Set after the events of Water 7 and Enies Lobby, and before Ace's fight with Blackbeard and the Thriller Bark arc, here is the (possibly) long awaited sequel to RUMBLE! Some people think I live in a cave and have felt the need to point out to me that in the series, Luffy's new bounty is released and he sets sail on the morning of the same day that Ace was captured...as if I could somehow have missed that. So for those who missed the disclaimer at the top and need the obvious stated to them, as a reader you need to make a tiny gap of time between those two events, and RUMBLE 2 is set in there. Just as the first RUMBLE was set between meeting AoKiji and reaching the Water 7 lighthouse. The Strawhats will proceed into the Devil's Triangle and Ace will leave the Sunny and find Blackbeard right after this book ends. The first book concluded only 7-8 days before this one starts. As this is a sequel, you have to read the other one first. Sorry. A lot of seeds planted in that story will be blossoming in this story, and if you don't see them get planted you'll walk into a chapter wondering where all these strange events, character behaviours, and running gags are coming from out of nowhere like that. But I tried to keep them to a minimum, so if you read RUMBLE a whole year ago, you'll still be okay.
Dedicated to the fans that made RUMBLE so much fun to write that I had to do it again.
If You Set Out for the New World Today…
In the middle of the Grand Line, on the edge of the New World, a young man walked into a bar. Passing up tables and the tiny clusters of people huddled together around them, he walked right up to the man behind the counter, and held up a battered black and white photograph.
"Excuse me, sir. Have you seen this man before?"
Used to being asked such questions, the bartender looked at the photo carefully and then shook his head. "Nope, can't say as I have. Hey!" he said, pointing at a cluster of men that had just formed beside the door. "Hey you three, this isn't a library! You want a newspaper, you gotta pay for it!"
The barkeeper frowned and started wiping down the bar with a wet rag. "Been like that all morning," he muttered to the young man. "People coming in, grabbing papers and clustering around them to read. You'd think the storm of the century was coming and the paper was a published survival guide."
"Do you know what's going on?" the young man asked.
"Don't read the papers myself. I know headlines keep flashing about another war that got declared somewhere, but all anyone around here can seem to whisper about is Enies Lobby. So I guess something happened."
He tossed the rag next to the sink behind him and looked back at the photo resting on the bar. "So this guy your looking for-he a friend of yours or something?"
The young man smirked humorlessly. "Something like that. What about the name Blackbeard? Ring any bells?"
The barkeeper looked surprised now. "As a matter of fact I overheard a conversation between two men round about two weeks ago over there at that table." He pointed. "Big guys, too. One of them was wearing a heavyweight belt and had arms like a gorilla and the other had a long gun strapped to his back and drank tea like a dainty. They mentioned the name Blackbeard, as I recall…" he rubbed his chin in thought.
The young man kept his nonchalant posture, but it was obvious he was eager.
"I think they said something about him looking for an aloof monkey or some such thing. …Whassamatter with you?"
The young man's excitement was fading from his face to be replaced with the cautious look of a man who'd just been warned he was about to receive some very grievous news.
"Monkey D. Luffy?"
"That was it!" the barkeep snapped his fingers in recollection. "Said this Blackbeard guy had made a deal with somebody. Isn't that D. boy wanted? I know my posters aren't up to date but they ripped one off 'em the wall anyway. Is this guy you're looking for a bounty hunter or something like that?"
The young man didn't answer. His concern looked more than mild now.
The barkeep put down the glass he'd been polishing. "You alright, kid? Here, why don't you have a seat and I'll fetch you some water-"
"No thank you," the man said. "That won't be necessary. Thank you for the information. Really. I've gotta catch up with him, though. I don't really have time. I apologize."
That being said, he politely placed some money on the bar as a tip, then added more to it as an afterthought before turning on his heels, snagging a newspaper off the rack, and setting out for the dock, turning many heads with Whitebeard's black swastika contrasting brazenly with the skin of his back for all to see.
