Disclaimer: One Piece belongs to Eiichiro Oda. Any other none original concept belongs to their respective owners.
Chapter Two: Of Clowns and Liars
"Alright, now I have definitely seen it all," muttered Zoro dryly as he stared as Luffy tied some rope around a freaking Sea King, whom he had explained to be the crew's pet along with being the one in charge of keeping their course straight by towing the ship. He watched as the Sea King, who was apparently named Nina, purred as Luffy patted her head before telling her to submerge herself so she could do her job after which he jumped back to the deck. He sweat dropped. "For some reason, I feel like I shouldn't be surprised."
"And now that that's taken care of…" trailed off Luffy as he walked towards Nami who was making the last adjustment to their course while standing in front of the helm holding a map and a compass while muttering to herself. "So, how much did you get from the Marine base, Nami?"
"Around five million or so. I still need to count it to get an exact amount. It would've been much more if it weren't for the fact that they just paid you Alvida's bounty and the fact that the construction of Morgan's statue was bleeding them dry," she replied automatically with some annoyance as she was still focused on her task. She wanted to set their course as perfectly as she could in order to take the least amount of time to get to their destination.
"Is that so? So, you only need ten million to reach your goal, right?" When she nodded, again almost absently, Luffy grinned in delight as he patted her on the back. "That's great. That means then that you won't have any more excuses to travel with me and you'll finally admit that you are my navigator!"
"I'm not, nor ever will be, your navigator! Get it through your thick skull you moron!" She screamed at him after making the last adjustments to their course. She calmed down after sighing in defeat when Luffy just laughed at her. "Ugh. Never mind that. Anyways, we should be reaching the Orange Islands, where Orange Town is located, in about ten days. That's were we need to go."
"You mentioned something about you finding something of interest when you were urging us to leave," said Zoro, joining them after he was finishing wrapping his head around what he had seen and also exploring the ship. He had to see if it was big enough for him to train comfortably in and he was pleased to say that it had more than enough space for him to do so. He had brought all of his training equipment with him and the fact that he could use it straight away and whenever had him in a good mood.
He also needed to ask Luffy about that technique he used to make bullets bounce off his skin. There was also that speed. Zoro knew that being able to do feats like that could be accomplished through training and he wanted to learn anything that would help him cover the weaknesses that as a swordsman he would have, like for example being unable to defend from and also reach long-range fighters.
At Luffy's curious look, Nami began to explain. "When I was looking for the treasury of the marine base, I came across Morgan's secret safe, which I thought would contain more money. But it turns it was supposed to have the map on how to get to the Grand Line according to what was written inside. I was about to leave since you told me that you know how to get there, but instead of the map there was a sheet of paper with the mark of Buggy the Clown."
"Buggy the Clown…" muttered Luffy as he thought about what Shanks had told him about his crewmate when he was part of the Roger Pirates when he was drunk and was willing to share stories of his past. From Shanks own words, they had parted on neutral terms at best, but it was possible that Buggy still hated Shanks because of something Shanks did to him in the past. "He used to belong to the Roger Pirates when he was a kid and is supposedly strong enough to head into the Grand Line and I've also heard that he ate a Devil Fruit, meaning that he's got a power of some kind. He shouldn't be too much of a pushover, considering that he has a bounty of ฿15,000,000 on his head."
"Not only that, but he's rumored to have a treasure worth of ฿10,000,000… probably more now since I know for a fact that he's in Orange Town. I saw his ship when I was heading towards where Alvida was rumored to be sailing and that's how I recognized his symbol. If he's still there then he's been likely raiding the town for around two weeks now, more than enough time to drive the townspeople out and start looting the houses for anything valuable," said Nami with a grin, excited at the prospect of reaching her goal without even heading to the Grand Line.
Normally she wouldn't even dare to mingle with someone of Buggy's caliber, but she had Luffy as her partner now and knowing him, he was very likely to be interested in his bounty. It worked perfectly for the both of them.
Zoro grinned in excitement at this, grasping the handle of Wado Ichimonji tightly. "So, we are going to go there and challenge this funny pirate then?" When Luffy nodded with a grin of his own, Zoro's grin widened. "Excellent! I know about the code of pirates about captains fighting each other but I'm sure there will be someone strong in his crew for me to fight."
"We'll find out about it when we get there, but in any case, you'll deal with his crew while I deal with Buggy himself. In the meantime, Nami will sneak into whenever they have their treasure and take as much as she can, since that's our deal," said Luffy, getting an agreeing nod from the other two. "That means that in case anything goes wrong, which I doubt to be honest but it doesn't hurt to be prepared, I'm going to up the intensity of your training Nami."
As she groaned, suddenly recalling that she was still sore, Zoro turned curious and interested gleaming eyes towards him. "You are training her? In what?"
"In three techniques out of a style of six that will help her survive because we are going to be heading to the Grand Line," said Luffy, ignoring her claim of her not needing to go anymore if Buggy turned out to have a treasure worth ten million beries. She was his navigator after all so she was going to the Grand Line with him. She was just still in denial. "You actually saw three of them earlier: Soru, which was how I moved so fast, Tekkai, the one that I used to make the bullets unable to pierce my skin, and Shigan, the one I used to kill Morgan and it allows me to pierce targets with my finger at speeds resembling that of a bullet's."
"He said he was going to teach me Soru, Geppo, which makes you literally able to jump off the air and Kami-e, which makes you able to bend your body inhumanly allowing you to evade attacks coming from almost anywhere. He calls it training but I'm sure he's just a sadist," said Nami, glaring at Luffy while ignoring how Zoro raised a skeptical eyebrow at being able to jump off the air. "Why are you only going to teach me three of them if they are six? And what's the sixth one?"
"Answering your questions in reverse order. That would be Rankyaku," said Luffy and instead of telling them, he opted to show them. He jumped in the air, using Geppo as he had seen the skepticism on Zoro's face when Nami spoke of about being able to jump off the air, before he lashed out with a kick towards the ocean. A wall of water as high as the crow's nest of the ship as the ocean was split in half for a length of a bout fifteen feet. Luffy grinned at the gaping look in Nami's face and Zoro's suddenly very interested expression. "And I never said I was only going to teach you those three techniques. It's just that you first need to become proficient with Soru and Geppo before you can learn Rankyaku, and the toughness needed to be able to use Tekkai and Shigan can only be acquired by the… grueling… method of learning Kami-e. I would have taught them to you eventually," he said with a shrug.
"Teach me," said Zoro simply as he stared intensively at Luffy. Soru, Geppo and Tekkai could be the answer to his weakness as a swordsman against long range fighters. Rankyaku too after he modified it to be able to use it with his swords instead of his feet since as a swordsman, he didn't use those to attack. He could also devise a stabbing speed technique based off Shigan, but Soru, Geppo, Tekkai and Rankyaku where the ones he felt were more pressing for him at the moment. Kami-e didn't hold interest for him whatsoever, but he would train for it in order to be able to use Tekkai and later on, Shigan, to see what he could devise based off the latter.
"Sure," said Luffy with a shrug and sharing Zoro's pleased and excited grin when the green haired man, a fact that was revealed when he took off his bandanna back at Food's Foo in Shells Town, did as well. "Though we should maybe wait until tomorrow. I know those injuries of yours are of no issue, but they can slow you down and you want to take advantage of every bit of training when trying to learn the Rokushiki."
"What do I do in the meantime then?"
Luffy shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever you want, I guess. There's not much to do other than training thanks to Nami and Nina," he said before pointing at Nami, who was walking away while muttering to herself as she headed to the captain's cabin. "She spends her time counting her money, studying navigation books and drawing maps. I like to eat, drink, take naps and gaze at the clouds."
Zoro nodded in understanding before a thoughtful look appeared on his face. "You've got booze?"
Luffy nodded. "Dozens of barrels worth of it in the hold."
"Imma get piss drunk then."
"Sure. Just be sure to be ready for training early in the morning."
Zoro waved him off uncaringly as he began to walk away. "Sure. That won't be an issue, Captain."
Luffy watching him descend to the hold with a chuckle and a shake of his head before he shrugged and went there himself to procure himself something to eat and drin so he could enjoy cloud watching as it was supposed to be enjoyed. That reminded him that he needed to get an actual cook for the crew soon. He could make a simple meal that was sufficiently nutritious himself, Makino and Dadan made sure of that, but he was never going to enjoy a delicious one if he relied on himself.
'Not only a cook, but I also need someone to act as a master gunner. A carpenter is going to be essential when we finally make it to the Grand Line too. A doctor/surgeon is a no brainer and finally, a musician, for no voyage is complete without songs and merriment,' thought Luffy, his grin weirding out Zoro slightly as he passed him with two bottles of rum held in his hand.
The next day, with the sun not even fully out, found Luffy and Zoro facing each other in the main deck of the ship. Luffy was grinning while Zoro was looking at Luffy with a raised eyebrow, something he was starting to realize was going to be his default expression whenever his new captain was involved. "You want to spar with me with both of us using our swords?"
He was glad that the sabre Luffy held at his waist was not for show but he didn't know about them facing each other in a swordsman duel. He had no illusion about the fact that Luffy was easily stronger and faster than him but in a contest of swordsmanship only skill and experience with a blade mattered. On that he knew he was superior to Luffy at least.
"Yeah," said Luffy as he unsheathed his blade and held it loosely at his side. "I am no swordsman but I'm decent enough with a sword. Sparring against an actual swordsman can only help me get better with my technique so this is mostly for my benefit. Though you can also use these spars to both get used to fighting someone faster and physically stronger than you and as warm up for the actual training sessions."
After a few moments Zoro shrugged his shoulders and nodded in agreement before he tied his bandana around his head and pulled out his three swords and held them at the ready in his opening stance of the Santoryu he developed to be able to match Kuina in the past. This might be only a spar, but Zoro knew that he needed to give it his all and take it seriously if he wanted to keep up with Luffy. "Ready when you are, Captain!"
Luffy's answering wild grin was matched by Zoro's as they both jumped at each other.
About an hour later, Nami woke up and after checking that they were still on the course she had set, which they were thanks to Nina, whom she would never stop thinking as a godsend, she went down to the main deck only to stare blankly as she saw Luffy and Zoro, the former sweating a bit and the latter panting and practically bathed in his body's temperature regulation liquid, trying to apparently kill each other with their respective bladed weapons.
If it weren't for the fact that she could clearly see the happy grins in their faces, she would've thought they were trying to kill each other after their egos clashed after disagreeing about something while she was sleeping.
Luffy was the first to notice her. "Oh! Hey there, Nami! Good morning!" He said while ducking under one slash from the sword Zoro held in one hand while parrying the one that came from the other side with the sword that Zoro held in his left hand. He retaliated with a downward vertical slash that Zoro blocked by tilting his head, putting the edge of Wado Ichimonji in its path. "Did you sleep well?"
"Oi! Pay attention!" Shouted Zoro, not letting Nami respond to Luffy's question, his words not muffled despite the fact that he held a sword in his mouth. He had apparently gotten used to speak like that after many years of using Santoryu. He directed two diagonal slash strikes towards Luffy's midsection, only to scowl and grown in annoyance as Luffy easily evaded them by jumping back with a laugh. "Take me seriously, dammit!"
"This is as serious as I can be if you want to be able to even see me move at your current level. Trust me. There are only a handful of people here in East Blue that would be able to handle even this much from me. The fact that you are keeping up and demanding even more speaks very well of you, Zoro," said Luffy with sincerity, grinning when he saw Zoro looking away in embarrassed disdain. "In any case, now that Nami is finally here we can finally start training for real."
At that Nami could only groan as she began to drag herself towards them. She wasn't as sore as she was but with Luffy's promise of intensifying what was already an insane regimen she could only dread what was coming. Zoro saw this and he also approached Luffy, wondering why Nami was acting as if she was willingly walking towards her death after Luffy mentioned that they were going to start training for real.
'How bad could it be?' he thought to himself. When he saw Luffy's absolutely evil and sadistic smirk, however, he had to pause as he shuddered from head to toe. 'Oh, shit. I just jinxed it, didn't I? Fuck me. Well, no pain, no gain, as they say.'
The following nine days were hell on earth for Nami and an eye-opening experience for Zoro.
Because of the increased intensity of the tortu- training, Nami went to bed each day feeling like she was going to die before she even had a chance to count her money and draw maps, leaving her only able to study her navigations book and eat something (She had demanded Luffy to cook for her and take it to her room because she couldn't power through the pain to make the going and coming trek that getting food required after the training sessions) before exhaustion sent her to sleep, only to repeat the same thing the next day.
Thankfully, yesterday had been different for some reason and even thought she still felt the pain, she could move with just a little difficulty. When asked about it, Luffy only replied that she was progressing and that her body had gotten used to the intensity of the training. Nami was just glad she could walk around normally. Now if only the pain would go away…
In Zoro's case, it was the complete opposite. He had trained hard for his entire life, anyone could see that, but he had never done the kind of specialized training that required making you capable of learning how to use the Rokushiki. Thousands of continuous squats while weighted down and attempting to dodge pebbles moving with almost the speed of a bullet while also weighted down… it was crazy and insane and he loved it. Add in his normal upper body training, sword training and his spars with Luffy, Zoro could literally feel how he was getting stronger every day. The fact that Luffy had commented that he had to up the rhythm of their spar a bit noticeably only three days after they begun training only served as proof as to what Zoro was feeling. And he also got to get drunk every night and no one said nothing about it was the icing on the cake.
This served to keep both Nami and Zoro sufficiently occupied but even that wasn't enough for them to notice that other than his spars with Zoro and a few random exercises that anyone could do, Luffy didn't seem to train, opting to spend his time gazing at the clouds, napping, eating and drinking while they worked their asses off. The only reason they didn't call him out on it was because he was obviously many times stronger than them, even more so in Nami's case than Zoro's, but they still wondered.
What they didn't know was that Luffy trained during the night, using special weights provided by his grandfather that would increase their own weight after analyzing the bearer's current strength. It was the reason why he spent the days taking naps but they were not going to find about that until later.
Currently, the three of them were lazing around the deck. Zoro was leaning against the foremast while meditating, Nami was just enjoying the salty wind of the ocean against her face while standing against the railing of the forecastle deck and Luffy was cloud gazing while lazily rocking his hammock from side to side. Today was the day they were supposed to reach Orange Town and they have just finished their training session which had not been as intense for obvious reasons and where just waiting for the island to appear over the horizon.
Nami perked up when she saw a boat with three men. She could see that the boat had the Buggy Pirates jolly roger in its single sail and they were headed directly towards them. With a grin, she turned her head back. "Hey, you two! Good news! Buggy is still here! Come and take a look!"
Luffy and Zoro walked towards where she was and shared her grin when they saw what had caught her attention. "Excellent," said Luffy simply. He wasn't precisely looking forward to fighting Buggy since he knew that with his bounty, he wasn't going to be a good challenge but said bounty was of an amount that could prove to be useful later on. He still needed to make a name for himself and defeating the big names here in East Blue was a sure way to go around accomplishing that.
"What are we going to do about them? I can see the smug and greedy grins on their faces from here," said Zoro in a bored tone as he could also see that the three men on the small boat weren't even worth unsheathing his swords to deal with them.
"We'll ignore them. Let Nina take care of them."
Nami turned towards him with wide eyes. "What do you mean by…" she trailed off as she saw Nina rise from the depths she was swimming in right next to the boat just when it was about a hundred meters away from them. Even though Nina was roaring at them, Nami could hear their screams of horror which were abruptly cut off when Nina lunged towards them and snatched them up in a single bite without even harming the boat. "Ne-never mind," she stammered weakly. She supposed that giving them a quick death by becoming the meal of a Sea King was better than dying from the beatdown Luffy and Zoro were surely going to unleash on them for daring to attack their ship.
Zoro blinked before shrugging. "Eh, that's one way to take care of them," he said, ignoring how disturbed he felt at Luffy's adoring and encouraging words towards Nina, who actually blushed and ducked her head in pleased embarrassment before purring and submerging back. "I'm never going to get used to that."
Oh, Zoro, you poor fool. You don't even know half of it.
A few minutes later they passed by the boat and Nami perked up when she saw the chest that was on it. "Let's get that!" She exclaimed. Luffy saw what she was talking about and with a quick application of Soru he brought it to their ship. Nami laughed happily when she saw that it was full of beri coins and expensive looking jewelry. She turned towards Luffy with hopeful eyes. "Can I keep it?"
Luffy laughed. "I can't say no to a cute expression like that, now can I?"
"Thank you!" She squealed in delight before she went to put it with her things after she gave Luffy a hug that he enjoyed very much for the few seconds it lasted.
"Don't tell me she's got you wrapped around her little finger, Captain," teased Zoro with an infuriating smirk.
"Nah," denied Luffy easily with a chuckle. "My navigator likes money and there's no reason for me to deny her if she wants it from those I know for sure wont need it. Besides, the happier she is, the faster she'll stop being denial about her role within my crew."
Zoro just shook his head at him.
About an hour later they were within sight of Orange Town. Luffy could make out the vague outline of a bright purple colored ship that resembled a circus tent which he quickly deduced was Buggy's. He was about to tell Nina and Nami to change the course, so they could use the same tactic he used against Alvida when they heard the sound of a cannon being fired. Nami and Zoro ducked as an absolutely big explosion went off above them.
Luffy had caught sight of the red cannon ball that was the cause of the explosion and his only reaction was to narrow his eyes as he looked up at the slowly dispersing smoke from the explosion, ignoring the splash of the burnt body of a bird twice his size falling to the ocean next to their ship. 'That was strong enough to easily destroy the ship. An explosion like that I can shrug off but Zoro and Nami are not on that level yet. I can't let them hit us,' thought Luffy.
"What the hell was that?!" Shouted Nami in panic as she rose back to her feet while widely looking towards the purple ship.
"I think we were spotted and that's was the welcoming present," said Zoro calmly as he also stood up, crossing his arms as he narrowed his eyes towards the ship.
Before anything else could be said the sound of a cannon being fired was heard again and Luffy noticed that the explosive cannonball was going to hit them directly. Knowing that he couldn't let it even get too close, Luffy quickly used Soru and Geppo to quickly jump into the air and he twirled around as he lashed out with a kick so fast that not even Zoro caught the movement. "Rankyaku!"
The incoming red cannonball was split in half by seemingly nothing and it exploded prematurely about a mile away from where they were. Luffy ignored the gaping looks and turned towards them with a serious expression. "Let's use the smoke of the explosion to cover our change of direction so we can approach them on foot. Those cannonballs make it too dangerous to face them like this and I am sure they can fire more of those at the same time and I'm not sure I'll be able to deflect all of them. They are going to be busy dealing with their own issues right about now."
Buggy was having a great time that day. His men were almost done looting the town which meant that soon they would be able to go raid the other towns located in the Orange Islands in order to get enough treasure to comfortably head into the Grand Line so he could conquer it. He knew that with the power granted by his Bara-Bara no Mi and his explosive cannonballs designed by himself, the Buggy Balls, he was going to be able to pull it off.
