After several months, here is the next bonus chapters. Thanks for all continued love for this story and for over the one-thousand favorites.
Bonus Chapter 5: Chapters of East Blue and Maxwell's Gift
(This section gives more detail to the Kuro and Arlong story arcs. This is stuff I was considering putting in, but decided to cut for both time and story reasons.)
For the rest of the night, Usopp and the others prepared for the Black Cat Pirates. To give themselves the home field advantage, Usopp rigged the slope leading to the village with oil.
"Yep, I'm a genius," Usopp within the memory said smugly as he looked over his handiwork. "There's no way they can make it up this slope now. All this oil we put here should keep them busy while we go to work on them. They'll be busy slipping and sliding around like a bunch of idiots and we show up and beat the crap out of them."
Franky rubbed his chin. "Wow, that's quite impressive. Low down, dirty, I like it."
Robin nodded and smiled. "That was some very good forward thinking, Usopp. Even a strong pirate would be at a great disadvantage."
Usopp rubbed his nose smugly. "Well, as my past self said, I am a genius."
Nami sighed as she rubbed her forehead. "It's a good plan in theory, too bad it went completely to waste."
"Huh? What do you mean?" Chopper asked.
"Let's just say that this wasn't one of our greatest moments," Zoro grumbled. He still owed Nami for pulling him down the hill. Damn witch.
"Wow, so that's your plan, huh?" Nami in the memory said. She sounded both impressed and somewhat skeptical.
"That's right. I'll defend the village no matter what it takes," Usopp in the memory said with complete conviction.
"That's the spirit!" Brook cheered. "Even if you're weaker than the enemy, you must always defend the ones you care about."
Nami in the memory hummed as she looked over the oil slick. "Let's just hope that none of us slip on that oil and end up down there with them."
"Good point," Robin said.
"Yeah, that would be pretty bad," Franky nodded.
"Because that would be like sliding into a meat grinder," Nami in the memory finished.
Chopper cried in terror at the mental image.
Franky chuckled. "Seems like sis has a bit of Robin in her."
Nami snorted. "I'm just stating a fact. It's a good plan, but it can easily backfired." In fact, it did backfire. She still couldn't believe she slipped down that stupid hill.
Luffy was sliding his foot on the oil. "Usopp, I gotta hand it to you. You're pretty good at fighting dirty."
Usopp pulled a face. "He didn't have to put it like that."
"Well, you are a little trickster. One has to be careful fighting you head-on," Sanji said.
Usopp folded his arms and side-eyed Sanji. "I'm not like you guys. I can't fight monsters head-on."
"Usopp, I meant what I said as a compliment," Sanji said before he looked at Usopp. "I can't do what you, just as you can't do what I do. That's what makes us a crew. We cover each other's weaknesses and enhance each other's our strengths."
Usopp was left speechless.
Robin nodded. "Exactly."
"So, the love cook can say something profound every once and while, after all," Zoro mused.
Sanji growled at his rival. "Watch it, moss head. Otherwise the next time you get lost, we won't bother to find you."
"What!?" Zoro exclaimed as he reached for his swords. "You want to fight!?"
Sanji raised his foot. "Bring it on! I'll kick your ass right here!"
"Not now, you two," Nami said harshly. "Did you guys forget why we're here?"
This got the two rivals to back down.
"Sorry, Nami-san," Sanji said sheepishly.
"Of course I am!" Usopp in the memory said proudly at being called a cheap fighter. "There isn't anyone alive who can beat me with a slingshot or the art of fighting dirty!"
"Have to agree on that," Zoro said.
"You're so cool, Usopp," Chopper said in awe.
"I have to disagree. I bet I can beat you when it comes to fighting dirty," Franky suddenly spoke up.
"You think so?" Usopp challenged.
Franky grinned at him. "See, you're too nice. You like the scare your opponents into submission. When fighting underhandedly, you knock your opponent flat on their back."
"That only works for you, Franky," Usopp muttered.
The small crew waited on the slope until sky was bright with the morning sun. There was no sight of the Black Cat Pirates. Not even a ship was seen in the distance.
"They're late," Franky said as he used his enhanced vision to see across the sea. "There's no ship in sight either."
Brook scratched his head. "Maybe they overslept."
"Nah, I doubt it. If the rumors I heard about Captain Kuro are true, he would kill them for making his plan run late," Sanji stated. "That guy was apparently an egomaniac about making the perfect plan that never fails."
"They're not late," Zoro said as he crossed his arms. "We're at the wrong location."
"Wrong location?" Chopper asked in confusion.
"Where are they?" Luffy asked impatiently. "I thought we were going to fight. The sun's up, so what's the deal?"
"Hmm, maybe they overslept," Zoro in the memory suggested, unknowingly voicing Brook's previous thought.
"No. They're going to show up, alright," Usopp in the memory said without a shred of doubt. "And lots of them."
Nami in the memory had her head down in thought. She suddenly jolted and put a hand to her ear. "Wait a minute."
Chopper also jerked and his ears twitched. "I hear something."
Nami turned towards her crewmate. "So you noticed too. I guess it's expected, since you are a reindeer."
"What do you hear, Chopper?" Brook asked.
Chopper said nothing for a moment. "It...it sounds like people shouting. They sound really...bloodthirsty."
Nami in the memory had the same thought as she kept listening.
The shouts got louder and even the less sensitive-eared Strawhats could hear them.
"I see," Robin said in understanding. "Usopp, in your village there are two slopes, right? One where Kuro's meeting took place, and one where Luffy and the others docked."
Usopp lowered his head in shame. "Yeah...I thought for sure they would attack here since this is where Kuro had his secret meeting, but they ended up attacking from the other shore."
"What!?" Franky exclaimed in shock. "So everything you'd done was for nothing?"
Nami nodded and sighed. "Pretty much."
"What bad luck," Brook said.
"There's a saying that goes 'assumptions are the mother of all screw ups'," Zoro stated almost off-handedly. "And we did screw up."
Usopp in the memory finally realized that the pirates were attacking from the north shore.
"We need to hurry, before they make it to the village," Luffy said. He was close to panicking as well. "Where is it?"
Usopp pointed in the direction of the other slope. "You have to head directly north from here! If you run, you can make it there in just three minutes. The terrain there is almost exactly the same, so all we need to do is stop them at the slope."
"Don't worry. We're going to stop them," Luffy assured once he calmed down.
Nami in the memory looked on almost detached from everything, before suddenly she gasped and screamed.
"What's wrong, Nami-san!?" Sanji asked memory Nami worriedly.
Zoro rolled his eye. "It was nothing serious."
Nami side-eyed the swordsman. "It was serious enough."
"Oh, no! If those filthy pirates are at the north shore then they've already seen our boat!" Nami in the memory screamed. "They'll take our treasure!"
This caused some of the Strawhats to groan.
"Figures," Chopper, Franky, and Brook said together.
Robin just chuckled.
"Told you it was nothing important," Zoro said. Nami slapped him on the back of the head.
"I'll be there in twenty seconds!" Luffy declared before taking off running.
The current crew quickly chased after him.
"Hey, does Luffy know which direction is north?" Franky asked as they followed their captain.
"No," Nami answered dryly. "That moron is heading west."
Luffy ran until he saw the village coming into his view. He stopped and panted in exhaustion.
"The village...that can't be right. He said to run north and I ran in the coldest direction, so I should be at the shore," Luffy said in bafflement.
"You idiot!" Nami yelled at her captain. "Your sense of direction is just as bad as Zoro!"
"He should have run in a straight line if he wanted to go north," Zoro said nonchalantly.
"That isn't right either!" Nami shouted at the swordsman. Why were her crewmates such idiots?
Sanji sighed. "Letting Luffy run off on his own is just a recipe for disaster."
"I don't get it. He lived in a forest for most of his childhood. You would think navigating would be one of the skills he picked up," Franky said.
"You would think," Usopp grumbled. He was nearly killed while waiting for Luffy and Zoro. He would have never left those morons alone if he'd known how bad their sense of direction was.
Luffy ran off again, although he still wasn't heading north.
"You're heading back south!" Nami screamed futilely.
"Speaking of which, what happened to Zoro?" Chopper asked.
"Knowing that moss head, he's probably gotten himself to another island by now," Sanji joked.
Zoro growled. "Shut up! I would have made it to the other shore if someone hadn't made me slip down that stupid oil slick!" He glared at Nami as he spoke.
"It wasn't my fault!" Nami yelled defensively.
"You pulled me down the bank and just left me so you could after your stupid treasure!" Zoro yelled.
Nami glared at the swordsman. "Treasure is never stupid!"
"Is it just me or are they fighting more like siblings lately?" Franky asked among the other Strawhats.
"I have to say, I have not seen them fight like this in quite awhile," Robin observed with a slight smile.
Usopp sighed and rubbed his forehead. "They used to do this all the time when I met them. Those two just couldn't get along."
Brook laughed. "Nami-san and Zoro-san are just like brother and sister."
"Don't make Nami-swan related to that ball of moss," Sanji growled.
"Run straight north, run straight north, run straight north!" Luffy repeated like a chant as he ran blindly across the island. He ran so blindly that he rammed into a mountain face.
"Are you stupid!?" Sanji yelled at Luffy.
"At this rate, Usopp will be dead before he reaches the shore," Robin remarked.
"Don't say that!" Chopper yelled.
Usopp groaned. "Sad as it is, I almost was killed. Talk about lousy back-up."
"We arrived, didn't we? Stop complaining," Zoro stated with a shrug.
Luffy huffed in exhaustion and frustration before he started to run again. As he ran, he saw a familiar green-haired man heading in the opposite direction of him.
"Zoro!" Luffy yelled in relief.
"Luffy!?" Zoro in the memory exclaimed in surprise as he stopped running. "What are you doing here? I thought you would be at the shore by now."
"I would, but Usopp never told me which way was north," Luffy grumbled.
"You ran off before I could say anything!" Usopp yelled.
"Do you know where north is?" Luffy asked desperately.
"You'd have better luck getting directions from a dog," Sanji said.
"What!?" Zoro growled.
Sanji smirked at his rival. "You heard me."
"I swear if you two fight again, I will hurt you," Nami threatened.
Zoro in the memory folded his arms. "North. You just have to go in a straight line, right?"
"That's still wrong!" Nami yelled in frustration. Those two were going to give her gray hairs.
Luffy tilted his head. "Huh, that doesn't sound quite right."
Franky snickered. "Even Luffy knows that's wrong."
"Shut up!" Zoro yelled at the cyborg.
"Maybe I should work on that cure for this kind of disease," Chopper said, tired of all the arguing.
"You mean the hopeless idiot medication? Yeah, that would be nice," Nami said, trying to fend off the headache that was building.
Luffy looked around and finally noticed the sun. He began to smile. "Oh, I remember. They say the sun raises in the east." He faced the sun. "So, if this is east, my back would be facing west." He paused in thought. They could see the sweat building on his forehead. "If my back is west than my right would be...south, which means my left is north!" He turned north and smiled. "Yeah, that's it!"
"He figured it out," Brook said happily.
"He made it much more difficult than it needed to be," Nami sighed. Although, she was surprised that Luffy remembered that the sun rose in the east. Maybe he had some brains after all.
"Zoro, I found..." Luffy started to say before he realized that the swordsman had wondered off. "Zoro?" He looked around before noticing that Zoro was standing on top of a high cliff.
"Hmm, this isn't right," Zoro in the memory grumbled.
"Zoro, what're you doing up there?" Luffy asked.
"Well, north means up, right, so I went up," Zoro answered like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Usopp slapped his forehead. These were the people he depended on to save his village.
Brook sweat-dropped. He had heard stories about Zoro's infamous direction skills, but he didn't know they were this bad.
Robin laughed good-naturedly. She was really enjoying these memories.
Sanji shook his head. "You're a moron."
"Shove it!" Zoro yelled, annoyed by this memory.
Luffy had a blank expression. Without a word, he stretched his arm and grabbed Zoro by his collar.
"What...!?" Zoro didn't have time to finish before he was pulled along by Luffy.
"Now you see why I nearly had a nervous breakdown with those two," Nami muttered, getting a headache.
"You have the patience of a saint, Nami-swan," Sanji cooed.
Franky folded his arms. "Have to say, without Nami those two never would have left East Blue. Hell, they may have sailed to the end of the world."
Chopper nodded. "So true."
After another few minutes of running, the northern shore was finally within view. When they arrived, they saw that the Black Cat Pirates were making their way out from the shore.
Luffy didn't waste a moment knocking them back with a Gatling. The pirates went flying into the air and crashed back onto the slope like falling stars.
"Well, that was anti-climatic," Franky said as he watched the pirates fly. "They're really weak, huh."
"Weak as shit," Zoro confirmed.
Usopp blushed in embarrassment. They were weak, yet they tossed him around like he was a little boy.
"This crew appears rougher than the others we have seen so far," Robin noted.
"That's because Kuro recruited the lowest of the low to sail under him. They were more like a gang of thugs than pirates. At least, that's what I heard," Nami said.
Sanji lit a cigarette. "I think that's because Kuro gained a reputation of killing his men, even more so than other pirates. I've heard he once slaughtered his entire crew during a raid."
Chopper cried in fear. "He did that!? What kind of pirate is he!?"
"The lowest of the low," Zoro answered. Although the pirates of East Blue were weak compared to other seas, they had a high density of scumbags.
"Is that the best those pirates can ditch out?" Zoro in the memory asked in disappointment. He hadn't gotten the chance to slice even one of them.
Luffy was breathing heavily, although that was from all the running he did. "Yeah, I was hoping for a challenge."
Chopper suddenly screamed when he noticed memory Usopp. "Usopp! What happened to you!?"
Usopp in the memory was on his knees, bleeding badly from all over his body. He had a slightly glazed look in his eyes, showing that he may have a concession.
Usopp sighed. "I got the crap beaten out of me."
Nami gave Usopp a sympathetic look. "He fought bravely, but he simply wasn't a match for them. He even took a hammer to the head and was still willing to fight."
"He took a hammer to the head!?" Chopper exclaimed in horror. "That could have fractured his skull and caused bleeding in his brain!"
Usopp paled when he heard that.
"He's fine. Usopp has a head made of metal," Sanji assured. "I mean, he took a bat to the face and lived." His eyes turned towards memory Nami. Now he was the one screaming in horror. "Nami-swan! What happened!?"
Nami glanced at her past self. "Oh, I fought the pirates and lost too. I could handle one of them, but not that entire group."
"Those bastards!" Sanji raged, suddenly bursting into flames. "I'll kill every last one of them!"
"Cool it, torch," Zoro said.
Zoro in the memory glared angrily at Nami. "And you! After leaving me down there, you're lucky that I'm not kicking your butt too!"
"Don't talk to Nami-san like that!" Sanji yelled as he attempted to kick past Zoro. His attacks went right through the swordsman.
"It's a memory, remember?" Usopp muttered.
"It's all water under the bridge. Besides, Zoro couldn't hurt me anyway," Nami said.
"What's that suppose to mean!?" Zoro yelled at the navigator.
Nami gave Zoro a sickening-sweet expression. "I mean you're a big softy."
Robin chuckled lightly. It was true. When it came to his crew, Zoro really was a pushover.
Jango looked on as his crew laid face down in the dirt. Even with glasses on, the Strawhats could tell that he was worried and more than a little annoyed by the current events.
"Wow, that was great," Usopp in the memory said, completely stunned that Luffy and Zoro took out a herd of pirates on their own. "You guys are really that strong?"
Luffy nodded as he caught his breath.
"Could you have been slower? What took you so long?" Nami in the memory asked, annoyed.
