Hello everyone, and welcome back to what is inevitably going to be a story just as long as my last one. As excited as I am to start this story, it's also a little daunting because I know this is going to be a long one. The Devil Wears White,- which you should read first if you haven't already- was originally planned to be long, but no more than 30 chapters- and we all know where that went. Knowing this story will most likely easily reach the 100 chapter mark and then some means I have a lot of work ahead of me. Don't worry though; I'm going to be pacing myself and chipping away at it whenever possible! As I always say, it may take me some time, but I will never abandon a story! Anyways, I know after the two months left waiting for this sequel you all are eager to jump in, so I'll let you do just that. At the end of this chapter I'll leave notes on things like updating schedule and tidbits if you're interested.
So without further adieu, enjoy!
Chapter 1: Romance Dawn
Luffy, a newly 17-year-old teen, was smiling brightly as he lounged in his tiny row boat. Really, it was just a small dingy, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
Taking a bite from his apple he watched as the few small clouds above him slowly drifted past him.
He'd lived a relatively crazy life so far; from being kidnapped at age seven, held captive in a facility that tested on children daily for an entire seven years, being freed and finding the Whitebeard Pirates, joining the crew, and going on many adventures with them as their family. It was more than most could say they'd done in a lifetime- and honestly, most wouldn't want to be involved in the things Luffy had gone through.
Now, he was setting off on his own to build a crew that would rival not only Whitebeards, but Shanks' as well, and then the entire world in his pursuit to become the Pirate King.
He didn't want many crew members. As much as he loved all of his brothers and sisters back on the Moby, it was too large for him. He wanted a small crew- maybe ten members- that would be close, if not closer, than the Whitebeards were.
His smile widened at the thought, and he tossed the apple core in his hand into the ocean, moving to grab another from the barrel that had been full of them at the start of his journey. When his hand felt nothing but air he pouted but shrugged. Oh well, he'd just have to find an island or something if he wanted more food.
That wasn't going to be an option though as he looked ahead and saw a giant whirlpool in his path. His pout turned to a frown as he thought.
"Won't do me any good dying now, I've only just started my journey." He mumbled to himself, almost turning red with exertion as he tried thinking of a solution to his new issue. His eyes scanned over the things he had with him, and he grinned when he saw the empty barrel.
Laughing to himself, he grabbed his bag and hopped into the barrel, holding the bag to his chest and closing the lid above him.
It sure was dark in this barrel...
Within seconds he was falling asleep, completely unconcerned by the imminent danger he was in.
Dreaming of meat and his family on the Moby, Luffy slept peacefully, unaware of the sharp movements his barrel was making as it- as well as his dingy- were pulled into the whirlpool. If anything, the movements soothed Luffy into sleeping deeper, only reminded of the storms that would happen back on the Moby, and even those he was able to sleep through just fine unless he was needed.
Eventually, his barrel was spat out and the rough movements stopped, replaced by only the soft bobbing of the waves carrying him along. He still didn't wake though, and when there was more movement, rough like the whirlpool, he snored, undisturbed.
A pulling motion was felt, but again, Luffy slept on, and then a feeling as if the barrel was being risen. A thunk, as if it'd been set down on hard ground, and then a rolling, the barrel moving once more.
And yet, he continued to sleep.
There was noise around him now, people talking, and his barrel was being lifted again and placed upright, and finally, he woke up.
There was still a noise around him, people talking, and he could feel emotions, as well as sense four people with his haki. One of the people was scared, nervous, anxious, worried, and overall just a mixture of bad feelings that Luffy didn't enjoy, so he promptly pushed those feelings away. The other three in the room were confident, happy, and fired up about something.
Deciding now was as good a time as any to leave his barrel, he stood, stretching and yawning as he did. Consequently, the barrel splintered open at his strength and he was able to stand to his full height, arms stretching maybe just a smidgen too far for a normal human.
