Hey, Soluxy here back with another re-edited/re-written chapter of Ambition of a God
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Read this if you are uncertain if you should read this fiction.
—This story is very dark compared to the original One Piece story. Expect a lot of gore and death, and I mean a lot, it only gets worse as time goes on and the Straw hats keep pilling bodies all around them.
—There will be a lot of smut and erotic writing with Luffy and the women of the One Piece world.
—There will be genderbending of some key characters!
—Godlike Luffy coupled with stronger than canon straw hats.
—Long 10k+ word chapters.
That's all the warnings out of the way, I hope you like it.
Monkey D. Luffy, an infamous person known worldwide for the incidents he committed, most would call him a troublemaker rookie who stumbled his way into a victory against a warlord of the sea, Crocodile in Alabasta, and became notorious from that fortunate win.
Yet, recent events have made people reform their views on this individual, one of the most notable incidents this man has produced was the destruction of the Judicial Island, better known as Enies Lobby.
It was devastated, perhaps it served as a symbol that fairness disappeared, the message passed after seeing the island burn was that criminals could no longer be judged fairly.
But to some scholars, the concept of fairness never existed in the world to begin with.
Sad, but it was the right line of thinking, all one could say was... it was truly unfortunate.
Monkey D. Luffy. The pirate, the criminal, the worst…
His body was in tatters after fighting numerous grueling battles from Impel Down to Marineford … critical wounds covered his body enough to make a man crippled for life.
If that wasn't enough, he also suffered the tragic loss of his older brother Portgas D. Ace who died at the hands of Admiral Akainu and in the process of sacrificing himself, he saved Luffy's life. There was nothing else the man Portgas D. Ace could have done.
To save his brother, Ace gave his own life.
There weren't just physical wounds on Monkey D. Luffy's body, there were also deep, unending scars…
These scars did not mar his body, instead they branded his mind and his heart, terrible scars that constantly hurt.
Nevertheless, these mental scars wouldn't have time to do that terrible work, to state the truth and nothing but the truth…
Monkey D. Luffy, this man with the Straw Hat. This man whose goal was to become Pirate King… This man who wanted it all.
This man was dying…
They say a moment is all that's needed to change history. A single moment can upset the balance of the world and give birth to hope. However, hope can only be born in the face of despair.
The question remains.
—Monkey D. Luffy, the dying man, could he ever grasp hope and salvation, amid the drowning sea of despair...?
On a Distant Sea, After the War of the best where both Ace and Whitebeard had made their last stand. A submarine of yellow paint emerged from the water, that submarine was owned by none other than the Heart Pirates.
If one would ask… The Heart Pirates are an infamous and notable pirate crew from the North Blue Sea. Their captain, Trafalgar Law, is a member of the Worst Generation.
"What is Luffy's condition…?! We would like to know!" An impossibly stunning woman walked, her steps were bold and loud.
There was a marine battleship docked on the side of the submarine.
On the marine battleship, unusually, there were many life-size statues of marines on board with hearts on their eyes, they weren't sculptures, no… they were humans who turned into stone.
They would probably remain so for a long time, or even forever, it all depended on the mood of the most beautiful woman in the world and one of the most powerful warlords of the sea the pirate empress Boa Hancock.
To those who turned into stone, there was no difference from death, and by the lovely woman's mood, they were as good as dead.
There was no other way to say it, those marines were dead by her design.
"Man, good job figuring out that we emerged here… I thought the marines were still tracing us or something, is this some kind of sick joke?" A white bear with an orange jumpsuit asked. Ignoring Hancock's question about Luffy's status.
"We had Salome trace you on the ocean floor… She can truly swim well." Boa Hancock pointed at her unusual royal snake, her precious companion.
—After the War of the Best, she had no injuries on her person, she was still peerless as ever which in turn showed her perfect strength.
"...And, you! Bear! How dare you try and change the subject like that, you mere beast?!"
Boa Hancock chastised the bear for ignoring her question about Luffy's condition. The White Bear lowered his head, depression setting in.
"Sorry," the White Bear managed to speak out amongst his downtrodden depression.
"So weak-willed!" the other two crew members, of the Heart Pirates, cried in surprise at the weakness and cowardice of the bear when other people talked poorly of him.
Trafalgar Law opened the door, rubbing his bloody hands in a cloth, his face had some drops of blood, that he finally wiped.
"Captain!" the bear cried.
"I did all that I could. Although for this type and difficulty of operation, well his life is currently being preserved — but," he continued getting off the blood in his hands, Boa remained silent.
"He's accumulated an unbelievable amount of damage — There's no sign that he will be able to come back..." After that revelation, Boa Hancock still stayed silent, her blue gem-like eyes glittered with worry, a cold sweat on her forehead.
"Heee Haaaaw!" A voice reverberated in the air.
"What in god's name is that?!" the heart pirates cried in surpsie once again at the new arrival.
A man wearing a strange leather suit with a giant head compared to his body, having a purple Afro and purple makeup yelled
His body was leaning from the Marine ship.
He was an individual named Emporio Ivankov, king of Kamabakka Queendom, his people were also with him on the deck of the marine ship.
"That's right, Straw boy gave his best! — Thanks to him, we managed to escape!" Ivankov showed off what Luffy did for them.
"The prisoners from Impel Down… it seems that they're on Luffy's side — they snuck on the marine's ship." Boa remarked with a bit of an unimpressed tone, they were Luffy's friends so she would tolerate them for the time being.
"—Now we can finally journey to 'Kamabakka kingdom' we've been dreaming for years! – From Newkama land to the headquarters of Newkamas!" they cheered on his speech as the heart pirates stared dumbfounded at them.