Zoro growled at her. "You're the one who pushed me down that oil slick so you could get out."
"It was an accident," Nami in the memory countered. "I slipped, you fell. At least one of us made it out of there. It's better than both of us being stuck at the bottom."
"It should have just been you!" Zoro in the memory shouted.
"Yes it should've," Zoro agreed with his younger self.
"Don't talk about Nami-san like that!" Sanji screamed in Zoro's face.
Zoro winkled his nose. "Get away from me, dragon's breath."
Sanji growled, wanted to kick the swordsman, but he promised Nami not to fight.
"He isn't wrong. No offense, sis, but you're no good in crowd control without your Clima-Tact," Franky said.
Nami side-eyed Franky. "Who cares about that? I needed to protect my treasure. And good thing I did since Usopp tried to give it away to those pirates."
"Hey, it was a spur of the moment kind of thing," Usopp countered. "I was by myself facing a mob of bloodthirsty pirates. If I could buy them off, I would have happily done it."
"But it wasn't your money to give away!" Nami yelled at the sniper.
"This is a lot of arguing about something that happened two years ago," Brook noted.
Luffy once again complained to Usopp about not telling him which way was north.
"Shut up! You're the one who ran away, so sure of yourself being ready to take on anyone," Usopp in the memory countered, more than a little annoyed at this point.
Luffy's face softened as he considered Usopp's words. "I just got so excited that I started running, you know."
Zoro sighed. "That's one of his weaknesses. Luffy doesn't think when he's excited."
"He doesn't think at all, you mean," Sanji said as he puffed on his cigarette.
The Black Cat Pirates began to peel themselves off the ground as Jango ordered them to attack again. The pirates were hurt and barely able to stand.
"Looks like you guys have things pretty much wrapped up," Franky said. "Those pirates are barely conscious."
Nami sighed. "It isn't over yet."
"You mean they really have some strong guys?" Chopper asked worriedly.
"Well, sort of," Usopp said, struggling to explain exactly what happened next.
Jango reached into his coat and pulled out his chakram.
"Oh, that's the thing he used to hypnotize Luffy-san before," Brook said in concern.
"Here, stare deeply into this ring," Jango ordered his crew as the chakram swung back and forward. "Now, I will count one, two, Jango, and after that you all will begin to grow stronger, your wounds will heal, and you will grow stronger still!"
"Is he serious?" Franky asked in disbelief. "Even if you do hypnotize them, that wouldn't work."
Robin rubbed her chin in concern. "I am not sure about that. If the mind is willing, it can fool the body into thinking it is fine and strong."
"Yeah, something like that happened to Luffy-san in his dream world. He thought he was drowning and the mental trauma of it was so great that he actually stopped breathing," Brook said.
The crew gathered around Jango and Luffy stared intensely at the ring. He couldn't seem to draw his eyes away from it.
"Stronger, stronger!" Jango chanted. "One...two...JANGO!"
Almost immediately a loud battle cry rang out from the pirates. One of them became so strong that they broke a piece of the cliff off with their bare hands.
"Oh crap, it did work!" Franky exclaimed in shock.
"If one man could do that, imagine what the rest of them could do!" Brook also shouted in fear.
"That weirdo's hypnosis is no joke," Sanji said in awe. He hated to think what Jango could do if he powered-up someone who was actually strong.
"That one guy completely destroyed the cliff!" Zoro in the memory shouted in disbelief and awe. "Now that's what I call power!"
"I always though hypnotizing people was a bunch of crap!" Nami in the memory exclaimed in shock.
"You were such a non-believer in many things back then," Robin mused.
"To think this is mild compared to some of the crap I will be seeing in the future," Nami said with small smile.
"That was just one of them. Imagine what the whole crew can do!" Usopp in the memory howled in terror, voicing Brook's previous thoughts.
Luffy remained strangely calm. He didn't even speak.
"Huh? What's wrong with Luffy?" Chopper asked in concern. "He's not responding."
Zoro smirked. "Well, let's just say that hypnotizing trick didn't work out as well as they hoped."
"Now go and strike down all who stand in your way!" Jango yelled as he pointed up the cliff.
There was another battle cry as the pirates made their charge, ready to cut up the past Strawhats.
"They're more like beasts now," Brook muttered. Their eyes were completely white, losing almost all traces of humanity.
"Hey, you guys, you might want to move," Zoro within the memory warned Usopp and Nami. "Luffy, you and I will take it from here."
Luffy still didn't answer.
Nami and Usopp didn't have to be told twice to back away.
"Okay, what now?" Zoro asked his captain, who remained perfectly still.
Without warning, Luffy began to growl and bare his teeth. It was a very animalistic snarl.
"What...Luffy?" Chopper asked worriedly.
"Luffy-san...what's wrong with him?" Brook asked in equal worry.
Sanji's eyes widened in realization. "Don't tell me..."
Luffy lifted his head and gave a battle cry similar to the Black Cat Pirates. His eyes were white, making him appear even fiercer.
"That idiot got himself hypnotized," Sanji said as he slapped his forehead.
"I thought he was staring at that ring too long," Robin mused.
"It wasn't even aimed at him! How the heck did he get hypnotized!?" Franky shouted in disbelief.
"Low mental defense," Robin answered softly.
Luffy kept screaming as he rushed the charging pirates. When he got within range, he took out all the pirates with his powered-up Gatling.
"Well...regardless of how strange it is, he took out those pirates," Franky said as he sweat-dropped.
Nami nodded. "For once, Luffy's low mental defense was to our benefice."
The hypnotized pirates froze in terror as they looked upon Luffy who was given them all death glares. He charged in again, making the pirates flee screaming for their lives.
Strangely, Luffy ran passed them and their captain Jango. He went straight for their ship.
"What is he doing?" Franky asked in bafflement.
When Luffy reached the ship, he grabbed the wooden plank that connected the figurehead to the ship.
"He's..." Brook muttered.
Luffy gave a loud yell as he viciously pulled off the plank and the figurehead. He turned his head and glared at each of the pirates. They could see murder in his eyes.
"He tore that thing right off!" Chopper yelled in awe.
"Not just that, but he's going to smash those pirates with their own figurehead," Franky said. It was almost poetic justice.
The Black Cat Pirates knew they were in danger and ran for cover as Luffy approached, fully intending to crush them.
"Apparently, Jango's hypnotism increases bloodthirst as well as power," Robin observed.
Jango quickly got out of his daze and took out his chakram. "One, two, Jango, you will fall asleep!" he said quickly, almost stumbling over his words.
Luffy slowly approached him. He was almost snarling.
"One...two...JANGO!" he shouted as Luffy closed the distance.
As soon as "Jango" was said the memory went blank, although a loud crashing sound could be heard before everything went dark.
"Sheesh, that was wild!" Franky exclaimed.
"Was everyone alright?" Brook asked.
"No one died, if that's what you're asking," Nami said. "Luffy managed to miss all the pirates."
"Huh, that rubber brain moron nearly took out all those pirates by himself," Sanji mused. It was almost funny, if he didn't know how Luffy's weak mental defense would come to haunt them.
"So what happened? Did the pirates leave?" Chopper asked.
Usopp shook his head. "No. Things actually got worse. Kuro showed up."
"Huh? But I thought he didn't want to show himself," Brook said in confusion.
"That was his plan, but Jango and those pirates took too long," Nami explained. "He threatened to kill them if they didn't make it up the slope and kill us in five minutes."
Franky's eyes widened. "What!?"
Brook was aghast. "How could he do that to his own men?"
"Because he's an asshole," Zoro answered coldly.
"So, he does live up to the rumors," Sanji said in disgust.
"Pirate captains like Kuro are quite common. They kill their men without a second thought to achieve their goals," Robin said.
Nami nodded in agreement.
Brook shook his head. "How...sad. It was nothing like this when I sailed. ...Then again, that was fifty years ago."
"Get up, you bum!" someone suddenly screamed in the darkness, stopping the conversation among the crew.
There was someone else shouting, but they couldn't make out what was being said.
The memory suddenly returned and Luffy was lying under the mast. What made the scene stand out was that Nami was shoving the heel of her boot into Luffy's face, waking him from his forced nap.
Luffy was less than happy about the rude awakening.
"Dodge it, quick!" they clearly heard Zoro yell at the top of his lungs. He sounded uncharacteristically scared.
"Dodge what?" Chopper asked, close to panicking.
"Hey, stop it!" Luffy yelled as he grabbed Nami's leg and pulled her down. "Nami, you can't just go around stepping on people's eyes!" He scolded her like one would a child.
As he was scolding Nami, a chakram came flying at him and hit him square in the mouth.
"What the..!?" Franky, Brook, and Chopper exclaimed together.
Sanji growled. "That hypno-bastard threw that ring at Nami-san! I'll cut him into pieces the next time I see him!"
"My, my, you were very lucky, Nami-chan," Robin said as Luffy was knocked backwards. "If Luffy had not moved you, that ring would have killed you."
"Don't remind me," Nami said as she rubbed her face. She was so scared that she froze.
"I thought for sure that ring had killed him," Usopp said as Luffy caught himself, keeping him from falling over.
"I'm still not sure if he has good luck or bad luck," Zoro humored.
Luffy stood in place for a moment before he clamped down on the chakram. The steel cracked, and then broke apart like glass.
"He bit through steel!" Brook exclaimed.
"I guess his jaw gotten stronger since he met Buggy," Usopp humored.
Luffy winced as he realized that the chakram had cut him on the side of his mouth. He gently touched the wound and gave a piercing scream of pain. "It hurts!"
"Good lord, it's just a small cut, you big baby!" Sanji yelled at Luffy.
Nami sighed and smiled. "That moron can tear his body apart without a care, but cries when he gets such a small injury."
Robin chuckled. "Luffy is a man of many contradictions."
The Black Cat Pirates gave a collective 'oh crap' when they saw Luffy was not only alive, but back to the fight.
As soon as Luffy finished screaming he glared down at Nami. "That hurts, you jerk! Why you do that!?"
"Hey, Sleeping Beauty, that wasn't me!" Nami in the memory yelled back. He eyes suddenly became dazed and her shoulders slumped. "It wasn't….me." She then completely collapsed to the ground.
"Nami-san!" Sanji screamed as he ran over to memory Nami. He noticed that Nami was clutching her right shoulder. "What happened!? What bastard did this!?"
"It was Jango. He cut me with one of his chakram when I was trying to reach Luffy," Nami said.
Sanji screamed in rage and unleashed a wave of fire. "That shit head is dead!"
Zoro sweat-dropped. "Turn the drama down, love cook. She isn't fatally injured."
Luffy finally took of her navigator's wounded state. "You're okay? Nami, did you get hurt? Let me see it."
The injury to her shoulder was starting to bleed onto her white shirt. "Oh, it's nothing. I'm fine."
Chopper frowned. "That injury looks serious. She need treatment or else she risk getting an infection."
"I've done everything I can, for now," Nami in the memory said in a weak voice. "The rest is up to you." She then grimaced in pain.
"My poor, Nami-san. How could those rotten pirates do this to you," Sanji mourned. "This all happened because I'm not there to protect you."
"Look, we have to win. We can't afford to lose this fight, do you understand," Nami said.
Luffy nodded, fully understanding.
"Yes, you can't afford to lose. If you lose, Kaya and countless others will be killed," Brook said, moved to tears by Nami's selflessness.
Nami pumped her fist. "Do it for the treasure."
There was a long paused before almost all the Strawhats sighed.
"We should had seen this coming," Franky mumbled.
"When it comes to Nami, treasure always comes first," Usopp muttered.
"This is quite disappointing," Brook said softly.
"Like we should expect anything more from that greedy brat," Zoro said dryly.
"Don't talk badly about Nami-san!" Sanji yelled at his crewmates.
Nami blushed at her past self. Yeah, this wasn't one of her proudest moments.
Luffy frowned as he took in Nami's words. "Well, why not, sure." He walked over to the broken figurehead and picked up his strawhat.
"Okay, win this and protect my treasure," Nami said in a weak, yet firm voice.
"Yeah, yeah. The treasure. Get it," Luffy said dryly as he walked towards the Black Bat Pirates.
Kuro stood at the top of the cliff, looking almost bored as he counted down to one minute. He didn't seem concerned at all about Luffy. He was just a minor annoyance in his plan.
Arlong was not badly hurt, but he got the message nonetheless. "Who the hell are you?"
Luffy's face was filled with rage so rarely seen that it made him look almost demonic. "DON'T YOU DARE MAKE MY NAVIGATOR CRY!"
There was a long silent as Arlong sat in the debris. He didn't make a move, but everyone could tell that he was clearly pissed.
"Nami...I never knew you suffered that much," Chopper whispered.
"No wonder you carried such deep wounds from the fishmen," Brook said.
"Nami-chan..." Robin started.
"It's okay, really," Nami said with tears in her eyes. They weren't tears of sadness, but ones of gratefulness. "It's all in the past."
At that moment, the spell over Arlong Park broke and the fishmen charged Luffy, ready to avenge their boss.
They didn't get close to Luffy before they were mercilessly kicked away by Sanji.
"Back off! You're out of your league!" Sanji yelled as the fishmen flew.
Nami felt numb seeing the monsters that had made her life a living hell being flung away like dolls. For almost her entire life, she was led to believe that the fishmen were invincible. That no human, at least in East Blue, could touch them. How wrong she was.
"Yeah, get them!" Franky cheered. "Teach those bastards what happens when they break our navigator's heart."
"Kick their asses!" Chopper also cheered.
Arlong became even madder seeing his comrades toss aside.
"Sheesh, you just had to run off ahead by yourself," Sanji in the memory scolded.
Luffy brushed aside his concern. "Don't worry, I can handle these guys on my own."
Sanji scoffed. "You fool. I never said anything about being worried. I don't want you hogging all the action."
"Oh," Luffy said dimly.
"Luffy does have a bad habit of taking the action," Zoro said, recalling how Luffy took out those fifty-thousand fishmen, leaving them with only fifty-thousand to fight.
"Well, I just want to let you guys know that...I don't mind if you hog it all," Usopp said with his nose straight in the air. He was shivering in fear and sweating nervously.
"After you did that super power walk over here, you had to ruin it, huh bro?" Franky asked in humor.
Usopp coughed nervously. "Well, I got caught up in the moment."
"I see you're raring to go as usual," Zoro in the memory teased.
Hatchan gasped when he saw Zoro. "It's him! That's the unknown swordsman that I was telling you about!"
"Roronoa Zoro," a ray fishman scorned as he glared at the man who killed a number of his comrades. He spoke Zoro's name like a curse.
"I thought so! That bastard tricked me," Hatchan said.
Zoro rolled his eye. "It wasn't too hard. He practically offered me a ride."
"I can't believe it! I fell for it look, sign, and anchor!" Hatchan continued to rant before he realized he said something wrong. "Wait...hook, line, and sinker..."
All the Strawhats stared at him.
"Is it just me, or is Hachi dumber here?" Franky asked.
"Looking back, it does seems his IQ went up a few points after we met him again at Sabaody," Sanji noted.
"We were in his home territory when met him, so he should be more knowledgeable," Robin stated.
Nami folded her arms. "I think it's because he allowed Arlong and the others to do too much of the thinking for him."
It felt odd seeing Hachi like this. In many ways, he was a different person from the one she came to admire and befriend at Sabaody and Fishman Island. Then again, Hachi was never really evil. He was dumb and had a mean-streak, but he was the nicest of all the fishmen, although that didn't mean much. At least he didn't treat them like trash like the others. He seemed to more pity them.
