The chapter is below.
But I'd really like it if you read this first.
This past month I've been using my free time to slowly crosspost this story over on Questionable Questing (also known as QQ). This gave me an opportunity to clean up some of the earlier chapters. Tweak some dialogues. Fix typos. All that jazz.
What it also did was make me truly realize just how...obsolete FFN is. And I'm not just referring to basic items like how this site doesn't allow for things like strikethrough text. Or how their Document Editors don't randomly delete or fuse words when you upload something (yes, this happens and it causes A LOT of annoying typos).
QQ and sites like it also allow for media/links to be embedded into text. When an author brings up a tertiary character from canon (as I do quite often), or perhaps makes a reference to something, and you the reader aren't familiar with who/what they're talking about...it's just a hyperlink away to a Wiki page, an image, or a YouTube video in a new tab. If one uses it right, you can even add the occasional sound effect.
Plus a forum discussion style is so much more satisfying then just shouting reviews into the void.
I'm not gonna stop posting this story here on FFN. I'm not.
But I want you the reader to understand that while on FFN you're reading the inferior version of it. The version that doesn't have pictures and wiki/video links and probably has more typos because the outdated Doc Editor is always crapping itself and I'm tired of fighting against it.
That's all I got.
If you're one who wants to reread this story, I recommend doing it over there where the earlier chapters are cleaner and whatnot.
'Damn it damn it damn it damn it!' I push my [Geppo]'s harder. This was not part of the plan.
I severely overestimated my own ability to get here quickly. Between my legs cramping up after thousands of [Geppo]'s to maintain speed, the fucking hurricane, a 60 ft long seagull with teeth, and a whole host of other bullshit I'm not going to get into, this accursed ocean found ways to delay me day after day after fucking day.
My journey of dealing with waterspouts that shot magenta lightning isn't why I'm cursing though.
It's the combination of two facts.
Them being that the island is entirely at peace. No explosions. No screaming. All is well.
And that The Thousand Sunny is already here.
The Sabaody Archipelago arc doesn't take place over the course of days. It's a single afternoon.
Which means in the best case scenario I may have arrived maybe -if I'm lucky- a few hours before this metaphorical powder keg kicks off.
'Damn it damn it damn it' My legs kick out harder. This is so not when I wanted to do this. I was hoping I might end up beating Eustass here. That way I could simply sink the Victoria Punk while it was still out at sea. An option I should've gone with the first time around. Now I think the best I can hope for is interrupting Kid's little scrap with Apoo. At least with that, Killer will be busy elsewhere.
I try to focus my fledgling Observation Haki...feeling for the 'brightest' of the presences on the island...but there's just so many that it offers little help. I turn to my Compass instead and focus on its arrow.
Another [Geppo] fires off. 'Damn it damn it damn it'
Sabaody Archipelago, The Grand Line
Commander Leshfield waves his arm. "I want two rows! Stretching here, curving all the way to there! One man kneeling, one behind him standing! Get me rifles on that door from every angle! Finish setting up that artillery! Hurry! Move move!"
Infantrymen scrambled to their positions. The click-clack of guns being leveled straight filled the air. His second-in command whispered in his ear that the mortars were nearly ready. Good..that was good..he hopes they'll be enough. The report was sparse. He's not sure exactly how many hostiles they'll be dealing with but this should at least...
A high-pitched shout interrupts his thoughts.
"I'm not gonna let you guys hog all the fun!"
Leshfield's back stiffened. Just as it always does right before combat. A psychological remnant of his very first engagement against pirates. One that went very very poorly. The surgeons almost hadn't been able to save him. Still, the freeze-up lasts only a second. Years and years of training bury the feeling away and he gets ready to meet the enemy.
Two more voices joined the first. One a bit quieter but distinctly annoyed. The other loud, aggravated, and heavily malevolent.
"Would you please cut the bickering..." "Back off! I said I'll do it myself!"
Three silhouettes appeared at the top of the stairs. Leshfield almost gives the order to fire..but something confuses him just enough that he pauses. Were they...arguing with each other?
