Welp… here we are. It's SUCH a relief to finally finish Alabasta. That arc was just dragging for so damn long. And yet I'm now even more scared of moving on because we've hit the arc.

The big one.

The one I've been kinda dreading ever since I first started this bloody fic. Because for all the issues I had with Alabasta, those same issues are going to be even worse with Skypiea. I had options in Alabasta, and it was honestly just my muse being a bitch that kept me from getting through it faster. Skypiea though? Skypiea is a locked room with one entrance and one exit and while I know how I want to end it, the rest is just kinda up in the air. (kek)

But once I get through it… should be much smoother seas going forward.

Also, keeps getting BIG fucked. No alerts for ANYTHING. It's fixed now but it's the second time this has happened in the past year or less. I'm guessing everyone missed a LOT of updates for the past 6-ish weeks, including my second chapter for my MHA/DxD cross.


Chapter XVI: Soaring to the Storm


The room was silent. Men and a few women in immaculate suits sat in a large conference room. Each wore a pristine white Captain's Coat with the kanji for "Justice" on their backs. Small little pedestal trays sat before them, holding delicious meals of fried fish, rice, and soup, with an accompanying bottle of sake to chase it down.

Yet none in the room had so much as an upturned lip. Every single one of the men and women had severe frowns on their faces, and none had uttered so much as a word in several minutes as they waited for the meeting to start.

Finally, Commander Brannew entered and sat at the very head of the table. "When we last convened to discuss these pirates, I had high hopes." He said softly, "I thought that the obscene bounty we gave him in particular would be enough. That our fellow Marines at Loguetown would be capable of nipping this threat in the bud. I can see now that was a false expectation, and that the 'obscene' bounty we gave him wasn't anywhere close to enough."

"It's disgraceful." One of the Vice Admirals growled, "This is no doubt one of the darkest weeks in the past several decades."

"For more reason than one." A Rear Admiral spat, "And not even entirely due to the Straw Hats." He slammed his hand down, "Smoker was an up-and-coming star. He was a hothead, sure, but many of us in this very room were the same. We rose above it. And now, he'll never get the chance."

"You know as well as I that the orders came from above our heads." One of his fellow Rear Admirals commented, "He had a valuable Logia that we were going to lose when he inevitably got himself killed." He scoffed, "He was constantly overestimating himself and ignoring orders. He more than earned that Court Martial. Yes, it was a little more on the extreme side, but better that than letting his fruit fall into pirate hands."

Commodore Kujaku scoffed, "And that's worked out marvelously, hasn't it?" She rolled her eyes, displaying no fear despite the myriad of higher ranks in the room, "Great decision by the higher ups. Now a strong Marine is dead, and the Moku Moku no Mi is nowhere to be found." She smiled brightly, "OH, AND his personal friend Captain Hina and Smoker's protégé Tashigi disappeared. Gee, I wonder what happened there?"

"As fascinating as this conversation is, it's not why we're here. And for the record, there is no guesswork on that front. But that's neither here nor there." Brannew took back control of the meeting, "Monkey D. Luffy has shown how much of a menace he is. Not only did he slay the former Royal Shichibukai Crocodile in single combat, but the final attack he displayed put him in the same tier of destructive potential as Admiral Akainu. As a greenhorn, it's possible he still has yet to even touch on his fruit's true potential." He slammed his fist on his table, almost knocking his sake over, "We thought we had dispatched the appropriate response. Over a dozen warships and two Vice Admirals should have been more than enough for a couple rookies. Even ones so powerful as that." His knuckles audibly popped, "And yet, it is our fellow Marines that were slain. Reports from the survivors state that not only did Monkey D. Luffy defeat Vice Admiral Onigumo one-on-one, but that his swordsman Roronoa Zoro was capable of splitting one of our warships in half from several leagues away with a Haki-imbued Flying Slash. Together with one unknown man and Storm Empress Nami, they were able to fight on somewhat uneven ground against Vice Admiral Doberman. They would have lost, but interference from Nico Robin cost us yet one more Vice Admiral."

"I suppose we should be grateful that they are not the typical Morganeers." Vice Admiral Momonga said softly, "At the very least, they do not raid, rape, pillage, and burn like typical filth."

"Peacemain they may be," Brannew allowed, "But the danger they pose is clear. They are never satisfied with where they are. Every time they come into public view, they are stronger than they were before. From all accounts, the woman Nami went from not being a match for any pirate with even a middling bounty to defeating Don Krieg, to flinging tornadoes and lightning around like magic, to being able to survive a Vice Admiral who was trying to kill her. In only a few months." He took a deep breath, "Make no mistake, any one of those three would have died instantly in a one-on-one against a Vice Admiral. Even two-on-one, it was a foregone conclusion. And in any normal situation, even that three-on-one would have yielded at least one of them dead."

"Yet that didn't happen." Momonga closed his eyes, "They came out of it with injuries, yes, but they all survived at least the initial battle, and one single moment of opportunity was all they needed to cut off Doberman's head. They even sailed away, leaving smoke and ash in their wake. A caravel destroyed several warships, survived an encirclement, and managed to sail away with all of its inhabitants alive after a pitched battle. Even their ship seems to love defying expectations. What a ludicrous group." He huffed, opening his eyes again.

"Precisely." Brannew said, before reaching back and slapping the bounty board to flip it over. Instantly, the room erupted with shocked murmurs from the lower ranks. "Some of you may think this is yet another overreaction." He looked around the room, "And yet, after all we've seen, I can only hope it is enough."


The Straw Hats had been forced to get the hell out of dodge before more reinforcements showed up. Robin had been a godsend with her powers, able to pick up the slack caused by their three injured crewmates. It left her exhausted, but she was able to handle much of the work of braving the Grand Line's weather, with Nami barking out orders, and the rest of the crew following her lead. They'd taken a circuitous path out of Alabasta, and even purposefully went in the wrong direction a couple times to try to throw the Marines off their scent. There were plenty of other islands that they could have locked onto from Alabasta, after all.

And once they were satisfied that the White, Blue, and Gull wouldn't be catching up any time soon, they dropped anchor and relaxed, breathing a sigh of relief as they rested and took care of their injured crewmates.

Sanji was the first to get on his feet this time, though he wasn't as exuberant as he normally was. Oh, they could tell he was telling the truth when he said he'd, "Give up both eyes if it meant keeping one of the ladies safe from harm!" but at the same time, they all could tell the loss had shaken him. He had to start brushing his hair the other way (revealing his other eyebrow curled in another direction, much to the crew's amusement) and was hiding the disfiguring injury from view.

Luffy was the next to get up; Sanji's food and Life Return had his leg wounds quickly healed. He was apoplectic when he saw Sanji's injury and Zoro's new scar. Zoro was the last to get up, though that wasn't really due to the wound so much as the drugs that had him smelling colors and tasting sounds. When Chopper finally let off, the first words out of his mouth were a growled, "We need to get stronger."

His tone was flat as could be, "That was a wakeup call." He looked around, "We knew it was going to be difficult, but they're already throwing Vice Admirals at us, and they clearly found us lacking. If I had to fight that ugly bastard on my own…" He growled out, grabbing the as-of-yet unnamed blade, "I swore I would never lose again after Mihawk, and yet it was clear I would have. And we all got hurt. Some of us badly."

"He's right." Nami growled, "I was useless against that son of a bitch." She bit her bottom lip, "My attack did damage, but only after Robin nailed him in his stupid throat. I couldn't even get close, and I couldn't waste my one Thunderbolt Tempo. Usopp, can we make this thing any better?" She lifted her now-dinged-up Clima-Tact to show them.

"Not happening." Usopp sighed, "I… Nami, we've already upgraded that thing twice since I first made it. There's nothing more I can do with it. Not unless you want me to make it much heavier and bulkier. This is the best we've got."

Nami clenched her fist, "Then I know what I need." She looked at the silent Luffy, "We're starting Tekkai training." She said bluntly, "And Shigan too. I need to be better."

"Nami, no one blames you-" Vivi put her hand on her girlfriend's shoulder, but it did little to help.

"I blame me!" Nami had to bite back a snarl. "I froze up like a little kitten! If Sanji hadn't jumped in front of me, that damn shard would have been buried in my skull! It was only luck that kept Sanji's injury from being worse! Sanji and Zoro got hurt because I wasn't good enough to even get close to him and they had to pull my slack!"

"Don't flatter yourself, witch." Zoro scoffed, "None of us were good enough."

"And I pulled the least amount of weight." She countered, "I'm the Second Mate of this crew." With all that had happened, she honestly couldn't even pretend to consider herself worthy of being even Co-First Mate, no matter what anyone else said. "And I thought I was getting there, but I was dead fucking weight in that fight, and only got a good hit in because of Robin."

"Enough." Luffy said, and they all shut up and looked at him, "You have gotten stronger Nami. Much, much stronger. In case you missed it, I got hurt too. Those guys were strong." He smirked, "So let's stop bitching and fix it."

That got a few laughs from all of them. Nami's strict face wavered, before she let out a smile, "Thanks, Luffy…"

He smiled at her before he focused up, "We saw how strong Haki is. Those guys were way better at it than the stupid banana. The guy I fought blocked my powers like Gramps used to! We all have to work on using it! Zoro and Vivi already have a head start, right?"

Zoro nodded, drawing Wadō and allowing it to blacken to showcase it. Vivi on the other hand waved her hand in a wishy-washy motion, "Ehh, kind of. I'm not sure. I was definitely able to feel my people during the war, but all it did was give me a migraine to end all migraines. I did get some flashes of what Ace described, but it was mostly just sensing where people were and…" She bit her lip, "Feeling them die…" She whispered. She felt Robin's hand on her shoulder, and she reached up to grab it, "But I did start trying to direct it when we started training in the palace."

"That's still more than any of us have." Luffy said, "Okay, Zoro, you're teaching us Busōshoku. Vivi, you're teaching us Kenbunshoku. We'll all do one day practicing one, and then the next day the other." He got up, "And in the meantime, we'll keep working on the Rokushiki. Let's get to it!"

"Aye, aye!"


"Anyone know what the island after Alabasta is?" Usopp asked, a few days into the next leg of their journey.

"It should be an Autumn Island, if I recall correctly." Robin said, not really looking away from what she was doing. "Shigan." She muttered lowly, thrusting her pointed finger at the wooden post covered in hemp rope. She hissed slightly in pain as she pulled back, the digit already raw and red.

"That hurts just looking at it." Vivi and Valerie deadpanned, staring at her finger. Robin had already been at it for two hours, and all of her digits had varying injuries on them, some even with purpling bruises. Thankfully, none of them were broken or bent, but there was only so much that Tekkai could do at the end of the day. Only so much punishment the body could take. Especially the 'tendon knot' that was the Human hand, as Chopper had put it.

It was only due to Chopper's quickly improving medical skills that she would even be able to train the next day. The little reindeer had focused heavily on his trade more so than his combat skills, though those were progressing swiftly as well. Heavy encouragement from the smarter members of the crew as well as talks with Luffy regarding Life Return had him revisiting his own Devil Fruit and his Rumble Balls. It had been astonishing for the entire crew to realize that their youngest member actually was the best Devil Fruit user of the crew when it came up during dinner one night.

"I would say I'm a fair hand with my fruit," Robin said, "Before Luffy, I always claimed that physical might had no meaning against me. Of all of the users on the crew, I would have said that I was the one who had taken them the farthest."

"That's past tense." Nami said musingly, "You don't think so anymore?"

Robin shook her head, "No. Not anymore. Actually," She smiled a little, "The short, quick weeks on this crew showed me that if anything, I've been underutilizing them. I'm already up to two-hundred separate limbs. I was at only one hundred when I first joined. And while I am miles ahead of the rest of us in creative uses for spying, in terms of combat I was fairly linear. Spawn limbs. Snap necks. Ufufufu." She chuckled at the blue hue that crossed Usopp's face and the ruffling of Choppers fur.

"But you're so much better than us with them!" Valerie exclaimed, "I don't need sugary words. I suck. I never even thought of anything other than my meteor drops for combat or weight gain for interrogations."

"Yeah, and Luffy hardly uses his fruit, so he's only now starting to actually get better at them." Vivi smiled a little, "I suppose Crocodile had his uses."

"That only leaves Chopper." Luffy said, before gnawing on his leg of ham.

"What, me?" Chopper sounded incredulous, "How can I be the best with my fruit? I'm a Zoan! I don't really have all that much room to be creative, do I?"

"Don't you, Chopper?" Robin smiled, laying her chin on her palm as she looked at him, "What can Zoans do?"

"Ooh, I know this!" Luffy grinned, "Human, hybrid, and beast forms!"

"But that's only three, isn't it? Chopper has seven forms." Robin replied languidly.

"That's true, but that's only because of my Rumble Balls." Chopper said, "Zoans normally can't do stuff like that."

"And who made your Rumble Balls?" Robin asked, still leading him on.

"Wait a minute…" Sanji furrowed his visible brow, staring at the little reindeer.

"I did." Chopper crossed his arms, "Where are you going with this, Robin?"

She chuckled, "Chopper, what would have happened if a human had eaten that fruit?" Chopper opened his mouth, froze, and then slowly closed it. "On the surface, nothing would have happened, right?" She sat up straight and took a sip of her coffee (or tar, as Vivi liked to call it), "A human eating a human fruit. Not an ascended human fruit like the Fleet Admiral of the Marines, or any other possible variation of that fruit, if any exist. Just a regular human fruit. A human who ate it would have gotten nothing out of it, correct? His human, hybrid, and beast forms would have all been one and the same."

"You following any of this?" Zoro muttered to Luffy.

"Kinda." The Captain replied to his First Mate, "It's pretty weird though." That got a few chuckles. Luffy could be surprisingly insightful, and in combat, he was a genius. But in other aspects… Well, no one was perfect.

"I…think I get it?" Chopper said, frowning.

"Let me ask another question." Robin put her mug down, "What is the essence of being human? What separates us from most animals?"

Nami had a spark flow through her, "Intelligence." She said, and everyone went silent. "But…" She nibbled on her finger, "Let's be real. Some of us can be real dumbasses." Sanji got a few snickers as he pointed unerringly at Zoro behind his back. The swordsman quickly noticed, and then the two were at each other's throats, getting more laughter to erupt over the two brawling idiots. "Just being human is no guarantee of any real intelligence. Chopper though? He's a genius."

"What?!" Chopper's jaw flopped, "N-No I'm not, asshole! I won't be happy just because you praise me!" He started wiggling happily.

"You look pretty happy to us." They all deadpanned, and Nami continued, "Chopper, you're fifteen and you're a doctor."

"And not only a doctor, but one of the best doctors. You cured me on your own. No help from Doctorine. She was too busy with Robin." Vivi said, "Nami's right. That puts you in the upper echelons of human intelligence."

"Which you used to formulate a substance that grants you four additional forms that no other Zoan has access to." Robin smiled at him, "Intelligence is at the core of what it means to be human, and you have utterly embraced that facet. It makes me wonder…" Her smile looked a little sinister, "Just how far you could push that."

After that talk, the little reindeer had thrown himself back into "oh god, my doctorate!" mode, and had started revisiting his Rumble Balls. Training wise, he had focused on learning the Rokushiki. The thing he was most interested in was one of Luffy's favorites: Life Return. And to get there, he needed to put in the same effort into his training as he was into his studies.

"Is it raining?" Valerie asked as some plinking sounded near her. She held her hand out, trying to feel droplets landing.

"What? No way. I haven't sensed a thing." Nami rejected the notion. If it wasn't for the light breeze and the waves, she would have figured they were in the Calm Belt again for all the weather she was expecting.

"It's not rain." Sanji was looking up, and his cigarette fell from his gaping mouth.

They all looked up, and even Luffy blanched at the sight of the goddamn Galleon falling out of the sky. "IS THAT A SHIP!?" Vivi and Valerie shrieked, hugging each other in terror.

"WAAAAH!" Half of them yelled as the Galleon dropped into the sea next to them, causing a gigantic wave to rock the ship.

"HANG ONTO SOMETHING!" Luffy roared as he leapt into the air so he could concentrate. If need be, he needed to be steady.

Usopp, Chopper, and Nami were holding onto the mast in terror. Robin had spawned a bunch of arms to hold herself, Valerie, and Vivi down. Sanji had joined Luffy in the air, and Zoro had his swords drawn in the event he saw something falling on the ship.

As the seas calmed slightly, Usopp sat cross-legged in a prayer pose. "Don't worry, just relax and close your eyes." He said as if leading a sermon. He just barely missed out on being brained by a barrel, with Chopper snapping into Heavy Point and backhanding it away from the liar. "Then slowly open them. See? It's a nice, peacef-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" He shrieked upon seeing the skeleton in front of his face.

"Why the hell is it raining ships?!" Luffy scratched the back of his neck when he landed. The seas were calming, though they were still roiling from the impact.

"There isn't a damn thing above us! Where the hell did it come from?" Zoro growled, crossing his arms, and staring straight up.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" A shriek from Nami jarred all of them into whirling around.

"Oh, what now?!" The First Mate growled.

"THE LOG POSE IS BROKEN!" Nami shrieked in terror.

"WHAT?!" Valerie and Vivi joined her in crying out, diving for her, "NONONONONON- Wait?" They squinted at her arm, "What do you mean it's broken?" Vivi asked.

"Yeah, it looks fine?" Valerie looked confused, "No cracks. Nothing seems broken. It even looks polished!"

"MAYBE YOUR EYES ARE BROKEN INSTEAD?!" Nami gave them the shark-toothed roar, "Look where the stupid thing is pointing!" She held her arm horizontal. They all looked closely at the Log Pose, and several gasps rang out.

"IT'S POINTING UP?!" They yelled, as indeed, the Log Pose was pointing nearly ninety degrees straight up. The tip of the red half of the needle was even clinking against the post holding it aloft in its bauble.

