5 Ways that Ace Didn't Die
Summary: Five ways that Ace could have been saved.
Disclaimer: I don't own One Piece, and I could never in a million years challenge the creative genius of Eiichiro Oda. But Ace is still alive in my heart, dammit!
"Caw, caw," Blackbeard cackled, frantically flying around in circles.
Ace stretched out one hand and fried him with a ball of fire. He fell to the ground, smoking.
Well, that was Thatch's death avenged. Ace never would know why Blackbeard had thought that the Blackbird-Blackbird fruit was worth killing for. Maybe he'd wanted it because it sounded kind of like his name? Or maybe the treacherous pirate had just learned a valuable lesson, that seeing how every single devil fruit in the world was completely unique then no one could know for absolute certain what power it contained until after they ate it.
Since it had taken Ace less than a day to track Blackbeard down, he had a bit of time before the Whitebeard pirates would expect him back. Perhaps he could take the time to check up on his troublesome little brother.
Ace hung defeated in his chains, his eyes filled with despair as he watched Whitebeard stagger, stabbed by his own comrade. And as the truth about his heritage was screamed about the world, Ace knew that this was all his fault—the hopeless battle his crewmates were facing, the betrayal of his beloved father, the shattering of the fragile world peace—all had happened because he had been born.
There was a whooshing sound. He looked up to see a dark shadow overhead.
Around the world millions of jaws dropped as an enormous lion-headed ship dropped straight from the sky and crash-landed into the execution platform.
There was a moment of silence. Even Whitebeard bled more quietly.
The mystery ship creaked in the wind. A soft strain of music, like an ancient violin, bled through the air like an open wound. "Yo-ho-ho!"
Standing on the bow of the ship was a tall skeleton dressed in a suit with a cane in one arm and a violin in the other, afro swaying in the breeze. Cheerfully, he tipped his hat. "I'm terribly sorry to interrupt, ladies and gentlemen, but has anyone seen a freckled gentleman with a fiery spirit who goes by the name of Portgas D. Ace? I believe he was supposed to be around here somewhere."
All around the watching world, fragile items shattered against the floor, women and children fainted, and tea spewed out of nostrils. Even the toughest marines in the world took a step back. The men and women in uniform gathered today had seen many strange things on the grand line, but nothing quite like this. There was only one thought on their minds—death itself had come to collect the pirate king's son, and none of them wanted to get in its way.
Yet the terrified silence was broken by another sound, even louder than the crash itself had been. "ACE! Where are you? Damn it, where are you hiding him?"
From the deck burst infamous Super-rookie pirate captain Straw Hat Luffy, carelessly smashing out of his own deck, arms extended into fists as he screamed again, "ACE!"
A lightning bolt shot from the sky and hit his 300,000,000-beli head. A woman's voice shouted, "You careless idiot! If we had landed on the water like I was trying to, we would be able to see him. But no, you had to land on the execution platform. Do you know how much work it's going to take to get this ship back into the water now? Sanji, Zoro, get pushing!"
"Yes, Nami-swan! Mellorine!" A mysterious blond man with hair over one eye emerged from the ship and began kicking it with great vigor. "Oi, moss-head, get out here and help."
A loud snore emerged from the deck.
"Are you still sleeping?" There was a pop like someone had been bonked on the head, followed by an ow sound.
"Stop hitting me, woman! You were the one who told me you didn't want me to help with the navigation!"
About five or so voices shouted at once, "Who would want you to help with the navigation, you directionless fool!"
A green haired man carrying three swords emerged from the ship and put an arm against the wooden side. To the awe of watchers, the entire ship began to shake and inch forward.
With a whack, his arm was kicked and he lost grip.
"Stop it, moss-head, you're crimping my style!"
"What? Don't blame me just because you almost fell flat on your face, ero-cook!"
"Give me a little warning! I was in mid-kick when you got in my way!"
"You never would have moved the ship, kick or no."
"You want to bet? I'll kick you!" The blond-haired man followed up with a kick to the swordsman's face.
The other man drew a sword in a blurred motion and easily blocked. The two began fighting, ignoring the astonished crowd of marines and pirates around them.
On the deck, a blue-haired man wearing a pair of swimsuit briefs emerged into view, crying, "Not Super! Luffy, what did you do to the deck of my ship?"
"But the ship sure did fly far with that new and improved Coup de Burst!" the captain exclaimed with a wide grin.
"Yes it did!" the swimsuit exhibitionist replied. "What else do you expect from my work?"