"Shut up! Just shut up, both of ya!" "You two are so noisy.." "What did you say?! Trafalgar?!" "Yosh! You guys leave this to me!" "No! You sit back and watch!" "Don't order me around.."
They were. They were arguing over who gets to fight. Leshfield's knuckles tighten as his teeth begin to grind. How..how dare they? This wasn't a game. Now that the three opponents are in view -each one a super rookie in their own right- he can see that some of his men are terrified. The formation of sweat on their brows. The subtle shaking of their wrists. But they're still here! In formation! Standing their ground because they're Marines.
They deserve better than to be viewed like this.
"I don't need your help!" "Final warning, you both stand back!" "Try to order me again Eustass and I'll.."
Enough of this farce.
Leshfield throws out his palm and with a single command his men begin to fire. The bangs and roars of his mortar launchers fill the air as their explosive payloads launch one after another.
It should have been a death sentence. Three men in an open field? No barricade or defenses to hide behind? What else could it be but lethal?
Instead though..the next 30 seconds soon became a nightmare for the veteran marine.
His cannonballs were rebuffed an inflated Straw Hat Luffy.
His men were cut to pieces by the 'Surgeon of Death'.
Weapons were stolen right out of their hands by Eustass Kid.
Leshfield stares in horror as two of the pirates' limbs grow to titanic sizes. One of unnatural ballooned rubber flesh and the other of jagged iron and steel.
He backpedals. This can't be..How can this-
A brown missile explodes into the center pirate, dragging him through the earth!
"AAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH" A battle-cry roars in my mind as my shining black grip pushes Eustass deeper into the ground! A trench, nay a channel, nay a gouging wound is hollowed into the earth as I drag him!
I don't bother looking at whatever his new level is. I don't bother watching his metallic arm clatter into pieces behind us. Nor do I look at the reactions of the other people present. Even with both [Bullet Time] and [Spark of Celerity] going full blast we will not waste time!
My revolver comes out and goes right for the eye glaring at me between my fingers. We will not waste precious seconds on traditional banter! Or jokes! Or explaining who I am or why I'm here! 'Just die!'
Eustass's eye flexes right as the wheel of the gun turns and my wrist nearly snaps with how fast the repelling magnetic force banishes it from my grip.
An ugly look builds on my face at the setback. 'Very well then. The hard way it is.'
Our joint momentum finally comes to a stop and I purposefully soften the grip over his face. Sensing what he believes is a chance, Eustass Kid throws his weight forward! His snarling face snaps out of the dirt! An angry wrathful visage that's promising revenge tenfold against whoever the fuck I am...and then takes an Impact Dial to his teeth.
The little orange shell I'd pilfered off Towa cracks and then shatters into carbonate shards from the insane blowback of the three [Rokuōgan]'s I'd stuffed into it. The bones in my arm creak and groan from the backlash even with Haki, [Tekkai], and [Physical Endurance] all reducing the recoil.
Blood and enamel spill from Kid's ruined jaws and his body snaps back! My secondary is snapped from its holster and jammed into the roof of his mouth.
"Room!" "Gear: Second!"
One can make guesses as to why the other two of the new 'supernova trio' would choose to intervene. Luffy perhaps for his distaste of seeing death. Law for some convoluted scheme in his mind to make use of Captain Kid. Maybe.
Regardless... if they wanted to make it in time..they really should've acted just a little bit sooner.
My finger comes down on the trigger…when pressure explodes off the barely cognizant pirate under me. An invisible wave of Kingly Intent that batters against my psyche. The sky suddenly had the weight of a hundred atmospheres. The land itself seemed to shake. The pressure of a 1,000 feet of ocean manifests on my shoulders trying to drown me. Marines in the area foam at the mouth. Eyes white out. Bodies stagger and faint.
Were it anyone else's..a Yonko's or a Warlord's... maybe even Luffy's back there... I know I would be affected.
Their Conqueror's -even if it were an uncontrolled unfocused blast like this one- might've put me on my knees, struggling to stand. If nothing else, I would have at least staggered.
But not his. Never his. Especially not this pathetic last ditch gasp of defiance version of it.
