A/N: Just to clear up any misunderstandings, the five battleships/five Vice-Admirals was a thing in canon (See manga Chap. 539). It's not a timeline alteration. It was just a very easy thing to miss if you were reading through panels too quickly (As Jack cursed himself for doing).

Chapter 37

Flak peppers the skies as we fall. Bursts of smoke erupting all around us. Little pebbles of jagged Seastone wash over me, pelting my skin and forcing me to squint my eyes. 'So they really were prepared for Marco. This isn't normal cannon shot.'

Two geppo-users are rapidly moving to intercept, utterly uncaring of the artillery pieces going off behind them. The first is dressed in a pale yellow double-breasted suit with a sword pulled back to strike. The second is adorned in a much uglier green that's matched only by his animalistic snarling. Both are equipped with the Coats of Justice fluttering over their shoulders.

Vice-Admiral Stainless, Lv. 127

Vice-Admiral "Dalmatian", Lv. 129

Momora's hand lifts from my collar as he draws his own weapon. "Heh! Looks like this is where we're splitting up kid! Make sure you keep your eyes on the prize!"

Berwynne's eyes snap left as his Haki finally locates something. "There!" His wrinkled hand points to one of the forward ships where a thrashing Ace is being forced below decks by an eight-armed Onigumo.

A great clash rings out as Stainless' sword swings high and is caught by Momora's own. "Shigan!" Dalmatian's finger flies straight for my upper chest, his nail piercing through the wind to end this quickly, but instead has his eyebrows shoot to his hairline when I use his wrist to flip myself over him and then rocket down towards the fleet with my own rokushiki.

I've no idea how the old Roger pirates intend on touching down after our aerial bailout. However seeing as neither seemed worried about it when we 'jumped without a chute' as the saying goes I'm going to assume they've got it covered.

My boots smash into the target ship like a meteor strike and I immediately have to duck backwards from a Captain's blade. My foot kicks the sword from his grip as I complete a backflip and I have to bury the ingrained muscle-memory to reach for my sidearm that isn't there.

These are Marines. Soldiers. Men who volunteered to fight for something greater than themselves. I can slaughter pirates from dusk til dawn and never shed a tear but I cannot -will not- act lethally here.

My [Tekkai] enforced arm shatters an axe coming down at me into shards. 'Even if it means I have to work all the harder.' [Soru] blitzes me through some lower officers -knocking them airborne- towards where the prisoner was taken only for another Captain to be barring the way. His arms spread wide to catch me, "I won't let you-!"

I don't slow down. My body smashes into his, fully intent on embedding him into the first wall we encounter, when -instead of being lifted off his feet- the Marine elite explodes into a carnival of floating balls.

I'll admit..that threw me off for a second.

The narrow stairway leading down into the bowels of the ship suddenly becomes a living maelstrom. Dozens of palm-sized spheres bouncing and ricocheting off every surface, speeding up as they go.

'Oh I remember now-' My feet skid to a stop as I hit a corner. 'This is one of the idiot's Franky fought during the Buster Call.' A mild 'cling' rings out each time an orb strikes my person. If I had to guess they've got enough force packed behind them to crack a civilians arm. Maybe dent some cheap metal.

Which is another way of saying the most it does against me is provide some annoying notifications.

-0 HP!

-0 HP!

-0 HP!

-0 HP!

-0 HP!

"Heh heh! Stupid pirate." A floating head laughs. "Witness for yourself the power of the Berry-Berry Fru-wait! Where are you- Don't ignore-"

Another burst of speed puts me off the stairs and in the center of the first gun deck. My eyes dart around, 'Which way did they go? Where did Onigumo take hi-' A quartet of Lieutenants all spring at me. The four of them going for more of a 'dogpile' type strategy than anything properly coordinated. One solid strike apiece blows them away and then it's time to block a downward blow from a Lt. Commander that seems to be dressed half-proper officer and half-geisha girl.

