Hi, guys. I would say no excuses, but there are some good excuses (In my mind, at least) that are covered at the bottom, as well as a very special soapbox rant. Now, back to what's been sitting on my hard drive for a year and a half.
Hmm… apparently my idea to give Luffy some complexity was met with mixed results. For those of you who questioned the wisdom of giving him some neuroses, here is my logic: Luffy is an extremely nakama-and-family oriented person. He risks his life, shaving off probably decades from his total lifespan to save just one person that he considers dear. The loss of that one person that was close to him was enough to send him into a coma; when he awoke from that coma, he turned into a machine of destruction, tearing up entire forests in his sorrow, denying ace's death all the while. (I'm just going to assume everybody's heard about his dying by now, so no need for spoiler warnings.) Just think how fucked up his psyche would be if, after losing all that he did to rescue ace, the REST of his surrogate family gets unceremoniously slaughtered by the same people that killed his brother. And to put the cherry on the NGE-level mindfuck ice cream sundae, he finds out there is no treasure at all, that there is no one piece.
His mind is shattered. Time away from the situation and gold roger's ministrations puts it back together, but there are still cracks running through, and fragments are missing. Many time travel stories send people back when their world has turned to shit, and once they get there, they shit happiness and fart rainbows. That's not how it works. The human mind can only take so much strain before it snaps. Having your entire life, your very existence, crumble to pieces around your ears, then finding out you've got a big cosmic reset button, will FUCK YOU OVER. Trust me; people have gone ape-shit for much less than this.
I'm trying to make this realistic (or at least, as realistic as you can get in a world where you eat fruit that turns your body to rubber) as possible, so please, respect my artistic license. That, and the fact that the series canon itself agrees with this idea and is giving him a more complex back-story than "this pirate guy saved me, but he got his arm bit off! Then he gave me a hat! I'm gonna be king of the pirates!"
No thank you. I like some depth in my characters.
Oh, and some people didn't like that I erased Luffy's memory with what amounted to an ass-pull power from roger. My reasoning? There was far too much drama potential to pass up there, but to use that drama, it would push things too fast. Solution? Make him forget the drama. I wasn't particularly happy with it, but it worked. Trust me, if I can control my muse, you will never ever see that power again.
That's all I have to say/rant about. Now, on with the story!
Disclaimer: don't own.
"Uughh…" Luffy groaned, clutching his head as he sat atop the Going Merry's figurehead. "My head is killing me… what the hell did I do, back at cactus island…?" Zoro looked around shiftily, resisting the urge to start whistling. Giving it up as a bad job, Luffy cleared his head and turned around. "OI! Nami! How far are we from the next island?"
"I don't know! The log pose doesn't give distance, only direction!" Nami shouted back. Luffy grumbled incoherently and turned back to the sea.
"Grr… they should make log poses with distance measurements…" he grumbled. "That'd be a lot smarter than just directions…"
"Oi!" Sanji shouted as he sauntered out of the kitchen. "Oi, you louts! Come have a taste of my special drink!" Luffy cheered, his bad mood completely forgotten as he raced over.
"Heheh… you know, that actually sounds really dirty, if you think about it…" Gin chuckled immaturely as he picked up a drink. "You should come up with a better name, before people start making rumors about you selling your 'special drink' to people…" Sanji blanched.
"O-OI! DUMBASS!" he attempted to smash Gin's face in, but the fighter merely danced away, laughing even harder. "I would never even think about doing something like that! Even if I did, it would only be for Alvida-Chan, Vivi-Chan or Nami-san!"
"OI! Did you hear that, girls? Sanji says he's your gigolo!" Arlong shouted, guffawing. An indignant squawk from all involved parties greeted him. Meanwhile, all the men were falling over themselves with gut-busting laughter.
"Ahahahaaa, heeheeheehee…!" Usopp giggled. "Oh, I haven't laughed this much in a while…! Stupid Sanji!" Luffy nodded, grinning like a lunatic.
"Yeah, this is really funny…!" he said, even though his stomach churned painfully when Sanji included Nami on the man-whore list. That churning subsided into more giggles when Nami whacked Sanji over the head. "Oi, Nami! What direction is this island?"