And Hachi always treated her well, considering everything. He bought her food, clothing, and even let her go to her mother's grave without telling Arlong. He was the only one to treat her like a real comrade instead of a product. That was most likely why she didn't mind saving him from the Flying Fish Riders.
"Hey, long nose is here," one of the fishmen pointed out.
Hatchan gasped in shock when he noticed Usopp. "He's dead! We saw Nami kill him!"
"Oh, he's alive," a fishman with long lips said. "Which means..."
"That Nami was a traitor all along," the ray fishman finished. He spat Nami's name with loathing. "Just as I expected."
Brook looked at the fishmen with disgust. "After what they pulled, they're the last ones who should speak of betrayal. They have a lot to answer for, breaking Nami-san's heart."
Zoro nodded. "I couldn't agree more." Nami may be a brat, but she was their brat.
Arlong remained quiet the entire time before he slowly lifted his head and laughed. "A pirate, of course. This is all starting to make sense now. You've been after Nami this whole time. But..." he laughed again, "the girl is mine and I'm not giving her up!"
Chopper shook in anger. "Nami isn't property!"
"You would think after what happened with his old captain that he would know that you can't own a living creature," Franky sneered.
"Arlong has become the very monster he used to fight against," Robin said coldly. "In many ways, he is no better than a Celestial Dragon. It is tragic." She shook her head. "Fisher Tiger would be weeping, seeing what he has become."
"He broke his promise to his old captain," Nami said in a harsh voice, unconsciously grabbing her tattoo arm. "He promised to never harm a human."
Hatchan laughed as he approached the small pirate crew. "A bunch of idiots like you aren't worth Arlong's time. We know how to deal with you." He put his hand to his long snout-like mouth and blew it like a trumpet.
Within seconds, the water began to rumble and the villagers panicking.
"What happening?" Brook asked.
Franky looked at the pool. "Something's coming out of the water. Is it a sea king?"
Out from the bay came Mohmoo, who looked to have seen better days. It still had the giant lump on it head and it appeared to be crying.
"Oh, just that cow from earlier," Franky said in disappointment.
Chopper was in tears when he saw the poor sea creature. Sanji and Luffy were too rough on it.
Mohmoo leaned over and cringed when it saw Sanji and Luffy.
"Well, looks who back," Luffy said nonchalantly.
"Seems he's a friend of the fishmen," Sanji observed.
More tears fell from Mohmoo's eyes as it turned to swim away.
"I think you traumatized him," Robin noted with humor.
Nami frowned. "Really, you didn't have to be so mean to Mohmoo."
"We weren't that mean. He's still alive," Sanji said.
"I've been wonder, since it is a cow sea creature, when it's cooked does it count as beef or seafood?" Zoro asked.
Sanji rubbed his chin. "Not sure. I guess it depends on the taste."
"What's wrong with you two!?" Chopper exclaimed.
"Hey, stop! Where're you going!?" Hatchan yelled at the departing Mohmoo. "Get back here, Mohmoo! You can't just leave!"
Mohmoo completely ignored him.
"Well, I supposed that one fight that was settled without violence," Brook said.
"Leaving? Now, now, isn't that a shame," Arlong suddenly spoke up, stopping Mohmoo in its tracks. "But I suppose if you really want to run away, who am I to stop you?" There was a short pause. "Well, then?"
Mohmoo stood perfectly still, not moving an inch. It suddenly turned around and roared at the pirate band.
"What happened? I thought it didn't want to fight?" Brook asked in surprise.
"I think it got egged on by Arlong," Zoro said. "He did more or less called it a coward."
With Mohmoo backing them, the fishmen pirates rushed the Strawhats again. No one was particularly worried, except Usopp.
"You're all mine! You dumb cow!" Luffy declared as he slammed his feet into the pavement, anchoring himself.
"Huh, what's he doing?" Franky asked.
Sanji sighed. "Something that's going to come back to bite him in the ass."
"Looks like he has a plan for once," Sanji in the memory observed.
"We'll see. I got a bad feeling about this," Zoro in the memory said in concern.
"And I was very right," Zoro grumbled.
Luffy ignored the charging fishmen as he twisted his upper body several times. He didn't stop until he was nice and taunt. He then stretched his arms and grabbed Mohmoo by its horns.
The cow sea creature knew it was in for a world of pain as tears leaked out of its eyes.
"Don't cry. You should have run when you had the chance," Franky said unsympathetically.
"Still, what is he doing?" Brook asked.
"It appears he going to unwind his body and spin Mohmoo," Robin surmised.
The fishmen paused in awe for a moment at Luffy's ability.
"Why they stop? They came from the Grand Line. Devil Fruit abilities are quite common," Franky said.
"Arlong has been in East Blue for eight years. This is probably the first time he has seen an ability user since coming here," Nami said.
Once the shock wore off, the fishmen were on the attack again.
Luffy leaned back until his arms were stretched to their limit.
Zoro in the memory quickly realized that they were in danger. "Let's get out of here!"
"Whoa, wait! What's he going to do?" Sanji asked with a hint of fear.
"I'm not sure I want to find out," Zoro said as both Sanji and he ran for cover.
"Time for something new!" Luffy yelled. For a brief second, the Strawhats saw a vision of Genzo's pinwheel.
"Why's he thinking of that?" Chopper asked.
"Gum Gum Pinwheel!" Luffy shouted as he lifted Mohmoo out of the water spun him around like a, well, pinwheel.
The move was devastating, taking out all fishmen in the area except for Arlong and his generals. He also wrecked sections of Arlong Park.
"I see. That is the move Luffy was thinking about earlier when he was talking about a pinwheel," Robin said as she watched Luffy fling Mohmoo out of Arlong Park.
"For something he just made up, it's pretty powerful. Wiped those fishman pirates like they were rookies," Franky said as he tried to see how far Mohmoo flew. A loud splash followed when the sea cow hit the sea.
"I can't believe that sea creature is still alive after all that," Chopper muttered.
"Alright, that's it, Arlong," Luffy yelled as he attempted to catch his breath. "I've done playing games with you. I didn't come here to beat down on all your cronies." He pointed at the shark fishman. "I came to teach you a lesson! So step up!"
Arlong's eyes darkened, losing their previous amusement. "Oh, I will. Don't worry. Actually, I was just thinking about how painfully I will end your life."
Despite the death threat, the past crew was more annoyed that Luffy's pinwheel attack could have killed them.
"That was the worst plan ever!" Sanji yelled as he kicked his captain several times in the head.
"Stick around," Sanji told his past self.
"Yeah, were you trying to kill all of us too!?" Usopp in the memory yelled.
Usopp sighed. "He never thinks things through. Everything is spur of the moment."
"Luffy's never heard of the term 'friendly-fire'," Zoro said.
Luffy didn't pay attention to his enraged crew. Instead, he looked concerned about something else.
"You know, I was thinking. That attack Luffy-san did was very powerful, but how does he plan to free his legs?" Brook asked. "He had to embed his feet pretty deep to stay anchored."
"That's a good question," Franky noted. It was then that they noticed that Luffy was trying to free himself, but wasn't having much luck. "He...he doesn't have a plan, does he?"
"No," Zoro, Usopp, and Sanji answered in unison.
Nami slapped her forehead. "That moron!"
"How dare you hurt our brothers!" Hatchan yelled.
"Very well. It seems we must now join in the fight," the ray fishman said.
"Now you will get an education in the inferiority of your species, chu," the long-lipped fishman said.
"Sheesh, it's just like Fishman Island all over again," Franky snorted.
"Where do you think the New Fishman Pirates got their messed up mindset?" Nami said, glaring at her former captives.
Zoro in the memory smirked at them. "Really, I would like to see that."
Chopper looked at Zoro's bandaged chest. "You're not really thinking about fighting? You're still mortally wounded from your fight with Hawk-Eye. That man nearly split you in half." It was a miracle that Zoro was even still walking. How the heck wasn't he bedridden?
Zoro snorted. "I didn't come along as moral support. I came to fight."
"You idiot! You could have reopened your wounds and died!" Chopper yelled angrily.
Zoro shrugged. "I was careful and I didn't die."
"That isn't the point!" Chopper growled in exasperation. Why was Zoro such an idiot when it came to his own health?
"Relax, sir, let us handle this," the ray fishman said to Arlong, who was still sitting on the ground, looking very relaxed despite the situation.
"If you go on one of your rampages to squash these insects, it could destroy all of Arlong Park, chu," the long-lipped fishman said.
"Is he serious?" Chopper asked worriedly.
Nami nodded grimly. "Very serious. Arlong has an infamously bad temper. It was only by luck that the entire island wasn't reduce to rubble."
"He seems too easy-going to have such little control of himself," Brook noted.
"That's just an act. He may act calm, but when he flies off the handle, he goes completely mad," Nami said and shivered.
She had seen Arlong's tantrums a lot in her younger years. She was often the victim of them. It was part of the reason why her room was at the top floor on the far corner. It gave Arlong a chance to cool down by the time he reached her room.
"Please, just let us kill these weaklings!" Hatchan yelled.
Chopper shivered. He had never seen Hachi so bloodthirsty. He wasn't like the friend he knew at all.
"Alright. They're yours," Arlong said.
Luffy stopped struggling to free himself and turned towards Sanji and Zoro who noticed nothing wrong. "Uhmm, guys, there's something I should tell you."
"That idiot should have spoken up sooner about being stuck," Zoro said as he touched his swords. "I could have cut him free."
"He made things so much harder on us," Sanji grumbled.
Hatchan's chest expanded as he shot a jet of ink out of his mouth. Zoro and Sanji jumped out the way, but Luffy was hit dead on.
The memory went black for a moment as Luffy was soaked in ink.
"You idiot! Why didn't you dodge that?" Zoro's voice asked rung.
Luffy was too busy screaming in pain from the ink in his eyes. "I can't see!"
"He could have been permanently blinded by that," Robin remarked off-handily.
"His eyes need to be flushed out before he experiences long-term vision loss," Chopper said in worry.
"Believe me, that's the least of his troubles," Sanji said.
"Now to finish you off!" Hatchan declared.
There was a loud rumble. It sounded like Hatchan was picking something heavy up.
"Come, Luffy! Get out of there! Run!" Usopp's voice shouted.
"That's the problem! I can't run!" Luffy yelled back as footfalls filled the memory. "My feet are stuck!"
"But you're the one who stuck them into the ground in the first place!" Usopp screamed in disbelief.
"Always thinking ahead," Zoro in the memory muttered sarcastically.
Zoro nodded in agreement with himself. He really does follow a moron.
"One Hachi Ink Jet served on the rocks!" Hatchan yelled.
The memory cleared enough for the Strawhats to see again. Hatchan was holding a giant stone slab over his head. He lowered and slammed the slab over Luffy's head. At least he tried to. At the very last second, Sanji ran in and broke the slab with a high kick.
"You're such a pain," Sanji in the memory muttered.
"So true," Sanji nodded in agreement. "Although, I do look cool here."
"You saved a rubberman from being crushed. Yeah, what a big hero moment," Zoro mocked.
Sanji growled at the swordsman. "Shut up, you pile of moss!"
"Sanji, that was so totally awesome!" Luffy cheered.
"At least someone knows what a cool moment looks like," Sanji smirked.
Zoro rolled his eye.
"Looks like I ended up picking one hell of an idiot to be my captain," Sanji in the memory mused.
"We all did," past Zoro said.
"Yes, we did," all the Strawhats, save for Robin and Brook, said in unison.
"Although, since we follow him, I guess that makes us bigger idiots," Nami muttered.
"We really are a bunch of suckers," Sanji mumbled as he rubbed his forehead.
"But the truth is that our idiot captain is far better than a gang who preys on a lady," Sanji in the memory said.
"Here, here," Brook said as he raised his sword.
"Better to be an idiot than a heartless monster," Robin said with a nod.
The ray fishman scoffed at Sanji. "A lady, huh? You rushed into certain death over one lousy girl?"
"Damn straight," Sanji answered before his past counterpart.
"And she isn't some lousy girl! She's our crewmate!" Franky yelled back.
"A pretty girl is always worth fighting for!" Brook exclaimed. "Especially if she has pretty panties."
"That fishman in particularly really seems to hates you, Nami," Robin noted.
"Kuroobi never liked me. He hates humans more than Arlong," Nami said. "Arlong at least pretended to bargain with us. Kuroobi was just a thug. I actually liked him for that since he was easier to read than Arlong." Her eyes narrowed as she thought of Arlong's betrayal. "And, as I later found out, more honest."
"I think that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Kuroobi continued to sneer.
Sanji in the memory wasn't pleased by Kuroobi's words. "Lousy girl? If you insult Nami one more time, I can promise you'll go from fishman to fish sticks. Got that?"
Franky snickered. "Good one."
Kuroobi almost rolled his eyes at the cook. "Your skills are quite exceptional for a human. But I must admit that chivalry from a pirate seems just a little fake."
"Can't argue with that," Nami murmured. Most pirates used 'chivalry' as a form of manipulation. Good thing Sanji was anything but a typical pirate.
Sanji smirked at the fishman. "I'm damn good at what I do and I guarantee you that there's nothing fake about my desire to help a beautiful lady in need." He blew out some smoke.
"Wow, Sanji, you're so cool here," Chopper said in awe. He hadn't seen Sanji this smooth in years.
Sanji grinned. "I'm always cool."
"Biggest lie ever told," Zoro said.
"You're just jealous," Sanji dismissed with a wave of his hand.
Kuroobi cracked his fists. "Looks like I will be acquitting you with the true superiority of the fishman species."
"Yeah?" Sanji in the memory asked in a mocking voice.
While this was happening, Usopp attempted to free Luffy from his self-made prison. He wasn't having much luck. Luffy for his part appeared almost unconcerned about being stuck. He was even picking his nose in boredom.
"You can't pull him out like that. You need to break the pavement around his feet," Franky said as he watched past Usopp.
"I can't break cement," Usopp growled at the cyborg.
Zoro glanced at his rival. "You could have done that while you were talking smack to that fishman."
Sanji growled at the swordsman. "And what were you doing? Standing there looking cute. Even with that injured wreck of a body, you could have cut him free."
Zoro couldn't think of any real counter. He could, but no one took Luffy's situation that seriously. Why would they? They could more or less protect him from the fishmen until he had gotten loose. There was no way they could have foreseen what was going to happen.
During his struggle, Usopp let go of Luffy and he recoiled back. He shot forward and slammed into the long lips fishman, knocking him over. To say the fishman wasn't happy would have been an understatement.
"Oh, you're dead," the long lips fishman said in almost a casual tone.
"Oh, crap..." Usopp in the memory murmured tearfully.
The long lips fishman glared at the sniper. "I get it now. You must actually want me to kill you."
Usopp took this as his cue to run. He took off at almost warp speed, going past the villagers who were still watching the fight. The fishman was right behind him.
All of the Strawhats who weren't part of the memory sweat-dropped.
Nami blinked several times. "So, that's where you went. I was wondering why you were outside Arlong Park."
"You...you didn't run away, did you?" Brook asked hesitantly.
Usopp blushed in embarrassment. "Well...I almost did. I actually considered playing dead."
"But you didn't," Sanji spoke up, startling Usopp. "You could have run away and played dead, but you didn't. You got up and fought that fishman. For Nami's honor, you fought and won."
Chopper gasped. "He beat a fishman by himself?"
Sanji nodded and smile. "He sure did."
Usopp smiled, getting back some of his self-confidence. "Yeah. That idiot didn't know what hit him. Fishmen may be monsters in the sea, but they're cake on land." Not to mention he wore him out by running so much.
The long lips fishman stopped running when he finally noticed the villager. "Hey wait, you're the people from Cocoyashi."
