Disclaimer: One Piece belongs to Eiichiro Oda. Any other none original concept belongs to their respective owners.

Chapter Three: The Tempest

After seeing that Kaya wouldn't calm down as long as they stayed there, Usopp and Merry decided to take her back to her home. Because of the serious atmosphere, Nami had to bite back her teasing words when Usopp just scooped her up in his arms like a princess and Kaya just continued to cry into his chest. A 'not now' shake of Usopp's head also stopped Merry from protesting and he had to settle with looks of disapproval as he followed behind them.

Nami approached Luffy with a small smile on her face. "That counter plan of yours went without a hitch. How did you know Kuro would be coming here to check what was happening after seeing the village not being attacked?"

Luffy smirked a bit and shrugged his shoulders. "Truthfully, I wasn't completely sure but that was the most likely scenario considering that the pirate raid was a crucial part of plans," he said a bit sheepishly before chuckling. "On any case, I'm pretty sure that if he hadn't come and basically admitted to his plans, seeing them ruined would have inevitably ended in him showing his true colors to Kaya one way or another. I'm just glad things played out like this."

Nami nodded in agreement. "Yeah. Me too. I'm truly sorry for Kaya but in this case, a broken heart from someone that was never loyal to her in the first place is many times better than being murdered just to satisfy that same someone's cowardly greed, as you put it," she said with a sad and understanding undertone before she shook her head. "What are we going to do now?"

Luffy looked at her seriously for a moment before sighing. He knew that there was a deeper meaning to her words but he was going to be patient and let her decide on her own to share her troubles with him. "The first thing we need to do is clean is this mess up. Nina can eat the bodies and tonight's rising tide will wash up the blood. Kuro, Jango and the Nyanban Brothers have a combined bounty of thirty-two million beri. I'm going to cash it in. I just hope I don't get too much trouble what with Kuro having being barely recognizable now," he said and chuckled sheepishly at the end before rubbing his chin in a pondering fashion. "Maybe we can make use of their ship as well…"

Nami's body froze and her mind went blank when she heard about the bounty. When her brain finally rebooted, the first thing that went through her mind was this. 'Thirty-two million beri… we had forty-five million after cashing in Buggy's bounty… That would put us at seventy-seven million… three million short of what I managed to get just on my own ever since I started to gather the one hundred million to buy Cocoyashi from Arlong… in less than a month…' If she hadn't been there to see it this whole time, she would have called bullshit.

Luffy noticed her frozen state and got a worried look on his face as he started to snap his fingers in front of her face. "Oi! Nami! You alright?"

Nami blinked a few times before she regained all her mental faculties back. Her face got a little pink when she realized how close Luffy was to her. She made no move to pull back though. "I will take the ship back to where we anchored it when we arrived yesterday. Merry-san did manage to get a good look at it before I told them what was happening here and he said he will be ready to start working as soon as you and Zoro tell him what you would like added."

Luffy pulled back, smile and nodded at her. He seemingly didn't notice her slight disappointment. "Alright. I just really want a proper hammock other than the overall modifications to the ship. I'm pretty sure that whatever Zoro would want would be related to training space and his drinking. Also, we have to ask Usopp what he wants since he is a part of the crew too."

Nami adopted an amused expression as she shook her head. "I still can't believe you recruited him."

Luffy tilted his head to the side. "Why?"

Nami shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. He just doesn't look the type to be a pirate, I guess."

Luffy nodded his head without hesitation before smirking and crossing his arms. "That might be true but I just saw the guy kill ten men with ten bullets, all of them perfect headshots, with flintlock pistol at a distance of more than a hundred meters. And his dream is to become a pirate and find and give his father, who's a member of the pirate crew of a Yonko, and deck him across the face. He's actually the kind of guy I want in my crew. I don't care how he looks."

Nami couldn't help what she blurted out next. "Then why do you want me in your crew?" Her eyes widened when she realized what she just asked and when she saw that his expression turned serious as he focused on her, she looked away in a slightly bashful display. "As far as you are aware, my only motivation was to get one hundred million beri and thanks to you I have achieved that. Why would you want to keep me around?" As she asked this, Nami couldn't bring herself to look at him.

"Because I don't think your goal was to simply gather a hundred million beri, Nami," he said seriously and he smiled when she turned towards him with wide and surprised eyes. "I remember you said that you needed the money. Not that you wanted it. I think your real goal requires you having that money. I can't possibly imagine for what you would need that much… but someone willing to go that far to reach her goals is certainly someone I want by my side."

'My freedom. The freedom of my people. Not hating myself. Not hating my own dream anymore,' was what Nami thought when Luffy said that he couldn't imagine what she would need one hundred beri for. She closed her eyes to prevent tears for falling down when she heard she also the type of people he wanted by her side. If he only knew the truth…

"You know you can tell me anything, right? That you can ask me to do anything for you?" Her eyes widened when she heard his serious voice and she was mesmerized by the smile he had on his face as he put a supportive hand on her shoulder. "You are my navigator, Nami. A precious member of my crew. If you need anything, whatever it is, you only have to ask."

Nami had to swallow some saliva to wet her suddenly dry throat. "… I don't want you to get hurt!" She immediately cursed herself for saying that.

Luffy filled that in for later consideration and decided to reassure her. "I know it's not your fault for thinking that and you don't know how much it means to me that you worry about me," he said meaningfully as he squeezed Nami's shoulder tenderly. He then smirked at her and pointed at himself with the thumb of his free hand. "I have been deliberately holding back most of what I can actually do. I put myself some limits to my abilities for as long as I stayed in East Blue. If I can't become the top dog on these seas only using the Rokushiki and my base physical abilities then I won't consider myself worthy of sailing the Grand Line."

Nami's breath hitched at his words and she looked at him like she was seeing him for the first time. "… what are you trying to tell me, Luffy?"

"That there's no one in all the East Blue that can even hope to be a threat to me."

He said so with so much confidence and sureness that Nami was shook to her very core. And she felt that she could actually believe him. Not only was he not boasting but she saw him defeat Alvida and her pirates without using the Rokushiki techniques. Her eyes widened. Now that she thought about it, she had only seen Luffy use to Rokushiki to show them to her and Zoro so they could visualize what they were trying to accomplish with their training.

Other than Soru, which was the easiest and first one you had to learn, she had never seen Luffy use the other techniques to win his fights. While he said that he used Shigan, it had been to kill Morgan which meant that he had defeated him without using it in the first place. Other than that, he didn't use them against Buggy nor against Kuro…

Luffy's smirk widened when he saw the realization appearing on her face. "So… are you going to tell me?"

Nami stared at him for a few moments before she slowly shook her head in the negative. "I… can you give me a few more days, please?" She pleaded him. It was one thing to realize that the possible solution to he troubles was standing right in front her and a completely different one to actually consider it as an actual possibility. Subconsciously, Nami always knew that getting one hundred million beri wouldn't assure her that a scumbag like Arlong would sell her back Cocoyashi for that amount. That was why…

Luffy squeezed her shoulder tenderly once again and he smiled softly at her. "For as long as you need, Nami, I'll wait. I will always be here for you."

Nami couldn't resist the urge any longer and she threw herself at Luffy, wrapping her arms tightly around his muscular torso and burying her face into his solid chest as she began to lightly sob. Luffy kept the smile on his face as he returned her hug just as tightly before pressing his chin against the top of her head.

"Thank you… Captain."

As her muffled words, Luffy couldn't help but widen his smile. "Any time, Nami. Any time…"


Usopp was at a loss right now.

He, alongside Merry, had brought Kaya back to her home with the hope of calming her down but she was still crying unconsolably. Because she had refused to let go of him, he had been forced (not that he minded, really) to stay with her inside her room. Even though Merry obviously disapproved, one look at the crying Kaya clinging to him like a lifeline had been enough to convince him that sending Usopp away wasn't exactly the best idea at the moment.

Merry had left the two of them alone after sending Usopp a warning look. Since Kaya was obviously undisposed right now, it fell to him dealing with the fallout of Klahadore/Kuro's betrayal. Since he also had the incoming responsibility of modifying a ship, he knew that he couldn't waste any time on that.

Usopp knew for a fact that he wasn't good at consoling people, much less women that were sad and heartbroken. The fact that he had turned to lying to try and comfort his mother about his father's abandonment spoke by itself. He also wasn't very good with words. So, as he sat on Kaya's bed with her sitting across his lap and crying into his chest, he just wrapped his arms tightly around her and held her.

Eventually, Kaya ran out of tears and slightly calmed down to the point that she was just constantly sobbing and sniffling. Usopp could feel that the upper part of his overalls was soaked with her tears, snot and saliva after all her crying against his chest but he didn't mind in the slightest. Being there for Kaya when she needed was way more important than getting his clothes ruined after all.

"You… you must think… that… I am an idiot… and a horrible… person, right?" Softly spoke Kaya, her sobs and sniffles making her pause here and there against her will.

Her words greatly shocked Usopp and he jerked back as he looked down at her with wide eyes. "What?!"

Kaya also raised her head and Usopp could see that both her eyes and her face were red and swollen because of her crying. "I… let myself be fooled… by Klaha… no… by Kuro… for all these years…" She paused and her face contorted into an expression of self-disgust and self-hatred before she continued. "And then… I barely hesitated… to kill him… after I found out… about his… true intentions…"

Usopp didn't need to be good with words to immediately deny the validity of those claims. "Of course not, Kaya!" He shouted vehemently and he smiled gently at her when she looked at him with widened eyes. "Kuro fooled everyone here, not only you. And if you are a horrible person for taking justice into your hands against the one that killed your parents, then I am ten times as horrible for killing the men that were going to raid the village!"

Usopp was paying attention as well when he heard Luffy say that the reason behind your actions were just as, if not more so, than your actual actions.

Kaya knew that if she had any more tears to cry, they would have started a new at Usopp's words. Her face scrunched up a bit as any notion of self-hatred and self-disgust were immediately kicked out of her mind by Usopp. She wrapped her arms around his torso and rested her head against his shoulder. "I'm glad… that you are… here with me… You are one… of the best things… that have… ever happened to me… Usopp-kun…"

Usopp's face became completely red at her words and he shuddered a bit at the feeling of her warm breath caressing his neck. He shook his head in order to get rid of those thoughts before they even formed. Now was definitely not the time. Instead he focused on the sudden nervousness that struck him. He knew that it might be the worst time to bring it up, but Usopp also felt that if he didn't tell her know he would be making a grave mistake.

"Erm… Kaya?"

"… Hm?"

Usopp gulped nervously. "You know how I always wanted to become a brave warrior of the sea and look for my father in order to let him know just what I think about him leaving me and my mother, right?"

Kaya pulled back away from him slightly and looked into his eyes with a frown as she slowly nodded her head. "… Yeah…" She could kind of tell where this was going and if she was honest with herself, she didn't like it one bit.

Usopp began to sweat a bit. "Well… I learned that my father is a part of a famous pirate crew that sails the seas of the Grand Line. Luffy and his companions will eventually head there. That's why they want Merry to modify their ship. And…" Usopp swallowed again when he saw realization appear on Kaya's eyes before a pained expression similar to before appeared on her face. "… Luffy offered me the position as the master gunner of his crew yesterday before we learned about Kuro's' plans. And I… I accepted."

Kaya looked away from him as her face scrunched up in such a way that Usopp knew she would be crying if she hadn't run out of tears already. "You… are going to… leave…?"

Usopp looked down, uncapable of bearing the sight of Kaya being sad and in pain because of him. "… Yeah."

After a moment of silence, Kaya suddenly took a deep, shuddering breath before she let it out in a resigned and sad sigh as she continued to occasionally sob and sniffle. "… I hate it… but I would never stop you… from striving towards your dreams… Usopp-kun…" She told him and smiled sadly when he raised his head to stare at her in shock. "I just wish that… we could have been together… for much longer…"

Usopp blinked and a proverbial lightbulb lit up above his head as her words made him consider something crazy. "Kaya! That's it! I think there's a way for us to be together for a long time!"

Kaya, visibly shocked at his sudden outburst, was understandably perplexed. "What… How…" Her eyes then widened in realization and hope as she immediately caught on his intentions. "Usopp-kun! You don't mean…" She tried her best to not become too hopeful but failed spectacularly.

Usopp grinned widely as he nodded his head eagerly. "Yep! I mean exactly that! We don't have anything to lose if we try. We just have to speak to Luffy. I'm sure he would accept," he said confidently.