"Nothing but the best from Franky!" a long-nosed man said, poking his head on deck. "Huh, are we on a visual den-den-mushi?"
Regaining his voice, the announcer cried, "And who is this mysterious man? A new member of the Straw Hats crew? What kind of unstoppable monster must he be?"
The long-nosed man whimpered, "No one in particular, just a passing hostage. Just give me a moment to go back deck, and I can get the real crewmember. Brave masked warrior of the sea, you might remember him." He pawed through his backpack, seemed to realize that something he needed wasn't in there, and then collapsed face-first on the deck.
A small reindeer popped up behind him. "Ah! Usopp is down! Someone call a doctor! Wait, I am a doctor." He pulled out a stethoscope.
The long-nosed man hissed, "Go away, Chopper! I'm playing dead! We're on a den den mushi that's showing live around the world!"
"We are? Hi, Doctor Kureha, how are you doing? How's Dalton and everyone? Wait, did you say around the world? Aaaaaaaaaaaah!" The reindeer turned into a four-legged creature and toppled over in a faint.
"Where's Ace?" Straw Hat Luffy demanded again, not to be sidetracked.
A deep, cultured woman's voice said, "Mr. Captain, I'm afraid we landed on top of him."
Hands sprang from the deck of the ship and lifted it in the air, to reveal—a battered, groggy, and extremely unhappy Portgas D. Ace.
"Ah, Ace, what are you doing down there?" Rubber hands reached out and yanked the manacled pirate on board the ship. "Chopper, get over here and help."
The reindeer sat up, took one look at the injured man, and shrieked, "Doctor, someone call a doctor!"
"You are a doctor!" The entire ship shouted back. Ace moaned in pain.
"Right! Calling me a doctor won't make me happy, idiots!" The reindeer doubled in size and pulled out a case full of bandages and medicine.
The sight of the guest of honor disappearing finally spurred marines and pirates alike into action. As one (well, trampling some of the more reluctant and terrified ones) they charged the ship-
"Franky, are we reloaded yet?"
"We are ready to GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Coup de burst!"
The Thousand Sunny Go shot straight up into the air and disappeared into the distance, carrying the entire cause of the Great War with them.
Ace was in a full body cast for six months, but survived the experience.
"Sorry, Luffy," Ace whispered as he thrust his little brother aside as Admiral Akainu struck his magma fist forward. Luffy could only watch in horror as the fire bit into his brother's back—
Only to jerk away as the Admiral toppled over backwards, his mouth gaping open, with a round stone embedded in his forehead.
All was silent. The most agile eyes on the battlefield followed the rock's path back to a lone man standing top of one of the prisoners' ship masts, wearing a colorful mask and holding a slingshot.
The infamous 30,000,000 beli flag-burning pirate Sogeking said, "Err. Sorry, Luffy, but you weren't moving so I thought perhaps I ought to do something. Oh no. Was that an admiral?"
Luffy waved frantically. "Sogeking, it's great to see you again! You always arrive in the nick of time. Do you want to join my crew?"
More than a few people watching wondered, "Isn't that guy supposed to be his crewmate already?"
Sogeking had his shoulders hunched over, as if he was trying to make himself look smaller. "I am Sogeking, brave warrior of the sea—and I really should be going now. Places to go, people to see. Nice meeting all of you." There was a clatter and he was gone, leaving only a fallen mask in his wake.
Despite the fact that he had been expecting to be dead right now, Ace recovered his wits a little faster than everyone else. Grabbing his little brother by the collar, he took off running.
Between Whitebeard's last stand and Shank's surprise appearance, the D brothers managed to escape. Sogeking was not found, although at some point during their escape Straw Hat Luffy and his brother gained a curly-haired pointy-nosed companion he referred to as "Usopp."
Later, the world government gave Usopp a bounty of 50 beli. Sogeking became the second most wanted man in Straw Hat's crew.
All Garp wanted was to see his grandson. Was that so unreasonable, when one of his three surviving relatives was sentenced to execution in just a few days? Didn't prisoners get visitation rights? Actually, prisoners in Impel Down didn't, but marine vice-admirals ought to be able to swing a few privileges. Unfortunately, the first time he'd visited Ace in order to lecture him on his foolishness becoming a pirate, he'd broken down crying, and the second time hadn't gone much better, so pretty soon he was spending a great deal of time in the prison trying to come to terms with his conflicted feelings—that is to say to trying to lecture Ace of course.
