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I had been in the world of One Piece for about a year and a half now.

A necklace that I had been wearing, something that I had purchased from an op shop because I thought that it looked pretty, had started to glow a furious red. It caused me to blackout, keeling over forwards and waking up to find myself aching all over, on an island in the middle of nowhere familiar. Ships would circle the island every now and then over the next few hours before a ship flying a very familiar flag picked me up after seeing the fire I had made with the lighter I carried around in my back pocket.

I knew that it would come in handy somehow.

(The necklace had stopped glowing, the colour had dulled and had become almost milky, as though the life had been sucked out of it entirely. As though it had fulfilled its purpose.)

The ship docked at an incredibly familiar site, that of Loguetown. 

It wasn’t meant to be real, none of this was.

I had to make my excuses and quietly thanked the marines for their rescue and made my silent panicky escape towards the Gold Roger bar. I had no money that was of any use in this world, but maybe they could use a bartender? Or at least I could pay off any drinks that I may or may not ingest in my panic as to find out what the freaking hell was going on. 

I had to be hallucinating somehow.

But I wasn’t.

The smell of booze got stronger and stronger as I got closer to the bar, drunk and unconscious pirates of all sorts littering the street and even partially blocking the way. Narrowly avoiding a dagger being thrown in my general direction, thankfully it wasn’t aimed at my face or I’d be dead, I ducked into the bar in which a full-on bar fight was in progress.

The poor girl behind the bar looked to be in tears as the chaos continued, right up until smoke began to fill the room.

That could only be one person and I hoped that Smoker didn’t latch onto me as a problem.

“You lot can’t go five minutes without causing problems, can you?” 

His voice was, unfortunately, familiar, and I really hoped that it was a dream but what happened next definitely cemented this as one of the pirates who had escaped being restrained by the logia wielding marine charged toward the barmaid, cutlass raised to strike. 

They only missed because I had stupidly thrown the bag that I had been carrying over my arm in the way, the handle pulling it downwards by gravity with a thud and embedding the cutlass into the wood. 

The pirate let out a scream of rage and frustration, as another marine snuck up behind him and knocked him out.

Smoker turned to me and smirked.

“You’re new.”

I didn’t trust myself to speak, so I nodded in response. What the hell had I just done?

“Welcome to Loguetown, do try and stay out of trouble while you find your footing.”

A group of marines rushed into the room, rounding up the pirates to take back to some prepared cells. 

This happened often enough that cells were always ready apparently.

As the marines left, the poor girl behind the bar burst into tears, collapsing onto the bar in front of her. I looked at her more closely, she couldn’t have been any older than fourteen, and all that had happened directly in front of her. She had almost died. 

I walked over to her, mindful of the mess that had been created by the bar fight and put a hand in front of her so as to not cause her any more distress.

“Did you need any help?”

She jumped, not realising that I was still in the general vicinity.

“If I can do anything to help?” I prompted further, as she tried desperately to wipe away tears.

“If you would? It would mean a lot!” 

She sounded a heck of a lot younger than fourteen, and I couldn’t help but blurt out.

“How old are you, kid?”

She glared up at me through cloudy eyes, “I’m fourteen! I’m old enough to work here!”

“I wasn’t saying that you weren’t,” I really couldn’t afford to offend her at this point in time, especially if I was to be able to gain some sort of employment or even friend. “I was just wondering what a young women like yourself is doing working here by yourself.”

This made her burst into tears again, “There was someone else!”

She was wailing at this point.

“He just started that bar fight!”

That didn’t sound good.

“He’s been working here to gather information on the marines! A wanted murderer! Not even a pirate!”

The girl had picked up speed in her rant, “I would welcome a pirate! But a serial killer! Who killed for the sake of killing! That pirate crew had been hunting him down because he’d killed their sister!”

She ranted a little longer, before losing steam, her tears drying up.

“Did you want someone else around to help out? I haven’t got anything else on at the moment.” 

Or ever again really.

And this is how I secured work at the bar. Apparently, they kept loosing staff members to the criminal underworld, as that had been who had started that particular fight. 


 

The girl, whose name was Burgundy Bailey, slept in a house she shared with her grandfather who owned the bar next door and offered me a place to stay when she realised that I had nowhere else to go.

I only had my backpack with me, and the bag of groceries that I had thrown at the cutlass when I arrived. My backpack was full of art supplies, my laptop and charger and a camera. I had no way of currently charging any of these things, except for the small solar charger for my phone and now it would never leave my body, the only thing that I could safely keep on me from a home lost. I had been walking home from the shops, after a long day at classes. 

Classes that were now kind of useless to me, but groceries that I could at least use to cook a good meal or three before those supplies ran out. Bailey and her grandfather at least appreciated the lasagne I cooked for them in thanks for allowing me to stay with them, as well as for the job.

Bailey showed me to a small guest room, with a plush looking bed and a window that faced the executioner's block. Morbid, but I thanked her nonetheless, putting my stuff down onto the bed, pulling out my journal that I took everywhere with me, a photo of my parents and I falling out of it. It had been put into my journal as I had spilt oil paint on it a few weeks earlier, so it couldn’t go back into the photo album that it had originally belonged to.

I cried myself to sleep that night.

And all the nights for the next two months, as I realised that this was going to have to be my home now.

I would never see my family again, and that was a cold hard fact.


 

The fictional world of One Piece was even harsher, more full of life than the manga and anime showed.

I had been trying to keep an eye out for Monkey D. Luffy and his merry band of nakama, but I had appeared in this world far before he had set out it seemed. But not too far behind, as I had the pleasure of serving his elder brother and his drunken crew many times before they too left for the New World and before he had become the Second Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates.

Somehow we had become friends, too, and he had offered me a place on his ship at one point.

Declining, I had told him that I was waiting for someone else and then I would meet him out on the high seas.

I needed to be a Straw-Hat. Something is telling me that that is the reason why Im here in this world. And truthfully I couldn’t just sit back and watch from the sidelines whilst those terrifyingly incredible adventures were going on. There was a way I could become a Straw Hat and that could be to offer to write the adventure? 

That could be something that Luffy would be interested in, especially if it stopped Nami from having the extra chore. It was a guess, but she was the only other person on board that ship that I could see (besides Robin, who wouldn’t join until much later) to have the patience to write their stories.

I could swim, and in my time in the One Piece world, I could now fight.

The lack of pollution in this world actually helped out with my training, that and the criminals that continued to fight in the bar,  and it was so nice to see the stars without light pollution, even if the constellations were not the same as back home.

Perhaps the Straw Hats would want a dedicated swimmer to back up all the devil fruit users on the ship? 

The marines apparently needed decent swimmers, as they were almost universally incapable of actually being able to swim.

The first time I had seen their incompetence was when a group of apparently experienced marines were standing at the port, looking towards a flailing child and a screaming mother. Not a single one of them were going out to help.

I didn’t even think for a second, diving into the ocean, avoiding the incredibly large fish with very sharp teeth that seemed intent on making me into their next meal. 

The child at this point was unconscious and sinking under the waves. I dragged them ashore and began to perform CPR as the child’s mother screamed at the marines for not doing anything.

The marines had absolutely no idea what CPR was when I later explained it to them. I honestly have no idea how they couldn’t know what it was. 

We’re surrounded by water and the children of Loguetown for the most part, and these marines did not know how to swim apparently or perform CPR. After the incident, and the child’s survival and a teary mother who almost squeezed the life out of me, I had somehow become the one person to go to for swimming lessons, partially due to my friendly and supposedly approachable nature. Parents would come to me on my breaks at the bar, curiously peaking into the building carrying small children at their hips, offering payment even when I told them that it should be a basic skill that everyone should know.

I think that was just the Australian talking.

Most parents told me there were only three ways for the children to learn how to swim. One was that a family member would teach them, but that was gradually becoming lesser and lesser. The second was to join the marines. Not even just asking for basic survival skills, no. You had to join up if you wished to learn how to swim and the majority of the parents and older siblings that I had spoken to did not wish to force their younger relatives into a career choice that they did not choose themselves. 

Becoming a pirate, or even knowing a pirate was the third and final option. (And with the marine presence in town this wasn’t always a viable option.)

Even so, the marines that I had met that day that couldn’t swim left an uncomfortable mark on my psyche. 

It seemed that the majority of the good marines were either those who had eaten devil fruits, not marines yet or named Monkey D. Garp, thus not actually stationed at Loguetown.


 

It had to be the time; the latest bounties had been released a the start of the week and a familiar face had shown up. 

I gave my notice at the bar, and to the parents of the children that I had taught to swim. They all knew that I had been waiting for someone, and were disappointed but not shocked. I don’t think that they knew, however, that I was going to attempt to join a pirate crew. 

I'd been scouting along the port for a few days now, ever since the bounty poster of a certain Straw Hatted teenager had been issued. 

I didn’t want to miss them, as this would be my only chance (unless I somehow begged passage on the Cannibal’s ship in two years time, but I could not and would not do this. Not if I could stop the whole Marineford debacle. This reminded me, he was such a fanboy of anything Straw Hat, would this include me in the future?) to get away from here.

And then I saw it. The Going Merry pulling into port. She looked just as I remembered, maybe even more magnificent.

I did the only thing that made any sense to me at the time and ran full sprint towards it.

"Monkey D. Luffy!"

The straw hatted teenager turned around and faced me. It was odd, considering that I had been waiting for this for almost two years and now it was here I wasn’t feeling any nerves at all.

"What do you want?"

His voice was exactly as I had remembered, although with a slight twinge of an accent that I couldn’t quite recognise. (Maybe a local dialect?)

“I would like to humbly request to join your crew and serve as your chronicler, Future Pirate King!"

I could tell that I had shocked the crew standing behind their captain. This was the first time that anyone had actually asked to join the crew. 

 

Chapter Text

"Monkey D. Luffy!" 

The crew as one turned to the sound of the voice. 

"What do you want?"

Luffy had shouted back. His voice wasn’t confrontational, just questioning. Nami and Usopp started to fret, thinking that a bounty hunter had already decided to target their captain for his bounty.

“I would like to humbly request to join your crew and serve as your chronicler, Future Pirate King!" 

This caused the crew to jaw drop. They didn’t realise that people would actually walk up to their captain at random to request to join

"Of course!"

The current Straw Hat pirates all winced; of course they’d been expecting Luffy to outright accept the stranger’s request to join the crew but they didn’t expect it to be quite so forthright. 

On second thoughts, it was exactly like the captain to do so. 

"Oi Luffy! What if they’re a bounty hunter that wants to kill us all?" Usopp was shaking in his boots, whilst Nami was hiding behind Sanji. 

"They look like a good guy! And we need someone to record our adventures!" Luffy was still grinning at the hooded stranger. 

Zoro took one look at the stranger and held out a hand, which the stranger took. 

"If Luffy says that you're a good guy, then I'll take his word for it." With that Zoro yanked the stranger forward causing them to let out a surprised yelp. "But you even think about betraying him, betraying us, and you’ll be dealing with me, got it."

"Crystal clear, Pirate Hunter." The voice of the Straw Hat"s newest member was surprisingly smooth, with an even timber and could have belonged to either gender.

"Now that that is sorted, I’m off to explore where they kill people!" Zoro looked close to rolling his eyes at his captain, whilst Sanji huffed out a breathy laugh in between taking a drag of his already lit cigarette. Nami actually face-palmed, whilst Usopp  If that comment bothered the newest member of the Straw Hats, it didnt show.

"If you go past that alley on the left, there’s a bar named after the former Pirate King and the pirate in there has some fantastic stories, too. It’s just a bit further than that, captain."

"Shishishi! Thanks?" 

It was then that the Straw Hats realised that they didn’t actually know their newest crew mates name

"Wow, I knew I’d forgotten something. My name is Ebony. Ebony Black," The hooded figure tilted their head and clarified, "Black being my last name and Ebony my first."

"Thanks Ebony!" And with that Monkey D. Luffy took off in the direction that they"d mentioned, with the Straw Hats watching their captain take off.

"Thank you." Ebony had turned and bowed towards those left. "I understand your wariness, but I appreciate this opportunity nonetheless and I will earn your trust."

 


 

Now the nerves seemed to kick in. I really wanted them to accept me, but I know that all of them have trust issues and me being me, with all my knowledge of the future and the past and tidbits of information that would get me killed by numerous people throughout this world."Why do you want to join our crew, anyway?" 

This got me to stand up. Usopp had asked me the question and I intended to answer as truthfully as I could without telling a flat out lie.

"I overheard a pirate a few years ago talking about his brother to his crew."  

This was entirely true. I’d taken a job a bartender when I first arrived here and I happened to stumble onto a conversation in the bar I was tending where there was a very inebriated Portgas D. Ace waxing poetic about his baby brother (amongst other things) and how he wished to become King of the Pirates.

"He seemed bloody proud to be the older brother to this kid whose name he mentioned was Luffy. And considering the similarities between the two, I took a wild guess."

I thought for a moment and added, "Also I think it would be best for the Pirate King to have his story be told as it truly stands rather than by World Government propaganda."

"It"ll be nice to have another girl on the crew!" 

Nami seemed excited by this prospect, so did Sanji by the way he seemed to turn into a weird noodle man. 

"Too much testosterone?" I asked dryly.

"Definitely!" 

We laughed together, which helped the two weaker members of the crew to relax a little. Zoro was still eyeing me warily, but that was to be expected.

“We'd better get what we need before the marines notice that we’re here." Usopp was looking at the very noticeable Marine Headquarters in the middle of the street.

“I'll go grab my stuff. Will we be meeting back here?"

Nami nodded and looked at her watch, "In an hour, or if Luffy causes any damage."

I laughed and agreed, all of us going our separate ways.

I had things to do, and people to see.

 


 

I hadn’t initially planned to make contact with the Revolutionaries, but I couldn’t stand thinking that if I failed to save Ace that he would die believing Luffy to be the sole remaining Grey Terminal brother. I needed to somehow get Sabo to remember earlier. I needed to get his amnesia sorted out, and I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about doing it.

That is why I need to talk to Dragon. And short of trying to find him myself, which would be impossible with the resources at my disposal (or lack there of), this would be the only opportunity that I would have.

And I'm absolutely terrified. How on earth would I explain this to the Most Wanted World in the World? That the brother that his son had thought lost had spent the last ten years as an amnesiac in the employ (of a sort) of his mysterious father?

A few weeks back I’d posted an ad in a newspaper that I hoped they, or someone from the Revolutionaries would read. It had said something along the lines of ‘rubber monkey crew and crow queen needs advice from a wyvern about an amnesiac top hat with goggles’. And I’d hoped to the gods that it would work. A few days afterwards I’d found a note mentioning a time, a date and a place.  

"You wished to talk?" His voice was deep, a lot deeper than what I could initially remember it being, having the same slight accent that Luffy’s had.

Taking a deep breath, I fiddled with the envelope I had for him to give to Sabo 

"I do. I know a whole lot of stuff that I really shouldn’t about a whole lot of stuff that I definitely shouldn’t know."

Taking a seat and an even deeper breath I started to explain my situation. 

"That seems far fetched."

My hand started to shake, thinking that I had made a mistake. This was a man that I did not want to piss off, regardless of his position of Most Wanted Man in the World, leader of the Revolutionaries or as the father of Monkey D. Luffy.

"But that is not to say that I do not believe you. I have members of my organisation that claim to be from worlds other than our own."

"So you mean to say that not only do you believe me, there are others like me?"

"That would be correct. However you are the first that has come to me saying that this world in your own was fictional."

That means that I am the only one from Earth to have arrived here; all I could think was where were the others pulled from? And did I know those worlds as fictional in my own?

"That seems fair." 

We stared at each other for a moment before I could hear a commotion. That could only mean one thing and the both of us seemed to realise this.

"I need to get back to my captain. I was wondering if you would be able to give this to a certain amnesiac blond when you see him? It may explain a lot of things and his non-blood family really do miss him."

I handed Dragon the envelope, my hand only shaking a little bit as I did. I couldn’t help it, the man had earned his reputation and I couldn’t help but be a little wary, a little scared of him.

He looked at the envelope and nodded, passing me a miniature den den mushi. I’d bought a few of my own for the crew a while back, so I knew how they worked, I was just surprised that he trusted me enough to give me one.

"If you have anything to ask, or information to provide please use this."

"Thank you. I really should be going now."

Dragon inclined his head towards me and I turned and ran towards the sound of the commotion. 

Luffy was currently on top of the executioners stand, with Buggy proclaiming loudly about how Luffy was now going to die. 

"THIS EXECUTION IS OVER!" A loud shout rang out; I couldn’t tell if this was said by Zoro or Sanji or both.

I found Zoro and Sanji just as the fighting began.

"Is it always going to be like this?" I shouted towards Sanji who had just drop kicked a machete wielding pirate; I myself had just punched a man and probably broke his nose with a pair of knuckle dusters made with seastone. (I wasn’t taking any chances; I had had them custom ordered through a certain fanged, or was is tusked, fanboy.)

"Seems to be!" Sanji shouted back.

"Less talking!" Came the ordered yell of the first mate as he slashed his way through another three pirates.

"Sorry guys! But I’m dead!"

"NO!" I knew he wouldn't die here, but in the moment it was one of the singular most terrifying moments of my life. 

The lightning had come out of nowhere, knocking the execution platform down along with knocking out many of the closest pirates, including Buggy and Alvida. I’m not entirely religious, to be in this world I had to believe in some higher omnipotent power, but fate had seriously intervened.

"Hey, do you believe in God?" Sanji was shaken, as was Zoro but he hid it well.

"Enough talking," Zoro put his swords back in their spots. “Let's leave here. We’ve got enough trouble coming for us as it is."

"SURROUND THE TOWN SQUARE AND CONTAIN ALL THE PIRATES!"

"Shishsishishi! Let’s make run for it guys!" 

The four of us took off in the direction of the Going Merry, outrunning the chasing marines and pirates alike. The wind and rain were increasingly getting worse as we got further away from the Town Square, away from where Smoker was arresting Buggy and the rest of the pirates.

"The wind’s getting worse." 

"Really, I hadn’t noticed." At my comment Luffy gave off another one of his laughs.

"These guys are so persistent. Any chance of stopping and fighting them off?" There was a slight whine to Zoro"s voice as he asked the question.

"There won’t be an end to them if you do that; besides Nami-swan wanted us back to the ship as soon as possible."

I had to interject after Sanji had spoken, "Besides, you wouldn’t want to fight Captain Smoker. Not at the moment at least, he’s strong. Too strong to be stationed here."

"RORONOA ZORO!" A very pissed of female voice shouted. At the end of the street Tashigi was panting, clearly having run after us. "YOU LIED TO ME! YOU NEVER TOLD ME YOU WERE A PIRATE, YOU BASTARD!"

Sanji turned to Zoro and looked as if he were about to strangle him but held himself back from actually doing so. 

"What did you did, marimo?!" 

"He probably didn’t do anything, Sanji." I muttered under my breath.

"The writer is right." 

I didn’t think anyone would have actually heard me, considering how quiet I had actually spoken but we were running very close to each other so it probably couldn't be helped.

"You never asked for my name! I never lied to you." 

Zoro sounded pissed, but looked incredibly bored and Sanji was visibly trying to restrain himself from doing something to the swordsman. I couldn’t help it, but I laughed. The whole situation was absolutely ridiculous, and I knew that in the future it would become even more ridiculous as the crew progressed throughout the Grand Line.

However knowing Tashigi, she wouldn’t accept that as an answer. 

"I'm going to take Wado Ichimonji from you, so that it will never fall into the hands of a pirate ever again!"

Tashigi was readying herself for a fight, as was Zoro who had seen her pull her weapon. 

Zoro grinned, a little bit of the famed Demon of the East Blue poking through. "I dare you to try it."

We ran towards Tashigi, only Zoro stopping to fight with her; telling us to go on ahead and that he"d catch up with us.

"That bastard dares to harm a lady!" 

Luffy had to snag the back of Sanji"s suit to keep him from running off back towards Zoro and Tashigi.

"I think she went after him first." I stated with a shake of my head. 

Sanji couldn’t help but sigh, even a ladies man like him could see that to be the truth (even if he didn’t want to accept it.) We continued running for what seemed like forever, when I spotted with dread Smoker. The man was intimidating. In my time in Loguetown he had broken up enough fights and arrested enough pirates at the bar I worked at for me to be on a first name basis with the man. I had told him once that I was going to leave and become a pirate, sail under the man who would become a legend.

He never really believed me, always going on about me being a stupid kid. (Kind of true, but I needed to make the most of what was given to me and all the resources and lives I had known from my own world had been taken from me. I could only do what I knew.)

“Someone's up ahead!" 

"Eh, another one?" I honestly don"t think Luffy could have sounded more bored, apathetic if he tried.

"That"s Smoker."

"So you’ve come, Straw Hat Luffy."

"So you’re Captain Smoker." 

This was different from what I remembered, perhaps considering I’d actually said to the others who he was before they’d met changed the script up a bit?

"So the infamous Crow Queen"s told you who I am?"

Sanji, Smoker and Luffy all looked towards me, likely pinpointing me as the culprit.

"I won’t be allowing you to leave Loguetown!" 

The logia was now everywhere, encompassing Luffy who looked surprised. Sanji tried to kick Smoker but as expected went straight through. I was the only one there that would have had a chance to do anything, but I didn’t want to lose the ace up my sleeve too soon. I’d need those seastone knuckles to be kept as much as a secret as I could for as long as I could. It wouldn’t do for the Marines to take notice of the very illegal supply within the underground. 

"I don’t have time for runts." With that, Smoker threw Sanji off of him and into a building behind us. 

"GOMU-GOMU NO PISTOL!" 

I had been waiting for that signature move since we had become cornered; however it just went straight through the marine captain.

"Are you really worth thirty million beli?" He sounded so incredibly disappointed that this was all my captain had offered him, he really did sound and look as though he expected more. I should have guessed that he was like Zoro, always looking forward to the next fight and always hoping it would be a good one. Smoker had slammed Luffy’s head into the ground and I went to move forward, I couldn’t not do something, but I was held back by someone.

Looking up, Dragon had put a hand on my shoulder and shook his head ever so slightly and then he was gone.

“Look's like your luck has run out." Dragon had reached out and grabbed Smoker by the wrist. 

"Or perhaps not."

"You!" Smoker looked shocked and then angered, "The World Government is after your head you know!"

"The world awaits our answer!"

The storm had kicked up a notch and had managed to send what seemed to be a whole squadron of marines towards us. Sanji had somehow made his way over to me, and stood in front of me managing to kick some of the marines away before they could hit the pair of us.

"Mah, thank you."

"My pleasure Ebony-chan." He somehow managed to sound suave and hopeful all at once.

"Guys!" Zoro's panicked shout came from behind us, "We need to make a run for it! We're going to get trampled otherwise! There’s a massive storm on it's way!"

This kicked the three of into action, with all of us running for our lives.

"That must have been what Nami-chwan meant!" Sanji had simultaneously started to do his noodle dance and run at the same time. I really am never going to understand some of the things in this world, but funnily enough devil fruits won’t be one of them, but more so the behaviours of some people.

We'd somehow made it to the ship in time, as the rope holding the Going Merry at port was on its last legs. 

"Luffy! Hurry up, this rope won't last much longer!" Usopp was struggling with said piece of rope with all of his might.

"What took you guys so long?" Nami looked like she had had enough and wanted out.

"Oh, you know. The marines. Buggy. The usual." I shouted back to her and she sighed and shook her head.

"I hope you’ve realised what you’re getting yourself in for!"

I laughed in response.

"Hurry up and get on board! We need to leave now!"

Scrambling up onto the ship, we managed to get everyone and everything on board before the rope snapped and the storm started to push us out onto the open waters.

"Look up ahead! The entrance to the Grand Line! It’s just past that lighthouse!"

I couldn’t help but stare in amazement at the scene in front of me. Despite, or because of it I'm not entirely sure, the storm the ocean looked incredible. The rough waters, and the sea kings in the future would be a problem but we would overcome those barriers. 

"So what shall we do?"

"We haven’t introduced ourselves to our newest member!" The captain interjected. I found myself to be in agreement with Luffy. I hadn’t technically been introduced to the others, despite me knowing their names anyway. (Although I had spoken to Zoro with the name Pirate Hunter earlier on in the day, but that could be chalked up to rumours. And I had met Ace, so that could be the reason why and how I knew Luffy's name in the first place.)

"I'm Nami, the navigator and treasurer of the Straw Hat Pirates."

"I'm Captain Usopp!" Luffy smacked Usopp over the head at this, causing me to chuckle, "Er, Usopp and I'm the Sniper."

"You already know me."

"You have garnered attention, Roronoa Zoro. I doubt there isn’t a pirate, criminal or bounty hunter that doesn’t know your name in the East Blue."

"What does that make you then?" There was a challenge in his eyes and I couldn’t refuse it.

"An ex-bartender at a place known for being visited by pirates, criminals and bounty hunters alike. Although I'm here now, I suppose that just makes me a pirate."

He laughed at this, which I counted as a good sign.

"Ebony-chan! I’m Sanji and I’m the chef!" I couldn’t help but imagine him with puppy ears and a wagging tail he was so enthusiastic. 

"So, we’ve reached the Grand Line. This calls for a celebration!"

So this was the famous barrel scene and I knew exactly what I wanted to say. Sanji had moved a large barrel into the centre of where we all were and placed his foot on top of it.

"To find the All Blue!"

"To become the King of the Pirates!" 

"To be the Greatest Swordsman!"

 "To draw a map of the world!" 

"To… become a brave warrior of the sea!" 

"To chronicle the greatest of adventures!" 

With a large crash we all brought our feet down at once, the barrel splintering at our feet to grins and cheers from all six of us.

Chapter Text

“NAMI! THE LIGHT JUST WENT OUT!”

Luffy’s shout rang out through the ship, spurring us all into action and for the most part panicking at this admission, but Nami didn’t look to worried.

“That was our guiding light, too!”

“Captain, lighthouses go out from time to time.” I pointed out before anyone else could.

“Besides, it’s for time like these you have a navigator, you know?” Nami sounded from above us. “So don’t worry. I know the basic direction at least.”

“You’re amazing, Nami!” Luffy shouted excitedly, stars in his eyes. Sanji was nodding beside me in agreement.

“Can you get off of there please?” Nami had only just realised where Luffy was hanging from.

“No! This is my spot!” His excited tone had become indignant.

“WHEN DID I SAY I WANTED IT?” The shark teeth had appeared once again.

“This is rather troubling however,” Nami was looking down at a map for what I was assuming the Grand Line, “At this rate, it’ll be what the rumours have said.”

She suddenly gasped and ran into the galley, beckoning for us all to follow her.

“What have you realised, Nami?”

She gave me a look, “Why do you think I’ve realised something?”

“People don’t just gasp and run inside with everyone else following them for no reason.”

“She makes a point, witch.”

Sanji glared at Zoro and made to open his mouth to comment when Nami spoke over the top of him.

“The entrance to the Grand Line is a mountain.” It was a dramatic moment, especially once she slammed the map onto the table. I was half expecting there to be background music.

“A mountain?”

Everyone was a little confused, looking at Nami like she had genuinely lost her mind. Usopp’s mouth was dropped open, Zoro looked a little angry and Luffy had his head tilted to the side like a puppy. Sanji and I were the only ones who hadn’t reacted too much, myself because I knew what was coming and Sanji, probably because he was from the North Blue and had had to come to the South Blue somehow.

“Precisely my reaction, I had a pretty difficult time believing it myself when I looked at the map, but look at it!” She pointed at the map, directly towards the lighthouse. “The light of guidance was pointing directly at Reverse Mountain which is located here on the Red Line.”

“Does that mean we have to crash through a mountain?”

“Is that even possible without breaking the ship?” I couldn’t help but be curious.

Continuing to explain whilst pointing at the map, “No, there’s a waterway right here.”

“A waterway? Are you crazy? Even if that is a waterway, there’s no way a ship could climb UP a mountain.” Usopp couldn’t believe what Nami was suggesting.

“Usopp, if that’s what the map says then we probably should do what it asks. Especially if Nami believes it.” I couldn’t help but point out to the sniper, who still looked at Nami and the map in disbelief.

“Exactly. That’s what the map says.” “As if what Nami says could ever be wrong!”

“Isn’t that the map you stole from Buggy?” Zoro asked. “Can you really depend on it?”

“Are you saying that Buggy is undependable, Zoro?”

“Pretty much.” I laughed at the dry response. Luffy on the other hand wasn’t paying any attention to the lack of trust most of his crew had in the stolen map.

“Are we really going to climb up a mountain? On a ship? That sounds so cool!” The stars in his eyes doubled in size the longer he looked at the map. “It’s a magic mountain, right Ebony?”

Startled at being addressed so suddenly by the captain, I only nodded and put my thumbs up in response.

“Why do we have to go through the entrance directly in the first place? Couldn’t we just head south and then enter?”

“Zoro, you really shouldn’t have said that.”

“No we can’t!” Luffy shook his head emphatically. I almost thought that he was going to make that a captains order.

“Besides Luffy’s desire to go up a mountain, there’s probably a good reason for it.”

“Exactly Ebony.”

“It’s so much cooler to go in using the real entrance!” Luffy had completely ignored both Nami and myself, causing the both of us to sigh and look at each other.

‘Men.’

“Guys! The storm has suddenly stopped!” Usopp was looking out the window, hands pressed up against the frame. Luffy cheered and ran outside, followed by the ever loyal Pirate Hunter.

“You’re right.” Sanji took another drag of his cigarette.

“No, that can’t be right. The storm should have led us directly to the entrance.”

I knew that this was a bad thing to happen.

“That doesn’t sound too good, Nami.”

“No it doesn’t.”

We both heard someone shout about the weather; about how nice it was outside.

“Oh no! We’ve entered a calm belt!”

Everyone stared at the panicking Nami, unsure as to what to do.

 


 

 

Dragon arrived safely back at the Revolutionaries Headquarters, with the information that he had gathered and the envelope the stranger known as Black Ebony had given him to give to his Chief of Staff.

The advert that they had put into the newspaper was thought out, but also suspicious in a way he hadn’t believed to be possible. How many people knew about Sabo and his hat, his goggles? It was true that he was a wanted man, but these distinctive characteristics had never been shown to the world as when out on missions he would normally wear the classic hooded style that even the one called the Crow Queen had seemed to adapt.

"Sabo, I have a letter for you from the contact I mentioned I was going to meet in Loguetown. Another Outlier."

"Another one? Where from this time?"

"Earth, as they put it. This world, however is a story in their world."

This brought the Chief of Staff to a standstill.

"A story? About what?"

"They never said, only that it was a story about this world." There was silence for a moment before Dragon added, "A story that you were mentioned in, perhaps your past as well."

The blonde man gasped; he didn’t expect that at all. He’d only known his name because it was sewn into his top hat, and that he’d been in the way of the Celestial Dragons when they had gone to Goa Kingdom.

"They wanted me to give you this." He handed over the envelope and left the room, allowing Sabo to open and read it by himself. He had a feeling that it would change everything and nothing all at once. A combination that he wasn’t sure he liked or not as of yet.

 


 

 

“What’s a calm belt?”

Ignoring, or at least not hearing the questions being thrown her way Nami looked as if she were to start hyperventilating.

“Nami, take a deep breath and breathe .” At this point I was standing behind her, my hand on her shoulder. She didn’t shrug it off, which meant a lot considering how little she trusted strangers or new people in her life.

“Hey, look the storm is still going strong over there!”

“Weird, it’s perfectly calm here!”

“THIS IS NO TIME TO BE JUST STANDING AROUND!” Nami shouted at the rest of the crew, who were standing around admiring the lack of storm around. “WE HAVE TO RETURN TO THE STORM, NOW!”

“As you wish, Nami-swan!” Sanji was the first to jump into action, not that I would have believed otherwise.

The others however were looking at Nami like she had lost her mind.

“Why are you getting so worked up?” Luffy had stuck his finger up his nose and continued talking. “This is a ship, not a row-boat.”

“Why would we want to go back into the storm?”

“Apart from the fact that calm belts are known Sea King nesting spots?” I couldn’t help but state, only Zoro seeming to pay any attention.

“JUST SHUT UP AND DO WHAT I SAY!”

“Sea Kings? But the weather is so nice here.” Zoro looked bored, as Sanji ran around with a random oar in his arm.

Nami thrust a pointing hand into Zoro’s face, “Fine! At your suggestion we’ve drifted south!”

“What’s wrong with that? we’re in the Grand Line now, aren’t we?”

“If it were that easy, anybody would be coming and going into the Grand Line whenever they felt like it!”

I had to admit that the shark teeth that Nami was sporting were quite scary, but knowing the woman she’d probably feel as though that’s a compliment.

“Listen up everyone! The Grand Line is surrounded by two belts, known as being windless, calm. Exactly where we happen to be stuck right now!”

“It’s definitely calm, no wind at all. So what’s your point?” Zoro turned around when suddenly everything started to shake.

“This is exactly why! Freaking sea king nest!”

“WHAT!”

I was suddenly on the receiving end of the stares of my crew mates. I opened my mouth the explain more when the ship started to shake more, rising out of the ocean and into the air, knocking us all down onto the deck from the pressure.

Looking up I was suddenly staring directly into the eye of a creature that seemed to be the height of the Eureka Tower back home, possibly even taller. I’d seen smaller sea kings come into port back in the Loguetown, but never something of this size and magnitude.

“HOLY SHIT!” Luffy’s shout brought me back to reality.

“I did say it was a Sea King nest, didn’t I?”

“WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO EARLIER?”

“It may have slipped my mind.” And it had, in the grand scheme of things this was very very tame. The Grand Line was full of stranger things, after all.

“How could something like this slip your mind?” Nami looked close to tearing her hair out.

“BACK TO MORE IMPORTANT THINGS GUYS!” I shouted at her, spinning my arms wildly in the general direction of the ocean.

“Alright, as soon as this goes back into the ocean we paddle as fast as we can!” Zoro had grabbed an oar from the storage cupboard on deck and shoved one into Luffy’s arms. I grabbed one as well and nodded.

“Sounds good!”

There was suddenly a massive rumble and a ginormous sneeze from below us, sending the ship flying with us along with it.

“A GIANT FROG IS COMING THIS WAY! AGH!”

The frog was massive, more like a toad in its colouring.

“DON’T GET THROWN OVERBOARD!”

Too late for that, as both Usopp and myself went flying.

“USOPP! EBONY!”

Quick as a flash, Luffy had wrapped himself around the lookout post and reached both arms forward grabbing both Usopp and myself by the backs of our shirts. The both of us flew backwards, hitting the deck with a loud thud and painful backs.

“Thanks captain.”

“Shishishi! No problem Ebony!”

 


 

 

Sabo didn’t quite know what to think. On one hand he really wanted to know what caused him to set sail, why he had been shot at by the Celestial Dragons (besides the obvious reasons), his past and why sometimes he could hear and see two other boys; both with black hair, one with freckles and the other a scar under his left eye. On the other, it could dredge up some unwanted things that it may have been for the best to leave behind. This feeling, however, was something that made him incredibly uncomfortable. He didn’t like it at all.

Thus his decision was made and he carefully opened the envelope.

‘Sabo,

You don’t know me, nor do I know you (at least not personally). But I do know people who do, people who miss you and have thought you to be dead for the last ten years (give or take a few months.)

I am unsure as to how I am going to get you to remember. In the alternative universe, the other timeline you only remembered after a tragedy. A tragedy of both a personal and internationally felt nature. I will say this now, I will not allow this to take place. I cannot allow this to take place; my captain will be forever damaged, scarred mentally and physically. And you will never forgive yourself either. I cannot allow this hurt to befall either of you, nor those that hold everyone involved dear to them.

The Marines and the World Government cannot have them.’

Sabo was almost hyperventilating at this point. He knew now that something was missing, something incredibly important. And something would happen in the future that would change all of that, something this Outlier wished to stop from happening.

‘I want you to remember, need you to remember if I want a hope in hell of trying to save this person from the tragedy. I’ve seen the aftermath. I never want to see it again.

I’ve included some pictures of your brothers.’

Sabo faulted at that. Brothers? He had brothers? That could explain the two phantom children that he sometimes saw. And they had thought him dead for a decade? He didn’t know what to think, what would he do if he were in that situation? (Although now thinking about it, he would have been in that situation in the future and may still be if this Ebony couldn’t stop whatever tragedy happening in the future from actually taking place.)

He took out two pictures from the envelope, one was of two young boys with one wearing a hat that was clearly far too big for him. The other was of the same boys, but as grown (or at least a lot older) men. Their faces were familiar, the older ones at least immediately due to the fact that the Revolutionaries had their wanted posters up on a board at their Headquarters. The younger faces made him stare though.

"Sabo!"

The voice was something familiar to him, he heard it in his dreams sometimes but this time it was followed by a face. The face of the younger of the two in the picture. Suddenly memories started to flood in. Of boys, wild children running from and towards jungle animals with nothing but pipes that were double the size they were; three young boys sharing a bottle of stolen sake, becoming brothers. The arguments, the laughter, the memories .

He screamed and passed out.

 


 

Thunder and lightning flashed through the sky. I’d landed on my back after Luffy had caught Usopp and I from going overboard; he wasn’t as lucky, landing directly on his front. I’m honestly surprised his nose wasn’t broken from the force alone.

“Thank the gods, we’re back in the storm.” Was a sentence I never thought i would hear.

“Now do you understand why we have to use the mountain?”

“Yes, understood.” Zoro sounded shaky, his head in his arms looking downwards. I caught a flash of his eyes, wide and a little frightened. 

“How did you know about the sea kings, Ebony-chan?”

I laughed at Sanji’s question.

“Mostly because people who attempted to come out into the Grand Line, mostly pirates but sometimes ordinary merchants, would get stuck and the sea kings would sink their ships. I’d be called out to help rescue them.”

“Rescue them?” Usopp had his head cocked to the side, having sat up off of the deck.

I nodded, “The marines, surprisingly don’t have a whole bunch of people who are fantastic at swimming. I’m alright, better than most, so I’d be the one they’d take out to help.”

“WHOA! We’ve got our very own lifesaver!” Luffy cheered. Knowing him as I did, that was probably a good thing as he’d jump into the ocean at the nearest opportunity.

“Ah, I got it!” Nami exclaimed, like she had suddenly had an epiphany.

“What?” Zoro had lifted his head out from his lap, an annoyed expression on his face.

“We really are going to climb the mountain.”

“Tch, you still going on about that?” He shook his head in disbelief.

“It’s got something to do with the currents, right Nami?”

“Correct; if the currents from each of the four seas were to all head towards that mountain they would be driven up the waterway.” She turned and continued to explain to the rest of the crew, still laying or sitting on the deck. “At the top, the currents merge and go out to the Grand Line. We’re already riding the currents, so all we have to worry about it steering the ship in the right direction.”

Putting her hand on her face she went to continue, but I couldn’t help but interrupt.

“Isn’t Reverse Mountain meant to be a winter island? And the fact that if we fail to get ourselves through to the mountain we’ll crash and end up at the bottom of the ocean?”

“True.”

Luffy however wasn’t really listening, “So it’s a magic mountain!”

“Pretty much.” I said at the same time as Nami, “I shouldn’t have expected you to understand…”

“Nami-swan! Ebony-chan! You’re both amazing!” The noodle dance was in full force, hearts floating above his head. 

I couldn’t help but stare at them as they started to float towards me, poking them and making them pop. I shuddered a little as the made a wet kissing sound after they’d been popped.

“Never heard of a ship going up a mountain before.”

“I’ve heard a bit.”

“About the mountain?”

“No, more like the Grand Line.”

I joined in the discussion that Zoro and Sanji were having.

“Most people, I think that the statistic is more than half, die trying to enter the Grand Line.”

“Right, entering the Grand Line is not an easy task.” Sanji smirked. 

“GUYS! I see the magic mountain!” Luffy was grinning so wide that I thought his face would split; probably the only reason that his face hadn’t split was because he was made of rubber.

“That’s a huge shadow!” Again with the human anatomy defying stunts; Usopp’s jaw had dropped to almost meet his waist. I think that would be one of the things that I would never be able to get over, not the powers gained from fruits or mad training. 

“That’s the Red Line.”  I gave a dramatic wave with my arms.

“It’s so big, you can’t see the top even through the clouds!”

“Get a good grip of the rudder! We don’t want to get dragged under!” Luffy was still grinning as he shouted out the order. Sanji and Usopp ran over to the rudder and gripped it tightly on either side.

“Just leave it to us!”

“Amazing” Nami was staring at the mountain in unfiltered shock and awe.

“I can’t believe it, the ocean  really is going up a mountain.”

Zoro had a pair of binoculars out. I held out my hand and he handed them to me. Getting a good look through them, the view was as incredible as it was bizarre.

“We’re veering off course! A little to the right!”

“Right? Okay!”

“Turn starboard!”

There was a sound, a sickening crack as the beam of wood split in half. We all stared at it in horror, disbelieving of what happened.

“Crap!” The word had let my mouth before I could censor myself. I didn’t like swearing in front of people if I could help it.

“The rudder….”

“WE’RE GOING TO CRASH!” 

Luffy went flying out towards the opposite of the ship, his hat flying off of his head. Zoro reached out to grab it before it was lost, almost cradling it.

“GOMU GOMU NO FUSEN!”

The force of Luffy’s defence was enough to push the Going Merry back onto the right course.
“We’re saved!” The relief in Nami’s voice was palpable.

“Luffy, grab onto my hand”  “Captain, grab onto my hand!” 

Zoro and I had both shouted at the same time, reaching out our arms. Luffy reached in and grabbed one of our hands with his own and we pulled him in, causing him to slam into the deck without breaking it.

Sanji and Usopp were doing a strange dance, Usopp holding the broken half of the rudder in one hand. The two of them were doing some strange leaps and side clicks, making me collapse with laughter.

“WE DID IT! WE’RE SAFE!” 

The excitement in the air was contagious.

“Now all we have to do is make it down.” Zoro lightly punched my shoulder, seeming to accept me as a crew mate. At least for now; I knew that he would continue to keep on eye on me until he could safely believe that I posed no danger to his captain or the rest of the crew.

“Whoa! I can see the Grand Line!”

We all stood next to Luffy, leaning against the railing. I looked beside me, everyone was smiling, happy.

Chapter Text

Sabo woke three days later, the letter and pictures by his bed on the table. He was disorientated for a moment when everything suddenly came flooding back.

He remembered. Luffy. Ace. His brothers, his precious brothers. He couldn’t believe he had forgotten them, or the man that had (coerced) the mountain bandits to take them all in. By no means were they related by blood, but he’d prefer to say that Monkey D. Garp was his Gramps over any sort of relation to the nobles that had tried and failed to take his life and those of his brothers away.

“You're awake." 

Dragon’s voice came from the door. 

"It seems so." 

Sabo couldn’t help it but he laughed, an almost hysterical tone to it.

“I've got brothers and they’ve believed that I’ve been dead for the last ten years!"

"Brothers?"

"You didn’t read the letter?"

"Whilst I do read a lot of correspondence, this one is for you and you alone."

Sabo clutched at the letter and held it close to his chest, he wanted to finish reading it but not whilst Dragon was in the room. It felt to personal for that.

Sensing the mood, Dragon bid him farewell and left the room.

‘I've included some pictures of your brothers. I don’t know if they’ll help in any way, but maybe they might trigger some sort of memory?’

They were right about that, even if they were only going off of a hunch. 

‘Regardless, I believe that it would be beneficial if you were to visit Alabasta sometime soon. It may offer you some answers to your past and help you reunite with your brothers. Regardless of the fact that to them you have been dead for ten years, it may be best to clear up some misunderstandings and bring both hope for the future.

It would certainly bring myself a lot of hope.

Also the aforementioned tragedy, I am unsure as to how to prevent the events leading up towards it. I have an idea as to how to prevent the tragedy itself from occurring, but if I say something or change something then even those plans could be thrown into disarray.’

Sabo had more of an analytical mind than most, and could read between the lines. The Crow Queen probably needed another set of eyes and ears to help out with whatever plot they were going to come up with. And if he could help them then he would do whatever it took. 

 


 

 

“So this is the Grand Line, the greatest sea in the world!” 

Luffy was still sitting on his seat upon merry’s head, whilst Sanji and Usopp were hanging onto the mast. Nami was standing slightly behind Luffy to the left with Zoro to the right, an ever present presence. The right hand of the future Pirate King. I stood next to Zoro, not entirely sure where I would fit in this situation.

“Full speed ahead!” Came the captains order. 

“BUOOOOOOOOH!”

And there was Laboon, sounding very similar to Dory if I was to be honest. I might break out the quotes, but no-one would get my jokes or references.

“Did any of you hear that?” Zoro had walked up to be almost leaning over the railing.

“I heard something.”

“Who cares?”

“It might just be the wind, the terrain is different here.”

“BUOOOOOOOOOOOH!”

“Nami, I don’t think that was just the wind.”

“What was that?” Now it was Usopp’s turn to be confused.

“NAMI! THERE’S A MOUNTAIN UP AHEAD!” Sanji pointed out from his view point on the mast.

“That can’t be right!” Nami shook her head, “Once we pass the Twin Capes we should be out in the open sea.”

“BUOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!”

At that last noise, Luffy was finally taking notice; his forehead was creased in thought and a frown on his normally grinning face.

“Sanji, I don’t think that’s a mountain.” I shouted up at him.

“That’s definitely not a mountain!” He replied down at me.

“IT’S A WHALE!” 

“BUOOOOOOOOH!” Laboon seemed to agree with Usopp’s abrupt, but succient statement.

“What do we do? Should we fight it?”

“Captain, fighting is not always the answer.”

“Fighting is always the answer!” Luffy crossed his arms with a pout and I wondered if Sabo felt like this with Ace and Luffy when they were kids. Then again, he was probably just as bad but had more use of diplomacy than most.

“Besides, how the heck are we supposed to fight something that big?” Usopp was shaking that badly that I could see his knees shaking and clonking together.

“We’re too close to see anything clear, where are it’s eyes?” Sanji had found his way to be hanging onto the mast, rather than sitting on top of it.

“Perhaps the whale hasn’t noticed us yet?” Nami sounded hopeful, but i knew it to be in vain.

“Stop the discussing! If we don’t do anything soon, we’ll crash!” Zoro finally fed up with the whale discussion growled at the crew. “There’s space up left, turn portside!”

“The rudder’s broken!” Usopp snapped back at Zoro.

“We’ve got to do something!” Zoro leapt over the railing and joined Usopp at the broken rudder. Thinking after a moment, I joined him.

“I’VE GOT A PLAN!” Luffy shouted suddenly.

A feeling of dread washed over us.

“Why do I feel like something bad is going to happen?” I muttered.

“It’s Luffy.” Came the dry response.

“Point.” Turning to Luffy and gripping the broken rudder at the same time, “What’s the plan captain?”

“LEFT! LEFT! LEFT!” 

Somehow the other three trying to pull the rudder with me had started to chant. 

“THE RUDDER WON’T BUDGE!” Usopp let out a wail of despair. 

The firing of the cannon was the next thing that we all heard, almost knocking us down in the process of Luffy actually firing it. Despite his reputation for being an absolute idiot, he actually had a very good (albeit dangerous) plan.

“I wonder if the ship has stopped now?” Luffy dusted his hands off, pressing his palms together.

“Nami watch out!” I couldn’t help but shout, as Merry’s head hit the rocks, snapping clean in two and heading directly for the navigator. She ducked just in time, the ram head missing her by centimetres. 

You could hear her start to hyperventilate, whispering to herself. “I almost died.”

The ram head continued to bounce forward, further onto the ship. Luffy was outraged, his expression would have been comical if the situation hadn’t been so dire. 

“Have you guys got this?” I wanted to go over and ask Nami if she was okay, but I didn’t want to let go of the rudder if my added strength could help.

“Go to Nami, we’ll be fine.” Usopp, unsurprisingly knew where I wanted to go and I thanked them, going to sit beside the almost rocking Nami.

“Stupid question,” I must have surprised her because she reacted almost violently. Her hand whipped around and I caught her wrist before it made target; that target being my face, “Are you going to be okay?”

“I’m so sorry!” She started to cry a little and I gave her a hug. “I’ll be fine in a bit; it just took me by surprise is all.”

“If you’re sure?” She gave me a nod, “Just give me a shout if you want to talk, okay?”

“BUOOOOOOOOOOOOH!”

Laboon sounded confused, as if he were not sure if there were people around him. A pirate ship beneath him.

“Nows our chance!” Zoro shouted as he strained his arms trying to pull the rudder to the side.

“Did the whale not feel that cannonball?”

“Maybe it’s slow?”

“He already looks to be in pain!” I interjected, and it was true. Besides the scars that I knew were on the whale’s head, there were numerous scares covering the rest of his body. They, for the most part, looked deep and several years old; others looked only days old, a dark bloody red and some still weeping.

“BUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!”

This loud cry reverberated through the ship, causing us all to wince in pain and discomfort.

“Row as fast as you can! We have to get away from this thing!”

A presence from behind Nami and myself startled us, cold and almost oppressive. Turning as one, we found the captain standing behind us. A fury etched on his face, making sweat break out on the backs of our necks. He didn’t have the use of his Haoshoku Haki as of yet, but seeing him in the moment was like seeing a wild animal protecting it’s own.

“How. Dare. You. Destroy. My. Special. Seat!” Each word was punctuated individually as he sent his fist into the air with a sold crack, rubber breaking through the air and causing it to shudder.

“IDIOT!” The crew said in unison. I just shook my head, he’d just given us away. With the captain not paying any attention and him threatening the whale, Usopp and Zoro came from behind him, catapulting Luffy forward with a combined kick.

The Going Merry shuddered once more, as the whale opened his mouth. Water started to rush in, faster and faster as we found ourselves spinning towards the back of the whale’s throat. We continued to spin in circles, with the ship and subsequently all of us being flipped upside as we continued following the flow of water.

“I AIN’T GOING TO DIE HERE!”

 


 

We landed with a splash in the whale’s stomach. Picking ourselves up off of the deck, we all stared around us in amazement. There was a literal island sitting comfortably in the middle of a whales stomach, on an ocean in the middle of a whales stomach. The Going Merry was on an ocean in the middle of a damn whale’s stomach.

“What’s your explanation for this? Weren’t we just swallowed whole by a whale?” Sanji was just generalising, but somehow this line felt a little pointed. At Nami or myself I wasn’t too sure.

“It’s the Grand Line, this could probably be considered as normal.” I shrugged. 

“True, but this just has to be a dream.”

“Not necessarily, there’s a house on that island.”

“Could be an illusion?” The hopefulness in that voice was something that I couldn’t help but find hilarious, but outwardly didn’t show my amusement.

A giant squid rose up in front of us; I couldn’t help but face palm with my shoulders starting to shake with laughter. This day couldn’t get any more ridiculous than it already was, but I knew that wasn’t true. This was the world of One Piece, I was on the crew of Monkey D. Luffy and this was the (almost) Grand Line. Of course it could and would get increasingly more ridiculous.

“IT’S A GIANT SQUID!” Nami and Usopp fled, slamming themselves onto the deck behind Zoro, Sanji and myself. The other two were readying themselves for a fight, and I was trying to calm my laughter.

As it turns out, Zoro and Sanji had no need to defend us and the ship as three or four harpoons came out of nowhere, forcing the giant squid down and onto the surface of the ocean lined stomach. I walked over, in between Zoro and Sanji. 

“Seems like there’s someone else here.”

“Let’s hope that it’s a person.”

“Does it really matter? We may have to fight them.” I knew that this generally (shouldn’t) be the case, but I couldn’t help but rile them up a little. Sure enough Zoro’s grin turned a little bit feral and a glint in Sanji’s eyes appeared. I must admit myself that I would like to see how I could go in a fight, probably not as well as these seasoned warriors, but perhaps better than what I could accept of myself.

Whimpering behind us were Nami and Usopp, having both heard our commentary. 

“Where did Luffy go?”

“I want to go home…”

We watched as the squid began to move, being dragged towards the house by strong ropes in a steady, even rhythm.

“What if we just open fire?” Usopp shakily stood up and raised his arm, pointing towards the house and the bloody carcass being hauled towards it.

A figure moved in the distance, the flowery shape of their head was the most prominent feature.

“Someone’s coming out of the house!” How Sanji’s cigarette hadn’t gone out, or fallen out of his mouth from the rough and tumble of being swallowed whole by a whale I had no idea. (Or how he talked through it, either.) “That’s a flower!” 

He must have blurted out the first thing that came into his head because afterwards he went very still, wide eyed. He honestly looked a little scared; what the hell had those  done to him that Eiichiro Oda hadn’t shown in the manga? No one had that kind of reaction without some sort of background. He started to breath normally again after a few moments.

“What’s up with him?” Usopp muttered and then shouted, wide eyed, “The old man took out the squid!”

“Was he just fishing? Or did he purposely save us?” Sanji took a long drag of the cigarette. It must have helped to calm his nerves, as he looked better than he had earlier. 

The figure and Sanji caught each others eyes, resulting in a tense stare off as the older man continued to pull in his catch.

“SAY SOMETHING!” Sanji shouted, fed up with the tense moment. A momentary giggle passed through my lips, making the others turn and stare at me.

The old man calmly finished dragging the giant squid in, sat himself down on his deck chair, picked up a news paper and started to read. The giggles were threatening my calm, serene facade.

He continued to ignore our crew.

Usopp suddenly shouted, “IF YOU WANT A FIGHT, THEN Y-YOU’VE GOT ONE! WE’VE GOT CANNONS!”

Crocus called back. “Don’t, or someone might end up dead!”

Thinking that he was threatening the safety and lives of everyone on the crew, Sanji smirked. “Who would that be?” 

“Me.”

“YOU!” Sanji was outraged at the answer, as seemingly mocking it was in nature. I snorted. Unlikely that, whilst a doctor, Crocus was a former member of the Roger Pirates and sailed with the former Pirate King. He bloody well knew how to fight and could probably take us all on and not have any worries about it.

The snorting had resulted in me laughing, almost silently, my whole body shaking trying to keep it quiet.

“Don’t get so worked up. Old man, would you tell us who yo are and where we are exactly?”

It was odd that Zoro would be the voice of reason, but then again, as Luffy was currently AWOL he was the next one in charge being the unspoken First Mate.

“That grandpa thinks he can make a fool out of me?” I patted Sanji on the shoulder.

“There, there. You’ll be fine.” His mutinous expression softened a little and he nodded, taking a deep breath.

Crocus was silent for a long moment, “Common courtesy says to introduce yourself before questioning another, doesn’t it?”

Zoro sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, “Right. Sorry about that.”

Crocus continued on as though Zoro hadn’t spoken. “My name is Crocus, the keeper of the Lighthouse of Twin Capes. I’m seventy-one years old. A gemini. And an AB blood type.” 

At this I lost any and all composure I had. It sounded as though he was reciting his advertisement on a dating app, or newspaper looking for love.

“DOES ANYONE MIND IF I KILL HIM? EBONY STOP LAUGHING!” Zoro’s shark teeth only made me laugh harder. I must have lost my mind, completely and utterly at this point.

“I’m so sorry! It sounds like he’s advertising himself in the ‘looking for love' section of the newspaper!” I voiced this to Zoro, trying to calm myself down. Usopp and Sanji snorted and Nami giggled a little, while Zoro rolled his eyes and calmed down a bit.

“You lot are wondering where this place is? Well first you’ve trespassed in my private resort and started to mouth off. Does this place look like the stomach of a mouse?” Crocus snapped at us, breaking us out of the laughter that was still continuing.

“So, this isn't a dream at all?”

“What do we do?” Nami rang her hands out in front of her, worrying. “I don’t want to be digested?”

“There’s an exit right over there.” Crocus pointed towards a barred gate.

“Y-You can get out of here?”

“Why is there an exit inside of a whales stomach?”

More questions kept coming.

“Guys, it’s a painting.” I had to stop all the questions, they were giving me a headache with all the running around in circles.

“WHAT?!”

“I’m assuming there’s not a whole lot to do down here and Crocus was probably bored.”

“They're right. It’s just my way of having a good time.” Crocus stared at me. I had no idea that a suspicion, an idea was brewing in his head about me at the time; I probably wouldn’t have stopped it however, even if I could have persuaded the stubborn old man.

“WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING HERE ANYWAYS?” Usopp had finally had enough and lost it. Crocus had gone back to ignoring us and back to reading his newspaper.

Zoro grabbed Usopp by the shoulder and led him away. “Leave him, we’ve found an exit so let’s leave.”

The water underneath the ship started to move violently, making the Going Merry rock from side to side.

Crocus folded his newspaper and placed it down. “He’s started again, has he?”

The rocking of the water had revealed that the island was actually a ship, a fact that Nami had quickly pointed out. “It’s an iron ship, also!” She added on.

“Wait, so the ocean must be stomach acid! If we stay longer the Going Merry will be dissolved!” Usopp replied, a note of panic building with every word he spoke. “What’s going on! Please explain it to us!”

“This whale has started to bash his head against the Red Line again.”

“What?” Zoro and Sanji had never seemed so synchronised. The only difference between the too was the smoke circling upwards from the cigarette in Sanji’s mouth.

“I remember seeing the whale’s forward. It was covered in scars.” Nami turned to me. “Ebony, you were right. He must be in incredible pain, bellowing at the sky.”

“He’s definitely suffering.” I replied.

“BUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!” The echoes of his wails reverberated through his stomach, shaking us all even further.

“I’ve got it!” Nami placed her left fist on her outstretched right hand. “He must be trying to kill the whale from inside.”

“I doubt that.”

“Why? It’s the most logical solution.”

“Just call it a gut feeling.” I couldn’t very well say how I knew that wasn’t the case, now could I? 

“Regardless, let’s get out of here. If we hand around any longer than we already have, we’ll dissolve.”

“I haven’t got anything against whaling,” 

Interrupting I muttered “I do.” 

Sanji continued, having not heard me. “It’s not like we are obligated to save the whale, either. Let’s just go.”

 


 

Meanwhile with Luffy, he had followed the chamber downwards. Continuing to bounce around.

“What’s going on?” 

He had no idea where he was, no idea where his crew was. He’d only just gotten his Chronicler and he didn’t know anything about her; he wanted to be back with his crew, to have everyone share in the adventure. Besides, the best way to see how a person was, what they were like and their morals and beliefs were how they would react to a dangerous and deadly situation. That was something he had learnt from Sabo.

There was a painful tug in his chest when he thought about his deceased brother. He wondered if Sabo would be proud of him and Ace, if he would despise them for gaining the freedom in life that he had been denied but gained in death? He hoped that he wouldn’t; Sabo was always the nicer brother anyway. 

“Alright, we’ve managed to infiltrate this far inside successfully. Listen up, Miss Wednesday.” Luffy heard voices echoing from further down. “Beyond this door is the whales stomach. The old man is most likely inside was well.”

Old man? Luffy thought. That’s where everyone else has to be!

“Our mission is to eliminate the old geezer!”

Not if I can help it! Luffy may have dreamed of being a pirate since he was a kid, but some of his Grandpa’s beliefs of protecting the innocent had rubbed off on him and his siblings during their many ‘training’ sessions.

“We’re doing this all for the whale!” That was a mans voice!

“Yes, Mister Nine. This whale is our town’s sweet honey, after all.” The voice that answered the male voice was female, soft. He could detect a note of eloquence that he knew Sabo had as well. It screamed of a noble upbringing. (Come to think of it, his newest crew member had notes of this every now and then, especially on certain words. It spoke of a definite formal education, something that a lot of people didn’t get or couldn’t afford.)

“Argh! My head is spinning!” Luffy spotted the dead end and before he could anything about it he went crashing nose first, his chin hitting second. Landing on his back, his hat floated downwards. He could have sworn that it was silently laughing at him; there was always something about his hat. He wanted to make it proud, not only the man who had given it to him.

“What is it this time?” He groaned aloud. “Is this an ocean? A river? Looks definitely like a waterway.” 

He felt himself slipping downwards, sliding downwards. He managed to get himself upright, a gate coming into view, as well as the two he heard earlier. He didn’t have much time to take notice of them, only seeing a shock of pastel blue hair and a crown on the mans head.

“Miss Wednesday, on the count of three, two, one. Baby! i’m opening this door!” The man, Mister Nine, shook his fist at the woman, Miss Wednesday. “So don’t lose your focus!”

“Roger that, Mister Nine!” She readied herself. “Ready when you are!”

“I CAN’T STOP! I CAN’T STOP! PLEASE! STOP ME!” Luffy has found out rather quickly, as everything was tilting, his running was gaining speed and he couldn’t stop himself from going even faster.

“Who is that Mister Nine?”

“No idea, Miss Wednesday.”

Luffy was yelling, screaming as he gained more speed and less traction. Faster and faster he went. As the two others noticed he wasn’t stopping, they, too, started to scream in terror.

 


 

We readied the ship to continue going along, but with Laboon continuing to bash his head against the Red Line it was getting increasingly harder and harder.

“If this keeps up, it’s going to be difficult to even reach the exit.” 

“If we don’t hurry, our lives and Luffy’s will be in danger. He isn’t inside with us! I saw him escape the whale’s mouth!” Sanji countered Zoro’s statement, both were true however.

“Knowing Luffy he probably tired as hard as he could to follow behind us though.”

The others nodded in agreement at my apt descriptor of our captain, loyal to a fault and never caring about the risk to his own life.

There was a shout from behind us, as we watched Crocus dive into the ocean, swimming towards the exit.

“That old man jumped straight in!”

“What’s he trying to do?”

“He’s going to get himself killed!”

“I don’t think he will. He seems pretty strong to me, definitely stronger than what he lets on.” I added. Zoro nodded, that was something that he had noticed as well.

“He’s swimming towards the exit.” Usopp crossed his arms, “We should hurry and get to the exit before the whale gets any harsher on itself.”

The boat lurched dangerously.

“EVERYONE GET AN OAR! WE’VE GOT TO ROW!” Zoro’s order was interrupted by three screams and a door being slammed open.

“OH NO! MISS WEDNESDAY, IT’S AN OCEAN OF STOMACH ACID!”

“NOOOOOOO!

The last was someone very familiar. The captain was finally here.

“GUYS! YOU’RE OKAY!”

“LUffy?” “Captain?”

“Well in any case, help me out!” The three flying humans went crashing into the sea of stomach acid below.

“Who are those other two weirdos?” Usopp didn’t look to concerned about them at all. I couldn’t help be worried, Vivi would be nakama one day. Not yet, but soon.

Crocus had made it the the ladder.

“The old man is running away!”

“No time to worry about him, Luffy comes first.” Zoro scolded Usopp.

“I’ll get him.” Shrugging off my hooded jacket and diving into the acid ocean below. It tingled, but I was quick in fishing Luffy out enough the he could slingshot the two of us back aboard the Going Merry where Nami handed the two of a us a towel each.

“Shishishishi! Thanks Ebony!”

“Mah mah, it’s not problem Captain.” I waved off his concern as I wrung out my shirt. All I could say is thank the gods above for the lycra-like material that these pants were made of. Perfect for swimming in and not having to worry about them getting wet; they looked like a pair of skinny jeans also. Gold stars all around. Laboon had stilled after I had dived in to get the captain; it was calmer.

“Who are you exactly?”

The two non-Straw Hat’s seemed to have a silent conversation, not saying a word as we surrounded them from all sides. This was done unconsciously I’d noticed; we protected our own that was for sure.

“I won’t let you lay a single finger on Laboon for as long as I live!” Crocus shouted, capturing the attention of everyone on board.