Kaya stared at him in wonder as a smile began to appear on her face. The only reason why she hadn't used part of her wealth to travel the world and see its wonders was because of her sickly disposition… which was because of some poison that Kuro had been feeding her for years. And truthfully, after what happened today, she wasn't sure about staying at the place that held all the memories of Kuro.

Kaya wrapped her arms around Usopp's shoulders and hugged him tightly. "Alright, Usopp-kun! Let's do it!" Perhaps doing something crazy and impulsive and getting out of here was exactly what she needed after what happened today.

Usopp, just as hopeful and excited, returned her hug just as tightly by wrapping his arms around her petite from. 'I'm just glad you are no longer sad… well, at least not for the moment. Now… how do I get Luffy to let her join the crew?'


After feeding the dead bodies of the Black Cat Pirates to Nina, who eagerly ate them all without complaint, with the help of Zoro, Luffy decided to not waste any time heading back towards Pancake Town to get the bounties of the Nyanban Brothers, Jango and Kuro. To make things less troublesome, he had separated their heads (or finished doing so in the case of Jango) from their bodies, which he also fed to Nina, and put them in a bag. That way he was just going to have to make the trip there and back once.

After telling Zoro about Nami needing to know what he wanted included on their ship and ordering him to get Nina to tow the ship of the Black Cat Pirates, which was named Bezan Black he would later learn, towards where their own ship would be anchored since they were going to make use of it, Luffy made his way towards Pancake Town using Soru. Like the day before, it only took him fifteen minutes.

Luffy was surprised at the ease in which he managed to procure the bounties.

Because it had been less than a full day since he brought in Buggy's comatose head to cash in his bounty, the marines there knew that he was the 'real deal' and while surprised to see him back so soon, they still clearly remembered him when they saw him once again. Luffy had barely managed to keep a straight face at their reaction when he revealed to them the four severed heads of the wanted criminals he was planning to cash in for their bounties.

After explaining what had happened, including the fact that Kuro had actually faked his death, Luffy had been able to get the money for their bounties with just a little trouble regarding Kuro's for obvious reasons. Luffy also learned, much to his hidden amusement and surprise, that Morgan had been the one to 'capture Kuro and execute him' three years ago. When they added what happened today to the many coincidences surrounding what he did at Shells Town when he was there, he almost lost his composure by trying so hard not to laugh. That wouldn't have ended well after all.

Luffy knew that the only reason he had managed to cash it in was because of some kind of weird test they did with Kuro's blood to confirm his identity, his possession of the three other heads of wanted men related to Kuro, the fact that the head was still kind of recognizable as Kuro of the Hundred Plans despite the number he did on it and because he had saved Syrup Village in the process.

Otherwise, Luffy knew that the proceedings wouldn't have gone as smoothly as they did. After the Captain of the base told Luffy kind-of-jokingly that he couldn't come back to that base for the time being to cash in more bounties since they had barely some money left, Luffy made his way back towards Syrup Village with two suitcases containing thirty-two million beri. That, and because he could tell that these marines were of the more decent sort like the ones at Shells Town, was the reason why Luffy didn't seriously consider taking Nami to Pancake Town to rob them.

When Luffy came back, their ship and the Bezan Black were docked not too far from each other on the beach south of Syrup Village which told him that it wouldn't take long for Merry to start working on their ship. After putting the money of the newest bounties he just cashed in with the rest he and Nami had gathered so far, which he estimated to be around seventy-seven million beri, and giving some affection to Nina so she didn't feel neglected, he made his way towards the village to meet with the others.

He found Zoro, Nami and Sunny just hanging around and 'chilling' outside the village's main restaurant. He told them that he managed to procure the bounties without too much issues, which resulted in a delighted Nami wrapping her arms around him and pressing her more than generous assets against him while beaming happily up at him. As Luffy very much enjoyed the pleasant feeling, he ignored Zoro's smirk and Sunny's confusion.

It was after Zoro said what he wanted included in their ship's modifications and they got a pretty good idea of the things Sunny wanted, that Usopp, Kaya and Merry made an appearance and gathered the whole town. They told everyone about what happened and who 'Klahadore' really was and that it was thanks to Usopp, Luffy, Nami, Zoro and Sunny that they were alive and well now.

While the villagers were understandably shocked, since the information had come directly from the mouths of Merry and Kaya, who was the owner of the village and had no reason to lie about something as serious as that, they immediately believed them. Usopp was shocked and embarrassed when everyone personally thanked him for his bravery and told him that they knew that he was a great guy despite his constant lying.

After the villagers went back to doing their own thing, Luffy and co approached the Syrup Village natives who once again thanked them for what they did to prevent Kuro's plans for being accomplished. Merry even said that he was going to do the modifications to their ship for free as a sign of his appreciation and when Luffy told him about the Bezan Black, Merry claimed that it was only fair to use it as the source of the materials for the modifications.

Nami was particularly happy about the fact that she wasn't going to be spending a single beri to get what they wanted. That day Luffy learned that whenever Nami got very happy she would cling and press her body to him for some reason. He decided he quite enjoyed it and that he was going to try and make Nami very happy as often as he could from now on. Once again, Luffy easily ignored Zoro's knowing smirk and Sunny's confusion.

Before they parted ways, Luffy got the feeling that both Usopp and Kaya wanted to talk to him. He had a fairly good idea of what it was about and honestly, he was all in for it. Kaya had impressed him when she had killed Kuro with barely any hesitation after she learned who he was, what his plans were and the fact that he had killed her parents and made her believe that her dreams were literally impossible for her to accomplish.

So yeah. Luffy was not opposed to Kaya joining his crew. Quite the contrary actually. He wanted her in after seeing what she was truly made off. However, since it was something that she and Usopp wanted, he was going to let them take the initiative on this. But truthfully, they just had to ask.


The day after they deal with Kuro, Luffy stood in a clearing inside the forest north of Syrup Village quite early in the morning. Nami, Zoro and Sunny stood in front of him with various degrees of enthusiasm in their faces. Merry and his workforce were already working on their ship. Apparently, it was going to take no less than twelve days to get everything they wanted done. Since they didn't have anywhere else to stay, Kaya had graciously offered to host them in her mansion, which had more than enough space for all of them.

Luffy decided to make the most out of the next twelve days training wise.

"Alright everyone! Since we won't be sailing for quite some time until our ship is ready, we are going to focus entirely on training until that happens," declared Luffy with a wide grin. His stance was a relaxed one with his hands inside the pockets of his pants and his straw hat slightly tilted upwards.

Zoro looked very eager. If there was one thing he loved more than alcohol, it was to train and gain strength noticeably after he did so. He had been becoming stronger and more skilled every single day after he joined Luffy and became the First Mate of his crew. He had no doubts in his mind that doing so had been the best decision he had ever made regarding his path towards reaching his goal of becoming the world's greatest swordsman.

Sunny looked determined. Luffy, whom he looked as his master and friend, wanted him to become the strongest menean lion that existed. Even though he found the 'exercises' Luffy put him through more than just a bit bizarre, he knew for a fact they worked. He was faster and stronger than what he ever imagined he would be. That was enough reason for Sunny to do as Luffy told him regarding this 'training' thing. It also helped that Luffy was never trying to order him around and always had lots of meat and fish for him to eat.

Nami just groaned and pouted. "Do we really have to?" She had finally gotten rid of the constant aches. While she no longer disdained training hard, she still hated the feeling of her torn and strained muscle fibers slowly healing to become stronger. She loved the gains but despised the pains, essentially.

"Yup. You are going to the Grand Line with us and the stronger you are, the higher are your chances of staying alive," replied Luffy without bating an eyelash to her pleading puppy dog eyes. She would eventually realize that they were one hundred percent ineffective when he was in 'training mode'. "With us focusing solely on training until our ship is ready, I believe that the three of you can learn and even master Soru. Heck. Knowing Zoro, I bet he will start learning Geppo before we leave."

While Zoro just grinned in satisfaction, Nami gave him a perplexed look. "Luffy… didn't you say when you started training me that it would take me about six weeks to get to the point I would be capable of starting to learn the Rokushiki?" It hasn't been a month since then yet. Twenty-seven days, counting today, to be exact.

Luffy nodded at her, happily noting that she didn't deny the bit of her going to the Grand Line with them even when she no longer needed to since she had already acquired all the money she needed. "Yeah. But that was before I actually saw your actual growth rate. Also, I wasn't expecting you to put the kind of dedication you did to your training," he said and his grin widened a bit when she blushed and bashfully looked away from him. He ignored his First Mate's snickering and Sunny's tilted head. "You were already deceptively strong when I met you. Right now you are actually quite stronger than what Zoro used to be when he joined us. A few more days of harsh training and you will be ready to learn Soru."

Nami got over her embarrasment and sighed in resignation. "Alright, alright. I get it," she said before pointing at Sunny, who was just patiently waiting for the training to start, his tail swaying lazily behind him. "What about Sunny though? Since he isn't human, I thought it was going to take him longer than even Zoro and I to reach this level," she pointed out.

Luffy considered her words before grinning shamelessly. "Eh, Sunny was already strong enough to make me actually feel his bites, which isn't as insignificant as it might sound. Besides, he's just plain awesome, right bud?"

Sunny replied with a happy and agreeing roar as he gave a feline grin.

Nami just threw her hands up in defeat. "I give up!" She declared to the amusement everyone else. She ignored that and asked another question. "So, what will we be doing for the foreseeable future?"

"Increasingly more difficult leg strengthening exercises for you and Sunny and I will be personally teaching Zoro what he needs to do in order to perform Soru," said Luffy before pausing and shrugging his shoulders. "Other than that, sparring to keep our fighting edge up and to get used to your increasing physical capabilities. Not too different from what we normally do."

Nami looked at him flatly. "Just more insane than it used to be, right?"

Luffy gave her a thumb up. "Correct!"


Seemingly tired of waiting, Zoro had an annoyed expression on his face as he spoke. "Oi, Captain! Let's stop wasting our time here!" He couldn't wait to finally learn the principles of Rankyaku so he could apply it to his sword strikes. He knew that this type of training was progressive and until he learned Soru and Geppo he wouldn't be able to comprehend the technique enough to change it to his needs.

"Zoro's right. The sooner we start the faster we'll see the results. Nami. Sunny. Grab the weights. You know what to do. Zoro. Follow me," ordered Luffy.

While a slightly reluctant Nami went to help Sunny strap his weights around him before she did the same for herself, Luffy took Zoro to the other side of the clearing to instruct him how to use Soru. When Luffy told Zoro that the technique consisted in kicking off the ground at least ten times in the blink of an eye, he was surprised that the concept was really that simple.

When he voiced the thought aloud, Luffy nodded. "It is. That's why Soru is the fundamental technique of the Rokushiki. Make no mistake though. It's going to require it's due time to master it," he said before using the technique a few times at a level in which Zoro could clearly see what he was doing to give him a better idea. He stopped in front of him when he was done. "At first you will only be capable of using it to get short bursts of enhanced speed. You know you have mastered it when you can keep using Soru indefinitely."

Zoro nodded in understanding before he began to work. While he felt a bit ridiculous kicking against the ground many times as fast as he could, that feeling went away when he saw and felt himself move a few yards at speeds that he could tell were just beneath what Luffy had just shown him. With a grin and a noticeably increased amount of determination, Zoro began the process of learning Soru. He was going to master this technique before they set sail again. That was a fact.

Luffy watched him for a few moments with a pleased smile before turning towards Nami and Sunny to see them diligently doing their own exercises, which made his smile widen. Seeing them, he decided to do his own training. He went and sat against one of the threes at the edge of the clearing and closed his eyes as the bill of his straw hat shadowed the upper half of his face. When they saw him, Nami and Zoro thought he was just taking a nap. He was anything but actually.

Because of the all the years he spent training under his grandfather, Luffy actually had complete mastery over the Rokushiki and he felt that comparatively, he was better at them than his usage of the abilities available to him thanks to having eaten the Goro-Goro no Mi, even if those were pretty much mastered as well. What Luffy knew he was lacking at, in comparison with his other abilities of course, was using Haki.

While he couldn't train Busoshoku Haki at the moment unless he wanted to explain to Zoro and Nami why his arms were being covered by a black substance, he could easily train Kenbunshoku Haki and Haoshoku Haki, the latter to a certain extent. Since the former was essentially just about 'perception', he could train it without distracting the others from their own tasks.

Haoshoku Haki was a bit trickier. He couldn't just let loose the power of his will over the whole island. He didn't know how he would deal with the fallout of more than a hundred people passing out after experiencing bone-chilling terror and despair. Instead, by internalizing himself through meditation, he could actually increase the 'strength of his will' and the control he had over its effects. Luffy had learned quite early on that releasing his Haoshoku Haki for training purposes was only useful if he wanted to increase the range he could encompass.