Ivankov landed on the submarine deck, he then took a more serious tone. "Straw boy's body was already withered to the point where he could no longer even stand in Impel Down! I'm amazed he was able to cause so much mayhem on Marineford" Ivankov gave a bit of praise for Luffy's wild side. "It was all for the sake of rescuing Ace! And to think that… that same elder brother died in front of him, protecting him. Straw boy..." Ivankov had a bit of a forlorn expression.
"If I give up here, I'll regret it!" Ivankov thought back to what Luffy said.
"What god would permit that…?! That's something that would easily crumble someone's mind, nay two minds! To think Straw boy is passing through something so tragic..." Ivankov was sweating with worry.
"Come on! you can do it, Straw Haaaat! – Hang in therrre!" the Newkamas cried, remembering the chant they did back in the prison when he was poisoned by the great warden Magellan.
"What a tragedy… We wish we could have gone in his place… poor, poor Luffy… " Boa Hancock said as she faced away, her warm tears cascading down with worry for his mind.
The Heart Pirates cried in envy because the Pirate Empress' affection was directed at the little guy with the straw hat. Although thinking again that wasn't a very enviable position to be in, critical condition and stuff, it wasn't worth it...
"By the by, who are you? Are you Straw boy's friend?" Ivankov asked the supernova, one of the members of the worst generation.
"No, I am not." Law answered. "I have no obligation of saving him either, if you're that worried about my motives, I could come up with a reason." Law continued as he faced Ivankov.
Ivankov crossed his arms. "No thanks! There are times where our bodies move without reason." Ivankov responded.
"Hey, wait!" One of Law's crewmates shouted. "Jimbei! You are still hurt." the crewmate continued his warnings.
The Knight of the Sea arrived on deck while huffing and puffing due to the pain of just moving his muscles, his body was bandaged through and through, hiding his sun brand, he clutched his chest — His body had sustained two injuries in the war from Admiral Sakazuki, the human with the power over light.
Only now had the warlord awakened from the war. "Trafalgar Law of the North Blue. I thank you for saving my life…!" Jimbei thanked the Captain of this submarine wholeheartedly.
"Go back to your bed and sleep Jimbei... you are going to die." Ivankov said, seriously, the way he said 'die' would have given any normal person a shiver up their spine.
Jimbei with his honorable nature explained his feelings and heartrending pain while retelling stories of Ace and how important he was to the Knight of the Sea as a highly regarded friend and comrade in arms.
"My heart will not settle down… not when Luffy-kun is wavering between life or death. For me who was close to Ace-san, this sense of loss is impossible to bear…! – but what I am most afraid of is the time that he wakes up… Luffy-kun is his brother, the sense of loss isn't heartbreaking anymore, it's soul-crushing!" Jimbei said making everyone, realize how bad of a situation Luffy was in.
"Beast! Do you have a Transponder Snail?" Boa asked.
"Yeah. Ah…! Yes, we do, Ma'am! Sorry!" the White Bear's depression returning.
"You are like the Empress' slave or something." his crewmate commented, receiving another sorry from the bear.
"If we call the Kuja pirates we can cross the Calm Belt and heal Luffy – if Luffy's survival is made known to the government they will not relent, we witnessed this at Marineford, we must hide in my kingdom, and as long as we hold the title of warlord we will be able to treat him safely and without foreign interference." Boa Hancock ordered the men around as if she were their captain, the big-name pirates were a bit taken aback by her authoritative prowess.
"Well then… My mission to protect Straw boy ends here! Can I leave the rest to you, Jimbei?" Ivankov said as he jumped towards the ship where his people where situated in.
"Yes. I still can't swim freely with these wounds… I will ascertain Luffy's recovery with my own eyes."
The Newkamas cheered them a goodbye as Ivankov steered the ship away from the submarine and the Kuja pirates' ship that had arrived.
"If fate may have it, then let us meet again, don't you die now Luffy!"
With Luffy's fate still uncertain, the coalition of pirates traveled towards the island of women, Amazon Lily. Treated as a special exception, the heart pirates were allowed stay and dock on the beach far from the actual city.
"Captain… his heat is giving out!" one of his crewmates cried.
Luffy was convulsing and groaning out in pain.
"Hurry and hold him down! Damn, this isn't looking good. Inject him with an antidiuretic hormone and prepare for manual resuscitation!"
The situation looked grim and the atmosphere was suffocating.
The seconds that ticked by felt like hours and everyone held their breath as Law did his best to stabilize Luffy.
In the end, however, he failedas Luffy's heart rate monitor flat lined.
Silence descended upon the occupants of the room as the harsh reality they were faced with dawned upon them. Regardless of their best efforts, the outcome was still a failure.
"Damn," he punched a wall in frustration, his pride as a doctor was severely crushed.
On this day both Edward Newgate, Portgas D. Ace, and Monkey D. Luffy died.
However, even if he died, it was not the end of Luffy's adventure…
"Where am I...?!" Luffy was on the ground kneeling, his hands on the ground, he had no clothes on, memories kept rushing in his head so much that it was giving him a massive headache, the realization set in.
"I… I see, I lost Ace" His hands cupped his face painfully, pressing his cheeks so hard that a normal human would have their skulls broken. His eyes were so narrowed they were creasing his forehead to abnormal levels as his fingernails poked into his cheeks.
His eyes scanning the whiteness of space.
"W… where? Oh… A white space that goes on forever… I am probably dead..." he started laughing at himself. "I am such a weakling… I couldn't save my crew, Bon-chan sacrificed himself so I could escape and in the end of it all, I couldn't even save Ace!"
He started crying in earnest. Frustration piling upon frustration, what was he even doing? What have he been doing all this time?