“Whho is the old man?” Luffy questioned tilting his head.

“His name is Crocus.” I answered and he nodded.

Usopp looked at Crocus and groaned. “He’s back.”

An evil aura surrounded the two intruders.

“FUFUFUFUFU!” Miss Wednesday, she wasn’t Vivi Nefertari at this moment, cackled. “We’re inside the whale’s stomach now! IT’LL BE EASY TO BLAST A HOLE IN IT’S STOMACH!”

The two fired their weaponry, which had somehow been concealed somewhere. (They weren’t wearing a whole lot, so it must be one of those anime and manga things. Or a extension charm of a sort.) Crocus leapt in front of the blast, taking the full force of it.

“You were right Ebony, he has been protecting the whale.” Nami conceded to me.

“CEASE YOUR FUTILE RESISTANCE!”

“JUST TRY AND PROTECT THE WHALE IF YOU STILL CAN! IT’S NOT GOING TO STOP OUR TOWN FROM EATING THIS WHALE!”

The two at that moment reminded me of Team Rocket, only more interested in murder than kidnapping.

Crocus glared at the two, heated.

“He’s tougher than he looks!”

“What’s going on?”

Luffy cocked his head, thinking for a moment before he was suddenly in action. He knocked Miss Wednesday and Mister Nine out with a single blow to the back of the head.

“I’m not too sure what’s actually going on, but I’ll leave these guys knocked out for now!”

“Usopp, got any rope?” I asked and he nodded, going to fetch it. I helped him tie them up, adding a few knots that I knew (from personal experience) were nigh unbreakable. And these two didn’t have knives on them, either.

 


 

 

We boarded the island that was Crocus’ ship, half carrying half dragging (Sanji’s doing) the two (now) prisoners. He had wanted to explain to us why he was so intent on keeping the whale alive, of course I knew but it was important information, vital. We may not get Brook, otherwise and that would be a tragedy, for both us and for him. Fifty years alone; I was alone for almost two and it had almost driven me mad. I don’t know how he could survive it.

“This whale is an island whale,” Crocus began as we all made ourselves comfortable. “Normally found in the West Blue. It’s one of, no, it is the largest species of whale in the world. His name is Laboon.”

“These two rogues are from a town nearby, with the goal of hunting Laboon. Laboon could feed their town for two or three years. Give or take.” He shook his head. “I cannot allow that!”

“The reason behind him bashing his head against the Red Line and bellowing at the sky, facing Reverse Mountain. Well, I was minding my business as the keeper of the lighthouse when a particular group of friendly pirates came down the Reverse Mountain.”

At this Luffy began to pay rapt attention to Crocus and his storytelling.

“Laboon had followed behind their ship; he was a baby at the time.” He was clearly lost in his memories, but continued to tell us the story. “Laboon had accompanied their adventures in the West Blue, but the pirates feared the Grand Line too dangerous for him. Normally island whales swim in pods together, Laboon had found his pod. Those pirates were his pod.”

“Their ship was damaged when they arrived here and they stayed for a few months to fix the ship.” Crocus smiled, “I became rather good friends with them during that time. On the last day they stayed here they asked me to ‘please take care of Laboon for two to three years?’”

“They said that once they sailed around the world that they would be back and Laboon understood this and waited patiently for them.” He started to frown, “That’s why he keeps bellowing and hitting himself against the Red Line. It has been fifty years since then. He still thinks that they will come back…”

I wanted to shout that Brook was alive! Well, a skeleton, but alive! That he hadn’t abandoned Laboon, that the Rumbar Pirates would never have left him behind if they had had a choice. Was there a way that i could put it, word it so that it wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler. I didn’t wish to give too much false hope, in case I changed something too much (something that I was steadfastly trying to avoid; the only thing that I wanted to change, would change, would be what happened to Ace.)

I made a decision.

Chapter Text

My particular decision was to tell Crocus and Laboon of the rumours of a hauntingly familiar singer in a part of the Grand Line. These rumours had been going on nigh for fifty years, and they continued on to this day. The wording of this was going to be the problem, however. 

“This is some waterway!” The awe in Luffy’s voice was intense, as he stared around him in wonder. I had to remember that out of all the current crew members, Luffy, Usopp and myself hadn’t traveled (far) from where we lived for the most part. (I’m not actually sure if I count, but I hadn’t left Loguetown since I was rescued by the marines except for the occasional rescue mission.)

“It’s pretty amazing that you have managed to make a tunnel this big and live inside here.” Nami looked at Crocus with hooded lids, “Is this another ‘having a good time’ thing?”

Crocus waved his hand, “It’s a bit of a hobby of mine as a doctor. Although, before you lot get any ideas about the fact that I don’t look much like a real doctor; I did used to run a clinic. And I used to work as a ship doctor for a few years.”

A ships doctor. I thought. I suppose that would be one way to describe it.

Luffy lit up. “A doctor! Join my crew!”

The others faulted at this, but I knew that Luffy was only slightly kidding. 

“I think he’s got another job at the moment, Captain.”

Luffy pouted at me, outrageously so for a seventeen year old Pirate Captain made of rubber.

“That’s one thing, I’m also too old to be doing reckless things. So stop talking nonsense.” Crocus agreed with me, though he sounded a little wistful as he said it. I think that I was the only one who actually noticed it, either that or I was looking for it. Looking for something that would tie this man living in the stomach of a friend to the man who was a member of the Roger Pirates and doctor to the King.

“A doctor, huh? Why are you living inside the whale?” Nami leant on the railing of the Merry as Crocus started to open the gate.

“A whale the size of this one, it’d be impossible to treat him from the outside.” Turning the gears again, he turned to us. “I’ll open the gate for you now.”

As the gate opened, we found ourselves out on the open sea once more.

“ALRIGHT!” Luffy stood where the head of Merry was before it was broken, “I CAN SEE THE REAL SKY AGAIN!”

The gate slammed shut and we had two prisoners, tied up, to deal with. We turned to Crocus, he and Laboon were the ones wronged in this situation.

“What should we do with these two?”

“Throw them overboard?”

Lifting the two unconscious rogues over the side of the ship, Zoro and Sanji let them fly. The awoke  from their forced slumber upon impact with the water.

“WHERE ARE WE?”

“OH NO! IS THIS STOMACH ACID?”

“No Miss Wednesday, this seems to be the actual ocean.”

“Mister Nine, we must have been knocked out by those pirates.”

Luffy casually leaned over the railing of the Going Merry, “So, who are you again?”

“Does it really matter, captain?” I stood next to him, my back turned to Mister Nine and Miss Wednesday.

“Guess not! Shishishishishi!”

“SHUT IT! WHO WE ARE ISN’T ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS!” They mustn’t have heard our conversation, as they continued on like we hadn’t spoken a word.

“Wait, Miss Wednesday. It may be their business, they’re pirates after all.”

“That is very true indeed, Mister Nine.” Shoving a finger in our direction, Vivi continued. “Prepare yourselves! Our organisation may have some use for you!”

Before they started to swim off they shouted, “GOOD DAY YOU HILLBILLY PIRATES! AND HEED OUR WARNING CROCUS, THAT WHALE WILL BE OURS!”

Sanji came up beside me and stared dreamily after the retreating duo. “Ah, Miss Wednesday was her name? Such a beautiful enigma.”

“You can’t help yourself, can you Sanji?” I chuckled as he gave me a look, which was softer than one of the ones that he would have given Zoro, Luffy or Usopp.

“Are you sure about letting them go?” Nami asked Crocus, as Luffy had bent down to pick up the Log Pose that had been dropped on the deck floor.

“If I didn’t let them go, there would be others to take their place.” Crocus explained gently, staring off into the distance.

 


 

Currently Portgas D. Ace was looking on in fascination as the Fourth Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates and one of his closest friends, Thatch, held up the devil fruit that he had found. He was happy for his brother, but a strong sense of foreboding had latched on to him and wouldn’t let go. He knew the reasoning behind this.

Along the first half of his journey into the Grand Line, he’d met a person that he would call a friend that had mentioned a devil fruit that would be wanted by a vicious, callous and murderous man who hid in plain sight amongst the crew that he would eventually betray. He didn’t ask at the time how she knew this, as there were stranger things in the world than someone being able to see the future. What caused him to worry was how directed, pointed this comment was. He knew that at some point he would come across both the devil fruit in question and the man. 

He watched, warily as Thatch proudly showed Oyaji the fruit. He felt eyes on both Thatch and the fruit coming from behind him, turning he looked to see who it was.

Marshall D. Teach.

The man was a part of his own division and whilst he trusted his brothers explicitly (not to the extent that he himself trusted Luffy and Sabo however), there was something off about the man. He could hide himself well enough, but he knew this to be the man that had scarred Red Haired Shanks and made him wary enough in a way that he wasn’t even wary about around Whitebeard. 

He was suspicious enough with the way he made his way towards Thatch to give his own congratulations, looking at the devil fruit with undisguised want, he visibly lusted for it. 

He knew that if this man could harm and injure one of the four Yonko then Ace, whilst stronger than most and getting stronger everyday, wouldn’t be able to land a hit on the man if it came to blows. (Which led Ace to wonder why the man wasn’t Second Division commander over him; it didn’t make sense, surely the stronger you were the higher ranked you should be?) He would need the help of someone else to keep an eye on Teach and Thatch.

He’d need Marco’s help, and probably soon if the look on Marshall D. Teach’s face was any indication.

 


 

“To think that the poor whale has been waiting here for fifty years, does he still think his friends will return?”

Luffy made himself comfortable, laying down against a rock and kicking his feet up. “They’re taking a long time, those pirates.”

Sanji took a look at his captain, a little annoyed at his naivety. “Idiot, this is the Grand Line. If they said that they would be back in two to three years and they’re still not back then logically the answer is that they are dead. They aren’t going to come back regardless of how long the whale waits!”

“Why do have to put it so coldly? They might come back!” Usopp got right up into Sanji’s face. “Can’t you appreciated such a moving story about a whale that believes in the promise his friends made to him?”

Crocus looked up to the sky. “The truth is crueler, however. I heard from a reliable source that the pirates left the Grand Line already.”

Nami looked shocked. “They just left him behind? But that would have meant that they left through a calm belt!”

“Yes, but I’m not sure if they survived or not. They wouldn’t dare to return here anyway; the seasons, climate, wind and ocean currents are chaotic. Common sense fails. The Grand Line rules over those faint of heart.”

Sanji put out his cigarette on a rock, “So they were cowards, more concerned with saving their own hides rather than keeping a promise to a friend. They left the Grand Line never to return.”

Usopp wouldn’t take this lying down. “They just abandoned the whale? Even though the whale never doubted them? The whale still trusts them? How could they be so cruel?”

“Why haven’t you told the whale?” I interjected, sensing that Usopp was going to continue to rant.

“I have told him, but he refuses to believe the truth.”

“He won’t listen?” Nami asked.

“He has been bellowing at Reverse Mountain and hitting his head up against the Red Line ever since.” Crocus looked down in sadness. “He is stubbornly trying to assert that his friends are beyond the wall and that they’ll return. I’ve tried telling him the truth multiple times since then, but Laboon refuses to accept the truth.”

“He’s still waiting, even after the betrayal and even after there being no point in waiting!” Usopp sighed, almost romantic in a way. He did love a good story, maybe I could regale him with some from home when we got the chance?

“That’s exactly why. He doesn’t want to lose all reason, of losing the meaning behind him waiting for so long. That’s why he refuses to listen to what anyone tells him about those pirates.” Stretching out, he continued on. “He’s from the West Blue, on the other side of the Red Line. It’s far too late for him to go back, that’s why his only hope is with those friends that brought him here originally.”

I could see the captain sneaking off to the ship. Without thinking too much on it I grabbed onto his arm. 

“Maybe something smaller, captain? We still need the mast.” I knew that it would be impossible to talk Luffy out of fighting with Laboon, but I could try to lessen the damage that the Going Merry would take. A battle that I was losing very quickly. 

“I’ll use the top half of it then!” And he ran off. 

Sighing, I shook my head. Why did this feel more like babysitting than anything else?

"As much as I feel bad for the whale, if you think about it you’ve also been betrayed by them. Why don’t you just leave the whale already?” Sanji asked.

Crocus motioned towards Laboon. “Look at his head. The longer he keeps bashing his head against the Red Line, the quicker he’s going to die. Whilst our relationship is odd, we’ve been companions for the last fifty years. I can’t just look him die.”

“YOOOOOOOOOOO!” Was followed by a crack, then a crash as the top half of the main mast was broken clean in two and the captain sprinted up the side of Laboon’s head.

“What is he up to now?”

“You take your eyes off of him for not even a second.” Zoro turned to look at me.

“Don’t look at me, I might not have known he long but even I can tell that trying to get him to do something that isn’t ridiculously stupid or dangerous isn’t going to happen. I just got him to try to do less damage than what he might have.”

Zoro held my eyes for a little longer and nodded, knowing better than most that whatever Luffy wanted, Luffy got.

GOMU GOMU NO IKEBANA!”

“Is that a mast? Our mast?”

“Yes, but it’s only the top half of it.”

“Really?”

“He was going to yank the entire thing out and I suggested to use something smaller. I’m surprised he didn’t take the mizenmast, however.”

“Probably didn’t cross his mind.”

“BUOOOOOH!” Laboon bellowed out in pain, as Luffy had stuck the top half of the mast right into an open wound.

The mast being broken in half and having been shoved into Laboon’s head had just sunk in.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU STOP HIM?” Nami had grabbed me by my jacket and started to shake me back and forth, causing me to get dizzy.

“WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING?” “HE DESTROYED OUR SHIP!” Were the only things that I could hear through the blood rushing through my head.

Luffy was screaming, a little in horror and a little in excitement. Swinging back and forth as Laboon shook his massive head, trying to get rid of both Luffy and the intrusion. He slammed his head forwards, causing the half mast to be driven a little further into his head.

Luffy still hadn’t let go.

Crocus couldn’t believe what he was seeing, “HEY KID! IT’S FAR TOO DANGEROUS!”

Nami, having stopped shaking me reached out and grabbed Crocus’ arm, “Don’t worry about our captain, he’ll be fine.”

“BUOOOOOOOOOH!” 

“YOU BIG DUMMY!”

“BUOOOOOOOOOOOH!” 

“TAKE THIS!” Luffy let his fist fly into Laboon’s eye. Laboon retaliated by pushing Luffy backwards into the lighthouse.

“What on earth is he trying to do?” Usopp questioned.

“Maybe he’s trying to give him something else to look forward to?” I was still dizzy and had to sit down, being helped by Sanji.

“IT’S A TIE!” Luffy had a very self satisfied smirk on his face as he looked at the surprised Laboon. “I’m pretty tough, aren’t I? Our fight isn’t settled, so we’ll do this again one day!”

Luffy stood up, “Your friends may be dead, I don’t know, but I’m your new rival! Once my crew and I sail around the Grand Line, we’ll come back and settle the score!”

Laboon had tears in his eyes, welling up. “BUOOOOOOOOH!” The next bellow was one of agreement, happier than before.

Crocus looked like he would cry himself, with the rest of us smiling at our captains decision.

 


 

Marco looked at the concerned and suspicious Second Division commander as he brought his worries to him. Ace didn't often ask for anything, help or otherwise; he was pretty self sufficient and could handle most things thrown his way.

“There’s something off about the way Teach is looking at both the devil fruit and Thatch. I know he's in my division, but I’m pretty sure that he is actually stronger than me. Stronger than what anyone else on this crew thinks he is.”

“So what you are saying is that you’d like me to just keep an eye on him whilst you can’t, yoi.”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. He’s always given me a bad feeling, and it doesn’t help that the man that my brother looks up to is so wary of him, either.”

“Shanks is awfully wary of him.” Marco hadn’t noticed that until Ace had pointed it out. Whilst the other Yonko was a pain, childish at the best of times, whenever the two crews got together for a sparring match or two he would always go out of his way to avoid the bearded man. Not even his captain got that reaction from the red-haired man. 

Ace looked at the older man, worried as to what he might say. 

“I’ll do it. Hopefully the feeling is nothing and your friend was wrong about her feeling, but we can’t be too careful, yoi.”

Ace beamed in relief, “Thank you Marco. She said that she hoped she was wrong, too. I hope she’s wrong, even though she rarely ever is.” The last part was muttered, but Marco heard anyway.

Despite the situation causing Ace to ask him for help, he smirked. It looked like the other flame head had a crush.

“So about this friend of yours.” 

The usually unflappable pirate blushed. It wasn’t obvious, but you could see the tips of his ears burn a bright red. (Marco could have sworn that his ears were actually on fire with how red that they had become.) 

“She's just a friend! Geez Marco! Besides if what she said is true, she's probably on a pirate ship somewhere by now.”

Marco was intrigued, “She wasn’t a pirate when you met her?”

“No she was a bartender, and an occasional information broker. That and she helped rescue people from the marines incompetency.” 

Marco gave him a questioning look at the last bit. 

Ace extrapolated. “She would go out and rescue sailors who’d become caught up in the Calm Belt near Loguetown.”

“She sounds like quite the woman!”

Ace was back to blushing, making Marco grin.

A little bit of blackmail between brothers didn’t hurt anyone.

 


 

I couldn’t help but laugh at the monstrosity that Luffy had painted onto the top of Laboon’s scarred head. Yes it was recognisable as the Jolly Roger of the Straw Hat Pirates, but it was misshapen and the artist in me could only think that Pablo Picasso would have been proud.

“Done! This is a sign of our promise!” Luffy looked proud of himself. “So don’t you bash your head against the Red Line or it'll disappear!”

“BUOOH!” Laboon made a sound of agreement, as Crocus looked on. He looked proud of the situation, happier than he was before.

“Shishishishishi! Good!”

“Captain, Crocus, Luffy, can I have a word?” Everyone else had gone to do their jobs, or in Zoro’s case gone to take a nap.

“Sure thing, Ebony!” Crocus nodded his ascent and we made our way closer to Laboon he was looking at me with massive, curious eyes.

“What I am about to say might not be too believable, considering everything we have just gone through. However there have been rumours going around about a triangle near the entrance to the New World.” The three of them looked at me and I took a deep breath before I could continue. “There’s a haunted area where ships get stuck for months, even years on end. There’s apparently a ghost ship there, one that sings.”

“A signing ghost ship?” Luffy looked excited at the prospect.

“I worded that badly, the ship doesn’t sing but whoever is on that ship does. According to the rumours they hear Binks no Sake quite a lot.”

This caused both Laboon and Crocus to sit up a little straighter.

Binks no Sake? That was a favourite of the Rumbar pirates!”

“I don’t know how true these rumours are,” I winced internally, they were as true as Brook being a skeleton but I wasn't about to tell them that. “But I’ve heard that anything can and will happen in the Grand Line. I don’t want to get your hopes up, but perhaps there may be a chance of some sort of final resolution?”

Crocus looked at me for a long moment, whilst Luffy had his head tilted.

“A final resolution would be nice.” Crocus inclined his head and Laboon nodded in turn.

“I’ve come to a decision!” After a moment, Luffy grabbed hold of my hand and started to swing our arms together, making me let out a laugh. He smiled triumphantly. “We’ll see if this rumour is true and tell you when we come back!”

“Sounds good captain, but I’ve got a slightly better idea if you’ll listen.” He paused and nodded. 

Turning to Crocus I asked, “Do you have a Den Den Mushi?”

“Yes I do.”

“How about we exchange numbers and when we find out more information we’ll let you know?”

He agreed and we exchanged numbers, Luffy looking on fondly before running off to clean the paint brushes he had used earlier.

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” The noise coming from Nami had us all looking over to her in surprise and shock.

“What's the matter, dearest Nami?" Sanji had his arms full of plates with delicious looking food covering them. It made my mouth water, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast this morning in Loguetown. “If it’s about your food, then the meals are all ready!”

“Nothing like that, Sanji! It's just the compass is broken! It’s just spinning in all directions!”

“Nami it’s not broken, normal compasses just don’t work here. Something about magnetic fields across the Grand Line?” I couldn’t remember the exact reasoning, but thought I’d point it out anyway.

“They’re right, you know. This is mostly due to the islands around here being rich with various minerals. And the currents and winds being unpredictable.” He turned to Nami. “As the navigator you should understand how terrifying that sort of unpredictability can be. If you venture too far out into the Grand Line without knowing this, you will definitely die.”

“Without a reliable way to tell directions then we’re screwed.” Nami conceded, “I honestly had no idea.”

“Nami’s so cute when she doesn’t know!” Sanji sighed dreamily as Usopp panicked and Luffy complimented the fish that Sanji had brought out. 

I had to say that I hadn’t eaten anything like this before, and it was very nice. “Sanji, this is really good!”

Heart eyes doubled from my compliment. “Thank you Ebony, dear!”

Crocus brought everyone’s attention back to him. “To navigate through the Grand Line, you will have need of a Log Pose.”

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“I’m surprised; they’re a type of compass that records the magnetic fields. They’re odd looking, as well.”

Luffy held up what he had picked up off the deck earlier. “You mean like this?”

Crocus nodded and pointed to it. “That’s a log Pose. Without it you would find it impossible to navigate the Grand Line.”

“WHY THE HECK DO YOU HAVE ONE?” Nami went to hit Luffy, but I grabbed her wrist.

“No need to hit the Captain. He’s not the only one who has one.” I didn’t mention that I’d grabbed three or four, whenever they went on sale in the market place I would grab a few bits and pieces that I knew I’d probably need for a journey out on the open seas.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you had one.” I replied.

She turned to Luffy who answered her earlier query. “Those two from before left it behind on our ship.”

He handed it to her, gently placing it in her hand.

“It has no markings on it or anything.” Nami was staring at the log pose with a hard fascination.

“The islands across the Grand Line each of their own magnetic field, so you’ll have to record the field interaction between two islands before moving onwards.” Crocus rubbed between his glasses across the bridge of his nose. “You can’t use any normal means of pathfinding, the log pose is the only reliable way. There’s seven magnetic fields out of this mountain which will take you to various  different islands. However, they all converge into one eventually.”

He grew more serious than he had been before. “The name of the last island that one can reach in the Grand Line is Raftel. It’s legendary and only one crew have ever been confirmed to have reached it. The Pirate King and his crew.”

“Wait? Does that mean One piece is on that island?”  The crew perked up at Usopp’s question.

“Who knows.” 

You would probably know, considering you were on his crew. I thought to myself.

“That’s the likeliest theory, but no one has ever reached Raftel to confirm it or not.”

“Shishishishi!” Luffy finished eating his fish, picking the bone clean. “We can check it out for ourselves when we get there!”

We sat in silence for a moment.

“Should we go now? I’m finished eating everything.”

Sanji turned to Luffy, eyes almost popping out of his skull. “Did you just eat everything by yourself?”

“Even the bones are gone!” Usopp moved the fork around his empty plate with a solemn look on his face.

Nami, on the other hand wound the log pose securely around her wrist. “I’ll make sure to keep good care of it.”

“I've got a spare, just in case though Nami.” I pointed over my shoulder at the fight that was brewing. “Who knows what could happen with these guys?”

“True.”

Just as she had said those words, Sanji had kicked Luffy clean across the table, causing Luffy to go flying through the newly secured log pose on Nami’s wrist; glass flying everywhere as Nami and I looked in horror.

“YOU TWO CAN GO AND COOL YOUR TEMPERS DOWN!” Nami dropkicked the two offenders into the ocean.

“Thanks Nami, now I’ve got to go and rescue the captain.” Stripping out of my coat for the second time today. She looked at me apologetically. “Oi! Laboon, can I borrow your head for a moment?”

Laboon looked at me for a moment and nodded his consent. He lowered his head down so that I could climb on top and rose. When he was at a height I dived off and into the ocean.

Silly rubber captain. Silly cook. What was Nami thinking? 

 


 

Ace’s fears were realised, as he found Thatch bleeding out on the deck floor. He knelt down, his hands and knees being covered in his brothers blood. Quickly checking to see if he had a pulse, he noted with relief that whilst faint, it was there. 

“MARCO! GET THE DOCTOR!”

Marco was just walking around the corner when he saw Ace kneeling over the bloodied body of their brother and rushed to get a doctor.

Ace didn’t notice anything since the doctor had came and rushed Thatch into surgery until Marco put a hand on his shoulder. Instinctively his fire whipped out to defend him, until he heard Marco’s voice.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

“Yoi, it’s fine. Just be glad it was me and not anyone else.”

“Where’s Teach?” The last word was said with venom. 

“Gone.” Marco’s reply was flat, his tone even with a cool fury.

“And the devil fruit?” 

“Also gone.”

The flames of fury, of rage were back again. Marshall D. Teach would pay.

“We’ll go talk to Oyaji, I know you’ll want to go after him.”

“Damn right I’m going after him!”

 


 

After rescuing the captain and the cook from the ocean and Nami’s fury. Miss Wednesday and Mister Nine were currently prostrating in front of the captain, begging for a ride to Whisky Peak.

“You can come along if you want.” Luffy stared them down, clearly saying without words that if the did anything then he would do worse than just knocking them out and throwing them in the ocean.

“You log pose should have been recorded by now.” Crocus must have given Nami his spare after I’d gone after Sanji and Luffy.  “Is it pointing to the place indicated on the map?”

“Yes it is! Straight to Whisky Peak.”

Crocus turned to Luffy, “Are you sure about going to Whisky Peak of all places because of these rogues? This is the only spot you can pick the route you want to go.”

“It’s okay, I mean if I don’t like it we can just sail around again and pick again.”

“I… see.”

“Well see you then, Flower Gramps!”

“Thanks for the log pose!”

“BUOOOOH!”

“GOOD BYE LABOON!”

“We’ll let you know if we hear anything or see anything, okay!” I shouted down at Crocus, who nodded towards us.

Chapter Text

After we had left Reverse Mountain, Crocus and Laboon behind I sat down in the kitchen with the log book, a pen and a cup of hot chocolate (provided by Sanji, of course). I wanted to start recording the adventures from Loguetown and Reverse Mountain, as Nami had already filled in previous adventures (including her own tragic past in the form of the arse kicking that Luffy gave got Arlong).

She’d left a bunch of little notes in the margins between filling out the adventures, ‘Who thinks it would be a great idea to eat the Gomu Gomu no mi as a devil fruit?’ ‘Zoro sleeps more than he does anything else.’ Were alongside a comment reading, ‘How does he train while he sleeps? WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE?’ and the compliment of ‘This food is a gift from the gods!’ There were a whole bunch of these that made me laugh, before I started to fill the log out.

I must have been in there a while, as the others started to come in for dinner that night.

“Have you been in here all afternoon?” Usopp asked, taking a seat next to me.

“What’s the time?” I asked, dry grin on my face and he laughed, confirming that I had been there for a while. 

“What have you been doing?” 

“Just filling out the log book, captain. Did you want to take a look?” I offered the book to Luffy, who took it into his hands gently. He flipped open the book but stopped and looked up. He looked shy all of a sudden, something that you definitely didn't see on the Captain's face very often, if at all.

“I, uh, can’t actually read.” This stopped everyone short. 

I had an inkling that the environment that he grew up in didn’t really allow for any sort of formal education. Garp honestly probably thought that there would be no need to teach Luffy how to read (or probably write) because with the Marines they teach you. He did grow up with mountain bandits, too so education probably wasn't a top priority with them. Only the need to survive.

“I can teach you, if you want me to?” I offered, not knowing if Luffy would take me up on my offer. Everyone should have the choice of learning to read and write, it shouldn’t be a privilege. 

“I would love that!” Luffy beamed. “Sabo tried to teach Ace and I, but he didn’t have the patience! Ace knows how, a little. I don’t know how to write, either.”

He sounded so incredibly sad when he mentioned Sabo, but too caught up in the moment of finding out that the captain had brothers, the crew didn't take notice.

“I can teach you how to do that, too. Although, according to most the way I hold pens is strange and something not to be copied.” 

Luffy nodded.

“Who are Ace and Sabo?” Zoro couldn’t help but ask. Luffy stared at his first mate for a moment before answering, everyone was silent waiting for him to answer.

“My older brothers.”

“EH?”

“Wait, didn’t you mention an older brother earlier Ebony?” Usopp turned to me, hands on his head and threading his fingers through his dreadlocks.

“I’ve met Portgas D. Ace, he was kind if a bit boisterous and not really able to hold his liquor too well." 

"Really? He used to be pretty good at drinking." Luffy looked as if Christmas had come early, as if sensing some good blackmail material on his older brother. I grinned at the captain, happy to oblige.

"I think it's due to the fact that he's a logia made of fire. Fire and alcohol usually don't mix very well." Thinking for a moment, "Unless that's the intent? I wonder if we purposely got him drunk? How much do you think he'd set on fire?"

Luffy laughed until he cried. "That would be the funniest thing ever!"

No one had noticed, except for Luffy, that I had manoeuvred the conversation away from the plural of brothers. He gave me a grateful nod and mouthed that they would talk later. I was a little wary, but if I could tell anyone anything it'd be Monkey D. Luffy. Maybe he thought that Ace had told me about Sabo?

Sanji brought over our meals; some sort of fish with a hollandaise sauce and vegetables that looked as though they had been steamed. (It reminded me a little of the steamed salmon dish that I used to get every time I would go to IKEA.)

“Where’s Zoro?”

“Still sleeping.”

Wow. I didn’t realise how much he actually slept, it was a wonder that he got any training done at all.

“Where are the two freeloaders?” Usopp asked.

Through a mouth full of food Luffy answered, “Out on the deck.”

That was the end to the conversation, as Sanji took out something for Zoro to eat (begrudgingly if I might add) and we all ate our meals. I had to keep a sharp eye on my food, as rubber hands were getting a little too friendly with whatever food I had on my plate, swatting the captains hand away a good dozen times before I glared at him and he smiled sheepishly.

“Who is on watch first? Do we have a roster?”

The others looked at each other and shook their heads. So we don’t have a roster for watch order.

“I can take first watch if you want me to? Say three hour shifts?” 

“That sounds good!” Nami nodded in agreement. 

“I’ll take the next watch then?” Usopp asked and I nodded.

“I’ll take the next one, then.” Nami volunteered herself.

“I’ll write up a roster then, so we can rotate around.” The others nodded in agreement and I took out a notebook and started to work out a timetable. 

“I’ll stay up with Ebony!” We all looked at Luffy for a bit, “She can start teaching me how to read then!”

“If that’s what you want, Captain.” He nodded. “Alright then. Just reading tonight?”

“I’ll work on writing another time! I want to be able to read our adventures!”

And that was that.

 


 

Marco and Ace stood in front of their Captain, Edward ‘Whitebeard’ Newgate, one of the Four Yonko. Whitebeard was currently looking forlornly out onto the ocean, heart aching due to the despair that a man he called his son had put him through.

“He must have been planning this for a longtime.”

These were the words that they didn’t wish to hear being said aloud. But they had to be, otherwise it would fester and poison the thoughts of the crew; that one of their own had sought out joining the crew purely to secure their own future, callously disregarding the trust that had been placed onto his shoulders. When a person sets out to be a pirate, they are putting their lives in the hands of their crew; the crew being pretty much the only people that they could actually trust.

To go ahead and betray that trust was something unthought of. It was unforgivable. Marco couldn’t help but want to bash some heads in.

“This friend of yours, is there anyway of contacting them?” 

“I have her Den Den number.” Ace replied to his father, barely stemming his rage at the bastard who dared to betray his nakama.

“Give her a call after you’ve left.” 

This pulled Ace up short, having thought that his Oyaji would say no to him leaving to chase after Teach.

“You’re letting me go after him?”

“Yes, Marco will take over your division until you get back.” Whitebeard looked down at his sons. “I expect you to keep in regular contact.”

Ace nodded, having expected that.

As an afterthought Whitebeard added, “I want to meet this friend of yours, too.”

“OYAJI!”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, and the fact that they didn’t know if Thatch would survive Ace blushed bright red and buried his head in his hands as his captain and brother laughed at him.

“GURARARARARA!”

 


 

It was around nine thirty at night, every else had gone to bed with the exception of Luffy and myself. Miss Wednesday and Mister Nine were stowed away in the empty captains cabin, partially because there was nothing in it and partially because it would be easier to keep an eye on them.

“Ebony!”

Turning around, I could see my captain’s sunny smile before he sat down beside my with a plop. It was nice to see someone who despite all the hardships could still smile so brightly.

“Evening captain. Where do you want to start?”

He looked at me for a moment. “How did you meet Ace?”

Whatever he was going to ask me I didn’t expect that. 

“I’d only been in Loguetown for about two months at that point when I met your brother. I was working as a bartender and a rookie crew walked through the doors, their Captain was pretty drunk at this point and continued to get even drunker. I realised pretty early on that they were the Spade Pirates that people had been talking about.”

“They must have been partying before they went into the bar.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the accuracy. “They were. I believe at this point they were just getting noticed by the marines. I think they got their first bounties after they left Loguetown.”

Luffy laughed, “That would probably do it. I didn’t know everyone on that crew, but I knew a few of them. They keep in touch and let me know how everything is going, especially now that I'm out on the open seas now. They think I'll get into too much trouble.”

He had a pout on his face at the last bit. They weren't entirely wrong to worry about him getting into trouble.

“They're probably right about the trouble part though, Captain. What about Ace?”

“He rang me every month from the time he left to the time I left Foosha Village. What about you?” 

“He rings me every now and again, something about liking to keep me updated and to see how I’m doing? His first mate, Deuce sends me letters every few months.” 

We sat in silence for a moment.

“Ace and I are the only ones left, you know.”

Now that was something I wasn’t expecting and I wasn’t sure how to respond without blurting that Sabo was alive. 

Luffy continued. “He ran away from his parents, nobles. And then his boat was shot down by the Celestial Dragons, he left us a letter. We didn’t even find his body”

“I’m sorry Luffy.” Thinking quickly, maybe I could give him a little hope. “Maybe he’s still out there somewhere?”

Luffy turned and stared at me, with sharp calculating eyes. He didn’t have access to his Haoshoku Haki just yet, but you could feel it simmering in the background, ready to be set free. (You could also see the similarities between Ace and him when he gave a person that look.) “What do you mean?”

“Stranger things have happened, but what if. What if he survived somehow?” 

“He would have told us!” Luffy sounded like he was going to cry. I put a hand on his shoulder and he leant into it.

“A kid being shot at, by what I’m assuming a massive cannon might have knocked him out. Maybe he just doesn’t remember? I don’t know, I just think that without seeing him you may never know.”

“Hard evidence, right?” His voice was muffled by him squishing himself against my shoulder. 

“Exactly.”

There was another long moment of silence. I have a feeling that if Sabo doesn’t show up in Alabasta when we next see Ace and Luffy spills my ‘theory’ about their dead brother not actually being dead, regardless of how much he liked me, I would be barbecue a la Ebony. Scorched and fried. Char grilled. How many metaphors for deader than and more loathed than the Pirate King could I come up with? Lots and lots. And everything to do with fire.

“No more depressing stories! I want to learn how to read!”

“Mah, mah! Okay, okay.” I grabbed the little book from my pocket and a pen. “So we’ll start with the alphabet; do you know how to write your name?”

“I know how to spell my name, Ace’s name and Sabo’s. Nothing else.”

“Well that’s where we can start from.” I started to write them down on the book, spacing them out to clearly show each individual letter. “Are there any other words before I start the alphabet?”

“Meat, nakama. Oh and King of the Pirates!”

“Of course, so meat is M. E. A. T. and nakama is N. A. K. A. M. A.” Sounding out each letter, I wrote down each letter as I did so with Luffy following along beside me. “And the last is King of the Pirates, so K. I. N. G. O. F. T. H. E. P. I. R. A. T. E. S.”

After this I started to teach him the alphabet, singing it first something that Luffy really seemed to enjoy as he joined in on the second round. I wasn't much of a singer, and was lucky to have escaped my cousins curse of sounding like a strangled cat. Luffy however could hold a tune. This continued on until Usopp came and took over the watch.

 


 

“Why is it so freaking cold?” I was shivering, despite wearing at least four different layers. Gods how I hated cold weather. “Why is it snowing?”

I know I was complaining but I was more used to the warmer weather and had only very rarely seen snow in my life.

Luffy on the other hand was having the time of his life, “May I present to you, the Man Who Fell From the Sky. MR SNOWMAN!”

Usopp laughed, “Really? Kids snow games…”

“What?”

“Behold the Snow Queen!” Usopp’s work wouldn’t have been out of place in an ice carving exhibition (despite being made of snow rather than a solid block of ice).

“That’s amazing, Usopp!”

“SNOW MAN PUNCH!” Usopp’s wonderful creation was now just a pile of snow on the deck and he launched himself at Luffy. The two play fought whilst I stood beside them, shivering. 

“NAMI-SWAN! How much longer do I continue with my shovelling of love?”

“Until is stops snowing, Sanji-kun.”

That was the first that I had heard the suffix on the end of his name. Come to think of it, people within the world of One Piece keep swapping between using continual Japanese suffixes and English suffixes. I shuddered, the longer I was here the more I was loosing my mind. Or acclimating to the craziness. Not sure which it was anymore.

“Of course!”

Lightening suddenly flashed through the sky. 

I honestly thought that back home had bipolar weather patterns, but home had nothing on the craziness of the Grand Line.

“AHHHHHHHHH!” A panicked scream came from Nami.

“What is it?” Everyone looked up at Nami, curious to see what was wrong. 

“This can't be happening!” She’d rushed out onto the balcony, looking down at the log pose on her wrist with trepidation. “TURN THE SHIP AROUND! HURRY!”

“Why are we turning around, have we forgotten something?” Usopp and Luffy paused in their play fight to look up at the navigator.

“This ship has turned itself around and is going in the opposite direction!”

“How long did you take your eyes off the log pose?” I couldn’t help but ask.

Nami gave me a dirty look, “A second or two! GAH! The calmness of the waves deceived me!”

There must have been some commentary from our not so welcome guests because they were sent flying by Nami’s kick to help us all on the deck.

“Catch the wind from the right, we need it to turn the ship one hundred and eighty degrees around!” Nami continued to give out orders. “Usopp take the jib sail!”

“Got it!”

“Sanji, Ebony take the rudder!”

“Leave it to us, Nami-swan!” “Aye, aye navigatrice!”

“Nami! The winds just changed!”

“They can’t have!”

“Ah, the first breeze of spring.” Now don’t get me wrong, I liked Vivi, but by the Gods was she annoying as Miss Wednesday. I kind of wanted to box her ears in.

“ZORO! IT’S AN EMERGENCY! WAKE UP!” 

The swordsman must have been exhausted, because not only was last nights meal still sitting beside him from when Sanji had taken it out to him, but he was still snoring away.

The chaos of the next few minutes was a blur, shouting and kicking, punching and with the Going Merry grazing an iceberg we safely made it out onto calmer seas, and in the right direction.

“That was a good nap.”

Zoro had finally woken up, it seemed. How he could have slept through all of that I’m not entirely sure.

“Come on, I know that the weather is nice but don’t you think we should be doing something? Are we going the correct way?”

I laughed from where I was laying on the ground. That was rich coming from the man who could get lost walking in a straight line, even when given the right directions!

Zoro had only just noticed Miss Wednesday and Mister Nine, “Since when were you two on our ship?”

“YOU JUST NOTICED NOW!”

I sat up and commented, “Well he did just wake up. Have any good dreams, Zoro?”

“Yeah, one where I was kicking Swirly brows’ arse.”

“What did you say, marimo?” 

“Nothing, cook.” The word ‘cook’ had never sounded more like an insult than it did in the moment.

“Shishishishi! We’re dropping them off at their town, Zoro!”

“Why? It’s not like we’re obligated to do so.”

“I know.”

Zoro leant down in front of the two not-guests, “There is something sinister about your faces. What are your names again?”

The two started to sweat a little at the evil grin on Zoro’s face. 

“M-mister Nine…” “I’m Miss Wednesday.”

He scratched his chin. “Something about those names is familiar. Been bugging me since I heard them.”

“I’ve got to agree with Zoro.” I cut in before Nami could throw a punch and land it on Zoro’s head. 

“Something bugging you too, huh?”

“Yeah.”

The evil aura coming from Nami made Zoro stiffen. “Did you have a nice sleep? You wouldn’t wake up no matter what we did.”

Danger! Danger! Warning signals were going off in my head. 

“Huh?” Was probably one of the singular, most stupid things that Zoro could have said to Nami in that situation, which is why I didn’t stop the next three or four punches that landed.

“You really didn’t think that through, did you?”

“Shut up!” He sulked a little before asking, “Did you really try to wake me up?”

“Definitely, you were out of it. Completely and utterly.”

“Wow, sorry.” 

 


 

“I know that this is probably a stupid thing to say, but stay safe okay?” 

Marco was worried about his brother, he couldn’t help it. Marshall D. Teach may have killed Thatch, he still wasn’t out of the infirmary and no one but the doctors were allowed to see him, and now Ace was going after him. Alone.

“I’ll try my best. My little brother should have set sail by now, so I’ll try to meet up with him.”

“How old is he now?”

“He’d be seventeen. Where did all that time go?”

Marco laughed, “That’s what happens when you’re an older brother!”

Ace had finished setting up the small boat that he was going to use and turned to Marco. “I’ll ring every few days, yeah? And when I see Luffy I’ll see if I can set up a video Den Den, so that Oyaji can meet my little brother.”

“Sounds good, don’t forget to contact your friend. See if she knows anything that might help.”

“Will do.”

They stood there in silence for a moment, when suddenly there was a bunch of cheering.

“GO ACE! FIND THAT BASTARD!”

With the cheers and encouragement of his crew behind him, Ace set sail.

  


 

 “There’s Whisky Peak!” Luffy was sitting upon the reattached head of Merry. The crew were all standing at the railing looking to where the captain was pointing.

“Thank god we arrived alive!” Miss Wednesday couldn’t help but cheer.

“We ask that you please drop us off here!”

“Thank you ever so much for taking us here, my dears.” The two leapt up onto the railing. “If it is the design of fate, let us meet once again!”

“Bye bye!”

Miss Wednesday and Mister Nine both left off of the railing and dived into the water, swimming the rest of the way back to their Island.

“What is up with those two?”

“Forget them, prepare to land!”

Usopp started to look worried for a moment. “There wouldn’t be monsters on this island, would there?”

“Considering this is the Grand Line, there’s a possibility.” Sanji had said at the same time that I had said, “Vampires? Possibly. Ghosts more than likely.”

Luffy didn’t pay any attention that Usopp looked close to fainting all of a sudden. “We can always run if that’s the case!”

“Guys, don’t forget to be able to move onto the next island, the log pose has to set again.” Nami held up here arm. “It depends on the island as to how long this could take. Some islands it’s a few hours others can take a few days.”

“Does that mean if there are vampires we have to stay here for a few days before we can leave?” Usopp was really stuck on the fact that there might be vampires on the island.

Nami nodded. “That is correct!”

“We’ll worry about it when it happens! Let’s just leave already!” Luffy was grinning happily.

“I’ve suddenly developed the 'can't enter islands’ disease.”

“With a side ordering of ‘pants on fire’, too?” I snarked at the sniper.

“The river is waiting for us!” Luffy was egging us on to go towards the island.

“There’s not much use worrying about it now, lets just go.” Zoro agreed with the captain, as I kept making ghost noises to further freak Usopp out.

I couldn’t help it. I know that it was childish but I needed to do it. Well, not needed to but sometimes he took it a little too far. 

“Cut it out, Ebony!”

“No can do, Usopp. Besides, what about the ghosts?”

He gave a squeal of fright, making me laugh. A little evilly. Well, what could I say? I was a pirate now, I had to get my fun somehow.

“Hey, can you guys hear anything?” Nami asked.

“Maybe it’s the ghosts.”

“Stop it!”

“Jokes aside, I can hear something. It sounds like people.”

“WELCOME!” A loud shout was heard through the fog. As it cleared the island was in full view.

The cactus like mountains were odd, you could see the fine prickles rising  up and down all of them. In front of the cacti mountains was the town, a scattering of buildings and a strong stench of alcohol filtering through the air.

“PIRATES! WELCOME TO OUR TOWN!

“WELCOME TO THE GRAND LINE!”

“No vampires or ghosts, there’s people greeting us.”

“This is off. Somethings not right.” I couldn’t help but say and I felt a hand on my shoulder. Zoro had come up beside me and nodded. He could feel it too.

You could see banners waving and cheers. The whole situation made me uncomfortable and even though I knew exactly what was going to happen I still would have felt off.

“LONG LIVE THE BRAVE HEROES OF THE SEAS!”

“Lovely ladies!” Sanji was waving and swooning at the same time. It was a little gross.

“Really Sanji?”

“All the pretty ladies!” He was lost, completely and utterly.

Coming into port and disembarking from the ship was an odd experience. Especially being welcomed by cheers as a criminal was just wrong.

“Ma-ma-maa! Welcome, my name is Igarappoi.” The mans curls were absolutely insane, and there was no way that they could have been natural. They had to be a perm or set in rollers as they were. “You may be a little bit shocked at the warm welcome, however this is Whisky Peak. A town famous for it’s music and liquor. We pride ourselves on our hospitality.”

“We have an oceans amount of fine liquor, so do not worry. I, on behalf of Whisky Peak invite you to our banquet.” He cleared his throat. “I hope that you share your tales with us.”

Usopp and Sanji swung their arms over Luffy’s shoulders. “GLADLY!”

Nami sighed, Zoro glowered and I face palmed. The Idiot Trio.

“How long will the island take to record on the log pose?”

“Don’t worry about such matters at the moment, rest and relax.”

“PLEASE PREPARE THE BANQUET!” He put his hand on Nami’s shoulder. I could see her flinch a little and I narrowed my eyes at the movement. 

“Would you please let go of our friend?” I asked, my tone mild. Igaram, well, Igarappoi instantly let go of Nami’s shoulder

“My apologies, Miss.” Nami nodded. “Let us sing to these adventurers!”

This was going to end badly, I could feel it.

 


 

Why was this crew full of drunkards? 

Usopp had somehow surrounded himself with a bunch of admirers, telling tall tales about his wonderful adventures as Captain Usopp. It was unbelievable.

”Don’t you dare lay a hand on my crew mates, you sea king Bastard.”

“Don’t forget the mermaid princess, Usopp.”

“I couldn’t forget the mermaid princess now could I?” My interjection brought him another round of applause and questions.

Men.

Nami and Zoro were outdrinking a number of people. Zoro was almost completely out of it, but Nami was still going strong. How that woman did it, I honestly had no idea.

“What a couple of heavy drinkers!”

At least that was something they got right.

“MORE!” The captain was eating as much as he could possibly digest at any one point, his rubber body expanding to keep up with the intake of food. There were a couple of cooks, completely passed out underneath the table.

An eating competition between Jewelry Bonney and Monkey D. Luffy would either be a spectacle to witness or an absolute disaster in the making and I’m not sure exactly which. It would be fun to find out, though!

“Look at this lady killer! Twenty ladies to be flirted with at once!”

Did Igaram really have to announce it to everyone, everywhere? 

“And the quiet mysterious one! Reading in the corner with one of our fine wines!” And so I was. Well, I wasn’t reading and I definitely wasn’t drinking the wine. I don’t even much like wine. I was keeping an eye on the situation under the guise of reading, Nami and Zoro would be fine but it was the others that I was worried about. Maybe not so much Sanji, but then again if you put a female in front of him he’d be putty in your hands. Luffy and Usopp were the kind of naive that was adorable, but could potentially be very dangerous.

“WHAT A PIRATE CREW!”

The party got louder and louder, and I could see Igaram slowly slipping away and out the door.

In the next twenty minutes, the crew was pretty out of it and slowly slipping into comas of the various sorts. I pretended to sleep but I wouldn’t and couldn’t allow harm to come to anyone here. 

We were all carried to a small hotel after we had all ‘passed out’. Once I was sure that nobody was watching I quietly got up. 

“You to?”

Of course it was Zoro.

“Well if it wasn’t the welcome we got, the weaponry in their pockets was something that was definitely happy to see us.”

We made it onto the roof without anyone noticing we were gone, until a panicked shout came running out of the room where the rest of the crew was sleeping.

“MISTER EIGHT! MISS MONDAY! TWO OF THEIR CREW HAS ESCAPED!”

“Well it looks like we’ve been found out, huh Zoro?”

“True, Ebony.”

“Why you!” Igaram was red with fury. “Weren’t you passed out after drinking so much? And you, weren’t you exhausted from the trip?”

“A true swordsman never allows alcohol to take control of himself.”

“I’m the oldest, so my crew is my responsibility.”

“Really?” Zoro asked, not taking his eyes off of our opponents.

“I’m turning twenty-one.”

“You are the oldest.”

“I did tell you.”

“Ch.. This is a den of bounty hunters and you take advantage out newbies, rookie pirate crews who have just entered the Grand Line.”

“There’s what, one hundred of them?”

“Around about, yeah.”

“Well what do you say Zoro? Baroque Works?”

“They’ll make a fine opponent for us.”

Our banter had definitely shocked the Baroque Works members, having not expected any of our crew to know of their organisation. And they made that perfectly clear.

“I don’t know about Ebony here, but I refused an invitation to join you lot once upon a time. You’re an organisation whose members know nothing about each other and refer to each other by code names.”

“I’m an information broker.” Was my only answer.

“Of course your boss’ location and identity are a complete mystery .” Zoro gave a chilling grin, that I matched. “A criminal organisation that asks for the complete obedience from their members; Baroque Works.”

I cocked my head to the side, “Was that supposed to be a secret?”

“We must eliminate them both, we have no choice. They know to much.” Igaram cast his eyes downwards. “Two more tombstones to be added to the cactus rock tonight.”

“KILL THEM!”

Zoro and I jumped out of the way, landing in the middle of the Baroque Works group.

“Their gone!” “Where did they go?”

They only noticed us when I started to giggle. 

Zoro gave a sunny, albeit creepy grin. “Shall we get started then?”

“You bastard! Shoot them!”

I crouched as low as I could whilst Zoro cut the group, their bullets and their weaponry.We once again disappeared, this time ending up behind Igaram.

“Hurry up and kill them! The woman’s defenceless and he’s only was swordsman!”

Defenceless? That wanker! I’ll show him defenceless!

Zoro had place one sword at Igaram’s neck, whilst I had a knife pointed at the back of his thigh. I dug the blade in a little, cutting through the fabric and drawing a little blood.

“Are you sure that you want to only add two headstones tonight?”

Guns were pointed at Igaram, Zoro and myself.

“ARE YOU PLANNING ON SHOOTING ME TOO?!”

We moved before they could even think about shooting at us, hiding behind a wall in front of them.

“Where did they go now? They can’t be planning on taking us all on by themselves, can they?”

“Those two don’t seem to be taking us seriously. They don’t understand the power of Baroque Works.”

“Are you going to test the new ones out?”

Zoro grinned and nodded, “No need to hold anything back, right?”

“Pretty much.”

“FOUND THEM!”

The sound of a gun being cocked caused Zoro to roll forward into the house and myself to dive. Once in the house we were surrounded by guns pointed at us on all sides. Hiding behind the table and using it as a shield was the only thing that we could really do.

“YUBASHIRI!” Cut straight through our shield and made the bounty hunters in fromt of go flying, hitting right into the wall knocking themselves out.

“I’ll go this way, you go that way!” 

We separated from there, probably not the best idea but in a small confined space with swords and guns it probably wasn’t the best idea for me to be involved .

“FOUND THE WOMAN!”

“I DO HAVE A NAME YOU KNOW!”

“WE DON’T CARE!”

Those that were chasing me had blades, not a gun in sight. There was a good thirty of them. 

Good. I should be able to handle you lot. Cannon fodder that you are.

“Well, come closer. If you dare.” And they did dare. 

I took a couple of blades to the palms of my hands, and they were blunt. 

“Really? You should take better care of your weapons.” 

I grabbed the blades, as brittle as they were snapped easily in my hands. Punching another couple out, and another one was kicked into the wall. The last few were easier to knock out, slamming their heads together.

I looked down at a pile of unconscious bodies in front of my feet. “Seriously, is this the best you lot can offer?”

If I smoked this would have been the perfect moment to pull out a cigarette and light it. No wait, a cigar and smoke it. Like a badarse. 

“HE’S COMING THIS WAY!” 

I looked up into the sky and saw the silhouette of the first mate. Rather dramatic, especially when bullets went flying past him.

“NITORYU TAKA NAMI!”

“Not bad. Does it work well for you?”

“It’s working good.” 

“ABOVE!”

“Don’t worry about it.” He grinned at me, motioning towards the fact that he’d already cut the ground we were standing on.

THWACK! 

Fudge! That hurt!

I winced inwardly, but gave no outward sign that being hi with a ladder had hurt in any way, shape or form.

“Too close!”

Hearing the cracking of knuckles from above us. Miss Monday had stood on one of Zoro’s arm and my leg.

“SUPER HUMAN FLOUR GRINDER!”

This punch landed right on Zoro’s face, surprising as I didn’t hear anything crack. 

She went to continue her attack on my, but Zoro had reached up with one hand and grabbed her face.

“Where’s that strength you’re so proud of?” Zoro mocked the woman

“Now, now. Let me have a go.” I cracked my own knuckles, the dusters I used primarily making their way onto my hands.

I grabbed the Baroque Works woman by the arm as Zoro let the woman’s face. I used only half of my strength, but the woman was knocked out completely and utterly.

“Defenceless am I?”

“They both beat Miss Monday in terms of pure strength!”

“That’s impossible!”

“No way!”

Turning to face the others, we stood almost back to back. 

“Shall we continue?”

“This isn’t a game, you know?”

We grinned at the Baroque Works members who had seemingly come to a conclusion of their own.

“Ah huh! That wanted poster must be for the swordsman!”

I rolled my eyes, this could not be happening.

“I could understand that! He must be the real captain!”

“And the woman is the first mate!”

“I feel insulted now.” I stated. “Honestly, shouldn’t you guys know better than to judge a book by there cover?”

“Luffy could have kicked all your arses.” Zoro finished off.

Chapter Text

"Ebony! Zoro!"

Crap. Luffy sounded mad and apparently Zoro's sense of danger was broken. (That would explain a lot actually.)

"If you're here to offer help, we don't need it."

"Don't bring me into this!" I hid behind Zoro, hissing my words. I know that there were other things to worry about at the time, but Luffy was (in that moment) one of the singular most terrifying things I had ever seen.

"I'LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU BOTH! FIGHT ME!"

"Abort! Abort! Abort!" I sounded like a broken record, stuck.

"What? What kind of stupid, idiotic things are you sprouting this time?" Zoro was ignoring my frantic motions to silence him.

"YOU TWO ARE UNGRATEFUL BASTARDS! AND YOU NEED TO GET YOUR ARSES KICKED!"

"I'll have you know that my parents were married. So technically your argument is invalid."

The two of them were off in their own little world, even if Luffy was addressing the both of us.

"Ungrateful?" Zoro sounded so indignant and offended that it would have made me laugh if I wasn't so terrified that Luffy would try and break my nose.

"Exactly! Ungrateful!"

Luffy lifted his head back and shouted towards the sky. "These guys gave us such a friendly welcome, with really yummy food and this is how you repay them! By cutting them up and punching them?"

"Can't deny that we did." "I did cut them, but…"

"What an annoying bunch of brats."

"Kyahahahahaha! Let's just kill them already!"

Meanwhile Zoro and I were still pleading with the captain to listen to us, but the food coma must have been worse than what I had originally thought. It had warped his sensibilities an absolutely idiotic amount.

"Listen, Luffy these guys were actually-"

I leant backwards, grabbing the back of Zoro's shirt just in time, as Luffy had come barreling towards us shouting about us not having any excuses.

"ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL US?"

"YES!"

"Oh my god." Dodging the blows coming from the rubber pirate and the rockfall that those blows were causing, there was little time for me to even attempt to talk. Zoro on the other hand was still trying to plead our case to our murderous captain.

"Listen to what we've got to say!"

"Hey! Come on Luffy!"

Luffy had focused his attempts mostly on Zoro, allowing me to try and keep an eye on the blue haired woman behind me. Mister Five and Miss Valentine still wanted to carry out an assassination attempt on her.

"MOVE OUT MISS VALENTINE!" "ROGER THAT MISTER FIVE!"

Luffy went flying through a bunch of barrels, then a building as Zoro kicked him.

"That idiot!"

"That was a good job, Zoro."

He looked at me questioningly, as I pointed towards the now downed Baroque Works duo.

"Heh, not bad. Not bad."

"Please allow us the honour of killing you!" An evil aura seemed to rise up around Mister Five as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

 


 

Ace rang the number that Ebony had given him, the one that he could normally contact her on, but all he was getting was static. He tried again and once more it went to static. He tried ringing her work number, just in case something had happened to her own Den Den mushi.

"Moshi, moshi. The Underground Bar Burgundy Bailey speaking, how can I help you?"

"Yo Bailey, it's Ace."

"Ah Ace-san, how are you?"

"Could be better, could be worse."

"Fair enough, what can I do to help."

"Is Ebony around?"

There was a silence from the other end and a couple of bottles being smashed. "One moment Ace-san, a fight has broken out."

"That's okay, I'll wait."

Five minutes later Bailey was back, "Ebony's not here, she went and joined a pirate crew. She said something about wanting to keep an eye on her captain because 'who knows what sort of mischief he will get himself into.'"

That was why, she was probably sailing through a storm. Those generally messed with the connectivity of the den den mushi.

"Do you know which crew?"

"From what I heard it was a newly formed crew, a rookie one with a Straw Hat for a Jolly Roger."

Ace froze for a minute. What other crew would have a straw hat on their flag besides his cute little brother? "Do you know the name of the captain?"

"I do. Smoker came through before he took after them complaining about a Monkey D. Luffy."

Ace burst into laughter at this. Of course Ebony would decide to join his little brother! She'd certainly been told enough about him over the years. And she was Luffy's brand f crazy, although to a lesser degree. No one could be a nuts as his brother. "Ace-san?"

"Ah sorry Bailey, it's just that Luffy is my brother!"

"Really? That could explain a lot then!"

"Yes it does."

"Oh! I almost forget! Ebony told me to tell you to be patient, and something about Alabasta?"

"Alabasta?"

"Mmmm, she said that you'd probably see her there!"

"I'll take that on board, Bailey. I've got to go now though, talk another time?"

"Sure thing, Ace-san! Ebony will be happy to see you!" With that call went silent and Ace stared at the silent snail.

He now had something to go off of, following the trail of the now named Blackbeard and meeting up with his little brothers crew and Ebony in Alabasta sounded good for him.

Now there was another call he had to make.

 


 

"Oh for… Honestly you two!"

Any protests I had were ignored, as the rubber idiot Captain and the stupid green Swordsman went at it.

I turned to the now very peeved and battered Baroque Works members, "I'd apologise for this but this is technically all your organisations fault."

"SHUT UP! LET'S GO MISS VALENTINE!"

"OF COURSE MISTER FIVE!"

"You two are so annoying."

Says the two idiots fighting over nothing.

Miss Valentine and Mister Five froze, terrified as they came into contract with a fist and the but of a sword.

Enough was enough and if Nami could get between the two during an argument, then so could I. Probably. Hopefully. Maybe? Life or death, I would do it anyway.

"Continue?"

"Yes!"

"How about no?" With immune bravery or latent stupidity, not sure which, I grabbed the two by their shirts and slammed them together.

"Nice going, Ebony." Nami had come up behind me and patted my shoulder. "Not quite what I would have done, but nice nonetheless."

"I suppose you would have punched them both?" I asked her, my tone of voice dry.

"Probably." She turned to the downed captain and swordsman. "What on earth do think you two were doing? Although it should be a good thing that the girl is safe."

"You two idiots were about to cost me one billion beli!"

"Really Nami?"

"Yes! She's a princess! She'd have the money!"

Zoro and Luffy had resumed their fight and this time Nami was the one to make them stop.

"Settle down already!"

"So, how about a contract?"

Vivi looked startled. "A contract?"

Somehow between Nami, Vivi and myself the reasons for Zoro and I fighting the townspeople came out and Luffy laughed.

"I thought you angry with them because they didn't make your favourite food!"

Zoro and Nami face palmed.

"Nah, Captain. I haven't seen anyone make my favourite food, so there's no use kicking up a fuss about it."

"Oh! Oh! What's your favourite food?"

This conversation had gotten wildly off topic, but it was settling the mood so I wasn't going to complain too much.

"Lasagne."

"Lasagne? What's that?" Luffy cocked his head to the side.

"Delicious is what it is. Yummy, cheesy white sauce. Thin layers of pasta and scrumptious marinara sauce with beef layered. Oh how I miss it!"

Luffy's tongue had lolled out of his mouth at my description. "That sounds amazing! (Not as amazing as meat, but still amazing.) We should have Sanji make it!"

"Sounds good, Captain!"

"Can you two focus?" Nami looked mildly annoyed at the both of us.

"Sorry Nami." "My apologies, navigator."

"So about that contract?"

"I refuse!"

"Huh?"

"You do have my gratitude for saving my life just now, however."

"But, but you're a princess! A billion beli should be easy…"

Vivi shook her head. "Have you ever heard of a kingdom called Alabasta?"

I nodded whilst the others said no.

"One of you has, that's less than what I would have thought." Vivi started to explain. "My country used to be a peaceful, highly sophisticated country. However for the past few years it has been in the midst of a Revolution. Due to the radical Alabastian Revolutionaries my country has been in a state of chaos for years."

"One day I heard about an organisation that was investigating the Revolutionaries in Alabasta called Baroque Works, but other than that I didn't know anything about them. I made a request to Igaram."

"The guy with the chikuwa hair?" Luffy asked, demonstrating the curls. I couldn't help but laugh at the movement.

"Yes him. I asked if we could infiltrate Baroque Works, as that would be the only way to clear the shadow hanging over Alabasta and to see what the end goal of Baroque Works actually is."

"You love your country a lot. And the people." I couldn't help but admire this kid, this woman for doing something like this as a person of her position.

She gave me a sad smile.
"Aren't you a brave one, princess?" I couldn't tell if Zoro was being sarcastic or not, but clear admiration was shining for the princess in his eyes.

"What's the deal with the 'creation of an ideal nation' that that organisation is working towards?" Nami backtracked. "Don't tell me."

Vivi nodded. "I'm afraid so. Their true intention is to take over my home, my kingdom, Alabasta. And if I can't get home in time to stop the Revolutionaries and tell my people about Baroque Works, their plan will go ahead unhindered!"

"That explains why you refused a contract. You're in the middle of a civil war, no money to spare."

"Is everything about money with you, navigator?"

"Yep!" She flashed me a sunny grin, beli signs in her eyes and the v for victory hand sign. I resisted the urge to flip her off with my own hand sign.

"Who is the boss dude, anyway?" Luffy asked and I slipped my hood back onto my head. It wouldn't do for the unluckies to get their hands on my identity (or lack thereof), would it?

"Don't ask me that! You're better off not knowing his true identity! If Baroque Works knew you knew they would hunt you down!"
"Not that we aren't already being hunted down, though."

Zoro nodded towards me. "She's got a point."

"Thank you."

Nami laughed nervously. "Please just leave us out of it! I mean, this guy is planning to take over a country, so he must be incredibly dangerous and powerful."

"Yes, exactly he is. Not matter how strong you pirates may be, you wouldn't be a match for Sir Crocodile of the Oka Shichibukai."

Silence, complete and utter silence as Nami and Vivi looked at each other with horror.

Looking up, a bird and an otter had just taken a picture of us and flew off.