"It's not broken." Robin said, sweating lightly both from the ordeal and what she knew would be coming, "It's been captured by a magnetic field, just as it's supposed to be. It switching directions means that the magnetic field we were just captured by was stronger than the one we were heading to. And if it's pointing skyward, it can only mean one thing." She looked up, seeing a gigantic mass of clouds above them off the starboard side of the ship, in the direction the needle was pointing, "Our Log Pose has been captured by a Sky Island!"

"Oh, come off it, Robin!" Nami said, feeling somehysterics trying to seep in, "How is that even possible?! An island can't float in the sky! The Log Pose must be broken!"

"No Nami, Robin is right." Vivi shook her head, "No matter what, there will always be an island where that needle points."

Robin nodded, "No matter what happens to the ship or what kind of crisis we face, the ONE thing on this sea we can never suspect is the Log Pose. If common sense is telling you one thing and the Log Pose is telling you another, then common sense is wrong."

Valerie nodded, "Losing trust in the Log Pose is almost always a guaranteed death sentence unless you have Roger-tier luck."

"Besides." Robin started to giggle, drawing their attention, "Just look at Luffy." She jerked her thumb at the Captain. Said Captain was nearly vibrating out of his skin and staring at the sky with stars in his eyes. Literally. Light was shining from his face towards the sky.

"Oh no." Nami facepalmed, recognizing the look.

"It's settled then!" Luffy declared, pointing at the sky, "TURN THE PROW UP! WE'RE GOING TO SKY ISLAND!"

"IDIOT! WE CAN'T JUST TURN THE PROW UP! THAT'S NOT HOW SHIPS WORK!" Nami roared at him. "Ugh." She pressed her palm to her head, "I have a headache now. I get what you're all saying, but there's no way there can possibly be an island in the sky!"

"No, there's dozens of them!" Luffy beamed at her, "Shanks told me about it! He visited one with the Roger Pirates!" Several jaws dropped, "Can't remember the name though. I always hoped there would be one on our journey!"

Now Nami had her head in both hands, groaning. "Oh great. Now we have to find a way up there. Can't we just skip it?"

"REJECTED!" Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper yelled, pointing at her. And Vivi and Valerie didn't do so, but they were very much on the 'Sky Island or Bust' boat too. "Come on Nami, we just have to sail up!" Unlike Usopp and Chopper, he was just teasing his girlfriend with the comment.

"I SAID THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS!" Nami roared at him in full shark-tooth mode again, and he fell back laughing. "Ugh, we need more info. I have zero idea how to possibly get us up there. If it's even real." She was still in full-on denial mode, even if she realized that, real or not, they were heading into the sky.

"On it." Robin smiled as her archaeology tools arrived via her arms. She quickly got to work piecing together the skull, while Luffy and some of the others went to explore the wreck. She was even humming a little tune to herself.

Vivi turned a little blue, 'Our girlfriend is scary…' She thought to herself, "Not sure I'd ever touch a skull like that." She muttered to herself.

Soon enough, the skull had been reassembled, and Robin hummed, "This hole is man-made."

"Poor bugger. Shot in the head?" Sanji asked her.

"No." Robin shook her head, "Chopper?"

The reindeer came over, "The heck? Those are surgery marks. A long time ago, people used to make holes in the skull to relieve pressure from tumors. But nobody does that anymore! It was archaic when Doctorine was learning medicine!"

"You're right." Robin agreed, "In fact, I would say that this man died over two hundred years ago." She took a closer look and gently moved the skull around. "He was in his mid-thirties, I'd say."

"He must have gotten sick on the high seas and died." Chopper took a closer look as well, with the two in their own little world, not really paying attention to their gaping crewmates, "His teeth are really well-preserved too. They're not yellowed like the rest of the skull."

"They likely were coated in tar." Robin nodded, before examining the coffin, "As for his body… he's wearing some clothes that were unique to the South Blue. I'd say this was probably an old exploration vessel, and likely one from a wealthy nation able to fund such ventures." She grabbed a book detailing famous ships over the years that had gone missing. It took only a few seconds of rapidly flipping through the pages before she smiled. "Ah, here it is. The Saint Briss from the South Blue Kingdom of Briss set sail two hundred and eight years ago." She turned the book to them and showed off the picture, "This is the same ship that fell on us, no?"

"Holy crap, Robin." Vivi and Nami sounded extremely impressed at the woman's knowledge. "That was honestly kind of scary."

"Ufufufu, everyone needs a hobby." Robin got up, "We should probably check the ship out before it sinks. It's bound to have plenty of records."

"Way ahead of you!" Luffy grinned as he landed, ignoring the sounds of the ship really starting to sink behind him, "Check it out!" He snapped the sheet open and showed the crew, revealing, "A MAP OF SKYPIEA!"

"Oh my god." Nami wobbled, starting to tear up a little, "We're going to the sky. How is this possible?!" She started shaking her fist at the sky, "I COULD ACCEPT THE CRAZY WEATHER AND THE GIGANTIC SEA LIFE, BUT THIS IS TOO FAR GOD DAMN IT! HOW THE FUCK IS THERE AN ENTIRE ISLAND JUST FLOATING IN THE AIR?! CLOUDS AREN'T SOLID FOR FUCK'S SAKE!" She breathed heavily, falling down.

"You good?" Zoro asked, edging away from her slightly.

"Yeah, I'm good." She took a deep breath and clapped her cheeks. "I'm good." She stood, "We still need more info though. Even if this stupid island is real, I still have no idea how to get us there. And that means we need the Briss's records!"

"But the ship sank. How the heck are we going to get them?" Usopp asked.

Nami smirked evilly, "Why, I know just the thing."

"This is for the prow comments, isn't it?" Luffy deadpanned, wearing two bolted-together barrels with rubber arms, a porthole, and a breathing tube at the top.

"I have no idea what you mean, Luffy." Nami purred, a vindictive smirk on her face.

"Kyahahaha! I love this crew!" Valerie laughed to herself, next to Robin and Vivi who were also chortling.

Next to Luffy in his own single barrel, Zoro shook his head, and beside him was Sanji in full love-mode due to Nami's look. Robin looked even more amused than Valerie, "Good luck, you three." She waved as Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji leapt off the boat. She sat against the mast and closed her eyes, now looking through the set she had spawned on Luffy's forehead earlier. She sweatdropped, "…That's one giant snake."

"That's what she said." Vivi did a spittake at Nami's comment, renewing her laughter.

And then…

"SALVAGE! SALVAGE! SALVAGE! SALVAGE!" An almost musical chant rang through the air, and then the sounds of cymbals being clapped together joined it.

"Oh, what now?!" Nami groaned as a new ship started pulling close to them. It was so obnoxiously monkey-themed that the Straw Hats lowered their jaws slightly. The figurehead was a blushing monkey holding cymbals; there were banana-shaped… things right behind it; there were palm trees on the deck…

And then a man revealed himself. A man who definitely didn't even know what a 'leg day' was, judging from how disproportionally skinny his were. His torso more than made up for it, with just one arm being about the size of Usopp. He was bulkier than Chopper in Heavy Point. He was wearing a white-and-black tee, with a pair of orange overalls adorned with another blushing monkey face and his own name, Masira, right above it. "Ook kee kee! That sunken ship is mine! Prepare to raise it from the depths!" He then caught sight of the Straw Hats, "Hey, who the hell are you guys?! This is my territory!"


"What are you, stupid?" Masira snarked, getting a tick mark to pop up on Nami's forehead, "Any ship that sinks around here belongs to me. You better not have messed with any of them!"

"So, he's going to salvage the ship." Robin said, "This could be a lucky break for us."

Valerie grinned and swirled her umbrella, "Let's face it, there's probably no treasure on it, and even if there is, Merry is already heavy with what we have. Why not work a deal with him where he raises the ship, but we take any non-treasure stuff to help us look for Skypiea?"

"My blood pressure just rose twenty digits from that suggestion." Nami deadpanned, getting fresh laughter from her crew.


"Well, in for a Beli." Nami grinned, before she vanished in a burst of speed and reappeared directly in front of Masira on his ship, standing on the rails with her arms crossed.

"Wah!?" Most of Masira's crew yelped and fell back at the sight, and Masira himself took two steps back in shock.

Nami grinned, "Alright, listen up, monkey man!"

Masira straightened up… and then blushed, "Do you really think I look like a monkey?"

"…Uhhh…" Nami faltered at the sight, bemused, "Yeah?"

"Naww, you're just saying that." Masira said bashfully.

'…Grand Line, sometimes I hate you, but sometimes I love you.' Biting back a snicker, Nami shook her head, "No, you're definitely a monkey."

"Oh, stop it you. Ook kee kee!" Masira waved at her in embarrassment.

Nami snickered, but shook her head, "Alright, listen up!" She said, "That ship you're looking for fell out of the sky and nearly crushed our little ship. We had boots on it before it sank, and hours before you guys were even close." It had taken a while for Usopp to rig up the dive suits after all.

"WHAT?!" Masira blew his top, "I told you, didn't I?! All salvage in this sea belongs to me!" He punched his fists together, "You best be prepared to pay in blood, little lady!"

"Yeah, that's cool and all, but I have a pretty good rebuttal." Nami said in a friendly tone, before raising her leg, "Rankyaku!" Her leg flicked, and the Air Slash passed right by Masira. The huge man turned to watch the attack, and so he was able to see it cut one of his palm trees in half.


He gulped, "M-Maybe I was too hasty."

Nami giggled, "Don't worry, monkey man, we're not interested in a fight. We identified the ship and honestly, we don't think there's any treasure to find on it at all. Damn thing has been missing for two hundred years."

"Seriously?!" He had calmed down at the monkey comment, but with that, he relaxed, "So what's your interest in it, then?"

Nami showed him her arm, and his eyes widened, "Adventure, of course! Our Log Pose has locked onto a Sky Island, and our Captain is determined to see it. But we have no idea how to get there! We were searching the ship for more information, because from what we can tell, it fell off of one."

"Ook kee kee!" Masira started to laugh, "Sky Island?! You know what, little lady? I think I might like you guys! I know someone who might just be able to help with that."

"Really?!" Nami beamed, "Awesome! Why don't you go ahead and bring that ship up then? We'll tell our guys to help out if you want it. Otherwise, they'll just sit tight until it surfaces."

"Well?! You heard our new friend! Let's bring that ship up!" Masira roared, "Just tell them not to interfere, okay?" He waved to Nami as she flipped off the ship back towards the Merry.

"Hey, you guys find anything?" Nami asked into the air hoses when she landed.

"Sadly, it's all junk, Nami-swan." Sanji told her with a sigh.

"And even if it's not junk, it just breaks the second we touch it." Luffy grumbled.

"Oh, I'm aware." Robin said darkly, glowering, "That vase looked ancient. I wanted to study it."

"Sorry Robin. I was trying to be gentle too."

"I'm pissed about the sword." Zoro groused, "Broke the second I tried to draw it."

"Well, don't worry too much." Nami said, cutting in, "A crew of ship salvagers showed up and are going to bring the ship up, okay? Don't get in their way."

"Oh, cool! This should be fun to watch!" Luffy said, grinning. There was then a very loud noise, "Woah, what the heck?! They look like giant fishhooks!"

The crew topside watched as Masira engaged a lever, and the monkey figurehead detached from the ship's prow, revealing itself to be a full monkey! Its cymbals crashed and it dove down as Masira roared, "ENGAGE THE BARCO GRABBER!" Usopp and Chopper were watching in awe, while the ladies giggled at their childlike enthusiasm.

"BARCO GRABBER LINK ENGAGED!" The crew yelled as the cymbals clapped on the banana stem of the weird device.

"Alright!" Masira cheered as he grabbed a giant hose connected to it. "Prepare for inflation!"

Nami's jaw dropped, "What the hell?! He's going to raise the wreck with his breath?!"

Masira did just that, proving that his giant chest wasn't just for show. His lungs were huge, and the hose outright bulged as the air was forced down through it and started filling up the ship. The air lightened the load, and the decreased weight was just enough that they could inch the ship off the seafloor.

And then the crew revealed a giant set of bellows which could force much more air through the hose than Masira could. Vivi, Valerie, Robin, and Nami tilted their heads to the left. "Is he an idiot?"

"Ook kee kee!" Masira laughed, "Looks like another successful salvage, boys!"

"Uhhh…" Vivi pointed at the water, where a titanic shadow that very much was not shaped like a ship was getting bigger.

And then a very audible crunch bubbled out of the deep, with both ships rocking from something snagging their lines. "LUFFY?! ZORO?! SANJI?!" Nami, Vivi, Valerie, Chopper, and Usopp yelled in horror.

"Oh my." Robin looked down, a bit of sweat on her brow as it surfaced, "That is one big Banchi."

Usopp whimpered, "I don't think we have enough lettuce to trade."

Nami hissed angrily, "This fucking thing better hope it has a porthole like Laboon, or else I'm going to MAKE ONE! GIVE ME BACK MY MAN BEFORE I TURN YOU INTO STEW, YOU SHIT TURTLE!" She yelled out, stepping on the rail and getting ready to fly.

"AND THE REST OF THE CREW TOO!" Usopp threw in.

"AND MY SALVAGE!" Masira roared.


"Oh shit!" Nami almost fell off the boat as the turtle ignored them and started swimming away, dragging their ships along. "We're going to be dragged under!"

"Do something, Robin!" Chopper shook the black-haired woman in Heavy Point.

"I don't have enough hands to snap its neck." Robin said, still calm. There was no way Luffy, Sanji, and Zoro were getting taken out by a giant turtle sea king.

And true to her prediction, the turtle roared in agony as three of its teeth were knocked straight out of its mouth. Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji flew back to Merry, landing cleanly and dropping their bags. "What the heck?!" Luffy asked, "Stupid turtle. Who the hell does it think it's eating?!" Luffy growled.

"LUFFY!" He was subsequently almost knocked off the ship by Nami and Vivi's flying glomps.

And then it was like someone had just snuffed out the world's candle. It instantly grew dark, and the turtle froze. "What the hell?! It's too early to be this dark!" Usopp looked around.


"WHAT MONSTERS?!" Usopp yelled in terror. "We've already got one… here?" He stopped, looking at the giant sea king. It seemingly had stopped noticing them, even as blood poured from its gums. It was staring, open-mouthed into the distance.

They all turned, and as one, felt terror course through them. Three giant, black monsters stood before them in the fog. No, giant was the wrong word. They weren't sure there was a word for how big these monsters were, making the sea king look like a regular-sized snapping turtle. Each had a weapon in hand, and they couldn't be more than half a mile from them.

"GET US OUT OF HERE!" Half the crew screamed as they prepared to sail the hell away.

"Wait!" Vivi yelled, trying to get their attention.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN WAIT?! GET ON THE SAILS, WOMAN!" Nami barked at her girlfriend.

"EVERYONE STOP!" Vivi yelled back, and they twitched and slowed down as a whisper of Haōshoku touched them. "Ah, crap! Sorry!" She put her hands together in a prayer motion, before sitting cross-legged on the deck, "Just be quiet for a minute." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, allowing the world to fall away. She stretched out her burgeoning senses as far as she could, which was a pretty fair distance if she focused in just one direction. She started to sweat as she looked and looked, but there was just nothing there. She opened her eyes, "They're not real guys!" She called out.

"Not real?!" They asked incredulously. "What do you mean?"

"I can't sense anything!" Vivi replied, getting back to her feet, "They're not real." She said, sure of it, "There's nothing really there."

"But then what are they?" Valerie asked, glaring at them.

A gasp from an uncharacteristic source rang out, and they all turned to look at Robin in confusion. She smiled, and began laughing, "Ufufufufu, well Nami-chan… you wanted proof of Sky Island?" She held her hand out and gestured at the black things. "There you are."

"How does that prove anyth-" Nami started to ask, but then Usopp blurted out the answer.

"Shadows!" He gaped at the realization, pointing a shaky finger, "They're shadows! Like shadow puppets!" He turned around, "The sun is that way! What we're seeing… are the shadows of the people in the sky!"


"WE'RE GOING TO SKY ISLAND!" Luffy, Usopp, Chopper, Vivi, and Valerie jumped into the air cheering.

Nami dropped her head and half-heartedly raised a fist into the air, "Wooo, Sky Island…" The definition of enthused, that one. Robin started laughing in full.

"Hey, where's Masira?" Usopp asked after the cheering stopped. They all turned around, realizing both the turtle and the other ship had vanished. None of them had noticed the Masira Pirates' ship practically flying away from the shadows.

"What the hell?!" Nami groaned, "Wasn't he supposed to help us?! Where did that idiot go?!"

Luffy leapt up into the air, rising more than a kilometer up before stopping and slowly turning as he looked around. He flew back to the ship, "Yeah, they're gone gone. I can't see them at all."

"NOW what?! I still have no clue how to get us to a Sky Island!" Nami groaned, massaging her temples. "Did you at least find something on the ship?"

"No." Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji deadpanned. "Look at this crap." They turned their bags inside out, dumping all of the stuff onto the deck. "The only interesting looking things that I found were the armor and this thing. It looks weird." He grabbed a thing that looked vaguely like, "Ace's thing that he used in Alabasta." Luffy concluded.

"Huh, I can see the similarity. The heck is it?" It looked like a one-person craft with a large bore at the back, and a wooden handle at the front. She shook her head, "Ugh, never mind. Just throw this junk overboard. We needed information! Ship's logs, a goddamn map! A rusty sword, dishes, and a live octopus doesn't help us at all!"

"Sorry Nami-swan, but with the way the metal things broke on us when we touched them, a log book probably would have turned to dust." Sanji said, "But I brought you this pretty shell!"