Well, it was a good thing that Luffy wasn't a normal human.
"Ah, that was a good nap!" He called out with a smile, lowering his arms now as he took in the scene before him.
On the ground, one of the guys was knocked out, a red mark on his face. Two others stood over him, eyes wide, one of them sweating and the others jaw dropped in shock. There was a smaller guy with pink hair off to the side, looking equally as shocked as the other two.
"Who're you guys?" Luffy asked in confusion, wondering where he was and how he'd gotten there.
"No, who are you?!" The two standing over the unconscious guy yelled, looking both angry and shocked at the same time.
"That guys gonna catch a cold if he sleeps there, y'know," Luffy told them as he stepped out of the barrel, ignoring the earlier question completely as he did.
"You did that!" The two said now, Luffy feeling as the blonde's anger increased and the darker haired one began to feel more dismayed then angry.
Suddenly, the emotions shifted again, determination filling the two, and just as Luffy was about to step completely out of the barrel, a sword was in front of him, stopping him.
"Are you toyin' with us even when you know we're pirates?!" The dark-haired one asked, still sweating, but determined. Luffy didn't even bother to address the two- despite their determination- and turned to the pink-haired kid, the only one who hadn't said anything yet. With how aggressive the other two were, Luffy felt that he might actually get answers from the nervous kid instead of them.
"Man, I'm hungry! You got any food?" He asked him, the boy's shock and fear rising as Luffy asked.
"Listen when people are talking!" The dark-haired man screamed in annoyance behind him. The anger in the blonde rose again, and Luffy tilted his head slightly, already knowing what the two behind him were preparing.
"You damn kid!" The blonde shouted, both he and the dark-haired man raising their weapons. Turning his head, Luffy wasn't worried as the weapons began to lower towards him.
"Die!" The blonde shrieked, he and his friend slashing their swords down swiftly, the pink-haired boy crying out and covering his eyes.
Before the swords could even touch him, Luffy used his armament haki to strengthen his hands, stopping the swords with it. With a clang the tips came flying off and sticking into the wood of the ceiling, the two pirates falling to the ground in shock.
"What's the big idea?" Luffy asked. He hadn't really been paying attention to what was happening- he was too hungry for that- but that didn't mean these two had to fight him about it.
"W-who are you?!" One of the men stammered.
"Me? I'm Monkey D. Luffy. Nice to meet ya!" Luffy exclaimed cheerily, despite the fact that these two had attacked him moments ago. With that, the two pirates both stood, grabbing the unconscious man on the ground and running out of the room in record time. Luffy watched them go in confusion, a small frown on his face as he did.
"What the... What just happened?" The boy behind him asked, shock still rolling off of him.
"What's with them?" Luffy asked still wondering what had happened. He knew it'd been a while since he'd been in the East Blue, but were people always this strange?
"R-run, hurry! If they come back with their friends, you'll be killed!" The pink-haired kid practically screamed with this realization, Luffy turning his head to listen. He could still feel the kid's shock, and now the kids fear as well, but he couldn't figure out why he felt that way. Everything was fine so far, and it wasn't Luffy that was scaring the kid, it was something else, but he just couldn't figure out what.
"But man, I sure am hungry!" Luffy said instead, deciding that the best course of action was to fill his stomach before trying to figure out the kid's emotions.
"How can you be so carefree?!" The kid asked in shock, his worry now increasing as he spoke.
"There are still lots more of them up on deck!" He continued, Luffy turning to look back at the door the others had left from. Shrugging, he turned towards two double doors and attempted walking towards them.
Attempted, because the kid grabbed onto his arm immediately, trying to pull him out the other way.
"Come on, this way! H-H-Hey! Not this way!" Luffy ignored the kid completely now, smelling what he knew to be food on the other side of the doors. Opening them, he stepped in, slamming them behind him and briefly noting that the kid was caught in them, shrieking in pain.
Again, he ignored this, more focused on the food he could both smell, and now see below him.
