The Pirate King Is Dead - Long Live The Pirate King

Part 3 of a Four Part Saga

By Aoikami Sarah

NOTE: Assume that this derivates from the Oda-plot somewhere around chapter 350 (Water 7/Enies Lobby) or so. This story is part of a saga. If you prefer to read in order, read "A Pirate Is A Pirate" and "A Pirate's Life For Me - We Need A Musician!" first. Pairings in this story: LxN, UxK, ZxT, SxOC, AxOC

Chapter One - Retreat From Enies Lobby

A loud whistle sounded again as Smoker leapt off of the Marine ship and ran toward the crumbling remains of Enies Lobby.

"Smoker-taisa!" Tashigi cried, stumbling down herself. "Please wait for me!"

He ignored her and charged into the building. "What the hell is going on!" he shouted, but none of the government men strewn around were conscious enough to answer him. Soon he was jumping over bodies both friend and foe. There were two huge king bulls from Water Seven in rough shape blocking his way, but this was no obstacle for his Akuma no Mi ability. He became pure smoke and flew up over their hulking bodies. Landing on an upper level, Smoker gathered himself and continued his charge, looking for something, someone to tell him the status. Rounding a corner, the scene before him stopped him in his tracks.

Two admirals, the blue and the red, were in combat. The winner grimaced and turned to the small group of marines and government men in black suits that surrounded him. He shook his hand free of icicles and adjusted his eyeshade. "All those who love justice," Aokiji bellowed. "Follow me!"

"Wait!" Smoker shouted. "What the hell's going on, here, Aokiji?"

"Ah, Smoker-taisa," Aokiji said, relaxing a little. "Things are sort of on their head right now thanks to your little pirate friend."

"Friend?" he asked, making a face.

"Smoker… taisa!" Tashigi panted as she finally caught up to him. "Mugi… wara… is here!"

Aokiji shrugged. "He's caused a lot of chaos, but it's well timed." He looked up as if scrutinizing something only he could see. "The world government is an apple that's rotten from the core out. Only a handful of folks like you and I, Smoker are left untainted by the worm of corruption." His eyes cast back down at the defeated Admiral Akainu, frozen solid at his feet. "Will you two join us?"

The other men around him looked upon the other Akuma no Mi user with anxiety. They clutched their weapons, waiting for his answer.

"Tashigi," he called to his subordinate who stood behind him. "When we were in Arabasta, what did you learn of justice?"

She grimaced. "That the law does not always follow its path." They both looked to Aokiji who smiled and lead them all toward the crumbling tower.

.x.

Luffy assured them all was well. "Meet us at the weird boat!" he cried. "Get out of here! We're right behind you!" They believed him. Everything would be alright. They were safe for the moment but waiting nervously for their captain and Robin. Chopper, Zoro and Sanji stood on the deck of the large World Government ship they had acquired and watched the ruins of Enies Lobby from the port side. From the stern a familiar sound drew their attention. Nami leapt off the waver as it flew over the sea toward the ship. She nearly collided with Chopper who caught her in his huge arms. "Where's Luffy?" she cried. "Did I beat him here!"

"Damn it, we should go back in there," Zoro snarled and put his hand on his swords.

"It's getting crazy in there. I've never seen so many marine ships," Sanji said, ashing a forgotten cigarette and motioning to the eastern side of the island. "We have to trust Luffy."

"Where's Usopp?" Chopper fretted. 'I thought he was with you, Zoro?"

Zoro didn't answer. They all watched the island and waited.

.x.

Luffy didn't have a clue where Robin had been taken. She was going to be executed. She couldn't fight back because of a pair of Kairoseki cuffs that limited her Akuma no Mi powers, but she wouldn't fight. She had given up. Yet, he chased her - his nakama, even so. Down the long halls, crying her name, even after defeating CP9 and almost out of energy he ran and knocked the occasional blacksuit out of the way as he did. "Robiiiiiiiiinnnnnn!" he screamed. Suddenly, his left wrist was caught by some one and he stretched away from it before turning to swing with his right at the enemy. He was shocked to see one of Robin's arms protruding from the wall. Her grip was like steel. Luffy gnashed his teeth and pulled, but still she held him fast. Her hand was trembling. "Robin, let me go! I can save you!" he shouted at the hand, futilely. "Let me go!"

And she did.

But rather than being empowered, Luffy stared at hand. It released him slowly, gently, then hung limp for a moment before vanishing in a flourish of pink flower petals. Luffy's extended arm retracted and knocked him off his own feet. He stared at the wall where the hand had been. His mouth hung open, but he couldn't manage the strength to say a word.

.x.x.x.