'Just you wait, Shanks, you flashy bastard! Your days are numbered! You think you can almost cost me my ambition and then go and become a major player in the Grand Line while I rotted away here in the weakest of all seas and not expect me to do something about it! Hah! Think again!' He thought as he sat on his throne that he had set on the docks that he had taken for himself after arriving at Orange Town. The Big Top, his precious ship, looked imposing behind him.
"Captain Buggy, sir! There is an incoming ship with blank sails and flag! What should we do?!"
Buggy turned towards the member of his crew that told him that and laughed. "Gyahahahaha! This is the opportunity we have been waiting for! I was going to use the Buggy Balls on the town after we finished raiding it to test them, but we have a more viable target now! You know what to do!" He said, his voice having a high-pitched tone that curiously enough matched his appearance which resembled that of a clown's.
His crew hurried to prepare the cannon and not a minute later the first shot was sent towards the ship. Buggy was somewhat annoyed because they had missed and had instead hit a bird that was flying a few hundred feet above the incoming ship but he was pleased to see the size of the explosion knowing that it was powerful enough to easily destroy the incoming ship. Before the smoke from the explosion could even start dispersing, he ordered for a second shot to be fired. He knew that it was possible that this ship carried something worth stealing but at the moment he was interested in seeing for himself the effectiveness of his Buggy Balls.
The expectant grin on his face quickly disappeared when he saw his Buggy Ball exploding prematurely after being somehow split in half then he screamed in shock, his mouth and eyes going comically wide when he saw the main mast of his ship also being cut in half along with part of the upper portion of the foremast and the mizzenmast. He stared in horrified shock as they fell to the deck, heavily injuring and/or outright killing a few of his crewmates who had not been able to move away in time.
'What the fuck?! Was that Eric 'The Whirlwind'?!' He thought furiously knowing that the mercenary was the only one in East Blue capable of creating wind blades that were strong enough to slash through rocks meaning that the wood of which his ship was made was nothing to him. He didn't know that he could make them big and powerful enough to reach them from over a kilometer away.
While hiis crew panicked and Mohji and Cabaji were trying to calm them down so they could deal with the situation, Buggy grit his teeth as he glared at the cloud of smoke that was obscuring his view from the ship that housed the one that had just ruined his ship and likely set back his plans for weeks. 'I'm going to flashily fucking kill that flashy fuck! He's no match for me and my Bara-Bara no Mi!' He was after all immune to slashing attacks which he knew where the bread and butter of Eric 'The Whirlwind'.
"Everyone able to fight go into the town and intercept that bastard! Mohji take Richie and go with them! Cabaji! Stay with me!" Shouted Buggy, his anger getting the better of him and making him take an impulsive and quite stupid decision. What's worse, he was actually the smarter member of his crew, and in their own anger, they just roared they their agreement as they clamored for revenge. Even Cabaji, who was usually the level headed one and the voice of reason, was angry enough that he agreed with his captain's decision.
Unluckily for Buggy and his crew, who couldn't be more wrong about the identity of the assailant.
After their ship arrived at another set of docks that were located at another part of the town that was also facing the ocean, confirming in the process that either the inhabitants of the town were either killed or forced to flee away since there was no one to be seen, Luffy, Nami and Zoro quickly anchored the ship and tied it to the docks. Luffy then told Nina to go and approach Buggy's ship and not reveal herself until he called for her. He was feeling a bit vindictive after Buggy attempted to destroy their ship and he had a plan to go around getting revenge for that.
"Let's go. We don't have long until they get their wits about them after I cut down the masts of their ship. We must hit them while they are still busy dealing with that," said Luffy, expecting for Buggy to make the sensible decision of waiting for them after witnessing an attack as powerful as that one. Common sense dictated that playing on the defensive along with superiority in numbers gave the advantage.
It wasn't like the outcome would change if Buggy did that but it was what Luffy would have done in a similar situation. As a pirate that apprenticed along Shanks with the Roger Pirates he expected at least that much from him.
Nami and Zoro nodded, also thinking the same as Luffy, and they quickly began to make their way in the direction where the docks in which Buggy's ship was anchored at. Nami was surprised at the speed at which she was moving and the fact that she could keep up with Luffy and Zoro, whom she knew for a fact were way faster and stronger than her.
Eventually, she deduced that they were holding back a lot in order to let her keep up with them, Luffy easily more so than Zoro. What she didn't know, however, was that the green haired man was surprised that he didn't have to do so more than what he was doing. Luffy wasn't that surprised since he had been training her for the past eleven days.
The trio reached a town square, which curiously enough had a small white dog standing protectively in front of a store that by its name apparently sell food for pets, when they were forced to stop and stare when a group of more than twenty pirates that looked more like a circus act appeared from the other end of it. They were being led by a man with a hairstyle that made him resemble a teddy bear, a half shirt made of fur, blue pants and a sash tied around his waist. He was sitting on top of a great lion that was taller than Luffy at the shoulders that had golden brown colored fur and its mane was of a curiously royal purple color.
Luffy took one look at the lion and how strong and intimidating it looked before pointing at it with a blank expression on his face. "I want it," he said simply.
"Don't you have enough with Nina as a pet?!" Asked Zoro incredulously as he unsheathed his two unnamed swords. This lot wasn't even worth him using all three of his swords, much less Wado Ichimonji. And after the intense nine days of training and sparring with Luffy taking them seriously was simply out of the question.
"One does never have enough intimidating creatures on their side that can fight and wreak havoc," said Luffy wisely as he popped his knuckles with a wide grin on his face. "Alright, I'll take the lion, so I can take it away from that teddy bear guy since he looks to be its master. Zoro, he looks the strongest out of all of them, so you take him on. Nami, it's time you see how much you have grown since I started training you. The fodder is for you to deal with."
While Zoro just nodded in agreement, Nami turned towards Luffy with a wide-eyed look of scandalization. "Me?! Fight them?! No way!" Sure, she has been training a lot and she had seen that she had grown faster noticeably and she was feeling excited at literally feeling her chances of survival increasing, but going from that to willingly fight a group of more than twenty pirates that were a foot taller than her and three times her body mass was a totally different story.
"If you don't get used to what you are capable off, then me training you would have been be for nothing," said Luffy after giving her serious look before he smiled reassuringly at her. "Trust me. You'll be fine. You are way stronger than what you think you are."
Nami found herself flushing a bit under his earnest look before she huffed and looked away in annoyance. "Fine! But I'm running away back to the ship if I as much get a scratch! And I'll be expecting you to bring me Buggy's treasure along with giving me his bounty when you cash it in!"
Chuckling, Luffy did not comment on the fact that Nami obviously trusted him enough to believe that him defeating Buggy was already a given thing and simply nodded at her. "Deal."
Mohji, having enough of waiting and not hearing what they were saying, pointed dramatically at them and began to shout. "My name is Mohji 'The Beast Tamer'! I am the First Mate of the Buggy Pirates! We are here on Captain Buggy's order to take revenge on what you did to our ship! Attack my comrades!" He said pompously, the pirates roaring in approval as they charged towards the trio while he held back.
Nami saw this and knew that she was up first. "I'm so going to regret this," she said before she sighed and pulled out her bo staff, took a few step forwards and waited at the ready. She immediately noticed how slow they were moving and her eyes widened in realization. 'Luffy's pebbles move way faster than this when he throws them at us and I can see them coming at me. These guys are nothing compared to that!' She thought with an excited grin that scared the incoming pirates before she lashed out with her staff when they were close enough, sending one of them to unconsciousness after she caught him right in the temple.
Mohji and Richie gaped in disbelief when they saw this small, in comparison, orange haired girl start smacking around his crewmates with a grin on her face. She was almost dancing around them, easily evading their attacks and lunges while striking back using that long staff of hers along with mixing it in with a few kicks that held more than enough strength to also knock out and cause enough damage to have the pirates screaming pain if they were not rendered unconscious immediately.
Zoro raised an eyebrow at Luffy, who was not surprised but visibly pleased. "Are you sure she wasn't this strong before you started to train her? There's no way she's gotten like this after just eleven days of training, no matter how intense and hellish," said Zoro, wincing in sympathy when Nami caught a pirate in between the legs with a rising vertical strike with her staff, making that pirate give a high-pitched squeal of anguish before he passed out and fall to the side, twitching erratically while grabbing his crotch.
"She was strong enough to take on two or three of guys like those before I started training her and she was already very skilled using that staff of hers. She's got lots of potential to become truly strong and with the kind of training I'm putting her through she's just starting to realize it. I'm excited to see what she will be capable of doing once she reaches the level necessary to use the Rokushiki and starts to branch out on her own," said Luffy with a grin as Nami knocked out the final pirate with thrust of her staff that caught said pirate right in the nose, breaking it in the process.
Nami, just breathing a bit heavily, had a grin on her face as she looked around at the defeated pirates she had defeated almost effortlessly. This was enough for proof for her to realize that Luffy wasn't just simply leading her on so he could betray her later which subconsciously she was still thinking. She knew that before Luffy's training doing something like this would have been impossible for her. The fact that she could do it, and that Luffy knew that she could do it, spokes volumes to her and shed some light to Luffy's perception of her.
Both Mohji and Richie soon got over their shock and with snarls on their faces, Richie's significantly more menacing and intimidating than Mohji's, lunged towards Nami ready to tear her to tiny chunks of flesh. Said orange haired girl could only yelp in shock as she raised her staff protectively in front of her body, not being fast enough to move out of the way in time. Thankfully for her, Luffy and Zoro were more than ready to interfere in case something like this happened.
"Hey that's not nice," said Luffy chidingly as he appeared in front and slightly to the side of Nami and stopping Richie from advancing by grabbing it by its mane, making it whimper in a bit of surprised discomfort as this action resulted in him pulling the hairs of its mane. Before Mohji could get in a word otherwise Luffy reached towards him, grabbed him by his fur shirt and hurled him back towards where Zoro was.
"No! Richie!" Shouted Mohji, but he was forced to jump back to evade an attack from Zoro but he was only mildly successful as a deep gash appeared on his right forearm while another less profound one appeared on his mid-section. Mohji grunted in pain and he turned towards Zoro with a glare as he pulled out his whip. "I'm going to kill you!" He declared before he sent the end of his whip towards Zoro, who easily ducked under it.
"Yeah, good luck with that, wierdo," replied Zoro blandly.
Back with Luffy, he had forced the giant lion away from Nami, much to her relief as she settled down to get her energy back and also watch what was going to happen, and now he was grasping its neck while pinning it to the ground where it was struggling to get free to no avail. "So, your name is Richie, huh? You seem stronger than that guy who is fighting my friend. Why do you follow him?" He asked, genuinely curious about it.
At the question, Richie got a glazed over look before it shook its head and began to trash about again. It even attempted to bite Luffy, but much to the surprise of both of them, Richie managed to sink its fangs in but not pierce Luffy's skin.
"Holy crap! That bite of yours is something else! I'm definitely taking you with me," said Luffy with a grin before he got a focused look on his face as he locked eyes with Richie. Luffy brought forth his focused Haoshoku Haki and directed it exclusively at Richie. He could only do it for a few moments, longer than that and he would unleash it upon the entire town, so he hoped it would be enough to make Richie submit.
Richie's eyes widened as it felt something inside of it snap but instead of getting angry and starting thrashing around, it turned towards Luffy with quite the grateful look in its eyes before it passed out. Luffy also felt that and he managed to follow that link of sorts towards Mohji and judging by what he had seen and felt, it had been established against Richie's will. Luffy released his hold on the lion's neck and smiled down at it before patting its chest and turning around to watch how Zoro was dealing with Mohji.
Mohji's eyes widened and he faltered when he felt his link with Richie breaking. "No! What have you done?!" He shouted towards Luffy, turning away from Zoro feeling confident of the fact that he had him handled considering that his whip was wrapped around his arm. The link he had forced on Richie was a hypnotic one that forced Riche to see him as something akin as an older brother. He had almost died when he had approached the Menean Lion, a rare breed that could only be found in some key islands on the East Blue and now all of that was shot to the proverbial drain.
"Don't insult me by taking your eyes off me!" Shouted Zoro before with a grunt he used the hold Mohji had on him with his whip to pull him towards him. Mohji only had time to turn his head and widen his eyes before he found himself impaled straight through the chest. Mohji coughed up blood as he tried to raise his head weakly, but Zoro kicked him off his sword and he died just before his body hit the ground. "Tch, he could use that whip of his decently enough, but he was still a weakling," muttered Zoro as he cleaned his bloodied sword on Mohji's fur shirt before sheathing them.
Before Nami and Zoro could approach Luffy and ask him just how he had managed to knock out the gigantic lion without hitting it they heard a gasp coming from the end of the town square they had come from and they turned towards it only to see a somewhat elderly looking man with gray hair that has been arranged in three lumps: two on the sides and the front. He wore a yellow lined shirt with dark green pants and a brown armor chest-plate with gauntlets.
"You… you… defeated those damned pirates like it was nothing! They forced us out of our homes about twenty days ago! Please! Help us! I'm willing to pay you!"
The three of them exchanged looks before Luffy and Zoro shrugged while Nami slowly approached the old man while wriggling and rubbing her hands greedily as she smiled sweetly. "Oh? You are willing to pay us? How much are we talking about here?"
It was in that moment, that Boodle realized that he just might have changed one evil for another.
"I think we might have made a mistake, Buggy, sir…" said Cabaji with some hesitation as he stood next to Buggy, who was sitting in his throne once again, as they stared in the town's direction. It had been long enough that Mohji, Richie and the others should've been back, either with the beaten body of the one that destroyed the masts of their ship or because they escaped after they realized they stood no chance against this foe.
"You don't have to tell me that, Cabaji!" Shouted Buggy in his high-pitched voice as a vein throbbed on his forehead. After the initial burst of anger had left him, Buggy had quickly worked out that whomever had done it, it couldn't possible had been the mercenary Eric 'The Whirlwind' simply because this was not where he was known to work which was between Reverse Mountain, Loguetown and the Conomi Islands. It was possible he had come to take his bounty, but that was not the man's style. And he also worked out that the mercenary wasn't strong enough to pull something like that off…
Which meant that this was someone even stronger which shocked Buggy since this was East Blue, the weakest of all seas. That meant that whoever was coming for him could possibly have a method to negate the immunity he had to slashing type attacks. It was because of that reason that Buggy took another decision, this one a bit more sensible considering the situation. "Cabaji. I want you to flashily shoot as many Buggy Balls as possible into the town."
"But, Captain Buggy!" Shouted the feminine sword user and acrobat as he looked on appalled. "That would be sentencing Mohji, Richie and the others to death!"
"They might as well already be dead for all we know! I can't let whoever this is to come after us, kill us too and take my treasure for themselves. I'd rather die than let that happen!" Shouted Buggy back with an angry expression on his face. It wasn't like he didn't care about his crew but Buggy was a realist with pessimistic tendencies which resulted in him more often than not expecting the worst that could happen. In this case, he wasn't that far off from the truth since Mohji was indeed dead but the others were still alive and in quite a bit of pain except for Richie, who was just momentarily unconscious.
Cabaji hesitated for a moment but nodded after he also realized there was nothing else they could do. "It will be done, Captain Buggy," he said, bowed and went to carry out his captain's orders, as much as he felt like he was betraying his crewmates. Still, his captain had a valid point and it was best to play it safe rather than hope for the best when it was obvious that their enemy was strong enough to counter the Buggy Balls and destroy the masts of their ships.
"… Shanks would definitely not be happy with Buggy if he learned what he had been doing here," muttered Luffy after his awe at Chouchou, the white dog that even after all this years was still guarding his owner's shop out of loyalty for him, diminished enough for him to hear the end of Boodle's tale about how Buggy and his crew had come one day out of basically nowhere and forced them to flee to outskirts of the city less they get killed.
"What was that?" Asked Zoro after hearing Luffy mutter under his breath.
"Nothing," said Luffy, waving him off as he went toward the unconscious Richie. He was not about to leave him in the middle of the town square after all.
"We are going to take down Buggy and the rest of his crew, Major Boodle, for the right price of course," said Nami greedily. She decided that she was going to keep to herself the fact that they were going to do that anyways and when Zoro opened his mouth to say exactly that, she glared at him, prompting him to close it with an audible click.
Boodle sighed in relief. "Thank you so much! We are a modest town and there's not a lot we can offer, but we can come to an agreement afterwards. I promise you on my honor as the major of this town that we are going to repay you however we can," he said truthfully, bowing deep at the waist.
Luffy, who had picked up Riche effortlessly and had put him next to Chouchou who was now giving the unconscious menean lion a wary look, was about to assure Boodle that there was no need to pay them, since they had been about to do that anyways and Buggy's bounty and treasure were more than enough for them, when suddenly they heard the shot of a cannon being fired and then the ground shaking as an enormous explosion occurred a few hundred meters away and setting a decent portion of the town on fire, black smoke rising into the air.
"That was definitely Buggy using those explosive cannonballs of his," said Zoro blandly as he stared up at the crown of the fire that could be seen from where they were.
"Is he insane?!" Shouted Nami as she rose back to her feet from where she had thrown herself to the floor. "Not only is he attempting to destroy the town but his also going to kill his crewmates!"
Luffy had his eyes narrowed his he looked in the direction he knew Buggy was. "You can't really fault him. By this point he should know that those he sent to intercept us have been defeated and possibly killed if they haven't returned. His cornered and he knows that. And cornered animals tend to lash out as a last desperate attempt to survive."
Boodle, who had thrown himself to the ground due to the explosion, shot to his feet with a snarl on his face. "That scum! Not only he forces out of our homes to take away our hard earned and precious things, but he is also attempting to destroy our town?! I'm going to kill him myself!" He shouted, reaching for his spear and starting to charge towards where Buggy was. He didn't take to steps before Luffy calmly chopped him the back of his neck and caught him before setting him next to Chouchou who was now growling at him.
"Why would you that?!" Asked Nami in shock.
"He would've gotten himself killed if he had gone there. This way, the worse he is going to suffer is a mild headache for a few hours," said Luffy before another explosion was heard as another portion of the town was destroyed. Luffy frowned as he looked down at Chouchou, who had calmed down after hearing Luffy's explanation as to why he had knocked out the friend of Master Hocker and who also brought him food every day. "Can you look after these two while we deal with Buggy and whomever is left? I know I can count on you, Chouchou."
Chouchou just nodded at him taking a few step forwards so he now also stood in front of the unconscious forms of Boodle and Richie.
"Good boy," said Luffy with a smile before he turned serious again and looked at both Zoro and Nami. "Let's go," he said simply before the three of them began to make their way towards where Buggy was. It only took them a few seconds since they were moving faster than before, Nami being capable of keeping up with them since she was pushing herself to see just what her current limits were.
When they arrived, it was to see Buggy's mastless ship anchored next to a dock that was wide enough to erect a circus tent on top of it.
Luffy momentarily ignored the gaping look the clown resembling fellow, obviously Buggy, was giving him as he noticed an effeminate man was hurrying to put a red cannonball that was bigger than normal and had painted on its surface Buggy's symbol in the all-directions adjustable cannon that was part of the figure head of the ship, which resembled an elephant, with the cannon serving as the elephant's trunk.
