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One Piece: Emperor of the Seas

DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the characters depicted in this story nor the images used as cover arts. All rights reserved to their respective creators. ---------- Ace D. Goldstein was an avid fan of One Piece before dying because of an unnamed disease. Given another chance at life, he was transported into the body of a character he knew and loved. How would the son of the King of the Pirates change and develop if he suddenly woke up with memories of a different future? Would he do things differently? Would he become even stronger before setting out on his life changing journey? What will his goal be? Follow the story of Gol D. Ace in his journey to become someone that surpasses them all! A pirate whose name is widely known and feared! To become the most notorious man in the world! Follow the rise of the Emperor of the Seas!

Ehnvy · Anime & Comics
Not enough ratings
119 Chs

Chapter 109

Vash was torn whether to accompany Kuma or not on his journey towards Karakuri Island. From the rumors Kuma gathered, it says that there will be a DELTA Scientist heading there to take a look at Doctor Vegapunk's old lab, with the permission of the World Government.

'This means that whoever ordered the death of Verna is now allied with the World Government.'

Vash scoffed at the thought. He was truly glad he joined up with Ace, with his captain already on his way to antagonizing the World Government.

'I really hope it's not you… brother.'

Vash and Hepha watched Kuma prepare to set off on his small boat that was just big enough to carry him and probably one other normal-sized person. Vash was debating with himself if he should get on board or not.

"You sure you don't want to go with me, Vash-san?" Kuma asked, finished with his preparations.

After sharing a few drinks, Vash and Kuma hit it off. After knowing what kind of person Vash is from Hepha, a doctor who doesn't needlessly kill, Kuma was impressed. The big man was a pacifist, after all.

"...I can't," Vash said with a small sigh, expressing the regret a part of him felt. "I'm the first mate of my crew. I can't just run away from my responsibility."

"That's noble and all, but that's a load of bullcrap," Hepha said as she nudged Vash with her elbow. "You know Ace would drown in guilt when he knows you stopped going after your goal because of him."

"Yeah, he probably will," Vash said. "But still, I'm the first mate. Going off on my own is out of the question."

"You talk as if you'll be gone for a long time," Hepha said. "With Kuma's boat, you won't need two weeks to reach Karakuri Island."

"I can also send you back here much faster," Kuma said with a smile as he raised his hand. "I have a rather handy Devil Fruit power."

"Besides, Ace said so himself. We'll probably stay here for a while. At least more than a month," Hepha said. "I'm sure you can go to Karakuri Island and back before then. If, on the off chance, Ace gets mad… then I'll take the blame."

"...you really want me to go, huh?" Vash asked with a sigh.

"Like I said, I believe it's what Ace would've done," Hepha said. "He'd probably even bring the whole crew with you…"

"Yeah, he probably would." Vash smiled as the grinning image of their strangely stupid and reckless captain surfaced in his mind. "But… I can't trouble everyone with my personal baggage."

"Then…?"

Vash had a silent debate with himself. Hepha and Kuma waited patiently for his decision. Whatever he decides now, they won't push any further. They only stopped and asked to remind Vash that nobody is really stopping him, so he's free to decide what to do.

After a few moments, Vash came to a decision.

"Alright. I'll go," Vash said. "I hope I'm not a bother, Kuma."

"No worries, Vash-san," Kuma said. "I'm delighted to have a friend aboard."

Vash stepped up onto Kuma's small boat. It was big enough for the two of them.

"Am I actually gonna do this…?" A small part of Vash was still hesitant.

"If you're that worried, just hurry up with what you need to do!" Hepha said with a wide smile.

"Then… let Ace and the others know I'll be back soon."

And with that, Kuma unfurled the sails to catch the fortuitous wind that blew favorably in their direction. Vash and Kuma nodded in goodbye to Hepha as they cast off and sailed away.

Hepha waved goodbye at Vash and Kuma's boat until it sank over the horizon in her view. She then returned to the Ashen Dragon that wasn't too far away from Kuma's small boat. When she got there, she was greeted by the sight of Augur looking in the direction Vash and Kuma went off as well as the loud grunting sounds of Burgess working out on the ship's deck.

"Hepha-san." Augur nodded in greeting at Hepha.

"Yo, Augur. You didn't even say goodbye?"

"Hmm." Augur returned his gaze in the direction of Vash and Kuma's departure. Hepha had no doubts that he could still see both of them clearly, given Augur's extraordinary eyesight as their best sniper. "I assume Vash-san is no deserter?"

"He's not jumping ships," Hepha said. "He just has an errand to run that he needs to do on his own."

"...does Captain approve of this?" Augur asked.

"I know he will," Hepha said. "Well… if he doesn't, then I'll take responsibility."

Augur stared at Hepha for a few moments. Hepha didn't back down from the stare, showing how sure she is of what she's doing.