"The next island is… to the northeast!" Nami called over Sanji's corpse, pointing out the direction.
"Good! 'Cause I'm getting bored with all this sailing! I'm speeding this up a bit!" Luffy roared as he thumped his foot down onto the deck. The ship plunged down as the sea roiled around them, before a tidal wave rose from the sea. "WOOHOO!"
"Luffy, You DUMBASS!" Zoro shouted as he went whirling off the deck into the sea. Luffy blinked as many of the other crewmembers shouted their displeasure.
"Whoops! Sorry, Zoro!" Luffy merely grinned as he snapped his fingers. A plume of water sprouted, and Zoro went flying back onto the deck. Bodily. And painfully. "There we go! All better!"
"…one of these days, I am DEFINITELY going to figure out how to kill you…!" Zoro growled. Luffy just laughed harder.
"Is that it?" gin asked, once the ship had finally slowed down. (Read: Nami got tired of Luffy's shit and knocked him out. they weren't quite sure how she hurt him through the logia, but she did.) Nami held up the log pose and aimed it at the upcoming island.
"Yep! Since it's lined up directly with Whiskey peak, it's gotta be our next island!"
"WOOHOO!" Luffy cheered and leaped up from the indent he'd been smashed into. "We're theee~re, we're theee~re, we're really really theee-"
"SHUT UP!" Nami screamed.
"I'll be good!" Luffy whimpered. Zoro snickered from his perch in the crow's nest.
"Serves him right."
"Pussy-whipped." Gold roger agreed, sitting next to Zoro. "Of course, it's always the tsundere ones that are hottest in bed, so it might be good for him after all."
"And how would you know that the tsundere ones are-" gold roger fixed Zoro with a look. "Right, stupid question. Forget I asked. Though, common knowledge says it's the quiet ones to look out for."
"Pah! Common knowledge!" gold roger scoffed. "That's an oxymoron if I ever heard one. It's the tsunderes you want to watch, though the quiet ones take a very close second."
"I can't believe I'm having a serious discussion with you on this."
"My brand of idiocy is contagious. Sorry, but you're stuck with it for life." Gold roger grinned as Zoro face-palmed. "So, you know what's coming up in there?"
"Not really. Explain it to me."
"Little Garden is a prehistoric island, which basically means it didn't stop with the whole dinosaurs-and-cavemen gig when the rest of the world moved on. Most of the creatures you'll run into there are bigger than the ship itself, and meaner than a scorned lover."
Zoro grinned. "Sounds fun."
"Oh, that's not even the best part!" Gold Roger twirled his mustache. "The reason they named it Little Garden is because it's like a 'little garden' to the people who live on it. There's a pair of giants that have been brawling there for about a hundred years. Don't ask why, because I have no idea. Given what I know about giants in general, it's probably something so trivial they already forgot why they're fighting, like who drank the last keg of rum or something."
"Giants?" Zoro repeated, surprised. "And they're fighting each other? Do you think they'll turn on us?"
"Not unless we do something horrifically stupid." Gold roger twirled his mustache. "Of course, there's a good chance their fight will get messed with, since they used to be pirates. Together, they've got a bounty of 200 million."
"2-200 million!" Zoro exclaimed. "What the hell did they do?"
"They're pirates, so the usual sacking and plundering. Since they're giants, that plundering is about ten times larger, hence the huge bounty." Gold roger said dismissively as he picked his nose. "The point is, compared to the strength their combined bounty shows, the situation leaves them a ripe bounty to be plucked by anyone that can be a little sneaky. Spike one of the giant's food, the other takes them out for the smart guy, and the smart guy ambushes the remainder while he's still whooping it up about his win."
"Jeez…" Zoro grimaced. "That's what happened last time, right?"
Gold roger nodded. "From what I've pieced together over the years from Luffy's discussions, yeah, something like that happened. There's also the fact that the log pose takes over a year to reset to the next island, time that we obviously don't have. If the timeline holds up, and I dearly hope it does, the agents of Baroque Works, that show up to eliminate both us and the giants, have an already-set log pose sent to them by that messenger vulture, which is our key off of this island without getting massively side-lined. So, we have two options to choose between."
"And they are…?" Zoro made a 'continue' gesture.
