Heart of a Pirate
Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece or Kingdom Hearts. They belong to Eiichiro Oda and Square Enix respectively.
Chapter 5: New World, New Faces (Part 2)
0o0o0o0o0o0o—Traverse Town, 1st District
A young woman strolled down a relatively deserted area of the 1st District of Traverse Town. She wore a long pink, button-up, sleeveless dress with a purple belt with silver studs around the waist, several small silver bracelets around her left wrist, a simple small pink choker and brown boots. She had brilliant emerald-green eyes and long brown hair tied into a large braid that hung down to her waist level with a pink bow tied at the base, with bangs that framed her pretty face. Her name was Aerith.
At the moment, Aerith was searching for a pair of envoys from Disney Castle that Leon told her would be in town. He had apparently located the Keybearer, a young teenage boy with very spiky brown hair, and knowing that King Mickey's subjects wouldn't be far behind, he had told her to look for them while he dealt with the boy. Knowing Leon, Aerith knew he would likely want to test the Keybearer's abilities to see if he could effectively fulfill his duties as wielder of the Keyblade. She only hoped he wasn't too hard on the boy when he did so…
Aerith suddenly stopped in her tracks as she heard sounds of fighting coming from a distance away. Her first thought was that Leon's personal assessment of the Keybearer's abilities was underway, but the sounds she heard were much too violent and destructive for that; Leon had always made it a point not to make a big show of his fights with as little collateral damage as possible. Had some unusually strong Heartless appeared? Or was it something else? Aerith quickly rushed off to investigate.
0o0o0o0o0o0o—1st District, Market Square
"GOMU GOMU NO PISTOL!"
Leon quickly ducked his head to the side as another stretching punch came flying at him. The wind from the attack rustled his hair as it went barreling past his face and smashed into the wall behind him.
"GOMU GOMU NO STAMP!" Luffy yelled, following up with a stretching thrust kick. The Gunblade wielder rolled to the side as the attack went flying harmlessly past him. Looking back, Leon's eyebrows rose slightly as he saw his opponent's fist and foot embedded into craters in the wall behind him, before the two stretching appendages retracted and snapped back to their original length on Luffy's body. This guy was stronger than he thought!
As he got to his feet, Leon raised his free hand in a calming gesture, hoping to calm this guy down before things got out of hand. "Listen to me!" he called out. "I mean no harm to your friend; I'm simply –"
"DON'T MAKE EXCUSES!" Luffy bellowed angrily. "GOMU GOMU NO GATLING GUN!"
Leon quickly dove out of the way as another huge barrage of stretching punches came flying toward him, though not without taking a few glancing hits before he could get away completely. He then rolled to his feet and jumped to the side before his opponent could halt the attack, trying to ignore the stinging pain from the blows that nicked him.
"I told you to listen!" Leon called out again, a small amount of frustration entering his voice. "I'm not out for your friend's life! I'm only –"
"I DON'T WANNA HEAR IT!" Luffy roared. "GOMU GOMU NO MUCHI!"
Luffy then sent a long-range sweeping kick straight toward Leon, who quickly ducked down, allowing the attack to fly just over his head, rustling his hair.
Well, so much for that, thought Leon as the attack passed over him. This guy was clearly too angry to listen to any verbal peacemaking. He'd have to do this the hard way.
As the Gunblade wielder straightened back up, Luffy snapped his leg back and quickly stretched his other one straight up into the air. "GOMU GOMU NO ONO!" The rubberman then swung his quickly retracting leg down in a devastating axe kick, which Leon quickly avoided by jumping to the side as Luffy's foot smashed a large crater in the ground.
Alright, that's enough of that, Leon thought to himself as he landed. Feeling he'd gotten a good gauge of this guy's abilities from the previous attacks, the Gunblade wielder felt it was now time to start hitting back. Judging from the damage left from those attacks he had just avoided, if he kept this up, before long the whole area would be a wreck, and that was something he'd rather not have to deal with later. Seeing his opponent rearing up for another attack, Leon crouched slightly, then burst into a fast sprint towards him, Gunblade at the ready.
"GOMU GOMU NO PISTOL!" Luffy sent another stretching punch towards Leon, who simply moved his head to the side to avoid the attack and continued his sprint forward.
"TWIN PISTOL!" Luffy fired his other fist out, but Leon simply ducked underneath it and continued his approach between his stretched-out arms.
"KANE!" As a last-ditch effort, Luffy quickly stretched his neck out behind himself, then snapped it forward, attempting to head-butt Leon. Leon eyebrows raised again as he saw that his opponent could stretch out his neck too. But having witnessed Luffy's previous feats of stretching, the element of surprise was diminished enough for Leon to move into a crouch, narrowly evading the attack and increasing his speed. Before Luffy could react, Leon quickly got up close and slammed the butt of his Gunblade into the rubberman's gut.
Saliva flew from Luffy's mouth as the air left his lungs, his head and arms snapping back into position. Leon followed up with a hard uppercut to the jaw that lifted the Straw Hat captain straight up into the air, finishing by whirling around and kicking the airborne Luffy in the chest, sending him smashing into the wall of a nearby building and kicking up a large cloud of dust as a portion of the wall crumbled from the impact.
Leon sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. Once again, another building was badly damaged from battle, this time from him. He was NOT looking forward to explaining this to the residents. But at least he had finally knocked his raging opponent out. After taking a hit like that, there was no way he was still conscious.
"GOMU GOMU NO YARI!"