He crouched and kept his head low in disappointment. "All that talk about being Pirate King and I couldn't do nothing against them."
He remembered Aokiji, Kizaru, Magellan, Blackbeard, Hawk-eye, and Akainu. How they were so strong and looked down on him. He wasn't a match for them. There was an unsurmountable mountain between them and him, one he couldn't cross no matter what he tried.
He clenched his hands painfully, his wrist clicked with the force, almost breaking them as he punched the ground, making two craters on the white floor.
His tears flowed freely, he cried and screamed and yelled for hours, there was so much pain in his heart that he wanted to disappear so it could stop. He wanted everything to stop, he wanted everyone to just die. That's how he felt at this moment. He had been a complete weakling without power to back up his own recklessness and it cost him everything!
Another sibling was taken from him, first Ann now Ace.
What's next? His comrades!?
He stopped that train of thought, he stopped mourning, he spent hours, days, here in this white space.
There was a simple explanation he stopped screaming. His friends were still alive, that's all that mattered to a straightforward heart that Luffy had.
"I can't stay dead like this…!" he clutched his chest, his eyes shined defiance and ambition.
"My dream of Pirate King will not end here… It cannot finish here; I am not a man who will end here!" Luffy's whole body seemed to move, the heaviness in his movements caused an oppressive atmosphere, that gathered around him, as if a storm blessed him.
His burning desire for the One Piece shone through, though now he had an additional dream, remembering one of the titles old man Whitebeard had.
He wanted that title, he craved that title now with all his heart, and it wasn't the Emperor of the Sea...
He mustered his fists, he raised himself from the ground and screamed to the high white heavens, his new dream.
"I will become the most powerful man in the world!" His yell, fueled by his ambition made the ground heave as if it was alive, as if it was in awe of his splendor and greed, Luffy could honestly say that it felt like the ground was massaging his feet, the air around touched him, as if worshipping his will.
So that I will not lose another loved one ever again.
Law was about to give the bad news after mourning for about nine minutes, however he heard a strong heartbeat. He looked shocked at the monitor, it was flat-lined for more than nine minutes, the son of Dragon should have already been brain-dead.
"Straw Hat-ya…?!" He rushed towards Luffy's side, confirming his miraculous revival. "I will not lose you again, I am one of the best doctors in the Grand line, ya hear?!"
He worked tirelessly for what seemed like hours, and finally, Luffy was stable enough, his wounds were healing at an astonishing rate confirming the strong vitality of the Monkey family. By this point Law was fatigued and collapsed on his own medical bay.
Then after the warlord rested, someone lese opened his eyes, Luffy jumped out of his bed, his body moving with his will with no difficulty due to his fatigue or wounds.
"Watch out! Calm down, straw hat!" one of the heart pirates cried.
Within the territory of Amazon lily, on the throne room of the amazons, Boa Hancock sat there worried.
"Snake Princess…! Luffy has awakened, he came back to life" One woman of her crew reported as she entered the room.
"Luffy-sama…!" The servants exclaimed, happy that he was up.
"Oh really?! Hah… what joy! we wish to meet him at once!" Boa could not hold her joy to see her beloved again.
"Snake Princess! everyone wants to meet Luffy I understand that, but if you meet him alone it's going to give off a bad example towards the Amazonians on the island, there are laws that need to be uphold" the elderly lady spoke.
"…! W—We know that..." Hancock struggled to speak, as if getting separated for just a minute was enough to have her heart broken.
"More importantly sister, your meal…!" Sandersonia, one of her sisters spoke out.
"That's right you haven't eaten since you've got here!" Marigold matched her sister, urging Hancock to eat, yet it had an unintended effect.
"That's right! Luffy must be quite famished, prepare a feast for him at once" she ordered her servants.
"yes, ma'am gladly!" They were overjoyed to prepare a feast for Luffy-sama, he was quite exalted by the population, most women in the island adored him.
"We shall help out with the meal as well!" Boa Hancock spoke as she raised her beautiful self from the throne. "We shall make sure… it is the best food our husband has ever had…" Boa Hancock said with a serious and passionate face.
"Husband!?" Gloriosa cried out in surprise.
"Where did that guy Jimbei go?" One of the heart pirates asked.
"He went after Straw Hat, I think...? Well, he rushed to the thick jungle" The other responded.
Law picked up the Straw Hat that Monkey D. Luffy wore, a silent look on his face as he recovered from his fatigue.
There was a trail of destruction in the forest, Luffy's fists were bleeding, he tried extending his arms. Trying to use his power over rubber. The fruit of rubber he ate from Shanks.
However, he couldn't understand, he didn't understand what was happening...
Where had his power gone? Where was his devil fruit!?
He sat on a rock he looked towards his newly made friend Jimbei, Luffy's glare could pierce any man, and on one of his hands was the vivre card for the old man Rayleigh, the paper was full of his own blood and a bit moist from the bloody liquid.
Jimbei was silent, remembering the past and his promise to take care of Luffy that he made with Ace back in the dark depths of Impel Down. He promised Ace he would take care of his little brother should he ever die and as fate would have it… It was truly unfortunate.
"Luffy-kun, the war is over… Ace-san is..." Jimbei did not look down, he met Luffy's silver eyes head on.
"Dead..." Luffy's voice cut through, the voice that came out was deadly serious and silent, yet those words could cut through and intimidate most people, it was so uncharacteristic of the easygoing and passionate Luffy.
His silent tears bled through, Luffy had already come to terms with the death.
Jimbei sat towards him and listened to the young man talk about his frustrations. Luffy in turn confided in him about his wants and desires, that he'd been a complete fool this whole time, a reckless idiot without the power to back up his own words. Only now he realized that the darkness of the world was always around, that he wasn't untouchable to its misery.