"One: we let the natural way of things take its course." Gold roger held up a finger. "We let the giant's fight be rigged, let them get injured and trapped, and take out the Baroque Works agent then. Luffy probably won't like that plan, seeing as how giants and him are kindred souls, and the giants helped him out more than a few times in the future. It's also the easiest plan for the fleet itself, since the baroque agent sent at us last time was a cakewalk, and Luffy's so massively overpowered this time around it's not even fair to assume he'll get a decent fight out of anybody before we reach Skypiea. Maybe not even then, considering how that match-up went last time." Gold roger rubbed his chin.
"Skypiea?" Zoro asked.
"An island we visit later on. Probably one of Luffy's tougher fights for his skill level."
"Ah." The swordsman nodded. "And the second option?"
"The second option is we scour the jungle for their base." Gold Roger held up a second finger. "It keeps the giants from getting injured, which will no doubt please Luffy to no end. It'd also allow us to ambush them in their own home, instead of in their trap where they've got their powers primed and ready."
"Sounds like a good plan. Why is this discussion happening, then?" Zoro leaned back.
"Because we don't know WHERE their base is." Gold roger elaborated. "The one who originally found the base where they were holed up in was Sanji, and he forgot where on the island he found the base and the log pose the moment he joined up with the crew again."
"Then why don't we use the fleet to search for it? We've got manpower to spare." Said Zoro.
"Were you not listening to me?" roger asked. "The creatures on this island are vicious as all fuck! There's saber-tooth tigers the size of the ship, packs of velociraptors as large as bull elephants, and other godless creatures soaring above the treetops!" he pointed at the approaching island as an illustration. "Do you really think that the other crews are anywhere NEAR strong enough to take on creatures like that without sustaining heavy casualties?"
"Oh…" Zoro trailed off. "You've got a point. We haven't really trained the other crews up to take on things like that."
"Exactly." Gold roger sat back down. "If we really wanted to do it that way, there are certainly merits that promote it, but we'd be risking a lot of manpower; Manpower that we can't easily replace, as we generally don't get to stay long enough in one place to set up an effective recruiting campaign. In other words, until we create name recognition and people seek us out on their own, whatever casualties we take are casualties we're going to be stuck with for quite some time. In order to survive in the future with anything resembling a fleet, we're going to have to get these guys up to scratch. As it is now, they're all the same dime-a-dozen mooks that Luffy could beat in his sleep, even without the Mizu Mizu."
"Right…" Zoro sighed. "So, in other words, the first plan is the best one on the table, because we know things will already work out, and we'll save a lot of lives being uselessly lost."
"Plus, we get to see Nami and Vivi in a wonderbra." Gold roger grinned lecherously.
"Wait, what?" Zoro blinked. "Why were Nami and Vivi in a wonderbra?"
"Because their clothes got burned off from escaping from the agent's trap. He's some sort of candle-man, so they melted the wax to escape." Gold roger grinned. "Gotta say, though, it'd be a wonderful sight to see…"
"Get your mind out of the gutter."
"It's been there since day one!" gold roger retorted.
"Ugh." Zoro face-palmed. "I don't know how Luffy dealt with you for over ten years. I've barely known you for more than a month and I already want to slice you into bits."
"It's an acquired taste, I'm sure." Roger grinned even wider. "So, what do you think we should pitch to the captain? Let things go, or shape how things end up?"
"You're talking to me about changing the past before talking to the time-traveler himself?" Zoro quirked an eyebrow.
"Yeah." Gold roger nodded. "I mean, I'm his teacher, and ultimately the one who gave him this second chance in the first place, but he's… he's…"
"Luffy?" Zoro finished.
"Exactly! He's Luffy. No matter how awesome I am, no matter what I teach him, he'll always hold you guys in higher esteem than me. Not by much, but you're still higher up his advice list. Once you start learning about what he did in the future, I wouldn't be surprised if he starts going to you for counsel more than me." Gold roger smiled, not unkindly. "It's simply how he works. You got into his heart first, and that's the game right there."
"I find that hard to believe." Zoro crossed his arms. "From what I can tell, Luffy hasn't exactly had a stable lifestyle. The fact that you stayed with him through twelve whole years, without ever leaving, has to mean something."