The falchion fails to get through my 'Iron Body' and I make note of the unusual weapon choice. That is, until her lipsticked grin turns vicious and the blade begins to radiate glow-stick green. The heat coming of the thing skyrockets and I violently kick her away before anything else happens. 'The fuck was that-?' I briefly glance at my arm and see it's still undamaged, though I feel that without my newest [Perk] it wouldn't be. 'Goddamn Devil Fru-'

Berwynne crashes through the floor! "Godsdamnsonofafuckin-" the retiree rolls out of the way just as a massive saw-blade slams down on where he was. His assailant clicks his teeth beneath a half-skull mask and throws his head up, shaking his massive mane of hair from the movement.

Vice-Admiral Bastille, Lv. 120

Berwynne sucks in air, inflating himself till he's more ball than man, -though fuck me on exactly as to how- and then unleashes a massive gale right there in the center of the ship. Planks of wood rip free from their nails! Lower Marines go flying with panicked shouts and the entire deck gets absolutely shredded. Like a balloon being let go, Berwynne surges away, back up and out into the sunlight and a growling Bastille gives chase.

I don't think either of them even glanced at me.

"In the hull!" Marines flood in from the deck's new skylight! Jumping down four and five at a time on my position! It's a storm of limbs as bodies go flipping, get knocked back, or double over! I don't have time to even blink! Parry sword! Kick chin! Duck blade! Hit the ribs! Flip past shoulders! Fuck fuck fucking-! Pivot wrist on ground! '[Rankyaku]!' In a move that'd make Sanji proud the 360 degree whirlwind kick knocks bodies off me with a concentric ring of blue energy!

And still more come.

Lv.45, Lv. 52, Lv. 61, Lv. 48, Lv. 39, Lv. 57, Lv. 60, Lv. 44, Lv. 50, Lv. 43. This isn't like bulldozing through a crowd of mooks that barely know the sharp end of a stick. The weakest man here -the absolute dregs of who Sengoku assigned to this escort- are still stronger than Jorgen was before the Orangutan Fruit.

'I'm getting too bogged down! I'm wasting too much time!'

[Spark of Celerity] Activated!

DEX (705 +315%) → (2,220.75)

Sparks dance over my skin as I barrel through the side of the swarm, knocking two men out cold from the sheer momentum. The Lv. 5 [Skill Disk] I've been saving since cashing in the 'Oaken Fist' crumbles in my hand and I feel it's power effuse into me.

Skill Lv up! Bullet Time Lv. (8/30) → (13/30)
-Your ability to perceive time at a slower rate while in combat. Slowed perception increased from (
24%) → (37.5%)

I appear on the second gun-deck, glance about, and then zoom through an aft stairway. 'Where the fuck did he go! Why are these Battleships so stupidly huge!' An explosion from above sends shockwaves through the vessel. If I had to bet, some sort of ammo storage just got blown to kingdom come. That or the caravel-sized super cannons on the warships bow just met a fiery end.

Stamping boots thunder as more men flood into the ship. I can hear the screaming, the shouted orders, as I flit from room to room. On a ship of this size there's more than one way down and the number it takes to man it is roughly 1,200.

I burst into a new space, not even sure what it's for, and suddenly my target is there. Kneeling on the floor, arms manacled behind his back while a casually smoking Onigumo holds him steady with three of his many limbs.

My boot carves through the air! Trails of wind being left in it's Haki-clad wake as my leg slams into the Zoan center-mass to knock-

And then he catches me.

One spider-arm each for my ankle, thigh and wrist.

Air whirls about from the impact of boot meeting chest. There's a grunt -or perhaps a hum- that softly reverberates in the Marine's throat, but other than that -and the cigarette slipping from his mouth- there's no sign at all that he even felt that.

