In the Reviews of the last chapter, one reviewer ask for short bios of all the Straw Hats, so those bios can be found at the end of this chapter.

Chapter 2:
The Building Storm

"Yeah!" the skeleton on the stage cheered, the crowd cheering along. Lights shone down with a glaring intensity, one that caused the musicians and back-up singers on stage fear they would be boiled alive in their own formal clothing no matter how often they had performed before, but it seemed that the leader of the troupe didn't have any such problems. If one were to ask him, he would say it was because he didn't have any sweat glands; whether others believed such a story was questionable. Even so, the famous singer thrived in the limelight, pointing one boney finger out over the sea of adoring fans. "You love me down to my-?!"

"Bones!" the crowd answered, going wild.

"Bone!" the skeleton yelled.

"Bone!" the crowd echoed.






The concert had been in full swing for almost an hour now and was reaching its conclusion, even with the energy of the crowd still at its peak. One member of the crowd, a taller figure in the front row with their hair and face hidden under a fedora, felt it was just about time for himself to reveal his presence to the superstar like he had been planning. On stage, stagehands rolled out a brick wall, the skeleton tilting onto it.

"45 degrees!" crowdmembers screamed. Men cried out in envy. Women swooned.

"Encore!" someone in the crowd yelled, the word turning into a chant. "Encore! Encore! Encore!"

"Yohoho!" 'Soul King' Brook laughed, cradling the microphone in one bony hand while the other pointed to the crowd. Out of the corner of his eye (though he didn't have eyes to see!), his long-armed manager scowled at him with a gun aimed in his direction. That was likely in response to having been told that Brook was retiring after this concert during the halftime break. The man hadn't taken the news well, but Brook didn't think he would take it so badly. Well, it wasn't like a bullet could kill him anyway.

"Brook! Hey, Brook!"

The skeleton's eyeholes widened at the voice as his not-eyes scanned the crowd. His gaze landed on one fan in the front row to his left. He was dressed inconspicuously in a trench coat and a wide fedora but, as Brook watched, the young man threw his hat into the crowd to reveal distinctive pink hair. Brook's teeth formed as close to a smile as they could as he raised his hand for silence.

"Yohoho! My fans, I have some news to share with you all," Brook began, the crowd quieting. "This next song, this encore you're calling for, will be my last for an audience like this. I am retiring right after this concert." The crowd erupted into questions and laments for the Soul King's career had only lasted for a little over a year, but Brook quieted them all. "There is a group of people I have sworn to return to, and today is the day we chose to meet again, so I will tell you all now-"

"Halt!" Brook's speech was cut off by the order of a marine, the entire back part of the Sabao Dome suddenly filled with white and blue. They leveled their guns over the heads of the civilian music lovers, aiming for those on the stage. Coby tensed, ready to move at a moment's notice. "This concert is shut down on charges of piracy!"

"Piracy?" a member of the crowd demanded.

"How dare you!" another person yelled. The marine pulled out a poster, holding it over his head to reveal a grinning face and familiar afro, though said person still had skin.

"This so-called Soul King is actually a pirate known as the 'Humming Swordsman' Brook, the captain and only remaining member of the Rumbar pirates, thought dead! Am I wrong, Soul King?!" The end of the question twisted, using the title mockingly.

"He can't be!"

"You heartless bastards!"

"Soul King isn't a pirate!"

"No, my friends," Brook said into the mic, cutting through the sounds of the dome. Brook pulled the microphone off its stand, spreading his arms. At his gesture, Coby tossed aside his coat and jumped onto the stage, taking a fighting stance between Brook and the long-arm that had a gun out, swords at the ready. Gasps echoed through the crowd as Coby, a pirate whose face was much more commonly known, appeared before them.

"You're looking good, Brook," Coby smirked, the long-arm backing up at the confident smile on the roset's face.

"Yohoho! As do you, Coby!" the superstar responded, confirming his connection to the infamous pirate.

"Th-That's The Survivor 'Tri-Horn' Coby!" a marine realized. "The prisoner that escaped execution two years ago!" Before people could start panicking, Brook spoke again.

"The Marine here is correct, my loyal fans, and that was what I was about to say. I have an announcement for everyone, and a declaration. Then, if they will allow me, that encore you have called for!" Brook called, bringing the tense mood down. As if directed, the light in the Sabao Dome dimmed, only the spotlight shining on Brook and Coby remaining lit.

"I've heard the stories," Brook whispered, the microphone making his voice carry through the room. "People think we are gone. People think we are dead and nothing but a memory, but they are wrong! (Well, except for me, yohoho!) We are not! More importantly, he is not! My friends and I have painful memories of this place known as Sabaody. We suffered a painful defeat here only a couple years ago and have been separated since. Even so, the rumors are foolish to believe that our captain Straw Hat is dead! Today, we return! Today, we reunite! Today, we come together to continue our adventure, and with this, I give you this vow." Brook stepped forward, one fist raised to the heavens. "As the musician of the Straw Hat Pirates, I tell you that our captain Monkey D. Luffy will find the One Piece and become the King of the Pirates!"

Silence fell over the crowd, even the marines at a loss on how to answer the claim.

"And to kick off our new adventure, I've prepared a song," Brook continued, glancing at his band. "Members of the band, my lovely chorus, will you join me for one last song?" The band members and back-up singers shared looks, debating. Brook strummed a strong chord on his guitar. "Have no fear. My music does not just have soul. It has true power!"

One saxophone player shrugged and pulled his horn to his lips, the rest of them falling in line.

"I call this song New World! Hit it! One... Two... One two three four!"

"Fire!" the head marine ordered as the song began. Coby jumped in front of Brook.