Leon was caught completely off-guard as a double-footed spear kick came shooting out of the dust and slammed into his abdomen, carrying him a good distance through the air before crashing into a stone wall behind him, almost causing him to drop his weapon. The Gunblade wielder dropped to one knee as the attack retracted, clutching his stomach and coughing violently. Damn, that hurt!
Before he could do anything else, Luffy came bursting out of the dust cloud, his arms stretched out far behind himself as he rushed towards him. "Gomu Gomu no Bazooka!" he yelled as his arms retracted and surged forward towards the scarred swordsman.
Despite the pain he was in, Leon just barely managed to roll out of the way of the attack, watching with widened eyes as it utterly destroyed the wall he had been kneeling in front of. Forget the punches and kicks from earlier, this was the attack he needed to avoid!
Seeing that his attack hadn't hit the bastard, Luffy quickly retracted his arms and turned towards his kneeling opponent, raising a fist to attack him again. But before he could even move his arm, the guy quickly raised his palm and shouted "FIRE!" An orange ball of flame shot out of his gloved hand and hit Luffy in the chest, setting his vest on fire.
"AAAAAAAAHHHHHH! HOTHOTHOTHOTHOTHOTHOTHOTHOT!" Luffy screamed as he began comically running all over the place like a chicken with its head cut off, swatting frantically at the flames with his hands, eventually gaining the sense to start rolling on the ground as he did so.
Leon used this opportunity to get back on his feet, his hand on his abdomen as he willed the pain away. That attack was powerful, but he'd had worse. He'd been near death more times than he cared to remember, and something like this was no more than an annoyance. Once the pain died down, Leon took a deep breath and steadied himself, taking his Gunblade in both hands and readying himself for his next move.
By that point, Luffy had finally managed to swat the fire out, leaving only scorch marks on his vest. After brushing himself off a bit, he turned to face his opponent… only to receive a faceful of metal as Leon rushed forward and slammed the blunt edge of his Gunblade into Luffy's face. The hit sent him flying, bouncing and rolling across the ground until finally skidding to a halt on his back a distance away.
But to Leon's surprise (and slight frustration), he simply got back up again as if nothing had happened. After taking a direct hit to the head from the reverse edge of his Gunblade, this guy was still conscious and ready for more? Just what the hell was he?!
"Gomu Gomu no Pistol!"
Leon quickly dodged to the side as another stretching punch came flying at him, followed by several more which the Gunblade wielder narrowly avoided. After a few more near misses, Leon evaded another punch, this time reaching out and grabbing the stretched-out arm in a firm grip. Feeling it beginning to retract, Leon braced his legs to keep himself from being pulled over, effectively trapping the arm.
"Hey! Let go!" Luffy exclaimed irritably as he tugged on his arm, trying to retract it. But Leon simply placed his Gunblade back on his belt and grabbed the arm with his other hand, now holding Luffy's arm in a two-handed grip. Luffy continued to yank and pull at his arm in a bizarre form of tug-of-war, but Leon's grip held strong.
"Fine then!" growled Luffy, raising his other fist. "Gomu Gomu no – "
"WAH!" Luffy yelped as he quickly bent over backward to avoid the fireball. But in the process, he inadvertently shifted the stance of his feet, causing him to lose his balance and go flying towards Leon as his arm retracted itself. The moment Luffy's body reached Leon, in one smooth motion the Gunblade wielder lifted him over his head and, using the momentum of Luffy's speeding body, slammed him down hard onto the ground. A spider web-shaped indentation appeared in the cobblestone pavement from the impact.
"Have you had enough yet?" asked Leon bluntly as he gazed at Luffy's prone form. The Straw Hat captain remained silent and motionless, which Leon took to mean his opponent was out cold. But before the Gunblade wielder could even start moving to walk away, Luffy's eyes flew open, startling him.
"BASTARD!" Luffy roared as he sprang to his feet and began throwing a series of lightning-fast punches and kicks at the Gunblade wielder, who quickly raised his arms to block the blows. It took everything he had to keep his guard up under the onslaught.
Why won't he stay down?! Leon thought with both frustration and some amazement as he fought to keep up with his surprisingly resilient opponent. He didn't even seem injured or sore from any of the hits he took up to this point! Somehow, Leon felt that this guy's inhuman endurance and stretching abilities were connected in some way. Just what the hell was he?!
After a short time of guarding against Luffy's blows, Leon managed to slip under a punch and slide past Luffy, kicking him in the back as he did so and sending him stumbling forward. As Luffy turned back around, Leon came charging forward again with his Gunblade in the reverse position. It was rather awkward using it like this with the way the handle was designed, but he wasn't out to kill anyone here, so it had to be done.
But as Leon swung his weapon forward, Luffy quickly bent over forward and ducked under it, too fast for the Gunblade wielder to see. Leon only had time to widen his eyes as the Straw Hat captain swung his leg up to bash the scarred man in the jaw with a powerful upward kick, a loud crack resounding as the hit sent him flying twenty feet straight up into the air.
As Leon reached the apex of his flight, completing his backward rotation caused by the hit and trying to ignore the intense pain in his jaw (knowing he was lucky it wasn't broken), he saw his opponent rearing his fists back in preparation for another stretching attack. Damn! I can't dodge! thought Leon in frustration. Only one thing I can do… He then crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"Gomu Gomu no Gatling Gun!"