Vice-Admiral Onigumo, Lv. 140

Armament Haki slowly recedes over the area he was struck. It's black sheen fading back into the normal gray of his suit.'Ugh. Of course this one's a cut above the others. Fucking fantastic.' A soft application of [Seimei Kikan] swells the muscles he's gripping, just enough to throw off his hold, and soon I'm somersaulting away, landing in a crouch on the other side of the room.

'Alright Jack. Plan A: 'Hit him hard, hit him fast, knock him on his ass' didn't do shit. No big deal… Plan B!'

I pinball around the room, probing Onigumo's stance, trying to get him to react or shift his positioning, but instead the Vice-Admiral merely scoffs under his breath. "Pfeh, this is who Whitebeard sends to rescue his underling?" his voice is grizzled, almost gravely. "A little rat who's only talent is scurrying around? I could've just stayed outside.'

"Get out of here!" The 'Fire Fist' yells, desperation oozing from every one of his features. "Whoever you are please! Tell 'Pops' I'm not worth it! Tell him-!" One of the spider arms bashes the Logia's head to the floor. "Quiet brat. You'll not-" The flicker comes. For one brief moment the Zoan's head turns to Ace instead of tracking me and I spring on it!

The world moves in slow motion. An unnatural slow that's more than [Bullet Time] or my enhanced perception from [Spark of Celerity]. A slow that men can only find in the critical moment of combat.

Sabers emerge from underneath Onigumo's coat as he realizes his mistake. His senses might be able to keep up with me -through Observation Haki I have to assume- but his raw DEX is considerably lower. All he had to do was play defense with his eight arms and better Armament. His one job was not to give me an opening.

His blades come converging downward and I'll admit, were I at my normal speed, the leg up his Observation gives him would've been sufficient to rebuff me. But with the opening, with the speed [Perk] still going...well you know the saying.

'I'm fast as fuck boi.'

An arm hooks around Ace and we're off! Sure I crashed the two of us through the side wall but that's not important! '[Geppo]!' Up through the ceiling to the next floor up! Second gun deck! Wooden boards break over my hardened skull! First gun deck! Marines go flying as the floor bursts open under them!

[Spark of Celerity] expires but I ignore the text box. 'Almost there! [Geppo]!' One final layer of ceiling shatters into woodchips and I feel the morning sun on my face once more.


"Prisoner escape!" The screams are immediate. "Fire! Fire!"

Guns discharge but they're too late.'[Geppo]! [Geppo]! [Gep- My technique stumbles as something hooks me. No, 'hook' isn't the right word! It's like a tether. Some sort of vacuum effect!

Weak puffs of air keep me afloat but I can barely advance forward! It's like trying to go against a wind tunnel! I glance around and spot some sort of distortion in the atmosphere. It's cone-shaped. Starting behind me and then spreading out wide in front! Turning my head back I trace it's effect down to a Marine with brown dreadlocks and a dark blue suit. He's visibly sweating and holding both hands out.

Rear Admiral Akehende, Lv. 99


"Gou Shigan!" Dalmatian descends from above, a whole hand of five Zoan-enhanced finger-gun's thrusting down. My brain short circuits. [Kami-e] could dodge it! Observation is screaming to do so! But I can't do the 'Paper Drawing' technique and keep a hold of-

-3,895 HP!

HP Regen Skill Active!
-Current speed: 4.
7% max health per minute.

Skill Lv up! Physical Endurance Lv. (10/30) → (11/30)
-Your body's durability to damage from physical sources. Resistance increased from (
30%)→ (32.5%)

Blood gasps from my mouth as the Vice-Admiral slams me through a stairway, his red-soaked nails stabbing into my innards! Ace goes rolling away, not sure where, and another heave escapes me when Dalmatian retracts his hand.

"Unnamed pirate," the human-canine announces as he stands. "Your crimes against the World Government are as follows. Attacking a military vessel. Conspiracy to free a criminal in government custody. Conspiracy to undermine the World Government. Assault against dozens of Marine officers. And unauthorized appropriation of government techniques. How do you plead?"