"Food! Food! Food! Yes! Food!" Luffy cheered, jumping down and looking around at the array of boxes and bags filled with good smelling food.
"Actually, they might not find us in here!" Luffy barely heard the boy's words, still more focused on the important business. Food.
"Which should I choose? This box smells good. Ooh, jackpot!" Luffy cheered again as he opened the box to find it filled with fruit.
"These look great!" He said as he picked some up, smiling widely before tossing them into his mouth two at a time.
"M-my name is Coby. You're Luffy-san right?" The kid, Coby, asked from where he stood at the door.
"That was incredible just now! How did you do that?!" Coby asked as he began heading towards Luffy.
"These things are great!" Luffy said, disregarding Coby's words entirely as he turned to look at the boy, fruit in hand and smile on his face. Turning back to the fruit, Luffy thought of something.
"Is this a pirate ship?" He asked, remembering both the fact that he didn't know where he was and that the man earlier had said they were pirates.
"No, its a passenger ship that's being raided by Alvida-sama," Coby said, kneeling behind him now as Luffy continued eating from the box of fruit.
"Well, it doesn't matter," Luffy said, not recognizing a pirate named Alvida. He hadn't paid much attention to upcoming pirates back on the Moby, he left that up to everyone else, so it didn't surprise him that he didn't know this Alvida person.
"Do you know if there are any boats on board?" Luffy asked next, thinking back to the fact that he'd lost his earlier one. Too bad to- it had been a birthday present.
"I-I think so..." Coby said behind him, unsure of himself.
"My ship got swallowed by this giant whirlpool-"
"You mean that whirlpool?! No one could survive that!" Coby shouted, interrupting Luffy. The straw-hatted teen laughed at that, turning again to look at Coby.
"Boy, was that a real surprise!" Luffy laughed, thinking back to his encounter with the turbulent water.
"Are you one of those pirates, too?" He asked now, wondering if Coby had been a passenger or a pirate.
"It was on that fateful day..." Coby began somberly, immediately launching into his story; Luffy watching blankly as he continued eating. As Coby told him about how he'd come to be apart of Alvidas crew, Luffy listened, feeling the boys fear and nervousness slowly dissipate as he spoke.
"It's been two years since... In exchange for my life, I've been forced to be a chore boy." The kid finished, hands on his knees as he stared at the ground.
"Man, you're dumb and stupid!" Luffy deadpanned, wondering how Coby had managed to get himself in this position and why he was still here two years later.
"You're brutally honest..." Coby said in dismay.
"If you don't like it, then run away!" Luffy said as if it were obvious. He had brief flashes of being trapped in the facility, but he forced himself not to think about that. He wasn't able to stop himself from glancing at his wrist, his number staring back at him in bold black ink.
"I-I can't! No way! No way! Just the thought of Alvida-sama finding me... frightens me and makes me weak in the knees-" Coby said, only snapping Luffy's attention to him momentarily until Luffy began thinking of Haru, and how scared he'd been when he got out that the doctor was going to get him. He was tempted to call Coby weak, tell him that he didn't like weak people, people who didn't even try to stand up for themselves, but it was harder then it should have been.
"If you really hate it so much, you'll leave, no matter what," Luffy told Coby instead, frown on his face and voice low. Coby blinked at Luffy's sudden change in attitude, looking to the teen and noticing the frown on his face, an unidentifiable emotion in his eyes. Looking back down to the ground, Coby smiled weakly, eyebrows slanted.
"Y-yeah, you're right. If only I had the courage to drift the ocean in a barrel... there's actually something I want to do, too..." Coby said softly, breaking Luffy from his memories, remembering what Whiskey taught him about breathing and reminding himself he was no longer at the facility; no longer had to worry about Haru.
"Umm... What compelled you to set out onto the sea, Luffy-san?" Coby asked, looking back up at Luffy. Happy that the subject was changed Luffy smiled widely again, remembering his dream and everyone he'd made a promise to.