A spherical barrier of wind sprang to life around Leon as the barrage of stretching punches came flying at him, deflecting the blows off to the sides. Luffy kept on punching and punching, but none of them connected, much to the rubberman's surprise. A lucky few managed to pierce the barrier, but didn't reach Leon as they were quickly shoved back out by the force of the wind currents. As Luffy halted his attack, Leon fell back to the ground, the wind barrier slightly cushioning his fall as he landed on his feet. Once he was on the ground, the spell disappeared instantly.
As Leon rubbed his aching jaw, he saw Luffy's face contorting between anger and amazement, as if torn between the two. At one moment, his eyes would be wide as dinner plates with stars in them, then quickly move back into an angry glare with his teeth gritted in an angry scowl, then move back to starry-eyed, then back to the glare. Starry-eyed, glare. Starry-eyed, glare; as if he was stuck in a loop. Despite himself, Leon couldn't help but sweatdrop at the display.
"Alright, it's time to finish this," Leon spoke up, snapping Luffy back to reality. If this fight went on much longer, some of the surrounding buildings would be in danger of collapsing altogether, and it was clear that he could not afford to hold back against this guy if he wanted any chance of subduing him. Raising two fingers to his forehead and closing his eyes, he concentrated for a moment. A circle of glowing blue magical energy surrounded the Gunblade wielder, illuminating him in its beautiful glow. His eyes then flew open as he shouted "HASTE!"
The glowing blue circle shattered and exploded outward as Leon disappeared from sight, startling Luffy. "Wha…?! Where'd he go?!" he exclaimed as he whipped his head around in all directions in search of the bastard who attacked Sora.
The next moment, he was sent flying by a hit to the side of the head. Quickly rolling to his feet, he looked in the direction the hit came from… before his opponent reappeared in front of him and hit him again with his weapon, causing him to stumble backwards. Luffy barely managed to dodge the next attack by bending over backward as the bastard quickly attempted to follow up with a horizontal slash.
"GOMU GOMU NO STAMP!" he yelled as he propped himself on his hands and fired out a stretching kick, but the attack never connected as his opponent disappeared before it could. The next moment, the Gunblade wielder instantly reappeared twenty feet away.
"GOMU GOMU NO PISTOL!" Luffy fired a stretching punch at the bastard, but he disappeared before it could connect and reappeared a distance to the left of that position. "KAMA!" Yanking on his stretched out arm with his other hand and shifting his weight, Luffy quickly swung his arm in the direction of his opponent, attempting to clothesline him. But again, the bastard disappeared, this time reappearing right in front of Luffy and powerfully kicking him to the side. Luffy quickly rolled to his feet and ran back to try and slug him with a regular punch, but again, he disappeared in a burst of speed.
This continued in much the same fashion for a while. Luffy would attempt to hit Leon, Leon would dodge with his magic-enhanced speed, and then he would attack back, more often than not managing to score a hit on the Straw Hat captain each time. Finally, Leon felt he had a chance. He could finally finish this!
"THAT'S IT!" yelled Luffy, finally having enough. He jumped high into the air as the bastard came rushing toward him again, narrowly evading another sword slash in the process and began rapidly twisting his body on itself in mid-air.
Leon watched with a mixture of curiosity and alertness as his opponent began twisting his body over and over like a catapult rope. What was he doing?
"GOMU GOMU NO HANABI!"
As if to answer the question, a huge number of punches and kicks exploded outward from Luffy in all directions. Leon tried dashing around to avoid them, but even with his magic-enhanced speed he couldn't avoid the punch and two kicks that came plowing into his face and stomach. The hits sent him stumbling back, causing him to lose focus and drop the Haste spell.
"GOMU GOMU NO MUCHI!" Luffy shouted as he fully untwisted and dropped to the ground, firing out another stretching kick. The attack caught Leon in the side of the face and sent him flying off to the side, rolling across the ground.
"GOMU GOMU NO RIFLE!" Luffy came dashing towards Leon again as he attempted to struggle to his feet, the scarred fighter looking up just in time for Luffy's fist to come plowing into his chest, this time with his arm twisted like a corkscrew and rapidly untwisting. The untwisting motion whirled Leon around like a cartwheel as the punch sent him flying back and smashing into a wall.
Damn... didn't expect that, thought Leon as he coughed up blood, laying hunched over in the crater left by the impact. He hurt all over, and judging from how much punishment his opponent had taken from him up to now, he would collapse from exhaustion before coming anywhere close to knocking him unconscious. For the first time in a long time, Leon was unsure if he could win.
Looking up, his eyes widened as his opponent came bolting towards him again, his arms stretched out behind him in that same attack that decimated a wall earlier. Leon gritted his teeth as his opponent quickly drew closer, his arms rapidly retracting as they prepared to plow into him. Shit…!
"GOMU GOMU NO BAZOO – "
Luffy suddenly stopped. Dead in his tracks. Completely still. In fact, he appeared to be completely frozen in position, his legs frozen in mid-stride and his arms and hands only two feet from making contact with Leon. Seeing this, the Gunblade wielder turned his head to where the voice had come from, and there stood Aerith, holding her palm out, evidently having cast a Stop spell on the Straw Hat captain.
"Are you okay, Leon?" asked Aerith in a concerned tone, seeing Leon's battered state. She hadn't seen him beaten up like this in a long time.
Leon grunted. "I'll be fine," he said as he attempted to get to his feet. As he straightened up, however, he felt a sharp stab of pain through his body, causing him to let out an involuntary hiss.