The 1000 Sunny sailed in much the same merry way that her predecessor had. On the figurehead a certain young man sat every day in the same bouncy way he had on the ship before her, but now with a couple of walls between him and the kitchen that prevented him from catapulting his body through that kitchen's door and into the wall behind it. This was a relief for all on board because that young man had not a complete appreciation for that opposite wall's double existence as a siding of aquarium glass.
Also much like on the previous ship, another young man still found himself working with explosive materials that, after a unanimous vote, he was only permitted to play with on the open deck instead of in his narrow sleeping quarters.
One of the female crew members still read outside in a sun chair and a bikini while a reindeer read under the refreshing breeze of an indoor fan.
The other young woman utilized her very own room to chart and display her cartography projects in, not exactly as in the previous ship.
A lazy first mate was now allowed to get away with sleeping while on watch that much easier, and a couple of the other crew members had labeled the poor newly-acquired shipwright (who spent most of his days in the belly of the ship working on secret projects that no one else could see yet) as the enabler of this travesty.
In the kitchen, Sanji flipped three more pancakes out of the largish-flattish-squarish-triangly-frying-thing (a project of Usopp's that everyone should have in various places around their home because it usefully serves the multiple purposes of beating out fires, entertaining people with childish attention spans, shoveling water out of an inflatable life raft, and spinning back like a boomerang when it's thrown. It is also self-lubricating with vegetable oil, which is a feature that Sanji appreciated even if it had prompted the creation of several jokes about how the stove 'turned it on' and what a poetically appropriate couple they made) and onto the stack beside the stove using nothing but a flick of his wrist. He was pleased with the new ship, as they all were, and glad that everyone had adopted a new sense of routine.
He set the plates out on the table in the appropriate places that normal people would assume when sitting to eat food at a table with ladies present and figured he'd just kick all the other males onto the one bench that the girls didn't have all to themselves, and if they wanted to whine about being cramped or forced to question their sexual identities in an inappropriate manner, Sanji would just kick them out altogether and let them eat in the wind.
He was getting pissy again, and took a few deep breaths. The break he'd taken from quitting on Enies Lobby had been fantastic and soothing and homicide-preventing and it had also completely reset his detoxing process and now he was back to day one. It wasn't painful yet, but he knew it would be and he wanted to enjoy it before it reared up and affected his ability to knock someone unconscious with his kick.
He'd only just smoked his seventh 'last one' the evening before when he'd caught a glimpse of Luffy's stiff posture on the figurehead and felt guilty enough to toss it overboard half-finished. Luffy hadn't said anything, of course, but his muscles had relaxed visibly and he'd begun to hum the made up tune that he so often liked to engineer new and ever-temporary lyrics for.
As Sanji poured drinks, the voices of two approaching nakama wafted through the door from the deck below.
"But why not?"
"Because I said no."
"It isn't that big a deal!"
"I don't care. And yes, it is."
"Give me one reason!"
"I can't give you one reason in favor of it!"
"It's obscene. It's insane. And in your case suicidal, because several people on this ship will compete to kill you."
"They won't be able to!"
A dry glare. "I just gave you a cluster of reasons to choose from; pick one!"
Luffy audibly pouted his way through the door behind the shimmering beauty who was Nami. Sanji loved the stunning presence she commanded when she was standing her ground.
"Nami-san, is this Neanderthal bothering you?"
"Nevermind. We're dropping it now. It's dropped. Breakfast looks lovely, Sanji-kun," she smiled, happily sitting down on she and Robin's entire half of the table and sealing the subject with Luffy closed.
"Oooh! Bacon!" Luffy exclaimed, plonking down and reaching for the serving tray piled high with meat.
Sanji slapped his hand.
Luffy's shoulder's slumped. "You guys are always stopping me from doing fun things."
"The world will thank us someday," Nami said, and took a sip of her orange juice.
Sanji poked his head out the door way and shouted a bunch of names.
Luffy pulled his legs up and grabbed his ankles so he could rock back and forth and pout. "What took breakfast so long, anyway? We've been up forever. You've barely given us anything to eat since way back when we left Water 7."