He also noticed that for some reason, the circus tent was filled to the brim with barrels full of golden coins and precious things, meaning that Buggy's treasure was there instead of inside the ship. Luffy didn't know what possessed Buggy to do this, arrogance and desire to show off perhaps, but he was glad because it made it easier for him to implement his plan.
"Who the fuck-!" Buggy began to shout only for it fall short inside his throat and he almost choked on his own air and saliva as a gigantic Sea King with brown scales rose from the water next his ship and it only stopped rising until it stood noticeably taller than the previous height of the Big Top's main mast.
Nina glared down at Cabaji and the injured members of Buggy's crew that were still conscious as they gaped up at her in terror before she roared and lunged. Instead of attempting to eat them, however, she coiled her body twice around Buggy's ship, her body being long enough that she managed to do that and a significant portion of it was still inside the water. Cabaji only had time to drop the Buggy Ball he was carrying, which didn't explode since it needed the gun powder off the cannon for the explosive reaction to begin, and jump off the ship before Nina constricted her body around the ship, cracked it until it was deformed and dragged it to the depths of the ocean along with the rest of Buggy's crew.
Buggy ignored the fact that Cabaji had been able to save himself as he stared at the churning waters in which his ship used to be. The only thing remaining where a few chunks of purple wood floating around. "My ship…" he whimpered before he snarled and turned to the one responsible, the man wearing an eerily familiar straw hat and pointed angrily at him before screeching in his high-pitched voice, spittle flying out of his mouth. "You flashy fucking bastard! Who the hell do you think you are?! You have any idea of what you have done?!"
Luffy just shrugged his shoulders uncaringly, as if he hadn't just somehow gotten a Sea King to sink a ship of considerable size like it was nothing. "My name is Monkey D. Luffy. I am the man that's going to become the Pirate King. Your bounty and your treasure are going to help me get started on that, Buggy," said Luffy simply as he prepared himself. He didn't know what kind of Devil Fruit Buggy ate, but if you knew that one of your opponents had the power of one, you always prepared for the worst in case it was something powerful and/or troublesome. He doubted it, but when Monkey D. Garp beats something into you, it was difficult not to do it on instinct -read out of fear of punishment via 'Fist of Love'-.
Buggy gritted his teeth in anger as he pulled out his knifes, which he held between his fingers, as he pointed them threateningly at Luffy. "If you think I'm going to let you take away my treasure you have another damn thing coming! I'll flashily kill you and then I'll take your ship and your treasure and add it to mine! The one that's going to become the King of Pirates is me!"
"For some reason, I doubt that," said Luffy dryly before he lashed out with a roundhouse kick to the air faster than what Buggy could see, much less react. "Rankyaku." In the blink of an eye Buggy was split in half horizontally at the waist. Luffy, however, noticed something strange right away.
"Gyahahahaha! I'm immune to cutting attacks you fool!" Pretty much confirmed Buggy as he split the rest of his body in various pieces that were floating around in the air, but his feet were firmly rooted to the ground however. His head turned towards Cabaji as he noticed that while Luffy had not reacted other than with a raised eyebrow, his two companions were gaping at him in disbelief. "Cabaji! Kill the green haired one and the orange haired harlot! Leave the straw hat wearing fucktard to me."
Cabaji pulled out his unicycle, mounted it and unsheathed his sword. "As you command, Captain Buggy!"
"Did some of the stuff that was supposed to go to your cranium to act as a brain went instead to your big and ugly red nose, Buggy? You don't tell your opponent how your power works while you are fighting them," chided Luffy, grinning as Zoro unsheathed his swords and put Wado Ichimonji in his mouth after he realized that Cabaji was a proper swordsman despite the fact that he was mounted on a unicycle and blocked his charge easily. He turned towards Nami. "His treasure is inside the tent. Go do your thing. We will deal with these two."
Nami, at the mention of acquiring more money, quickly shook off the shock seeing a man literally splitting himself, staying alive and even somehow talking without his head attacked to his neck, where the vocal cords where located, and nodded at him. She used her newfound running speed to quickly make her way towards the tent which she could see for herself was filled to the brim with valuable objects and more importantly, money.
Buggy saw this and snarled towards her. "I'm not going to let you get my treasure! Bara-Bara Ho Kirihanashi!" One of Buggy's hand, along with some of his forearm, shot towards Nami at speeds that were far faster than what Nami could react to as she turned towards the incoming attack with wide eyes as she kept running, unable to do anything to stop the knives Buggy was holding in between his fingers from skewering her.
However, when Buggy's attack was almost a yard away from hitting Nami, a gunshot rung out followed by Buggy's scream of agony as his fingers were forced to release their hold on the knives since they couldn't close anymore because of a bullet piercing right through Buggy's wrist and damaging the nerves there. Seeing Buggy's hand hanging limply as it crashed to the ground next to her, Nami sighed in relief as she continued to run towards the tent while Buggy, crying in pain, turned towards Luffy to see him slowly turning his smoking pistol towards him with a grin on his face.
"You said that you were immune to cutting attacks. Let's see how yo fare against the piercing damage done by bullets and blunt force trauma," he said as he raised his fist until it was next to his face. Luffy pulled the trigger of his pistol while aiming for Buggy's other arm as he jumped towards where the rest of Buggy's body parts were floating around.
It was at that moment that Buggy knew, as he yelped while trying to evade being shot at or hit by Luffy's punches, unable to do anything else unless he wanted to get shot again, that this wasn't going to end pretty for him.
Back with Zoro, the green haired swordsman had an annoyed look on his face as he blocked all of Cabaji's sword strikes with relative ease. The effeminate man knew how to correctly swing a sword and where to aim his strikes at least and that unicycle of him gave him quite the unpredictable mobility. However, other than that, this man's fighting ability was average (To him, really, since Zoro wasn't really fair to those weaker than him) at best. He would have had a few issues fighting him if it had been before spending nine straight days sparring and training with Luffy, but now, to him this man was nothing more than a joke. He didn't even need to get serious on the first place.
"Hmph, it seems like you can actually use those three swords of yours, Roronoa Zoro! I should get serious too then! Behold! Kyokugi! Kaji Oyaji!" He shouted before he breathed a ball of fire that was the same height as Zoro and three times as wide.
Zoro's left eyebrow twitched. "Oi, aren't you a swordsman? What's up with those parlor tricks, huh?!" He shouted before he used the sword on his left hand to cut the fireball in two right in the middle, letting the two halves pass by him without doing much as he could ignore the heat easily. Zoro glared at Cabaji as he pointed at him with that same sword. "I'm going to cut you down in an instant if you don't take this seriously!"
"I'm taking it seriously, you asshole! Kyokugi! Kamikaze Hyakkoma Gekijo!" Cabaji shouted before he pulled hundreds of spinning tops from… somewhere… and began to hurl them at Zoro at decent speeds.
The green haired swordsman, who had been attempting to job Luffy's bullet-like pebbles for the last nine days, saw them moving in slow motion. Heck, even before joining Luffy he would've been able to easily deal with this. With a click of his tongue, Zoro began to effortlessly cut the tops in half, not even needing to use Wado Ichimonji which he was holding his mouth. Truthfully, using Santoryu with this guy was overkill, even without being serious about it.
Cabaji stopped hurling tops at Zoro the moment he realized they were being countered easily. "I'm not done yet! Kyokugi! Noryo Uchiage Hanabi!" Zoro watched with blank expression as Cabaji somehow went up a wall with his unicycle, summersaulting in the air after he reached the edge and positioning himself in such a way that now he was right above Zoro with his sword posed to stab him from above. "Ichirin Zashi!" He shouted as he began to rapidly descend.
Zoro's response was to tilt his head to the side and with that motion he easily stopped Cabaji's attack with the flat side of Wado Ichimonji. "I told you to take this seriously!" Shouted Zoro before he struck with his swords in a downward diagonal slash, making twin deep cuts that went from Cabaji's right shoulder to his left hip, making the effeminate acrobat scream in pain as he began to bleed profusely. Zoro watched dispassionately as he sheathed the swords of his hands and then Wado Ichimonji. "This was a disappointment. But I can't say I don't like the increase in strength after only nine days training with my Captain."
Back with said straw hat wearing captain, he had a smirk on his face as Buggy glared at him while panting harshly. Buggy had tried his best to dodge Luffy's attacks and shots but the teen was just too fast for Buggy to keep up for an extended period of time in his current situation.
Using the powers of the Bara-Bara no Mi normally didn't take a lot to maintain as long as he kept his body parts within the limit distance that allowed him to control them and he kept his feet on the ground. Luffy had managed to injure him many times, both with punches that hit hard enough to rattle his bones and damage his organs and many shots from his flintlock and bullets were bullets.
"Where… where did you get… that straw hat… you flashy… bastard?" Asked Buggy, his head swaying from side to side and almost dropping to the ground as he began to feel more and more fatigued with the second.
Luffy chuckled as he pushed said straw hat with the muzzle of his flintlock. "Shishishishi! Your good friend Shanks entrusted it to me ten years ago. You know, he told me about you and what happened when you were apprentices in the Roger Pirates. I doubt he remembers though, since he was drunk and laughing his ass off as he recalled your time together. Told me he was the reason you got your powers and couldn't swim anymore too."
"That flashy… bastard… I'll kill him… when… I get my hands… on him."
Luffy shook his head. "Yeah… I'm afraid that's not going to happen anytime soon. Night, night."
The mental strain caused by trying to keep his body parts floating, attempting to dodge Luffy's attacks while also being in a world of pain turned out to be too much for Buggy as his eyes suddenly rolled to the back of his head and his floating body parts, except for his feet, dropped to the ground, most of them with visible nasty bruises and bullet wounds that were bleeding in quite the worrying manner.
Luffy sighed in disappointed as he pulled away his pistol. "Aw, he passed out due to the blood loss and the pain. And it was such a fun target practice too," said Luffy with a pout as he began to gather Buggy's body parts except for his head, which was what the only thing he needed to cash in his bounty. Besides, it wasn't like Buggy was going to die due to the bullet wounds, much less to the damage done to his body by his punches.
Not like he cared, really, but it wasn't like he was about to give weak enemies he defeated a chance to comeback and annoy him in the future. So, with that in mind, Luffy promptly dropped Buggy's body parts into the sea, where they sunk straight down like rocks due to the power of his devil fruit. If it was even possible, Buggy looked even more unconscious and more like a clown than before with his skin pale white, his mouth and eyes opened comically wide and his tongue hanging limply outside.
"What's up with him?" Questioned Zoro curiously after he approached him, not batting an eyelash at the sight of his captain holding Buggy's head like it was an everyday thing. What was truly disturbing was that Zoro could clearly see that Buggy was clearly still alive somehow.
"Devil fruits users' true weakness is oceanic water. I hurled the rest of his body into the ocean, so he is in kind of a coma right now. The only way he would ever wake up would be for someone to retrieve his body parts, which I very much doubt will ever happen," said Luffy. He knew he could have killed him, but he felt that since he used to be friends (kind of) with Shanks in the past, an eternal dreamless sleep with the remote (extremely unlikely) chance of ever waking up was better. "So, if you ever encounter someone with a Devil Fruit power that you can't overcome using sword skills, just flick some ocean water at them. That should give you an opening you can take advantage off," said Luffy in amusement before laughing.
"Dully noted," replied Zoro with a sweat drop as he wondered, not for the first time, if his captain was right in the head. Still, his advice, even if it was intended as a joke, was something he was going to save for future reference. Luffy spoke of Devil Fruits as if they were pretty common in the Grand Line and knowing the stories they told about those waters he wouldn't be surprised if weirder and more powerful and more ridiculous Devil Fruit powers existed there. 'Yep. I'm so upping my training after today, no matter if it's already insane as it is right now.'
A few minutes later Nami joined them somehow carrying five bags full of riches. Luffy and Zoro turned towards the tent they sweat dropped when they saw that there only remained empty barrels. 'Does she get a strength boost or something when it comes to money?' Luffy wondered internally as he raised an eyebrow at her. "How much did he have?"
Nami huffed in annoyance as she glared at Buggy's head after getting over her shock of seeing in its current state. She didn't wonder how he was still alive because she had already seen him detach part of his body like it was nothing. "The rumors about the amount he had were exaggerated, surely by himself for some reason or another. I only gathered around ฿7,000,000, likely a bit less than that," she sulked as she looked at the five bags which she had left on the floor momentarily.
"Yeah, about that…" Luffy trailed off and he smiled in nervousness as Nami turned sharply towards him. He gave Zoro a betrayed look when the mam wisely got away from Nami's sight and left him to his own devices. Luffy sighed and turned towards Nami who had her arms crossed. "I don't think you should take all the money, Nami."
"What?" She snapped, glaring at him. "Why the hell not?!"
Luffy raised his hands in a placating fashion, a motion that was even funnier since he was holding Buggy's head in his right hand. "That tent likely held what Buggy and his pirates looted from this town. Not only that, but Buggy destroyed almost half of the town. Do you really want to leave the elderly, men, women and children without a manner in which they could rebuild and get themselves back up to where they were before Buggy got here?"
Nami lost her angry expression as Luffy explained and she sighed in defeat when he finished. "I guess you are right. I couldn't possibly do that. I'm not the type of scum to knowingly make others suffer," she said with a surprising amount of venom, something that Luffy saved away for later. "I'll leave them the things Buggy took from them and three bags worth of money. That should give them enough to at least rebuild what was destroyed and I am still left with around two million. That's better than nothing, I guess," she went back to sulking.
Luffy laughed and patted her head tenderly, an action that for some reason made her happy and had her blushing like a ripe tomato. "That's nice of you, Nami. Besides, it's not like you have to keep looking for money. Since you are part of the of crew, and the money that I collect is for the crew, you can take whatever you need."
Nami paused and stared blankly at Luffy. "What?"
Luffy returned the look with a tilt of his head and a clueless expression on his face. "Eh? Didn't I tell you that? I swore I did. But, yes, you can- huff!" He blinked and looked down to see Nami with her arms wrapped around his midsection and her face buried into his vest as her shoulders shook slightly. "Nami?"
The orange haired girl for her part couldn't believe what she just heard. She knew that Luffy was being one hundred percent honest with her at that moment. It only took her nine days to figure a fundamental aspect of Luffy that should someone know about it they would take advantage of it. Luffy didn't lie. Sure, he could withhold information and he could let you think whatever you wanted to think by not correcting you, but whenever he said something it was because he at the very least believed that whatever he said was the truth. So, Nami knew that when Luffy was offering the money that was his, she knew that he meant it one hundred percent.
That meant that she had more than enough to finally buy her village back from Arlong. And that made her happy beyond belief. It was because of that reason that Nami allowed some tears to leak from the corner of her eyes as she looked up at Luffy with the warmest and truest smile she had given him yet. "Thank you, Luffy," she said simply before she buried her head back into his chest.
Luffy blinked, smiled softly and hugged her back without saying a word. He didn't know what had prompted Nami's sudden emotional response, but he was glad that he had made her happy, as unintentional as it was. Still, he wondered why the knowledge of her finally realizing that she had reached her goal prompted such a response. No matter if it was her goal, it was only money after all. Unless, of course, there was something more to it. And Luffy was willing to bet his straw hat that it was. Perhaps, he could gain more of Nami's trust so she would tell him and they could grow closer.
Zoro stood to the side with his arms crossed and his eyes closed as he leaned against a wall, seemingly not paying attention. But if you looked closely, you could see a small smile on his face.
After Nami finally got control of herself, the three of them made their way back to town square in which they had left Chouchou looking after the unconscious forms of Boodle and Richie, with Nami refusing to look at Luffy in the eye while blushing, much to Zoro's amusement.
They arrived only a few seconds before Boodle regained consciousness and needless to say the man was overjoyed when he saw Luffy holding Buggy's head, not even asking how it was still obviously alive. Then when they told him that they recuperated what Buggy had stolen and that they were going to leave them with some of Buggy's treasure so they could rebuild what the clown pirate had destroyed the man had begun to weep in happiness.
So, it was not a surprise to anyone that the entire town had come to see them off during the later bits of the afternoon after Boodle had gone to tell them what had happened. Since Luffy and co had arrived late in the morning and they had taken care of Buggy in less than an hour the entire town had thrown a party in celebration and Luffy, Nami and Zoro had joined earnestly.
Zoro had somehow managed to get himself drunk in less than thirty minutes, Luffy had bested men taller and wider than him in eating contests and Nami had danced happily with the town's people, feeling the joy of having one of the many weights she had upon her shoulders lifting with Luffy's declaration. She was seriously considering now going in this voyage with him after she went back home and bought it from Arlong, so she could accomplish her true dream of mapping the entire world. But that was something that needed further thought than a spur of the moment desire.
The party ended relatively quickly since the townspeople wanted to go back to their homes and those that had theirs destroyed wanted to start rebuilding right away. Luffy and Zoro had no issues with that and neither did Zoro, who was passed out drunk and had to be carried by Luffy. Thankfully he had already taken Richie to their ship otherwise it would've been tricky to figure out how to carry them both without Zoro ending with his head pressing against a part of Richie's body that he absolutely didn't want his head to be pressed against.
After Luffy deposited Zoro in one of the crewmates rooms, he went and pulled down the sails and raised their flag before he went and joined Nami in front of the helm as she held a compass and a map.
"So, where to now… Captain?" Nami asked, using the word tentatively. It was surprising how right the word felt on her lips when she directed it a Luffy and the wide grin he gave her made her respond with a similar one of her own.
"We need to go to the nearest marine base, so I can turn Buggy's head in. After that I'd like to see where we can find somewhere to make modifications to this ship, so she can tackle the Grand Line until we reach Water 7, where we should be able to get a proper ship built. But we must also find ourselves a cook, a doctor/surgeon, a carpenter and a musician before we head to the Grand Line," mused Luffy thoughtfully as he rubbed his jaw.
Nami raised an eyebrow at him. "I understand the first three, but why is a musician a must before heading to the Grand Line?"
"No voyage is complete without good music," said Luffy sagely, almost looking as if he was quoting someone else. He actually was. Want to guess who?
Nami shook her head before taking a look at her map. "I don't know where you would be getting more members for the crew but there is a marine base in the Gecko Islands. It should only take us around two weeks to get there if the winds are kind and nothing unexpected happens," said Nami after a moment of observing her map, made by herself, of East Blue and recalling the localizations of note that she had memorized in case she needed to usurp them of their money.
"Then you know what to do. I'll go get Nina settled so we can be on our way," said Luffy before he walked away to do just that leaving Nami shaking her head as she wondered when exactly had she gotten to the point that to her the thought of a Sea King towing their ship was normal.
A few moments later the course was set and Nami went to the captain quarters so she vould count the money she had gotten from the ordeal with Buggy in order to tell exactly how much Luffy needed to give her. Thinking of it made her feel all warm inside and the smile on her face would only disappear when she found out the next day that since she was getting better, the intensity (and insanity) of the training needed to be increased.