Despite knowing about Haki for quite some time, Luffy never really got a real chance to exactly focus on it while training. That was why he knew that he had quite the long way to go before he could claim to have mastery over it despite being capable of using the three forms of it at will.

However, simply mastering Haki wasn't Luffy's ultimate goal regarding his abilities. Just like he used some of the Rokushiki techniques to inspire the development of a few techniques using his lightning powers, Luffy wanted to combine the powers of his Devil Fruit with his Haki abilities once he mastered them. He didn't know why but he had a gut instinct telling him that it could be done.

Until he reached that point or found out whether it was even possible or not to do so in the first place, Luffy knew won't be satisfied with what he could do in regards to his abilities.

Luffy was just starting to expand his range of perception with Kenbunshoku Haki when he felt two figures making their way towards the clearing. Knowing who they were and having been expecting them, Luffy stopped using Kenbunshoku and opened his eyes as he stood up. Nami, Zoro and Sunny took notice of this and while they wondered why he stopped his nap so soon and so suddenly for a moment, they went back to focusing on their training without saying a word.

Luffy grinned at Usopp and Kaya the moment they walked into the clearing. "Well hello there! How are you two doing on this fine morning?" He asked cheerfully as he walked towards them. While Usopp was an official member of his crew, he had not woken him up along the others for training for this exact same reason. He knew that he needed to come here together with Kaya so they could make their request.

Kaya was the one who answered his question as she bowed her head slightly. "I'm doing well all things considered, Luffy-san. Thanks for asking though," she said politely with a small smile. Luffy noticed that she no longer looked like she had been crying for an entire day. There was also a more 'grown' air surrounding her in comparison to when he met her.

He supposed that executing your parent's murderer, for both revenge and justice, could do that to someone.

Usopp spoke a few moments after Kaya finished greeting Luffy back. His posture went completely straight and he even gave Luffy a formal salute. "Captain Luffy, sir! This humble master gunner has a selfish request, sir!" He declared in such a loud voice that he also got the attention of the other occupants of the clearing.

At his side, Kaya's smile became one of fond exasperation with a hopeful undertone as her eyes slightly trailed towards Luffy.

The straw-hat wearing teen managed to contain his amused grin as he adopted a more serious countenance. He crossed his arms across his chest and raised an eyebrow while looking at Usopp directly in the eye. "Is that so? Let's hear it then."

Usopp couldn't help the nervous gulp after seeing Luffy's expression. Still, he went on without hesitating or stuttering. "Sir! I know that I've been a member of your crew for lest than two days, sir, and that I have yet to earn the right to request a favor from you, sir! But please, sir! I would like you to consider letting Kaya here join the crew as well, sir!"

Luffy's lips twitched imperceptibly as he turned towards the blonde-haired girl. He could feel the interested gazes of Nami, Zoro and Sunny as they looked on from where they were standing. "Truly? You want to join my crew? To become a pirate?" He asked with some fake doubt and he wasn't surprised when she nodded determinately at him. "In that case, tell me, what can you offer?"

At that question, Usopp became positively hopeful and excited. It meant that Luffy was seriously considering it.

Kaya also straightened up a bit more to answer the question. "I have never fought in the past. Before yesterday… I abhorred any type of violence. And while I still feel like I don't really have it in me, I now know that some times violence is what's necessary to solve problems permanently or prevent others from arising in the first place. Other than that, I have my quite substantial wealth and enough medical knowledge to patch someone up as long as their injuries aren't extremely serious or outright lethal."

Luffy nodded his head slowly. "So… money and a budding medic, eh?" He asked rhetorically but Kaya nodded at him despite that. He looked at her grimly. "The places I'm planning to go aren't pretty, Kaya. We are going to meet people worse than Kuro and I'm not going to stand idly by and let them do as they please while they are making others suffer. You already know what I believe in and that should tell you about how I plan to approach most situations. I promise you that what happened yesterday is nothing compared to the lengths I'm willing to go to serve true justice to those that deserve it. Knowing that, are you still willing to follow me?"

Kaya's expression noticeably hardened after her slight flinch at the mention of yesterday. "Yes! As long as whatever you do doesn't make innocent people suffer, I'm more than willing to become a member of your pirate crew, Luffy-san! As long as I can reach my goals and accomplish my dreams without it being at the expenses of others that don't deserve it, I will follow you!"

Luffy finally allowed a grin to appear on his face. "Then tell me, Kaya, what exactly are your goals and dreams?"

"I want to see all the wonders this world has to offer! I want to make sure that no one suffers the same fate that almost befell me! I want to become a doctor good enough to prevent anyone that deserves to live from dying! And…" she trailed off at the end and her voice became soft and tender as she looked at Usopp with a slightly blushing face. "…I want to stay by Usopp-kun's side for as long as he'll have me."

Usopp also blushed as he looked at her wide eyes. "Kaya…"

Luffy let out a loud and delighted laugh. "That's more than enough for me! Welcome aboard, Kaya!"

The eyes of Usopp and Kaya widened as they turned sharply towards him. While the blonde-haired girl began to grin in happiness, Usopp repeatedly blinked at Luffy in disbelief.

"Just like that?"

Luffy smirked at him and nodded. "Yup. Just like that."

"Holy shit," whispered Usopp before shaking his head and throwing his hands to the air in a celebratory manner. "Oh yeah! Kaya! You did it!" He shouted as he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulled her up and began to twirl her around as they laughed in happiness.

Luffy allowed them to have that moment as he turned towards the others. Sunny didn't seem to care one way or another as he continued to diligently do his exercises. Zoro just gave him an uncaring and lazy thumb up before he went back to trying to learn Soru. Nami just shook her head at him while giving him a fond smile that Luffy returned with a grin of his own before she went back to her own training.

Luffy then turned towards the still celebrating lovebirds and called out to them. "Oi! Listen up!" When they focused their attention back on him, Luffy spoke to them in a slightly serious tone that managed to convey what he wanted to get across with his following words. "As members of my crew, I won't be ordering you around much and you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as it doesn't go against what we stand for and causes dissent between us. The only thing that I require of you is that you are constantly training to become stronger. I will not accept weaklings and/or lazy people around that are liable to get themselves and others killed because of something they can actually control."

Both Kaya and Usopp nodded with serious expression on their faces.

Luffy gave a pleased grin when he saw that they understood his point. "Good. I know that Kaya is still uncapable of training right now because of the poisons Kuro has been giving her the past three years but I'm sure that will change soon enough now that he's no longer here to do so," he said and paid no mind to her slight flinch when he said Kuro's name. He knew that it was going to take some time for her to get over what happened yesterday after all. He gave her an encouraging smile. "So, to not waste your time, why don't you start expanding on your medical knowledge right away? That should give you something productive to do while you recover."

Kaya nodded her head and saluted him. "Yes, Captain!"

Usopp also saluted. "And what about me, sir?!"

Luffy snorted and raised an eyebrow as he smirked. "For now, I will train you physically in order to make you capable of performing a few techniques I will show you later. Since your marksmanship is so good naturally, I will teach you how to fight using guns at all ranges. We'll see after that."

Usopp saluted again. "Understood, sir! When do I start, sir?!"

"Right now," said Luffy before looking at his master gunner with a flat expression. "Oh, and Usopp?"

"Yes, sir?!"

"Stop with that 'sir' shit. It's fucking annoying."

"Yes, sir!" Usopp saluted again before realizing what he just said and faltering a bit. "Erm… hehe…"

Kaya giggled.

Luffy sighed before he chuckled. At least he was now one hundred percent sure that there was never going to be dull moment among the members of his crew. That was always a positive…

… right?


With a dramatic flourish and proud expression on his face, Merry motioned behind him. "I present to you your ship! It's honestly one of my best works to date even if it was for a pirate crew…" he trailed off before his eyes narrowed as he scowled at the ones that stood in front of him on the beach. "…I still vehemently disapprove of you doing something so foolish and dangerous, Kaya-sama."

The blonde-haired girl merely smiled serenely at her butler. "I have already decided to take this path, Merry. Since I am no longer 'sick', I want to see the entire world now that I can. I know it's foolish but it's why I feel like it's the best thing for me right now. And as for the dangerous part, I will have the crew helping me gain enough strength to protect myself against any dangers we will face in the future."

Indeed. After Kuro's poison was flushed out of her system and she was no longer consuming it, Kaya looked significantly healthier. Her skin was no longer that pale and her hair had a noticeable luster that was starting to match Nami's. She was also starting to fill out more since she had started to eat more and physically train in the past ten days. It embarrassed and pleased Kaya that Usopp had obviously noticed and appreciated those positive physical changes.

Merry clicked his tongue before focusing his scowl on Usopp. "Just so you know, I blame you for this, Usopp-kun."

With a serious expression on his face, Usopp nodded his head without shame. "I accept all responsibility for the current circumstances but I regret nothing."

Merry's eyebrow began to twitch as an artery pulsed in the middle of his forehead. "Why… you…"

Kaya hid her giggling behind her hand.

Ignoring their byplay, Zoro whistled appreciatively as he looked at their 'new' ship. "I'm actually fucking impressed. Goat man over here might not look like it but he is actually the real deal. I wasn't expecting this."

Nami's eyes sparkled in wonder as she stared at the ship with the eyes of a navigator that knew they would be enjoying their time sailing with it. "I love it! It turned out one hundred times better than what I was hoping for!"

Even though he was enjoying the feeling of a happy Nami clinging to him, Luffy was completely focused on the sight before him as he laughed in delight and happiness. "Now this is exactly what I'm talking about! That is what I call a real ship!"

Sunny was just laying down lazily next to Luffy and Nina, who had thoroughly shocked Merry and Kaya when she had revealed herself to them, was slowly circling around the ship, clearly admiring her 'new charge' with, surprisingly enough, critical and appraising eyes.

The previously simple carrack with three masts now looked like a hybrid between a galleon and a warship, albeit considerably smaller than either of those types of sailing ships. With at least two times its previous length, significantly wider from starboard to port and 'taller' by more than three meters, the rigging of the ship still had three masts: the fore, the mizzen, and the main. Luffy noticed that the amount of canvas it carried was particularly high for only having three masts.

The fore and main masts were rigged with a topsail, a course and a topgallant while the mizzen had a topsail and a mizzen course. At the bow were the fore stay-sail and flying jib, anchored with the bowsprit and Luffy could see that both were going to be used for steering. The capstan, used to raise and lower the main sail was found on the main deck at the mizzen mast, which Luffy found very unusual since it was normally located at the foremast. Nami's boat, the one they used for going ashore, was going to put there as well.

At the aft of the ship beneath the helm was the captain's quarters, which Luffy could see was actually two 'floors' high and had potted land on the 'roof'. In front of the 'second floor' of the captain's quarters was the upper deck. The wheel was found here and there was also a belfry that contained a bell, which could be useful on counting the hours and keeping track of time during the day.

Merry explained that the crew's quarters were near the middle of the ship and that it consisted of a long hallway with ten rooms on each side of it and they coincided with the ten circular crystal windows that were fairly above the ones for the cannons. He told them that each room was fifteen feet square and counted with a twin XL size bed, a closet, a night stand and its own simple bathroom and bathtub. How Merry managed to pull that off was anyone's guess and when he said that he also managed to fit in a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room/bar and an infirmary in that floor as well, the lamb-themed man seemed pretty smug about it but refused to elaborate.

The upper gun deck, home to fourteen of the ship's cannons, was also part of the main deck but because of its width they didn't take that much space, which Zoro appreciated since the main deck was also their training area. There were also four swivel guns on the main deck which would be used for more close-quarters encounters. The lower gun deck, which was located right beneath the 'floor' of the crew's quarters, possessed eighteen cannons. The bow and stern of the ship also had two cannons each in order to not leave it at a disadvantage during a pursuit. Also, the stern had a 'window' above each canon which they were going to use to tie the rope Nina used to tow them.

The lowest part of the ship which was the one that was partially submerged was divided in three areas of different sizes according to Merry. The biggest one was going to function as the treasury, where they were going to put all their money and other precious things they got their hands on during their journey and apparently it was so big that their seventy-seven million beri barely took up space on it. The second largest area was just going to function as the storage room for all their miscellaneous supplies such as food, water, alcohol, reparations resources, etc. And the smallest room was actually going to be Sunny's, who hadn't been interested in the proceedings until that was mentioned. It was almost completely covered in soft rugs and pillows of varying sizes according to Merry, much to Sunny's visible excitement and approval.