"I'm gonna be the King of the Pirates!" Luffy exclaimed loudly, proud of himself. Coby's jaw dropped again and the shock Luffy had thought was finally gone was back.
"K-K-King of the Pirates?!" Coby squeaked out, sweating furiously.
"Are you serious?!"
"Wait, you're a pirate Luffy-san?!"
"What about your crew?!"
"Don't got one. I'm just about to look for one." Luffy replied, answering all of Coby's questions diligently, smile never leaving his face and Coby's shock never dimming. If anything, it grew. Luffy blinked, confusion forming on his face as he watched the boy who was sat completely still, sweating and jaw hanging, not moving. Waving his hand in front of Coby's face, Luffy waited for the boy to do something.
"K-K-King of the Pirates is the title given to the person who obtains everything in this world! That means seeking the great treasure of wealth, fame and power, the One Piece!" Coby exclaimed, standing and spreading his arms out as Luffy nodded along, agreeing with the boy's words.
"Yup?! Pirates all over the world are after that treasure!"
"No way! No way, no way, no way! Absolutely no way! There's no way you can stand at the apex of this Great Pirate Era! No way! No way!-" Annoyed now, Luffy knocked Coby on the head, the boy falling to the ground as a result.
"Why did you hit me?" Coby whimpered out, holding his head.
"Just because," Luffy answered simply, wondering if Coby was going to stop now.
"But it's alright. I'm used to it now..." Coby said, and again, Luffy could feel that pull in his mind, the one telling him that the facility was never going to leave, that one day, he would be strapped to a chair, needles poking into his arms and scalpels cutting him open.
"It's not about whether I can or not," Luffy said instead, not letting himself dwell on those thoughts anymore.
"I'm gonna do it because I want to." He said, grabbing his hat and taking it off his head, holding it in front of him and staring at it while Coby watched from the ground.
"I've decided to be the King of the Pirates, so if I die fighting for that, that's fine with me!" Luffy said, voice soft yet confident as he spoke. There was a moment of silence as Luffy stared at his hat and Coby stared at Luffy, but eventually, Luffy placed his hat back on his head and began walking to the ladder.
"Now, then! My belly's full- guess I'll go get me a boat!" Luffy said, a boat being his next priority after food. After all, how was he supposed to have a crew and sail the ocean without a boat?
"I wonder if they'll give me one if I ask. Hopefully, they're generous." Luffy mumbled to himself, unaware that Coby was still kneeling on the ground behind him.
"I never once thought about it... Do you suppose I can do it too? If I'm prepared to die for it?" Coby asked quietly, Luffy stopping at the top of the ladder to look back down at Coby.
"Do what?" He asked, not sure what they were talking about now.
"Do you think... even I could join the navy?" Coby asked, making Luffy frown.
"Navy?" He asked, more to himself. Everything he knew about the navy- the Marines- had been from what he'd heard his brothers say back on the Moby. The navy was responsible for the facilities, allowed them to continue existing, but his grandfather was a marine, and he was a good guy, if not scary. Luffy knew not every marine was horrible and corrupt, just like he now knew not all doctors were mean and greedy, but it was still jarring for someone like Coby, someone innocent with a bright blue aura, to want to join those corrupt bastards Luffy had grown up to dislike.
"Yes! Catching bad guys is my dream! Its been my dream ever since I was little! Do you think I can do it?!" Coby asked, standing and turning to look at Luffy, tears in his eyes and fist held up in determination. Luffy looked at the boy for a minute, a small smile forming on his face as he took him in, emotions and all.
From what he could see and feel, Coby truly wanted to be a good person, wanted to help the world, unlike some of the worse Marines. It showed Luffy that he was right in his decision of Coby, that the boy was a good person and would probably continue to be that way- see through the corruption.
"How should I know?" Luffy finally said, still smiling to Coby as he did.