"Jimbei, I want to see my crew again, however, I am too weak like this, I lost my devil fruit, I couldn't win against all of those tough opponents, I need to get stronger..." Luffy looked at Jimbei the truth coming out, he was still weakened by the wounds on his body, but they were healing.
"Luffy-kun, you need to heal your wounds first, after that you will know what to do." He carried Luffy on his back, towards the beach.
"Woah…! Rayleigh!" Luffy called out on the muscular old man, in the shore sitting on the stone, a happy expression overcame both.
"Luffy-kun." He gave his greetings. The heart pirates that Law commanded were gone and the old man had the straw hat in his hand.
"What are you doing here…!? I believe my vivre card is still pointing towards the sea..." Luffy grinned.
"I left mine with Shakki back on Sabaody Archipelago" Rayleigh responded.
It was at this moment that Boa Hancock and company arrived. A cart of food was being delivered by them.
Both sisters and Gloriosa greeted Rayleigh, but Boa only fussed after Luffy, however, Boa noticed something different about her beloved, he seemed more mature. Although he still joked around with everyone else, she could see a serious look cross his face, to her, he appeared even more attractive.
"Luffy, I could barely sleep, I was so worried about you… here I prepared a feast for you" Hancock said as she put her fingers on the fruits.
Luffy grabbed her hand, his eyes intensely stared at her face, his eyes searched her thoroughly as if discovering something new about her. "Hancock, thank you, for everything!"
Her face was reddened and she almost fainted due to the sudden closeness and intensity from his silver eyes.
Jimbei noticed the assortment of foods, his stomach growling like a tiger.
"Jimbei…! We did not prepare this food for you…!" she recovered quick from her funk.
"Hancock… it's ok… he is my friend," he patted her head, she almost fainted.
"No more than a mouthful, you hear…!?"
A dragon's roar was heard, all around the island, all looked at Luffy's stomach, he blushed a bit, scratching his neck.
"Luffy-kun…. You should eat up! For to eat is to live!" Jimbei gave him a heartwarming smile.
Luffy did not need to think twice he rested on the grass near his friend Jimbei and he attacked the food like a man possessed, placing fruits, seafood, meat, and all other assortments of foods in his mouth. Afterward, Luffy invited Rayleigh and Hancock to eat with him, Rayleigh started discussing the letter Shakki sent to the snake sisters, it was finally then that Boa noticed Rayleigh, Gloriosa was shocked at her lack of attention to anything that wasn't her beloved.
"So Luffy-kun, how are you feeling?" Rayleigh asked.
Luffy was strangely composed, even after waking up he hasn't broken down mentally.
"I feel like I was hit by an entire warship, everything hurts, if I move my arm it feels like it's ripping apart, if I move my neck, it strains severely," Luffy said with a sigh.
"It's not surprising you're in that much pain considering what you went through. It's pretty normal so it seems you're doing alright for the time being," Jimbei said.
"No... This is far from normal, at least for me." Luffy told them. "I'm a rubber-man, pain isn't something I feel regardless if the kind of beating I take, it's one of the reasons I won the many fights I was in so far."
Luffy looked towards his hands as he told them how his power over rubber worked and how much it helped him to be the man he was today.
"My endurance and stamina as well as my ability to tank as many hits mostly come from my Rubber powers. The fact that I'm feeling this much pain after almost ten years probably says that I lost my ability entirely." Luffy said nonchalantly to those around him as he punched the air and his arm failed to stretch lie before, the fruit of rubber wasn't inside of him anymore.
The others were shocked, but Rayleigh, on the other hand, laughed heartily.
He already predicted this outcome, so he wasn't surprised, Trafalgar Law had already told him that Luffy was dead for more than nine minutes. What did surprise him was Luffy's calm and nonchalant attitude.
It wasn't a bad thing, in fact he welcomed that emotional maturity, but he'd like to know the reason behind it. "You seem awfully calm about this considering the circumstances…. Not counting the traumatic events you went through you were also dead for almost nine minutes…! That is the reason you probably lost your ability – It was a close call."
Rayleigh explained to them why Luffy had lost his powers for good, while staring at Luffy's eyes, with a smirk. "Is there a reason why you're not panicking or throwing a tantrum as I expected you to...?" Rayleigh asked Luffy with a knowing smile on his face.
He deduced that Luffy reached a similar conclusion as he did and was happy, now his plan would go a lot more smoothly. The Gorgon sisters, Jimbei and Gloriosa chose to be silent and just watch thing play out between the two for now.
"Ace is dead, nothing can change that now, I was too caught in his promise that he would never die… that I did not want to believe, that I'd rather close my eyes and cover my ears to the truth… I already cried enough… " Luffy said, as he ran his fingers through his hair.
"Then what happened? Obviously, you're still alive so it stands to be reasoned something gave you the strength to fight your way back." Rayleigh asked with knowledge of Luffy's answer.
"I was in a white room, I don't know if it was a dream, or if it was the afterlife... but I took a long time there crying and coming to terms with Ace's death… " Luffy said with a forlorn look into the distant sky on the horizon, before facing the group. But I've come to terms with it, I have a lot to live for… I will not let my dream come to an end! I will be the Pirate King!" he yelled to the high heavens and it was as if the heavens acceded to his wish.
Everyone was happy for Luffy, he got his spirit back at last, however at that instant that he yelled, reddish black cracks in space all around Luffy thundered across the island, a shockwave washed over and reached more than a hundred kilometers off the coast, that was his supreme king's Haki, the absolute weight of his ambition washed over them.
