Chapter III: Plans? With Luffy Around?!

-]|[-

"CAPTAIN!" The voice of a young child cried out in terror, "BAD NEWS! REALLY BAD NEWS!" Tamanegi was the name of the boy, who looked rather like an onion.

"Eh? What is it?" The one speaking was a young man named Usopp. He was a pretty slim teen with bushy black hair, fat lips, and a rather…long nose. He was heavily tanned, wore a set of brown overalls with a white sash, and an olive-green plaid bandana. He had just finished his daily ritual of scaring the town into thinking that Pirates were coming to attack, which had him in a pretty decent mood from the day's turnout.

"PIRATES ARE COMING!" The nearly hysterical boy yelled.

"Liar." Usopp and two other children – Ninjin (who looked like a carrot) and Piiman (who looked like a pepper) – all deadpanned simultaneously. Usopp continued, "I already did the lying today, Tamanegi."

"I'm being serious!" The boy cried, "I saw their flag and everything! It was black with the symbol of Buggy the Clown on it!"

"What!" Usopp gasped. He steeled himself, "Alright guys. We have something very important to do." The three boys leaned in eagerly, "Usopp Pirates…! Let's go get snacks!" Usopp yelled with a giant grin before turning and marching towards town with his fist held high!

"DON'T RUN AWAY!"

"But…but I have a serious condition!" Usopp yelled, "My INeedToGoEatitis is acting up!"

Pepper yelled at him, "Aren't you always saying how you want to be a real Pirate, captain!"

"How can you be a Pirate if you're afraid of other Pirates!" Carrot followed up.

"Besides, there's only three of them!" Onion finished the whole tirade.

"What? Three?" Usopp blinked, "It isn't a big ship?"

"No, just a medium sized dinghy!" Onion yelled back.

"Okay! Let's go repel these invaders! Usopp Pirates, move out!"

-]|[-

"Well, at least we only had to starve for one day, this time." Nami deadpanned as they were pushing the boat further up the beach.

"We should have brought more food." Zoro told her.

"We packed so much we barely floated!" Nami yelled back at him angrily.

"We need a ship! A real ship!" Luffy declared while picking his nose. "But I'm impressed! There really was an island here!"

"You're so directionally challenged I'm amazed you even managed to survive long enough to meet me. You just had to follow the map." Nami said dryly.

"Well I did get sucked into that whirlpool on my second day." Luffy remembered and started chuckling.

His two crewmates stared at him with dead, unimpressed eyes, "Why am I not surprised in the slightest?"

"So, is there a village here?" Luffy asked curiously.

"There should be. I hope someone here has a ship, though I'm not sure how we would even acquire it. I mean I'm not paying for it." She stuck her tongue out playfully.

"Leave it to fate." Zoro said calmly. Whatever retort Nami was going to throw at him was interrupted, "By the way, what are those guys doing?" He pointed curiously at the cliffs, where there were four visible heads doing a poor job at staying hidden.

"AHHH! WE'RE FOUND!" The three young boys yelled in terror before running away with their arms high in the air.

"WAH! Don't run away!" The oldest roared at them with his eyes popping out. He grit his teeth before standing tall and proud on top of the stump they had been hiding behind, "I am the great Pirate fleet leader Usopp!" He declared loudly, "I'm in charge of the security of this village! Known far and wide as 'Captain,' Captain Usopp!" The three Pirates shot him dull, unimpressed looks. He probably would have been more convincing if his knees weren't visibly trembling and chattering against one another, "It's for the best if you don't try to attack this place." He chuckled sinisterly, "Otherwise my 80 million men will destroy you! Leave now!"

"Liar." Nami deadpanned.

"GACK! How did you know!" Usopp cried out in terror, backing away in a silly pose.

"You just told me." She giggled behind her hand, a sweatdrop on her head.

"ARGH!" Usopp cringed back, "Did I really just do that?! Bad planning! Bad planning!"

Luffy just started laughing, "You're so funny!"

Usopp immediately went from cringing to angry with a dropped jaw and popping eyes, "Hey, don't underestimate me!" He pointed towards himself with his thumb angrily, "I am a man with high self-esteem! Everyone calls me 'The honorable Usopp!'" He yanked a slingshot out of the bag he had at his hip, "My skills with this slingshot are better than a pistol!"

Luffy's head dipped, and he pressed his hat to his head. His eyes are shadowed, "You mentioned pistols." He looked at Usopp, a hard look in his eyes, "Are you prepared to bet your life on it?" His eyes were just so hard, it was as if he was boring straight into Usopp with his gaze, "Guns aren't toys to scare people with." He looked as if he was going to beat Usopp to within an inch of his life. Even Nami was sweating lightly.

Zoro smirked, before looking at Usopp with a bloodthirsty grin. He used his thumb to push his treasured blade out of its sheath slightly, "The person before you is a real Pirate." They both stared at the trembling Usopp unblinkingly, watching his every move.

Usopp had large beads of sweat building on his face as his trembling increased. Finally, something had to give. Usopp fell to his knees, tiny tears prickling in his eyes, "As I thought." He said in self-depreciation, "A true Pirate's speech is much more intimidating."

Zoro and Luffy smirked at each other, before bursting out into laughter. Nami smacked them both upside the head, which didn't even register in the merry boys, "You weren't serious!" She shrieked, "Damn it Luffy! You looked like you were going in for round two with Buggy!"

Usopp's eyes bulged, even as Luffy continued to laugh with Zoro, "You fought Buggy the Clown!?"

"That's right. Shishishi!" Luffy grinned up at him, "And I was just copying what that great man said!" His grin widened, "Shanks!"

Usopp gasped, "Sh-Shanks! You know Shanks!"

"I do!" Luffy stared up at him with his teeth showing, "Yassop right?" Usopp almost fell of the cliff in shock, "That's your dad's name, isn't it?"

-]|[-

"You're looking for crewmembers?" Usopp gasped, his mind going to the seas, where his dreams were. Oh, if only he weren't such a coward! "Sounds like a big adventure!"

Luffy bit a large chunk of meat right off the bone, "Yeah, we are. We need a bigger ship too. Know anywhere we could find one?"

Usopp crossed his arms and grinned smugly, "There's only one place in this town where you would be able to find such a thing!"

Nami perked up, "Really?"

"That's right." Usopp nodded, "Up on the hill is a large mansion that belongs to a wealthy family. The ship belongs to the owner." He started to look down, "Although…well…we say she's the owner, but she's really a pitiful girl. She's always sick and always in bed…"

Nami had a sad look of realization on her face, "She inherited it from her parents, didn't she?"

Usopp nodded unhappily, "It happened a year ago… Her parents died of a sickness. They left her with the mansion and all of their money. She even has over ten servants."

Nami shook her head, "And none of that matters to a broken heart." Her countenance closed up as she thought of her own woes, taking a momentary glance at Luffy, who was busy stuffing his face. She sighed and sat up, "We won't bother her. We'll search for a ship somewhere else."

"No, we won't." Luffy said cheerfully around his leg of meat.

"What?" Nami's eyes widened and she stared at him in disbelief, "But Luffy!"

"But nothing." Luffy said, turning serious, "Of course the poor girl is sick. All she has are servants and she only stays in that house. How is she supposed to get better like that? What she needs are friends…who let her know the world isn't over."

Nami and Usopp stared at him in stunned disbelief. It was just so…not Luffy. It made Nami remember that even he had gone through loss.

And then he went back to his regular grinning self, "Anyway. We're in no rush. I still want more meat."

"And the moment is gone." Nami smirked in relief, even as she rolled the words around in her head.

"Anyway." Usopp cut in, "You said you were looking for companions too?" Luffy turned to him in interest. Usopp smirked, "Let me be the Captain, and I'll join you."

"Never mind." Luffy, Nami, and Zoro said in unison.

"WHAT KIND OF ATTITUDE IS THAT!" Usopp screamed in shock, his jaw unhinged and shark teeth prominent in his jaw.

-]|[-

"The Usopp Pirates are here!" The three little kids roared at Luffy's crew while holding tiny wooden daggers in their tiny fists, "Wh…where is the Captain? GIVE US BACK OUR CAPTAIN!"

"Man, that was some good meat!" Luffy yelled in contentment as he patted his slightly swollen stomach.

"M…meat?" The kids repeated in horror, staring at them as if they were ghosts. Nami giggled behind her hand while Zoro smirked broadly at them. "What did you do?! What did you do?!"

Zoro chuckled darkly, angling his head so that his face would be shadowed. He had a creepy grin on his face and his eyes were wide, "Your captain…we ate him!"

The thought registered in their terrified heads for a moment, before they all screamed in unison, "AHHHHH! ONIBABA!" Their eyes were popping out of their skulls and their mouths were wide open in terror. Snot dripped from their noses.

"What are you looking at me for!" Nami screamed back with angry shark teeth filling her mouth. They all passed out, so she whirled to Zoro, "What did you go telling them that for?" Zoro just laughed.

When the kids had woken up, they cleared up Zoro's little joke, before asking them about Usopp, "It's that time again?"

"Yeah." Luffy nodded while picking his nose, "He just yelled that suddenly in a panic and raced off almost without saying goodbye a while ago."

Pepper chuckled, "Oh, the Captain goes up to the mansion up on the hill."

Onion chimed in, "Yep. He goes there to lie to the Mistress!"

Nami's eyes narrowed, "Lie to the Mistress? Why would he do a scummy thing like that?"

Carrot shook his head and held his hands up in the 'easy, easy' motion, "No, no! It's actually a very good thing."

Pepper picked up, "Mistress Kaya lives up there all alone with her servants. She gets pretty lonely, so Captain decided he would try to cheer her up with made up stories!"

Luffy grinned, "So he's a pretty good guy huh."

Nami sweatdropped, saying a quiet prayer for Usopp's future sanity in her head. 'At this rate, even I'll turn into one of these crazy people.' She giggled.

"I like him." Luffy declared with crossed arms, "I wonder if he can fight at all."

"I like the Captain's nosiness!" Carrot chirped up.

"I like his cowardice!" Pepper cheered.

"I like his lies!" Onion finished off.

"What kind of strong points are those?" Zoro mumbled to himself while sweat-dropping.

Luffy grinned and stood up, his chair scraping the floor behind him, "Well, if the Mistress is doing a little better, why don't we go pay them a little visit."

-]|[-

"Helloooo! Anyone hoooommmmeeee!" Luffy asked calmly, "Please lend us a ship!"

"Idiot. No one is going to hear you if you say things that quietly." Nami deadpanned.

"Oh, you're right. Guess we just have to go in then." Luffy hopped up onto the top rail of the fence in a single bound.

Nami chuckled, "Maybe he's not as stupid as we think, eh Zoro?" The green-haired man chuckled, and followed up with his own leap, the kids all held up by their collars in his hands. "Oi, don't leave me down here!" Nami called after them in annoyance. She leapt and managed to make it three-quarters of the way up. She would have easily been able to haul herself up with her arms but could not land on it with her feet the way they did. Luffy grabbed her hand and helped her up the rest of the way. It was clear that while she was very athletic – she HAD to be for her 'profession,' after all - and had some training from before she met Luffy, it wasn't to the same degree.