"Don't want it!" Nami groaned, "Let me think, because right now, the only thing I can think of is for us to sail and pray we hit an island. And hope we can figure out a way up before the Log Pose resets."

"Or we could just follow this." Robin smiled at Nami as she held out an Eternal Pose for an island named Jaya. "Those monkeys may have looked dumb, but they were smart in some ways. They had multiple Poses for Jaya, probably in the event one broke. So, I grabbed one." She shrugged, "They did say they would help us, after all."

"You're the BEST, Robin!" Nami squealed, leaping at the older woman, and wrapping both her arms and legs around her in a hug. She gave her a big smooch on the cheek.

"I try, ufufufu." Robin chuckled, marveling that she was comfortable enough with this. A few months ago, and if someone had told her this was what she would be up to, she'd have turned them into a pretzel.

"Ah, two beautiful young flowers in the springtime of their youths!" He noodled around with his signature eye-heart. "Wait a minute." Sanji said, freezing in place. In his head, a bubble appeared showing Luffy kissing Nami. Then Luffy kissing Vivi. Then a heart-field backdrop for Nami kissing Vivi. And now Nami wrapped around Robin. Then a set of ? And then Luffy with Robin holding hands with a ? next to it. He burst into flames, "YOU SHITTY CAPTAIN! DID YOU ENSNARE ANOTHER OF OUR BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS?!" He dove at Luffy and started shaking him by his cardigan.

"Well, actually, I'm pretty sure she ensnared him." Vivi said before she could stop herself.

"Vivi…" Nami groaned as Sanji started trying to kill Luffy and the sky filled with the sounds of overpowered idiots laughing at gravity.

"Hey, don't blame me for this one! You're the one that jumped on Robin!" Vivi protested as half of the remaining crew goggled.

"Kyahahaha! I love this crew!" Valerie was in tears on the floor from how hard she was laughing.


"You've got to be kidding me." Nami said, looking at her blue-haired girlfriend.

"Fraid not, Nami." Vivi giggled, "The only settlement on Jaya is basically a pirate town. The Navy doesn't even bother burning Mock Town down anymore. Last time they did it was like fifty years ago and it didn't even take a week for the pirates to rebuild."

"Great. Fucking fantastic." Nami facepalmed, "Are these brain-dead idiots even going to have an idea of how to get us where we need?"

"Who knows?" Zoro smirked, "But this sounds like fun." He leapt from the Going Merry down to the docks, "I'm going to take a walk. Clear out my head." He said, still smarting over losing Yubashiri.

"What's say we go have some fun?" Nami smirked, grabbing Vivi and Luffy's arms. "We've got four days before the Log Pose resets, so we're in a little bit of a rush, but not that bad."

"Shishishi!" Luffy chuckled, nodding eagerly.

"Sure." Vivi said, before turning, "You coming with us, Robin?" She didn't notice Sanji turning to stone behind them.

"No, you three have fun." Robin denied, "I might catch up with you, but I want to get information first. There's no telling how long it will take us to even get a clue on our next destination."

"Aww, come on, Robin." Luffy pouted, "We should go have some fun!"

"Oh, we will." She smiled at him, practically purring, "But first, I'll go have some fun on my own."

"Don't break too many spines, Kyahahaha!" Valerie laughed, "Know what? I think I'll come with. I'm a fine hand at sneaky shit myself, after all." She snapped her parasol shut.

Robin chuckled lowly, "Shall we then, Miss Valentine?"

"After you, Miss All Sunday." Valerie hopped down with Robin.

"Get better codenames!" Vivi yelled at their backs, drawing laughs from the crew.

"Alright, Sanji, Usopp, Chopper, you guys man the ship." Luffy commanded, before he and his two girls jumped off.

"Luffy!" Usopp called, "See if you guys can find any wood and steel plates! We did our best, but Merry definitely took a bit of a beating."

Luffy, Nami, and Vivi all threw 'thumbs-up' back at the ship as they continued to walk on. "Jeez, this place is a madhouse." Vivi said as she looked around, wincing, "Pretty sure I just felt someone die like thirty meters to the right."

"Oh, you're getting better at that!" Nami smiled at her, though it fell when Vivi grimaced.

"Kind of wish I wasn't." She squeezed her eyes shut and held her breath, "Gods, it was okay when we were on the ship, but now…"

"Deep breaths, Vivi." Luffy commanded, and she did so. "I know you don't like feeling people get hurt, but most of the guys on this island are going to be assholes who deserve it. Try to block it out before it overwhelms you." He held her hand gently, "Focus on me. Focus on Nami. Hell, focus on Zoro, Robin, or Valerie. Block it out. Or try to pick the rest of the crew out."

Vivi took a deep breath again, before smiling, "Heh, I guess that's fair. You feel like the sun, Luffy. Nice and warm." She beamed at him, and leaned close to kiss him.

"Shishishi!" Luffy laughed when they broke apart and continued walking.

"Oh dear. Are you okay?" Vivi asked the fallen man, not certain why she was getting such an uneasy feeling from him.

"He fell off his horse." Luffy deadpanned, wondering if it would be bad form to find a stick to poke him with.

"Is he coughing blood?" Nami inched back.

"Hey, pardon me folks… but can you help me up?" The man asked pitifully. Nami and Vivi backed up a step, not wanting to get near the potentially disease-ridden man. Luffy meanwhile had no such fear due to his Devil Fruit, and he simply went up to the man, grabbed the back of his thick coat, and hauled him back onto the horse with one hand. "Haaa, thank you, young man." He clenched his jaw, blood still leaking from between his teeth, "I was born with a weak constitution." He huffed out, trembling, "Let's go then, Stronger…"

And then both he and the horse hacked out blood, "THE HORSE TOO?!" Vivi and Nami yelled.

"Here," he said, practically laying on Stronger's saddle as he held out a fruit basket. "I don't have any money, but I'd like to thank you, stranger. Please take one."

"Oooh, apple! Don't mind if I do!" Luffy grinned, chomping down on the fruit even as Nami and Vivi tried to stop him.


Vivi and Nami's eyes widened after the explosion died down, and several people started yelling about the guys exploding after a strange man had started giving out apples, "LUFFY, SPIT THAT OUT!"

"Already ate it." Luffy deadpanned, turning gimlet eyes at the grinning man.

"Hahaha, lucky boy. That one was alright." The man said, before he and his horse wandered off.

Vivi growled, "I may not like hurting people, but I think I'll make an exception!" She had her hands on her Kujakkī Slashers.

"Don't." Luffy said, putting a hand on hers, "Let's just go."

Nami growled as they walked, "I've been here for ten minutes, and I can already solidly say 'fuck this town.' Fucking asshole!"

Luffy put his arms around their shoulders and pulled them closer, "Relax." He chuckled, "I think all that training did its job. I knew the others were bad. Had that icky feeling about them."

Vivi sighed in relief that it hadn't just been luck, "Jerk." She then grinned, "Still can't dodge worth a damn with it though." Oh, how good it felt to be the one beating on him for a change. The entire crew had taken turns whacking him with a club while he was blindfolded.

"Shishishi!" They continued on, eventually coming across a hotel. "Oooh, that smells great!"

"Woah, this place looks great!" Nami grinned, which turned salacious quickly, "Maybe you and Luffy can have a bit of fun, hmmm Princess?"

"Nami!" Vivi blushed, but was interrupted before she could answer.

"Oh, please! Turn back! Turn back!" A…very stressed man ran over to them. In fact, he was so stressed that his torso was waving back and forth, making him seem like three men on one pair of legs. Every motion of his body had his mustache waving in one direction or the other. He had his hands clasped in front of him as he spoke, "The Tropical Hostel is currently being rented out by the Bellamy Party!"

"The entire hotel?" Nami groaned, "You can't be serious! Are we going to find a single worthwhile spot on this damn rock?!"

"Yes, the entire hotel! If Captain Bellamy finds you here, there will be big trouble! Please leave at once!"

"What's all this?" A new, male voice had the proprietor freeze in fear. They turned, and saw that a man with long silver hair, a fur coat clasped by a gold chain, and a tattoo on his bare chest was walking towards them. He had his arm over a woman with a red bandana, blonde hair, and an equally bad attitude as they walked over, "Get these bilge rats out of here. We're not paying you to let people wander." He glared at Luffy, who was staring them down, "What, you want some scraps?" He took out a handful of Beri and flung it on the floor, "Go buy yourself some actual clothes."

Nami and Vivi clenched their fists at how they were being treated, but Luffy just gave the guy a look and turned around, wrapping his arms around their shoulders, and walking away, "Some dogs just can't help but bark, huh?" Vivi and Nami snickered at that, but Luffy hadn't bothered lowering his voice, so the man instantly got incensed at the disrespect.

"What was that, you little shit?" He dipped his hands to his massive kukri, before one of his crew ran up to him and grabbed his arm.

"Sarquiss, wait!"

"What?" Sarquiss glared at his crewmate, "What the hell are you doing?!"

"Saving your ass." The man growled, before shoving a bounty poster in his face.

Sarquiss glared at him as he ripped the paper off his mug, before looking at it. His eyes bugged out, and his girl beside him nearly fainted, "H-Holy shit! What the hell is this?! Fifty million?! For that brat?!" He glared at Luffy's grinning face on the poster, "Shit, Bellamy needs to see this."


Zoro was walking around with a jug of booze he had snagged from somewhere, but his head wasn't really any clearer. He really disliked the fact that he didn't even know the name of the blade he was now carrying. He hadn't had Yubashiri long, but it had been a fantastic sword. This one was of equal quality from what he could tell, but it was the fact that he needed to carry it in the first place that had him so pissed off.

He took another swig of his booze and tossed the empty bottle into the trash bin on the street. He was surprised there was even a bin to toss it into in a pirate town, but he supposed the townsfolk wanted to keep the place at least somewhat clean.

'I hadn't cared back then.' He mused to himself, remembering the dozens of blades he'd destroyed over the past three years, 'The only one I truly cared about was Wadō. But after having Kitetsu and Yubashiri in hand, it's frustrating. I keep breaking my blades, even when they're damn good ones. What if that bastard had broken Wadō instead? I can't be so weak, damn it!' He needed to get better at Haki. Once he could seep his very soul into his blades, they would never break again.

He was so distracted he didn't even realize he was about to run into an equally distracted someone. "Oof!" They both exhaled as she fell back. Zoro blinked, "Hey, sorry about tha-"

"Forgive me, I wasn't watching whe-"

The two cut off as they stared at one another.


"YOU!" Tashigi and Zoro both roared as she jumped to her feet and drew her blade in one smooth motion.

Zoro growled, "What the hell are you doing here?!"

"Oh, do you own the island now?" Tashigi spat, before lunging at him in an overhead strike.

Zoro quickly drew Wadō and the two began dueling, much to the pleasure of the watching crowd of pirates. "AHAHAHA! SHOULDN'T HAVE HIT IT AND RUN, GREEN GUY!" A pervert crowed.

"ME?! WITH HIM/HER?!" Tashigi spat at the same time as Zoro, as they both turned and unleashed Air Slashes at the speaker, Tashigi's much fainter.

"AHHH! THEY'RE CRAZY!" He dove out of the way, rolling on the ground, "SORRY! I'LL NEVER SAY IT AGAIN!" He continued rolling away, "Holy shit, they're crazy! And acting like an old married couple!" He thought to himself before rounding the corner and running the hell away.

Zoro snorted as they turned back to each other, "What's wrong? Gonna arrest me?" He smirked at her, bantering a bit. His brows furrowed when, rather than declaring that she would do exactly that, she flinched.

And then, she attacked ferociously, screaming in rage. It was completely unlike her. From what little Zoro knew about her, she was usually calm and collected. Passionate, yes. But she hadn't fought even remotely like this before. She was practically throwing everything she had into every slice and every stab. She was fighting like a brute, and it was working against her. She was exhausting herself. Zoro barely had to do anything except block and parry, growing increasingly confused. She was practically rabid in her attacks!

"What the hell are you doing?" He finally asked after knocking her sword to the side and making her stumble. "You're fighting like an unskilled idiot. What's gotten into you?"

"How rude! I'm going to defeat you, Roronoa!" Tashigi yelled, turning back to him. Zoro blanched as white smoke started to erupt from her, before coalescing into swords next to her, "Phantom Blades!" They all launched forward, and Zoro quickly had to draw Kitetsu to deflect them.

'Fucking Devil Fruits! Why can they all do weird shit that the real stuff can't?!' Zoro thought to himself as two of the blades passed him and hit the ground. The impacts were so hard that they practically detonated. Zoro was forced to take a step forward from the shockwave that erupted behind him.

"Phantom Blow!" Tashigi yelled, turning her lower body into smoke, and launching herself forward faster than even Smoker could, aiming to run him through.

Zoro deflected the blade upwards with Wadō and his right hand stabbed Kitetsu into the ground in the same motion. With Haki lightly coating his hand, he grabbed Tashigi by the throat and slammed her into the concrete wall to their left, forcing all the air from her lungs. "Enough!" He growled at her, "What the hell is this, huh? How do you have that fruit!? I know for a fact that those slashes weren't enough to kill him! Not a man like him!"

Tashigi gritted her teeth. "Damn it…" She whispered lowly as Zoro let go of her neck, "DAMN IT!" She started to cry as she fell to her knees and covered her face with one of her hands, the other clutching onto Shigure in a death grip.

Zoro let out a groan as he walked back to Kitetsu and grabbed it, feeling awkward now. He sheathed his blades before looking back at her. He let out a sigh as he really took her in for the first time. She looked haunted. Her clothes were somewhat disheveled, her glasses were smudged, she had black bags under her eyes… she looked like a mess. 'Damn it all.' He walked over to her, "Come on." He held out a hand, and she looked at him in confusion. He merely raised an eyebrow until she flushed and took it.

The two started walking after Zoro helped her up, "So what the hell happened? And what are you doing in pirateville, huh?"

Tashigi looked down, "Before that…" She said, before looking at his waist, "…Where's Yubashiri?"

Zoro was very grateful that he did not currently have a sword in hand, as he was fairly certain he would have cut the island in half.


"Oh, nice outfit, Robin!" Valerie cheered as she saw her crewmate. "Purple is definitely your color!"

"You think?" Robin smiled at the woman, "I do quite like this hat, and the jacket is of surprising quality for a pirate town." She took it off her head and handed it to Valerie, "Nice sundress."

"Thanks. Huh, this is surprisingly nice." Valerie giggled as she handed Robin's hat back, "Shame I couldn't find anything with lemons on it." It looked almost like she was wearing a setting sun. "We going to go and find info on Skypiea now?"

"Already did." Robin said, making Valerie twitch in shock. Robin handed her the map she had acquired, "'X' marks the spot where the biggest weirdo on the island lives. Might be a good place to go."

"…When the heck did you have time to find this?" Valerie rolled it up and handed it back to Robin.

"Ufufufu, you have much to learn about information gathering." Robin chuckled, "Let's head back to the ship, shall we?"

"Darn, I feel like I'm coming back empty handed." Valerie slumped, having thought she was better at the secret agent gig than this, "Well, at least I've managed to get us a good idea of who the dangerous folk on this island are." She shivered, "I saw this guy snipe a seagull that was about three miles out. Only realized what it was because I saw the poor thing fall out of the sky."

"Yes, and I believe he is with the wrestler as well." Robin said as they began to walk, "I wonder who would win between me and him."

"Kyahahaha, I think I'd pay to watch you bend him in half." Valerie rubbed shoulders with her in amusement, "Anyway, what do you th-" She stopped short, drawing Robin's attention. Valerie was looking inside a bar, her brow furrowed.

"What is it, Valerie?" Robin asked, before spotting what the blonde had. "Is that…?"

"I think it is…" Valerie looked at her crewmate, "She was one of the ones we were told to watch out for. What the hell is she doing here?!"

"By my guess…drowning herself in alcohol?" Robin eyed the numerous bottles on her table.

They stared for a moment, before Valerie grinned, "Well, time to be a Straw Hat. Kyahahaha!" She walked in, with Robin following. "Well, what's a place like you doing in a girl like this?" She asked with a wry grin.

Despite herself, the pink haired Hina snorted. Her regular suit was missing in favor of casual clothes, and her Marine coat was definitely nowhere to be found. "Funny, but I'm not interested in-" She stopped as she looked up and saw just who had taken a seat at her table. She stared for a couple moments, before she let out a dark groan, "Can't even get wasted in peace. Hina irritated. What do you two want?"

"Just checking in. Hope your injuries have healed up." Robin offered her a smile, though she was aware that the proud woman might take it as a slight. The twitch in the woman's eye said she might have hit the mark.

Valerie hurried to say, "That, and we're wondering how long we have before the good old boys in white, blue, and gull come knocking."

Hina let out a huff, "They're not." She grabbed her bottle and took another deep drink.

"…How many of those have you had?" Valerie asked, wondering if she should reach out and grab it from her.

"Hina hasn't nearly enough." Hina muttered almost petulantly, slamming the bottle, and glaring at the two women.

"I must say…" Robin leaned back, "This wasn't the vibe I got from you during our fight. I figured you would be quite eager for a rematch and to… well… you know." Bring her in was what she didn't want to say in a pirate tavern.

Hina glared at the table, "Yeah, well, that was before Hina was betrayed. Everything I stood for… Everything I dedicated myself to…" Her gloves stretched audibly as she clenched her fist harder.

Valerie and Robin shared a look, "What happened after Alabasta, Hina-san?" Robin asked her.

Hina glared at them before she reached to her side and slammed a newspaper in front of them. "That arrived by News Coo this morning." That done, she grabbed her bottle and drained it.

Robin gathered it and turned it so she and Valerie could read it. It was an emergency print, so it was smaller than usual. An audible gasp erupted from Valerie, though Robin was able to keep her own shock to just a widening of her eyes. "Marine Hero Betrayed! Rear Admiral Smoker assassinated by his own Second-in-Command! What the hell is this?!" Valerie only managed to keep her voice down via Robin squeezing her leg in warning.