'I will never cow to the Will of Eustass fucking Kid.'
The hammer pulls back. The wheel turns. 'Course correct this, you Panda-faced son of a bitch.'
You have reached Lv. 88!
You have reached Lv. 89!
You have 440 points to spend!
The taste...of Victory.
Trafalgar Law POV
'Shambles..' The phrase finishes in his mind.
Not for any profound reason. It's just reflex at this point. To at least think the word after setting up his 'Room'.
He doesn't bother voicing it though. It's too late for that.
Eustass Kid's brain matter is already splattered over the ground. The bloodied pistol is being withdrawn from the corpse's mouth.
He pulls his 'Room' back, a tense sweat forming along his neck as his mouth thins into a line. The 'Will of The King' -and Haki as a whole really- is not a subject that's known about to most of the reading world. Its existence has likely not even been whispered about into the ears of his 'Supernova' cohorts. In fairness, that isn't truly their fault. Information on the topic is brutally suppressed. In fact, he'd wager that if the World Government could have their way, they'd wipe all knowledge of it from anyone who wasn't one of their direct underlings.
But Law did have the knowledge. He was in the know. At least.. in theory. He'd never actually witnessed it before today. 'Dark King' Rayleigh's use of it back in the auction house...was incredible. The deftness. The sheer mastery with which it was wielded. He'd barely felt a lick of that indomitable force as it ghosted past him and targeted the World Nobles guardsmen spread across the room.
As a doctor -a surgeon- he had a profound appreciation for that level of precision. It may have also terrified him a little but that's besides the point.
The last gasp of Eustass Kid on the other hand was anything but. It went everywhere, lashing angrily and wildly at everyone around. Law wasn't so prideful that he'd pretend it hadn't affected him. He may have stumbled over the 'Shambles' had he managed to speak the word in time.
Someone who wasn't affected at all though? An individual who took that wave head on and didn't so much as blink?
The man currently sheathing his gun and turning his and Straw Hat's way.
'This is bad.' A Celestial Dragon's been assaulted. An Admiral is on the way. The old Pirate King's First Mate is in the next room. And the rogue Cipher Pol agent the world news was harping about just a few days ago descended from the sky and executed a man who was worth over a hundred million more than himself. 'The situation has become untenable. We need to leave this island immediately.'
Three pirate crews exit the building as a group just as Straw Hat kicks off to throw himself at an opponent he doubts the boy recognizes. In his brief observations of the younger pirate the 17 year old didn't strike him as the most...astute..of individuals. Especially if he's willing to damage his own body with that steaming red form just for a temporary boost.
Regardless...it's time to go. Now. "Bepo! Shachi!" he calls to his men as the three crews are still blinking and looking around at the chaos. "Gather the others and head for The Polar Tang! If anyone's missing we're not waiting!"
This island is about to explode. And he for one, is not gonna stick around to watch it.
The Human-Human Fruit, Model: Nika.
To be honest, I've been doing my best not to think about it. There were a good six or seven other major revelations about the manga story sitting in my head for me to focus on ever since the finale of Wano was revealed to me. I've been trying to keep my spare thoughts on those ones rather than the Mythical Zoan whose implications horrify me.
'The user puts smiles on faces far and wide. Spreading laughter everywhere they go.'
It was already known that Zoan Fruits can affect the personalities of those who eat them. We see evidence of the Fruit's inner animal having a Will of their own everywhere. From inanimate objects turning into creatures with full personalities to the 'Four Jailer Beasts' whose user's minds were lost to those personalities after their Fruit's Awakened. Chopper once even noted the effect was particularly observable in those who ate Carnivorous Zoans like Rob Lucci. The users become more aggressive, ferocious, and all around 'predatory'.
The effect of a 'God' would likely be even more pronounced. So I have to wonder...even if it's a deeply unsettling question to ask…
'When that little seven year old boy in Goa Kingdom ate that Fruit...how much did it change who he would have become? After so many years how much of the base 'Luffy' is even left? How much of that little boy has the smiling, laughing, freedom-loving 'Sun God' Nika subsumed?'