Years before, on Fuchsia a 10 year old Luffy lay awake in bed. He waited until he was sure Ace was asleep before sliding out of bed and slinking down the hallway. The light was on in his mother's room. The Mayor was asleep in the chair to the right of her bed with a book gripped loosely in his hand. Marina breathed shallow, harsh sounding breaths. She was pale and thin and her golden red hair seemed shocking in comparison.

"Mommy," Luffy whispered as he approached the left side of the bed. "I can't sleep…" He pulled the other chair in the room up to the left side of the bed and took her bony hand in his. "Ok if I stay here with you?" he asked. He knew she couldn't answer, but just to be beside her was enough. Luffy gave her hand a squeeze and watched her face.

In the morning, The Mayor of Fuchsia whom Marina called 'Bower' woke and stretched. The book he had neglected fell to the floor. He bent to pick it up and noticed the boy sitting at his mother's side. "Luffy, you shouldn't be in here…" he scolded. Marina didn't want her sons to see her die. The boy was wide-eyed and unmoving. "Luffy?" Bower asked. His mouth moved a little, but his eyes were locked on the sallow face of his now dead mother. "Luffy!" Bower cried. The boy's hand still clutched his mother's now cold and relaxed hand. "Luffy!"

.x.x.x.

Usopp ran down the halls, terrified and searching for his captain. They had to get out or they would die. He knew that. The others were waiting for them on the ship. Usopp prayed he could find Luffy and Robin before the enemy did. He turned a corner and skidded to a halt. In the hall in front of him, on his knees and looking lost and devastated was his captain.

"Luffy!" Usopp cried. "Come on, we gotta get outta here!"

Luffy looked up, startled to find him there. His eyes were dry, but his brows were pinched in a way Usopp had never seen them. "Usopp…" he muttered. He frowned and regained his senses. "One more thing…" He got up with a sense of purpose and urgency and entered the nearest office. Luffy rummaged through the desk for paper and chuckled darkly. Not finding a pen, he put his index finger to his lips and bit down.

"Luffy, what are you doing!" Usopp shouted, growing more frightened by his actions than by the impending danger. Luffy scrawled something on the piece of parchment, folded it quickly in fourths and jammed it into the pocket of his startled gunner's coveralls.

"I'm doing the only thing I can do, now." Suddenly, his arms stretched out and wrapped around Usopp. He struggled and shouted, trying to get Luffy to come to his senses and flee with him. "Go back to the ship and give that message to the crew," Luffy said softly. He picked Usopp up, wrapped several times over in his extended arms, and pushed him through a large window behind the desk. Four floors down, the ocean lapped at the scant beach. "That's an order," he said and let Usopp fall.

He screamed as he fell, the arms unraveling as he went, but just before the ground would have crushed him, the rubber snapped back and deposited him gently on the beach. Usopp watched in horror as the arms retracted into the window. "Luffy!" he screamed, but his captain was gone. With trembling hands, Usopp pulled the note out of his pocket. He was devastated to read its contents, but an order was an order and he would not let Luffy's sacrifice be wasted.

.x.

"I can't handle this!" Nami cried. "Where's Luffy! Robin! Usopp! Don't tell me they're…?"

A soft thud drew their attention to the main mast of the stolen ship. A large dart attached to a line went taught and the sniper zipped down from some cliffs hundreds of yards away. He dropped to the deck. His face was twisted up in a strange expression somewhere between fury and misery. He pulled a piece of paper out of the pocket of his coveralls and held it out for anyone to take: Luffy's wanted poster with something scrawled on the reverse in a suspicious looking brownish-red ink. Everyone hesitated. Zoro was the one to finally snag it, unfold it and read it aloud.

"To my Nakama. Break up. Run away. This is me saving you. I'm taking the blame. Luffy." Zoro crushed the note. Sanji ripped it from his hands and read it for himself. He cursed and kicked a hole in the side of the ship. Usopp fell down on his behind and stared off into the distance. Nami realized his overalls were soaking wet with tears. She wanted to scream. She wanted to rally the troops and rush in to save Luffy, but the troops were broken. Zoro turned away again and held his hand to his face, not able to show the others his despair. Sanji walked to the galley and slammed the door behind him. Chopper shrank back down to his smaller size and looked up at the navigator, his eyes wide with disbelief.

"Is it true?" he sniffled. "Is Luffy going to die?"

Nami felt that she was going to be sick. She turned. Her feet moved on their own. She yanked the waver around and threw it into the water. She could hear Chopper shouting for her to come back, but the words were lost to her as she sped away, far away. It was another 24 hours of weeping, screaming and being ill before she stopped shaking and decided to go to Rogue Town to save Luffy from being executed.

To be continued…