Luffy, meanwhile, was sitting on the deck looking up at Richie who had finally woken up. He noticed the change right away. While before Richie looked like a savage animal that was only holding back due to the order of its master, the Menean Lion now held itself with an obvious and natural regality to it that one could only be born with it. It was looking down at Luffy with eyes that were even more intelligent than before and there was a deep sense of gratitude in them.
Luffy inclined his head at the great beast that demanded respect with its mere presence. "I take it that you were obeying that Mohji guy against your will, right?" He asked the unnecessary question for the sake of clarification. When Richie nodded at him Luffy continued speaking. "Then I'm sorry for taking you with me on this ship without asking you if you wanted to. I'm afraid that the Town's people already saw you as a part of Buggy's crew and they wouldn't have been exactly overjoyed by your presence. If it is your desire, I'll leave you in the next island that has an ecosystem in which you can comfortably live in."
Richie shook its head and it raised its left paw before he could put it on Luffy's right shoulder while bowing his great head to him after giving him an earnest expression. Luffy grinned as he got the message. "You want to travel with us?" The Menean Lion nodded its head. "That's great! Welcome to the crew, erm, I suppose Richie isn't your real name, is it?"
The Menean Lion got shook its head rapidly with a disgusted look on its face before it stood up and walked towards the railing and raised its paw to point at the setting sun before he looked up and pointed at the sails that were being pushed by the wind.
It took a moment but Luffy got what he was trying to say. "Sunset Wind? That's your name?" The Menean Lion gave him a pleased nod and Luffy gave an impressed whistle and a grin as he regarded the magnificent beast. "That's a pretty badass name. Though it's a bit of a mouthful if I have to say that every time I have to call you by your name. Hm," said Luffy for a few moments before he perked up. "Would you mind if I called you Sunny? That's close enough to your actual name and it isn't demeaning at all."
His response was a nod and the equivalent of a shrug. Luffy grinned and extended his hand towards the newly dubbed Sunny. "Then welcome to the crew, Sunny! It's an honor to have someone such as you as a member of our crew!" Declared Luffy with a delighted laugh. Sunny gave an approving and quite happy sounding growl as he extended his right foreleg towards Luffy and exchanged a handshake, identical grins on their faces.
"Oi, Luffy…" started to say Zoro gruffly before pausing as a disturbed expression appeared on his face. "Why is that beast of a lion doing what looks like leg strengthening exercises with weights strapped to its back?"
"It, is actually a he and he's got a name, you know? It's Sunset Wind, but you can call him Sunny if you want. He's cool with it," replied Luffy right away as he continued to look at Sunny, who was doing precisely what Zoro said the great lion was doing, with a critical eye. "And I'm obviously going to try to teach him the Rokushiki, of course. That's the reason why he is training just like you and Nami are. Don't ask silly questions, Zoro."
"I ain't asking no goddamned silly questions you moron!" Shouted Zoro angrily with a comical angry face with narrowed white eyes and sharp like teeth. "Why are you trying to teach… Sunny… the Rokushiki? And is it even possible for an animal to learn it?"
"I'm going to answer your first question with one of my own: Can you imagine the faces the flunkies of the World Government and the Marines are going to make when a lion of a species that can only be found in East Blue starts kicking their asses using their own techniques? Shishishishi!" Luffy chuckled and nodded in approval after he saw what he was looking for and he turned towards the now gaping Zoro with a grin. "As for your second question I thought I told you that anyone with the correct type of training, time and mindset can learn them. And Sunny definitely has all of that in spades, don't you boy?"
Sunny roared in agreement as he continued to use his front and back legs to push his body up and down, a mildly strained expression on his face as he seemingly struggled against the weight that was strapped to his back using rope.
"Give it… a rest… Zoro. Honestly… you should be… used to things… like that… already," said Nami through pant as she did her own set of sit ups while wearing the weighs around her midsection, legs and arms that she had been using ever since Luffy started training her. She was still trying to wrap her head around the mechanism that allowed them to increase their weight after analyzing the current physical strength of the one that was wearing them. "Won't Nina… get jealous… though?"
Luffy frowned at her in confusion. "Why would she get jealous?"
"You got… another pet… didn't you?"
Luffy raised his eyebrows alarmingly at her. "Nina and Sunny ain't pets, Nami! They are members of the crew just like you, Zoro and I are! Just because they are of a different species all together doesn't mean they are pets! Nina has an actual job to do, which is to make yours way easier and Sunny is going to become a force to be reckoned with whom will fight at your side in the near future!"
"Ah… I get it… sorry Sunny… I'll… apologize to Nina… after I'm done… here," she said before she went back to focusing solely on what she was currently doing. Luffy, looking very pleased with himself after that, turned back towards Sunny in order to correct him on what he was doing wrong and walk him through the training routine Luffy wanted him to develop so he could learn the Rokushiki as fast as he was able.
Zoro could only shake his head in disbelief. "Am I the only sane person on this ship?" He muttered. 'For some reason, that's fucking depressing…'
A few days after Luffy and his crew left Orange Town, a dhoni approached the town from the direction of the docks that Buggy had used to set his base. The only occupant of the small sailboat was an extremely beautiful woman that was grasping the tiller as she smiled serenely at the upcoming island with hopeful dark green eyes. She was wearing a white cowboy hat, a bikini top that strained against her big, perky breasts and pink capri pants that showed off her slim, toned and well-endowed figure. Over all of that she wearing a pink cloak like cape with pink hearts.
"Ah, I hope my dear Luffy-sama came through here after he left me on Shells Town as a test to see if I could be competent enough to free myself and find him to show that I am worthy of him," said the quite changed Alvida lovingly as she caressed her new spiked iron mace that rested at her side on the boat. She had acquired it at Shells Town before she escaped using a dhoni that was idly resting at the docks that for some reason had been stockpiled with enough food to last for a few days.
Seeing such a thing had led her to convince herself even more of her own delusions about the reason behind Luffy leaving her within a cell in Shells Town Marine base. She thought that the boat had been Luffy's reward for successfully escaping and his encouragement for her to find him. If she knew the whole story on how the dhoni was there, if you squinted until your eyes were slits, you could say that Luffy was kind of indirectly responsible for Alvida acquiring the boat.
After she left Shells Town, she had found herself on a medium sized island that wasn't recorded in the official maps of East Blue. There she found and ate a Devil Fruit that made her immune to physical attacks by making them slip off her body. Not only that but eating the fruit had made her even more beautiful by making the freckles that were in her face disappear and enhancing her previous looks to levels she could only had dreamt off before.
"I have been learning how to use my new powers and increasing my abilities just for you Luffy-sama! I'll show you that I am worthy of you when the time comes for us to meet again!" She declared with a happy and beautiful grin as she suddenly stood up as she reached the docks, her breasts bouncing with the motion, making the workers that were repairing the damages from Buggy's stay stop and stare with heart in their eyes, blushing faces and drool leaking from the corners of their mouths.
Alvida's smile widened as she saw this. With her newfound enhanced beauty, it had gotten easier to get men, and some women, to tell her what she wanted to know. She was sure that getting information on Luffy would be easy enough and in no time at all she would be on his trail.
After all, it was now obvious that her dear Luffy-sama had come through here. She had heard about Buggy the Clown setting shop here in Orange Town and a distinct lack of pirate presence here meant that he had been defeated and driven off at the very least and/or capture/killed for his bounty, which was the more likely. And Alvida knew that there were only two men within East Blue strong enough to defeat Buggy.
One of them was that awful fishman Arlong that has been ruling the Conomi Islands, who she knew would never leave the comfort and security of his 'throne' in order to fight someone like Buggy, which discarded the possibility of it being him. The second one was, of course, her dear Luffy-sama, whom she knew to be heading on this direction and from her previous encounter with him and getting a read on him she knew that he had more than enough reasons to take on Buggy.
Getting off the boat, Alvida's happy and friendly smile widened as the workers approached her almost as if they were puppies looking up at their human owner. She was sure she was on the right path and it was only a matter of time before she was reunited with her dear Luffy-sama.
"Ah… it's such a beautiful day…" muttered a young man with a slim physique, tanned skin, with medium-length black woolly hair, prominent lips and a long nose. He was wearing an olive-green plaid bandanna, a blue and white striped armband on his left arm, brown overalls with a white sash and no shirt underneath. He was also carrying with him a yellow satchel. He had his arms crossed and was looking at the ocean from a cliff with a content expression on his face. "There's nothing like starting such a happy day by looking at the sea!"
The young man was about to begin his daily routine of falsely alerting the town of there being a pirate attack, so they knew that it was time for them to get on with their days when his sharp eyesight caught something appearing over the horizon. His eyes widened when he saw that it was a ship and it was coming straight towards them. The reason of his surprise was because it was rare when a ship arrived at their island through this side. The last time he saw a ship that big was when his father sailed away actually.
Frowning a bit at the painful memories, the young man focused a bit more on the ship to see what details of it he could make out from here which were way more than what the regular person could thanks to his well-developed eyesight. He gave a sigh of relief when he saw the blank sails and flag of the ship. That meant that they weren't pirates. After narrowing his eyes and focusing when the ship was about two miles away, he managed to make out four figures standing against the railing of the forecastle deck, one of them significantly taller and furrier than the other.
"What in the hell…" he muttered as he continued on watching, only to gape in shock when all of the sudden a brown, gigantic Sea King rose from the water right to next ship until its head was half the height of the main mast. Then it ducked its head towards the figures only for him to fall on his ass in shock when he managed to make out one of the figures actually rubbing its head before it jumped towards the Sea King and untied the ropes that it had wrapped around its body close to where the head started.
Then they anchored the ship after they got a mile closer to the coast and the four figures, now distinct enough to realize that one of them was an orange haired woman, another one was a man wearing a straw hat, another was a man with green hair and three swords strapped to the haramaki on his waist and the furrier, bigger one was a freaking menean lion, got into the boat that was attached to the ship's side and lowered it so they could approach the beach.
Usopp could only gape in shock for a few moments before he recovered and he began to make his way towards the town so he could take the path down towards the beach. So excited he was to get a closer look at this group of people that he completely forgot to yell about pirates coming. This would result in many people being late to their work.
The previous fourteen days for Luffy and co had been pretty much a repeat of the nine days they spent on the sea when they went from Shells Town to Orange Town, with the only true major difference being Sunny's presence.
The menean lion quickly became friends with everyone, even Nina, proving Luffy's words about them not being pets but rather crewmembers, and he showed aspects of his personality freely. He was regal when serious and diligent when he had something to accomplish, like training for example, but when he was relaxing, he acted like a house cat, falling asleep in the most random places and purring whenever some scratched him on 'the spots' which were behind his ears, underneath his chin and anywhere on his belly.
Surprising Zoro, not facing Nami and pleasing Luffy, Sunny had taken to the training extremely well and his strength had increased noticeably even if he was still weeks away from being able to start learning the Rokushiki, but Luffy had no doubts that he would be able to use them with a few quick exceptions: Kami-e and Shigan, the former more so than the latter. Kami-e had been developed with the potential the human body had to be flexible and bend in manners that didn't look possible. As intelligent as he was, Sunny wasn't a human so there was not learning that for him. And the matter with Shigan was that Sunny lacked the ability to make his claw point straight frontwards, so he was going to have to develop a manner in which he could use the technique… or somehow adapt it to what he could do. He was not going to have issues learning Soru, Geppo, Tekkai and Rankyaku eventually.
Nami's overall physical abilities had increased noticeably once again from where she was at fourteen days ago, even putting to shame her growth in comparison after the first eleven days of training. This was because Nami had gotten used somewhat to the intensity of the exercises and without knowing she was able to push herself even further, which resulted in better results. Like Sunny, however, she was still weeks away from being able to use the Rokushiki but that didn't mean that she wasn't pleased with where she was at the moment.
According to Luffy, with whom she was lightly sparring every day as well, as she was now, she would've been able to deal with Cabaji with not too much difficulty. Not only that, but Nami had also started to notice the changes in her body. She was thankfully not bulking up, but she was definitely getting more defined and perky and that pleased her even more than her current fighting ability.
The one that took the cake, however, was Zoro. The green haired swordsman was an absolute monster and his growth rate was ridiculous. He had been already really near to being on the level needed to start learning the easiest techniques of the Rokushiki when Luffy met him, but the fact that after only twenty-three days of training he was already showing the signs of being able to use Soru astounded even Luffy. He estimated that in about two months' time Zoro would have at least a rudimentary grasp of all Rokushiki techniques and even then Luffy felt that he wasn't giving his First Mate enough credit.
Luffy also noticed that every two days he had to up the rhythm of their spars. It astounded him when he realized that Zoro would soon enough be able to keep up with him going all out using the Rokushiki and, if he could learn it eventually, and Luffy was inclined to say that Zoro could, Haki. The only advantage Luffy would ever have over Zoro would be his devil fruit powers and that was only because of their nature and it wasn't even going to be by that much if Zoro learned Busoshoku Haki.
That was many months into the future, however, and Luffy and co had to first get themselves prepared to enter the Grand Line. They needed to acquire more money, expand their crew and modify their ship. Luffy didn't know where they were going to achieve the last two, but at least he was going to cash in Buggy's bounty and get fifteen million more beries for the crew here in the marine base that was located in the Gecko Islands.
Luffy patted the bag tied to his sash inside of which was Buggy's comatose head.
"The marine base is in Pancake Town. This beach is part of Syrup Village, which is located only a few hours away on foot south of Pancake Town. So, you should be able to get your business there done by afternoon, which would mean that we could leave today. That's starting to become a trend, spend less than a day in every island we visit," commented Nami as she watched Luffy, Zoro and Sunny drag the boat towards the sand.
After that was done Zoro turned towards her and shrugged. "Eh, I don't really care one way or another about that. As long as I get to get drunk every day and a good fight every now and then, I'm alright with following you two around," said Zoro uncaringly before he pointed towards a log that wasn't too far away of them and clearly had someone poorly hiding behind it. "What the hell is up with that guy over there though?"
Luffy, Nami and Sunny turned to where Zoro was pointing with curious eyes and they indeed saw someone looking at them with wide eyes before he surprised them when he jumped out of his hidden spot and stood with his arms crossed over his chest and an intense look on his eyes. His legs were shaking though.
"I am the great pirate flee leader Usopp! I am in charge of the security of this village! You may call me 'Captain Usopp'! My eighty million men and I will show no mercy if you prove to be a threat to this village!" He declared.
Nami looked at him flatly. "Can't you tell a more convincing lie?" She deadpanned at him.
Usopp grabbed his head and a comically shocked expression appeared on his face. "Gah! I've been found out!"
"He doesn't even deny it," muttered Zoro with an amused chuckle.
"Gah! Did I just say that?! Bad planning! Bad planning indeed!" He shouted again, this time even more dramatically.
Luffy laughed at him while Sunny seemingly could only sweat drop. "You are funny!" Said Luffy before he looked at Usopp closely. "You know, I know this is the first time I've seen you in my life but I can't help but think you look familiar," muttered Luffy, racking his brain thinking about it only to perk up after a moment when realized how similar was Usopp's name to a man that belonged to Shanks' crew. "You are Yassop's son, aren't you?"
Usopp, who had been staring it awe at Sunny after he got over them discovering his lie so easily and him unintentionally confirming to them that he was lying, turned towards him so fast that it almost looked like he broke his neck. "You know my dad?"
"Shishishishishi! You could say that. He was part of the crew of the man that inspired me to become a pirate myself. I remember that when he was drunk, he couldn't stop blabbering about how proud he was of his son and how much he loved his wife. He also thought me how to properly use a flintlock, but I'm afraid I'll never be as good as him. That man could hit a bullseye while drunk, eyes closed, hundreds of meters away, turned away from the target and holding the gun over his shoulder!"
Zoro and Nami gave him wide eyed looks after he revealed that. Sunny only looked on bored, likely because since he was a lion, he didn't grasp the ridiculousness of the feat Luffy described.
Usopp too was looking at him wide eyes, so surprised that he even ignored the fact that Luffy just told him that he was a pirate, which more than likely meant that his two companions were also pirates. Instead, he focused on a more pressing manner to him. "You met my father?! When did you meet him?!"
Luffy shrugged his shoulders. "About ten years ago, give it or take it a few months."
'That means that it happened around the time he left Mom and me. At least now I know that he had not been in East Blue since then…' thought Usopp with some relief as he didn't know how he would've reacted if his father had been in East Blue all this time and had not come to visit him. Though Usopp didn't know how he would've taken the news of his mother's death, he was sure that having his father there with him through those tough times would've made things more bearable for him. Usopp shook his head and gave Luffy a small smile. "I see. Thanks for telling me."
Luffy grinned and waved hi apologies off uncaringly. "No problem."
It was then when Usopp remembered the other important thing Luffy said and he pointed at them while backing away a few steps in shock. "You are pirates?!"
"And is it now when he reacts to that?" Muttered Zoro with some amused disbelief.
"These three are pirates. I'm just their navigator," denied Nami with a shake of her head. She might like Luffy, having realized that he was a good person despite claiming that his desire was to become the king of all pirates, and Zoro too to some extent and she had fully wrapped her head around the fact that Sunny was also a crewmember, but that she was still far ways from wanting to be catalogued with that title. She couldn't help the happy flutter in her stomach and the pink that colored her cheeks when Luffy beamed at her so earnestly after admitting that she was their navigator, though.
Seeing how nervous Usopp was, Luffy was quick to reassure him. "Don't worry, Usopp. You have my word that we are not here to cause trouble. Our purpose in coming here is to cash in a bounty in the marine base in Pancake Town and maybe get someone to modify our ship so it can take on the… difficult waters… of the Grand Line. We are also looking for new people to join our crew before we go there."
"The Grand Line?" Usopp asked, sounding impressed after he calmed down when he saw the sincerity in Luffy's eyes. He grinned. "That sounds like an adventure! You say you are looking for members? Well, I'll be wiling to join if you make me the captain."
"Not gonna happen," was Zoro's immediate response.
"Impossible," said Nami.
Luffy laughed. "You are funny! I like you already!"
Usopp had a depressed air around him as he saw these reactions. "Can you guys at least do as if you were considering the offer? My high self-esteem can only take so many blows," he muttered before seemingly perking up as if nothing happened. "Anyways! You guys said you were also looking to make modifications to your ship, right? I know a guy that makes designs for luxury ships and oversees their construction, so he might be able to help you."
Luffy beamed at him. "Really?! Thanks a lot, Usopp!"
Nami frowned and peered at Usopp intently. "Can you give us an estimate on how much is gonna cost?"
Usopp shrugged his shoulders. "I can't be sure. You'll have to talk with him. C'mon. Follow me. I'll take you there. After that you might thank me by allowing me to be the captain of the crew if I decide to accept your offer to join, of course!"
Zoro deadpanned at him. "You were not invited."
Usopp grasped at his heart as if he had been struck in the heart by a poisoned arrow. "Gah! So cold and direct! Be more tactful!"
Nami groaned, Zoro snorted and Luffy laughed as Usopp began to lead them toward the town. Sunny followed them with a regal air about him as he peered curiously at his surroundings.
"So…" Usopp began to say after a few moments, a bit hesitant. "I can see you have a menean lion with you… and correct me if I wrong… but was that a Sea King that you petted and sent away after you anchored your ship?"
