Trial by Error

BY : Demonized
Category: +M to R > One Piece
Dragon prints: 1819
Disclaimer: I do not own One Piece, nor do I make any money off of this work.

In the New World...

He was warm, but a deck he couldn't remember falling asleep on wasn't very comfortable to keep sleeping. Sure, he'd slept on worse, Impel Down's Level 6 the absolute worst he'd ever experienced, but he recalled having a narcoleptic fit in front of Oyaji's grave after his little farewell speech. With a frown he pushed his favorite hat -- which had been retrieved by his Nakama from Banaro Island along with the rest of his effects -- up from over his eyes and sat up.

"Ah, look! Ace-kun is up! Ne, Ace-kun, look at today's paper!"

Ace blinked. Shanks was right in front of him, holding up a paper and grinning like a child in a candy store. How long had the man been standing there? More importantly, what was so interesting about the newspaper? He took the offered paper and glanced over the headline. His gaze flicked to the picture on the front page before he paused and reread the headline. Next he studied the picture and a grin spread across his face along with a look of understanding. "You're a genius, Lu." Hopefully his Nakama would get the message too.

"Gotta go, Shanks-san! Gonna go meet up with Luffy and Rayleigh!" He leapt to his feet and dashed to the railing of the ship. Ace jumped onto the rail and glanced down. Tied to the ship was the Striker, and he knew there was only one person who knew he was this predictable. Marco... With a glance over to where the paddle ship was anchored, he caught sight of Marco smirking at him. Ace waved then jumped down onto the Striker.



Atop an enormous bridge in East Blue...

They rode in silence, Sabo watching her as she studied the ruins along the bridge from the window. Nico Robin was determined to meet back up with her Nakama, and he couldn't blame her. He desperately wanted to go see Luffy and Ace himself, but they couldn't go any faster than they were already going and he still had to report back to Dragon about Robin's refusal to come to Baltigo.

There was a rap on the window, drawing him out of his thoughts. Sabo twisted slightly to open the window and he took the paper from the carriage driver. "Here, this is for you." He held it out for Robin, who looked at it questioningly as she took it. The former noble closed the window as the archaeologist unrolled the paper and started to read it.

"Luffy!" That caught his attention and he tried to peer at the paper in her hands. She made a quick study of the picture on the front page, a smile starting to spread on her face, and then handed the paper to her captain's brother for him to look at.

Sabo read the headline and blinked, the smiled as his gaze flicked to the photo. "He sure does know how to cause an uproar." He noticed a marking of some sort on his brother's arm and frowned. 3D2Y. The 3D was crossed out... "Two years?"

"It's a message to our Nakama," Robin explained, and when he thought about it it made sense. "I will return with you back to Baltigo, Blue Gentleman-san."

Now he understood the two years. Well, he could wait a little longer.



Among the clouds in Paradise...

Chopper relaxed on the soft feathers of his giant bird friend from the Torino Kingdom in South Blue. The wind felt nice going through his fur and he was half-tempted to go asleep. Getting the giant birds and human inhabitants to stop fighting each other had been quite exhausting. He started to close his eyes when he spotted a News Coo flying near them. "Ah, a News Coo! May I have a paper please?"

The Coo flew closer and handed a paper over to him. Chopper gave the Coo the required payment and waved as the Coo flew off to deliver more papers. The reindeer smiled and opened the paper to the front page. His expression quickly turned to one of shock and then confusion. "Why, Luffy?!" The giant bird glanced back at him curiously as he set about to reading the article. Once he was finished he studied the picture of Luffy and blinked. "Oh... Oh! I've got it Luffy!"

He hadn't expected the sudden change in plans, as he was sure he would be leaving the Torino Kingdom behind for a long while, but he had the giant bird turn around as he dressed up in a disguise.



Kamabakka Kingdom on Momoiro Island in Paradise...

Sanji felt like he'd been through hell and back, and that was from just a fight against the Okama Queen, Emporio Ivankov. He had no idea the, Okama was so strong. He hadn't even landed a hit on Ivankov while he himself had been utterly thrashed. Now he was stuck here, on this hellish island...oh what a nightmare.

The chef scowled and glared up at the sky, only for a paper to be stuck in his face. Sanji blinked and sat up then took the newspaper from Ivankov. It was already unfolded, so he took a look at the headlines and the picture. A full minute of silence passed by, Ivankov staring at the paper over his shoulder, before he grinned and murmured softly, "I see... Luffy." It looks like he would be training, in hell of all places.

Ivankov, though not fully understanding what was going on with the curly-vurly boy and the paper, knew that training was about to ensue. The Okama Queen grinned and held out a hand to help Sanji up. "Let's go eat something refreshing, Curly-vurly boy." Little did Sanji know, when he would ask about the food, that he would be entering the a new kind of hell.



Shikkearu Ruins on Kuraigana Island in Paradise...

Zoro squinted at the paper being held over his head by the annoying ghost-girl Perona. She was quite different from when he had met her on Thriller Bark, and had even been the one to do his bandages, as inexperienced as she was with them. He vaguely wondered if Mihawk had sent her out here to him, seeing as there was news about his Captain.