"Armor Mode!" the Zoan yelled, snapping into his defensive form a moment before the bullets pinged off his bone plating. In the two years the crew had been divided, Coby's forms had evolved and he'd managed to master them without the need of his IQ plants, though it could be theorized that their use caused the evolution. Coby's Armor Mode now stood as tall Brook, his bone plating layered over his back like an ivory armadillo. Said bone plates had spinal ridges all the way down to his tail, a further warning to not attack him from behind. Six spikes grew from his tail, the appendage more prehensile than its base form. Gauntlet-like bone circled his arms and legs, leaving his joints open, a necessary weakness in exchange for maneuverability. His stomach was uncovered for the most part, only a sheet of cartilage over his chest as a meager but malleable last defense. finally, his faceplate had taken on a skull-like visage, three lines like teeth coming down over his mouth and three small, pointed bumps the only sign of his usual horns.

Citizens at the back of the room rushed the marines as the situation registered, begging them to let Soul King finish his song. Coby decided they shouldn't have a choice, shifting into his Slasher Mode and jumping over the crowd and into the marines with a Shave-enhanced Moonwalk.

Coby's Slasher Mode had also matured, now also taller than its previous iteration. Long, lean muscles bulged under grey-green scales as the Zoan crossed the not-inconsiderable distance between the two sides of the dome.

"Oh yeah! Take it home now!" Brook sung as Coby hit the marine giving the orders with his foot, pressing him into the floor. As he did so, his appearance cleared for the marines to see. He stood nearly seven feet tall in this form, thin almost to the point of lankiness. His arms and legs were longer than they should be, his nails like razorblades on the edges of each of this fingers reaching down to his knees. Like his nails, the horn sprouting from his nose was long and this, stretching to his forehead while the other two were nothing but pinpricks on his fringe. His tail lashed from side to side, as much for balance as to show off the wicked barb resting at its end, cracking the air like a whip.

Some~ people may call my friend a weirdo! It~ may be true that he started from zero, but even though he doesn't walk the straight and narrow, he's got a heart of gold just like a hero! Oh, yeah!

"Get him!" another marine yelled, the rest shaking off the untrained citizens to charge the roset pirate in their midst. Coby smirked, falling low and baring his claws. Marines surrounded him, Coby spinning in a circle as he formed a sharp wind around himself.

"Needle Twister!"

Men like him can't help themselves from dreaming! He gazes toward tomorrow and its gleaming! But every day your dream fights against reality it seems, a struggle to be free~! If I were alone, I may surrender. That weight's too heavy for me~! But when I hear him say it, then even I can believe!

"You lapdogs really think you can take me on?" Coby laughed, blood dripping from his nails and tail where he'd raked several grunts across the chest. Another, feeling brave or foolish at seeing the pirate's back, raised his gun to aim at the young man's heart. Coby's tail whipped up without the pirate turning to look, cutting the barrel of the gun off before slicing both hands and the belt of the marine grunt. He cried out in pain as his sword, broken rifle, and belt fell to the floor. Guns shook in the hands of marines while aimed at the pirate. The pirate flicked his tail, splattering the blood clinging to it across the floor. "I'd put those down if I were you. Who would suffer if you missed?"

That was a bluff and Coby knew it. Though there was a chance he could deflect the bullets with his Slasher Mode's speed, there was no way he would dodge if it meant some innocent taking the bullet meant for him. The marines didn't need to know that, however, and the shaking of the weapons showed that they were rattled by his display.

Today is the day! We'll bury all our sorrows! We'll raise the sails, they'll tell our tales through ev-er-y tomorrow! Today is the day! We're aiming toward a new dawn, all our doubts are gone, let's move along, 'cause it's time to sail away~!

"If you won't move, then I will!" Coby yelled, shifting forms. He shortened, shrinking to his normal height as his form filled out. Where his Armor Mode was round and Slasher Mode lanky, this form was a perfect middle ground close to stocky. His forearms grew, turning proportionately larger than his upper arm, similar to how Franky looked two years ago. His tail flattened, almost like that of a platypus, while his horns twisted into a spiral that hid his eyes. Such an obstruction would be detrimental to the average person, but with Coby learning to hone his unlocked Observation Haki from Rayleigh, the limited vision did little to stop him.

"Drill Mode: Carving Paw!"

Even though he was still an enemy of the Marines and hated the Celestial Dragons they protected and kowtowed to, that didn't mean he wanted to kill anyone unnecessarily, so the large fingers and spoon-like nails of his Drill Mode were perfect for batting aside his opponents nonlethally. Most marines didn't agree with defending the Celestial Dragons anyway. They were just following orders.

So it was with these thoughts that Coby swatted the marines like bugs, flinging grunts left and right where the crowd seemed to be on his side, preventing them from getting back up.

For the New World~! For the New World~! For the New World~! Where our dreams will all come true~! So long!

With his last lyrics sung, the band let out a series of staccato chords as Brook did a short dance, ending with his hand in the air. The wall behind him exploded, sending patrons screaming and a cloud of dust up to hang in the air. Through this hole flew a Rosy Life rider on his flying fish, low enough that Brook snagged the harness near the tall and was dragged along over his fans. Coby, having knocked out his last opponent, turned to see them coming, gasped, and jumped for their surprise ride, dropping his transformation as he did so.

"You skinless traitor!" Brook's long-armed manager yelled, his pistol firing bullets past them. Luckily, he was a poor shot. "I'll get you for this! You hear me?!"

"Yohohoho!" Brook laughed as the fish smashed through the Sabao Dome's front doors and rose onto the air. Brook was dangling by a hand with Coby latched onto his ankle. He hoped Brook didn't lose his leg considering he didn't have any muscles or ligaments to hold it there. "That was some excellent timing!"

"Shakky was listening in on a snail," the rider replied. "You can thank her for all the set-up. Handsome would have come himself, but he's still in his full-body cast."