Aerith shook her head as she strolled over to him. He was always so stubborn. "Cure," she stated as she held out her hand over Leon, a fine mist of glowing green sparks appearing and drifting down onto the Gunblade wielder.
Leon immediately felt the soreness lifting from his bruised back and abdomen as the spell healed a good portion of the damage to his body, allowing him to fully stand up straight. The soreness didn't go away completely, but it had gone down enough for Leon to easily ignore it.
"That's better," said Leon simply as he dusted himself off.
"What, don't I get a 'Thank you'?" Aerith complained, crossing her arms with a mock pout on her face.
Leon sighed. "… Thanks."
"See? That wasn't so hard," she replied brightly. Leon just gave a 'Hm' of acknowledgement.
"So what happened? Who is this guy?" asked Aerith, gesturing towards the frozen pirate.
Leon explained everything that had transpired from confronting the now-unconscious Keybearer to her arrival. He spoke quickly, as he knew the Stop spell could wear off any second.
"So, think you can calm him down?" requested Leon. "He doesn't listen to a thing I say, and I'd rather we didn't wreck the area anymore than it already is."
Aerith thought for a moment. "I'll try," she finally said. "You'd better move out of sight, though."
Leon nodded and made his way over to a spot behind one of the surrounding buildings, while Aerith took her place a short distance behind the still-frozen teen. By Aerith's estimate, the spell would wear off any second now. 3… 2… 1…
" – KA!"
Luffy's attack resumed, smashing through and destroying the wall. However, to his surprise and frustration, his opponent was gone. "Where is he?!" Luffy growled, looking left and right.
"Wait!" came a female voice from behind Luffy. The Straw Hat captain turned around to see a young woman in a pink dress standing a few feet away. "Please stop. You shouldn't fight anymore," she pleaded softly. However, it did little to placate Luffy.
"That bastard beat up my friend! I gotta make him pay!" he yelled back, moving to stomp past her in search of his opponent. But before he could get very far, the young woman suddenly dashed over and grabbed him by the shoulders from his right with surprising strength, halting his movement.
"Please listen!" she pleaded again, this time more insistently. Her tone immediately regained Luffy's attention as he turned his head to look at her. "You won't accomplish anything by attacking Leon. He means no harm to you or your friend."
"Then why'd he beat up Sora?!" shot back Luffy.
"Your friend will be alright. He's just unconscious," replied the young woman with a small placating smile as she gently released Luffy, stepping over and kneeling next to Sora's prone form. "Leon simply wanted to get a feel for his skills. Your friend hasn't been harmed in any way." Luffy said nothing, but the anger in his expression lessened slightly.
"Leon only wanted to get your friend somewhere safe to explain everything. Time is against us and this was the quickest way."
Luffy remained silent, his expression slowly continuing its return to neutral.
The young woman then stood back up and took slow, measured steps toward Luffy. "If you'll just give us a chance to explain, I know we can reach an understanding." She stopped right in front of him. "Will you let us talk?"
At that, Luffy's expression fully moved back to neutral, his anger gone, at least for the moment. "OK, I guess I can – "
Luffy was quickly cut off by the triumphant shout of another girl behind him. Quickly whirling around, he immediately recognized that ninja girl he ran into earlier. "Hey, I know you! You're –"
Before he could finish his sentence, Yuffie suddenly threw something at his feet. A cloud of white powder burst out upon impact with the ground, covering the Straw Hat captain.
"Eh?" Luffy took a few experimental sniffs. "This stuff smells weird; what is… it… uuhhh…" And before he knew it, the Straw Hat captain was out like a light, flopping down on the ground and snoring away.
"Was that really necessary, Yuffie?" said Leon with frustration as he stepped out of his hiding spot. It was bad enough he had just found out that the Keybearer was just a young teenage kid and ended up having to fight his ridiculously strong friend. He didn't need this to add to his list of frustrations.
"What, I don't get a 'thank-you'?" Yuffie complained, crossing her arms and puffing out her cheeks in a pout.
"Don't you start too," groaned Leon, pinching the bridge of his nose. "We just convinced him to come with us. There was no need for that."
"Like fun there wasn't!" Yuffie snapped, annoyed. "This guy just stole a ton of food from a restaurant in the Second District and caused a big uproar with the customers! It's gonna take forever to calm them down!"
Leon began rubbing his temples as he felt the beginnings of a headache creeping in; and not from that kick to the jaw he took earlier. It was just one thing after another today. Where would it all end?
"Let's just get these two to the hotel. We'll worry about that later," said Leon as he moved to pick up the now-unconscious teen he had just fought. He then stopped and turned to Aerith. "Aerith, keep looking for the envoys from Disney Castle. They can't be far away."
"Are you sure you'll be okay, Leon?" replied Aerith with concern in her voice.
"I'll be fine," Leon replied in a tone that booked no argument. "Your spell got the worst of it. Now go." Aerith hesitated, then nodded and walked off.
Leon then turned to Yuffie. "Yuffie, give me a hand with these two. We need to get them to the hotel before the Heartless show up again."
"Two?" asked the ninja, confused, before looking down and noticing the second unconscious boy on the ground. She was just about to ask who he was before the giant key in his hand caught her eye. "Is he…?"
"Yup," interrupted Leon. "The Keybearer." Hoisting his unconscious opponent's body over his shoulder, Leon frowned as he stared at said Keybearer's sleeping form. "It looks like things are worse than we thought. A lot worse."
"Come on, lazy bum. Wake up!"