On a side note, If it had been on their 'previous ship', Luffy doubted that the fifty million beri Kaya was going to bring with her would have fit inside the room they had been keeping their money. While Nami had been a bit miffed about Kaya 'only' bringing in with her little less than half of her actual wealth, she was still satisfied with the amount. It also helped that Nami understood that Kaya couldn't leave her 'territory' without money for Merry to manage and that the Black Cat Pirates had a bit more than ten million beri inside their ship. That ended up pushing their current wealth to one hundred and thirty-seven million beri.

Needless to say, Luffy had been enjoying Nami's extra happiness for quite some time now.

Back to the ship…

The main crow's nest was just beneath the highest point of the main mast and there was a secondary, smaller one on the foremast. Since Luffy had yet to decide on a jolly roger, the flags were white and blank completely matching the sails. The main color of the ship was a deep brown that actually matched Nina's scales. The frames of the windows for the cannons and the railings were a dark red and it had a few black colored accents here and there as well.

And finally, the figurehead of the ship was made up by sculptures of the three animals that were considered to be the 'rulers' of the environment they inhabited in East Blue: the Menean Lion (which looked like Sunny), ruler of the mainland, the Sea King (which greatly resembled Nina), ruler of the ocean and the Sennenryu, ruler of the sky. They slightly twisted around each other at the base but around midway that stopped with the Sennenryu on top with wings spread, the Sea King below and to the right with its sharp teeth in display and the Menean Lion below and to the left with its claws displayed threateningly. The three of them were shown to be roaring their fury and authority.

After seeing that he had two of the three as members of his crew, Luffy figured he might as well go ahead and go with it. If he was one hundred percent honest, it ended up looking way cooler than what he had visualized when he first got the idea.

After she finished admiring their new ship, Nami turned towards Merry with incredulous eyes. "Where you only going to charge us ten million beri for all this?!" Nami was far from knowledgeable of such things, but modifying their previous ship to the point it looked like it did now had to cost at least three times as much as Merry had been planning to charge them.

"Of course not," sniffed Merry in a clearly mock arrogant display. "While I was planning on working your ship to the best of my abilities since the beginning, that was before you prevented a horrible tragedy from befalling us and before I learned that Kaya-sama will be… joining you as well. I couldn't not give it ten times my best and deliver you my finest work to date. Using the ship of those bastard pirates also largely helped to make this possible. I can say with full confidence that this ship, with the amount of sails it has and its hydrodynamic design, will be one of the fastest ships to ever sail the four seas and the Grand Line!"

Luffy's grin was almost splitting his face in half. "I believe you, Merry! You blew all my expectations away! Other than paying you what this masterpiece is worth, I'm afraid I don't know how to properly show my appreciation."

Merry waved his words off before looking at him seriously. "Keeping Kaya-sama alive and well during your foolhardy future endeavors will be more than enough for me." He dutifully ignored the annoyed pout Kaya sent towards him for his 'demands'.

Luffy nodded without hesitation. "Of course." By the time he was done with her, Kaya was going to have at least mastery of three or four of the Rokushiki and Kenbunshoku/Busoshoku Haki plus whatever other skills she managed pick up on their journey. As a matter of fact, since those abilities could be achieved through training, Luffy was planning for them to be the 'basic' skills all members of his crew would strive to eventually achieve.

Let it be known that Monkey D. Garp might have or might have not screwed a bit with Luffy's definition of 'sensible expectations' when his future companions were involved.

"So… what are you going to name it, Captain?" Asked Usopp, breaking the slight lull in the conversation and he shifted nervously a bit when everyone focused their attention on him. "Erm, you know… even though this is essentially a new ship for all intent and purposes, it still used to have another name that you never bothered to change, right? I think it deserves a new name."

Nami seemed to consider his words before she nodded. "I agree. Besides, we already performed the denaming part of the ceremony when we got rid of everything tying the ship to Alvida and changed it so it wouldn't be recognized. We only have to perform the renaming part," she said as she tightened the hold she had around Luffy's arm. She knew that he quite liked it when she clung to him and if Nami was honest, she liked the feel of his muscular arm against her as well.

Luffy turned thoughtful for a moment before he smirked as he looked at all of them. "I believe I have the perfect name for our ship. We can do the renaming ceremony just before we leave."

Zoro crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at him. "And when is that going to be? We've been here for two weeks. I'm sick of seeing the same shit for so long…" he said before pausing and turning towards Merry, Kaya and Usopp with his expression not changing at all. "… no offense."

"None taken."

Luffy looked around and smiled when he noticed that everyone shared Zoro's sentiment to a certain degree. "Everyone! Gather up your things and say your goodbyes in the case of Kaya and Usopp! We will be sailing away from the Gecko Islands within the hour!"

"Aye, aye! Captain!"


Luffy stood on the forecastle deck of the ship, the bowsprit of the ship behind him, as he faced his crewmates while holding two bottles of their most expensive rum on his right hand and an empty glass on his left hand. Nami stood to his right and Usopp and Kaya on his left. Zoro stood slightly further away but directly in front of Luffy as he leaned his back against the foremast. They were all holding their empty glasses as well.

Sunny wasn't interested in the naming ceremony but he was present. He was sitting on his haunches next to the foremast with an 'even' expression on his face. Nina, however, was looking at them curiously as she had enough of her body out of the water that she reached more or less half the height of the mainmast. Luffy could tell she was patiently waiting for Nami to set the course so she could tow the ship to maximize their speed and travel efficiency.

"Everyone here has a dream," started saying Luffy as he locked eyes with everyone there. "I might not know exactly what Nami's dream is but what little I know about it is enough to tell me that she wants to shake things up and oppose something or someone that doesn't care about other people being fucked over and getting shit on."

At those words, despite Luffy smiling softly and patiently at her, Nami couldn't help but guiltily look away. She had told Luffy two weeks ago to give her a few days to think about telling him her troubles but she had yet to even mention the subject to him after their heart-to-heart. Hearing him basically say that he was still waiting and willing to wait more for her to tell him was almost like a physical blow to Nami.

'Even though what I immediately want is to free Cocoyashi from Arlong's control, my true dream is to one day map the entire world. Maybe…' she thought to herself before her expression hardened as she nodded resolutely to herself. 'Today. I will tell him today. I will believe in him.' With everything that Luffy has done for her since they met each other, she felt that it was incredibly unfair and inconsiderate on her part to be wasting his time like this.

Luffy's smile widened as he saw that. He could more or less tell what she was thinking but he decided to not comment on it. He turned towards Zoro and his smile morphed into a grin. "Our First Mate here wants to become the world's greatest swordsman. The man he wants to surpass is on the level of a Yonko and is affiliated with the Marines and the World Government. When Zoro proves himself to be better than him, everyone is going to lose their heads when the new 'Greatest Swordsman in the World' is a full-on pirate."

Zoro straightened up noticeably and he looked at Luffy with serious intensity. He had not missed how his Captain worded his sentence. He'd said 'when' not 'if'. Luffy truly believed that Zoro accomplishing his dream was just a matter of time. The green haired First Mate exchanged a nod with his Captain. He was going to make sure to live up to Luffy's believe and confidence in him. Other than his complete loyalty towards him, that was the least Zoro could do in exchange.

'I will not embarrass you, Captain!' Thought Zoro determinately as he tightly grasped the handle of Wado Ichimonji.

Grin still in place, he turned towards Usopp. "You want to be a notorious pirate and show your father your thoughts on his abandonment on you and your mother. Pirates are the sworn enemies of the Marines, the military force of the World Government. Your father is an official within the crew of one of the Yonko so you will have to become quite strong if you even want him to feel the beat down you want to give him and the World Government doesn't exactly like strong people outside of their control, if you catch my drift."

Usopp puffed up his chest slightly and crossed his arms over it. After two weeks of training under Luffy, he had started to become visibly more muscular and defined. He had also taken to use two flintlock pistols, which were held up by his sash, and there was a flintlock rifle diagonally strapped to his back. Instead of being intimidated by Luffy's words, Usopp was instead motivated to keep moving forward. After Luffy asked him to become his master gunner in recognition of his abilities and his part in thwarting Kuro's plot, Usopp had started to realize what he was actually worth and his potential.

'And Kaya is here with me. Even if I still have some major doubts and fears, I can't allow myself to let her see them. For her, I will be the Bravest Warrior of the Sea!' Thought Usopp fiercely as he glanced at the blonde girl.

Luffy then focused his attention on Kaya. "You said that you wanted to see all the wonders the world had to offer, that you wanted prevent others from suffering the same fate you almost did and that you want to become an infallible doctor. As a member of my crew, I can promise that the first one is going to happen by default. The latter depends entirely on you but if you put the same dedication to your studies that you do to training, I won't be surprised if you achieve it. The second one… the most cowardly and greediest people I know of are the World Nobles. As long as they are in power, innocent people will suffer and die. They won't take too kindly to you opposing and fighting against them."

Kaya smiled gently but determinately at her captain. In the past two weeks, the changes she had gown through were noticeable after the effects of the potion wore off and she started to eat more and exercise intensively. Her simple shirt, jean shorts and sandals showed off that fact. Kaya also had a knife strapped to each thigh since they were her weapon of choice. While she had yet to start learning how to use them, Zoro had suggested she start to walk around with them so she could 'familiarize' herself with their presence and weight.

'I will do my best to not be a burden to you, Captain. I also promise to not be a burden to you, Usopp-kun. I will walk the same path as you as I strive to accomplish my goals and dreams,' she thought as she tightened her fists and glanced towards Usopp. She blushed a bit when she noticed that he too was glancing at her from time to time. She thought that his own blush when he noticed that she noticed was cute.

Luffy's grin widened even more. "Me? I want to be the Pirate King. The freest man in the world. I want to do whatever I want, whenever I want and wherever I want. To do that… I have to not only find One Piece, but also become the strongest and most dangerous man in the world," he said and his facial expression became decidedly savage as he said his next words. "When the so called 'powers that be' realize just what I am capable of, they will stop at nothing to try and kill me. They will certainly try but they won't live to regret it when they don't succeed."

Everyone looked at Luffy with varying degrees of admiration after they heard his words. They didn't know what drove him, but his sheer conviction and his actions so far have proved that he wasn't just all talk. There was something about Luffy that just made them believe that he accomplishing his dreams was just a matter of time. They knew that the path he was walking on was a dangerous one, a path that will be as bloody as it will be righteous. Luffy's True Justice (as he himself called it) and the current state of their world as they clashed will make sure of that. One of them would have to eventually give in and something told them that it won't be Luffy.

And they wouldn't have it any other way.

"With that being said…" Luffy trailed off as he uncorked one of the bottles containing their most expensive rum. "Everywhere we go, no matter what we do, we are going to be causing and endless amount of chaos and change. I feel like our ship, since she's going to be the one taking us to all those places, should reflect that. Which is why…" Luffy trailed off as he turned his hand holding the rum bottles upside down and he began to let the expensive content spill on the wood of the bow of the ship. "… I shall name her The Tempest. Long may she sail the seas!"

"Long may she sail the seas!" The others declared loudly and approvingly as they raised their empty cups to the air with grins on their faces, even Zoro.

Seemingly capable of reading the mood perfectly, Nina and Sunny gave their own excited roars.

After that, a short celebration ensued as they drank the other bottle of rum while cheering. While that was happening, Luffy thought that he was only lacking a few other members for his crew and deciding on a jolly roger before he could finally consider himself an actual pirate. He still needed a cook at least before heading to the Grand Line after all. The jolly roger couldn't wait too much longer either.

After the 'festivities' were done for, Kaya and Usopp to the lower levels of The Tempest to do their own thing. Apparently, Kaya wanted to organize and personalize her room and she convinced Usopp (not that it was hard for her) to let him do the same thing for his. The master gunner of the crew was going to keep checking on all the ballistic related loot they got from the Black Cat Pirates, which is how where he found his second flintlock pistol and flintlock rifle. No one commented on them choosing rooms directly next to each other.

Sunny followed them down so he could see his own room.

Zoro simply said that he was going to train, then he was going to see if the Black Cat Pirates had at least good taste in alcohol before going to sleep. Those were the things he liked to do the most after all and with Luffy not minding what anyone did as long as he saw they were diligently training and growing stronger, which Zoro was always going to do anyways, meant that the green haired First Mate could indulge as much as he wanted.