"That was great!" Coby laughed, elated to be with another of his crewmembers. "I hope you remember some of those lullabies, Brook. We're gonna need them!"

"Why do you say that?" Brook asked, both pirates climbing upward to sit on the fish properly.

"You'll see," the roset answered. "I'm not allowed to tell."


"Hello?" Coby answered, pulling his snail from a holster within his shirt. Over the last two years, his baby den-den had outgrown its old cradle, moving into a proper shell. It had also turned a shade of green, not unlike his Zoan forms' scales, and grown some pink hair. "Go for Coby and Brook."

"So that's where you were," Franky's voice said. "Well, it's good to have our super skeleton back!"

"Yohoho! As if I would miss this for the world!"

"What's going on, Franky?"

"It looks like there's some super big trouble brewing on Grove 46," Franky commented. "I'm catching up with everyone so they know to avoid it."

"Thanks!" Coby replied. "We're on our way back to the Sunny."

"Super! Once you two are back, then only Zoro, Sanji, and Gin will be out. Well, I bet Luffy's on the island by now, but we haven't contacted him, yet. Everyone else is here."

"We'll see you soon!" The snail went to sleep with a CA-LICK!, leaving Coby to smile for a few moments of silence. "Shit! Shit shit Goda fuck damn!"

"My word, Coby!" Brook gasped, idly strumming his guitar. "Since when has your vocabulary shifted so radically?"

"Since I started hanging out in the better parts of the S.A.'s underworld," the Zoan answered, turning to Brook. "I've had two years to think about it, and I still don't know what I want to tell Grace when I see her! This is my second chance at a first impression, and I don't want to blow it! My first one was embarrassing enough!"

"Yohoho!" Brook laughed.

"It's not funny, Brook!" Coby whined. "I've changed a lot in two years, and I bet she has, too. What if we don't have that chemistry we were making all those years ago anymore?"

"Yohoho! My apologies, Coby," Brook chuckled. "I shouldn't be laughing at you. Relationships of the sort would usually be prohibited on such ships, but I suppose Luffy and Nami set that standard, Yohoho!"

"So..." Coby blinked. "Do you have any advice?"



"Everything looks like it did two years ago," Luffy muttered, looking around him in awe. As a consequence, he wasn't watching where he was going, which led him to bump into someone. Said person was considerably taller, wider, and heavier than the man with a hood, but Luffy was far more dense so it wasn't him sent back into the dirt.

"Oh, sorry about that," Luffy apologized absently, staring as a group of people painting a giant bubble with liquid metal.

"You little bastard!" the fat man growled as he stood, pulling a gun and aiming it at the one he'd bumped into. "You should get on your knees and beg for my forgiveness 'cause I'm not in to mood to deal with shit!"

"I would listen to him if I were you," a female voice recommended, Luffy turning to see a woman with orange hair. "My darling here is a big-name pirate. He's gonna be the Pirate King."

Luffy turned, eyeing the man. He blinked.

"Nah, I don't think so."


Luffy's relaxed denial got a rise out of the rest of the viewers, both the man's followers and the many bystanders.

"What does that guy think he's doing?" one citizen questioned. "He's staring down the Straw Hats without even flinching!"

"He's either really brave or really stupid," another commented.

Luffy's eyes widened. Straw Hats? As in plural? He turned, registering that the followers of this guy somewhat resembled his crew. There was a guy with a pompador like Franky's, and the woman's hair looked like Nami's (though not nearly as pretty. Actually, hers was pretty ugly compared to the real one). There was also a short, wide man with pink hair and two swords, a guy with grey clothes and tonfa with a large battery, and that guy had hair like Usopp. Actually, the hair seemed to mostly be the only thing similar to any of his actual Nakama.

"I am 'Straw Hat' Luffy!" the jerk he'd knocked over claimed, indicating the rough straw hat he wore. "I'm one of the Supernovas! The man who took on the Admirals at the Marineford War! The son of Dragon!"

Luffy didn't care about any of the man's words. He could stand people trying to pretend to be him even if it dragged his name through the mud. His eyes were focused on the fake Nami, whom he considered to be an insult to his actual wife. Really, he hadn't seen her in two years, but he was certain she would never let herself look like that. She had too much pride in how she looked. The crew goes silent for a bit, and this is what people think they would look like and act like now? Are they stupid?

"Hey hey, Captain," the fake Usopp interjected, confidence oozing from his words. "The guy seems scared. I guess he didn't know."

"Maybe, we, could, use, him, as, an, example," the fake Coby suggested. "Teach, those, new, guys, what, happens, if, they, fight, us."

"Nice idea," the fake Gin agreed, pulling out his tonfa crossing one over Luffy's neck. A very small electrical charge buzzed inside the tonfa, but Luffy couldn't feel it. "Listen, pal. We're on our way to a rally for our new recruits. Why don't you join us?"

"Not that you have a choice now that you've crossed my darling Luffy," fake-Nami giggled.

"I guess I have to," Luffy muttered, allowing himself to be led onward. If there were this many fakes of his Nakama, they had to have a whole crew. And if there was a whole crew with a rally, he was going to crash it. What better way was there to announce the Straw Hats' return to the world?

Back on the Sunny, a majority of the crewmembers watched as bonds closer than family were reunited.

"Uncle Usopp!"


Usopp charged the klabautermann he'd all but legally adopted two years ago, the mischievous spirit waiting until he was so close before destabilizing into her Heart, leaving Usopp to fly over her empty clothing and faceplant into the grass deck. Nami watched with a smile, having secretly tucked her son away in a nursery beside her and Luffy's room, a nursery she'd had Franky build after arriving. Aware that the toddler was sleeping inside her belly and supposed to be a secret, Sunny kept her happy roars to a low rumble that shook the deck slightly.