Everyone was stunned and surprised, however, Boa Hancock was strangely self-conscious, it was like a lover's touch caressing her skin with her beloved's desire to attain everything the world had to offer, the man she has fallen for was an incredible person indeed.
Luffy calmed and the storm with him. "I have many people who care about me... back home in Goa kingdom, all the friendships that I made in my adventure, all of my comrades… they are waiting for me, they still care about me, I know it for certain, no matter what man I will become, I am still me." Luffy said as he stood up, not giving a damn about the pain on his legs.
"I hate that I am the last of my siblings… but I can't let this drag me down forever… it is frustrating… I've done all I could in the war but like many people spelled to me… being courageous isn't enough! I lacked strength and Ace died because of it…" Luffy closed his eyes, in deep thought, uncharacteristic of the seventeen-year-old until now, but this was also a sign of deep change within him.
"Given my weakness, I've decided... I am going to become the strongest man this world has ever seen… that was the title the old Whitebeard had, wasn't it?" he asked determination shining through his deep eyes as he opened them.
"Oh, I can see you've taken things seriously and I can tell you've reached the same conclusion as me. So, what do you want to do now?" asked Rayleigh in all seriousness. Now was the time to see whether Luffy knows what was to be done.
Luffy took a while to settle his thoughts. He looked up at Rayleigh with fierce will burning in his eyes.
"What I want is to see my crew again. What I want is to get back on my ship and go on more fun and exciting adventures with them" Luffy exclaimed passionately. Rayleigh nodded in understanding, but an undertone of disappointment can be detected.
He was happily surprised however by Luffy's next words.
"As much as I want that to happen... I know that right now, it's not what I need," Jimbei and Hancock looked shocked as did the others, they knew how desperately Luffy wanted to reunite with his crew.
He has said so on many occasions.
They've come to realize how much he cherished the bonds he created and knew the relationships he had with his crewmates were unbreakable. Hearing such words from him was a little unsettling and it worried them, especially Hancock.
She remembered the time before she got to know him and fell in love with him, how he profusely begged her, on his knees even, and threw away his pride and dignity in order to obtain a ship to leave the island to find his crew. She remembered the look of complete and utter joy plastered upon his face when she agreed to lend him said ship. Although at the time she felt sad at the thought of him leaving and never seeing him again.
However, fate decided to flip the proverbial table of his reunion and throw the boy into the whirlwind of events that culminated in the loss of his brother and his own death and subsequent resuscitation.
Of course, he fought through that and knowing him as well as she thought she did, the first thing he would do was ask to find his crew and reunite with them especially after going through such an experience. She felt that Luffy needed them now more than ever, even though she wanted to be the one to comfort him.
Even if she did wish from the depths of her heart that he would regard her with as much importance as he gave to his comrades.
Still, he was a man who never failed to surprise those around him.
The fact that he seemed so serious about it was even more alarming.
"I don't understand Luffy, you've been desperate to find your crew since I first met you... I thought for sure after all that has happened that you would want to be with them," Hancock stated with an unusually solemn expression directed at Luffy.
All traces of her fawning side disappeared, and she was now serious and stern.
This was truly the face of the cool and indomitable Pirate Empress.
After witnessing her slightly eccentric behavior around him, for the most part, made Luffy almost forget that underneath all those layers she put up, lied a fierce and powerful warrior, one that reached warlord Status. A title only held by seven people in the wide world.
He couldn't help but be captivated by her strength of spirit even if that adoration lasted only a few seconds, after all this was the woman he would be forever indebted to. After a second, he regained his composure before taking on a serious expression. He faced her with an equal level of presence, it was his form of giving respect to her.
"There are too many tough enemies in my adventure… to become the Pirate King I need to become much stronger… I feel inside of me, something waiting to burst out, I can grow stronger still… but right now I am weak!" Luffy pointed at his chest.
"Luffy-kun don't be ridiculous. You are strong, I've seen that for myse—" Jimbei was cut off from his little attempt to reassure Luffy by the man himself.
"Jimbei… please let me finish. I used to think of myself as strong." Luffy walked forward and sat on a rock next to Rayleigh.
"...I didn't have much else to boast about. What strength… ?" Luffy continued, after getting a bit more comfortable to tell a story.
"I was raised by mountain bandits, strength was all that mattered in that place, however that strength wasn't enough. I came to the Grand Line with a crew of 5 on a small ship, armed with a devil fruit and thought I could take on the world..."
"...And I did for the most part…. I don't mean to talk big but how many other rookies can claim to have defeated two members of the warlords. To have saved a country from civil war, to have defeated a man who styled himself a God and to have crushed the one of the most power and feared assassin from the governments CP9. To be the reason Enies Lobby was sunk to the ground. To lead the greatest escape Impel down, the impervious prison, has ever had. This was all within a few months of their journey… I don't think any rookie can boast to have done all of this."
Luffy continued his monologue with a fond smile as he recounted the many achievements of him and his crew during their journey. However, he took on a more solemn countenance as he continued.
"While all those look like good achievements on paper and speech and they make me seem really strong, in the end that's all a lie..." He faced them with a serious look.
"All those battle I fought drove me to the brink of death! I had to struggle! I barely crawled my way out of them. My crew was in just as much danger. It was only thanks to my devil fruit abilities that I miraculously survived." He put in perspective, of how much those adventures could have cost him and his crew.
"In the end, you can say that I did pull through and those experiences have made me a better person, sure, I did win against all odds. But now, looking back...it all seems so hollow. While I consider myself strong, I don't think I'm as strong as I could or should have been right now." Luffy could have done better, he could have done much better...
If there was only a way to return in time and do it all over again, he would take it right now. But this was not to be, he had to live with the consequences of his actions and the actions of the world around him. Reversing the past was an impossibility.