"What over a decade of loyalty gets you." Hina spat, glaring at her empty bottle. She wasn't exactly loaded right now. She hadn't been able to grab much of anything before she and Tashigi had stolen that small Marine speedboat. Five bottles in and she wasn't even buzzed. "They tried to give Smoker-kun credit even though their story was contradicting Alabasta's. Smoker-kun raised hell over it, and they used the excuse of his failed chase of you Straw Hats since Loguetown to Court Martial him. They killed him…"

"That's awful." Valerie glared at the paper as she and Robin read on. The paper outright demonized Tashigi. "Oh, that poor girl." It explained how Tashigi had only been 'waiting for her moment.' With the newly promoted Commodore Smoker still weak and nursing his injuries from his battle with Crocodile, she had killed him to take his Devil Fruit for herself, before fleeing with Hina, her accomplice. "She must be devastated."

"What makes it worse is that his fruit did fall into Tashigi's hands." Hina said softly, "So even though this is all bullshit, everyone is going to think it's true. Those bastards probably didn't even know for a fact that we found it. They just realized we had disappeared and ran with a story to make themselves look good. Even posthumously promoted Smoker-kun. He must be rolling in his grave." She spat her cigarette out, watching as it landed outside. "If they even gave him one."

Robin let out a sigh, "I'm sorry."

"For what? It's not like you did it." Hina sighed, her rage leaving her and just making her depressed again. For all their arguments and sniping at one another, Smoker had been her best friend. They'd been platonic life partners, for all intents and purposes. She had known him since boot camp. They'd been inseparable until they had received their promotions and been given their own commands away from each other. They'd been so proud

"That you had to find out the truth of the World Government like this." Robin said simply, but compassionately.

"Hmph. Comforted by pirates. What is the world coming to?" Hina grunted, "Six battleships at eight years old." She stared at Robin, "Guess that was a load of bullshit too?"

"Oh, I could certainly pull it off now." Robin said softly, "But back then? I was lucky if I could make an arm a dozen feet from my body." She leaned forward, "So what now?"

Hina stared out the window, not really seeing anything and wishing she had another bottle, "…I don't know." She finally let out, almost silently.

Valerie slammed her hand on the table, reminded far too closely of Baroque Works and Mr. Five at the moment. "Come on Hina." She grabbed the pink-haired woman, who squawked in surprise as she was hauled to her feet, "You look like you could do with some new friends."

"Wh-what are you saying?" Hina gaped, "In case you forgot, we were enemies just two weeks ago. Hina confused."

"Yeah, we do that a lot." Robin chuckled, "Both of us were Baroque Works before Luffy offered us a home."

Hina gaped at the information, but couldn't get a word in before Valerie piped in, "And last I checked." she drawled, "I had a heart in my chest, not a lump of coal. Like hell we're leaving you here to go out in a pointless blaze of drunken glory."

"Hina insulted." Hina deadpanned, though her lips had quivered slightly in amusement, "Hina can handle some two-bit pirates."

"Yeah, but for how long?" Valerie snickered, "Eventually you'll get tired, and there will be no one to watch your back. Well, yours or Tashigi's." Hina grimaced, knowing she was right. It wasn't like she had a ship or a crew anymore either. It was a miracle she and Tashigi had been able to even get to Jaya. They'd pawned off the speedboat to get on a chartered ship to the island so they could lay low for a while. They had no plans for after Jaya either.

Hina sighed, "Well, we'll have to find Tashigi-chan, I suppose."

"No need." Robin looked amused.

"Oooh, I know that smirk! Something hilarious is happening!" Valerie tapped her chin before her eyes lit up, "Wait… Kyahahaha! Don't tell me!" Valerie started to laugh as Robin's grin widened, "Oh, that's precious."

"Hina confused. What did I miss?" Hina asked as she allowed herself to be led back to the streets.

"Oh, just that our dear, innocent swordswoman ran into her boyfriend. Ufufufu…" The eldest of the group made no effort to hide her own amusement.

"Roronoa Zoro." Hina started to smile, before erupting in the first bit of genuine laughter she'd had in roughly three weeks. The three ladies walked on, and every pirate with half a brain in their skulls gave them a wide berth.

The other ninety-five percent were left out cold on the floor, or wishing they were.


Luffy, Nami, and Vivi sat inside the bar, listening to the bartender. "Pirates are free with their loot." He explained, "Despite the regular violence around here, the pirates never lay a hand on the townsfolk. What good is money if you can't spend it, right?"

"Makes sense," Nami drawled, "How long does it take for the Log Pose to reset again?" She knew how long, but she just wanted to be sure. Never hurt to double check even a reliable source's info.

"Four days." The bartender replied. He would have gone on, but was interrupted.

"Hey old man!" Luffy and the huge guy next to him pounded their fists into the bar at the same time, "This cherry pie is so good/bad I could die!" The man had a scraggly black beard, equally messy long hair, a crooked and definitely-once-broken nose, and several missing teeth.

"Eh?" Luffy and the man glared at each other.

"Luffy, don't be rude." Vivi elbowed him in the side. Luffy ignored it, settling for glaring back at the man.

"…" There was an audible silence from each other before they looked away and grabbed their mugs. They quickly drained them, and one grimaced and the other looked elated, "That drink was really good/bad!" The two glared at each other, with visible lightning seeming to spark between their eyes. "Something wrong with your tongue?" The man asked Luffy.

"Something wrong with your brain?" Luffy shot back, glaring.

"Ugh, cut it out, Luffy." Nami facepalmed, "We don't need to wreck another town."

"Yes, please, take it easy." The bartender said, "Here's the pies you ordered." He slapped a large bag in front of the man.

"Hmph. Yeah, this idiot is ruining the taste. I'm out of here." He grabbed the bag and left.

And on his way out, he glanced curiously at a blonde that was entering the bar. The blonde didn't spare him a glance as he walked in, a dark, foreboding look on his face and his tongue sticking out for… some… reason. "Anyone in here see a guy with a Straw Hat?" Whispers started regarding the man, calling him Bellamy the Hyena.

"Hmm?" Luffy turned his stool to look at the guy, "You looking for me?"

"Ha!" Bellamy chortled, "I thought you'd be taller for a man with fifty million on his head."

"Nah, didn't get it from dad or grandpa." Luffy deadpanned.

"Luffy, you're six feet tall." Vivi deadpanned, looking at him agog.

"Yeah, but Grandpa is like nine and a half or something." Luffy replied, and Nami and Vivi both balked, unable to imagine their teddy bear being that huge.

Bellamy hid his eye twitch over being ignored, and put on a smile on his face as he walked over, "Get me your most expensive drink old man, and get him whatever he wants."

Nami sighed as she watched the rest of Bellamy's jerkass crew walk in like they owned the place. She leaned over, "Ten thousand Beli says they attack us in some fashion."

"Do I look like I'm made of money?" Vivi hid her response behind her mug, "Well, anymore, I mean." making Nami grin. "Shame, it was a nice town while it lasted." The insincerity was practically dripping from her voice.

"Here." The bartender put another mug of the drink Luffy had liked in front of him, and a light blue drink in front of Bellamy.

"Drink up!" Bellamy said as he swallowed his drink in one gulp, "Not bad." He grinned wide.

"Sweet. I really liked this thing." Luffy grinned, "You ain't bad, mister." He started to drink, and Nami shook her head as Bellamy grabbed Luffy by the neck and tried to slam him through the bar.

Keyword being 'tried.'

The rest of the bar went silent as they witnessed Bellamy's arm muscles bulge in exertion, and yet Luffy didn't go down. Instead he leaned back, almost tossing the blond as he gulped down his drink. He was grinning wide as he put down the mug, "Haaa, that was as good as last time!" Nami and Vivi both smirked, hiding their faces behind their own mugs. "Hmm?" Luffy blinked and turned to face Bellamy, who had backed up and taken on a look of shock, "What are you doing?" He played dumb, "I didn't ask for a massage."

"Why you-" Bellamy instantly became enraged, and swung a punch for Luffy's face.

Luffy leaned back, letting the wind from Bellamy's fist whisper across his nose. "Man, you're slow." Luffy looked at him like he was an idiot, "You trying to mess up the bar here?"

"You damn…" Bellamy growled, getting ready to transform his legs and teach this brat who was slow, but Luffy stood.

He stretched a little bit, "Hey, the drinks were great, old man. We might come back before we set sail. Let's go back to the ship Nami, Vivi."

"Yeah, that atmosphere's ruined." Vivi agreed.

"Yeah, clearly we're not going to get any info on Sky Island from these idiots." Nami stood with them, "Let's go."

"PFFFFFFF!" And then various spittakes rang out as several pirates and even civilians spat out their drinks and started laughing uproariously. Even Bellamy had forgotten his anger and was laughing hysterically. Luffy, Nami, and Vivi raised their eyebrows as the crowd started to prove the town's namesake and mock them. "Sky Island?! SKY ISLAND?! WAHAHAHAHA!"

"Let me guess? Your Log Pose is pointing to the sky?" Bellamy howled, "Ahahaha! Fucking idiots! Where'd you hicks come from? You believe that ancient legend?" He bared his teeth at them in a wide, mocking grin, "New currents are being discovered on the Grand Line all the time, like the Knock-Up Stream. You fools probably didn't even know it existed."

"No, I did." Vivi said, "I'm a Grand Line native, after all." Nami just looked at her, wondering when she had planned on mentioning that.

"Then you're an even dumber bimbo than you look!" Bellamy laughed uproariously again, missing how all the bemusement had evaporated in the three pirates, "Ships fall victim to them all the time and come crashing back down to the sea." He took a seat, "Long ago, ignorant seafarers saw them falling out of the sky and thought that 'surely there must be another world up there in the sky!' What a joke! There are scientific explanations for every strange phenomenon, and in time, the myths are replaced by cold, hard facts!" He stole a bottle from a weaker pirate and drained half of it in one go, "What a disappointment. And to think I was going to see if you had what it took to join my crew in this new age of pirates! You morons are just too gullible." He threw his arms up in that 'here I am' motion, "THE AGE OF DREAMS IS OVER! EL DORADO? THE EMERALD CITY? ONE PIECE? ALL BULLSHIT CHASED BY RETARDED FOOLS! Fools so blinded by fantasy can't see the real treasures at their feet, and then go and get themselves killed chasing fool's gold! Losers, every one of you! IT MAKES ME SICK!" Bellamy howled, and chucked the bottle in his hand at Luffy's face so fast it would have broken a regular man's skull.

Luffy caught it in a motion that had the entire mocking bar go silent. One second it was flying at his nose, and the next it was in his hand by his side. "The Age of Dreams is over?" He repeated softly, "Who decided that?"

"You?" Nami asked in a mocking tone, "You're nothing more than a coward who gave up on your own dreams because you were too weak to see them through!"

"And now you get your jollies the only way losers can." Vivi said, getting some real Crocodile vibes from this idiot. Well, classless, weak, moronic Crocodile vibes, at any rate. "Mocking those weaker than them because the only thing you can do against an actual strong opponent is beg." Call her a bimbo, would he?

Bellamy's teeth were grinding, and his crew had all taken their feet, equally incensed looks on their faces. Luffy gave him a mad grin that was even wider than Bellamy's. "We're going to the sky, loser."

"Maybe if you're lucky, you'll see our shadows flipping you off!" Nami did just that, sticking her tongue out to mock his own habit of doing that.

Bellamy's legs instantly turned into springs, and he prepared to launch himself at them. Vivi vanished, and the next thing he knew, Bellamy was feeling a horrendous pain from Vivi's kick to his liver. His body outright distended from her blow. And then he was flying, before he crashed into Sarquiss and knocked the both of them over the table.

Bellamy was seeing double as he struggled to get to his knees. He could see Vivi simply holding her leg up where it had been when she hit him. She lowered it and stood straight, "Oh, by the way…" She smiled brightly at them, watching as the rest of the crew recoiled in sudden fear, "I'm the second weakest on my crew." The blonde woman who had jeered at them earlier at the hotel started to tremble.

Saruqiss got to his feet and drew both kukri knives, "KILL THESE BITCHES!" he yelled, starting to rush forward even as the bartender begged them to take it outside.

"Oh, I wouldn't if I were you." Nami said, lazily spinning her staff. The men and women of Bellamy's crew stiffened as they realized they hadn't even seen her draw it, "It's pretty stormy in this bar."


The thought ran through all of their heads, and Sarquiss took another step.

"I warned you." Nami said, pointing up at the pitch-black clouds that had somehow gathered inside the bar.

"WHAT THE FU-?!" Sarquiss managed to yell before he was electrocuted. He screamed and cried as his nerves flashed, his knives burning his palms as they heated up before it ended. He was blackened with soot, and twitching in the middle of the bar. He crumpled, out cold.

"Oh, and for the record," Nami said as they walked past the terrified crew, "Those 'monsters' that show up whenever night turns to day? Those titanic things that terrify everyone who sees them?" She grinned nastily at Bellamy, "Those were the shadows I was talking about. You were right, Captain Bellamy. There are scientific explanations for every strange phenomenon."

And with that, they left, leaving behind a terrified and demoralized crew.

"Zehahahaha!" The man who Luffy hadn't gotten along with was laughing uproariously, "I'm glad I stuck around! I haven't seen a show that good in years!" he grinned, flashing his missing teeth, which… seemed to be a little different from inside the bar, "What a way to show some idiots their place!" Luffy stared him down without a smile, though that didn't dim the man's at all, "The new age they spoke of is rubbish!" He threw his arms in the air, "The Age of Dreams is over?! Zehahahahaha! PEOPLE'S DREAMS DON'T EVER DIE! AIN'T THAT RIGHT, KID?!"

Still, Luffy didn't react, but the townsfolk certainly did, and began mocking him the same way Bellamy's crew had mocked Luffy, Nami, and Vivi inside the bar. He ignored them completely, "It ain't easy to be great! Let them laugh! If you're aiming for the top, then the opinions of ants don't matter!" Vivi and Nami didn't know what it was, but something about this man had them standing just a little closer to Luffy. "Well, I won't keep you. Looks like you guys are in a hurry." The man grinned as he stood, collecting his pies and his grog, "I hope you make it to Sky Island, you guys!" And with that, he walked away. 'These guys are strong. Pity their bounties are so low. Good thing this grog tastes so good today.'

Luffy turned as well, throwing his arms around his girls' shoulders and leading them away. The two reciprocated by wrapping their arms around his waist. Vivi shivered, "What was with that guy? My Haki was making me nervous just standing there…"

"Well…" Luffy said, a pensive look on his face, "It's not… just one guy."

"What?" Nami blinked, "What is that supposed to mean?"

"There was more than one…I think?" Luffy's tone turned questioning as he finished his statement. All that did was make the ladies more confused as they made their way back to the Merry.


"EHHHH?!" They all had made it back to the ship and now the Straw Hats were gaping at the morose Tashigi and still-pissed-off and not drunk enough Hina, "They killed Smokey?! Those bastards!" Luffy roared furiously.

Tashigi nodded, "Yeah. We… we were just about to have lunch and…. the fruit I was going to eat." She sighed and pulled her hand away from the bowl of soup Sanji had given her, allowing it to transform into smoke, "We saw it happen with our own eyes. The fruit changing, I mean." She eyed Zoro, "You definitely could have killed him, but you left him alive. He had been on the mend. We know damn well it wasn't an accident."

"But why?! He was a loyal Marine, wasn't he?" Vivi asked, astounded at the corruption that had obviously engulfed the organization her family had helped create.

Hina sighed, accepting a cigarette from the love-struck Sanji thankfully, but coolly. She had enough of this nonsense from those two idiots on her former crew. She took a deep drag to settle her nerves, "To be honest, we both were expecting a tribunal. Hina not surprised. Smoker-kun did technically abandon his post in Loguetown to chase you." Something she probably should be upset about, but couldn't drudge up the emotion for. Not when they were being so kind to them. Nothing like normal pirates. "When he was then defeated, and then protested taking the credit you lot earned for saving Alabasta from Crocodile-" And she was very sure of that, seeing as how Vivi was on their ship and had apparently become a pirate too, "-we were immediately summoned to a base. I had to escort them there with my own ship. With that, a tribunal was almost guaranteed. Hina saw it coming."

Tashigi growled, "Even I wasn't naïve enough to not see it coming. But to kill him?" Her fist trembled from how hard she was clenching it.

"It makes sense." Robin said, sighing as the former Marines turned to glare at her, "You're probably right. He was definitely getting Court Martialed. But there was one factor that pushed it from being a Discharge to a discharge if you catch my meaning." Their glares softened, and Tashigi still looked confused, but the answer had seemingly dawned on Hina.

"The Moku Moku no Mi." She said flatly, unable to understand how she hadn't seen it already.

"Correct." Robin said simply, "The World Government hates it when Logia are outside of their control. Just look at the current lineup of Admirals. What they saw was an officer who continuously disobeyed orders, wouldn't toe the party line, and most importantly, kept getting defeated and therefore coming up empty handed for each of those counts of insubordination. What the higher ups would have seen was a loose cannon who was eventually going to get killed, costing them a valuable Devil Fruit. So, they pushed the issue to try to keep it in their hands."

Zoro snorted, "Well, that worked well for them, didn't it?"

Despite themselves, Tashigi and Hina couldn't help but snort in dark amusement. Luffy still looked pretty pissed off. He saw it as nothing less than Nakama slaying. But there was nothing he could do, so he looked at Tashigi and Hina, "So, what now?"

"We don't know." Hina sighed, "I doubt that the next regular edition of the World Economy Journal won't have bounties on it for me and Tashigi."