"Baaahahaha!" Merry laughed as she reformed, picking Usopp up and pulling him into a real hug, which the sniper returned wholeheartedly. "Sorry. Couldn't resist, Uncle Usopp."

"Merry, you're so tall now," Usopp whispered, as much to her as to himself. He wasn't wrong, the fairy now up to his chin rather than his waist. "I didn't think you could grow up like this, especially with us all separated."

"It just goes to show you that the bonds of the Straw Hats are too strong for anyone to break," Merry smirked, doing a little spin to show off. "Technically, I'm independent of everyone and have been since after Enies Lobby, but it was the steadfast bonds of the crew that made me get older. Otherwise I would have just stayed the same. But look at you, Uncle Usopp! You got jacked!"

"Yeah, I guess," Usopp muttered with a smile, rubbing his neck. "It took a lot of work to get this good. Your uncle isn't a coward anymore, Merry!"

Meanwhile, another pair was reconnecting after their long hiatus.


"Big Sis!"

The adopted sisters all but glomped each other, black-clad spy hugging cake-themed baker like their lives depended on it.

"I've missed you so much," Amy muttered into her sister's multi-colored hair, though the two were about the same size with Amy now only having a few inches more height than Grace, but the baker was also wearing heels on top of that. Happy tears leaked from her eyes. "I was so worried! No matter what contacts I tried to use, no one could ever find you!" She pulled back, now holding her sister at arms length. "Look at you! You're all grown up now!"

"Big Sis..." Grace whined in a voice unbecoming of a spy of her renowned. "Stop smothering me! I'm grown up and famous now! I missed you too, but this is too much!"

"I can't help it!" Amy muttered, pulling the once-redhead back into her embrace. "I spent so much time with that giant family, it took everything to not just run off looking for you!"

"Big Sis!" Forcing her way free, Grace grabbed the sleeves of her sister's dress, pushing them up to her elbows. This revealed the burns Amy had received during their fight on Sabaody two years prior, the red marks swirling up to her elbows like tribal designs. "Are you ok? These don't hurt?"

"Stop it!" Amy shook Grace's hands off, shifting the sleeves back down. The incident had killed the weepy reunion mood, which was what Grace had been going for. "I'm good, I swear. Nothing to worry about. Now, what's this about you becoming famous?"

"I became a thief with the Mr. 6 pair in the North Blue. The government and the art community call me the 'Magpie of Color', but they don't know my face yet. I've sent a picture to an inside contact, though. We don't want the world only giving me half the credit I'm due, right? And hey, look at this! I ate that Devil Fruit. Colorful Galaxy!"

Chemicals of all colors oozed from hidden pockets within Grace's outfit, forming spheres that circled her. They moved at her command, juggling and spinning at her will.

"That's so cool!" Chopper, Usopp, and Merry cheered.

"I'll admit, she's pretty cool," Franky muttered, bringing his new body into full attention, "but I'm ssuuuuuuppppeeerrrr!"

"ROBOT!" the trio yelled, now fawning over the cyborg. That left Nami, Billy, Robin, and Kaku to talk, the lattermost shifting uncomfortably.

"So, uhh," the square-nosed agent muttered, rubbing the back of his neck as Billy sniffed him. "I got found out and had to skedaddle on out of Water 7 with Merry. Fancy I could hitch a ride for a bit? I'm not asking to be a member or nothing. I just need a ride for a little while. I'll be out of your hair before ya know it."

"I guess," Nami answered slowly, glancing at Robin. "Luffy would accept in a heartbeat and you bonded with Coby well enough. I don't see why not. Robin?"

"There are no qualms from me," the archeologist responded. "I was first your enemy, as was Franky, and now we are like family. Having such a strong ally bodes well for us in the New World."

"Wah!" Billy piped up, helpfully.

"Y'all sure've changed," the male ex-assassin commented. "And y'all're aware there 're imposters copying ya here on the archipelago, right?"

"Yeah, I've seen some of them," Nami responded. "Seeing how their fake Luffy was acting made my blood boil."

"Oh my," Robin blinked. "Are they that bad?"

"You have no idea," Nami growled. "I was so close to setting the bar on fire with a lightning strike, but I managed to hold back, which was for the best since that's where I ran into Grace and Usopp, and they -the fakes, I mean- seemed like the kind of morons to attack anyone that looks like us. We don't want others getting dragged into things."

"Oh?" Robin leaned in, bringing her lips closer to Nami's ears. "And you're sure it didn't have anything to do with that surprise I can see in that new room on the third floor?"

"The what?" Kaku asked.

"You've been snooping with your powers!" the navigator accused, the raven-haired woman shrugging without denial, a small smirk over her lips. "Don't tell anyone."

"My lips are sealed," the archeologist replied, her smirk growing. "Ah, you might want to check on that surprise."

"You and your eyes everywhere," Nami sighed, rolling her own eyes. "Now is just as good a time as any, I guess. Go ahead and round up everyone here. I'll be back in a few minutes. Billy, come."

The bird saluted, following his Flock Alpha Female as she made her way into the ship. Kaku turned to the remaining woman, an eyebrow quirked.

"What was that all about?" the ex-assassin questioned.

"It's not my place to say, Spring Wind," Robin waved off. "You'll know soon enough, but I think you should turn to more immediate concerns."

"Like what?"

"Yohohoho!" a very peculiar voice laughed, pulling all attention on the ship to the air where a flying fish was flying toward them. The ship rumbled happily under their feet as the fish grew closer, soaring over them. Two figures jumped from it, landing on the grass silently. "Yohoho! It's wonderful to be back."

Together, the two stood, one tall without skin or muscle and the other somewhat rugged with pink hair. All was silent for a second before motion returned, smiles rising on nearly every face.