[Spark of Celerity] still has a few seconds left in it. Between it's multiplying of my DEX, [Bullet Time], and my budding Haki it's far simpler than it should be to weave to the side of the steaming red limb.
'Or maybe I'm just being paranoid..' I admit to myself as a counter-argument. 'That brand of insidiousness and subtle manipulation is pretty jarringly uncharacteristic of One Piece. Very un-Oda like. Then again...could the very thought 'I'm being too paranoid' in and of itself be a result of a potential friendliness aura the Mythical Fruit has? Fuck that's a madness inducing idea. I really preferred when the Main Character was just made of rubber.'
A question is shouted my way. One that I was expecting. The classic 'who are you?', 'why'd you do that!', and 'you didn't need to kill him!' all rolled into one.
Goddamn this is not how I ever imagined meeting Monkey D. Luffy would go. In those idle fantasies that every fan of the series has it was always smiles, food, and good cheer. Not thoughts of grimdark paranoia and notions of brainwashing.
At least, if nothing else, I know exactly how to avoid this fight. How to neutralize him with just five words. "He burned my nakama alive."
Now is that statement wholly true? No. Does it get Luffy to freeze-up and stare with a wide-eyed expression. Yes.
I said it already but.. really really not how I imagined a first meeting would go.
"CAPTAIN!" A cry from the auction house steps catches our ears. 'Ah. It seems one of the Kid Pirates finally realized Eustass is down.'
[Spark of Celerity] finally runs dry and my perception drops down to its normal levels. Hard to believe it's only been 40 seconds since I rocketed out of the tree and onto Kid. "You should take your crew and get out of here Straw Hat." Kugizume unsheathes as I notice Killer doing a furious ninja-run in my direction. "An Admiral's coming."
A high-pitched clang rings out as my Meito catches the blade of the 162,000,000 Beri First Mate. A clash of steel almost identical to when we first met on Baterilla.
It's been the better part of a year since that day. Since the events that led to me standing here truly began.
Strength. Speed. Experience. [Skills]. [Perks]. Prowess. Ruthlessness. Willpower. Motherfuckin' Durability and last but not least, almost 50 goddamn levels. A list of all the ways I've changed since last we met.
His list meanwhile...
'Massacre Soldier' Killer, Kid Pirates, Lv. 85
...is not nearly as impressive.
Killer's second blade comes in from the side and much like I once did in our past encounter, I maneuver my other hand's revolver into the way to keep it off me.
That's the moment where he notices. While we're at a standstill and his gaze peeks beyond my shoulder.
His captain behind me isn't just down. He's missing the top bit of his skull.
And with his shock comes an opening.
Fine control of Armament Haki might still be outside my reach, but [Tekkai Kenpo] isn't. My iron hardened forehead slams into Killer's helmet putting a long vertical crack down the face of it!
243 Damage! (4,127/4,370)
Under a normal mindset, I'm sure he could've responded to that. He's not in a normal mindset though is he? He accepts the blow and just...lets himself stagger.
Meanwhile, a few of his friends have managed to catch up.
Wire, Kid Pirates, Lv. 54
Heat, Kid Pirates, Lv. 60
Reck, Kid Pirates, Lv. 33
Mosh, Kid Pirates, Lv. 38
Quincy, Kid Pirates, Lv. 37
Moai, Kid Pirates, Lv. 29
Gig, Kid Pirates, Lv. 42
A few wide eyes of disbelief. Some whispers of the word 'Cipher Pol', one of which came from Wire who's death gripping his trident. Heat's staring at the corpse with an empty gaze. The Quincy woman, one of the newer recruits as I don't remember her from before, has both hands over her mouth with tears pricking at her eyes.
It falls to Gig, a rotund man obese enough to make Lucky Roux look skinny, to break the spell. The earth rumbles under his thick heavy steps and an oversized arm comes careening straight for my face.
The furious muscled fingers crash straight into my jawline, whipping an artificial wind up that flutters the back of my jacket, and do no damage as [Tekkai] roots me in place.
