white knight:
A formal black tuxedo.
Six gold buttons reaching up from the lower part of the coat, crisp white gloves to match his shirt and tie. Clipped to his shoulders with similar buttons hung a black cape with a red interior. Completing it was a white mask over his eyes. The shoes were the only part he was conflicted with, as an unfortunate compromise in favour of functionality, they retained the jet exhaust nozzles from the original design.
"Gentleman Mask!" declared Sanji.
"Is that supposed to impress?" snarled Mantis. "So you're dressed up as some sort of hero, what of it?"
"How easy you forget," said Sanji coldly. "I'm not a hero."
Flames burned bright around his leg before shifting into a bright blue as the temperature erupted.
"I'm a pirate."
"That is nothing compared to the heat and torment we prove ourselves against upon Apokolips!" spat Mantis, yet his nervousness showed.
"Ifrit Jambe," he declared.
Mantis blinked and his enemy disappeared.
Blurring towards him at absurd speeds.
A burning foot crushed into the back Mantis' neck from above.
Moving with the recoil to add momentum, Sanji came about to bring his other leg up to his opponent's left shoulder.
A kick to the right shoulder now, dislocating it too. Distantly Mantis calculated this strike was stronger than the last.
"Jumeau a Bifteck!"
Three side-kicks to the torso, pummeling where kidneys would be on a Human.
A second trio of kicks, now to the heart and lungs.
Three to the gut.
Dropping to a handstand and spinning, a third series of three strikes to the groin and lower body.
Still spinning and the same from another angle.
Once more to crush the lower torso to mush.
Mantis was a veteran of countless battles of life and death upon Apokolips. Had fought against New Genesis in the height of their wars. And never had he heard of such speed. He was left absolutely helpless against the onslaught.
His body betrayed him as it was paralyzed by the sheer weight of the blows, even as words beyond his understanding were yelled in his ears.
It was almost a mercy when his blurring vision saw the final strike coming down towards him.
Hopefully it would kill him.
Blazing with passion, Sanji unleashed a burning kick to the centre of the so-called 'god's' body to blow him away in a spiralling explosion which took him through the sole remaining wall of the warehouse, making the rest of it collapse around him.
Unphased, and sensing the rest of the fighting around him was over, he sauntered through flames and smoke.
A part of him was ashamed that he still needed this suit to achieve this level, but only a small part. The rest of him accepted it as a level he still needed to achieve on his own, and the need to maintain his own training.
Even with what was removed, like that precious invisibility, the suit enhanced his strength, and was redesigned with his actual fighting style in mind, including helping his legs sustain extreme heat, especially when combined with his Armament Haki.
It was just unfortunate that Franky and Usopp had yet to figure out how to copy the material so someone unrelated to his 'family' could use it.
Emerging from the crumbling building, and no stranger to the importance of drama, he tapped one of the buttons on his suit, and the whole thing retracted back into its container.
Nami looked happy to see him, and Queen looked suitably impressed by his grand display. Oh, and the rest too he guessed.
"W-was that on purpose?" stammered out King.
He made a point of looking at where Mantis had hit Kalibak, scattering the remaining Parademons like bowling pins.
Which, yes, was totally a game they should introduce to the samurai. Wano would probably love it.
"Sure. Couldn't have that guy go flying off into the distance. Be a pain to find him again, and who knows who he'd hit?"
Okay, so it had only somewhat been on purpose. Just readjusting his aim at the last second when he realised Kalibak was being taken away, and Mantis was so punch-drunk he felt safe to expand his attention more.
With a graceful wave of her staff, Nami formed clouds overhead to rain down upon the fire.
"Hey, hey! Careful with that!" called Franky, as he moved Optimus into his own trailer. "I don't want him getting wet!"
"Don't you mean, 'it?'" she called back.
"I said what I said, and he did great!"
"Wait," said Jack, stretching a hand up to form a makeshift umbrella. "It's a person now?"
"Nah. Still did great though."
A rumbling noise and flash of light was their only warning before Kalibak and Mantis disappeared into a white tunnel out of nowhere.
"Boomtube," said Queen grimly.
"No matter," said Clayface knowingly. "If they come back, they'll get what's coming to them."
With that settled, Nami took a moment to type in the agreed upon 'all clear' code for their nakama back at the base. Robin texted back a short note to say she was glad they were okay.
"Franky," she said, "will the trailer be able to drive us home?"
"Should do," he said, popping out of the General Franky. "But got to play it careful if we don't want to be seen. Best get moving now."
"Hey, uh, Franky?" said Ten awkwardly.
"Uhm, mind teaching me some of that boxing later?"
"Sure thing! Full marks by the way, you're all officially Deckhands!" He held up a massive metal hand to forestall their reactions. "But we'll celebrate later. For now we need to see how well we can pack everybody in. Sanji, you might need to run alongside us or somethin.'"