"Berwynne mentioned you liked to bark. Got any other tricks snowball?"

Dalmatian's claw comes down again and this time there's nothing stopping me from 'Paper Drawing' myself out of the way! I snap back to full size and give the oversized doggo a little 'boop to the snoot'.

With my foot.

And also Haki.

And [Tekkai] as well. Just for bonus points.

A sickening crack has the Marine stumbling back, his eyes momentarily screwed shut as one hand cradles his busted snout. Meanwhile, I dart my eyes around to get a lay of the land. Berwynne is at the other end of the ship still giving Bastille the run-around. Old man is flitting about just causing chaos, not really fighting any one person. Ace..well Ace just spin-kicked a Marine out-cold. Good on him. Others are are tying to corral him but it looks like -despite the Seastone manacles he's still wearing- he's determined to make them work for it. His breathing is ragged, his shoulders sagging, but he's not being dragged away yet so I'll take it as a positive. Momora..well I've got no eyes on Momora but I'll have to assume he's keeping some of the heavy-hitters busy. I haven't even seen who the fifth Vice-Admiral is yet.

Dalmatian finishes recovering and bursts forward with a furious short-range soru. I flip around him and scan his profile, speed-reading for anything I can exploit.

Vice-Admiral "Dalmatian", Lv. 129

Like most retrograde amnesiacs, "Dalmatian" never recovered the memories he lost when he suffered severe head trauma in a pirate raid at the tender age of nine. With no name he could recall, no family to claim him, and his seemingly home village a torched ruin, "Dalmatian" latched onto two things. The Marine ship he awoke on, and the Devil Fruit the past-him had apparently eaten. Because of this mental complex tying his Fruit to his sense of identity, the Vice-Admiral has almost never been seen outside of his Zoan-Hybrid state. Once, when asked by Vice-Admiral Garp if he even knew how to change back, "Dalmation" dodged the question by asserting-

A wave of water cuts the Battleship in two! It splits apart vertically, separating aft from forward and utterly ruining any chance of the ship being seaworthy again! A column of water surges upward from underneath! A pillar of condensed liquid that acts more like a serpent than anything inanimate!

Atop the water column, almost surfing on it, is an overly pudgy blue-green fishman twirling a trident and rocking what might be the tackiest Hawaiian-style shirt ever to be dreamed up.

Sunbell, Retired Pirate, Lv. 135

The newcomer lands on the destroyed deck with a sizable thud and for a moment...there's a lull.

A good two, perhaps two-and-a-half second lull.

And then it's chaos again.

'Dodgedodgedodgedodgedodgedodge' Existence becomes an endless cycle of bending and ducking as Dalmatian hounds me in close quarters. And no that wasn't a fucking dog pun. There's a new fury in his expression that wasn't there before. 'Note to self: Shouldn't have booped the snoot!'

An explosion goes off around us and I try to take things airborne! Dalmatian follows! His [Geppo] mastery just as high as my own! He's not going to let me out of arms reach again!

-1,708 HP!

The damage notification is the first notice I get of Stainless getting behind me. The strike so clean I hardly notice the pain. 'Gah-! Fuck!' I watch the arc of blood sail off my wounded back and Dalmation's heel lands atop my head not a second later. Unceremoniously sending me head first back into the ground at breakneck speed.

-764 HP!

I land in heap, slowly pushing myself up and then suddenly there's just bodies. Lower ranked officers surrounding me and just wailing on me. Black boots stamping on my skin over and over as they jeer the classic insults. 'Pirate scum!' 'Trash!' 'Fuckin' sea rat!'

Through it all I still manage to slowly get up to my knees though. '[Built Different] really was the right pick.'

-0 HP!

-0 HP!

-0 HP!

-0 HP!

And now with about a 42% bump coming from [Berserker's Blood] I'm ready for ROUND FUCKING TWO!