I started to laugh whilst Nami attempted to strangle the princess. This was priceless; reading the manga and watching the anime was nothing on seeing it happen in real life.

"EBONY! HOW CAN YOU BE LAUGHING AT A TIME LIKE THIS! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!"

"S-s-sorry Nami, but…" I couldn't finish my sentence as I started to laugh even harder.

Vivi was pleading with Nami by the point. "I'm so so sorry. It just slipped out!"

"Not even really in the Grand Line and we've already got the Shichibukai on our tails!:

Zoro and Luffy were in stark contrast to the crying and wailing of Nami and Vivi. The two were talking excitedly, looking every bit their seventeen and nineteen years.

"I wonder what kind of guy he is?"

"We'll be lucky if we can meet him early!"

"SHUT IT YOU TWO! AND EBONY STOP LAUGHING!"

"Mah, mah. I'll try." I didn't try to stop laughing.

Nami got up and started to walk away. "It's been really good sailing with you guys, see you!"

"Where are you going?"

"They haven't got my face yet, so I'm leaving before they do!"

The otter from earlier was in her path, sketching away. Having shown her the sketches and getting her approval he ran off.

"Now I can't even run away!"

"Where were you going to run off to?" Zoro asked her.

"Anywhere but here!"

"Well it looks as though the four of us are now on the Baroque Works hit list!"

"AWESOME!"

"Could be so much worse." I patted Nami's shoulder as she collapsed into the foetal position.

"I have a plan!"

Turning around Igaram, despite his size and height could definitely pull of a mildly convincing Nefertari Vivi cosplay. I do wonder where he would have got those clothes on such short notice, however.

"I-Igaram? Why are you wearing that?"

Luffy however smiled, "You can definitely pull that look off!"

"Why am I surrounded by idiots?" Nami couldn't help but wail.

"Idiots make the world go around. I mean, look at the Marines and the World Government." Thinking for a moment. "Not to mention the Celestial Dragons."

"You make a very good point, Ebony. A very good point."

Igaram had started to talk again, explaining his plan to Vivi and us by extension.

"Although the boss hasn't got a bounty since he is a member of the Shichibukai, he once had an eighty million bell bounty during his reign as a pirate."

Eighty million beli? That's absolutely tiny in comparison to what some pirates have in the New World. I had forgotten that his bounty was only so large. In the Original Timeline or Alternate Timeline (that's the easiest way that I could put it in my head; think Star Trek and that reboot.) Luffy's had been way higher than that once he had reached the New World and as far as I could remember had never been offered a Shichibukai position. Then again that could be because he had declared war on the World Government.

"By the way, have you decided if you were going to take the Princess back to Alabasta?" Igaram had turned to Luffy, only now recognising him as the captain.

"Huh?"

"He want's us to take her back to Alabasta so that she may be safe." I quickly explained for him.

"Sure, that's fine by me."

Nami on the other hand lost it. "Eighty million? That's what, four times Arlong's bounty!"

"Nami, eighty billion beli is a teeny tiny bounty in the grand scheme of things." She started to tear up more and I wasn't sure if it was an over exaggeration or not.

"Princess, may I have eternal log pose?"

"What's that?"

"I'm surprised you don't know, as you're the navigator." Igaram sighed. "In simple terms it is a log pose that can record the magnetic fields for eternity, whilst a normal log pose can only record the magnetic field of a singular island to guide you to the next one from the ship."

"This eternal log pose will never forget the island that it has originally picked up and this one is set and recorded for Alabasta."

"I haven't sailed to Alabasta using the normal route, however the should be at least two or three islands, logs to record on the way there. Take care." He bowed to his Princess. "I hope we may meet again in our homeland."

Turning to us he stated. "I leave the princess in your care."

"We'll take care of her, don't worry." I wanted to make sure that we would do our best, even if he didn't entirely trust a bunch of pirates and rookie ones at that. Who knows what a group of rookie pirates would do to a civilian, let alone a princess to gain a name for themselves?

He smiled slightly. "I have seen the character of your crew, as you and the swordsman fought to protect the rest of your crew. I am not worried."

That surprised me a lot. We were strangers, complete strangers and all due to one fight where Zoro and I protected the crew in their sleep we were trusted to take care of a princess?

"Be careful, your highness."

"Take care of yourself, Igaram."

And with that he left us behind.

"He was such a funny guy, too!"

"He has always been dependable."

The moment Vivi said this a massive explosion was heard and seen, the ship that had been carrying Igaram had been set alight. A burning furnace in the distance. Normally I would have looked at Vivi, as her having clearly just lost someone. But I looked at the captain instead.

It was like he had seen a ghost.

While Nami had put an arm around Vivi, I had reached out towards the captain, putting my hand on his shoulder. This seemed to shake him out of whatever flash back he had found himself in. He reached up and grabbed my hand, giving it a squeeze to let me know that he was okay.

"No!"

"Already?"

"NAMI! THE LOG POSE?"

"It's finished!"

"We've got to go! Where's Sanji and Usopp?"

"You go get them, I'll get the ship ready!" Zoro shouted towards Luffy, who nodded and ran off.

"Vivi! We've got to go! If they find us now, Igaram's sacrifice will be in vain!"

"We'll get you back to Alabasta, safe!"

Nami and I comforted Vivi, who was crying and not making a sound. We ended up having to almost drag her back towards the ship before she started to run by herself.

"I'll go help Zoro!"

"Got it!"

I pushed myself to go faster.

"Oi! Need a hand?"

Zoro had been slightly struggling with the odd angle of the anchor, so I jumped onto the Going Merry to yank it over the side of the ship and onto the deck.

"I've got Sanji and Usopp!"

Luffy was half dragging, half carrying the other two. One by his nose and the other by his foot.

"We're ready to leave at any moment!"

"Vivi! We haven't got time to look for him!"

"The duck is on board already!" I shouted down, no time to waste.

"He was here before us." Zoro pointed at the duck.

"THANK GOD!"

Vivi motioned towards the river, "Head down the river and we should be able to reach the ocean to leave as soon as possible!"

"How many guys do you think will come after us?"

"Not sure, but there are meant to be at least two thousand people working for Baroque Works." Vivi thought about it for a moment. "Whisky Peak like towns aren't uncommon, so I expect that we'll run into one of those on our path."

Nami had only heard the amount of people that could be potentially coming after us. "Two thousand people?"

"Well, we do know the name of the boss."

Sanji and Usopp had no idea what was going on, panicking and yelling.

"I'll tell them what happened."

"Good, I didn't want to have to worry about telling them."

"Thanks Ebony!."

"Wimps." Luckily neither Nami nor Zoro had heard that comment, or I probably would have gotten a beating.

 


 

"Be careful not to crash your ship into the rocks nearest the shore line." A female voice was heard. Looking up was Nico Robin, or as she was currently known Miss All Sunday. I have to admit that she was pulling the femme fatale look off perfectly. "Congratulations on your escape!"

She looked around a little, "What a quaint little ship you have here."

"Who's that?"

"What?!"

Vivi looked terrified.

"I must tell you Miss Wednesday that I met up with Mister Eight a moment ago."

"What did you do to Igaram?" Vivi's voice shook.

"How did you get onto our ship, anyway?" Luffy was concerned at the fact that an outsider had gotten onto our ship without any of us noticing.

"What are you doing here, Miss All Sunday?"

"Who is that Vivi?" Nami asked her.

"I'd say by the way Vivi's staring at her, she's either a high ranking officer or," I turned to face the woman sitting on the railing in full. "The partner of the boss."

"You'd be right, Crow Queen." The last portion was said a little mockingly and i glared at her, not that you could see my eyes through my hood but the intent was still there.

"She's the only one who know's the bosses identity. Igaram and I tailed her to find out who he was!"

"It was more like I let you tail me."

"So she's a good guy!"

"I don't think she is at the moment, captain."

"I bet you're the one who told the boss that he was compromised!"

"So she's a bad guy!"

"Captain, please make up your mind."

"But Ebony, it's so complicated!"

"It's only complicated if you make it so, captain."

Miss All Sunday was watching the captain and I banter back and forth.

"What is your objective here Miss All Sunday?"

"No need to get so worked up, Miss Wednesday. I only let you tail me since you looked oh so desperate." I could tell that she was milking this for all it's worth. She'd been portrayed as the Devil's Child for so long that she had felt the need to become the devil's child. "Besides, it was amusing to observe a singular princess who thought that she could take on an entire organisation, Baroque Works and save her kingdom."

Usopp and Sanji had made their way up onto the balcony, next to the intruder.

"Don't you underestimate me!" Vivi shouted out, as we all reached for our weapons.

"Hey!"

"This woman is a threat to our lovely Miss Wednesday."

The two went to fire the pistol and slingshot that they had trailed on Miss All Sunday, but were knocked off of the balcony by the use of her devil fruit.

"Would you mind not to point such dangerous instruments at me?"

"She's got a devil fruit!"

"That would have been nice to know before, Vivi!"

"Sorry!"

Sanji and Usopp hit the deck with a thud in front of us, landing awkwardly on their sides. Thankful no bones or noses were broken, so I would count that as a win.

"What ability does she have?"

"I'd say she has the Hana Hana no mi." I tilted my head to the left. "Would that be correct?"

"You are very well informed, Crow Queen." I felt rather than saw two hands come up around my neck. Thinking quickly I reached up and grabbed them, the seastone in my knuckledusters weakening her grip and subsequently making the extra set of hands to disappear.

"I had a feeling you might try that. Don't do it again, please."

She looked at me for a moment, rubbing her hands together to get the feeling of seastone away from her skin.

"You know, some call you the second coming of the Joker in the East Blue."

I went still, cold fury racing through me. I did not just hear what she just said, what she just called me. I was an information broker, not a dick that paraded around as a freaking flamingo and sat on a throne whilst organising an auction house where people were sold as objects.

"Excuse me, but can you please repeat that Miss All Sunday? I could have sworn that you compared me to him."

"Mister Zero wanted you for your information, but you're a fledgling broker little crow."

"I know that, but since when could I be compared to that monster?"

"Your information. It's very valuable. You know things that you shouldn't, Crow Queen Ebony."

"I still shouldn't be compared to him." I muttered under my breath, a little childishly.

"Fufufufu! There's no need to get so riled up." Says you, you weren't just compared to bloody Donxquiote Doflamingo. "I haven't received any orders, nor do i have any reasons to fight you all."

In less than a second the infamous straw hat was taken from Luffy's head and placed a top of Miss All Sundays.

"Give me back my hat!" Luffy was angrier than he was earlier, shark teeth on full display for the world to see. "You are trying to pick a fight with us!"

Miss All Sunday completely ignored the ranting teenager below her. "It is most unfortunate that a bunch of rookies are looking after a princess being targeted by the entirety of Baroque Works. And for a lone princess to entrust her life and safety to a bunch of pirates."

"Fufufufu! But the worst part is that your log pose has been set towards Little Garden. Even if I don't leave a single finger on you, you'll probably never reach Alabasta."

"WE'RE NOT GOING TO JUST LAY DOWN AND ROLL OVER! NOW GIVE ME BACK MY HAT!"

"YOU BIG MEANIE!"

"What are you Usopp, five?"

"Well at least I'm not old like you!"

"Don't insult Ebony-chan, you heathen!"

"How old do you think I am, Usopp?"

"Nineteen?"

"I'm turning twenty-one, so you know. I don't think that's particularly old, do you?" I must have been giving off a threatening aura, because Usopp shook his head violently.

She flicked Luffy's hat back onto his head, where he grabbed onto the sides of it protectively as though it were to suddenly disappear.

"Anyone can present a brave front, yet it's difficult to know what might lay ahead." She stated, flicking something towards Vivi.

"An eternal pose?"

"You should be able to skip over any future troubles with that, it points towards an obscure and uninhabited island right before Alabasta." She continued on, a hand under her chin. "The route will take you somewhere that is unknown to Baroque Works, so you should be safe from being pursued there."

"Why would you give this to us?"

"It's most likely a trap." Zoro kept a sharp eye on the woman who had dared to invade their personal space.

"Hmm, I do wonder about that." Miss All Sunday smirked as Vivi struggled to make a decision whether or not to trust the woman who may have personally killed Igaram.

"Enough wasting time!" Luffy had reached over and grabbed the eternal pose in Vivi's hand, crushing it easily.

"Never change, Captain. Never change."

"Why would I change?" He looked so confused that I laughed and he didn't noticed Nami's incoming attack.

"ARE YOU AN IDIOT OR WHAT? SHE CAME ALL THE WAY OUT HERE TO GIVE US A SAFER WAY TO ALABASTA! WHAT IF SHE IS A GOOD GUY!"

Luffy shook his head. "It doesn't matter. No one but us can dare to choose the path of our journey!"

Everyone was speechless for a moment, most being shocked at the moment of maturity coming from the generally childish and jovial Captain.

"I see, how unfortunate."

"Luffy!"

"She blew up Mister Chikuwa so I hate her!"

"Fufufufu!" Miss All Sunday threw back her head and laughed. "I don't dislike bold men, perhaps we will meet again soon. As long as you survive."

Luffy's moment of maturity was gone as he stuck out his tongue at her and pulled down the lower part of his eye.

"Let's go Bunch!" Miss All Sunday dropped down onto the back of a giant turtle, which made its way quickly into the distance.

 


 

"Dragon-san, do we have any way of getting in contact with the Crow Queen?"

Sabo had made up his mind, he would go to Alabasta and have his reunion with his brothers dammnit and give Black Ebony one of the biggest hugs imaginable. She had given him back a significant portion of life that he had forgotten, significant people that he had forgotten and promised to never do so again. It would probably kill him this time if something happened.

Dragon looked up from the maps that he was examining.

"I gave her one of the informant den den mushi's. You should be able to contact her via that."

"I'll give her a ring then. I need to see Ace and Luffy soon!"

 

Chapter Text

Once Nico Robin, Miss All Sunday, had left the Gong Merry there was a moment of tense silence. No one moved and the sound of heavy breathing filled the air, waves lapping at the sides of the ship.

Vivi’s knees almost gave out on her and I grabbed her by the waist, her hand coming up to grip my arm.

“Easy there.”

“Thank you.” Her voice was as shaky as her knees, but her grip on my arm was tight. The girl definitely had some strength. “How’s your neck?”

I gave a rough, dry laugh devoid of any humour. “Eh, it’s been better.”

“Yeah! I saw her try to choke you, Ebony!”

“We all did Luffy.” Zoro turned to me, eyes questioning. “You sure you’re okay?”

“A cup of tea with honey and lemon wouldn’t go astray at this point, but honestly guys I’ll be fine. I’ve just got to learn to be more careful.”

“A cup of tea with honey and lemon coming right up! Will Miss Wednesday be joining the crew?” Sanji turned his attention from me, looking hopefully towards Vivi.

“For now at least.”

“WE’VE GOT AN OSTRICH ON THE SHIP!”

“Captain, that is a duck. A very large duck, but definitely not an ostrich.”

Luffy’s head tilted to the side, piercing gaze as if to check that I wasn’t lying previously about not being okay. “A mystery duck?”

“Sure, let's go with that.”

I was suddenly tired, exhausted. Maybe it was the fact that I’d been awake for longer than twenty-four hours? That couldn’t be right, I’d stayed awake for longer and been perfectly functioning (mostly). Maybe it was the momentary chokehold I’d been forced into? That must be it. I’d have a nap after breakfast then, that would probably help.

By this stage, Vivi had been able to right herself enough to look Nami in the eyes, “Are you really okay with me riding on your ship? I’m just putting you all in danger.”

“Puh-lease.” Nami rolled her eyes.  “It’s your fault anyway that they found out about us in the first place! If you didn’t want any trouble you shouldn’t have bothered us in the first place.”

Nami poked Viv in the forehead, in a manner almost reminiscent of Itachi Uchiha.

Wrong anime and manga, Ebony. Wrong one.

“Sorry.” Vivi ducked her head.

“Right Luffy?”

“BREAKFAST SANJI!”

“Nami, I don’t think the captain really cares.”

“Ruin my fun, why don’t you Ebony.”

“It’s what I’m here for!” I replied back cheerfully, to which she poked her tongue out at me.

“LET’S SET SAIL! SANJI! BREAKFAST!”

“It’s coming Luffy, just wait.” Usopp shouted up towards the pouting captain as Nami and he manoeuvred the ship out onto the open seas.Everything seemed to be in order out on the deck, so I sought out Sanji in the kitchen.

It was like watching a dance, a craftsman creating their art. He didn’t hear me walk into the galley, but I didn’t want to disturb him even though I had come in here to ask if he needed any help. But I couldn’t help it.

“Need any help with anything, Sanji?”

He jumped a little, turning around to face me.

“Sorry for startling you.” I apologised, bowing my head slightly.

“Oh, that’s okay. No thank you, Ebony-chan, I’ve got everything handled.” He rubbed the back of his neck, causing slight scarring to be seen along the edges of his wrists.

My eyes narrowed at the marks, hoping that what I thought had caused them hadn’t actually caused them.

Sanji must have noticed the movement of my eyes towards his wrists and he hastily put his arms down.

“There’s nothing...” His innocent tone couldn’t fool me, nor could his slightly hesitant behaviour as he turned away, his voice trailing off.  He backed up slightly towards the bench where he had been previously preparing the massive breakfast for Luffy. (And the crew, of course.)

“What’s nothing?” I’d moved up beside him and tenderly reached out my hand, close to his own but not enough that I was to invade his personal space.

“Nothing is nothing.” He offered me his wrist, despite his statement. I think that he had come to the conclusion that he could trust me despite his general mistrust of people.

The skin on his wrists were covered with thin scars, running the length of his arms, crisscrossing over and over again. His whole body was probably covered with these scars, how nobody with eyes noticed I didn’t understand. (But with the immaculate way Sanji dressed and presented himself, nobody probably thought to take a second look.)  These were scars caused by a man who was more interested in genetic mutation and building the perfect army than with the well-being and happiness of his family. I was angry. Very very angry.

“Are they dead?” My voice was quiet, steady in my fury.

“No.” Came Sanji’s quiet reply.

“Do you want them to be?” I couldn’t help but wonder if he did. After what Vinsmoke Judge had done to him and his mother, to his siblings , it would be well founded.

“Sometimes.” This was even quieter than the previous answer.

I grasped his hand in my own. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“One day.”

“Then I’ll be there.”

We all would be.

“Are you allergic to anything?”

The conversation was able to flow from there.

I had taken a nap, one that had lasted well into the next day after the others had seen how exhausted I was and the bruises on my neck where beginning to show. We were all out on deck, all of us bar Sanji who was preparing a mid-morning snack. (I’d missed breakfast, but it didn’t bother me too much at this stage, despite Sanji’s many protests.)

“Guys, so you think it will snow more?” Luffy’s wide grin was infectious, I couldn’t help but smile back at him when he turned towards me.

“Why the hell would it snow?”

“Why wouldn’t it, Zoro?” I turned to face him, leaning over the railing. “It’s the Grand Line after all and while I feel that I’m going to be repeating that statement a lot you did sleep through the sudden snowfall the other day.”

“It’s true! So, do you think it will snow again?”

Luffy was practically vibrating in his seat.

“I don’t know why you’re so excited about being cold again.”

I hated being cold; I genuinely despised it. Everything aches and I get grumpy when I was sore.

“It’s not as if it never snows, but the seven magnetic fields stretch that from Reverse Mountain clash in ways that makes everything unpredictable.” Vivi took a look out onto the ocean. “You cannot let your guard down at all, even for a moment. It would be bizarre to encounter the conditions of the first island once you’ve passed it.”

She was emphatic about warning us about the dangers and perils of the Grand Line.

“Here we are Ebony-chan!” Sanji handed me a beautifully made drink, a hot chocolate by the looks of it.

“Mah, mah thank you Sanji!”

Earlier Sanji had made sure to ask about any allergies that I may have had, just so that he knew not to serve me anything that I couldn’t eat; no pineapples for me today or ever.

“Who else wants a special drink?”

There was a unanimous yes from the rest of the crew as Sanji made a show of pretending not to give the guys their drinks causing Luffy and Usopp to pout and Zoro to scowl, Carue looked genuinely confused at the show that they were putting on.

“Are you sure things will be fine with this lot?” Vivi looked nervous, pointing towards the laughing crew.

Nami and I looked at each other, communicating with each other incredibly well for two people who had only known each other for less than three days.

“It'll be okay.”

“Besides, we all work hard enough. None of us particularly want to die.”

Nami nodded at my words.

“Not dying would be good, very good.”

We clinked our drinks together as Vivi cradled hers in her hands. We looked down at the others, all happily talking about making some fishing rods and going fishing, with Usopp extravagant waving his arms about and Luffy concentrated very hard on drinking his drink.

“What is the Captain even doing?”

“It’s Luffy.” That was the only answer Nami gave and it was the only statement that could be given that sum everything up.

“Being on this ship makes you lose the will to worry, doesn’t it?”

Vivi looked out onto the ocean.

“It is quite relaxing.” She admitted, left hand going up to rest on her neck.

“Are you sure about that?” I teased, causing Nami and Vivi to look at me questioningly. “In times like these, then sure it’s relaxing. But the moment that the Captain gets an idea or that look in his eyes I can guarantee everything will descend into chaos.”

“I’ll give cheers for that.” Nami raised her glass, towards mine.

“Look! A dolphin!”

And indeed there was; a beautiful and monstrous in size dolphin leapt from the water and over the ship.

“FUCKING HOLY HECK!”

“IT’S FREAKING HUGE!”

The captain let out a boisterous laugh, “Let’s run away guys!”

“AYE AYE CAPTAIN!” The resounding cheer from the rest of the crew sounded, with us all rushing to do our jobs.

I managed to make it, after having finished loading cargo into the under bowls of the ship. It was mostly food, lots of fruit that needed to be stored, plus fresh water and a couple of crates of alcohol that I could guarantee would be almost primarily Zoro and Nami’s to use as the others didn’t seem to be fond of alcohol at all, preferring their own indulgences.

I was lost in my own world when I heard the captain shout out about us almost arriving out our next destination, Little Garden as I knew it.

“We should be careful.” Vivi was wringing her hands together nervously, “I didn’t like what Miss All Sunday was saying about this island.”

Usopp was just as nervous. “You don’t think there are monsters here, do you?”

“Usopp, this is the Grand Line,” I stated, turning and facing him. I couldn’t help but think that we were all children here on this ship. We hadn’t truly faced the terrors of this world, not really. “There are more monsters here than anywhere else in this world. Some just wear different masks than others.”

“She’s right.” This came from Sanji who was probably thinking of his own family and how that turned out. Monsters did come from men, in truth. “But we have to stock up on some food pretty soon. Due to the circumstances, I wasn’t able to truly stock up on food like I would have liked.”

“Just look at this place!” The captain was pointing and waving towards the overgrown, dark mess that was Little Garden. It did look like it hadn’t been seen by sentient eyes since the beginning of time, with the overgrowth being larger and more terrifying than most plants and forests that I had seen.

“I can’t say that I can see anything that would deserve the cute name like that though?” Nami was questioning her senses.

“It’s meant to be ironic, I think.” I scratched behind my head a little, almost nervously. People I could handle, giant animals? Perhaps not as well as what I had probably thought.

“Probably. And I’ve never seen any of these plants in my encyclopedia before.”

Yes, that’s because this place has gone back to prehistoric times when dinosaurs ruled the earth. I had to stop myself from making Jim Carrey noises.

A loud sound, a screech sounded overhead that had Nami, Usopp, Vivi and Carue panicking. The others and myself jumped at the sudden noise.

“What was that?!”

“Don’t worry Nami-swan! It was just a bird!” The noodle dance had come back into fashion, apparently. “This island isn’t anything but your average jungle after all!”

A singularly large, pterodactyl-like lizard-bird flew overhead. Brightly coloured plumage, with threatening eyes, almost like a vulture surveying over its next meal.

“Does that sound like your average jungle?” Nami was pointing towards Little Garden, shaking legs and a quivering voice.

Usopp screeched next.

“It sounds like a volcano is erupting or something!”

There was a low rumble, as we passed by a collapsed tiger covered in its own blood. That made my heart hurt; I loved tigers, such beautifully strong and powerful animals.

“That’s not normal. Why would the King of the Jungle be covered in blood?” Vivi let out a wail. “What could do something like that?”

“I don’t much like it either, but many things could do that.” Especially here . I wanted to say this aloud but couldn’t bring myself to.

“Right!” Usopp looked at us all, coming to a conclusion that was going to be almost immediately overridden by Luffy’s enthusiasm for adventure. “We are NOT setting foot on this island.”

Nami was nodding frantically along in agreement. “We wait it out on the ship and leave the very moment the log pose resets, okay? We have to make it to Alabasta on time after all.”

That’s when it hit me. I definitely only had until Alabasta; if Sabo didn’t show up,  if Ace didn’t kill me , if Luffy decided that I was more trouble than I was worth based on the amount of knowledge I held, the secrets and lies I had kept, told.I didn’t want to get to Alabasta quickly, but my own selfish desires and needs did not outweigh what was at stake for Vivi and her country, for Luffy and Ace, for Sabo.

“Sanji!” The Captain’s voice shocked me out of my musings. “Prepare a lunchbox!”

“A lunchbox, captain?”

“A pirates lunchbox!”

“Does that have any nutritional value in it besides protein, Sanji?” I couldn’t help but ask.

He laughed. “None at all, Ebony-chan. None at all.”

“Didn’t think so.”

“I smell adventure up ahead!”


 

After Luffy had set off, along with Vivi who had decided that it wasn’t worth just waiting around on the ship. (Carue faithfully trailing nervously behind her.) I decided to go with Zoro, act as bait while he killed the animals for food. Internally screaming, but making no notion of this on the outside. But we had yet to leave as Sanji and he were having an argument.

(It took all I had to not just shout at them to just whip them out and compare sizes because clearly, this was just a form of dick measuring contest. Honestly, they were such children .)

“FINE!”

Apparently, the argument was almost at its conclusion.

“Whoever brings back the most meat wins!”

“Fine by me,” Sanji straightened his tie. “Though in my case it’ll be tonnes of meat.”

“Boys, really?”

I was stood in the middle of the two of them, shaking my head disapprovingly.

“We need the food, does it honestly matter the source of who killed it? Sanji will be the one to cook it regardless, so this arguing is pointless.”

This caused the two of them to stop still.

“Che, sorry.” “My apologies Ebony-chan.”

Zoro had to get the last word in, by riling Sanji up.

“Come along then, bait .”

Zoro couldn’t help himself, could he? He knew damn well that anything to do with a woman, especially one of the crew, being in danger would set Sanji off. Sanji was definitely gearing up for a lecture and Zoro had a ridiculously smug look on his face.

“Boys. Just stop.”


 

“Did you two hear that?”

Sanji looked around and nodded. “It sounded like Nami calling out for me!”

The next moment he was off like a rocket, running back in what he thought was the direction of the ship.

I couldn’t help but look at Zoro.

“Is he always like this?”

I knew that he was but it was different seeing it in person than it was reading it in the manga and watching it in the anime.

“Pretty much.”

We walked in silence for what seemed to be hours, not quite next to each other but close enough that if something happened we could defend and attack in equal measure.  When we stopped walking, we came to find ourselves standing in front a triceratops.

“What the hell? Can you even eat this?”

“Not sure, but it might be best if we found out?”

I played bait, whilst Zoro made short work of the triceratops. I felt a little bad, but in a world where it was definitely survival of the fittest, you had to do what you had to do to survive.

“Do you think to skin it now, or wait until we get onto the ship? I mean we’ll be surrounded by predators regardless, but..”


 

“You have a point.” He suddenly looked at me, eyes sharp. “I still don’t trust you, not entirely.”

I suppose that was fair. “I don’t expect you to, we’re still pretty much strangers.”

“That, but there’s something off about you.” His red got even more piercing, shivers running down my spine. “Your eyes, they know too much.”

“I won’t deny that,” I thought about it for a moment. “I have secrets, but when the time comes you and Luffy will be the first to know. Only two others know and at the moment I’d like to keep it like that; people like me, we get hunted. Really badly hunted if it gets out who and what we are, what we know.”

And it was true. I’d seen news several times in the papers, heard the marines and criminals alike at the bar talking about the public and grizzly executions and tortures of Outliers. I suppose that I was lucky, having foreknowledge of this world before I came into it and with that advantage, I could try and fit in as best as I could to try and avoid detection. Any Outlier found, was to be immediately taken to the Marines and tortured for whatever information they know and then publicly executed as an example.

“I honestly don’t know what they have against people like me but it’s an unfortunate fact.”

Zoro offered out his hand and I took it, shaking it solemnly.


 

There was a stronger wind than normal; I could only imagine that it was due to Dorry and Brogy fighting. I wonder if there was a way to get a recording of them to show to the guards at Enies Lobby; get them on our side and against the World Government beforehand. (Usopp at this point in time was probably flattering  the giant Brogy with his dreams of becoming a Brave Warrior of the Sea.)

I could feel something following us, or at least someone’s or something’s eyes. It was creepy and felt very threatening.  There was something important here that I was forgetting. I had to mention something to Zoro, who was currently standing in front of the triceratops that he had killed earlier that he had been dragging around. (I hadn’t mentioned it to him earlier, but we were walking in circles. He was even more directionally challenged than the manga had led us all to believe. It was a miracle that he was even alive with how little he could find islands.)

“I can feel it too.”

He reached up behind his head to scratch it as his neck.

“We must be lost,” Placing his hand on a tree wrapped in vines. “I’ve definitely seen this tree before.”

“Zoro, I hate to break it to you, but we’ve been walking in circles.”

He rounded on me.

“Why didn’t you mention that earlier?”

“I was hoping that the eyes following us would get lost.” And it was the only reason. The feeling was persistent and incredibly unnerving.

“Hey! Nami!”

Nami, or at least that was who Zoro thought it to be, was leaning up against a tree opposite us.

“This is great! We were wondering about how to get back to the ship.” “What are you doing here?”

We spoke at the same time; Zoro sounded happy to have someone who knew where they were going in the group but I was suspicious. There was something that I was forgetting and it was bugging me, something important that could help us in the future.

“Hey?” Zoro now sounded concerned. I tapped him on the shoulder.

“That doesn’t feel like Nami, Zoro.”

“What do you mean, doesn’t feel like Nami?”

“It just doesn’t feel like her. The aura is off .”

We didn’t notice someone sneaking up behind us and then I remembered, Baroque Works was here.

And then it all went black .


 

“What is that?”

I had to shake my head a couple of times to clear the blur. It hit me then and there that we had been knocked out and kidnapped and by the feeling (or lack thereof) in my hands, definitely held captive by wax.

I berated myself internally. I had completely forgotten that Mr. Three was going to be around.

Idiot Ebony!

“Vivi? Weren’t you with Luffy?”

Nami sounded confused as she sat upright, using her shoulder to help me up at the same time. Zoro, Nami and myself were leaning against each other, slightly out of comfort and slightly out of a need to be mostly upright.

Vivi nodded.

“That’s right, but…”

“You’re talking about that boy?” Mr. Five’s shoulders shook, as if he were laughing. “I’ve already killed him.”

Nami and Zoro went stiff either side of me.

“You did?” Zoro grimaced, eyes glinting with murder.

“Highly unlikely.” I couldn’t help but mutter.

“Welcome to my service set!”

We were suddenly surrounded, hefted up off the ground and carried towards the strange wax sculptural piece.

“There’s something above our heads.”

“I can hear it too, Nami. There’s something not right about it.”

Zoro couldn’t help but laugh, a self-depreciating sound. “I feel like a candle on a birthday cake.”

Nami on the other hand was panicking. “I can’t move my legs.”

I was taking in deep breaths, trying to hold off a panic attack. My legs were precious to me; I’d been a dancer my whole life and if I couldn’t use my legs then what was the point?

“Ebony?” Vivi’s voice shook me out of my panic for the moment. “Are you okay?”

“No, not really.”

“We’ll be fine. Luffy will get us out of this.”

Zoro hadn’t known him long at this point, none of us had, but the amount of faith that he had in his captain was admirable.

“Oh I know that. I just…” I struggled to find words to describe my situation. “It would be like if Sanji couldn’t use his hands or you could no longer use swords. My legs are precious; I worked too hard.”

Mr. Three was monologuing as I was explaining to the others, thankfully they understood.

“Candle dolls that are filled with real dolls! Just die for the sake of art!”

“You don’t know the meaning of true art!” “Why do I have to die for your work?”

Nami turned to Brogy. “Do something! Otherwise you’ll become a candle too!”

“No matter what you say, it will not work! He was so happy that he cried over his victory!” Mr. Three extended his arms out. “I don’t know if he cried because of his sensitive emotions or because of his friend.”

Why did villains always monologue so much? At least it was, mostly, distracting me from my panic.

“He fought his best friend for hundreds of years, with his bare hands.” He shook his head. “He’s incredibly stupid! He didn’t realise that his friend was injured when they fought!”

He cackled. “You can’t change a thing now!”

We looked at Brogy, who explained that he knew that his friend was keeping something from him.

“You must be lying! If you knew why did you fight him? There was no mercy from you at all!”

Mr. Three was grinning now, thinking that this was what was going to break the giant.

“You have no concept, no real idea of what this fight means! How can you even begin to understand that was what my tears were for? A person like you wouldn’t understand!” The tears coming from Brogy were large, almost a heavy downpour.

“He fought with pride in his heart! How can I disgrace him? You want me to destroy the pride of the warrior who was prepared to risk his life?”

“I understand that, that’s why I fought him with my hands! Because it’s the best and most righteous thing I can do for my best friend!”

There was a large bang, a bomb had gone off.

“Brogy!”

“That should shut him up!” Mr. Five was standing, arm extended with his hand pointed towards Brogy.

I really wanted to shut his smug face up.


 

There was still no answer.

Ace had tried ringing Ebony’s Den Den Mushi multiple times, but still had no luck getting through to her. He didn’t want to panic or worry, but if she was with his little brothers crew, he hoped that nothing bad had happened. Although he knew that there were areas where signals for den den mushi calls were difficult.

His lead towards Alabasta was the first sign that he was getting somewhere.

He didn’t notice a ship, a singular sailboat following closing behind him. It was being navigated by a certain scarred blonde in tails and a top hat.

Chapter Text

I really wanted to punch all their stupid faces in, especially Mister Three. 

“Don’t breathe the mist in!”

Mister Three had, by this point, made his way up towards Nami and had curled a hand around her throat.

“Take your filthy hands off of her!” I couldn’t help but snarl at him, but he only glanced at me and grinned. I could see it in Nami’s eyes, she was absolutely terrified. I was, too but I didn’t have his hand around my throat.

“The looks on your faces are perfect!” He stepped backwards, pointing and smiling. “The emotions of pain and suffering are very good! This will become the perfect piece of art! The torture and sadness!”

“I can’t move my arms!”

“Our bodies are definitely becoming harder,” Zoro shouted towards the downed Giant. “Can you still move? If you can lose your arms and legs, it’s better than dying and not doing anything.”

“I’m going to try and move.”

“Think of it like resistance training, right Zoro?”

He laughed. “Precisely.”

Zoro slowly drew his blade, the wax making it difficult but not as hard as I would have thought. I tested my own arms, lifting them slowly and with difficulty.

“I will cut both my legs off.”

“What the fuck, Zoro?” “Cut off your legs! Are you kidding me? This isn’t the time for a stupid joke!” “What about us? That’s worthless! If you do that, they’ll catch you anyway!”

Zoro looked at the three of us, all staring at him in disbelief. I honestly couldn’t believe that he would be that stupid.

On second thought, yes he could be that stupid. It was Roronoa Zoro, of course, he could be.

Brogy, on the other hand, started to laugh. “You are a brave young man, I was about to give up. Ok. I’ll do it!” 

He had said it with such conviction that made me do a double take. How did these people have such bravery, yet such stupidity? 

Nami was shouting at Zoro, “Are you kidding? If you lose both of your legs, how can you fight them?”

“Just the heart that never gives up.” Zoro gave her a boyish grin. 

“Honestly.” I shook my head; I had genuinely forgotten that in this world people are absolutely insane and somehow I’d become just as insane along with it. “I’ll help. I’m not chopping off my legs, though.”

Nami turned to me, betrayal in her eyes. I’d just become an idiot to her, I could tell.

“What’s wrong with them?” “Have they gone nuts?”

“Wait!” I turned to Vivi, who had just spoken. “I will fight with you, too!”

I nodded towards her, bringing my arms up, reading for a fight. The wax that had settled wasn’t hard enough yet to completely limit my movement, but it was like training with resistance bands or trying to move fast and sharp under water.

“This is crazy!” Nami closed her eyes tightly, bringing her hands up next to her ears.

Zoro had brought his swords down towards his legs, ready to cut them at a moment's notice. “Let’s do this!”

WE’VE COME TO CRUSH YOU! 

There was a blur of movement that flew past the gathered members of Baroque Works. I could vaguely work out the shape of a large duck and the straw hat of the Captain; unfortunately, the landing that they had was into a large group of trees and the impact had crushed several bushes and made several of the trees collapse.

Mister Three, who had been preparing to attack stopped in his movement. “What is that?”

I couldn’t help myself, I started to laugh which caused him to turn towards me. 

“What are you laughing about, statue?” His eyes had turned sharp, cold.

“Nothing, nothing.” I made sure that my hand movement was as fluid and unhindered as possible, to just show him that I wasn’t being affected by the wax. He kept on staring at me, highly suspicious as to why I wasn’t panicking about turning into a Madame Tussauds model.

“USOPP! DUCK! LET’S TAKE CARE OF THEM!”

“CAPTAIN!” “USOPP!” “LUFFY!” “CARUE!”

 


 

“I’ll take care of them,” cracking his knuckles together, Luffy scowled towards the members of Baroque Works. “They’ve destroyed the pride of the battling giants!”

The Baroque Works members looked unimpressed with the Strawhat wearing teenager, who was standing in front of the cracking his knuckles, with Usopp standing beside him with his slingshot out and legs trembling.

“So, you’re the man whose currently worth the most in the East Blue?” Mr Five scoffed, “It seems that the marines are going downhill.”

“I really wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but then again, go ahead. Be my guest.” I couldn’t help but interject, gaining a rather dirty look from Mr Five. 

Luffy, on the other hand, had spotted Mr Three and his rather impressive hairdo. “Your hair looks really stupid!”

“SHUT UP!”

Luffy couldn’t help himself, “His hair is on fire! It’s in the shape of a three on fire!”

JUST SHUT UP!” Mr Three had now gained shark teeth in his pursuit of trying to shut our captain up.

“LUFFY,” Nami hurried to get our captains attention back onto his crew. “YOU’VE GOT TO DESTROY THE POLE BEFORE WE BECOME DOLLS!”

“Captain, I really don’t want to be a wax model!” I shouted out towards him.

Luffy looked up as if suddenly noticing that we were actually in trouble. “Eh? So you’re in trouble, too?”

“Yes.” 

“No”

Nami and Zoro glared at each other.

“Not really.” Zoro just had to have the last word. 

“Freaking hell! Yes, we’re in trouble, Captain!”

Nami looked down at Zoro’s legs, where he was successfully cutting away at them. “That’s a lot of blood, Zoro.”

“Well, I’ve cut off about half of my legs so far.”

“And you say that we’re not in trouble!” Vivi sounded both exasperated and nervous.

“Can you destroy that pole, Luffy? I’ll take care of the rest.”

Luffy grinned up at us. ”Sure!”

Mr Three, having lost his shark teeth gained instead, a rather creepy looking grin. 

“I cannot allow you to do that.”

 


 

Sabo was making his way to Alabasta, memories swirling through his mind.

How could he have forgotten his brothers? Ace, grumpy freckled Ace with no manners but who tried so damn hard and could blush like a really red, ripe tomato? Luffy, with his straw hat far too big for his head, stretching way too far for a normal human and a grin that could light up countries? How could he have forgotten them?

He wanted to thank the outlier, Ebony. He also really wanted to pick her brain. What else did she know about this world that she found herself in? He also really wanted to know where his brothers were; he knew of ‘Fire Fist’ as the captain of the Spade Pirates and then as a Whitebeard Pirate, but nothing else. Whatever he knew of his brothers may now be completely different and whatever mourning they had done would be undone by his sudden appearance. Should he even reveal himself to them? Should he even find them?

Sabo gave a self-depreciating chuckle; he couldn’t doubt himself on this. Even if they had moved on, he needed to know them, even if it were to help with his amnesia and to provide some closure for himself. 

Perhaps he should give Ebony a call?

 


 

“I’ve got no idea what the pole is, but I will destroy it!”

“HURRY UP BEFORE WE BECOME CANDLES!” 

“Is there always this must posturing?” I could have sworn that there wasn’t this much in either the anime or the manga. It could be the fact that I was actually there, in the moment and a part of the action, rather than being a third party and watching from the outside. 

“I don’t think so?” Vivi must have heard my muttering, as she gave me an answer with a shaky grin.

“Zoro? What are you doing?” Nami levelled a glare at the only male of our current group of wax model wannabes.

“I’m doing a pose, you know, just in case we do become candles.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. I hadn’t realised it until now, but I think that I was the sort of person who resorted to humour and outright cackling in moments where I could and probably would definitely die.

“Shut up, Ebony!” Nami turned her ire to me, instead.

“This isn’t the time to start playing around!” Vivi turned to glare heatedly at Zoro. I got the feeling the two of us were now naughty school children, being scolded by their parents.

“Can you do something about your legs? The blood is making me feel pain whenever I look at them.”

Zoro turned and snapped. “Well, don’t look.”

“The idea of cutting your legs off, by the way, was stupid. You won’t be able to escape.”

“It’s not about escape, it’s about being able to fight back.”

“That’s nuts!”

“Shut up!”

“Honestly, such children, arguing at a time like this.”

Shut up, Ebony!” The two at that moment were so in sync; right down to almost identical glares coming from the icy blue and hazel coloured eyes.

I turned to Vivi, who was looking at him with a worrying expression on her face. The wax had now made its presence known on her temple. I was now thankful for my hood, although if it got any heavier I would probably end up blind and eventually suffocating before the wax could do anything to me.

The loud proclamation of Mr Three believing that Luffy could not fight shook me out of my heavy thoughts. 

“Mr Three, we already killed him.” Mr Five now had his arms outstretched, almost as if he were trying to convince himself that he had, in fact, killed Luffy and that this was some sort of mirage image instead.

“You clearly didn’t kill our Captain, he’s standing right there.” I pointed out dryly but was completely ignored as Mr Three laughed at his fellow Baroque Works member. Miss Goldenweek have me a dirty look, however.

“Look at him! If you didn’t kill him, it means that you suck! He’s standing right in from of us!” Mr Three turned away from Mr Five and settled into an offensive stance. “At least I know that he’s stronger than you. Take care of the other scum.”

Mr Three looked towards the captain. “I’ll make sure that you’re next to become a wax model!”

Somehow amongst the blabbering from the members of Baroque Works, Usopp and Carue had hidden away in the rainforest.

“Luffy! We’ll support you from behind here! Don’t you worry!”

“Eh? What did you say?”

Almost immediately the fight began and Luffy found himself unable to move; his legs became entangled together with wax in the shape of a hammer.

“LUFFY!”

“WHAT’S THAT!”

“YOU ALRIGHT CAPTAIN?”

Luffy seemed to be okay, lying on the ground, legs up in the air admiring the hammer that he had now apparently become.

Mr Three was now crowing at his supposed victory; “You suck! Next, it’ll be your arms! Candle Lock!”

Luffy managed to outstretch his arm just in time, wrapping himself around the sword embedded in the downed Giants’ hand. 

“Sorry, Mr Giant!”

Huh?”

The apology was absolutely necessary as Luffy began to unwind, almost as if he were a spinning top. This, unfortunately, made the blade embed itself deeper into the hand of the giant, who cried outings pain.

“What the hell are you doing?” Zoro was shocked, as were all of us. 

But there was a method to the Captain’s madness as he slingshotted himself with great force towards the pole keeping us held captive.

“What the…” Mr Three looked as shocked as we were a moment ago, clearly, he had never had someone escape from his candle wax before.

“YES!” Nami was ecstatic. “HE DESTROYED THE POLE!”

Thank fuck.” Was all I could say.

The giant candle pole cracked with a loud squelching noise, unloading from where it was perched. Unfortunately, that now meant that it was headed right in our general direction. 

Thankfully it bounced, narrowly avoiding crushing us in the process. 

“Nothings changed.” Zoro closed his eyes.

“We’re still alive.”

“True.”

“That was close,” Vivi added her opinion to the mix.

“Why didn’t you guys run away?” Luffy looked genuinely confused, tilting his head in a manner that wouldn’t be far removed from a small and adorable puppy.

Nami looked ready to shout, but I stopped her before she could.

“Captain, we’re stuck. We can’t move.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He sounded a little hurt. “You just said to destroy the pole.”

Vivi turned (as best she could) towards Zoro. “Are you seriously sure we can put our trust in him to save our lives?”

“We haven’t got a choice. Besides I can’t move my arms anymore.”

Shit, neither can I.” 

This seriously sucked. 

“I can’t move anymore.”

Mr Three was ecstatic. 

“You’ve now become my candles, you absolutely idiots! The closer the candles get, the sooner it will happen!”

“Why didn’t you guys tell me?” Luffy’s eye’s almost bugged out of his head, startling me. I would never be able to get used to the bodily functions of this world, no matter how long I resided here. 

“Captain! Destroy the candles!”

“Ok!”

“I won’t let you interfere! DORU DORU ARTS: MORI!”

EXPLOSIVE BULLET! 

Usopp’s voice came out of nowhere, aiding the Captain in the destruction of the lit candles. Luffy dodged the wax harpoon as Mr Three slapped Mr Five, whom somehow had managed to swallow the bullet that Usopp had just launched. 

“Huh, tastes bad. Poor quality gunpowder right there.”

“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.”

“This is bad, this is so damn bad.”

“Well, I’m lucky I have such a nice pose.”

“Really Zoro? At a time like this?”

I got the impression that he would have shrugged if his shoulders had allowed him to.

“MR LUFFY PLEASE HURRY UP!” Vivi was now absolutely terrified.

“Vivi, we’ll get out of this. We’re going to be okay.” 

I tried my best to reassure her. In reality I was trying to reassure myself; sure I knew from One Piece Canon that the Straw Hat Pirates escaped this and went on to do far more extravagant things (storming Enies Lobby anyone? Not to mention any of the crazy stuff they did in the New World.), but it wasn’t canon as such anymore. I was here and my very presence changed so much stuff. I couldn’t rely on my knowledge of the world anymore, at least not as much as I had been. Anything and everything could change now. And I could only hope that it would change for the better, and not worse. 

 

 


 

 

Luffy was troubled. 

He didn’t like seeing his crew, his friends, in danger and the way in which they now stood creepily unmoving, their breathing shallow in the rapidly hardening wax was terrifying him to the core. He wouldn’t show it, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t scared. 

“I’ve just got to destroy this pumpkin, right?” He spoke more towards himself rather than anyone else; he thought better when speaking aloud sometimes, but it definitely didn’t help in a fight when his opponent could hear him.  

GOMU GOMU NO BAZOOKA! 

“THAT’S NOT GOING TO WORK!”

Luffy didn’t hear the guy with the weird, burning hair’s attack as his fists slammed into the candle in front of him hard.

“Would you stop getting in my way?” He knew that the idiot wouldn’t, but he couldn’t help it. He was getting incredibly frustrated and there wasn’t much time left from what he assumed by the state of his crew.

Zoro was standing tall, sword in hand, arm raised (Luffy privately thought that he looked super cool, even though his legs were all bloodied and wondered why that was). Nami, arms crossed, mouth set in a frown and eyes terrified, Vivi with her hands on her hips and mouth quivering, eyes wide in horror. And Ebony, fists clenched and legs stood in a defensive position with their hood covering their eyes and mouth set in a grimace. 

Luffy would get them out of this, he would!

Candle lock!

“Again?” Could’t this guy come up with something better? “Ah! That’s right! Shishsishishishi! I’ve got a hammer now!”

The three guy in front of him looked confused, but Luffy now had a plan.

GOMU GOMU NO OZUCHI!

“Dammit! CANDLE WALL!”

The wall held for a moment, but the force that Luffy had put into the hammer cracked the wall and sent Mr Three flying.

“MR THREE!”

“THIS IS CRAZY!”

He loved shocking people, he really did. 

 


 

“Well done, Captain!”

“Great job! Destroy that thing Luffy!”

“No.”

“Shit, this isn’t good.”

“What?”

“Nami, look, he’s trapped.” And look she did,  the trap had been laid out and our Captain had walked straight into it.

“We don’t have time, Luffy! Hurry and destroy the stupid pumpkin!”

“I know.”

“Do it then!”

“But I don’t want to do it.”

This arguing was going to go around in circles if I couldn’t nip it in the bud then and there. 

“Usopp, Carue, be careful! Watch out for shapes on the ground!” I shouted out, warning our remaining crew members in the area. 

Miss Goldenweek looked up at me, glaring. “I’ve just had about enough out of you, Crow Queen.”

Never before had my nom de guerre sounded so wrong; it was as if she had spat the words with venom.

“What the hell did you do to her?” Zoro wondered aloud.

“I have absolutely no fucking clue.”

Mr Five and Miss Valentine were now staring Usopp and Carue down, both of them having taken a clue from my warning and were now looking carefully about where they walked.

“Don’t get involved in this. Your captain has fallen into our trap.”

“That’s right. Take a good hard look under his foot, why don’t you?”

“There’s a strange sign under his foot, just like Ebony said. What’s that?” Usopp adjusted his glasses, zooming them in closer.

“It’s nothing, just a normal sign.” Miss Valentine giggled.

“A normal sign? No way is that a normal sign.”

“IT MEANS GO TO HELL!” And with that, Mr Five and Miss Valentine attacked both Usopp and Carue.

“Let me at them!” I couldn’t help but shout. I was so beyond frustrated at this point; I wasn’t normally a bloodthirsty person but all I wanted to do at this moment was fight some idiots trying to kill my friends and crewmates. Was that too much to ask for?

(Apparently yes, yes it was.)

Nami, on the other hand, was staring hard at Miss Goldenweek.

“You. It must be you.”

Miss Goldenweek stared at the four of us, without saying a word, her silence was enough of a confirmation than if she had shouted it.

“Black is the colour of betrayal; paint someone with it and they’ll ignore anything a friend says to them.”

“If you wish to pursue that line of thought, sure, go ahead,” I muttered. Black wasn’t the colour of betrayal, technically it wasn’t even a colour! It was the absence of light. But if you really wanted to say what black represented a lot of, it was more associated with the unknown, authoritative, powerful emotions.

“So that’s what’s wrong with Luffy.”

“Would he do the opposite if you asked him to I wonder?” 

Zoro gave out a hum, “It couldn’t hurt to try I suppose?”

“Oi! Captain! We just want you to continue standing where you’re staining and don’t want you to move away from the sign on the ground at all.”

“We really don’t need your help at all with this,” Vivi added.

I honestly didn’t think that it would do anything at all, but low and behold, Luffy began to move forward. “Why would I want to move at all?”

As soon as he was away from the painted sigil it was as if a cloud had been lifted from him. “What happened to me? Hold on, guys! I’m coming to help you guys now!”

The captain moved forward a moment but suddenly started to laugh. 

“What’s wrong now?” 

If I could palm my face in frustration, I would have done so. Seriously? Why?

Colour Trap! Yellow is the colour of fun, your captain isn’t going anywhere now.”

“Luffy! Take off your shirt!”

“You’re really interested in getting him out of his clothes, huh?” SHit! I honestly couldn’t believe that those words had come out of my mouth.

“EBONY!” Vivi shouted, “NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOUR SARCASM!”

“Sorry, it slipped out.” “You should be sorry!”

“We haven’t got much time left. This isn’t good.”

Luckily it was Usopp and Carue to the unexpected but nonetheless appreciated, rescue. Slipping past the cackling Luffy and managing to smudge the yellow paint dotted on his shirt. This broke the spell that the Captain was under.

“Damn it! They’re really fast!” Mr Five and Miss Valentine were in hot pursuit behind the wailing duck and sniper duo.

“Usopp and Carue hit the sign! It’s fading!”

“I got caught again.” Luffy was crouched down on the ground, “Ouch.”

“Stop it!”

“Hey, you’re having a good time though, right?”

“Are you crazy or something?”

“Colour trap! Red is the colour of a target.” “GOMU GOMU NO BAZOOKA!

Luffy’s arms hit the target Miss Goldenweek had painted on the ground. 

“Like a bull, you’ll always target the colour red.”

“Oh come on! This is getting ridiculous!” I couldn’t help but shout. 

Nami clearly agreed with me, shouting out, “What are you trying to hit?”

“Mr Three wouldn’t be very happy if you destroyed that pumpkin and I don’t want to make him angry.” 

“The Captain isn’t going to be able to do anything with her being in his way.”

In the meantime, Luffy had attempted to hit the pumpkin, only to be thwarted by the red sigil once more and then subsequently being hit by the colour green. Supposedly the colour of peace.

I’ve always seen it more as the colour of envy, rather than that of peace.

“This tea is really good.” And now the Captain was having a cup of tea with Miss Goldenweek on a picnic rug, seemingly oblivious to the struggles of us in front of him.

Nami and Zoro were now arguing, with Vivi trying to place peacemaker.

This wasn’t going to end well. 

 


 

Ace was getting worried.

He couldn’t get a hold of Ebony, the den-den mushi kept ringing through or just going completely static. 

Now, he wouldn’t normally be as worried as he currently was. Ebony could generally take care of herself, but she was now on a crew. A pirate crew that his brother was the captain of and that just added another layer of worry on top of the already growing pile.

He had become fast friends with Ebony, after apparently drunkenly flirting with the bartender with some horrible fire-related puns and pickup lines, who he could tell had a dark secret (possibly one just as dark as his own) and had regaled her with stories of his brother's shenanigans whilst he was growing up. He also knew how much mischief Ebony herself could get into without much prompting was either a recipe for absolute disaster or a sign of an incredible adventure. If there was an option between the two of them, he’d pick that.

Ebony at one point during one of their conversations had casually stated that he had a bit of a brother complex. He honestly couldn’t deny it and had offhandedly mentioned that he had already lost one brother and didn’t want to lose another. Ebony had taken that information in and said that if he ever wanted to talk about it, then she’d be there but they had never brought the topic up again.

Privately, Ace thought that perhaps Sabo had escaped, especially due to the lack of body. He should know, he’d looked and looked for days. But he never mentioned it to Luffy, his hopeful little brother who generally tried to see the best in everything. Ace would never have that luxury, he never had.


 

Chapter Text

Usopp could see that Luffy was struggling, trying his hardest to get away from drinking the tea and constantly repeating ‘this tea is delicious’ over and over again. The strain that his muscles seemed to be under was insane. 

The others were now almost fully hardened wax statues, breathing even more shallow than it had been before. They weren’t able to speak so whatever verbal help they would have been able to give to Luffy, Carue and Usopp was now none at all.

Mr Five and Miss Valentine were causing havoc and he couldn’t get near enough Luffy to free him without getting tagged by Miss Goldenweek’s colours himself. He could, however, aim towards Luffy.

“Take this!”

Miss Goldenweek looked scared, but Miss Valentine had no idea what was going on.

“Are you that stupid? That’s your own captain!”

EXPLOSIVE BREATH!” The bullet that had been fired by Mr Five suddenly exploded.

“Tch, forgot to tell you my breath was explosive too.” 

Usopp and Carue lay face first on the ground, clothes charred.

“You okay, Carue?”

There was an affirming noise that sounded like a cough coming from the duck.

“Oi, Luffy! You awake yes!”

“Yes! That stupid sign can’t do anything to me now!”

Miss Valentine finally understood what Usopp had actually done. “He aimed at his friend to destroy the colour trap?”

Luffy, now breathing heavily but on his feet.

“I won’t let anyone die! It’s payback time!

 


 

Sanji wasn’t happy. 

He’d been waiting awhile back at the Going Merry and the meeting time that the crew had set had been and past.

“There must be something wrong with Nami-san, Vivi-chan and Ebony-san. I can’t cook this giant lizard yet, then.” He hopped off of the ship, “Better go and find them.”

He made his way back into the depths of the forest covered island, calling the names of the female members of his crew more often than what he called the male members of the crew. Along the way, he managed to corral the help a large sabre-toothed tiger, only with a little persuasion. 

“What’s this?” Jumping off of the tiger, which took off back into the wild, Sanji found himself staring at what looked to be a small box house made from dripping and hardened wax. Entering inside, he found the kettle on the stove and some tea sitting on top of a table.

The tea on the table was tempting Sanji to stop and have a break, but he had to shake himself out of it and bring himself back to the present moment.

“No time for a tea break! The girls are waiting for my help. Too bad though, why is this oddly comfortable room unlocked in the middle of this jungle?”

Purupurupurupurupuru! Purupurupurupurupuru!

The sound of a den-den sushi wasn’t difficult to mistake and so Sanji picked it up and answered.

“Hello, this is the shitty restaurant, what would you like to order?”

The voice on the other side shouted back, “Stop playing around you idiot! Why haven’t you sent me a report?”

Sanji lounged at the table, getting comfortable and just managed to resist putting his feet up on the table.

“Report? Umm, you are you?”

“It’s me,” said the voice. “Mr Zero.”

Sanji’s blood went cold. This was the big boss? They were in serious trouble now. 

“It’s already been quite a while since I sent my orders, so what is your status Mr Three?”

Sanji wasn’t quite sure what to say but had realised that the house that he was in currently was the enemy’s hideout and that they were here to hunt the Princess Vivi down.

“What are you being so silent for? I’m asking you a question.” The voice of Mr Zero sounded angry, “Have you eliminated the Princess and the Straw Hat Pirates or not?”

This was his moment, get the rest of Baroque Works off of their backs for a bit before the head honcho realised that they were still alive. 

“Yes, I’ve carried out my mission alright. All the people who know of your secret are no more, so there isn’t a need for further pursuit.”

He hoped that that actually worked and held his breath; hopefully, the warlord couldn’t read emotions through the damn snail.

“I see, yes good work. The unluckies are headed your way. Once they confirm your successful mission, they’ll hand you a certain package.”

Shit, Sanji had forgotten about the unluckies, they would ruin the lie before they had a chance to run.

“A package?”

“That’s right. An eternal pose to Alabasta. Once you’ve received it, head to Alabasta with Miss Goldenweek immediately.” Mr Zero took a breath, “The time has come, we must carry out the crucial step of the plan. Await further details once you arrive at Alabasta.”

Sanji heard a tapping on the windows. The unluckies had arrived.

“What the hell?”

“What’s the matter?” He had forgotten that Mr Zero was still on the line.

“Nothings the mat….” And the unluckies attacked, cutting off Sanji’s answer to the head of Baroque Works.

The vulture dive bombed towards him, Sanji barely managing to get out of the way in time enough to dodge.

“What the hell are they?” Dodging out of the way of the other one, he raised his leg up high and brought it down, causing the floor to dent. “You trying to kill me now? You’ve got some balls you dirty little four-eyed monkey!”

The first unlucky was taken out with a swift kick to the head, whilst the vulture cleverly flew out of the way and managed to take a photo of Sanji while it did so.

“Didn’t I tell you to quit it, you overgrown chicken?” Sanji twisted and leapt, stomping on top of the vultures head, knocking it out cold.

“What happened?” 

Sanji shakily grabbed onto the receiver and started speaking. “It’s really nothing, I had to finish off one of the Straw Hats. Turns out that they weren’t as dead as I thought.”

“One of them was alive?” Crap. “Didn’t you say you had completed your mission?”

“Well, I thought that I had but one was hanging on a bit more than I thought.”

“So you lied and gave me a false report when I first spoke to you.”

“I suppose that’s the technical truth, but he is finished off for good. There’s no need to pursue them further.” He waited a moment, “Capiche?”

“Fine,” Mr Zero said with much reluctance. “Just head straight for Alabasta. This will be our final communication, as I cannot risk Marine involvement or interference. From here on, all orders will be delivered in the traditional manner. Godspeed Mr Three.”

And with that Mr Zero, Sir Crocodile hung up. Sanji let out a great sigh of relief, he couldn’t believe that he had just managed to pull that off.

“He hung up. So what the hell were these things? Right, the unluckies.” He stood up and started to walk away when the eternal pose that they had been delivering rolled in his path. “I should take this and give it to Nami-swan!”

 


 

 

All I could see was black. I couldn’t hear anything other than my heartbeat, drumming faster as I was starting to have a panic attack. This was the worst, I couldn’t do anything, and being trapped in my own mind was probably the worst possible thing for me at the moment, especially in the midst of a panic attack. 

In what felt like an eternity, the fight must have been successful as all of a sudden all I could feel was heat and the wax started to melt and melt fast. 

“Honestly, that was super hot.” “It’s really hot, didn’t you have a better way to do it Usopp?”

“Nami, Ebony, stop complaining. I just saved your lives.”

“That’s true, thank you Usopp.” I had to thank him, it would feel wrong if I didn’t.

“Thanks.” 

“It’s pretty unbelievable that we’re still alive to be perfectly honest.” Vivi was coughing pretty heavily, so I patted on her on the back hoping that it would help.

“You lot are real troublemakers.” Mr Five pointed a gun towards us.

“Take this!” Usopp slingshotted a bullet towards Mr Five, who immediately swallowed it.

Jackpot.

“I already showed you that gunpowder doesn’t do anything to me!”

“Did you eat it?” Usopp grinned. “That’s not a bullet, nor is it gunpowder. Enjoy the hot sauce alright?”

Mr Five’s face turned bright red and beads of sweat started to drip down from his temples. 

ARRGGGGHHHH! HOT! HOT! HOT!

“I know right? I’ve tried it before!” Usopp was so pleased with himself for his ingenuity. 

“You stupid pirates! I’ll take you out with me!” Mr Five dove towards Usopp but was intercepted by Zoro and his flaming swords.

“Flame swords aren’t bad.” “Zoro!”

“Being alive is the happiest thing in this world right?”

“I’ll give you that, Zoro.” I gave him a thumbs up, to which he grinned murderously at.

Usopp looked up at the bloodied giant, who was grinning and laughing. “You’re right.”

“Teacher?”

“There are two more enemies?”

Carue and Luffy by this point had taken off after Mr Three, while the rest of us could hear a lot of noise and screaming following. They came back a few moments later, triumphant in their return. 

“Not bad for a day’s work, eh Captain?” I was stretching out my legs after they had been cramped up from the wax, any longer in that and not only would I have been dead but my legs in excruciating pain if I hadn’t died by that point.

Broggy let out an earsplitting cry, big fat tears falling and causing us to cover our ears. 

“It’s so energetic!”

“More like a waterfall.”

“You can see a rainbow behind him!”

The original three Straw Hats were frowning up at the giant as they spoke.

“My ears…” Vivi clamped down on her ears harder, trying to block out as much noise as she could and failing spectacularly. 

“He’s super loud, anyone could hear him.” And someone did.

Dorry had woken up from his forced slumber and now the two giants were hugging each other. Broggy just being happy that his friend hadn’t died.

“Don’t hug him too hard, he’s still injured.” I commented at the same time as Dorry stated: “Not so hard, my wounds…”

 


 

 

“You little ones helped us out back there,” Nami and I had tried to break the two fighting giants apart in a similar manner to what we did for Sanji and Zoro but it was difficult with the incredible size difference. “If there’s anything we can do to thank you?”