The sword girl sighed, "A few months ago I thought Bounty Hunters were nothing but opportunistic scum." She crossed her arms over her knees and rested her chin atop them, "And now I'm lamenting the fact we won't even be able to do it to survive."

"You got any dreams?" Luffy asked, "I know you have one, at least." He jerked his chin at Tashigi.

Tashigi blinked, "I…" She sighed, "I wanted… I had wanted to find all the Meitō in the world, and take them away from evil hands." She clenched Shigure tightly, "But… now I don't even know what that means. I thought I did. That the Marines were good, and that criminals were bad… But the Marines proved themselves just as evil as the worst pirates."

"A dream, huh?" Hina looked at the sky, smiling in bemusement, "When Hina was a girl, she dreamed of saving people from tyrants and overthrowing despots. I always wanted to save people from evil. Hina thought that's what the Marines would do…" She remembered the devastation she felt the first time she had heard a whisper of the Public Employment Security Office and didn't just have it stamped out as false. She snorted, "But apparently, you pirates are better at the whole 'being heroes' thing than the Marines are."

"Oi!" Luffy was instantly incensed, "Don't you dare call us heroes!"

"…Eh?" Tashigi looked incredibly confused.

"Here we go." Half the crew rolled their eyes in response.

"What do you mean?" Hina asked, looking at him like he had two heads, "You all saved Alabasta. And near as we can tell, you didn't even ask for anything in return. Hina confused."

"Heroes are people who share their meat with others! I want it all for myself!" Luffy declared, crossing his arms.

"Sake too." Zoro threw in. "I ain't sharing a drop."

"Pfft!" Hina couldn't help the uncharacteristic spittake at his words, "Oh, Smoker-kun must have hated you, Mugiwara!" She started to laugh, and Tashigi followed, "Fine then, not heroes. Just pirates who go around doing heroic things."

Luffy grumbled with his arms crossed, thought about it for a moment, and then gave her a thumbs-up. "Yeah, that's fine." Usopp facepalmed so hard he almost fell over.

Tashigi shook her head, smiling in genuine amusement for the first time in weeks, "Don't think I'm too sure about that definition, but I suppose I shouldn't judge." Her smile dropped, "Still doesn't change the fact that we have no idea what we want to do now."

"Wanna sail with us then?" Luffy asked, grinning even wider. "At least until you guys decide what you want to do with yourselves?"

"E-Eh?!" Tashigi gaped.

"Just like that?" Hina furrowed her brows, "Hina confused. You don't seem the type to take just anyone on your crew. It's pretty small, and you barely recruited anyone in your first few seas."

"What's there to be confused about?" Luffy laughed, "Thinking about that stuff is too complicated. Sometimes you just let the winds blow you where you need to go."

Nami snickered, "Feels almost like fate, doesn't it?"

"That you'd land here the same time we did, and that you ran into us. Kyahahaha!" Valerie laughed, already planning on figuring out what their favorite desserts were.

Hina and Tashigi looked at one another, before Hina let out a chuckle, "…It'll be strange to not be in charge for a change. Hina curious."

Tashigi half-smiled, "I don't need an eye patch and a peg leg, do I?"

"Oh please, the last thing you need is another reason to lose your balance." Zoro sniped at her.

"What was that you green-haired-" Tashigi stood up at the same time as Sanji and they both somehow yelled the same words.

"Shishishi! It's like she's been here for weeks already!" Luffy laughed, and the rest of the crew joined in. "Set sail!" He hollered.

"What's our destination then, Captain?" Hina asked as she stood up.

Luffy grinned, "The sky!" He pointed straight up.

"Ehhh?!" Tashigi and Hina both gaped at him.

"Cricket first!" Nami yelled, "Because I still don't know how to manage that!" She whirled to Vivi, "And you!" She pointed, making the Princess yelp, "Just when were you planning on mentioning whatever this Knock-Up Stream was?!" Vivi started to sweat bullets.

Sanji disengaged from Zoro, "...Knock-Up?" his face started wobbling and blushing for a mere second before one of Zoro's punches connected.

"…What has Hina gotten us into?" Hina wondered if take-backs were allowed.

"If we die, I'm haunting you." Tashigi deadpanned.

"GET TO WORK, SLACKERS!" Valerie hollered from atop the sails. Everyone jumped into action.


"Ehh, what species are you?" Luffy asked the green-haired, very inhuman-looking man atop the much larger ship. The two newest crewmembers were very quickly discovering that Luffy had no filter.

"HUMAN, FOOL!" The monkey-like man instantly went enraged, pissing off the rest of his crew. "Never mind, never mind. You lot appear to be pirates. Have you heard the news? Someone defeated Sir Crocodile of the Royal Shichibukai. And due to my great abilities, I'm probably taking his place. I can't wait! I'm so anxious."

Tashigi sank to her knees, trying to hold in the laughter threatening to bubble up. Valerie made no effort at all, and was hanging off of Zoro as she hid her mirth behind her hands. For this guy to say such a thing to this of all crews…

"Anyway, the fantastic thing about me is… I'm 25 years old and have never cut my hair. Aren't you amazed?"

"…That's stupid." Luffy deadpanned. Wouldn't it be dragging on the floor and getting all dirty? Especially with that lime-green color?

"YOU ARE NOT AMAZED?!" The man instantly got pissed off again, "Goodness, talking to you is nerve-wracking. Now listen… if you pass through the tunnel of my anger… you will come to a sea of blood." He tried to be ominous.

It didn't work. "Whatever," Luffy dismissed him, "We're trying to get somewhere. Move it!"

Hina sighed, "Perhaps Diplomatic Officer should be Hina's role?"

"Nope, that's me." Vivi chortled as she nudged the older woman, "But this is too funny."

"YOU IDIOT!" The man roared, "This sea is my territory! If you want to pass, you'll have to pay the toll!"

"Territory?" Usopp questioned, "He's talking like that Masira guy."

"What? Masira?! What about Masira?!" The orangutan-like man yelled down at them.

"Oh, he was supposed to help us get to Sky Island, but then the idiot went and got lost!" Luffy told him.

"WHAT?! MY BROTHER IS LOST?!" The orangutan yelled, "Why didn't you say so earlier?! Where did you last see him?!"

"Wherever he went to raise that wreck that fell from the sky yesterday!" Usopp yelled at him.

"I see! Thank you, friends! My name is Shōjō of the Saruyama Alliance!" Shōjō declared, "I must find Masira, but I hear your goal! Continue on this path until you reach Mont Blanc Cricket's home! He's our boss, and should have an idea of how to get you there!"

"Hey, thanks monkey-man!" Luffy waved at him, "You're awesome!"

"I TOLD YOU I'M HUMAN, FOOL!" Shōjō roared as their ships passed one another.

"Did that really just work?" Tashigi deadpanned.

"You get used to it." The crew veterans chanted as they sailed on.


"Hina doesn't mean to be rude…" Hina started saying now that the ship was sailing smoothly, "But this ship is a mess." She eyed all the repairs.

"Hey! I'm trying my best here!" Usopp growled, "I'm not a carpenter, damn it!"

"Carpenter or not, this is all green wood. It won't be nearly strong enough." Tashigi grimaced, "Hell, I think even the non-damaged parts might have been somewhat green. Maybe that's why she's been taking so much damage?"

"Wha, seriously?! Are you guys carpenters?!" Usopp gasped.

Tashigi rapidly shook her head, "No, no! I barely know how to swing a hammer! It's just basic knowledge every sailor knows. Or at least, every Marine knows. It's included in Basic."

Hina sighed, "Hina supposes you've done the best you can. What you really need is a shipwright. A good one will know how to care for the ship and make her last as long as possible."

"Merry has to last the whole journey!" Luffy said, "She's a Nakama too."

Hina and Tashigi exchanged worried looks. "Hina… Captain, Hina doesn't-"

"None of that." Luffy waved her off, "It's Luffy."

Hina raised an eyebrow, "You just keep breaking pirate norms, huh?" She shook her head, "Anyway, Hina just wanted to say… this ship's construction wasn't the greatest. She's obviously been through a lot already." She snorted, "Hell, you sailed her right past a Marine blockade. She's a great ship." She took a drag from her cigarette, "But ships aren't human." She pointed at the broken and badly repaired walls, "This is like putting a band-aid on something that requires surgery. The ship can't heal. These injuries are just going to pile on and get worse and worse."

"What are you saying?!" Usopp started getting angry, and Luffy didn't look too enthused either.

"For now? Nothing." Hina said, backing off. She was well aware that she hadn't even been on this ship for a day yet. It had barely been a couple hours. No need to stir the pot yet, but she knew damn well it would be coming. Especially regarding an East Blue ship. "Just that if you want her to survive the whole journey, you'll have to take much better care of her."

Luffy sighed, "After Sky Island." He declared, "We'll find a shipwright after we go to Skypiea."

Hina smiled at him, and then Tashigi caught sight of Zoro waking up, "Alright! I've been patient enough!" She pointed at him with her book on the Meitō, "Where the hell is Yubashiri?! I finally had a chance to look through this! That's the Wazamono Taketori!"

Zoro ground his teeth together, "Stop asking, you blue-haired-"

"It broke!" Luffy called out.

Tashigi and Zoro went stiff as boards, and Zoro started gazing death at the Captain. "Luffy…" He clicked Sandai Kitetsu from its sheath with his thumb.

"It…what?!" Tashigi's entire face was shadowed, "The…the Ryō Wazamono Yubashiri BROKE?!" She rushed over and grabbed twin fistfuls of Zoro's shirt, "HOW, DAMN YOU?!"

"Tsk!" Zoro spat to the side, "The damned Vice Admiral who we faced when leaving Alabasta cut through it."

"Took a slice of his chest too." Usopp provided 'helpfully.'

Tashigi hissed slowly, "I suppose I can't fault you for that." She let go of his shirt, "When I get my hands on that bastard…! How dare he destroy a precious Meitō!" She seethed.

"You'll have to go diving for that." Zoro deadpanned, "I cut his damn head off." Hina's eyes widened in shock. That was certainly a feat… "Now if you'll excuse me…" He glared at Luffy, "I have-"

"WOAH, LOOK AT THAT!" Luffy cried out, running to the front of their ship, and drawing everyone's attention, "It's huge!" The sight of the palace was almost awe inspiring. Perhaps if they hadn't been inside the one in Alubarna, it would have been.

"That's his house?! He must be loaded!" Chopper cried out cheerfully.

Zoro let out a hiss. 'Next time' he thought as he sheathed the rest of Kitetsu. "Moron. Look closer."

"A man of big dreams, huh? He certainly likes illusions." Sanji took a drag from his cigarette.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Usopp asked, tilting his head, "Wait…" he narrowed his eyes.

Luffy jumped towards the palace, saw that there was really no place to land in front of it, so he used Geppō to jump to the side, "Waaah?! It's fake!" The image of the palace was just thick plywood held up by wooden logs. The real house only had two or three floors.

"Hina amused." The pink-haired woman laughed as they quickly moored the ship and landed.

"Hey, is anyone home?!" Luffy casually opened the door without knocking.

Hina laughed even harder now, "Hina even more amused!"

"Hey Robin, what kind of dreams did they kick this guy out of town for?" Nami asked, "We didn't hear anything about him when we were exploring."

"I didn't get all the details, but apparently he claims there's a huge hoard of gold somewhere on Jaya."

"SERIOUSLY?!" Nami's eyes turned into . "Get digging, Chopper!"

"What is that going to do?" Vivi deadpanned, facepalming.

"Kyahahahaha! You think they wouldn't have found all this gold in their own damn yard?" Valerie shook her head, carrying out a couple platters of cakes.

Nami blushed in embarrassment, as even Chopper looked at her and said, "Baka!"

"SHUT IT!" She roared, making the rest of them start laughing. She growled and stomped away, spotting a book, "Huh, what's this? Nolan the Liar?" She chuckled upon reading the title.

"Ha! That's a catchy title! I like it!"

"That brings back memories." Sanji said, "I read it as a kid."

"Really?" Nami looked at the chef, "But it was published in the North Blue? How'd you get your hands on one?"

"I was born in the North Blue. Did I never mention it?"

Hina's eyes widened, 'How is that possible? Travel between the Blues is nearly impossible…'

"First I've heard of it." Usopp said, "I thought you were from the East like us."

"Well, I was raised in the East… well, never mind that. Not really important." He pointed at the book, "It's a children's tale, but I heard it was based on a true story. That Noland really existed."

"Hmm…" Nami flipped open the book and began to read it out loud, "This is a tale from long ago. More than four hundred years ago, now. In a land of the North Sea, there lived a man named Mont Blanc Noland."

"Wait, like Mont Blanc Cricket?" Luffy asked as he walked out, "That's the guy we're here for, right? That's what that Shōjō guy said, isn't it?"

"That's right." Robin confirmed, having come out of the house with him. "An ancestor, perhaps?"

Nami continued, though her brow had furrowed, "Noland was an explorer, but his stories of adventure were so amazing that no one believed them. The villagers didn't know if they were true or just made up."

Every crew member except for Tashigi and Hina stopped and just stared at Usopp. The sniper blushed and pulled his goggles down. "Your hero. Kyahahaha!" Valerie started laughing her head off.

"Oh, just shut up!" Usopp growled, "Hey, wait a minute!" he pointed at the castle in the storybook, "Isn't that…?"

"Oh lord, it is! He painted that façade right out of this book!" Vivi laughed, as she took over reading, "One day, Noland returned from his travels and reported to the king: "I found a mountain of gold on an island in the vast sea!" It was an amazing find, so a brave king took two thousand soldiers and set sail with Noland to find it. But the sea was tempestuous and dangerous. The oceans battered their ship, and sea monsters attacked them. By the time they reached the island, only Noland, the King, and one hundred soldiers remained. But instead of finding a mountain of gold, there was only jungle."

"Oh, that's so sad." Tashigi exclaimed, "All those lives lost for nothing!"

Nami sighed, no longer so amused as she stared at the smiling caricature, "Noland was sentenced to death for lying. Before he died, his last words were, "I know! The mountain must have sunk into the sea!" No one believed Noland anymore, but he stuck to his lies to the very end. The king and the others were flabbergasted. Sadly, the liar died, without ever becoming a warrior of the sea."

"WHY'RE YOU LOOKING AT ME, DAMN IT?! AND STOP ADDING YOUR OWN COMMENTARY!" Usopp roared at her as she closed the book.

And then Luffy leapt back away from the ocean, skidding on the ground as he slid to a stop, "That was rude. I'm a hammer, you know?"

"Rude?" A man leapt from the sea. He was muscular, smoking a cigarette, and had a chestnut atop his head. "You've got guts making yourselves at home on someone else's property. The waters here belong to me!"

"You can have them!" Half the crew deadpanned.

"Eh?" The man blinked, "You mocking me? Don't make me laugh! You're after the gold! Then die!" He ran forward surprisingly quickly. He lashed out with a kick that actually cut Sanji's cigarette in half. The blonde dodged back, and Luffy started to fight.

"Shishishi, you aren't bad, old man!" He ducked under his spin kick, "But how's this?" He swiped his leg faster than the old man could see. He missed by a mile, not wanting to actually hurt the guy. Just get his attention.

"What the hell?!" The man yelled as he saw the ocean part as if sliced with a knife.

"That's the Rokushiki…" Hina smiled, "Hina impressed."

The man swallowed heavily as he and Luffy lowered their legs, one of them grinning wide, "Okay kid, you got my attention." He said, "What are you here fo-" He cut off, before slowly keeling over. Luffy's eyes widened, and he moved fast and caught the guy before he smashed his face into the dirt.

"What the heck?! I didn't touch him! Chopper!" Luffy called, and the reindeer quickly hurried over.

"He just came out of the ocean, and he wasn't even wearing a dive suit." Hina clicked her teeth, "Do you think it's the bends, doctor?"

"Most likely. Help me get him inside!" Chopper called out, bulking into Heavy Point. "I'll need a bunch of cold towels! We'll need to get him comfortable and…"


Bellamy had gotten off the floor, and had already killed twenty other pirates in a rage over their defeat. Including even some of his crew who had started doubting his strength. They didn't doubt for too long after that.

But he was doubting. He was filled with it, now that he'd been stomped by a bunch of moronic Dreamers. It infuriated and terrified him in equal amounts. Because their words were ringing in his ears. Weak. Coward. He knew he wasn't the strongest. His patron far eclipsed him. But for years, he'd been greater than everyone else. Stronger than all the bright-eyed morons who set sail around him.

He growled, his cup shattering in his hand. This was unforgivable. His crew needed a win. They probably couldn't get revenge on those damn Dreamers, even now that they knew about their tricks. The seas would swallow them if they truly tried to follow through on their idiocy and make their way to the sky. He needed to pick a target and take it out now. Before more of these idiots around him forgot their damned places.

And as he listened to one man talking about a woman asking for information on another worthless Dreamer named Mont Blanc Cricket, he realized he had his target. Irony abounded, and misery loved company. That gold was his. It would join his prize as a gift to his great patron.


The crew had been joined by Masira and Shōjō after about an hour, and they had continued to wait for old man Cricket to recover. Eventually, the man had gotten back to his feet and confirmed their suspicions. He was indeed the many-greats grandson of Mont Blanc Noland, and he had declared war on his ancestor for his cursed name. He had set sail and had ended up becoming a pirate, eager for anything to escape his name. He cared not for his ancestor's name. He only cared about his suffering as a child because of it. Constantly mocked and derided by everyone. He'd wanted to escape it all.

Despite countless Mont Blancs setting sail to find Jaya and El Dorado to clear Noland's name, all of them had failed and gone to their watery graves in the Grand Line. Of all of them, Cricket was the one who had finally landed there ten years ago, without even meaning to.

It had been a touch of destiny. Fate had brought him here. His crew had abandoned him, and good riddance to them. The only thing he wanted before he died was to set the record straight.