Luffy and Nami walked across the main deck, and pass the proper hammock Luffy had commissioned which was tied using the mainmast and a wooden pole that was a few feet away from it, and used one of the two sets of stairs that led up to the upper deck so they could stand in front of the helm. Nami pulled out her compass and map as Nina looked at them patiently, clearly waiting for them to set the course so she could do her job.

When she didn't ask him for their next destination, Luffy looked at her curiously. "So… where are we going?"

Nami paused for a moment before she continued what she was doing and answered her question with a tight voice. "Northwest."

Luffy chuckled a bit. "I think you can a bit more specific, Nami."

Nami turned towards him with a serious but conflicted expression on her face. "We are going to the Conomi Islands."

Luffy raised an eyebrow at her. "Not that I mind since I had been planning to go there before heading to the Grand Line, but any particular reason why are we heading towards the turf of Arlong 'the Saw'?"

Nami's eyes widened at first when she heard his words but she regained her previous expression back quickly when she recalled him telling her about his desire to become the 'top dog' on East Blue before heading towards the Grand Line. After meeting him and getting to know him, Nami didn't consider the fact that he knew about Arlong and was planning to eventually… confront him… surprising.

She just looked away from him. "I grew up in Cocoyashi Village."

Luffy's eyes widened before they narrowed. His teeth began to grind against each other and his hands balled into fists, his knuckles cracking. "Nami… please don't tell me…"

She nodded minutely without looking at him. "Let me set the course and get us moving and I'll tell you… I'll tell you everything."

Luffy simply nodded in a noticeably strained manner.

Refusing to look at him yet but still feeling his intense eyes on her, Nami went back to work on setting the course. After she was done making calculations, she quietly requested Luffy to tie the rope around Nina before giving the Sea King her instructions. Nina nodded her understanding and submerged the moment Luffy was done tying the rope around her and receiving instructions from the orangette.

After The Tempest was moved under Nina's power to face the direction they were heading towards, Nami told Luffy to display all the sails and with a quick application of Soru Luffy did so before she could blink three times. The wind was on their favor and the ship lurched forward as it began to move at speeds that neither Luffy nor Nami thought possible to reach while sailing. To make it even more ridiculous, Nina's towing increased their velocity by a significant margin.

It was enough to make them momentarily put aside the elephant in the proverbial room.

"Oh wow! We are at least moving twice as fast as before! I don't think even Merry-san expected this!" Nami exclaimed in wonder and awe and her expression matching those emotions. She had made her calculations using their previous maximum speed, which resulted in the month or so that she had calculated would take them to reach the Conomi Islands had been reduced to around two weeks at the very least.

Luffy nodded in agreement as he crossed his arms over his chest. "Indeed. As the future Pirate King, I wouldn't settle for less," he said as he turned back and watched as the island in which Syrup Village was located steadily decreased in size the further they got away. After a short moment, however, he sobered up and turned towards his navigator with an extremely serious expression on his face. "Nami…"

Nami took a deep breath as she too became serious. "Alright. Let's go to your quarters. I… I don't want the others to know… at least, not yet," she almost pleaded him as her eyes trembled a bit.

Luffy simply approached her, took her hand gently in his and led her down the stairs towards the main deck where the entrance to the Captain's quarters was located. They slipped inside and the straw-hat wearing teen took his first look at the place he would be sleeping in for quite some time. The walls and the roof were painted red while the floor kept the natural brown color of the wood it was made of.

At the back of the room, opposite from where the entrance was, there was a wide bow type window that allowed him an unrestricted look of the still fading Gecko Islands. There was a massive and quite fancy-looking four poster bed that was bigger than King size pressed against left wall. There were two night stands next to the bed. In front of the bed was a circular wooden table big enough to require six chairs around it and there was still a fair amount of space between them. In front of that table was a desk with its own cushioned chair pressed against the wall opposite to where the bed was.

Luffy noticed that to his left was a hanger and next to it was quite the big wardrobe. To his right was a full body length mirror and to the right of the desk was a wooden door that Luffy suspected led to his private bathroom. A candlelight on each corner of the room kept it relatively lit up.

Luffy pulled Nami into the room and closed the door quietly behind him. He then released his hold on her hand and moved to sit at the edge of the bed. The captain gave his navigator an expectant and serious look as he lightly patted the space next to him.

Almost meekly, Nami slowly walked forward and gingerly sat next to him. While she noticed and relished on the comfortableness of the bed and how her leg was slightly touching Luffy's, Nami didn't allow herself to be distracted as she began to speak after a few minutes of collecting her thoughts under the serious, patient but expectant gaze of Luffy. At some point he had even taken her right hand in his bigger left one and Nami drew strength and courage from the simple, yet meaningful, gesture of support and affection.

"I was born in the Oykot Kingdom. I never knew my real parents. When I was barely one year old, they were likely killed by the pirates that attacked my birthplace," she said and while Luffy noticed her bitterness and anger when she said the word 'pirates', he noticed that it was directed to those pirates in specific whomever they were. "I don't know how but I survived and I was found by my older, adoptive sister Nojiko. The two of us then were found by our adoptive mother Bell-mere, a marine who had been sent to fight off the pirates that had invaded Oykot Kingdom. As far as I know, the three of us were the only survivors that day."

Luffy was silent as he continued to look at her. Nami took a shuddering breath before she continued with her story. "After saving us, Bell-mere adopted Nojiko and I. We became a family. Even though she only had her tangerine grove as a form of income, she did her best to make sure my sister and I had clothes to wear and food to eat every day. I… I… I never appreciated all the sacrifices she made for Nojiko and I until it was too late," she said thickly as tears began to slowly fall from her eyes.

Luffy quickly replaced his left hand holding her right one with his right hand so he could wrap his left arm around her shoulders comfortingly. Tightening her hold around his hand with her own, Nami didn't hesitate to accept his hug and pressed herself against him as she continued to cry. "One day… eight years ago… over something stupid I hurt her feelings… and ran away from our home... She sent Nojiko after me… That was the same day Arlong arrived to Cocoyashi…"

Luffy just continued to hold her tightly as she continued her story. "That fucking bastard…" She growled hatefully through her tears. "…after subjugating the village with the 'superiority' of fishmen… Arlong imposed a law… one hundred thousand beri per adult… fifty thousand beri per child… she could have saved herself by denying the existence of Nojiko and I… she had only saved one hundred thousand beri… it would have been enough for her… but she would never deny being our mother… and used all her savings to pay for us… Arlong just mocked her love for us… and… and executed her in front of us… to set a fucking example!' She screamed at the end with pain, sorrow, regret, guilt, self-hatred and a myriad of other negative emotions that Luffy almost physically felt them.

As her crying intensified, Luffy pulled Nami into his lap and wrapped his arms fiercely around her as he pressed his face into the crown of her head. Nami returned his hug back just as tightly and she managed to calm down enough to continue with her story. "I was always fascinated with navigation and cartography… he found the maps I drew of the Conomi Islands… and decided he liked them… he kidnapped me and forced me to draw maps for him… the villagers ended up hating me for it… and I ended up hating what I used to love… along with my dream to draw a map of the entire world…"

Luffy pulled back a bit so he could look down at her with a dark expression on his face. "Nami… did they ever…" he trailed off and his voice was a deep, rumbling growl that originated from deep within his chest. 'Every single one of them is already dead but if they laid one finger on MY Nami…' It was taking every ounce of the control he had over his powers to not let them respond to the rage he was feeling.

Nami shuddered, both at what he just suggested and the growling tone of his voice. It reminded her of an incoming thunderstorm. She looked up at him and shook her head while maintaining eye contact with him. "No… even though they didn't shy away from… 'reminding me of my place'… they are way too xenophobic against humans to even consider doing that… everyone was relieved when we realized that… it was a silver lining to everything else that was our fucked-up situation…"

Luffy gave a quite sigh of relief. If Nami had been raped even once, he would have flown towards Cocoyashi and show them how superior he though those bastard fishmen were. He was still planning to do so either way but their punishment no longer was going to include electrical castration. 'I'll break all their bones and let them die slow, agonizing deaths. It's the least they deserve for years of suffering they have caused. I will have to think of something special for Arlong…'

"However…" Nami unknowingly pulled Luffy away from his dark thoughts when she spoke and she looked away from him as she rolled up the short left sleeve of her shirt. Arlong's symbol was tattooed on her left shoulder. "… I can't help but feel violated with this thing on me… it's a constant reminder… He… he struck a deal with me… a hundred million beri… he would sell Cocoyashi to me for that amount… and free me from his services… I have been doing everything short of prostituting myself to gather that amount…" she then turned towards him again and smiled bitterly while tears still trailed down her face. "… and that's my story…"

Luffy felt his anger spike at the thought of Nami selling her body for money. He quickly shook it off and looked directly into Nami's eyes. "We both know that he is full of shit."

Nami's tears intensified as she shakily nodded in agreement. She was good with money. Currently, the inhabitants of Cocoyashi Village had twenty-seven adults and twelve children. At one hundred thousand beri per adult and fifty hundred beri per child per month, Arlong could make more than what their deal entailed in three years. She always subconsciously knew that he was never going to sell her village back to her nor grant her their freedom.

As much as she used to deny it, she had never truly given up on hope nor had wanted to do so. It was the reason why she had put her life at risk again and again to gather whatever sum of money she could get her hands on instead of just rotting away drawing maps for Arlong in the past eight years. Nami could only shift herself until he she was straddling him which made it easier for her to hide her despair by pressing her head into his upper chest.

"Which is why you are not going to give him a single beri, Nami."

When she heard his words, she shakily pulled back to stare into his intense dark gray eyes in confusion. "What are you…"

"That money belongs to you, Nami. He doesn't have any right to it. Just like Cocoyashi Village is yours and he doesn't have a right to it either," said Luffy and he smiled at her fiercely when her eyes widened in shock at his words. "I'm going to make him regret the suffering he put you, your sister and your people through. I going to make him regret making you… my navigator… MY Nami… cry. And he is going to die knowing that it was all his own damned fucking fault. I promise you, Nami."

Tears of relief and hope replaced her previous ones of pain and despair when she heard Luffy's promise. She believed him. How could she not, when she had seen him deal with two of the top dogs of East Blue without even trying? It was because of this that Nami's next action were understandable. With a happy cry/laugh, Nami wrapped her arms around Luffy's neck and pulled his face close to her so she could kiss him. She poured all her feelings and all the attraction she had for him into it.

Luffy's eyes momentarily widened in surprise at her actions but his eyes closed as he began to enjoy the pleasant sensation. Even though it was slightly salty because of her tears, the emotions he could feel her pouring into the kiss just made Luffy tighten his own arms around her. The feel of her straddling him and her bountiful, perky chest pressing against his firm, muscular one also made it even more enjoyable.

Nami eventually had to breath but she only separated their lips as she kept her eyes closed while slightly panting with a flushed face that was equal parts because of her early crying and what he just did now. She gently pressed her forehead against Luffy, whose excitement she could feel along with his own panting breaths against the lower part of her face. Knowing that she had this kind of effect on him sent a thrill of pleasure through her entire body.

"Thank you… Luffy," she told him meaningfully as she pressed herself further against him.

He also wrapped his own arms more tightly around her. "Any time and anything for you… Nami."

And they went back to kissing each other.


After assuring Kaya that she could do whatever she wanted to his room, which had earned him an affectionate, chaste and shy kiss on his cheek, Usopp went down to the lower gun deck. Since he was the master gunner of the ship, this level along with the upper gun deck were going to be ones he would be in charge off. He had already checked the cannons of the upper gun deck so he was now going to take a look at the ones here.

'It's going to take a while to get used to fire these cannons in an effective manner. Learning Soru will help but with thirty-six cannons in total I will still need some help in the future,' thought Usopp as he looked around the room. It was as wide as the main deck and there were nine cannons on each side and two cannons on each end. Since it was going to be the place he was going to spend the most time at, the room also had a few bullseyes at different parts of the room so he could practice his marksmanship and 'Gun Fu' by shooting at them from every angle possible.

Usopp was also pretty good at engineering so he also had requested for a section of this room to function as his workshop. Usopp knew that his biggest strength will always be his ability as a marksman, which meant that the better and stronger the guns he used were, the stronger he would be. Usopp had a lot of ideas on how to make the guns he owned more effective and he even had a few theories on developing new types of guns. Thankfully, he had managed to procure most the stuff he needed to get started in the past two weeks so he was set on that front for now.

'The first thing I need to tackle is the reloading issue. The 'magazine' idea shows promise but I will have to find a way to apply it without compromising the structure and flintlock mechanisms of the pistols and rifle but with a few modifications I think I can pull it off,' thought Usopp as he walked towards the portion of the room that held all their ballistics related loot and equipment. Usopp knew that this was the stuff that used to belong to the Buggy Pirates and Black Cat Pirates. He also put his own stuff there as well.