Dorry started to laugh, “I’d completely forgotten that we had bounties on our heads!”

Vivi was downtrodden, “It was originally my fault that those agents came to this island…”

Before she could go any further along that train of thought, I punched her shoulder. “Don’t even think about it, no one is blaming you for anything.”

And as if to prove my point Usopp and Luffy asked her if she wanted to eat anything.

“See?” Nami pointed a thumb at them.

“YEAH! PARTY TIME!” 

“PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!”

I wandered over to Zoro, who had been wrapping his ankles up tightly.

“I still can’t believe you tried to cut your feet off.”

“It sounded like a good idea at the time..”

“And now?”

“Eh? I wouldn’t take it back.”

“Didn’t think that you would, you sure that they’re wrapped up tight enough though?”

“They’ll be fine.” 

We sat in silence for a moment.

“We’re in trouble if we have to wait a year for the log pose to reset.”

“Exactly!”

“Can you guys do anything about that?” Vivi looked up at the giants, who shook their heads.

“Unfortunately week can’t do anything about that.”

“HELLO! NAMI! VIVI! EBONY! And the rest!” Sanji’s voice came from the forest.

“Now he shows up?”

“He was probably waiting for us back at the ship, I mean we did miss the meetup time., Usopp.”

“Hey! Sanji!” Luffy was waving frantically at his cook.

Sanji looked shocked at the sight of the giants, having never seen one (or two as the case may be) and shouted something about Mr Three. 

“How did you know about Mr Three, Sanji?”

He went on to explain that he’d been speaking to the big boss.

“So you told him that we were dead?”

“Yes and he seemed to believe it.”

“That’s a good thing.” I stood up and started to pace. “Now only if we had an eternal pose to get off of this island.”

“You mean this?” Sanj held out an open palm with the eternal pose sitting on it. 

“I could kiss you Sanji!” Vivi yelled and jumped at Sanji, hugging the breath out of him.

“I wouldn’t object.” I coughed into my hand, warning him not to try anything. “But I’m glad it makes you happy.” He quickly backtracked, even with hearts in his eyes.

Luffy opened his mouth and I could almost guarantee that he was going to suggest to start partying again, but I put my foot down. “No parties at the moment, Captain.”

He pouted at me, “Not even a little one?”

“Not even a little one, we’ve got to get going, Captain. Nami’s getting antsy and Vivi has to get home.”

He sighed and bargained, “Later then?”

“Later, Captain.”

He cheered and gave me a hug, knocking the air out of me; I managed to catch him and he was gone as soon as he had hugged me chanting party, party, party hurrying back to the ship, shouting his goodbyes to the giants who were grinning wide.

“Moss head, you haven’t forgotten about our hunting contest have you?”

“Not a chance, cook, not a chance. I’m pretty sure I’ve won it.”

Zoro stretched his arms out wide, “I caught a rhino about this big.”

“Can you even eat that thing?”

“We won’t know until you cook it.”

I could tell that the two of them were gearing up to start another argument.

“Honestly, boys.

“Busy things aren’t you?”

“It’s a shame, but we won’t ask you to stay any longer,” Dorry turned to Vivi and spoke. “I hope that your country is safe, Princess.”

“Thank you.”

The others continued to shout their goodbyes, slowly making their way back to the forest but I stopped behind for a moment.

“Would it be okay if I left behind this den-den mushi? It’d be cool if we could talk throughout our journey.”

The two giants looked at each other, having a silent conversation that I wasn’t privy to.

“We’ll take it! We don’t hear much from the outside world, so it’ll be nice to speak with friends that are out there.” Dorry reached down a hand and I placed the snail into it.

I started to walk away when Broggy called out to me.

“You know that your friends won’t care that you’re an Outlier.”

I froze up. How could they possibly know?

“Don’t worry, we won’t say anything.”

“How did you know?”

“Your eyes, we had a human friend with eyes just like yours. People from here don’t have eyes like that, so it’s probably a good thing you keep yours mostly covered.”

“My eyes gave me away?”

“That and the way you move. Not many people would notice, but we’re old and have seen a lot.”

“Be safe little Outlier.”

“I’ll try my best, thank you.”

And with those troubling words, I left the two giants behind.

 


 

 

“Boys! You’re both pretty, now stop arguing and get these onto the ship!” 

I had gotten back to the ship to find Sanji and Zoro almost brawling over their kills.

“They’ll be tasty!” 

“Luffy, stay out of this!” “Shut it, Ebony!”

“Besides, we can’t carry that much meat, so just pack up what we need and let's get going!”

“As you wish, Nami-swan!”

Gathering as much meat as we needed, and a little extra because we knew the Captain would eat triple the amount (or more) than the rest of us would. Lifting the anchor, we were ready to set sail.

“Heading straight from here, we should be able to exit on the western side of the island.” 

Nami was pragmatic about the whole situation. Luffy on the other hand, “Do you think we should have packed more of the meat?”

“Don’t worry Captain, I added a bit more for you.”

“Thank you, Ebony!”

“Not too much though Ebony? We don’t want to sink the ship.”

“No, I didn’t add too much. If he wants more meat though, I can always go with smaller meat portions.”

Sanji looked at me, concerned. “I don’t want you starving yourself, and neither would Luffy.”

“It wouldn’t be starving me, just give me whatever vegetables and sides that the Captain won’t eat and it’ll be good.”

Sanji looked as though he wasn’t going to drop the subject, but thought that it would probably be best picked up at a later time, one when they weren’t trying to get away from the island.

“The Giants have come to see us off!” Luffy pointed towards the two giants, standing guard at the entrance of the waterway. 

“There’s a reason why little people very rarely get off of the island.” “And do not reach the next island that lay ahead.”

“What?”

“You all risked your lives so that our prides may remain intact.”

“Thus, in turn, no matter the foe. We will not let your flag of pride be tarnished either.”

What I wouldn’t have done to have these guys at Pride; they’d be fantastic guards and probably would have joined in the celebrations.

“Trust in us and sail straight ahead. And no matter what, sail straight ahead only.”

“Got it! Sail straight ahead!”

“Let us meet again in the future!” “You have our dial code!”

“Eh?” Luffy turned and looked at me, thinking I had the answer to that last one. I did, but the fact that he was that intuitive about it meant a lot.

“I gave them a den-den mushi so that we can keep in contact.”

“How many of those have you got?”

“I’m not actually sure, to be honest. I’ll have to count them.”

“Look up ahead!”

It looked as if the ocean was rising up to meet us, as a large wave was building and something was threatening to break through the surface of the water.

“The Island Devourer, you’ve come!” “In the name of Elbaf, we view to clear a path!”

The Island Devourer was an incredibly large fish, it’s mouth opening wide as a flood of water went rushing down its throat, sending the Going Merry towards its gullet.

“IS THAT A SEA KING?” “WHAT IS THAT THING?”

“EVERYONE GRAB A HOLD!” We all rushed to grab onto something solid, myself wrapping my arms around the mast. 

“USOPP, THE HELM!”

“IS THAT A GIANT GOLDFISH?” He looked puzzled for a moment, “I THINK I’VE HEARD OF A GIANT GOLDFISH BEFORE!”

“USOPP HURRY!” Nami was beginning to get frustrated that Usopp didn’t seem to be listening to her.

“WE’RE STILL GOING STRAIGHT AHEAD, RIGHT LUFFY?”

“OF COURSE!” There was the manic grin on the Captain’s face again.

“LUFFY! This isn’t like with Laboon!”

“I’ll give you the last senbai?”

“I don’t want the last senbai! If we don’t turn around this instant we’re going to…”

Zoro interrupted Nami’s rant, “Nami, just give it up already.”

“Besides, the Captain’s given us an order.”  I added, “We should follow it.”

Zoro gave me an approving look, but I knew all too well that he still didn’t properly trust me. I’d tell them about me being an Outlier soon, I mean, it would definitely come out if Sabo met up with us in Alabasta that’s for sure.

“Why?” Nami had tears running down her face as she took the offered senbai from the Captain and sat down, clutching the railing post.

“Luffy, are you sure we can trust those giants?” 

“Yup.”

“We’re going to do it. We’re going to sail straight into the mouth of that monster?”

“Well, it’s too late to do anything about it now!”

The most vicious roar I have ever heard startled us all, the mouth closing in on the Going Merry and the world suddenly going darker.

“Straight ahead! Straight ahead! Straight ahead!” Somehow the entire crew was now chanting this as we were now seemingly entirely engulfed.

“Why are we chanting? We’ve already been swallowed!” Nami shouted at us, even as she herself started to chant.

It was a strange little ritual, but it seemed to work as suddenly we could see the sky and the ocean once again. Only we weren’t on top of the ocean, sailing on it, we were in the air flying over it.

“We’re flying!”

And all without a coup de burst. Franky would have had a field day with a flying ship that needed no flying helpers.

“DON’T TURN BACK! FLY ON STRAIGHT AHEAD!”

Usopp was sniffling, “They cut ocean itself! This power of Elbaf’s warriors is incredible!”

“NOW GO!”

 


 

 

Once we were in the clear, I headed down into the previously unused office where I began to record the adventure that we had had, keeping note of things that the others had mentioned about the climate and the animals on the island and the battles fought and partially lost to those there. I added the dial code to the den-den mushi installed in the small office, but also to the small list that I had put onto the paper pad beside the transponder snail. I must have been down there a while, as the next thing I heard was Vivi scream.

How could I forget that Nami would get sick? How could I forget?

I made it up on the deck just in time to hear Vivi shout about Nami’s fever.

“Alright, everyone out of the way. Let me get her down to a bed.” I marched up to her and gently put my arms under her and lifted her slowly. She was incredibly hot, sweat covering her entire body and soaking through her clothing.

“I can take her if you want?” That had come from Luffy.

“Thank you, Captain, but I’ve got her.” She was light, and it honestly didn’t take much effort for me to lift her and take her down the stairs.

“Sanji, be a dear and dampen a face towel for me?” Sanji did as he was asked, cigarette still in his mouth but with tears running down his face and a snotty nose to match. 

With the help of Vivi, we managed to tuck Nami under the sheets of her bed. Sanji hurried back, handing the dampened face towel to me so that I could place it on her forehead. 

“Iz Nabi gonna die?” He sniffed some more, “Iz she Bbony, Bibi?” 

“Calm down, Sanji. She’s going to be fine.”

“It has to be from the sudden change in climate,” Vivi was theorising. “It’s the only obstacle that everyone must face. It doesn’t matter how famous or strong of a person you are, helplessly dying at the hands of illnesses is common on the grand line.”

That set Sanji off, crying and wailing.

“Really, Vivi?”

She shrugged.

“Even ignoring the slightest of symptoms could lead to death.”

There was a silence around the room.

“Is there anyone on the ship that has medical knowledge?”

Almost immediately Usopp and Luffy pointed towards Nami.

“I know basic stuff.” 

“That helps, at least a little.”

“Will meat help?” Luffy really wanted to help out.

“Unfortunately not, but meals easy for a sick person to digest would probably help a lot.”

“I’ll get right on it, Ebony!” Sanji turned to the two other males in the room, “Besides, the effort I put into preparing food for the girls is one hundred times more than the rest of you. You guys get the scraps, whilst the freshest meat and vegetables are used to cook them a perfectly balanced meal.”

“WHAT?”  

“Sanji, really?”

He turned to me, hearts in his eyes, “Of course!”

“It still tastes great no matter what!” Luffy was just happy that he had such a great cook on board.

“No matter, as long as I am the chef on board this ship, there will be no need to worry about anything related to malnutrition.” He took a deep breath, “If someone is sick then it’s because of a different illness and unless I know exactly what that illness is, I haven’t a clue of what sort of meal to prepare.”

“So she can’t just eat anything?”

“Not having enough energy to even eat is what we call being sick in the first place, idiot Captain.”

“Vivi! Her fever has risen again!”

“It’s going to take more than a week to get to Alabasta, especially with Nami being so ill.”

“There are doctors in Alabasta, right?” Usopp was pacing, folding and unfolding his arms as he did so.

“Her fever is at fourty degrees.”

“That almost never happens!”

“Is being sick really that painful?” Luffy looked confused.

“Can’t say.” “I’ve never been sick before.”

“Are you people even human?” And the shark teeth were back as Vivi shouted at the others.

“Being sick is awful, Captain. It’s painful for the most part and sometimes, especially in the Nami’s case if your body temperature is too high her life is at a serious risk.”

“NO!” The Captain’s confused expression turned into one of panic, as did both Usopp’s and Sanji’s.

“It’s best if we keep an eye on her, we don’t want the fever getting any worse than what it already is.” I took a deep breath,  “Also, if this was due to the rapid climate change, then it would have affected more than just Nami.”

There was a momentary silence throughout the room, the only sound being the laboured breathing of our sick friend.

“Maybe she was stung or bitten by something? I mean, there were animals on that haven’t been seen in centuries, so there’s probably plants or insects that could cause rapid illness?”

Vivi nodded in agreement, “We have to find her a doctor and quickly.”

“WILL SHE DIE?” “PREEZE DUN DIE DABI!!!” (Sanji was really harshly crying by this point.)

“CALM DOWN!” Vivi shouted, arms out in a calming manner. “We don’t want to aggravate her condition any further.”

Nami started shifting in the bed, “No…”

“She got better!” Luffy started to cheer.

Usopp hit the captain on the head with the back of his hand, “No she didn’t!”

Nami was trying to push herself up and off the bed, but I gently pushed her into a sitting position. “Take it easy, yeah? We don’t want you to get any sicker, okay?”

She nodded and turned to Vivi, “There’s a newspaper on top of my desk that you should look at.”

Vivi made her way over to Nami’s desk, whilst I reapplied the damp towel to Nami’s forehead.

“Keep it on there, okay? At least for the moment. It should take a bit of the discomfort away, at least that’s what I’m hoping.”

“What?” Vivi collapsed against the desk, her whole body shaking. 

“Is it about Alabasta?” “What is it?”

“Three hundred thousand soldiers of the Royal Army defected to the side of the Rebels. No, that can’t be!” Vivi shook her head, “The Royal Army was originally six hundred thousand strong and could contain the rebels who were only four hundred thousand strong, but the situation has completely swapped!”

Nami sighed, “That paper was from three days ago. I’m really sorry for not showing it to you until now, but I didn’t want you to worry anymore than what you were. We’re already sailing as fast as we can.”

She turned to the Captain, “Understand Luffy?”

“It sounds like an emergency.”

“That’s right, I’m surprised that I didn’t have to explain it anymore.”

“Nami, the Captain is a lot smarter than what a majority of people give him credit for.”

Nami laughed, as did the others as if I had just told a joke. 

“I’m serious, guys.”

“At least one of you believes in me!” Luffy crossed his arms and pouted, but there was mirth shining in his eyes. He definitely appreciated the comment, and it had lifted the dour mood that the room was in.

Usopp brought us back to the topic of the conversation, “If we don’t get you to a doctor soon, Nami…”

“It’s fine.” 

“It’s certainly not fine!” I was completely ignored.

“That thermometer is broken anyway, no way would a person have a fourty degree fever.”

Considering the ship was pretty much brand new, as was ninety per cent of the equipment on board, that thermometer was definitely not broken. (But I wasn’t going to bring that up right at that moment, Nami was on a role.)

“I’m sure it’s heatstroke or something similar,” She started to climb out of the bed. “I’ll get better on my own without a doctor.”

Nami shakily walked over to the doorway, “In any case, we’ll continue on our way to Alabasta as planned. But, thank you for worrying about me.”

She walked out of the room, with myself following along behind her. 

“You do know that your fever is far more serious than what you just let on to the others.”

“I know, but Vivi needs to get home.”

“You’re important, too. We would quite literally be lost if something happened to you.”

“I know.”

 


 

 

Whose bright idea was it to leave Zoro alone on the lookout with his sense of direction? Clearly, Nami thought the same, as she berated him for not looking at the log pose and for the simple fact the clouds do and will move and change shape.

“Uh, my head hurts.” 

“Lean on me, okay?” And she did so, shaking.

“Nami! That’s why I said to take a rest while I took care of things!”

“How can you take care of things when you can’t even take care of the directions!”Nami looked up at the sky, “Somethings changed in the atmosphere.”

“Huh?” Zoro tilted his head to the side. “The weather has been clear all day.”

“Would you please just get everyone up here?”

He nodded and shouted downwards, “Okay! Everyone out, we’ve got work to do!”

“Take the helm, and steer for the south!”

Sanji poked his tongue out at Zoro, “I don’t feel like taking orders from you.”

“Shut up, cook and do it!” Sanji begrudgingly got up and did as he was bid.

“Lower the sails so we can catch wind from Portside.”

“On it!” Usopp saluted.

“The seas are calm and the weather looks clear to me,” Sanji yelled up at Nami.

“Wind, I’ve got a feeling that the wind is going to get stronger coming from up ahead.” She faulted and keeled forward a little.

“Whoa, take it easy.” I put my arm around her shoulders and lowered us both to sit on the stairs, leaning against the railing. 

The Captain had come up to us and placed a hand on Nami’s forehead and immediately took it away, shaking it as if it had caught fire.

“Ouch! You’re too hot! We really need to land and get you to a doctor!”

“That’s my normal temperature!” Nami tried to lie her way out of it. “Stop wasting time and get the ropes!”

“It’s really not, Nami.”

She pushed me away, or at least tried to, and stood up. Her strength was sapped, but I let my arm rest around her shoulders; she didn’t push me away this time. 

“Nami. I know this is for Vivi’s are, but don’t push yourself too much.” Sanji spoke to her gently.

“I told you I’m fine!”

Even Usopp tried to get her to relax, but she just shouted at him to turn the ship around.

For a few minutes, nobody spoke as everyone rushed around, trying to turn the ship around as I centred Nami and checked her temperature again.

Damn. We have got to get her to a doctor, her fever is far too high.

Vivi, amongst the rush had come up to stand on deck.

“I have a request of you all. I know that it isn’t my place to demand such a thing, considering you have been kind enough to allow me onto your boat and all, but with the emerging crisis in my homeland, I do want to get there as soon as possible.” She took a deep breath in, and seemed to wrestle with herself before speaking again. “Not a single moment can be spared, that’s why I am asking if the ship can head to Alabasta at the fastest possible speed.”

The silence on board was deafening. 

I don’t remember this happening, but then again my memories of the early manga was limited as I got far more into it the longer it went on and rarely went back to the start again to read it through.

“Of course!” Nami smiled, “That was the plan.”

Vivi was still frowning, as was everyone else on the Going Merry. “Thus we need to find an island with a doctor. Immediately.”

The mood on board suddenly went up, even though Nami seemed confused. 

“We have to see that Nami gets better as soon and as fast as possible, then we had for Alabasta. That’s the only way we will sail there the fastest, right?”

Luffy let out a laugh. “You bet! Can’t go any faster than that!”

“Are you sure? A million lives of your own people, aren’t you worried your Highness?” Usopp was happy for sure that they would be able to get Nami to a doctor, but was puzzled at Vivi’s selflessness.

“Exactly! That’s why we need to find a doctor for Nami as quickly as possible!”

“Well said, Vivi!”  “I like your guts!” 

The cook and the swordsman were grinning up at the Princess, proud.

“I’m sorry for making you worry, Nami, but don’t overexert yourself!”

“Thank you, your highness.” I was incredibly grateful, as was everyone else at her decision. 

“WHAT IS THAT?” Luffy’s sudden shout caught everyone’s attention, as a sudden cyclone appeared in the direction that we had been headed in. 

“It’s huge!” “Look at that cyclone!”

“Nami, hang in there!” She lurched forward, even with my arms around her and Vivi lunged to catch her. Between the two of us we managed to get her upright.

“We were headed that way just moments ago! We would have crashed right into it!”

“Talk about a close call!”

“Your abilities are incredible, Nami.” “I’ve never seen such a navigator…”

“Alright! Everyone, let’s head south to find a doctor!”

“RIGHT!”

Chapter Text

Thatch had managed to pull through.

It had been touch and go for quite a while, but his condition had levelled out and he wasn’t critical any longer. Of course, that could change quite quickly but for now, he was safe and in the clear.

“That was far too close, but he should be okay in the long run. Now all he needs is rest.” The doctor thought for a moment, “And quiet.”

The doctor then removed himself from the room, probably to go and check on their father, leaving Marco, Izo and Jozu. The other division commanders were helping to keep the ship running in the absence of Ace and Thatch. 

“Why?”

Jozu was not normally quiet, but he didn’t want to wake their brother from his much needed rest. (That and the doctor’s orders. It wasn’t safe to ignore a doctor’s order, especially a Pirate doctor’s orders.)

“He wanted the devil fruit, so he took it.” 

Marco replied, flatly. 

“But that specific devil fruit? What do we actually know about it?”

Izo looked as if he were to tear his hair out in frustration.

“Not much, only that it’s considered to be an evil devil fruit.”

“Evil? How so?”

“Something about being able to nullify others?”

Marco only realised what he had said until he had said it. 

“No.” 

They had sent Ace after Teach. Alone. 

“Damn it!”

Even if he were to get into contact with his friend, there was no guarantee that she would have any information that would help in aid of capturing or defeating the traitor who now held the powers of the Yami Yami no Mi.

“We have to send someone after him!” Izo and Jozu had clearly caught onto his train of thought.

“We’ll send someone after him as soon as he gets into contact with us. It shouldn’t be too far away.” But that still didn’t comfort anyone in the room, and it most certainly wouldn’t comfort their father, Edward Newgate.

“Teach was always strange, you know?” Jozu spoke. “He just kind of appeared out of nowhere and asked to join the crew.”

“That’s normally what a lot of people do, Jozu, that’s nothing unusual.”

Izo replied.

“Yes, but not everyone can immediately wound a former member of the Roger Pirates.”

Jozu had made a good point, Shanks even as a cabin boy wasn’t exactly a pushover and by the point Marshall D. Teach had joined up with the Whitebeard Pirates,  the Roger Pirate’s had been disbanded for two or so years. He hadn’t been a cabin brat at that stage and had begun to gather his own crew of formidable fighters. So how had a rookie, no name come out of nowhere and injured the heir to the empty throne at the time?

“Fuck, how? Why did that not register?” Marco stood up, almost shouting. 

“Because he kept to himself for ages after he’d had joined, and was always so quiet.  Even in fights, he would stay towards the back.”

A quiet cough interrupted their musings, as Thatch slowly sat up.

Hey brothers! What have I missed?”

Thatch!”

 


  

We had been sailing off course from Alabasta for almost an entire day now, and it was getting progressively colder and colder the closer we drifted towards Drum Island and towards a doctor that would be able to save Nami’s life. Vivi and Carue were spending the majority of her time with Nami, with myself popping in and out to make sure that Nami’s health didn’t get any worse than what it had already been. The Princess had been swapping between worrying over Nami and worrying over the now half crumpled newspaper; her people were in a lot of trouble, but the life of one of her crewmates was in serious danger. Sanji had been flitting about between the kitchen, checking on Nami and making sure that she was doing okay. He was acting as if he were a very attentive and possessive male hummingbird. 

Usopp was actually navigating the ship whilst Nami was technically out of commission, with Luffy and Zoro were on lookout. So far the arrangement had worked out well, but there was an ominous feeling about the ship that something was going to happen, and I definitely wasn’t thinking about Wapol and his unfortunate capabilities of eating ships and crewmates. 

We were all worried about Nami. 

“Is there anything you can do at all to help her?”

 The Captain was incredibly anxious about the navigators health, which wasn’t a huge surprise considering he had never been sick. 

“Unfortunately not, Captain. We’ve already done everything that we can at the moment.” 

He frowned at my answer, “The only thing we can really do at the moment is keep her comfortable and try and keep her temperature down.”

The Captain just stared at me for a moment, as though piercing my soul. It made me a little uncomfortable, having never been subjected to his weighty gaze. It felt like a judging. He suddenly smiled, “She’s going to be fine! You and Vivi have been taking really good care of her until we can reach a doctor!”

I could feel my cheeks heating up, “Thanks Captain.”

He gave his signature laugh and bounded off, presumably to annoy Usopp.

“Not bad.” Zoro spoke up from beside me, his green hair covered in snow, making him look almost like a Northern Christmas Tree. He shoved a pointed finger into my face, “Still don’t entirely trust you.”

“That’s fair. I don’t expect you to.” 

I must have made progress then; he trusted me, if only a little, but that was better than nothing. 

He looked through the binoculars once again, and let out a strange noise. 

“Do you think that a person could stand on top of an ocean?” He lowered the binoculars, giving those up on deck a questioning stare.

“Depends, if it was frozen possibly. I wouldn’t trust someone who could stand on water, though. Not out here on the Grand Line.” Then I muttered, not realising that Zoro could hear me, “This isn’t Naruto, though. People can’t do that!”

“Wouldn’t trust them?” Zoro pointed towards the oddly clothed man, checkered and an almost abstract painted mouth, standing on top of a seemingly frozen patch of the ocean. 

I shook my head. 

My memories weren’t perfect, especially of the events before Drum Island as it had been many years, even before arriving in this world, since I had read or watched the arc, but I knew that something not-so-great was going to happen.

Usopp and Luffy had made there way down to stand close to Zoro and myself by this point, both with confused looks on their faces.

The man on the ocean suddenly spoke.

“It’s quite cold today, isn’t it?”

I grabbed a hold of Zoro’s wrist in warning. He looked towards me and I pointed out the water below the man. It was still rippling and you could vaguely make out wooden boards underneath him. Luffy had also noticed my actions, and tensed himself up, readying for a fight; Usopp wasn’t entirely obvious to our movements, taking a few steps back, away from the ledge.

“It is.” “It’s freezing.”

The strangers head tilted to the side, his mouth twitching up in an almost satisfied smirk. “Is that so.”

There was silence for a moment, the four of us taking a few more steps back, trying to be as subtle as possible and not really succeeding as the stranger’s smirk became stronger. A sudden break of the water underneath the smirking man had us all flying backwards, as an incredibly large ship made it’s way through the water; the ocean was sent rushing towards the Going Merry, splashing onto the deck.

“What’s that?” Luffy had to grab onto both the ship and his hat to make sure that he nor his hat went flying. “A watermelon?”

“Don’t think so, Captain!” I replied from where I was lying underneath the main mast. Where did Luffy get that from? How did that resemble a watermelon in any way, shape or form?

“Is that thing a ship?” Zoro’s face was a shocked as I had ever seen it, eyes wide.

A loud cackling laughter could be heard, coming from the large ship that now floated in front of us. 

“ARE YOU SURPRISED? HAS MY SUBMERSIBLE AMBUSH-SHIP, THE TIN CAN KING, LEFT YOU SPEECHLESS?” The voice was obnoxious, condescending. 

“Crap! A pirate ship!” Usopp’s face screwed up in fear and irritation, something that I hadn’t thought possible to combine the two emotions.

Luffy was amazed at the sheer size of the ship in front of us.

“Why now of all times?” Zoro frowned.

“Murphy’s Law.” I dryly stated back.

“Who is Murphy and why do we have to follow his laws?” Luffy asked, still in awe at the ambush ship.

“It means that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong Captain.”

“Oh, okay!”

There was the sound of running footsteps, from both below and above us. We were being boarded.

“What’s going on up here?” Sanji had appeared, taking a cigarette out of his pocket and lighting it, taking in the amount of enemy pirates that had surrounded us on all sides.

“We were ambushed.” Luffy replied back, staring almost calmly back at his cook.

Sanji returned the stare, just as dryly back at his Captain, “I gathered that.”

Luffy turned back towards the large man walking in his direction. “We’re in a hurry, you know.”

I was suddenly pushed forward, a gun pointed towards my temple making its presence known. Sanji didn’t like this one bit, having noticed it first.

“Don’t you dare threaten her!”

The man in front of Luffy paid us no mind, calmly counting out loud the amount of people on board the Going Merry.

Five people? A ship this size, there has to be more people.” He heaved a sigh, shoving a half eaten sword into his mouth and taking a large bite, cleanly snapping it in two. “No matter, let me ask you something...”

The Captain wasn’t listening, having seen the clean bite. “He just ate that whole sword!”

“That hurts just looking at it!” Usopp looked disgusted and Zoro wasn’t far behind him, his respect for the sword running deep within his blood.

Sanji, on the other hand, was fussing over my current predicament, muttering threats under his breath whilst simultaneously shooting me comforting looks.

I had to admit that having a gun almost pressed to my temple wasn’t exactly giving me ‘the time of my life’ vibes, but I could quite honestly say that it wasn’t the first time that something like this had happened. Fights and brawls were common at the bar back in Loguetown, and females are (seemingly) a lot easier to threaten than males. Something that the rogues and criminals of Loguetown had found didn’t quite work out well on me, not any of the other women from the bar. 

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t callously point that gun in my face, thank you.”

“Sorry, sweetheart, but we can’t have that.” The stupid smug grin on the mans face did little to dissuade Sanji from wanting to stamp on it, if the look on his face was anything to go by.

“We wish to head to Drum Kingdom, do you happen to have a log pose, or even an eternal log pose aboard this ship?”

No, and we’ve never even heard of Drum Island.”

Well, the others hadn’t, but I certainly had. 

“If you’re done asking, we need to hurry up.” Luffy crossed his arms and glared, almost pouting at the intruder. “Go away.”

The man laughed again, “Theres no need to rush through life like that. Well if you don’t have it, then I’ll take whatever treasures you have onboard instead.”

“What!” The Captain wasn’t happy, not at all. 

“I’m feeling peckish first.” The man promptly took a large bite out of the side of the ship. 

That had to have hurt. The poor Going Merry was certainly taking a beating at the moment, no wonder the little sheep didn’t make it further in the Grand Line than what she had. But she was strong, the heavy weight of her crews dreams onboard pushing her further and further than a caravel would. As soon as I had those thoughts, I heard a childlike giggle.

Outlier! Crown Queen Ebony! Our Chronicler!

I jumped, not expecting the young voice that nobody else seemed to be able to hear.

The klabautermann had awakened already, sooner than I had ever expected.

I know the things that all my crew knows, don’t worry Ebony, everything will be fine!

And now I was being comforted by our ship, who knew she was going to die. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t because then the crew would wonder what was wrong and I had to stay strong, especially in the moment.

“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS PERSON?” “WHAT?”

Continuing to snack on the Going Merry, he completely ignored the Captain shouting at him to stop eating the ship, having chowed down on the anchor and the rope attached to it.

DON’T EAT OUR SHIP!” The Captain was now furious with indignation, as one of the intruders lackeys shouted at him.

“Don’t you dare move! His Highness is in the middle of a meal!”

“Well His Highness needs to learn proper guest etiquette!” I shouted towards the man; this promptly caused three things to happen. One, the gun pointed towards my temple was a pressed right against my forehead, leaving me to feel the cold still against my skin. Two, Luffy to punch the speaker in the head and thirdly for me to swing my arm up and grip a hold of the gun, ripping it out of the mans grip and throwing it overboard.

“THEY’RE RESISTING! FIRE! FIRE!”

Finally!”  Sanji’s grin was boyish and jovial.

“We should have done this sooner!” Zoro’s however, was bestial and with a hint of bloodlust. 

“Well, we were technically waiting for the Captain’s orders.” I also couldn’t help but grin; I wasn’t a fighter by nature, more of a pacifist than anything, but the thrill of a spar was pretty fun.

Can’t we just talk about this?” Usopp wailed, having not moved from his spot, where he was half laying on the deck and half against the mast. 

The resulting chaos left the intruders, bar their captain, lying in heaps on the decks of the Going Merry and our Captain’s head being eaten by the royal idiot Wapol. 

“A tough one to chew, aren’t you?” 

GET OFF OF MY SHIP! 

Luffy had flung his arms out as far as they would go and held taut before letting them loose. Wapol was sent flying off of the ship and up into the air, Team Rocket style complete with air sparkles.

 


 

 

“You should be resting!” 

Izo had to gently push his brother back down onto his bed, “Don’t get up just yet, give yourself some time!”

Jozu had run off to tell Pops the news that his son had survived and was now awake. Izo was fussing around him, with Marco sitting down, staring at his hands, deep in thought.

“I’m alive, aren’t I?” Thatch had allowed Izo to push him down, but he arranged himself with some difficulty to lay so that he was facing his brothers rather than the ceiling of the infirmary. 

“You almost weren’t.” Their eldest brother never cried, but you could tell that he wanted to. Marco took a shuddering breath in and out, “If Ace hadn’t remembered his friends warning, you wouldn’t be alive right now. We would have been too late.”

Thatch thought about it, Teach had looked at the fruit with undisguised awe and hunger and looked upon Thatch in jealousy. Everyone knew that on the Moby Dick, if you found a devil fruit then you were the only one allowed to eat it (unless you gave it away). If Teach had eaten it, without almost fatally wounding Thatch, he would have been punished; but he had almost killed him for the damn fruit, Marshall D. Teach had signed his own death warrant with that.

“Where is Ace? I would have thought he’d be by my deathbed.” Thatch laughed then winced, his usual humour wouldn’t be appreciated at this point in time. “Sorry.”

Marco waved him off, whilst Izo answered. 

“Ace has gone after him.”

Thatch could feel his chest tighten and his fists clench. Ace was their youngest brother, despite being one of the strongest amongst them. He knew that Ace may have a chance against the traitor, but as it were now, presuming that Teach had eaten the damn fruit, whatever advantage Ace had had was now lost.

Alone?”

“Unfortunately, we’re going to send someone else after him when he gets in contact with his friend and sets up a meeting.”

“His friend, huh?” Thatch and the others had been regaled with tales and stories about Ace’s younger brother, Luffy and the occasional tale of Sabo (when he was sufficiently plastered, at least, no one mentioned it to him afterwards incase his temper got the better of him). As well as stories about a friend that he had met in Loguetown, who he seemed to have a gaping soft spot for but wouldn’t ever mention. There were a lot more mentions of the friend than what Ace thought; never as many as Luffy, though. (The man had a brother complex and it was apparently justified; Monkey D. Luffy was a walking trouble magnet who could find himself in the strangest of circumstances.)

“The same friend that he talks about with glowing ears?”

Marco and Izo grinned, glad that they weren’t the only ones who noticed that about the flame user. 

“The very same.” “Yes.”

Good,” Thatch grinned at his brothers. “Very good.”

 


 

 

The sun had gone down, and without Nami’s expert navigation it would have been impossible for us to continue on through the night. Thankfully we had multiple anchors, so dropping one of the spares after Wapol had eaten the original wasn’t so much of an issue.

We’d agreed that in spite of the sudden ambush, that it would be best, at least for that time, to have two people on look out. Sanji was rostered on originally anyway, so that only left one of us. 

“I’ll do it.” I raised my hand, in between eating the food that Sanji had made, “I can also keep on eye on Nami, too if that helps?”

“I can do that, Ebony-san.” Vivi spoke up.

“Are you sure? If you want to sleep though, let me know. You have plenty on your mind, you need to rest, too.”

She nodded in reply, “The same to you, as well.”

“That all sounds good, Ebony!” Luffy was having the time of his life, pulling meat directly off of the bone with his teeth, one cooked leg in one hand and another in the other hand. It was almost like a tennis match, watching him bounce between the two of them.

We ate in silence for a bit longer, before finishing our meals. I went to relieve Zoro from his position on watch, whilst Sanji lay out the meal for him and the others went off to bed.

I couldn’t help but wonder if there as something else that I was missing. I had written out the plot, as I could remember it, in a locked journal that was tucked safely away, but the human mind wasn’t perfect and memories couldn’t always be trusted. I knew the bigger plot points off by heart, but the little blips along the way didn’t always register until after they had happened (case in point, Baroque Works on Little Garden and the ambush by Wapol).

By the time that Sanji had finished cleaning up in the kitchen, it was well on it’s way to being completely dark.

“It’s a bit chilly, isn’t it?”

“Yep, it’s definitely cold.” Sanji came up beside me, resting his arms against the ledge and placing his head on his hands, looking forward. “Its going to be a full moon soon by the looks of it.”

“You know, there’s a sort of legend from back home about full moons.”

I was feeling nostalgic, but I missed home and it was in the quiet moments like this that made it even harder.

Sanji turned to me, taking a drag from his cigarette. “Yeah?”

“There’s a myth that people go mad during the full moon, it’s where the word lunacy comes from. Because of Luna, the moon.” I smiled, “It’s funny, when I was a kid there was a playground that all these kids would go to and one night there happened to be a night market on and all these children, including myself that decided it would be a fantastic idea to live up to the madness rumour and act like wild children, howling at the moon. Our parents weren’t happy, that’s for sure.”

He laughed. “I cannot see you acting like that, Ebony-san.”

“Just Ebony, Sanji.” He pouted but knew that I wouldn’t let up until he called me by my name. His weird chivalry thing wasn’t as bad around me, I had noticed, which was a good thing. “And yeah, I was a pretty rambunctious child; I’m not sure how my parents put up with me, to be honest.”

“Zeff used to have to chase away pirates and criminals who thought that they would be able to kidnap the supposedly sheltered kitchen kid. He’d use them as training tools for me actually.”

“How’d that work out?”

The conversation went on from there until Luffy and Zoro came up to take over the watch.

 


 

 

When the morning came, Usopp had convinced Carue to become his pack mule, carrying planks of wood to fix Merry up.

“What was that guy on about anyway? I’ve never heard of a pirate called Wapol! He had a ship that no normal pirate would be able to afford!”

“They did call him Highness, so he’s probably a royal in exile or something.” I offhandedly mentioned, grabbing a hammer and carefully slotting the plank into place. 

The soft giggle sounded again. I know that I heard it, and Usopp whipped around, as if trying to find the source but shrugged it off when it didn’t happen again.

“Don’t pay them any mind, Usopp. They were just a bunch of idiots.”

Sanji was correct, of course, but I wondered if he knew of Wapol, at least in passing. I know that Vivi had, so it would make sense that Sanji might have.

“More importantly, it’s been pretty damn cold for a while now.”

“That’s for damn sure.” The nail that I had been hammering slipped and almost went through my finger. “Fuck!”

“You alright Ebony?”

Damn it! It’s just this hammer, I just keep slipping.”

This set Sanji off, not at me, but at Usopp for making a ‘lady do the work while your slacking off!

“It’s all good, Sanji! I’ve got to pull my weight around here!”

“The weather is proof that we’re close to an island.” Vivi had come out on deck, it was Zoro and Luffy’s turn to watch over Nami. (Zoro was there to make sure Luffy followed the instructions Vivi and I had left and not do anything stupid.) “Sanji, watch carefully for land on the horizon please!”

Sure thing!”

“There must be a winter island nearby.”

“Winter island?” 

I whimpered, I was going to be an absolute nuisance for this entire trip, but cold weather always brought the worst out in me. I wasn’t used to it at all. 

“In terms of climate, the islands along the Grand Line are classified in four different ways.” Vivi explained, “Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter, after the seasons. And each of these four types generally have four seasons of their own. You really need to be able to survive sixteen different seasons in one go if you really think about it.”

Well, different seasons in one go was something that I could comfortably say that I was used to.

“The Grand Line is incredibly unpredictable and every island would have their own distinct climates, which is why if the climate is consistent on the Grand Line that means that you’re close to an island.”

“She’s right!” Sanji called from the watch tower, “There’s land up ahead! LAND AHOY!”

Hearing the running feet of the Captain and having completed the hammering of the planks, I decided that it would be best to go and check up on Nami, passing the captain on the way down.

“How’s everything going?”

Luffy turned to me, still running, “She’s going to be better soon! We can get her a doctor!”

I gave him a grin and a thumbs up and continued on my way, shouting back at him. 

“You might need a coat, Captain!”

 

Chapter Text

I heard a gunshot ring out and rushed upstairs. Vivi was lying on the deck, clutching at her arm in pain. 

“How dare you!”

The Captain was furious and readied himself to take out the offender with a gum gum pistol, but before he could Vivi had grabbed a hold of his leg.

Wait! This isn’t a problem you can solve by fighting! The bullet only grazed my arm, don’t worry about me!”

Vivi, whilst down on the ground bent her head. “I beg of you, we promise not to set foot on your country, could you please just call over a doctor! Our friend is gravely I’ll and in much pain! Please help her! 

The proud Princess of Alabasta laid her head against the deck, a momentary silence ringing out.

I walked calmly towards where the Captain stood.

“Please,  Luffy,” He abruptly turned towards me. I very rarely called him by name, so for me to do so he knew that the situation was serious, dire even. “This cannot be solved with your fists, we have to use our words for this.”

“Luffy, you’re failing to carry out your Captain duties, recklessly fighting isn’t always going to solve things.” 

“We can’t fight; not this time, Captain. We haven’t got that luxury. Nami hasn’t got that luxury.” 

Vivi and I seemed to get through to him, as the steel in his eyes retreated a little, and retreated further at the sound of our ill friend's name. 

Sorry! I was wrong!” Luffy then promptly got down next to Vivi,  on his hands and knees in apology and to bed for a doctor.

“We only ask for a doctor!” The Future King of the Pirates lay down his pride, “Please save our friend!”

I had walked back towards the others in the silence that followed. When I reached them, I tapped Usopp on the wrist. 

“I’m going to check on Nami.” 

He nodded, eyes sharp, still looking at the guns surrounding us all.

I heard as I was halfway down the stairs the sound of the anchor being lifted and a warning was being said about the doctor.

“There is only one doctor in this country and she so happens to be a witch.”

The sound of disbelief from the crew was almost music to my ears.

 


 

 

Sabo was almost at his intended destination of Alabasta, the small boat not too far ahead of his own clearly having the same intentions. He, however, still had yet to contact Ebony. He didn’t know why, but something was telling him that it wouldn’t be the best time to do so, whether that was on his part or on hers, he wasn’t too sure. 

It was probably his. He hasn’t quite come to grips with his memories slowly coming back to him, small habits and mannerisms that he always had had we’re becoming more prominent as the reasons for those were slowly returning. Like his accent, that he had never lost. The upper class noble accent that he had always hated having made a lot more sense now, knowing that he was technically a nobleman, a runaway one, but still one by birth. And his eating habits, always snatching something off another’s plate or hiding his own away. Luffy and ace had left their marks on him, even without his memories, in ways that would never be forgotten.

He stood up, shaking himself out. He didn’t have too far to go now; he’d ring Ebony, he decided, in the next few hours.

Maybe. 

(Koala would berate him when he got back if he didn’t.)

 


 

 

Readying Nami, Vivi and I had to shoo the boys out of the room so that we could get her in clothing that wouldn’t make her freeze. Thankfully, she was awake enough that we only needed to help her out rather than the alternative. I had offered to carry her, but Sanji lifted Nami onto his back with ease. (Zoro was going to be staying behind with Carue to protect the ship. And the green haired idiot had decided that his legs were fine, now and that he could get right back into training. I scolded him and warned him to not take it too fast or otherwise he would be back to square one. He grinned sheepishly and told me not to worry. I would though, it’s what I did, worry.)

“This country has no name, as of yet.”

“Is that even possible?”

“They’re probably in between governments or something.”

“That sounds about right, this country was initially a  monarchy though.”

Our short conversation was interrupted by the terrified shrieking of Usopp.

“EVERYONE PLAY DEAD! IT’S A BEAR! 

And so it was. A rather large bear, using a walking stick to make their way through the snow.

“It’s just a hiking bear, it poses no danger.” 

The man who was leading us into town turned towards us, “But mind your hiking manners and don’t forget to bow.”

And so we did, every single one of us, except for Usopp who was still lying on the ground, cowering away.

As we made our way into the town, there were a number of mistrustful stares from onlookers and even some children were ushered inside their homes. It hurt a little, but I did understand; pirates weren’t to be trusted by outsiders, criminals they were at best and murderers, pillagers at worst. (Thank the gods that Luffy wasn’t like that, only fighting when he truly felt like it, for his own strange sense of justice in the world.)

“So, this is our town.” Our guide used his arm to demonstrate.

“Thank you for this, we really appreciate it.” I bowed my head in thanks; they were really taking a chance on the fact that all we wanted was to cure our navigator and not destroy or hurt anybody.

“There’s some really weird animals walking around!” “This is a real snow country, that’s for sure!”

Usopp and Luffy had stars in their eyes, making them look even younger than they were. 

“Nami, we’re in a town! Finally!” Sanji was speaking, lowered voice, so as to not disturb our sick crew mate too much. Nami let out a small sound of acknowledgement and fell silent.

I made my way over to Nami and Sanji and placed a hand on Nami’s forehead, immediately removing it. 

“Okay, okay.” Her fever had gone up again. This wasn’t good, we had to get her to a doctor and fast.

Sanji looked at me worryingly, “She’s going to get better, right?”

I had to remember that I was currently the oldest member of the crew and that everyone else were still teenagers. True, it hadn’t been long since I myself were a teenager, but there seemed to be a certain amount of responsibility with being your (very) early twenties.

“If we can get her to a doctor as quickly as possible, but if not.” I didn’t want to lie, and I wasn’t going to. 

Sanji’s lower lip trembled, as if he were about to start crying. I put my hand on his shoulder, carefully so that I didn’t disturb Nami. 

“Everything is going to be fine, Sanji.” 

He smiled at me, a small genuine one, blushing a little. 

The two of us, three if you included Nami, had missed an entire interaction behind us as Vivi tugged on my sleeve to get our attention.

“Let’s get Nami inside.”

Following our guide into the home, he introduced himself.

“My apologies for the belated introduction, my name is Dalton and it is my job to guard this island. Please forgive our hostile welcome.” 

Sanji lifted Nami off of his back and gently laid her down onto the bed, where Vivi and I covered her up with several blankets.

Dalton turned to both Vivi and Sanji and gave them an odd look as if he was trying to place their faces. 

“I’d like to ask the two of you something, I get the feeling that I’ve seen you both somewhere before.” 

The two froze up. 

Royalty, I had forgotten that Dalton would have been to at least one Reverie and both the blonde cook and the blue-haired Princess had probably been to at least one in their childhood (at least before Sanji had run).

Y-you must be imagining things…” “I don’t believe so, sorry.”

I interrupted before Dalton could place their faces, “Would you be able to tell us more about this so-called witch?”

He turned towards me and nodded. He’d respect their need for privacy, even though he definitely knew their faces from somewhere and he was sure that it hadn’t been from around this island. Both Vivi and Sanji let out a sigh of relief that they probably didn’t know that they were holding back.

“From the window, you should be able to see mountains.”

Unfortunately, all we were able to see was a towering snowman, that both Luffy and Usopp were swinging off of.

“I’ll go get the children.” I sighed, but before I could get up and leave Sanji placed a hand on my shoulder and shook his head, before storming out of the house to get them himself. 

Moments later he appeared, snowman demolished by a foot and two pouting teenagers following behind.

Dalton smiled a little, before continuing. “those mountains are called the Drum Rockies. There’s a castle right on top of the tallest mountain in the middle. Presently, the castle doesn’t have a king.”

“A castle?” “I can see it alright.” “No king?”

“Dr Kureha, she is the lone doctor in this entire country, the one they call a witch. She lives in that castle on top of the mountain.”

What?”

“Of all the places she has to be, it has to be there.” Sanji bit his cigarette in half out of frustration.

“Is there a way to get into contact with her? To get her to come here, rather than going to her?” Nami’s temperature had gone up to fourty-two degrees, and I really didn’t want the others to panic, but if we didn’t get her to a doctor soon she was going to die.

“Unfortunately not, she’s a brilliant doctor with a love of sugared plums, but she’s a bit of a kook and almost one-hundred and fourty years old.”

“One hundred and fourty? And she’s still alive?” “What do people do in this country if someone is sick or injured?”

“She does come down from the mountain whenever she feels like it, find patients to treat and afterwards takes whatever she feels like from her patients' homes as payment.”

“Mean old hag.” “She’s basically a pirate!”

“Does she take things that wouldn’t be missed? Or valuables, like family heirlooms?”

There was an important distinction; if she took important stuff, like family heirlooms or things that were worth a lot of money, then it was sort of extortion. But non-valuables and things that wouldn’t be missed, it wasn’t such a bad thing in my eyes.

“You know what, I’m not entirely sure. She never seems to take things that people need I suppose.”

“How does that old woman even get down from the mountain?” 

Vivi was asking the real questions here.

“According to witnesses, she apparently rides down on a sleigh on moonlit nights, cackling away. That’s why people call her a witch.”

Sounds more like Santa, without the cackling. 

“Others have reportedly seen a most bizarre creature travelling along with her.”

Usopp started to mumble about snow monsters and warning us about the snow monsters and please, oh please don’t let them get me! I want to live!

“Although she is the countries only doctor, she’s also someone who I’d prefer to have little to do with. In any  case, I’m afraid the only thing you can do is wait until she comes down from the mountain.” 

“That can’t be!”

“How the hell is it possible for there to be only one doctor in an entire country?”

Luffy was sitting next to Nami, gently patting (more like slapping, to be perfectly honest) her face, trying to awaken her.

“Hey, Nami!” Pat! Slap! “Nami!” Pat! Slap! “Can you hear me?”

“AND WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?” 

Usopp, Sanji and Vivi looked on in shock while I rolled my eyes a little.

“Guys, calm down! He isn’t hurting her!”
Ah! You’re awake!” And she was, slowly her eyes opened to look up at Luffy.

“Listen, we can’t get a doctor unless we go up a mountain.” He took a breath, knowing that this wasn’t the best idea, but hat other choice did they have? 

“So we’ll be hiking up!”

 


 

 

The outrage from the others was kind of amusing, despite the seriousness of the situation.  Nami had finally agreed with something her crazy captain wanted and now everyone else thought she was crazy, too. 

(We all had to be a little nuts to join the Straw Hat Pirates.)

Sanji was adamant that he was going along, too. Usopp was almost berating the captain about the dangers ahead.

“Letting Nami fall, even once could mean the end for her! Got it!”

“Got it!” Luffy nodded furiously.

“Hold still, Luffy! I have to tie her tightly around you!” Vivi was carefully tying Nami onto Luffy’s back.

“That should do it, I’ll stay behind. I’d only drag you down if I came along.”

“Me too!”

I was about to volunteer to come along, as well, but Luffy was staring at me.

“Ebony, stay here and protect the others.”

Huh?

“Captain?”

“You’re strong, stay here and protect them in case something happens.”

That was a lot to take in. Luffy, Monkey D. Luffy thought that I was strong? I hadn’t even shown myself in a fight, yet he thought that I was strong?

Despite my confusion, I agreed with him. “Sure thing, Captain, you can count on me.

Dalton considered us all for a moment, “If you’re serious about this, I’m not going to stop you but you should at least climb up from the other side. The route to the top from here is full of lapins! They’re extremely violent and carnivorous rabbits; if you come across a pack of them, there’ll be no escaping alive!”

“Rabbits? But we’re in a hurry, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Luffy looked at Sanji, “Right?”

“Yeah.” He reassured the captain, “I’ll kick any that get in our way.”

“Be careful, you three. Lapins are no joke.” I interjected and got nods from the two conscious. 

“Alright! Let’s go, Sanji!” Luffy took off, Sanji not far behind him. “Before Nami dies!”

“DON’T SAY THAT, YOU IDIOT!”

The two ran off in the direction of the tallest mountain, Sanji scolding Luffy. We all watched them as they disappeared into the distance.

“I wonder if they’ll really be okay.” Dalton seemed a little concerned.

I laughed and Usopp turned to Dalton, “No need to worry, those two will be fine.”

“The problem is whether or no Nami can hold on that long.”

“She’s stronger than what most people think, she’ll be okay.”

Another moment of silence, the wind seeming to get stronger and the snow falling heavier than before. 

“What’s wrong? You should come inside already, it’s already rather cold out here.”

Vivi and Usopp looked towards me. Apparently, as Luffy had ordered me to stay behind and protect the others, despite Usopp’s clear seniority within the crew, I had been elected leader.

I shook my head, “I think we’ll wait out here for the moment.”

“I want to stay outside for now!” “Me too!”

Dalton looked confused, before smiling. “I see, I’ll join you then.” He sat down on the ground, looking out towards the distant mountains.

“It wasn’t like this, not too long ago.”

“Hm?”

“The doctors, I mean. There’s a reason why all of them, save for one disappeared.”

He took in a deep breath, feeling our eyes on him as he told the story.

“Only a few months ago, this country was utterly destroyed at the hands of pirates!”

“That does explain the welcome.”

Vivi and Usopp weren’t exactly as calm as I was.

WHAT?” “THE ENTIRE COUNTRY?

“It does explain it, yes. Everyone here is still uneasy, even at hearing the word ‘pirate’.”

His face turned dark, “The pirate crew was only that of five people. Their captain called himself ‘Blackbeard’… With overwhelming strength, they destroyed our entire country in the blink of an eye.”

“Only five pirates? That’s crazy!” “Blackbeard?”

I froze up. How did I forget that the bastard had been mentioned earlier than any of us had ever met the damn man, how did I forget that he destroyed things wherever he went? I could feel my hands shaking, as the clenched into fists. It was probably a good thing that I wasn’t holding onto anything because I would have broken something. As it was, I could feel my nails break the skin on my palms and blood being drawn.

Dalton had continued on, meaning that I had missed almost the entire second half of the conversation.

“…The name of this country was formerly called the ‘Drum Kingdom’ and the ruler was a man named Wapol. He was truly a most despicable king!”

“That man! Now I remember!” “Wapol?”

“You know him?” Dalton looked shocked, and slightly suspicious.

“Know him? We don’t know jack shit other than him being the pirate who attacked our ship. Of course, I was the one who chased him away.” “Really, Usopp? I distinctly remember Luffy sending him flying.” “Let me have the moment, Ebony, please.” “Not at all.” “But now that I think about it, he did say something about Drum Kingdom.”

Vivi was muttering, “He’s the same man I met when I was a little girl and father took me to the Reverie.”

“Reverie? Who exactly are you?” 

Dalton had heard her mutterings, looking even more confused and suspicious. 

By this point, the blood on my palms had started to seep out, leaving Vivi to notice.

“Ebony! What happened?”

This definitely drew attention towards myself, and away from Dalton’s suspicious looks towards Vivi.

“You mentioned the bastard. I got angry, sorry.”

“The bastard? Wapol?”

“No. Blackbeard. Marshall D. Teach.”

Dalton then turned to me, “You know him?”

“No, I know of him.” I took a calming breath. “He’s a betrayer, formerly a son of the Strongest Man, Edward Newgate. A former Whitebeard Pirate.”

“Are you telling the truth?”

“About Blackbeard? Yes.”

I wouldn’t lie when that man was concerned. 

“No, about Wapol?”

“What does that mean? You said the country was destroyed, then why is the king alive and playing at being a pirate of all things?”

“Him being a pirate is just a disguise, he’s most likely just loitering around the oceans here waiting for the right time to come back.”

Vivi was confused. “So, Wapol and his men were driven out of the island and forced to become pirates after being unable to fight off the Blackbeard Pirates?”

“No. That’s wrong.” Dalton angrily stated, “Back when the pirates attacked, the King and his Soldiers didn’t even try to mount a resistance.”

“What?” Vivi’s voice shook. 

“Once Wapol realised just how strong the pirates were, he simply up and left his country and his people. All the citizens were dismayed by such an act of cowardice committed by their own king.”

AND HE CALLS HIMSELF A KING!

Vivi was angry and shocked.

“Vivi..” Usopp tentatively put a hand on her shoulder, and when she didn’t shrug it off, pulled her into a half hug.

“It’s beyond cruel, how could the king just abandon his people?”

“Not all kings are noble, Vivi. Not all kings want the best for their people. Some do, some don’t; it’s an unfortunate fact of life.” I had to be gentle about this, she hadn’t known anything other than her kind father who always wanted the best for his people.

“Exactly, but thanks to that, Wapol’s reign of tyranny finally came to an end.”

“Huh, the bastard was good for something after all.” I still loathed the man, but even I couldn’t deny that he had done something, not good, but something for this country.

“Sounds like it.” Usopp mustn’t have like the way that I described the man, his voice holding a tone of anger in it towards Blackbeard.

“This island now belongs to those of us who remained behind! The towns are slowly beginning to recover and we’re in the midst of forging a new country. That is why the thing we all dread the most is his return, at this time of great unrest, we must prevent that at all costs.” 

“Hence the elections being held.” Dalton nodded.

“For the purpose of creating a better country for a better tomorrow, we must!”

 


 

 

“Do you think they’ll be okay?” 

Sanji was a little worried about the others. The welcome that they had received was weighing heavily on his mind. He certainly knew that Ebony was capable of protecting the others, her movements sharp and her eyes knowing. 

“They’ll be fine! Ebony’s there and that Dalton guy is a good guy!”

Luffy trusted Ebony, she knew Ace and knew of Sabo; Ace would never say anything about their brother to someone that he didn’t trust. It was his second most tightly held secret. 

“It’s getting pretty cold up here, with all this wind…”

“Why the hell are you still wearing your sandals in this weather? I know Ebony and Vivi-can told you to change them! Just looking at your feet is making me cold!”

“That’s just my police!” No. Wait. Wrong word. Luffy wasn’t going to take it back now. He never said anything he didn’t mean.

POLICY! You mean policy!”

“Is it?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Sanji spied a small rabbit-like creature. 

“Careful! I think that thing there is a lapin!”

Sanji wasn’t going to necessarily take the advice of a man, but of a woman, yes. He would be wary of the lapins.

Dodge!”

Between the two of them, Luffy and Sanji continuously dodged the singular lapin who seemed intent on making them its lunch.

“Apparently people can die if they fall asleep on winter islands!”

“Who told you that? Usopp?”

“No! A guy in a bar!”

“That’s stupid!”

“That’s what I was told!”

“Then why is there a bed in that guy, Dalton’s, place?”

“Maybe it’s there for when he dies?”

The two narrowly dodged the lapin, who took a chunk out of a tree, causing it to break in half and for Sanji and Luffy to leap over it. Sanji took a quick look back towards the lapin. It looked angry and really confused. 

Ha! Serves it right for trying to eat us and endanger Nami-swan!

Unfortunately for the three of them, the next movement they made caused the lapin to go flying off into the distance, as Sanji kicked upwards to remove the snow beneath his feet.

Shit.”

Standing in their way were several large lapins, with shadows behind them, indicating more large lapins in the distance.

“Those are huge. Think they’re polar bears?”

“No, I think that they’re the little shits family.” The little shit in question was the lapin who was trying it’s very hardest to kill them.

The largest one in front suddenly moved, leaping towards them.

IT JUMPED!

The lapin’s powerful front paws narrowly missed Sanji and Luffy, the two of the dodging in different directions to get out of the way.

“HOW CAN IT JUMP LIKE THAT! IT’S LIKE A GORILLA!”

“I thought it was a lapin, or a polar bear. Not a gorilla?” Great and now Sanji had confused his captain.

“It moves like a gorilla! It’s one of those lapins that Dalton warned us about!”

The two looked towards the mountain path, which was covered in lapins of all different sizes, the largest being the one that had just leapt at them.

“There’s so many of them!” Somehow the cigarette that Sanji had in his mouth had survived and was still lit, smoke curling out from his mouth. “It’s got to be expected of such a creature, to move this quickly in the snow. We’re at an unfortunate disadvantage.”

Luffy went to move forward, but Sanji placed a hand in front of him to stop him. 

“Don’t lay a hand on them.” “Why not?” 

“You’ve got Nami on your back, even though you’d be unaffected by an attack, she wouldn’t be. She’d probably die in this state if something happened.”

The lapin let out a bloodcurdling roar, more like that of a tiger or lion than something you would expect out of the mouth of a rabbit-like creature. 

Luffy nodded, “Got it! I won’t fight!”

 


 

 

This whole not fighting thing was very difficult for him, as Luffy soon found out. He was good at dodging, he’d had plenty of practice attempting to move out of the way of his Gramps so-called Fist of Love, but this was something else entirely. He’d never had to move with something attached to his back and it was slowing him down a lot. 

RUN! BUT DON’T RUN TOO FAST!”

Thanks for the advice Sanji, really.

“FLANCHET SHOOT!”

Sanji kicked downwards, into the larger lapin, sending it flying towards the rest of the pack. 

“Damn it! It’s too hard to get any good kicks with this snow!”

The lapin pack twitched in unison, heads cocking to one side before all lunging at once.

“I’LL COVER YOU! RUN INTO THE FOREST!”

Luffy didn’t have much choice but to obey, running as if his life depended on it (which it kind of did), Sanji blocking and defending from behind.

“We’ve got to shake them off!” Sanji still hadn’t managed to drop his cigarette, something that Luffy was currently admiring him for. “If we fought seriously, we’d be here all day!”

“Damn!” Luffy managed to remember not to fight, dodging the lapin that had landed in front of him and Nami. 

Spotting a portion of the mountain that seemed possibly climbable, Luffy shouted towards his friend, who was currently doing the splits in midair, kicking two lapins away from them. “Hey, Sanji! We can climb up from here!”

“Alright! Go on ahead!”

Using a few of the adult lapins as a launching point, the two flipped themselves up and over, higher and higher, until they managed to reach the ledge. 

Looking back, the pack was still advancing towards the three of them.

“THEY’RE STILL AFTER US! JUST KEEP RUNNING ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!”

Chapter Text

Of course this would happen. Murphy’s Law was really playing the part of the devil in this whole situation. Sanji and Luffy had already left for the doctor in the castle, the doctor in the castle had left for a small village and by the time we made it to the small village of Cocoa Weed (and I thought Australia had some strangely named places, they do, but this was something entirely other) she had already been and gone, onto the next village.

“We just missed her!” Usopp couldn’t believe their luck, neither could I to be honest. 

The little boy who she had just treated sat up from his bed and nodded, “Yeah, she treated me not too long ago.”

“Do you know where she has gone now?” 

I knelt down beside the little boy and he shook his head.

“I don’t remember if she said where she was going, sorry miss.”

Vivi smiled, “No problems, you just rest okay?”

“What are the chances of this happening? Like really? How is this our luck?” 

Usopp clapped a hand onto my shoulder, “This seems to be the luck that Luffy has.”

I laughed, a little too sharp to be proper humour. “More like the luck of a ‘D.’”

“What has ‘D.’ got to do with it?” Vivi asked, confused.

“You know what? I don’t know, but I’ve heard rumours that a storm will follow a ‘D.’ no matter where they are.”

Usopp paused before answering, “You know what? I can believe that, I really can.”

The barkeep called out to Dalton, “Are you looking for the doctor?”

“Yes, it’s an emergency! Do you know where she went?”

A patron spoke before the barkeep could reply, “I heard someone say that she left for Gyasta.”

Gyasta?”

“Where’s that exactly?”

“It’s a village by the lake shore, much further north than here.” Dalton paused before adding, “Ice skating is quite popular there, I’ve heard.”

“We haven’t got time to loiter around, we should leave immediately.”

“I agree with Vivi.”

The door to the bar slammed open, cold air rushing through the building and a man ran through, huffing as though he had run a significant distance.

“DALTON!”

“Aren’t you supposed to be on guard duty today?”

“ALL THE OTHER GUARDS HAVE BEEN DONE IN! A SHIP JUST SURFACED AND ATTACKED EVERYONE!”

Now, didn’t that sound familiar. 

“Calm down, speak slowly. Who was it that attacked the guards?”

Sweat continued to poor down the mans face, terrified of saying the words he spluttered out. 

“WAPOL! HE’S COME BACK!”


 

“Ebony! You’re sure that this is the right way to Gyasta?”

“I’d ask Vivi that question, Usopp. She’s the one reading the map, I’m just driving.”