"Well well well," Amy muttered, breaking the silence. "I was starting to wonder when you would show up."

"Amy," Brook replied, bending at the pelvis to bow. "You're looking even more beautiful than when last we saw each other. May I see your panties?"

One of Amy's eyes twitched, the woman slowly closing her parasol.

"Hell no!" With her yell, the kilo-woman swung her weapon like a bat, knocking Brook's skull clean off and deep into the Grove.

"Oh Goda!" Kaku gasped.

"Holy shit, Amy!" Coby gaped as Brook's body wobbled and fell over, pelvis sticking up in the air. "Did you just kill him?"

"Brook!" Chopper screamed, rushing to his headless body with tears in his eyes. "How could you, Amy?!"

"I'm sure he's fine," the woman waved off as the rest of the crew stared. "It's not like an attack like that could kill someone who's already dead."

True to Amy's words, a green, gaseous substance rose from the bones, taking the vague shape of Brook.

"Oh my," Ghost Brook muttered, causing Chopper to jump away and "hide" behind Coby. "For a second there, you made me jump out of my skin. Ah, but I don't have any skin to jump out of! Yohoho! Skull joke!"

"That super scared us!" Franky yelled.

"Darn it, don't do that!" Usopp muttered, clutching his heart.

"What the Hell?" Kaku demanded.

"Baaahahaha!" Merry laughed. "I've missed your skull jokes, Brook!"

"Speaking of skulls, you may want to go get yours back," Robin advised calmly. "It wouldn't do for you to lose it, dooming you to continue our adventure without your precious afro."

"Oh dear, you're right!" Brook realized, floating away as quickly as his spectral form would allow.

"Well that hullabaloo happened," Kaku blinked. "Y'all've only gotten more interesting over the years."

"Kaku!" Coby realized, starting a trek toward the square-nosed man. "What are you doing here? How are-?"

"Hold it right there." Coby froze, a smaller hand grabbing the collar of his shirt. The roset gulped as he turned slowly, slitted eyes meeting angry kaleidoscope. "I think there's something that you promised me a long time ago, Coby."

"Ah, G-Grace," the Zoan muttered weakly. "It's, uhh... been a while?"

"Yes it has. And while I know Kuma splitting us apart wasn't your fault, you weren't there!" Grace's hand rose, smacking Coby across the face, leaving behind a blue handprint. Coby dropped to his hands and knees.

"I just want to be a barnacle," he whined, under the effect of Grace's Sadness Blue. "I don't have the brains to be a human."

"Kyahahaha!" Amy laughed, always welcoming the chance to laugh at Coby's misery.

"Damn right you don't!" Grace agreed, bent over him. "We finally get around to figuring out what's going on between us, and you go and throw yourself at a Supernova and get caught up in the middle of an execution! Do you know how scared I was when I got that message? You have two years of heartache to make up for, you loveable moron!" The spy grabbed him by the collar again, hoisting the Zoan to his feet where she wiped away the Sadness Blue with a thought.

"Grace, I-"

Coby didn't finish as the chemist spun them, dipping the Zoan low. Coby eep'ed as Grace hesitated, seemingly waiting for something to happen that may interrupt her. When nothing was forthcoming, she challenged the norm by pressing her own lips against Coby's. The action was so quick, Coby didn't have a moment to respond before it was over.

"You go, Grace!" Merry cheered as the crew watched. Grace smirked down at the young man in her grip, making eye contact with him before letting go, dropping him on the grass.

"That's a start," she said, flipping her hair.

"You sure have gotten confident over the last two years, Ms. Goldenweek," Robin giggled as Coby stayed flat, trying to find his bearings and process what just happened.

"That means I win the bet!" Nami all but yelled, turning attention to her on the top deck near her and Luffy's room, something in her arms and Billy at her feet.

"What bet?!" Coby and Grace demanded, now on the same page.

"I guess she's right," Amy muttered as the navigator started down the steps. "Nami had the bet that you two wouldn't admit having feeling for each other or kiss until we were ready to leave for Fishman Island and most of the time bets have clocked out."

"Actually, Zoro gets half the pot," Franky noted. "His super bet was that they wouldn't kiss before two years."

"But that will go to me anyway as interest on the debt he owes me," Nami responded.

"You bet on our love lives?!"

"Even I was in on it," Chopper offered. "I thought it would take you six months after Skypia. And I was almost right!"

"Shifting gears," Usopp interjected, lest Grace take her paints and powers out and go on a rampage. "I think Nami has something to show us."

"Indeed," Robin agreed, the anticipation cutting through whatever leftover tension there was. "What is that in your arms?"

"Alright, everyone," Nami smiled, the present crew plus Kaku drawing close to her. "I know not everyone is here and a few of you already know, but you aren't allowed to tell any of the guys who aren't here, Luffy especially. Alright?"

"Yohoho, what's going on here?" Brook asked, his spectral form returning with his skull. His body as whole was it was every going to get, he possessed it again and walked over. "What did I- Dear me!"

"Everyone," Nami began, a wide smile on her lips as she turned her child so he could see the group, still dressed in his monkey outfit but with the hood lowered. "This is my son, Monkey D. Ace. He'll be joining us on our adventure."

The crowd was speechless at the announcement, those who had known (Coby, Franky, Usopp, and Grace) silent so their fellows could process the information. The living ship under their feet rumbled happily. Ace, however, didn't find his existence to be a shock as he started pointing at the crewmembers he'd grown up hearing stories about, wanting to show what he knew.