Everyone in the room who wasn't Luffy rolled their eyes.
"We set sail yesterday, Luffy. And I've served four meals since then-each of which you've consumed most of-and fixed you a couple of late-night recovery snacks, which, by the way, are the reason I had a hard time waking up this morning. So I'm sorry if you're breakfast is a half an hour late, but you'll survive," Sanji half-snapped sourly.
Nami set down the front page she'd been glancing over. "Are you feeling alright, Sanji-kun?" Nami asked.
Behind Sanji's back Luffy patted his chest where a shirt pocket of cigarettes would go if he was a certain cook, then made a sign showing her he'd been cut off.
Sanji refilled Nami's drink and it was quiet until Luffy couldn't help but keep whining. "Where are they? I'm hungry! Those snacks were small…"
"Yes," Nami agreed. "Let's not forget that 'carefree' party you threw three days ago. For the amount of money you spent on food you should never be hungry again."
Luffy stared at the bacon and didn't answer. He knew when he was in the doghouse with somebody, and apparently no matter how important and revitalizing an essential victory party was, spending all but your last beli on it made it somehow the wrong thing to do.
Luffy clapped his feet and started drooling on the table while no one continued to come.
"Shout for them again!" he ordered childishly.
"Maybe it's karma, Luffy," Sanji said as he walked to the door.
"What? Why? I've never done anything bad to anybody! Except on accident sometimes…"
Nami was laughing, so he scowled at her while Sanji sang out one name and then bellowed out four others.
"That idiotic lawn-mite is sleeping up there, I know he is," the cook grumbled, walking back in. "Why don't you go get him, Luffy?"
"And leave the food?" Luffy looked appalled.
"How do you like your room, Luffy?" Nami asked, changing the subject.
"It's fine," Luffy answered cautiously while staring at the bacon.
"Have you actually slept in it, yet?"
"Tried to for a couple minutes," Luffy answered, refusing to rise to the bait.
"Did someone come distract you?" she wheedled.
Luffy continued, "Robin came in and we talked. We had to talk. Then I couldn't sleep, so I got hungry."
"I remember," Sanji grumbled.
"Oh." Nami sounded both surprised and disappointed. "…How did it go?"
It wasn't really her business, but Luffy answered anyway. "Good. We have a new understanding, and things are back to normal again. I was just…"
"Tying up loose ends," Sanji finished for him.
Luffy met Sanji's eyes and answered the question behind them with his smile.
"She's happy. Really, really, really happy."
Sanji smiled and wiped down the counter. "I'm glad. Have you talked to Usopp yet?"
"Haven't had a chance," Luffy said, clapping his utensils together. "I haven't stopped doing things since we left."
"What about Zoro? He could do something to help." Nami wheedled.
"I'm hungry, Sanji," Luffy whined again.
Nami rolled her eyes. "Can we feed him so he'll stop being cranky and irritable?"
Sanji stomped out the door again and clanged the bell noisily. "GET THE CRAP IN HERE, ASSHOLES! Food's getting cold, so move it! I'm letting Luffy start!"
There were a few thumping sounds from downstairs made by people who didn't want to starve until lunch, but Sanji manned the bell until he saw heads pop above decks. He wasn't used to this big ship yet. He kept forgetting that his shouts alone wouldn't be enough to make him heard anymore. Up above them, Zoro started climbing down the mast, and Usopp followed above him at a distance, looking nervously below him. Sanji assumed it was due to the ladder wrung that had snapped that morning and left him dangling, reentered the kitchen and sat down at the table.
"I liked the round table from the last ship," Luffy was saying. "I could see everyone at once that way."
"It was nice," Nami agreed. "With no ends, everyone could reach the different dishes instead of just you. And we have lots of room to trade this one in. But do you think Usopp would build another one so soon?"
"We can ask him," Sanji shrugged. "He likes to be made use of. And he owes us for falling off the Tower of Justice like he did," he added under his breath. "Damn near gave Zoro and me heart attacks."
"Usopp was on the Tower of Justice?" Luffy asked.