I throw the crowd off me with one massive push and find the battlefield has already shifted again. Ace is down. His face being held against a metal grate by a Zoan-user I don't recognize. Some type of mustelid. A sable maybe? Or a stoat? I can't really tell. Momora's trying to get to him but he's losing against the one major player I hadn't seen yet. The ever-smiling always-smoking, and constantly jolly man who I was once told was sent to capture me after I became a wanted man.

Vice-Admiral Yamakaji, Lv. 131

Above me I have Sunbell to thank for Dalmatian and Stainless not pouncing on me the second I got up. Through his trident and some goddamn impressive water manipulation he's somehow stalemating the two of them. Assuming Bastille is still with Berwynne the only one unaccounted for is Onigumo. I'm not sure why he hasn't reappeared. He has to be somewhe-

"You're open!" More useless pelting smacks against me as another idiot from canon makes himself known. Another dozen '-0 Hp!' windows populate in the corner and my arm shoots out to grip down over the goggled face of Captain Sharinguru, user of the Wheel-Wheel Fruit.

He gasps, his limbs spinning down to a stop as his goggles crack beneath my fingers. One good slam into the mizzen mast directly behind me and I'm met with a surprising notification.

I've leveled up. Seems I've KO'd enough small fry to reach Lv. 91. Good. That might be useful later. Plucking a lost saber from the ground I blitz towards Ace again only for that bastard Akehende to reappear. His Fruit activates again but this time I'm ready for it. A last second correction has his cone of effect narrowly miss me and I throw the sword directly at him.

Like a perfectly thrown knife the weapon nails him in the shoulder, staggering him as he cries out in pain.'Not fatal. But good enough to get him out of play.'

And then I heard a voice.

A voice that loomed from behind me.

A voice of a newcomer.

A voice of someone who was responding to the distress call.

A voice I never wanted to hear.

"Ooooh. How terrible." the syllables are drawn out. Slow. Dead slow. Like the speaker is mocking the world itself. "Pirates attacking early? That's no good."

I try to turn my head... and all there is is yellow light. The world is like a freeze frame. One moment stretching on for eternity. No man has time to blink. No hummingbird has time to flap its wings. The only thing in this entire universe that is still moving is Admiral Kizaru's leg coming straight for my face.

Like a descending golden curtain all other sights disappear one by one as it approaches, taking up more and more of my sight as it gets closer.

Save for one.

One single sight -just below Kizaru's pant leg- that I manage to glimpse before the anime physics lightspeed kick sends me skipping like a stone over the dark blue water...

There in the background, dressed as a common Ensign and just casually observing in the background.

Was Pandaman giving me the finger.






I bolt upright with a shuddering gasp! My heart thundering in my chest and unsteady breaths heaving from my mouth. Water splashes up onto my leg. A seagull cries in the distance. 'Wha-?' My hand feels the planks underneath me, swashing and swaying over the water's surface. 'I'm on some driftwood-? No- it's a piece of a Battleship..How? How'd I get out of the water? What happened to the-"

"..so you're awake then. Took you long enough.." I wheel around to the speaker only to see them loose a ragged bloody cough. Flecks of red falling from their purple lips as they wheeze pitifully.

Sunbell, Retired Pirate, Lv. 135

Health: 1,837/ 22,455

'Shit!' I fumble the first-aid kit in my haste to get it out of the [Inventory]! I snap the red box open but I don't even know where to start! He's got a hole in his stomach from a Kizaru laser. Three swords stuck deep into his back. His left leg is mangled! 'Fuck! Fuck! I can help the bleeding but how do I handle the swords! I can't just remove them! What the fuck happened while I was out!"

"Kid.." the fishman rasps, watching me panic. "Kid...it's okay." his eyes briefly shut as he wheezes. "Just let it be."

Health: 1,799/ 22,455

"But.." I stop short seeing his expression. The resignation. The acceptance. It's pointless and he knows it. "The other two?" I ask softly, changing the topic.

He shakes his head in the negative.