"Uncle Fwanky! An' Uncle Uso! An' dats Uncle Coby and Auntie Gwace! An' dat's... Auntie Wobin? Oh! Oh! Skelly is Gwanpa Bwook! An' Choppy's a person-deer, so dat's him. An' Mewwy has horns an' white hair, so dat's Mewwy. An' Auntie Amy has her umbwella. ...Who's dat, Mommy?" Ace's little pointer finger finished pointing at Kaku, the only non-crewmember.

"That's Kaku, sweetie," Nami answered. "He'll be with us for a little."


"He's so adorable!" Merry and Chopper yelled as Nami set him down. Ace was shorter than Chopper, coming to the doctor's shoulder in his Brain Point. Considering their close height, Ace and Chopper began playing a game of tag with the deer indulging the boy's slower speed.

"This kid is how old?" Amy asked as Ace and Chopper used her legs as a divide, poking their heads out on either side before Ace giggled and ran toward Franky.

"Not even two," Nami answered. "He's more physically grown than you'd expect, but I think that's Luffy's genes. And he's a certifiable genius. Apparently the brains in his family skip a generation. He learns more everyday, so I expect him to be smart enough to avoid danger in a couple months if not sooner."

"Hold on a second," Usopp interjected. "You're saying that every other generation is a genius in that family?"

"Yeah," Nami confirmed. "Luffy got Garp's brains and Ace here got Dragon's."

"How did you come across that information?" Robin asked, the group watching as Ace and Chopper continued their game while clambering over Franky's robot body. The cyborg indulged them, moving with over-emphasized mechanical motions.

"I managed to get in contact with Garp by using the Marine's anonymous tip line. I said I had information on the Straw Hats' whereabouts but that I'd only talk to Garp and they patched me through. He promised to keep Ace a secret until the world knows we're back." She tilted her head as Franky started making "super BEEP BOOP" noises. "I should go call him before he explodes, actually. Ace!"

"Yes, Mommy!" Ace answered, jumping off Franky and jogging to stand before his mother with far more dexterity than a kid his age should have.

"I have to make a call, so stay on the ship and play with your aunts and uncles, ok?"

"Okay, Mommy!" Nami ruffled his hair, bringing a shining smile to the boy's face, before she retreated into the study. Ace turned to the crew, eyes bright. "Ne, Uncle Uso! Mommy said you're real good with shooting things!"

"I would die for this child," Amy muttered, surprised. "Dammit, Nami. Now I want a kid." Robin hummed beside her.

"Well she's right!" Usopp bragged, his closed eyes preventing him from seeing Robin pick up the child. "I'm the best marksman this side-"

"ʑʉ̈ǂ ɻʉ̈ɭøɻɛ ʁɶ ʐøɭʉ̈ɕæ ʛæ?" Robin asked, the language foreign to every ear of the crew. Merry blinked.

"What was that, Auntie Wobin?" Ace asked.

"Did you just speak Poneglyph?" the Wood Fairy questioned.

"It's a super-duper old language, a ʎɜχ ɭøɻɛ," the archeologist answered, using a grown Flower arm to boop the child in the nose, making Ace giggle. He tried to grab her arm, but it dispersed into petals "I can teach you if you want."

"Yeah! Mommy said learning things is super good!"

"No fair!" Usopp, Coby, and Chopper whined.

"Hey, Robin, teach me, too!" Merry demanded.

"Yohoho, I'll provide some music," Brook offered. "They say music makes learning easier."

Without waiting another second, the trio plus Ace made their way inside so Robin could start grooming her newly-chosen apprentice.

"That child is gonna be scarier 'n Death when he grows up," Kaku commented, turning five confused looks on himself. "I mean, he's gonna grow up learning everything about anything from y'all, and has a genius-level intellect? Merry's inheritance is gonna be small potatoes compared to that, ya'know."

"I don't know why you're here," Coby began, reached forward to lock hands with his fellow Zoan, "but I'm glad to see you, Wind."

"Aww shucks, I've missed you too, Horn," Kaku grinned. Their hands grew and shifted as both wanted men changed into their hybrid forms, two-legged triceratops holding the thumbed hoof of a humanoid giraffe. "No one back on Water 7 knew what it was like being a Zoan 'cept for Merry, kinda."

"We have to catch up," Coby nodded. "I've got-"

"A lot of making up to do," Grace interrupted, grabbing his arm. "I finally have you back, I'm not letting you get off that quickly, Coby. You can rekindle your bromance later!"

"Where are we going?" Coby asked as the spy started dragging him away, the boy shrinking back into his human state.

"Not here!"

"Oh geez," Amy sighed. "First that then a kid then that again. This is too much. I need to sit down."

"Just another day with the Straw Hats!" Franky laughed. "This is great! This is better than great! It's nothing less than-!" Franky froze, a wave of force passing over the Sunny. "What was that?"

"It felt like Conqueror's Haki," Amy replied. "Strong, too. Something's happening on the archipelago, and I bet you Luffy's involved."

"I'm certain he is," a new voice commented, turning attention on the deck to Rayleigh. "I suggest taking the Sunny to Dock 42 and picking everyone up there. The Marines are in, after all."

End of Chapter 2

The Straw Hats of the Coby's Choice universe (as of this chapter):

'Straw Hat' Monkey D. Luffy

Age: 19

Home: Fusha Village, Dawn Island, East Blue

Role: Captain

Devil Fruit: Gum-Gum Fruit

Goal: To become the Pirate King

Luffy is an energetic and caring, if somewhat unintelligent, young pirate and the founder of the Straw Hat Pirates. Because of the Gum-Gum Fruit he ate as a child -a Devil Fruit he took from his idol 'Red-Haired' Shanks- his body is able to stretch on account of being rubber. The straw hat for which his crew name and moniker are derived was a parting gift from Shanks, one Luffy has promised to return after he has become the Pirate King. Luffy is married to his crew's navigator Monkey D. Nami, having first been kissed by her after defeating Arlong, though marriage wasn't on their minds until his family name appeared on her Wanted Poster after their attack on Enies Lobby. After the War of the Best in which Luffy lost his older brother Ace, Luffy spent two years training on an uninhabited island with periodic visits from 'Dark King' Silvers Rayleigh. Though Luffy knows Boa Hancock is in love with him, he regularly turns down her advances, stating that to betray the trust of his wife would tear his crew apart.