Luffy found it interesting, but he really only cared about going to Skypiea, and he'd said as much. "Heh, heh, such an impatient lad. Didn't I just tell you that the one who spoke of Sky Island was Noland the Liar? If you believe his tales, you'll become a laughingstock like me."

"But we already know it's real." Luffy said, and Cricket froze as he had been reaching for Noland's Logbook.

"What do you mean?" He looked at Luffy.

"Shanks told me all about it. He sailed up there with his Captain back before he died." Luffy said, grinning, "It's definitely real!"

"Plus, there's the Shadows." Vivi grinned, before explaining to Cricket (and his two henchmen) what the 'monsters' were.

"Well, I'll be!" Cricket laughed heartily, "That's some yarn you're spinning! I love it!" He reached for the Logbook, "Here, read this anyway. I want to take a breather and talk with Masira and Shōjō for a minute."

The Straw Hats quickly gathered to read through the Logbook as Cricket went outside to come to a decision.

The man with a chestnut on his head was grinning, "Alright, so all of this is hearsay, but if you're telling me Sky Island truly is real, then it's your best bet." He pointed out towards the horizon, "First, you need to know about the Imperial Cumulus clouds. It is a dense mass of clouds high in the sky with no air currents or condensation in it. When it appears…it blots out the sun, and day will turn to night!"

"How is that possible?" Nami asked in confusion, "A cloud with no air currents or moisture inside? That's completely contrary to real clouds. I should know. I make them."

"Heh, you'll have to tell me about that later, little lady. But regardless, the going theory is that it has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Think of it like a petrified cloud. If Sky Island exists, that's where you'll find it."

"Fossilized clouds." Tashigi chortled, "Now I've heard everything."

"It's true." Hina said, "As a Captain in the Marines, Hina had access to some information that wasn't available to the public. Apparently what causes it is Kairōseki."

"Ehh?" Usopp blinked, "That stuff that causes Devil Fruit users to go really weak?"

"Correct." Hina took a drag and breathed it out, "Kairōseki can get launched into the atmosphere by volcanic eruptions, and that forms Sea and Island Clouds. Dr. Vegapunk researched the phenomenon."

"Gotcha. So, they're mystery clouds." Luffy nodded along with her, getting a smirk from the pink haired former Marine.

"That's…" Nami smiled, "Oooh, I think we're going to get along well, Hina-chan." She rubbed her hands together gleefully.

Cricket looked at Hina in confusion, "Marines?"

Hina's face fell a bit, "Ex." She said, "They betrayed Hina's best friend and murdered him."

"Ah." Cricket clicked his teeth, "Never liked the bastards. My condolences." Hina nodded, "Now listen up! The way up to the sky will be the most dangerous thing you'll ever attempt! The Knock-Up Stream is deadly, and you're going to have to tame that deadliness to have any shot at making your way up there."

Vivi paled, "Y-You're not serious, are you?! You want us to purposefully get caught in a Knock-Up Stream? We'll just smash back down on the ocean! And even if we don't, these things can destroy anything in their path!"

"That's exactly what you'll need to do." Cricket confirmed, "But the important thing is timing it. If you ride a Knock-Up Stream up when nothing's above you, you'll come crashing down. But if the Imperial Cumulus is right above you?" All of those who were listening realized exactly what he was talking about.

"Okay, but what is this Knock-Up Stream? I had never heard about it! What causes it?!" Nami asked rapid-fire.

"No one truly knows." Cricket responded, which Hina confirmed.

"No one is really dumb enough to research it." The pinkette chuckled.

"The theory is that the constantly shifting currents cause voids that pound enormous cavities into the seafloor. As cool seawater flows into these caverns, the geothermal heat from the planet turns the water to steam. This builds more and more pressure until…"


He used one of his less valuable bottles of champagne to demonstrate the cork popping off. "Boom. This cataclysmic explosion propels the seawater upwards in a torrent. For one minute or so, the sea flows vertically."

Nami stood, "Then we have our heading! All we need to figure out is when the Imperial Cumulus and this Knock-Up Stream will happen simultaneously!"

"And it has to be in the next three days." Robin reminded her, "Otherwise the Pose will reset, and we'll lose our heading. Even if we get into the sky, we'll be doomed to sail until we're nothing more than dried up bones."

"Scary. Hina frightened." Hina said, not about their goal, but about Robin.

Usopp shook his head, "This is ridiculous! What are the odds that both things line up in the next three days?! How lucky do you think we are?"

"Very." Vivi deadpanned.

"I'm half-convinced one of us ate the Luck Luck fruit." Nami nodded along.

"Just imagine if we weren't lucky and hadn't stumbled onto Drum Island? Why, we might all be walking around as undead fungi now." Robin chortled.

"PFFFFT!" Hina and Tashigi spat out their drinks, and Hina leapt up and grabbed Robin by the shoulders, "Are you telling me that one of you caught Primordial Cordyceps?!" She shook Robin urgently.

Robin grabbed her hands and forced her to stop, "Yes. Me in fact." She backed Hina off, "Chopper's master had the cure, so relax."

"A cure?! But there is no cure!" Hina exclaimed.

"There wasn't a cure." Chopper corrected, "My master's masters figured it out." Hina stared at him, open-mouthed.

Usopp groaned, "Okay, Cricket… when are those two events lining up?"

"Tomorrow at noon." Cricket grinned in amusement as Usopp almost fell over. "It changes locations every month, but it's on a fairly regular pattern here near Jaya. The next Knock-Up Stream will happen tomorrow directly south of here." He breathed out a plume of smoke, "And as for the Imperial Cumulus… when the daytime 'night' is spotted in Masira's territory, the Emperor Cloud will show up the very next day in the southern sky."

"Wahooo! SKY ISLAND, HERE WE COME!" Luffy cheered, and Vivi joined him, leaping into his arms and allowing him to spin her around.

Nami laughed gaily, "Okay assholes, fess up! Which one of us ate the Luck Luck fruit?!"

"No kidding. Even I'm believing it now." Tashigi exclaimed. "But you guys are forgetting something!"

"Two somethings." Hina agreed.

Tashigi pointed at Merry, "There's no way Merry will survive a Knock-Up Stream! She's already damaged!"

"You're right!" Cricket agreed, "But we're old hands at fixing ships. From a trio of Dreamers to a group of them… we'll get that ship ready to fly!" They all started to grin. "But what's the other thing? I'm pretty sure that's everything we need."

Hina chuckled, "How the hell do you plan on getting us to this Knock-Up Stream?"


"Ahh! That's right! The Log Pose only points at the island it's linked to! How will we find South?!" Nami exclaimed, holding her head.

"Oh, damn it, good call!" Cricket exclaimed, "I did totally forget about that!" He pointed at the forest, "What we'll need is a South Bird!"

"What the heck do we need a bird for?" Luffy asked.

"It's simple. Some animals have an innate sense of direction, and the South Bird is the best of them all! No matter where it is on land or sea, its instincts always show it the right direction! In essence, even if you turn its head, the second you let go, it will snap towards the south."

Luffy started to laugh uproariously, "Hear that, Zoro?! You're worse than animals!" The cliffside burst into laughter.

"YOU SHOULD TALK, MORON!" Zoro roared back, his face red.

"Alright, I was planning on having a party, but I guess work will come first!" Cricket declared, "Help us drydock your ship so we can start the repairs and conversion. Then, you'll need to go get that South Bird! Without it, this is all a waste, and you'll never make it to the sky!"

"On it!" Luffy grinned, "Let's go Sanji, Zoro, Nami! The quicker we get this done, the quicker we can party!"

"Right!" The four leapt into the sky, and Tashigi and Hina's eyes widened in appreciation at the flawless showcase of Geppō.

"They're flying!" The three members of the Saruyama Alliance gasped in shock.

"They're incredible…" Tashigi breathed in shock.

Luffy and Zoro got on each end of the mast near the ends of the sails, and Nami joined in on Luffy's side while Sanji went to Zoro's. With grunts of exertion, they slowly and gently lifted Merry out of the ocean. Hina hissed and paled as she saw the true extent of the damage, though thankfully, it appeared the keel at least was intact. With a call from Luffy, Vivi and Valerie joined them in the air. The two girls pushed sideways while the four kept the ship aloft. Robin helped, spawning massive arms to help with smaller, gentler movements from the ground. Cricket quickly had them bring the ship behind the house, where a series of log supports sat. They used these whenever Masira or Shōjō's ships needed maintenance… though they had to slowly roll their ships onto land using log rollers from the beach.

As gently as they could, they touched the ship down, and they fell back down to the cliffside. Vivi, Valerie, and Nami were panting like they had run a marathon, and Sanji was sweating heavily.

"Hina impressed." Hina said slowly, "Hina very impressed."

Tashigi raised her hand, "Tashigi also impressed." Several people sputtered in laughter, and Hina glared at her younger friend.

Luffy and Zoro just wiped their foreheads, "Phew, nice workout guys! We should do that more often!"

"AS IF!" Nami, Vivi, and Valerie roared at him, hands on their knees.

"Let's go get that bird! Shishishi!"


In the end, it hadn't taken all that much to get themselves a South Bird… though that didn't mean it was a painless venture. Those demon birds were vicious about defending their jungle, and had driven Nami, Sanji, Vivi, and Tashigi nearly into conniptions from all the insects that were flung at them. All four of them absolutely despised insects and other creepy crawlies, and giant spiders, centipedes, and other assorted horrors were way past their threshold.

They'd all split up trying to find the bird, and eventually, Vivi had gotten so angry over the beehives, the insects and arachnids, and the mocking calls and laughs of JOO JOO from the South Bird that she'd unleashed another blast of Haōshoku, knocking everything within a hundred meters sans her crewmates unconscious.

And then the South Bird harassing them had conveniently landed right on Luffy's head.

The successful Straw Hat pirates exited the forest at dusk and chained up the bird so it wouldn't just fly away. Luffy had a blast turning its head this way and that and watching it snap south once it woke up. Then, of course, the real fun started.

"KANPAI!" The crew and the Saruyama Alliance roared, holding their bottles of booze in the air.

"Man, this is such great grog! Where'd you get this?" Cricket cheered as he sky'd the bottle and let the red liquid flow into his mouth.

"Straight out of Alabasta!" Vivi cheered, sipping at her bottle slowly. She wasn't a lightweight per se and had been allowed to have sips under supervision since she was younger, but she had no plans of actually getting drunk. She was sitting by Robin and glancing at Noland's Logbook with the older woman.

"Oooh, fruity. I think I like this one." Luffy said. He didn't have much of a taste for sake himself, but this Alabastan booze tasted great!

"This food is soooooo goooooood!" Masira, Shōjō, Hina, and Tashigi were sobbing in rapture.

"Kyahaha! Sanji's the best, isn't he?" Valerie laughed, "Just wait till you try my new cake recipe!"

"Coffee Cake?" Robin asked, breaking from reading Noland's Log to stare at the blonde intently.

"Freshly baked just for you, Robin!" Valerie cheered back, before tilting her head back and draining half of her bottle in a few gulps, "Pwuah! It's so good!"

"Hey, mister Cricket," Chopper asked, "Why did you build your house like this?" He pointed at the thick plywood at one end of the house.

"Ha!" Cricket laughed, "I didn't build anything. I found this place like this. It was a wreck. Half the place just looked like it was missing. I built the façade because I was a cheap ass." He cackled, and the crew joined him in laughing.

"Seriously? Half of the house was just missing?" Valerie looked incredulous, "What the hell could have caused that?"

Usopp laughed, "I didn't like this bluff, so I sawed my house in half and moved it somewhere else!"

"Hahaha! Yeah, I never got it either!" Cricket stood and walked over to Robin and Vivi, who were sitting apart from the rest, "'I saw gold in the skull's right eye.'"

Robin almost sweatdropped, wondering why the man got so close just to say that. "What do you mean?"

"That tear-blotted sentence was the last thing Noland ever wrote. He was executed the same day." Cricket drained the rest of his bottle as he stood back, "After all these years, I still have no idea what it means! The right eye of the skull? Was that the name of a lost city? An omen of death? The remaining pages don't offer any explanations."

"Hmmm…" Vivi tapped her chin before getting up, "Nami, do you still have that map Robin found of Jaya?"

"Yeah, it's right here." Nami got up and grabbed it for Vivi, "Have to say… I have no idea what it means either." She laid the map on the table, and everyone crowded around it to take a look.

The map of the island showed Mock Town on the left side. The island was honestly almost two islands, with only a small strip of land near the bottom connecting the two. "Hina confused. This doesn't look anything like a skull."

"Hey, doesn't this part near Mock Town look like a dinosaur?" Luffy pointed it out.

"It does." Tashigi giggled, her cheeks already a little red, "It looks like it wants to eat the other side."

"Hmm… What about these little holes? The dinosaur's eyes… Could they be what Noland was referring to?" Robin reached down and turned the map to her, which put it sideways from Vivi's perspective.

'The skull's right eye…' She stopped paying attention, 'Skull… right eye… Half a house… right eye… missing…'

"Ha! That was one of the first places I looked!" Cricket shook his head, "But I never found a single thi-" A strangled gasp silenced the room, and they all turned to a pale white Vivi. "Hey, what's wrong?"

"No, it can't be! That's crazy!" Vivi's eyes were bulging, and she opened and closed her mouth repeatedly, "Chopper! Robin!" She turned to their doctor and archaeologist, "Doesn't this look kind of like a jaw if you turn it like this?!" She turned the map to show both of them.

Robin's mouth opened, "It… it does." She furrowed her brow, "So the island did sink!"

"Just like Noland said! Hina astounded!" Hina chimed in, "But how have you not found it if that's the case? It can't have moved that far away even with Grand Line weather!"

"What could have even caused it to sink?" Sanji asked, "If that's a jaw, this island must have been massive when Noland discovered it!"

"And where's all the debris?" Zoro asked, before practically inhaling his booze.

"This is impossible." Cricket shook his head, "We would have seen something after all these years!"

"Is this area prone to earthquakes?" Chopper asked curiously.

"No." Masira shook his head, "They happen but very rarely. And they're definitely not strong enough to sink the majority of an island. Most of the buildings in Mock Town don't even get destroyed. Honestly, the only unusual phenomenon around these parts are the Imperial Cumulus and the Knock-Up Stream."

"The Knock-Up Stream!" Tashigi exclaimed, "Do you think maybe one broke the island up and flung pieces of it away?!"

Vivi shrieked, "That-" She started repeatedly slapping Nami's arm in a panic, "NAMINAMINAMIMAPMAPMAP!"

"Ow! Vivi!" Nami grabbed her hand and roared angrily in shark mode, "QUIT IT, WOMAN! THAT HURTS!"

"MAP!" Vivi grabbed her shoulders instead. "SKY!"

Nami yelped as she was shaken, "STOP!" She almost ran away from her girlfriend, "Map? Sky? What are you-"

"Skypiea!" Vivi yelled at her. Nami yelped and hurried to grab said map, handing it to the suddenly psychotic bluenette. Vivi almost ripped the map trying to unfurl it, and then started turning it this way and that. "Oh, by Ra's shining feathers!" She sank to her knees and placed the map on the table. She then grabbed the Jaya map and folded it up.

"Hey!" Nami protested, "What are you do-" Vivi laid the folded-up map on top of the Skypiea map, "-ing…" They all stared at the table in front of them in incomprehension for about three seconds as they took in what their eyes were telling them.

And then they blew the roof off the house with a loud, "EHHHHH?!" Everyone's eyes were popping out of their heads as they stared at the overlaid maps.

"Oh my god!" Tashigi gasped, "El Dorado didn't sink!"

"IT FLEW!" The rest of them yelled.

"JOOO JOOOO!" The South Bird also started cheering.

"WE'RE GOING TO BE RICH!" Nami screeched, almost orgasming on the spot. "SKY ISLAND HERE WE COME!"

"For fuck's sake! I would have been searching for the rest of my life!" Cricket lamented, "And I can't even join you guys!"

"Definitely not!" Chopper immediately rushed in, "With the diving sickness you've been accumulating, you'd just die before even making it to the clouds!"

"Fuck!" Cricket groaned, before shaking his head and laughing, "Well, at least I know now!" He raised his arms and cheered, "May 21, 1122, arrived on Jaya! When we got to the island we heard the strange cries of a jungle bird and the tolling of a giant bell! The sound that giant bell made of pure gold made resonated and resonated… as if to celebrate the untold riches of the ancient city!" Everyone cheered and Masira and Shōjō straight up had hearts in their eyes as they listened, "Throughout these vast seas over countless generations, a great civilization blossomed! Those of us whose lives span a few decades and think we know everything… are left speechless! The sound of that bell stopped us in our tracks!"

"Noland, you're amazing!" The party cheered.

"To think the stories I read as a child were actually true…" Sanji smiled, puffing on his cigarette.

"Hey guys…" Cricket grinned, "I have a request for you…"

"Shishishi! You don't even need to ask!" Luffy stood and threw his arms into the air, "GUYS, WE'RE RINGING THAT BELL!"

"HELL YEAH!" The entire party cheered, throwing their arms into the air.

And then the merriment came to an end. The top of the house exploded as a cannonball passed through it from the side with the plywood, making almost everyone scream. "What the fuck!" Cricket yelled, covering his head with his massive arms. His two friends/sons did the same, and most of the other Straw Hats did too.

Luffy, Zoro, Hina, and Sanji were the only ones to spring into action, getting all the rubble away from the house's inhabitants. No one was hurt, but all of the food was ruined. Luffy landed and his face looked like it was carved from stone, "WHO?!"


Nami growled furiously, "BELLAMY!"


Hina sighed as she brushed off her clothes, "And I was having such a good time too. Hina had almost forgotten that most pirates aren't like this group." She tightened her gloves.

