Summary: Despite the efforts of Garp, Luffy's heritage became known to the World Govt. With Sabo trapped with his parents, and Bluejam stealing Luffy for the Nobles, Ace knows what he has to do. Gray Terminal isn't the only thing that burns that night. Eventual Red Hair Pirate ASL cabin-boys.

A/N: This chapter is a bit para and drama heavy, as it builds the starting point for the story.

Children Of The Sun

There are rats here. Unlike the ones that roam Gray Terminal and Edge Town, these ones are fat and well fed. Their eyes glowed red from the candlelight, the flickering flame making shadows over the cellars cold stonework. He had learned that their gluttonous forms were not just from wasted food, but from preying on those already down on their luck. They watched the world like hawks, swarming any poor soul that came between them and their interests.

Biting and scratching him and each other, they fought and squealed over the meager meal that was left for him before he could barely get his first bite.

Luffy hates them. Hates them and the rats wearing clothes that live in the floors above. Stomach groaning in dismay and teeth ground shut, the boy clutches his straw hat protectively to his head; he doesn't trust the rats won't try and eat it, to. Still, he doesn't cry, doesn't sob despite the wetness in his eyes and the snot in his nose.

Earlier in the day, he'd had all sort of rats visit him. Rats in nice clothes, rats with friendly smiles and cruel words, rats who spit at him, rats who stretched his cheeks and fingers and laughed. Through Luffy's own anger and aggressive words back, he'd learned they thought he was a dragon's son.

"Stupid bastard! If I was a dragon I'd burn you to a crisp with my firebreath!"

That had earned him a couple hits.

Soon, he thinks, Ace would save him. He's save him, and then they'd save Sabo from his parents, and then they'd be free and together again. They'd run away from Goa and they'd become pirates together, and maybe even Luffy would let Ace and Sabo take turns being Captain. If all that meant Luffy had to endure all kinds of rats in luxury, then he'd do it. There would be time to cry after.

That's what he tells himself, assures himself of, as he sits wide awake as a prisoner of High Towns Royal Family.


Ace never should never have worked for Bluejam. He was angry, tormented, lost with Sabo gone. He was desperate for something, anything that might bring them closer to seeing him again, to saving him. Working for Bluejam made it somewhat safer for them to linger and lurk around Edge Town without the pirates and guards giving them hell. If there was any chance that Sabo would break free again and come looking for them, Ace wanted to be nearby so he could help him.

So consumed by his own grief and bargaining, Ace had been endangering (and as it turned out, damned) all that he had left. Luffy. His goofy, far too optimistic and forgiving little brother. The strawhat boy had objected to the agreement with Bluejam, but still went through with it because he trusted Ace to protect him. How could Luffy trust him to do that with undying faith, when he'd already failed to protect Sabo?

He's astounded that he can think clearly enough to comprehend all this, through the rage consuming his whole being and fueling him now. Bloody and beaten, the ten year old claws his fingers through the dirt as he clenches his fist and grasps onto his anger. He needs it, relies on in it, uses it to pull himself to his knees and climbs to his feet.

Bluejam made a mistake, not finishing him off himself. The cockroach of a human had been laughing and tormenting him with his little brother's screams as the pirate's crew bashed Ace's head in. A head and skull which he notes, with vision still swimming as and his hand gingerly touches the back of it, was matted with blood. So Bluejams crew had held back, or at the very least underestimated the force needed to break a head as thick as his.

Between the blood on his hands and that thought, Gol D. Rodger's living legacy began to crack. Brokenly, hysterically he heaves, the brief self-loathing sound breaking off with a burning growl. No. He doesn't have time for this. Doesn't have time for a pity party and angst. The sun is still in the sky, its not yet dusk, and the doors to Edge Town will still be open. He needs to move. Needs to clear the wall, needs to make it through the city to the second wall and into High Town. Then. Then maybe he can recuperate, can rest until evening, and until he can find and free Sabo. Then they can make a plan, find and save Luffy.

Just wait a little bit. Sabo, Luffy.


His father lied- Ace and Luffy were...!

"Damn it!"