"Not for long," Sanji snorted as Zoro ambled through the door, Usopp trailing behind him.
"Is there any food left?" Zoro asked.
"Food!" Chopper repeated, scrambling past the door and straight up between Nami and Robin. Sanji took calming breaths and let this slide.
Robin walked through the door and Luffy shouted at Sanji, "They're here!"
"So dig in," said Sanji beside him.
Luffy loaded his mouth and then his plate while Zoro assumed his position on the captain's other side. Usopp took a seat beside Sanji and Frankie pulled up his own private stool because despite his skinny legs his top half was too wide to fit on the bench with the others.
"Ee eed uu awk aho ah kouh oh-"
"Yikes, Luffy! Swallow first!" Usopp boggled.
Luffy gripped the table and visibly forced down a mouthful of food that could choke a giraffe. Then he downed his drink and reloaded his plate.
"We need to talk about where we're going next," he articulated.
"Course is set," Nami said.
"I know. We need to change it."
"We do?" Nami said, and speared a pancake with her fork.
"It's time to fix what I saw in the magic mirror."
Before the Cipher Pol 9 had stepped in and out of their lives, the Mugiwara Pirates had made a brief stop at an island consisting almost entirely of marshland, and Zoro and Luffy had discovered in the town a peculiar old shop run by a peculiar old man whose behaviour had been so uncanny that both pirates had later admitted to each other their gut beliefs that he was not human. The peculiar 'man' had offered to sell a variety of products of obvious scam quality and impracticality, and it was in this shop that Luffy had uncovered a mysteriously depthless mirror and beheld a vision therein. While he had recovered from the shock of what he'd seen, the angry shopkeeper had told them of the mirror's magic identity as a Mirror of Warning. Upon hearing that the vision was a probable premonition, Luffy had become terrified and immediately resolved himself to stop it anyway.
"Oh, that again. You still want to do that?"
"Of course we need to do it! We all agreed to it and everything! And I know you trust me-"
"We do! I know! It's just that you don't know how much of that premonition you had is even real. The old man told you the Warning Mirror wasn't bound by the same laws as a Truth Mirror, right?"
"Right," Zoro answered when Luffy huffed.
"And he told you what was true couldn't be stopped, didn't he?"
"He was wrong!" Luffy insisted.
"I agree," Sanji and Zoro both said. They glared at each other while Sanji continued, "We write our own destinies."
Luffy crossed his arms and nodded decisively.
"So we can change it," he said. "And we will. It won't be too bad. All we have to do is change the true parts."
"Whichever ones those are! If any!"
"Why are you being like this? Last week you believed me!"
"I do! I'm not doubting you or anything," Nami said. "It's just hard to get as excited as you are about it when you haven't told us a thing about the warning you saw except that 'it's something bad'. Can you expand on that for us yet?"
Luffy sat back again. "Um… I haven't actually thought about how to…"
"Luffy it's been a week!"
"A busy week! I haven't slowed down once."
"Except for the full two days you spent sleeping," Sanji added. The repeating night terrors were not mentioned.
"I was tired!"
"You're still tired," Zoro noted. "I can tell by how defensive you are."
"Stop picking on me!"
"I rest my case."
Luffy slumped in his seat. He didn't know what he was supposed to think about the way things were between he and Zoro. He was thrilled they were…whatever it was they were, but ever since Water 7 had appeared on the horizon the pair hadn't had a moment alone except for a brief moment on the front of the Rocketman when they'd fought their way through the Agua Laguna together and saved everyone. But they hadn't talked at all since the night they'd shared a kiss.
Things hadn't calmed at all since the morning after that, so it wasn't like they were avoiding each other so much as they were fighting for their lives and carrying out constant duties, but it felt to Luffy that Zoro was acting distant. He'd felt distant to Luffy since Usopp had left them, even going so far as threatening to lose all respect for him and leave the crew-leave HIM-if he allowed Usopp back in casually. And the way he'd said it, (only the night before last!) told Luffy that it wasn't just Usopp's resignation that had him upset. It was also the way he'd turned it in; Zoro was sensitive about the fight over the Merry itself.