"…That's what I meant when I said when I'm weak" Luffy finished his little story with a downcast expression and his jaw clenched. The others looked to be contemplating what they just heard.
Although they wanted to refute his self-deprecating views aimed at himself, they didn't know the full story of Monkey D. Luffy, having only known him a short while. They chose silence over any sudden remarks that could be insensitive to the boy's current situation.
Rayleigh though, was happy at this development. He was a little worried about Luffy and if he would be prepared for what's to come, especially with Whitebeard dead and the world thrown to chaos. He thought he may have a tough job trying to persuade him to agree to his proposal, but now though it seems his worries were unfounded.
Luffy found the path he wanted to take on his own. He couldn't help but feel a little proud at the emotional maturity the boy seems to be going through. He patted him on the shoulder and nodded at him to continue. He knew the boy needed to get this off his chest.
"When I was young my Grandfather looked after me, I didn't know my Mother or Father. Grandfather always raised me with the mentality of joining the Marines. I never questioned it much... I was a little boy; I didn't really care." Luffy chuckled a bit, however, the next words made his eyes light up. "Then came the day that Shanks and his crew came to my hometown. They all seemed so much larger than life compared to the little boy I was. I thought they were the coolest." His tone seemed happier as he talked about Shanks.
"Shanks took the time to talk and even play with me. He ended up saving my life and giving me his Straw Hat with the promise of returning it to him someday. It's what set me on the road to be a pirate. I wanted to be someone great just like him," Luffy said with a tone filled with admiration for the famous 'Red Hair' Shanks.
The others were quiet and choose to let him express the feelings he needed to. He sadly looked at the famous Straw Hat in his hands and continued.
"Looking back at how I spent the ten years since meeting him I realize I didn't try as hard to improve myself as I should have. Most of my days were spent fooling around in the woods instead of actually doing things that could actually help me achieve my dream."
He could have spent more time developing his powers, instead of hunting menial animals or playing tag with predators. He could have spent more time infiltrating the capital and obtaining information… But all he thought is that studying was a joke.
"I would always remember Ace telling me to read more or learn proper manners, but I always laughed it off and continued goofing off. I regret not listening to him now. I can't help but think, maybe if I tried more or trained harder, I would be stronger, strong enough to have saved Ace". His tone was soft and filled with regret.
"Luffy…" Hancock whispered to herself. It was hard for her to see the man she loved like this. But she knew him well enough to know that he will persevere.
"I came to the Grand Line with a flimsy resolve, completely clueless to the world around me… I thought having a devil fruit made me invincible… I thought always shouting about being Pirate King would convince people I was the real deal… I might have been trying to convince myself instead… I put my crew in danger and made a lot of reckless decisions without the strength to back it up which ended up hurting them more times than I can count."
"Although I have all those regrets, too many of them, I'm not going to let them weigh me down. I've been given a second chance at life so to speak. My eyes have been open to the truth of the world. My ignorance has cost me too much already. I want to change that. The fight on the Sabaody Archipelago showed me already. We are not ready for the New World…"
"All the previous fights were won by the skin of our teeth. We would be slaughtered in the New World. It is a place we know nothing about and after everything that's happened, I don't want to rush in with no knowledge and hope we make it out somehow. We need to be better. I need to be better."
"Oh, I've gone way off topic… Sorry about that, just needed to get it off my chest. So anyway, to answer your question Hancock, while I do desperately want to see my crew...as I am now, I'm no good to them. Especially now that I've lost my devil fruit powers. I'm weaker, and as Captain, I need to be strong enough to protect them should the need arise."
"After my little performance in the war with my temporary alliance with the old man Whitebeard, and fact that the world knows my connection to Ace and to top it off they know who my father is, the world knows… People will be after us, marines, and pirates alike only to make a name for themselves. I'm not strong enough to get through them all. I need to be better, stronger, faster, smarter. I just don't know how to go about doing that." Luffy finished, balling his fists tightly whilst making a frustrated expression.
"Hahaha, I came here to see you Luffy-kun, I saw you fight in the war in the screens around the archipelago, will you listen to my plan? Naturally, it is up to you if you accept it or not," Luffy faced him, his head already formulating theories as to what Rayleigh said.
"What plan are you talking about?" Luffy asked with an interested expression on his face.
"Well, I see no harm in telling you… I planned on taking you back to Marineford to do a little ceremony for the dead so to speak… This is to tell the world that you're still alive and to make a statement as well… But the main purpose of doing this is to get a message to your crew, to let them know that you all will be taking a break from your journey to improve yourselves for the New World… I remember you all saying that you'd meet in three days at Shakki's bar… how about instead of three days we push the date to two years? I was thinking we can do the message in the form of an Ink mark on your arm… So what are your thoughts on this?" Rayleigh asked him seriously.
Luffy was a little taken aback by the thought of not seeing his crew for two years. He wanted to get stronger, but he didn't think about what that would mean for the rest of his comrades. "From that look on your face I can see that you want to train me but what about them? How will they improve…? I don't even know where they are."
"I thought you might ask that…. I do know where they are. The same way I knew where. The person who sent you flying to this island told me so, he saved your lives." Rayleigh said with a smile.
"You may not realize this Luffy, but on the Sabaody Archipelago when your crew was cornered by Kizaru and those Pacifistas you had absolutely no hope to win."
"When Bartholomew Kuma sent you all flying, he actually saved your lives. His actions allowed your crew to get out alive and live to fight another day. That was his last act as a human being as I'm sure you know by now that his personality was erased, and he was turned into a human weapon." Rayleigh told him with all seriousness. He had come to have a great deal of respect for Kuma after his actions.