"I believe you," Augur said before popping away, no doubt returning to the crow's nest with his Devil Fruit power.

Hepha then went to the other side of the ship, the side that was facing the wide open sea. She leaned on the Ashen Dragon's sturdy railing, resting her whole weight on the elbow she propped up on it.

With a deep breath, Hepha inhaled the all too familiar scent of the sea. Before meeting Ace, she probably would not be doing something close to this. Having people she can rely on made Hepha more willing to relax and let down her guard.

The sun was dipping to the west now, casting the sky in a slight orange hue. In an hour, Hepha would be able to watch the sun set in Water 7.

The cool breeze and the gentle rocking of the waves lulled Hepha to a sleep-like state. Her body was so relaxed, she didn't need to put effort into ignoring the loud grunts of Burgess. It seems the Doubles that Doppol left to tend to the ship were similar to her, given how some of them were lying on the deck snoring.

Unknowingly, minutes passed by as Hepha enjoyed the view and the soothing environment she was in. At this moment, Hepha truly thought that life was good. She enjoyed the calm…

Then, the alarm system of the Ashen Dragon blared. Hepha and the sleeping Doubles were jolted awake.

Immediately after, Augur's agitated voice sounded from the same speakers.

"Hepha-san! We're in trouble!" Augur said. "It's… Akainu!"

"What?!"

Hearing the name of that dreaded Navy Admiral… Hepha began shaking in fear.

'No no no no no this can't be happening! Why is he here?!'

"Hepha-san?"

Hepha was jolted by Augur's voice. She was so distracted by the panic she suddenly felt that everything else went out the window. Seeing the concerned face of their stoic sniper made Hepha remember… she's not that helpless little girl anymore.

She has her crew now. She can rely on them as much as they can rely on her. The problem was… they're separated.

'Damn it!' Hepha gritted her think as her mind raced in both panic and preparation.

"How long until they get here?" Hepha asked Augur.

"By the speed they are sailing, given how their ships are fat and slow, they will be here in three hours," Augur said, shocking Hepha.

"...three hours? Really?" Hepha sounded incredulous. "You spotted them that far away?"

"Not very difficult, considering Akainu brought a whole fleet of battleships with him," Augur said, annoyingly nonchalantly for Hepha. "Those ships are massive. What do we do now, Hepha-san?"

"First of all… great work, Augur," Hepha said with a smirk as he patted Augur's shoulder proudly. "With them that far away, we can-"

Hepha was glad Augur jolted him awake. If he didn't, her Observation Haki wouldn't flare right now. She felt it so clearly, an amateur's killing intent. It was close by, very close by.

Three seconds into the future, Hepha saw it. Their ship, their beloved Ashen Dragon, exploded from the inside. Hepha had exactly that much time to prevent it from happening.

Wordlessly, Hepha took out Clear Sky from her leg holster and made its head as big as her whole body. She then raised it in an attempt to strike down below her.

One second has passed.

Hepha's Armament Haki flared and hardened Clear Sky before bringing it down with all her strength. Doppol made their ship strong and she can't afford holding back. The part of the wooden deck Hepha was standing on broke from the sheer impact of her hammer strike before she herself began falling.

Two seconds have passed.

Hepha's emotions finally caught up to her as her body reacted to the information she received with Future Sight by instinct. Her face contorted into a mad grimace as she glared down at the person responsible for the future she just saw.

"Burgess!"

Hepha's Conqueror's Haki roared downwards, the full brunt of it focused on one man. Burgess looked up and froze just as he was about to light the fuse directly on the barrels of gunpowder in what looked like a desperate attempt to damage the Ashen Dragon, even at the cost of his own life.

Three seconds have passed. Hepha has averted the crisis.

Hepha landed on the floor below the deck of the Ashen Dragon where the gunpowder was stored. She glared at Burgess who was still frozen, eyes wide in fear staring at her. To his credit, he had just enough will of his own to resist being intimidated into unconsciousness by Hepha's Conqueror's Haki.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" Hepha's voice was low in a growl as she asked the question to Burgess. Rage was flowing through her at the sight of the obvious act of betrayal. "I told you we don't take kindly to traitors."

Burgess suddenly found the strength to jolt himself out of the stunned-into-fear state he found himself in. With terribly shaking hands, he began to try and light the fuse once again.

"Ohh, no you don't."

Hepha's legs flexed in preparation of her next move. She finally got around to mastering what Ace called Flicker.

Before Burgess could even blink, Hepha was already poised to strike right in front of him. All he could do was watch as time seemingly slowed down for him.

Hepha's rage was palpable. Teach's act of betrayal hurt their crew. It hurt her. Traitors must not be forgiven. She let her Haki flow. All of it. Her attack fueled by rage had all her strength behind it.