Sabo should have run away again as soon as he had the chance. Sure, he and his brothers could never return to Goa's streets or Gray Terminal again, but at least they'd be together in the mountains. Depending on how determined his father's lackeys were, the natural dangers of the tropical forest would be enough to shield them from all but the most suicidal. They'd be safer there.

Safe. Free. Together.

Luffy wouldn't a prisoner of the Royal Family, and Ace...

Ace. He didn't even know if his brash, jaded, passionate brother was still alive.

"I- I don't know! He just talked about the rubber kid- I don't know about anyone else!"

Stelly's terrified blubbering returns to him, the interrogation having drawn little more than what the groomed noble had bragged to him. It had been too tempting for his father- no, he need to stop calling him that. It was too tempting for Outlook to sweep in and snatch the only valuable thing among Gray Terminal before it was burned to the ground. For some reason, that was his goofy, loud, sensitive baby brother. Something had happened to make Luffy a valuable pawn for the nobles, valuable enough that the Royal Family was willing and eager to secure him in their castle walls.

Now Sabo, who had failed to escape before the city gates were sealed, was locked once more in the Outlooks' cellar. The welts and bruises forming on his skin were a welcome distraction from the agony of his heart, from the tears that would no longer come. Trapped in his cage, he had time to compose himself. Time to collect and think about what (if anything) he could do now.

There was no way he could stay here anymore. Not any longer than was necessary to save Luffy. Ace... If Ace was still alive, then there would be no keeping him from breaching Goa's walls one day in search of them both. If that was the case, Sabo would have to be strong for them both, would need to find out as much as he could about the castle's layout and plan their grand escape.

...even if Ace couldn't come, Sabo would need to plan that. He had to. He had to save Luffy- had to let him know he hadn't been forgotten or abandoned. Even more so if Ace was... gone.

Don't mourn him you idiot. You don't know what happened- for all you know he could be outside your window now, wondering why you're not there ready to break out.

The thought is sobering, and with it his dry sobs fully subside. Yes, he needed to suck it up, needed to stop blubbering and start being proactive.

But to do that...

"F-Father-? I- I'm sorry. I'm ready to come out now."

The words make his stomach roll, but he swallows back the bile and his pride. For now, he had a role to play. It was the only way he could get back to his room, could move about freely and study his maps of Goa and the seas of East Blue- because once they had escaped, there was no doubt in his mind that to the sea their freedom laid. There would be no peace here, not in Gray Terminal, not in the mountains, not in Foosha... Not after shaming the Royal Family so close to the Tennryubito visit.

Footsteps thud down the stairs above him, Outlook making his approach. Steeling himself once more, the outcast noble prepares himself for humiliation and more repulsive lies.

Soon, Luffy. Be strong for us.


Resting, Ace muses with dry cough as a stench fills his nose, had been the best idea he'd had all day.

It had been something of a miracle, the preteen making it through first guarded gate with nothing but a mad dash. Perhaps his bloodied state and battle-cry had startled the heartless men to freeze, his own eyes a nightmare to behold. When they did finally give chase, it was far too late, his rapid footsteps carrying him through the labyrinth of Edge Town like a wisp.

Nothing would stop him, countless pedestrians jostled and fleeing his path lest they meet a similar fate to those who tried to block him. Not soon enough, Ace was able to scale the buildings and take to the rooftops. There, he could move unhindered, leaping and skidding across broken tiles and aging balconies. He has several close calls, slipping and miss-stepping with waves of dizzines, but as he travels closer to High Town the rooftops grow more stable and maintained. It becomes easier to keep his footing, and despite the increasing gaps between buildings, he was able to make the flying leaps far more comfortably than before. If only his head would stop throbbing, he'd be completely set.

Breaking into High Town itself required he leave the rooftops behind, at least momentarily, and break through another towering gate. Goa's second set of walls divided the kingdom even further, home to the noble lineages, and thus the guards were far more selective of who enter. Pausing only long enough to catch his breath and let his hammering heart remain in his chest, he flings himself down, landing himself as close as possible before charging.