His frequent trips hadn't gone unnoticed. As the admirals and vice-admirals met to discuss strategy over Whitebeard's impending arrival, Admiral Akainu loudly proclaimed that surely letting the captured pirate Portgas D. Ace's grandfather drop by for regular visits was a gaping security risk. In point of fact, should such a security risk even be within fifty miles of this place, much less attending strategy meetings?
Fleet Admiral Sengoku was quick to jump to Garp's defense, citing long-standing military procedure concerning criminal relatives. (Inwardly, Garp rolled his eyes—Sengoku was only harping on this point because, as a very small number of people knew, his own son had jumped ship and run off with that grandchild-stealing menace Red-Haired Shanks a long time ago. Now there was even this kid who looked sort of like him in Luffy's crew, a fact Garp couldn't wait to share with him sometime.)
But Sengoku's next words struck an unexpected blow. "Naturally, we wouldn't allow Garp this kind of involvement if it was his blood-related grandson, Monkey D. Luffy, who had been captured. But as we all know, Gol D. Ace isn't related to any marine. He's the spawn of the worst pirate in history, who was a personal enemy of Vice-Admiral Garp. I'm sure this outcome was only what he expected from the day the boy was born."
Those words shot straight through Garp like a fist of magma. How dare anyone think that the reason he hadn't fought heaven and hell to save Ace was because his grandson was adopted! He'd cut out his own heart and sacrificed it on the altar of duty, and did anyone appreciate that? Why, it would serve them all right if he did turn around and rescue Ace after all.
As if on cue, Sengoku said, "Garp, don't do anything to interfere with Ace's imprisonment. There, that's an order, plain and simple. I think that's settled."
Unfortunately, Sengoku had been sitting in a chair thinking to strategies for too long. He'd forgotten that pretty much the one thing guaranteed to make the devoted fanatical marine Monkey D. Garp disobey an order was someone giving him an order.
And like any D, having had a stupid and reckless thought, Garp wasn't one to put off the deed.
Another boring day in a boring cell for Ace, who was passing time counting the blisters on his backside. He wasn't sure whether or not to look forward to his grandfather's visit; the company was welcome, but the old man kept breaking down crying, and he was actually starting to make Ace feel terribly guilty. Even though he was the one being executed! You'd think it was his grandfather who would feel guilty, right?
But today, Garp strode down the stairs with a barely suppressed smile on his face. In a horrible voice that Ace hoped wasn't supposed to be a whisper, he said, "Look lively, my boy! Today is the day we break you out of here!"
Ace said, "But...your position...the world's most unbreakable prison?"
Garp declared far too loudly, "The other admirals can all go swallow two devil fruits and explode. They have a lot of nerve, thinking that I'll obey them just because they're superior officers. Ace, never become a marine officer—you should just stay a well-mannered, intelligent enlisted man. That's the way to go."
"You're an officer, Gramps."
"Not by choice! They gave me a promotion while I was sleeping and couldn't run away, the yellow-belied cowards."
In a much quieter voice, Ace said, "Look, I appreciate this, I really do. But I know you can't get me out of here. And I don't want anyone else getting hurt on my behalf than already is." Thinking about Whitebeard was making him seriously contemplate ways to kill himself. He'd even heard this rumor had Jinbe had started stirring up trouble, and he desperately hoped the fishman wouldn't do anything that would land him in here too. And if he could have one thing go right for him in his entire life it would be that Luffy wouldn't find out about this until it was all over.
Garp sneered, "Don't be ridiculous. Maybe this Impel Down is impenetrable to a pirate, but to a brave marine? Nothing is impossible. Watch and learn, my boy, watch and learn."
By this time Garp's horrible whispering skills had started to attract the attention of some of the other prisoners around them. But that was nothing compared to the reaction when the vice-admiral smashed the cage open and began to unlock Ace's manacles. The room was filled with furious pleas and spiteful calls for the marines.
Ace's heart constricted. The jailers must be seeing this on the den den mushi, or even his idiot grandfather had the brains to cut off communications (which was unlikely) they would be here to see why they couldn't see anything. This escape had been hopeless from the start. But if his old man was really throwing away everything for this, then all Ace could do was try his hardest in acknowledgement.
By now the prisoners around them were howling their lungs out. But as Ace and Garp stepped onto the elevator, nothing happened. No one tried to stop them from leaving. In fact, how were they alone at all?
No surveillance was possible on the "Freezing Hell" Level 5, but Ace kept looking around his shoulder as his grandfather knocked a few wolves unconscious with haki.