Clear Sky inched closer and closer to Burgess… but it didn't need to hit him. Even with the hammer right in front of his face, Burgess already felt its impact. Time seemed to slow down as his muscles crumpled and his bones shattered so slowly, Burgess knew… he was about to die.

In his last moments, before being smashed to a bloody mess against the wall, Burgess regretted listening to that Navy Admiral he spoke with.

(Burgess Flashback POV, Karakuri Island)

Burgess was curious about all the shouting and the gunshot he heard. When he got on the deck of the Ashen Dragon, he came just in time to see Ace fly away.

"And he didn't even say goodbye… whatever."

Burgess turned to the one that spoke. There, he spotted him. A tall and lanky man wearing the uniform of marines leaning on the Ashen Dragon's main mast.

"Wh-What are you doing here? This is a pirate ship!" Burgess asked, ready to fight. These marines were the ones that caught him… he can't afford to be caught again.

"Ohh? Aren't you that wayward prince of Shishano Kingdom?" Aokiji asked.

"Y-You know who I am?"

"I do. I should be the one asking you what you're doing here," Aokiji said, turning to Burgess to give him his full attention. "What's a prince doing in a pirate ship?"

"Well, you can't expect me to be on a Navy ship now, can't you?" Burgess asked rather sarcastically. "You fuckers sided with those Espa savages!"

"What are you talking about?" Aokiji asked, confusion on his face. "The Navy has taken no side in the war between those two kingdoms."

"Don't lie to me! It was you marines who captured me!"

"Really now?"

Aokiji looked pissed. It was already cold in Karakuri Island, but Burgess could swear that it turned a few degrees colder… then it was gone. To his surprise, Aokiji bowed his head a bit to him.

"You were captured by corrupt marines, it seems," Aokiji said. "On behalf of the Navy, I, Admiral Aokiji, apologize for the mistreatment you suffered."

"...what?"

Burgess wasn't expecting an apology of all things. From an Admiral, no less. He was suddenly dumbfounded.

"The Navy doesn't take sides in a war between two kingdoms." Aokiji elaborated. "We keep the peace at sea, making sure the conflict is contained. To capture you in favor of assisting Espa Kingdom… is not in our interest."

"I… I see," Burgess said. "Then… I guess it was those Espa savages that paid them off."

"I could only guess," Aokiji said, shrugging his shoulders. "I suppose the marines who captured you are already dead?"

"...they are."

"...killed by the crew of this pirate ship you're on?" Aokiji asked.

"Killed by their captain, more specifically."

"And now, you're here," Aokiji said before frowning. "I can't help but wonder why. What value do you have for the Royal Ace Pirates to take you in?"

"...it didn't come freely," Burgess said. For some reason, Burgess felt he should trust Aokiji. "They… Ace… he wanted something in return."

"Which is?" Aokiji asked.

"...a territory."

Aokiji said nothing for a few moments. The snowy wind blew as seconds passed by, Aokiji deep in thought and Burgess wanting to see where this conversation goes.

"Strong and ambitious," Aokiji said. "He really is dangerous. Do you know what kinda pirate you found yourself with?"

"...no?"

"Gol D. Ace is the son of the King of the Pirates," Aokiji said, shocking Burgess. "He will be hunted down and brought to justice at all costs. The Navy and the World Government are acting to make sure this happens."

"...what do you want me to do?" Burgess asked, making Aokiji smile.

"How smart of you. Truly are a prince beneath all that muscle," Aokiji said rather amusedly. "The Navy and the World Government have already narrowed down the possible routes the Royal Ace Pirates will take. In the best case scenario, their next island will be their last."

"...and you want my help to make sure it happens?" Burgess asked, making Aokiji smile further.

"Correct. Of course, I'm not expecting you to do it for free. You have my word that I'll assist in stopping the conflict between Shishano Kingdom and Espa Kindom."

"I thought the Navy can't interfere in matters between two kingdoms?" Burgess asked.

"That's right. But in this case, Espa Kingdom dared to involve the Navy in their schemes," Aokiji said. "One of the Navy's jobs is to uphold the integrity of its marines. Espa Kingdom sullied it by bribing a few marines to do their bidding, making them maritime criminals."

"That sounds too good to be true. Why should I believe you?" Burgess asked. In response, the chilling air of Aokiji returned.

"I dislike corrupt officials more than pirates," Aokiji said. "Leaving you alone after having to suffer from corrupted men who wear the same uniform as I do would leave a bad taste in my mouth."

Burgess couldn't help but believe Aokiji. The disgust emanating from him was palpable as he talked about how much he disliked corrupt marines.

"So?" Aokiji asked. "Can I expect your help?"

"...you can," Burgess said with a nod. Having the assistance of a Navy Admiral is more valuable than the assistance of pirates, after all.

