Luffy's eyes widened, flicking up to the sky fleetingly before he slowly backtracked from the front of the ship to the Den-Den Mushi. Nami noticed when he picked it up, his lips trembling.
"What..?" she started to rush over, but Luffy's mouth began to break into a grin he was struggling to conceal. When he saw her confused face, his eyes tacitly told of the need to be inconspicuous.
Sengoku himself answered on the other line, and the smile finally conquered Luffy's expression as he began to speak.
"We have allies on the other side."
There was a pause.
"What?" Sengoku's brow furrowed and then snapped back into their usual place. "Ivanokov?" he said quietly, hiding all excitement that sparked with the revelation. "But he will be on Dragon's side, indisputably." His eyes darkened, adding wrinkles to his features with a frown. "We don't have…"
The Marine froze, unable to breathe for the moment of shock and then as a conundrum of emotions attempted to overwhelm him. They would have succeeded in taking the man's reason if not for years of experience.
The boy we tried to kill…whose 'father' we killed… His face blanched, and he thought numbly that his expression could only help them if Dragon was watching. "No." he whispered, managing to keep his tone emotionless. "He won't help us."
"He will if he knows I'm alive…that I'm on this side." Luffy didn't look at Nami's face as it brightened and her eyes unfocused with thoughts. "He won't fight against me, there no way. See?" The pirate's breathing had quickened with his excitement and his expression had begun to revert into a mask unsuccessfully. "Ace will be on our side…and he probably has Whitebeard pirates with him. I think we also have a chance of having Iva-chan on our side. He's not a bad person. He wouldn't approve of this. It's too…big…it's too much change all at once…"
Hope began to form a light in the Marine's heart, but he shut it out callously, knowing well the nature of war and the unpredictable circumstances that could arise and twist the most loyal of Marines…Garp was one of them.
He flinched. Dragon was here instead of with his men…how long had it been like that? Does he not know who may be among his forces? Ace would be easily adopted if it was believed that Luffy was dead…his anger would legitimize his late addition…and then the Whitebeard pirates… but their anger would have manifested itself against the Marines. They were a significant threat, though their numbers would be small after the toll of the war. What if the boy were to betray the Marines? No…Garp's grandson didn't seem like the type… The thoughts stopped.
"Alright." His mouth twitched and he closed his eyes. "What are you planning on doing? How will you contact him?" His eyes opened. "I think you should make sure that your presence on our side is made known."
Luffy frowned. "They'll see our flag."
"There are a lot of different symbols being flown on our side…an individual one is not as noticeable unlike Ace's which contrasts with the unbroken pattern of black. Then they don't know if you are alive or even for sure if what they see is really your ship…"
"Shanks is here. They'll notice him and there's no way they'll think that the Marines managed to get all of these different ships or have the time to fake them."
Sengoku's eyes moved to his right where the Yonkou's ship was positioned. He smiled grimly at the usefulness of the pirates. "Yes." His smile left. "But how will you make yourself known?"
Luffy looked at Ussop who froze, looking around to make sure someone more brave and useful wasn't behind him. Luffy smiled. "Ussop. Do you have anything….."
The Marine listened to the request and one of his men started at his odd expression of mild humor. Then the Marine heard part of the plan and frowned. The Den-Den Mushi clicked, leaving Sengoku with a smirk.
"They're crazy." One of his men commented, shaking his head. Sengoku mirrored him, but his expression was of a different nature, causing the other Marine to stop.
"I was often told the same thing before I was acknowledged as a strategist." He looked across the decks of multiple ships to try and see the Strawhat symbol. "Who knows? Maybe he's a genius in his own way… He's going to let all of them know where he stands."
Luffy sneezed, but ignored it as he helped Ussop carry the heavy wooden crate from below the deck, almost laughing when they opened it.
Ace glared at the ships, briefly considering where Ivanokov's ship might be among the identical battle ships that occupied both his right and his left. The Revolutionists had eagerly accepted him and the crew of Whitebeard pirates he had once led. Most of the other captains had not believed in fighting again so soon, believing in their individual ability to get their revenge at another time. They hadn't known Whitebeard in the same way he had…they hadn't known his little brother at all. Ace gritted his teeth, while the air around him crackled.
Luffy…you were supposed to become the Pirate King. What about your dream? Your promise? All of those IOU's you left behind promising to pay people back with your pirate treasure… His eyes burned, lacking tears as he could not find them… This only added to his frustration.
Suddenly a sharp shriek erupted from the sound of a cannon and a smoking object was expelled into the cloud darkened sky. Eyes attached themselves to it in confusion and apprehension.
"What kind of weapon is…it looks like a…" his eyes became bright, containing the light of the yellow, red, and white stars that erupted from the rocket. His eyes widened to let a few tears escape along the sides of his face as the obvious straw-hat wearing skull formed in the sky. Only one person could be capable of this. He followed the trail of smoke beneath it and gripped the rail on the side of the deck when he saw the teen that stood on the head of lion with a mane of sun.
"Luffy?" he gasped, and others ran to the side of the deck. Most of the ships around Ace were in the same state of confusion and hands gestured towards the ship and the young pirate. Joy began to subside and dismay took its place as the Whitebeard pirates realized what side Luffy was on. "Why, Luffy?" he whispered his eyes full of doubt. "What about Whitebeard? What about how the Marines tried to kill me? What are you doing?" his voice was rising and an arm grabbed him, trying to calm him down.
Ace shook his head, leaning from the hand. "Well, I'll just have to trust you for now…but you batter have a damn good reason, Luffy." He smiled unconscientiously at the name.
"What are going to do, Ace?" the owner of the hand inquired, looking at the ship on the Marine's side.
"Isn't it obvious?" He grinned darkly, eying the ships around them. "We fight the side my little brother isn't on."
Meanwhile Luffy was watching the firework with awe, a huge grin on his face as he knew Dragon would not be able to overlook it. He lifted his hands, laughing for a second. "So cool Ussop!" Then he looked at the ships, finding Ace's. He smiled as he thought he could see his brother among the shapes that lined most of the decks. "Well…here we go." He whispered and the stars fell above his head, dissipating in the air.