And I was, somehow, successfully managing the goats attached to the sleigh. Vivi was sitting next to me, pointing out directions, whilst Usopp looked on beside her. 

“I think so, Usopp, but I’m not entirely sure!”

“You’re not sure? That’s not going to cut it, Princess.”

“We’ll get to the damn witch doctor, Usopp, don’t go taking it out on the Princess.”

Usopp sighs, apologetic. “I know, I know. Just imagine, though, what’ll happen when Luffy and Sanji get to the mountaintop and realise that the doctor’s missing. Who knows what they’ll do then?” 

Usopp took a deep breath and turned to Vivi, “Come on, you’re a princess! Figure something out!”

“What does me being a princess have to do with anything?” Vivi rounded on Usopp, “Why don’t you take a look at the map and figure something out?”

“There’s nothing but snow out here! I wouldn’t be able to tell North apart from South even with the map!”

“Children! Please!” 

The two turned on me, “Why don’t you do something, Ebony?”

“Well, we just passed a sign that said Gyasta, so I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

The two of them looked sheepish at arguing like battling siblings who turned to the older sibling to get the correct answer, when it had been obvious all along.

That made me miss my own family. 

I had to stop myself then and there, if my thoughts headed into that direction I wouldn’t be able to focus on the present and everything could be screwed up.

“Oh, okay.” Usopp scratched at his head.

“Manners?”

Oh, now I sounded like my mother. Nope, not going there. Not now, later. Later, Ebony.

Usopp gave me a stare, but I glared at him. Manners didn’t cost anything and apologising for certain behaviours could go a long way in getting people to view you differently.

“Sorry Vivi.”

“I understand, Usopp. We’re all worried.”

Vivi’s bottom lip trembled, she was struggling to hold back tears. 

“We can’t do anything now, alright? We just have to see if we can get to the doctor and back to her castle as quickly as possible, okay?” I locked my jaw, It’s the only thing that we can do at the moment.

The only thing.

The sled, however, had come to a decision that the snow was too tough to continue moving through the quickly thickening snow. 

“Guys, we’re going to have to stop, the snow’s too thick.” 

The deer didn’t want to go any further, either. They were getting quite tired and I honestly couldn’t blame them.

“And we’re headed up the mountain, Ebony.”

Suddenly there was a rumbling underneath us, the trees around us shaking and the snow was moving as if it had a life all of its own.

“What’s that trembling?”

“Um, guys…”

“Usopp, Ebony, isn’t that?”

“I think so.” “Yeah, sure looks like it.”

I did tell them not to anger the lapins.


 

“I’M GOING TO CHAR GRILL THOSE DAMN RABBITS THAT NEXT TIME I SEE THEM! WITH MY FISTS!”

“SANJI! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?”

It was a genuine concern and surprise that Nami hadn’t awoken from her almost coma-like state with all the movement and shouting that had been going on.

“How should I know?” Sanji’s stamina was taking a bit of a hit in this cold weather, “All I know is that we have to protect Nami first!”

“How can we protect her if we can’t protect ourselves?”

Luffy had made a good point, but Sanji was loathe to point that out to him. 

Spotting a cliff, Luffy pointed and shouted. “You see that? We get there and stay there, we should be okay!”

“Ok!”

They took off running, going harder and faster than they had before to make it to the top the cliff, hoping against the odds that it would be enough to stay out of the path of the avalanche.

“We’re safe!”

No sooner had they stopped and caught their breath, did the snow barrelling towards them seem to launch itself directly at them.

Luffy and Sanji were speechless, unknowingly thinking the same thought.

Didn’t we get high enough?


 

“Honestly, how the hell did we manage to avoid that avalanche?”

I couldn’t understand it, how did we? I could only think that something in the world wanted us alive, which wouldn’t surprise me, being a member of a crew of D. There was just something about the world that wanted to make it difficult, but also to survive and thrive in difficult and outright impossible scenarios. 

I’d carried Usopp over one shoulder, instead of Nami having to drag him like she had suggested she would. He’d taken a nasty hit to the head, thankfully not drawing any blood, but one couldn’t be sure with head injuries and concussion. 

“I see a beautiful garden!” Usopp sighed, dreamily. “It’s not of this world.”

I froze a little. I know that he exaggerated, lied, but could he have actually seen something? No, he couldn’t have.

Vivi panicked, “ That means you’re going to heaven! Wake up Usopp! Wake up!”

“He’s fine, he’s just dreaming. Possibly concussed.”

I wasn’t paid any attention as Usopp shouted and almost kneed me in the back.

“Usopp’s Pirates! Here I come!”

They’re not dead.

“No! You can’t die here! Wake up!” Vivi slapped Usopp a couple of times, whilst I held him still.

He soon came around and was able to walk on his own, but had (seemingly) no memory of the whole thing. Probably a good thing, because the slaps that Vivi had given him had left giant welts on his face and it had swelled up.

“Why have I got these bumps on my face?”

Both Vivi and I ignored him.

“We’re glad that you’re still alive, Usopp, although you may have concussion. We’ll just have to be careful, okay?” 

“Exactly, it must be difficult to live here.”

“Maybe while we’re here, Captain will somehow snag us a Doctor?” I muttered, not expecting anyone to actually hear me.

“Wouldn’t surprise me.” A chattering voice replied. A very familiar chattering voice replied.

I rolled my eyes. “Honestly Zoro, how on earth did you end up here? Where the hell is your coat?”

“I was swimming and there was an avalanche… I’m just unlucky.” He shrugged, or tried to, shivering as much as he was. “I’ll consider this as part of my training.”

Luckily I’d worn an extra jumper, under the many many layers that I had. I’d forgo the extra warmth it it meant that Zoro wouldn’t freeze to death.

“Zoro.”

“Huh? Vivi?” He was only just realising how far away from the ship he was. “Usopp? What are you doing here?” 

“THAT’S OUR QUESTION!” 

“And Ebony! Why aren’t you questioning it?”

“Why should I? He got lost, that’s all there is to it.” I turned to Zoro and handed him the woollen jumper. “Take this so you don’t completely freeze, yeah?”

He took it, mumbling his thanks and with shivering limbs slowly dragged it over his head, sighing at the warmth that it had given him.

“Why were you swimming in winter?”

“Why not? I used to do it all the time?” This time I was the one receiving the strange looks, and Zoro nodding alongside me in agreement. 

“For me, there were fish in the river and I thought that if I followed them, they’d lead me to the village. Then I got lost and decided to go for a walk in the forest.”

“You’re so stupid.” Usopp couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief.

“Do you have shoes?” I’d given him a jumper, but I didn’t have any spare shoes at all. He was going to have to get them elsewhere.

“Not at all,” Zoro turned to Usopp with a slight grin on his face, causing the other male to become wary. “Can I borrow one of yours?”

Usopp put his hands up in front of him, as if that would stop Zoro from going after his footwear. “Sorry, after all you did this to yourself. You can’t blame anyone else.”

“Look!” Vivi’s sudden shout distracted Zoro from launching himself at Usopp, who looked as if he were considering running away.

“Those houses look familiar!”

“I think that we’re back to where we started, Vivi.”

“I think so, too. This must be Big Horn Village.”


 

The cold was something that Sanji was used to.

Not so much anymore, but it had been an almost source of comfort at one point in his life. A favourite punishment of his fathers you could say that he had turned into a positive, or at least a training tool.

Being locked in that cell, cold and damp as it was, was not able to prepare him for the utter icy chill that the avalanche had caused to him, his captain and friends. 

He couldn’t feel his hands, or feet and hoped that it was only due to the cold.

“Captain?” His voice was quiet, shot to hell. 

He was lucky that Luffy had heard him.

“It’s going to be okay, Sanji. I’m not going to let anything happen to you or Nami, okay?”

He need to know what happened. The last thing he remembered was attempting to kick a lapin out of their way and then cold. So he asked.

“The ship eating dickhead came back and the lapins saved us from him and his crew.”

What?

“I saved one of the lapins in the avalanche, after I’d gotten you out of the snow, so that’s why the helped us.”

He didn’t think that he’d asked out loud, but something must of shown on his face. His Captain was incredibly intuitive at times, especially in serious conditions and circumstances. It made it difficult to be mad at him, really.

That’s when Sanji noticed where they were.

Currently, they were hanging off of the side of a cliff, somehow Luffy was carrying Nami on his back and Sanji in one arm whilst holding onto the cliff’s side with his other.

This wasn’t a great situation to be in, at all. 

Sanji blacked out once again.


 

Chopper didn’t know what to think of the three humans that he had brought back to the castle.

They definitely needed help and a doctor, but what had possessed the crazy humans to climb the damn mountain with lapins chasing after them, not to even begin to mention the avalanche that he was assuming was caused by said lapins.

There was one human made of rubber, odd but he couldn’t talk considering that he wasn’t exactly normal himself; the palms of his hands were bloody and torn, frost beginning to show on his feet and finger tips, serious frostbite; into the hot water he went. The blonde man was cold, too cold and making sure he got warmer fast was a top priority, as well as having several broken ribs and a partially broken spine. The red-haired girl was the sickest, her temperature almost beating impossible feats, her illness being caused by something ancient. Antibiotics were the only solution, her disease not being from the island.

The rubber boy was somehow still awake, “They’re my… friends…” 

He was clearly struggling to stay conscious.

“Don’t worry kid, I’ll help the blonde and the redhead as soon as possible.” Dr Kureha was both amused and somewhat pleased, more patients meant more payment. But there was something about this kid and his strangely familiar straw hat.

“I cannot believe that they managed to climb more than five thousand metres!”

“Yes, yes. Would you be able to get some antibiotics for the girl?”

Just as he had thought.

“Infection, Dr?”

“Yes.”

“Th..than..thank..thank you..” The rubber man struggled out, before succumbing to unconsciousness. 

“I’ll help them out now.” Dr Kureha turned to Chopper, “Let’s prepare.”

That had been before, and after they had been treated, he had taken to watching them all at intervals to make sure that nothing flared up or got worse. 

Unfortunately, it did get worse. Not for the patients, but for him. 

The two male humans had decided that he was apparently food and not, as he was rightly trained, a doctor. 

“STOP! I HATE YOU HUMANS!”

“DON’T RUN AWAY SWEET MEAT!”

“LUFFY! I TOLD YOU THAT YOU CAN’T EAT HIM YET!”

Chopper had had enough, shifting forms and slamming his hands downwards towards their heads. 

“I AM NOT YOUR FOOD!”


 

Honestly, I do wonder why I had signed myself up to this absolute circus of a crew at times and this was definitely one of them. Zoro needed a pair of boots and a jacket, the woollen jumper not doing a whole lot to keep him warm despite my best intentions to help him not froze to death.

Zoro had taken out a group of armed men just so that he could have a warm coat and some solid boots. (The coat was even in Zoro’s colour scheme of all things, green and cream. It was like it was just waiting to happen, destiny if you wish.)

“Really?”

Zoro had turned to look at me, “Why not? They don’t need it anymore.”

I sighed, knowing that whilst it was true, the man that Zoro had taken the items from would probably have frostbite. 

Eventually.

Our current situation was this; arguing with a group of cowardly doctors after having dragged a frostbitten Dalton out from underneath the snow. 

“We will take care of him, his body is oren but he is still alive.”

“I thought that there were no doctors in this place.” 

Zoro looked towards Usopp for confirmation.

“Didn’t you lot clear out with Wapol?”

I couldn’t help but point out, arms crossed almost defensively in front of my chest.

“How can we trust you?” “You lot served Wapol!” “What are you trying to do to him?” 

One of the villagers made to make their way in front of Wapol, but another held them back.

The doctor who had previously spoken removed his glasses, a cross look on his face. “Yes, we served Wapol. We were afraid of him, but we are still doctors. We will always do the work to help out those in this country.”

Another spoke up, “A doctor should never give up so easily, we have learned from this. We will not lose anymore to that crazy man.”

“Look, I get it. You were scared for your lives, perhaps even for your families,”  I ran a hand through my hair, loose as it was. “But the people of Drum trusted you, these people put their lives in your hands time and time again and you betrayed that trust. It’s going to take a lot more than saying that you shouldn’t have followed the man.”

“What more do you want from us?!” One of the burlier doctors seemed to have lost his temper, stalking forwards to meet me. 

Zoro placed a singular hand on the hilt of his katana, whilst Usopp and Vivi placed themselves behind me in defence. I didn’t move. I wasn’t going to be intimidated by someone who ran away from the duty that they had wanted to complete.

“I want you to do your damn job and do it well. I want you to be able to regain the trust of these people and I want you to stop using your size as an intimidating factor in how you treat people.”

His posture shrank as my voice grew louder, prodding at his chest with my finger. Hard. He would definitely end up with a bruise at the rate I was going.

“Get to it!”

He backed away, slowly and then turned sharply towards the other doctors who were standing around Dalton. I turned my glare towards them and they all started getting to work saving Dalton’s life.

“Heh,” Zoro turned to me with a sharkish grin, patting my shoulder. “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

I shrugged in return.

“We’ve got to get to the top of the Mountain, Mr Bushido.”

Had Vivi called Zoro that before? I mean, I know in the manga and anime she did, but here in this life now I couldn’t remember her ever calling him that.

True enough, I could see him mouthing the words, confused. I couldn’t help but smile, despite the situation that we were in.

“I can’t stay here after the avalanche,” Vivi had continued, “Besides Wapol and his people are following the others. We haven’t got a clue wether or not Dr Kureha is back at the castle or not.”

“You’re worried about Dalton and Alabasta, too.” Usopp pointed out.

“Is it that obvious?”

“Yes. Yes it is.”

“A bit.”

Zoro and I calmly stated, but were ignored in favour for Usopp.

“Calm down, Vivi. You worry too much.” Usopp dusted some snow off of his arm, “Luffy and Sanji will take good care of Nami. They shouldn’t have any problems. Trust in them.”

“Usopp, you’re just scared about climbing the mountain, aren’t you?” Zoro poked Usopp on the forehead with his pointer finger.

“Of course I am! There are snow monsters and the lapins on top of that mountain!”

“Just tell the truth next time.” “It’s scary up there!”

There was a sudden shout, several of the doctors behind us trying to calm an almost enraged Dalton, who had woken up.
“If we don’t fight them now, this country will never rise again!”

He was arguing with both the villagers and the doctors now. 

“You’re injured!” “And we’re too weak to fight them!”

“I will fight them, even if i have to risk my life! Even if I have to cheat, I will fight them with everything that I have!”

Complete silence went through the crowd at Dalton’s passionate statement. 

Turning to the others, I made to say something but stopped as Usopp stalked forward with a determined look on his face. He stopped before Dalton, who was leaning heavily on a large staff. 

“Usopp?” Vivi looked confused, almost silently speaking.

“Get on, I will carry you to the castle.”

Fuck, that was something badarse there.


 

Chopper was incredibly confused.

These had to be the strangest pirates that he ever met. Heck, the strangest humans that he had ever met. 

He was laying injured on the ground from a blast from the vicious former king, staring up at the strange rubber boy in the straw hat. 

The blonde man tilted his head, “What is he doing?”

Despite the rustling of the branches from the trees still living, the howling of the wind and the almost constant downpour of snow the voice of the Straw Hat wearer was clear.

“You’re all a bunch of frauds! You became pirates without preparing to risk your lives! You will never understand the meaning, the real meaning of this flag!”

There was something else behind the boys voice, it may have been barely there, but Chopper was an animal (one who ate the Hito-Hito no mi, but an animal no less), he could hear the roar of the king of beasts. Almost silent, begging to be let out. It seemed to whisper, soon, soon.

“What the hell is so important about that stupid flag anyway? It’s just a stupid decoration for pirates.”

Wapol didn’t seem to understand anything that he wasn’t personally interested in, anything that he couldn’t use to his own advantage.

“That’s why you’re a worthless piece of crap!” Came the answer from above.

“What did you just say?”

“This flag,” and here the man gripped the flag pole tighter. “Is not something that you can just play with for fun.”

Wapol seemed to swell with indignation, “You fool! Why do I, the King of this Empire, have to play with that stupid flag? And who said that you could put that flag up again?!”

He fired off several cannons, all the while shouting.

“Didn’t I tell you that this Empire belongs to me?! If you still insist on putting out that flag, I’ll destroy it for you!

“Damnit! He’s using the cannon again!”

Chopper couldn’t take it any longer, shouting, “Get out of the way!”

The Straw-Hatted man didn’t move, staring defiantly downwards. “This pirate flag is a symbol of faith!”

Chopper was shocked. He knew that it meant a lot, so much to himself, but for another to show that same regard for what amounted to be a piece of fabric? Astounding.

“Luffy!”

BOOM!

“Maaahahahahahahaha!” The despicable man was laughing. “Just die you idiot!”

The smoke cleared and a battered, soot covered man still stood tall.

“See? This flag will never be broken!”

“Is he out of his mind?”

Wapol stayed silent, furious.

“I haven’t a clue whose flag this belongs to, but this flag is a promise! It’s not just something that anyone can play with! A person like you doesn’t have a right to destroy this flag and laugh about it!”

The roar behind his voice was louder now, still fighting its way to the front. 

This is a real pirate, Chopper thought. He’s brilliant. 

“Hey reindeer!” Chopper looked up, “I’m going to beat them up real soon. So what are you going to do?”

Chopper was silent for a moment, “Me?”

Wapol and his retinue weren’t having it. “You lot are idiots! If you really want to protect that student flag, I’ll destroy the both of you alongside it!”

“That’s enough!” The blonde made his way to help out in the fight, but was stopped by Dr Kureha and a swift kick to his back. “Stop it, Doctor!”

“Maaahahahahahahaha! What are you doing? Stupid! I’ll destroy all of you!”

“Your Majesty! Look out!”

Whilst he was distracted by the byplay of the doctor and her wayward patient, Chopper had planned a sneak attack that was blocked swiftly by the former kings' aides.

“That’s right! Beat them up, Reindeer!”


 

All throughout the Reindeer’s battle with Wapol’s men, Sanji could see the stars in his captain's eyes and knew that they would not only be leaving this place with a healthy Nami but also a new crew member. When he had set the three-minute time limit, Sanji kept a close on his captain and the reindeer and knew straight away that he would fit right into the misfit little family that Luffy seemed to be building around him.

He, himself was still finding his footing amongst the others and he could tell that Ebony was as well.

The newest permanent member of their crew was interesting, to say the least. Sanji found her to be a unique sort of beauty, more straight lines than curves, long braids and almost continuously bruised knuckles. What intrigued him, however, was the fact that she held secrets. He knew all the signs, because he hid his own secrets. 

“Good job, reindeer!”

Sanji had a quick look around, with absolutely no Wapol in sight.

“Luffy! Where is he? Where’s Wapol?”

His Captain’s head quickly shot down to the ground, swiftly looking around. 

“He’s disappeared!”

That wasn’t good, it wasn’t good at all.

“There’s no way he can get down there, he has to be somewhere around here.” Dr Kureha sounded worried, even if she didn’t look it.

Luffy was beside himself with anger. “How didn’t I notice that he’d left?”

“Because you were paying attention to the reindeer and his transformation, Luffy!” Sanji shouted from his place on the ground, where Dr Kureha was sitting on him to keep him from fighting.

He could hear Luffy muttering under his breath; “That damn jerk! I swear I’m going to find him and beat him up!”

“Luffy! Is it possible that he went into the castle?” Sanji stopped still, thoughts racing. “Damn it! If he did something to Nami-swan I will cut him into hundreds of pieces!”

“Isn’t that Zoro’s job?”

“Shut up Captain!”

With a pure force of will, Sanji started to drag himself away, out from underneath the seated doctor.

“Where are you going?” Dr Kureha made no move to stop him, “Why does he want to hurt himself that much?”

The last comment was meant to be quiet, Sanji suspected, but he heard it all the same. The experiments that had plagued his early childhood and those before his birth had transformed his brothers and sister into something other than human and whilst it had failed on him, he did have slightly better resilience than normal humans. Better hearing, too. To be perfectly honest, he was quite used to getting hurt.

Better to be hurt in the pursuit of helping his friends, than to stand by and not help at all.


 

Trying to get Dalton into the chairlift was a struggle, but between Zoro, Usopp and a few of the villagers, we managed to get him upright inside.

He was lost in thought for most of the trip, with everyone else on board being mostly silent. I turned to Zoro, who was staring out at the blanket of white below us.

“As long as the Captain, Sanji and Nami didn’t run into any lapins, they should be fine.” I knew that they had, hence the avalanche, but I wasn’t sure what else to say at that moment.

“The giant killer bunnies, right?”

“Yep, giant killer bunnies.”

“Are they any fun to fight?”

I looked at Zoro, wondering if he were actually joking, but it was clear on his face that he wasn’t. 

“I wouldn’t know, I haven’t tried.” He looked vaguely disappointed. “But they hunt in packs, so if you want to try your hand at fighting like twenty at once, go ahead.”

Probably shouldn’t have said that, but it was too late to take back now, a killer grin breaking out across the swordsman’s face.

“Not yet, Zoro. Not now. Maybe another day.”

He pouted. 

And it was a legitimate pout.

“Stop that.” He didn’t. “You’ll break your face if you keep that up.”

He stopped pouting, but there was a mischievous glint in his eyes.

“You’re not so bad, but you’re still hiding something.”

“Thanks.” I started to fiddle with the ring on my ring finger, one of the only pieces of jewellery that I had been wearing when coming into the world. A gift from my parents for my fourteenth birthday. “I’ll tell you all, but it’s going to become a terrible burden.”

His gaze became sharp. “In what way?”

“Whatever bounty hunters or marines that find out about me are going to be coming for my head, regardless of their feelings towards the crew I travel with. My people aren’t all that well liked for some reason.”

He placed a hand on my shoulder, “They’ll have to go through the rest of us first. You’re one of us.”

It was as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders when Zoro had said that. I hadn’t realised that I had been waiting for his approval to the crew until then. I grinned at him, my relief obvious.

When we were almost halfway there, Dalton tried to stand up and ready himself to leave the carriage, coughing blood as he went causing several of us to lunge forward to catch him as he collapsed.

“I will end this painful tragedy.” He muttered, clearly lost in his own mind. “What is wrong with giving your heart to your country?”

This clearly affected Vivi, who slammed her hands against her mouth stopping her from gasping aloud. I quickly wrapped an arm around her shoulders in comfort, her leaning in as far as she could without being incredibly obvious.

“Listen up everyone, when we get to the castle I would like everyone to stand back,” Dalton stated, sliding a hand beneath his coat and pulling out several tubes of dynamite all tied together in a row.

“That’s a fair amount of dynamite, but I don’t think you’ll need it.” Dalton turned to look at me, perplexed anger written clear on his face. “Why not? If it rids this country of Wapol, I’ll do anything.”

“Look out the window, I think someone is about to beat you to it.”

Sure enough, two giant rubber hands had stretched from the peak of the mountain.

“She’s right! Someone is at the top of the castle!”

Usopp gave out a laugh, “I’d recognise those hands anywhere.”

The snarky retort came out of my mouth before I could even stop to think. “Seen them a lot, have you.”

“Ebony!” Vivi tried to sound disapproving, but couldn’t hide the grin breaking out across her face as Zoro gave a short bark of laughter and Usopp gaped, mouth wide open.

“Sorry, Usopp.”

The rest of the trip was made in silence, seemingly longer than the first half as the villagers almost trembled in anticipation to find out whether or not the Captain had sent the tyrant king flying.


 

“Would you please stop pushing me?” 

“I’m supporting you, Ebony. Supporting you.”

“This is because of the comment I made earlier isn’t it?”

“And why would you think that?”

“You’re scared, aren’t you?”

“Nope, not at all. Not scared.”

Zoro interjected, “If you’re scared just wait here with them.” Gesturing to the villagers waiting inside the chairlift. Usopp just turned his nose up at Zoro for that.

As we left the chairlift, our boots crunching the snow beneath us a loud noise was heard from above. Thankfully I had decided to stand beside Vivi, as our Captain ploughed into Zoro and Usopp who happened to be standing underneath his landing space.

“What the hell are you doing?” Zoro shouted at Luffy’s face.

“Shishishishishi! I thought you’re one of them because you’re wearing their clothes!” Luffy gestured to the coat Zoro was wearing. “Did you guys climb up after us?”

“Sorry Captain, but we caught the chairlift.” I pointed behind me at said chair lift.

“Really?”

“Really, Captain.”

“That would have been useful to know beforehand.”

“That’s for sure.”

“Luffy, how are Nami-san and Sanji-san doing?”

“They’re fine!” There was something in his voice that led me to believe that this wasn’t entirely the case.

“That’s great to hear.”

Usopp was still talking in the background, telling a tall tale about our adventure to get to the mountain. “When that giant vulture tried to attack, I was in a little shook but as you know, I took care of it! It flew directly to hit my heart, but as you well know, I can dodge attacks without being hurt!”

Well at least that was a true statement, or it would be a true statement. 

Zoro sighed at the sniper's antics, “What are you doing at the top of the castle beside that?”

“I just chased the stupid king away.”

“I think you sent him flying with your fists, Captain.”

“How’d you know?” He tilted his head to the side, giving off a lost puppy look.

“We could see your fists.”

He nodded, acknowledging the fact.

“So that thing that flew past us really was Wapol!” Dalton exclaimed.

“Yep!” Luffy looked far too cheerful.

“What about the other two?”

“The reindeer took care of them!” Luffy turned to Usopp, “Hey! We’ve got a new crew member!”

“What?”

“The reindeer? Took care of them?” Dalton stuttered out, spotting Chopper attempting to hide himself behind a tree. He wasn’t successful.

“Bluenose?” As if a memory had hit him, he lowered himself carefully onto the floor and bowed. “Thank you very much! I’m sure that from now on, Drum will become a better country!”

The curious villagers now saw Chopper and clumsily removed their weapons out from underneath their coats.

“Don’t do anything to him!” Dalton shouted towards them.

I stepped forward, restraining the men in my path. 

“Is it any wonder that they hide themselves away from you people if this is the way you treat them?”

The one on my left tried to free himself from my grip but was unsuccessful. 

“They’re a monster!”

“Not any more than I am, not any more than my Captain. The true monsters were the ones that they just defeated.”

“But!”

Usopp had caught onto the ‘monster’ comment and shouted out the word, causing Luffy to hit him on the head.

“You idiot! He’s our new crew member!”

“What did you say?”

“Look! You made him run away!”

And so he was, with Luffy hot on his tail.


 

Chopper had hidden away, properly this time, but somehow one of the strange humans that was with the one called Luffy had found him. 

“The Captain sure is something else, isn’t he?” The blonde haired female came closer to him, leaning against a tree near by.

“I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one on the crew that actually asked if I could join the Straw Hats.”

There was a momentary silence before Chopper felt comfortable enough to ask the girl a question.

“Why did you ask to join?”

“Because there are only some places that’ll accept someone like me without calling them a monster and having that be a bad thing.”

“But you’re human! How can you be a monster?” Chopper was aghast.

“People don’t like things that are different, other. The unknown scares most people and people don’t like what they don’t understand. I just happen to be enough other that it offends people to the point that they want me dead.”

Chopper didn’t have time to answer the human, still shocked at the statement the girl made.

“Oi! Ebony found him!”

Straw Hat Luffy had arrived.

“You want to become a pirate with me, right?”

“That’s impossible!”

“Why?”

“I really want to, thank you.” Luffy grinned, happy at his victory but Chopper continued. “But I am a reindeer, I have a blue nose and hooves and antlers. I’m not human! I’m a monster! I can’t be friends with humans! That’s why I’m up here!”

Chopper took a deep breath in to calm himself, he didn’t want to completely explode at the only humans that had been (mostly) kind to him so far in his short life.

“Thank you for asking me, but I will stay here. If you get bored, please come and visit me sometimes.”

“Just shut up and come with us!”

Tears started falling from Choppers eyes, blurry as they were he could see the blonde women face palming at the actions of her Captain. His Captain. Their Captain?

“Ok!”

Chapter Text

Screams and shouts came barreling out of the castle.

"Why can't we have a nice, normal, quiet goodbye?" Nami sighed.

I laughed, "I don't think we're ever going to have a quiet goodbye, not on this crew."

"That is very true, why did I not realise this earlier?"

A loud bang was followed by a yell, "My doctor's research has already been completed!"

The sound of hooves followed shortly after.

"Well, he's coming."

"I'm being chased!"

"I've finished preparing the lift!" Usopp hadn't heard Chopper, but the reindeer came running at full speed towards us.

"Everyone hop on! We're going now!"

Dr Kureha was chasing after Chopper, her age no barriers in her speed and agility. "Stop!"

"Crap! Everyone! Move it! Move it!" I grabbed Nami and Vivi's wrists and dragged them towards the sled, almost throwing them onto it in my haste to get them and myself aboard. The boys shortly followed, with Usopp helping secure Chopper to the front of the sled and we made our hasty escape.

There was a noise from the castle behind us.

"What was that?"

"Cannons?"

"Not sure."

We made a soft landing between several rows of trees, scrambling off of the sled to look up at the sky.

"That's so beautiful!" Nami said in wonder, and she was right.

I had always wanted to visit Japan or South Korea during Sakura season and unfortunately had never gotten the chance, but this came very close. Hundreds of thousands of Sakura blossoms fell with the snow, creating the illusion of a soft pink snowfall.

"That's incredible." I couldn't keep the awe out of my voice, as Chopper wailed in the background, great big fat tears streaming down his face.

"We'll have a party when we get back to the ship, yeah?"

The Captain turned towards me with a giant grin on his face, "that sounds great!"

I was just happy to get away from this place, too cold.

 


 

I could normally forget that this crew was manned by teenagers, right up until the Captain put chopsticks up his nose to make a ridiculous looking face. Usopp and Zoro were in tears of laughter and Chopper looked as though he also wanted to join them, but wasn't entirely sure if that was going to be the correct decision to make.

Quite honestly, he looked a little shell-shocked at the chaos that had preceded his entrance on board to the chaos that was now taking place.

"Chopper! How long are you going to sit there?" Usopp was trying to coax the young reindeer down from his spot of the railing, where he had been alternating between staring in fascination at the scene below him and out at the distance towards Drum.

The chaos allowed me to slip away upstairs to the lookout, where it was quiet enough that I could have a moment of peace to myself. Ten minutes was all I was after, and ten minutes was all I got because ten minutes later Luffy's head popped up beside my own.

"Ebony, did you know that Chopper is a doctor?"

"I had a feeling that he may be, Captain. Thankfully we now have one on board, and they're pretty cool, right?"

"Very! Come down and join us!"

He didn't give me a choice, as his arms and torso came up to join his head and lifted me up. I hung limply, like a rag doll, not used to the sensation of being grabbed like that. He had the good sense to place me gently on the ground, instead of just dropping me, so there was that.

"I was going to be coming down, Captain."

"Shishishishishi, the snail is going off like crazy! I thought you might want to answer it!"

Shit! I had forgotten completely about the den den mushi.

I rushed to grab it, just as it completed its last ring. I had managed to get to it in time.

"Crow here, what's up?"

"Finally! Shit, Ebony, I've been worried!"

I froze, and so did Luffy who had snuck up behind me. We both knew that voice, and it was one that I hadn't heard in a few months. Luffy probably hadn't heard it in even longer.

"Hey, Ace. How are things going?"

 


 

Ace had passed through Drum Kingdom a week ago, and he still hadn't been able to get a hold of Ebony. He was way past even slightly worrying now; it almost verged fully-fledged panic. What on earth could she possibly be doing that he wasn't able to get into contact with her?

What could his little brothers crew be doing? Something absolutely crazy? Of course, it was Luffy he was talking about. And Ebony. Those two together on a ship was going to be an interesting combination, with her dry humour and Luffy's own strange sense of humour that changed minute to minute. He hoped that Luffy liked her, he wanted his brother to like the girl that he...

Yeah, not going there. Not now when there was so much at stake and he didn't even know her own feelings on the matter and wasn't likely to ask her any time soon. Besides, he hadn't told her his darkest secret and she hadn't told him, he didn't think they quite, not trusted, that wasn't the right word. But it would be far too dangerous for the other if others knew that they held something that close to their chests.

He had spoken enough of her back home, maybe Teach had gone after her or Luffy to rile him up. Perhaps Blackbeard had gotten to her?

Nope, he wasn't going there either, that felt worse.

He had to try again, for his own piece of mind if nothing else.

The first time it rang right through, and the second one almost did but it was picked up right at the last moment.

"Crow here, what's up?"

That was Ebony's customary greeting, as she never quite knew who was going to be on the other side and didn't want to chance anything, even her name, falling into the wrong hands. Ace couldn't blame her.

"Finally! Shit, Ebony, I've been worried!" All of his frustration and worry were poured into the single sentence. He didn't mean to, and what he was going to say originally left his thoughts so thoroughly it was if they had never existed in the first place. He was just happy that she had picked up after all this time.

He noticed the quick inhale of breath, and another. Ebony mustnt have been alone; the thought of her being with someone else that wasn't him shot a white hot arrow through his whole body. Jealousy wasn't something that he was used to. He was a pirate and pirates took what they wanted, when they wanted it. But not like that, never like that.

"Hey, Ace. How are things going?"

Don't be jealous, don't be jealous.

"Could be better, did you hear about Thatch?"

'"Shit! Is he okay?"

Ace didn't know if his brother was still alive or not, but he didn't want to think of him in any other manner.

"Last I heard he was still breathing, so that's something."

There was a scramble on the other side, as though someone had tried to take the snail transponder off of Ebony.

"Hold on Captain, give me a moment and then you can speak to him!"

The ugly jealousy that had taken a hold of him receded a fraction; she was with Luffy and he knew damn well that his little brother wasn't interested in anyone at all in that manner. Not yet at least, far too interested in becoming Pirate King and having adventures.

"So, Luffy, huh?"

"Yeah, he's as interesting as you always said he was. Pretty insightful, too."

Ace gave a short laugh, "He's definitely that when he wants to be."

"Not that I'm not happy to hear from you, because I am, but our scheduled call isn't for another month? What's eating at you?"

His little brother wasn't the only insightful personal that he knew, apparently.

 


 

It was odd to hear Ace so damn subdued, his normally cheerfully sarcastic exterior was pushed to the back to allow his more serious side to show through (even if only just a fraction).

"I'm hunting Teach down."

Shit! Ace! I could only hope that my warnings about the man could have gotten through to him, and maybe they had, but Ace had to go and chase after the traitor anyway. It wasn't in his nature to let something like that go.

"Fuck."

He laughed without any humour, "That's about right. He's got to have eaten the fruit by now, too. I don't even know what fruit it is."

How could I go about telling him, without revealing exactly how I knew?

"What did it look like? The fruit?"

"I'm pretty sure that it was a light purple, made up of teardrops and green leaves? Like a huge bunch of stupidly shaped grapes."

"Yami-Yami no mi."

I could hear the sharp intake of breath from Ace, "That one is meant to be a myth!"

"Well clearly it isn't and the traitor has gotten a hold of it."

"Damn it!" The anger in Ace's voice was as hot as his fire and something on board smashed from what I was assuming the heat of his flames.

"Breath, okay, Ace. Breath."

Luffy and I could hear Ace forcefully trying to calm himself down, so to distract him iI changed the subject.

"Where are you currently?"

The reply was slow to come, each word being carefully measured so as to make sure he kept his temper.

"I'm currently near Alabasta, should be there in less than a day."

Before I could get a word in, Luffy had grabbed the snail and talked into it.

"Ace! We're going to Alabasta, too!"


 

Surely he hadn't heard that correctly? His little brother and friend were headed towards the same country that he himself was almost at.

"Really?"

"Yeah! We have a friend who needs to get back home!"

Ebony's voice interrupted, "Don't say too much Captain, these calls can be intercepted. We don't want them to find out what we're doing."

"Oh, yeah! Sorry! Ebony's teaching me how to read, Ace!"

Ace couldn't help but laugh, "Is she? Hand her back the snail, little brother, I want to talk to her."

"But Ace, I wanted to hear about your adventures! How did you meet Ebony? How's the old man treating you? How's Deuce going?"

"Slow down. The old man is treating me well, it's great onboard. Deuce is fine, I think, he broke up with his boyfriend after it turned out he was an under cover marine. Disappointed the whole crew, actually. If Ebony hasn't told you how we met by the next time I see you, I'll tell you then." It was pretty cool how they met, actually, but every time he brought it up Deuce would give him a funny look as if to say that wasn't actually how it happened, but he was sure that they hadn't met before then. "Put Ebony back on!"

He could hear his brother whine in the background, but he handed Ebony the snail back.

"Good luck teaching Lu how to read, the last time anyone tried was when Sabo was still with us."

There was a sharp intake of breath on the other end, and he knew why. He hadn't spoken much to her about Sabo and really only spoke about his lost brother whilst drunk, so this conversation was edging into a slightly unknown territory. (Especially with his brother right next to Ebony on the other side of the transponder.)

"Well, I hope I do him proud, yeah?"

Ace was sure that she would; Sabo probably would have liked her if he was being honest with himself.

"She's doing great, Ace! I can read our names, now!" Luffy interjected in the background, before yanking the snail from Ebony's hand and shouting down the line. "See you in Alabasta Ace! We'll tell you more when we see you!"

And without any warning, Luffy had hung up.

Typical.

Ace didn't notice the large rock seemingly sticking out of the ocean in from of him, causing the small boat he was occupying to tip forward, sending him careening into the ocean. Thankfully he had been wearing a life jacket, but now he was floating aimlessly and his strength being sapped.

He only hoped that there was someone close by.

 


 

I couldn't stop the Captain from slamming shut the receiver in time, but I was sure that Ace had said what he needed to say to myself and his brother. I was surprised that he had brought up Sabo, though. Besides, even if he wanted to say more, he knew very well what his little brother was like and knew that I probably wasn't likely to stop him from doing as he pleased.

He went running out of the room, towards the others. I did wonder if he was going to tell the others about our conversation with Ace, but upon following behind the Captain towards the others, he didn't say a word.

"Keeping it a surprise about the Princess, eh? Captain?"

"Definitely! Don't forget, you'll have to tell me how you met Ace later!"

And with a bark of laughter, he followed Usopp's lead and shoved a pair of chopsticks up both of his nostrils.

"Chopper! Come and join us!"

Nami couldn't help but lose her temper, "Would you lot just shut up?"

Upon turning around, she saw that Chopper was now also copying Usopp and Luffy. "Why did you copy them?"

"Let them be kids, Navigator. There's too little time in this world to be worrying about stuff like that." I gestured broadly towards the three youngest, who were giggling like mad.

"Listen up everybody! Let's welcome our new friend!" Usopp gave a great cheers, but no one seemed to be listening, at least initially.

Zoro and Sanji were arguing over who had been drinking too much and from Zoro, 'bring me some damn food!'

"Let's have a toast!"

This time, however, got the reaction desired as we all raising whatever beverage was closest to us in cheers to our doctor.

Chopper burst intoners, with chopsticks still up his nostrils, "This is the first time in my life that I have ever felt this happy!"

I laughed, walking over towards him. "It'll happen a lot more now, mark my words, little deer."

The nickname slipped out, but Chopper didn't seem to notice it so I didn't take it back. I think most fans of One Piece have a soft spot for Chopper, and I couldn't deny that I was one of them.

After that, the celebration ran well into the evening with Usopp having almost go overboard, drunk. Luckily either Luffy hadn't been drinking, or alcohol just really didn't affect him, but he reached out and grabbed him before he could find himself going over the rails. Usopp went to bed shortly afterwards.

He was going to have one heck of a hangover in the morning.

Chopper soon followed, as did Nami.

Luffy was doing his utmost to stay wide awake, slurring something about his next earring lesson, and leaning inwards towards Zoro.

"Tomorrow, I'll teach you more okay Captain?"

He nodded, his head lolling towards Zoro further, his rubber-ness

"Come one, Captain. Let's get you to bed." Zoro put an arm underneath Luffy's legs and the other around his shoulders, hoisting our Captain up, with his head drooping to the left. "You still good to keep watch?"

I waved Zoro off, "I'll be fine, just get him to bed. Nami is meant to be relieving me shortly anyway, so I'll be good."

He nodded and carried the now lightly snoring seventeen-year-old towards the men's cabin.

 


 

It was shortly after seven that I woke, only four hours after I had managed to get to sleep.

No big deal, I was used to working with less. Not good for my health at all, but there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it. All nighters pulled at uni by my friends and I had resulted in less sleep had, after all.

Somehow Luffy has snuck past Nami, in the middle of the night and either had knowingly eaten all of the rations that would have lasted us up until Alabasta, or he had sleep-eaten. Again. (It wasn't the first time that he had done it, and it probably wouldn't be the last). However, judging by the look of guilt on his face, he had knowingly eaten all of our food as a late night/early morning snack. Just because he could.

"Resistance is futile, Captain." Santi grabbed Luffy by his chin and gently turned his face to the side. "You have a terrible poker face."

Letting go, Sanji gasped in mock surprise. "What's that on your mouth?"

"Crap! Leftovers!"

Before Sanji could take out his frustration on the Captain alone, I noticed a tail of crumbs towards where Usopp, Chopper and Carue were fishing.

"Sanji, I think he had accomplices."

As Sanji started to rant towards the others, Nami looked down from her post and sighed.

"At least they're doing something to replenish what they ate."

"The Captain is probably going to help." Turning to Luffy, I pointedly gestured towards the lone fishing rod left on deck. "Aren't you?"

Luffy paled, nodding so quickly that his head became a blur of black hair and straw.

I hadn't realised that sounded like a threat until much later, when Vivi had gathered us all to talk and explain to us the situation that we were know dragging ourselves into.

(Luffy, meanwhile, was furiously trying to catch fish with his bare hands, forgoing the fishing rod in his haste. Ebony sounded so much like a disapproving Makino in that moment and that was literally the last thing on this planet that Luffy wanted to hear; Makino was scary when she was disappointed or angry with you, Luffy and Shanks would know. And yes, he may play at being oblivious and naive, but he knew damn well what Shanks and Makino got up to behind closed doors. He wasn't stupid!)

 


 

"How is Crocodile considered the Hero of Alabasta?" Nami was confused, and I had to admit I was too.

"He's part of the Shichibukai." Vivi stated like it meant something, it did but the others didn't know what.

I explained before the Princess could, "They're pirates that work for the government, either pursuing other pirates for their treasure or helping the marines crush other pirates in the name of 'justice'."

I said the last word in quotation marks; most of what the marines and the government did couldn't be considered justice if they could still ignore the slavery happening that was 'illegal' but not if you had enough money or were a Celestial Dragon.

"That's right, and it doesn't matter that they're pirates, the gratitude of the people doesn't change." Vivi entwined her hands together, "After all, their town's attackers are driven away."

"Ah, so the people wouldn't even dream that their supposed hero is actually trying to take over their country." Sanji was sitting on a crate, a lit cigarette in between his fingers having left Usopp, Carue and Chopper in a neat pile a short distance away.

"I'm going to kick his ass!" Luffy pounded one of his fists into his other hand.

Vivi couldn't help but giggle, a sound that was rough from disuse and had a little touch of hysteria in it. "First we have to stop the rebellion, Luffy. If we can drive Baroque Works out of my homeland, my country will be saved."

"What is Baroque Works, anyway?" Usopp had put his hand up like a school child to ask the question. "Miss this and Mr that?"

Come to think of it, nearly everyone here (apart from myself) would have been still in high school (thereabouts) back home. I would have probably been done with my undergraduate degree. The thought of that made me sad, something I had been hoping for my life was taken away from me, but I could let myself dwell on what could have been and focus on the now.

"It's a fairly simple system, with Crocodile at the top as Mr.0, and fourteen agents underneath him that take orders directly from him."

Fourteen? There were thirteen originally, in the manga and the anime? I could feel a cold chill run down my spine.

Vivi had continued on, meaning I had missed a large portion of the conversation. "Most of them have devil fruit powers, but don't act unless there's some really important business. Frontier agents are below them, commanding the basic units and raising funds for the company around the entrance to the Grand Line. That's Baroque Works in a nutshell."

"I've just got to kick Crocodiles ass!" Luffy cheered, whilst Sanji scoffed.

"You didn't hear a word she just said, did you?"

"I think he heard her pretty well, actually." They all turned to me in disbelief at actually agreeing with Luffy. "Baroque Works isn't like other organisations that have a structure that includes an heir, if Crocodile is defeated then the organisation itself will fall apart. Unless the agents are incredibly loyal to the man, they'll go their separate ways."

Vivi gave me a strange look, bordering on suspicion. "How do you know that?"

"They wanted me to join up at one point, I declined, but they kept sending invitations up until they abruptly stopped about six months ago."

Zoro spoke up at that moment, "They wanted me at one point, too."

There weren't any more suspicious glances towards the two of us from Vivi after that.

"Wait, of the final plan of Crocodile's and Baroque Works is to take over Alabasta, won't that mean that all of the 'Officer Agents' will be in one place?" Nami couldn't help but grin.

"Sure does sound like it, doesn't it?"

I couldn't help but to return the grin, "Well he's going to have a fight on his hands that's for damn sure."

(Even as I said this, I couldn't help but be worried about the fourteenth agent; who could it be? The only thing that I could be certain of was that they had to be an Outlier; there was no other explanation otherwise.)

We sat in silence for a moment, before Luffy jumped to his feet and dragged me to mine.

"Reading lesson, Ebony! Let's get to it! And tell me how you met Ace, too!"

I laughed, trying to think less on the agent whom I had no knowledge about to counter.

"Sure thing, Captain!"

 


 

Sabo had made up his mind; he wasn't going to call Ebony until he had reached Alabasta and from there they could make plans to meet up. That seemed fairly reasonable to him, and he was sure that she wouldn't mind either. (At least he hoped that she wouldn't mind, it honestly wasn't like he was expecting to come across anyone he knew whilst out here.)

He could imagine himself as a pirate, now that he was out on the open seas, the freedom it allowed, despite the marines scouting about. Then again, he hadn't really known anything other than being a revolutionary, despite his memories slowly coming back to him. The amnesia hadn't been an issue, all he knew is that he wanted to help people and knew that the World Government didn't seem to be doing jack shit about it; pandering to the smallest whims of the World Nobles and the marines were the attack dogs.

Looking over his log pose, he could see that he was going slightly off course, as a large rock and an overturned boat could be seen ahead of him.

"What poor sod did that happen to?"

This wasn't said too loudly, but a cough could be heard over the water.

"This poor sod!"

Sabo startled, that voice was vaguely familiar. Older, deeper and slurring heavily, but still familiar.

Cautiously, Sabo manoeuvred his boat closer to the voice. "Are you okay?"

A groan was the only answer, as Sabo inched ever closer.

Hanging onto the side of the boat with all of their strength, wearing a fluorescent life-jacket, was a soaking wet Portgas D. Ace.

Suddenly all Sabo could see were glaring black eyes, a flashback lay over the almost unconscious man he had dragged from the water. He knew this man, this boy. He was a lot older than he remembered, more freckles and he semi-permanent scowl that had been present on his face as a child was absent now. (Though, Sabo mused, that could be due to the fact that he could probably drop into complete unconsciousness any moment now.)

"Ace?"

He had to get his brother out of the water. Now. (With his devil fruit, even Ace's ridiculous strength would be failing by now.)

"Ace!" Sabo pulled the boat up alongside and pulled his now unconscious brother out of the water.

"Ace! Wake up! Wake up, dammit!"

Sabo had no choice but to start compressions on his brother.

He had just found him again, he wasn't losing him now.

 


 

As Ace came to, he found himself on a boat. He could have sworn that he had been hanging onto his own boat, gradually losing strength. (Thank god for the life jacket that Marco had insisted he wear whilst out by himself, he definitely wouldn't have been alive if not for that.)

"Thank god! You're awake!"

Ace turned to the source of the voice and did a double check. The man who had rescued him was blond, hair falling in waves and framing his face, the left side covered in burn scars. A familiar top hat, with blue goggles discarded as he came to sit beside Ace.

"S-s-sabo?!"

He managed to get out before succumbing to a coughing fit, water coming out of his lungs.

"Easy, there."

The man started to pat him on the back, hard, dislodging even more water from his lungs.

"Sabo?"

"Yes?"

"Sabo!"

A sheepish grin, tinged with sadness came across his brothers face.

"Hello again, Ace. I'm so sorry it took so long to come back, but I'm glad it was here and I'm glad it was now."

Ace just stared at his brother, his brother was alive! He couldn't believe it! How? Why did he not come forward sooner?

"Sabo?"

He couldn't seem to say much else, but in all honesty, his thoughts were only about his brother, flesh and blood in front of him.

"I have a story to tell you, big brother."

(Ace couldn't help but laugh, in a far distant past Sabo would never have admitted that Ace was the oldest and Ace himself couldn't help but feel a gladness, a giddiness that he was officially the oldest brother.)

Chapter Text

Helping out Sanji in the kitchen was definitely an interesting experience. The man was in his element, and I didn’t want to distract from it only chiming into to ask what went where and if there was anything I could do. (Of course there wasn’t, Sanji didn’t want to make anyone else do what he  considered his job onboard.)

As Sanji wasn’t letting me help him out, I had decided that I was going to write in the Straw Hat chronicles some more about our adventures and add little pictures in between, so that faces and features of the islands couldn’t be missed if we never got to visit them in person. The Giant Captain’s faces were now being immortalised in the logs of the future Pirate King. 

So lost in my thoughts, I didn’t notice Sanji coming to sit beside me. 

“May I have a look?”

I startled, ink splattering all over my hands. “Dammit!”

Sanji gave a short laugh, but handed me a wet towel to clean up. “Sorry, Ebony. May I have a look?”

Still cleaning up the ink, I passed the incomplete passage over to him. “I’m trying to give it a bit more of a storybook feel to it, you know? Most people wouldn’t even believe that someone alive has had these adventures. Who knows? Maybe we could convince the Captain to let us publish these, see if we could make some profit?”

Sanji couldn’t help but laugh at that, “Nami-swan would be happy to make money, you would just have to see if we could get the others to agree to it.”

“And a publishing house that would take the script.” 

Because honestly, how many places would take a written document like the chronicles being written? And where would we find a publishing house that could and would take such an eclectic novel? One that clearly had piracy as an undertone at the least and one the openly objected to the government at best?

“We could find one, I bet we could.”

“This crew could do probably anything that they set their minds to doing, Sanji.”

He beamed towards me, more like the teenager that he was than the face that he put on to others, most likely happy at the use of his given name. 

We sat in silence as Sanji read through the book, laughing at random intervals whenever something caught his interest.

 “Are there any stories that you’d like to add? Anything from before I joined the crew?”

Fifty minutes later, the two of us were interrupted by the shouting of our crew, and the sudden berating of Vivi from both herself and the crew as the shouts died down.

“Wonder what that was all about?” Sanji would have gone out to defend Vivi, if the princess herself wasn’t already berating herself.

“They’ll tell us if it’s important.” I paused for a moment, trying to remember if I had missed something, “I hope.”

 


 

“Do you mean to tell us that we had Mister Two on our ship?”

Sanji moaned in despair, something had happened whilst the two of us were talking in the kitchen. (Because of course it had.)

I knew I had forgotten something, again. I wasn’t forgetting everything from the previous timeline, mind you, but not having read or watched it in such a long time I was sure to forget smaller details such as this one, but to be fair it was a pretty big detail to miss. 

I really needed to sit down and write what I remembered and I had no idea whether or not to include filler episodes or even the movies, purely because some of the timeline was following the manga and some the anime.

Luffy rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, a wry grin on his face. “Yeah, he had a really cool devil-fruit too!”

I turned to Vivi, who was looking downwards towards the deck flooring. “And you didn’t recognise him?”
“No! I knew about rumours of him being a huge okama, but it didn’t register that it was him!” She broke down crying, her eyes already red. “He wore my father’s face and I still didn’t realise!”

Nami put her hand on the Princesses shoulder as she broke down for the second time that day. 

“We’re not saying it’s your fault, Your Highness. We just need to be careful, well more careful, from here on out.”

“I have an idea.”

Sanji scoffed, “You, moss head? You have an idea?”

Zoro glared half-heartedly at the cook, “Yes, is that so hard to believe?”

“Yes.”

Zoro continued as though Sanji hadn’t spoken, “We each have something on us that identifies us as us to each other.”

“That’s actually not a terrible idea.” Sanji couldn’t help but point out, looking as though he had sucked an incredibly sour lemon as he did so.

“What sort of thing do you reckon?”

Usopp interjected before the glaring pair could devolve into another argument.

“A mark on our arms? Some sort of jewellery? I’m not sure.”

Luffy laughed, “A cross on our arms! Like the one on Chopper’s hat! X marks the spot!

So that was a thing here, too. Good to know.

“Permanent?” Nami needed that detail apparently, so did I.

“Semi-permanent, I’ve got some paint that’ll work.”

Usopp rushed off towards the boys cabin and hurried back with a set of brushes and a large pot of black paint. 

“Is it non-toxic?”

Usopp looked up towards me and shrugged, probably never having heard the term before.

I supposed it’s probably not the worst thing that I’ve ever done, and won’t even meet the list by the end of my life so why not? 

“When we get to Alabasta and change into clothing that’s suitable, we’ll do it then!”

Vivi pointed out; most of us weren’t wearing clothes that would be suited to a desert country. 

“Or we could do them now and cover them up?” Zoro replied, voice as dry as the desert.

“I like that idea!” 

And so it was settled, with the nine of us painting crosses on each others left arms, and wait for the paint to dry. 

Now, all we had to do was wait until we made it to land and bought clothes suitable for the desert.

(As long as Sanji didn’t get me one of those bellydancer costumes, I’ll be good.)

 


 

 

“My food!”

Luffy was still upset, having taken to gnawing away at the railing of the ship after being scolded by Vivi. He hadn’t known that sea cats were sacred and if he had, he would never have tried to eat one. (They looked so damn good though! And even with Ebony’s emergency supply of food, they hadn’t eaten since breakfast the day previous.)

“You’ll be able to eat whatever you want soon.” Vivi comforted him.

“What kind of food? Cat?”

Before Vivi could answer him, Nami’s footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs. 

“The wind and the temperature have stabilised, it seems.”

“We’ll, we’ve definitely entered an Alabasta climate zone.” Vivi smiled, happy to be almost home. “The sea cats are further proof of this.”

Luffy pouted, he was hungry dammit!

“Those ships behind us are even more proof we’re close to Alabasta.” 

Zoro had an almost demonic grin on his face.

Luffy turned around, the happy smile on Vivi’s face dropping almost as quickly as it had appeared.  There had to have been at least twenty ships (even more), all flying the flag of Baroque Works.

“All the members?” Vivi couldn’t continue her sentence. 

“They must be coming together,” Ebony finished, stretching her arms above her head. “Something big is about to happen, I can feel it.”

“Eh? What else can you feel?” Luffy heard Zoro mutter; the relationship between the chronicler and his first mate was an interesting one.

“My foot up your arse?” Sanji and Luffy snorted at Ebony’s retort. 

Zoro just glared mulishly at the blonde, who grinned at him unrepentant.

“They’re probably the billions!” Luffy shouted; Zoro and Ebony had by this point, devolved their argument into poking each other in the ribs as hard they could.

“There’s two hundred of them, that’ll be tough.” Nami was frowning, and Usopp in dramatic tears. Chopper looked confused, as he probably hadn’t been informed of the entire situation that the crew had found themselves in.

“Yeah, and these ones are the elite bounty hunters. Completely different from those on Whisky Peak.” Vivi pointed out, which had Usopp falling onto the floor in a heap.

“We’ve gotta shoot them with the canon!”

“No! I need to eat first!”

Zoro and Ebony still hadn’t stopped poking each other, but that didn’t stop them from interjecting into the conversation. “Stop getting worried, they’re nothing.”

“The word has probably gotten around that the Straw Hats are no more anyway. We’re good for a bit.” Zoro must have poked Ebony just a bit too hard as she let out a yelp before clutching at her side. 

Zoro grinned in triumph happy at his victory as Ebony pouted.

“There’s only nine of us,”  Sanji took a drag from his cigarette, “All hope is going to be lost if we don’t keep sight of our true objective.”

There was a silence aboard the ship before everyone grinned. Luffy couldn’t help but be ecstatic, this was going to be one hell of an adventure, help out a friend in need and he was going to see Ace!

 


 

“The paint has got to be dry by now? Right?” 

Usopp nodded.  “The second coat should be, yeah. I’ve got some strips of cloth that we can tie around them.”

“Tie them on tight, our enemies have plenty of mysteries.” Zoro was saying as he tied his on.

Chopper tugged on Luffy’s vest, “Would I be able to have some help?” 

“Sure thing!” Luffy couldn’t help but mourn the fact that he would never be able to eat venison again without picturing his latest crew member and newest friend. He didn’t want to make the tiny reindeer uncomfortable though and it was a sacrifice that he was willing to make.

“As long as we can see these, we don’t need to doubt each other.” Nami had a wicked gleam in her eye, and Luffy couldn’t help but laugh. She was apparently incredibly excited to be able to deceive one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea. 

Sanji and Ebony, on the other hand, were querying Mister Two and his abilities.

“Does he really look that much like us?”

Usopp turned to Sanji, “He doesn’t just look like us, he is us.”

Ebony had a funny look on her face, as if she wasn’t sure what to say. “That’s disturbing.” 

The others were sure that they weren’t meant to hear the rest, but they did. “It would be helpful for cosplay though.”

“We were even dancing!” Usopp continued as though Ebony hadn’t spoken.

“I’m not particularly interested in okamas, thank you.”

Ebony snorted, causing Sanji to look at her strangely. She waved him off, as she started to giggle uncontrollably.

Zoro finished tying his arm with a flourish, “Now that we know he’s amongst the enemy, we can’t allow for any careless individual actions.”

“Smart.”

Chopper placed a paw on Zoro’s leg, “What should I do?”

Usopp ended up answering, “Just do what you can, nothing more or less. Run away from enemies you can’t beat!”

“You’re just telling yourself that, Usopp.” Sanji pointed out dryly, but Chopper seemed to take the comments to heart.

Getting over her giggle fit, Ebony stood. “We’re almost to the harbour.” She pointed out, “There’s an inlet we can stop in, to hide the ship.”

Vivi tilted her head to the side, “That’s not a bad idea.”

“Hopefully it allows for an easier getaway in the case of marines or Baroque Works.”

Luffy jumped to his feet, “Okay! Whatever happens from now on, our left arms are proof of our friendship!”

All of those onboard stood, raising their fists in a circle at their captain's proclamation. 

“Now, let’s get onto dry land!” Luffy laughed, “I’m hungry!”

 


 

A lone figure made their way through a crowded market street, heavy cloak covering their tall frame. They were in a hurry, which would have been obvious to anybody if they had paid more attention. 

“We’ve been looking for you, Miss Midsummer Eve.”

“Should have looked harder then, shouldn’t you?”

“Now, now Midsummer Eve, if not for us. If not for me taking you in, you would be dead. Turned to dust.”

The voice of Sir Crocodile, Mister Zero, was cold and unwelcoming. He sat atop a gilded chair as if it were a throne, and expected her to bow down to him in thanks. 

For what? She was more than capable of taking care of herself, she had done so since she was eleven years old and thrown out onto the streets by a stepfather who couldn’t have cared less about her.

“I’m a lot harder to kill than what most people expect.” Her accent was tinged by The Voice in her anger and annoyance. “And many people have tried and all have failed.” 

“And yet, here you are.” The infuriating man had a point, she hadn’t left because she had nowhere else to go. She knew no one and know one knew her, or even her deeds. “Nowhere to go from here. If anyone else knew, well you would be hunted, Outlier.”

Outlier. 

That was all she was in this world, not Hero or Traitor. Not even sister or wife. 

Outlier. 

The gathered members of Baroque Works looked on at her in fear because of this status. She had done nothing in their eyes to deserve this fear, none besides Mister Zero had seen her in battle. (And he feared her due to this; she hadn’t used The Voice either.)

At least that would give them a legitimate reason to fear her and she would understand.

“Now, come Miss Midsummer Eve, we have much to do and there is so little time.”

She glared after the man, as he swept from the room with Miss All Sunday following along behind him. 

She was going to find a way out of this organisation eventually. 

And then she would find her way home. She had to.

 


 

Ace was still in shock. 

The two of them had moved from the little boat that they now shared, docking and coming across a restaurant in the middle of the desert. Between the two of them, and Ace’s occasional bouts of narcolepsy, they had devoured at least a quarter of the kitchen’s stock. (At least that was what Sabo estimated, Ace wouldn’t put it past him that it was an accurate assumption.)

His brother was alive, without most of his memories and scared from the shot to his boat when they were children, but alive nonetheless. 

“Uh, Ace? You in there?” Said brother waved his hand in front of his face.

“Yes, I am.”

“You’ve been quiet,” Sabo started to talk but stopped. He didn’t know what to say, either.

Ace couldn’t help but laugh an almost hysterical laugh. “I honestly never thought you were dead, but actually seeing you alive. Having you in front of me, its... its harder than I thought it would be.”

Sabo looked at his older brother in silence. Yes, he could understand that. One part of him felt like the young child that he was when he had set off from Dawn Island and another part of him the Revolutionary adult that he had become. 

“I still don’t remember everything, it’s mostly still like a dream? A good dream, but still something that shouldn’t exist? If that makes sense?” He had removed his top hat and was running his hands through his blonde hair, messing the curls up even further. 

“No, it makes sense.” Ace could see where his brother was coming from, but it still hurt that he couldn’t remember everything from their childhood. 

“If she hadn’t sent the letter along with Dragon, I wouldn’t be here right now.” Sabo chuckled, “I’m glad she did though, if what she wrote was true it’s better this way.”

She? A letter? Dragon?

Ace couldn’t help but repeat these questions out loud.

“Dragon, the Revolutionary was given a letter by a woman in Loguetown. Someone who knew me, who knew about us and Lu.”

Ace froze, there weren’t many people he had told (drunken or sober) about his littlest brother, let alone his thought to be dead sibling. A suspicion had formed and he couldn’t help but voice it.

“The person who wrote the letter wouldn’t happen to be someone who goes by the name of Crow Queen, would they?”

Sabo sat up straight, eyeing Ace off. “Yes, it was.”

Ace started laughing. Of course, it was her, but it begged the question, how did she know? 

“How did she know where to find you?” This came out sharper than Ace had intended it to. He wasn’t angry, per se, a little confused and sad but not angry.

“That’s her story to tell how she knew where I was, but please don’t hold it against her.” Sabo anxiously wrung his hands together, “It isn’t something that she wants getting around. Much like your..”

That was something that Sabo clearly remembered, finding out who Ace’s biological father was. 

Ace winced, so he remembered that. At least he didn’t have to voice the words or even think of them at that moment. Small mercies, he supposed.

The chatter that had been going on in the background suddenly came to a halt. 

“I guess you don’t have a problem with eating in full view of the pubic, but what does the Second Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates want in this country?” The smokey voice said, “You’re a long way from the New World Portgas D. Ace.”

Sabo looked at his brother and grinned, “Well, well big brother, you’ve got yourself an admirer.”

Ace was surprised he heard Sabo’s comment, regardless of the fact that he was sitting right next to him, over the shouting that had taken place after the (clearly) marine had spoken. 

“WHITEBEARD PIRATES! ONE OF THE WHITEBEARD PIRATES!” 

“I KNEW I KNEW THAT MARK!” 

“WHY... WHY IS HE HERE?”

Ace turned to look over his shoulder, feeling confident enough to leave his back wide open to the marine. “I, well, we are looking for our little brother.”

“We?”