Once on the other side, they heard some delighted feminine giggling. Usopp's voice rang out, "And to this day, they call me-"

"Captain!" The three kids yelled eagerly.

"That's right! Captain!" He blinked, "Wait what!" He had this wide-eyed look of surprise, "What are you all doing here?"

"Hmm, who are all of you?" Kaya asked in slight confusion. She was a slim, beautiful young girl with platinum blonde hair and light blonde eyes.

Usopp saw his chance and immediately cut in, "Ah, these are a bunch of my fans. They've travelled far and wide to meet-"

"Ah!" Luffy smiled brightly up at the young woman, "You must be Kaya! Nice to meet you! I'm Luffy! This is Nami and Zoro." Usopp just boggled at the interruption.

Luffy's smile was infectious, and Kaya responded in kind, "A pleasure, Luffy-san, Nami-san, Zoro-san." She did have a pretty beautiful smile. Luffy could see why Usopp loved seeing it so much, "Is there anything you are here for?"

"Yeah. We have a request for you!" Luffy explained, "See, we're in need of a bigger ship."

Nami stepped up beside him, "We heard you had one that was rather unused." She smiled up at the pretty young girl, "We wanted to see if there was any way you could be convinced to part with it."

Kaya smiled at the thought of the old ship seeing any excitement. It had just been collecting dust and barnacles ever since her parents had died. She wanted to go out to sea once more, but she was too weak to do so. Klahadore would never allow it. "Yes, I think we can co-" She had meant to reply positively, but the voice of her head butler cut across the lawn.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!" The voice belonged to a tall, slim man. He was clad in a well-designed, nearly pure black suit with twin golden markings on the front. He wore round, wire-framed glasses and had black hair that was slicked back. "You all are trespassing! You can't just barge into a mansion like this!"

"Klahadore listen!" Kaya tried to vouch for her new friends with a hesitant smile on her face. Or at least she hoped they were new friends, "These people are-"

But Klahadore didn't even let her finish her sentence, "There is no need to explain." He cut her off callously, "We shall speak about it later. All of you. Leave!"

But that one statement pinged right off of Nami's radar as suspicious. She had been around the block a fair number of times. The Cruise Ship Luffy had found her on was definitely not the first fancy party she had infiltrated in her hunt for Pirates and their treasures. She knew how rich people and their servants acted. What kind of butler would do what that man just did? Her eyes narrowed, and she stepped forward to come shoulder to shoulder with Luffy, "Excuse me." Her voice was tight, and as the man turned to her, she enquired, "Are you the master of this mansion? Are you Kaya's husband?"

"NO!" Kaya screamed in shock – nearly toppling over in her haste to deny what Nami said – while Klahadore replied the same with his own surprise.

"I am Kaya-sama's Head Butler." He said tightly, his own eyes narrowed.

"Then kindly do not interrupt your Mistress when she is doing business." Nami never had been one to just take it. Even when she knew it was hopeless, she still tried. She had failed countless times in assassinating Arlong herself, and she wasn't about to let a butler talk down to her crew like this. Her voice was as sharp as a whip, "Not only did you interrupt her business as if you owned the house, but you also were incredibly rude in cutting her off mid-speech."

Klahadore blustered – and did not miss the look of surprise on Kaya's face, "Mistress Kaya is sick. She can't handle this kind of excitement."

"Funny." Luffy was smirking, "She looks pretty lively for a sick, bed-ridden girl who can't have any visitors. Or at least she did up until you showed up." Kaya looked back and forth between her trusted advisor and her new friends, who were standing up for her even if they had only just met, "Maybe you should stop smothering her and let her live."

Klahadore grit his teeth, seeing himself being not only stonewalled by these ruffians, but seeing Kaya looking contemplative. He turned to a far, far easier target. He calmed himself and adjusted his glasses with the bottom of the palm of his hand. It was such a weird motion. Why do that? "You. You're Usopp-kun are you not? I've heard the villagers talk about you."

"…" Kaya was silent, but she had a worried look on her face.

Usopp was all smiles, "That's right! I'm glad you've heard of me! You can call me Captain Usopp! Everyone does!"

Klahadore adjusted his glasses once more. Really, one would think he would avoid looking down if they were that poorly made. "I heard from the other guards that you were lurking about. What do you want?"

"Ah…" Usopp was put on the spot, but he always was good at stories. As a small bead of sweat rolled down his face, he said, "I heard there was a giant mole inside the mansion and I wanted to come see it."

"Hahaha." The man chuckled mirthlessly, "Yes, I can see that you certainly can lie well." Usopp's eyes widened, not expecting Klahadore to actually call him out on it, "I've heard about your father too." Usopp's face lost its grin, "You're the son of a filthy Pirate who abandoned your mother. I'm not surprised you turned out this way."

Usopp's face contorted into an ugly grimace, "Take it back." He said quietly, fists clenched into tight balls.

"You and the Mistress belong to entirely different worlds! Stay away from her! Is it money you're after? Name your price!"

"Klahadore That's enough! Apologize at once!" Kaya screamed at her butler in shock.

"Nonsense." Klahadore sneered at Usopp, "I'm merely speaking the truth. There's no need for me to apologize to this uncivilized person." He pushed his glasses back into place, "I feel sorry for you. You must hate your father. After all, he's just an uncivilized, worthless, filthy nobody who deserted his family." But it wasn't Usopp's rightfully furious punch that came next.

It was Luffy's incredulous, hysterical laughter. "Bahahaha! Stop! You're killing me!" He fell to his knees holding his stomach in laughter, "Stop! I can't…can't take it! I can't breathe!" He started rolling on the floor.

His own crew plus Kaya stared at him in dumbfounded shock, while Usopp merely looked betrayed. Klahadore meanwhile snorted, "Are you right in the head?"

Luffy got up, still laugh-crying, "You're a funny man. You should quit being a butler and become a clown. You'd fit right in."

"Excuse me?" Klahadore asked indignantly.

"Shishishi." Luffy got up and stared at him from under his head, his eyes shadowed. He had a wide grin on his face, but it wasn't one of his usual bright, happy grins. No, this one was dark and Nami could recognize the desire to rearrange Klahadore's face in it. She smirked as well, and wished she had popcorn for the upcoming show, "Do you even know who his father is? Do you know his name?"

Klahadore sneered, "Why should I know the name of a worthless hack?"

Luffy's grin widened, "Yassop. That is his name. His crew stopped by my town long ago, back when I was young. The guy wouldn't shut up about his beloved son and how much he missed him." Usopp had tears in his eyes, "What makes me laugh is that a no name like you would dare call Yassop, Third Hand of the Red-Haired Pirates a worthless nobody." Kuro and Kaya's eyes both snapped open, "I wasn't aware a 'nobody' could be the head sniper of a Yonkō. That was the funniest joke I've ever heard. Shishishi!"

Usopp was grinning proudly, but Klahadore only spat, "Him? Preposterous! You're as bad of a liar as he is!"

"I'm proud of my father!" Usopp roared in his face, "I'm proud that he is a Brave Warrior of the Sea!"

"What are you so angry about?" Klahadore had regained his calm composure, "All you have to do is lie, like you always do. Just say he's a merchant, or that you're not blood related..." But Usopp had taken all he was willing to take.

BAM

Usopp reached in and dug into strength he didn't even know he had. He hit Klahadore so hard across the face that the skin split open and blood spewed through the air. Unbeknownst to everyone except the three sharp-eyed Pirates and Klahadore himself, Klahadore hands had twitched. It was as if he wanted to block but held himself back. All three Strawhats narrowed their eyes.

"!" Kaya clapped a hand to her mouth in shock. She was truly torn. Klahadore truthfully had been out of line, but she didn't like violence. Tears started welling up in her eyes.

"Gah." Klahadore clapped a hand over the gash that had opened up, "So quick to turn to violence. Like father like son, I guess." He spat in victory.

"Shut your mouth!" Usopp roared, "I'm proud that my father is a Pirate! You're right that I like to lie, but I'll never lie about that! I don't have to pretend that I'm not! I'm the son of a Pirate!"

Klahadore sneered, "Don't twist the truth. You have the blood of a savage in you and that's why you're so quick to turn to violence and that's why you like to lie." He spat a bit of blood out of his mouth, "You're only here because you want to take the Mistress's money!" Usopp growled at him, "The fact that your father is a Pirate is more than enough reason to kick you out of here!" Usopp grabbed his lapel and drew back for yet another punch, but a tearful Kaya had enough.

"Usopp! Please stop!" Tears were leaking down her face, "Please…no more. Klahadore isn't a bad man! He just cares too much! That's why he's a little extreme!"

Usopp growled but let go of Klahadore with a little shove. The man smirked and fixed himself up as best he could, "Get the hell out of here." He fixed his glasses last, "Savages like you are not allowed here. I'll let you off this time, but never come back!"

Kaya was distraught. These were her friends! "I did not give that order." She said quietly, tearfully, but Klahadore's eye widened, "Klahadore, we will be talking about your behavior here!" She turned to Usopp, "Usopp please…"

But Usopp's rage was too high right now. He had already walked off, stewing.

Klahadore smirked in victory, unseen to Kaya, "All of you! Leave with him! Now!"

Luffy was about as angry as Usopp was, and they all glared at him in unison. Luffy let go of some of the shackles on his power as he tried to stare a hole into the man. It was difficult trying to keep the heat from his powers leaking where he didn't want it, so Nami and Zoro had to take a step back. Kaya never felt a thing with Luffy being at least a little successful with this attempt at manipulating the sun within him, but Klahadore instantly broke out into a savage sweat as the full wrath of his heat fell upon him. The well-dressed man unconsciously took a fearful step back. How could he be feeling such an utter chill down his spine when it was so hot? Why was it so hot?

Luffy cut his gaze and turned to Kaya, "It was nice meeting you Kaya." He said clearly with a small smile. With that, he turned and grabbed the three kids. Zoro turned and followed without another word. Nami gave the man one last glare before smiling up at the young girl. With a nod of her head, she was gone too.

Outside the compound, Zoro decided to speak up, "Did either of you notice?"

Luffy nodded, still too angry to speak. To both of their surprise, Nami spoke up, "I did as well." They both turned to her with wide eyes. She pouted, before smirking a little, "I guess your training has been good for me. I might not have noticed two weeks ago." But she went serious, "That man."

"He's had some training." Zoro concluded.

"And no servant would ever so blatantly embarrass his mistress the way he did." Nami chimed in. "No way in hell. Even a kinder aristocrat would have had his tie for that, and a rich ass would have had him on the street the next hour. That guy is no butler."

"Keep an eye out." Luffy chuckled, "I'm going to go find Usopp."

-]|[-

"Kaya-sama. Lunch is ready. May I come in?"

"I don't want it. Go away!" She had been sobbing into her pillow for hours, but her eyes were dry now, "I don't want to eat. It doesn't taste good."

"The chef will be sad to hear that." Klahadore ignored her and came in anyway, "He works so hard on making sure everything is beneficial to your health."