"COME ON OUT!" Bellamy roared as the pirates exited the house and started making their way around the façade, "OR ELSE I'LL HAVE THEM SHOoooot-" His words died in his throat as first Luffy appeared, then Zoro. He started to sweat as Sanji followed, then Nami, and then Robin. Those of his crew that had followed him onto land rather than staying on the ship started to tremble as they took in the drydocked, halfway-repaired Merry and the entire Straw Hat crew before them.

"Bellamy." Luffy said softly, his eyes shadowed by the brim of his hat as he calmly walked forward, "What do you think you're doing?"

Bellamy swallowed, before he activated his Devil Fruit, "KILLING YOU, STRAW HAT!" His arms and legs had turned into springs, and he compressed them, launching himself forward before Luffy could react, "SPRING SNIPE! SPRING DEATH KNOCK!" He punched Luffy as hard as he could, aiming to gut him in one blow.

Luffy raised his eyebrow and stood still. The punch impacted dead-on target, burying Bellamy's fist into his gut. The blowback from the attack kicked up a windstorm behind him, which Zoro casually deflected away from the crew towards the ground with a swipe of his sword. Tashigi grudgingly admired her rival's strength and skill, and vowed to catch up.

Bellamy's brain couldn't quite process what had just happened. He was grinning at the successful attack, before his nerves caught up and pain flowed up to his brain in a torrent, broken fingers and wrist burning like fire. He dropped to his knees and let out a howl, clutching his shattered arm. He huffed and puffed, and still Luffy did nothing. Bellamy could only stare at his stone-cold face in shock and terror. "It-it's not possible!" He yelled out, before he tried to get to his feet and back away.

Luffy caught him by the face and lifted him off the ground. Bellamy's good hand desperately tried to pull Luffy's hand away, to no avail. "You should have sailed away after the bar." He said softly, before tossing him slightly up with his one occupied hand and then burying a 'light' punch into Bellamy's jaw, sending teeth flying.

"Bellamy!" Sarquiss yelled, rushing forward with his kukri spinning. "Die, Straw Hat!"

Zoro appeared behind him, "You're too slow." He said, sheathing his blade. When it clicked into the sheath, Sarquiss' kukri shattered, and his front erupted in a geyser of blood.

"SARQUISS!" The crew yelled in panic, "RETREAT! THEY'RE TOO-"

"And where do you guys think you're going, hmm?" Nami, Valerie, and Sanji were blocking their way back to the ship.

"RETREAT!" The ship started to sail away, determined to save their skins even if it meant leaving half the crew behind.

"Hina doesn't think so." The former Marine raised her arms, "Awase Baori!" A massive set of cages erupted from her sleeves, extending far enough that they could have encircled Bellamy's ship. She clapped her cages shut, trapping Bellamy's vessel, and preventing their escape. She staked the cages to the ground so she could detach them.


"Phantom Blades!" Tashigi yelled, allowing her smoke to form swords around her and fire forward. Each blade pierced one of the cannons, destroying the large chunks of metal.


"Namari Boshi!" Usopp yelled, letting a bunch of pellets fly rapid fire. Each shot took out one of the pirates on the ship.

Tashigi focused hard, before swiping her blade. Her attack gouged the main mast. It didn't cut through it, but it did enough that it started to teeter under its own weight. Chopper landed on the deck in Jump Point and switched to Heavy Point. He smashed a few of the crew and then the mast, making it fall over and crash to the deck, sending splinters flying everywhere.

"Not bad." Zoro said as he approached the exhaling Tashigi, "Got a name for it yet?"

"No." She shook her head, "It's not ready yet. And I still have to concentrate too much."

"It'll get easier. Mine wasn't that great when Luffy started training me either." He grinned sadistically, "Hope you're ready."

"I can handle anything you can!" Tashigi declared, glaring at him.

"Heh! Hope you can keep that attitude when you see just what we've been handling, copycat."

"Grrr! Asshole! At least use my name!" Tashigi growled at him.

"Make me!" Zoro smirked back.

"You guys can fuck later." Nami deadpanned, and both of them seemed to swallow their tongues and glare heatedly at her.

"WITH HER/HIM?! AS IF!" They yelled at her, shark faced.

She rolled her eyes, "Oh please, you two are so full of tension even Chopper can smell it. We're done anyway. Let's go loot." Indeed, Bellamy and his crew were practically piled up. Bellamy was the only conscious one, and he could barely even move. Every single one of them was black and blue at best and bloody at worst.

"Bitch!" The two said, before glaring at each other. "Stop copying me!"

"MOVE IT, SWORD IDIOTS!" Nami yelled, and they hurried to it.

"DAMN IT! DAMN IT!" Bellamy slurred through his broken teeth, pounding his fist into the ground, and drawing their attention away from looting. "HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE, YOU CHEATING FUCKS?!" He spat at Luffy. Valerie walked over and sat on his back, "GACK!"

"Now, now…" She grinned as she slowly increased her weight, "Is that any way to be talking to the guys that just kicked your ass?" She asked idly.

"F-Fuck you, bitch!" Bellamy wheezed.

"Not even if you were the last man on earth." She replied cheerily, spiking her weight before backing it off.

"H-How?!" Bellamy hissed, "How are you so strong?!" He spat blood at Luffy's feet, "Y-Your bounty is five million less than mine! How can you be this overwhelming?!"

The Straw Hats broke into chuckles. "Hina amused." Hina took a drag from her smoke, "Hina is afraid that you're wrong. I don't know what Luffy's bounty is now, but it's surely gone up. After all," She smirked, "You're looking at the man who killed Crocodile."

Bellamy paled to the color of milk. Off to the side, Masira, his brother, and Cricket's jaws dropped. "B-Bullshit." Bellamy trembled, "I-It's not true! You're lying!"

Hina puffed out some smoke, "Hina is no liar. And before… deserting," That still hurt to say, "Hina was a Captain in the Marines and was involved in the Alabasta Affair. Hina doubts the details will be in the papers since the government was trying to cover it up, but I'm sure you'll see a very unreasonable bounty in the papers when they arrive."

"…Fuck!" Bellamy whimpered.

"Speaking of which." Usopp pointed off, and they saw a News Coo winging their way there.

"…Luck. Luck. Fruit." Chopper deadpanned, "Fess up! Which one of you assholes was it?!" The rest of them laughed, especially coming from Chopper's super young voice.

Vivi caught the paper, "Well, might as well." She unrolled the stack, and her eyes widened as she saw the first one, "Oh my." Her eyes were wide, "This will be… something." She cleared her throat, "Okay, starting off with-"

"Wait!" Usopp yelled, "That's no good Vivi! You gotta pizzaz it up! Put some feeling into it!"

"What?!" Vivi blinked, "No way, that's embarrassing!"

"Do it, do it, do it!" Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper started chanting. Valerie laughed atop of Bellamy, who was feeling even more insulted, before joining in, "Do it!" Even Masira and his brother got into it as well.

"Ufufufu! Go on then, Vivi. Put those public speaking lessons to good use!" Robin chortled, nudging the younger girl.

"Oh, fine! Just cut it out!" Vivi yelled, before clearing her throat as the crew cheered, "Ladies and gentlemen!" She said, and everyone started to chortle at the twitch above her eye, "Welcome to the Straw Hat Bounty Presentation!" Everyone cheered, and Bellamy started knocking his head into the ground, trying to knock himself out over losing to these idiots. Valerie grabbed the back of his hair and forced him to stop. "Starting off strong and weighing in at 51m! She's our confectionary mistress! Misssss Valentine!" Bellamy's jaw dropped as the crew cheered.

"Thank you, thank you!" Valerie blew kisses at everyone.

"Next up is a new addition to our little crew! Weighing in at 85m, Black Cage Hiiiiiina!"

Hina harrumphed, "Hmph, only? Hina insulted!" A smattering of laughs got her to smile slightly.

'Oh dear, it appears I may have gone and angered the government.' Robin thought to herself with a small smile, 'Such a shame.'

Vivi flipped to the next one, read the name, and then her brain caught up to what her eyes were seeing. "PFFFTTTTT!" She sputtered and started howling with laughter, sinking to her knees, and holding the papers to her chest, "AHAHAHAHA! I-I CAN'T BREATHE! AHAHAHAHAHA!"

"What is it, darling Vivi?" Sanji asked, and if anything, it just got her to laugh harder.

It took several minutes and a glass of water for her to calm down, and she absolutely refused to let anyone see the bounties. In the meantime, some of Bellamy's crew had woken up… and been promptly knocked out again. Finally, after getting her hiccups under control, Vivi cleared her throat, "Sorry for the technical difficulties, everyone! Who we have here is very near and dear to our hearts… but mostly our stomachs!" Sanji paled, wondering what in the world could have gotten that reaction from the beautiful Princess, "Our peerless head chef, also weighing in at 85 million Beli…" She grinned evilly, "Black Leg Sanji!" She flipped the poster around.

"PFFFFFFTTTTT!" Everyone took in Sanji's very badly drawn caricature and burst out laughing. Robin was howling in delight. Even Bellamy couldn't help but bite his lips, preferring to draw blood thanto give them the satisfaction of hearing him laugh.

Sanji looked dead inside, "W-what is this?!" He grabbed the poster, "ŕŞᴟӤҽߥ$œ£ç∂£‰!" Everyone just laughed even harder and Luffy grabbed it before Sanji could tear it to pieces. The man burst into flames, howling at the sky as everyone cackled.

It took yet another few minutes for them all to calm down, and Valerie had to move to sitting on Sanji. Bellamy let out a sigh of relief as she got off of him, though he still couldn't move. "Okay, sorry guys. But it had to happen. Ahem." Vivi cleared her throat, "Next up is our wonderful Navigator! The witch of the weather! Storm Empress Nami!" She held up her girlfriend's poster, proudly displaying the Ninety-sixmillion Beli bounty.

"Ugh, they still couldn't get a better picture?" Nami was smiling despite her words.

"Boooo!" Luffy gave it a thumbs down, "They couldn't spare four million?!"

Vivi laughed and flipped the page. She looked down at it, and then tilted her head. She flipped the page and had to bite back another evil grin, "He's the Demon of the Three Blades! The Straw Hat First Mate! The one determined to challenge the very heavens themselves! Weighing in at 125m, Roronoa Zoro!"

Zoro smirked, "Now I'm insulted! Is that all Vice Admirals are worth?" Cheering erupted again.

The sentence bounced around Bellamy's head like a pinball before every bit of color vanished from his face.

Zoro then started to sweat as Vivi giggled evilly at him, "Ehehehe…So, I'm not really going to mess with this one, because frankly, this one's a travesty. But I'm sure we'll get a laugh out of it anyway for other reasons." She flipped the poster and jaws dropped, "Sorry Zoro, but you've been demoted to fourth place! A hundred-and-fifty million for, ugh, Double-Crosser Tashigi."

"THERE'S NO WAY SHE'S WORTH MORE THAN ME!" Zoro yelled, shark faced.

"Double-Crosser?!" Tashigi screamed, "I'll fucking kill them!" She clenched Shigure like a lifeline, and accepted hugs from Hina and Chopper. After a few moments, she calmed down. She took a deep breath, "That said…" She pointed at Zoro with a massive smirk on her face, "EAT IT, ASSHOLE! WHO'S THE RIVAL NOW?!"

Zoro started drawing Kitetsu with murderous intent, and a laughing Luffy slapped it back into its sheath.

Zoro was now just as pissed as Sanji and was sitting on the dirt, growling.

Vivi smirked, "And now, for the woman who loves to break spines… the history loving archaeologist, the assassin, the limb buster, Nico Rooooobiiiiiin!" 158m was her new bounty.

She smiled, and they realized she was idly and skillfully spinning a butterfly knife they didn't even know she had between her fingers, "I don't just break spines. Ufufufufu." Everyone paled.

"And now…" The moment they all had been waiting for was here, "He needs no introduction, but is getting one anyway! He's the savior of Alabasta, but don't call him a hero! The skinner of the Crocodile! The master of combat! Straw Hat Luuuuuuffffyyyyy!"

"250m!" Luffy cheered, leaping into the air in excitement. Masira caught him and started parading him around.

"Holy crap, 250?" Cricket was amazed, "You go, youngster!"

"That brings our crew total to…" Robin did a quick bit of math, and almost performed a spittake, "Exactly one billion Beli!"

"B-Bullshit!" Bellamy coughed, "Y-You expect me to believe-"

Nami kicked him in the teeth, "Believe what you want. Your opinions, like you, don't matter." She clapped, "Alright, fun's over! Back to looting!" They all made their way to Bellamy's ship.

It barely took twenty minutes to look through everything, "Man, these guys are broke." Usopp said, "Most of this is just junk."

"Fucking spring-heeled dickweasel." Nami growled, "Barely a couple million Beli. And after all that shit they were talking."

"Pffft!" Vivi sputtered, before starting to laugh. "Don't be like that! Some of this is actually great!" She grinned, "Check out all of these Eternal Poses!"

"Oooh!" Nami started to sparkle, "Let's see… Dressrosa, Saint Poplar, Water 7…"

"Oh, that last one will be incredibly useful." Robin said, smiling, "They're the best shipwrights in the world. If anyone can repair Merry, it'll be them."

"Awesome!" The rest of them cheered, and started making their way off the ship.

The crew got back on land, with Luffy carrying a smallish chest under his arm. When Bellamy saw it, he seemed to surge. "NO!" He tried to get to his feet, but he just didn't have the strength. He dragged himself towards Luffy, "N-Not that!" He rasped, "G-GIVE IT BACK! GIVE IT BACK!"

Luffy raised an eyebrow, "Huh, you want whatever is in here, huh?" He turned to Vivi, "Bring it inside."

"Sure." Vivi grabbed it from him, and she waved cheerily at Bellamy, "Maybe don't be such an asshole next time, mister dickweasel!"

"NO!" Bellamy continued crawling/dragging himself, though now towards Vivi, "That's not yours! That- that's a gift! It belongs to the great Dof-"

Luffy grabbed him by the face, covering his mouth, "Shut the hell up already." He lifted him off the floor with one arm, "You interrupted our party and ruined our food." Luffy said, and the latter was definitely the more egregious sin, "Be glad we're letting you leave at all!" He turned and chucked Bellamy back towards his ship. The man's body hit the back cabin and broke through it. He lay there with his legs sticking out, out cold.

Luffy, Zoro, Chopper, and Hina began tossing the rest of the pirates back onto their ship. "We're just letting them go?" Hina asked curiously.

"Let's see how good their luck is." Luffy said, "If they die, they die. If not, they get to live knowing their ideals were destroyed by those they made fun of." He leapt up and kicked the ship, ripping it away from Hina's cages and sending it sailing away aimlessly.

Hina chuckled, "You're an odd man, Monkey D. Luffy. I thought you were showing mercy, and instead you're letting them live with themselves and their own failures."

They all made their way back into Cricket's house. "The damage isn't that bad." Cricket was chain smoking two cigarettes, "We'll be able to fix this up quickly once we finish fixing your ship." He looked at Luffy, and sighed, "And thanks for the help. I saw that punch from that asshole. We couldn't have stopped them. Shōjō and Masira would have gotten hurt trying to help me." He said lowly.

Luffy clapped him on the shoulder, "We've got your back, Diamond-Head uncle."

"Heh." Cricket smirked at the nickname, "So, what's in that chest he was so worried about?"

"Dunno. It was locked." Luffy said, "Let's get it open!" He raised his glowing finger.

"No!" Nami said, waving at him, "It's too small for that, Luffy. You might damage whatever's inside." She pulled out a hairpin, "Besides, this lock is easy." They crowded around her as she quickly worked the lock, "And behind door number one iiiiiissss!" She opened it, and their eyes popped out, "A DEVIL FRUIT?!"

Sanji's eye popped open, and he grabbed Zoro by the shoulder and literally tossed him aside so he could get closer to the table. The green-haired man roared at him, "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, DARTBROW?!" while getting to his feet with his hand on one of his blades. But then he stopped, realizing Sanji wasn't paying any attention to him. Hell, he wasn't even paying attention to the ladies.

"…Sanji?" Luffy asked him, his eyebrow raised.

Sanji swallowed harshly, "Th-this is it!" He stared at the fruit as if he had found God in it.

Robin raised her eyebrow, "…Elaborate, please."

"This is it!" Sanji yelled, "By the oceans, I never thought I would actually see it in person!" He shakily brought a cigarette to his lips. He took a drag to calm his nerves, "When I was a boy in the North Blue…I read about this fruit. I always dreamed of having it for my own…"

Luffy slapped his hand on the table, the loud clap getting all of their attention, "Right, listen up guys." He said, putting his 'Captain' voice on. Everyone stiffened up, "This isn't the first time we've run into this situation, but last time we all knew exactly what to do with it." Hina and Tashigi's eyebrows raised in surprise. "This time isn't so clear cut, and it's a situation that most crews prepare for. Crews from the lowest of the low to the Marines to the likes of Roger, Whitebeard, and Shanks themselves all have the same rule. When it comes to Devil Fruits… the one who found it owns it." He said, eyeing them all, "The rest of us can offer suggestions or make requests, but at the end of the day, the final say belongs to the person who found it. Whether you want to eat it yourself, give it to a crewmate, or even sell it is up to you, though I'm pretty sure we all know selling it is a bad idea. Last thing we want is to give a powerful fruit to assholes, right? Especially the Marines." Everyone chuckled, "So, with that in mind…" Luffy grabbed the fruit, "Sanji…" He placed it in front of the blonde, "If this is really the fruit you've dreamed of…" He grinned, "Then go ahead."

"Wait!" Vivi shook her head, "This is stupid. Sanji, how do you know it's the fruit you want? Most Devil Fruits can't be identified without eating them! There are some like the Suna Suna no Mi that are pretty obvious. Logia fruits especially are actually pretty stupidly easy to identify."