"Well! Time to do some inventory," he said with a determined grin before he began to work on that. Since he was also going to manage his own logistic as well, he needed to keep track of the amount of everything he had so he could know exactly when he would need to restock.

It was as he was emptying one of the barrels in which Nami had told him she had dumped some of the stuff she had 'liberated' from Buggy that turned out to no have any monetary value that Usopp found a folded in piece of paper with a few words scribbled in one of the sides. According to Nami herself, she had just shoved everything she got her hands into her bags. Usopp was also thankful that along with his treasure Buggy had put everything else he had on the tent he had erected on the docks when he had been looting Orange Town and that Luffy, Zoro and Nami had also taken it with them.

Apparently, those red cannonballs with Buggy's symbols painted on them had enough explosive power to completely obliterate a normal ship. At the moment they only had a full barrel's worth of them which meant that their use was going to be limited. It was truly a shame that he didn't know how to make them himse-

"Buggy's Flashy Explosive Formula…" he read and trailed off as the meaning of the words sank in. With eyes wide in excitement, Usopp hurriedly unfolded the paper and began to read its contents in a manner that resembled a thirsty man in the desert finding fresh water for the first time in days. Slowly, a massive grin that was equal parts elation and evilness appeared on Usopp's face. "Mwahahahahah!"

When she heard maniacal laughter coming from the level below, Kaya momentarily stopped arranging the covers of her bed. She smiled fondly when she identified her… more-than-friend-but-not-quite-romantic-partner-yet being the one laughing. "I'm glad Usopp-kun is having fun. He sounds so happy!" She exclaimed excitedly before she began to hum a happy tune as she went back to what had been doing.


It was a few days after Luffy and co left that Alvida arrived to the Gecko Islands. Even though she had sailed the same distance from the Orange Islands as her target, she lacked not only Nami's navigational skills but also a Sea King to tow her dhoni, which sailed at a significantly lower speed than full fledged ship. That was why she was arriving here only now.

Alvida made sure that her boat won't be pulled back into the sea before she turned towards what she knew to be Syrup Village. She had a loving expression on her face as she began to make her way towards the modest settlement. "I'm sure Luffy-sama spent a significant amount of time here! I can feel it! I just need to find someone who knows in which direction he went so I can finally reunite with him!" She declared fervently.

When she reached the village, Alvida learned about what Luffy and the others did here. Learning that Luffy saved all this people from Kuro of a Hundred Plans and his Black Cat Pirates only resulted in in Alvida's love and admiration for him growing even more. His apparent brutality when he had dealt with them had Alvida getting more than a little hot under the collar and she knew that her session of… self-gratification… would be particularly intense that night as she imagined Luffy slaughtering dozens of men with a savage grin on his handsome face.

When she learned from a lamb-themed man that he had sailed in the northwest direction, Alvida finally saw a pattern that would allow her to more or less predict where Luffy would be going next.

'Luffy-sama is going for all the big shots of East Blue after all! He would've gone after 'Foul Play' Krieg if he hadn't taken his fleet to try his luck against the Grand Line not too long ago. Since he is heading northwest that means he is now going after Arlong the Saw. It might be possible he runs into El Drago as well,' she thought to herself as she sailed away from the Gecko Islands after using her beauty to restock her supplies for free. She couldn't waste any time after all. A man like her Luffy-sama would inevitable head into the Grand Line so she needed to reach him before that happened.

In the mean time, to make sure he would accept her, Alvida decided she would continue to increase her physical capabilities and her mastery with her Devil Fruitabilities. She knew that her Luffy-sama was a man that respected strength and that he would only allow those that he deemed strong to be by his side. Since that was what Alvida wanted the most, she'll become the strongest she could be to be worthy of her Luffy-sama.


Luffy had a pleased and proud grin on his face as he watched Nami using Soru to perform short burst of speeds successfully across the main deck of The Tempest. Instead of taking her six weeks to become ready to start learning the most fundamental Rokushiki technique, it had taken her that amount to actually learn it.

Nami stopped using Soru and she stood right in front of Luffy with a grin of her own and she put her hands on her shapely waist and cocked it to the side. "So…" she trailed off, looking up at him expectantly.

He gave her a thumb up. "You finally learned how to do it, Nami! And it only took you one day after Sunny!" He praised her and ignored her twitching eyebrow at the reminder that the 'oversized house-cat' had managed to learn the technique before her despite starting training on it at a significant later time than her. "You still have to master it though but that will come with more training an experience."

Nami gave a small sigh. "And until that happens, I won't be able to learn Geppo and later Rankyaku, I know," she said wryly before he could say it himself. She smirked at his petulant pout because of her interruption. Not commenting on it, she went for her next question. "What am I going to work on next then?"

Luffy stopped pouting at that and he rubbed his chin in a considering fashion. "Other than daily spars against me so you can get used to using Soru in combat, I believe you should now focus on Kami-e. Since you finally learned Soru, it shouldn't take you too long to get that one too."

Nami didn't bat an eyelash at the thought of fighting him. She just groaned as she adopted a mock wincing expression as she began to tenderly rub her arms. "Am I back to dodging pebbles?" She asked him in a whining voice full of dread before she pointed towards were Zoro was. "Why isn't he doing it as well then? He's just been trying to master Soru for the past three weeks!"

The green haired First Mate had a serious expression on his face as wielded his three swords while using Soru to move across 'his' side of the main deck. Luffy wouldn't be surprised if Zoro managed to master Soru in the next few days. He was already going through his katas while enhanced during long periods of time. Zoro had claimed that he still was forced to end the technique but that he could feel he was extremely close to achieving mastery.

"That's because Zoro doesn't want to learn it and Kami-e doesn't really go well with his own style of fighting," explained Luffy with a shrug. Even though he thought it wouldn't hurt Zoro to learn the Rokushiki dodging technique, Luffy was not going to force him to do so. Zoro knew what he was doing after all. Nami was a different story though. He raised an eyebrow at her. "Speaking of fighting styles… have you finally decided with which kind of weapon you will replace your staff?"

Nami smirked and nodded her head in the affirmative. "Yep! After considering all the weapons you told me about, I think the best one would be a halberd since it can be used for both piercing and slashing attacks. If I apply the style I use when wielding my staff, those types of attacks would be the ones I use the most."

Luffy blinked before nodding thoughtfully. "Hm, I guess that's true. We'll have to buy you one the moment we come across a decent enough armory then."

"Oh," Nami smirked saucily at him. "Don't worry about that. Usopp is making me a… personalized one."

Luffy got a bit excited at the sight of that smile on Nami's face but he managed to control himself as he focused on her words. "A personalized one? What do you mean by that?"

Nami blinked mischievously at him. "Let's just say I will be doing more than cutting and piercing with it."

Luffy blinked at her a few times before shrugging his shoulders. "Okay then."

Nami smiled up at him before she removed the distance between them and put her hands on his shoulders. Pushing herself up on her tip toes, Nami gave Luffy a quick peck on the lips. With a light blush, she pulled back and giggled at his silly grin. "I'll take a break of training for now to check on the course. I know we have Nina but we never can't be too careful, you know?"

"Sure," said Luffy before he leaned down and gave her his own peck on the lips.

With one last smile, Nami began walked away from him and she made sure to put the tiniest bit of extra sway to her hips as she did so. She could feel his smoldering gaze on her and it only made Nami smirk in satisfaction. 'Go ahead, Luffy! Get as excited as you can! All the better for me when you finally crack!' It frustrated Nami that despite her obvious willingness to go all the way with him, Luffy had never insisted on going beyond making out, dry humping and heavy petting.

Sure, it's only been a week since they got 'together' and they were already doing more than what most romantic partners would be doing at this point, but she just couldn't help herself. There was just something about Luffy that had her incredibly turned on whenever she thought about the more physical aspect of their 'new' relationship. Nami huffed a bit in annoyance. 'You clearly have the willingness to kill and take what you want of a real pirate. Why can't you be like one on this as well?' She lamented to herself as she picked up her map of East Blue and her compass.

After a few moments of looking at it, her eyes gleamed in interest as she realized something. "Hmm… we are sailing the waters in which the Gold Island is supposed to be according to the rumors and legend. One third of the world's treasures... isn't there supposed to be a map detailing where Woonan hid his treasure?"

After thoroughly enjoying the sight of Nami walking away from him, Luffy went to see how Usopp and Kaya were doing. Since they were closer to each other's level in regards to overall physical capabilities, they decided to train together. The two of them actually motivated each other to go beyond what they normally would and that resulted in better results for both so Luffy 'allowed' them to continue training together.

As he watched them go through some basic hand-to-hand combat kata for Kaya and his Gun Fu katas for Usopp while wearing weights, Luffy inspected both their bodies with a critical eye. Despite her obvious improvements and surprising growth rate, Luffy knew that Kaya won't be ready to start learning the Rokushiki for a few months at the least. Usopp's own growth rate was superior to Kaya's and he won't be ready to learn Soru for at least two months. Luffy didn't really care how long it took them as long as he saw they were working hard and the two of them most certainly were.

While it had taken him less than a month of specialized training when he was fourteen to become ready to learn the Rokushiki and then more than a full year to learn and master all the techniques, Luffy knew that it was simply unfair to expect from others the same expected of himself. Luffy was well aware that his own growth rate was absurdly abnormal even compared to Zoro's, who was the one on his crew that was closest to him in that aspect.

"Ah! Captain! How can we help you?"

Luffy blinked at the polite and out-of-breath voice pulling him out of his thoughts and saw that both Kaya and Usopp were looking at him with curious expression on their faces. He waved Kaya's question off with a grin and a dismissive hand motion. "It's nothing you two! I was just watching you train and thinking about your progress. You guys keep at it. In no time I won't be embarrassed to admit you are members of my crew," he said with a teasing voice at the end.

Usopp dramatically grasped his chest as he fell to the ground with a pained gasp. "Please… such harsh words… my self-esteem can only take so much."

Kaya just giggled at Usopp's over-the-top act before looking at her captain with a determined expression and saluting. "Of course, Captain Luffy! Usopp-kun and I will work our hardest to make sure to not embarrass you in the future!"

"I know you will," said Luffy with a chuckle before smirking at her. "I think you are ready to start learning how to use your knives. I'll talk to Zoro and if he can spare an hour or two every day from his oh so busy schedule to give you some basic lessons until you can develop your style further on your own."

Kaya simply nodded at him.

Usopp shot up to his feet and looked at Luffy with an expectant and eager expression on his face. "And what about me, Luffy?"

Luffy laughed at his enthusiasm and sudden change of emotions. Usopp never failed to make Luffy laugh with his antics. "I know you always hit your target, Usopp. I've seen the bullseyes inside the gun deck," he said and smirked when Usopp puffed up his chest and smugly rubbed in between his long nose and upper lip. "With that being said, you only need to get stronger physically and more skilled at Gun Fu for now. You will eventually reach the level at which you can learn Soru, Geppo, Kami-e and Tekkai."

"I shall keep proving myself, sir!" Declared Usopp with a salute followed by a cheesy thumb up that had Kaya giggling fondly and amusedly at him. Usopp had already decided Gun Fu would be his 'basic' style of fighting going forward and he will become better at it as he gained strength, experienced and better guns and weapons. And the reason why Usopp decided to learn those four Rokushiki techniques were because Soru and Geppo would afford him the mobility and maneuverability he would need as a gunslinger and Kami-e and Tekkai would give him the best chances to evade and block the attacks he couldn't counter.

Luffy nodded at them before he left them to their training once again. He glanced towards where Sunny was and he saw that the menean lion was diligently working on mastering Soru. Luffy had decided Sunny would then learn Geppo and Tekkai. Afterwards it would be Rankyaku. Luffy still doubted Sunny could learn Kami-e since he wasn't human or humanoid, but he was sure Sunny could learn Shigan using his fangs somehow. There was still some time before they had to cross that bridge so Luffy still wasn't exactly worried about it.

He turned towards where Zoro was and smirked as his right hand wrapped around the handle of his sabre. A quick application of Soru and he disappeared in a flicker of movement…

… only for the sound of metal clashing against metal to resound through the entire ship as Luffy's sabre met the blade of one of Zoro's unnamed sword. Luffy grinned at his First Mate in challenge as he pushed forward. "Care for a spar?"

Zoro grinned back at him around the handle of Wado Ichimonji as he pushed back against Luffy. "You know I'm always up for it, Captain!"