The message that Luffy was trying to send out to him and their other Nakama, whatever it was he didn't see it. Perona was starting to whine about her arms hurting, but he still hadn't found the message he knew was in the photo. "Just give me a minute. There's a message in here somewhere," he grumbled, eyes scanning the picture over for the hundredth time.



On Boin Archipelago in Paradise...

The now extremely overweight Usopp read through the article about his Captain with a new fire in his heart. He understood the message perfectly clear, and with his new determination he knew precisely what he was going to do now. "I get it!! I get it, Luffy!!!" Heracles, who was trying to read the paper as well, was utterly confused and still trying to convince him that they couldn't leave the island.

Usopp was going to leave the island, regardless of what the beetle-like man said. Once he was done with his training he knew he would have the necessary skills that his Captain would need. The young sharpshooter had to train until he was the absolute best sniper in the whole world! Luffy was going to become Pirate King, without a doubt in his mind, and he needed the best sniper in the world at his side! Usopp wanted to live up to his self proclaimed title of Sogeking.



On the Sky Island of Weatheria...

"I can't believe this!". No way. She was going to kill that brainless Captain of hers when she met up with him again. Honestly, as interesting as Weatheria was, she didn't want to get stuck with a bunch of stuffy old men who had no clue as to haggle for the services they could provide. "Doesn't he have any consideration for others?!!"

She knew what Luffy was telling them, and damnit, she was going to charge him for the troubles she was going through. Stuffy old men. She really would have to give back all of the stuff she had stolen, for now at least. This sucked.



On Karakuri Island in Paradise...

Charred and a bit irritated at himself for blowing up Vegapunk's first lab, even though the Marines had been chasing him, Franky grudgingly took the latest newspaper from a very cold News Coo. Kitton and his grandfather were freaking out over his current appearance, which he understood was a bit scary as his flesh had been burned off. He opened the paper and blocked out the ruckus the two were making. His Captain was on the front page, and causing quite a stir for the Marines himself.

Franky grinned after finding the message Luffy was trying to convey and turned to find his two rescuers still freaking out. Maybe he should cover up his face.



Tēna Gēna Kingdom on Kenzan Island in Paradise...

Brook was at a loss on what to do. He had been successfully captured by the Longarm Tribe and taken to their homeland. They were putting him on display for being a moving skeleton, though they hadn't realized it was because of a Devil Fruit. At least they were thoughtful enough to untie him when they put him in the cage, and they even gave him a newspaper. As one of the Longarms began announcing an introduction from beyond a curtain to show him off, Brook found the message in the photo. So that was what the Captain was thinking.



Two weeks later on Rusukaina Island in the Calm Belt...

Ace grinned as he landed on the shore of the Island where his little brother was. The Kuja had gladly directed him here, an oblivious Hancock eager to see Luffy happy because of something she had done. The Mera Mera no Mi user almost felt sorry for using her in such a way. Almost. Were she not so lovesick over his otouto, he wouldn't have even thought of feeling sorry for her. Then again, maybe he should. Luffy had been quite clear in how he felt, and he certainly didn't feel that way about Hancock.

His cheeks warmed slightly as he remembered his brother's straightforward confession. It was so like Luffy. He should have known that he was one hundred percent serious, because Luffy didn't play around with feelings. He did need to make himself more clear to Hancock though...

Ace pulled his Striker out of the water and high up onto the sand, well out of the tide's highest reach. Once he had his one man boat taken care of he turned to see Rayleigh watching him from the edge of the forest. A grin was stretched across the old man's face, his arms folded over his chest. He dashed over to Rayleigh and briefly wondered where Luffy was.

"You'll need to leave your things with Luffy-kun's hat, so it won't get damaged." Leave his... With Luffy's most treasured hat? It was very rare that Luffy didn't wear that old straw hat. Simply knowing he had left it somewhere so it wouldn't get damaged... His brother was giving it his all.

Ace followed the Dark King to where Luffy's hat was and he gently picked it up. His Vivre Card was still tucked behind the ribbon, and seeing it there made him smile. He took his own hat off and placed it where the straw hat had been, then put Luffy's hat down over his. His zebra-printed bag and his dagger were laid down at the base of the stone, for safe keeping as well.

"Now we can get down to business, Ace-kun. Like I told Luffy, every animal here on Rusukaina is stronger than him. There are more than five hundred animals living here, and he couldn't hope to defeat a single one." Well, that was true for when they had first landed on the island. Luffy was steadily gaining in strength. "You are stronger than your brother, Ace-kun, and you would fare better than Luffy would against the weaker animals. Still, a great number of the stronger animals would be too much for you to handle. You too will train to learn Haki, so you can avoid any more near-death situations in the future. This will also help to strengthen your Devil Fruit powers."

Ace blinked and frowned as he took in the information. He had been to the New World plenty of times, and had just returned from there. To hear that he was weaker than some animals living on an island in the Calm Belt along Paradise was unsettling. "This Haki... Oyaji and Shanks used it. A good number of the Division Commanders could use it too. You're saying you can teach me and Luffy Haki?"

"Yes. I can teach both of you the first two forms of Haki. The third is one that can't be taught, though if you have it, it can be mastered." And Ace did have Haō-shoku Haki from what he could tell. Now it was a matter of getting him to unlock Kenbun-shoku Haki and Busō-shoku Haki. That was often easier said than done. "Let's go join Luffy-kun and get you started on the training."

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