"He just noticed them?" Franky asked.
"I guess he was too busy looking at Luffy and the others," Robin surmised.
He glanced at all the villagers. "Judging from the fact that you all have weapons, I can only assume that this is a rebelling." He smirked in amusement. "Then you all have to..."
"Exploding Star!" Usopp interrupted the fishman as he was hit point-blank.
The long lips fishman caught on fire and fell over, yelling in pain.
"Nice. I approve," Franky said as he gave the thumbs up.
"That idiot dropped his guard," Sanji said.
Despite being set on fire, the fishman wasn't badly injured. All Usopp's attack managed to do was piss him off even further. "Enough! I'm going to get rid of you right now!"
He gave chase and Usopp was once again running for his life. Within seconds, both of them were out of sight.
During the commotion, Arlong got up from his place on the pavement. "You morons are a pathetic sight to behold. I am sick of watching this. Now, get out of my way!"
Both Kuroobi and Hatchan looked at their boss with concern.
"But sir, there is no reason to go on a rampage," Kuroobi said, trying to calm Arlong down. "Think of Arlong Park."
"Don't worry, I won't," Arlong dismissed his comrade's concerns. "I just thought of a fun game, that's all."
"A game?" Chopper asked in concern.
"Why do these type of people always have to make a game out of everything?" Franky asked in annoyance.
Brook narrowed his non-existing eyes. "What's he up to?"
Hatchan was just as baffled everyone else. "Game, huh?"
Luffy saw his chance. "Now you're going down!" He threw a punch, which Arlong effortlessly dodged. When Luffy's arm tried to return, Arlong caught it.
"Do you honestly think your sad little group can defeat us?" Arlong asked viciously.
"We can and we did," Zoro answered.
Usopp smiled. "Yeah, our sad, little group beat you all us!"
"So what if we do," Sanji in the memory challenged.
"Yeah, so what if we do?" Luffy asked. "Now, let go!"
"You got something to say to us?" Zoro in the memory asked smugly as he loosened his sword.
Zoro almost wanted to slap his forehead. Now they were the ones acting over-confident.
Without a word, Arlong dug his hand into the pavement next to Luffy like one would do when digging dirt. With inhuman strength, Arlong lifted Luffy off the ground, pavement and all.
Chopper's mouth dropped in surprise. "Wow, what strength!"
"He is a fishman. Although, this is quite impressive," Robin remarked.
Franky snorted. "That's nothing special. Tom could lift an entire galleon without breaking a sweat."
"But what's he going to do to Luffy-san?" Brook asked. He had a terrible feeling.
Luffy was screaming in panic and shock.
Arlong smirked. "Did you know that those with Devil Fruit powers can't swim?"
This got all the Strawhats' attention.
"He's not..." Franky said in fear as he glanced at the pool behind him. "He's going to throw him into that pool!"
"But with Luffy's legs in cement like that, not even Zoro and Sanji can pull him out!" Chopper screamed in panic.
Sanji sneered. "That was the point."
Usopp's mouth dropped. He didn't know about this, although he did hear brief stories about Luffy somehow getting thrown into the water.
Nami shook in anger. Arlong was always cunning.
"But honestly, anybody in this situation would sink right to the bottom," Arlong said, grinning the entire time. He then started to laugh.
"The sea, no!" Zoro in the memory yelled.
Luffy wasn't going to allow that to happen. He threw a punch at Arlong, but the shark fishman caught the fist in his mouth.
"Ow!" Franky, Brook, and Chopper cried together, rubbing their own arms.
"He could have bit his arm off," Robin said casually.
"Don't say something like that," Nami said, hating how many times Arlong had bitten Luffy.
Luffy was, understandably, screaming in pain.
"You fool," Arlong mocked.
Luffy responded by biting Arlong's arm. Now he was he one screaming in pain.
"This is like a schoolyard fight," Franky muttered.
Nami couldn't think of anything to say. Despite facing certain death, Luffy still managed to do something goofy.
Arlong gave a cry of annoyance before tossed Luffy into the pool. He immediately sunk like a stone. Before he went under, the Strawhats saw Luffy take a deep breath.
"Good, he remembered to save his breath," Robin said. "Although, being an ability user, he will not be able to hold it for long."
The memory suddenly jumped and the Strawhats were actually in the water.
Chopper screamed and grabbed onto Zoro, although thankfully it was his leg this time and not his face.
"Standing on water and now in the water," Nami mused. She was never going to get used to this.
"Look, Luffy-san!" Brook yelled when he saw Luffy just feet away from them.
Luffy was holding his hands to his mouth, trying not to inhale. He was having a hard time at it, given the way his chest heaved, desperate for air. The crew could see the pain in his eyes.
"Hey, how long can you users hold your breath?" Franky asked Robin.
"I do not know about Luffy, but I can only hold my breath for about two or three minutes," Robin answered, growing concern with how dark the memory was becoming. A low ringing could also be heard.
Brook paused in thought. "Well, since I have no lungs, I don't need to hold my breath." He laughed at the skull joke.
"You're going to do that now!" Usopp yelled in frustration.
"Same with me, I can only hold my breath for about a minute or two," Chopper spoke up as he let go of Zoro, finally calming himself. He then looked at his captain. "This isn't good. He won't last much longer."
Brook shook in helplessness as the true seriousness of the situation hit him. "And if Zoro or Sanji dare to jump into the water, they would be playing right into those fishmen's hands."
Sanji sighed. "Yeah. Back then we couldn't match those bastards in the water. That ray fish stick nearly drowned me when I tried to rescue this idiot."
Nami felt a pang of guilt in her chest. This all happened because of her.
Suddenly, the crew heard a gagging noise and the sound of air bubbles. They turned to see Luffy turning blue as he finally lost his battle to hold his breath. Against his will, he inhaled and heaved. Panic crossed his face as he breathed in seawater.
The memory compressed and became darker. They could also hear a loud thumping on top of the ringing, that was growing louder.
"What is that?" Brook asked.
"Luffy's heartbeat," Robin answered before the memory went completely black.
The thumping noise got louder and more frantic before it suddenly stopped. Then, there was nothing.
Nami gasped in terror. "He drowned."
Zoro lowered his head, angry that he couldn't do a thing to help his captain because of his injury. "He did. We couldn't get to him for at least ten minutes."
"Ten minutes!?" Chopper exclaimed in disbelief. "How can he still be alive!? The brain can only survive without oxygen for about seven minutes! Even though we Devil Fruit users can last longer in the water, Luffy should be brain dead!"
"We had some help," Sanji said.
"Help?" Brook asked.
The memory suddenly returned and they were now above the surface of the water. Before they could figure out what was going on, a fountain of water gushed out behind them.
"What the...!?" Franky exclaimed as he turned to see Luffy spitting out gallons of water from his lungs. Genzo had Luffy's head in his laps, keeping his head from recoiling back into the water.
"He's okay," Chopper sighed in relief.
Brook looked and saw that Luffy's head was above water, but the rest of his body was still in the pool. "I see. They stretched his neck."
Sanji nodded. "Yeah, Genzo got his head on land while Nojiko-chan gave our shit captain chest compressions to revive him."
"Clever," Brook said, thankful that the villagers came through for Luffy.
"That is one of the benefits of Luffy's ability. Other people can manipulate his body," Robin said, also relaxing in relief.
Zoro nodded. "If he was any kind of other user, he would have drowned."
"Hey, hang in there!" Genzo yelled as Luffy continued to cough up water. "You can't give up now!"
Luffy gagged and choked for several more seconds before he finally calmed down. He seemed quite surprised to be still alive.
"You're okay!? Please say you're fine," Genzo said, barely containing his worry.
Luffy looked up and smiled. "Sure. I'm fine."
Genzo sighed. "You scared us."
"Seriously, you stupid pile of rubber," Sanji growled.
Luffy gave Genzo a baffled expression. "Hey, where'd your pinwheel go? It was cool."
"You shouldn't be concerned about something like that!" Nami yelled.
Genzo had the same thought.
Franky laughed. "Yeah, he's definitely alright. Lucky bastard."
"This is what happens when you don't think things through," Zoro muttered.
"That stupid attack he invented nearly killed him," Usopp said.
"That would explain why he never used it again," Robin mused.
A few minutes pass and although Luffy was alive, he was still very much stuck.
"Think, is there anyway you can free yourself?" Genzo asked desperately.
"Nope, can't do it," Luffy answered nonchalantly. "Energy is way too low."
Robin nodded. "We users are useless if more than half of our body is submerged."
"Being a Devil Fruit is so troublesome," Franky said.
After several more minutes passed, a loud smash echoed out of the pool.
"What's that?" Brook asked.
Luffy's head began to shake and his eyes widened. He was nearly pulled back into the water.
"I freed the idiot," Sanji answered as he inhaled his cigarette. "After much pain, I might add."
"Did they free you!?" Genzo asked as he kept Luffy's head from sinking.
"Yeah!" Luffy shouted. The rest of Luffy's body finally came up and he shot into the air like a rubber band. "I'M BACK!"
A loud cheer could be heard in the background.
"Sheesh, making me worry," Zoro grumbled.
Luffy grinned as he stretched his arms.
Zoro's face fell. "Oh, I remember this."
"Remember what?" Chopper asked.
Zoro gritted his teeth. "Just keep watching."
Luffy's arms stretched until he grabbed past Zoro by his shoulders, who was being held in Arlong's grip. "Zoro!" He pulled Zoro and flung him over his shoulder. "Let's switch!"
Zoro screamed as he was sent soaring into the background.
"Zoro!" Chopper screamed in panic. With his injures from Hawk-Eye, that moved could have killed him.
"Damn, look at him go," Franky said in amusement.
"YOU IDIOT!" People screaming could be heard.
"Yes he is," Nami murmured.
Zoro growled. He was going to kill Luffy one these days. How the hell could Ace stand being flung by that moron?
With Zoro safe, more or less, Luffy unleashed a series of attacks upon Arlong. The fishman didn't have the chance to counter as Luffy pummeled him with his Bell, Whip, Pistol, and Gatling attacks. By the end of the last attack, he sent Arlong crashing through the wall.
"Yes!" Luffy exclaimed, very proud of himself.
"Yeah, that's how you do it!" Franky cheered.
"Way to go, Luffy-san!" Brook yelled.
Despite the relentless assault, Arlong stood up with only minor injures. "Is that all you got?"
"He wasn't hurt!" Chopper exclaimed in shock.
"Luffy's attacks were weakened because of the seawater," Robin said. "It will be a couple more minutes before his strength is fully restored."
Luffy seemed aware of this as he cracked his knuckles. "Nope. Just a warm up." He then started to do stretches, trying to restore his power quicker.
"What a bunch of fools. You think you can actually beat me," Arlong said in a low voice. He was no longer amused, and none of his men were around to help keep his temper in check. "You were better off drowning on the ocean floor."
"No, I don't think so," Luffy said nonchalantly. "I like it up here."
Arlong glared at Luffy. "Do you not understand my anger?"
"He doesn't," Zoro answered for Luffy.
"Not like he would have cared anyway," Sanji said lazily as he reached for another cigarette.
"I saw my brothers crushed like worms," Arlong growled as he stood up.
"Those shit heads had it coming," Sanji said as he lit his cigarette. "Especially that ray fish stick. He got off too lightly after the way he threatened Nami-san."
"You realize soon enough that you should have quit fighting a long time ago," Arlong said, while Luffy kept stretching.
"Luffy, I got your back, pal!" Usopp in the memory shouted from a safe distance.
"From that distance that's all you got," Franky humored.
Usopp growled. "Shut up."
Arlong sneered at Luffy. "Do you know the biggest different between you and me?"
"That Luffy-san has a heart, while you're a bitter racist," Brook answered coldly.
Nami nodded in agreement.
Luffy gave Arlong a baffled look. "The nose?" There was a slight pause. "The jaw? There was another pause before Luffy held out his hand. "Webbing?"
"Talking about missing the point," Franky murmured.
"Actually, I think he got the point just fine," Zoro mused.
Arlong had enough of Luffy's stupidity. "Species!" He attempted to bite Luffy, but he quickly got out of the way.
As soon as Luffy got his bearings, Arlong tried to bite him again. This kept going for several more seconds before Arlong grabbed Luffy by the throat and slammed him into a stone pillar. Arlong moved in for the kill, but Luffy grabbed his head and stretched it out of harm's way. Arlong bit down on the pillar, breaking it apart.
Luffy quickly got out of there, more than a little surprised that Arlong could break stone with his mouth.
"What strength! If he bites Luffy-san with that kind of power, he would go right through his bones like it is nothing," Brook said.
"Expected for a shark fishman," Robin said.
"You see, this is the inherited power of fishmen," Arlong bragged.
Franky sighed. "Don't tell me we're going to hear another Hody rant."
"Get used to it," Zoro said before he yawned. "He talks a lot."
"I feel sorry for you humans having to be created with such limited power," Arlong went on as he approached Luffy. "We've been on a different level since the beginning of time."
"Yet, that still doesn't save you from being enslaved," Nami said mostly to herself.
"You're all inferior. It only makes sense for you to bow before us," Arlong continued his speech. "You're so weak. Your presence on this planet is deplorable. Don't you think your time has come to an end?" He chuckled. "I'll show you. I'll show you the real difference between you and I."
Luffy grinned and stood up. "Sure, go ahead. There's no way I'm losing to a fishman, since I'm going to be Pirate King."
"Especially one who makes the entire race look bad," Franky said as he crossed his arms.
To think Arlong came from the same species as Tom, who never once looked down on a human. Then again, he-as a human-came from the same species as the World Nobles. Arlong was tame compared to those bastards. He guessed every race had their rotten eggs.
"Hard to believe that Jimbei once sailed with this man and even called him brother," Brook said. "They're nothing alike."
"They both took different paths. Jimbei chose to follow the teachings of Fisher Tiger and Queen Otohime and try to build a relationship with humans, despite the bitterness that exist between the two races. Arlong chose to become every bit of the monster that slave traders and the Celestial Dragons are. He reinforced the fear of the fishmen," Robin said.
Nami nodded in agreement. She was happy that she was able to let go of her anger and not allow it to consume her like it did Arlong. There were too many good fishmen for her to hate all of them.
"Pirate King," Arlong said amusement as he picked up a nearby rock and toss it in his hand. "Don't be foolish. A puny human like you can't possible conquer the Grand Line. You can't even crush a pillar with your jaws."
"He doesn't have to. He bit through steel," Franky said with a grin.
Luffy had a similar thought. "Yeah, so what? Quit your bragging." He punched a nearby stone slab, shattering it into pieces. "You're not that awesome."
Arlong was now more than a little annoyed.
"Besides, smashing stones with your teeth isn't that smart," Luffy said.
"He has a point," Chopper said in thought. "Hands are more practical."
"That rubber brain can say something insightful every once and awhile," Sanji said.
"Fools, that's not the point!" Arlong yelled angrily. "Every member of the human race is ignorance and weak! What good are you if you can't even pull yourself out of the water!?"
"Can't disagree with that," Franky said with a shrug.
"All races have their strengths and weaknesses. Not one is inherently better than another," Brook stated.
Arlong lunged at Luffy, attempting to bit him again.
Luffy dived out of the way and grabbed two nearby swords with his stretched arms. "As a matter of fact, I'm worthless without my friends."
The self-confessed failure took Arlong off-guard.
Luffy now proudly wielded two swords in his hands.
"I didn't know Luffy can use a sword," Chopper said in surprise.
"He can't," Sanji answered.
Zoro shook his head. "His stance is completely off and he isn't holding those swords right."