Luffy grinned. So, this guy's eyesight was good enough to make out that many details from what had to be at least a distance of two miles? Interesting.
Usopp led Luffy, Nami, Zoro and Sunny through the village, the group easily gathering the attention of the villagers what with an excited Usopp intently listening to Luffy as he regaled him with the stories of how Nina, and had Usopp reacted ridiculously when he found out that the Sea King was a female and named as such, and Sunny joined the crew, someone that could only be 'Pirate Hunter' Roronoa Zoro following behind with a bored look on his face and an orange haired girl trying, and failing, to get a freaking menean lion to let her ride on his back.
Even though the scene freaked everyone out, no one moved to do anything as it was obvious that they weren't causing trouble and the menean lion was obviously trained and well behaved despite its constant refusals to the girl. There was also the fact that Roronoa Zoro's presence, a notorious bounty hunter whose targets were normally pirates hence his moniker, assured them that this group was not made of pirates. And finally, despite his lying and desire to be a pirate like his father, everyone in Syrup Village knew that Usopp was harmless and a coward, so if he was willing to directly interact with this group meant that despite them looking intimidating and tough, they were harmless.
Oh, if the only knew…
It took no time for the village to start ignoring them, so they could get back to their work. As a wise man someone said, ignorance is bliss.
Luffy and the crew followed Usopp towards the outskirts of the village following a path that led them to a small hill that overlooked the entire Syrup Village, the forest and the ocean because of its height. The most glaring aspect of the hill, however, was the enormous, walled mansion that rested on top of it. It looked out of place for many reasons, mainly its size and design in comparison with other buildings within the village and that wasn't even counting the fact that it was located atop the small hill.
Luffy gave it an appreciative look as he whistled. "That's a very nice house. Is the guy that's going to modify our ship the owner?" If that was the case then it could only mean that the guy was the real deal, as he was successful enough to get himself such a big house in a place like Syrup Village, where everyone else was more of the humble sort.
Usopp shook his head in the negative. "No. The guy that might be able to help you works for the actual owner as her butler. He does ship designs on the side as a hobby, but I promise he is the real deal," he assured them before he smiled softly as he looked towards the mansion. "The owner is a sickly but sweet girl named Kaya. Her parents died about three years ago of natural causes leaving her with everything he had, which includes the mansion, the land in which Syrup Village is built and a few businesses over in Pancake Town. Because of her sickens and status she's been very lonely, but I managed to become her friend and I occasionally sneak in to make her company."
Nami, who had given up on trying to convince Sunny to give her a ride, grinned as she heard this, and she fell into step next to Usopp as she nudged him teasingly. "Huh, who would've thought? The good for nothing liar turned out to be a decent guy with a crush on the princess of the island," she said, easily being able to tell that Usopp was telling the truth in that moment.
Usopp blushed and stammered for a few moments before he shook his head, missing Nami's giggling and Zoro's and Luffy's snickering, as he managed to get his wits back about him. His face was still somewhat red though. "Ahem! I would appreciate if next time you complimented me, there wasn't a bigger insult in your words," he told her, and she waved him off uncaringly he sighed. "I get no respect here. Anyways, I think if I vouch for you guys maybe I can get Kaya to get Merry to work on your ship at a reasonable price."
Nami frowned a bit. "And how much would you consider to be a 'reasonable' prize?" She asked, settling into her still unofficial role as the crew's treasurer. She had finally got around counting the amount they had on board and it amounted to about forty five million beries: the ten million Luffy already possessed when he began sailing, the five million she got from Alvida's treasure, plus Alvida's own bounty of five million, the six million she got from the marine base at Shells Town, the two million she acquired from the fiasco with Buggy and finally the fifteen million bounty that was on said clown's head that Luffy would be cashing up later plush the two million she had managed to scrap up on her own before meeting Luffy.
It had floored her completely that in less than a month ever since meeting and travelling with Luffy she had managed to 'acquire' almost half of what she needed in order to save her village even when she had only needed about twenty million when she last set out. If that wasn't the world itself telling her that going with Luffy was the best thing she could do, she didn't know what all of it meant. And an even bigger surprise to her was that she hadn't felt the temptation of stealing the money and the ship and sail back towards the Conomi Islands on her own.
She knew deep down that it wasn't because she wouldn't be able to do so what with Luffy, Nina, Zoro and Sunny (In that order) being able to easily stop her. She knew that there was no need for her to do such thing since Luffy had already promised her the money she needed to purchase Cocoyashi Village from Arlong so she could save them. She knew that as his navigator, she belonged to Luffy's crews, that she was one of his. She had seen enough of Luffy's character to know that his word was his bond when it came to those he considered friends.
She liked to think that it was the case between them, that they were at least friends. 'Oh, and there's also the fact that I am impossibly attracted to him, and I can tell that he is as attracted to me as I am to him. I hope for more than friendship in the future. His glances are not that discreet, which isn't a surprise. That can wait a bit though,' she thought with a furious blush as her eyes trailed a few times in his direction, her stomach fluttering a bit as she saw him and Zoro snickering while pointing at a for-some-reason-annoyed Sunny. She got her head back in the game. She had to make sure they didn't get scammed and that there was enough money for her to buy her village back.
Usopp didn't notice this as he shrugged his shoulders uncaringly. "I wouldn't really know, since ship building and design isn't my thing. What I do know is that it's sure to cost a significant amount, since you have to take into account materials and work force, you know?"
Nami clicked her tongue in annoyance but nodded in understanding. She would have to wait to talk to Kaya's butler and haggle for prizes if that turned out to be the case.
"Oi!" Called out Zoro after the amusement at seeing Sunny being annoyed by a few bugs he couldn't drive away by snapping at them with his jaws died down. "I want to get back to training and drinking myself to a coma so let's get this over with!" He shouted with some annoyance as he rested his arm on top of his swords. Ever since he joined the crew and got introduced to Luffy's training methods, he had become an even bigger training freak. Not only that, but the seemingly endless alcohol supply tended to his secondary addiction. Being away from them for a few hours resulted in Zoro feeling a bit antsy after more than twenty days of non-stop indulging.
Gulping a bit at Zoro's annoyed glare, Usopp ignored Luffy's uncaring grin and Nami's eyeroll as he hastened his pace and covered the last few years of the trip and stopped in front of the gate and the men guarding it. After being at the end of Roronoa Zoro's annoyance, ignoring the glares from the two guardsmen was easy. "Good morning, fine gentlemen! This is Captain Usopp speaking! With a rather out of character act, I am here to cause no mischief but rather guiding these people who have business with Kaya-sama!" He declared in an over the top fashion after motioning towards Luffy and co with a ridiculous flourish.
The two guardsmen exchanged unsure glances as they gave Zoro, whom they recognized as a bloodthirsty and ruthless bounty hunter, and Sunny, whom looked to be the most dangerous of the four of them, wary looks.
Nami stepped forward and smiled at the men, smirking as her sensual appearance and beauty did its job in gathering the attention of the two men and distracting them. "What Usopp-kun meant to say is that we would like to see if Kaya-san's butler would be able to design and oversee a few modifications we would like to get for our ship. I promise we are not here to cause trouble," she said, smiling sweetly.
The guards exchanged another glance before the one of the left nodded slowly. "If that's the case, I don't think there would be an issue on letting them go inside, right?" He asked his counterpart that stood at the right, his eyes trailing back to Nami as he blushed and grinned like a loon.
"I suppose you are right," said the one of the right, also distracted by Nami's figure and sweetness. He still had more sense than his partner, so he was thinking about possible repercussions, like getting fired or being forbidden from going on that vacation that Klahadore had so kindly arranged for them and most of the mansion's staff. He still concluded that letting this group go in and establish business with Kaya-sama wouldn't result in that. There had to be a compromise though. "I'm afraid that your pet menean lion is going to have to wait outside though."
"Oi!" Luffy shouted as he wrapped an arm around an annoyed Sunny's neck as the two of them glared at the suddenly nervous guards. "Sunny ain't no pet! He is a full-fledged member of- ouch! Nami! What gives?!" Whined Luffy with a pout as he cradled his right foot which Nami had promptly stepped on. Even though he had felt the stomp, it hadn't really hurt but it had still surprised him.
With her sweet smile having gone strained at Luffy almost revealing that he was a pirate, which wouldn't have gone well for anyone involved, Nami ignored him and addressed the guards. "That won't be a problem, good sirs. Sunny is very well behaved so he shouldn't have any issues with waiting for us here, right?" The last part of her speech was directed towards Sunny, who still looked annoyed. The menean lion glanced at Nami, huffed and then snorted before he went to lay down next to a tree that was giving quite the nice shade.
Luffy pouted even harder.
Nami turned back towards the guards and cocked her head cutely. "See? No problem at all."
The guards could only look at the group strangely before shaking their heads and silently opening the doors for them. With a happy expression of gratitude, Nami almost skipped in and she was followed by a pouting Luffy who began to complain about her treating Sunny like a pet and making him stay behind, with Nami ignoring him completely, which only resulted in Luffy pouting even harder.
Usopp gaped in disbelief as he turned towards Zoro. "Is this the norm with you guys?"
Zoro nodded almost solemnly. "Depressingly enough, you have seen nothing yet," he said with a shake of his head before he clicked his tongue and turned away from the mansion and back towards the village. "Anyways, it's not like I am actually needed here. I'm sure Nami and Luffy can take care of business here. If they, for some asinine reason, need me, tell them that I am getting wasted on the local bar and that I will likely be passed out inside a dirty alley," said Zoro as he threw an uncaring wave as he walked away.
Usopp looked at him walking away with wide eyes and a gaping mouth before he shook his head in disbelief. "These guys are crazy," he said to himself before he ran towards Luffy and Nami who had been waiting for him. He looked at them with an unsure smile. He told them what Zoro said and their only reaction was Luffy chuckling and uncaringly waving it off as a non-issue while Nami clicked her tongue and rolled her eyes in annoyance. Neither of them acted like it was unexpected though.
The three of them began to walk towards the doors of the mansion only for one of the windows of the first floor to open almost abruptly as a pale-skinned and blonde-haired girl with light brown eyes peeked the top half of her body out. She had a smile on her face as she waved at them. "Usopp-kun!"
Usopp grinned when he saw her. "Kaya!" He waved back at her for a moment before he turned towards Luffy and Nami. "C'mon. Let me introduce you to her," he said before he began to make his way towards the still smiling girl. Luffy shrugged and followed while Nami pouted a bit at Usopp not allowing her to tease him about Kaya being really pretty. Oh well, she was sure there was going to be time for that later.
When Usopp reached Kaya, she looked down at him as she rested her forearms on the lower frames of her window as she gave him a fond smile. "You are here earlier today, and you didn't sneak around to get here for a chance. Is Captain Usopp, the brave warrior of the sea, changing his vile ways?" She teased him a bit with her words. She knew that the stories he told her were lies but she also knew why he did it and he didn't have the slightest clue how much it meant to her.
When her only other options for company where her two senior butlers, Klahadore and Merry, both of whom she loved very much but could be too much in their 'worrying', 'taking care of' and 'tending to their duties' regarding her, it was no wonder she appreciated Usopp so much.
Usopp blushed red at her teasing words and the look on her face. He began to stammer and make denying motions with his arms. "Erm, no! Of course not! I shall never change my ways! Mwahahah!" He laughed, somewhat nervously, at the end before pointing at Luffy and Nami, who had amused expressions on their faces as they stood to the side and watched the interaction. "I am not her to regal you with my adventures! These fine people have official business with you and I took it upon myself to take them here!" He declared proudly as he crossed his arms and adopted a satisfied expression.
Kaya giggled before shaking her head fondly at him. "Never change, Usopp-kun. Never change," she said, giggling again when he looked away bashfully as he rubbed the back of his head, before turning towards the black-haired teen wearing a straw hat and the orange haired girl with brown eyes darker than her own. She looked at them with curious eyes and a smile. "Hello. My name is Kaya. What kind of 'official business' these would be?"
"Ah, so polite!" Complimented Nami, both because she wanted to make a good impression and because it was a nice breath of fresh air after dealing with the likes of Zoro and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Luffy for so long. She stepped forward with a smile and motioned towards herself. "My name is Nami. Pleasure to meet you…"
"I am Monkey D. Luffy! The man that will become-!" Luffy began to say as he also approached but he was abruptly stopped when Nami stomped on his foot… again. "…Why?" He whined.
Nami ignored Luffy's childish pout and her smile was strained and nervous as she looked at the curious look Kaya sent towards Luffy. "Ignore him. He get's excited easily," she said uncaringly and getting the blond girl's attention. "Usopp here told us that a member of your staff, Merry I think he said his name was, is well versed in ship design and modification. We would like to talk to him about upgrading our ship and how much it would cost."
Kaya eyes gleamed in realization and her smile widened a bit. "Oh! If that's the case then you may come inside so you can speak with Merry! He manages his business on his own after all," she said, not having a problem with inviting them in to her house. Usopp vouched for their character and despite knowing he was a liar, she knew for a fact that he was a good person and a good judge of character.
"What are you doing here?!" A sudden voice declared and they turned to see a well-dressed person walking towards them at a fast pace. He was a tall and slim man with glasses and slicked black hair. He wore a black suit with two golden markings on it that resembled piled excrement over a white shirt with a curious collar, with spiral-like protrusions on the edges, and a black tie. He also sported striped shoes. He was glaring at all of them, except for Kaya, with an annoyed expression on his face. "You can't just come into the mansion uninvited like this!"
Kaya gave him a surprised look. "Klahadore!"
Luffy just looked at him with curiosity. "Who's he?"
Usopp clicked his tongue in annoyance and looked away. "Ugh! The butler!"
Kaya began to explain with a worried expression on her face. "Listen, Klahadore, these people didn't come uninvited. They actually-"
Kaya was rudely interrupted when the man, Klahadore, raised a hand towards her. "You don't have to explain! I will ask you about it later!" He said rudely before turning towards Luffy, Nami and Usopp. "Please, get-"
It was time now for Nami to interrupt him as she stepped up towards him and crossed her arms under her bust. "How dare you talk to your mistress like that, huh? Aren't you just her butler? And for your information, the guards at the door let us through when we told them that we have official business here!" She shouted at him with an annoyed expression on her face. 'The nerve of this guy!' She thought furiously while glaring at him.
Klahadore faltered at that and he now looked unsure of himself. One quick look towards a surprisingly reproachful Kaya told him that it was indeed the case. Hiding his embarrassment, Klahadore decided to focus on an easier target in order to pass the shame he was feeling towards someone else. He fixed his glasses with the palm of his hand as he looked towards Usopp with a gleam on his eyes.
Both Luffy and Nami took notice of the strange motion but chalked it up to it being a quirk of the man.
"You… you're Usopp-kun…" he trailed off as a smirk appeared on his face. "I've heard some rumors about you. The villagers talk about you all the time, you know?"
Usopp changed his previously nervous expression into a prideful one as he pointed at him self with his right thumb while his left fist was put against his waist. "Oh! Well, thank you, mister butler! You may call me Captain Usopp! Everyone calls me that."
Klahadore ignored his words as he once again pushed his glasses up with the palm of his right hand. "The guards at the gates were the ones that told me you had come here. They might have official business with Kaya-sama but what you might want escapes me."
Usopp faltered a bit as he looked at the butler with a perplexed expression on his face. "Didn't the guards tell you? I told them that I was escorting them here. And since Kaya is my friend, well, I also used the opportunity to visit her," admitted Usopp at the end with a light blush. When Kaya smiled brightly at him, he only looked away as his face got redder. Luffy and Nami gave him looks of amusement.
Klahadore also chuckled in amusement but his next words proved that it was for an entirely different reason. "I can see that you can certainly lie well!"
"What?!" Usopp turned sharply towards him. The others also gave him looks of surprise.
"I've heard about your father too…" he said as he pushed his glasses up with the palm of his hand and looked at Usopp with a condescending expression on his face. "You are the son of a filthy and good-for-nothing pirate! I'm not surprised that you turned out this way! Friends with Kaya-sama? Ha! Don't make me laugh! You better stay away from her!"
'What a fucking asshole!' Thought Nami as she glared at him with her fists tightening and her knuckles slightly popping. She didn't know why, but there was something about this man that just pissed her off to the core.
"Klahadore! How can you say something like that?" Shouted Kaya with a scandalized and slightly angry expression on her face.
Usopp growled deep in the back of his throat as he gave a surprisingly intimidating glare towards Klahadore. He was slightly hunched over and his fists were tightening at his sides. "… did you just say filthy and good-for-nothing…?"
'Hoho! These two got more spunk than what their appearances might suggest,' thought Luffy with some amusement before turning towards Klahadore and adopting a smirk on his face. "I'm afraid you are grossly misinformed, Kaladoor. Usopp's father is far from being a filthy and good-for-nothing pirate. He is the master gunner of the Red Hair Pirates, a core member of the crew of Akagami Shanks, one of the Yonko."
Everyone looked at Luffy with wide eyes and a slightly pale face in the case of Klahadore. Luffy had never elaborated whose crew Usopp's father was member of and he had never said the name of the man that had inspired him to become a pirate which was why Nami was also shocked by his words. Klahadore, however, was shaken by the fact that he had just insulted someone directly related to a Yonko…
Usopp was the first to recover and he puffed up in pride.
Klahadore got annoyed by the satisfied expression on Usopp's face and scoffed. "So, what? A filthy pirate is a still a filthy pirate! The son of one is no better! You and Kaya-sama belong to completely different worlds. I wonder why you 'befriended' her…" he trailed off before perking up as if figuring out his own ponderings. "Is it money that you are hoping for? Name your price to never bother Kaya-sama again."
"Klahadore!" Shouted Kaya at the top of her lungs as she glared at him, surprising everyone since they didn't expect such an outburst from someone like her. "That's enough! Apologize to Usopp-kun this instant!" She ordered while narrowing her eyes. She knew that the only thing Usopp wanted from her was to see her smiling and happy. That was why he told her those obviously outlandish stories. It angered her to hear Klahadore say such things about him.
Klahadore let go of his surprise and turned towards Kaya with an unrepentant expression on his face. "There's no need for me to apologize to this uncivilized person! I'm just telling the truth!" He declared before turning towards an increasingly angry Usopp. "I actually feel sorry for you. You must hate your father, right? Because he's just a dumb treasure hunter who deserted his family and village!"
Kaya's glare matched Nami's now. "Klahadore!"
Usopp's glare was positively murderous and the capillaries of his eyes were so marked that they looked almost bloodshot as he growled out his next words. "…Say another bad thing about my father… I fucking dare you…"
Klahadore smirked condescendingly as looked down on Usopp and pushed up his glasses once again with the palm of his hand. "Why are you so angry? You aren't very smart, are you? Why don't you spew your usual lies about him, huh? You could have said that your father was a travelling merchant… or even that you and him aren't blood related…"
"Shut the fuck up!"
… and punched Klahadore right in the face.
Kaya's eyes widened and she gasped as her hand flew to cover her mouth in shock.
Nami smirked at the sight of the asshole butler getting what he had coming to him.