The sound of Kairi's voice roused Sora from his slumber. Slowly sitting up, he shook his head to clear out the cobwebs. Ugh… what happened? wondered Sora as he rubbed his forehead. Slowly opening his eyes, he saw someone standing next to him.
It was Kairi!
"You okay?" she asked as his vision began to clear.
"Kairi? What are you talking about?" Kairi asked suddenly, her voice suddenly changing. "I'm the Great Ninja Yuffie!"
In a flash, Kairi's form shifted into that of an older teenage girl, who was currently bending down to look at him, hands on her knees.
"Whoa!" Sora let out a startled yelp as he reflexively jumped back. He was definitely not expecting that to happen. Who was this person? What did she want?!
"Aw, am I that ugly?" the girl complained, putting on a mock pout.
Sora panicked. "Nononononono!" he sputtered, waving his hands in front of him. "That's not it! I just thought you were someone else! I swear! I - !" He stopped when the girl started laughing.
"Easy, kid, I was just kidding. Relax," she said with a wave of her hand. Relieved, Sora untensed. The girl then put on a more serious expression as she looked over her shoulder.
"I think you might've overdone it, Squall. Didn't you say you'd go easy on him?" the girl said loftily, looking towards an open doorway.
"We've been over this, Yuffie. It's Leon," said a familiar voice. At that moment, that same guy who had come after him earlier came stepping through the door, causing Sora to reflexively tense up. His nervous tension increased as the man turned to look at him.
"Uh, hi. Nice… to meet you two… I guess… heh heh," Sora said with a nervous smile, giving an awkward wave. He didn't know what these two people wanted with him, but he figured he might as well try to get on their good side. The teenage girl (Yuffie?) gave him a small smile, while the now-named 'Leon' guy's expression remained deadpan. Well, she seemed friendly, at least.
"Sorry about earlier," spoke up Leon, gaining Sora's attention. "But we're running low on time and we needed to get you here as quickly as possible."
"Here?" Now that Sora though about it, he had no idea where he currently was. "Where am I…?" Sora trailed off as he heard loud snoring coming from the side. He turned to see the source.
It was Luffy!
"Luffy!" Sora cried joyfully as he ran over to his sleeping friend, who had a snot bubble forming from his nose that expanded and contracted as he breathed. "You made it here too! Come on, wake up! Wake up!"
"… haah… Sanji, more meat…" Luffy mumbled in his sleep, causing Sora to sweatdrop.
"Come on, Luffy, wake up!" Sora said in a slightly raised voice as he shook the Straw Hat captain more insistently.
"You're doing that all wrong," spoke up Yuffie, who came walking over. "The best way to wake up a deep sleeper…" Here she stood next to Luffy."…is like this!"
The female ninja brought her fist down hard on Luffy's skull, sending him crashing to the floor, much to Sora's shock and horror. "What are you doing?!" he exclaimed looking horrified, clutching his hair.
"Huh…? Whazzat…? What happened…?" Luffy slurred as he raised his head, his eyes half-lidded.
"See? Problem solved," Yuffie said proudly with her hands on her hips and a small smirk on her face. Sora sweatdropped again.
"Ah! Sora!" Luffy exclaimed happily as he jumped to his feet. "How'd you get here?"
"I don't know! I just woke up here!" replied Sora, returning Luffy's grin.
They were quickly interrupted by the sound of someone loudly clearing their throat. Both Sora and Luffy turned to see Leon leaning against the wall of the room. "Oh. It's you," Luffy said plainly. Sora stared at Luffy. How did he know this guy?
"Uh huh. And you are…?" asked Leon in response.
After introductions were once again made between the four hotel room occupants (with Luffy doing his regular enthusiastic introduction), Leon and Yuffie got down to business.
"First things first," began Leon. "You're probably wondering about that Keyblade of yours."
"Keyblade?" Sora then realized he no longer had said Keyblade on him. "Wh-where is it?!" He began frantically looking all over himself and around the room until he finally spotted it leaning against the wall.
"We had to get it away from you to shake off those creatures," explained Yuffie, pacing across the room. "Turns out that's how they were tracking you."
"It was the only way to conceal your heart from them," said Leon. "But it won't work for long."
"Huh?" Both Sora and Luffy tilted their heads in confusion. What were they talking about?
"Still, hard to believe that you of all people are the chosen one," Leon continued, ignoring the two as he picked up the Keyblade in one hand.
At that moment, the Keyblade instantly disappeared in a bright flash of light, reappearing in Sora's hand the next instant, startling him. He still couldn't figure out how it was doing that!
"Well, I guess beggars can't be choosers," finished Leon.
"I don't get it," said Luffy, still looking confused.
Sora also spoke up. "Sorry, but could you please start making sense? What's going on here?" Ever since arriving at Traverse Town, more and more questions kept popping up for him, and there was no one to go to for answers. What the heck was happening?! "Tell me! I need to know!"
"Alright, alright, keep your shorts on. We're getting to that," said Yuffie, holding up her hands defensively. She then stepped over and plopped down on the bed next to Sora.
"First off, you probably already know how there are different worlds out there aside from this town and where you came from, right?"
Sora nodded, while Luffy just stared. "I kinda figured that," replied Sora. "But what does that have to do with –"
"Let us finish!" interrupted Yuffie, holding up her hand to halt his question. She then continued. "The thing is, they've never been connected. Until now."
"Why?" asked Sora.
"The Heartless," answered Leon, his eyes darkening. "Ever since they came along, everything changed."
"The creatures that attacked you, remember?" answered Yuffie.