"No! I'll do it! If I'm gonna be a chore boy for the rest of my life, then I'll break out of here and catch even Alvida-sama- no, Alvida!" Coby continued shouting in determination, Luffy liking what he was hearing. Of course, it was disrupted by the ceiling crashing in on them, scaring Coby who had made his way to the ladder in his shouting, and surprising Luffy as he watched the wood and dust fall down into the hole.
"You're gonna team up with him to catch who?!" A voice asked in rage. Luffy noted that there was a person in front of him, not because he could see them- there was too much dust for that to be possible- but rather he could feel their presence with his haki as well as their emotions.
"Huh, Coby?!" The voice asked, and Luffy could see Coby cowering in the corner of the hole where he stood, shaking. Luffy leaned forward a bit to get a better view, and as he did swords came poking out of the wall behind him, missing him. The dust cleared and there was a large person standing there, their attention turning to Luffy who stared back at them, undeterred.
"You don't seem to be Zoro, the pirate hunter." The person said with a grin.
"Zoro?" Luffy asked, not sure who that was. Coby stood up straighter at the name but said nothing.
"Coby!" At the sound of his name, Coby screamed out in surprise, stiffening.
"Who's the most beautiful of all on these seas?!" The person asked loudly, Luffy only blinking as he watched. He could feel Coby's nervousness and fear rise as the boy began sweating, smiling shakily and rubbing the back of his head.
"O-of course, that would be-"
"Who's the big chunky lady?" Luffy asked instead, pointing to the person in front of him as he looked to Coby in confusion. Everyone blanched in shock at his words, but Luffy didn't understand why. It was a valid question.
"Not good!" From above them two people with swords watched the conversation, looking into the hole the woman had created when she came down. Luffy could feel a fury rise in the person in front of him, drawing his attention and forcing him to focus on keeping the emotions out, not wanting them to influence him. He didn't know why they were getting so angry, but he didn't want to get angry back and most likely wreck the ship as a result.
"You runt!" The person shouted in anger, raising their weapon high in the air above Luffy and swinging it down right where he stood. Before it could hit him, Luffy jumped away, landing in front of Coby.
"Let's go!" He told the boy, grabbing his hand and jumping upwards, out through the hole in the ceiling and taking Coby with him. There were people there, pirates, that moved out of his way, giving him space to land. One hand on his hat and the other holding Coby, he grinned to the pirates, daring them to try something. It seemed to work, a big burly guy with a sword growling as he began charging forward.
"Why, you-!" They shouted, swinging at Luffy, but due to his flexibility, the rubber boy leaned back, allowing the sword to glide over him instead. Being in motion already, Luffy pushed his weight forward, head butting the pirate to the ground and turning just as another pirate came at him, swinging their sword at his back. He punched them before they could finish the swing, knocking them to the ground. Another group of four all tried attacking him at once, but Luffy jumped back.
"Whoops!" He called in the air, landing safely a few feet away from them. Everyone on the deck stared at him in shock, swords aimed in his direction. Standing up straight again, Luffy laughed, holding his bicep. It had been a while since he'd had a fight, the journey to Dawn Island having been uneventful and leaving him itching for a fight. This was the East Blue and everyone here was weak, but that didn't mean it wasn't fun regardless.
His haki picked up a presence coming at him from the air behind, but he just sidestepped it, both the man and sword landing where he'd been standing seconds ago.
"It's not fair to attack from behind!" Luffy admonished, grabbing the pirate's head and throwing him at the group of watching pirates. He didn't have a second to think as his haki warned him of the many other pirates crowded behind him, all with sharp pointy swords.
"It's not fair to attack all at once!" Luffy called as he ran forward, the pirates following with a roar, swords raised. Passing the mast, Luffy grabbed onto it, continuing to run forward and letting his arm stretch as he did. He could feel the shock and confusion from the group behind him and grinned to himself. Reaching the end of the ship he turned to look at the pirates over his shoulder.