I gulp. 'So..a complete failure all around then.' My head hangs low. 'I knew..I knew it was a stupid plan...but I almost had him! For a second there I had him! I was so close!' I turn back to the dying fishman."How long has it been-"

A disturbance rocks our little piece of wood. A swelling of waves that raises us high..and then gently sets us back down.

An amused chuckle comes from Sunbell, even as its clear that laughing right now is excruciating. "Seems like old man Whitebeard's still got it. Pretty impressive.." he wheezes. "..to feel the shocks way out here."

I gaze solemnly out over the water. Far off in the direction the quake must've originated in. 'So it's already started then..Marineford. The day that shapes the world anew.'

A tiny voice in my head wants to believe in the butterfly effect. Something that might ripple out and affect things. One of the Vice-Admirals not being at 100%. A Marine not being at a place he was originally in canon. Ace fighting a little harder for freedom. Something. Let my actions have done something.

But as I stand there, floating on a derelict ramshackle raft in the middle of the sea I know it's not enough. Things can still be nudged back into place.

You know..there was a part of me -a small part-...that had had doubts. That little voice in all our heads that sits in the corner going 'I dunno...tsk tsk tsk...what if he's lying? Can you really believe this Tomato Gang guy?'

I tear away the damaged shirt of the disguise I'd been wearing. It comes apart easily, having been barely holding itself together after the fight.

'But now I know the truth.'

The scarf unwinds from my face and I toss it into the ocean breeze, letting the currents take it away.

'Panda-man IS out there.'

My arms slip through the comfortable sleeves of my usual clothes. The buttons of my vest snap as I click them shut.

'And he still hasn't learned.'

Kuguzume slides onto my back with a soft 'clack'. I'd missed its familiar weight. I was too paranoid to have it out before. Too paranoid that it'd be an identifiable feature.

'That I don't quit that fucking easily!'

"Sunbell," I turn to the fishman and see his eyelids drifting. Teetering on the edge of awake and...slipping away. "Thank you. You didn't have to come."

His breathing has slowed. His posture more slouched. To be honest I don't think he even heard me. I turn away, ready to take off when I catch his last words.

"Give 'em hell kid."

The wind is with me. My glider cuts through the air with almost zero resistance. Still no sign of my destination yet but I know I'm getting closer. It can't be that far. 30 minutes by flight? 35? It's only a couple hours by ship.

I know I'm late. Severely late. [Spark of Celerity] is almost done with its six hour cooldown. But I refuse to believe that I am completely late.

There will be something. The has to be something that I can change.

I just need..as the original 'Jack Sparrow' always called it.. 'The Opportune Moment.'

An island crests over the curved horizon. One that's relatively small but is equipped with a skyscraper fortress ascending all the way into the heavens. The central hub of the world itself. An indomitable pillar that the common man associates with the very ideals of justice itself.

And it was in shambles.

As I get closer the destruction becomes all the more apparent. Walls crumbled. Ships frozen or on fire. Wherever we are in the conflict it's clear its already been going on for some time. And then over the wind, just as I get close enough to make out the pictures over the various sails,

The last words of a titan.


'..oh no...no no no..' My glider hooks me around to the west side of the battlements, right where they meet the edge of a mountain. My boots touch down on the defensive wall and I'm not surprised to find it unmanned. All of the fighting is being done at the harbor's mouth and the ice rink below. Way off on the side here..one observer of nearly 100,000 fighters...I'm literally no different from a gnat on the back wall.

Blackbeard and his crew descend the pitch black tarp over Whitebeard's standing corpse and my mind races over what's even left in this conflict. Just a few minutes...just a minutes left...my eyes shake as I focus on the memories. And it hits me.

I know where the opening is.

I crouch low, adopting a runners pose..and wait. I wait as the minutes tick by. As the countless voices and aura's continue to blink out one by one. I wait as Blackbeard reemerges with the tarp and has achieved the impossible, internalized the power of a second Devil-Fruit.