As if to prove Zoro's point, Luffy swung his swords with the grace of a drunken man. Nonetheless, it forced Arlong to back away.
Arlong finally had enough and parried one of the swords out of Luffy's hand with his nose. Luffy swung his other sword at Arlong's head, but the shark fishman caught it with his teeth and shattered the blade.
While Arlong was bragging, Luffy slammed his fist into his face, knocking him back and shattering his teeth.
"He got him!" Chopper cheered.
"Oh, my teeth hurt!" Brook exclaimed as he covered his mouth.
Robin shook his head. "Arlong is a shark. He should be able to regrow his teeth."
Luffy looked down at Arlong, who was lying flat on his back. "You're right, I don't have a clue how to use a sword. I'm a terrible sailor. I definitely can't cook. And I can't even lie!"
Usopp growled at that last part. Why does Luffy always give him back-handed compliments?
"Why is he insulting himself?" Franky asked in confusion.
"And without my friends, I would have been dead a long time ago," Luffy finished.
Arlong laughed in amusement. "So you fully admit to how pathetic you are. You maybe a fool, but you certainly are honest."
"To a fault," Nami said with a nod of her head.
"How must your crew feel? Tolerating this idiocy day in and day out?" Arlong asked with a chuckle as he sat up.
"We survive," Sanji said casually.
"Although, I sometimes wonder how," Nami murmured.
Arlong had his hand to his mouth, although the crew could tell that he was grinning. "I bet they're sick of it. But that makes me wonder why they tried so desperately to save their half-witted leader. Someone like you doesn't deserve a ship or a crew. What good is a rubber brain captain to them? What can you possible do?"
"I can kick your ass," Luffy answered without missing a beat.
"Amen to that!" Franky cheered. "Tell that fishman who boss!"
Brook frowned, although he had no skin. "It is really healthy for Luffy-san to think that low of himself? That he's just only good to us for fighting."
Sanji paused in thought. "I've never thought of it that way. But the point Luffy was trying to make was that he depends on us. We all depend on each to survive. That's what a pirate crew is. No one can be good at everything."
"We all have our worth. Luffy just stakes his on being our protector," Zoro said, although he didn't particularly care about Luffy protecting him. It was the crew's duty to guard the captain, not the other way around.
"Still..." Brook muttered.
Several cheers broke out from the crowd.
"Cheer all you want, but it won't change a thing!" Arlong yelled as the remains of his teeth fell out. Immediately afterwards, a new set grew in, freaking Chopper out.
"Looks like you were right, Robin," Franky said.
"I'm a shark!" Arlong bragged. "New teeth will grow one after another and with each set they become stronger and stronger."
As if to prove his point, he reached into his mouth and yanked his teeth out. A new set quickly grew in. He did it again and now he had teeth in both of his hands.
"Scary!" Chopper yelled.
"Even if it does grows back, that had to hurt," Franky said as he rubbed his mouth.
Brook rubbed his own mouth. "This makes me want to see a dentist."
"This is just one of the many gifts we fishmen possess," Arlong said smugly.
"And you can keep it," Zoro said in mild disgust. Who wants to be able to pull their teeth out?
Apparently, Luffy. "That's so cool!"
"If you haven't yet realized that fishmen are superior, you will very soon," Arlong said as he held out his teeth. "Tooth Attack!"
He charged in and attempted to clamp his teeth onto Luffy. He was barely able to evade and was almost bitten several times. Just as it looked like Arlong was going to tear him apart, Luffy grabbed one of the unconscious fishmen and allowed Arlong to bite him up.
This caused most of the Strawhats to wince.
"He's using a human shield," Franky said in disbelief. "Man, Luffy can fight dirty. Then again, this is the same person who nut-cracked that stupid clown."
Brook his head. Even if they were the enemy, that was low.
"Well, who ever said that Luffy fought fair? The only rule of engagement he believes in is not to interfere with another person's fight," Sanji said.
"In the world of pirates, there is no such thing as playing fair," Robin stated.
Arlong finally realized that he had been attacking his own comrade for the past minute and gasped in horror.
"I'll say this, he's better than Hody in that aspect," Zoro said, remembering how that bastard fish used one of his own comrades to shield himself from one of his attacks.
"Just barely," Usopp said with a nod.
"You're dead, you stretchy freak!" Arlong yelled in outrage. "How dare you use my injured brother as a shield!"
"I honestly can't blame him for being mad," Brook said softly.
"What do you mean? You're the one who attacked me, don't you remember?" Luffy asked, honestly not seeing what he did wrong.
"Don't move a muscle," Arlong growled as he got his teeth ready.
"Like he's going to stand there and be killed," Usopp said, almost rolling his eyes.
Luffy rubbed his chin and grinned. "Now that's an interesting idea."
"Oh, what's he thinking about now?" Franky asked worriedly.
He dodged several of Arlong's attacks before he brutally kicked the fishman in the chin, knocking out a set of teeth. While Arlong was down, Luffy grabbed the teeth and stuck them in his mouth.
"Are you kidding..." Franky muttered.
"Now I have shark teeth too!" Luffy declared proudly as he tried to speak with Arlong's oversized teeth in his mouth.
There was a pregnant pause.
Nami rubbed her forehead. "I forgot he did this."
"Moron," Sanji muttered.
Brook laughed. "Luffy-san is so imaginative."
"That's one way to put it," Usopp murmured as he rubbed his eyes.
Robin chuckled with good nature. It was never a dull moment in one of Luffy's fights.
"He doesn't know what germs Arlong have! He could make himself sick!" Chopper yelled.
Zoro growled. Why did Luffy have to be so goofy?
Now Arlong was really ticked. He was certain that Luffy was mocking him. "How long do you intend to keep fooling around?" He ran in, fully intending on biting Luffy's head off.
He nailed Luffy on his shoulder, causing the rubberman to fall on the ground and scream in pain.
"A shark bit me!" Luffy screamed in agony.
"So stop playing games!" Johnny and Yosaku yelled at him.
"But I'm always serious," Luffy said once he recomposed himself.
"Sadly true," Nami muttered. Even while serious, Luffy was a goofball.
Arlong attempted to finish him with a downward thrust, but Luffy got out of the way. The attack was so powerful that it tore up the pavement. It was several seconds of ducking and weaving before Arlong got Luffy with his teeth on his left side, causing him to cry in agony.
"Luffy!" Chopper yelled. Arlong could rip out Luffy's side.
Nami also gasped on reflex.
Luffy countered by biting Arlong on his collarbone with his own teeth. Arlong yelled in pain as he pulled away from Luffy, taking the teeth with him.
"Got you!" Luffy declared in triumph as he grabbed his injured side. Arlong's teeth were still in him. "Now we're even."
"Is Luffy going to take those teeth out? I hurt just looking at them," Brook said, cringing the entire time.
"You're not the only one," Nami whispered. She nearly forgot how badly Arlong had hurt Luffy during their fight.
"Because they are shark's teeth, if Luffy tries to pull them out he will rip his own skin," Robin said.
"Still, he can getting a serious infection if he just leaves it there," Chopper said in worry.
"So, you used my teeth." Arlong viciously ripped the teeth from his shoulder, causing blood to spread everywhere. "But your puny jaws aren't strong enough. Now listen, as sharp as my teeth are they are only useful when it comes from powerful jaws like mine. Then they're deadly!"
He moved in to bite Luffy, who attempted an elbow strike. His elbow ended up deep into Arlong's mouth and he clamped down.
Luffy screamed in agony as Arlong tried to rip his arm off.
"He's going to lose his arm!" Chopper cried out tearfully.
"Oh, my bones hurt looking at Luffy," Brook said, wincing when he heard bone cracking.
"If he pulls his arm out, he will lose it," Robin said in her usual dark manner.
"Don't say that!" Usopp yelled. For a horrible moment, they really thought Luffy was going to lose his arm.
Once Luffy stopped screaming, he grabbed Arlong by the back of his head and pulled him. He then lifted his foot and slammed it down as hard as he could, pulling Arlong into the pavement, busting the fishman's head, and freeing his arm. He rolled over and they were both lying flat on their backs.
"That idiot! He could have lost his arm!" Chopper yelled as he ran to checked on his captain. Amazingly, the damage was minimal.
Luffy was obviously in pain given how he was cuddling his injured arm. Thankfully, his rubber skin kept him from bleeding too badly.
Arlong slowly got up and rubbed the back his head. He appeared a little confused about what just happened. Once Arlong got himself together, he dove into the water.
"Now what?" Franky asked in worry. A fishman's power increased greatly when they were in the water.
Luffy, meanwhile, was pulling the teeth Arlong left in his side. He sighed in relief with having the foreign object out of his body. It took him a moment to realize that Arlong had disappeared on him.
"Luffy, the sea!" Nami in the memory warned.
A shark's fin could clearly be seen in the water.
"Hey look, a shark!" Luffy exclaimed.
"That's Arlong you moron," Sanji said in annoyance. Usopp in the memory repeated the same thing.
The fin disappeared and all went silent.
"Did he run away?" Luffy asked in bafflement as he looked into the water.
Without warning, Arlong launched himself out of the water like a rocket, tossing Luffy into the air.
"Dang, I didn't see him!" Franky exclaimed.
"It was like a missile!" Brook yelled.
"Was Luffy hurt!?" Chopper exclaimed worriedly.
When Luffy came down, he landed right on his face. He was grabbing his stomach in pain. He was obviously struck by Arlong's nose.
"Wow, I'm impressed you could dodge that," Arlong said with a small hint of admiration. He was now standing on the second floor of Arlong Park.
"He dodged it?" Brook asked.
"Just barely," Zoro answered. "At the very last second he kept Arlong from landing a fatal hit. It was pure instincts on his part."
"Although he did get a shallow wound. If he was even a hair slower, Arlong would have killed him," Robin said.
Luffy glared at the fishman as he regained his bearings.
"Good job, but the longer you evade your death the more painful it will be," Arlong said with a huge grin. "Shark Dart!"
He launched himself from building, nearly hitting a winded Luffy. He nose split the concert.
"What's that nose made of, steel?" Franky asked.
"It is very hard," Zoro said, remembering how he couldn't break it, much to his annoyance.
Arlong rocketed again, grazing Luffy on his side. He did the attack again and knocked Luffy into the air. Before Luffy could do anything, Arlong dived back into the water.
"He's going to do that again," Chopper said. "He needs to get out of there."
"Luffy, hurry up and hide! He went into the sea again!" Usopp in the memory yelled, voicing Chopper's thoughts.
Luffy gritted his teeth. "I won't hide."
"Is he crazy!? One direct hit from that and it's all over," Franky said. "He just barely dodged the first time."
Usopp sighed. "Luffy is crazy."
"I wish he would stop worrying us like this," Nami said as she rubbed her forehead.
"He has a plan," Robin observed.
"I'm not running anywhere. I'm going to catch him and break his nose!" Luffy declared. "Come on, you shark!"
"I hope Luffy-san knows what he's doing. He won't get a second chance," Brook said.
Luffy ignored all the yells from his crew and stretched his fingers. "Gum Gum Shield!" He then reinforced his stance.
As soon as he put his shield up, Arlong charged him from the sea. It was so fast that only Zoro and Sanji clearly saw what happened. Arlong was only inches from piercing Luffy's heart.
"Luffy!" Chopper screamed.
"It's okay," Zoro assured.
"He got him," Robin said, noticing that Arlong got tangled in Luffy's fingers.
He redirected Arlong into the building and hung off the side. "It's over! That attack won't work now."
"Shark Dart!" Arlong yelled as he came out from under Luffy, nearly hitting him. While Luffy was falling, Arlong did a downward charge, ready to impale the boy captain with his nose.
Luffy was ready for him. "Gum Gum Finger Net!"
He entrapped Arlong in his stretched fingers, slowing him down greatly. He then spun around and nailed Arlong with a Gum Gum Spear to the stomach, slamming him into the ground.
"He got him!" Brook cheered. Even Arlong had to be hurting from that.
"Using the same trick over and over again has its limits," Zoro said with a yawn.
This fight was becoming boring. Arlong may be strong, but he relied on the same attacks too many times. It was obvious that unlike Jimbei, Arlong hadn't developed his skills. He's gotten too comfortable bullying weak humans, while Jimbei grew stronger fighting in the Grand Line.
Arlong looked down. He was limp on the pavement and his eyes were closed.
"Is it over?" Chopper asked timidly.
Arlong suddenly come back to life and his eyes were very different.
"Oh, that isn't good," Franky said when he saw that look. "That's the look sea kings give just before they go on a rampage."
"Let's just say Luffy's last attack finally snapped the little sanity that he had," Sanji said.
"I've never seen Arlong so mad," Nami said more to herself. She thought for certain that Luffy was dead when she first saw it.
Arlong got to his feet and viciously grabbed Luffy by his head, swinging him around. "You wretched human! What have you done to me! The mighty fishman!"
He slammed Luffy into Arlong Park, nearly knocking down a wall.
"Whoa, that was crazy. It didn't actually hurt, but I can tell that he's really mad," Luffy said, taking aback by Arlong's rage.
"That's an understatement," Sanji said.
Arlong ran towards him and shattered the wall when Luffy dodged. When he pulled it out, he now had a giant sword that had edges like shark teeth.
"Where he get that!?" Brook exclaimed in shock.
"The Kiribachi," Nami answered. "Arlong's prized weapon."
Arlong was now chasing Luffy all over Arlong Park, trying to saw the rubberman in half with the sword. Luffy could do nothing but run, since one hit from the Kiribachi would mortally injure him.
"He's completely wrecking his own building," Franky said.
"This is what his general must have been worried about. He has lost complete control of himself," Robin said.
"He was barely in control to begin with," Zoro said.
Arlong kept chasing Luffy until he was forced to dive through a window on the top floor.
(This section would have taken place after the Strawhats saw Jimbei help Luffy to remember them. This would have been part of Maxwell's gift.)
Jimbei had that thoughtful expression on his face again before he smiled again and sat across from Luffy.
"I want to see them now!" Luffy sobbed before he threw his head back in cried. "I WANT TO SEE THEM AGAIN!"
The crew teared up with him. They too had an overwhelming need to see Luffy. Their Luffy. They wanted to return quickly and give him the comfort and care he lacked two years ago.
Once Luffy dried his tears and calmed down, Jimbei gently picked him up and carried him back to the beach. It was clear from Luffy's eyes that he was tired, despite just waking up. He looked ready to fell asleep right on Jimbei's back.
"He needs at least another week of bed rest," Chopper said as the crew followed their captain. "Moving around too much can reopen the hole in his chest and kill him."
"Right now, I think his physical condition is secondary," Sanji said.
All the Strawhats silencing agreed. The physical wounds would heal. It was the mental and emotional damage that needed tending to.
"I need to return to Sabaody as soon as possible," Luffy spoke up.
"It is too reckless to go to Sabaody in your condition," Jimbei said firmly.
Sanji sighed. "True. The marines will be looking for him there and Luffy can't fight in his current condition."
"He will be an especially high target since the marines know of his origins. He is no longer an unassuming rookie," Robin said, not to mention being on Akainu's death list.
"But I want to see my crew as soon as possible," Luffy said almost desperately. "I can't break my promise to them."
"And we want to see you too, Luffy," Nami said gently.
"I don't get it. He wants to see us, but then he turns around and tells us to stay away for two years. How did that happened?" Franky asked.
"I'm certain that Rayleigh has something to do with it," Zoro said.
"Still..." Jimbei started to say in concern. He didn't finished before he noticed that Law and his men were gone. "Those guys from the submarine, they are not here."
Chopper looked around. "Where did he go? He couldn't have left Luffy in this condition. He still needs weeks of intense medical treatment."