Except, when they emerged on to blazing Level 4, a woman in pink leather with a pitchfork blocked their path. "Mmm. Leaving already, Garp?" Her whip lashed out.
Ace readied himself to fight, knowing that eccentricities aside, the Chief Guard Sadi-chan was a formidable woman.
Garp easily dodged the whip, then patted Sadi on her butt. "Don't worry, I'll see you again tonight, sweet thing."
"The guards have all been redirected and the den den mushi's are inactive, mmm. This is the most I can do for you so don't get caught, worm."
"Please be careful yourself, I'd hate to see anything happen to a vision of loveliness like yourself."
Sadi purred in pleasure.
As they walked past, Garp whispered in Ace's ear, "Strong marine prison break lesson number one, boy. The hero always seduces the prison guard to escape."
Ace felt the way just about anyone would when they heard their grandfather talking about sex in a personal context, which is to say his brain tried smash its way out of his skull and escape. Luckily Garp was able to drag him through Levels 3 and 2 as he gibbered insanely.
At Level 1, an eyepatched woman who Ace recognized as Domino met them carrying two uniforms in her hands. "You've been added to the rooster for the departing ship. Now hurry!"
Garp swept her into his arms and treated her to a passionate kiss. She collapsed legless to the floor while Ace idly used a bloody spike to try and sanitize his eyes.
Dodging large numbers of guard on every level had made it obvious that the lack of surveillance had cued the prison that something was wrong, but at least no one seemed to be looking for Ace in particular. That didn't change the fact that security at the exit point was particularly tight, with a guard checking the face of everyone leaving.
Ace could only assume that Garp had a plan. He snuck a look at his grandfather's cheerfully beaming face and had second thoughts about that assumption. At least at this point they might be able to take over a ship—but how would they get the Gates of Justice to open?
Chief Warden Magellan walked past their line, and Ace ducked his head to hide his face. But the Warden's hand clamped firmly on Garp's shoulder.
"These two are carrying a special message to marine headquarters. Let them on at once."
The guard saluted. "Right away, sir!"
As the crossed the gangplank, Ace whispered, "Gramps, please tell me that you didn't…"
"Of course not, he's a poison man!"
Ace breathed a sigh of relief.
In a too-loud voice Garp continued, "Luckily, sometimes color photographs of past seductions work just as efficiently. Get off your face and back on your feet, boy, are you trying to attract attention?"
Being on a ship headed to Marine Headquarters barely felt like a stay of execution to Ace. It wasn't until they were safely in a lifeboat floating away that Ace was able to tell himself that he was actually free.
"Gramps, I don't know what to say. Thank you."
"Don't worry about it, because I didn't get caught so it's all good! You see, Ace, that's how we heroes do things. That was quite an entertaining escape!"
"Entertaining. Yes," Ace said weakly.
Garp patted him on the back vigorously. "Now aren't you sorry you didn't become a marine?"
Ace resisted the urge to projectile vomit.
"Ooo," Luffy moaned, clutching his head. "Where did that crazy bear-pawed guy send me? Where are my nakama?" The sky around him splintered with many-colored lightning. "Huh, Nami might like this place. What does that street sign say? Raftel? Signed, Gol D. Roger?"
One week later:
Ace was jolted out of his usual boring routine hanging in the dungeon when his cell door creaked open and Admiral Sengoku emerged into the cell, flanked by a whole squad of marines. "Someone get him out of his chains. Attach the seastone cuffs first, he might attack."
"Execution already?" Ace said, trying for a cool nonchalance.
The Great Strategist's face curled. "Unfortunately, no. Your plans to take your father's place as pirate king have become irrelevant—someone else beat you to it. Straw Hat Luffy has found and claimed One Piece."
Ace choked. "That's impossible."
"It seems so, doesn't it? A mere rookie with a crew of nine at last count and a bounty of less than a tenth of any yonkou's becoming King of the Pirates. The others' haven't accepted it either—he's engaged in a battle with two of the yonkou, Kaido and Big Mam, right now." Sengoku's pucker, if possible, curled even further. "And he appears to be winning. We're releasing you in hopes that with his fleet no longer tied up in coming here, Whitebeard will join the battle against Straw Hat. The power that lies at the end of the Grand Line can not be allowed to run unchecked any longer, much less in the hands of an unknown wildcard."
Ace was too stunned to speak, or to know what to say. He allowed himself to be led to the open air.