"Gotcha!" Luffy told them, watching as they all began running away.
"Gum Gum Rocket!" Luffy called out, letting his body fly back towards him arm, and consequently towards the fleeing pirates. He barreled into them, sending them all flying in every direction. Pirates successfully knocked out, Luffy stood with his hands on his hips, smiling still.
"Man, Sabo was right, surprise does work!" Luffy laughed out.
"L-Luffy-san... what are you?" Coby asked timidly as he walked towards him shakily.
"Me? I'm a rubber man!" Luffy told Coby, stretching out his cheek in demonstration. Sabo had told Luffy that not many people in the East Blue had devil fruits and that he would probably have to explain his abilities to people he met, so he wasn't surprised by Coby's shock. Well, to be fair, Coby had been shocked for most of their encounter together.
"A r-rubber person? You can't be serious!" Coby said, before feeling the presence behind him and scrambling behind Luffy.
"You've eaten a Devils fruit, haven't you?" Alvida asked, standing where Coby had been.
"Yeah, the Gum Gum fruit!" Luffy told her, finally letting go of his cheek and letting it snap back to normal.
"I see! I'd heard the rumors, but I guess they really do exist!" Alvida exclaimed, head tilting.
"You also seem pretty skilled. You a bounty hunter?" She asked.
"I'm a pirate!"
"A pirate?! Hah! All by yourself?!" Alvida laughed.
"It's just me right now, but I'll find some more sooner or later! Yeah... ten crewmen sounds good to me!" Luffy said optimistically.
"Ah, so you're a pirate too, huh?! Then that means you and me are enemies, huh?" Alvida asked, Luffy smiling still as he listened.
"L-Luffy-san! Let's get out of here!" Coby said worriedly beside him.
"Why?" Luffy asked with a frown.
"You saw how powerful her club is! In these waters she's the most-" Coby stopped speaking suddenly, staring at Luffy who stared back, still frowning.
"I'm the most what?" Alvida asked with a grin, the silence reigning for another moment. Luffy could feel Coby's fear, his anxiety, his nervousness, slowly become overpowered by courage and determination. The fear and anxiety was still there, no doubt about it, but it was overshadowed by the now stronger feelings.
"I'm the most what?!" Alvida asked again when no one spoke.
"T-t-the... The most ugly, cragged old hag ever!" Coby shouted. It was silent again, and Luffy could feel the shock coming from the ship beside this one, more pirates having been watching from there, and the anger from Alvida who stood menacingly in front of them. Coby squeezed his eyes shut, tears forming, but Luffy could still feel that courage and adrenaline pumping through the boy, making his frown turn into a grin. He began laughing, amused by both Coby's words and feelings.
"What did you say?!" Alvida shouted in rage, Luffy still laughing.
"I...I'm going to join the Navy! And then I'm gonna beat up pirates!" Coby exclaimed proudly, despite his fear.
"Do you even know what you're saying?!" Alvida asked, still looming over Coby and Luffy.
"I do! I'm gonna do what I want to do! I'm gonna... I'm gonna join the navy... and catch your lousy ass!" Coby screamed, hands in fists as he did, leaning forward slightly in exertion.
"You damn pipsqueak!" Alvida growled out, raising her club again, stopping Luffys laughing and making Coby scream in terror.
"Well said!" Luffy shouted out, crouching slightly in front of Coby, preparing himself to take the hit form the club.
He did just that, Alvida's club swinging down, landing square on his head and making the wood splinter beneath Luffy's feet from the weight and power behind the attack. His smile grew into a menacing grin now, still taking the weight of the mace.
"That doesn't work!" He exclaimed, feeling the shock from Alvida.
"'Cause I'm rubber!" He shouted, shifting his weight and swinging his fist back.
"Gum Gum..." His fist flew back, stretching far off the ship and over the water until it couldn't stretch any further.