Luffy gave an appreciative whistle. 'That was a good punch even though his form was horrible. It's obvious he has never trained in that are before. More importantly though…' he trailed off as he grew serious and gave Klahadore a speculative look. 'He stopped himself from reacting to Usopp's punch. This guy is no ordinary butler.'
"Gah! Ugh! See! You are violent! Like father, like son!" Shouted Klahadore as he quickly found his glasses and but them back on as he pushed himself up to a sitting position. The left side of his face was starting to bruise but he had a satisfied smirk on his face.
"I said shut the fuck up!" Shouted Usopp as he glared at the downed Klahadore. "I'm proud that my dad is one of the most infamous pirates! I'm proud that he is a brave warrior of the sea! You are right that I like to lie but I'm proud of having a pirate's blood in me! I don't have to pretend I'm not! I am the son of a pirate!" He screamed at the top of his lungs at the end.
Luffy could only grin as he looked at Usopp. 'This guy…'
Still sitting on the ground and smirking, Klahadore pushed up his glasses with the palm of his hand. "You said pirates are 'brave warriors of the sea'? Hah! Don't make me laugh! Don't twist the truth! It's because you have that savage bloodline that you like to lie so much and use violence whenever you are enraged," he said as he stood up and dusted off his suit. "I believe you only try to get close to Kaya-sama because of her money…"
Usopp gritted his teeth in anger. "What the hell are you talking about! I only come here to tell Kaya stories so she can laugh and be happy for a short while! I have never asked anything of her!"
Klahadore seemingly finally lost his composure as he began to scream right back at Usopp. "Who care what your motive is?! The fact that your father is a pirate is more than enough reason for me to kick you out!"
Usopp got in Klahadore's face and grabbed him by his collar. "I fucking dare you to say that again!" He shouted with his arm cocked back and his fist ready to deliver another punch.
"Usopp-kun! Please stop! Don't harm Klahadore anymore!" Shouted Kaya with a worried and desperate expression on her face. When Usopp faltered and turned towards her with a frustrated expression on her face, Kaya covered her eyes in a bit of shame with her hand. "Klahadore isn't a bad person. He's just concerned about me. That's why he's a little extreme…"
"A little extreme?" Asked Nami incredulously as she turned towards Kaya. She pointed at the butler with a distasteful expression on her face. "That guy is just being an asshole. He even has to bring up what he obviously knows is a sore subject for Usopp in order to prove his point. Anyone would become violent if their family is insulted in such a way," said Nami with vehemence.
Kaya looked even more shamed now. "I'm so sorry…"
Klahadore slapped Usopp's loose hand away from his collar. "Get the hell out of here! Savages like you are not welcome here! I'll let you off this time, but I warn you… don't come here again!" He shouted at Usopp.
Usopp turned towards Kaya to see that she was just looking on in shame without saying anything. His face tightened in anger. "Fine. I understand. Even I know when I'm not wanted. I will never come back here again!" He declared before turning around and beginning to walk away towards the gates of the mansion, his gait hasty and his form slouched.
"Usopp-kun…" muttered Kaya with a concerned and pained expression on her face as she looked at his fading back.
"Hmph. Good riddance," said Klahadore before turning towards Luffy and Nami. He pushed up his glasses with the palm of his hand and inclined his head a bit. "I apologize for the unsightly scene. I hope that your business with Kaya-sama proves to be fruitful."
"… I'm half tempted to not conduct any business here," admitted Nami without hesitation as she switched from glaring at Klahadore with disgust and looking at Kaya with disappointed eyes. "Usopp didn't deserve that."
Klahadore didn't seem to care about her words.
Kaya flinched before giving Nami an alarmed look. "No! Please! I'm sorry! Merry's business is his own! Whatever deal you strike with him for working on your ship has nothing to do with me! Don't let this get in they of that! Please!" She pleaded while looking at Nami and Luffy pleadingly.
Klahadore straightened up. "Kaya-sama! These people don't deserve your begging-"
Kaya turned a furiously glare towards him. "Shut the hell up, Klahadore! You have caused enough trouble as it is! I won't let you ruing a possible business venture for Merry as well! And you and I will be having words later!"
Klahadore twitched but finally fell back in like as he nodded stiffly. "Of course, Kaya-sama. My apologies."
"Nami." Luffy spoke and when she turned towards him with an expression that told him she didn't want to conduct business here, he smiled placatingly at her. "I understand why you are so upset on Usopp's behalf. I am as well but we need our ship modified and who knows where we can find someone else that can do it. Let's just get this over with. We'll leave these people in peace after our business with them is done, okay?"
Nami clicked her tongue but nodded her head with some reluctance. "Alright," she agreed before turning towards a relieved Kaya and pointing angrily towards the butler. "I don't want to see this asshole's mug while I am here! That's my only demand."
Said asshole's jaw visibly tightened.
Kaya nodded immediately. "Of course." Truthfully, Nami wasn't the only one that didn't want to look at Klahadore…
"Excellent," said Luffy before turning around and starting to walk towards the gates of the mansion while waving lazily over his head. "I'll go and take over the business at Pancake Town. It shouldn't take too long. Let's meet at whatever bar Zoro is drinking dry of their alcohol, okay? Oh! And don't forget that Sunny is waiting outside!"
"Sure!" Nami shouted back at him before turning expectantly towards Kaya with a raised eyebrow. "So… what are we waiting for? I want to get this done as soon as possible after all."
Kaya had no illusions about whether she deserved or not Nami's sudden aggressive and impatient disposition. She felt horrible for not defending Usopp a few minutes ago. She had been overwhelmed by his sudden use of violence against Klahadore, something that she had not expected from whom she had thought as a harmless and well-meaning boy that liked to be n her company despite knowing that she wasn't all that interesting.
That day Kaya learned that there was more to Usopp than his well-intended lies.
Pancake Town was a few hours away from Syrup Village but that was at the pace of a normal person and Monkey D. Luffy couldn't be classified as such. With quite a liberal use of Soru, it took Luffy less than fifteen minutes to reach his destination. Pancake Town reminded Luffy a bit of Shells Town with the only difference being that the buildings weren't as tall and were a bit more separated from one another. The Marine Base also wasn't a prominent feature of the town even if it was the biggest and tallest building there.
"What is your business here?" The marine guard at the front gates of the base asked with a suspicious tone as he regarded Luffy.
The black-haired teen merely grinned before pulling out Buggy's head from its bag. The marine guard blanched and turned sickly shade of grin when he saw the somehow still alive head of Buggy the Clown staring at him with blank eyes and his tongue hanging out of his mouth. "I came here to cash in Buggy's bounty. I know it says dead or alive but do you guys accept kind of in between?" He asked sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his head with his free hand.
The marine guard looked at him without blinking for almost a full minute before nodding his head slowly. "Erm, yeah. Just… follow me, sir," he said before quickly turning around, opening the gates and starting to walk hastily towards the main building that made up the base.
With an amused expression on his face, Luffy put Buggy's head back into the bag and followed after the clearly disgusted and scared marine.
As he was led towards the treasury, Luffy managed to catch quite the interesting conversation between two marines that were idling around.
"Hey, did you hear? Captain Morgan and his bastard son Helmeppo were killed about three weeks ago!"
The other marine had wide eyes as he looked at the first one. "Truly?! By whom? Morgan was a corrupt and evil asshole yes but the man was quite strong and he could cut through a lot of things with that axe of his."
The first one shook his head. "No one knows. The marines at the 153rd Branch claimed that the assailant was cloaked from head to toe. After claiming that he was here to free Shells Town from Captain Morgan's 'reign of terror' and to recruit Roronoa Zoro, he put a bullet right in Captain Morgan's forehead. Roronoa Zoro killed Helmeppo after he was freed. The people of Shells Town also claimed to know nothing."
"Damn. It's not like I will be losing any sleep over the two of them dying but still… damn."
The first one nodded in agreement as he kept his grim expression. "And that's not all. The Shells Town marine base was robbed almost dry. And the same day Captain Morgan was killed, 'Iron Mace' Alvida had been turned in for her bounty. And guess what? That very night she broke out of her cell, knocked out everyone there that was awake and escaped Shells Town using a boat."
The other marine's eyes were wide. "Holy shit! Do you think everything was related?"
The first marine nodded. "It's a very distinct possibility. Too many coincidences adding up for it to be otherwise. If it weren't for the fact that most of the marines there had been injured, their involvement in the incidents might have be suspected but they were clearly victims of a bizarre set of events. No one really knows what happened."
As he walked away from them, Luffy hid a smirk. 'I'm not surprised those guys kept their word. They looked the sort. It also seems like Coby didn't tell them about us being the ones that robbed them of their money. And if Alvida escaped, well, that's not my problem. I already cashed in her bounty. Whatever she does from now on is not my problem,' he thought as he followed the marine into the treasury.
Other than a disgusted reaction at the sight of Buggy's head and being regarded suspiciously because of his get up, Luffy made the transaction without issues. He did have to explain how was it possible for Buggy's head to be alive and when they heard what he had done, Luffy had been unable to contain his laughter at their nervous and scared expressions. As he was leaving with the suitcase full of money, Luffy made sure to give every marine a mock salute with it just for laughs.
None of them had been amused which just resulted in it being even funnier to Luffy.
On his way back to Syrup Village Luffy once again used Soru to make the trek in less than fifteen minutes. Deciding that he didn't want to walk around carrying fifteen million beri, he decided to take the money to their ship. He made his way towards the cliffs that were on the side of the island their ship had been anchored. He was about to use his lightning powers to 'fly' towards the ship but he blinked when he saw Usopp sitting there cross-legged, hands resting on his knees and an air of solemnness surrounding him as he stared at the sea with a blank expression on his face.
A quick application of Soru had him silently standing behind him. "Yo."
"GAH!" Screamed Usopp as he jumped and turned around with a scared expression on his face.
"Shishishishi!" Chuckled Luffy before pointing at Usopp with a grin on his face. "You're sure scared easily!"
"Anyone would be scared if you spoke behind them without making a sound previously!" Screamed Usopp at him and Luffy's only reaction was to laugh. Usopp deflated after a moment and gave Luffy a curious look. "What are you doing here?"
"I was going to take the money I got from Buggy the Clown's bounty to my ship when I saw you sitting here," explained Luffy easily as he shook a bit the briefcase he was holding in his hand and then sat down next to the curly-haired liar.
"Ah. I see…" he began to say in understanding before trailing off as his eyes widened in disbelief. "Did you just say Buggy the Clown?! The guy that has a fifteen million bounty on his head?!"
Luffy chuckled at Usopp's over the top expression. "Yeah. It wasn't really that hard to beat him. His devil fruit powers allowed him to separate his body parts at will so he only was immune to slashing attacks. I just had to use my flintlock and a few well-placed punches to defeat him."
Usopp's eyes widened even more at his words. "Devil fruits?! Those are real?!"
Luffy smirked as he nodded. "Yeah. They are very much real. In the Grand Line, where I'm planning to go after I get my ship modified and get a few key members for my crew, they are pretty common all things considered."
Usopp continued to stare at Luffy with wide eyes. "You are really planning to find One Piece and become the King of the Pirates, aren't you?"
Luffy nodded his head resolutely. "Of course, I am. That's my dream and I have already decided to dedicate my life to accomplish it," he said with so much conviction that Usopp almost physically felt it. Luffy raised an eyebrow at him. "Don't you have your own dream you want to accomplish?"
Usopp lost his wide-eyed expression before turning to look towards the ocean. "… I want to become the bravest warrior of the sea…" he said before trailing off as his expression twisted somehow into a mix of melancholy and anger. "… and find my dad so I can deck him across the face for living me and my mom here and never coming back in the past ten years."
Luffy laughed in amusement and delight at that.
Usopp gave him a half-hearted glare. "Don't make fun of me! My self-esteem can only take so much punishment in one day," he said before sighing as he looked away. "I know my dreams are impossible for me to reach. I don't even know where I should start looking for my dad and the only thing I can do better than being a liar is being a coward," he admitted with a self-deprecating chuckle.
Luffy sobered up and he regarded Usopp seriously. "Seemingly impossible dreams are the best dreams to have, you know?" When Usopp turned towards him with an unsure expression, Luffy smiled wryly. "I should know. Pirate King, remember? What's more impossible than that during the 'Great Era of Piracy'?"
Usopp just continued to stare at Luffy in silence.
"But I don't care how impossible it might seem. I don't long how long it takes or how far I have to push myself. I will become the Pirate King or die trying. And Nami and Zoro? They are the same. I still don't know why yet, but Nami wasn't afraid to put her life in danger to get what she wanted. And Zoro's dream is as crazy as mine: to become the world's greatest swordsman. Did you know that the guy that holds that tittle is as strong as Akagami Shanks?"
Usopp's eyes were wide now as he stared at Luffy.
The black-haired teen just grinned. "You think your dreams are impossible for you? That's perfect then. Now the only thing you gotta do is dig deep within yourself and find the resolve to push forward to accomplish your dreams no matter what. Become a pirate and sail the seas until you can punch your dad so hard that all his teeth fall off. Cowardice ain't the thing that' stopping you. That's all on you, Usopp!"
The curly-haired teen continued to stare at Luffy for a moment before he began to speak in a weird tone that was mostly a combination of pleading and excitement. "My eyesight is so good that I can make out things in detail as far as two miles away and my marksmanship is so good that I have never missed a target when using my slingshot."
Luffy raised an eyebrow and his mouth twisted in amusement. "A slingshot? You might want to consider getting something more… lethal."
"I'll get a gun then. It's all the same for me."
Luffy snorted as a grin slowly began to appear across his face. "Is that so? Then…" he trailed off as he stood up and reached for his flintlock. He twirled it around in a smooth motion until he was grabbing it by the barrel of the gun and presenting the grip towards Usopp. "Take this."
Usopp stood up as well and took the flintlock without a word. He used his white sash to secure it to his person.
Luffy regarded Usopp with a wide grin. "Are you willing to train until you are crying, sweating and bleeding and realize that when you reach that point is when you should really start pushing yourself?"
Usopp nodded without hesitation and a serious expression on his face. "Yes."
Luffy's grin couldn't get any wider as he extended his hand towards Usopp. "Welcome onboard then, Master Gunner."
Usopp's own grin was just as wide as he grasped Luffy's forearm and gave him a firm shake. "Thank you for the opportunity, Captain."
The two of them then began to laugh in merriment. Luffy because he found another member for his crew that had lots of potential and Usopp because he finally got a real chance on becoming what he always wanted to become and accomplish his dreams.
Usopp then sobered up as his happy expression turned into one of slight nervousness. "Oh, crap. How am I going to break the news to Kaya?"
Luffy also stopped laughing as he tilted his head to the side. "I thought you were going to stop being friends with her after what happened earlier."
Usopp shook his head. "I would never do that to her. She only has Merry and that bastard butler keeping her company most of the time. I would never blame her for the way Klahadore acted. I'll just act like I'm angry and not visit for a few days. Then, when I come back, I'll tell Kaya that I'll only 'forgive' her if she forces the bastard butler to apologize to me and my father while bowing on his knees," said a smirking Usopp with a surprising amount vindictive amusement.
"Shishishishi! That's kind of cruel… but I like it. You'll fit perfectly with us," said Luffy before patting Usopp on the back in a show of comradery. He then tilted his head as he saw something on the beach bellow the cliff and he raised an eyebrow as he pointed in that direction. "Speaking of the bastard butler… what is he doing there with that weird guy?"
Usopp looked towards where Luffy was pointing and his eyes widened at the sight of Klahadore speaking with a guy he has never seen before. "Why is he here?! And who the hell is that? I've never seen him before!"
The weird and unknown guy with Klahadore was a tall and lean man with a long chin that had black and red strips and light-colored hair. He was wearing a dark blue hat, a matching colored jacket over a plain white shirt, green-brown gloves, light brown pants with a black belt and black shoes with big white socks. On his face there was a pair of heart-shaped glasses.
"Why were you sleeping in the middle of the town alongside three other kids, Jango? I thought I told you to not draw attention from the villagers," said Klahadore with a clearly annoyed tone of voice that matched the expression on his bruised face.
The man named Jango struck a pose as he looked away from Klahadore. "How can I attract any attention? It's not like I'm weird or something."
Luffy and Usopp exchanged looks and nodded. They went prone and decided to listen to the extremely suspicious conversation that was happening.
Klahadore pushed up his glasses with the palm of his hand as he regarded Jango with his annoyed expression. "… are you prepared for it?"
Jango locked eyes with him from behind his glasses. "Of course! We can start operation 'Assassinate Kaya-sama' whenever you wish."
Usopp's eyes widened in disbelief and anger as he heard Jango's words. Luffy's eyes narrowed as his expression turned into one of seriousness as his finger dug into the edge of the cliff. They managed to keep themselves silent in order to not give away their position and thus learn more about Klahadore's treacherous intentions.
"'Assassinate' is such an ugly word," said Klahadore as he shoved his hands into the pockets of his pants.
Jango kept his pose as he regarded Klahadore with some amusement. "Ah. Yeah. Accident. We'll call it an accident. Isn't that right…" he railed off as he tilted his head a bit. "… Captain Kuro?"
Luffy's eyes narrowed a bit more as he looked at 'Klahadore'. After a moment he nodded his head. "That's indeed Kuro of a Hundred Plans. When I was learning about prominent pirates on East Blue, he was one of the top dogs at that moment about three years ago. His hair is of a different color and his clothes make him look smaller but that's definitely him," said Luffy in a whisper, not wanting to give away their position.
"But didn't he get caught three years ago and executed by the marines?" Asked Usopp before his eyes widened in a sudden realization. "Wait… 'Klahadore' showed up three years ago too! He's been planning to kill Kaya all this time?!" He whispered harshly as he glared angrily down at the two men.
"I still remember that day. It simply shocked me," said Jango.
"Hm?" Was the only sound made by Kuro made as his eyes flicked towards Jango.
Jango struck another pose before he elaborated. "You said you were going to give up being a pirate and made me the captain!" He said before twirling around until he stood facing away from Kuro. "Everyone thinks that Captain Kuro has been executed by the marines! But you actually hid in this village and told us, your crew, to come here in three years' time to enact your master plan!"
Kuro simply turned to regard Jango with an annoyed expression on his face.
Jango sat in one of the rocks as he rearranged his hat. "Before, when I worked for you, the only reason I did so was because of the many… benefits. I'll be getting a good share of the profits this time as well, right?"
Kuro nodded his head. "Of course. If we succeed, you'll get your share as I promised."
Jango pointed at himself. "Good! Leave that girl to me!"
Kuro regarded Jango with a sharp look as his left hand came out of his pocket and began to twitch slightly. "Remember. Simply killing her is not enough. You have to make sure that it looks like an accident! It certainly doesn't look like you are ready if you can't remember that crucial part of the plan!"
"Bah! I'm completely ready!" Declared Jango before raising a finger and holding it up as if he was a teacher explaining his subject to a class full of students. "The Black Cat Pirates will come through the northern part of the village since it's has been unused in a long time and thus no one would expect it. We'll charge in and kill everyone including your dear Kaya-sama. It's going to look like pirates acting like pirates. After that, you can claim her inheritance without issues."