He pushed the small cart and tray into the room and left it near Kaya's usual chair. He made to leave, but she didn't allow it. Unbeknownst even to her, Luffy's words had struck home. Kaya had been more lively and cheerful than she had been in ages until Klahadore had ruined everything. Unconsciously, it emboldened her a small bit, "I believe I told you we would be speaking." Klahadore stiffened a tad, surprised at her boldness, "Why did you have to speak to them like that?" She sighed, "I'm sorry I kept it from you. Speaking to Usopp the way I did was my fault, but I did not appreciate you chasing him away. Nor did I appreciate you interrupting my talk with Luffy-san and his crew."

He looked at her shrewdly, though his face was a mask of calmness. What in the world could have heartened her like this? "May I sit?"

"Please." She waved her hand at the bed, which had more than enough room on it for that.

"I've been in this house for three years." He said while looking up at the ceiling, "I can never forget what happened that day. The kindness that your father showed me. I had been working on a ship and was fired for a small, insignificant mistake. He took me in, helped me get back on my feet." He turned to her, "Had your father not done that, I would certainly have died. He and your mother were my saviors, and you are their daughter!" He looked down, "I know that interfering with your friendships is none of this lowly servant's business, but that Usopp character is really not trusted at all! I fear for you!" He yelled, "If anything happened to you under my watch, I would feel as if I betrayed your parents myself!"

Kaya sighed, "I know." She smiled lightly, "Don't think I'm not thankful to you, Klahadore. But you went too far."

He sighed in return, "I know I was a little rough. Do you hate me for it?"

She shook her head, "No. You just entirely misunderstand Usopp! He's not a bad person!"

"Doesn't matter." And selective deafness kicked in.

She growled, "Grr…why will you not listen to my explanation!"

-]|[-

"BAD NEWS!" Onion came screaming towards the other two kids in his group, as well as Nami and Zoro. "Weird guy!" He panted, "Backwards!" He clenched his knees, "There's a weird guy walking backwards!"

"Liar!" The two kids told him.

"It's true! Look!"

And wouldn't you know it, there was a man dressed in a blue trench coat, pants, and a wide-brimmed, pointed hat moonwalking towards them, "Hey! Who said I'm a weird guy?" He finally finished shuffling past them, so they could see his face. He was wearing a set of red-lensed, heart-shaped glasses and he had a strange, striped thing growing out of his chin, "I'm not weird!"

"Yes, you are." Nami deadpanned, cringing away slightly, "Any way I look at you, you look weird."

"Shut up!" He yelled, "I'm just a passing hypnotist!" The kids immediately grew excited and started asking him to show them tricks, "Idiots! You don't have any idea of what a hypnotist is! I can't just show you my skills!" He took out a pendulum, "So look at this! When I say, 'One, Two, Jango,' you will all fall asleep!"

"You're showing them anyway?" Zoro smirked in amusement.

"One, two, Jango!" And with that, all four of the idiots were asleep.

"What the hell is he doing…?" Zoro and Nami sighed. They were definitely not impressed.

-]|[-

"Yo!" Luffy clapped a hand onto Usopp's shoulder, scaring the life out of the boy who thought he was alone!

"Can't you be more normal!" Usopp roared. Luffy was hanging from a tree branch upside-down in front of him.

"Shishishi!" Luffy laughed as he let go of the branch and spun so that he landed cleanly beside Usopp.

They sat in silence for a moment, before Usopp spoke up, "Is my dad really that amazing?" He asked timidly.

"Of course, he is." Luffy looked and sounded affronted, "I wouldn't lie about something like that." He chuckled, "I once saw him shoot the wings off a fly from across town after bouncing it off three metal plates and three corners." Usopp's jaw dropped straight off of his skull. "He never shut up about you either. I probably knew more about you than I did about him during the year they stayed. Shishishi!" He grinned wide with his eyes closed.

Usopp was practically crying, "Thanks Luffy." Luffy merely clapped his shoulder again, "To tell you the truth, I am and always will be proud of him, even if he left me for the sea! But that bastard Klahadore! He looked down on my pride!"

"I know." Luffy huffed, "That guy was a jerk. I wanted to pound him into the ground, but you got to do it instead." He turned to the dark-skinned boy, "You going to give up on seeing Kaya? She looked incredibly sad when you left without a word."

Of course, he wouldn't. He could never stay away from her. "Dunno." He said callously, "Maybe if that jackass apologizes and begs for me to come back, I will."

Luffy smirked. They both knew that was a lie, "Well, looks like you'll get your chance."

Usopp's eyes popped out! "Why is he here!" The darker young man whisper-screamed.

Luffy and Usopp were up on the cliffs, looking down at the beachhead below. Klahadore had shown up, as had a really strange looking guy with heart-shaped sunglasses. They quieted down to listen, "Jango." Klahadore sounded irritated, "Didn't I tell you not to draw attention to yourself? Why did you fall asleep in the middle of the street?"

Jango sounded indignant, "How could I attract attention? It's not like I look weird or anything."

"…" Klahadore did not look impressed. "Anyway. Are you prepared?"

"Why of course." Jango said, "Everything is ready for operation 'Assassinate the Ojousama.' We can begin at any time."

Up on the cliff's Usopp's eyes popped out in horror, while Luffy merely had confirmation that there was an ass on this island that needed a good kicking.

"Assassinate is such an … ugly word." Klahadore complained.

"Ah, right, right!" Jango snapped his fingers, "'Accident' then. The Ojousama's 'accident.' Isn't that right, Captain Kuro?"

Kuro's teeth ground inside his jaw, "Captain Kuro. I believe I told you never to call me that again. I gave up that name three years ago. You are the Captain now."

Up on the bluffs, Usopp was working himself into a panic. Captain Kuro? Kuro of a Thousand Plans? The Kuro of the Black Cat Pirates? That Kuro!? But he had been executed…three years ago. When Klahadore had shown up.

"I still remember that day." Jango commented idly, "It shocked me to the core, it did. You told us you were going to quit piracy and made me Captain." He walked away, both arms wide with his thumbs pointing down, "Everyone thinks Captain Kuro was executed by the Marines, but you've really been hiding out in this quaint little village." He sat on a rock, "You told us to come here in three years' time." He grinned, "When I worked under you in the past, there were a lot of benefits. I get a good share…right?"

"Of course." Kuro commented, "If you succeed, you'll get an…excellent reward."

"Good." Jango said, "You can leave the girl to me. At dawn, we'll charge in and destroy the town and kill the girl. Easy as that, and you'll be able to claim the inheritance."

"Killing her is not enough." Kuro said sharply, "I sometimes wonder if your mother gave you a brain." He sounded extremely annoyed, "I'm not of her blood. I cannot claim an inheritance like that! Not only must it look like an accident, but there is an extremely important step you must not forget. I have spent three years here building a reputation and gaining the trust of the people. Before you kill her, you need to hypnotize her! Hypnotize her and force her to write my name on a will, leaving everything to me!" He grinned evilly, "That way I can claim her fortune. As soon as she writes that will, no one will suspect me."

Jango scoffed, "Just for this you became a butler for three years? I would have just robbed her."

"And that's why I was the Captain, you bloody idiot." Kuro spat, "If I had done that, I would still be an outlaw with the Marines chasing me. Like this, I can get all of her fortune and not have those idiots of Justice bothering me." He smirked and tapped his head, "Using my head is a much better way to settle things."

Jango chuckled, "Whatever. Just send the signal and we'll be here. We've been anchored nearby for nearly a week. I can hardly hold them back."

"Man, that's a crappy plan you have!" The plan wasn't the only crappy thing about the situation, the dumbfounded and horrified Usopp mused as Luffy stood up and declared his presence to the two evil men below.

Both of the men snapped to attention, "You!" Kuro's eyes narrowed, "And how is my plan crappy, hmm?" His eyes narrowed, "And Usopp-kun as well…"

Luffy smirked and crossed his arms, "See, your whole crappy plan relies on getting through me."

"How troublesome." Jango commented, and took a pendulum out of his pocket, "Why don't you stare at this for me? On 'One, two, Jango,' you will fall asleep." Luffy stared at it in curiosity, "One, two, Jango!"

And Luffy was out like a light, "Zzzzzz…" A snot bubble inflated in front of his nose, and he keeled forward. Off he went, right down the side of the cliff. He crashed down behind some rocks. Instantly upon impact, his body reacted to the slight stirrings of pain and transformed into plasma. His superheated body started boring a hole straight into the sand, melting it into glass. Because of the boulders that were randomly placed about, the two men didn't notice that Luffy definitely wasn't dead.

Jango fell asleep too, as Kuro caught him, "Still have that stupid habit huh?" He deadpanned as he shook his former first mate awake.

Usopp stared in shock as Luffy fell, but snapped his eyes away before the impact and screamed at the two men, "YOU KILLED HIM!"

Jango slapped himself, "Damn… That was a mistake. I didn't mean to kill the dumb brat." He turned to Kuro, "What about that one?"

Kuro smirked, "Don't worry about it. Even if he screams our plan to the town at the top of his lungs, not a single person would believe him."

Usopp grit his teeth, "I hate you!" He roared before turning tail and running the other way. As he passed the rest of Luffy's crew and his own, he knew what he had to do. He ran past them without a word and into the town proper, "PIRATES!" He yelled at the top of his lungs, "PIRATES ARE GOING TO ATTACK TOMORROW!" As he ran, he continued shouting. But no one so much as opened a door to yell at him, "No…" He sounded horrified, "No, no! PLEASE! EVERYONE! PIRATES ARE GOING TO ATTACK TOMORROW! I SWEAR I'M TELLING THE TRUTH THIS TIME!"

Finally, a door opened, and an older lady came out. He turned to warn her in excitement, except he never got the chance. A cast iron pan smacked into his face and squished his long nose flat, "Shut up you nuisance! Why can't you be an honest man like Klahadore! Leave us alone!" More and more of the angry villagers came out, wielding mops and brooms as weapons. "We'll teach you this time!"

The sobbing Usopp could only turn tail and run, fleeing from the furious people. He still held on to hope though, racing towards Kaya's mansion. He easily squeezed in through his usual entrance and hastily chucked a pebble at Kaya's window, "Kaya!" He whisper-screamed, getting the girl to open the windows with a bubbly, ecstatic smile on her face.

"Usopp! You came back!" She beamed, before noticing his exhausted, fidgety state, "Usopp, what's wrong?" She asked in worry.

"Kaya, you're in grave danger!" He got out hoarsely through his gasping, "I was down at the cliffs, when I saw Klahadore meeting with this strange guy! They were planning on killing you for your money!"

She gaped like a goldfish, mouth opening and closing, before tears started prickling in her eyes, "Usopp!" She admonished angrily, "I know what Klahadore said must have hurt, but that's no reason to try to defame his character! Leave now!"

"I'm not lying!" Usopp gasped, tears of his own in his eyes, "I swear it! I heard the other guy calling him Captain Kuro, who was a notorious Pirate who got executed three years ago! It was around that time when Klahadore showed up!"

Her tears started spilling out, "I've always played along with your stories, but this is too much! I misjudged you!"

"Kaya!" He leapt up to the window with strength he didn't know he had, "Kaya, I know I've come up here to tell lies before, but they were just stories! I wouldn't lie about something like this! Not to you…" He whispered the last to himself, but she heard it anyway.