My breathing is steadier than it's ever been. I can feel the course texture of the rock wall brushing against my fingertips.

I wait as Marshall D. Teach further devastates Marineford. As the morale of marine and pirate alike plummets to nearly zero. I wait as Blackbeard announces, live streamed to the entire world, his declaration. His grand edict. The start of His Era.

For a moment, a brief second I consider making him my target instead. But no. Even as I dump 200 more points into DEX, even as [Spark of Celerity] 'pings' that it's ready for use again, I know that it wouldn't work. Something would interfere. Or his bizarre physiology would kick in. Somehow it wouldn't work.

I can't take out Blackbeard.

Sengoku descends on Teach as a giant golden God. His divine palm thrusting out to erase the new threat before it's made it out of his crib.

'But I can take out his supports!'

I launch off like a missile, obliterating the rock wall beneath my feet just as the Fleet Admiral's golden shockwave strikes. The flash is nearly blinding. It's like choosing to fly directly into the sun! But I won't be deterred. While the world is still shocked. While everyone is still reeling or watching. This is the chance!

I lean into my Observation, focusing on it rather than sight. I feel the ability pulse in approval, it's potency flowering, evolving to the next stage above novice. Kugizume aims straight. It's not a sword at the moment. It's part of me. Part of my arm. And it's going to reach its target!

Two feet of wide thick steel sink down through the flesh of Vasco Shot right where his neck meets his clavicle.

You have reached Lv. 92!

You have reached Lv. 93!

You have reached Lv. 94!

You have reached Lv. 95!

You have reached Lv. 96!

The first complication hits. I can feel the blade get stuck in his chest cavity. It'll take precious seconds to pull out. 'And a lifetime of media has taught me an important rule.'

It's always faster to just switch to your secondary.

Which is why I then twisted around and shot Doc Q right between his eyes.

You have reached Lv. 97!

You have reached Lv. 98!

Sengoku's shockwave dies off. The wind comes down and the various bits of rubble finish scattering. The pirates get back on their feet and my presence is immediately noticed. Teach's eyes meet mine and the 'victory' falls from his face. That manic grin he's held since stealing the Quake-Quake Fruit. He's not angry just...baffled. As though in this moment he's just too confused by the unexpected presence of this..this..this whoever I am.

Shiryu's sword flashes out and it's on a speed that honestly puts Zoro's quick-draw to shame. I try to extricate my Meito out to catch the flying strike and..well it technically worked.

Because Shiryu of the Rain's attack not only hit Kugizume but broke right through it. The metal snapping into pieces just a foot down from its pommel.

My blade's final act on this world was blunting the strike just enough, that rather than being split at the navel by the sickle of energy, I was merely carried away by it instead.

Still stung like a bitch though.

My back crashes into the remains of what was once a stone staircase. Dust and rubble cloud up the impact site and I take a brief moment to just lay in pain there amidst the ruins, obscured by the collapsed boulders. 'Fuck..well.. at least I got two of them.. Was hoping for at least three..' I try to sit up and feel my stomach violently rebel. 'Goddamn that fuckin' hurt. Just how high is the swordsmanship on that prick?'

My head lays back in the dust and I sigh. If memory serves -and I'm sure of it this time!- there should only be a single chapter left of Marineford. A few more pages to finalize Luffy's escape from Akainu and then Shanks showing up to force a stand-down. Even if I go back out there I doubt I'd be able accomplish anything meaningful in the time that's left.

Turning my head to look at what remains of Kugizume -just his handle and a few inches of steel- I sigh and toss the thing into storage. 'Still, getting two of his commanders ain't bad.'

My head rests in the dirt again. 'At least for today.' I add as an afterthought.

Yes. A smile manages to creep up on my face as a new idea takes hold.

'At least for Today.'

A/N 2: Do you have questions? Want something clarified? Need to look over Jack's character sheet? Come chat with other readers in the discord. Invite code: .gg/BckzUAX5AV