"But... why?". Luffy was even more confused than before. That just brought up more questions than actual answers, what was the Paw Guy's objective?
"As for your crewmates, he sent them to places where they can get hands-on training in their specialty skills to improve themselves. For example, your cook is with your friend from the war Ivankov and your swordsman is on an island belonging to Dracule Mihawk, just to name a few. They are with people who can improve them and most importantly they are safe."
"So now I ask you again. You are the Captain; the decision lies with you. What do you think of my plan?" Rayleigh asked him once again. Luffy smiled, it was not his usual face-splitting grins, it was a small one, however, the most important part was his silver eyes, they stormed with overwhelming confidence.
"There's only one answer… " Those words gave everyone a pause, after they left Luffy's lips.
Marineford, the seat of power of the Marines, laid in ruins.
It suffered a war that could shatter entire countries, yet even now the justice symbol, while cracked, it stood proud.
Various construction workers performed shifts tirelessly to repair the broken island, reporters were on the scene, recording everything that happened.
There were few marines, some captains lieutenants and grunts stayed to protect the isle. The admirals, vice admirals, and the top brass was either in Marie Geoise, or scouring the world putting a strong front so that pirates would not dare attack them while they were weakened, especially after Whitebeard's last words.
On this isle, a Marine warship arrived, however instead of entering the bay it started circling around the whole island, soon reporters and marines got suspicious of the ship's strange behavior.
It then fired blank shots out of the canon, the noise got the attention of all the people there.
"What's going on…? Has that ship entered in contact with us?!" a Captain yelled his orders.
"No… that's impossible, what is he doing here?!" a man with binoculars he was shocked, after all on the front of the ship stood Monkey D. Luffy, curiously, he seemed a bit different, not even ten days had passed, however the man who was 5'6" had grown, he stood at 5'8" and he seemed more filled out, it was frankly inexplicable.
For the marines, the sudden change in appearance was unexpected but not entirely strange, most had seen stranger things on the sea.
"What happened…?" A reporter asked.
"It's Straw Hat Luffy!" A grunt of the marines responded.
The reporters were shocked, the Marine Captain quickly commanded to sink the ship. One of the sentry turrets fired three projectiles.
A column of water rose from the sea intercepting the shots, Jimbei who was under the sea, floated above to the surface confirming that he was the one that intercepted their shots.
"is that Jimbei, the Knight of the sea?" A marine asked, pointing at the Fishman.
An old man on the rogue ship picked up pellets made of coal from a crate, they were small, the size of marbles.
"There is one more enemy on board of the rogue ship!" The captain yelled.
Another turret fired shots, the man on the ship threw the pellets, hitting all cannon balls mid-air with insane precision, they penetrated each one, making them explode in midair.
"Is that… the... the living legend, the former first mate of the Roger Pirates, the Dark King, Silvers Rayleigh!?" The spotter said, almost dying of fear.
During all of this, Luffy put all of his focus on what Rayleigh did, Ray's hand and wrist were very quick, the old warrior hit all of those cannon balls with a precision that Usopp would have, those coal pellets would normally not be able to be thrown with that force, much less pierce iron shells however Luffy, while deprecating himself, calling himself weak, while that was all true, he knew within himself, he was a battle genius.
Neither he nor his enemies ever admitted that, but it was the absolute truth, this was the man that replicated the Soru and brought it to even greater heights with his gear second, this was the man that replicated the strength of giants with gear third, this was the man that defeated God.
He moved towards Rayleigh, he kicked the ground ten times, he did not have his fruit anymore, so like those CP9 people he moved by sheer instinct alone.
He reached Rayleigh in a flash, picked a bunch of pellets in the same crate, three cannon shells came again as the turrets fired, he threw the chunk of pellets at the shells with all of his strength, many of them missing, however some found it's mark, and just like Rayleigh the shells exploded mid-air, however because Luffy did not have the same finesse as Rayleigh his strength was way off the charts for a simple move like that.
The pellets he had thrown who missed and those that pierced the shells continued full strength, exploding upon reaching some of the buildings or the ground of the island.
At that time a cannonball who survived the onslaught approached the deck, Luffy jumped using Soru towards the rails of the ship, his feet cracked the wooden rail as he flexed his knees, his hand started accumulating power, he then swatted the cannon ball with his bare hands, exploding in the air on his left.
"Shit! My aim was way off, and my strength is not properly adjusted for that yet."
Luffy complained all the while Rayleigh good hardheartedly laughed. To Rayleigh, it would be a treat to teach this young man.
"Remember what we are here for Luffy, we are not here to destroy Marineford!" the old man laughed at him.
"S—Shut up old man!" he yelled, embarrassed, but they continued their patrol around the island three times, the turrets continued shooting, however they were impeded again by Jimbei with his water techniques, Rayleigh throwing pellets… and Luffy swatting the shells away from the warship with a backhand.
"It's like a funeral procession on the sea!" One reporter cried out, finally recognizing what they were doing.
After sailing around three times around Marineford the ship was already burning from the damage incurred. Luffy wanted to have more chances of throwing the pellets, however some shells landed on the ship due to his inaccuracy in trying to imitate his new mentor, it was a disaster and Luffy would become better, he promised himself.
Three men jumped from the rogue ship and landed right on Marineford plaza, Luffy in the middle while Jimbei and Rayleigh were on his side, both the Dark King and the Knight of the sea started battling the Marines and killing them while Luffy calmly walked forward. A group marines rushed in his way, his eyes shadowed by his hat showed a killer glare in their direction, his utter distaste for the World Government was apparent for all to see.
Luffy remembered what he said to Rayleigh back when they hijacked a marine ship.