"Why he chose to leave now after so many weeks?" Nami asked in confusion.
"Oh, Luffy-kun!" a familiar voice greeted.
The crew turned to see none other than Rayleigh, who was drying his clothes.
"Rayleigh? How did he get here?" Sanji asked as he looked around the shore. "And where's his ship?"
"Old Man Rayleigh!" Luffy exclaimed in shock.
Rayleigh chuckled. "I am glad I was able to find you so easily."
"But how did he find him?" Brook asked.
Robin rubbed her chin. "I think maybe Kuma told him."
"What are you doing here?" Luffy asked, still not believing Rayleigh was there. "I was just about to follow my Vivre Card back to Sabaody." There was a moment pause. "How are the others?" The desperate need in his voice increased in volume.
"He thinks we made it back to Sabaody," Robin noted.
"It has been almost three weeks since we were separated. He wouldn't know the hard time we all had leaving our island," Zoro said as he recalled fighting all those annoying baboons.
"Luffy also would have been at Sabaody by now if he didn't chose to go to Impel Down and then the war," Nami said.
Franky sighed. "Yeah...we were the ones who were late."
"They are not back yet," Rayleigh said casually while he cleaned his glasses.
Luffy sunk when he heard that.
"I left my Vivre Card with Shakki," Rayleigh went on as he finished cleaning his glasses. "If I had not done that, I would not be able to move around freely."
"Are you really the Dark King Rayleigh?" Jimbei asked with a note of disbelief. "What a surprise!"
"Looking at it, he isn't what I expected from the first mate of the Pirate King," Franky said. "He's so...relaxed."
"I guess getting to his level would make you at ease with everything," Brook said.
Rayleigh looked at Jimbei with interest. "Are you not that former Warlord?"
"He's Jimbei. I'm indebted to him," Luffy answered as he jumped off of Jimbei's back.
"We all are," Brook said softly.
Rayleigh smiled and nodded in understanding.
Luffy looked towards Jimbei. "What is it?"
Jimbei was as still as a statue and couldn't tear his eyes off of Rayleigh. "Well, I never thought I would meet a living legend in this place."
Nami chuckled. "Even Jimbei is starstruck by Rayleigh."
"Jimbei may be famous, but nothing can compare to meeting one of the Pirate King's former crew members," Zoro said before he smiled. "Although, the sooner he joins us, the sooner he can become a legend too."
"Here. This is your treasured hat, right?" Rayleigh said as he took the strawhat in his hands. He gave it an oddly fond look before tossing it to Luffy.
Luffy caught it. "Right, thanks." He looked down at it for several seconds with a soft smile on his face. He then placed the hat firmly on his head. "I just don't feel right unless I'm wearing this."
"And you don't look right either," Zoro teased, glad to see some of Luffy's old spirit returned.
Jimbei started to look around again. "Was there not a pirate crew here earlier?"
"If you mean Trafalgar Law, he just left," Rayleigh informed.
"How careless can he be!? He could have least checked Luffy before he left, especially after that rampage!" Chopper yelled angrily. "What if Luffy needs pain medication, disinfectant, or gauze for his burn?"
Sanji shrugged. "I guess he figured that Jimbei and Rayleigh could take it from here."
Chopper was still fuming. "Still, Law shouldn't just abandon his patient like that. Especially given the extent of his injuries."
Rayleigh put his shirt back on. "He said you should take it easy for another two weeks."
Luffy frowned when he heard that.
Chopper nodded, happy that Law at least past on some advice. "It may be hard on him, but he can't move about freely. Even after two weeks, it may take months before his former strength returns."
He was going to add that Luffy may have done some permanent damage to his body, but kept that last part to himself. He would have a private talk with Luffy about that later.
Rayleigh smiled. "Looks like he saved you."
"He did save him," Franky grinned. "We owe that guy a big hug the next time we see him."
Sanji chuckled. "I'm sure Law would just love that."
"I don't care if he likes it. We owe him for saving Luffy's life," Usopp said tearfully. He felt almost bad for being so afraid and distrusting towards the future Warlord.
As they were talking, Nyon, Boa, the snake sister, and a host of servants came. They were hauling several wagons worth of food, enough to feed a small army.
"Wow, Hancock just really met Luffy and she knows how much he can eat," Usopp said in awe.
"After two weeks, that wouldn't even be a light snack for him," Nami mumbled.
Nyon gasped when she saw Rayleigh. "Oh Rayleigh!? You are Rayleigh, are you nyot?"
Rayleigh smiled. "Oh, if it isn't Gloriosa! This takes me back!"
"Wait, so Nyon isn't her real name?" Usopp asked.
"Maybe it is a nickname or title?" Robin wondered.
"Rayleigh!" Sandersonia exclaimed happily.
"Ray-san!" Marigold also exclaimed in equal excitement.
"They know him?" Chopper asked in surprise.
"Seems so," Franky said, rubbing his chin. "They seem very friendly towards him for being self-confessed man-haters."
"Oh, it is you two," Rayleigh said with a wide grin.
Boa completely blew Rayleigh off and ran to Luffy's side. "Luffy!"
Sanji had hearts in his eyes. "My beautiful Hancock-chan! How have you been!? No shit head hurt you doing the war, did they!?"
"Save it, dartboard," Zoro growled in annoyance.
"Hey, big sis! That is no way to act in front of the man we are indebted to!" both Sandersonia and Marigold yelled in disapproval.
"Indebted?" Brook repeated.
"Do you know Old Man Rayleigh?" Luffy asked the snake sisters.
"Yes, it is a long story," Sandersonia answered.
"Which means we won't hear it because Luffy has the attention span of a goldfish," Nami muttered.
"Luffy, I see you are awake...I have not been able to sleep in worry," Boa said shyly from Luffy's back. She was like a little girl.
Franky laughed. "Poor Hancock. Luffy's got her completely whipped and he doesn't even notice."
Sanji growled. "Damn you, Luffy."
"I wonder if Luffy-san would be nice enough to ask her for her panties?" Brook asked, drooling at the thought.
Nami sweat-dropped at Sanji and Brook's antics. "You're both hopeless."
"You must be hungry. I have brought you food," Boa went on as she fingered a giant melon. "So, just dig in..."
"Oh, he will, trust me," Usopp humored.
"How can you talk of marriage? You cannot even look him in the eye," Nyon mumbled.
"What this about marriage?" Brook asked, getting his mind off of panties.
Robin laughed. "It would appear the Snake Princess wants to make Luffy really hers."
Sanji screamed in heartbreak and anger. "HOW COULD MY HANCOCK-CHAN WANT TO MARRY THAT UNCOUTH SHIT HEAD!?"
"How can she be yours? She's never even met you," Zoro replied in frustration.
"They would make such cute children," Robin mused, causing Sanji to cry more.
"Get to work!" Boa ordered a nearby monkey-man, returning to her bratty demeanor. "Get to work preparing Luffy's meal!"
Franky laughed even harder. "If Luffy does marry Hancock, he'll be the king of an island of women. Men would kill to be in Luffy's place right now."
"Having an island filled with women to wait on you hand and foot and you their panties, it's a dream come true!" Brook exclaimed.
"I'm starting to feel jealous myself now," Usopp grumbled.
A loud rumble caught the crew's attention.
"Was that Luffy's stomach?" Nami asked.
Robin looked at Jimbei who had his arms folded and looked mildly embarrassed. "No, it was Jimbei."
"Sheesh, he's as loud as Luffy," Usopp said.
"Well, he is a whale. They can eat a lot," Nami said with a shrug.
Boa turned towards Jimbei, giving him one of the darkest looks the Strawhats had ever seen. "Jimbei! This food was not meant for you!"
Sanji snapped out of his love sickness. "Hey wait, after all Jimbei's done, he deserves to eat as much as he wants. Even then, you should always feed a hungry person."
Boa's eyes softened a slightly. "You may have a little bit."
This cheered Sanji up. "I knew my Hancock-chan had a heart!"
Zoro rolled his eye. "You're getting on my nerves, love cook."
"Oh, right..." Jimbei stuttered, not sure what else to say. He turned towards Luffy. "Luffy-kun, let us eat the food they brought us."
With minutes, all the food was laid before Luffy.
"This is making me hungry," Usopp said, drooling slightly. He couldn't wait to leave these memories and have a warm meal cooked by Sanji.
"Luffy can't eat that all at once. He'll tear his wounds open," Chopper said worriedly.
"Luffy-kun, eat! Eating is living!" Jimbei said exclaimed eagerly as he dug in.
Luffy's stomach growled, telling him it needed food. Despite obviously being hungry, Luffy seemed disinterested in the food.
Chopper blinked in confusion. "What's wrong? Why isn't he eating?" Was he hurt more than he let on?
Zoro stared at Luffy. "He's depressed."
"But he hasn't eaten in weeks. Even if he's sad, he still should have the need to eat," Nami argued.
"His body has the need, but his heart does not," Robin said softly. It was just like Water 7 all over again.
After a minute, Luffy reached over and grab a piece of meat. Instead of eating it all at once like he normally would, he took baby bits and slowly chewed. There was no joy on his face and it was clear that he was forcing himself.
"I guess we were hoping for too much," Usopp said as his shoulder slumped. "I mean...he just accepted what happened to Ace and remembering us. He wouldn't just be back to normal."
After a few more bits, Luffy couldn't be bother eating any more and put down the meat. It was only half-eating. His stomach still rumbled, but he ignored it.
Chopper sighed sadly. "If he won't eat normally, he may have to be fed intravenously. His body can't heal proper without food."
Jimbei obviously wasn't happy about the little Luffy had eating, but chose to say nothing. It wasn't like he could force the food down his mouth.
"Luffy-kun," Rayleigh suddenly called, knocking Luffy out of his stupor.
He turned towards Rayleigh who was surrounded by Nyon, Boa, and the snake sisters.
"You said you plan to go back to Sabaody, right?" Rayleigh asked.
"I want to see my crew," Luffy answered simply.
Rayleigh gave him a stern stare. "Are you sure that is what you should do?"
The question took Luffy off-guard.
Rayleigh looked Luffy directly in the eye. "The Sabaody Archipelago, do you remember what happened to you on that island?"
Luffy winced in pain as the memory shifted. Soon, the crew was treated to images of themselves being massacred by Kizaru, Sentomaru, and the Pacifista. It ended with them being banished by Kuma, one-by-one.
Usopp growled. "Why did Rayleigh have to bring that up? Hasn't Luffy suffered enough?"
Nami shook her head. "It's cruel to remind Luffy of that given all that has happened."
Zoro's face became blank. "He's trying to prove a point."
"Do you think you can withstand such overwhelming power in your current state?" Rayleigh asked, although he already knew the answer.
"He can't, but that isn't the point," Brook spoke up, angry with the Dark King. "Luffy-san needs us, now more than ever."
"But I..." Luffy started to say.
"Are you going to reassemble just to repeat the same tragedy?" Rayleigh interrupted.
This really made Luffy upset. Rayleigh had more or less thrown a giant bucket of salt on the still raw wound of Sabaody. On top of Impel Down and Marineford, it was too much for Luffy to take.
"Stop that!" Chopper yelled angrily at Rayleigh, stepping between Luffy and the Dark King. "He can't handle this right now! He needs to heal, mentally and physically!"
"Yeah, you didn't need to throw what happened at Sabaody in his face," Franky growled. He knew Rayleigh meant well, but he didn't have to step on Luffy's feelings to do it.
Zoro was also upset. He believed in being blunt and not sugarcoating anything, but Luffy wasn't in the mental state to hear such harsh truths. He was ready to kill himself not even an hour ago.
Luffy looked to be nears tears as he fought to recompose himself.
"I have a suggestion," Rayleigh said before Luffy could burst into tears. "Of course, it is your choice whether to accept or not."
Luffy stared at Rayleigh, hanging onto his every word.
"I offer to train you," Rayleigh said bluntly.
This silenced everyone on the island.
"Rayleigh!?" Nyon exclaimed in shock.
"For two years, I will train you to prepare for the New World," Rayleigh continued. "That should be more than enough to get you ready. Of course, during those two years, you have to be away from your crew and other distractions."
Luffy's eyes widened as he took in the Dark King's words. "But…couldn't they train with me? We can become strong together."
Rayleigh shook his head. "The training I have in mind is specific to you. Your swordsman and your cook maybe able to keep up, but the others will fall behind. I also need you focus, something I doubt you can do with your crew around."
"He makes us sound like a burden," Usopp said, not liking the tone Rayleigh was using.
"He is not completely wrong. If we were with him, he would be distracted," Robin stated. "Although, I would argue that is not completely a bad thing."
"Luffy-kun..." Jimbei said in concern. He didn't appear to like Rayleigh's plan.
Luffy lowered his head as he considered Rayleigh's offer.
"Luffy..." Boa said softly, wanting to say or do something to comfort him. She finally turned towards the Dark King. "Rayleigh, what are you..."
Luffy put his arm out, stopping Boa from saying anything more.
"I think that is what you...or rather, what all of you need the most right now," Rayleigh said, strengthen his case.
Sanji shook his head. "He has a point. If we did get back together so soon, we all would just get killed in the New World. Even with all of our training, we still were nearly killed several times."
"Although, given Luffy's state, would he want to go forward so soon?" Nami asked. "I mean, we could have hung back at Sabaody or someplace else until we were ready."
Zoro rubbed a hand through his hair. "It would have taken years, longer than two. Rayleigh's plan was quicker than anything we could have done ourselves. Not to mention the islands Kuma sent us to."
"We can get stronger at any time!" Usopp argued. "Luffy's well-being is the most important thing."
Brook nodded in agreement. They have all been given rare opportunities to gain strength and he would always value his time as the Soul King. But, he would gladly give all that time back if it meant rushing to his captain's side in comforting him in his darkest hour.
"It doesn't matter now, what's done is done. Luffy made his choice," Zoro said, not wanting to dwell on what-ifs anymore.
"But what Luffy-kun truly needs now is to heal his body and soul, don't you think?" Jimbei asked, although it was more of a statement. He glanced at Luffy with concern eyes.
"Jimbei is correct," Robin said. "Getting stronger will help him, but it will not heal the damage done to his spirit. That is why we are here now."
Luffy gritted his teeth, taking in both Jimbei and Rayleigh's argument. "What about my crew?"
Rayleigh leaned into his hands. "I am sure they will be heading towards Sabaody."
"You bet your ass we are," Franky answered.
"We would never abandon Luffy-san when he needs us the most. We waited far too long to begin with," Brook said with some heat.
"News about what you did has spread all over the world," Rayleigh mused. "So, your crewmates probably heard it as well."
"Two weeks later," Nami said bitterly.
"All the more reason why I should go," Luffy said as he clenched his hands. "I promised them… I have to go... I'm going to Sabaody too!"
Rayleigh stared at Luffy for a moment. "I have a second suggestion to deal with this problem."
At that moment, the memory ended.
"That must be when Luffy went to Marineford and did all those strange things to get into the paper," Sanji said. "Yeah, it was definitely Rayleigh's plan."
"Looking back at all this, I wonder if waiting two years to come back together was the right choice. I mean given what happened to Luffy and what's happening now..." Nami said, unable to finish.
"As I said before, it was Luffy's decision. Rayleigh didn't force him into anything. He willingly chose not to reunite with us for two years," Zoro said firmly, although he secretly wondered the same thing despite himself.
"Just because it was his choice doesn't make it right. Just like it wasn't right for him to hide what happened on Omatsuri," Sanji argued.
The next memory came and the Strawhats were inside what appeared to be a cabin. Given the light rocking of the room, they were obviously on a ship of some sort.