Sabo stood up and turned his back to the bar, leaning his weight against it and placed his top hat back onto his hair. 

“Yes, we.”

The marine pointed towards Sabo, “I feel like I should know your face, you’re not a pirate.”

Sabo laughed and Ace couldn’t help but join in, “Think about it. It’ll come to you eventually.”

“Regardless, just sit tight and let me arrest you.”

Ace by this point had turned around on his swivel chair, resting his elbows against the bar his brother was leaning on. 

“Rejected, no can do.”

“Didn’t think it’d be that easy.”

“You don’t get to where we have by giving in, Mister Marine,” Sabo interjected.

“I’m looking for an entirely different pirate,” the marine continued on as if he hadn’t heard Sabo.

“Then let me go.”

“I can’t do that. As long as I’m a marine and you’re a pirate!”

“That’s a stupid reason, chill out man.”
“You’re one to talk Fireman.”

Ace very maturely stuck his tongue out at his brother, who rolled his eyes.

What happened next happened very fast, as the marine came soaring at Ace and Sabo who had no time to react. The force of whatever had sent the marine flying caused the three of them to plough straight through the bar and out the other side of the building, leaving wreck and ruin in their path.

“What hit us?”

Sabo had pushed the marine off of the two of them and helped his brother to his feet. 

“Dunno, but whoever or whatever it was is in for it when I get my hands on them.”

“Temper, temper.” Sabo shoved his hands in his pocket, as Ace and he apologised to the restaurant goers whose meals that they had just interrupted. “But at least you now know how to say sorry.”

Ace glared weakly at him, but couldn’t dispute the fact. He had been a right terror as a child and he knew it. Being raised (sort of) by a bunch of bandits and an absolute nutcase by the name of Monkey D. Garp probably didn’t help.

The marine had gotten up as well, also apologising before turning towards Ace and Sabo, who had already started to walk towards the source of the breakthrough. 

Sabo stopped as soon as he saw who had caused it, grabbing onto Ace’s arm with a vice like grip. 

“Look, Ace! It’s Lu!”

Ace had also come to that realisation, but before he could say anything the marine had pushed the pair of them down shouting “Straw Hat!” before chasing him out of the restaurant, Luffy shouting apologies the entire way out. 

“We better get after them!” Sabo took off after his brother and his marine pursuer, Ace not long behind.

“Wait, Luffy! It’s us!”

 


 

“No.”

“But, dancers are citizens!”

“No Sanji, I’ll keep the skirt but not the top.”

He had gone and done it, specifically after I had told him not to. I was comfortable in the clothes that I had found, loose linen pants and cotton cloak that went over my singlet top. The broad brimmed hat was almost like an umbrella, its width covered almost three people if I were to stand as close to them to be shoulder to shoulder. My shoes were the same boots as the ones I had been wearing the entire time, but now actually covered in sand. 

“But look at Nami and Vivi!”

“Yes, but they’re more comfortable in those sorts of clothing than I am. Besides, they’ll have to cover up considering we’re going into the desert.”

Sanji’s shoulders slumped in defeat, but he conceded the point. He didn’t stay defeated for long, as he turned towards the other males of the crew and started to berate them for their fashion choices. 

“Honestly Sanji, we’re going to help save a country not walk on the runway.” 

“Heh, you got told shitty cook.”

I whipped around to Zoro, pointing at him. “Don’t you start either!”

The tone of my voice must have been enough because the two of them stopped arguing. In fact, the whole crew became silent, as we waited for our Captain to return.

It didn’t take long as shouts were heard in the distance, getting closer.

“What a ruckus, did they find a pirate or something?” Zoro clucked his tongue.

“What are the chances that that isn’t our Captain?” I sighed then froze, Ace was here, wasn’t he?

“None.”

“Yeah, didn’t think so.” I was dead. 

Luffy ran right past us, shouting greetings as he did so.

“Well, crap.”

“THERE’S THE REST OF THE STRAW HATS!”

Nami screamed at Luffy, “Come back once you’ve lost them you idiot!”

“GET BACK, MEN!”

Smoker was in hot pursuit of our Captain and I desperately wanted to throw one of my knuckledusters at the man to slow him down but I knew I needn’t have bothered, as Ace appeared out of nowhere.

KAGEROU!!!”

White hot flames blocked Smoker's pathway to Luffy as Ace and another stood in front of the Captain.

“What do you want?” Smoker looked annoyed, his pray being protected by a clearly superior predator. 

“Cut that out.” It wasn’t Ace who spoke, but the familiar top-hatted, tails wearing man who accompanied him.

Shit, I’m definitely dead now. Happy, but dead.

“You may be smoke, but I’m fire and your powers don’t stand a chance against mine.”

“What he said.”

“Who are they?” Nami stuttered out.

Luffy was silent for a moment before he grinned, backing up towards us. “Ace! And…”

Ace turned around to face his brother before Luffy could attempt to name the other man, “You haven’t changed a bit, Luffy.” 

Luffy laughed happily, as Ace turned to me.

“Ebony, you better get everyone back. We’ll stay here and eventually catch up to you all.” 

“Will do, flamehead.” My palms were sweating something shocking. “I’ve got a lot to tell you all.”

Something sharp showed itself in Ace’s pale eyes, “I know.”

Luffy grabbed my shoulder and pulled me along with him, as the rest of the crew had already begun to run. 

“Let’s go, Ebony!”

Chapter Text

I couldn’t help but be nervous. 

Ace was known for his temper, and one of the things that pushed his button was pretty much anything to do with Luffy. So why wouldn’t it be the same for either of his brothers? He had to be mad at me for not telling him about Sabo, and the fact that he was alive and I knew. I really hope that Luffy would allow me to stay aboard the ship, to stay a Straw Hat when the truth came to life and that Ace wouldn’t hate me, that Sabo wouldn’t hate me for keeping him from his brothers. 

ASL for life, you know?

The whole crew had managed to escape to the ship, and had set sail. We were now just waiting for Ace and Sabo to catch up. I had to admit, but Smoker was a determined one. Even in the original universe, he had followed Luffy and got a promotion that was (in my opinion) well overdue just to continue to chase him, and hopefully apprehend the Straw Hatted boy.

Amidst my panicking state, I hadn’t noticed Luffy bragging about his brother to the rest of the crew.

“I couldn’t beat him before he ate his devil fruit, Ace is just really strong!”

Vivi was shocked, “Not even once? Even before his devil fruit?”

“Yeah! I always got my ass kicked!” Luffy threw back his head and laughed.

“The monsters brother must be one hell of a monster…” Usopp was mumbling. 

“I bet I could beat him now, though!”

“That’s a groundless statement.” Zoro suggested, as Luffy kept laughing.

“Eh, he could put in a good show though.” I spoke through my nerves, “Ace has got one hell of a brother complex, so that could be either a positive or a negative.”

“HA! You’d be right about that!” 

“Just who can you beat?” 

Soft thuds were heard, as Luffy lost his sitting stance on the railing and tipped forward as Ace and Sabo landed, crouched where their brother had been previously seated. Probably payback for launching Ace (and maybe Sabo, I couldn’t be sure but the wood chips on the bottom of his jacket made way to prove this assumption) through the restaurant.

“ACE!”

“Yo!” 

“Hello!” Sabo tipped his hat in greeting, but Luffy’s attention was entirely on Ace. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. 

I made my way up to him and stuck my hand out, Ace and Luffy were to busy talking to really notice and the crew were interacting with Ace as well.

Sabo took my hand and shook it, grip strong and hand scarred. “Pleasure to meet you, Crow Queen.”

I laughed, finding the epitaph kind of ridiculous despite having come up with it myself. “Call me Ebony, please.”

“Well, Ebony, thank you.” 

I startled, why was he thanking me? 

“Thank you for writing to me, thank you for bringing me back to my brothers.”

Tears burst into my eyes at this, and I furiously wiped them away. 

“I’m glad I did,” I stopped, trying to will myself to continue speaking. 

“But?” Sabo’s eyes were really blue, I had just noticed that now.

“I really don’t want to die.” There. I said it, well blurted it out.

Sabo stood in silence for a moment, staring at me in mild concern and confusion before laughing as recognition came into his eyes. 

Neither of us had noticed that we had garnered the attention of the rest of the crew, as they stopped in their conversations to listen to the two of us. 

“Oh! You’ll be fine!” Sabo clapped a hand onto my shoulder and squeezed it in reassurance. “He’s not angry!”

I blushed, of course, that would be what he noticed; to be completely fair, he wasn’t wrong in noticing that that was what I was worried about. 

A muscled arm slung itself around my shoulders, bringing me closer towards a warm body. It was fairly obvious as to who this was, so I gave him a sharp jab to his ribs. 

“Oi!” 

Ace and I were eye to eye, my boots adding a little more to my height but not much. 

“What was that for?”

I glared up at him, “For running off after that murderous bastard! Alone! What were you thinking?”

Sabo looked between the two of us, answering for Ace. “He probably wasn’t. You know what he’s like.”

Groaning in frustration, I nodded. “Yeah, I know what he’s like.”

“Stop ganging up on me!” 

Ace was honestly pouting, and Sabo still hadn’t taken his top hat off. 

Luffy bounded towards his brother, who still had his arm resting across my shoulders. 

“Ebony, Ace! Sanji is getting snacks! Bring your friend and we can talk some more!” 

“Will do, Lu.” 

“Of course, Captain.” 

“Shishishishishishishishi!”

Luffy followed the rest of the crew, bouncing like the rubber band he was. The crew had already starting leaving to go towards the kitchen. 

“He doesn’t recognise me, does he?” Sabo sounded sad, but understanding.

“He will don’t worry.” I placed a comforting hand on his arm, “He’s excited to see Ace, and hasn’t taken the time to really look.”

“That’s probably true.” Sabo still looked sad, but a wry grin was breaking out across his face as he wandered off in the direction that the others had left in.

A moment of silence before Ace and I followed, my nerves becoming apparent again as my hands started to shake. 

“I’m not angry.” Came a whisper in my ear, the hot breath tickling me and causing me to shiver. “I’m just confused.”

Ace must have noticed my hands shaking, a sure sign that I was anxious or nervous about something. 

“I’m going to come clean about everything soon,” I gestured towards the kitchen. “The only other people that know about me are Dragon and Sabo.”

“Why those two?” I must have been hearing things, because Ace sounded jealous. 

“How else was I supposed to get the Revolutionary to deliver my letter? And how else was I going to get Sabo to read it, let alone believe it enough to seek any of us out in person?”

Ace let out a deep breath, “Okay. That’s fair.”

He used his other arm to gesture towards the kitchen, “After you, queenie.”

“Hah, alright flamehead.”

 


 

As we entered the kitchen, Sanji offered me a cup of tea and I took it knowing that in the next few moments I’d probably need to walk straight back out again.

“Before we tell you how we met, the whole story at least I thought that I would tell you about me.”

Zoro sat up in his chair from where he was slumped over; good. At least someone knew that this was going to be serious, and none of them would probably trust me again after this. Outliers were feared, hated, loathed for a circumstance outside of our control and I really couldn’t expect it to be any different after I told them.

“What do you know about Outliers?”

There was a sharp intake of breath from around the table, even as I felt Sabo position himself behind me. Perhaps in comfort? I couldn’t be too sure.

It was Nami who spoke up first, “Not a lot, only that they’re supposed to be monsters of the cruellest kind.”

I flinched, that hurt. 

Vivi continued, “The World Government has a bounty out on any and all of them that are found, and they’re to be executed on the spot. They’re supposedly demons hiding in plain sight, hoping to kill unsuspecting victims, to take their souls.”

I put my hands on my lap, to stop the others from noticing my hands shaking. 

“There are rumours held about records being held by the World Government that prove that they once started a war on the, eh, residents of the Holy Land.”

At the mention of the Holy Land, grimaces cross the faces of the ASL brothers and myself. Well, that would explain why all Outlier’s were to be executed on sight, if it were true.

“They’re not cruel or evil, at least the one I knew wasn’t like that.” 

From someone who was scared of pretty much everything and everyone, Usopp’s voice was quiet. 

“After my mother died, I was left pretty much by myself.” I couldn’t help but wonder where this was leading to, “But there was an older woman who lived at the edge of town that would come and help anyone who needed it, and I really did need the help. She was kind to me and to Kaya. She was a medicine woman, I’m not sure if she was a doctor or not, but everyone knew that she was an Outlier, but no one said anything until a marine platoon came along. It didn’t end well, as some of the men were drunk...”

Drunk men of power, regardless of whether they were pirates or not, wasn’t always a good thing.

Usopp shuddered, as did Vivi and Nami. “She was defending a group of young girls, one moment there was blood and the next, gold dust. The marine captain took one look at her and the dust falling from her. Shot her where she stood.”

“She was only trying to help.” My voice came out as a whisper. That could be me; I could see it very clearly, the picture just beyond reach. I felt cold and alone, as the woman probably did so as well.

“Yeah, but they couldn’t have cared less. She was other, an outlier and didn’t deserve to live despite what she was doing for the people of my village. We couldn’t even bury her body, it had already dissolved into golden dust.”

A moment of silence, as the others took that story in.

“I’ve never met an outlier, at least that I know of. But for them to be hated like this? For doing what? Living? It’s ridiculous!” Zoro spoke, eyeing me curiously. He may play at being stupid, but he was far from it. Directionally challenged he may be, he had survived and thrice on his own for years.

“I know that they claim to come from other worlds,” now that wasn’t something that was common knowledge, but Sanji had spoken it out loud. “They’re not from around here, that’s for sure.” 

“Other worlds? Is that even possible?” The little reindeer had been quiet for the whole conversation, but his curiosity had won out. 

“Parallel worlds have always existed, finding them is the almost impossible thing.” Ace absentmindedly put out there, his eyes hadn’t left my head since I had opened my mouth and started the topic.

“Huh?” 

Luffy and the others looked at him in confusion.

“The old man has seen a lot of things, as have most of his crew. Other worlds being out there is a simple thing in comparison to the craziness that is the New World.”

He did have a point.

“Why are you asking us this?”

Luffy was uncharacteristically solemn.

“She’s asking because she wants to know if you’ll hate her.” Sabo‘s voice was quiet, almost silent, but in the lull, it was as loud as a bomb going off.  

“What?”

Every single person spoke in unison, as I closed in on myself, looking down at my hands which were now white from how hard I had been shaking. The only thing from keeping me from getting up and running away was Sabo’s hand on my shoulder. 

I felt a warm hand lift my chin, to get me to look at them.

“Ebony, I cannot hate you for that. For being an Outlier.” Ace’s eyes, a warm hazel stared into my own. “You aren’t able to help the circumstances of your birth.”

Before I could stop myself, I muttered to myself, “You’re one to talk.”

Ace must have heard me, as he gave me a sharp look but didn’t say anything though he clearly wanted to.

“But you know so much!” Usopp seemed confused, “The Outlier from my village didn’t know anything about the world around her. She kept talking about wanting to go home to San Fransokyo.”

Big Hero 6.

The words left my mouth before I could stop them. 

“Huh?”

I explained further, “It’s the world that she was probably from; back home we have no city called San Fransokyo, but it’s mentioned in fiction. It’s popular culture, Disney.”

“Wait,” Nami placed a hand up, silencing us, deep in thought. “Just knowing the place that she was from, you know what world she was from? Are you an Outlier god or something?”

I couldn’t help but laugh, a little broken and hysterical. Me? A goddess? That’s actually hilarious. “No way! I’m a normal human being who was dumped into this world without warning!”

“So you don’t get to choose to come here?”

Vivi questioned, “I was under the impression that you choose to, for lack of a better word, invade?”

“Fuck no!”  My hands had gone to my hair at this point, pulling and knotting the blonde between my fingers. “No offence, but I was quite happy at home in my world. I’d almost finished my damn degree, only had a few weeks left.”

As if to break the tense atmosphere, Zoro asked what I was studying. 

“Visual Arts; I haven’t painted in so long. Paints are ridiculously expensive no matter what world you’re in apparently.”

“I can’t see it.” 

“See what?”

“You as an artist, you’re too strong of a fighter.”

“You can be both.”

Our small argument helped to release the tension in the room, something that Zoro clearly intended to happen. I gave him a small smile and he nodded. 

“Still doesn’t explain how you knew about…” Ace trailed off, realising that Sabo hadn’t actually announced who he was and nobody else had thought to ask.

“Yeah, um…” I looked to Sabo for support, “Would you like to say hello first and then I’ll explain?”

“That would probably be a good idea.”

He reached up towards his hat and removed it slowly, bringing it down in front of his chest and looked directly at his younger brother.

“Hey, little brother.” Tears were already forming in his eyes, as the rest of the crew looked on in shock. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

 


 

The underlings were in terrified awe, as they watched Miss Midsummer Eve spar against Mister One. The two of them fought with blade and hammer, creating shockwaves as they went. 

It was surprising that neither had brought blood to the other, but apparently Mister Zero was quite explicit in his order of not harming one another, it wouldn’t do to potentially alienate someone so strong for it to come and bite them in the arse, now would it?

“You’re very good,” Mister One was huffing, out of breath.

“You are as well.” Miss Midsummer Eve, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as exhausted. She was more used to fighting constantly and it showed in her actions, the way she spoke and the way she moved. 

“Now I know why the boss wanted you, Outlier.” That immediately soured the mood, with Miss Midsummer Eve immediately withdrawing into herself and from the spar. 

“Ah, did I hit a nerve?” Mister One chuckled darkly, “Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t be long now.”

He started to move towards the exit, whistling as he did so. The tune seemed to be a funeral dirge; ominous in meaning that didn’t go past the Outlier, who was now glaring at their former sparring partner. 

 


 

Luffy was silent, staring, his mouth wide open at the blonde in front of him. 

He was blonder than he remembered him, far more scarred. His hat was the same, and so were those goggles. But he couldn’t be standing in front of him, could he? Sabo couldn’t truly be alive? He could feel his hands shaking, tears welling up in his eyes.

Luffy didn’t notice Ace and Ebony attempting to usher the rest of his crew out of the kitchen, it didn’t work. None of the others had seen Luffy completely break down like he had. 

Ebony eventually managed to push them out the door after a few minutes of watching the three brothers cry and closed the door behind her.

“Sabo?” Luffy couldn’t believe how quiet his voice was, he honestly didn’t think it had ever been that quiet in his life not even as a baby. The only response to his questioning was a sad smile from the blonde in front of him and a short nod.

The wall the had been cracked, the dam finally breaking as he threw himself at Sabo. Snot and tears mixing, you couldn’t tell only that he was sure he was making a very loud noise that seemed to draw the attention of his crew if the knocking was anything to go by.

“Still a cry baby, huh little Lu?”

Ace couldn’t help but interject, but he too was crying, tears streaming down his tan face unabashedly. 

“You shouldn’t be talking about being a cry baby, Ace. You were just as bad.”

Sabo’s face was much like his brothers, even as he hugged Luffy close to his body as though to reassure himself that Luffy existed.

There was suddenly a warm pair of arms snaking their way around both Luffy and Sabo, as Ace joined in their hug.

They weren’t sure how long they spent in each other's arms, it could have been minutes or hours but a sharp knock sounded at the door and a voice came through, “Don’t mean to interrupt but there’s a fairly sizeable platoon of marines headed our way and we really need to get moving if we don’t want to, you know, get arrested.”

Ebony sounded nervous, she clearly didn’t want to infringe on their moment but it was necessary. 

“We’ll be out in a moment,” Sabo tried to untangle himself from the two dark-haired men who had become limpets. “Or you might have to pry these two off of me. One of the other.”

A cackle was his only reply as the door opened, and Zoro followed by Ebony walked in. Ebony looked amused, whilst her companion looked confused. 

“I’ll get Ace, you get the Captain?” Zoro nodded. 

As they went to grab the two mentioned, Luffy whined into Sabo’s chest and his hands tightened onto his jacket. 

“Come on Lu, we’ve gotta get outta here.” Sabo was gentle, as Ace pulled away with Luffy following reluctantly. 

 


 

Everyone had been called back to the Headquarters it seemed, Miss Midsummer Eve mused as she sat alone in the back corner of Spiders Cafe. No one really wanted to interact with her, and she didn’t really want to interact with anyone else. She was more like a captive prize, a trophy if you will. Her mouth curled up in a sneer, she loathed this organisation and the fact that she had no other choice but to stay. They would out her secret, the one that she had foolishly shared with her now boss. Even in her homeworld, she went out of her way to avoid people knowing of her being Dovahkin. 

Being the Dragonborn in a world that had no dragons, where her husband didn’t even exist, where her friends didn’t exist and powers, even those who dabbled in magic in Skyrim, did. It frightened her how much of this world she did not know. If she could only find an escape from this blasted organisation and a way home!

The sound of signing was coming from outside and she knew exactly who the sounds were coming from. The okama, (whatever did that word mean?), reminded her of Cicero, if the assassin had decided ever take off the jester outfit that he clung to like a lifeline. Although, not as batshit insane like the assassin jester though. 

“Say, Midsummer Eve, how have you enjoyed Alabasta so far?” The fake barmaid Paula, also known as Miss Double-finger, asked. 

“It’s hotter than what I’m used to.”

Short, succinct and straight to the point answers were the only things that she wished to disclose after her initial mistake when entering this world. 

“Oh?” Paula pushed her glasses up, she was clearly fishing for information, but Miss Midsummer Eve wasn’t going to play that game, so she tuned her out, paying more attention towards the barrage that had just waltzed (or pirouetted) into the cafe.

“Well, I feel super! How about you?”

Paula stared ahead at Mister Two, “You look stupid to me.”

Privately, the dovahkin couldn’t help but agree. 

Mister Two clearly didn’t agree, bursting into tears, wailing about how he wasn’t stupid and why did Paula discriminate against him, was it because he was an okama? Midsummer Eve rolled her eyes, the dramatics were highly reminiscent of Cicero. 

“Okay, you can go now lovelies!” Mister Two’s attitude abruptly changed, as they faced their followers. 

“Yes, sir!”

“Don’t forget to practice your dance!”

“Yes, sir!”

Miss Midsummer Eve tuned everyone out once more, finding the floor more interesting to look at than her surroundings.

That was until Mister Two took an interest in her.

“Mademoiselle, would you care for a dance?”

She wasn’t sure what prompted her, it may have been the absolute lack of fear that the okama showed towards her but she nodded. The next moment she had been whisked off of her feet, to dance. He led for a moment, before switching and allowing her to lead. 

The two of them must have made a sight. Everyone else in the building was silent watching the two outsiders; an okama, someone basically ostracised for the interests and way of life and an Outlier, someone who shouldn’t exist and was feared for that existence. 

A crash through the roof interrupted their dance, as the billions subordinate to Mister Two came soaring through. 

“My lovelies! What’s wrong? Why did you jump through the roof?”

The subordinate that he was questioning wasn’t able to speak, mouth too full of blood and knocked out teeth. 

Another voice spoke up, a voice that Miss Midsummer Eve was unfortunately all too familiar with. 

“You know them, freak okama?”

“Tch.” A look of outrage appeared on Mister Two’s face, at being called a freak or because of the injuries suffered by his underlings, she couldn’t be sure.

Mister One climbed through the opening the remaining underlings had created, pushing down one of the walls to continue on his path. 

“They were being suspicious, moving about as they did out in the desert.” He grinned, a vicious thing that showed all his teeth. “Don’t worry, they aren’t dead.”

“They’re still my subordinates!” Mister Two shouted, as Miss Merry Christmas tried to cover his mouth. 

Mister One gave the pair of them a sharp look, continuing “You all seem to be getting along… well. Mister Two and Miss Midsummer Eve especially.”

As he looked at her, she turned away, not acknowledging the fact. It would have been dangerous if she had, and everyone in this place knew it. They had all had a choice to be here or not, she didn’t. 

“However, these ridiculous relationships will only bring destruction…” 

He would have continued, but the okama had had enough and attacked him without much success until one solid punch was landed on Mister One’s face and he was sent flying. 

“Did he just break another wall?” Miss Merry Christmas was shocked, as were the others. 

Mister One slowly picked himself up off of the ground, flexing his fingers. “I think, Mister Two, that you have a death wish…”

“Alright, knock it off.” “Mister One, that’s enough!”

Both Double-finger and Midsummer Eve spoke up at once, looking at the other in surprise.

“No, don’t stop me you two.” Mister One was almost like Vilkas in the moment, growling his words out like a beast. “I’m going to kill him!”

With a shout the two men threw themselves at each other, scrambling like small children over a broken toy. 

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” “Get off of me!”

“Control your anger Mister Two!” Double-finger had taken control of the situation, bonking the two offenders on the head as they kneeled on the ground.

“It’s eight o’clock, all of the agents that are supposed to be here are here.” Miss Double-finger went to clean her glasses, “The man we call our boss has only showed his face to a few of us, so we’re going to meet him at the City of Dreams.”

“Sounds exciting.” 

The sarcasm in Midsummer Eve’s voice was noticeable to everyone there and caused more than one of them to grin. But Double-finger continued as though she hadn’t spoken, “We’re headed to Rainbase.”

 


 

The Captain had stayed firmly at the sides of his two older brothers, who were both leaving as a distraction to the marines that were now hot on our trail. 

I knew that we would meet up again, sooner rather than later and that I would have to continue telling them about me the next time we saw each other.

“Take this,” Ace placed a piece of paper in Luffy’s hand. “Always keep it with you.”

“It’s a piece of paper.” Luffy looked up his brother, almost pouting as if he had expected something different. 

“It’s not just a piece of paper, it’s a vivre card.” Sabo pulled out a small piece of paper from his pocket and also give it to Luffy. “It’ll point you to us, no matter where we are in the world.”

“Oh.” The Captain looked at the two small pieces of paper that his brothers had given him in awe.

“They’re commonly called the paper of life, Captain.” This brought the ASL brothers attention to me, something that I had almost wanted to avoid but clearly couldn’t. 

“You still have yours?” Ace tilted his head towards me. 

“Of course I do.” I might have answered a little to vehemently, but I don’t think anyone noticed as I reached into my pocket and pulled the vivre card that Ace had given to me in what seemed to be so long ago.

Ace smiled, and I could see his eyes soften for a moment before he turned towards the rest of the crew. 

That had to have been a trick of the light? It had to have been, there was no way that Ace would ever look at her like that. I knew from the manga that he and Bonney had a thing at one point, or at least it was implied when she went after Blackbeard. A fit of jealousy that I hadn’t known existed at that point had gripped me by the throat and wouldn’t let go, and I knew that if I spoke at that very moment that everything I said would come out choked and volatile so I stayed quiet.

“Straw Hats,” Sabo piped up, his hand still on Luffy’s arm. “Our little brother, one as trouble-prone as Luffy, will always make older brothers worry.”

“Yeah, he’ll probably give you guys lots of trouble, too.” Ace laughed, “No he definitely will give you lots of trouble, no doubts.”

“Take care of him for us.” The two older brothers spoke in unison, before jumping off of the railing and onto the two small boats below.

“What? You’re already leaving!” Luffy looked upset.

“Yeah.” “Sorry, Lu.”

“Ebony has our den-den number, so you can talk to us anytime!” Sabo spoke, as he could see that Luffy could break into tears at any moment.

Luffy looked towards me in confirmation. 

“I’ve got them on speed-dial, Captain.” I looked downwards at the pair of them, “Besides we’ll probably be seeing you sooner than you think.”

“Your otherworldly knowledge?” Ace asked.

“Yep!” I grinned, putting my fingers up in a peace sign. “But who knows if somethings changed already, just by me being here?”

The Captain slung an arm around my shoulders, “I wouldn’t want to know anyway! Mysteries are the best! Shishishishishishi!”

“I’ll catch up with you all when things a slightly less crazy.” Sabo put in and I laughed.

“When aren’t things crazy around here?”

“New World.”

“Ah, good point.”

The two brothers smiled, after getting confirmation from the crew about looking after Luffy. (Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Ace giving Zoro a look, but I couldn’t be sure what it was about as Zoro had only looked at me and back to Ace, before acquiescing to whatever request Ace had made.)

Sabo had tied his boat to Ace’s so that the two of them would be anchored together when Ace used his devil fruit to propel them forward and into the oncoming barrage of marine ships.

“See you later!”

 


 

 

After Ace and Sabo had left, to grand applause from the crew for their performance in destroying the marine vessels in their way Vivi attempted to bribe Luffy into wearing clothing for suited to the desert and somehow succeeded. 

No-one seemed game enough to bring up the earlier conversation, tiptoeing around it and me by extension. 

I didn’t like it, and neither did the Captain as he voiced his opinion quite loudly towards the crew. 

“Who cares if she’s an Outlier? She’s still Ebony!”

And that seemed to be the end of the subject, at least for that moment.

“This is the bank of the River Sandora.” Vivi spoke, showing us a rough map of the area and pointing out our destination. “It’s called Yuba. We’ll have to cross the Sandora and then head for it.”

Zoro piped up, “It’s also the base of the rebellion, the leader should be there.”

“I’ll just have to kick his ass, right?”

“No.” “Would you stop that?”

Vivi heaved in a deep breath, “I want to persuade the rebellion away from more bloodshed!”

“There has to be almost a million people amongst the rebellion, are you sure they’ll want to stop?” 

“Ebony has a point.” I don’t actually think that Zoro had ever spoken my name, but I suppose that there was a first time for everything.

“I have to try!” Vivi stood her ground, staring at us all. “What Baroque Works have done to the people of this country, to my people, to my country! We have to stop the senseless violence! I cannot and I will not allow Baroque Works to do what they like with my country!”

She was incredibly passionate and her passion is what ignited a fire in our crew (or at least a larger fire than normal for adventure).

“This sounds so exciting!” “I’ll make a special dessert lunch for you, Vivi-chan!” 

“Sorry about that.” I had to voice my concerns, that many people would be difficult to convince. Especially with the propaganda against the royal family amongst the rebels, it would be nigh impossible.  

“Yeah, what she said.” 

I rolled my eyes, “Eloquent Zoro.”

In a fit of childishness, he poked his tongue out at me.

“I understand Vivi! Let’s go!”

We set sail for Yuba, with Luffy and Vivi arguing over the correct pronunciation of the place as the sun set.

Chapter Text

“I really don’t want to die.”

Ace had heard the comment that Ebony had made, even as he was tackled to the ground by Luffy.

What made her think that he would kill her?

Had he ever given her that impression? He really didn’t want to give that impression, and yes he may be a pirate but to his friends, he wanted to be a protector. Someone they felt safe around. 

Luffy was still chattering away in Ace's absentmindedness. 

“It’s good to see you, too.” Ace shipped the straw hat off his head, ruffling his little brothers hair. 

Sabo was still talking to Ebony, a hand on her shoulder as he laughed. Luffy’s crew had gone silent, watching the four of them interact as Ace walked over to his friend, slinging an arm around her shoulders.

He went to speak, but Ebony had poked her boney fingers sharply into his ribs. 

“Oi!” 

That had actually hurt and would definitely bruise.

She must have been wearing those heeled boots she liked so much because the two of them were staring each other in the eye.

“What was that for?”

He could make a guess, but it was always nice to have confirmation.

“For running off after that murderous bastard! “ So it was exactly what he thought it was. “Alone! What were you thinking?”

Sabo answered for him, “He probably wasn’t. You know what he’s like.”

She groaned, “Yeah. I know what he’s like.”

That was completely uncalled for. “Stop ganging up on me!”

Now that the two of them had met, and knowing what Sabo was like when they were kids (Ace was hoping that he hadn’t changed a whole lot) and what Ebony was like he was never getting away from the mother-henning. On the plus side, neither was Luffy.

Ace didn’t listen to the rest of the conversation, too busy taking in the crew that Luffy had gathered around himself. 

His little brother's crew was interesting.

They seemed to be an eccentric group of people, even from the first glance that Ace had taken of them. The green haired man, a former bounty hunter if Ace remembered correctly (and he couldn’t help but wonder how Luffy had recruited such a man) was staring at the two strangers that were Sabo and himself with a suspicious gaze. 

It felt good that Luffy (and Ebony) had such a reliable crewmate, someone who already had a reputation, even if it was a bloody one. But it was known that the Pirate Hunter was protective of those he considered friends. 

The blonde man had a lit cigarette in between his fingers, standing slightly in front of the two other women on the ship, with the long nosed man and little reindeer cowering behind them. His eyes were sharp, taking in any potential threats. He was a tall, skinny thing but the muscles in his legs told a different story. The eyebrow really stood out though and Ace couldn’t figure out why.

He didn’t have time to really notice the others, as Luffy started to laugh and walk off in the direction of the cabin, his crew following behind. 

Sabo left to follow the others, leaving Ace and Ebony alone.

“I’m not angry, I’m just confused.”

Ebony was tense, her hands shaking. 

“I’m going to come clean about everything soon. The only other people that know about me are Dragon and Sabo.” 

White hot jealousy flooded Ace unexpectedly. He had known her longer, so why the hell did his brother and the Worlds Most Wanted Man know before him?

“Why those two?” Ace couldn’t keep the jealousy out of his voice, but thankfully Ebony didn’t notice. 

“How else was I supposed to get the Revolutionary to deliver my letter?” She sounded astounded, “And how else was I going to get Sabo to read it, let alone believe it enough to seek ay of us out in person?”

He sighed, the jealousy slipping from him momentarily. “Okay. That’s fair.”

The two of them stood for a moment before Ace gestured towards the kitchen with his free arm, “After you, queenie.”

Ebony gave him a half-hearted glare. “Hah. Alright, flamehead.”

He probably deserved that after calling her queenie, he knew that she didn't like the nickname.


Sir Crocodile, also known as Baroque Works' Founder Mister Zero, surveyed those that he had employed as he turned around in his throne. He knew he was an imposing figure, one to be feared and respected. 

“Utopia is the final plan of Baroque Works.”

The shock from his underlings amused him greatly, and he loved the fear that flitted across a majority of their faces. Miss All-Sunday and Miss Midsummer Eve shared a look, the only two who truly knew his identity. The Outlier rolled her eyes, unamused by his posturing. 

“Eh?” 

“CROCODILE!?”

Miss All-Sunday laughed, “I thought that you would all recognise his public face.”

Miss Midsummer Eve scoffed, a sneer forming across her scarred face, eyes flashing with contempt. “He’s a show pony, a sparkling Altmer show pony is what he is.”

The others sat at the table shared a confused look, having no idea what the Outlier was talking about, but it didn’t sound good.

“Well, damn.” Miss Merry Christmas shook her head, curls flying. “This is unbelievable.”

 Miss Double-finger was completely different from his persona as Paula, less librarian and more stripper. “I wouldn’t ever have guessed, one of the Shichibukai.”

Bon Clay, Mister Two the okama was seemingly furious to have been working for a pirate, whereas Daz Bones, Mister One took the situation for what it was. An opportunity.

Crocodile couldn’t help but respect the man for that.

“Any complaints?” 

Utter silence at his question, smirking. That was more like it.

“No complaints, but I have a question,” Miss Double-Finger spoke up, clearly nervous but the only one brave enough to do so. “Why would you, a pirate sponsored by the World Government, want to do this?”

The Outlier spoke up before he could open his mouth the reply, “He wants the might of a military force behind him. What use is money, or land to him?”

“Yes, thank you, Miss Midsummer Eve, for speaking out of turn.”

“Oh, was I? I could do it again if it wouldn’t please you.”

He tried to silence the woman with a glare, but either she had no sense of fear or she had seen far scarier things than his glare as she mimed stitching her mouth closed with a cheeky grin.

Why were all the Outliers he had ever met such little shits?

“Why military force?” Mister Two spoke up, clearly not liking the way in which the Outlier and their boss were eyeing each other off, something akin to starving wolves facing off for a singular piece of meat.

“My first objective, let us speak of that before I continue with telling you all about the final plan of Baroque Works.”


 

Ebony was asking about their opinions on Outliers, Ace knew this conversation starter well. He’d used it himself a lot when asking people of their opinion on a hypothetical child of the deceased Pirate King.

An Outlier.

That made both so much sense, and no sense at all.

Outliers never knew about the world that the ended up in. Never. They were always so confused about their surroundings and were more often than not found out on the first day and executed soon after. 

“Other worlds? Is that even possible?” 

Ace hadn’t been listening to the conversation; hadn’t taken his eyes off Ebony since she had started the topic. 

“Parallel worlds have always existed, finding them is the almost impossible thing.” Ace hadn’t noticed that he’d spoken until Luffy nudged him with a verbal ‘huh’.

“The old man has seen a lot of things, as have most of his crew. Other worlds being out there is a simple thing in comparison to the craziness that is the New World.”

That was a fucking understatement. 

Sabo and Ebony were probably the only ones that knew that. But perhaps maybe the blonde cook who he now knew as Sanji did too? He had to have come through the New World, at least a little, to get to the East Blue. (There was a North Blue accent there, diluted as it was, it still existed.)

But one thing for certain was that the New World was absolute insanity, and Outliers didn't even ping on that radar of strangeness.


 

There was a momentary pause before the two brothers left the Going Merry when Ace took the green-haired first mate aside. 

“Look after them.” 

It wasn’t a question, nor a request. It was an order from an older brother and friend. 

Zoro took it to heart, as he nodded towards Ace and Sabo. 

“Of course I will. It’s my job.”


 The two of them left, taking out the marines as they did. Ace's thoughts were running a million kilometres an hour.

Sabo being alive was an absolute miracle. He wanted to rant and rave at Ebony, he wanted to let his temper get the better of him. He wanted to let his fire go and rage. But he wasn’t going to; Ebony had only kept the secret until she was more stable in this world. He could understand that. A bit. 

He knew that now he had established himself as a person not to be messed with, and if you did mess with him you would face the wrath of the Whitebeard pirates and Oyaji himself. If his unfortunate parentage came out now, he’d have allies and backup other than his little brother. 

He understood not wanting to be killed for something outside of his control. Besides, his fire was better used for the traitor.

Still, Ebony hadn’t been able to explain how she knew what she did before the marines interrupted.

“Stupid marines.”

Sabo looked towards his older brother in confusion, “What are we cursing the marines for this time?”

“Poor timing.”

Sabo laughed, agreeing with the sentiment.

The two of them were going to be splitting up as soon as they reached land, and Ace didn’t want to let his brother out of his sight. He knew his brother complex had developed after Sabo’s disappearance and now with his reappearance, it was going to come out flying with a vengeance and not towards its usual recipient. 

His blonde brother seemed to know exactly what he was thinking. 

“I’ll keep in contact, and we’ll see each other again.”

“It better be sooner rather than later,” Ace gave his brother a tired grin. “I don’t want to go so long without seeing your face or hearing you again.”

Sabo laughed, it was a wet choking noise as though he was trying to stop himself from crying. “I think Ebony would come after me, not to mention Luffy if he didn’t hear from me.”

His friend definitely would hunt Sabo down, and hold him down whilst Luffy would cry into his chest. Ace couldn’t help but laugh at the image that it gave him.


 

She hated being called Miss Midsummer Eve, she loathed it with a passion and would never be able to look at the season nor the time in any happy manner again. And besides, all of this over measly military power? As loathe she was to admit it, but the Shichibukai was plenty powerful on his own and was definitely charismatic and sociopathic enough to manipulate the populace into doing his bidding for him, without him having to ever lift a single sand finger. 

“Our duty for the final part of the plan is to carry out different facets of this final plan, correct?” Mister One didn’t need the clarification, but it was always nice to know.

“Yes, that is correct.” Mister Zero replied, placing his feet up on the table and crossing his legs; it was like he didn’t know or care to have any manners. But she supposed that that was a moot point considering he was trying to take something that wash isn’t by subterfuge and underhandedness she wasn’t too surprised. 

“All of the jobs that I have asked you to complete since the inception of this organisation have been to further the interests of this plan,” An evil grin broke out across his face causing her to shudder. “The end time for the Kingdom of Alabasta has come.”

The silence around the room was almost choking, as the majority took their assignment papers in glee. Miss Midsummer Eve took hers with trepidation, clearly not wanting to read the sheet but having no choice not too. She skimmed the words, dialect almost unfamiliar but somehow her mind was able to translate the text in front of her. 

As per tradition and direction, once the words had been read they were to be burnt, Mister Zero talking as the did so.

“When you have all completed those orders, the Kingdom of Alabasta will be destroyed and the cornered rebels, civilians will fall into the hands of Baroque Works! In just one night, this country will become our Utopia!”

He suddenly stood, causing the throne he was sitting on to slide and screech across the stone flooring. “Failure will not be tolerated, this meeting is adjourned.”

“Pray for Victory.”

As everyone else went to stand, a voice piped up.

“It would be much appreciated if this Utopia plan was put on hold, even if for just a moment.”

Ah, that was more like it.

Miss Midsummer Eve was thankful that her collar was high, as she could hide a vicious smile from the rest of the table at the words. Anything anyone could do to put a wrench in his plans was a good thing in her books. The rest of the room was shocked, however, as all looked up to the bandage covered face and body of Mister Three.

“How on earth did you get into the Secret Underground Base?” Miss All-Sunday’s face didn’t portray the shock or surprise that was evident in her voice.

“Mister Three!” Those ridiculous names were beginning to grate on her nerves. “I killed you, just as I was ordered to!”

Mister Two looked to be gearing up to finish the job, and finish it properly this time around before Mister Zero raised on arm to stop him.

“Wait.”

“I could finish the job here and now if you wish?” The words slipped out before she could stop them, but she wasn’t going to take them back. 

Mister Three looked on at her and Mister Two in fear, but Mister Zero shook his head. No. 

Pity, she mused, it would have been interesting to see how to actually kill wax without having to set it on fire. 

“I came back because I wanted another chance as I failed to complete the orders that I had been given.”

“You failed.. to complete…”

Mister Zero couldn’t bring himself to finish the sentence, as he sat back down again as if to stop himself from launching his own body at the man with the strangest hairstyle that Miss Midsummer Eve had come across in this world.

“I am referring to the fact that I allowed the Princess and the Straw Hat Pirates to escape.”

The volcano was going to blow and she was going to enjoy every moment of it.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU ALLOWED THEM TO ESCAPE? ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT THEY’RE STILL ALIVE?

So satisfying, almost as much as riling up the wolf twins with the Huntress.

Almost.


 

The desert was sandy, hot and almost uncomfortable. 

I was loving it. 

“Why aren’t you dying like the rest of us? I understand why Vivi isn’t, but I don’t get you.”

Usopp looked close to collapse and the others weren’t much better with Chopper actually having to be lifted off of the ground by a disgruntled looking Zoro.

“I’m Australian.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Nami and her shark teeth were in full swing today, having already scolded Luffy for attempting to drink the rest of the water.

“I’m a child of the land of droughts and flooding rains. I’ve been reliably told that the weather conditions that I grew up with have been considered by others to be something terrifying.” 

I was really getting into talking about my homeland, I hadn’t done so in years. Hadn’t even been able to speak the name of my country. 

“Although that could be due to the animals and landscape more so than the weather.” 

The last part was said quietly, but the others heard regardless.

“The animals? Dare I ask?” 

Vivi sounded curious.

I turned and smiled, “Our insects, whilst small, can be deadly. The jellyfish are pretty much invisible and if you stand on a box jellyfish or blue ring, well sad to say it but you’re dead.”

At some point, my smile must have turned into something more than slightly vicious, as everyone was now looking at me wide-eyed.

“Don’t get me started on our sharks or crocodiles; freshies or salties. The snakes we have can either be the most deadly in the world or harmless enough, but the better looking the frog, those with the pretty colours are the most dangerous.”

“How dangerous are we talking here?” Despite his clear apprehension, Zoro asked the question with ease.

“There is no cure.” 

“Damn.”

They all looked pretty impressed despite the heat and more than a little frightened.

“Not to mention the spiders. I have really terrible arachnophobia, so growing up in Australia didn’t really help with that, But back home we have the deadliest in the world, not to mention the damn huntsman’s. They can slip into anything and anywhere.”

There was a silence between us all, as we made our way through the desert.

“No offence, but your homeland sounds terrifying.” There was a slight appreciation in Zoro’s voice when he said this, wistful too.

I couldn’t help it but I grinned widely. “Oh it was, but it was home and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, how did you end up in Loguetown?”

I stopped walking. I kind of figured that this would come up, but I didn’t think it would come up this soon.

“I didn’t have much of a choice. One minute I’m on the way to class and the next I wake up, bruised, on an island near Loguetown. I have no idea how I got there or who took me.”

“So you were literally abducted?”

“I suppose that’s one way to put it.”


 

I couldn’t wait to reach that bloody casino and I hated casinos. Rainbase better be a damn good casino, and it better have cool water and lots of it.

But anything was better than watching Usopp and Luffy complain about the lack of water, even if the comment of ‘gomu-gomu no way’ was hilarious. Two small children, with a group of teenagers to look after each other in the desert wasn’t the greatest idea that any of us had had.

I also refused to touch the pervert camel, instead insisting on walking everywhere despite the heat and how sore my legs and feet were getting.

You’re Australian, so suck it up, Ebony.

“Will there be water?” 

I was surprised that Chopper had lasted as long as he had, after quickly shedding his winter coat in favour for something more suited to the heat, but he was still struggling. 

Vivi nodded, “It’s a gambling town, separate from all the fighting.”

Nami’s eyes lit up, suddenly gaining berri signs. “Oooooo, gambling!”

“Nami, no. Just no.”

She turned to look at me, trying her best at giving me puppy eyes. 

“Maybe after.”


 

The city of Rainbase was a welcome sight, even from the distance that we were at.

“We’ve made it!”

Usopp, Chopper and Luffy were crying tears of joy and cheering out. For water, and to be able to kick Crocodile’s arse.

“Shut up already…”

Zoro didn’t look any worse for wear, the man looked as cool as a cucumber in the heat walking along with his hands in his pockets. 

Nami was sitting comfortably on top of the camel, not having had to walk for hours had done her mood good. About half way through the trip, she had asked Usopp to work on something for her. 

“Did you finish it?”

It?” Sanji sounded confused, and more than a little jealous.

Usopp ignored him, ”Yeah, it’s done.”

He reached into his bag, passing the completed weapon up to Nami.

“It looks good, Usopp.” 

I gave him a thumbs up, to which he returned. “It’s called a clima-tact.”

Usopp started to explain to Nami about how the weapon was put together and how it functioned, with Sanji popping his head into the conversation trying to convince the others that they didn’t need weapons or to fight as he’d protect them.

“What about Ebony?” Zoro deadpanned.

“Yes, Sanji. What about me?” 

The look of pure panic on the blond’s face was hilarious, as he tried to explain but couldn’t get any words out. 

Laughing, a put an arm on his shoulder. “It’s good that you want to be able to protect us girls, but we can handle ourselves. Most of the time at least.”

“Do you reckon that Baroque Works knows we’re in the country?”

The question was put to everyone, but Zoro was looking towards me when he spoke. 

“If they didn’t before, they will soon.”

“What do you mean?”

Vivi answered instead, “We did meet Mister Two, and Mister Three is somewhere around.”

The Captain tilted his head, “So what’s the problem?”

Usopp looked towards his confused Captain.

“They know what we look like, we can’t just act randomly.” 

Luffy looked a little upset at the notion of not being able to act freely, as Usopp continued.

“We’ve got no idea where the fighters of Baroque Works are hiding out and we won’t be able to get to Crocodile if we are caught first.”

Zoro interjected, “Assassination is their speciality.”

“CROCODILE YOUR ASS IS GRASS!”

“Really Captain?”


 

The dovahkiin liked sitting in corners of bars, seedy or otherwise. They gave her the best vantage points to see the comings and goings of the patrons, and in a city like Rainbase, it was always difficult to tell the criminals from the civilians. 

But spotting marines was easy, they always stood out from a crowd. (Much like the Thalmor in their assured pomposity.) The two marines that she was observing were talking about the Straw Hat crew. The same crew that was becoming an annoyance towards the goals of the warlord, making them all the better in her eyes. 

The door swung wide open, with two teenagers shouting about water storming inside, an older woman following behind them shaking their head. The dovahkiin could feel a change in the air, almost the same as when she had first heard the Night Mother. Something big was going to happen and she was about to get first row seats to the spectacle.

The marine hadn’t noticed the two as he continued to rant at his underling, with the teenagers chugging down barrels of water and the woman that had come in with them sitting down at a table near the door. The water was spat out when the four noticed who they were siting next to. 

She grinned, this was going to be good.

“Ahhhhhhhh!”

There was a pause where the four looked at the others, before the teenagers booked it out of the bar, each carrying a barrel or two under their arms and the large marine taking off after them.

“We’ll follow them Tashigi! Get the men together!”

“Yes, sir!” The girl turned towards the barkeep, “How much do we owe you?”

The older woman behind the bar didn’t look happy, “If you know those kids then you’ve got to pay for them, too!”

“Yes, ma’am!”

The dovahkiin noticed that in the commotion the women who had entered with the two boys had walked up beside the now named marine.

“Don’t worry about it Tashigi, I’ll pay for the boys.”

The lady marine looked at the other women, “Ebony!”

“‘ello.” 

“You ran off with the Straw Hats!”

“That I did,” Ebony turned to the barkeep. “How much do I owe you? I’ll grab another three barrels of water, on top of the ones that my Captain and crewmate ran off with.”

“Uh,” The woman was clearly confused at the situation, the anger that had been there previously sinking down into confusion. “Four plus three… that’ll be 9,870 berri.”

She nodded and pulled out a pouch, clearly counting the money out before handing it to the woman. 

“Keep the change as an apology.”

The marine was still staring at Ebony.

“You’d better get going, Tashigi. Smoker’s going to be in trouble soon.”

That seemed to get the women moving, bowing towards the barkeep after paying for her and her superiors meals and running out of the bar.

Ebony lifted onto her back, strapping it into place before putting a barrel under each arm. The pirate scanned the room, her eyes coming to a stop when she noticed the dovahkiin sitting in the corner. 

It wasn’t hard to miss her freeze, but she continued and then left following after the marine.

What confused the dovahkiin was the recognition clear on her face.

This Ebony had recognised her, but she was an Outlier. 

So how had the pirate known her face?


 

I knew that face, I’d have to. I’d spent hours trying to customise it in the character creation part of Skyrim. The Imperial Assassin who spent more time outside in the sunlight, than they did inside crypts. A member of the Thieves Guild and friend of the Companions. The one to holt the Civil War and attempt to make peace between the two factions, and get them to see the true enemy. The Thalmor. 

They were here. Another Outlier.

And not only was it another Outlier, but it was also the freaking Dragonborn. The goddamn Dragonborn! 

Ulpia Rilulus. 

The Last Dragonborn, Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, Champion of Sanguine, the Savior of Men and Alduin’s Doom. 

How on earth were any of us meant to go up against her? 

Chapter Text

It still hadn’t sunk in that I had seen Ulpia Rilulus, or at least someone that resembled the Dragonborn. 

If the Dragonborn was here, in what state was Tamriel? Had Alduin eaten the world, or was his soul consumed? I didn’t want to get on the bad side of someone who killed dragons for fun and profit in her spare time between Dark Brotherhood missions and the prophecy that was foretold centuries before her birth.

Usopp had confirmed that Big Hero 6 existed, and now Skyrim? 

Was my homeworld the original world? Or a place where worlds originated from, spreading out like the roots of a large tree that never stopped in its growth.

I didn’t have the time to think about it though, as I left the bar with the barrels of water. In the distance, I could see Smoker chasing after the others.

“WATCH OUT FOR THE CAGE CAPTAIN!”

The Captain turned around, still running in the opposite direction.

“OKAY! EVERYONE SCATTER!

An order was an order, so I followed it, slipping in between the buildings surrounding the bar and into the side streets. It didn’t take me long to realise that I had no idea where we were meant to meet up, and for the life of me I couldn’t actually remember that small detail from the manga or anime. 

Sneaking wasn’t my forte, but I could definitely keep quiet even if I was carrying an obscene amount of water. There were enough people around that I could blend in with the crowd, so to speak, slipping out of view of the marines that had scattered themselves when they heard Luffy shout.

“You there!” 

I froze. Crap. I kept walking, my steps faster, strides longer.

ZUL MEY GUT!” 

(“Hey! Skeever butt!” Echoed around me.)

Fuck! I could feel myself moving in the direction that the shout had directed me in. I wasn’t mistaken, that was definitely Ulpia Rilulus. 

I was force walked straight back towards the bar that I had previously exited, and into a street off the main road. 

“Ebony, correct?”

I was still slightly under the influence of her thu’um, which made it difficult to answer verbally. Struggling, I nodded my head slowly as if I were under the influence of a drug or alcohol.

“Ah, I forgot my thu’um would still be active.” 

I’m not entirely sure what she did, but she removed it and I could feel my body come back under my control.

“Please don’t do that.”

“Well, you wouldn’t have come to me, now would you?”

She was probably right, I definitely wouldn’t have. Not in public at least.

“You didn’t have to Shout at me.” 

I was revealing far more than what I probably should have, I didn’t know whose side she was on. Probably her own more than anyone others though.

She stared at me, dark teal eyes boring into my soul. Who knows, she ate the souls of dragons she could probably eat the souls of humans if she really wanted to.

“You know much, I can see it.”

One wrong word and I would be dead. 

“Probably too much for some people.” 

The water barrels were getting quite heavy, and I wasn’t sure if that was a metaphor or not for the amount of sheer nervousness I felt in that moment.

“Crocodile certainly wants your crew dead, I wonder if killing you would release me?”

My hands started to shake; if she wanted to kill me, I would be dead before I knew it. 

“If he’s holding that over your head, I sincerely doubt he’ll ever let you go.”

“You know.”

I snorted, “Yes.”

“How?”

I debated for a moment, should I tell the truth and gain an ally? Or would telling the truth enable my death quicker? 

“I’m not from here either.”

She wasn’t expecting that, out of anything that I could have said, I could tell.

It was clear as day on her face.


 

Ulpia hated using her thu’um like that, summoning and holding dragons and throwing draugr off of mountains was one thing, but on another human being. 

It just didn’t feel right. 

(She’d said as much to Ulfric when she last saw him, too.)

The answer to her question of how was answered, and not in the manner that she was expecting.

“And where is here exactly.”

“Well I’m not from Alabasta, and I’m certainly not from Cyrodiil.”

“Outlier?”

Ulpia’s voice had dropped to a whisper.

Ebony nodded.

So there were others like her! 

That cow-chucking, milk-drinking bastard Crocodile had lied to her face.


 

Ebony had warned them about the cage that they now found themselves in. The silence between the four pirates and single marine was stifling. 

“How did she know?”

Luffy looked at Smoker, confusion on his face.

“You’ve known her longer, she knows stuff.”

The marine growled at him, “I know she knows stuff, but how does she know stuff?”

Like hell was Luffy going to give that secret away, he knew damn well when things were safe to talk about and as much of a decent guy Smoker seemed, he was still a marine and bound by duty to execute Ebony on sight. 

Shishishishishi, it’s a mystery!”

He was winding him up on purpose, but he didn’t expect the marine to lunge at him with the nanashaku jutte. It hit him right in the chest and sent him flying at the bars of the cage.

“Gwahhhh!”

“Luffy!”

Smoker stood over the top of him, jutte still pressed into his chest.

“I can’t move!”

Luffy was having a little difficulty breathing, it was as if he was being held down under water and was sinking even further down into the ocean.

“The end of this jutte is covered with seastone, it’ll affect anyone with devil fruit powers.” The cigar in the marines mouth was still smoking quite heavily.

“It keeps criminals like you from getting away, marine headquarters is covered with the stuff.” The marine continued, “The stuff is still a mystery to us, but it’s from the ocean.”

“That’s what’s making Luffy weak!”

Luffy couldn’t help but think that it was probably why Smoker was still in the cage with them, it must have been built with the stuff. Nami voiced this out loud and Smoker vowed that he would have destroyed them all before escaping himself if it wasn’t the case.

“How can you want to fight when we’re all in this predicament?” Usopp shouted.

A cold voice came from outside the cage, and it made Luffy instantly want to fight them without actually knowing how it was.

“He’s right, you know. You should all really cut it out.” 

There was an almost evil chuckle, “You’ll end up killing each other. Why not just be friends?”

The pressure from the jutte on his chest loosened, as Smoker turned his attention towards the man who had put them all in the cage to be leered at like animals. 

“Crocodile!”

So that was the man who caused Vivi and her people, country so much grief even if they didn’t know it.

“You really are a stray dog, Smoker-kun. You’ve never thought of me as an ally, not even once.” 

Luffy was able to get up off the ground and onto his knees. He could see the Shichibukai staring at them all, with a smug smirk on his scarred face. 

“I was going to have you die in an accident, I mean you have been reported to have fought with Straw Hat multiple times,” He came up towards the cage, but not close enough for any of them to grab him. 

“I’m not sure why you came here, but it was obviously your own choice. The World Government believes me when I say all is fine here, so they wouldn’t send any marines here.”

Luffy went to grab the cage, ready to shout at the smug man outside before Zoro put a hand on his shoulder. 

Right, it would make him weak. Not something that would be in any way helpful in the current situation.

“HEY! YOU!”

Crocodile just laughed, “I never thought that you would make it this far, Straw Hat. It’s almost a shame that I’m going to have to kill you. But the guest of honour isn’t here yet, my partner is going to pick her up.”

He had to be talking about Vivi. 

Damn it.

Luffy was stuck in this cage and couldn’t do anything; only Sanji, Chopper, Ebony and Vivi were on the outside.

All they could do now was wait.

Luffy wasn’t very patient.


 

Ulpia was standing in front of me, her body had gone absolutely stiff. 

“I’m assuming you didn’t know that there were others like us?”

“No.”

This could be advantageous, a little, but I didn’t want to manipulate. 

“There are a lot more of us than what the Government wants us to realise.”

“But, you are not from Tamriel.”

“No, I’m from a place called Earth.”

The Dragonborn wasn’t happy with how Crocodile had failed to inform her of others like her, it was obvious on her face. The flash of gold in her eyes gave it away even more. 

The gold dust was signature of an Outlier’s otherworldly nature, what fell from our wounds as well as blood and what was left of us when we died here in this world. The gold was reminiscent of a galaxy, dotted with shining stars and moving colours, the shifting from iris to gold moved in a way similar to the Aurora Australis or the Aurora Borealis. 

The next thing that came out of my mouth shocked even myself,

“Do you want to help us stop Crocodile?”

The gleam in Ulpia’s eye changed, and she nodded, a wide grin taking over her face and teeth gleaming.

Those teeth looked far sharper than a human’s teeth had any right to be.


 

Somehow the pirates had resorted to making fun of absent members of their crew, one had even fallen asleep. How the green-haired swordsman, the one that Tashigi couldn’t stop ranting about whenever he was brought up in conversation, could sleep in a situation like this was absolutely insane. 

They were pirates, of course, they were insane.

The orange haired female that was in the cage had started yelling at her crew mates, prompting the Shichibukai to call her feisty.  She definitely was, scolding both the man who had trapped them and those that were actually in the cage.

“CROCODILE!”

This was an enraged female voice coming from the top of the large staircase. It was also a familiar voice, Smoker realised, having once heard it from a state address given to the people of Alabasta from the Princess of the aforementioned country.

“Vivi!”

“Welcome, your highness.” Crocodile grinned, “No, Miss Wednesday. You’ve done an impeccable job avoiding the assassins I’ve sent after you on your way here.”

That definitely explained why the Princess was with the Straw Hats, pirates would have been able to help stop assassination plots. 

The Princess had tried to take the head of the sand logia, letting out a cry of victory. 

Poor highness, that’s not going to work.

Crocodile had grabbed the Princess by the throat, sand pouring into her mouth. If Smoker was able to do anything, he would have, but even he couldn’t get any smoke out of the cage keeping him trapped.

He tried to send smoke out of the cage, but the moment it got too far from the bars it got weaker and weaker until it didn’t exist any longer.

“Shall I turn you into a mummy, highness?”

The pirate captain was visibly incensed. 

“LET GO OF HER! I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”

Crocodile threw the royal into a chair, leaving her coughing and heaving, sand spilling from her mouth and onto the ground.

“Sit, highness and stop glaring at me.” Turning away to face his partner, “The party is just about to start. Am I right, Miss Sunday.”

The woman, dark-haired and with a purple cowboy hat on grimaced slightly before putting on a smile. 

“You are correct, it’s past seven.”

Dread took over Smoker’s body, what was happening now?


 

Ulpia had left me, walking off on her own after getting a call on a den-den mushi about the plan beginning to start. 

“I’m going to try and sabotage the plan for utopia from the inside, but I don’t know how successful I will be.”

“You can only try, I suppose.”

She’d smiled at that, a true smile. “I may be able to try and trust Mister Two if it comes to it. They might be able to help.”

All I had to do now was to find the others, but Sanji and Chopper found me before I could look. 

“The others disappeared.” I did warn them about the cage, but it probably wasn’t soon enough.

Chopper was a little out of breath, from running from the marines and the lack of water from traversing the desert.

Silently I passed him a barrel, which he gladly took. 

“They’ve probably gotten captured.” 

Sanji grinned, “There’s only one way to find out.”

I put the barrels down, hiding them away in a corner where I could grab them later on. 

“Let’s find us some Baroque Works goons, shall we?”

Sanji put an arm out so that I could grab onto it, like a gentleman leading a lady onto the ballroom floor. “Shall we, my lady?”

Laughing I took his arm and offered my own to Chopper, who now stood towering over me. 

“How about you, young sir?”

Chopper looked at the pair of us strangely, clearly wondering what the hell we were going on about but he took my arm regardless.

It didn’t take us long to find a group of Baroque Works underlings, all of them seemed to be hanging out in front of Rain Dinners, they were waiting for someone or something to happen. 

The three of us went to town, knocking many of them unconscious and bloody. There weren’t any that put up a big fight, so there was no need for me to get out my knuckledusters. My gloved fists were good enough.

Sanji did keep one awake though, bloodied as he was.

“Hello?” Sanji shook the man a bit before he continued to speak, more nervous than before. “What should we do with these ones?”

“These ones? Where are you? Spit it out.”

I put my hands up to my mouth to stop the giggles from coming out; Crocodile sounded angry and it was almost comedic.

“Sir! At the front of the casino Rain Dinners in Rainbase, sir!”

On the other end of the den-den mushi you could hear an evil cackle, before we heard clicking from the den-den mushi as it was hung up on.

“Very well done, you should win an award for that performance.” Sanji patted the man on the shoulder, making him wince.

The man we had held captive gave us a nervous glance, “T..thank you. May, may I go now?”

“Perhaps we should let him go.” Sanji and Chopped looked at me, a little flabbergasted. “After all, he did so help us out.”

“Yes! Listen to the Lady!”

The Baroque Works member seemed to perk up at this, hope blooming in his eyes.

“But he’ll tell.”

“Only if we send him to someone who is actually loyal to Crocodile.”

“Oh.” Sanji grinned, “Who isn’t?”

“Miss Midsummer Eve is an old friend, she’ll take care of him for us.”

The hope that was in our captives eyes was now gone, replaced with fear. 

“Not her!”

Turning to the man I spoke, “It’s either her or we leave you for the crocodiles to feast upon. Your choice.”

Such a range of conflicting emotions went across his face before he nodded, defeated. “I’ll go find Miss Midsummer Eve. Who do I tell her sent me?”

“Tell her the Crow sends their regards.”

That was definitely way too much fun to say, but at least I wasn’t killing anybody. I wasn’t a Bolton. 

Sanji let go of the man and he took off, legs almost disappearing in his haste to get away from us.

“Look, Chopper.”