"Do you know how much Luffy treasures his hat?" gold roger asked suddenly.
"Yeah… why?" asked Zoro.
"He doesn't let anybody touch it, except for the very closest people, the ones that he would willingly die for. Do you want to know how many times Luffy gave you his hat throughout his adventures?"
"Sure…" Zoro nodded.
"Three times." Zoro looked miffed at the low number. Gold roger shrugged. "That's probably because you get into just about as many life-threatening fights as he does, so that low number is less about trust and more about it being as safe around you as it is around him, which means not very."
"Oh." Zoro looked better after hearing that.
"Do you know how many times he has given Nami his hat?"
"How many?" Zoro asked.
"Somewhere around five or six."
Zoro's eyebrows shot skyward. "I'm only slightly lower than the woman he loves?" he asked incredulously, the framing giving his low number a significantly different feel.
"Yes. If I didn't know that the boy is moony-eyed over the navigator and just based it off how you two act together, I would have said he chased chaps instead of skirts." Zoro was too stunned to comment on the vulgar saying. Gold roger grinned. "It's mind-boggling, isn't it?"
"Do you know how many times Luffy has let me keep his hat safe for him?"
"How many? Two? Three?" Zoro guessed.
"None." Roger said with finality. Zoro was silent. "No matter how much you may say that it's cruel to myself, that I'm wrong, that Luffy does care about me, the proof is in his deeds. He only gives his hat to those that he trusts his very life to, the people he wants to protect his legacy in case he doesn't survive, the people he would die for again and again." gold roger stared up into the sky.
"I am not one of those people."
"…" Zoro was silent. Gold roger sighed.
"So, what are we going to do about little garden?"
"…" Zoro stood up and walked to the ladder. "I'll go talk to Luffy."
"Yeah. You do that." Gold roger mumbled as Zoro descended down from the crow's nest. "You do that…" and gold roger faded into mist.
"You wanna run that by me one more time?" Luffy asked, his face curled in confusion.
"Our 'mutual friend' has explained the situation we're coming up on in little garden." Zoro repeated. "So, I thought about it, and I think that instead of trying to mold things to the way you want, like on the previous islands, you should just let things go as it wants to go."
"But…" now Luffy's face began to curl in anger. "But if you know 'the situation' then you know what is going to happen to those two! I can't just sit back and watch that happen!"
"And how are you going to prevent it?" Zoro asked. "Using the mediocre crew that we've picked up, that is nowhere near a fifth of the strength of anyone on this ship, COMBINED? If we send those guys into there, they'll get slaughtered. Ms. All-Sunday said that little garden would take care of us all without any effort on their part. That's not true in our case, but she obviously had the proof to back it up! Regular people, like the crews we've picked up, will die in there. Don't doubt that for a minute."
"…" Luffy was silent.
"You understand?" Zoro asked.
"…I understand what you're getting at." Luffy said after a moment of silence. "And you have a point when you're talking about their levels of strength."
"So, this means…?"
"But, I cannot simply allow things to 'flow'." Luffy nodded. "I want to mix things up. Status quo is not god. It's not in my nature to let something like that sit on its own."
Zoro sighed. "Right… I forgot who I was talking to." He shrugged. "Oh, well. If you want to do it that way, then what's your plan of attack? The weakness of the crew doesn't just go away because you say so."
"I know…" Luffy frowned as the island began to loom over them. "And I don't want any of them to die… what to do…" he went silent, stroking his chin.
"…I wonder…" Luffy mumbled as he looked up.
"Idea?" Zoro asked.
"Maybe. If we have the captains of the respective ships go back, if they and the vice-captain escort bands around the island, we can get ground covered and have them safe. We could even use this as a training opportunity, let the men fight much more difficult enemies with someone stronger supervising."
"…that could work." Zoro admitted. "Wouldn't cover as much ground as we talked about, and the mooks will probably still get somewhat banged up, but that seems a better idea than what we thought of."
"So we're all set?" Luffy asked.
"If you're certain about this, then I can't complain." Zoro shrugged. "You're the captain; you've got the final say."
"Alright then." Luffy nodded. "Kuro! Gin! Arlong! Get in the briefing room, now! I've got a job for you!"
"Eh?" gin perked up from his drink. "What about?"