A shocked flush rose up in her cheeks, "Usopp…!"

He held out a hand, "Please! Come with me! We need to get out of here!"

She hesitantly raised a hand, before jerking it back, "No!" She shook her head, her tear droplets flying from her face, "Leave now! I can't believe you would do this! You're a horrible person!" She sobbed, her face scrunched up in pain.

Usopp growled, before reaching out and grabbing her arm, "You'll hate me, but at least you'll be safe!" He tried pulling her towards him, and she slapped him in her anguish. Even as he jerked back, a new person came into the situation.

BANG

Usopp let out a shocked gasp as blood flew from his shoulder. He fell back and toppled out the window! "USOPP!" A horrified Kaya screamed as Merry – another of her guards – appeared underneath her window holding a pistol that he was aiming at the downed boy, "No! Don't hurt him Merry!"

A defeated, sobbing Usopp could only turn and run, disappearing from the estate and leaving a weeping, overwhelmed girl behind.

-]|[-

"Usopp! What happened to you!" Nami gasped as Usopp showed up, clutching at his arm. She immediately set about trying to dress his wound, "Where's Luffy?" Luckily, the kids were no longer around. They had all ran off somewhere.

Usopp choked back a sob as she finished tying up a bandage, "Luffy…. Luffy's dead! OW!" He yelped as Nami nearly crushed his arm as she reflexively clenched her fists.

Her eyes were shadowed, "What was that?" She asked dangerously. Zoro behind her was stone-faced.

Usopp wrenched his good arm out of her grasp, "I'm sorry…" He choked out, "We were near the cliffs! That bastard Klahadore showed up to meet with this weird guy in a purple jacket! He revealed that he was actually Captain Kuro of the Black Cat Pirates and that his crew was going to attack the village tomorrow! When Luffy confronted him, the weird guy killed him!"

Nami's teeth ground in her mouth and tears prickled in her eyes. Before she could get another word in, Zoro spoke up with an unnerving stare at Usopp, "What happened exactly!"

Usopp's teeth chattered at the sheer feeling of death radiating from the green-haired man, "The purple guy pulled out a pendulum! He hypnotized Luffy asleep and he fell off the cliff right onto his head! There's no way he lived!"

Nami grabbed him by his collar, "Take us there! NOW!" The terrified Usopp could only nod and lead them away.

"Down there!" Usopp yelled as he raced away, "He fell righ-WHAT IS THAT GIANT HOLE?"

Zoro leapt past him right off the cliff side to the ground below. Nami followed with only a moment's hesitation. While doing so, she futilely attempted a Geppo without any knowledge of how to perform it, to no real success. She landed a little roughly and winced. She got on her hands and knees and peered down into the hole. It literally looked like someone had melted a vertical cave into the ground. Usopp had finally managed to climb down when they heard it. "Zzzzzz…"

Both of the Straw Hats' faces were shadowed and dead looking as they listened to the sound. "HE'S ALIVE!?" Usopp shouted in utter disbelief, tongue long and waving in front of him.

Nami growled, "LUFFY!" She screamed. A small pop was heard, and then some mumbling, "GET UP HERE!"

They heard some scrambling, "WHAT AM I DOING IN A HOLE!" The sound blasted out of the hole, followed moments later by Luffy who landed next to them, "Eh? When did Nami and Zoro get here?"

Nami was wearing a slasher smile and it almost looked as if her eyes were blood red, "Luffy…" He turned to her, only to meet her fist once more, "YOU IDIOT!"

"OW!" His head bounced off the sand, "What was that for!" He yelled in irritation. She leaned down and grabbed him by nose, squeezing down, "By Bose!" He squeaked.

"You listen to me mister!" She said angrily, "I'm not going to let first Pirate I've ever liked get himself killed because he was stupid! You let yourself get hypnotized and almost broke your fool neck when you fell off the cliff!" He stared at her wide eyed, "If you ever see someone doing something like that idiot hypnotist did, you look away or the next time I see you, I'll take away what makes you a man!"

Luffy squeaked in terror and crossed his arms in front of his crotch, "NOT MY KINTAMA!"

"GOT IT!" Nami roared, giving his conk one last squeeze.

"Yes mam." Luffy said meekly, "Angry Nami is scary…" He mumbled to himself. She smirked lightly, before collapsing next to him and snuggling up like usual, "I like happy Nami better."

She smirked broadly this time as he started massaging her shoulders. She didn't even blush this time, when Zoro gave her the look.

Usopp couldn't help himself. He raised a hand and asked meekly, "Are…are you guys sure she's not the real Captain?" He cringed away when Luffy gave him a scary look that far surpassed Nami's own, "Got it. You're the Captain." And Luffy was back to all smiles.

"Anyway." Zoro sat with the other two, pulling down Usopp so he would do the same, "What are we going to do about Kuro?"

"CAPTAIN!" The three kids had shown up, making Usopp's eyes bug out in panic, "We heard everything Captain! What are we going to do about the Pirates?! We have to warn everyone!"

"Warn…" Usopp guffawed, and broke out into laughter, "Bwahaha! Did you guys really fall for that? It was all a lie!" He proclaimed, "I was just getting my revenge, making up stories like usual!"

The kids all looked incredibly disappointed, "That's not honorable Captain! We misjudged you!" They all turned away angrily and walked off without another word.

Usopp crumbled to the ground and simply stared down, "Because I lie a lot…no one believed me."

Zoro stared him down, "That's what you get when you lie all the time." Usopp flinched, "Even I've read the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Still, Pirates are going to attack tomorrow regardless of whether the town believes you." He smirked and looked him in the eyes, "So, what are you going to do, 'Honorable Usopp?'"

He growled and stood up, "Even though I was shot...even though no one believed me…I will protect this village!" He probably would have looked more convincing if he wasn't shaking like a leaf in a hurricane, "In order to protect my village, this situation must become one of my lies! I can't let anyone get hurt!"

Zoro grinned, "So, you are a pretty good guy, huh?"

Luffy smirked and punched his fists together, "We'll just have to give you a hand then, won't we?"

"As long as you remember that all of their treasure is mine." Nami stuck her tongue out playfully.

"Wha…-" He blinked owlishly, "Why would you guys fight with me?"

"You're outnumbered." Luffy deadpanned before snickering at Zoro's words.

"You have the words 'I'm scared' all over your face." Zoro grinned, "But you're going to fight anyway."

"Idiots!" He screamed at them, "Scared? Why would I be scared! I have the blood of a courageous warrior running in me! I'm Captain Usopp! They can't compete with me!" It would have sounded pretty good, if his knees weren't chattering together. They all smirked as he punched his own legs, "Okay! So maybe I'm scared! It's Captain Kuro's men! He was known as a ruthless, notorious Pirate! I don't need your sympathy!"

"We're not giving you any. We're commending your courage." Zoro said.

"You…you guys!" Usopp began tearing up, "I'm so touched…" He shook himself, "Anyway!" He led them to a big slope, "This slope is the only way into the village! They'll have to come here to get into the town! The rest is just cliffs, so as long as we guard this one place, everything should be fine!"

Luffy grinned and punched his fists together, "Easy!"

"Not as easy as you think." Usopp countered, "Anyway, what are you guys good at?"

"Cutting!" Zoro said.

"Vaporizing!" Luffy smirked while pulling his hat over his eyes.

"Stealing!" Nami chuckled.

Usopp grinned, and proclaimed his own strength, "Hiding!"

"YOU'RE FIGHTING TOO!" The three Strawhats all had shark teeth and white eyes as they screamed at the coward.

-]|[-

"See? This is the best way to fight them!" The quartet had sprayed a massive amount of oil onto the slope. There was no way any of the Pirates were going to be getting up it, especially not with Usopp ready to snipe any of them who came close.

Nami giggled, "Just don't fall down there yourself, or you're screwed!" Luffy chuckled beside her. He had his foot in the oil himself and was sliding it around.

"It's dawn." Zoro said, drawing their attention as they looked out onto the horizon.

Suddenly, Nami stiffened. Her ears quirked, "Dawn?" She bit her lip, before turning to Usopp with an angry face, "Oh Usopp…" She sang, "Those Kuro Neko Pirates are supposed to be attacking this bluff…right?" She asked sweetly.

Usopp blinked owlishly, "They met here, and this is the entrance. It has to be here, right?"

She screeched, "YOU IDIOT! YOU CAN'T ASSUME THINGS LIKE THAT! I CAN HEAR VOICES ON THE NORTH SIDE!"

"The north?" Usopp gasped and jumped to his feet, holding his head with his hands, "OH NO!" He screeched, his eyes popping out, "THERE'S ANOTHER PORT THAT HASN'T BEEN USED IN A DECADE OVER THERE!"

"You idiot!" Luffy yelled and shot off like a rocket, disappearing in a blur of speed to where he though north was.

It wasn't.

"Oh no!" Nami shrieked in horror, "Our boat is over there! MY TREASURE!" She gasped, "Crap!"

"Nami! What are you doing?" Zoro yelled in shock as the girl slipped and started sliding down the slope.

"Help!" She yelled, "I slipped!" She caught onto Zoro's shirt and started pulling him along.

"Let go you idiot!" He roared back at her as he tried to keep from being toppled over.

But she had gotten a grip and was able to pull herself up. She jumped over him, even as Zoro slid all the way down, "SORRY ZORO!" She yelled back as she charged up the slope, "MY TREASURE IS IN DANGER!"

"YOU DAMN WITCH!" He roared at her retreating back, "I'll kill her." He growled out as he pulled out his two crappier katana and started trying to scale the slippery slope.

On the other side of the island, the roaring, cheering Pirates were charging up the beachhead like a massive landing force. They reached the slope and started making their way up, when half a dozen of them were flung backwards at speed, "WHAT!" They all yelled in shock.

"There's someone at the top!" One of them roared angrily.

"I'm Captain Usopp!" Usopp yelled, "I've made preparations for you all! If you don't want to die, retreat at once!" He had his goggles over his eyes and was inwardly shivering, 'Where the hell is Luffy? Didn't he run off ahead of me?'

Jango stepped up, "You…you're the one who overheard our plan. What do you want?"

"I want you all out of here!" Usopp proclaimed, "Retreat if you value your lives! If you don't my hundred million men will come and kill you all!"

"WHAT? A HUNDRED MILLION!" Jango screeched in fear, "RETREAT! WE CAN'T WIN!"

"He's lying Captain." A nameless Pirate sweatdropped.

"AH! They saw through it!" Usopp panicked momentarily.

"Do you think we're two-year olds?" Another commented in bemusement.

"You bastard. How dare you lie to me." Jango seethed, trying to hide his embarrassed flush over having fallen for that stupid trick. A hundred million men… There were barely that many people in the entire Blue.

"Good news Captain!" Another fat Pirate waddled up, "That boat that was on the shore had a lot of treasure on board! There were at least ten million Beli there!"

"WHAT? Ten million!" Jango yelled happily.

"Ten million? Why would they have so much?" Usopp wondered, before doing what he did best, "All of that is my treasure! If you all leave, I'll give it to you!"