'Pirate Hunter' Roronoa Zoro

Age: 21

Home: Shimosuki Village, East Blue

Role: First Mate

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: To become the World's Greatest Swordsman

Zoro is the only practitioner of the Three-Sword Style, a fighting style of his own creation. Having gotten lost years ago, Zoro became a bounty hunter to support himself until his fateful meeting with Luffy in Shells Town. Though originally stating that he would stab Luffy if he ever got in the way of his dream, Zoro has since become incredibly loyal to the younger man. Zoro also became the teacher of Coby after their first run-in with Buggy the Clown. After being separated from the crew by Bartholomew Kuma, Zoro ended up on Kuraigama Island, the home of Dracule Mihawk, who assisted in his training.

'Tri-Horn' Coby

Age: 18

Home: Mowan Island, East Blue

Role: Cabin Boy (Official)

Devil Fruit: Dragon-Dragon Fruit, Ancient Zoan Model Triceratops

Goal: To become a Hero

Coby's dream of becoming a hero stems from the loss of his parents in a pirate raid when he was younger. His original idea of joining the Marines was a direct connection to that path, but his interactions with Captain Morgan and Helmeppo in Shells Town changed his outlook on the organization, causing him to join Luffy when prompted. He quickly became the only student of Zoro, learning Two-Sword Style well enough to use regular swords before the Straw Hats reached the Grand Line. Coby obtained his Devil Fruit by accident on Little Garden and has since evolved his swordsmanship and power set through the IQ plants of the (formerly) floating islands of Merivelle. Coby was captured on Sabaody by 'Red Flag' X Drake and given to Garp, resulting in him being tortured in Impel Down and on the execution stand alongside Ace as a stand in for Zoro having attacked a Celestial Dragon. Coby survived both ordeals, though not unscathed; he now has a massive burn scar on his back in remembrance of his self-believed weakness. He spent two years on Sabaody, receiving training from Rayleigh and working for the Red Ember Gang.

'Cat Burglar' Monkey D. Nami

Age: 20

Home: Cocoyashi Village, Orange Archipelago, East Blue

Role: Navigator

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: To map the whole world

Nami first encountered Luffy and his crew while trying to escape from Buggy the Clown. She did not trust them because of their status as pirates despite provisionally joining them after Buggy's defeat. She started dating Luffy after his defeat of Arlong, freeing her village, deciding that his becoming the Pirate King would make her a rich queen (and that she very well could fall hard for him in the meantime). The government assumed their marriage after their assault of Eneis Lobby when 'Monkey D,' appeared on her new Wanted Poster, and became official with a ceremony performed by a zombie priest on Thriller Bark. Nami spent their time separated on Weatheria where she bore her son, Monkey D. Ace, and named him after Luffy's late brother.

'Long Nose' Usopp

Age: 19

Home: Syrup Village, Gecko Island, East Blue

Role: Marksman

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: To become a brave warrior of the sea

Born in Syrup Village, Usopp grew up hearing stories of his father who is a pirate on the crew of 'Red-Hair' Shanks, and always aspired to be a pirate just like him. Though cowardly, Usopp has found people and ideals to stand behind and protect. These started with his stanch defense of the Merry, which was a gift from his girlfriend Kaya. Once Merry transitioned from a ship to an independent fairy, she adopted Usopp as an uncle, causing the sniper to treat her like a daughter of sorts.

'Black Leg' Sanji

Age: 21

Home: Baratie, East Blue

Role: Chef

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: To find the All Blue

Raised on the floating restaurant Baratie, Sanji became a renowned chef and a proficient fighter of the Red Leg style under the guidance of 'Red Leg' Zeff. After the restaurant was saved by Luffy and the others, Zeff all but forced Sanji to join them so he could chance after his goal of finding the mythical All Blue. Sanji's life before being shipwrecked with Zeff is an unknown.

'Electric Devil' Gin

Age: 25

Home: Virgio Island, East Blue

Role: Chief of Staff (Official), Emergency Battery (unofficial)

Devil Fruit: Rumble-Rumble Fruit (L)

Goal: To conquer the Grand Line alongside his friends

Raised by a single father on the matriarchal island of Virgio, Gin was like most kids until his father was killed in a mining accident. The trauma of being left alone in his youth caused a mysterious voice to manifest, blaming all of Gin's misfortunes on those in charge of the mines. He was found by 'Don' Krieg just after killed the woman who owned the mines and was swept into piracy. The attack on the Baratie showed Gin how little respect Krieg deserved and, after being fired, was offered a place on the crew by Luffy.

Gin ended up killing Eneru and, later, eating the Rumble-Rumble Fruit left behind. Gin also took Zoro's spot in taking the challenge of the Warlord Bartholomew Kuma on Thriller Bark, reasoning that though Zoro was still chasing his goal, Gin had already achieved his. Various causes combined with the pain caused the voice in his head to gain more control, taking over Gin's body as he slept. The personality was named Rum.

During the time skip, Gin trained in Godland Berka, the original home of Eneru, where they considered Gin's Fruit to be holy. During that time, Rum fully forming into a complete personality with a true voice and reachable goals: to take their body and reach the level of authority he thinks they deserve without the Straw Hats or any bonds.