"Just get in the briefing room!"
"Jeez…" gin groaned. "I hate special jobs. They always mean something's going to go wrong."
"So this is little garden?" Alvida commented, hefting her mace. "There's nothing 'little' as far as I can see!"
"It's not as cute as its name, I'll agree." Nami spared the log pose a glance. "This is where we're supposed to be, though."
"Yep!" Luffy chirped. "All ships, prepare for landing!" a shout of approval echoed across the fleet as the other ships pulled ahead.
"L-Land? But, Th-this is uncharted territory, an untamed jungle!" Usopp stammered. "Can't we just skip this island?"
"Nope. We didn't get a chance to stock up at whiskey peak." Sanji took a drag on his cigarette. "If we don't get food here, we'll starve before we get to the next island."
"Plus, the log pose has to set before we can leave, otherwise we won't know where we're going." Nami added. Usopp moaned.
"It's going to be alright!" Luffy encouraged the cowardly sniper. "Just watch out for the wildlife and you'll be alright!"
"There's MONSTERS too!" Usopp screamed. A second later, an ear-shattering screech answered that question. Nami and Usopp cowered. "I KNEW IT! THERE'S MONSTERS ON THIS ISLAND!"
"Well, of course there are monsters." Alvida said confidently, though she was biting her lip nervously. "I don't recognize any of those plants, and with the trees and bushes as big as they are, the animals are probably the same size."
"AAAAAAAH! STOP TALKING, ALL OF YOU!" Usopp tore a path into the cabins. Luffy just chuckled.
"Hey, it's a good thing! If everything's so big, that just means there's lots more food we can get! Everybody, prepare for-" Luffy whirled around and rubber-punched a feathered monstrosity that was swooping down at his head. The monster screeched in pain and flew off, shedding feathers as it went.
"WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" Gin screeched.
"Well, given the fact that it tried to grab me, I'd say it was hungry." Luffy grinned.
"I MEAN…" Gin threw his hands up as Luffy continued to giggle. "Fine! Whatever. Make fun of a guy that's freaked the hell out about giant flying things trying to eat you!"
"Oh, come on!" Luffy laughed. "Isn't it obvious? Little Garden is a Prehistoric Island! The jungle and the volcano have made this island too intense for humans to populate, so this island is millions of years behind all the other islands! Meaning we've got dinosaurs still stomping around here!"
BOOM! The volcano erupted, spewing ash into the sky.
"DINOSAURS?" Alvida screamed. Kuro was looking rather pale, and Nami looked just about ready to curl up in a ball and cry.
Arlong, however, looked positively rapturous. "SHAHAHA!" he cackled. "Dinosaurs, you say? I wonder how the strength of a fishman stacks against them."
"You'll have to find out if we want to eat." Sanji said calmly, dragging on his cigarette. "We're almost out of provisions, and if we're hard off, the other ships must be down to eating the tack and biscuits."
"yep." Zoro wandered over to the anchor. "Oi, Gin." He called out as a massive Tiger wandered out of the trees. "Mind taking care of this guy? He'll be a real pain if we try to dock."
"No problem." With a leap and a flick of a switch, both of his chain-whips were out, slamming into the tiger's head and mulching its skull. The tiger drop to the ground, dead as a doornail. "And that's how you do it!" gin boasted.
"Yeah, yeah." Zoro grumbled as he tossed the anchor out. Luffy cracked his knuckles and grinned.
"You know what to do, Gin, Kuro, Arlong!"
"So that's what you meant by 'difficult locals'…" Kuro muttered. "Joy."
"HA! The men will love you for this, Captain!" Arlong laughed as he leapt overboard to join the oncoming ships.
"U-Usopp and I can stay behind, right?" Nami shivered nervously. "You know, to g-guard the ship?"
"If you want, sure." Luffy shrugged. "As long as they don't get smashed by a T-Rex or something, I'm fine with anybody staying behind.
"A T-REX?" Usopp shrieked as he started out of the cabin, before slamming the door. Loud clacks and clatters of locks were heard sliding into place. "I AM NOT COMING OUT AS LONG AS WE ARE HERE!"
"You certainly know how to polarize opinions, captain…" Kuro said as he sauntered down the gangplank, rejoining his visibly shaken crew.