"Idiot." Jango chided, "We're Pirates. We'll simply take the treasure anyway!" Usopp grit his teeth, "Now look at this ring. When I say, 'One, two, Jango,' you will let us pass. One, two, Jang-"

"DAMN YOU USOPP!" Nami roared angrily, smashing her staff harshly into the back of the liar's head, "How dare you try to give away my treasure!" She growled and pointed down at the Pirates, "You put all of that back where you found it, or I'll kill you!"

"Ouch." Usopp cradled his dome with tears streaming down from his goggles, "You hit me!"

She turned her angry shark teeth to him, "You tried to give my treasure away! You're lucky I didn't break your nose!" She rested the staff on her shoulder and looked away smugly, "Besides. I just saved you. That idiot down there is a hypnotist. I thought you already knew that!" She sighed, "Where's Luffy? Wasn't he ahead of you?"

"He just vanished!" Usopp told her, "I couldn't even see him move!"

"That idiot." She mumbled, "How could he go and get himself lost."

"Anyway!" Usopp shook himself, "Go get them Nami! I'll cover you from up here!"

She growled, "I'm not THAT good. Why should I go alone?"

"Don't think that because I'm a man I'm any stronger than you! Look! I'm shaking in fear!"

The bewildered Pirates watched as the two began bickering with growing sweatdrops, "They forgot about us…"

She huffed and steeled herself. Over the three days they had taken to sail to this island, she had gotten a lot more practice with Kami-e. Hopefully it would be enough. "DESTROY THE VILLAGE!" The Pirates roared eagerly, "CHARGE!" And with that battle cry, they shot forward with weapons raised in sheer excitement.

Usopp cringed back, but Nami had experience fighting mooks now. And there was no other description for these idiots except maybe 'cannon-fodder.' Usopp let out a shout of elation from behind her, "Oh, I have these Makibishi!" Nami grinned and grabbed a few and threw them together with Usopp.

The horrific screeches from the Pirates was like music to their ears. As soon as they hit the spiked field they slowed and panicked. They hopped around, first trying to avoid them and then in pain as the metal pierced their thin sandals and into their feet. Blood squirted from the wounds, even as a few unfortunate ones lost their balance and fell over onto more of them. "FUCK!" One of them roared right before being hit square in the face by a speeding projectile and being flung backwards off the hill.

"How'd you like my Namari Boshi!" Usopp crowed in victory at his defeat of the single Pirate, "Here, have another one!" More lead stars flew from his slingshot and beaned a couple more Pirates directly between the eyes.

"Wow, you're a good shot." Nami said in surprise as she turned to him with a smile. Said surprise almost ended badly.

"DIE!" One of the Pirates had somehow managed to escape their attention as well as their trap and had made it up the hill. He wielded a giant hammer and roared from behind her with it raised high. He brought it screaming down towards her head angrily.

"Kami-e!" Nami squeaked as she danced around the massive hammerhead. A plume of smoke rose from the impact point and nearly blew her off her feet. She found her footing and swung her staff as hard as she could. She was rewarded with a loud crack and a thud as the Pirate crashed to the ground and rolled back down the hill.

She smirked and blew her bangs out of the way. She stepped forward into the next Pirate's headlong charge and her staff snapped upwards. The tip caught the scumbag in the throat and almost knocked him out. She finished the job with a swing between his legs.

But her continued successes had made her a bit cocky and she admired her work for a moment. "OW!" She screamed in pain as she turned around and was forced to actually block a swipe of a pretty big sword with her staff. The impact knocked her off her feet and into the cliffside. Air left her lungs in a huff and she slumped down, biting her bottom lip and groaning in pain. At the same time, another of the Pirates cracked Usopp over the head with a club, knocking him to the ground. Blood started leaking from the wound and began covering his face.

"Damn brats." One Pirate seethed, furious that a couple of kids had gotten the drop on so many of them.

"Let's kill them slowly." Another grinned darkly, "I think I'll play with her first though." Nami's skin began to crawl as all color left her face.

"YOU IDIOTS!" Her salvation came in the unlikely form of Jango, "WE'RE ALREADY LATE YOU MORONS! JUST GO DESTROY THE VILLAGE! DID YOU FORGET CAPTAIN KURO'S PLAN!? WE CAN'T FUCK THIS UP OR ELSE HE'LL KILL US ALL!" Jango was almost spitting in panic, "DO YOU GET IT, YOU MORONS?"

The Pirates all stiffened, before continuing their headlong charge up the slope, "TO THE VILLAGE!"

"Noooo!" Usopp moaned, grabbing one of their pant-legs and holding on for dear life. How he was even awake was a miracle, "You bastards! Don't attack the village!" He somehow found the strength to haul himself up the Pirate's clothes and grab onto his shirt.

"Get off!" The Pirate roared and backhanded Usopp to the floor.

"Stop it! DON'T ATTACK THE VILLAGE! PLEASE! I BEG YOU!" Giant tears were streaming down Usopp's face.

Nami and Usopp gasped in shock as every single Pirate that had made it up the slope was blasted back down, roaring in agony this time. Nami grinned in relief, wiping a bit of blood from her lip, "What took you guys so long?"

"What's going on, Captain Jango?" The moaning Pirates struggled to their feet, "No one told us monsters like these were inside this village!"

"What took us so long?" A furious-looking Zoro was grinding his teeth together, "Maybe we would have been here sooner if you didn't PULL ME DOWN THE CLIFF!"

"Usopp you idiot!" Luffy was growling in anger, "You didn't even tell me which way was north!"

Nami scoffed, "I couldn't help it! Better one of us fall than both of us!"

"Then you should have fallen!" Zoro growled back

"It's your fault for taking off without asking!" Usopp yelled back at Luffy.

"Oi, oi! Don't tell me you idiots fell down after one blow!" Jango sneered at his crewmates, "We don't have time for this!" He yelled, slipping his pendulum out of his pocket, "Since our opponents are strong, we must be stronger! Look into my pendulum! When I say, '1, 2, Jango' your wounds will disappear, and you will become stronger!" Luffy turned away, remembering the reaming Nami gave him after the last time he stared at that stupid ring. "1, 2, Jango!"

"That'll never work." Nami rolled her eyes. The Pirates all sprang to their feet, roaring out in excitement, their eyes veined pits of white! "What the hell?" She gasped, "There's no way that actually worked! They were shaking a minute ago!"

One roaring Pirate slammed his sword's pommel into the cliff-side, and it just completely shattered and crumbled, burying the idiot. "How did they gain that much strength! He crushed the wall!" Zoro looked pretty surprised.

Nami was pale, but she snickered, "Well, good to see they're still idiots at least." She accepted a hand up from Luffy and climbed to her feet. She scowled as she rubbed her sore shoulders, "I got cocky."

"Then learn from it, witch." Zoro said, shooting her a glare which was happily returned.

Luffy grinned and stepped forwards, "Alright you three, watch my legs as closely as you can." The Pirates had enough of standing there and had begun charging straight up the hill towards the teens.

"Your legs?" Usopp asked in confusion, though he did as he was told regardless.

Luffy grinned widely, "SORU!" He vanished in a blur, before dozens of clones seemingly appeared in front of each Pirate. Bones broke, and blood and teeth flew from heavy kicks and devastating punches. Not a single one of the screaming mass of idiots was left standing. Several got blown back straight into the cliffs, causing plumes of grit to billow out as rocks crumbled and crushed them. One unlucky bastard struck the bottom of the cat-themed figurehead and went straight through it, destroying the ship's prow and then punching straight through the deck. He quickly flew past the horizon and out of sight. The now broken figurehead crashed to the sand.

Luffy reappeared exactly where he had been standing, with the few Black Cats left nearby crushed to the floor, their hypnosis dispelled, "Shishishi!"

Nami had her eyes closed with a chagrinned look on her face, "I didn't see a thing." If anything, that only made him laugh harder.

Zoro shook his head, "I could only catch a blur. No details. Sorry Luffy."

"I…I saw it!" Usopp declared.

"Liar!" All three of them chuckled at the sniper.

"No, I'm serious! I didn't see anything after, but on that first move you kicked the ground dozens of times! I couldn't even count them!"

Luffy's eyes sprang open and he whirled around, "Holy crap! You weren't kidding?" He asked Usopp in astonishment.

Usopp grinned and crossed his arms, "Never underestimate Captain Usopp's eyes!" He said proudly. Zoro and Nami's faces were burning in embarrassment.

"Shishishishi!" Luffy laughed, "Good job Usopp! I want you as my sniper!" Usopp's face lit up, but Luffy didn't let him get another word in, "Usopp's right! Soru is about kicking the ground as many times as you can in the blink of an eye!"

"Is that so?" Zoro grinned, "That sounds a little too easy."

"Speak for yourself!" Usopp shouted as he pushed himself off the ground. He had given it a try and had only succeeded in tripping over his own feet and squishing his nose when he landed in the dirt.

"Kicking the ground huh?" Nami mused, "Well, I can certainly see how that would give you explosive speed." She steeled herself and managed six kicks in the time it took Usopp to blink. Her form blurred forward, though she didn't disappear, before falling to her knees and screaming, "FUCK!" She clutched her thigh in pain, "Holy crap, that's murder on your legs." She stood up, though she was noticeably shaky.

Zoro snorted as Luffy put an arm around her and helped her stay standing, "Then get stronger legs, witch!"

"Fuck you too, Zoro!" She screamed, her face looking demonic momentarily. She massaged the feeling back into her right leg, before giving a quick smile to Luffy and standing on her own.

"Hey Buchi!" A faint voice sounded from the destroyed ship, "Come look! Our ship's head is gone!"

"WHAT!? Wrecked!? How did that happen!?" Another voice screamed back.

Jango's face lit up as a bead of sweat dripped down his face, "Perfect." He grinned maliciously, "We still have those two. I had forgotten. COME DOWN, NYANBAN BROTHERS!"

All four teenagers stared at the newcomers with their eyes twitching horrifically. One of the two was an overweight man with a golden bell attached to his throat. He had two pointy teeth spread apart, a black hat shaped like a cat's ears, and a fluffy cape with alternating purple hues. The other was a skinny man with curly green hair, a hunchback, and cat ears sticking out of his hair. Additionally, his shorts rode so high you could see practically all of his pale, stick-like thighs.

"…" Was the general reaction of the Strawhats and Usopp.

"Buchi, Sham!" Jango yelled, "We couldn't get past the slope because these guys are blocking the way! Now go destroy them!" He ordered happily. With this, they would definitely succeed.

The two seized up, heckles raised, "What?! Buchi how can we…we can't beat these guys!"

"Yeah!" Buchi stammered, "They look really strong!"

The defenders sweatdropped, looking at the cowards shying away from them. "We're just the ship's guards! We don't fight like this!" Sham had his hands raised apologetically.

Buchi raised his own hands, "Yeah, we don't want to participate in these kinds of battles!"

"WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS YOU MORONS! GO NOW!" Jango roared furiously.

"GAH!" Sham posed weirdly, "Why me!?" He sobbed, before timidly running forward. "Prepare to dieee!~ My claws are really sharp!"

Zoro had to hold back the urge to facepalm, "You sure you want to do that? I won't hold back if you don't run." Sham had gotten close to Zoro, who only had one of his swords out. A grin appeared on his face and a gleam shone in his eye. Zoro's eyes widened, "What!" He grunted as the formerly timid cat surged forward and tried to claw him. He ground his teeth, "Bastard!"