"So long as the ladies are comfortable."
"Wait, what about the kryptonite?"
"Mantis broke it."
"Sorry, Nami-swan! But I broke his bones for you!"
It was with a sombre mood that Green Lantern arrived overhead, taking in the devastation below.
Shining Knight pulled up alongside him, his steed Winged Victory, easily keeping pace.
"We're too late," said Green Lantern.
"Verily. Although not unexpected, given how long it took for us to get the report."
Calls to the police about loud noises even so far away, fire, unnatural weather, and other fears and concerns. Police cars and firetrucks were already present, officers looking around.
And then two people lifted up a piece of debris to reveal a dead Parademon.
Grimly the two heroes moved in to investigate closer.
Staggering and clutching one another to stay upright, Kalibak and Mantis made their way through the Boom Tube.
It was not weakness which kept them from abandoning the other, but the knowledge that their failure would be absolute if they abandoned one of Darkseid's generals behind.
The best they could beg for now, was a swift death for what intelligence they brought back. For their great lord had . . . misjudged these new enemies of the Man of Steel. They had thought the strength of force of their ambush would be enough, only to discover utter ruin.
Their legs gave out as they exited, collapsing at the feet of the throne room, and could not stifle a whimper each at the sight of the figure before them.
A face as if carved from rock, with a heart to match. Red eyes brimming with power and authority beyond their imagination.
The one true god of Apokolips above all others.
Movement caught their attention, and they saw his advisor Desaad there too. Only to then process the bandages over his face, and seeming loss of an eye. Too tame for it to be the work of their lord.
"So you too," said Desaad bitterly. "Steppenwolf failed as well." He gestured around, and belatedly it dawned upon them that this was not the throne room, but a balcony, and one which had seen unacceptable damage recently.
"A pity," said Darkseid. "Yet these newcomers shall suffer for their defiance. And serve as pawns against Superman."
"You underestimated them as well," responded Desaad, turning around to gaze at whatever was in the distance. "Our forces are now decimated, our defences weakened, these were all fool's errands."
The Lord of Apokolips stiffened, eyes wide, and his two generals knew what was to come.
An unholy light burned within Darkseid's eyes, flames licking around them.
Realisation dawned upon Desaad as he registered his own words. "Uh, what I mean to say is—"
"No one questions me, Desaad."
Futilely the advisor and chief torturer turned to flee, only for beams of light to spear him from Darkseid's eyes and disintegrate him with a parting scream.
Turning now to the failures before him, "And as for you—"
Thunder cut him off. Surprised, he turned back to see lightning flash across the sky without a cloud in sight.
A massive spaceship approached, coming to a stop overhead of what remained of Darkseid's palace.
"Father, what is it?" gasped Kalibak in disbelief.
For a long moment Darkseid pondered before answering.
". . . It's death."
First of all, I wish to recommend "Away in the Robin's Nest," by VixenRose1996, which is another OP/DCAU crossover, and one I find rather enjoyable. Also credit to them for the Pandaman reference.
After everything that has been happening in the Wano Arc, particularly with chapter 1,044, I have been fielding questions about why nothing like this happened when Luffy died in that alternate future. Basically that really was a scary powerful laser rifle. Even already you have seen what Savage was capable of building in the 1940s, and here he had had decades more and a global empire to help him create that new super-prototype which not only liquefied various organs, but Luffy's heart was gone. There was simply not enough to work with for an Awakening.
For Sanji's new design, it is based upon Sailor Moon's Tuxedo Mask's outfit, albeit without the hat or rose.
Next Chapter: 'Twilight'
(An adaption of the Justice League episode by the same name, which may be helpful to watch beforehand
(Also: from the Superman Animated series: 'Apokolips…Now!' and 'Legacy.')
Please Review, and I will get back to you!
The sheer size of my responses for Guest Reviews means I need to start making some exceptions. I will not answer if you are asking when the next update will be, since honestly my answer tends to be, 'I do not know.' Also, for those asking for more One Piece characters, I say, 'Definitely not anytime soon. Maybe later though.' Or 'who would win' questions, since answering those basically counts as giving Spoilers. For those asking about the Justice Lords, I will simply say they are a popular arc request. While Haki is indeed similar in concept to the Will used by Green Lantern Rings, they are still different enough, on different 'frequencies' of willpower if you stretch the analogy, that they do not effect each other in any special way. The Straw Hats cannot use any form of magic, nor teach haki to others. No non-DCAU characters from the DC-verse will be here, except for one spoiler character. Or for any concerns about another Omake chapter coming out so soon. Also no more responding to ones that are just "guest" without a penname, as frankly they cannot be kept track of anyways.