'Mood Painter', 'Magpie of Color' Grace Marigold

Age: 18

Home: Greenbank Island, West Blue

Role: Artist (Official)

Devil Fruit: Chem-Chem Fruit (P)

Goal: To become the World's Greatest Painter

Born in the West Blue, Grace was raised by her chemist/artist parents until a plague tore through the town. She managed to survive the disease, but her. her adoptive big sister Amy, and the other orphans were kidnapped by the Greedy Dog Pirates and carried into the Grand Line where the pirates fell to the organization of Baroque Works, eventually becoming Ms. Goldenweek. She worked for them for a time until meeting Coby, giving her all the reason she finally needed to betray the organization.

During the time skip, she ate a Devil Fruit seed obtained in a pervious adventure, giving her the advantage she needed to win the respect of the Mr. 6 pair who were hiding in the North Blue.

'Weightless Woman' Amy Palant

Age: 21

Home: Greenbank Island, West Blue

Role: Assistant cook/chocolatier

Devil Fruit: Kilo-Kilo Fruit (P)

Goal: To create the world's greatest chocolate

Amy grew up the only child to baker parents in the town of Greenbank alongside Grace. After the passing of both sets of their parents, Amy became fiercly protective of her adoptive little sister. She joined Baroque Works when given the chance and earned the name Ms. Valentine. She turned on the organization to protect Grace, but has since become just as loyal to Luffy and the crew as any other member. During the crew's stay on Little East Blue, Amy accidentally proposed to Gin with the ways of his people. He had refused to give her a yes or no, causing Amy to feel like she has no closure but also helping her stave off marriage proposals from Big Mom and her children during the crew's time apart.

'Monster Doctor' Tony Tony Chopper

Age: 17

Home: Drum Island, Sakura Kingdom (formerly Drum Kingdom)

Role: Doctor (Official), Emergency Food Supply (unofficial)

Devil Fruit: Human-Human Fruit, unspecified model (Z)

Goal: To cure all diseases

Having been kicked out of his herd after eating his Devil Fruit, Chopper fell into the care of Doctor Hiriluk who taught him the beginnings of medicine. After Hiriluk's untimely death, Chopper became the assistant of Doctor Kuraha. He joined the Straw Hats after helping them defeat King Wapol.

'Devil Child' Nico Robin

Age: 30

Home: Ohara, West Blue

Role: Archeologist

Devil Fruit: Flower-Flower Fruit (P)

Goal: To learn the True History of the Void Century

The last survivor of the scholars of Ohara, Robin lived a life of hiding, secrets, and betrayal until joining the Straw Hats after the fall of Crocodile. Her faith and loyalty to the crew only solidified after her rescue from Enies Lobby. Though she has a morbid sense of humor, she truly cares for each of the Straw Hats, though she appears to have a motherly soft spot of Chopper.

'Ghost Ship' Going Merry

Age: undetermined (appears 16ish)

Home: Syrup Village, Gecko Island, East Blue

Role: Helmswoman

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: To have the adventure of a lifetime

The spirit of the Straw Hats' first ship gifted to them by Kaya of Gecko Island, Merry formed as a Klabautermann (Wood Fairy) with pieces and aspects of all of the crew from her forming. Merry did her best to remain hidden from her crew, fearing they would not let her go because her ship was falling apart, but that plan was ruined when the crew got split up at Enies Lobby so she could not rescue them all together. With Merry's sentience revealed, Luffy refused to let her die and begged the shipwrights of Water 7 to find a way to save her. Merry's essence is now tied to a "Heart", a piece of wood that acts as a tether and holder for her soul that binds her to the earth.

'Cyborg' Cutty "Franky" Flam

Age: 36

Home: Water 7, Paradise

Role: Shipwright

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: To see the Thousand Sunny reach the end of the world

Raised and trained by the shipwright Tom, Franky has been building boats and machines all his life. He was forced to rebuild himself after getting run over by a sea train he helped build in an attempt to stop the false arrest of Tom, a result of the man having built the ship of the former Pirate King. After the Straw Hats' invasion of Enies Lobby where they saved him and Nico Robin, the Franky Family begged the Straw Hats to take their leader for his safety since he was a wanted man. Franky was and is the primary shipwright of the Thousand Sunny.

'Humming Swordsman', 'Soul King' Brook

Age: 90

Home: Unknown

Role: Musician

Devil Fruit: Revive-Revive Fruit (P)

Goal: To see Luffy become the King of the Pirates

Brook is a skeleton that can still move and talk because of a Devil Fruit he ate in life, the Revive-Revive Fruit. His previous crew, the Rumbar Pirates, were killed in a fight with a stronger rival crew and, though he did not survive the encounter, Brook was brought back by his Fruit, but not before all but his bones and afro were gone. From there, he wandered, lost in the Florian Triangle for many years before his shadow was stolen by the Warlord Gecko Moria. Brook joined the crew after retrieving his shadow once more with the help of the Straw Hats. He hopes to one day reunite with Laboon the island whale and fulfill his 50-year promise.

Billy the Duck (Gigafowl)

Age: 2.5

Home: Meriville Islands

Role: Pet, walking crib (unofficial)

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: unknown

Born on the floating island of Meriville while they were under the control of 'Golden Lion' Shiki and the Golden Lion Pirates, Billy is a large duck with the ability to produce and conduct electricity due to the IQ plant mutation experiments. While being shown to Shiki by Dr. Indigo, Billy formed a fast bond with Nami, eventually assisting in her escape. He was later named by Luffy and tagged along after Shiki's defeat.

Monkey D. Ace

Age: 1.5

Home: Weatheria

Role: Child

Devil Fruit: N/A

Goal: Have fun

Born to Nami and Luffy during her stay on Weatheria, Ace has grown up hearing stories about his parents' crew. He dreams of becoming as strong as his father and going on the kinds of adventures he's heard about.

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