"Pistol!" He exclaimed, shifting his foot forward in preparation for the force of his swing. His fist came flying back towards him, Alvida watching in a mixture of shock and fear as it sprung towards her, landing on her gut and sending her flying off the ship and into the air, farther than Luffy or Coby could see.
Luffy's fist returned to him, Luffy's whole body moving back as the force pushed him, smile still on his face and Coby staring at where Alvida had disappeared in shock, jaw on the ground again.
"Hey!" Luffy called, turning to the watching pirates on the neighboring ship.
"Yes?!" They asked in unison, stiffening at Luffy's attention.
"Give Coby a small boat! He's gonna join the navy! Keep your mouths shut and let him go!" Luffy ordered them with a serious look.
"R-right!" They called back before scrambling to do as told. Luffy grinned at this, feeling Coby's worry, nervousness, fear, shock, all melt away into a peaceful calm. Happiness.
"Luffy-san!" He said with a small smile. Luffy couldn't respond as cannons suddenly went off, cannonballs splashing in the ocean beside their ship and rocking it. Coby was knocked off balance, but Luffy managed to save himself, used to the shifting weight of a ship after being on the Moby for so long. When the movement died down they looked to see what was happening, and Luffy saw three navy ships in the distance.
"Its the navy!" Coby said in surprise.
"Oh, you want to be a marine right? You should go see 'em! But I'm a pirate! I'm outta here!" Luffy said, jumping over the railing and onto the neighboring ship, getting one of the lifeboats ready to go.
"Get serious! I can't just join the navy like this! I'll be captured instead!" Coby called after Luffy, still standing on the ship as he did. With those words, Luffy flung his arm at Coby, grabbing him and pulling him onto the boat and untying it, letting it fall into the water. Coby screamed the entire way down while Luffy laughed, holding onto the railing to keep from falling off.
Landing in the water, Luffy noticed another presence in the water beside them and looked to see an orange-haired woman, her emotions full of shock and slight fear as she looked back at him. He also felt a wave of nostalgia at the scent of tangerines that came off the woman. There was also a smell of berri there, but the sweet tangerine smell reminded him of his days in the facility where Emily used to give him and his brothers tangerines with their soup.
They stared at each other for a brief moment before the cannons went off again and reminded them all of their predicament.
Coby was quick to get the ship moving, the two of them heading away from the marines, leaving the orange-haired woman behind.
Luffy couldn't help but wonder about the hatred he'd felt deep inside the woman's emotions though.
A while later, Luffy and Coby were drifting along safely, Marines long behind them and nothing but water surrounding them.
"Looks like we got away..." Coby mumbled as he looked around at the water, hand shielding his eyes from the sun.
"Whew, that was fun!" Luffy laughed from where he sat.
"Umm, Luffy-san?" Coby asked, stopping Luffys laughing.
"If you're heading for the One Piece, that means you're going to the Grand Line, right?" Coby asked him, worry bubbling inside him that made Luffy want to frown. Why was Coby such a worrywart? It reminded him of Marco a bit, but even Marco wasn't this bad.
"Yeah," Luffy responded, still smiling despite previous thoughts.
"That place is also referred to as a pirate graveyard, you know," Coby told him matter-of-factly.
"Yeah. That's why I need a strong crew." Luffy said, equally nonchalant as he did. He'd heard all about that from Thatch and the others during parties more than once. It was a point of amusement for the veteran crew of pirates, and they would tell the brothers all about how the Grand Line was Paradise in comparison to the New World. Hence, why the Grand Line was also nicknamed Paradise despite it also being the pirate graveyard.
"What about that pirate hunter guy? What's he like?" Luffy asked, remembering Alvida talk about him earlier. If others knew this guy's name, he must be strong. He had to start somewhere after all.
"You mean Zoro? I heard he's being held at a navy base." Coby told him with a frown.