Luffy simply laughed. "Everybody, let's GOOO!"
Ugh. This is embarrassingly short for me, but I've had you guys on the string for so long, I think that getting anything out at all to prove I'm still alive is better than leaving it as it is for god-knows however long it takes to get it up to my regular length.
I'll be honest with you guys, it's difficult to write for this. Not that I've lost the passion, or that I don't know where to go… but, you remember last chapter (god, a YEAR AND A HALF! I'm completely ashamed.) When I said that I was shunted off to a new school? Well, this last year that I spent in that school, I've had my priorities shift quite a bit. Where once I used my time to lovingly write fanfiction stories for my enjoyment and yours, I now scramble to keep up with the constant deluge of schoolwork.
I haven't stopped writing in the past year; if any of you read my profile, (it's been cleaned up recently, so it's not god-awful long to get through crap you don't care about) you'd know that in the past year or so, I've been Co-authoring a story with a guy named Majin Hentai X; the story is called Naruto: Game Of The Year Edition, which broke the 1000 review mark on chapter 16. It's based off of Chibi-Reaper's story, and it's where Naruto finds out his entire life is basically a Videogame, for reasons unknown.
Now that I've got some down-time from writing that, I thought I'd come back to my original labor of love… but… it's hard. It's hard to write for this story. It's like those people who were at the top of their game, winning accolades from everybody. They step away from the game, stop practicing as hard, if at all… then, when they try to step back in, they handily get their ass whooped. That's me. I can't remember how to write for this story. That's probably the Number-One reason why it's taken so long to get this out: I'm trying to teach myself how to write for myself again, out of my own brain and without any kind of pre-written skeleton like I've been doing with Majin.
So, yeah. I deeply apologize for how long it took, for so short a chapter. I hope that finally moving on from this place and getting reviews from you all will finally inspire me again.
Thank you for putting up with all the shit I've put you through.
PS: If any of you see a story by a guy named Saveme57 get updated, tell him that as far as I'm concerned, the general premise of his story 'It Begins Again' is blatantly plagiarized from The Will Of D.
Short the atrocious grammar, and having Nami also travel back in time with him (which is an embarrassingly transparent shoehorning of the romantic subplot), his first chapter is very nearly taken word-for-word from my first chapter. The entire crew save Luffy and Nami are killed via a surprise attack on Raftel by the marines, Gold Roger is alive and has a magical hourglass made by the ancient civilization that can travel through time, Luffy GETS A SECOND DEVIL FRUIT THAT GIVES HIM CONTROL OVER WATER AND DOESN'T MAKE HIM DROWN… it's exactly the main premise of my story.
I used to have an entire page-long rant at the top of the story tearing this guy a new asshole, but reading it again, he seems to be TRYING to distance himself from the plagiarized concept in his newer chapters, so I decided to be calmer about it, but it's still my original idea, and he's still stolen it. So, everybody, tell Saveme57 this (If he doesn't figure it out himself, since he's got this story alerted and favorited): I'm flattered, but plagiarism is still plagiarism. You would get sued out of house and home if you did this in a real book. Fanfiction is a little more low-key than that, but you're still stealing somebody's intellectual property and calling it your own.
I am, however, willing to let this slide… but only if you make this original. I started this story to try and inspire others on this site to put fingers to keyboards and create universes all their own. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but when you imitate too much, you're not using your own creativity to make masterpieces. All authors gain inspiration off of peers, but the difference between that and plagiarism, is that they take the core principle (Luffy travels back in time) and change the details enough that the story is completely new. So, instead of gold roger having a magic hourglass made by the Atlanteans when he reaches Raftel, Franky created a cola-powered time machine that Luffy uses while the ship is getting blown to bits by a marine blockade. Do you see how different the execution and dynamic is, while the concept of time-traveling luffy with his crew all dying, remains essentially the same?
So, take this story that has plagiarized mine, and fix it. Make it something that I haven't seen, whether that be in Canon or in any of the fanfictions on this site. If you can't do that, get rid of it, because you are stealing my idea wholesale.
In other words, take this story somewhere new, or take it down.
This is The Animaniac Dude, signing off.
Review. You know you want to.