What ensued next was a high-speed dance of clashing blades across the unoccupied parts of the main deck. Like it was the norm between them, Zoro was clearly more skilled than Luffy with a sword but Luffy surpassed Zoro in both speed and strength by such a wide margin that he could still keep up with Zoro in a purely swordsmen duel. However, with Zoro knowing Soru now, Luffy had to put significantly more effort into it than before, which pleased him immensely.

Kaya was only capable of hearing the sharp clangs generated by their bladed weapons. Usopp, thanks to his overdeveloped eyesight, was capable of making out their blurred forms. Nami was capable of barely following their movements when she began to watch the spar. She leaned against the railing of the upper deck that faced the main deck when she was finished checking and adjusting the course. She was only seeing the blurred forms of their bodies and weapons as they continued to fight.

After a few minutes, Zoro suddenly appeared next to the main mast panting harshly, covered in sweat and a few cuts here and there as his legs trembled slightly underneath him. "Dammit! I still can't… keep up with the strain… it causes…" he said between pants but there was a grin on his face as he slowly recovered his breath.

Luffy, who had appeared in front of him, was only covered in a bit of sweat as he returned Zoro's grin with one of his own. "Keep up what you've been doing so far and you'll master it before you know it," assured Luffy as he sheathed his sabre after flicking off the little bit of Zoro's blood that covered it because of the slight cuts he had given him during their spar.

Zoro inclined his head at his captain. "Thanks. I'll keep working on it," he said before he looked at Luffy in a challengingly manner. "Before you know it, I will be showing you what a true swordsman can do at your own level, Captain. Maybe you'll finally learn a thing or two from me."

Luffy smirked. "I look forward to it."

Seeing that they were done with their spar, Nami came down to the main deck and told Luffy that she was ready to continue training and that they were set to arrive to their destination in about a week or so if there weren't any complications. Luffy had told everyone they were heading to the Conomi Islands so he could challenge Arlong and prove that he was the top dog on East Blue. Since the true reason was Nami's story to tell, he had claimed that to be the reason why they were headed there. Since he was the captain, no one questioned him, though Luffy was sure that Zoro could tell there was something more to it. His First Mate was more perceptive and intelligent than what he appeared and let on after all.

For the rest of the morning, Luffy trained with Nami and Sunny and that meant that he was throwing pebbles at them with enough strength to bruise their bodies. While this was done so Nami could learn Kami-e by attempting to dodge the rocky projectiles, getting hit by them would also result in her toughening up the point she would learn Tekkai. Sunny, however, was only withstanding getting hit by the pebbles since he was not trying to learn Kami-e.

After Nami and Sunny went back to work on mastering Soru, Luffy performed his own training in Kenbunshoku Haki and Haoshoku Haki for the next few hours. He knew that he needed to train Busoshoku Haki as well but he didn't want to reveal Haki to his crew yet. Since Kenbunshoku and Busoshoku were within the abilities he wanted them to learn in the future, Luffy didn't want to put more pressure on their backs until he felt they could know about it without being overwhelmed by his expectations.

Eventually, noon arrived and with it lunch time. It was while they were gathered around one of the tables of the kitchen/bar that Merry had somehow managed to put inside The Tempest, while they were eating quite the decent lunch prepared by Nami, Kaya and Usopp, the latter two having turned out to be capable of cooking, that the orangette pointed out where they were.

"Did you guys know that we are currently sailing the waters on which Gold Island is supposed to be?" She asked before putting a piece of fried chicken into her mouth.

Usopp swallowed his mouthful of mashed potatoes and looked at her in interest. "Isn't that the place Woonan, the man known as 'The Great Gold Pirate', who had a bounty of sixty million beri, hid all the gold he stole throughout his lifetime?"

"Yep!" Chirped Nami as she nodded at him.

Luffy smirked as he pointed at him with his half-eaten chicken drumstick. "El Drago is also supposed to sail these waters as well. He's rumored to have been looking for Woonan's treasure for years because of his obsession with gold. He has a bounty of fourteen million beri. And…" he trailed off as he turned towards Zoro with a smirk. "… His First Mate is a swordsman named Golass, who has a bounty of eight million beri. If we run into them, he might give you an actual challenge outside of myself, eh?"

Zoro drank from his mug of ale before returning Luffy's smirk. "Let's hope that comes to pass, Captain. I've been meaning to test myself against a proper swordsman ever since I joined your crew, you know?"

Luffy's eyebrow twitched a bit. "Oi… what's that supposed to mean? Are you insulting my skills, Zoro?"

The green haired First Mate uncaringly shrugged his shoulders as he bit into his chicken wing. "If you feel like the shoe fits…"

As Captain and First Mate began to bicker, Kaya giggled in amusement as she watched while continuing to enjoy the food she helped prefer. Usopp was made sure the bickering extended on as he made a few stray commentaries here and there to edge Luffy and Zoro on while eagerly eating his lunch. Nami just watched on with fond exasperation before she decided to do her best to ignore the childish banter and focus on her meal.

It would be later during the afternoon of that same day that the wishes of Luffy and Zoro would come true…


It was because Usopp was on the crow's nest that he spotted the small boat with three occupants sailing towards them a few hundred meters away. Since there was a high possibility of running into El Drago while they sailed these waters, Luffy gave Usopp the task of acting as the lookout because he had the mot chances of seeing anything with his eyesight. Usopp had done so without issues because the crow's nest had enough space for him to tinker away with his things, which is also why he hadn't spotted them sooner.

"Oi!" He called down at the others after looking towards the direction from which the boat was coming from and spotting over the horizon a ship. He used his spyglass in order to make out more details. "Three guys coming our way on a boat! They don't look friendly at all! There's also a ship coming towards us from the south! I have also spotted El Drago and Golass!"

Luffy, who had been cuddling with Nami on his hammock, gently released her from his arms before stepping down to the main deck proper with a grin on his face. "I'll make it up to you later, Nami," he promised her with a laugh when he saw her disappointed pout.

She crossed her arms under her perky breasts, pushing them up in quite the enticing manner, and looked away petulantly. "You better!" She had been enjoying the skin ship a lot after all. The fact that the others didn't bat an eyelash at their relationship, other than some teasing looks of course, made things even better. Sunny was an animal and he couldn't care less even though it clearly confused him, Zoro simply couldn't care less and Usopp and Kaya had their own 'thing' going on.

Luffy chuckled at her with a fond shake of his head. "Go ahead and alter our course so we are heading directly towards them. After that, go and tell Kaya what's happening so she's not surprised by the loud noises we are going to be making," he ordered her and his lips twitched when she gave him a mock salute with a saucy smirk on her face before going to follow his instructions. 'Little minx.'

Zoro, who had been meditating while sitting cross legged against the foremast, stood up and adjusted his swords to his haramaki as Luffy walked towards him. "How are we going to do this, Captain?" His expression was serious but there was a noticeable undertone of excitement in his voice. He was clearly looking forward to the incoming bout of violence.

Luffy smirked at him as the ship began to change directions and he stood watching the incoming sail boat and behind it, quite outside of the range of their cannons, the ship that could only belong to El Drago. "Usopp, you and I will be doing all the fighting. Sunny will stay here with Nami and Kaya. Nami has to man the ship and Kaya isn't ready for fights of this scale yet. As for Nina…" His smirk widened when he noticed the three occupants of the ship start to panic when they realized they had been noticed. "… Let her take of those fools. Anyone affiliated with El Drago is scum since he is the type to not care what he does as long as he gets his gold."

Zoro nodded in understanding. That meant no mercy today as well. He also quickly deduced that Luffy would be taking the both of them across the ocean using Geppo. While it embarrassed him that he had to be carried by Luffy, it also motivated him to master Soru so he could learn the air jumping technique.

Luffy looked up and shouted. "Usopp! You will snipe the cannon fodder from up there while Zoro and I fight against El Drago and Golass! Tell Nami to approach the ship when you see that everything is finished!"

Usopp took a hold of his flintlock rifle and sent a nod and a thumb up towards Luffy from where he was. "Understood, Captain!" He shouted back before he took his position and took aim towards the big ship that was now rapidly, in terms of naval speed of course, closing in using the iron sights of his long-range weapon in preparation for when they were finally within his range. 'Yup. I will use one of the spyglasses we have to make some kind of scope for this.'

Because the sheer speed of The Tempest, they quickly closed in on the small boat after they barely managed to turn around to try and escape from them. The panicked shouts of the three men quickly turned into screams of horror when Nina rose from the depths next to their ship but those were abruptly cut off when she lunged in and swallowed them in a single bite. He had only noticed recently, but Luffy couldn't help but marvel at the rate at which Nina was starting to grow. It probably had to do with all the moving around she did nowadays plus her constant eating. Luffy was sure she wasn't going to become as big as the Sea Kings of the Calm Belt, but he wouldn't surprised if she at least doubled the size she had when he tamed her.

It was just after Nina submerged again that Luffy noticed that the boat had another occupant. His eyebrows rose when he saw a small kid coming out from the single cabin of the boat. He could see that he was scared shitless as he trembled from head to toe while looking at the open sea around him. "Let's go!"

"Yeah, yeah."

Luffy grabbed Zoro by the back of his shirt and jumped up. It took him two applications of Geppo to reach the small boat and they landed behind the kid with a dull thud. Luffy released the hold he had on Zoro's shirt and he smiled down at the kid when he turned around to look at them with a pale face and wide, trembling eyes. He was a small boy with dark spiky hair. His outfit consisted of a light-yellow shirt with a tan brown waistcoat, a black cape with a flame design on the bottom and a red inside tied in a bow at the front. He had slightly torn brown shorts tied with an olive-green sash and brown shoes.

Luffy gave him a nonchalant two-fingered salute. "Yo."

"What's up with that lame greeting?!" He screamed while pointing at them and his face becoming a mix of fear and anger. "Tha-that Sea King ate the Hyena Three! How… how…" He began to hyperventilate as he slowly began to back away from them.

Zoro clicked his tongue in annoyance and crossed his arms over his shoulder. "Oi. Calm down, kid. At least you weren't eaten by her. Consider yourself lucky."

The boy looked at him blankly. "… He-Her?!"

Luffy nodded with a grin. "Yeah. Her name is Nina. She is a member of our crew and she doesn't take to kindly to those that approach our ship with less than friendly intentions," he said and he laughed at the kid's utter disbelief at that revelation. Luffy raised an eyebrow at him. "What's your name, kid? And what are you doing working for El Drago? You don't look the type, you know?"

Zoro snorted. That was an understatement if he ever heard one.

At his question, the kid got an angry look on his face as his fist tightened at his side. "My name is Tobio! And I'm not working for El Drago! That bastard kidnapped me and forced me to work for him when I accidentally ran into him after he killed the remnants of Woonan's crew! He has the map that leads to Gold Island and where Woonan hid his treasure!"

"Is that so?" Luffy asked rhetorically before smirking, knowing that Nami will be extremely happy when she found that Woonan's legend might be more than just that. "All the more reason to take him out then. Alright, kid. We are going to free you from him. Just stay close to our ship while we deal with him," he said before he grabbed Zoro again by the back of his shirt and prepared to jump.

"Wait!" Shouted Tobio and he elaborated when Luffy and Zoro looked at him curiously. "El Drago ate a Devil Fruit! Those are real. When he shouts, he can shoot beams of sound strong enough to destroy a ship! I saw him do it to the ship of Woonan's crew after he kidnapped me! And that guy Golass is no joke!"

Luffy grinned at him. "Thanks for the tip but knowing that won't change a thing. El Drago dies today."

Zoro also nodded. "If he proves to be a disappointment, Golass dies as well."

Under the wide eyes of Tobio, Luffy jumped towards the incoming ship and began to use Geppo to jump off the air towards it at incredible speeds while carrying a disgruntled Zoro. Tobio couldn't help gasping at the sight. 'Just who the heck are those guys?!' He thought and then yelped in fright when he caught sight of a glowing El Drago standing on the bow of the ship with his arms raised above his head. "Oh shit!"

With Luffy and Zoro…

The straw-hat wearing teen looked on curiously as a blue beam of sound was send towards them at high speeds. "That looks quite strong," he commented idly before grinning. "Buckle up, Zoro! I can see Golass from here! I think I can make it!"

Zoro turned towards his captain with questioning eyes. "What do you mean by-!" He was rudely interrupted when Luffy suddenly twirled around in the air to gather enough momentum to throw him towards the ship at about the same speed the blue beam was coming towards them. "Motherfu-!" That was the last thing Luffy heard from Zoro before his scream was cut off by the sound of the beam coming towards him.