Sham grinned, "What, you thought I was just a coward? Of course! You wouldn't have let your guard down if I hadn't faked it."

"Zoro, your Katana!" Nami screamed at the green-haired man. Zoro growled as he patted himself down and noticed both of his other two swords gone.

Sham was smirking in victory, "Oh, are you missing something? I'm afraid I don't know where they went!" Zoro wasn't glaring daggers at him, but at Wado Ichimonji which was on the bastard's back. His precious Katana had been soiled by this clown's touch! "You may have a few skills, but you underestimated Sham of the Nyanban Brothers!"

Zoro growled angrily, "My katana." He said dangerously, "I'll give you once chance to give them back."

Sham cackled, "Give them back? Why? I'm practically doing you a favor!" He grinned, his arms turned upward in a careless shrug, "You've already got that one ya know. These other two will just get in the way," He grabbed the two while licking his lips, "So before our battle starts," He tossed both katana carelessly down the slope, "I'll just get rid of these!"

Zoro's face looked like it was cut from marble. He blurred and vanished, and a massive slice appeared in Sham's midsection. "DON'T DISRESPECT ANOTHER'S KATANA!" He roared as he passed him. He ran forward, tunnel-visioning on Wado specifically. "How could he treat my-grk!" He gasped as he tripped, falling forward as claws appeared on his sword-hand and a weight slammed into his back.

"You thought you cut me!" Sham crowed with a vicious grin, "Too bad I'm really thin!" The rest of his shirt had been ripped off from where Zoro had cut him, and it revealed that his waist was actually thin to the point that it would have looked sickly if he didn't actually have some muscle. It still looked really strange. Zoro had completely missed, since his seemingly-normal-sized shirt was practically a drape on Sham's body, "Your turn, Buchi!"

The fat man grinned and flexed his own claws, "You've got it, Sham!" He ran forward and jumped, "Cat the Funjyatta!" Just as his dropkick/stomp was nearing Zoro's head, Nami appeared in front of him. She had a look of pain on her face from her attempted Soru, but she soldiered through it. Her staff caught Buchi right in the eye, sending the man howling to the floor in agony. "MY EYE!" He roared, blood leaking from between his fingers as he rolled on the floor.

"Buchi!" Sham screamed in shock as his brother was gravely injured right in front of him. Even if that hadn't distracted him, Zoro would have been able to throw him off. He was just too strong for Sham to keep a grip, even in the kind of position he had him in. As it was, Zoro not only reversed the hold but slammed Sham into the ground so hard the rock cratered. He raised his Katana again, an enraged look in his eyes. Sham tried to move and managed to minimize the damage, but still had a large gash open up on his chest, the result being a yowl of pain.

Nami crashed to the ground and tumbled a few times. She definitely wasn't used to moving at even remotely those kinds of speeds, nor was she used to fighting in the air. She let out a pained grimace as she clutched her left thigh, but her right hand was firmly grasped around Wado. Jango raced to her, his pendulum – which was actually a chakram – ready to slice into her. Luffy's sandal annihilating his glasses and most of his face quickly disabused him of that notion. Jango sailed backwards and crashed into his ship, punching another hole straight into it.

"Thanks, Luffy!" Nami panted and moaned in pain, but she had a pleased look on her face as she threw Zoro both of his swords.

"HEY! DON'T THROW MY TREASURES!" Zoro yelled at her.

"Yeesh, touchy!" Nami stuck her tongue out at him, "Where's my thanks?"

Zoro grinned as he put his Katana back into their proper places, "Yeah, thanks. That was a good job, witch."

"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!" An enraged voice sounded from the cliffs. Kuro had arrived – face still bandaged from Usopp's punch – and he was almost literally steaming in rage. "It's been more than an hour since dawn! Are you telling me you couldn't handle a bunch of kids!? Jango!" Kuro roared so loudly that he could feel his throat begin to ache. No doubt he'd be losing his voice, regardless of the outcome today. Jango didn't respond. His legs were dangling from the hole in the ship he lay in and he was out cold. Kuro must have come to that realization, because his face got even darker, "It appears that the Black Cat Pirates have only gotten weaker in my absence. You useless peons!" He glasses flashed as he adjusted them once more.

"Weak?!" Sham hissed in agony, "These guys are really strong! The only weak one here is you! You've been pampering yourself here in peace while we've been fighting! You've lost your touch!"

Usopp looked on in shock, "Internal conflict!"

Buchi was still clutching his bleeding eye, "Don't look down on us, Captain Kuro!"

Kuro scoffed, "You've failed! And you all know what I do to people who fail me!" Kuro adjusted his glasses, "Weak? How about I kill you for failing me to prove you wrong!"

"You've been inactive for three years! Don't think you can beat the Nyanban brothers!" They both charged, "YOU'RE NO LONGER OUR CAPTAIN! INSTEAD OF BEING KILLED BY YOU, WE MAY AS WELL KILL YOU FIRST!" They slashed at Kuro, only for his empty bag to be diced into confetti.

"Who did you say you were going to kill?" Kuro's voice sounded from behind them.

"Behind!" Sham yelled, only to be cut down with his brother. Blood spurted from both of their backs as Kuro gouged them from behind. He was wearing a set of gloves with long blades attached to his fingers. With Jango out cold and maybe even dead from the look of him, Kuro's plan had failed for the first time and he was utterly furious. He couldn't leave a single person on this entire island alive if he wanted to keep his anonymity.

Up on the cliffs, Kaya had burst from the trees just in time to see someone she had thought she knew kill two people in cold blood with her own eyes. Her eyes watered as she fell to her knees and choked back a sob.

Usopp and Nami's eyes widened in shock, while Luffy and Zoro looked on in anger. "Hey…" Luffy said, catching Kuro's attention. He walked forward, his eyes shadowed by his straw hat, "What do you think you're doing?"

Kuro looked at him like he was a bug, "What am I doing? I thought that was quite clear."

Luffy continued walking, "Aren't they your crew? Your nakama?" Zoro and Nami felt a chill go down their spines. This quite clearly would not end well for Kuro.

"Nakama?" Kuro scoffed, "Please, they're pawns at best. They should know better than to fail me." He pushed his glasses back into place, and with those ridiculous 'cat claws' on his fingers, it immediately became obvious why he used his palm to adjust them. Even Kaya knew enough to realize that, and she knew practically nothing about fighting.

"KLAHADORE!" Kaya found her courage and rose back to her feet. She needed to end this now, "STOP IT RIGHT NOW!"

"Ah?" Kuro looked at her, "Kaya-ojousama. You shouldn't be out of bed."

Kaya's face was scrunched up in sadness, and she glared at Kuro through her tears, "Merry told me everything!"

"I see." Kuro adjusted his glasses. With that information, there really was no need for him to pretend any longer, "Strange, I could have sworn I killed him."

The words were like a punch to Kaya's gut, even though she was expecting them, "I'm so sorry Usopp." She fought to say through her sobs, "You tried to warn me…"

"Never mind that Kaya!" Usopp screamed at her, "Why are you here?! Didn't I tell you to run!"

"How can I run when you're here risking your life for us!" Her head dipped, "For me…We treated you so badly!" She bit her lip in anguish, before turning to Kuro, "Klahadore! You want my money, right? I'll let you have all of it! Just take it and go! Never come back!"

"Oh, but that was never possible, Kaya-ojousama." Kuro adjusted his glasses.

"What?" Kaya gasped, her eyes going wide.

"It was not only your money I sought, but the tranquility of my soul." His eyes were hidden by the glinting of his glasses, "What I sought was peace as well as riches." He smirked, "I've spent the past three years ingratiating myself to this village. With your death and with my name on your will, I stood to inherit it all, and I wouldn't have any of those Justice idiots chasing me. They all think I'm dead, after all." He smirked as the flow of her tears increased and she clapped a hand to her mouth,

"Run Kaya!" Usopp hauled himself to his feet, only to be shocked at her next action.

She pulled a pistol from her pocket and aimed it straight at Kuro, "Leave this village!"

Kuro's eyes glinted, "Oh, it appears you've grown stronger if you're pointing that at me." He smirked and adjusted his glasses, "A lot has happened in the past three years. I wonder if you still remember all the boat rides and shopping trips we've had together. Every time your illness showed itself, I took care of you." Her eyes looked even glassier than they had when she was sobbing, "Three years…that I've suffered taking care of a naïve little girl like you! Me! A former Pirate Captain, pretending to be kind for a waif like you to like me!" Throughout his rant, Kaya regained the strength in her gaze, and she did something she never thought she would ever do.

Kaya pulled the trigger.

BANG!

Kuro had a comical look of shock on his face as he started falling, before disappearing. He appeared again in front of her, a small trail of blood leaking from his cheek where the bullet had grazed him. He had a look of utter rage on his face as he raised his claws high. "How dare you! I'll make sure you suffer before you die for that!" Kaya backed away in panic as his hand swung downward.

"KAYA!" Usopp howled, his slingshot stretching to the maximum before flinging a lead ball straight at Kuro's face. The man was forced to abort his attack on Kaya to dodge the excellently aimed shot. It would have caught him in the throat if he hadn't. "Leave her alone!"

"Usopp-kun." Kuro said dangerously as he appeared in front of Usopp, one hand pointed at the teen ready to skewer him, "I still owe you for that punch. That hurt you know."

"Then you're going to hate me." Luffy had taken just about all he was willing to take. Kuro's face exploded in agony as Luffy's fist burrowed itself into his injured cheek. Kuro shot backwards like a cannonball. He flew through the air before impacting the ground harshly. Cracks appeared in the rocks as his body impacted, and then he started gouging a trail through the sand as he tumbled and rolled. He finally slid to a stop and, with shaking arms, struggled to raise himself up. Twice he fell, so punch drunk that he may as well have gone through an entire bar's worth of alcohol. His vision was swimming, but he was able to make out one detail amidst the spinning and the quad-vision he was experiencing. Luffy was stalking towards him with set shoulders. His fists were clenched tight by his side.

Luffy's face was once again shadowed by his hat, "Killing your own crew…playing with her feelings…running from the sea…you're just the kind of Pirate that I hate!" Luffy roared before another bone-breaking kick landed in Kuro's ribs. Usopp was wide eyed. Even he hadn't been able to see him move. One second he had been a dozen feet away, and the next Luffy's foot had been buried in his nemesis. A chill ran down his spine as he realized Luffy had purposefully slowed down to see if any of his crew could see his movements.

Kuro had crashed into a rock and almost shattered it from the latest punt to his side. He writhed on the ground, clenching the wound as he struggled to stand. Blood dribbled from his lips as he fought his way to his knees, "You…why are you fighting? You're a stranger here! Why are you getting involved!?" He got up with sagging shoulders, his coifed appearance utterly destroyed.

Luffy smirked, "I just can't help it ya know. When I see an ass…well I just have to kick it." Kuro growled, even as Luffy lost the smirk and grew serious. "I have a friend here, and I'm not letting him die."

