I'm happily getting onto this "what-if-Sabo-got-his-memories-back-earlier" bandwagon. Bit of a slow start, but I promise it will be worth it.
I have a few more chapters of this lined up currently, and yes, an ending in mind though I'm not-quite-there-yet. Aaaaand, I'm looking for a beta reader. Any takers?
That being said I'm going to Japan next month so expect more frequent updates after March is over. Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think!
Chapter One: WANTED
In a certain island in the Grand Line…
"Hey, guys! Did you hear the news already?"
"Huh? What news?"
"Look, look! Arlong Park has fallen!"
"What? You're kidding! When?"
A clamor befell the mess hall at these news. Hundreds of people, previously huddled over their meals, were now focused on the newspaper that one of their fellow revolutionaries was holding up by the room's main entrance. This wasn't an unusual scene around these parts since, as this was an island that was completely hidden from the World Government, no one ever received newspaper deliveries from the News Coos. Instead, it was up to those in the intelligence team, and those coming back to the base from the outside, to pass along any new information.
As it was, the revolutionary that was currently distributing the few extra newspapers she had been carrying around, was a woman in her mid-thirties who had recently come back from the East Blue.
"It's about time. I'm surprised that place went unchecked for so long!"
"Oh, please. As if we could expect anything else from the government."
There were several grunts of agreement among the revolutionaries as well as a few choice curse words muttered beneath their breaths.
"So who do we have to thank?"
"Hey! This one is missing the new bounties!"
"There's new bounties? Who is it? Let me see!"
The clamor in the room grew louder as people gathered around the newspapers in curiosity. In the middle of it all, there was a young man with blond hair that had yet to stop eating. He spooned several quick bites of seafood rice into his mouth and chewed loudly as his eyes, too, sought out a glimpse of the newspaper.
THE FALL OF ARLONG PARK
There was a large picture of Arlong Park, or what remained of it, beneath the title. The building in the photo was no more than a pile of rubble. The words beneath the picture were too small to read from this distance, but the blond was not interested in reading the article that had surely been tailored by the World Government with the purpose of twisting this incident to their favor. What he was interested on was catching a glimpse of the new bounties that had come with this newspaper edition.
"Oi! Lemme see!" he called out to the crowd gathered nearest to him.
A few people glanced at him, then grimaced in disgust as they saw him stuff a squid into his mouth that was large enough that it didn't quite fit in one bite. A few others snickered slightly, all too used to the familiar sight. Still, they passed the new bounties his way, encroaching into his space as they leaned over the table to continue looking at it.
"Can you believe this kid is the one that took Arlong down?"
"I'd've never guessed!"
"He doesn't look like much," someone said over his shoulder, "what is he, fifteen? There's no way he took him down."
The young man had nothing to add to the conversation around him. While some of his fellow revolutionaries were dubious and others were impressed, he merely stared at the bounty poster in front of him in silence. For a long moment, he found himself captivated by the large, blinding grin on the paper. The kid staring back at him looked young, certainly, but something about him seemed to instill him with confidence.
He carefully read the bolded words beneath the picture, his eyes lingering on them for several seconds.
Monkey D. Luffy.
The blond swallowed the squid in his mouth in an absentminded gulp, then suddenly began to choke. He spluttered, wide-eyed, and pounded his fist hard into his chest as he quickly reached to grab a glass of water.
"Oi! Watch where you're spitting!"
"You alright there, Chief?"
"CHEW YOUR FOOD PROPERLY, GODDAMMIT!" a few people screamed exasperatedly.
"S-Sorry, sorry," the blond coughed, clearing his throat with a grimace that soon turned into a sheepish grin. His gaze was drawn back to the poster. He picked it up in his hand, while his other reached for a napkin.
"30,000,000 beri, huh? That's pretty impressive for a bounty in the East Blue," he said with a small touch of pride.
"Ah, that's right, you're from the East Blue too, aren't you, Sabo?"
"That's right," the blond confirmed as he finished wiping his face clean. The grin on his face had yet to fade away. Something inside of him felt light; excited even. Whether it was due to the good news or the good food, he felt overcome by rush of energy that he couldn't quite describe. He placed the bounty back down on the table, next to the tall stacks of plates he had all but licked clean, and got up to his feet. "Well then, time to burn off all this food. Anyone here wanna have a go?" he said loudly.
Several people inched away from him at once. Sabo huffed. "Fine then, you wimps. Let me through."
The crowd dispersed around him as people headed back to their seats to continue eating. The conversation fell back into a lull as everyone continued to discuss the newspaper's contents. Sabo made his way out of the mess hall in a few quick steps, unable to sit still. There was an itch beneath his skin that he needed to sate.
He headed towards his usual training spot, the heels of his boots clicking quietly against the stone floor. Perhaps it was just his good mood, but the routine walk caused a small, brief smile to cross his lips.