"Old Man, I lost my rubber powers, I feel like I can't properly control my muscle strength"
"Oh, that's to be expected, you are in a normal body again, although I believe your bloodline is inhuman, Garp was no human…" he whispered the last part. "Is it going to be a problem ?" he asked Luffy.
"No, it's just that if I hit a normal marine without controlling my strength I—"
"You're afraid you'll kill them."
"No, I have no problems with killing, I am a pirate after all, and with the childhood I had I am desensitized with death."
"Oh, and why is that?"
"My Grandfather… when I was young, perhaps I was five or six… He sometimes brought entire crews of pirates or high-profile bandits, he would wrap them all around stones or giant trees… he made me watch as he caved or decapitated their faces with his punches, and slowly killed them..."
"That… that man is a complete and utter psychopath… not that I am any different" Rayleigh just sat there stunned.
"So I am asking you, if I accidentally kill any of them, will you complain?"
"While I am not on your grandfather's levels of insanity, I am still called the 'Dark King' for a reason, I killed many during Roger's era, well even before I joined his crew actually, I was a common thief you see." he took a shot of brandy from his bottle.
"I see, I hope to hear some of your stories sometime… Master..."
The marines feared his glare but were not deterred, they charged brandishing their swords, axes, and other weapons.
However just when they reached him, he disappeared using his blatant speed.
He appeared just behind the crowd of marines, they tried looking back, but every single one of them whited out, dropping to the ground foaming blood at the mouth.
Their chests were caved in, a clear punch outline was there, and their uniform was drenched in blood, some he hit even harder, tearing the sternum apart.
The reporter crowd was stunned and fearful;, however they followed him, they were a courageous bunch, they took photos of the clearly dead bodies while recording his every move, and with great reason because Luffy shook the Ox bell sixteen times, to honor the dead pirates who died, this action was to also challenge the World Government.
The reporters just followed him taking all kinds of photos, then he arrived at the giant scar from the battle, he got a flower from one of his pockets and dropped it, picked up the hat from behind and put it in his chest in a prayer, conveniently showing his ink tattoo 3D2Y.
The reporters took the money shot from across, getting the destroyed Marineford fortress on the background as well.
Rayleigh was indifferent to death, and Jimbei, while he did not hate humans like many of his race, there were very few that he could actually connect with so he did not care much for humans in general.
He also held a grudge against the government for executing his friend.
After all of what happened, it was time to leave. Luffy calmly walked forward towards Jimbei and his Master, some brave marines tried to get in his way, however his murderous glare returned, all of them hesitated, sweat stained their bodies, their hearts were pounding — after what happened with their colleagues — they stood paralyzed, not moving an inch even when he stepped in the middle of them, not moving even after the three left on a whale called by Jimbei.
On his way back, Luffy remembered what happened after his answer.
A few days back on Amazon Lily. Luffy rested with his allies.
"There's only one answer; I want to get stronger. I want them to get stronger too. So we can be safer and face any challenges that come our way. Let's do it!" Was Luffy's fierce reply. Rayleigh was content with his young charge. His decision would mean a better chance to be the man he should be. The others looked impressed at this sudden turn of events too. Rayleigh then turned to Jimbei.
"Jimbei, could you stick around till he gets better. We're going to need your help infiltrating Marineford and making an escape. Are you up for it?" Was his question.
"Anything to help Luffy-kun". Was Jimbei's immediate response. Rayleigh was impressed that Luffy could instill such loyalty in a man like Jimbei. Luffy looked at his new friend with a smile on his face.
"Jimbei, thank you so much for everything. For helping escape Impel down and fighting the war and for saving my life too. Thank you." Luffy said with the utmost sincerity as a few tears threatened to spill.
Jimbei laughed heartily at him.
"There's no need for such words between friends Luffy-kun for I know that you would have done the same for me" said Jimbei.
Luffy happily nodded knowing what Jimbei said was true. Luffy then turned to Hancock and gave her a genuine smile that made her almost swoon, she was able to keep her composure though.
"Hancock," Luffy said her name with so much passion she was barely able to keep herself from fainting.
"You've given me more help than I could ever ask for. You were willing to give me a ship to reunite me with my crew, you even went against your own wishes to take part in this war just to give me the chance to break into Impel Down, you gave me the key to my brother's handcuffs and now you're even taking a risk to keep me safe on your island."
"But most importantly, you gave me the chance to see my brother one last time. I honestly don't know what I could ever do to repay you. Thank you, thank you so much." Luffy's speech was filled with such emotion that Hancock couldn't help but shed a tear.
"You don't have to thank us Luffy. As Jimbei said, there's no need for such words between friends. We would do anything to help you. Always remember this." She said with such a sincere and genuine smile that amplified her beauty to such an extent that even an idiot like Luffy was affected.
Rayleigh and Jimbei just laughed at Luffy's awkwardness, much to his annoyance. The rest of the day was spent joking around and having fun. Luffy was happy. Even though Ace was gone, he still had people he could call a family to help him through these times. He made a vow in his mind as he laughed at a joke Rayleigh told him.
Please, I can't help but be selfish, could you wait for me? Just a little longer, in two years our adventure will resume, until then I will do my best, then we can take the world and turn it in on its head. His hat in his hands as he laughed and bonded with everyone, they feasted until the night was over.
Luffy had the Straw hat in his hands, as he looked along in the horizon.
Jimbei silently observed him, in just a few days it felt like he was already family with Luffy, his charisma was something to behold, Rayleigh had the same thoughts.
He put the hat on his back, as they went back to the Kuja pirates' ship.
He wondered what the two years ahead of him would entail. One thing was certain, he would devote himself to becoming the strongest so he wouldn't lose anyone anymore.
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