Kuro guffawed and grimaced, a hand flying to his side from the pain the laugh caused, "That's it? You have a friend. What an asinine reason. You're a fool! You're going to die here because you have a friend." Some of the Black Cats had woken up from their impromptu naps by now and they began cheering their Captain on, certain that he was unbeatable. But that only pissed Kuro off, "DON'T CALL ME THAT NAME!" He roared at them, finally losing his patience entirely, "You all still don't understand, do you? The purpose of today was to destroy the name of Kuro forever! I'm sick and tired of making plans for you reckless morons!"

He adjusted his glasses – cracked as they were at this point, "As my name became more and more notorious, the Marines and the bounty hunters kept coming after me! It was really becoming a nuisance! That was why I decided to 'kill' myself! That's why I let that idiot Marine Morgan believe he had captured me!" That almost made the three Strawhats laugh. Of course, Morgan would turn out to be a fraud, if an unwitting one, "What happened that night was essential to my plans! For me to acquire peace and wealth! Do you get it now, kid? I've spent three years of my life on this! I can't fail!" Kuro vanished as Luffy stood there, arms crossed, and head dipped.

Kuro appeared in front of him, claws raised. Luffy didn't even twitch. Kuro sliced straight into Luffy, and still there was no reaction from the teen. Kuro sprang back looking at his claws in shock. Or rather, what was left of his claws. They looked like they had been cut through, though a second glance showed signs of melting. The tips of the blades which hadn't passed through Luffy's body clattered to the floor. "Plans?" Luffy spoke, raising his head and seemingly glaring straight into Kuro's soul, "My dreams are way bigger than your stupid plans!" He vanished and burrowed his heel into Kuro's nose, completely shattering the man's glasses once and for all.

"Gah!" Kuro fell down and rolled, springing back to his feet. But he was incredibly unnerved by the fact that his left claws were just gone. He just didn't understand what could have happened.

His crew tried cheering him on once more, "Captain Kuro! You still have one hand of your cat claws left! You can do it!"

"Hey, don't call him that! Isn't his name in the village Klahadudu or something?"

"Then we'll call him Klaha-san! GO KLAHA-SAN! KILL HIM!"

"Shut up." Kuro said quietly, his beady eyes staring straight at Luffy. His crew went quiet, "After this is done, every single one of you will die!" The eyes of everyone in the clearing widened in shock, "Anyone who knows about me is a risk! I never intended to let you live from the beginning!" He said cruelly. His uniform was scuffed and ripped. His glasses were askew on his face, not that it mattered with their shattered lenses. He was covered in dirt from his dress shoes to his hair. He looked the picture of a faux-classy villain about to have a breakdown.

Luffy started to chuckle and seemingly relaxed, "You Pirates sure are a bunch of losers."

"Losers?" Kuro chortled, "Pirates are just a ragtag group of outcasts. They would never get anywhere without my plans."

Luffy snorted, "You're never going to get anywhere even with your plans, so you're not much better off than they are."

That seemed to piss Kuro right off, "A little idiot brat like you would never understand!" He yelled furiously, "In a Pirate fleet, the crew members are just pawns for the captain to use as he pleases! No matter what wall is in front of them, they have to follow my orders! If that means sacrificing themselves or dying, then that's how it will be! That's the way of Pirates!"

Luffy chuckled. It appeared as if his anger had left him. He looked amused even, "A useless Captain like you couldn't even beat Usopp." He laughed harder at the indignant look of fury on Kuro's face.

Kuro burst into laughter, "That kid, a better Pirate than me? Are you right in the head?" His amusement trailed off as Luffy only laughed harder. A vein popped up on his forehead, and the blood flow from the cut on his forehead increased. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LAUGHING AT?" He roared, "That brat better than me?! Don't get cocky just because you broke my claws you little idiot! In what way am I inferior to him!?" He vanished and appeared behind Luffy, his remaining claw ready to dice him.

Luffy whirled around with that huge grin on his face and backhanded Kuro a dozen meters back, "It's the way you think." Luffy sniggered, "You have no idea what a real Pirate is." He walked forward lazily, "And you're a coward too. I hate people like you." His gaze was still sharp as Kuro struggled to his feet, despite his seeming amusement.

The Black Cats were staring with dropped jaws, "No way! He saw through the Nuki Ashi!"

"A coward?" Kuro hissed dangerously, "I'LL SHOW YOU A COWARD!" He was hunched over, his blades splayed out as he started swaying back and worth, "I'll show you what a real Pirate is!" he hissed, "One who's been on the brink of death and survived!"

The rest of the Black Cats seized up and drew back in terror, "NO CAPTAIN! WE'RE IN YOUR RANGE! DON'T DO IT!"

"SHAKUSHI!" Kuro roared before vanishing once again.

Nami – who was now on the broken deck of the Black Cat's Pirate ship holding a light bag of treasure – stared as two of the enemy Pirates split open in four different locations as Kuro passed by them. She had been using her excellent hearing to keep an 'eye' on the battle, even as she collected the meagre treasures of the enemies. Now, she watched and strained her eyes, trying to see Kuro.

And much to her rather morbid mixture of pleasure and disgust, she succeeded. Kuro was nowhere near as fast as Luffy was, even when he was purposefully being slow. She could see a black blur attacking everything that it came close to. "The idiot can't see anything." She snickered in dark amusement as she came to that realization.

Zoro was having an even easier time than Nami was. The blur he saw was much more defined, and he could even see the blades. He drew his swords with a roar of, "Tora Gari!" Blood flashed through the air as Kuro dropped to the ground and howled in agony. Two deep slices had appeared on his chest and were gushing blood. He turned his fall into a roll and vanished once more. Another of his crew members was sliced open and his blood landed on Luffy's cheek.

Luffy's face was as thunderous as the blackest clouds, "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOUR CREW IS!" He vanished and the next thing anyone else saw was his fist absolutely warping Kuro's face as if it was made of rubber. Luffy followed through with the hit and slammed Kuro into the ground head first. He lifted his fist from Kuro's face and drew back once more, before unloading another devastating punch. The rock they were standing on cratered once, twice, before exploding upward in a plume of dirt.

The enemy Pirates watched anxiously as the dirt fell and waiting for the plume of smoke to dissipate. When it did, a furious-looking Luffy stood there over a defeated Kuro. "NO WAY! HE BEAT THE CAPTAIN!" The Black Cats cried half in elation and half in terror, "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?"

Luffy snorted as he walked back towards his crew, Usopp, and Kaya, "My name is Monkey D. Luffy, and there's no way I'd lose to a coward who gave up his name and ran from the sea." He turned to face them, his Devil Fruit making his eyes burn golden, "The only time a Pirate should ever give up his name is when he dies!" He put his hat back on his head and that massive grin split his face, "You better remember that name! I'm the one who is going to become the Pirate King!" The jaws of every enemy Pirate there – and Usopp and Kaya – dropped to the floor.

Nami came over with a smile and hugged his side. His arm wrapped around her waist, "Nice job Luffy."

"Shishishi." He laughed cheerfully, before freezing, and going blank-faced. Slowly, a wide grin split his face, "Hey Nami…"

"Hmm?" She backed up and looked at him curiously, "What is it?"

"None of us have a bounty yet, right?" His grin was infectious as the light bulb pinged in Nami's mind. All three Strawhats turned and looked at Kuro's body with vicious smirks on their faces.

-]|[-

During the battle, the three little kids had shown up, armed and ready to 'fight.' Instead, they watched in awe as Luffy effortlessly dispatched Kuro, "Wow…so that's a real Pirate?" Their eyes were sparkling.

Usopp – who was sitting by them with Kaya – began to sputter indignantly, "Real Pirate? Are you making fun of me?" His eyes were bulging out and he had shark teeth. Kaya giggled. Usopp settled down and looked at the sky before chuckling. The blood on his face had dried by now, but he still looked a little scary to the innocent in the vicinity, "Anyway, would you guys mind keeping this a secret?"

"WHAT?" The three kids exploded, "BUT CAPTAIN…!"

"But Usopp…" Kaya looked shocked, and she reached for his arm, "We have to fix this misunderstanding! Merry shot you and the villagers beat you up! You could be this town's hero!"

Usopp shook his head with a sardonic grin, "Nah, I'm the same liar that I've always been." He fell back and stared at the clouds, "There's no way Pirates would be interested in a quiet little town like this. We don't need to frighten any of them." He sat back up, "It was just another lie…" He grinned sheepishly, "I won't force it on you guys of course, but…"

"NO!" Tamanegi yelled, "If that's what's best for the village, then that's what's best for the village!"

"Yeah!" Ninjin yelled too, clutching his little fists together.

"We won't tell a soul!" Piiman confirmed.

"Usopp…" Kaya looked at him for a moment, before smiling in resigned defeat, "Okay, I won't say anything either." She got up, "Luffy, Zoro, Nami!" She called, wiping a little bit of sweat from her brow, "You all are welcome to stay at the mansion for a little while!" The three Pirates looked surprised, so she put on her best sly grin, "After all, we still have business to discuss, don't we?" The three Strawhats grinned in elation. Luffy made sure to grab Kuro and sling him over his shoulder after Nami had hogtied him so thoroughly that the madman wouldn't be able to twitch so much as a pinky.

If he woke up that is.

The rest of the Black Cats grabbed a lifeboat and fled after a glare from Luffy and Zoro, leaving the defeated leaders of their crew behind.

-]|[-

Usopp groaned as he woke up, feeling something on his face. He sat up and cracked his back, before turning and staring at his visitor in surprise, "Kaya! What are you doing here?" He paused, before stuttering, "N-not that I don't like seeing you. A-a-and it is your house." He started blubbering, and the girl in question giggled behind her hand.

"Oh Usopp…" She smiled brilliantly at him, "How are you feeling? That cut looked really bad."

Usopp puffed out his chest with a smirk full of bravado, "Oh that was nothing! A small wound like that could never take down the mighty Captain Usopp."

She giggled again, before staring at him with a sad smile, "You're leaving with them, aren't you?"

Usopp's smile dropped and he stared at her in shock. For a moment at least. He looked down with a sad smile of his own, "You here to try to stop me?"

Her hand came to rest on his own, and unknown to him, she was blushing as brightly as she was, "No." She said, "I even considered joining you." His face snapped up in shock, and her finger rested on his lips, silencing him, "Considered…and I'm sure Luffy wouldn't really mind." She sighed sadly, "But even though I shot…Kla…Kla…Kuro…I still don't like violence."

"Violence?" Usopp blinked, reluctantly somewhat relieved, "I thought that you would have been more worried about your health."

Tears began streaming from her eyes, "It's been a few days…" She whispered, "We were going through Kuro's things…" She started to sob outright. With bravery he didn't know he had, Usopp scooped her into his arms and held her tightly. Her arms wrapped around his neck and he felt his shirt become wet with her tears. They stayed like that for a few minutes, before she raised her head again, "We found that…the spices he gave the cooks… On their own, they were harmless…even tasty…but when he mixed them with a seasoning…they turned into a weak poison." Usopp's heart was in his throat and the blood was pounding in his ear. He almost got up, furious enough to go rip Kuro apart with his bare hands, but she held him down, likely knowing what he was thinking. And Usopp would never harm her, even in a rage like this, "It was weak…all it really did was weaken our immune systems." She said, "It didn't outright harm us at all, but it left us feeling weak and depressed. Even before he showed up, I got sick often…no one suspected a thing." She sighed, her tears dried out. She had promised herself she wouldn't cry today…that she had cried herself out…but the thought of her parents dying to their illnesses…

It was really too much, "That bastard." Usopp growled hoarsely, "I'll kill him!"