"Yeah, I remember," replied Sora, thinking back to the small black creatures with glowing yellow eyes. "But what are they, exactly?"
"Those without hearts," said Leon, still looking dark. Evidently, they were a touchy subject for him. "Shadows born from the darkness in people's hearts. As such, they prey upon that same darkness. If a Heartless gets a hold of one's heart, they too become a Heartless." Here, Sora gulped. "And there's darkness in every heart."
Luffy pounded a fist into his hand. "Got it. They're Mystery Shadows."
The tense atmosphere in the room instantly shattered with that one comment.
"WERE YOU EVEN LISTENING?!" yelled Yuffie. Sora simply sweatdropped and Leon pinched his eyes shut in frustration.
"A-anyway," Sora piped up, trying to steer the conversation back on topic before things got out of hand. "You've told me about the other worlds and what the Heartless are. But what's that got to do with me?"
"Everything," spoke up Leon. "You're the Keybearer, the one chosen to wield the Keyblade. It's the ultimate weapon against the Heartless. As such, the Heartless have great fear of it."
Luffy nodded. "So it's a Mystery Key."
Yuffie looked ready to go off on the Straw Hat captain again, but stopped when Leon spoke again.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that," the Gunblade wielder replied. "Truth told, we really don't know that much about it. We don't know where it came from, or who or what created it. Just that it's bad news for the Heartless." He then gave Sora a serious look. "But in any case, since you now have the Keyblade, the Heartless will stop at nothing to get you. No matter what, they'll keep coming after you. No Keybearer, no threat. That's just how it is."
Here, Sora looked apprehensive. "I… I didn't ask for any of this. How am I supposed to deal with those things?"
"The Keyblade chooses its master," spoke up Yuffie. "And it chose you!"
"So, tough luck," said Leon with a tone of finality.
Sora put his hand to his forehead as he tried to process everything he had just been told. The Keyblade… the Heartless… other worlds… him being chosen… it was just so much to take in at once. And he still didn't know he'd gotten here in the first place!
"H-how did all of this happen, anyway?" asked Sora, voicing his thoughts. "I can remember being in my room, and then…" The spiky-haired boy trailed off as the reality of the situation finally sunk in. "Wait! What happened to my home?! My island?! My friends?!" Images began flashing in his head from prior to arriving in Traverse Town. The big storm over the islands… the Heartless attacking him and Luffy… Riku disappearing into the dark vortex… Kairi vanishing into thin air… the remains of the islands breaking apart and disappearing into the storm of pure darkness… what did it all mean for him and everyone else on Destiny Islands?!
Apparently Luffy had come to the same realization as he jumped to his feet. "That's right! Where are my nakama?! And my ship?!"
Here, Leon frowned. "You know what? I really don't know."
"What do you mean?!" asked Sora desperately.
"I mean there's no way of telling what could have happened to them," continued Leon, looking morose. "If they didn't end up here, it's possible they might have ended up on other worlds. But that's if the Heartless didn't get them first, and all things considered, the odds of that aren't good."
"Leon!" Yuffie scolded. "You didn't have to be that blunt about it!"
"It's the truth, Yuffie. There's no reason to sugarcoat it," Leon replied simply.
The scarred man sighed inwardly at the look of despair that appeared on Sora's face. He hated having to break the news to newcomers to Traverse Town that their world and possibly everyone they had ever known were gone, taken by the darkness. Over the years, he thought he would eventually grow numb to the sight of those people's expressions of hopelessness and sorrow, but it was still something he could never get used to. And this time was certainly no exception.
"Alright then!" Both Sora and Yuffie turned to Luffy in surprise as he punched his fist into his other hand, a determined grin on his face. Even Leon looked surprised. "If that's how it is, then we've just gotta go out and find them! If there's a way for my nakama to have survived, then they're definitely still out there!"
Leon stared pointedly at Luffy and his seemingly naïve optimism. "Are you so sure about that? Like I said before, the odds of that aren't very high."
Luffy simply grinned in response. "Of course I am! They're my nakama, so I'll definitely find them!"
Before anyone could say anything else, an audible whooshing noise resounded from the other side the room. Turning to the source, everyone in the room immediately recognized the arrival of a Heartless.
Damn! They're already here! Leon cursed mentally as he whipped out his Gunblade. "Yuffie! Go!" he ordered the ninja as more Heartless began appearing. Yuffie nodded and ran through one of the doors into the neighboring room, while Leon began cutting down all of the Heartless that began appearing more and more rapidly.
"Sora! Luffy! Let's go!" he ordered as he dashed toward the room balcony and jumped off the ledge, disappearing from sight. Sora and Luffy looked upon the sight, then at each other, then quickly followed him as one. Jumping off the ledge and landing next to the scarred man, the two found themselves smack in the middle of a small crowd of Heartless, all of which looked ready to attack.
"Don't bother with the small fry! Find their leader!" Leon announced to Sora and Luffy, quickly cutting a swathe through the creatures of darkness and charging onward. The Keyblade master and Straw Hat captain quickly moved to follow, but were abruptly cut off by a large line of Heartless spawning from the ground directly in front of them, blocking their path.
"Out of the way!" yelled Sora as he began hacking and slashing through the crowd of creatures, with Luffy following suit by punching and kicking whichever ones he could get his hands on, each instantly dispersing with each hit. Within seconds, the entire crowd of Heartless was gone. But Leon was nowhere to be seen.