The crew saw Luffy lying in a bed, appearing to be asleep. In the room with him were Jimbei and Rayleigh. The Dark King was drinking from a wine bottle while Jimbei looked on, looking quite distress.
"We should be arriving at Marineford around tomorrow afternoon. We need to be ready. The admirals are out dealing with the rogue pirates that have taken to sea since Whitebeard's death, but that does not mean there will be any vice or read-admirals to deal with. Given Luffy's weakened state, he cannot deal with them at the moment."
Jimbei nodded. "I will protect Luffy-kun with my life. You need not worry about him."
"We know you would, Jimbei," Brook said in admiration towards the fishman.
Rayleigh took a swing of his liquor. "You are still not happy about this, are you Jimbei?"
Jimbei glanced at Luffy before talking. "I think Luffy-kun should reunite with his crew first and foremost."
"I understand, but they are not ready to reassemble. Those kids were utterly destroyed back at Sabaody. Even with me defending them from Kizaru, they would have died without Kuma coming along. If they cannot handle the dangers of Paradise, they will surely die within the New World. You know this, Jimbei," Rayleigh said.
"Yes, I know this," Jimbei said with a nod. "I also know the state Luffy-kun was left in after the war. He was a broken man who has lost his way and will to live. I feared what would happened if he were left alone. Even now, I can see the shadows in his eyes." He paused for several seconds. "And…there is what Ace told me."
Rayleigh put down his bottle. "You were good friends with Fire Fist Ace. I imagine that his death was very hard on you as well."
There was a glint of tears in Jimbei's eyes. "You need not worry about me. I have lost many dear friends over the years. Luffy-kun has not. This is not the kind of lost he has experience before. He needs guidance."
"You said that Ace said something to you about this?" Rayleigh asked.
"When we were at Impel Down, Ace asked me to care for Luffy if he does not make it. At the time I refused," Jimbei said. "Despite tales of my nobility, I do not protect those that I personally do not care about. At the time, Luffy-kun was an unknown stranger. Even with my refusal, however, Ace was confident that Luffy-kun would be alright."
Rayleigh looked on interest.
"He said he never worried about his brother since the time they spent in Alabasta," Jimbei said almost in thought. "He knew Luffy-kun would be alright because he made some wonderful friends."
This made all the Strawhats tear up.
"He said that about us when he was only hours away from being executed?" Usopp asked as he wiped his eyes. "He barely knew us and yet….he had complete faith that we would take care of Luffy."
"The time Ace spent with Luffy was not just so he could hunt Blackbeard or caught up with his little brother. He was checking you all out," Robin observed, on the verge of crying herself.
Zoro balled his fists. He felt worse than ever. Ace put so much faith in them, yet they completely failed.
"With Ace no longer being in this world, Luffy-kun's crew is the only real anchor he has left," Jimbei continued. "He has no self-confidence left in himself, and he is barely holding together."
"The more reason for him to train and become stronger," Rayleigh said. "As his strength grows, his self-confidence will return."
Jimbei looked the Dark King directly in the eye. "Strength means nothing if the heart is shattered. I have no doubt that Luffy-kun will become unbelievably powerful under your guidance, but what about his mental well-being? Will you be able to ease the pain of guilt and sorrow that fills his heart and threatens to consume his soul?"
Rayleigh didn't speak.
"I doubt you can. Such heavy and deep wounds can only be healed by the love and care of his crew," Jimbei said. "Luffy-kun is young. He has the rest of his life to grow stronger and enter the New World. The One Piece is not going anywhere. What he needs now more than anything is to heal his soul. If he is allowed to go forward with a broken heart, it will have dire, long-term consequences."
There was a long silence in the room.
"You know...when Jimbei puts it like that, I have to agree," Sanji spoke slowly. "Luffy is suffering now because his mental wounds were never properly healed. If we got together sooner, then we could have avoided this whole mess on this shitty island."
"He would know, wouldn't he? After all, Jimbei saw in his life and being part of the Warlords, he knows what grief and anger can do to a person," Franky said as he rubbed his head.
"They both make strong points and although I'm thankful for all Rayleigh has done for Luffy, but...I do have to side with Jimbei as well," Zoro said before he lowered his eye. "What Luffy needed wasn't to become stronger, he needed us."
"It is only clear now because of hindsight," Robin said somberly. "Rayleigh wanted Luffy to move forward, which is why he pushed for Luffy to train for two years. He also wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves and not just depend on Luffy. They are also both looking from different viewpoints. Rayleigh saw what happened to us at Sabaody and the state Luffy was left in. Jimbei saw what happened during Impel Down and Marineford, and that is dictating his decision."
Usopp felt hot tears build in his eyes. "It would had never come to this if we were with him at Marineford. I...I feel like we abandoned him."
"We have another chance. We have chance to make this right," Nami said with determination. "As soon as we get back, we can start to heal Luffy's wounds. It may be two years late, but we're here now."
Rayleigh stared at the ceiling. He had a far away look on his face. "Luffy...he may be young, but he may not have as much time as you believe."
This got everyone's attention.
"What do you mean?" Jimbei asked.
Rayleigh sat silent for a moment. "People like Luffy are not long for this world."
Rayleigh's words hung in the air as the memory changed to the next morning. Luffy was having his bandages changed by several women.
"What did Rayleigh mean by that?" Usopp asked in a hush voice. "That Luffy isn't long for this world?"
There was another paused.
"I think...given Luffy's lifestyle, Rayleigh believes that Luffy will die at a young age," Robin said.
Chopper lowered his head. "Given what happened at Impel Down and Marineford...Rayleigh is correct. If Luffy keeps doing things like this to himself...he won't live long."
"I can only imagine how many years Luffy lost during that horrible time. I mean, he already lost ten years healing from being poison," Nami murmured softly. "And extreme grief can also shorten one's lifespan."
"It is because Luffy-san is young that he does not think much of his life. I was much the same way when I was younger," Brook said as he gripped his cane. "Death happens to other people, not me and certainly not my crew. Despite the risk of being a pirate, I didn't take death seriously until it took everything precious from me."
Sanji sighed. "I think it's the same way with everyone. Even when faced with his own mortality, Luffy will always put others before himself. He's selfish that way."
"Too selfish," Nami said with a hint of anger.
Zoro glanced at his captain. "He can do careless stuff like this to himself because he doesn't fear death, even when it's right in front of him."
"This is the first time we can change your bandages without sedating you," one of the women said. "Before, it would have been too painful for you to remain conscious."
Luffy nodded. "I can't afford to be groggy today. We're going to Marineford, after all."
"Luffy-kun, it is still not too late to change your mind," Jimbei spoke up. He was also having his bandages changed. "You do not have to do this."
Luffy shook his head. "No, I have to do this. If I don't, then my crew will think I broke my promise to them."
"We would never think that," Usopp said with force.
"I am aware of that, but you do not have to train with the Dark King," Jimbei said. "Luffy-kun, you should think about healing yourself first before considering gaining strength. I am sure your crew would understand and not force you to move forward."
Luffy become quiet for a moment. "I know but...as captain I have to think about them. If we get together now, what happened at Sabaody will happen again. I can't...I can't allow that. If something happened to them..." He couldn't finish.
Jimbei sighed. He knew there was no talking Luffy out of this. "I will support any decision you make. However, you should not put power before your own mental well-being."
Luffy shook his head. "This is for the best. This is the best for everyone. ...I failed them. I failed to protect them, just as I failed Ace. I have to become stronger and stronger. Stronger than Blackbeard... Stronger than Akainu… Stronger than anyone!" He clenched his hands. "I won't fail again! Never again will someone die for my sake!"
Nami shook. "Luffy, you idiot. You put us before yourself again. Despite the fact you are hurting, you thought of our safety."
Before Jimbei could say anything more, the last of the bandages around Luffy's torso was removed and the rubberman was left stunned. For the first time, he saw the damage done to his chest.
"What happened!?" Luffy exclaimed as he got up from the bed and ran towards a nearby mirror.
He felt numb seeing an 'X'-shaped hole embedded into his chest. The wound looked much better than the last time the Strawhats saw it, but it was still very raw and blackened with scabs.
Jimbei lowered his head. "You would not remember. Akainu gave you that when we were trying to escape. I apologize Luffy-kun. I failed to protect you properly."
Luffy touched the wound and winced. At that moment, the Strawhats saw the memory of Akainu blowing the hole through Jimbei and hitting Luffy. As the memory ended, Luffy was bend over in pain.
"Luffy!" Chopper cried in worry.
"Luffy-san!" the women also yelled, ready to catch him if he collapsed.
"Akainu..." Luffy whispered, speaking the man's name like it was a curse. He looked at Jimbei and narrowed his eyes as he gazed fell onto the former Warlord's bandaged chest. "You shielded me, didn't you?"
Jimbei nodded after a few seconds. "Yes, but it obviously was not enough."
Tears built in Luffy's eyes. "You...why did you do that? You could have been killed!"
"If my death meant saving your life, I would not have minded," Jimbei answered without a hint of hesitation.
Luffy growled. "Dammit, Jimbei! After what happened to Ace you went and..." He nearly collapsed, grabbing his chest.
"Luffy, you need to calm down!" Chopper yelled in worry. He became concerned when he saw the sweat on Luffy's forehead. He still wasn't well.
"Luffy-san, please be still," one of the women begged. "You'll tear open your wounds."
Luffy ignored them. "I...I...would prefer my death over yours."
"That was not your decision to make," Jimbei said in a harsh voice. "I went into the war prepared to die. I failed to save Ace. I was not about to fail to save the last flame Ace's will left in this world."
Luffy slowly calmed down and he was breathing more easily. He sat up and looked down at his damage chest. "This...is going to scar, isn't it?"
Jimbei slowly nodded. "Even with you ability, that will not heal cleanly. You are very lucky to still be alive after receiving such an injury. He nearly hit your heart."
Luffy gently patted the wound. "I guess...it's a reminder." An image of Akainu filled the memory.
"Yes. Rather it is a reminder of failure or courage is up to you," Jimbei said.
Luffy balled his fist. "Neither. It's a reminder of vengeance."
Jimbei was taken back by the words.
"Even if I have to train for a lifetime, I'll get that bastard back," Luffy growled. "I'll get all of them back!" As he said that a picture of Blackbeard laughing filled the scene.
"And we're be right there beside you," Zoro said as he gripped his sword. They would pay all of those bastards back one day.
Franky nodded. "Yeah. Vengeance won't bring anyone back, but it's very satisfying." He recalled punching and smashing Spandam with his own sword.
The memory skipped and they were now on the deck of a ship. It was a marine battleship and they were firing on the remains of Marineford. The base was still being repaired from the big war. Luffy stood on top of one of the cannons, looking at the once faithful battlefield with a blank expression.
The marines attempted to sink the ship, but were stopped when a giant pillar of water suddenly shot out from the sea.
"That must be Jimbei," Sanji said as he reached for a cigarette.
Rayleigh stopped the cannon fire by casually throwing regular gun bullets.
"Sheesh, he's not even trying," Franky said in awe. Rayleigh must have been a true monster at his peak in strength.
The battleship circled the bay, freaking out the poor marines who could do nothing to protect the base. Once it had circled once, it entered the heart of Marineford.
"This place looks completely different without the ice," Franky said.
Brook looked over the marine base. "To think so many people lost their lives here just a couple of weeks ago."
The battleship was fired upon on all sides by the trench cannons, destroying it.
"Oh, didn't expect that!" Sanji yelled as he used his Sky Walk to fly to safety. The other followed him and were now within the plaza.
"That was scary. Even if this is a memory," Nami gasped.
Luffy used his power to stretch his arm and pulled Jimbei and Rayleigh to safety.
"Why don't you go ahead and go all out?" Rayleigh asked with a smirk.
Luffy grinned, eager to cause some chaos. "Right!"
He ran off, ignoring the civilians who were also in the plaza. Given their camera, they had to be reporters.
Jimbei and Rayleigh covered his back, making sure none of the more powerful marines could reach Luffy.
Luffy wasted no time kicking marines out of his way as he headed towards the Ox Bell. Once he was on the bell platform, he rung the giant bell sixteen times. Everyone could only watched, stunned at what he was doing.
"To think all of this was just to distract from the fact that he had that tattoo on his arm," Sanji mused as he glanced at the 3D2Y marked on his upper right arm. So much said in such a simple message. Rayleigh was really a genius.
Once Luffy had finished ringing the bell, he jumped down from the platform and ignored the reporters who were surrounding him, taking his picture. He walked until he came to a large split in the ground that was caused by one of Whitebeard's earthquakes. He reached into his vest and pulled out a bouquet of flowers. He tossed the bouquet into the hole, took his hat off, and lowered his head like he was saying a prayer.
As Luffy was doing this, a giant whale shark came out of the bay, undoubtedly summoned by Jimbei.
Luffy put his hat back on and turned to leave. As he did, his eyes fell onto a particular part of the plaza.
At first, the Strawhats were confused about why Luffy was staring there until the memory flash for a second. For a brief moment an image of Luffy holding Ace as he lied dying appeared. It was gone as soon as it came.
Luffy shook his head and ran back to join Jimbei and Rayleigh. There the memory concluded.
"I can only imagine how hard it was for Luffy-san to return to that place," Brook said once the memory had ended. "So many horrible memories."
Zoro sighed. "There was little choice. It was the only way to make sure he would make the papers and give us that message."
"I wonder what happened to Ace and Whitebeard's bodies?" Chopper asked softly.
"Most likely they were taking away by Shanks. No way would he allow the marines to have them to display their bodies," Sanji said with thought. He shivered at the thought.
"I have heard that Shanks was allowed to take the bodies since the world witnessed Ace and Whitebeard's deaths," Robin said. "A cease-fire gesture on Sengoku's part."
Nami sighed sadly. "At least some good came out of that terrible war." She didn't even want to think how Luffy would react seeing his brother's body being display before the world.
"Sengoku must have great respect for Shanks to allow him to take the Marine's prizes," Brook said, feeling an inkling of respect for the former fleet-admiral.
"It was either that or risk a fight with another Emperor. At least, that is how I heard it," Robin said.
There was a slight silence.
"I wonder where Ace is buried. After all of this, I want to go and pay my respect to him," Usopp said.
"We all do, bro," Franky said, trying not to cry.
"The only ones who would know where Ace's final resting place lie are the Whitebeard and Red-Hair Pirates. That place will be well hidden to protect Ace from those who may desecrate his grave or steal his body," Robin stated.
"It's a tragedy that Luffy-san couldn't attend the funeral," Brook said. "I know better than anyone the peace of having one final goodbye."
"Once we find one of them in the New World we'll ask them," Zoro said. "Luffy deserves to know where his brother rests."
The next memory appeared and the Strawhats were on a red ship that was being towed by two huge sea kings. They were surrounded by women including Marigold and Sandersonia. Rayleigh was also there, looking over the side of the ship.
"Jimbei, thanks for everything!" Luffy yelled.
The crew looked over the railing to see Jimbei standing on top of a whale shark.
"No, I should be thanking you," Jimbei said with a grim smile. "Although I begged you to rescue me from Impel Down back then, it stains my pride to still be alive."
Luffy gave a sad smile, understanding Jimbei's feeling all too well.
Jimbei bowed his head. "I am sorry!"
"Don't apologize, you stupid fish," Sanji said. "You done more than enough. You may have failed to save Ace, but you saved Luffy in every way a person can be saved."
"Yeah, thank you, Jimbei!" Chopper yelled at the former Warlord.
"Thank you!" Brook also yelled.
"And you better join us soon so we can thank you in person!" Franky laughed.