Luffy could only laugh. "Tekkai!" He declared before cocking his right fist back as he continued hop off the air towards the beam. As a master of Tekkai, Luffy was capable of moving while using the technique and even use the other Rokushiki at the same time. As far as he knew, only his grandfather was capable of such a thing.

When it was about to hit him, Luffy lashed out with his Tekkai enhanced fist and a shockwave was produced from the point of collision between his fist and the sound beam as well as a loud, booming sound. The water below him was disturbed in such a why that it looked like a gigantic boulder had been thrown into it.

The sound beam was dispersed and Luffy continued using Geppo to approach the ship while looking at his hand with a disappointed expression on his face. "I barely felt that. I can already tell this is going to be boring," he mumbled to himself before he finally reached the ship. As he looked down while hopping in place, Luffy suddenly burst out laughing as he pointed at the tallest figure there looking up at him in shock. "You look more like a cat in person than you do in your poster! El Drago? More like El Gato!"

El Drago was a dark skinned, red-haired man that resembled a cat in appearance as noted by Luffy. As proof of his extensive love of gold, he wore shoulder pad armor made off an alloy of the stuff with a white shirt underneath and Luffy could see that he had sharp golden nails as well. On a side note, his ship was a fair representation of his personality and appearance, being covered with gold plating and having a lion for a figurehead.

When he heard the strange teen that had somehow blocked his sound beam saying that he looked like a cat, El Drago's shock was quickly substituted by anger. "Men! Shoot him down! Golass!" He turned towards his First Mate and his eyes widened when he saw him fighting who he recognized as 'Pirate Hunter' Roronoa Zoro and clearly being overwhelmed quite easily by the user of the Santoryu. "What in the-!"

El Drago suddenly saw one of his men drop down to the deck with a bullet hole on his head. He could only watch with wide eyes as others members of his crew began to suffer the same fate despite scattering around and not staying still. "What the fuck is going on?!" He screamed as he began to glow with the power of his Goe-Goe no Mi while looking up at whom had to be the cause of what was happening.

Luffy smirked savagely down at him as he watched every single shot of Usopp's hit its mark. "That would be the work of my master gunner," he said before he was forced to jump higher off the air to evade another sound beam from El Drago. Luffy looked down at him chidingly. "That was rude. I have come for everything you own… and the bounty on your head. You are the kind of scumbag I can't stand sailing the seas doing as he wishes, you see?" He said as he landed in front of him.

Surrounded by the bodies of his dead crew, El Drago bared his teeth at him as he brandished his gleaming golden claws. "If you think I'll let you take my gold, you have another fucking thing coming! I will kill you!" The fact that El Drago cared more about his gold than the fate of his crewmates was further proof on the kind of man that he was.

Luffy rolled his eyes at him as he unsheathed his sabre. "For some reason… I highly doubt that," he said right before El Drago charged at him with the clear intention of reducing him to shreds using his claws. He smirked as he slowly got into his stance. "So, you think you can dance, huh?"

With Zoro…

As he used his two unnamed swords to block and counter Golass sword strikes with laughable ease, Zoro had a disappointed expression on his face. 'He might have a lot of physical strength but his technique is barely decent. I can even tell that he doesn't even believe in himself. Dammit! Another waste of time' He thought to himself as he blocked a two-handed vertical slash coming from above with his left sword and countered with a diagonal slash from his left sword.

"Gah!" Screamed Golass as he failed to evade the attack by jumping back. A deep cut appeared across his torso that began to bleed profusely. Since he was left handed, Golass grasped at it with his right hand as he glared t the man in front of him while grimacing in pain and panting. "Roronoa… Zoro…"

Zoro looked at him with apathetic eyes. "If you weren't the trash I know you to be, I would have given you the chance to perhaps find your drive to become a true swordsman," he said before his eyes tightened and he crossed his two swords across his chest and placed Wado Ichimonji horizontally behind them. "However, my captain gave his orders. You only have yourself to blame."

Golass' eyes widened as he was frozen still due to feeling Zoro's killing intent and bloodthirstiness being directed at him.

Zoro seemingly disappeared in a flicker of movement…

"Oni Giri!"

… and reappeared behind Golass with his arms extended at his sides, kneeling down and his head lowered. Blood spurted from Golass' torso as he fell to his knees and his sword fell the wood of the deck. His head then fell to the side of his body before his body slumped forward into the deck with a dull thud. A pool of blood quickly formed around him.

Zoro rose to his feet before he flicked the blood off his unnamed swords and sheathed them. He then took Wado Ichimonji from his mouth and flicked off the blood from its blade as well before sheathing it. Zoro removed his bandana from his head and tied it around his arm. He clicked his tongue in annoyance. "Am I going to find someone on the East Blue that can give me an actual challenge?" He wondered before he turned towards where Luffy was 'fighting' El Drago. He idly noticed that El Drago's crew was very much dead.

Back with Luffy…

The black-haired teen had a bored expression on his face as he blocked the claw strikes from El Drago using his sabre. 'Man… this guy is a fucking joke. My spars with Zoro are more challenging. Oh well…' thought Luffy before he twisted his wrist so instead of blocking El Drago's next strike, he removed his right with one clean swipe.

El Drago looked at the sudden bloody stump with a blank expression on his face before it contorted in agony when blood began to spurt out of it. Luffy's eyebrows rose a bit when he began to glow in a way that told him that he was about to use the power of his Devil Fruit. El Drago looked like he was going to scream in pain as he held his right arm right beneath where the bleeding stump was.

Luffy didn't feel like listening to his creams so with a quick Soru and an horizontal slash from his sabre, El Drago's head was removed from his body. With a dispassionate expression on his face, Luffy ignored the pooling blood as he flicked off the blood from his sabre and sheathed it back. Taking care to not bloody his boots, Luffy approached El Drago's body and with a quick and efficient search found what had to be Woonan's map. A quick check confirmed it.

'Nami is going to be extra happy,' he thought to himself with a silly grin as he rolled the parchment of the map back up. Ignoring the dead bodies littering the deck of El Drago's ship, he turned towards Zoro. "Let's go procure our loot. I'm sure El Drago has some treasure of his own and other resources that we can find useful. We'll look after Woonan's treasure after we are done here."

Zoro nodded in agreement and understanding of Luffy's instruction and reasoning. "Aye, aye, Captain," he said before vaguely motioning towards the dead bodies around them. "I suppose they are going to be Nina's meal, right? Shouldn't we deal with that first?"

Luffy tilted his head a bit, nodded and shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah. Sure. We only need the heads of El Drago and Golass and we already made things easy four ourselves on that end," he said uncaringly before he recalled something as he gave El Drago's decapitated body a thoughtful look. 'I wonder where his Devil Fruit is going to reappear. It might have been weak but I'm sure it was more because of El Drago than the ability of the fruit itself.'

With nothing else to say, the two of them got to work. They threw the dead bodies into the sea and before Luffy did so to El Drago's body, he made sure to procure everything made of gold that was on his person, which included his armor and his nails. By the time The Tempest finished its approach, they had finished the gruesome task, located the treasury and got a rough idea of its worth. The only sign of the bloody massacre that took place on El Drago's ship was the blood pooled on its deck.

With the heads of El Drago and Golass inside a bag, Luffy easily jumped between ships and looked at the rest of his crew and Tobio. Nami only had an expectant look on her face, clearly wanting to know how much they gained not counting the bounties. Luffy knew that she had witnessed her fair shar of messed up stuff and with her greed being a prominent aspect of her personality, he wasn't surprised.

Even though she was somewhat successful in hiding it, Luffy could tell that Kaya was bothered by the sight of all that blood. Luckily, she wasn't looking at him, Zoro and/or Usopp in fear and/or disgust. As a matter of fact, she smiled at Usopp gratefully when the master gunner put his hand on her shoulder in a clearly supportive manner.

Sunny, when it became apparent that he wasn't really needed at the moment, yawned widely before lazily turning around and starting to make his way towards his room.

Tobio was just looking up at him with his expression and body frozen in shock.

"So…" began to say Nami with a clear air of eagerness and impatience around her.

Luffy grinned and lightly shook the bag contained the heads of the latest bounty he was planning on cashing in. "El Drago and Golass turned out to be the definition of easy money. Zoro and I dealt with them without breaking a sweat," he said before turning towards the master gunner and giving him a thumb up. "Nice work, Usopp! Not a miss and all perfect headshots. As expected from my master gunner!"

Usopp puffed up in pride as he returned Luffy's gesture with a grin and a thumb up of his own. "Happy to not disappoint, sir!"

Next to him, Kaya giggled in amusement as she shook her head fondly.

"You've got twenty-two million beries there, right?" Asked Nami for confirmation as she gave an upwards nod to the bag inside which Luffy was carrying the heads of El Drago and Golass. "Did you check their treasury? How much did they have? Any useful resources we can take for ourselves?"

Luffy chuckled at her eagerness and nodded in confirmation at her first question before answering the other ones. "Yes. Zoro and I checked it. It's mostly stuff made of gold but I'm pretty sure they are worth a lot of money. They had a decent amount of beries but I doubt it would be more than ten million. As for resources, Zoro and I only saw ship-repairing materials and tools, food, alcohol and weapons."

"About what we were expecting then. A bit more perhaps?" She asked and smiled when Luffy made a 'kind of' gesture with his unoccupied hand. "Alright. I'm pretty sure we are going to be taking it all. What is our next move?" She asked him with a certain pointedness.

Luffy smirked at her knowingly. "After we take move our stuff from El Drago's ship to The Tempest, I was thinking about going on a treasure hunt," he said before pulling out Woonan's map and lobbing it at her. He grinned at the sight of ecstatic Nami greedily unfolding it and confirming that Woonan's legend was very much real and that they were going to find one third of the world's treasure now that they were in possession of his map.

Nami was sure that he also very much enjoyed the subsequent quick make out session. With a pleased expression and blush on her face, Nami pulled back and mock scowled at the silly expression on Luffy's face as she unwrapped her arms from around his neck and began to push him way. "Oi! What are you waiting for?! Get to work! My treasure is waiting for me!"

Luffy got back his mental faculties and lazily nodded while giving her a mock salute. "Yeah. Yeah. No need to be so pushy, geez," he said before turning towards the others, smirking when he saw the way Usopp and Kaya were blushing and glancing at each other. "Oi! Lovebirds! Let's get to it! You can try what Nami and I do later after we are done!"

Giving a loud 'Eep!', Kaya's entire face went beet red and she looked away from Usopp, refusing to look at him anymore.

Usopp, with his entire face just as red, looked ready to shove one of his guns up Luffy's ass before firing it multiple times.

Luffy's grin was unrepentant.

Tobio just continued on looking at them in shock and awe. 'Two of them dealt with El Drago and his crew like they were nothing! And not only do they have a Sea King as their pet but there's also a Menean Lion! Who the hell are these guys?!'

That was when Nami spoke again. She pointed at the shortest person there. "Oh! Luffy. Before you go, what are going to do about Tobio?"

When he saw Luffy turning towards him with a thoughtful expression, Tobio couldn't help start trembling. Despite not treating him badly so far, he had just kind of witnessed these people massacre El Drago and his crew without a care in the world. He couldn't help being scared shitless. As he stood there waiting for the decision of whom he started to see was the captain of this crew of monsters, Tobio couldn't help but wish for his grandfather.

And that's a wrap for this chapter!

I know I promised the 'Baratie' arc as well, but if I continued with what I had planned, the chapter would have ended pretty close to 50k words and while I like reading long chapters myself, that doesn't necessarily translate to enjoy writing them. Besides, I felt like it was a good point at which to end the chapter.

Now, next chapter will most definitely include the 'Baratie' arc. With the amount of content there is, I'm pretty sure it will include only that and I won't be surprised if it turns out to be even longer than this chapter.

Can anyone tell me in what famous fictional ship is The Tempest based? You'll get a cybermuffin. I think there are enough clues to figure it out.

That's all from me for now. Remember. None of my stories are abandoned or on hiatus. They will be updated. I am a slave of my muse and she is a fickle thing. It wants what it wants and I just can't control it. Thankfully, this is just a hobby and I'm not planning to make a living out of it.

Muffin out!

PD: Any fans of Game of Thrones here? Am I the only one in that weird place in which you can't wait for the next episode but isn't ready to see the nuch of characters that are surely to die in the incoming battle? If you have a comment regarding that, try not to give out spoilers for those who have not seen the series (Even if there's no excuse at this point) and have the intention of watching it.