“More of them have shown up where we fought earlier.”

I turned to the doctor, “Are you good to follow the plan? I can stay with you if you would like?”

“I can do this, Ebony. Don’t you worry about me!”


 

It may have been the Captain’s idea to leave a note behind , but it was my writing on the wonderfully detailed letter on the unconscious body of Mister Three. 

Getting them all out of the cage went much the same as I remembered from the manga and anime, maybe a little more destruction but at least we were all alive.

“Everyone alright?”

There were some thumbs up, but mostly hacking coughs as water was being expelled from lungs. Smoker and Luffy were the worst of us, but I suppose that’s what happens when you eat a devil fruit.

“Why did you save me?”

Smokers voice was ragged, raspy. He repeated himself, facing Zoro.

“Why did you save me?”

His jutte was thrust into Zoro’s face, and blocked by a sword. 

“Tch, I was following my Captain’s orders. No need for thanks.” Zoro pushed the jutte out of the way, “It was just Luffy being weird.”

I made my way towards the marine, poking him in the shoulder as I passed him. “The Captain is fair, no matter what you think about pirates Smoker.”

“You wouldn’t join up with anything less, Crow Queen. But I assume that none of you have any complaints about me completing my duties here.”

“Wouldn’t expect anything less of you.” 

“This is what we get for saving your life!”

The Captain was still out of it, unsurprisingly Usopp was as well. We could all hear footsteps and shouting coming from a short distance away. I slipped away for a moment, to grab the barrels of water. 

I’d paid for them, of course I was going to take them with me. The corner where I had put them wasn’t far from where we had emerged from the flooded casino, so I could still see my crew (and they could still see me.)

The barrels weren’t there. 

“Damn it!”

“Damn it what, Ebony?” 

That was Usopp. 

“WHERE ARE YOU CROCODILE?” 

And there was the Captain.

“Oh, they’re awake.”

“The water’s gone!”

I walked back towards the standoff between the Captain and Smoker, with the marine staring at Luffy in honest confusion. 

“Chopper probably has the water.” 

I hope that he did at least, I’d spent a bit on that water and I didn’t want my money to go to waste.

“Well? Do you want to fight?” 

Smoker stood in silence, staring at Luffy who readied himself with fists held high.

“THIS WAY HURRY!” 

The group of marines were getting closer, footsteps falling heavier and louder than before. 

Smoker let out of deep sigh, closing his eyes. 

“Go.”

“Huh?”

“Only this once will I let you escape.”

“Thank you.” 

My voice was quiet, but everyone there heard me. 

“I’m not doing it for you, but the next time we meet…” Smokers eyes opened, glaring directly at Luffy. “Remember Straw Hat Luffy, you’re a dead man.”

“THERE’S THE STRAW HAT CREW!”

The crew stood there in shock and Zoro started laughing.

“Come on, we’d better get going.”

“Which way are we headed?” “The Marines are right around the corner!”

“Right.”

Luffy stayed behind for a moment, and spoke with Smoker as the rest of us ran off. We had no idea where we were going, and we didn’t need to as a giant crab came into view with Chopper and the perverted camel sitting on top.

I was pleased to see the barrels of water strapped onto the crab.

“HI GUYS!”

“HOLY CRAP CHOPPER!” “THAT’S A CRAB!”

Luffy was instantly enamoured, “That looks tasty!”

“No eating our ride, Captain!”

Shishishishishi! No promises!”

Nami was concerned, “That face looks incredibly shady doesn’t it?”

Chopper called down from the top of the crab, “He’s a friend of Eyelash! They were born in this town so they know each other!”

“Of course the crab is a pervert.” I muttered, with Nami and Vivi nodding in agreement.

The next few moments were hard to comprehend; Vivi was almost snatched by a sneakily hiding Crocodile and Luffy, the self-sacrificial idiot took her place. 

“DAMNIT LUFFY!” 

“LUFFY!”

“CAPTAIN!”

“YOU GUYS GO AHEAD!” Luffy shouted as he was flown in the direction of Crocodile and Miss All Sunday, “I’LL BE FINE BY MYSELF!”

“YOU’D BETTER BE FINE!”

I promised Ace and Sabo I’d take care of you.


 

Ace and Sabo each felt a sense of foreboding, as though something was going to go wrong at any moment. But that could also be because they were attempting to get a hold of Whitebeard on a flimsy den-den mushi that had fallen into the ocean at one point.

“It’s hopeless, it’s not going to work.”

Ace was a hair width away from pitching the snail into the ocean. 

“Give it a little longer, it’ll connect eventually.”

Sabo was always the more patient of the brothers, but not by much as he to wished to throw the snail as hard as he possibly could and as far as he possibly could away from the small boat the two were using. Drowning the snail was always a possibility.

The snail sensing its impending doom, squeaked and spluttered, before it finally connected. 

“Finally!”

“This is the Moby Dick, Marco here.”

“Marco!”

“Ace! Yo, Oyaji! Ace is on the line!” 

Marco must not have been alone, as there was a loud commotion on the other end of the snail. The two brothers heard a cacophony of voices, before one clear sound was heard. Sabo was silent, as he watched his elder brother converse with the man who he had come to see as his father. It was nice to see Ace not hating a parental figure.

“My son, how has your search been?” 

It felt good to hear that voice again.

“It could be going better to be honest, the traitor has friends on the outside it seems. They’re helping him out by the looks of things.”

There was a growl on the other end of the line, “That isn’t good.”

“No it isn’t, but I have good news!” Ace didn’t let Whitebeard answer, as he continued. “Sabo is alive!”

There was a sharp intake of breath, clearly Ace’s captain knew who he was, before there was a barrage of laughter.

Gurarararararara! That is two of your brothers that have lived!”

The air caught in Ace’s throat. 

“Thatch is alive?”

“Your damn right I’m alive!”

Sabo couldn’t help but laugh, “Brothers are coming out of the woodworks all over, huh Ace?”

There were tears in the corners of Aces eyes, but they refused to fall. “Best news I’ve had in weeks!”

“Is that Sabo?”

Thatch was clearly interested in speaking to another person who Ace had believed to be dead it seemed.

“Yes, Thatch I presume?” 

“Yes! We’ll have to swap stories of our deaths!”

Ace cringed, of course his pompadour wearing brothers humour was as dark as ever and a near-death experience hadn’t changed that.

“Definitely!”

The den-den mushi had been handed back to the captain, as Whitebeard spoke next.

“Have you met with your friend yet?”

The word friend was said with another meaning behind it, something that both the blond and brunette understood.

Damnit! I knew I forgot something!” Ace’s ears started to glow red in his embarrassment. 

“Oyaji, it’s not like that!” Was added as an afterthought.

Sabo couldn’t help but think that Ace definitely did think of their mutual friend like that, but wasn’t game enough to do anything about it. Too scared to ruin a good thing, and he couldn’t help but feel sad. Nobody should feel like they didn’t deserve to have a relationship filled with love, but he could vaguely remember conversations that Ace and he had had when they were kids and Luffy had gone to bed, snoring his head off, about how Rouge had fallen in love with that man and her life was ruined because of it. Ace had vowed to never allow anyone to fall in love with him, or to fall in love with anyone else as he felt that his blood was cursed. 

It seemed that in the decade that they had been apart that thought hadn’t changed. 

“Yes, yes, you’ve said that before.”

Whitebeard’s voice brought Sabo back into the present and away from half remembered memories.

Oyaji!”

Chapter Text

Nico Robin wasn’t sure what prompted her to return to the scene where her boss had buried Monkey D. Luffy alive, nor was she sure why she helped him get out from underneath the sand. 

All she knew is that she did it.

The pirate captain was bloodied and bruised, unable to move far at all with chest heaving in and out with deep breaths. His eyes told a different story, determined and full of fire, even if they happened to be bloodshot, the scar under his eye pulling and puckering as if it were to rip open once more.

His voice was quiet as he huffed out a thank you, but Robin was curious.

“Why do you fight?”

The boy; he was only a child, but so was she once, stared up at her in confusion. 

“All of you that carry the name of D…”

A giant smile flashed past her eyes, marine blue and ice. She shook her head from that memory; now wasn’t the time.

“D?” 

Even the pirate in front of her didn’t know of the Will of D. 

Just what in the world are you?

There was a familiar silhouette behind her, one that she had left bloody but alive.

“What has happened to her highness?”

“Oh, you’re awake.”

“Now that I understand the nature of your powers, I won’t be taken by you so easily!”

He was angry, but she wasn’t going to allow him to do anything to her and thus directed his attention towards the pirate captain in front of her.

“Stop it, we don’t need you to be any more injured then what you were.” She made her way back to the crocodylus musacae, gesturing with a hand towards the boy.

“Why don’t you save the boy? He’s one of the brave and gallant knights who safely escorted your darling, dearest Princess Vivi back home.”

Climbing atop the beast, she continued.

“Besides her highness is fine, she’s currently headed towards the capital. I’m unsure as to what will happen from here on out,” Turning to leave, she looked at the two she was leaving behind. Both loyal to the Princess in different ways and both expendable in the eyes of Crocodile’s plans.

“But you know the state of this country…”

Nico Robin had left, replaced by Miss All Sunday as she rode off towards the capital of Alubarna.


 

We’d lost time, too much time trying to cross the Sandora River. 

“Do you think we can make it in time?” 

I hadn’t seen or heard Zoro so worried, or at least worried about how the swordsman usually was. 

“We’ll be cutting it close, even with the perverted camel.” Said camel was eyeing us girls, so I gave him a glare and he turned away, cowering.

Good.

“Eyelash can only hold two people, and don’t forget from here on out we’ll be targeted by Baroque Works.” Usopp pointed out, causing our shoulders to all drop. 

This wasn’t going to be easy.

 “Look over there!”

“Is it m…more enemies?” 

Usopp was trembling, his obvious fear leaking through more so now that Luffy wasn’t with us. I patted him on the shoulder, trying for comfort but I ended up scaring him more causing him to jump and let out a squeal.

Zoro and Sanji couldn’t hide their mirth, laughing as I apologised to the sharpshooter. 

“No! It’s Carue! He’s brought the Super Spot-Billed Duck Squad!”

Carue had indeed returned, with a group of ducks all roughly the same size as him or larger and each wearing a different style of attire. There were some truly impressive headgear and goggles, each saluting the princess as they came to a standstill.

“You’ve got fantastic friends, your highness.” 

Vivi blushed at the praise, her hand stroking Carue’s hatted head. 

Each of us was picked by a duck, and most definitely not the other way around (they were picky things it turned out). The one who had picked me actually pulled my hood off with its beak and walking around me in a circle, as if inspecting me before nodding. It seemed that it liked what it saw, but now it meant that my blonde hair was on display for everyone to see, with its distinctive highlights and hairstyle. 

(There was a reason why I currently wore the hood, and that was until I got a bounty I didn’t want my defining characteristic to be the most noticeable thing about me. I did want a level of anonymity, at least until I was stronger and the hood helped out with that.)

As each of us sat atop a duck, we stared out at the vast amount of desert that we would have to traverse until we reached our destination. 

“If we’re going to do this, we’ve got to do this now.” I voiced my opinion, reaching into my bag and pulling out a small speaker with a microphone attached to it and handed it to Vivi; she was going to need it and even if it didn’t work out, well at least we had tried it.

“What’s this for?”

“Just in case you shouting at them isn’t loud enough, hopefully, this will help. I mean, you never know when something like this would be necessary.”

The speaker was something from home, powerful enough that it was used at festivals and something that I had unintentionally stolen. It had been borrowed from the Music Department and I never had the chance to give it back.

She looked at me with a deadpan stare, “This is another one of those things, isn’t it?”

“Yep!” I cheerfully grinned, but it didn’t reach my eyes.

Meanwhile, Sanji was looking at Carue, “You look after her. Look after each other.”

It was nice to see character development this early on.

We bid the Princess farewell, each of us pulling over cloaks that would shield us from view.

“You don’t think this is going to end well, do you?” 

Zoro’s voice was quiet, as his question drifted towards me as we went over the plains. 

“It didn’t the last time, I want it to go better this time. For everyone involved.”

If the speaker and microphone worked, then it may not end the way it did last time.

Alabasta might get an even better result than the civil war that had occurred, even as small as it was, it still happened.


 

Ulpia couldn’t help but wonder if the plan that Ebony and she had concocted in ten minutes was going to work. At all.

They were going to have to fight, there would be no other option purely because she could sense the Unluckies hanging around and they were exclusively loyal to Mister Zero and would take those picture things with the box that flashed, a camera she was told it was called. 

She could give it hope, but that wasn’t something she wanted to rely upon. But then again, stranger things had happened. Alduin showing up at her unwarranted, well sort of, execution and saving her was once the strangest thing to have happened to her, but then finding herself in another world entirely and forever cut off from everything that she had ever known. Helgen had been knocked firmly off of its perch on her weirdness scale.

She was going to stick with Mister Two, hidden away in the shadows until Ebony showed up; they were going to have to fight each other to save face, with Ebony confiding in Ulpia that she definitely didn’t want that to happen. She knew that the Dragonborn would utterly destroy her in a serious fight. 

Ulpia was under the impression that Ebony didn’t know her own strengths, but was content to say that she didn’t want to fight the only ally that she may have found in this world that didn’t actively want her dead for something outside of her control.

Earlier she had a nervous underling walk straight up to her, shivering in fright even as he confidently walked up to her in front of many of the other named members. He had taken her aside and spoke the words, “The Crow sends their regards.”

Ebony had found her a minion to boss around! 

Ulpia had sent him on his way, asking him to infiltrate the Baroque Works members who had been posted to the side of the Royal Army in civil war. He might not be able to do much, but the fear that both the Straw Hats and Ulpia had put into him was enough that he was going to listen.

Now the only thing to do was try and get Mister Two on their side.

The okama in question was dramatically wallowing, spinning round and round in circles. He had tried to pull her into a dance but she declined. This time at least.

The King was tied up in chains behind them, attached to the wall with a gag in his mouth. He had his eyes closed, but every now and then he would open them up to glare straight at them all; mostly at her, as she was the one that had taken him from the palace, but she had tried to be as gentle as possible about it and it certainly wasn’t her who had given him the black eye.

“We’ve got an hour left until the plan commences, what shall we do in that time?”

The hour passed without any issue, but Ulpia couldn’t help but feel like something big was going to happen. 

Good or bad, she was unsure.

But she couldn’t wait much longer before she was going to attempt something on Crocodile herself.


 

The speaker and microphone were as much of a warning than what Ebony had said to her. 

It hadn’t worked out whenever Ebony had seen this happening the last time, and that thought crushed Vivi more than she liked to admit. All she wanted to do was think of her people as calm, friendly not bloodthirsty nor twisted in the way that the drought had turned them into. 

That Crocodile had turned them into.

Even if the microphone and speaker didn’t end up working, at least she had tried. That they had all tried.

She could see the others off in the distance, as they played distraction, splitting off into pairs and going off in different directions after dodging a bomb that had been thrown at them by Mister Four.

She clasped her hands together, almost in prayer. 

Thank you, everyone!

Taking the reins, she spoke to the ever faithful Carue.

“We have to hurry, the rebels will be here any moment now. Let’s go!”

Quack!

Carue nodded in agreement and took off running in the direction of the rebel army.

Vivi could only hope that she would it there before them, and would be able to at least stop some of them from fighting.


 

Shouting hadn’t worked. Vivi knew that it probably wouldn’t, but she had to try. 

Reaching for the microphone and speaker, switching it she shouted into it, hoping that it would amplify her at her loudest.

“STOP REBELS!” She was a little out of breath from all the rushing about, but this was more important than her lungs. “THIS FIGHT HAS BEEN SET UP!”

Her voice echoed, louder than she would have thought possible with a speaker the size that it was. It fit in her hand, and whilst it was longer than her palm, she could easily grip onto it. 

In front of her she could see a group of rebels stop, pulling their camels up, these ones were at the front of the group and caused those behind them to also have to pull up short. She could see a familiar figure at the front, looking at her silhouette in confusion.

“WHAT?”

The question was shouted at her, almost as suddenly as a bullet flew past her head, and another that had shot it from its intended path.

She had to answer quickly, otherwise, those bullets would have definitely caused the civil war to break out in even more bloodshed. 

“KOHZA! PLEASE LISTEN TO ME!” She was crying now, “THIS IS WHAT CROCODILE WANTS! LISTEN TO ME!”

The rebels had gotten closer to her, only now realising who she was.

“Isn’t that the Princess?”

“But she was missing!”

The only person she wanted to talk to at that moment was Kohza, and he got down off of his camel.

“Vivi?” He reached out a hand to her, shakily not knowing if it was the right thing to do in that situation. “What’s this about Crocodile?”

She collapsed onto her knees, Carue supporting the majority of her weight as she attempted to right herself.

“Crocodile is the cause of all of this,” Taking in a deep breath, looking up into the eyes of her childhood friend. “Baroque Works has infiltrated the country. We’re all in danger.”

Kohza was looking confused and angry, wondering why the country’s Hero would want this to happen. 

Vivi tried to explain, but the rebel crowd was getting angsty. Most wanted to listen to what their Princess had to say, but the rest. 

They just wanted blood.

Another bullet flew in their direction, with Carue leaping in front of it as it was directed towards Vivi herself.

“Carue!”

The duck was bleeding heavily, as his body covered hers. 

The rebels around them turned towards the capital in shock.

“The guards have turned on the Princess!”

“If they are willing to shoot the Princess, what would they do to us?”

“Yeah!”

Kohza and Vivi watched in horror as the rebels who were still seated on their camels stampeded towards the city gates. 

The War had begun afresh, as though all of Vivi’s words about this being what Baroque Works and Crocodile wanted had been nothing more than a whisper.


 

I had no idea what I was doing, only that I was following behind Usopp and the Pervert Camel on my duck at a further distance, having been the last to leave as a decoy.

Sanji had split off from us, going with Chopper to face Mister Four and Miss Merry Christmas. I knew that they weren’t going to have any issues facing them; the only problems being the ones that Usopp and I were headed off to fight. 

Mister Two and Miss Midsummer Eve.

Bentham of the Wild and Ulpia Rilulus.

Standing in front of Mister Two, as Usopp and Eyelash removed their hoods and still trying to wrap my head around the decoy that we had used that was also a camel who had ridden atop a duck.

One Piece was confusing.

Ulpia was nowhere to be seen.

Usopp, on the other hand, had been soundly trounced by Mister Two and was bloodied and beaten.

“Come on Usopp! Eyelash!”

Sanji rounded the corner, scolding the two lying on the ground.

“The decoy part was played perfectly, at least. But the two of you could have done better!”

“Why are you even here, Sanji?”

Usopp sounded curious, even suspicious.

“Because your ducks ran to me for help!”

He then spotted me.

“Ebony! Where is Mister Two? Miss Midsummer Eve?”

“Midsummer Eve didn’t show up, and I was too far away to even see Mister Two.”

“Shit!” Sanji’s cigarette was bitten in half, “Mister Two must have gotten away!”

I spoke too soon, as a familiar voice could be heard from above.

“Hello, Crow Queen.”

“Miss Midsummer Eve.”

I carefully made my way off of the duck, keeping my eyes on the Dragonborn. We had to put on a good show, after all. We didn’t know who might be watching us.

Sanji was clearly torn, but I shooed him off. 

“You go and help Vivi, we’ll be okay here.”

He nodded and took off after Mister Two, or at least in the general direction that Vivi was as it was clear that Bon Clay was going to go after the Princess.

Usopp and Eyelash looked awful, and I couldn’t help but feel terrible. If only I had gotten to them sooner, maybe they wouldn’t be in such bad condition.

“Go! I’ve got this!”

“But Ebony..” I didn’t let Usopp finish before I was pushing him towards the ducks.

“Go!”

I still hadn’t taken my eyes off of Miss Midsummer Eve.

Time to see if I would be able to measure up to the standards of the Captain.

“Shall we begin?”

Ulpia was still standing on top of the building, staring at me with her piercing gaze. 

This would be make or break, and even if the two of us had a plan (which was literally just to follow Luffy, and Crocodile will be eventually defeated) I was still going to have to measure up.

“Let’s do this!”


 

“What else can we do? The war has already begun?”

Vivi was looking at her childhood friend, as he screwed his hands up in his hair in despair. 

A shadow moved over the pair of them, as a familiar voice spoke to them.

“That duck is done for! If we don’t hurry, that battle is only going to get worse.”

Vivi could feel her skin crawl, backing up slightly. Something wasn’t right, Usopp knew what Carue’s name was and would never call him duck, the two of them liked each other far more than that.

“Vivi, who is this?”

Kohza asked, watching as his friend flinched backwards. 

“What’s wrong?” 

There was a concerned look on the mans face, but even Kohza felt that there was something off

“Usopp, prove it’s you!”

He lifted an arm up, wrappings covering it. “Are you doubting me? Look!”

“No!”

Carue had also noticed the strangeness of the entire situation, took one look at the man on the camel and grabbed Kohza by the back of his top with his beak after grabbing Vivi by the wing, taking off towards the capital at the fastest speed that he was able to whilst injured.

Carue fled, running as hard as he could with his two passengers, knowing that he had to get the pair of them away from the place.

“Don’t hurt yourself!”

“What is going on?” Kohza had let the duck fling him onto his back, knowing that his weight was definitely pulling the duck down further.

“That’s not Usopp!”

“Whose Usopp?”

“A friend!”


 

It felt like we were in the Old West, where stand offs were supposedly common and guns were to be drawn at noon. The town was deserted, and the wind was blowing the sand in a dramatic fashion. Either that, or I saw is as dramatic as the two of us stared the other down.

“We have to do this, don’t we?”

This made Ulpia crack a grin.

“Unfortunately,” She leapt down from the building, landing in a crouch directly in front of me. “But I’ll go easy on you!”

“That doesn’t comfort me in anyway, dovahkiin.” I grumbled and she laughed.

“No, I suppose that it wouldn’t.”

I dropped into a defensive stance as she came towards me, fist raised with lightning forming around it.

This was going to hurt. And it definitely would have, as the spell left her hand, I dodged out of the way rolling onto the ground as her other hand flicked a dagger towards me.

The dagger landed hilt up, the blade buried into the sand. I had to be quick, so I grabbed it and threw it back at her, which she dodged. I scrambled to my feet, slipping my hands into the knuckledusters resting at my side.

“Not bad.” 

She grinned at me, a little bloodthirsty.

“Not many people know how too dodge.”

“Most people are stupid.”

That included the admirals; I couldn’t remember them ever dodging attacks. But I mustn’t think on it at the moment, I had something more important to do.

She laughed even as she dived at me with the dagger I had thrown back at her, swiping my arm, cutting through the fabric.

She hadn’t broken skin.

I threw a fist forward, which was blocked and thrown away from her face. I kicked out towards her legs, knowing that she had never fought with her legs before. 

A weakness that I could try and exploit. 

This ended up knocking her to the ground, but she didn’t stay there for very long as she fired up another lightning spell. This time it grazed me and I let out a cry of pain.

I hadn’t ever felt something like it before, the hairs on my arm where she had managed to hit me stood on end and once the initial shock was over it felt like burning. 

(I almost regret equipping her with lightning, but I couldn’t help but feel that even if I had done it when playing Skyrim, it’s not like she wasn’t her own person. She wasn’t a character in a video game, not any longer.)

“Fuck!”

I’d just have to put cold water onto it later, there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it now.

“Can’t handle a little lightning?”

She was taunting me now.

I didn’t grace her with a reply as I dived towards her in a parody of a wrestling spear. That hurt more than I would care to admit, never having tried something like that before and probably didn’t want to ever try it again. I was practically sitting on top of her, straddling her sides as I punched her in the nose. 

She didn’t have time to raise a defence, and the both of us heard a large crack!

I’d broken her nose and blood came pouring out, a second later it started to also turn to gold dust. The mix of red blood and gold dust would have been almost beautiful if it wasn’t a dead giveaway of what a person was.

The broken nose, nor the blood and dust seemed to phase the dragonborn as she pushed me onto my back, with the pair of us rolling around in the sand trying to gain the upper hand on the other. She had incredibly sharp nails, digging into my skin and leaving marks that stung. 

I still wasn’t bleeding though; it was as if she was trying to inflict the least amount of visible damage, whilst still kicking my arse. Like she couldn’t have cared less if someone saw her as an Outlier, but was careful to not out me in the process.

Almost considerate of her.

In the end, we pushed apart from each other, a little exhausted from rolling about so much.

A birdcall and a camera flash could be heard, making the two of us turn around just as the Unluckies flew off.

We stared at them, as they flew off into the distance. I slumped over in relief, I didn’t have to fight anymore. I hoped.

It seemed that that Ulpia agreed, as she sat on the ground holding a hand to her nose. The bleeding hadn’t stopped, but it was slowing down.

“That’s over, then?” 

It was more of a question than a statement.

“I’d like to think so,” She patted the sand beside me indicating for me to sit down. “How are we doing this? How are we bringing Crocodile down?”

“Well, we have to wait on my Captain,” I sat down next to her, at a slight distance though. The fight had made me a little bit paranoid, probably all the adrenaline still rushing through me. “But it shouldn’t be too long now.”


 

“Resistance is futile!”

Carue had somehow made it to the top of the the cliff face entrance of Alubarna. He had collapsed almost immediately, even though he tried to protect Vivi (and subsequently Kohza) from the okama pursuing them.

The fighting that surrounded the trio was intense, as Royal Guards and Rebels clashed around them. Even the shouts of the two of them did little to halt even the closest of the fighters around them. They had made it what they thought was a safe distance, when the voice of Mister Two could heard behind them.

“I said, resistance is futile!”

Carue wouldn’t stop quacking, urging the others onwards, to get away.

“I’ve got her!”

Kohza was more willing to leave Carue behind, as long as it meant getting Vivi to safety, or at least way from the situation.

“Carue!”

Mister Two was getting closer, as he could be heard even over the rowdy fighters.

“Vivi! We’ve got to get to Chaka, he has to be able to do something!”

“What about you?”

“If Chaka can get his lot to stop, I’ll be able to get the rebels to stop.”

The two attempted to weave their way towards Chaka, but were stopped in their tracks. 

The okama had found them and was gleefully cackling in their faces, crowing about it and how he was going to kill Carue and Kohza for interrupting. Mister Two stalked ever closer But was interrupted by two members of the Duck Squad kicking and head butting the Okama out of the way.

Vivi recognised them as the ducks that Sanji and Usopp had been riding and couldn’t help but feel a shot of fear. She hoped that they were okay and that nothing had happened to them.

“Thank you!”

The two ducks nodded, and a very welcome voice was heard.

“Brilliant job, Commander Carue. We can still stop them, can’t we Vivi?”

“QUACK!” 

Carue’s response was heartfelt, even as he lay injured on the ground.

“Sanji!”

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Kohza mouthing the name. She hadn’t seen him in so long and he had grown so much, but he was still much the same as he had been. Just as passionate about everything, even if he was more scarred of the world in general.

“Okay, you guys can go now.” The two ducks saluted Sanji, who had lit another cigarette. “Ebony is taking care of your colleague, so I’ll take you on.”

The okama looked at Sanji in confusion, “Who are you meant to be?”

The ducks that had come to their rescue were attempting to get Vivi and Carue out of there, whilst giving Kohza distrustful glances. 

“I’m fine! Take Carue and go!”

Sanji hadn’t answered Mister Two, which caused the okama to shout at him.

“DON’T GET IN MY WAY!”

“Vivi! Go!”

“OK!”

Kohza and Vivi ran with the ducks, and Carue on their back, diverting attention away from them.


 

Sanji stared at the person in front of him.

He couldn’t understand why people dressed the way the okama in front of him did, but he didn’t want to judge. He tried so hard not to judge at least, but sometimes behaviours were ingrained and learning to unlearn them was even harder than initially knowing about them.

The okama was screaming dramatically, about having lost the Princess and the Rebel leader and how they had met and how Mister Zero was going to be so mad at him.

“You know, you took our sharpshooters goggles. I would really like to get them back for him.”

As if the two were thinking the same thing, they both lunged at the other, legs raised as they collided. 

“Why don’t you give them back? I’m not going to down as easily as he did, you know?”

The okama’s face screwed up in annoyance, “You’re one of Straw Hats friends! You must be Mister Prince!”

The glasses Sanji was using as a disguise fell from his face, and smashed to the floor cracking in the middle.

“No, I’m just a first rate cook of the sea. My name is Sanji.”

“A COOK!” Mister Two seemed outraged at the notion, “Well, I’m a first rate okama! Why would a cook fight a criminal organisation?”

Apart from the fact that I was kind of born into something that greatly resembled a criminal organisation, despite the family being royalty? Also, I was taken in by a pirate, I’ve never not been a part of a criminal organisation. 

Sanji couldn’t help but think.

“I’m a bit of a criminal myself, you know?” He smirked at this, “I’m a pirate cook.

“Tch, this is an eye for an eye, isn’t it?”

Mister Two glared at him, spitting the words out, but Sanji couldn’t help but feel as though his heart wasn’t into it. 

“Precisely. You and Baroque Works are going to leave this country alone.”

Like I hoped that my family would have left the Germa Kingdom alone.

The two dived at each other again, Okama Kenpo versus Black Leg Style, evenly weighted against each other.


 

Luffy knew that he didn’t need to worry about his crew, the stronger members would be able to take care of the weaker ones. Nor was he worried about Vivi and her country, they would be able to save it, no worries about that.

No, he was worried about Ebony.

They hadn’t really had a chance, as a crew, to talk about what her being an Outlier actually meant nor how she knew about stuff.

He remembered being nine years old, when he and Ace had come across a group of bandits torturing a poor man who was unable to defend himself, golden dust pouring out of his open wounds as the bandits (thankfully, none of Dandan’s group) taunted and jeered, calling the man demon amongst other things. 

Ace had steered him out of the way, and out of the forest, mouth taught in a tight grimace. 

The two of them knew better than anyone else what being called demon meant; he may not know who his father was but he knew that Gramps was just as worried about people finding out about his parentage than he was about people finding out about Ace’s. No one deserved to be called a demon purely because of who their father was; they only deserved the name if they had done something themselves to warrant it.

He didn’t want that for Ebony, who was kind. 

The crew was a little flighty around her and he knew that it hurt, that was why everyone needed to sit down and talk, but Alabasta took priority at that moment.

He could only hope that Ebony didn’t resent him for not bringing the topic up sooner.

Chapter Text

“Do you reckon we should go and find Mister Two and my crew mate?”

Ulpia and I had moved from where we had been sitting once her nose had stopped bleeding and we walking in the general direction of the palace. I had no knowledge of how to set a broken nose and Ulpia had apparently given people enough of them that she could do it in her sleep.

“I think I’ll wait here for a bit longer,” Ulpia put a hand over her eyes, blocking the sun. “Mister Two probably isn’t completely down and out yet, and I need him to be so he’ll actually listen to me.”

“Might be a good idea, I’ve got to go and stop a bomb.”

She stopped walking for a moment, “Oh, the bomb in the tower?”

I nodded and was a little angry at myself for not having remembered that it existed. 

“That bomb, yes.”

She waved a hand dismissively, “Don’t worry about that. That minion that you sent my way? Well, he has friends, which gave me more minions.”

A slow smile started to make its way onto her face, the scars pulling in an odd direction. 

“They decided to go off and stop the bomb themselves, and I’m pretty sure that Crocodile doesn’t even know.”

A startled laugh bubbled out of me, that was fantastic. If that was true, then that means that us Outliers had the upper hand over a man who had essentially indentured one of our own in Ulpia.

“Crocodile really doesn’t know what he’s invited into his own house, does he?”

She laughed, darker than my own. 

“Not even a little bit.”

“Shall we go and find some friends?”

She nodded, “I’ll go with you two find Mister Two and then we’ll part ways.”

I picked up on her unsaid cue, “Until Crocodile is defeated, then we’ll see each other again?”

It came out as a question but the other took it as a statement of fact. We would see each other again, probably sooner rather than later.


 

Sanji knew that the okama would try something, but he didn’t expect Mister Two to exploit his weakness when he didn’t even know what it was initially. Sanji knew though that anyone who spent even ten minutes in his presence would be able to tell his weakness for women if one was in front of him.

Facing the man who wore Nami’s everything was incredibly uncomfortable, and as such he couldn’t really defend himself from any of the hits and kicks that were being forced upon his body. 

If Sanji managed to avoid looking at the okama’s face, it definitely made it a whole lot easier to actually concentrate on building a strategy on how to defeat the face-stealing ballet dancer.

The only way to go about it was to trick him into changing back.

“There’s something on your left cheek, you may want to see what it is.”

“Eh?” 

But the okama still checked, face changing back. 

Sanji knew that it was now his time to strike, letting his right leg fly.

Inner muscle kick!”

This caught the okama off guard, stumbling backwards as he choked out blood.

“Back muscle kick!”

This kick caught Mister Two underneath the chin, slamming it shut. He went to try and gather his footing, but Sanji swung his foot back towards the okamas stomach. The okama spat out more blood, even as Sanji flipped into a handstand and spun, legs continuously hitting his target.

The okama flew backwards and scrambled to his feet, stumbling and hunching over before trying to right himself. Neither of them could stand up straight, but that didn’t stop them from charging at each other for one final attack.

LITTLE BEEF BARBECUE! 

EXPLOSIVE BULLET SWAN WIND WING OPEN STYLE!

The kick that both gave the other caused the pair to stagger away from the other, bloodied. Taking a few steps away from each other, Mister Two slumped and keeled over, back hitting the hard ground.

“Ugh!”

Sanji stood for a little longer, falling to his knees, breath heaving. He sat like that for a little while, gathering his breath.

“I lost! I cannot believe you made me go all out.”

Sanji couldn’t say anything to that.

“If you turned into Nami, I wouldn’t be able to hurt or kill you now.”

Mister Two let out a breathy laugh.

“I can’t even move if you want you’ll be able to kill me easily.”

Sanji didn’t want to kill if it wasn’t necessary, and here it definitely wasn’t. Besides, he kind of liked the man and his expressions of friendship. (Still didn’t understand okama though.)

The okama continued when Sanji didn’t answer, “Crocodile will end up killing me later, so hurry up and finish the job!”

That didn’t sit well with Sanji, who knew damn well what it was like to be tossed aside for not doing a good enough job. He held out his hand.

“That was a good fight, and really what more needs to be said?”

Mister Two started to cry, as the two shook hands. Sanji could hear him vaguely murmuring something about friendship and the power thereof. The pair were startled out of the handshake by two female voices.

“Need a hand, Sanji?”

“Friendship really gets to you, doesn’t it Mister Two?”

The two turned their heads towards the sound of the voices and spotted both Ebony and Miss Midsummer Eve walking towards them. One with a broken nose, and the other with a nasty burn on her arm. (Sanji thought that it looked as though she had been hit with a bolt of lightning, as there were silvery patterns starting to form underneath the redness of the burn and spreading outwards.)

“Miss Midsummer Eve! But what about Crocodile? Your secret?”

Sanji could have snorted at that, if he really wanted the secret to stay a secret he shouldn’t have said it was a secret. He didn’t know what the secret was, but he could hazard a guess.

“The blond in front of you is the only one here who doesn’t know.” She pointed out dryly, blood and gold dust weeping from her broken nose.

Ah, so that was why Mister Two was so worried about Crocodile.

“Miss Midsummer Eve!” 

The okama wailed, looking back and forth between the three standing, he was obviously scared that Sanji and Ebony would do something to the Outlier.

“Call me Ulpia, Bentham.”

Sanji and Ebony turned their heads, grins forming on their faces as they glanced at each other, the Baroque Works former members embraced with one crying about the power of the friendship.

Sanji had gone to stand beside Ebony, gently lifting her arm up and winding his tie around the wound.

“Thanks, Sanji.” Ebony turned around and pointed her thumb around her shoulder at the two crouched. “We should get going, find the others.”

He lit another cigarette, nodding.

“Those are bad for you.” 

She couldn’t help but point out.

He gave her a droll stare but spoke regardless.

“So is being a pirate.”

Ebony let out a laugh.

“Point taken.”

Ulpia had helped Bentham to sit up, the okama struggling even with her help.

“Will you two be alright?” Sanji asked, slightly concerned for their once enemies.

“We’ll be fine, you should probably go and find the rest of your crew.”


 

We said our goodbyes to Ulpia and Bentham, for now at least, with Sanji needing help properly standing up. 

“My ribs…” He definitely didn’t mean for me to hear, but I had and it was a good time to repay him for the tie around my arm, the fabric shielding the wound from the sand. It hadn’t stopped stinging and I could tell that it was going to scar. 

Cool, or maybe not? I couldn’t really decide.

“Do they need to be wrapped? I mean at least until we can get back to Doctor Chopper to look at them?”

“No, it’s alright.”

Sanji.”

He looked away but nodded.

He didn’t want to bother me I could tell and I didn’t necessarily feel completely comfortable basically ordering the man to strip, but it had to be done. And for the fact that Sanji claimed to be a ladies man, he was incredibly shy about the whole thing. 

“I hope that it’s not too tight?”

He did a few stretches and bent over backwards into a handstand. The amount of flexibility the blond had was making me jealous.

“It’s good,” He stood back up again, his face covered in a light blush. “Thank you, Ebony.”

“No problem, as long as it helps.”

-

The closer we got to the north-eastern gate the more nervous I got, but it wasn’t until I saw Usopp, Chopper and the perverted camel that the nerves really kicked in.

How is it that I had spent over a year in this world, and had seen more fighting in that year than I had in the twenty previous, that it was only hitting me now? The panicky sensation that hadn’t left me since I spoke about being an Outlier was coming in waves, hitting me constantly. I could see the waves coming, but like in the ocean, there was little to nothing I could do to stop it from happening; all I could do was brace myself for impact.

Usopp had taken to scolding Sanji for breaking the glasses that he had lent him, while Sanji brushed him off.

“Little Deer, if you have a moment I’ve sustained a lightning induced burn and we think that Sanji has some broken ribs.”

This stopped Usopp as he looked towards the pair of us properly, exhausted and mussed up. Sanji with blood pooling under his eyes, left arm clutching around his ribs slightly and myself holding my right arm stiffly, wincing every so often when fabric Sanji had tied around the wound scratched it uncomfortably.

The doctor acted exactly as I thought he would.

“Ahh! You two need a doctor!”

“You are a doctor, little deer.” 

“You’re a doctor!”

“Oh.” 

And with that he got to work, I told him to check over Sanji first as broken ribs are potentially fatal if left untreated. Sanji had of course protested but gave little resistance once the doctor had gotten his hands on the cook. Once he had finished with Sanji, Chopper turned his attention to me.

“How on earth did you get hit with lightning?”

“Magic.”

Chopper gave me a stare, unsure if I was joking or not.

“I’m not playing a joke little deer, it was lightning magic. A destruction spell if I remember, and not a particularly hard one to cast if you have the means to do so.”

He lowered his voice as he spoke, “Another outlier thing?”

“Yes, another one but not one that everyone has. This is specific to them.”

He thought for a moment, applying a cream of some sort that lessened the stinging which was a nice relief. “It’s going to scar, but this will lessen the pain and the visibility of the scarring.”

“Thank you Doctor Chopper, I appreciate it.”

“That doesn’t please me!” I hadn’t yet witnessed his strange form of happiness at being complimented, but his wiggle dance and smile were quite funny to watch, endearing and saddening all at once.


 

The fighting had stopped momentarily when Vivi and Kohza reached the capital, halting the two opposing armies, but shots were fired again into the rebel crowd.

There was a momentary pause as everyone looked for the source of the gunshot. The one who had fired the shots was tackled, seemingly by another of the guards who wrestled with them, trying to get the gun out of their hands and throwing it over the cliff when they did so.

“Traitor!” 

Another of the soldiers attempted to fire his weapon at the man who had taken down the shooter but was stopped by a vice-like grip on their shoulder.

“Now, now. He was only following orders.”

A tall woman with a bloodied nose that she made no attempt to hide, red blood and gold dust mixing as her grip tightened on the man's shoulder. Everyone there knew what she was, and couldn’t help but feel a flash of fear. 

Vivi, on the other hand, couldn’t help but wonder who had got the jump on her. She had met the woman a few times, but the Princess was always so wary around her for fear of retribution for being a royal, but the Outlier did nothing except look around her in disdain and paranoia. Perhaps it was as Ebony had described? Outliers were not the evil that they had been depicted? 

Vivi couldn’t help but feel a flash of sympathy; she had seen the way everyone else besides the Captain had tiptoed around Ebony after her announcement and she was ashamed of herself that she had pulled away even further than the others. Ebony did not seem cruel or even evil, but Vivi had done so regardless.

She felt like an awful friend to someone who had put their life on the line more than once, it seemed just by purely existing, to get the Princess home in time.

“More specifically, he was following my orders. And those orders were that Crocodile is not getting his way.”

“Miss Midsummer Eve!” 

The cry came out from the one who had tackled the shooter, still sitting atop the struggling man.

“What are you doing? You’re supposed to be on our side!”

This came from various people around the area, both supposed rebels and guardsmen; Ulpia didn’t think that they were too smart revealing themselves so easily to those that had nothing to do with Baroque Works.

“And after everything Crocodile has done for you!”

Whipping her head around to meet the gaze of the person who had spoke this, Ulpia stalked forwards, dragging along with her the Baroque Works underling that she had in a vice grip.

“That man has done nothing for me! He has lied to me, as he has lied to you all!”

“So forward, Miss Midsummer Eve, for an Outlier who I graciously took in when I could have easily just killed you where you stood.”

There was a sharp gasp that flew through the crowd as they all looked upwards, either from the finality of the word Outlier or that it came from the mouth of a man that many still considered to be a hero. Crocodile was floating in the sky, sanding spilling about his body, grinning cockily.

“Besides, with Straw Hat out of the picture. Well, I don’t see how you could stop me.” His grin widened, becoming bloodthirstier, “After all, who here won’t turn on you now that they know what you are?

Tch. I don’t care. Not anymore.” 

Crocodile’s smirk fell off of his face, not expecting the short response from the still bleeding women below.

“Besides, they all know that you’re a liar now.” She grinned defiantly up at him, a hint of dovah showing in her grin. “You found me after all and you didn’t do your civic duty; aren’t all Outliers supposed to be executed on the spot? Why keep me around if you didn’t need my power for something? Why keep me around to instil fear into others if you didn’t have an ulterior motive?”

Sir Crocodile did not have an excuse for that.


 

Luffy was glad that Pell had arrived when he had.

He wasn’t sure that he would be able to make it to the capital in time by himself, but he didn’t doubt that he would have tried regardless of how battered his body was.

He hadn’t been beaten so soundly by anyone in such a long time, apart from members of his own family and that definitely didn’t count. It was nice in a way to know that he definitely needed to keep training, to keep improving and to know that there would always be someone stronger than him.

It was always going to be like the rules of the jungle he played in as a kid; the strong survive.

“Kid, I appreciate what you’re trying to do.” Luffy could sense a but coming from the bird who was flying the pair of them towards the war the was going to happen in one way or another. 

“But why? What are you getting out of helping a stranger?”

Luffy frowned, he knew that many people didn’t see the world in the way he did but he would have thought the Zoan would have understood.

“Vivi is my nakama!”

It really was as simple as that to Luffy. To be honest, he couldn’t fully understand the urge to help some people and not others, he would never see himself as a hero as he wanted all the meat to himself. He would help and protect people he considered to be his and no one else. Ace was the same way.

Pell turned his falcon head around to face him, clearly judging whether or not Luffy meant what he said. 

“Your nakama?”

Luffy nodded.

“Yep! She’s nakama, I don’t need any other reasons and neither does my crew.”

He could feel the falcon jolt under him.

“Your crew?”

Luffy mustn’t have been too obvious before about his piracy, but he could have sworn that it was mentioned in front of him by Miss All Sunday. They were both a fair bit beaten up at the time, so he could have been imagining that.

“Yeah, I’m a Pirate Captain!”

Pell let out a humming noise, “So that’s how you met Vivi.”

Before he could be accused of anything Luffy continued as though the falcon hadn’t spoken. “We rescued her from Baroque Works when she got found out, even after she tried to kill us.”

Pell let out a laugh, it was filled with emotions that Luffy wasn’t sure he felt comfortable naming, but desperation was definitely a part of that mix.

“Undercover work was never going to be her strong suit. I did tell her that before she left.”

Luffy could understand that. He would never be good at going undercover unless it was absolutely necessary; his personality was too loud and colourful. 

“We’re almost there, see?”

And Luffy could see. The battle that he expected wasn’t going on, there seemed to be a standoff with Crocodile floating underneath them in the sky.

“Divebomb?”

Luffy couldn’t help but ask, his childish notion getting the better of him.

The falcon Zoan couldn’t help but laugh in agreement.

“Sounds like a plan!”


 

Chopper couldn’t help but be wary around the blonde woman. Outliers had been something that Chopper had first heard about when he had eaten the devil fruit when people first assumed that he was one of them. But when they managed to cut him, he didn’t bleed gold so he was just a regular monster just not one out of the deepest of hell pits.

Chopper didn’t want to be wary around her, she was kind to him and to the others of their herd, (or was it family? He still wasn’t sure what to call the group of people that he found himself around). Ebony called him little deer, and at one point young sir which made him feel all warm inside.

He could see everyone in the crew, except for the Captain, shy away even slightly from her and he could tell that it hurt. He knew how she felt when his birth herd pulled away from him when they saw his blue nose. 

Chopper nodded his head coming to a decision that he knew he wouldn’t regret.

Walking up to Ebony, he tugged on her sleeve making her turn and look down at him.

“Yes, little deer.”

“I’m sorry, Ebony.”

She stilled, before crouching down to his level. 

“Whatever for?”

“I know exactly what it’s like to be called a Monster. I didn’t mean to pull away.” Chopper could feel tears building up in his eyes and he furiously tried to rub them away before she could notice them.

“You even said to me that the unknown scares people and people don’t like what they don’t understand, but that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person!”

He was suddenly brought into a gentle hug by the woman he was trying to apologise too.

“It’s okay, it’s okay.” 

“It’s not! I should have known better!”

Ebony didn’t say anything else, she just comforted him until he stopped weeping. She pulled away from him, a soft look on her face.

“Did you want me to carry you for a bit?”

Chopper tilted his head to the side, slightly confused.

“It’s not exactly cool at the moment, and I thought that you might like a break from walking everywhere.”

He thought about it for a moment, then nodded in consent.

“Piggyback alright?”

“Yep!” He transformed into a slightly larger form, one about the size of a young child and climbed up onto Ebony’s back. She stood up, securing her arms under his legs and walked quickly to catch up with the others, a little while in the distance.

Chopper vowed to himself that she wouldn’t be alone in feeling like she was a monster. 

Chapter Text

The sounds of fighting could be heard in the not so far off distance, gunfire and screaming in equal measure. It seemed that the princess had not been successful in her attempts at stopping the two sides (or three, depending on how you looked at the situation) from clashing. 

“That doesn’t sound promising.”

Sanji looked worried, as did Usopp. We were all worried, not that we didn’t have cause to be concerned either. 

Knowing that it would turn out well was all good in theory, but the practical nature of being a part of the narrative changed all the rules of the game being played. 

“Hopefully the others will be okay.”

Chopper was still riding piggyback, his weight was a comfort that I didn’t know I needed at that point. 

“They will be, I’m sure.”

Chopper let out a whine, “But what if they’re not?”

I stopped walking, turning my neck as far as I could to try and meet the doctor's eyes.

“We just have to believe that everything is going to turn out well.” 

I couldn’t help but wince, as Chopper accidentally brushed up against my injured arm. He muttered an apology, which I brushed off.

“If do not believe that there is hope, then we have no trust in those that are fighting.”

Sanji and Usopp had stopped a few metres ahead of us, clearly having heard our conversation. The camel had kept walking, slower than it had before.

“I completely forgot that you’ve only seen Luffy fight the once.”

Usopp shook his head. It was clear to me that everyone had forgotten that Chopper had literally just joined us on this journey and had been pretty much dragged (willingly at least) along by our excitable captain.

“Ebony here was the last to join us before you,” Sanji laughed. “I keep forgetting that she knows more than she lets on.”

“Damn straight I do,” I muttered, making Chopper and Usopp laugh as Sanji looked at me sheepishly.

“Sorry Ebony, but you get my point. Every in the crew is used to Luffy and his crazy ways, but Chopper isn’t.” 

“I don’t think Luffy is something that you ever get used to.”

Usopp nodded his head in agreement, “I’ve been with the Straw Hat crew the longest of anybody here and that is true, but what is also true is that Luffy and the others are strong and can do anything they set their minds too.”

I wanted to point out that I had, technically, been with Luffy the longest. Seeing the journey right from the very beginning, but that Luffy and my Captain Luffy were slightly different people. One was flesh and blood, grins and hugs that caught the breath in your lungs and tried to steal the meat off of your plate if you weren’t careful. And the other was flat, yes with character and a backstory and future but not someone that I knew. 

There is a difference between knowing someone and knowing of them. Being in this world certainly helped with knowing the difference.

Ace was case in point for me. I never thought to see that protectiveness in person before and to experience it first hand was breathtaking.ˆ

Unpredictable. Much like the ocean herself.”

Chopper sounded almost wistful as he spoke, head on my shoulder. 

We had started to walk again, catching up to Eyelash who avoided eye contact with me, knowing I wouldn’t be happy if it continued to leer at me.

The fighting was in view. We had made it to the Capital.

“Ebony!”

Turning I could see Nami running towards us, dragging Zoro behind her.

“Oi! Let go, witch!”

“If I let you go, you’ll get lost!”

Zoro grumbled, agreeing even though he definitely didn’t want to.

“I can see Vivi and a man with her, just up ahead.”

Usopp pointed out. I felt relief go through me, so she managed to find Kohza. 

That was good. 

Feeling a tugging on my sleeve, I turned to look at Chopper.

“You can put me down now. Thank you for the lift.”

I knelt down into a crouch, as Chopper hopped off of my back and onto the sandy ground, shrinking down as he did so into his normal form.

“I’m glad that I could help out, little deer.”

He cheerfully grinned up at me, “You definitely did! I feel more energized now!”

I laughed, “Good!”

Sanji patted the reindeer on top of his hat, “You’ll be needing that energy if we have to fight. And with the way, this is going? Definitely going to happen.”

Chopper looked sad and I could understand it from his point of view. He was a doctor and had presumably taken oaths, that is if the Hippocratic Oath was a thing here or at least something similar. Fighting was counterproductive to his nature.

“Vivi!”

Nami called out to the Princess, who was leaning on the man beside her. Vivi’s head snapped up, a look of despair on her face that was quickly replaced with a giant grin full of hope. She looked around, seeing each of us except for the Captain, grin growing wider and wider until I thought that she may break her face.

 “Everyone! You’re here! And you’re all safe!”

“Why are you all banged up, Vivi?” 

Zoro was showing a lot of care for someone who claimed they didn’t care. He was bloodier than what he was when we split up, so was Nami. Realising that everyone was a bit injured, as Chopper went around fussing over the other four that he hadn’t already treated. 

Kohza, on the other hand, was far more suspicious, even as Chopper bandaged his hand. It looked as though someone had stood on it and twisted, a few fingers were definitely broken.

“And who are you meant to be?”

He was standing slightly in front of the Princess, ready to defend her from harm. 

“We’re the crew that managed to get her this far, Rebel Leader.”

He growled, stepping forward slightly but Vivi held him back still smiling. “It’s okay, I know that its them.”

“And the one who had his face,” Kohza jammed a finger into Usopp’s bandaged nose. “He couldn’t have done this?”

Sanji pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it, taking a drag. “It would be a bit difficult for him to do so, considering he doesn’t have my face nor does he have Ebony’s. But the last time I saw him he was a bit injured.”

I snorted into my hand, “Understatement. Ulpia and I just roughed the other up, you two went at each other like two lions.”

“I’m not the one who ended up with lightning burns.”

“True, but at least I don’t have fractured ribs.”

Nami had enough, pushing between the two of us as we had gotten closer in our battle of wills.

“Okay you two, we get enough of that between Zoro and you both. We don’t need you two going at it as well.”

Sanji went bright red, which Zoro snickered at. I rolled my eyes, children.

“Honestly Nami, Sanji is too much of a gentleman to get into too much of an argument with me. And Zoro and I like arguing, it’s more play than anything else.”

Nami ignored Sanji, but nodded at my reasoning.

“We should probably get out of here.” 

We all looked up, just in time to see a small figure dive off of someone who was flying.

I pointed it out to the others, “Why do I have a feeling that was our Captain.”

One moment the figure was free falling and the next obscured by sand.

Sanji turned his head, tilting it so he could get a better look.

“I did see a Straw Hat, so that was definitely Luffy.”

We heard a shout as a fist covered in water flew at Crocodile, “I’LL FINISH HIM OFF THIS TIME! DON’T YOU GUYS WORRY!”

“Counting on you Captain!”

We all cheered, throwing our arms up into the air. Kohza looked on as if we were crazy, maybe we were. We were after all the middle of a war zone.

The bird dove down, joining us on the ground, transforming back into Pell as Vivi burst into happy tears.


It all happened so quickly.

Luffy had dived off of Pell, who also dived downwards towards Crocodile who either hadn’t noticed them or didn’t think they would be able to actually harm him. 

Probably the former. 

Crocodile had already once defeated Luffy and was probably counting on another easy victory again. 

Luffy took a swing with a bloodied fist at Crocodile, which connected much to the older man's surprise. Crocodile quickly righted himself, but the damage was done. Luffy knew that his theory would work; he would be able to quickly produce blood so that he wouldn’t lose too much but there was also the problem of dehydration and he really didn’t want to put himself through that in a desert. 

He could see the others gathering around Vivi and a guy he didn’t know.

“I’LL FINISH HIM OFF THIS TIME! DON’T YOU GUYS WORRY!”

They must have heard him because they cheered, throwing their arms up into the air.

Meanwhile, Ulpia was fending off attacks by disgruntled Baroque Works members who had believed her to be the cause of all of their issues.

“We should never have trusted you Outlier!”

“Outliers are all scum!”

“Just die already!”

These goons were unbelievably weak, every single movement was sloppy and ill-timed. She could have easily fought each and every one of them blindfolded and with one arm tied behind her back, it was that easy.

At least Ebony had given her a good fight, even if it was little more than a show. The other Outlier had managed to draw blood after all and this lot couldn’t even get close to her!

Out of the corner of his eye, Luffy was able to see the woman laughing and dodging attacks whilst knocking those attacking her with waves of lightning streaming from her fingertips. There was a group of Baroque Works members standing off to the side, just watching what was going on rather than joining in the fight.

“Pay attention! Your fight is with me!”

Right, Crocodile.

Luffy thought that it might be better to pay attention to the fight that he was currently in rather than on everything around him.


Ace was enjoying the company of his brothers, both Sabo and the ones of the other end of the den den mushi. He had been worried that things between Sabo and his crew may be a little frosty, considering Sabo had been missing from his life for almost a decade without a word but after Sabo had explained what had happened Ace had realised that there was no need for the concern he had.

So have you met Ebony?

Ace groaned. This was another line of conversation that everyone he knew seemed to like teasing him about.

Yes, if he thought about it too long, then could happen. But he wasn’t going to think about it, wouldn’t let himself think about it, so nothing would.

Sabo grinned at him, “I have!”

Thatch let out a ‘whoop’ before talking again. “Is she nice? Does she fight well? Is she pretty?

Well at least Thatch’s priorities were still the same; fighting ability triumphed over physical attractiveness any day for him. 

“She is very nice, cautious but nice and smart, too. I haven’t seen her fight, but Luffy seems to think she is so I’ll have to take his word for it,” Sabo looked towards Ace before answering the final question.

Ace was staring at his brother, almost daring him to continue before holding a hand out for the den den mushi. Sabo stuck his tongue out him in retaliation. 

“She is pretty, I can see why Ace likes her a lot. Brains, looks and fighting ability.”

Sabo!”

Ace dived at his cackling brother, wrestling him before wrenching the poor snail out of his hand in triumph. Sabo was holding his ribs, laughing at the reaction he had received.

He could hear Thatch and Izo on the other end teasing him, with his father’s signature laugh egging them on. Even Marco, normally the calmest and most collected of his brothers, had a smile in his voice when he spoke next.

Oi! I think we’ve all teased Ace enough. We can tease him more when we actually meet the poor girl.

“I would say thank you Marco, but I don’t think I should.”

Sabo, having recovered, shouted. “He’s pouting!” 

He devolved into another laughing fit. Ace glared at him and the snail, who had Marco’s grin on its face. He could feel his ears beating up, flush rising through his face. 

Just because he was pouting didn’t mean Sabo had to mention it for the rest of the family to hear.


The water had worked more than what Luffy had thought that it would, but he knew that his plan would hold out for the entirety of the fight. 

He both loved and hated it when he found out he was right.

WATER LUFFY!

That wasn’t his name, but if Crocodile kept insisting on calling him that he may end up changing his mind. Though to be fair to Crocodile, Luffy’s usual battle humour did seem a lot like he wasn’t taking the entire situation seriously. Ace used to harp on at him about that, but he couldn’t help it if stupid shit started to happen when he got into a fight.

He delivered a blow to Crocodile, sending the man flying backwards. The victory was short-lived however as the man started to stand, slamming his hands to the ground.

“Hurry up Nico Robin!”

Luffy could hear the king behind him, choking on air at the name. It sounded slightly familiar to Luffy, something that his gramps had said many years ago and the child that Luffy had been had overheard something that he definitely wasn’t meant to.

“Ohara, Flevance… How many more will end up like that? How many Nico Robin’s are the out in the world?”

The sound from the den den mushi was a sigh, then a slamming of a glass onto a table.

“You know as much as I do Garp, anything that threatens the Celestial Dragons or the World Government…”

He almost flinched as his gramps made a noise that indicated rage. “Innocents, Senny! Innocents, hundreds of them dead all because of them. Innocents that the marines are meant to protect! Innocents that we fail every day just by them governing!”

“I know Garp, but what more can we do?”

There was a silence then and Luffy knew that if he made a noise at that moment, he would have been caught eavesdropping. And that would earn him a Fist of who knows what kind.

It felt like hours before someone else spoke. 

“You know, sometimes I wonder if that brat of mine had the right idea. Or maybe even Roger.”

“Garp! Talk like that is treason! You’re lucky it’s me you’re talking to and not someone else!”

“I know, but this world… change is coming. Good or bad, but it’s coming.”

The voices quieted after that and Luffy slept, hearing no more.

But what he did hear that night would stay with him for the rest of his life.


Nico Robin had to give credit where credit was due.

The D. was not giving up, regardless of how bloody and battered he was. She definitely admired that about him, but she couldn’t let her personal feelings get in the way of getting answers.

The marine girl was confident in her abilities, but Robin was better. Much better; she had been surviving on her own longer and that history gave her a set of morals that others didn’t necessarily play by. 

Even if she had been the one to destroy those eight ships herself when she was only eight, what use was a group of marines against someone with her reputation?

The clocktower bomb was still ticking and Robin couldn’t help but tell the marine that.

“Sergeant! Get everyone to the palace grounds! Stop that bomb!”

The lieutenant hadn’t taken her eyes off of Robin, even as she ordered those under her command to abandon her to face the Devil’s Child alone. There was protests, but the blue-haired woman just barked the order again.

They left.

Now it was only herself, the still bound King and the lieutenant.

“Release that man!”

Robin used the woman’s own sword against her, yanking it out of her unsuspecting hand, wrapping several arms around her body and covering her mouth so that no one was able to hear her scream.

Robin hated being like this, but spending pretty much her entire life on the run she could trust no one or nothing. 

“I did tell you not to interfere!”

The marines glasses shattered upon impact with the ground.

Robin hated this life, but she had to continue on the path she was. 

Otherwise, what else did she have in this life but pain and suffering?


The minion that Ulpia had sent was doing a good enough job of trying to stop the civil war from devolving even further she would give him that much credit.

Many had stopped fighting each other, turning to the ones that were boasting about Baroque Works and how when Crocodile took over things would change. They had finally figured out the true enemy and it wasn’t her. 

They weren’t really paying her much attention anymore, which was nice if a bit annoying. 

But it gave her enough time to check on one of her other minions, the one that she had sent to stop the bomb from going off.

The snail was incredibly useful, something that she wished that she had back in Tamriel. Maybe not a snail though, a scrying crystal of some sort would work just as well. Maybe if you could see the other person, too.

“What have you got for me?”

It’s done.

She felt triumphant, but that went away when the minion continued. 

But there is a small problem, now we are being surrounded by marines on all sides. If the bomb doesn’t go off, they will for sure come up here.”

Well now she had to make a decision, to save the minions or not. They were terrified of her, but they still respected her. Out of fear or not, the respect was genuine and she couldn’t help but wonder if she was going to end up like Cicero. Mad because of a choice she made and a character that she had to play.

I’ll be with you soon, don’t you worry.” 

The words were out of her mouth before she had even realised what was going on. 

Thank you so much Miss Midsummer Eve! We won’t forget your kindness!

Was it a kindness in forcing someone to stop a bomb, just because you didn’t like your mutual employer and wanted to fuck them over? Ulpia wondered.

“Call me Ulpia.”

She hung up the den den mushi, before sneaking away from the fight that was now raging on behind her. She had done her bit, now Ebony had to hold up her side of the bargain. Her crew, from what she had seen in her little spying tour, was that they were young and still coming together as a group but were still they each had the others undying loyalty.

She missed having that, but maybe, just maybe, if she was unable to return home and the minions still wanted her around? Well, then she would see.

She had a group of minions to rescue first though.


Marshall D. Teach could not contain his glee.

Everything was going all according to plan. The Yami-Yami no Mi was his and his alone, after killing Thatch he’d fled into the night on a stolen ship that had been left behind by his now first mate, Jesus Burgess.

Once he felt that he had gotten away a safe enough distance to an island where the rest of his crew was waiting, he ate the fruit. 

It tasted absolutely revolting, like tar and off liquorice dipped in coal, but the power that immediately came from eating the fruit was well worth it. It may have been an incredibly sunny day out, right in the middle of summer but the devil fruits darkness overpowered even the sunlight that you could see.

Absolutely perfect.

The crew was happy to see him, especially once he had gotten control over his new powers. The island had been a practice run, and the islands inhabitants were his test subjects. Those that he tested his powers on were those that wouldn’t be missed, beggars and common criminals. He may have been cruel and callous but the islanders didn’t need to know that until he was long gone.

Not that most of them would ever know, not until well after he had left, they would only think that those few weeks had been a string of random eclipses.

Just the way he liked it. 

No one the wiser to his true intentions until absolutely necessary.

He knew that Ace would come after him, but with his powers now and the strength that he had hidden previously he knew that it wouldn’t be a problem. Especially if he used the mans giant weak spots.

A certain Monkey D. Luffy and a woman that went by the epithet of Crow Queen. Ace had never mentioned her name in front of him, only in front of the division commanders and he wasn’t one of them. But he knew that he was very fond of the woman and if he could turn her against Ace, then all the better. 

He could do with a good woman. 

He had once thought that Portgas D. Ace had a thing with a certain Jewellery Bonney, but apparently, that fell through on mutual terms. So he couldn’t use her, but she was a definite back up plan should things go south.

They wouldn’t, but Blackbeard liked his plans and having backup ones was always a good idea. Just in case.

Now if he could find out more about her, that would be fantastic. But he had solved this teensy little problem. He had found a bloodied and beaten mercenary, almost at the brink of death. The crew's doctor, Doc Q, had been able to save the mans life but when he spoke it was odd.