His disbelief is so apparent, that it's almost a casual thing to swing my .44 up and deliver him the same fate as his captain.
+ 360 Exp!
Quincy screams. Bodies leap into action.
The game begins.
Sparks of gunfire litter the ground behind me as I dash around. "You Bastard!" Reck screams as his twin flintlocks flash one after another. The ambient temperature screams upward as Heat's jaw unhinges and he releases a literal inferno to chase after me as well. Moai is...well Moai is running away as fast as his odd body type can carry him and I find I'm not against the idea of just letting him. He wasn't with the crew in our last encounter and I sincerely doubt he'll last long on his own out here.
Whirring blades sound from above me and Killer and I clash once more. His arm is shaking. Tears are dripping beneath his cracked mask and the [Game] is telling me he's getting a 15% loss to STR and DEX due to his status as [ANGUISHED!]...wait now it's a positive 40% boost and [ENRAGED!]… and now it's down to a 10% bonus paired with [DISTRAUGHT!].
Well, he's not taking this well at all is he?
I disengage and hop away before the fire can catch up from behind. [Kami-e] slips me past a launched trident and I turn an eye in Wire's direction. 'He somehow knew where I'd dodge. Battle intuition? Or something more?' Regardless, let's nip that right now.
'Kamisori' puts me in a crouch before him while his weapon is still being reeled in. Kugizume swings up! A diagonal strike ready to split his chest open...only to have Mosh shoulder tackle him away and accept the blow himself.
+ 320 Exp!
Skill Level Up! Bladed Weapon Mastery Lv. (24/150) → (25/150)
-Your ability to expertly wield swords, knives, spears, or any other sharpened tools.
As the oversized punk rocker goes down with a flash of blood, an opportunity appears to look back toward the auction house. There's definitely a crowd running my way. Many of them mooks I recognize from my last visit to the Victoria Punk. There's the man with the swirling red tattoo. The guy with the blue jacket, orange shirt combo. Yes, a lot of familiar faces.
Past them though are more important sights.
The Heart pirates taking off in the other direction, destroying a bridge behind them. The Straw Hats breaking through one final line of Marines and going their own way as well.
And one white haired old man at the foot of the stairs smiling in my direction.
He's just barely too far away for me to make out his level. I can see it's obviously in the triple digits. And the first number is just curvy enough that I can surmise it's a '2'...but beyond that..it's just too far away.
I don't know if his soft grin is ominous or not...as I can recall there's rarely a moment in the series where he isn't smiling. It's essentially his default expression, even when in battle.
There's a tense moment where I can feel his eyes on me..and then he simply turns away and starts to leave. Apparently having decided something in his mind.
Kugizume moves behind me to catch Wire's attack at my back. A harsh snap fills the air as the weapons meet and I dispassionately glance over my shoulder at his gritting teeth. "For the record...I'm not Cipher Pol.." With a flex of muscles and a little twist I manage to break the man's grip over his weapon, forcing it to go twirling into the grass far far to the side.
I can feel his jaw fracture beneath my fingers when I spin around to face him proper and slug him with a 'Jack Hammer'. My pet name for any hit that's got multiple of my strength enhancers packed into it. An unconscious Wire goes sliding through the ground, a deep and nasty fist mark indented into his cheek.
"...thought I'd mention that since you whispered it earlier." I finish the thought.
Pirates start to surround my position. Mostly grunts below Lv. 25 so I offer them little concern. I keep my eyes glued to the officers. Killer's still an emotional wreck so that's probably to my advantage. The tips of Heat's hair is starting to go alight with blue flames, which is something I've never seen from him before and the Quincy woman...has started belly dancing? What the fuck? Does she have a Fruit? What kind of-
New Quest Alert!
That's as far as I read into the pop-up before an explosion of yellow light takes out every Kid pirate mook standing on my left side.
A titanic thump shakes the land as a 20 ft high being slams into the battlefield, ready to add a third side to the fight.
It stands up straight and I stare upwards at the governmental prototype.
PX-3, (Pacifista), Human Weapon, Lv. N/A
'Oh you've gotta be fucking kidding me.'