"Come on, Luffy! He can't be far ahead!" called out Sora, running in the same direction he had last seen Leon heading. Luffy nodded as he followed close behind.
Sora turned a corner, only to find that Leon wasn't there either. Undeterred, Sora continued running, hoping to catch the Gunblade wielder before he got too far away. As they continued searching, more Heartless came along to trip them up, but the two of them easily dispatched them; Sora with his Keyblade and Luffy with his fists.
But no matter where he and Luffy ran and which places they searched, they couldn't find Leon. And the longer they searched, the more the Heartless grew in number as more and more came after them every step of the way. There were even some different Heartless added to the mix that stood on their hind legs, wore armored helmets and had some kind of weird black and red heart-shaped symbol emblazoned on their chest areas (these ones Sora and Luffy had a slightly tougher time taking down). But Sora wouldn't give up.
After searching and battling through several sections of the town, Sora and Luffy found themselves in an eerily quiet area in the Third District (as Sora had noted during the search). Bright neon lights illuminated a large, empty square paved with concrete and there was a beautiful, brightly lit fountain off in one corner, but there was no one, either human or Heartless, to be seen anywhere. What was going on?
A loud, squawking scream rang out from above Sora and Luffy, startling them both. Before either of them could even look up, two heavy forms came tumbling down on top of them, knocking them to the ground and resulting in a rather comical-looking pileup.
The two strangers lay there for a few moments, dazed from the fall, but immediately snapped out of it upon seeing Sora's Keyblade.
The two were cut off from saying anything further when Luffy suddenly stood up from underneath them, sending everyone else in the pile sprawling on the ground with a number of indignant cries.
"Oh man! What just happened?" exclaimed Luffy, looking every which way before turning back towards the rest of them. "Eh? What are you all doing on the ground like that? Is that some kind of hobby?" he asked, more to the two strangers than Sora.
"YOU'RE THE ONE WHO DID IT, YOU IDIOT!" screamed Donald as he sprang to his feet.
"WHOOAAA! COOL! A TALKING DUCK!" Luffy exclaimed in amazement, completely ignoring Donald's indignant shout as his eyes began sparkling brightly.
"ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?!" Donald shouted back. Goofy, having gotten up himself, just chuckled at the display.
"What… just happened?" wondered Sora aloud as he slowly got to his feet, wincing as he rolled the kinks out of his shoulder, before turning towards the two who fell on top of him and Luffy. "And who are you guys?"
Before either of them could answer, a number of square stone pillars suddenly erupted from the ground all around them, startling them. Each stood twenty feet tall and created a tight boundary within the large square area, making escape virtually impossible for all but Luffy.
The next second, several giant light purple pieces of armor came falling down from the sky, clattering loudly to the ground. In all, there were two large metal boots, two large gauntlets with large silver spikes for fingers, a giant torso piece at least four times the size of Sora's frame with that same black and red heart-shaped symbol on it that those other armored Heartless had on them, and finally a large round helm with a large spike coming out of the top of it and a visor flipped down over the face area.
Sora, Donald, and Goofy each stared at the display, unsure of what to make of it. Was this some new Heartless or something? It certainly looked that way, what with the symbol on the torso, but why wasn't it doing anything?
Luffy, on the other hand…
"WHOOAAA! COOL ARMOR!" the Straw Hat captain exclaimed, dashing forward. He then grabbed the torso and proceeded to attempt to pull it over his head.
"What are you doing, you idiot?!" Donald squawked, annoyed.
"Yeah Luffy, what are you doing?" asked Sora, utterly confused at what Luffy was trying to do. At this, Luffy turned to them with an indignant expression.
"Don't you guys know anything?!" said the pirate captain. "If there's a suit of armor lying around, it's a man's romance to wear it!"
Sora and Donald immediately face-vaulted to the ground at that. Goofy, on the other hand, simply said "Gawrsh, really?"
Before anyone could do anything else, however, the armor pieces began shaking, before fully springing to life. The torso levitated itself above the ground, slipping out of Luffy's grasp in the process, while the gauntlets and helm lifted off the ground and quickly shot over to their respective places on the torso. Instead of attaching themselves to it, though, they simply floated next to the nonexistent joint areas, the gauntlets' fingers flexing threateningly. The boots themselves took their place underneath the bottom of the torso and like the gauntlets and helm, remained unattached, stomping the ground menacingly.
The transformation was complete; here, in front of the four of them, stood a giant living suit of armor. Sora gulped. This won't be an easy fight…
"COOL!" exclaimed Luffy, his eyes sparkling brightly once again.
"Luffy, look out! It's a Heartless!" yelled Sora.
"Eh?" As Luffy looked on, the hulking armor raised a giant fist and brought it down on him. "WAH!" Luffy yelped in surprise as quickly jumped backwards out of the way, barely avoiding the powerful punch as it smashed a crater in the concrete. The armor then fired its other fist at Sora.
With his own yelp of surprise, the Keyblade master barely twisted out of the way, the fist grazing his back as it smashed against the ground. Before Sora could re-orient himself, however, one of the boots came flying in out of nowhere, hitting him in the chest and sending him flying off the side. The Keyblade flew out of his grasp in the process, skittering away to the side as Sora hit the wall.
"Sora!" yelled Luffy, before turning an angry glare on the armor. "Bastard! Gomu Gomu no Pistol!" He quickly fired a stretching punch at the huge Heartless, connecting squarely with the helmet and knocking it clean off with a loud clang. The helmet went flying, ricocheting off the concrete wall and bouncing across the ground, eventually rolling to a stop.