Luffy stared absently at his half-full plate. He'd never dealt with a mutiny or the aftermath of one before, but his crew's reaction to all of it had him feeling like he was going about it all wrong. And why was Zoro holding on to it so hard anyway?
"What?" Luffy looked up again to see all eyes on him, all looking concerned in some way.
And he'd faded out right after Zoro had spoken, of all people, and everyone had surely noticed that. Damn it.
"Our course needs to change. We can't go forward until we deal with this."
"But if we want to stop it from happening, then shouldn't we not go looking for it? I mean, you saw us in the mirror, right? So if we aren't there to be in the warning at all, then what you saw can't happen."
"It will still happen. I feel it. If we can't run from fate, then we can mold it as it comes at us. If we're supposed to be in it, then we're going to be whether we look for it or not, and I'd rather face it head-on than let it take me by surprise."
There were grunts of agreement all around.
"How spirited you are, Mugiwara!" Franky cried.
"If you won't have us sail into the New World, then you must have some sense of where and when this thing that you won't tell us about is supposed to go down," Sanji said.
"How would he know that?" Franky asked.
Usopp waved a hand back and forth. "Luffy just knows things sometimes. His instincts are inhumanly accurate."
"It's the only way he's survived for so long being the idiot he is. That, and amazing dumb luck," Sanji added.
More grunts of agreement all around.
"Still," he continued, "It would be nice to know something about this vision."
Luffy crossed his arms and tilted his head to the side. "It's on land and it's night, I think, but strange. We're all there. Franky's there, too. And Ace."
"We're spread out and shrouded as if in firelight and shadows. There are reaaallly tall fir trees everywhere, and something bubbling black on the ground. Fire is there, and blood. I don't have any idea where, but I just know we aren't supposed to go into the New World yet."
Quiet fell as everyone considered this. Sanji patted his shirt pocket.
"Alright," Zoro said. "That's good enough for me."
"And me!" Usopp jumped to add.
"And that's it?" Franky asked. "Is this how you guys sail all the time, or are these lapses of sanity only occasional?"
"It seems crazy," Sanji shrugged uncaringly, "but you'll see."
"I don't even know how to verbalize all the things wrong with this idea," Franky said.
"Welcome to my life," Nami said, despairingly.
While Luffy laughed uproariously and stuffed another pancake in his mouth, Robin placed comforting hands on their shoulders, saying "It takes time to get used to having so little organization in life, but we must be patient with those whom a structured life would destroy."
They looked at their captain, whose brightness alone was at times the only force to propel them onward, and groaned with resignation.
"So where are we going, captain?" Sanji asked.
"He hasn't thought about it," Zoro noted.
"Of course not!" Nami wailed.
"If I may," Robin input. She pulled an Eternal Pose out from behind her back and tossed it to Luffy.
"Orbis Run." Luffy read the name out loud.
"I picked this up in Water 7. A gift from the Galley-la foremen, just in case we had to run. This will take us off of the current island chain we're on following the Log Pose. What's more, once we're there it will take over a week for the Log Pose to reset, so we won't lose our present setting to Merman Island as long as we keep moving."
Nami had picked up her head and was looking at the Eternal Pose. "Orbis Run?"
With no explanation, she got up and jogged out of the room.
"…Oookay," Usopp muttered.
"You realize it's pointing almost right directly to the right us," Luffy noticed. "How many islands off track will it take us?"
"And how will we be able to keep moving after we get there if we can't follow the Log Pose?" Franky added. "We'll be blind in the water. Not a good way to sail."
"Maybe we could ask about getting another Eternal Pose when we get there," Chopper said.
"If Orbis Run is populated," Zoro added.
"Are you insinuating that Robin-chan's brilliant plan is flawed?" Sanji shrieked.
"And what if I am?"
"I'll make you rue the day Luffy dragged you into this crew!"
"You're pissing me off, yolkhead."