Kuro looked away from Jango in disgust as he pushed up his glasses with the palm of his hand. "I wonder if your mother actually gave you a brain! I have no familial relation to her so how can I claim her inheritance just like that, huh?"
"Nuances like that can be worked out," said Jango uncaringly.
"No!" Exclaimed Kuro as he turned around and approached Jango before shoving his finger into his chest. "The most important is that you have to hypnotize her before you kill her. Have her write my name into her will! 'I will leave all my wealth to my butler Klahadore'. Do you understand?"
Usopp's entire body began to shake as his rage and hatred for Kuro began to reach a new crescendo. Luffy's hold on the edge of the cliff had long since pulverized the rock he was holding on to.
Kuro continued speaking as he adopted a satisfied smirk on his face. "That way I can openly claim her wealth. I've spent three years getting everyone in Syrup Village to trust me. As soon as she writes her will with me in it no one will suspect me!"
Jango gave him a distasteful look. "Just for that you spent three years being a butler? If I were you, I would have just robbed them straight on!"
Kuro's expression twisted into one of annoyance. "If I'd done that, I'd still be an outlaw and the marines would still be chasing me. This plan will get me tons of money and keep the marines off my back as a plus! I like using my head to find a peaceful way to settle things!" He said with a smirk as he pointed at his forehead with his index finger.
Jango couldn't laughing loudly. "Peaceful ways of settling things? You mean murdering her entire family is considered peaceful?"
When he heard that, Usopp became completely still.
Kuro adopted a neutral expression as he raised an eyebrow at Jango. "What are you talking about? Her parents died of natural causes."
It was Jango's turn to raise his own eyebrow. "Who do you think you are trying to fool? Did you forget that the ones that got you poisons you used to kill them and the one you are using to make your dear Kaya-sama a 'sickly girl' was me?"
Kuro just clicked his tongue in annoyance and looked away.
"That… fucking… bastard…" Lowly growled Usopp as his glare was just pure hatred towards Kuro and to slightly lesser extent Jango. Luffy's expression had by now turned into a fierce scowl as he also glared at the two men down below.
Jango gave a low chuckle. "Whatever. There's no need to argue over little details like that. You just have to send the signal. Our ship has been anchored close by for almost a week now. The are getting antsy by all this waiting…" his trailed off a bit sinisterly as he finished with a wicked smile on his face.
When it seemed like the conversation was finally over, Usopp couldn't hold himself back any longer and he made to stand up and confront the two men right there and there. Before he could, however, Luffy stopped him by putting his hand on his back. Usopp turned towards him angrily only to falter a bit when he saw that Luffy was almost as angry as he was. Luffy shook his head at him and told him to wait for now. They watched as the two men then wait on their separate ways after Kuro reminded Jango to make sure everything looked like a pirate raid.
Usopp shot to his feet and he glared heatedly at Luffy the moment he knew it was safe to speak as loudly as he wanted. "Why did you let them go?! We can't let them get away with this! I won't let them harm the village and I sure as hell won't let any harm come to Kaya!"
Luffy also stood up and he grimly smirked at Usopp. "You know… where is this coward you were speaking of before?" He asked and chuckled a bit when Usopp deflated a bit and looked away in embarrasment. Luffy quickly sobered up. "Don't worry, Usopp. We are not going to allow them to complete their cruel and cowardly plot. However, if Kuro does indeed have the trust of the village, then we can't just simply kill him."
Usopp reluctantly nodded his head in agreement. "You are right. And I can't go and warn the village. They will just think I'm lying… like always…" muttered Usopp at the end somewhat bitterly and with a noticeably dose of self-reproach. "What should we do?"
"We know what they are planning to do and where they will be coming from, don't we?" Luffy asked rhetorically before an evil grin appeared on his face as he raised his hands at chest level and began to pup the knuckle of his right hand with his left hand in quite the menacing fashion. "I think we should give Kuro of the Hundred Plans a taste of his own medicine."
At those words, Usopp couldn't help but grin evilly as well.
"It was a pleasure doing business with you, Merry-san," said Nami politely as she inclined her head at the lamb-themed, tall and formally dressed man that was seeing her off. His hair was so curly that it looked like a lamb's fleece and he had two horns sticking out of it. Even his face resembled that of a lamb's somewhat and his collar had a fleece around it. Nami had barely managed to hold in her mused laughter at the sight of him at first but she had gotten used to it after their long conversation.
Merry shook his head and bowed formally at the waist. "No, Nami-san. The pleasure was all mine. I would also like to plead you to not hold the unpleasantness of earlier against Kaya-sama," he said before he rose up and regarded Nami with an almost pleading expression. "Klahadore-san and I have been taking care of her since her parents died. I'm sure you can see how that will put her in a difficult position in regards to what happened."
Nami sighed but nodded her head with a bit of reluctance. "I understand. Still, the only one that was out of place was that asshole Klahadore. Kaya shouldn't have defended his words and his actions because there was no justification for them."
Merry nodded his head. "I'm pretty sure that's the case. Usopp-kun might be a little rascal and a liar but I know he genuinely cares for Kaya-sama and that he only wants to see her happy," he said before giving a wry grin. "Also, if I may, Kaya-sama might not look like it because of her sickly countenance but she can be quite fierce and stubborn. I'm pretty sure Klahadore-san will be in the receiving end of a severe punishment for his actions and words todays."
Nami smirked at that. "We can only hope, Merry-san. We can only hope," she said before giving him a short wave. "I will be seeing you tomorrow then so I can take you to where our ship is anchored. Oh! I believe that my other companions will have more details about the things they want to add to the ship as well."
Merry nodded at her in agreement and smiled as he waved back. Satisfied with how things had gone, Nami turned around and began to make her way towards the gates of the mansion so she could procure Sunny and then meet up with Luffy and Zoro so she could tell them what she managed to arrange with Merry.
It turned out that the lamb-themed man was the real deal regarding ship design, building and/or modification. While he focused more in luxury ships since he had quite the artistic mind, he was more than capable of using his skills for more practical uses. It also helped that the ship they… acquired from Alvida was a carrack with three masts which according to Merry was one of the easiest ships to modify without too many risks to the main structure.
Since what they were planning was to increase the overall size, sturdiness and performance of the ship, the tentative prize for everything amounted to just a little more than ten million beri, which was actually less than what Nami had been expecting. She thought that what happened earlier before the 'business talks' had something to do with it but she wasn't going to complain. Also, according to Merry, the modifications were going to be taking at least a week or so because he liked to be very thorough with all of his jobs.
Nami was all up for that and she knew that neither Zoro nor Luffy would mind much. Zoro could easily continue his training and drinking on land and Luffy was the one interested on getting a proper ship so she doubted he would complain.
'And there goes the trend of staying at every island we go to for less than a day,' she thought with an amused giggle as she passed by the guards at the entrance. Her mouth twisted in distaste when she felt the lecherous gazes on her sexy and athletic figure. Now that she had no use of that kind of attention from them, she found it more than a bit disgusting. However, since she had 'flirted' with them first to take advantage of them, she just ignored them as she walked towards the peacefully napping Sunny.
'I wouldn't mind if Luffy looked at me like that though.' That stray thought made her blush a deep red. Nami acquired a pondering and fed up expression as she stood in front of the menean lion. 'Ugh. I can't take it anymore! I have to do something about this attraction! It's obvious that he is attracted to me but he just won't make a move no matter how many obvious hints I drop! I will have to take the initiative then!' Thought Nami in resolution as she adopted a determined expression.
That was when the sleeping Sunny finally registered her scent and his nose twitched a few times before his eyes opened a bit blearily. The great menean lion slowly rose to his feet and gave a powerful yawn as he stretched his back and leg. Nami, who was tiny in comparison, gave him an amused look. If it weren't for the fact that she was friends with him and that she had seen him act like a house cat many times in the past two weeks, she would have been disturbed by the sight before her.
When Sunny was done with his waking-up routine, he regarded Nami with a clearly curious expression on his surprisingly expressive face.
Nami smiled up at him. "I'm done here. Let's go meet up with Luffy and Zoro."
Sunny nodded and he began to follow Nami as she led the way forward.
"Hey, Sunny, did you get a good nap? You sure looked comfortable under that shade," asked Nami with an innocent expression on her face.
Sunny regarded her suspiciously as he slowly nodded his great head.
Nami smiled brightly at him. "That's wonderful! Do you think I can get a ride on your back? Please?" She pleaded and even gave him puppy dog eyes as she cupped her hands together beneath her chin.
Sunny's following snort and denial had her pouting morosely the rest of the way.
Nami and Sunny reached the village proper a few minutes later and it didn't take them long to find Zoro and Luffy. Since Zoro had not come with them to the mansion, it had been easier for her to deduce that he would go to the local bar to try to get drunk as quick as he possibly could and she knew Luffy would be with him. She was surprised, however, when she saw that Usopp was there as well along with three kids she had never seen before.
The six of them stood in front of the bar and both Nami and Sunny were quick to notice the solemn and serious air surrounding them when they approached. Nami also noticed that Usopp had what she recognized as Luffy's flintlock being held up to his person by his white sash. If that wasn't an indication about him becoming a member of their crew then she didn't now what would be. That only served to make her more curious about the current atmosphere since she thought that getting a new crewmate would have him in a happy mood, just like it had been when Zoro joined them.
"What happened? And who are the brats?" Those were the only things she felt she could ask considering the situation.
Sunny also regarded the group with a curious look as he ignored the awed and frightful gazes of the 'three brats'.
Usopp was the first to answer as he motioned towards the three kids. "They are my friends and I trust them. We are going to be needing their help for tomorrow."
Nami's eyebrows went up. "Tomorrow? What's happening tomorrow? Luffy?"
The straw hat wearing teen looked at Nami with a grim smile on his face. "Let's just say that modifying our ship is no longer our first priority for now, Nami. I already filled Zoro in. Come on. I'll tell you and Sunny but have to get out of the village first. Fair warning though. You are not going to like it."
Nami looked at him unsurely and with a bit of dread building up. "Okay…" she trailed off as she watched the six males start to walk away. She exchanged glances with Sunny before the two of them shrugged and hastily moved to fall into step behind them. Even though she was unsure, she was still curious to find out about any new development even though the part about her not liking it made her a bit nervous. Still, she wanted to find out…
… and Luffy was right. She didn't like it at all.
"Um, Nami-san, Merry?" Called out a slightly unsure Kaya as she stood on the beach of the southern part of the village. Nami and Merry stood at her side as she regarded the boat in front of her with some trepidation, her cute little toes wriggling slightly at the feel of sand inside her sandals. "Is this really a good idea?"
Merry also looked unsure. "Well… this was proposed by Nami-san. I have to admit that I am unsure as well."
Nami smiled brightly at the two of them. "There's no need to worry. Didn't you know that stepping out of the house every once in a while is good for people that get sick often?" She asked rhetorically before she adopted a slightly apologetic expression on her face. "And I also want to apologize for how I treated you yesterday. You had nothing to do with how that asshole Ku-Klahadore treated Usopp. I guess I just got mad because you tried to defend his actions but it never occurred to me until later that you know him better than I do so…" she trailed off, smiling nervously at her near slip.
Kaya blushed a bit and began to wave her arms frantically in front of her. "Nami-san! There's no need for you to apologize! I believe that I deserved it for not siding with Usopp-kun yesterday. But I also knew that Klahadore was just worried about me and that was why he became a bit… zealous," she finished a bit lamely as she deflated.
Nami put her fists against her shapely hips. "No, Kaya. I insist. I heard that you have never been on a real ship despite Merry's hobby. I bet there are a bunch of cool things I could show you," she said in a tempting tone as she wiggled her eyebrows almost conspiratorially.
Kaya giggled a bit at that. "Well… I always wanted to go on adventures through the seas…" she admitted, blushing again as she recalled that Usopp's fantastical lies were part of the reason of that desire of hers. She knew that his stories were lies but she also knew that reality surpassed fiction. She had read about the wonders that could be found all over the world and one of her dreams was to see them all with her own eyes. Kaya couldn't help but curse her sickly disposition for who knows how many times.
Nami grinned and clasped Kaya's hands eagerly in between hers. "Well, I don't know about going on actual adventures but I think I can help you with the next best thing," she said before turning towards Merry. "You said that you had to see the ship sailing for a bit in order to get more accurate information on how to modify it right?"
Merry immediately saw where Nami was going and he nodded as he smiled softly. "That would be correct!"
Nami turned towards Kaya. "What do you say to trip around the Gecko Islands, Kaya?"
The light brown eyes of the blonde girl couldn't be filled with more excitement and happiness. "Okay!"
As Nami and Merry helped Kaya get into the bout so they could go towards the ship, the orangette couldn't help but hope that their plan to stop Kuro's own plot and also reveal his true colors to Kaya worked. There was no reason it would fail considering that they had the element of surprise and foreknowledge, but Nami couldn't help but worry.
On the northern shore of the island in which Syrup Village was located, a massive but simple red and black pirate ship with a black cat as a figurehead, a pair of ornamental cat claws on the sides and a green based hull docked on the beach of the shore. There was a wide slope being flanked by cliffs in front of them that led towards the forests located north of Syrup Village.
Jango stood on the deck in front of more than two dozen pirates wearing some type of feline ornament on them. They were brandishing all kinds of weapons, blades and guns alike, as they sported bloodthirsty grins on their faces while they looked towards the land.
"Let's go! Our plan is to destroy the village, kill everybody and take every precious thing they have for ourselves!" Declared Jango loudly.
The Black Cat Pirates responded with a loud bellow of excitement and eagerness. "OOOOOOOOHHH!"
They all jumped off the ship and landed on the shallow part of the beach before they began to charge towards the slope. It was when the reached it that they noticed the four figures standing on top of it looking down of them.
One of the pirates called towards Jango. "Captain! There are three men and…" his eyes widened and he began to shake a little when he noticed what the fourth figure actually was. "…a-a me-menean lion on top of the slope, si-sir!"
"What?!" Screamed Jango as he walked forward until he stood at the front of the black pirates and his heart shaped eyes widened when he saw that there were indeed three men accompanied by a menean lion standing there. 'Where they expecting us? That's impossible! Captain Kuro and I made sure that only the two of us and the rest of the crew knew about the plan! I didn't spill the beans to anybody, nor did anyone of the crew and I'm sure as hell that Captain Kuro didn't either!' Jango shook his head at those thoughts. "Who are you and what the hell do you want?!" He bellowed towards them instead.
The black-haired teen wearing a straw-hat smirk as he pointed at himself with his right thumb. "My name is Monkey D. Luffy," he said before he pointed at the green haired man that had three sheathed katana strapped to his haramaki. "This is Roronoa Zoro." More than one flinched at the name of the infamous 'Pirate Hunter' and Luffy's smirk widened as he then motioned towards the menean lion. "The furry one is Sunny and…" he trailed off before motioning towards the curly haired teen. "That's Usopp."
Luffy's smirk turned into a savage grin. "And we are here to stop you and that fucking coward Kuro from killing Kaya, Jango!"
'Shit!' Thought Jango as he took a step back and began to shake in nervousness.
"Captain!" One of the black cat pirates called out. "There are only four of them! Even if one of them is a menean lion there's no way that they can stop almost thirty of us!"
Jango immediately calmed down when he realized that as well. "You are correct! Attack my comrades! Our long wait shall not be wasted by posturing brats!" He shouted as he pointed at them. The horde of feline-inspired pirates gave a loud bellow as they began to charge forward with renewed confidence.
The bill of Luffy's straw-hat shadowed his eyes as he grinned menacingly. "Zoro. Sunny. Do your thing. These guys are scum so show them the same mercy they would have shown the people of the village. And Usopp…" trialed off Luffy as he tilted his head slightly in the direction of the curly haired boy. "… show me just how good my new master gunner is."
Sunny bared all his sharp and wicked teeth as he growled and glared at the incoming pirates. His following roar easily surpassed the sound the pirates were making and made them visibly falter even though they were still charging towards them.
Zoro quickly pulled out his bandana and wrapped it around his head, covering his head and shadowing his eyes and quite the menacing fashion. He unsheathed Wado Ichimonji and brought it up to his mouth. Before he clasped it with his teeth, he grinned at Luffy in a savage and bloodthirsty manner. "Roger that, Captain," he said before he unsheathed his two unnamed sword and charged forward at high speeds to meet the horde of pirates head on.
Sunny, who was actually a bit slower, was hot on his heels as he two ran towards the incoming pirates.
Usopp trembled a bit as he wrapped his right hand around the grip of the flintlock pistol Luffy gave to him yesterday. 'Do I have what it takes to take a human life?' He thought to himself as pulled out the gun and took aim with his trembling hand. He watched with widening eyes as Zoro began to swiftly cut down the pirates they were foolish enough to face him and Sunny began to use his teeth and claws to cut open throats and bellies in a very savage manner.
Usopp swallowed the bile that had threatened to force itself out and he began to think of Kaya and the villagers and what would have happened to her had he not learned of Kuro's plan. His eyes hardened and his shaking stopped as his pupil behind his googles widened and locked in one of the pirates at the far back of the group. 'If it's against bastards like these…' he trailed off and pulled on the trigger.
The pirate fell back with a bleeding hole right in between his eyes. '… I think I do have what it takes!' He declared in his mind as he took aim towards another pirate and shot resulting in another perfect head shot. Usopp bared his teeth as smoke trailed up from the muzzle of the barrel of the gun. "If you think I'm going to let you even step foot inside my village you have another damn thing coming!"
Luffy could only grin as he watched Usopp perfectly connect every single shot he made. 'It seems like marksmanship runs in the family,' he thought in satisfaction before he looked down to see Zoro and Sunny making quick work of the black cat pirates that Usopp wasn't nailing down with his shots. 'I think Zoro is ready to start learning Soru already and Sunny will be as well in about a week or so. I can't wait until they can use all the Rokushiki techniques!' Thought Luffy with his grin only becoming wider.
Jango, for his part, could only stare in wide eyed horror as almost his entire crew was massacred by what could only be a demon wielding three blades, a demon beast and a demon with impossible accuracy. In less than three minutes his men were painting the sand of the slope red with their blood either already dead by bullet wounds, ripped open throats and stomachs or dying by bleeding out by wounds that were not immediately lethal from Zoro's sword slashes.
The only reason he was alive was because he had pulled back the moment the fight, if it could even bee called that, began. He could see the demon wielding three blades and the demon beast, covered in the blood of his comrades, slowly and menacingly approach him and behind them he could see the teen with the straw-hat grinning while the demon with the impossible accuracy slowly loaded some bullets into his flintlock pistol before taking aim directly at him.
Jango had no other choice but to call for back up. "Nyanban Brothers! Come down!"
Both Zoro and Sunny paused when they heard this and Luffy and Usopp looked on curiously to see what was going to happen.
On the deck of the ship, a thin man cupped his chin in a pondering fashion. "Hey! The captain is calling for us!"
Another man, this one more robust, turned quickly turned towards the thin man. "What? They haven't got to the village yet? Why are they still here?"