These guards put up far more fight. They're accustom to rift-raft making such bolts to or from the prestigious upper town, and so are ready with their batons as soon as they catch the flash of movement.

Ace doesn't have time to fight them, not as they call out to close the gates. To grown mens astonishment the he just keeps charging towards them, making no effort to slip around or avoid confrontation. Their stances wide and arms swinging down to beat him, Ace drops down at the last second, momentum sliding him under and between their legs. He feels his matted hair brushed as he makes the move, his vision blurring from vertigo, and its on slightly shaky feet that he resumes his mad dash past High Town's gate. Several other guards made feeble attempts to grab and hit him, but were unprepared: their arrogance had gotten the better of them, believing two of their own would be enough.

Shouts of angry men and distressed women echo behind him, Ace bolts for the first alleyway he can, climbing and hopping the brick divide with ease as his pursuers curse and gawk. They scurry away, hoping to cut him off on the other side, but once they are out of sight Ace catches his breath and looks to the roofs.

Its a little tricky this time, but nothing his life in Mt. Corvo hasn't prepared him for. Even so fatigue has caught up with him, his athletic stunts bringing the pain in his skull to the forefront of his mind. Suddenly, he just can't get enough air in his lungs, and his legs shake from the effort of standing. Having reached some point of safety, knowing the fools of guards would be too busy scrambling farther into High Town in search for him here, right by the wall, Ace's adrenaline tapers off.

Its okay though, because the first part of his plan was complete.

I'm here...

Collapsing onto the flat surface of the rooftop patio, Ace doesn't get to linger on his small victory long before his breathing evens and he falls asleep.


That was hours ago.

Coughing as a foul odor persists, Ace rubs the sleep from his eyes and gives his skull another gentle prodding. A flinch confirms it is still tender, but the blood in his hair and skin was fully dry. The rest had done him good, his head clearer and the pain nothing more than a dull, annoying buzz. In all honesty he'd probably still be sleeping if that smell hadn't woken him up. In a way, he should be thankfully for it; although sky was still dark he could see the orange hues of dawn. He'd slept through the whole damn night. Only, it looked a little weird. He'd watched many sunrises in his young life, and never before had the night sky been so black and gold...

As a fresh whiff of smell hits him, he chokes again, eyes watering as snow begins to fall among him. As the flakes hit his skin, he blinks and frowns in genuine confusion as it doesn't melt, and so he touches it, his finger smearing the grey speck into soot.

Then it hits him like the pipe that had bashed his head, and he turns.


"Those bastards-!"

He knew it was coming. Knew he'd been an unwitting pawn it its setup, knew it was going to happen tonight.

Seeing it for himself was far more horrifying than simply knowing.

From the hill rising High Town above the rest of Goa Kingdom, and the castle above that, all of the nobles and royalty had a cozy view of the sea of flames licking over the wall of Gray Terminal. The sky was thick with black smoke, the blaze reflecting off it's toxic, mournful clouds that burn the air above and rain ash on the city. It was if all the fear, anger and despair of those living in the land of trash were making one last ditch effort to curse and spit at the kingdom that gleefully damned them. Crying ashes to blacken the homes and streets, to match the hearts of the people who lived there.

It had begun.

Ace had been a part of it. Made Luffy a part of it. Part of the dirtywork that Sabo had sacrificed his freedom to save them from.

He doesn't realize he's scratching himself where the spot of soot soiled him, blunt nails tearing into skin and desperately trying to save himself and reason with the roaring voices from beyond the walls. Accusing, cursing and damning him for ever being born. For killing them all.

I didn't know...! I'm sorry...! I- I didn't know-!

He really didn't deserve to live. Not after this.

No- no! It isn't my fault. It isn't. It's-

The nobles.

They still have Sabo. They still have Luffy.

Even if he himself didn't deserve to live, and even if it was his fault they were now prisoners, his brothers had every right to live free. They wanted him to live, to, and so for them... for them...

For them, he needed to focus and move.

Sparing the inferno one last glance, he offers the people of Gray Terminal a small prayer.

"I'm sorry... I can't make it up to you. But I can try."

Then Ace takes off into the night, leaping of rooftops towards the Outlook estate.