She shook her head, "He's not worth dirtying your hands, Usopp. Promise me you'll leave it to the Marines… He'll see justice for what he did."

Usopp wanted to lie…he really did…but he couldn't, "Okay."

Her head dropped into his neck and she snuggled into him, "Even though I want to go with you…even though I want to sail again…to be with friends… I would probably just drag you all down." A single tear fell from her eyes and landed on Usopp's hand.

"Kaya…I'll miss you…so much!" Usopp croaked.

"I will too…" She pulled back, a very much…not-Kaya smile on her face, "So I'll just have to make sure you never forget me…and that you know you can always come back…" Her head descended and Usopp's eyes went wide in shock.

Her lips felt heavenly, Usopp decided, feeling almost as if he was drunk with elation. He kissed the beautiful blonde back, and let himself fall back on the bed, dragging Kaya with him.

-]|[-

"It's a caravel!" Nami clapped her hands happily. Luffy had this silly look of excitement on his face with his mouth wide open and his eyes literally sparkling, while even Zoro was standing there and smirking appreciatively. Kaya stood next to them, her hands clasped in front of her with a happy smile on her face.

Luffy grinned at Zoro, "Told you we'd get a huge ship!" Zoro snorted in response.

Merry stood there in front of the ship. He was a vaguely goat-like man with a bandage covering his forehead, "I've been waiting for you all!" He said with a smile, "Thank you for all of your help." He gave them a quick bow before straightening, "She's a bit of an older style, but she still sails like a dream. I designed her myself." He said cheerfully, "She's called The Going Merry. The controls are in the back."

"Can we really have this?" Luffy was looking at it in awe.

"Of course." Kaya giggled, "I insist, actually."

Merry had walked up to Luffy, "So you're the one who beat those Black Cats…I thought you'd be bigger." He chuckled at Luffy's utter indifference to anything but the ship for the moment, "Anyway, I will explain the steering system. First of all, in order to adjust the yards in relation to the crew garnet…"

Luffy was paying literally no attention whatsoever. Nami sweatdropped, "You better tell me instead, Merry. I'm the crew's navigator." She giggled at Luffy's childlike excitement as he jumped up to the ship's deck and sat on the sheepshead figurehead.

Kaya yelled up at him, "I had it fully loaded! It's the least we could do for all your help." She accepted a hug from the hyperactive Captain with a giggle after he jumped back down.

"AHHHHHHH!" They all twitched and looked up at the hill, where Usopp was hauling a massive backpack. He probably fit his house in that thing. Well, it would be more accurate to say the bag was hauling him, "SOMEONE STOP ME!" He yelled hysterically as he rolled down the hill, getting burrowed into the dirt every time the bag rolled over him.

"Usopp!" Kaya squeaked in shock.

"Hey, what's he doing?" Luffy asked in befuddlement.

Zoro scratched his ear, "Well, whatever it is, we should probably stop him before he hits the ship." He got shoulder-to-shoulder with Luffy and they both stuck their feet out. Usopp rolled into their feet, face first. Only his nose escaped punishment, sticking out between the two shoes.

"Th…thanks." Usopp croaked, before taking off his bag and getting back to his feet. He brushed himself off, before looking at Kaya with a wide smile, "I'm leaving Kaya…" He said somewhat quietly.

She closed her eyes and smiled, "I know." She opened them and beamed at him, "You'll just have to make sure to have plenty of stories for me when you return!"

They stared at each other, trying not to tear up. "Ehh…fuck it." Usopp mumbled, before jumping forward and scooping Kaya into his arms for one last kiss, which she happily returned. Everyone else stared at the scene with dropped jaws.

"U-Usopp! You cad! Unhand the ojousama!" Merry squeaked.

"G-'way Mrry." Kaya pulled back just long enough to mumble, before returning to their kiss.

Zoro and Luffy snickered, "Didn't think he had it in him." The green-haired man mumbled.

Nami grabbed both of their ears and directed them to the Going Merry, "Come on you two, leave the lovebirds alone." Her own face was a little red.

Usopp finally pulled back, and they shared one last bittersweet smile, "Get going, Honorable Usopp." Kaya smiled bravely, trying to hold back tears.

Usopp's own face mirrored hers, "I'll make sure to bring back a bunch of stories for next time…" He turned away resolutely and marched away. He waved up at the three Strawhats as he started packing his things into his own little dinghy, "Well, have a safe voyage guys! I'm sure we'll meet again someday!"

"What are you talking about?" Luffy frowned at Usopp.

"Sheesh, how cold! We're both going to be Pirates, aren't we? We might meet again on the high seas!"

Zoro rolled his eyes, "Just get on already, you moron."

"Huh?" Usopp stood there, wide-eyed for whatever reason. It left most of them feeling a little confused. How in the world did he not see that coming?

"I told you I wanted you as my sniper, didn't I?" Luffy snickered as he stared down at the stunned Usopp, "You're already a Nakama!"

Usopp stood there is shock, before breaking out into a wide grin, "I…I'M THE CAPTAIN!" Usopp cried as he leapt forward, almost forgetting his huge bag.

"IDIOT! I'M THE CAPTAIN!"

On the Going Merry, the three companions clinked their glasses together, commemorating both their new ship and their newest crewmember.

As the ship sailed away, Kaya looked on, both in happiness and in sadness. She had found friends of her own and was forced to give them up. It was such a bittersweet moment… But she would never regret it for a moment, she knew, "It…it hurts to lie." She whispered, but Merry heard her all the same.

Had they not kissed, he would have though she was referring to Klahadore. But after that scene, he knew better, "You didn't want him to leave, did you?"

Her head dipped, "Either that…or I wanted to sail with him."

Merry sighed, "I heard a story about Usopp from the villagers…" Her head turned to him in expectation, "He first started to lie when his mother became sick… He lost his mother right after his father left the village." He had a gentle smile of reminiscence on his face, "'The Pirates are coming!' He told her, 'Dad's coming to take us to sea as soon as you get better mom!'" A single tear had to be wiped away from her eye, "She just laughed, even in the pain she was in. Told him that she knew he wasn't coming…that she was still proud of having married him…that she wished she could see Usopp when he became as brave as his father… Lie after lie, he told her, hoping that she wouldn't leave him as well…and later he continued to lie, hoping against hope that one day, it would come true…that he would see his father's ship on the horizon!" He turned to her, "He could never leave you alone after you lost your parents…for he had experienced the same loss."

Kaya wiped her tears away and smiled at the horizon, "I'll have to get stronger…so that one day when he comes back, I'll be able to leave with him." She got up with bravado all over her face, "I've decided Merry!" The wind blew, and her hair floated gently in the breeze, "The next time I see Usopp…I'll be a doctor!" She turned and walked away from the dock, going back to her home.

He chuckled and followed, "An excellent choice, ojousama."

Up on the cliffs, three children watched as their best friend sailed away with tears dripping from their eyes. Watching him leave hurt, and they knew they would need something to remember him by. They steeled themselves, and set off running back towards the village, "PIRATES ARE COMING! PIRATES ARE COMING!"

-]|[-

Night had now fallen, and Nami was laying down in her new bed. She should have been happy…relaxed. She should have been luxuriating in something this comfy…in the fact that she now had a shower and bath whenever she wanted. She should have been happy.

But she wasn't. The lingering soreness in her back and in her legs reminded her of her semi-defeat by scumbags who she had no business losing to. And her blood was pounding in her ears as she heard the laugh, 'Shahahaha!'

She clenched her fists and bit her lip as she began to tremble in rage, 'SHAHAHAHAHAHA!' She had a great crew, and she had wonderful friends. She wanted to sail with them forever, and she would never be able to do that if she remained weak! If she remained under Arlong's thumb! He had promised to set her village free if she gave him 100,000,000 Beli, but she knew it was a lie.

She had always known it was a lie.

She had only been deluding herself because she had no hope. Arlong didn't have a ship anymore. He had used his ship to build Arlong Park. It was his base…his command post. There was no way he would ever abandon it. 'SHAHAHAHAHAHA!'

She never had hope before. Not until she met Luffy. And now it was here, and it wasn't going away. Luffy hadn't even used his Devil Fruit against Kuro of a Thousand Plans, a man worth only four million Beli less than Arlong himself. Hell, he hadn't even tried in the fight. Hope was a foreign emotion, but it was one that filled her being to the brim now. The pounding in her ears was gone, replaced by a tranquil determination. She surged up, basking in the feeling.

She didn't even need to get dressed, having still been wearing her clothes from the earlier party. She grabbed her staff and marched out of her room and up towards the deck. She almost slammed the door open but held back. She grabbed a long pipe that was secured to the wall right before the door and then walked out onto the deck.

There he was, sitting without a care in the world on the ship's figurehead, "Luffy!" She called up at him.

Luffy's ears quirked as he spun on the figurehead and then leapt down to join her on the deck, "Nami? I thought you went to bed already." His eyes widened, and his hand jerked forward to catch his pipe, "Nami?" He asked in confusion.

"We're going to train!" Nami said, determination pouring from her, "And don't you dare hold back!" She declared as she took her combat stance.

Slowly, a grin rose up on his face. He raised his pipe and vanished.

CLACK!

-]|[-

Here we are, the revised chapter III. Not much of anything changed here; mostly just grammar and spelling errors. There was a little bit of expansion done to some conversations and a little bit done to the fights. I was REALLY sparing with some of the details in these earlier chapters, I've found. I tried to bring it up to my current level of quality.

My reasoning for Luffy still being hypnotized remains the same; While he's more mature and a bit more intelligent than his canon counterpart, he can still be pretty simple-minded at times. Part of hypnotism is being susceptible to suggestion, and Luffy hasn't awakened his Haoshoku yet.

Copied from V1

Kuro gets beaten like the bitch that he is!

Usopp gets some fucking nookie!

Luffy starts teaching his crew more things, and Nami's decided to take her tragedy into her own hands!

One of these things is not like the others~

So, this was what I eventually decided on for Kaya. It wasn't what held the chapter up for so long, but it was still something that I went back and forth on during the delay from the last chapter to this one. In the end, I decided not to include her in the crew. Maybe for another story. This one is the more 'serious' one after all.

Now, I'm probably going to get at least some comments on how Nami was able to use a very rudimentary Soru so soon. Why did I decide to make it that easy? It's simple, I believe it really IS that easy. It's believed that Soru is the easiest, most rudimentary technique in the Rokushiki line-up of moves. Basically, everyone and their grandmother has Soru or some knockoff/copy these days. Kuro himself had a very shitty version of it. Coby was able to get it working fairly well after only a few months, and that was after he lost all his chub, which probably didn't happen overnight. Nami and Zoro especially are already very fit, and as you saw with Nami, it still fucking hurt to perform. It'll still be a while before she masters it, though she'll definitely have it up and running quickly.