I guess I must be around twenty now, huh…
There was something about the stray thought that felt very certain. Sabo wasn't sure why it had even crossed his mind. He had never been particularly concerned about how old he was. To this day, he still couldn't even remember when his actual birthday was.
Not that it matters, Sabo thought ruefully. The memories of his past, or rather the lack thereof, was something that he had long since made peace with. The barrier that blocked his past from his present was something that he didn't feel the need to touch.
Huh, why am I even thinking about this stuff? Sabo ran a hand through his hair and frowned. He found himself missing the weight of his hat. As he reached a corner, he took a quick left instead of a right, deciding to head to his room first to pick up his gear. That's when a familiar silhouette in the distance caught his eye.
Sabo grinned widely. He picked up his pace, his clattering footsteps resounding across the hallway. Dragon turned and flashed a toothy grin upon seeing him.
"Sabo," he said, his gruff voice colored in equal parts pleasure and surprise.
"I didn't know you were back!" Sabo exclaimed. "How did it go?"
The cloaked man shrugged lightly. "As well as can be expected. But we can put that aside for now. Since you're here, I'm interested in knowing if we've made any progress with the situation in Alabasta."
Sabo straightened up. A serious expression settled on his face as he shook his head. "Not quite," he reported. "We've been trying to track down where the shipment of Dance Powder is coming from, but whoever is behind it is keeping their tracks clean."
"I see." Dragon frowned for a moment. "I suppose there's still some time left for them…" The man fell silent as he contemplated the matter. His eyes drifted away from Sabo's face as he turned to stare out the window. Sabo followed his gaze briefly. He took in the all-too-familiar sight of the white plains that Baltigo was known for. The wind today was as strong as ever, though the sky itself was clear, with only a few clouds drifting along. A flock of rather large birds were riding the current as they flew high towards the east. Sabo was pretty sure that's what they were having for dinner today.
Inexplicably, he found himself thinking about the newspaper article again.
"Hey, did you hear about Arlong Park yet?"
"Hm," Dragon's voice rumbled quietly. "I did."
He said nothing more than that on the subject. Sabo wasn't surprised by the short answer. The leader of the Revolutionary Army was, when he wanted to be, a man of few words. For all the charisma he displayed when he was delivering speeches and rallying their troops, he was often a very quiet, mysterious man. It was hard to tell what he was thinking at times. This unintentionally caused him to come across as intimidating to many, to the point that it discouraged even his own men from approaching him from time to time.
Sabo, who had not only grown up admiring this man as his savior, but who also prided himself as a person that never backed down in the face of authority, was not one to be easily discouraged.
"It looks like there's a new rookie out there doing the Marines' job for them," the blond said with a light grin. "I almost wanna go thank the kid personally. It's always nice to hear when someone's wreaking havoc in that rotten sea."
Dragon seemed to be holding back a grin himself. There was a glint in his eyes that Sabo couldn't quite place, though if he were to look in the mirror, he would find that the same expression was displayed on his own face.
"Indeed," the older man said softly. He turned away from the window then. Without saying a word, he began walking away. Sabo followed him.
"Where are you off to next? Are we having a meeting today?"
"No. Perhaps tomorrow." Dragon pulled up his hood, and without losing his pace, he announced: "I'm leaving."
"Already?" Sabo didn't miss a beat. "Where to?"
"Loguetown?" Sabo repeated, this time surprised. The Pirate King's… The half-formed thought faded as he tried to figure out why their leader would want to visit that place. Wait, there's no way he's going to make it back by tomorrow. Sabo opened his mouth to say so, but instead, he somehow found himself blurting out, "can I come with?"
There was a brief stretch of silence. Sabo stopped in his tracks as his brow furrowed in confusion. He felt a bead of sweat slide down the side of his face. "Sorry," he said, running a hand through his hair, "I don't know why—"
He faltered and pressed his lips together. A foreign weight settled inside of him. Why had he said that? After all these years… he'd never once wanted to go back to the East Blue. And yet…
He couldn't deny that there was a desire inside of him now. He wanted to go. The itch beneath his skin felt stronger than ever just at the mere thought.
Sabo's head snapped up. "Huh?"
Dragon was still walking, though he had noticeably slowed down his pace. He spoke as calmly as ever, acting as if he hadn't noticed Sabo's inner turmoil. "But I'm not planning to bring a ship this time, so it may not be the most pleasant ride. I suggest bringing a raincoat."
Dragon finally glanced back at him. There was a slight smirk curled at his lips.
"Go on then, gather your things. I suppose it's about time you learn something new about me."
"I'm not sure whether to be really impressed or really shocked right now."
"I tend to elicit that sort of reaction," Dragon said with a sharp grin.
TO BE CONTINUED
On the next chapter of Chasing the Remnants! "En Route" Sabo and Dragon make a small detour on their way to Loguetown.