"Hee hee!" laughed Luffy as he retracted his arm... right before one of the boots came swinging in from the side and plowed into him, sending him soaring across the makeshift arena and rolling across the concrete, stopping once he hit the wall. As this happened, the stray helmet levitated back off the ground and retook its place hovering inches above the neck of the torso.
Sora, meanwhile, had gotten back to his feet, having recovered from the winding he received from that kick. Seeing Luffy doing the same (not surprising to him, as he already knew of the natural resilience Luffy's Devil Fruit ability afforded him), the spiky-haired boy got into a fighting stance, summoning the Keyblade back into his hands as he did so. "Come on, Luffy! We've got to take this thing together!" he called to the Straw Hat captain. Luffy nodded in response, cracking his knuckles with a determined smile on his face.
"Hey! Don't leave us out of this!" came a squawking shout from the nearby bipedal duck, who whipped out a strange-looking staff.
"Yeah! Don't worry, we're here to help out, ahyuck!" the tall… dog? …called out, taking out a chrome shield with a dark purple design identical to the keychain on Sora's Keyblade.
Sora stared at the strangers for a moment, before nodding, knowing he had no time to argue. He could only hope they knew how to handle themselves. "Let's go!" he declared, rushing forward to battle this new threat.
Author's Note: Oh man… NO excuse this time. I can't believe it took me this long to get this chapter out. I really need to stop being such a perfectionist. I have a bad habit of intending to make every possible aspect of what I write the best it can possibly be instead of just letting it flow, which in turn causes what I intend to write to be rather daunting, and saps my motivation as a result. From now on, I'm going to try and write what I have in mind and go back and polish it up later. It just goes faster that way.
It also doesn't help that I've gotten into a new college program for aviation, which eats up a lot of my time. It's a fun program, but very time-consuming, so don't expect any updates until at least May, and even then, don't expect them very soon.
The second half of this chapter was the hardest to write for me. I enjoyed writing Luffy's fight with Leon (I hope I didn't make Luffy incredibly OOC), but everything after that was hard to get down, mostly because I wanted Luffy to be more involved, but it ended up featuring more of Sora. In the future, I fully intend to get the Straw Hats more involved in the story.
A big thank you to FictionReader98 and Zoneshifter D for their help with this chapter. Without their help and suggestions, the fight aftermath and onwards might not have gone as well as they did. And speaking of FictionReader98, for all of you Naruto fans out there, I urge you to have a look at his story "Quest to be the Greatest", a crossover between Naruto and One Piece. It's a very well-written and exciting story , but doesn't seem to get the press it deserves, so whenever you can, I urge you readers to have a look. Shameless plug, I know, but I don't care. It's just that good a story.
And just as a side note: HELL YEAH! CANADA WINS GOLD ON HOME TURF! WOOOO! (coughs, clears throat) Had to get that out of my system. I'm a proud Canadian, and seeing us finally win a gold medal in our own country for the first time has me rather pumped. And I'm sure a lot of others on here feel the same, lol.
That's about all I've got to say for now. See you guys at the next one!
Techniques used in this chapter:
Gomu Gomu no Pistol: No translation needed. Luffy throws a straight punch that stretches his arm out and hits an opponent from a distance away.
Gomu Gomu no Gatling Gun: No translation needed. Luffy sends out a rapid-fire barrage of stretching punches, moving his arms so fast that it appears as though he has multiple arms. Each individual punch is not as powerful as the Pistol attack, but allows many more hits to land.
Gomu Gomu no Stamp: No translation needed. Luffy fires a straight kick which stretches his leg out and hits an opponent from a distance away. Essentially the Pistol attack in kicking form.
Gomu Gomu no Bazooka: No translation needed. Luffy stretches his arms out behind him as he runs forward towards his opponent, then slams his hands into said opponent as his arms retract.
Gomu Gomu no Muchi: Translation: Gum Gum Whip. Luffy stretches out his leg out in a sweeping side kick that covers a very large area.
Gomu Gomu no Yari: Translation: Gum Gum Spear. Luffy presses the soles of his feet together and stretches his legs forward, hitting the opponent with a spearing double-kick, hence the name.
Gomu Gomu no Ono: Translation: Gum Gum Axe. Luffy stretches his leg straight upward high above his head, then retracts it down in combination with his own strength in a devastating axe kick.
Gomu Gomu no Kane: Translation: Gum Gum Bell. Luffy stretches his neck backward, then snaps his head forward for a very hard headbunt.
Gomu Gomu no Kama: Translation: Gum Gum Scythe. Luffy stretches his arm out and sweeps it around, clotheslining anyone it hits. Not particularly powerful, but effective for knocking several enemies down at once, or one hard-to-hit opponent.
Gomu Gomu no Hanabi: Translation: Gum Gum Firework. Luffy leaps into the air and twists his body around itself several times, much like a catapult rope, then as it untwists itself, Luffy fires several punches and kicks out at once in all directions, giving the appearance of a firework exploding. Similar to the Gatling Gun, but the blows go in every direction at once.
Gomu Gomu no Rifle: No translation needed. Luffy stretches his arm behind him, twisting it several times over as he does so, then snaps it forward in a drilling punch.
The battle against the Guard Armor has begun, and two very odd strangers have joined Luffy and Sora in the fight. Who are these two? Can they effectively band together to beat this new Heartless? And where have the rest of the Straw Hats ended up? Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of Heart of a Pirate!