The two of then walked towards the front edge of the deck and they looked down to see that their crewmembers were either killed or quickly bleeding out and dying. Their eyes widened when they saw a man wielding three swords and a menean lion standing not too far away from their captain. They wasted not time to jump down and they landed protectively in front of Jango.
"Sham! Buchi! Those two killed our crewmates! We most get revenge before we can accomplish Captain Kuro's plan!" Declared Jango as he pulled out his pendulum from the insides of his trench coat. "They are extremely strong! I will hypnotize you to make you stronger and faster!"
Sham was a man of fairly tall height, standing at over six and a half feet. His hunched back made him look smaller than he actually was. He had green hair that is parted to the side and curls at the end with two other parts of hair on the sides of his head growing downwards in a curly-looking way. He also had cat ears sticking out from the top of head. He had green cat-like eyes. He wore a navy-blue shirt with light grey buttons and a magenta bow tie. He also had light-blue shorts, brown shoes and white socks that stick out of them. He had dark brown gloves with claws growing out at the end.
Buchi was an overweight man who wore an outfit based loosely on a black and white cat. He had pale skin, sharp teeth, tiny eyes, and wore cat ears on his head. His pants were striped black and white. He also wore a yellow sash and dark brown shoes. There was a cape on his back that was striped light and dark-purple with a white fluffy brim. He also wore a shoulder pad on his left arm and pale blue gloves with claws at the end.
Sham nodded his head in understanding as he brandished his clawed gloves. "Go ahead, Captain Jango!"
Buchi also nodded. "Hypnotize us! I will tear them and crush them to death!"
Zoro clicked his tongue in annoyance when he heard this before he charged forward. "As if! I ain't got time to waste on fucking parlor tricks!" He shouted and he reached the two brothers before Jango could do more than open his mouth to begin the process of hypnotizing them. Their claws clashed against his unnamed blades and Zoro allowed a grin to appear on his face at their shocked faces. It seemed like they were not expecting him being capable of holding them back at the same time without visible strain on his part. Zoro knew that it was only possible thanks to Luffy's training methods.
Jango had a despairing expression on his face as he watched the Nyanban Brothers engage Zoro in extremely fast paced duel of blades and claws that he could barely follow. He then turned his attention towards the menean lion when it growled at him and Jango quickly grabbed his 'pendulum', which was actually a ring blade, and launched it towards the demon beast.
Sunny swatted it aside with his own claws like it was nothing and snarled at Jango.
The hypnotist's glasses slowly fell from his face, revealing his heart shaped eyes, and his arms hung limply at his sides as he stared at the menean lion in resigned horror. "… fuck me."
All the way up at the higher end of the slope, Usopp took aim towards where Zoro was fighting the Nyanban Brothers. "Should I help him?"
"Nah," said Luffy uncaringly as he shoved his hands into his pocket and watched what was happening with amused eyes and a smirk. Jango was doing his best to keep Sunny away from him by running around the beach and launching those ring-blades of his towards Sunny when he could, only for it to have no effect since the menean lion was many times faster than Jango and his claws were sharper and stronger than Jango's weapons thanks to Luffy's training. Luffy could tell that Sunny was playing with his food.
He then turned towards Zoro and grinned widely. "Zoro's got this. It wouldn't surprise me if he jumps in front of any bullet you shoot with the intention of helping him."
Usopp looked at him with wide eyes before turning towards Zoro's fight as he lowered his flintlock pistol. After a few moments he snorted and smirked. "You know, Captain? For some reason I think that wouldn't surprise me if it turned out to be the case."
Back with Zoro…
As he clashed his blades against the claws of his opponents, he couldn't help but grin with satisfied delight. 'These weird guys are good! They might not be swordsmen but skill is still skill no matter what!' He thought as he blocked a diagonal slash from Sham with the flat of the sword on his right hand and countered a heel drop from Buchi with the pommel of the sword held on left hand and sent him flying back by applying less than half of his current top strength. 'Two weeks ago, I would have been only capable of comfortably dealing with one of them! But now these guys are barely a warm up!'
Deciding to end the fight, Zoro braced himself as he watched the Nyanban Brothers attack him in a way the made it look like they were a bizarre mirror of each other, showing how coordinated and in sync they were. In a surprising move, Zoro stepped back and allowed their clawed palm strike converge closer into each other so he could use the flat side of Wado Ichimonji to the block the attacks simultaneously.
The eyes of the Nyanban Brothers widened in shock at this. "What?!"
"This is the end of the road for you!" Shouted Zoro before he brought his two unnamed swords forward into twin horizontal slash attacks from his right side. His left sword caught Buchi in the stomach and cut through his skin, layers of fat and muscles, opening up his abdomen with an arc of splashing blood and making his innards spill out to the ground. With a scream of anguish and pain, Buchi fell to his knees and began to uselessly try to puck his intestines back inside. Zoro raised an eyebrow when his right sword only managed to cut off Sham's shirt, revealing that he was incredibly skinny. If it weren't for the visible muscles of his abdomen it would have looked extremely unhealthy.
"Buchi!" Shouted Sham in horror before turning furious eyes towards Zoro. "I will fucking kill you for that!" He screamed before wildly launching himself at Zoro, forgetting in his anger that if he couldn't bypass Zoro's defenses while working in tandem with his brother there was no way he could do it on his own.
"I doubt it," said Zoro with derision before crossing his two swords across his chest and placing the blade of Wado Ichimonji horizontally behind them. "In your last moments thankful. This is more than you deserve. Oni Giri!" He declared before jumping forward to meet the incoming Sham head on. With his superior agility and strength, Zoro used a simultaneous three-way slashing attack to sever Sham's arms at the elbows with his unnamed swords and separate his chest from his abdomen horizontally using Wado Ichimonji.
Zoro flicked off the blood of his two unnamed blades before sheathing them. He then took off Wado Ichimonji from his mouth and flicked off the blood that covered its blade before sheathing it as well. He watched dispassionately as Buchi bleed to death while staring in horror at the bleeding severed pieces of his dead brother. "You guys shouldn't have followed Kuro's plan. This is what happens to the scum that think they can do as they please and fuck others over," he said as he took off his bandana.
It was in that moment that Sunny decided that he had enough playing with Jango and knocked the screaming hypnotist to the ground with his claws digging in into the flesh of his arms. Jango's shrill screaming was abruptly cut out when Sunny used his fangs to rip out his throat, almost cutting off his head due to the size of his teeth and the strength he'd put into the action.
Luffy grinned and sent a thumb up towards Zoro and Sunny. "Nice work you guys! If I remember correctly, the Nyanban Brothers and that Jango guy have a combined bounty of sixteen million beri dead or alive. They are still recognizable so we are going to be able to cash their bounties in!"
Sunny answered with a happy and satisfied roar before he began to make his way towards the beach. Even though he didn't like water, much less salt water, he needed to wash off all the blood from his majestic fur after all.
Zoro snorted as he began to make his way up the slope, ignoring all the dead bodies and the blood. "I think Nami is rubbing off on you a bit too much, Captain."
'Not in the way I'd really like,' thought Luffy a slightly perverted smile that he shook off after a moment. Now wasn't the time to have those thoughts after all. "Hey. Do you know how expensive is going to be getting a proper ship built for the Grand Line? Not only that, but what about the amount we are going to expend on provisions, equipment and all the other things that we are going to need to sail for weeks on end without issues? The more money we have now the less we are going to have to worry about it later and focus on other things like adventuring and keep getting stronger every day," he said in a 'wise' tone.
Zoro reached where Luffy and Usopp were standing in the time by the time his captain finished talking. He snorted and waved it off uncaringly. "Meh. As long as I've got booze to get drunk every day and someone strong to fight on a regular basis, I'm good. Don't make me repeat it some may times."
Luffy just laughed and slapped Zoro across his back getting a smirk and a shove from his green haired First Mate.
Usopp secured his flintlock back on its place using his sash and removed his goggles from his eyes by letting them hang from his neck. "What now?" He was slightly pale and shaking but Luffy knew that it was because of the fading adrenaline and the bloodshed in front of them. Despite clearly being the first time Usopp saw, much less being part of, such a thing, he could see in the eyes of his Master Gunner that he was going to be fine.
Luffy smirked as he turned towards the forest behind him. "Now we wait for the man of the hour. You guys can relax. Your part is done. I'll take care of the rest."
"Roger that, Captain," said Zoro lazily before he began to make his way towards on of the lone threes that stood on the cliff that flanked the slope on the right side. In his characteristic uncaring fashion, Zoro sat down and rested his upper body against the bark of the three closest to the sea after unstrapping his swords laying them on his lap. He put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. Luffy wouldn't be surprised if he fell asleep shortly.
Usopp saluted and nodded at him before he moved towards a rock that had a flat surface on the top. He climbed on it before he sat down cross legged and also crossed his arms over his chest. Luffy noticed that his eyes would occasionally trail off towards the dead bodies of the Black Cat Pirates painting the beach red with their blood only to quickly look away towards the forest with a pale face and trembling arms and then repeat the process again.
Luffy himself just began to patiently wait for Kuro…
… and it didn't take long for him to appear from the edge of the forest wearing his butler get up and carrying a briefcase. When his eyes widened at the sight of him, Luffy grinned menacingly as he spread his arms wide at his side, the bloodshed behind him plain to see. "Well, hello there Kuro of the Hundred Plans! As a master tactician and strategist, I would like your opinion on my own plan to counter yours!"
Kuro paled as he stared at the blood-and-death filled beach behind Luffy with wide eyes. Not a moment later his eyes narrowed and his entire body began to shake in wrath as his hold around the briefcase tightened. He glared at Luffy with hate filled eyes. "You… you… do you have any idea of what you have done?! Of what you have ruined?!"
Luffy lost his grin and he lowered his arms. "A three-year plan of a coward that faked his own death and wouldn't think twice about murdering innocent people as long as it resulted in a 'peaceful end', right?" Deadpanned Luffy and his savage grin came back with a vengeance when he saw Kuro becoming shocked again. "Oh yes. Usopp here and I learned about your 'master plan' by coincidence when you discussed it with Jango yesterday. Funny how the world works, huh? Shishishishi!"
"A coincidence…" muttered Kuro in disbelief as he stared blankly at Luffy with wide eyes. "… a fucking coincidence…"
Luffy's eyes quickly flickered to the side and his grin widened before he focused back on Kuro. "Yup. A coincidence. We learned about your plans to hypnotize Kaya and have her make you the only beneficiated party of her will and then assassinate her to make do with all her wealth and live a 'peaceful' life because of a coincidence. How does it feel, Kuro?"
Usopp noticed the same thing as Luffy and he quickly shot up to his feet and pointed angrily at him while growling. "You murdered Kaya's parents and made it look like it was of natural causes! You used her broken heart opportunity to get closer to her didn't you, you bastard?!" Usopp wasn't necessarily faking his anger and hatred at that moment.
Kuro barely reacted with full body twitch. "My plan… my carefully concocted plan… ruined… because of a… fucking… coincidence," he continued to mutter in disbelief.
That feminine and pained voice did get a reaction from Kuro and he turned sharply towards the source to see a crying Kaya looking at him from a few feet away. Merry stood slightly behind her with his hands on her shoulders as he glared at Kuro with fury and hatred. Nami stood behind her at her other side while smirking victoriously and vindictively at him.
"… Nami-san told us everything. I didn't want to believe her but…" she trailed off as she turned towards Usopp and Luffy only to sharply close her eyes when she saw the bloody slope full of dead bodies. She paled and looked like she was about to throw up. More than one person was surprised when she visibly swallowed her rising bile while trembling and shaking her head. Kaya opened her eyes and they were full of tears and raw pain. "… are you not even going to try to deny it?"
After a few moments of staring at each other, Kuro gave a wordless scream of rage that made Kaya and Merry flinch. He quickly opened his briefcase and pulled out a pair of furred gloves that had full length katana blades at the end of each finger that he slipped on. The eyes of Kaya and Merry widened when he suddenly disappeared from their sight.
Both Usopp and Nami managed to catch his movement and they reacted to try to intercept him. Nami pulled out her retractable staff, enlarged in and jumped try to stand defensively in front of Kaya and Merry. Usopp pulled out his flintlock and tried to aim towards Kuro would be taking into consideration his moving speed and momentum. Their eyes widened when they noticed that they wouldn't be capable of completing their actions in time.
They shouldn't have even bothered.
The eyes of Kaya and Merry widened even further when Kuro appeared in front of them as abruptly as he had disappeared, the katana blades of his furred gloves inches away from Kaya's face, which made her jump back into Merry with a gasp. Spittle and some blood flew out of Kuro's mouth as his throat met Luffy's bicep who had moved to intercept him.
The straw-hat wearing teen gave Kuro a look of disgusted speculation. "Is that the so-called secret behind the 'unparalleled' speed of the infamous Kuro of a Hundred Plans? That's barely a bastardized version of an incomplete Soru," said Luffy with derision as he then grabbed Kuro by his crushed throat and forced him to the ground with authority. Luffy ignored his pained grunt as he leaned got in Kuro's face. "I know that you are a coward that doesn't even follow a code but I'm not. Captains fight captains or did you forget that in the past three years?" Whispered Luffy harshly before he pulled back and began to repeatedly punch Kuro's face in.
Merry looked on with grim satisfaction and even though Kaya was still crying and in pain and was even flinching a bit every time Luffy's fist connected with Kuro's face, she didn't make any move to stop what was happening.
Usopp was just looking on with awe and satisfaction at Luffy pummeling Kuro's face in. 'This is the guy that will be my Captain! I will make sure to work as hard as I can to not disappoint his expectations of me!' Usopp swore right there and there.
'Is it weird that I'm find Luffy almost unbearably hot right now?' Nami asked herself as she blushed while watching on Luffy caving Kuro's face in. She shook her head of those thoughts and focused on the grimmer ones Luffy's actions brought up. 'He took down a guy with a sixteen million bounty like it was nothing! Perhaps he really can… No! Nami! Luffy is a normal human and Arlong is a fishman. There's just no way Luffy can defeat him no matter how strong he is. I will give Arlong his one hundred million beri and buy back Cocoyashi from him! That's the only thing I can do…'
Luffy finally stopped punching Kuro when his face was just a bloody bruise that couldn't be even remotely recognized. "Blegh. Disgusting," said Luffy as he looked at his fist covered in Kuro's blood, mucus and saliva which he quickly wiped off on Kuro's shirt. He then brought up the whimpering Kuro to a kneeling position and held him up by grabbing his previously perfectly combed hair. "I really want to kill you know but I believe that there's someone else more deserving of permanently ridding the world of you, trash."
Luffy turned towards Kaya and he spoke before Merry could speak his words of protest. He looked at her seriously. "Some naïve people will tell you that you shouldn't sully your hands with this scumbag's blood and that killing him would just make him as bad as him. But ask yourself this…" Luffy trailed off as he tightened his hold on Kuro's hair making him give lauder whimpers of agony. "Would you condemn innocent people to die just to fulfill your own cowardly sense of greed?"
Kaya didn't hesitate to shake her head as her eyes began to harden and fury and hatred began to slowly replace the pain in them.
Luffy had a grim expression on his face as he continued speaking. "Me? I am a believer of the proverb 'An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. And evil for another evil'. Justice? Punishment? Vengeance? Those words don't matter. It's all the fucking same in the end. The only difference between them is who is claiming to do what and the reason behind it. What truly matters is that this scumbag get's his due. He killed your parents. He poisoned you and made you think that you were a sickly girl. He was planning to have you and everyone in the village killed. And all because of his cowardly greed."
Usopp wordlessly hopped off the rock he had been standing on and approached Kaya. He twirled his flintlock around until he was holding it by the muzzle and presenting its grip towards her. Her face contorted in fury and hatred, Kaya grabbed it and ripped herself off from Merry's hold. She took a few steps forward and pressed the cannon of the flintlock against the place Kuro's forehead supposed to be. Tears trailed down her face as she glared down at him hatefully. "You… you killed mom and dad! You made me think that my dreams would be impossible!"
Kuro tried to form words. "Kah… Kah…"
"Die!" Screamed Kaya as she pulled the trigger. The bullet went cleanly through.
Kaya then began to cry brokenly as the flintlock felt to the ground from her limp fingers as she felt to her knees. Usopp was the first one to react and he was quickly kneeling by her side and wrapping his arms protectively and comfortingly around her as he too began to cry as well. Tears were also falling from Merry's eyes as he watched on solemnly.
Luffy released his hold on the hair of the dead body and allowed it to fall limply to the ground. He locked eyes with Nami and the two of them exchanged short, grim and understanding nods as they just continued to watch on silently.
From where he was, Zoro was also looking on with a solemn expression on his face.
Kuro of The Hundred Plans died by the hands of the person he had wronged the most.
True Justice was served today…
… but in exchange, the pureness and innocence of a young woman was lost forever.
Holy Crap on a Stick! Wasn't that a wild ride?
Yes. I know. It's been more than a year since I published the first chapter for this story. That's why I decided to bring you guys the a 34k behemoth as the second chapter as an apologize for those that were disappointed by me not updating this story way sooner. To be honest, this chapter had been sitting at 20k words for more than a year as well but I was going through a tough time at that time. By the time I managed to pull myself back together my muse was ready to work on other things.
However, after 'The Primordial Vortex' updated his story 'Supernova' and forced me to read it again in order to catch the changes he made, my One Piece muse was stroked into a smoldering inferno and I completed the chapter between yesterday evening and today. 14k words in less than two days ain't something anyone can do, you know?
I also went and corrected the more glaring errors on the last chapter. Nothing changed plot wise but it should be noticeably more enjoyable to read. Because it's been so long since this story was published, I'm sure most of you will be reading the first chapter again (I know I did, lol) to see just what the fuck this is all about and why you bothered to follow it and/or favorite it in the first place.
Now, with that out of the way… I'd like to make a few comments before everyone loses their mind on the review section.
The only thing I'm not a fan of about One Piece is how many useless characters are being brought back just to add more 'content' to the story. I promise you that it won't be the case in my story as you clearly saw on this chapter.
JofK:TWoD Luffy is a combination of some of my favorite characters in fiction. He's got his own cheerful disposition from canon, Ivar the Boneless' (Vikings)… quirkiness, Frank Castle/The Punisher (Marvel) sense of justice, John Wick's (John Wick) ruthlessness and finally, but definitely not least, my own perverted tendencies. I'm warning you now so you aren't surprised what the stuff that happens further in the future. The fate of Kuro, Jango, the Nyanban Brothers and the rest of the Black Cat Pirates will look tame in comparison. *Grins evilly as thoughts of the plans for the Arlong Park Arc goes through his head*.
Can anyone figure out what I'm trying to build regarding Sunset Wind/Sunny/Richie? You'll get a cybermuffin if you can. I think is kind of obvious if you know a bit of world history though.
I believe that's all for now. Next chapter will include the aftermath of what happened in this chapter, Luffy and co getting their 'new' ship, the 'El Drago' movie and the Baratie Arc. I think I can pull it off in less than 40k words and publish it some time next month. It's already outlined. I just have to write the damn thing. Wish me luck. The next Pinnacle chapter should be out before the month ends for those that are interested.