"Can confirm." Tashigi grimaced, "The Moku Moku no Mi looked exactly like smoke in fruit form."

"And Shanks told me that Mythical Zoans are usually more special than the other types too. You can't tell what they are, but you usually can tell that they're special." Luffy piped in.

"My own Paramecia looked special," Robin said, "so it's not a one-size-fits-all type thing. My Hana Hana no Mi looked like a blooming flower. Most fruits, however, look like that." She pointed at the fruit on the table.

"Right!" Vivi said, "So this thing is very obviously not a Logia. It just looks like a regular fruit in irregular colors covered with swirls. How can you possibly tell?!"

Sanji took a deep drag of his cigarette, "You're right. For most people, it would be impossible to predict what power they were going to get." He exhaled, breathing out a cloud of smoke, "But the fruits do follow patterns, and those can be documented. I read an incredibly rare book when I was young: the Devil Fruit Encyclopedia."

Hina's eyes popped out, "What?!" She asked, aghast, "How could you possibly have read that book?! It's very heavily regulated by the World Government! Even Hina hasnever seen it, and I was a Captain!" Her eyes narrowed, "And you crossed from North Blue to East Blue? Something impossible for normal people! Hina sure! Sanji, you were royalty!" Everyone's eyes widened in shock as Sanji crushed his cigarette lighter.

Sanji took a deep breath as everyone went dead silent, "…Those people are dead to me." He said softly, "And I'm dead to them. Please, let's just keep it that way."

"…" Everyone was silent, "Sanji." Nami put a hand on his shoulder, "You don't have to tell us if you don't want to." She said softly, "But we're your friends. And none of us are going to care about who your parents were unless they try to stir shit up with us. We're here for you."

Sanji took a deep breath, "Thank you, Nami-swan." He said, smiling slightly, "Not today. Maybe someday… just… not today."

"Sorry Sanji-san." Hina apologized ruefully, "Hina didn't think."

Zoro snorted before Sanji could go into Love-Mode at her, "Just like the Dartbrow to have a second tragic backstory hidden behind the first."

"YOU WANT TO GO, MARIMO?!" Sanji roared at him, and everyone smiled as things went back to normal. Sanji coughed, "Anyway, I read the Devil Fruit Encyclopedia, and of all the fruits described inside, this was the one I most wanted. It was a jackfruit, covered in very dark gray, bumpy flesh, and medium-sized swirls all over." He pointed, "This is it. I'm sure of it."

"Sanji…" Robin said, "I'm not doubting your story, just your memory here. You were only a child when you read it. It's been over a decade. If you're sure… go ahead and eat it. But…be prepared if you're wrong."

Sanji flinched, and started to hesitate. The minutes ticked on, with the crew and Saruyama Alliance sitting quietly and allowing Sanji to close his eyes and think back. Robin was right. The memory was pretty faint. He hadn't had nearly the attention to detail back then in those dark days as he did now. But no matter how hard he focused, he couldn't remember anything else beyond those details. He sighed, "If I eat it and I'm wrong, I'll regret it…" He picked up the fruit, "But if I'm right and something happens to it, I'll regret it even more!" He brought it to his lips and crunched down.

Everyone watched in anticipation and started laughing as he turned green. "Disgusting, isn't it?" Tashigi grimaced, patting him on the back. "I know the feeling." She stuck her tongue out in disgust. "At least you only need one bite."

"Sh-shouldn't… waste… food." He grimaced, crying as he reached up for another bite.

Robin grabbed his wrist, "That's not food. It's a war crime against taste buds." She grabbed it from him and put it on the table, "Go on then, Sanji! Show us!"

"Right! Thank you, Robin-chwan!" Sanji pirouetted away from the table, "Here we go!" He closed his eyes and reached inside of himself, and let his new power flow. He instantly transformed…

Into a goddamn Utahraptor. His head sat about two meters high hunched over, and he was over eight meters long. He barely fit in Cricket's house! His scaly flesh was a dark grayish brown almost like the color of the fruit, and he had yellow streaks running down his black as well as some yellow, quill-like plumage. His legs were thick and very heavily muscled, and his claws were sharp and capable of piercing through armor. And of course… Sanji still had a cigarette in his mouth.

"WOOOOAAAAHHHHH!" Luffy, Usopp, Vivi, Valerie, Chopper, the Saruyama Alliance, and even Zoro had stars in their eyes, "THAT'S SO COOOOOOOL!"

"Huh, I never would have guessed it." Nami said, grinning.

"You do look pretty cool Sanji, and now your kicks will be even stronger!" Vivi clapped excitedly.

Sanji opened his yellow eye, which was slit predatorily, and looked at his hands. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Everyone cringed as the dinosaur dropped to the ground (shaking the house!) and started pounding its clawed fists into the stone. "Wait, this wasn't what you wanted?! But it fits you so perfectly, Sanji!" Tashigi gaped at him. She barely knew him, but after the fight outside, even she could tell that much.

"Tch, of course the Dartbrow wouldn't have chosen something this cool." Zoro scoffed.

"YOU WANT TO DIE?!" Sanji turned to him and roared, his strong tail almost knocking Valerie away. She actually had to go to the full weight allowed by her fruit to not get knocked over.

"Ow! Watch it, Sanji!" She yelled at her fellow cook. "That hurt!"

"S-Sorry, Valerie-chwan!" Sanji returned to human form. He sighed, pounding the ground tearfully, "It's not fair! It's not FAIR! I'm sure the fruit was the right one!"

"Sanji." Hina said slowly, "…What direction did the swirls of your fruit go in?"

"W-What?" Sanji looked up, gazing at the fruit, "Th-the swirls?"

"Were they clockwise…" She pointed, "or counterclockwise?"

Sanji gaped, "I…I don't remember. Are you KIDDING ME?! SOMETHING THAT SIMPLE?!"

Everyone let out a smattering of groans, "I did warn you, Sanji…" Robin shook her head, "You'll have to live with it now." Sanji's head dropped.

"Oh, come on, Sanji! You're a freaking dinosaur with super legs now!" Luffy tried to cheer him up, "What could possibly have been cooler than that?!"

Sanji sighed, "When I was a child… my…family…" He hissed, "…All… all I wanted was to disappear." Everyone sobered instantly, though the ladies of the crew stiffened. "The Suke Suke no Mi… allowing you to turn completely invisible!"

"Huh, that would have been pretty cool too." Usopp said, "Not as cool as a raptor though."


There was a moment of silence, before Tashigi started to draw Kitetsu. "Sanjiiiiiiii"

Zoro twitched and looked down at his belt, where the dotted outline of his sword was flashing, "Oi! Use your own damn sword!" He yelled at Tashigi, grabbing the hilt from her.

"I'm only going to kill him a little!" Tashigi protested, trying to wrestle it out of his grip.

At the same time, Vivi's eye twitched. "Robin." She said in her 'Princess' voice.

"Yes, your majesty." Robin deadpanned, and then a massive arm popped out of the ceiling and dope slapped Sanji as hard as it could.

"TO THINK I FELT BAD!" Valerie growled as Sanji flew at her. She swung her umbrella, smacking Sanji in the face and flinging him at Nami.

"GO TO HORNY JAIL, MORON!" Nami yelled, swinging her staff, and knocking him towards Hina.

"Hina accepts this duty as the crew's gaoler." Hina growled, "I had enough of this nonsense from those idiots Jango and Fullbody." She allowed Sanji to pass through her, leaving the insensate cook trussed up in a bunch of full body cages on the ground.

Cricket was roaring in laughter along with the two brothers who were rolling on the floor, "I'm so glad I met you fools!" He howled, "You can't buy entertainment like this!"


"WOOOOOOAAAAAAHHHHH!" Luffy had stars in his eyes as he stared at Merry.

"… It's a chicken." Hina deadpanned.

"What, would a duck have been better, Hina-chwan?" Sanji was back in the swing of things.

Tashigi sighed, "At least we did a great job reinforcing it… and getting rid of those crappy attempted repairs."

"Why I never." Usopp turned his nose away from her.

"This wasn't what I had in mind." Vivi chuckled, "Still, she does look like she can fly now."

"A pigeon would have been a better flier." Zoro said, arms crossed.

"Kyahahaha! I don't think that matters, Zoro." Valerie shook her head. "Don't worry guys! If this doesn't work, at least I'll be able to float back down!" She teased, and rapidly dodged a thwack from Usopp. "Kyahahaha!"

"GET GOING, YOU IDIOTS!" Cricket yelled at them, "We spent too long finishing the party! We might still be early but that's only if the Knock-Up Stream arrives exactly at noon!" He then yelled, "SARUYAMA ALLIANCE! GIVE IT YOUR ALL! DON'T YOU DARE MESS THIS UP!"

"YES SIR!" Masira and Shōjō both yelled, "Let's get a move on, guys!"

"LET'S SET SAIL!" Luffy roared, and the ships sailed away.

"Don't fall out of the sky, you hear!" Cricket yelled at their backs, and smiled wider when he saw several thumbs-up.

Masira and his brother were trying to explain things to Luffy, but the Captain was having way too much fun teasing the South Bird to pay attention. The cheeky thing even tried to turn north to mess them up, but its own instincts worked against it, snapping its beak back in the right direction, much to the crew's amusement. The voyage proceeded smoothly, taking about three hours. But that was when things went wrong.

"CRAP!" Masira yelled, "The Imperial Cumulus! It's too early! It shouldn't be here yet! It's only ten o'clock!"

His green-haired brother immediately had his Utan Divers leap off of his ship so he could use his sonic abilities to locate the giant current of the Knock-Up Stream. "Wave detected, ten o'clock, coming against the current! It might be a whirlpool!" One of them finally yelled.

"That's it!" Masira roared, "Turn the prow to ten o'clock! That's the sign we were looking for! Head straight for that whirlpool!"

"These waves!" Vivi exclaimed, having to hold onto the ship as it literally leapt from the ocean into the air. "They're insane! I've never felt an ocean like this!"

"Nami! How's the Log Pose?!" Robin yelled.

Nami raised her left arm to look, and winced, "Straight up! That's the cloud alright! We're going to get sucked in by the maelstrom!"

"That's right!" Shōjō yelled. "That's exactly where you need to be! The Knock-Up Stream will erupt at the exact center of that whirlpool!"


"No turning back now!" Luffy cackled like a maniac, "It's time for the greatest adventure of our lives! AHAHAHA!"

"Here we go!" Zoro yelled, bracing himself as the ship seemed to sail off the edge of the massive hole.

They watched as a Sea King was slurped up by the maelstrom, "WE'RE GOING TO DIEEEEE!" Nami, Vivi, Usopp, and Tashigi cried, holding one-another. "DAMN YOU, LUFFFYYYYYY!"


"Huh?" They landed back into the utterly calm ocean. "What happened?! The maelstrom is gone!"

"No…" Nami gasped, "The subterranean cavern is done sucking up the ocean! BRACE! IT'S COMING!"

"HOLD IT, STRAW HATS!" A voice roared out from across the ocean, "We finally found you! Zehahahahaha!" The man was the one that had praised their dreams back in Mock Town. His ship looked like four massive logs tied together, giving it the appearance of a raft. Each log had one forward facing cannon, and the outside logs each had six cannons for broadsides. A massive black flag crowned the ship, with three different skulls sitting in front of four crossed bones embossed on it.

"It's that creep!" Vivi gasped, "What's he doing here?! How did he find us?!"

"We're here for those billion Beli!" The man yelled, a massive grin on his face. Though he was a little confused. Why the hell was it so dark?

"Who the hell are you?!" Luffy yelled back.

"Zehahahaha! The name's Blackbeard, kid!" The newly named Blackbeard laughed, "Now get over here!"

"Blackbeard…" Luffy's expression closed up.

"The Nakama killer from Whitebeard's ship." Robin glared across the sea.

"What?!" Hina asked, aghast, "He killed a Whitebeard?! Is he mad?! Hina astounded by his stupidity!"

"Luffy, don't do anything stupid." Nami grabbed him, "We'll miss our chance!"

Luffy growled and raised his arm, "I won't fight." Everyone hurriedly backed away from him. Zoro grabbed Tashigi and Hina and hauled them back when they weren't fast enough, not knowing what was coming. Luffy grabbed his right wrist with his left hand and set his feet, "Enten no Kōen Taihō!" He yelled, and night turned to day.

The titanic blast of the sun seared and boiled the ocean as it raced towards Blackbeard. The man's eyes widened, "Shit!" He raced forward and grabbed Jesus Burgess' shoulder and tossed him back. He threw his arm out, "BLACK HOLE!" He roared, and a mass of smokey/fiery inky-black shadows started flowing from his hand, turning it massive.

The massive beam impacted his hand… and started getting sucked in. "GAH!" Blackbeard roared in pain, "H-HOT! HOTHOTHOT! GRRRRR!" His black hole was capable of sucking up and crushing anything, but that didn't mean he felt nothing. His Logia defenses didn't exist normally. Since his body could suck up anything, that meant he couldn't phase through attacks like other Logia. This hurt like a bitch! His shadows started to surge, becoming even bigger.

"GAH!" He heard his crewmates cry out behind him as the temperature skyrocketed and their bodies started getting heavily burned and scalded from the steam rising around them.

"Grrrr!" He yelled, "I CAN DO THIS ALL DAY, STRAW HAT!"

"SO CAN I, MURDERER!" Luffy yelled back.

"NO, YOU CAN'T! LUFFY, STOP!" Nami screamed in panic, "MERRY IS GOING TO BURN!"

Luffy choked as he realized the ship around him was smoldering. The new repairs were sagging as the metal started to melt. He almost cut off his attack, but then he had an idea. He swiped his hand down, moving his beam away from Blackbeard's hungry shadows and cutting the ocean instead. A massive steam eruption finished what his beam couldn't touch, and ripped apart Blackbeard's massive raft ship. The men were flung into the air, screaming, and Burgess had to save his drowning Captain. All of them suffered severe burns from the superheated waters.

But the Straw Hats couldn't confirm their deaths because the Knock-Up Stream finally erupted. The massive blast of water shot up with a force that simply could not be comprehended. Its diameter was measured in kilometers. Cricket, more than three hours by sail away on Jaya, could see the monstrous current clear as day. Anything, anything that was placed in front of it would normally be annihilated.


"NOT ON HINA'S WATCH!" Hina yelled, forming her cages from each arm to reinforce the wings. "GRK!" She groaned out in pain, and Zoro and Sanji hurried to grab onto the cages to help Hina hold them in place.

"DAMN IT LUFFY!" Nami roared, "You have to THINK before using your fruit! You can't use it near allies and the ship!"

"SORRY GUYS!" Luffy held onto the rail, "I was just so MAD! He killed Ace's nakama!"

"We get it, Luffy! Just be more careful!" Vivi yelled, holding tightly onto Robin, who was securing the crew with her arms.

"Full Canvas! Catch the wind!" Nami roared, "This isn't just a wall of water! It's the ocean! A blast of hot air is accompanying the Knock-Up Stream! And as long as there's wind and the ocean involved, I can navigate it!"

"But we're falling off like that Sea King!" Usopp cried out.

"We're tilting back!" Tashigi screamed in panic.

"No!" Luffy laughed, "We're flying! We're going to make it!" The Going Merry was indeed flying, having left the surface of the water, now propelled upwards just off of the wind pressure. He started to laugh, "Hey Nami!"

"What?" His orange-haired girlfriend shouted back at him.

He had a sly grin on his face as if he knew something she didn't, "I told you we just had to turn the prow up!"

She stopped for a moment, visibly struggling with the sentence and its validity. "Oh, for fuck's sake!" Nami cried out as the rest of the crew burst out laughing.

Luffy cackled for a few moments more, before he pointed straight off the bow, "WE'RE GOING TO THE SKY!"

"AHAHAHAHA! TO SKY ISLAND!" They roared in rapture as the ship pierced the clouds.


And done! That's a wrap for Jaya! There was no way I was going to waste time breaking this one into multiple chapters. I actually had a surprisingly good time writing this, and I cannot believe that my muse focused for long enough for me to bang out almost 60 thousand words for Supernova!

So, a lot happened in this one, and there were some major changes…obviously. Hope everyone liked Hina and Tashigi's inclusions! It was pretty obvious that I was going to do it after last chapter, but hey, who knows. Maybe a few of you were caught by surprise. LOL SO much potential for shenanigans with her and Zoro on the same crew…. Like her constantly stealing his swords. LOL

And NO, this is not a SWORD situation. There's a difference between "defecting" and this situation, which is more "You killed my best friend/mentor. Go fuck yourselves."

Anyway, I'm sure this has probably caught most of you guys' attention… but yeah, the majority of crew additions will probably end up being ladies. Partly because the crew is a sausage fest already, but also because most of the guys who I find cool enough to want to write more about just… don't fit on the crew. Like at all. Sadge. Don't worry though, as I showed with Valerie, not everyone will be poly bait, and yes, the other guys WILL have girlfriends of their own.

Except for Sanji (for a good, long while). I like to bulli him too much. LMAO

So, Sanji is now a fucking Raptor! This decision was 100% the fault of gamepuwanart and his fucking sick rendition of Raptor, chain-smoking Sanji using Diable Jambe. It was physically impossible to resist.

Poor Bellamy though. Imagine what Doflamingo is going to do to him when he realizes Bellamy lost the fruit which happens to be the only reason Doffy bothered to go meet his underling in Paradise.

Next month's update will be Thunderous Soul! As always, you can get early (and occasionally, exclusive) access to all of my works and future projects on my pat re on. Just search my penname and it should be the second link on google. For any Gundam Seed fans, I have the first chapter of a fic for that series up too. Also a few exclusive Dragon Ball bunnies I've written. Etc.

Anyway, hope you all enjoyed! Later!