Luffy closed his eyes for a moment. "I'm pretty sure I told you to stop that."
"Too bad you couldn't follow your own advice," Zoro said sadly.
"Without you, I probably wouldn't even have made it to Marine Headquarters," Luffy went on before he opened his eyes. "Chin up!"
Jimbei slowly lifted his head and Luffy and him shared a wordless conversation. Zoro knew many words were spoken without either of them opening their mouths.
Jimbei smiled, looking more at peace. "I suppose you are right. You may end up needing my help in the future. Whatever the case, I will see you in two years at Fishman Island. I am looking forward to seeing all of your friends!"
"It was a joy to meet you," Nami said with smile. "Despite the civil war."
Luffy smiled and nodded. "Yeah!"
With that, Jimbei took off and disappeared into the ocean.
"Take care!" Luffy waved as he watched Jimbei leave.
"Set our heading to Rusukaina!" Boa yelled in the background.
The memory skipped and the Strawhats were now staring at a large island with several volcanoes and an endless forest.
"So, this is where Luffy trained for two years," Usopp said as he looked around. "It doesn't look too bad. At least the island won't try to eat him."
"This island looks just perfect," Rayleigh said. "It goes through forty-eight seasons a year, rotating about once a week. A brutal island indeed."
"Forty-eight seasons!?" Nami exclaimed in shock. "That's crazy, even for the Grand Line!"
"Seasons changing that fast can make a person severally sick!" Chopper yelled.
"Well, you either grow stronger or die, much like the Grand Line itself," Sanji said nonchalantly.
"Luffy, I will make sure to bring you food every day from the Isle of Women," Boa said, blushing the entire time.
Sanji snorted. "I knew he wasn't really training for two years."
Usopp folded his arms. "Luffy certainly is lucky."
Rayleigh shot that plan down quickly, telling Boa that he didn't want her spoiling Luffy. Boa was less than happy with that and actually threatened Rayleigh.
"She's bossing around the Dark King!" Chopper yelled in shock.
"I guess not even Rayleigh is immune to her charm," Robin mused.
It took Rayleigh a minute to remind Boa that this was all for Luffy's sake to keep her from turning him to stone. Whether she could actually turn the Dark King to stone was never answered.
With everything more or less settled, Luffy said his goodbyes to Boa and the other women and followed Rayleigh into the forest. Soon, they were alone with only the animals to keep them company.
"Never forget this tree," Rayleigh suddenly said as he pointed to a tree up ahead. The tree in question looked almost like a giant radish and stood in an opened field within the forest. "Even the fiercest animals stay away from this tree. It is the only safe haven on this island."
"Sounds like the Daft Green from Shiki's floating island," Nami noted.
"But the tree does not appear to be poisonous," Robin said.
"Really? It looks funny," Luffy said as he ran around the tree.
They kept walking for a few more minutes until they reached a large open area. There were some abandoned and ruined buildings scattered around, showing that people once lived there.
"Amazing. A civilization was once here," Robin said. She wished she had the chance to explore this island.
"Now then, we are the only humans on this island. Just look at the expansive forest. I hear there used to be a country here long ago," Rayleigh explained. "The humans ended up losing the fight for survival. Here, nature is merciless and the land is rough."
"They probably got sick and died from all the changing weather on top of being in the Calm Belt," Chopper said in thought.
"I can smell a huge adventure here!" Luffy exclaimed in excitement.
"A death island would be great fun for you," Usopp murmured.
"Well, at least he's acting normal again," Nami said with a small smile.
"There's a ton of savage beasts here. I cannot even count them," Rayleigh said as he closed his eyes, using his Haki to sense the island. "I would say as you are now, you should not be able to handle five-hundred of them."
"Five-hundred!?" Usopp exclaimed.
"Sheesh, there are five-hundred beasts on this island that can beat Luffy. What kind of monsters exists here?" Franky asked.
"You need to grow stronger or you will not be able to sleep at night," Rayleigh mused in good nature.
"How can you tell how strong they are and how many there are?" Luffy asked.
"It is something I have been meaning to bring up. You must harness this power," Rayleigh said as he looked directly at Luffy. "The power we call Haki!"
Luffy tilted his head in confusion. "Haki?"
At that very moment, a giant elephant-like beast came charging into the opening, knocking over several trees like they were toothpicks.
Chopper screamed in fear. "What is that!?"
"One of the many beasts on this island," Sanji said in deadpan voice. "Looks like it came to say hello."
"It's there, it's there! There's something behind you, Old Man Rayleigh!" Luffy screamed in panic.
"Even Luffy freaked out!" Chopper yelled.
"That is no ordinary beast. It's head and shoulders above the monsters Shiki was creating," Brook said.
Rayleigh was not even a little worried as the elephant beast came right at his back.
"Listen, Luffy, Haki is the dormant power that exist within all living things," Rayleigh began his explanation like nothing was happening.
Luffy was still panicking about the beast behind Rayleigh. "It's an elephant! It's five times bigger than a normal elephant! It's a huge elephant!"
"Presence, spirit, intimidation," Rayleigh went on as the beast stopped just inches from his back. "You could say it is the same thing as the five senses controlled by normal humans." The elephant moved its trunk, ready to smack the Dark King. "However, most do not realize they have this power, let alone how to utilize it until it is too late."
"Doesn't Rayleigh care that he's about be hit by that beast!?" Nami screamed.
The elephant was swinging its trunk back and forward, almost like it was doing warm ups.
Zoro snorted. "He wouldn't be the first mate of the Pirate King if that over-sized elephant could take him out."
"You cannot falter," Rayleigh said as the elephant moved in to attack.
"Watch out!" Luffy screamed as he pumped his legs.
He jumped and punched the elephant. It didn't even flinch.
"What, nothing!?" Franky yelled in shock.
"It didn't even feel Luffy's attack!" Usopp screamed in terror.
The elephant knocked Luffy aside with its trunk, throwing him into a nearby tree.
"It's fast," Sanji said in surprise. Brook was right. Shiki's mutated animals were nothing compared to this beast.
Luffy ran in again for another round.
Rayleigh hadn't moved from his spot the entire time. "Watch me carefully. There are two main types of Haki."
Luffy stopped running and disengaged his Gear. "It's dangerous!"
"I am fine," Rayleigh assured as he closed his eyes. "He is going to try and hit me with his trunk from my right."
Just as Rayleigh said, the elephant tried to hit him with its trunk from the right. The Dark King easily evaded the attack.
"Amazing," Chopper said in awe.
"As expected from the Dark King," Zoro said.
"The power to monitor other's presence around you, Observation Haki," Rayleigh explained.
Sanji smirked. "My specialty."
The elephant attacked Rayleigh several more times, but he dodged each one of them.
Luffy could only look on in amazement.
"If you master this power, you can find enemies that you cannot see, count how many there are, and determine what their next move will be," Rayleigh went on as he kept dodging the elephant. It looked almost like he was dancing.
Luffy gasped and the memory showed an image of Sandersonia predicting his movements when they were fighting in the colosseum. There were also images of Eneru predicting his attacks.
"He's putting it all together," Sanji mused.
"On the Sky Island Skypiea, this is known as Mantra," Rayleigh said as if reading Luffy's thoughts. "Next is Armament Haki. Think of it as putting on invisible armor."
As if to prove his point, the elephant tried to stomp on Rayleigh. He deflected the stomp with just raising his hand and pushing the creature back. The elephant slammed into the ground and was out crying in pain.
"He made light of that beast! Truly amazing!" Brook exclaimed.
Luffy gasped again in realization. "I...I've seen that before!"
An image of Sentomaru appeared along with him doing his palm blast. Marigold also appeared, blocking Luffy's attack with her bare head.
"If your armor is strong enough, it can even be used to attack," Rayleigh explained as he looked over the injured beast. He then walked over towards Luffy and flicked him on the forehead; much like what Ace did to him back in Alabasta.
Luffy cried in pain as he fell over. He grabbed his injured forehead and rolled on the ground. "I'm rubber, that shouldn't hurt!"
"Really, Luffy, you should be used to that by now," Zoro said, sweat-dropping.
Nami sighed. "He's such a baby. I doubt it even hurt that much."
"This is the most convenient use of Haki. Aside from being able to exploit their weaknesses, Armament Haki is the only real effective way of fighting Devil Fruit users," Rayleigh said. "Logia types may seem invincible with their fluid bodies, but you can pack a solid punch with this."
"No kidding. Stupid cheap logias," Sanji muttered.
"Haki does make battling other users much easier," Robin said.
"Even so, Haki is no guarantee for victory. It just evens the odds," Zoro said, remembering how much the snow woman was a pain in the butt.
As soon as Rayleigh explained how Haki could be used to fight logia, Akainu came into the memory and for a moment, Luffy grabbed his chest.
"Is he in pain?" Chopper asked worriedly.
"No, he realizing how he can beat that bastard," Franky said with knowing smile.
"So this is how you were able to hit Kizaru!" Luffy exclaimed, thinking of the other admiral that annoyed him. "This means I would be able to fight Smoky or Aokiji!"
Rayleigh grinned. "You can even transfer this power to your weapons."
"I can vouch for that," Zoro grinned, grabbing his swords.
"Have you seen the Kuja's arrows?" Rayleigh asked, although he seemed to know the answer.
Luffy nodded, remembering how their arrows could break stone. "They looked like arrows made of steel."
"Armament Haki, those are the two types," Rayleigh said. "However, there are few people in this world who can use the other type of Haki."
The elephant was back and was pissed.
"Hah, that guy should give up while it's behind," Franky said.
It blindly charged the two pirates.
"Watch this," Rayleigh said as he turned towards the beast. His eyes dilated for a moment and a bust of power could be felt, making the Strawhats' hair stand on end.
The elephant slowed down before its eyes rolled into its head and it eventually collapsed. This time, it was down for good.
"This is the power to overwhelm you opponent's willpower, Conquering King's Haki!" Rayleigh exclaimed.
Zoro felt himself shiver. Even with all of Luffy's training, his Haki still paled in comparison to Rayleigh.
"Sheesh, if that little bust can make me feel like this even in a memory, Rayleigh probably could have knocked out all the New Fishman Pirates," Sanji stated.
Luffy was left slack jawed in shock.
"Those whose names are well known around the world often have this power," Rayleigh went on. "However, Conquering Haki is the only one of the three that you cannot train yourself to use. This is because it resembled the spirit of its owner. You can only enhance it by growing yourself."
"Does that mean as Luffy get more confidence in himself, his Haki will also grow stronger?" Chopper asked.
Zoro nodded. "That's part of it."
"Then...does that mean Luffy's Conquering Haki will grow even stronger once he get over his grief?" Usopp asked.
Sanji blinked several times. "Actually, it should. Since once Luffy overcomes his demons, it would make his spirit grow even stronger."
"Oh, that was what you did at the Auction House!" Luffy exclaimed.
"You should already know about it. You have already awoken your own Conquering Haki," Rayleigh informed as he placed a hand on Luffy's shoulder.
Luffy blinked before his eyes widened. He suddenly recalled all those times that people unexpectedly fainted on him when he was particularly upset or stressed.
"I would advise you to refrain from using it until you have it mastered." Rayleigh warned. "It is possible you overwhelm innocent bystanders." He walked away from Luffy.
Luffy stood completely still, staring at the unconscious elephant.
"Something wrong?" Rayleigh asked, once he realized that Luffy wasn't following him.
It took Luffy a moment to speak. "Amazing! So a member of the Pirate King's crew can beat something like this without lifting a finger."
Rayleigh laughed. "So, I gained some respect from you it seems."
Luffy nodded in excitement.
"I think Luffy always respected Rayleigh," Franky said.
"Well, even more so now," Robin smiled.
Luffy stared at his hands. "But I've seen this Haki thing used everywhere! Shanks, Gramps, Ace, Eneru and Aisa, Daisy, Hancock and the Kuja warriors!"
Rayleigh nodded. "I am sure you have, but learning how to use Haki is no simple task."
Luffy nodded in understanding. "Got it."
The memory skipped and the two pirates were now by a fire eating. To the Strawhats' relief, Luffy was eating semi-normally again.
"Normally, we would need more time, but you have had somewhat of a head start," Rayleigh said as he drunk his liquor. "I am going to pound the foundation of Observation, Armament, and Conquering Haki into you these next two years."
"And I bet a lot of pounding took place," Nami said dryly.
"I am not sure. Luffy is quick when learning fighting techniques," Robin said.
Luffy nodded as he ate his giant piece of meat.
"Most people prefer to specialize in one type, depending on what they are better at. They find one they prefer and master that," Rayleigh said. "But by mastering them all, you will expand your horizons."
Zoro nodded. "True, true." It was all too easy to favor one. It took a lot of pounding from Mihawk to get him to stop depending so much on his Armament Haki.
"Okay, I got it," Luffy said.
"I wonder if you do," Usopp muttered.
"Now then, as your coach I am not going easy on you, Luffy," Rayleigh warned once Luffy had finished eating.
Luffy accepted the challenge. "Right! I wouldn't have it any other way!
Rayleigh smiled proudly. "I guess it is time..."
"Wait, give me a second!" Luffy suddenly yelled, stopping Rayleigh in mid-sentence.
Franky chuckled. "Way to ruin the mood."
Luffy ran back to the field where the giant radish tree laid.
"If I remember, the old man said this was the only safe place," Luffy said as he gazed over the giant tree. The crew then noticed that several sharp rocks surrounded the tree almost like a barrier. He reached for his hat and took it off. "The Pirate Strawhat Luffy is going on vacation for a bit."
He walked over to the tree and gently placed his precious hat on the rocks.
"What's he doing?" Chopper asked.
"I think he is more or less saying that of this moment, he is not the captain of the Strawhats. He is putting his hat here to keep the beasts of this island from damaging it," Robin explained with moist eyes.
"It makes sense. With his confidence shattered, he no longer feels ready to become the Pirate King," Zoro spoke softly. "He has to rebuild himself from the beginning."
"It's like he's starting over again," Usopp whispered.
Luffy stared at the hat.
"Ace, Luffy, the three of us will set out to sea someday! We'll go out of this country and be free! I want to see the wide world and write a book about what I saw! If I have to study in preparation for the voyage, then that's no problem! Let's become stronger and become pirates!" the voice of Sabo declared across the memory.
"I'd become one even if you didn't tell me to. I will become a pirate, defeat everyone in my way, and become known across the world! That will be proof that I lived! I don't care if the world doesn't accept me, no matter how much they hate me, I'll become a great pirate and stand above everyone else! I won't run from anyone, or lose to anyone. I'll make sure the world knows my name, even if it's through fear!" Ace's voice joined.
Luffy snapped out of his childhood musing long enough to realized that he still had Rayleigh's Vivre Card in his shorts pocket. He placed the paper in his hat rim.
"Hey, hurry up! Let us get started!" Rayleigh yelled with a note of impatience.
"Coming!" Luffy yelled as he turned away from the tree. He stopped suddenly and looked back at his hat one last time. "Zoro, Nami, Usopp, Sanji, Chopper, Robin, Franky, Brook." He then looked towards the sky. "Also you, Ace and Sabo. I promise you once more...I'm going to grow stronger!"
With his new vow made, he ran to join Rayleigh.
The mist grew thicker until it covered everything except the tree that protected Luffy's hat. It appeared to shine like a beacon in the darkness, highlighting Luffy's promises.
The Strawhats then felt themselves becoming lighter and the mist engulfed them for the final time. Then, all was blank.
There will be one, maybe two more bonus chapters. Have not quite decided if I want to post the one I have been working on. Well, hope you enjoyed.