"Aw, he's a weakling?" Luffy whined, having really hoped this person would be stronger, but if he was being held here in the East Blue, the weakest sea, he was no doubt a weakling.
"Nothing of the sort! He's as terrifying as a demon!" Coby exclaimed, hands braced on the barrel as he leaned towards Luffy. There was a moment of silence as Coby's expression changed from one of shocked worry to a frown.
"Why are you asking about him?" He asked, worried for the answer. Luffy grinned his D grin at that, laughing a little.
"Thought I might have him join my crew if he's a good guy!" Luffy told him, making Coby blanche.
"You're being reckless again!" Coby shouted, reminding Luffy of Ace and Sabo.
"C'mon, he might be a good guy!" Luffy told him, knowing that stranger things had happened. He wouldn't be surprised if this, 'demon' really was a good guy after all. Besides, he and his brothers were accused of being monsters, demons, hell-born, and they weren't bad people at all. At least, he didn't think so. He couldn't check his own aura, so he couldn't know for sure.
"He's been caught because he's a bad guy!" Coby retorted, only making Luffy frown, knowing that it wasn't always as black and white as that.
"No! No way, no way, no way! Absolutely no- Why did you hit me?" Coby asked, nursing his head after Luffy had hit him again.
"Just because!" Luffy replied as if it were no big deal, but really he was just getting annoyed by Coby's shouting again.
If he had known Coby would nag him worse than Marco and Sabo combined, he might have reconsidered having him come along.
And so ends the first chapter of this new adventure! Writing the words 'Chapter 1' again made me extremely happy.
So, for those curious, I will be updating this story every two weeks on Thursdays. I want to make sure I give myself time in between updates so that I don't overwork myself which I very nearly did when writing The Devil Wears White. Don't get me wrong, I loved every second of TDWW, but I also know now after having taken a two month break in between stories that it was also very draining to pump out weekly chapters of such a long story. How Oda does it, I'll never know.
I do have a few chapters already written in case of emergencies, and I do have an outline that takes us far into the Two-Year Time Skip though. I've put a lot of thought into this story and I can't wait to really get into it.
In the beginning, things will follow cannon a bit as you can already see, but I will be adding extra scenes, changing certain dialogues, and eventually drifting off completely when necessary to fit the world of my TDWW AU.
Also, like I did with TDWW, I will be aiming for 3,000 words minimum for each chapter, however, so far I've been writing far more than 3,000 words easily. Expect longer chapters than TDWW, but keep in mind that every once in a while there may be a chapter that's only 3,000 words. Hopefully longer chapters more often will make up for such a long wait in between chapters.
In terms of notes on this chapter; as you may have noticed, Luffy wasn't recognized as 11097 despite having a rather high bounty. This is mostly because the most recent news on him and his brothers is that he's still in the New World causing havoc with the Whitebeards. No one is expecting him to be in the East Blue, so when faced with him, their mind doesn't immediately connect the dots that it's him. Not to mention, he's a New World pirate. Even though people would know and hear about him, not everyone would know what he looks like. Pirate hunters hanging around the Blues would focus their attention on wanted posters for people in their seas, which I feel is the same for normal people or pirates living in those seas.
In terms of Luffy's strength at the moment, his raw physical strength is around the same as after the two year time skip. He's able to fight toe to toe with people like Doflamingo, but still have trouble with Big Mom. As for his haki, while the Whitebeards helped train him in it, its still not as perfected as when Rayleigh was finished with him. In my mind, it's about half trained. While he does know that he has conquerors haki, and he has used it before, he's not trained in it to the point of using it easily on command. His armament and observation haki is also better than a beginner, but not expert level yet. Intermediary. While he can sense people's presences, he wouldn't be able to find a specific person on the opposite side of the island with his haki, and while he could easily block swords and bullets with armament, he wouldn't be able to hold it for too long.
I hope all of that made sense.
With all of that said, I'll see you all again in two weeks with the next chapter!