"When the hell aren't you pissed off anymore? You've been testy for the last week, asshole! I'm in withdrawal, what the hell is your excuse?"
"That is it! Get the hell ready because I'm about to raise your head into the ceiling!"
"And I am about to raise your pine-needled ass right off the face of the planet and into th-!"
"Guys! Not right now, okay?"
The two stopped and stepped apart, Sanji bringing down his leg and Zoro releasing the hilts of the only two swords he had left. Luffy never stopped their fights. He found them entertaining, in fact, so the uncharacteristic halt made Zoro and Sanji share a meaningful and concerned glance before looking at their captain. They were not the only two to do so. The silent question could be read in the eyes of several: Is he okay?
Luffy's eyes, however, had turned back to the door, and when Nami ran in three seconds later saying, "I got it," he stood and helped her spread the Grand Line map out on the table.
"Okay, we are here," Nami pointed, "and Orbis Run is… here. Only one island line down from us."
"Whoa, that's not far at all!" Usopp said. Then at a glare from Zoro, he fell silent. Sanji, the only observer of this, frowned.
"But still just far enough backwards and out of the way that the marines won't suspect it," Nami agreed, "and it keeps us out of the New World."
"It doesn't look normal, though, does it?"
Nami frowned. "It is mapped strangely..."
"And where does Ace fit into all this, exactly?" Sanji asked, causing Luffy to look up from the map.
"I don't know, except that he's there. And he… And it's really important that we find him."
"Luffy, he's on a mission looking for Blackbeard. Finding him could take forever."
"It won't. Because he's close. He couldn't have been in it if he wasn't close. We'll find him because we will."
"Well that's… one oversimplified way of looking at it."
"But it is that simple," Luffy insisted.
"Or the mirror was lying about him," Franky suggested. "I don't know who this Ace person is, but whether you're related and you know his behavior and personality really well or not, it's going to be nearly impossible to predict where someone can end up on this sea. Especially if he's searching for someone, because a hunt will make him break out of his typical traveling style and go absolutely everywhere, no matter how bad the place is."
"He's right," Robin said, thoughtfully. "Do you think your brother's search is what leads us all to this place you saw?"
"I don't know. Or care. What happens is much more important than where it takes place. If it's going to happen to us regardless of where we are, then I want to meet it on a battle ground I've seen the layout of first, because having seen even a little bit about how it'll go down is one more thing I'll have on my side. I have a hint about what to watch for."
Everyone had different levels of concern painted on their faces, and they all could tell that they were worried less about finding Ace and more about their captain.
"Luffy, I don't know if we can find Ace who-knows-where on the Grand Line within a small time frame just because we really want to. I mean, I hope we do… bu-"
"We will. Don't worry about it. We're pretty lucky. Set a course for Orbis Run."
With that, Luffy put his plate in the sink and left the galley, heading for the sails.
None of the others moved until after he'd left.
AN: Set after the events of Water 7 and Enies Lobby, and before Ace's fight with Blackbeard and the Thriller Bark arc, here is the (possibly) long awaited sequel to RUMBLE! Some people think I live in a cave and have felt the need to point out to me that in the series, Luffy's new bounty is released and he sets sail on the morning of the same day that Ace was captured...as if I could somehow have missed that. So for those who missed the disclaimer at the top and need the obvious stated to them, as a reader you need to make a tiny gap of time between those two events, and RUMBLE 2 is set in there. Just as the first RUMBLE was set between meeting AoKiji and reaching the Water 7 lighthouse. The Strawhats will proceed into the Devil's Triangle and Ace will leave the Sunny and find Blackbeard right after this book ends. The first book concluded only 7-8 days before this one starts. As this is a sequel, you have to read the other one first. Sorry. A lot of seeds planted in that story will be blossoming in this story, and if you don't see them get planted you'll walk into a chapter wondering where all these strange events, character behaviours, and running gags are coming from out of nowhere like that. But I tried to keep them to a minimum, so if you read RUMBLE a whole year ago, you'll still be okay.
Dedicated to the fans that made RUMBLE so much fun to write that I had to do it again.