Authority is the sword of Justice; and the unjust may not wield it.

"Ahhhh... much better." Zoro opined as he relaxed back into his seat; nine days worth of food settling into his belly. So, less than half of what Luffy had eaten previously. Though the young lieutenant had insisted that they put the meal on the marine's tab; the restauranteur had quietly failed to do so. Telling your savior you wanted to give him a free meal might wound his marinelike honor, he'd reasoned.

"It's good that the restaurant still had food left; not eating that long would probably kill me." Luffy reasoned with a short laugh. "I hope Ripper-ossan manages to get things sorted out soon. This place isn't nearly as lively without Axeman."

Coby, despite the intensity of the last few hours, still managed to be worried. "Luffy... are you really sure about all this? Even though he was a traitor to the ideals of the marines, Morgan still outranked you; you struck a superior officer. You could be court martialed, or worse!" He said with a gulp.

"Ehh, I'm not worried about that kinda thing. If the court knows Justice like I do, they won't do anything bad. And if they don't and I get sent to Impel Down for a thousand years, then I'll just serve my sentence and get out!" He reasoned, as Coby's worry darkened; only worsening as the door opened, a bearded, scarred marine officer entering; Luffy flipping over the back of his chair onto his feet to snap a salute, albeit to the wrong side of the restaurant, until he bent backwards.

"Hiya Commander!" He greeted, as the hardworn officer gave him a politely befuddled stare.

"At ease Lieutenant. Take a seat, this will take some time." He advised, pulling up a chair to their table and laying a few files down as a waitress hurriedly removed dishes from the table. "Firstly, I'd like to personally thank you for what you've done for all of us here. And I want to apologize, for failing to administer justice when it was duly called for. I let rank and authority blind me almost as much as Morgan... because I was afraid. For myself, and my men, if I defied him. I just got off the den-den mushi with headquarters; I managed to convince them that you acted in defense of justice and the law, and that Morgan's tyranny constituted a breach of conduct. So thankfully, you don't need to worry about a court martial... just this." he said, pushing the papers over.

Luffy picked them up and let the file fall open in one hand, a few sheets sliding out as he peered over them blankly. "Aaahhh, what a drag. I guess I have to though..." he said glumly, a look of faint confusion coming over Ripper's face.

"What's the matter? You in trouble?" Zoro asked, picking his teeth idly with a steak knife.

"No. I got promoted again." Luffy said sourly, as Coby's eyes bulged.

"I believe some congratulations are in order, Major." The commander said, saluting casually, the marines behind him delivering far snappier gestures. "We're a bit busy at the moment, but we'll have your new sigil and coat ready shortly."

Luffy poked through the papers sourly and then picked another one up, pointing toward it. "What's this thing anyway?"

Ripper looked it over and nodded. "Ah. Part of your promotion apparently involved a transfer to a new branch. I gathered that the Admiralty was somewhat... frustrated, in their attempts to place you previously, so a novel solution was approached. This mark will go on your new sigil; it's a designation that you're part of the Inspector General's department under Vice Admiral Sengoku."

"Ehh? Seagull-sama's gonna be in charge?" He asked with a look of slight confusion, as Coby's eyes threatened to escape from his head; if Luffy was that familiar with the legendary Sengoku, just what was he doing here in east blue...

"That's... correct. This also contains your writ of command, with authority to investigate and prosecute all crimes of a maritime nature within and without the World Government Marines. You're also given authority to induct and command a crew and commandeer your own ship."

"Interesting." Zoro noted with a wry smile. "When you put it that way, he sounds more like a kind of official pirate; Maybe if you keep stirring up trouble they'll make you a shichibukai, eh Major?"

Luffy stuck his tongue out at the thought.

"It might seem that way, but this posting reflects a great deal of trust and authority. I hope you'll treat it with some respect... as well, despite that you can recruit your own crew, they still have to be vetted by the marines eventually. I understand you want Pirate Hunter Roronoa Zoro to join... in that case, there might be a good solution." Ripper said, withdrawing a sheet of paper from his uniform and placing it before the swordsman, who gave it a curious stare, looking the writing over. "This is an official contract from headquarters; if you sign it, it will place you under Luffy's command as a private mercenary. Normally I would prefer you be within the marines' command structure, but this is the fastest way to get things done, and I can vouch for your skills myself."

Zoro looked it over and smirked. "So, I'd become the Major's Yojimbo then. You're a hard sell Ripper, but I think I kind of like it." He said, flicking his wadou from it's sheath significantly, before slicing the tip of one finger and pressing it to the paper, drawing out a signature that looked exactly like you'd expect a man to write with a sword instead of a pen. The officer had the sense not to stare as he accepted it back.

"With that, you may consider yourself on leave for the next few days, Lieutenant." He said, standing up and saluting once more, before turning to leave.

"W-wait sir!" Coby said, shaking off his nerves and standing up as straight as he could, as Ripper turned back to him.

"I want... I want to join the marines sir!"

"And I want to recruit him!" Luffy piped up, gesturing with a long bone he'd been picking at.

"Yeah! and- wait, what?" Coby asked, dumbfounded.

"You're pretty useful, so I've decided I want to keep you." Luffy informed him, gnawing the bone furiously.

Ripper gave the short, slightly pudgy, pink haired boy a discerning look, and then shrugged. "It's within his authority, and I don't feel like contesting it. If you join him though, you'll still have to pass the marine aptitude exams and consent to obey his orders fully. You'd be promoted, punished, and even discharged entirely on his authority. Are you prepared for that?"

Coby swallowed; then when that failed to fully contain his nerves, he did it again, before speaking. "I'm... I'm ready sir! Anything my officers and my commander order, I shall obey!" He reported firmly.

Ripper gave him a nod, then clapped him on the shoulder. "Just never forget when it's right to disobey." He said gravely, before stepping out; as Luffy struggled to swallow an entire femur, sideways.

"Where did you pick this kid up from anyway?" Zoro asked curiously, wrapping his finger in a clean napkin.

"Ahh, I helped him when he landed on a ship... I hope that the marines don't look too hard into my history, you see for two years I was shanghaied onto this crew under this fat woman named Al... vi... da." he said, slowly going pale. "We forgot about Alvida!" he shouted, in sudden realization, as Luffy fell out of his seat and began to roll around, with Zoro scrambling to save the rubber man from death at the posthumous hooves of a cow.

Short chapter this week. It just sunk in just how much the whole Morgan chapter drained me; I don't think I'm gonna retread the series as much after that. Suffice to say that after this, if I skip any big chunks, you can assume they happened -largely- the same as canon.

Luffy's use of many varied suffixes on people's names is a great point of charm for his character, but my japanese isn't good enough to catch them all, so if I miss some, forgive me.

Sengoku has indeed already been transferred and replaced. I'll let you take a guess by whom...