Certainly wasn’t in any language that they knew of, but he was seemingly able to understand pointed gestures and the occasional word that was uttered. Over the last few weeks, the doctor had been able to teach the man some of the local language, enough that they were able to communicate in halting syllables.

The man had sworn his sword to Blackbeard’s cause once the two were able to communicate enough so that the mercenary was able to thank him for saving his life. He had even given them his name but asked to go by his epithet if they were to speak of him when amongst outsiders.

They had sparred once, without him using his powers. Both drew blood. The other man, incredibly strong and bleeding red with gold dust.

Blackbeard grinned maliciously at the thought. He had found himself an Outlier who was more deadly and cruel than any other mercenary he had ever met; one who had promised him his sword in thanks for saving his life. 

And an Outlier who had the practise of hunting down bounties from what he could tell. Perfect, as he had just the person that he needed to track down.

Together the crew that he had gathered under him tore a path through Paradise, deposing kings and causing chaos. Chaos was good and the mercenary that had joined them was very good at chaos, reviled in it in fact. Apparently, he was a big deal back in his world, one with a very large reputation and an organisation that backed him.

The Legend’s story had not ended yet, it had only just begun. Now his story was intertwined with Blackbeard’s forever.

Life was good.

Chapter Text

Ulpia Rililus had to find Ebony to tell her that the bomb was no longer an issue and that she had to find the minions and rescue them from their doomed position in the tower. The could see her up ahead with a group that included the Rebel Leader, the Princess Vivi and Pell the Falcon. The green-haired swordsman and the man who had left with the other Outlier were fending off several armed Baroque Works members.

They, the swordsman and the blond were quick to make work of the cannon fodder. Privately Ulpia couldn’t help but be gobsmacked by the strange hair colours that the people of this world had. Green was not normal, neither was the blue that the Princess had. 

“Ebony!”

The woman turned around, facing Ulpia who was running towards the group. A majority of the group tensed, readying themselves for a fight but Ebony and the blond man did not.

“Ulpia! What are you going to do now?”

The Straw Hat crew relaxed, but those from Alabasta did not. Ulpia couldn’t say that she blamed them, but she thought that her very public betrayal of Crocodile would have been enough to get them to at least relax around her.

Having caught up with the group, she spoke. “I’m going to go and rescue my men. They’ve managed to stop the bomb but they’re being surrounded by the marines on all sides.”

BOOM!

They weren’t even given a moment to take in the news that the bomb wouldn’t be going off anytime soon when a shot was fired, right at the group making them scatter in all different directions.

“We’ve got to find that shooter and get to that clock tower!”

That was something that everyone there was in agreement with, pairing off and taking off in a sprint towards the general vicinity of the clocktower. 

Ebony stayed with Ulpia, reassuring her crew mates that she would be fine. The blond man gave Ulpia a look, knowing exactly what she had done to his friend the last time they had been left alone together. (She did hope that the lightning wouldn’t scar, but it was more of an inevitability than not that it would.)

“Did the minions mention how they stopped the bomb?” 

“No, they did not.”

Ulpia had forgotten that they hadn’t actually said how they had stopped the bomb from going off, only that they had. 

She really hoped that she wasn’t leading herself and the others into a trap.


Nico Robin was in agony.

She couldn’t have cared less about the torture that her body was currently undergoing, her body beaten, bloody and nearly broken. No, it was her mind that was crying out.

The True History was not there. Oh, there was a wonderful lot of history to do with the country of Alabasta and full of interesting little details that she would have at any other time salivated over, but there was nothing to do with the Void Century. 

Absolutely nothing.

She had come all this way, four years of working for and under Crocodile had come to this. Of course, she had to accidentally confirm to him that Pluton was an actual thing, and now he wouldn’t stop looking for it. 

She was dipping in and out of consciousness, but the fury of Crocodile was palpable as he quietly breathed out.

You damned kid…”

She tried to open her eyes to see if what her ears were hearing was true, but the rubble on top of her made that very difficult. She wasn’t even able to use her devil fruit powers with how weak she was in that moment.

The situation was only made worse when she blacked out completely, her surroundings lost to her when she heard the D. 

“Blood can stop your sand, too. Isn’t that right?

She knew no more.


 

Vivi was worried.

About the war, about her father, about her people, about Luffy, about the rest of the Straw Hats and especially about the bomb.

It wasn’t as if she didn’t believe Ulpia when she said that the bomb had been stopped, but she literally could not believe the other woman when she said that. 

Ulpia had been a part of Baroque Works, willing or not, she had been a part of the organisation and Vivi had seen her commit some awful crimes in the process. It wasn’t even the fact that she was an Outlier that was the problem, Ebony had proven that Outliers were not as they had been portrayed. 

There was something in Ulpia that terrified Vivi to the core, even more so than Crocodile who Luffy was currently fighting. There was underlying cruelty in Ulpia’s eyes whenever she faced off against someone, a madness that seemed to want to eat the world. 

To devour the world whole.

(What Vivi didn’t know was in those moments it was Alduin’s soul that was foremost present, that the curse of being the holder of the Mace of Molag Bol, which took more than it’s own fair share of energy to hold back the urge to corrupt and enslave the souls of mortals.)

That Ebony was going to be alone with the woman, again, scared Vivi more than she cared to admit. She wasn’t sure if Ulpia would even care for another person.

She could see the two fighting off a group of millions; a flash of lightning from Ulpia took care of most of them, but there was a number that seemed more resilient. 

Ebony swung an arm out in a controlled manner, seastone knuckledusters seeming to gleam in the sunlight. For a moment it looked as if her attack had done nothing, making the millions laugh at her but the next moment they went flying through a group of millions behind them and through the lower floors of some buildings behind that.

Shit.” 

Everyone was able to hear that comment coming from Ebony’s mouth, but no one seemed to expect that.

“Sorry for the property damage, Vivi!”

Vivi felt an unexpected laugh leave her mouth despite the seriousness of the situation.

“No problems! We’ve just got to find the shooter!”

“What about the clock tower?”

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

Ebony shouted back before throwing a millions member over her shoulder and slamming him to the ground.

Kohza facepalmed, “How could I have forgotten the damn clock tower?”

Usopp interjected, not paying attention to Kohza who glared mulishly at the sniper. 

“It’s the only place where you have a clear view of everything; a perfect sniper hideout.”

The clock tower could be seen from where they were. It was a good distance away and even if the bomb wasn’t going to go off it was going to be difficult to get close enough to stop the sniper from shooting them all. 

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Chopper and Nami running towards them.

“What’s going on?”

“We were saved by the marines!”

Nami sounded just as shocked as Vivi felt at that statement.

Ebony though nodded in understanding, “It was Tashigi, wasn’t it?”

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

Both her and Ulpia had finished up the last of the underlings, with Ulpia tying a rope around several groups of them.

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

“Yes it was!” She seemed out of breath, but she had been running for a while. “Have you found the shooter?”

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

“They’ll be in the clock tower,” Kohza answered. Vivi’s friend was still unsure around the group of pirates, she could tell, but he couldn’t afford to be wary at the moment.

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

“Where did Pell go?”

“The falcon headed off towards the tower.” 

Ulpia kept her distance from the main group, even as Sanji joined them.

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

The clock ticking could be heard even from the distance they were from it. 

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

“Where have you lot been? I’ve been looking all over for you!”

Zoro was covered in blood and sand, standing on the building above them.

Need to get him a damn GPS. 

Ebony muttered, evidently not expecting anyone to hear her as she blushed when everyone looked at her. No one had any idea what a GPS was, but it had something to do with telling which direction was what and nobody could deny that Zoro needed something like that.

(Except for maybe Zoro.)

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

“The marines told us to go north.”

“North or up, marimo?”

“Tch.”

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

Usopp rolled his eyes, used to the arguing between his crew mates. 

“Just keep on climbing, you’ll get there.”

“No.”

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc.

Silence.

An ominous feeling fell over the group as the clock face exploded outwards, several limp bodies landing in bloodied heaps on the cold, hard ground around them. These people must have had faces once, but no longer. 

Vivi covered her mouth in shock, whilst Usopp and Nami started to dry heave. Zoro and Sanji looked at the bodies, then up at the tower; a look of fury on their faces. Chopper ran to Ebony, hiding his face in her leg while the woman herself had a look that matched that of Kohza. Utter sadness mixed with a hideous rage.

The sight of the men was horrific. Their skulls had been caved in with what looked to be a cannon ball. They looked as though they had been tortured, Perhaps even the bomb that they had stopped themselves.

“Oh dear.”

Ulpia was the only one who didn’t seem shocked, her attitude showed that she had seen this or worse before.

Two mad cackling laughs filled the air, as two figures could be seen where the clock face once was.

“Our last job!”

The woman covered in frog-themed clothing raised a frog-themed pistol in the air.

“It’s been fun, oh how they screamed.”

The man covered in the number seven also raised his weapon, giggling

“Especially for you, Miss Midsummer Eve.”

Vivi could see the other ex-Baroque Works member start to shake, possibly from rage but her face was downcast at the ground.

“Come along now Miss Father’s Day, our job is not yet complete.”

“No, it is not, Mister Seven. No, it is not.”

A sharp crack rang out through the silence, as the sound of thunder and lightning filled the sky.

“They were my men. My men. And you slaughtered them. Why?”

The two Baroque Works members had no knowledge of the danger that they were in, as they laughed and jeered. 

“Miss Midsummer Eve, well. Because we could.”

You really shouldn’t have said that.

An intake of breath, and a rumble before an oppressive air filled the space. Vivi was reminded suddenly of a calm before the storm.

A lightning storm to be more specific, as from Ulpia’s hand a continuous stream of lightning hit the two snipers where they stood.

“Cover your ears!”

Ebony shouted, before following her own instructions. Vivi managed to raise her hands just in time, as even through her hands she could hear the screams of pain as Ulpia, calm in her rage, shocked them within an inch of their lives.

Vivi shut her eyes, too. She felt Kohza pull her into his arms, a comfort that she wasn’t sure she wanted at that moment.

Ulpia was terrifying, but Vivi had been proven wrong. 

She did care about others; similar to Luffy in that regard. 

Fiercely protective of those they considered theirs, and if they were threatened (or killed). Well, more fool you.


 

Luffy couldn’t believe his luck.

The blood trick had worked, but now the entire structure of the tomb was collapsing around them. All of that history being ruined because of a fight that Luffy hadn’t been able to finish off sooner. Crocodile had gotten in a hit with his hook, covered in poison. 

Damnit!

He needed to get stronger, that much was clear. He knew that his crew thought him to be incredibly powerful, and he was. But it wasn’t going to be enough, especially since the closer that they got to the One Piece the harder everything was going to become. 

He wasn’t stupid, nor unobservant. They all had to get stronger if they wanted to be able to survive, to live, to thrive.

“You’ve been buried alive, dried out and continued to stand…” A sinister smile broke out across the warlord’s face. “That poison though, you won’t be able to stand that for much longer.”

Luffy gritted his teeth, “You have no idea. You understand nothing.

“You said I understand nothing?”

Luffy wasn’t going to let Crocodile monologue, leaping through the air and throwing a punch through the man. The warlord shifted his body, the sand moving to the side which was followed quickly by Luffy who threw another punch.

This time it connected.

GOMU GOMU NO GATLING!

The fast-paced motion unexpectedly threw Luffy off, even as he managed to hit Crocodile a few times before he felt the poison kick in. He felt woozy and stumbled slightly.

“I understand nothing, and you’re the one whose been poisoned!” Crocodile started to laugh as if Luffy had told him an incredibly funny joke. “Your body is starting to become numb!”

“Doesn’t matter if you win, or I win. You’re going to be stuck under here. It’s almost a miracle that you’re still alive.”

Luffy had had enough, standing up and swinging his leg out, almost managing to kick a hole straight through the middle of the logia.

Why do you still fight? 

The laughter that was present just moments before had turned to seething rage. 

“YOU’RE NOT EVEN SEEKING ANYTHING HERE! WHY ARE YOU EVEN DOING THIS FOR SOMEONE ELSE? WHAT IS THE POINT OF DYING FOR SOMEONE ELSE? IF YOU HAD JUST LET THE PRINCESS DIE, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE NEEDED TO GET INVOLVED!”

Luffy was on his hands and knees, slowly rising from the ground. 

“Like I said, you do not understand. You have absolutely no idea. 

No idea what it is like to have nakama, no idea what it is like to have to fight for everything you have ever had, to love those the world itself was against.

“Even though Vivi keeps saying no to death, she keeps trying to throw her life away.”

Luffy could see the King flinch, knowing what Crocodile was saying to be true. Luffy had no idea what it was like to have a father, he only had Gramps and the mountain bandits and Makino and sometimes he could picture Shanks as being like a father. But Vivi’s dad seemed like a good guy, even tied up and beaten to a pulp as he was.

He fell to the floor, making Crocodile laugh.

“Your body can’t take much more! This is definitely your end!”

The man still cackled as he went, periodically taking a look at his pocket watch.

It’s over!

Luffy wondered if the bomb had gone off, even as he struggled to move onto his knees, knuckles digging into the ground. Surely he would have heard the bomb go off, even as far underground as he was.

There was no sound of a bomb going off, the tomb still crumbling around them.

Luffy took the time to drag himself up off of the ground, hands resting on his knees.

“If it’s you against me, you won’t be able to defeat me.”

His breathing was stilted, but he hoped that his point was getting across.

“Heh, you could barely even speak those words! That pathetic look suits you.”

Luffy continued on as if Crocodile hadn’t spoken, “Because I will be the one that becomes King of the Pirates!

I will protect my nakama and their dreams! We will be free!


 

I had forgotten that the rage of a dovahkin was a terrible thing, and even then Ulpia held back. She could have easily shouted them off of the clock tower, bringing the wrath of whichever Daedra she invoked at that moment.

But she didn’t. I did suspect that she used her strongest shock destruction spell, so that was something.

“We’ll bury them, Ulpia. Or burn them, whichever gives them more honours.”

She gave me a weak smile.

“I had thought this world soft, but I was wrong. The cruelty of men is a sickness that pervades all realms it seems.”

I had nothing to say about that. It was true.

“We should check on the bomb.”

Everyone was in agreement, starting to make our way up to the clocktower. All of us were avoiding the bodies on the ground, trying not to think about how these men had tried to do the right thing and suffered because of it.

I could see Pell hovering above the tower, watching over us and making sure that no harm came to Vivi as we made our way up. The members of Baroque Works that were left avoided us, gazing at us with wary and fearful eyes, forms trembling when Ulpia even glanced in their general direction.

“What will we do with the bomb?”

Kohza still had not let go of Vivi’s hand, apparently trying to reassure himself that she was there. She had been ‘missing’ for two years after all.

“I think it will have to be detonated, far away from any civilisation.”

Vivi hummed in the back of her throat, “I agree. That way no one is hurt and the weapon is gone.”

The rest of the way up was made in mostly silence, with the only noises coming from Chopper. He hadn’t quite recovered from seeing the lack of faces on Ulpia’s men, with my arm still wrapped around his small form. 

He was only fifteen, a fact that had slipped my mind up until that point.

It was a horrific sight to see at such a young age, especially since it was an age when you were most impressionable.

“Your Highness, the bomb’s timer has been reset.”

We all let out a sigh of relief at pell’s words, not realising that we had been holding it in.

“That is good; now all we have to do is wait for Luffy.”

It wouldn’t be too long now, even with the fighting seeming to get worse all around the city. Vivi had a look of despair on her face, watching her people fight each other over a war that should never have come to pass.

“Everyone! I’ve got an idea. Do you still have the speaker and microphone I gave you, your highness?”

She nodded, pulling it out of a pocket that I had no idea she had. Everyone was listening at this point.

(Also, how on earth was she able to hide that? Manga and anime logic is the only thing I could think of.)

“Ulpia, could you shout to get everyone's attention? And Usopp, we’re going to need something flashy to keep it.”

He grinned, having a fair idea of what I was thinking of. 

“We need to put on a show, long enough to keep their attention until Luffy succeeds.”

The snipers had one thing right; you really could see everything that was going on around Alubarna.


 

Usopp liked where Ebony was going with this. He was a showman at heart and this plan was speaking volumes to his soul. 

The other Outlier was to shout to get the attention of everyone, stopping the fighting in its tracks. Although Usopp was confused as to why a single shout would stop the fighting, no one could be that loud unless they were Luffy. 

Once she had finished shouting Usopp was to fire off his flashiest attack to keep the attention on them. Pell and Kohza were to stand with Vivi, and address the fighting groups of rebels, soldiers, Baroque Works members and marines with the Straw Hats are a quasi-guard.

“I do think that could work.”

Ebony’s face broke out into a relieved smile, “Good because I have no idea what else to do.”

“It’s something, which is better than nothing.”

Zoro put a hand on her shoulder, saying nothing. Usopp knew that Zoro had a hard time trusting a crew member when they first joined, but Ebony had been with them for a little bit now, but the weight of her secrets always gave Zoro pause. But this gesture was definitely one of comfort and it made Usopp happy to see Ebony lean into it.

The crew had slightly distanced themselves, not enough for outsiders to notice after her Outlier reveal. They definitely hadn’t meant to, but it didn’t mean that they hadn’t hurt her. 

Usopp could only hope that by following through with her plan now, it would go to give some of that trust lost back.

“Ready Ulpia?”

A feral grin was the only response.

“You may want to stand behind me.”

They did so, alert to the actions that the woman was going to take.

MUL QAH DIIV!”

Usopp had no idea what to expect, but it wasn’t that.

Ulpia was now covered in scaled armour and a set of massive protruding horns from her head. She seemed to be glowing. No, she was definitely glowing as she levitated above the tower itself.

Usopp could scarcely believe his eyes; she had to be a dragon. An actual real-life dragon. 

He didn’t have time to take in her new appearance, as he had to show off his flashiest attack. (Even thinking the word flashy gave him Buggy the Clown flashbacks, or at least what he knew from the others.)

He readied his ginga pachinko, seeing a large number of the fighters stop and stare at the clock tower in confusion.

AKAHEBI BOSHI HISSATSU!”

The flaming snake was larger than the normal attack, flying high above the clock tower, circling it before diving at those who hadn’t stopped fighting. They had to duck so that they wouldn’t be set on fire, looping around them before flying into the sky and dissipating. 

“Okay, that’s got everyone's attention. Vivi?”

“Ready!”

Usopp hoped that this worked, though they did look quite imposing if he did say so himself.

It didn’t seem to be working as well as they had hope, with both rebels and soldiers shouting up at the Rebel Leader and the Princess. 

They needed something else, something more to prove that the civil war was a farce. 

Fate was on their side for once, as Crocodile came soaring out from a crumbling building. As if in slow motion, the so-called Hero gracefully plummeted to the earth landing on his back with a large crash.

Almost immediately it started to rain.

At first, it was only a few drops, not enough for most people to realise that it was actually raining but then it only got heavier and heavier, the voice of Vivi the only other thing to be heard over the sound.

“Everyone, please! Put down your weapons!”


The young man had done it.

Crocodile had been defeated, and Vivi, their people, their country was safe. 

Cobra had thanked him profusely for his help in saving his country, saving his daughter and for being his daughter's friend. Luffy couldn’t understand why the king thought that it was necessary to thank him for all of that, but he did know that he was going to have to have help getting out of this place as weak as he was.

Lifting Luffy onto his back was easy, Cobra couldn’t believe that for someone as strong and determined as the young pirate Captain was he was very light.

“Luffy!”

“Captain!”

“Your Majesty!”

“Papa!”

A cacophony of voices called down towards where Cobra was walking, carrying Luffy on his back. Cobra looked up towards the clocktower, only to see shadows flying down towards him.

Pell was carrying both Vivi and Kohza, with the Straw Hats following behind via the stairs.

The silence in the space was palpable, with both the King and the Rebel Leader facing off. Cobra wasn’t going to let go of Luffy until someone from his crew arrived, which happened to be the swordsman.

“I’ve got you, Captain.” 

The swordsman took his captain into his arms, before nodding in thanks to the King.

“Your Majesty, we need to move forward. We have done some terrible things.” 

Kohza used a hand to cover his eyes in shame at his past actions. Cobra could relate to the young man in front of him, both saddened by the circumstances that had brought the war to fruition and proud of the man standing before him.

“That we both have, the past cannot be forgotten but we need it to unite our two sides together and do our best to live on!”

Cobra offered the man his hand. 

“We will rebuild this country together!”

Kohza looked at the King, and then around at the people. 

“Yes, we will.”

Cheers rang out through the square.

The civil war was over at last.

Chapter Text

Several days had passed, and the rain hadn’t yet stopped. Everyone was recovering from their injuries and the palace doctors had confirmed what Chopper had already told me. The lightning attack would scar me permanently. It wasn’t a huge deal, as it would fade over time and not be as noticeable, but it was going to be a constant reminder of a first battle so to speak.

Ulpia has been keeping her distance; the doctors had insisted on checking her over and had harangued her into the palace infirmary. She hadn’t stayed long, not even a day, before she had hidden herself away in a corner of the palace that was infrequently visited by everyone, apart from the guards and the royal family themselves.

“Is there anything else we need at the market? I’m headed off there now.”

Sanji had a list in one hand and a bag in the other.

“I’ll come with you!”

Usopp jumped up from his seat where he was fiddling with a weapon of some sort.

“Ebony? Did you want anything at the market?”

“Surprise me if you’re to get me anything, but I can’t really think of anything at the moment.”

I thought for a moment, “Be careful. Tashigi may have told the marines not to arrest any of us and Smoker may have agreed, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be bounty hunters or even marine opportunists that won’t take advantage.”

“Got it Ebony-chan!”

I hadn’t heard that one in a while, it was almost comforting to hear.

When they had left I found myself aimlessly wandering around the place grounds; I had spotted Chopper in the infirmary, a large group of doctors around him debating some medical terminology that I had no hope of understanding beyond the absolute basics. Nami I knew was in the library with the King, learning all she could be we had to leave.

I was being shown the gallery by a very enthusiastic woman with green hair and sharp red eyes, reminding me slightly of Zoro but that thought was quickly put out of my mind when she squealed at a painting that she was showing me because it was one of her favourites and couldn’t wait to tell me all about it.

I was interested, and let her explain. The colours were apparently representative of the souls of the people and she used language that I hadn’t heard since art school. It made me feel nostalgic, and very sad.

I needed to leave, everything was getting just a little bit too much for me, so I politely excused myself. She seemed a bit baffled, but nodded and said that if I wished to know more then I could find her later.


“Where did you learn to fight?”

Vivi had found me, hiding away in an alcove with my journal being loosely held in my hand. I hadn’t been able to write much at all, too many thoughts going through my mind at once.

“Honestly, I’ve never learnt how to fight.”

The Princess looked at me in astonishment, “Really?”

“I’ve taken self defence classes, and I boxed a heck of a lot.”

“Nothing formal?”

I shook my head, “None. I mean, Ace tried teaching me whenever he dropped by the bar and there was a boxing ring that I regularly went to in Loguetown.”

Vivi sighed, coming to sit down beside me. “I know that we’ve been off, especially me since you told us and I was hoping…”

“You were hoping?”

She hadn’t been able to look me in the eyes up until that point.

“I was hoping that since all the tales of your people are quite frankly appalling, and now you say that you’ve never had any formal training to be able to fight?” 

Vivi had wound her hands through her hair, tugging at it. “I don’t know what to think…”

“Don’t think about it, what does your gut say?”

She took her hands out of her hair, blue strands following where she had torn them out in her angst.

“That what the World Government says about Outliers is wrong.”

I nodded, waiting for her to continue. Vivi seemed to be coming to a realisation, a shift in her world view.

“This whole thing with Crocodile really doesn’t paint them in a good light.”

“No, it really doesn’t but it isn’t the first time that they’ve allowed a warlord to take over an established country.”’

She sighed, almost defeated. “That does not surprise me, it really doesn’t.”

We sat in silence for a bit before she spoke up.

“I’m sorry for how I’ve been acting, I got to know you before you told us all.” She put out her hand, ready for me to shake.

“My name is Vivi, it is nice to meet you.”

I took it, my palm sweaty and shaking slightly.

“My name is Ebony, the pleasure is mine.”

We smiled at each other, finding solace in the other. It wasn’t long until Vivi was needed elsewhere, so I took my leave and headed out towards the crowds. I hadn’t wanted to go out and explore today, but it felt like I had to. Like something was calling me.

Something felt wrong. And I needed to find out what it was.


A small figure was making their way through a cheering crowd.

He had just watched his home explode into nothingness, and his family boarding a ship to safety and then it was gone in a flash of golden light. And he was here, without his family and absolutely no knowledge of where he was.

He was able to understand the language, which he thought was called English, but there were so many languages in the universe and even with his mind, he couldn’t possibly have knowledge of every single one of them.

He was scared and he desperately wanted his parents, his little sister. But he knew deep within his heart that he would never see them again, even if they had managed to make it onto the ships. 

He was all alone in this place. 

He hadn’t noticed the two men who had seen him appear in a shower of golden lights, both wearing a grinning skull on their backs nor did he notice their looks of triumph.

Joker was going to be very happy.


After talking with the Princess, I decided that I needed to leave the palace grounds and go out into the capital. Some fresh air if you will. 

The crowds were large, cheering and celebrating the end of the drought. The end of the Warlord’s reign, too. 

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a small figure, hood raised darting behind a wall as though the Hounds of Hell were after them. A few short moments later two men came barrelling after the small figure.

Before I knew what I was doing, I followed behind. 

I couldn’t help it, curiosity getting the better of me. I walked quickly, following the two men. It was a good thing that I had as I saw one rip the hood off of the small figure, and the other jeer.

“Look what we’ve got here! A little Outlier! You’ll do wonderful!”

“Joker will want you for himself!”

Slavers

Those two men were slavers working for Dofla-fucking-mingo. 

I knew something was wrong. 

They didn’t see me coming, but the child in front of them definitely did. The first slaver was easy, going down like a sack of potatoes. The second took a bit more effort; he defended well enough, but I was pissed off. Slavers pissed me off.

He went down, too.

The small boy was bleeding from both his head and the lip, gold falling from it as well as the copper blood that startled me even more so than the dust. The bowl cut was skewed atop his head, the black covered in a layer of dust. Pointed ears looked as though they could have been sunburnt, slanted eyebrows and eyes that stared up at me; scared and defiant.

I knew nothing of the Vulcan language. Unless you counted the various terms of endearment, those I did know but they would be completely useless in this situation.

But I knew a few phrases in Klingon and I could only hope that it helped.

nuqneH, blplv’a’?”

The young Vulcan’s eyes skittered upwards to meet mine, stuttering out words that were vaguely recognisable.

jlplv.”

“Ok, what was that word again?” 

I did not think that I would be needing something like Klingon in the world of One Piece, considering I had only learnt the language for a cosplay skit I had done when I was seventeen. 

nuq… nuq ‘Oh pongllh’e’?

I pointed to myself, continuing, “Ebony oH pongwlh’e’.”

“Saalem jlH, puqloD Skessess

qaqlHneS Saalem puqloD, do you speak English?”

All was silent for a moment, with the young Vulcan not answering. I opened my mouth to repeat the question in Klingon before the boy in front of me spoke.

“Yes, a little.”

I could have jumped with joy, “A little is still enough, Saalem.”

The young Vulcan looked unsure, but he carefully walked up to me. Slower at first and then before I knew it he had slammed into me, wrapping his arms around my waist dry sobbing as he did so.

“You’re safe now, I won’t let them hurt you.”

It was a little while before the boy stopped, but he didn’t let go, at least not completely. Saalem kept himself as close to my body as possible, as though I would disappear at any moment. 

“I know I’m safe with you.”

The young voice was muffled into the side of my own cloak.

“How do you know that?”

I was curious about it, even though the young Vulcan was one hundred percent correct.

“You want to help...I’m not too good at controlling my telepathy, ko’mekh... ko’mekh was trying to teach me but now she never will!”

The telepathy would be incredibly difficult to control, especially for a young child who had been torn from everything that he knew. I couldn’t do anything for Saalem, who had just lost his whole world, but I could protect him until we reached the palace.

Surely they would be able to take care of the small Vulcan without prejudice?

“Get onto my back, Saalem. We’re going to go somewhere safer.”

I knelt down so that he was able to do so, pulling his hood up once he settled on my shoulders. 

“I trust you Ebony.”

Even for a Vulcan child who was able to read thoughts, Saalem was surprisingly trusting of a stranger that they had just met. No child should be that trusting, but I really didn’t know anything about Vulcan culture so I wasn’t going to say anything even though the kid probably already knew.

Saalem’s small voice piped up from behind me. 

“You’re like me, not from here. You miss home, too.”

“That I do Saalem, that I do.”

“And I’ve seen what you know, what you have done and what you wish to do.”

I froze momentarily, Saalem taking it in stride as he continued to speak.

“I trust you for what I have seen in your mind, even if it goes against everything I have ever known.”


Luffy had tried to instigate a sparring session with Ulpia, but she had declined swiftly, stating that she wished to lay her subordinates to rest. That and she very rarely sparred for fun, too busy defending her own life and the lives of others.

Luffy understood that, even if it made him pout that she wouldn’t agree to a spar. He’d just have to spar with Zoro, Sanji or Ebony when they were either better or back from wherever they had gone off to.

He didn’t expect Ebony to come back with someone else, carrying the other as though she was running was someone but didn’t want people to realise that she was actually running. 

He watched as his crew mate set the small figure down onto the ground, and the small figure latch onto Ebony’s side. She wrapped an arm around them, pulling them closer. Luffy noted that not once did the two make skin to skin contact.

Luffy immediately went to investigate, slowly though as he knew that his energetic nature would not be helpful in this scenario. 

“Hello Captain,” She turned to speak to the small figure, most likely a child. “Saalem, this is my Captain, Luffy.”

The figure removed their hood, revealing small pointed ears and a bloodied nose with gold dust slowly falling from it. 

Ah. The protectiveness that Ebony was showing over the child was definitely warranted. 

Luffy knelt down, holding out a hand. 

“Nice to meet you Saalem!”

The kid buried themselves even closer into Ebony’s side, completely ignoring the hand offered.

Luffy looked up at Ebony in confusion; he wasn’t that scary, was he?

Ebony only chuckled, “Sorry Captain, but Saalem won’t be shaking anyone’s hands anytime soon. It’s not really something that his people do.”

Luffy withdrew his hand immediately, “That’s alright!”

Saalem lifted his head out from where he had buried into Ebony’s side, curiously looking at Luffy with wide eyes. Luffy wondered what he looked like to the kid. He wasn’t a large man, slight is what he had been called and he knew that he wouldn’t be the size of his Gramps.

Luffy sat on the ground in front of Saalem, noting that the boy un-tensed when he did so.

Good. Now do I still have that handkerchief? 

Luffy found it in one of his many pockets, holding it out to the kid. Saalem looked at it for a moment, and snatched it from Luffy’s outstretched hand before being behind Ebony once more.

Luffy couldn’t help but grin up at Ebony, who was smiling down at the kid. 

“He’s like you, isn’t he?”

She nodded, “Very much so. He’s just lost everything, Luffy. I can’t leave him by himself, but taking a kid onto a ship is not a good idea and slavers saw him arrive.”

Luffy glared at the ground, voice almost a whisper, “That’s why Shanks never took me with him. And Slavers? I hope you dealt with them.”

Ebony laughed, devoid of any actual humour “Yes, they were. Besides, your Gramps would have come after Shanks if he’d actually agreed to take you with him.”

Luffy shuddered, imagining that was not something that he had ever thought that he would picture. And he had no idea who would win out of the two!

“Sabo.”

This was the first that Saalem had spoken in front of him, and he couldn’t help but wonder how the little Outlier knew his brothers name.

“That is a fantastic idea!”

“Dragon?”

Luffy was incredibly lost, but Ebony seemed to know what was going on so he’d follow her lead.

“I do have a den-den to him.”

Saalem nodded, “Call him. Captain Luffy might want to hear his voice.”

“Whose Dragon?”

Luffy watched as Ebony and Saalem stood stock still, his crew mates eyes assessing him before she closed them and sighed.

“Another secret, one that you should already know.” Saalem reached up towards Ebony, hand almost touching her cheek. Luffy watched on confused as the kid touched her face with a single finger and Ebony go completely still for a few moments before Saalem removed his hand.

Luffy watched as the two seemed to have a conversation that Luffy wasn’t privy to. He couldn’t help but fidget, it wasn’t in his nature to sit still for anyone.

“Okay, so Dragon is considered to be the most Wanted Man in the World and the leader of the Revolutionaries.” 

Ebony looked towards the ground, before speaking once again.

“His full name however is Monkey D. Dragon.”

Luffy couldn’t breath.

That had to be his father.

The Most Wanted Man in the World.

Is this what Ace felt when someone mentioned Roger? Anger like you wouldn’t believe flooded him, but it stopped short. No one knew he was his child, except for Grandpa and Dragon. 

At least he hoped that was the case; if they knew who his father was they would stop at nothing to get to him. Luffy knew the stories from Ace about what had happened when the World Government had found that Roger had a child; the hundreds of women and children killed all in an effort to stop a bloodline from continuing was horrifying.

He grinned, he just had to get stronger so that they wouldn’t be able to touch him or Ace and Sabo or his crew.


I hadn’t expected Luffy to freeze up as he did, nor for him to start grinning an almost insane grin.

 I felt Saalem tug on my cloak, “What is wrong with the Captain?”

“I’m not sure.”

I hadn’t seen Luffy stand so still, and I wasn’t sure as to why he was. Maybe shock? I don’t know if it was or not, since when Garp dropped the news on him in the original world he didn’t really react. Maybe it was because someone else was telling him, someone that by all rights really shouldn’t have known about his father.

“Captain?”

Luffy just stared for a few tense seconds before shaking his head.

“My dad?”

His voice was a whisper, and I had to strain my ears to hear him but nodded my head.

He took a deep breath in, as if to calm himself. 

“Okay, so my dad knows Sabo?”

“From my understanding he rescued him. I don’t know for sure what he was doing there, but there was a theory back home that he came to check up on you as he had heard of the upcoming visit of the Celestial Dragons and wanted you safe.” 

I took a deep breath, watching my captain’s face very carefully before I continued. It was almost blank, except for his eyes. They were incredibly emotional, but at what I couldn’t be sure.

“Or at least that’s what was theorised; instead he found an injured and amnesiac child who, by all accounts was both brave and foolish for setting out with a pirate flag right in front of a Celestial Dragon ship.”

Luffy nodded, “Sabo was always the smartest of us, but he wasn’t thinking straight that day. None of us were.”

No, they wouldn’t have been with all that fire and chaos going on in the Grey Terminal. 

“Ring him. Ring Dragon.”

I startled, not expecting Luffy to order me to do something that I would have done anyway, but it was nice to have the captain’s approval for it.

 “Okay, Saalem, are you okay with this?”

The small Vulcan child looked up at me, brown eyes wide. 

“I will be,” he looked down at the ground with balled up fists. “I wish that I had tear ducts like those Romulans, at least then I would be able to cry for all those I have lost.”

I had no words left, neither did Luffy as he looked at the small boy with a look of almost pity in his gaze.


Dragon wasn’t expecting anybody to call that morning, but when the unfamiliar tone of the Outlier started to ring he immediately picked it up.

He didn’t think that she would call so soon, let alone call at all, too wary even in their initial meeting of one another to begin to trust the others intentions.

“Hello Crow Queen.” 

Dragon heard a sharp intake of breath on the other side. Young, possibly a teenager. Most definitely male. 

“What am I able to do for you today?”

“I have a small friend here who needs some assistance and I’m unfortunately not in a position to give it.”

An unfamiliar voice piped up in the background, even younger than the first male voice.

“I’m not small.”

The voice sounded like the person was pouting.

“You are small tal-kam, there is nothing wrong with that.”

Dragon could feel the attitude of the small even through the den-den mushi as the snail rolled its eyes. Those snails always managed to mimic the person one the other end of the line incredibly well, sometimes too well. 

(Dragon would never forget the snail that looked exactly like his father. The eyebrows were exceedingly hideous.)

“I would like for him to be somewhere safe, somewhere that he won’t be judged because he’s like me.”

Ebony’s voice was almost cold as she spoke clearly something had happened since they had first met and by her tone it wasn’t necessarily good. He hoped that the crew that she had joined would accept her, but it mustn’t have gone very well.

“Has Sabo made contact with you? He would be able to bring the young one to base safely.”

The young voice again once more spoke, “Would I have to participate in the Revolution; become a Revolutionary? I would much prefer to be a pirate.”

Dragon couldn’t help but laugh at the attitude of the young man.

“That’s something that you should really think about.”

“Maybe when you’re older.”

“When the Rooster takes flight?”

He heard the older Outlier groan, “How? No, I’m not even going to question that. How old are you?”

“Twelve.”

“Maybe not even then.”

“It’ll be less than three years away!”

“And then you’ll only be fifteen.”

“Your Doctor is only fifteen!”

Dragon watched on in amusement as the expression of the snail went flat, as though Ebony was not amused.

“I was trying to forget about that, thank you Saalem.”

rai wat.


Luffy hadn’t spoken up much, happy to watch the reactions of the snail as his father spoke and listened. 

He had vague memories of the voice on the other end of the line, but it had been so long that he couldn’t be sure if he had been imagining things or not.

“I can have Sabo pick the young man up, if you wished?”

Dragon’s voice was nothing like his Gramps, which was a good thing in Luffy’s opinion.

Ebony nodded, “There’s another one of us here as well but I cannot be sure if they would want to leave also.”

“We can always discuss that with them when Sabo arrives.”

Ebony had turned to Luffy, asking him silently if he wished to speak with his dad.

Luffy had no idea what he would say to the man. He was thankful to him that he saved Sabo’s life, but he had also been gone from his life for pretty much the entire seventeen years that Luffy had lived. 

He shook his head.

“Thank you, Dragon.”

“No, thank you.” Before Ebony could hang up Dragon spoke, quieter than before.

“Say hello to your Captain from me and tell him that I’m proud of him.”

The den-den mushi went silent after that, as Ebony and Saalem looked up at him to see his reaction.

Luffy’s mouth had dropped open, hanging low to the floor. He hadn’t expected for his father to wish to say hello, let alone to say that he was proud of him. A little warmth filled his chest, but Luffy couldn’t be sure if it was because of Dragon, anger or slight embarrassment. 

Probably a combination of all three?

“Come on Captain, lets go talk to Ulpia and His Majesty. And then let's get out of here, we’ve been here too long.”

With that, they made their way in silence back towards the palace, with Saalem hanging onto Ebony’s sleeve and Luffy guarding their back.

He was thankful that neither Ebony nor Saalem commented on his confused state.


I couldn’t thank Ulpia or the King enough; until Sabo arrived to help the two Outliers remaining behind, Saalem’s existence would be kept a secret from the public. Only the Straw Hats, his Majesty, Vivi and their closest guards would know that the young Vulcan ever existed.

His Majesty, King Cobra had sent a few of his most trusted to collect the two slavers that I had knocked out and they would be tried and prosecuted to the fullest extent of Alabastian law. As long as they could never enslave another again, it didn’t bother me what happened to them. 

They could rot for all I cared.

Ulpia had decided to go with the kid, wanting to know more about the corruption in this world and to see if there was some way that she would be able to be sent back home. 

It was only when we were speaking of this when I noticed a familiar gemstone on her finger. 

Milky red, oval in shape.

“Ulpia, where did you get that ring?”

She looked at me, confused before looking down towards her hand and back up towards me, a frown on her face.

“I bought it from a stall in Whiterun, but it used to be…”

I interrupted her, pulling my own necklace out from underneath my shirt, “A solid red? Not milky?”

She stared at the stone in my hand.

The two were identical.

“If we both have this stone, what about the child?”

I had no idea, but the two of us having the same stone couldn’t have been a coincidence.

Finding Saalem hadn’t been an issue, but the kid went white when we showed him the two stones that we had. It seemed that he had picked up one, another identical stone just minutes before the alarms started to blare on Vulcan.

Once could be written off. Twice was a little scary but it could be a coincidence.

But thrice?

These stones had something to do with Outliers coming to this world. I needed to find out what they were and why, but it was going to be incredibly difficult with everything the world would throw at me.

Perhaps the Revolutionaries knew more? Maybe Ulpia, desperate to get home, would be able to find out more when she left with Saalem and Sabo?

For the first time since I had arrived in this world, I felt hope.

Maybe, just maybe, I would be able to see my family again. 

But there was underlying doubt; would I even wish to go home after all I had done, had seen? Would I be able to leave all of these people, wonderful, crazy people behind? 

I didn’t know.

Chapter Text

The milky red stone, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. 

I hadn’t really let go of it since we had left port, thoughts of coincidence flashed through my mind as we left Alabasta and Vivi behind.

“I think that we’ve lost them, Captain.”

The marines were far off in the distance at this point, barely able to see their white and blue flags from my post on deck. Even with binoculars, you couldn’t see them.

“Hmmm.”

Zoro had reached over to take them from me, double-checking to see if I was right. 

“We’ve definitely lost them.” 

He spoke, before handing them back to me. He turned to face the rest of the crew, who had all sat down within the rungs of the staircase, crying.

“What is wrong with you lot?”

I shook my head at Zoro, “They’re missing Vivi.”

“We’re lonely!”

“Tch,” He turned away from the others. “Stop crying! I knew that I should have just dragged her aboard!”

Then the insults began flying, directed towards us even if Zoro took the brunt of it all.

“You’re both barbarian’s.” 

“Despicable!”

“Three sword-style…” 

That was spoken straight to Zoro’s face, even as Usopp scolded Luffy for his unimaginative insult game. 

“Four sword style!”

“No! Try natto!”

“Honestly, it’s not like I don’t have her den-den mushi number. We can still talk to her.”

“But Ebony, it’s not the same!”

I sighed, “No, but she’s safe and that’s what matters at the moment.”

A familiar voice, one that I had been waiting on piped up from behind us. 

“She’s right,” Zoro’s hand went directly for the hilt of his swords. No one aboard the ship had forgotten that the last time that voice was there, she had tried to choke me.  Not to mention everything else that had happened. 

“It’s so nice to be finally out to sea.”

The shock of each crew member was palpable, that and terror from Chopper, Usopp and Nami, heart eyes from Sanji and the always ready to throw down Zoro. Only Luffy and I didn’t really react; Luffy was just confused that she happened to be alive.

Zoro, who had been reaching for his swords was stopped by a group of arms that had sprung out of his body. Robin didn’t seem to be physically stronger than Zoro, but the sheer number of arms that she had held him back by probably helped to even it all out.

“Are you going to try and choke me again?”

She turned to face me, “Not unless you want me to.”

I could hear the others choke on their own spit, not expecting that almost flirtatious comment. 

“No thank you,” I couldn’t help but smirk at her, enjoying the banter.  “That’s not really something I’m into.”

There was further choking, further spit takes at my dry answer. What I hadn’t expected was it to make Robin laugh. It was clear that she hadn’t done so in a while, as it was dry and unpractised. 

Nami was the first to seemingly recover, “Since when did you board the ship?”

Robin reached out and grabbed a deck chair, setting it up as she replied “I’ve been here the whole time, reading a book in the cabin. I managed to take a bath, too.”

She sat down, looking towards Nami. “Are these your clothes, or Ebony’s? Either way, thank you for lending them to me.”

“They’re mostly mine, or at least those pants are.”

“Well, thank you, Ebony.”

Nami was outraged, “What are you doing? And Ebony! How are you so calm!”

I shrugged. 

I wouldn’t have been able to tell Nami either way, as I honestly had no idea myself as to why I was so calm.

Robin had by this stage caused Sanji to attempt mutiny by killing our Captain, with Luffy trying incredibly hard to plead his case in vain.

“What’s the story?” 

Sanji took to shaking the Captain even harder.

Robin was smiling, if only a little at the chaos that she had caused. 

“What do you want? Why are you really here?”

The Captain had managed to escape from Sanji’s shakedown, his face screwed up in confusion.

Robin let out a small laugh, “Let me join your crew.”

“Eh?”

The majority of the crew was in shock at her statement, as it most definitely wasn’t a question. It actually reminded me a little about how I had asked to join the crew, but I hadn’t snuck aboard and used the amenities, stolen someone's clothes and all before actually asking.

“You, Monkey D. Luffy, made me continue on living when I wanted to die. I have nowhere else to go, so let me stay on this ship.”

“Okay.”

The Captain’s answer was to be expected, even though the others didn’t seem to think so.

“Luffy!”

“Honestly, did you really expect anything else considering the way I joined?”

Sanji nodded in agreement, hearts still in his eyes at the prospect of another lady joining the crew.

“Don’t worry, she isn’t all that bad!”

Luffy seemed exceedingly happy when he said this, but I couldn’t help but notice the slight tension to his smile, as though he wasn’t sure of his own words. I walked over towards him, giving him a questioning look, which he shook his head at and mouthed the word ‘later’ at me.


After surviving the wreckages falling from the sky, the realisation that there was a sky island above filled some of us with excitement and others with dread. To be fair, Usopp had passed out for a very good reason; a human skull crashing right into your own head wouldn’t do much to keep someone conscious. 

“Are you sure? A sky island? They exist?”

Nami was curious but cautious. She had clearly never heard of a sky island before, and as navigator, she wanted to be one hundred percent certain before going anywhere.

“They do, and there’s quite a few of them around. Especially in the New World.” I pointed out to her, the pair of us watching on as Robin explained the origins of the skull that had broken open upon impact with Usopp’s head to the now awake 

I would love to pick that woman’s brain for archaeological tips and historical facts about this world, but I don’t think that any of us were close enough to her that we would be able to get proper facts out of her anytime soon.

Nami decided that she had heard enough and interjected into the conversation.

“You can get that information from just a skull?”

“You’d be surprised.” “He may not be able to speak, but he can still tell his tale.”

Robin looked at me with a look of slight surprise before it was quickly hidden, “If that ship was used for exploring, there must be a router in the ship.”

“But it’s still sinking…”

“Hang on Luffy!” “BEWL WE!”

Did he just ask for help? I really couldn’t understand what he just said.

Sanji and Zoro had dived in after the Captain, who had thought to explore the sinking vessel when it had fallen from the sky. I hadn’t gone in after them as Sanji and Zoro should have been able to handle it.

“WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?” “NEED A HAND?”

Nami and I were of two different minds, as Sanji and Zoro climbed aboard, dragging our Captain behind them. Luffy had a sopping wet piece of what looked to be parchment clutched in his hand, which was at least several metres away from his body; devil fruits really didn’t seem to be worth it if the ocean could do that to you after eating one.

“I found something! Look at this!”

Luffy held the piece of parchment in front of his face, showing us a map of Skypiea. The map reminded me of some of the early explorative maps of the world, like those from the Middle Ages when the people weren’t always sure of what was there, but they knew that something was.

“Skypiea? Does that mean there really is an island up there?”

Nami was still in disbelief, but she really didn’t have much of a choice if the Captain wanted to go somewhere. 

“A dream island! Let’s go to it!”

Nami turned away from our excited Captain, Doctor and Sniper, who were celebrating by dancing around in a circle. 

“Don’t get too worked up, it may not even exist. There are far too many fake maps out there…”

Before there could be an argument, I spoke up.

“What our dearest Navigator is trying to say, is that even if the map is real, she isn’t sure as to how to get there.”

Nami turned her head towards me, her eyes sharp and you could see that she was gearing up to start shouting again when Luffy interjected.

“We’ll go on the ship!”

“Captain, it’s a little more difficult than that,” The glare that had been trained on me softened until I continued, “But it is completely possible.”

And the glare came back; Nami didn’t want me to encourage our Captain’s craziness, but she clearly didn’t know me all that well just yet.

That would soon change.


Masira the Salvage King was an interesting man, more comical than I remembered him being. Weaker, too.

Three gulls hit the deck, each killed by a bullet. I knew then that we were close to Mocktown and my nerves were at an all-time high. New bounties would drop any day now and then there were the people that we would most definitely come across.

Bellamy, Mont Blanc Cricket, Marshall D. Teach.

I don’t know what I would do if I came into contact with that man. 

Run? Pretend that I had no idea what he had done? That wouldn’t work, he probably knew exactly who I was and it wouldn’t take much to guess that Ace had told me everything. 

(Bellamy, on the other hand. I had met him before, once and it hadn’t ended particularly well. For Bellamy.)

“You look worried, Ebony.”

Nami was the one to speak, bringing the attention of each crew member on deck to myself. 

I nodded absentmindedly, “I am a bit.”

Luffy, who had been hanging the seagulls over the edge of the ship before that, swung an arm around my shoulders and flung himself towards me. He wasn’t exactly light, but he was mindful of the injury that I was still recovering from. The injury itself wasn’t as bad as what it had been, but it was still something that was going to be sensitive for a bit longer.

“Why?”

The Captain looked as innocent as a newborn baby at that moment, reminding me of the many stories that Ace had mentioned of their younger years. Sometimes, when the two were caught dining and dashing by guards, Luffy would pull out the puppy eyes and a very sneaky Ace would end up pickpocketing whoever Luffy happened to be looking at.

“For one? The man Ace is hunting is close by, and he’s incredibly dangerous…”

“We can fight him!”

I thought Luffy would say that but had hoped that he wouldn’t. Fear like nothing I had felt before shot through me, surpassing the feeling I had when I had revealed myself an Outlier to the crew. 

“No!”

Everyone was startled by my outburst.

“No, we can’t. None of us are strong enough to face him head-on.”

Chopper’s lip trembled, as Usopp looked over towards the shore in fear.

“Is Ace?”

Luffy’s voice was flat, but I could hear an underlying tension in it.

“If he controls his temper, and doesn’t react to whatever that man says. Yes, he could.”

Uncharacteristically, Luffy sighed and removed his hat, running his fingers through his hair. 

“That…might be an issue.”

“I know, but Sabo is still travelling with him.” I tried to smile, but it came out weaker than expected. 

“Between the two of them, they should be okay.”

Luffy nodded, but neither of us were convinced.

“There’s something else, isn’t there?”

“Yeah, bounties.”

Nami, who hadn’t said a word pumped her fist in the air. 

“That’s right! New bounties are released every month or so, aren’t they?”

“Yes, they are, Navigator-san. And after the defeat of Crocodile, they should be considering hiring another Shichibukai.”

Robin interjected, book in hand.

“Who do you think will be getting a new bounty? Or having theirs’ raised?”

Nami had a secretive look on her face, trying to tell me not so subtly to speak of the future.

“The Captain for certain, maybe Zoro?”

“Unsurprising.”

No, it wasn’t, but I had a feeling that another one of us would be receiving attention by the Marines and World Government in the form of a bounty. 

I just hoped that it wouldn’t bring us any more trouble than what was absolutely necessary.


Exekias didn’t know what to think of this new world that he had been thrust into. After being almost killed by the Eagle Bearer on the outskirts of Athens had been a wake-up call. Kassandra had been vicious in her attacks, having learned of his involvement in the training and subsequent torture of her younger brother.

He wasn’t proud of being a torturer, but his methods got the best out of the recruits to the Cult of Kosmos and anything that furthered interests of the Cult was a good thing in his mind. 

This new world was strange, but the men and women were seemingly more powerful than those of his own world. He wasn’t used to being what one could call someone of the mid-card, but he was always willing to train harder and more often if that is what it took to keep up in a world with powers that could make the Gods of Olympus tremble.

The language barrier was a larger issue, but one that was becoming easier and easier each day. The doctor who had healed him was a big part in helping him understand the words and what was what in this strange place.

There were more islands than he was used to, and considering where he was from? That was saying something.

From what he understood, Teach was trying to become a warlord? A government dog? Exekias couldn’t be certain of the logistics of all that was going on, but one thing he was very good at was observing and planning.

And by the Gods, he was going to do so.

After all, Kosmos was everywhere.


“It almost looks a bit like a resort, doesn’t it?”

Zoro gave me a dry look, “A resort for pirates isn’t something that I would expect to actually exist.”

Shishishishi! It looks like a fun city!”

Luffy was as exuberant as usual, but each of us were tense, knowing that somewhere on this island was the man that Ace was hunting.

“You do know that Nami doesn’t exactly trust the two of you to not get into trouble?”

“Tch, she sent you here as a baby sitter.”

Zoro was unimpressed, arms crossed against his chest.

“Pretty much. Nami was going to come herself, but apparently I’m just as good?”

I turned towards Luffy, who was still looking around in wonder.

“So I think it would be best if we didn’t start any fights whilst we’re here.”

Luffy pouted, “No fighting?”

I nodded, “Orders from Nami and I slightly agree.”

Zoro’s facial expression changed, a smirk appearing in place of the frown. “Only slightly?”

I grinned, “Only fight if it’s absolutely necessary; we don’t particularly need to or want to draw attention to ourselves just yet.”

I looked out onto the path, filled with pirates of all shapes, sizes and genders. “The new bounties will do that for us.”

“Plus, if we cause any trouble staying on the island will be a lot harder to get to the sky island.”

The two nodded and we all continued on our way, past a series of shops selling weaponry and clothing, all clearly directed towards pirates and those adjacent. Flintlocks and short swords of varying quality lined one of the windows, whilst a rack of cloaks and coats with signs offering customisation in a range colours and sizes stood outside another shop.

“Do any of us need anything yet?”

Zoro grunted, “The witch didn’t give us our allowance before we left.”

I slammed my face into my palm, “Really Nami?”

Reaching into my bag I grabbed out a handful of berri, coins and notes for both Zoro and Luffy. I wasn’t by any means wealthy, but I had been fairly frugal and had saved a lot of money from my time working at the bar and the swimming lessons I had given. 

“You can pay me back if you want, but it’s not a bother if you don’t.” 

Handing the money to the two, I walked off towards the rack with the coats, flicking through them and ogling at the prices. The prices were higher than those in Loguetown, but I needed another coat since I’d found a massive rip in the back of my current one.

An easy fix with needle and thread, maybe some scrap fabrics, but I liked having options. Even if those options were just multiples of pretty much the same thing. Blue, black and silver clothing, I had a lot of it.

I hadn’t noticed the looks of shock on their faces after I had walked off.

Shishishishi! Thanks, Ebony!”

“No problem, Captain!”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Suddenly there was the sound of hurried footsteps and shouting coming from the direction of the Going Merry.

“Luffy! Zoro!”

Nami, it seemed had remembered that she hadn’t actually given us any money to spend. I declined my share, asking her to keep it for later or share it out amongst themselves. She gave me a strange look, as though wondering why I wasn’t asking for more money or even taking the money that she’d offered to me.

“I have my own savings at the moment, Nami.” I put my hand on her shoulder, squeezing it. “But I do appreciate it.”

Zoro and Luffy tried giving me back what I had given to them, but I refused.

I wasn’t going to take the money back, especially since Nami could be incredibly protective over the treasury and liked holding it hostage over especially Zoro’s head.


I didn’t want to go into the bar, knowing damn well who would be inside but the other three were going to go inside and I didn’t want to leave their backs undefended. I elected to sit in the corner, as far away from Teach as I possibly could but where I could still see everything that was going on.

Zoro gave me a knowing look, his sharp eyes taking in his surrounds when he located the very man that I wished to avoid. The muscles in his neck tensed and his hands twitched, as though he was reaching for his katana but thought better of it.

Nami brought me over a glass of what looked to be cherry lemonade, before going back to Luffy and Zoro. It didn’t take long for Luffy and Teach to start to argue over the food that they were consuming, nor did it take long for the doors to the bar to slam open and for Bellamy to walk in.

Perfect timing.

“Is there a pirate, with a Straw Hat in here?”

Luffy turned away from Teach, dismissing him even though if you knew him well enough you could tell that he was clearly uncomfortable doing so. His posture though was almost callous, casual as he leant against the bar.

“What is it?”

Zoro took a large swig from his beer, “Someone’s looking for you Luffy”

Nami looked a little spooked from the whispers around the bar that were talking about Bellamy, “Isn’t he the guy that booked out the hotel?”

Following behind were the rest of his crew, Sarquiss was looking especially smug as he put down a group of pirates who thought it would be easy to take the man out. 

It wasn’t.

I winced as Luffy’s head was slammed into the wooden bar table, and as Zoro went to defend the Captain. 

And then Nami opened her mouth, “If you fight we won’t be able to get to the Sky Island!”

The entire bar was silent, before bursting into raucous laughter. Then mocking followed, and another beatdown by Bellamy for Luffy.

“Zoro, whatever you do, don’t fight against them! Nami, you go with Ebony!”

Zoro nodded, but many looked at Luffy in confusion, noticing only the three who were stood in from of the bar. Nami quickly made her way to me, and I stood in front of her, shielding her from the leering stares of some of the more perverted men.

Almost in unison, the patrons of the bar whipped around to notice the lone Straw Hat pirate sitting in the corner. Just to be cheeky, I raised my almost empty glass in jest and skulled the rest of the drink.

“It’s such a nice bar, don’t ruin it too much.”

Tch, weaklings.”

I could feel Nami gripping my sleeve, “Why aren’t they fighting back?”

Her voice was a whisper against the cheering, “Because they’ve nothing to prove to these men and women. They’re already stronger, so why do they have to show it?”

The beat down continued, until Bellamy had enough, throwing the swordsman and the captain towards Nami and I. 

“Take out the trash, why don’t you?”

Sarquiss smirked in our direction, “Or you could come with us.”

Nami glared in his direction, “You couldn’t afford us.”

I let out a cackle, one that had some of the older Bellamy pirates paling slightly. 

“Damn right they couldn’t afford us!”

I lowered my hood slightly, showing my eyes. 

“Honestly, you should know better after the last time you asked.”

You.”

I grinned, downright savagely.

“Don’t you remember not to underestimate those opponents that are smaller than you, especially after they’ve already given you a scar?”


Nami and I managed to get Zoro and Luffy out of the bar in silence after that, even with Nami giving me speculative looks every now and then.

“You’ve met them before, haven’t you?”

I nodded, placing Zoro onto the ground where he slumped over onto his back. “It was a few years ago. To cut a long story short, he flirted a bit too hard with someone who didn’t want it, didn’t take no for an answer and I got angry at the lack of respect.”

I sighed, freezing slightly as I saw Teach and his crew up ahead but shaking my head. 

“Smoker was around, probably why I’m not dead at this point in time, but Bellamy has a particularly nasty looking scar from a seastone dagger that I found across his back.”

I shuddered, knowing very well that if Smoker hadn’t been around the bar that day it would have been a much worse situation. Nami looked frightened, but I tried to reassure her.

“Nami, I’m here aren’t I? And besides, we have so much to look forward to. Skypiea is a real place, and we will get there.”

Nami nodded, but her anger at the whole situation was clear on her face. It was only then that I realised that those words that were meant to be a comfort for a friend were heard by the last person that I wished to see at that point in time.

Zehahahahaha!

“The man from before…” 

I wasn’t game enough to speak up since whatever words that might come out my mouth wouldn’t help any of us. 

He was staring directly at Nami, “Why are you still angry? Those two just won the battle!”

Teach started to laugh again, the pie still in hand. “The way that you yelled at them? That was great!”

He turned to me at this point, “And you! Bringing up the fact that you’ve already injured them before! Zehahahahaha! Genius!”

It was strange being complemented by a man that you knew was a piece of shit, but couldn’t say anything for fear of your own life so I just nodded.

A slight groan was heard as Luffy and Zoro gradually stood up. My arms went out to help them up immediately.

“Easy Captain, Zoro. Take it easy.”

Tch, I’ve had worse.”

I rolled my eyes at the swordsman, “I know that you have but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it easy right now.”

“You fuss worse than any mother I’ve seen.”

“And the little deer will fuss even worse than me.”

Zoro grumbled, but he did allow me to help him up. Luffy was helped up by Nami, his eyes sharp as he watched the large pirate sitting on the ground.

“The so-called ‘New Age’ that lot were babbling about is all bullshit!” 

He threw his arms out, almost knocking a passerby off his feet with the bottle in his hand.

“Saying that the age of pirates who dream is over? Zehahahaha!”

“A man’s dream will never die!”


Everything after that happened in quick succession.

We met up with Mont Blanc Cricket, and then again with Bellamy; Luffy had taken me with him, even if only to see how the would react to me now that they knew who I was. 

Only this time Bellamy happened to be the one who would be left beaten and bloody. Luffy was merciless, a one-hit KO and Doflamingo’s underling was down and out.  The shock, awe and terror of all those surrounding us was kind of scary to someone like me who had spent a majority of the past few years trying to keep under the radar so to speak.

Then running in terror when Bellamy was unable to stand.

I hadn’t really expected that.

Kneeling down next to the semi-conscious body of Bellamy, I couldn’t help but give him a warning.

He’s going to tear you and Sarquiss apart. If you can, I’d run and run as far away as I possibly could.


The news coo happened to be later that afternoon, just as we were all boarding the Going Merry, who I hadn’t heard since that day a few weeks ago. The paper was dropped unceremoniously onto the deck of the ship, with Usopp picking it up to flick through.

There must not have been much of note, at least until I felt a tap on my shoulder.

Wordlessly Usopp handed me the piece of paper that had my name and photograph on it.

Wanted for the following crimes; Piracy, consorting with known Outliers and Underworld Informant. Black ‘Crow Queen’ Ebony. 32,000,000 Dead or Alive

The photograph wasn’t completely clear, as my face had been fairly obscured by my hood; which had been the entire point of it in the first place. You could see flashes of a blonde braid, and the almost smirk on my face but my eyes were completely in shadow.

“Well, shit.

I was expecting to get a bounty, just not so soon. 

“Ebony! Let's see!”

Luffy was far too excited to see the sheet of paper that had my first bounty on it, so I handed it to him. 

“Luffy, there are ones for you and Zoro as well.”

 100,000,000 and  60,000,000 respectively. 

The Captain let out a loud cheer, as Zoro grinned somewhat feral.

I couldn’t help but sigh, not even into the Grand Line and as a crew, we had managed to gain a collective bounty of  192,000,000. 

We’d be hunted more now that I had been added into the mix.


Exekias stood behind Teach, who had started to brag somewhat about becoming a warlord.

He wasn’t one yet, nowhere near close. Exekias knew what it was like to be considered one and the man that he had sworn (under sufferance) to serve was not one. Exekias understood bounties though and hunting down those that had garnered a particular kind of attention by either someone with the right amount of money or in the right position of power.

The ship that they called home was somewhat unusual to Exekias, nothing at all like the triremes that he had become accustomed to whilst travelling throughout Greece. The lack of oarsman bellow deck threw him off quite heavily, but much like the world around him, it was something that he was going to have to get used to.

ZEHAHAHAHA! I FINALLY CAUGHT UP TO YOU STRAW HAT!”

There were few words that Exekias fully understood, but the maddening laughter was obvious.

The hunter had found their prey.

“WE ARE HERE TO TAKE YOUR HEAD! SURRENDER TO US NOW!”

Exekias sighed; no one who had been forewarned would allow another to take their head. It just didn’t work like that.

From across the ocean, a young voice called back “MY HEAD?”

“THOSE BOUNTIES OF YOURS! STRAW HAT LUFFY 100,000,000! PIRATE HUNTER ZORO 60,000,000! AND CROW QUEEN EBONY 32,000,000!”

A female voice that almost reminded Exekias of that dreaded Eagle Bearer shouted a curse word that he didn’t ever think he would hear unless it came from his own mouth.

ERRE ES KORAKAS!

Exekias froze. Most curious.

Exekias now had a reason to track that particular bounty down.