"Good man," Aokiji said before throwing a baby transponder snail at Burgess who caught it. "That snail is only connected to mine. Contact me and update me on the Royal Aces' whereabouts and movements."

(Flashback, END)

Hepha steadied her breath as he stared at the sight of the bloody paste on the wall that was once Burgess. She wasn't expecting her attack to be so strong as to directly smash the muscular man into pieces of bone fragments and flesh.

With a curious gaze in her uncovered eye, Hepha stared at her hammer. Clear Sky was clean, as if it didn't even touch a drop of Burgess's blood. More than that, Hepha felt as if her last attack was… different.

"...is this what you meant by using Conqueror's Haki, Ace?"

"Hepha-san!"

Hepha was once again jolted out of her musings by Augur. She turned around to see their stoic sniper with a concerned furrow in his brows.

"What happened?" Augur asked before noticing the bloody mess on the wall behind Hepha. "Is that…?"

"Burgess," Hepha said before returning Clear Sky to its original size, small enough to hammer nails without breaking the wood. "He was trying to light the fuse and blow Ash sky high."

Hepha walked back up to the Ashen Dragon's deck followed by Augur. They were only a floor below, so they didn't take that long.

"I see," Augur said, taking the information in stride. "I do admit… I wholeheartedly wish to learn that Future Sight ability."

"You have the most potential with Observation Haki out of all of us," Hepha said. "I'm sure you'll get it."

Hepha then stared out at the calm blue sea. In three hours, based on what Augur said earlier, Akainu's battleship fleet will be surrounding them.

"In what direction are they coming from, Augur?" Hepha asked.

"Let me check again, Hepha-san," Augur said before disappearing with a pop. He came back a moment later. "From what I can tell, their battleships are spreading out so they're coming from all directions. They have enough ships to surround the entirety of Water 7."

"Damn it. They're really on our ass now."

Hepha grit her teeth as her face scrunched up to think. She silently thanked the heavens or whatever entity was watching over them for Augur's insane eyesight. They have a chance to get out of the hairy situation they are about to find themselves in before it actually happens.

But, what should they do? The crew is separated. From what Hepha knows, the Royal Aces are in six different places at once. 

'Akainu is in Water 7… is there a chance another Admiral is involved? Damn it! Focus, Hepha!'

First, their captain. Ace is currently in St. Poplar attending (more accurately, robbing) an auction. Hepha and Ace forgot to talk about what he plans to do after the auction. Will he bring his spoils back to the Ashen Dragon or go somewhere else? Hepha didn't know.

Second, the first mate and their vice-captain. Vash is currently with Kuma, sailing back to Karakuri Island to look for that DELTA Scientist that both him and Kuma needed to talk to.

'Should I call them back? No, Akainu is on his way here. Besides, Kuma's power is useful if they want to get away. If they did encounter Akainu, they should be back here by now. They're safe…'

Third and fourth, Hepha, Augur, and Doppol are in two different parts of Water 7. Hepha and Augur are on the Ashen Dragon at Rocky Cape while Doppol is in the Galley-La Company that should be in the inner part of the island.

Fifth, Mihar, Eri, Tanya, and Kotatsu are in San Faldo. That Carnival Town should be safe… right? Regardless of whether they're safe or not, Akainu's nearby presence should be more than enough reason for the whole crew to rendezvous at a location.

Lastly, Soma and Terzo are in Pucci. Similar to those in San Faldo, Hepha could only pray those two are safe. Or at least, staying out of trouble. But, knowing their personalities, Hepha wouldn't be surprised if they were fighting right now.

Hepha's mind raced as she made a plan of what they could do. What could she do at this moment? Only her and Augur were the only ones who know of the dire situation looming over their whole crew so far.

To Augur's credit, he said nothing and just warped back to the crow's nest to watch the movement of Akainu's fleet. He didn't interrupt Hepha in any way and just let her think. She was a senior member of the crew compared to him, so her decision must be respected.

Soon, Hepha sprang to action. She turned to look at the Doubles who were also waiting for her decision.

"Doubles!" Hepha called out. "One of you disintegrate and let Doppol know of the situation!"

"One of us already did!" said one of the Doubles.

"Good thinking." Hepha was relieved that she wasn't the only one thinking of what to do given the situation. She then looked up at the crow's nest. "Augur!"

A second later, Augur warped near Hepha.

"How may I help, Hepha-san?" Augur asked.

"We need Doppol here," Hepha said. "He can study and learn ship building techniques another day. Go fetch him and be back as soon as possible."

"Good call," Augur said with a rare smile on his face before popping away to do what he was ordered to.

"Doubles! Prepare the ship! We may be departing soon!"

"On it!" the Doubles said, already doing what Hepha said.

Hepha then went to the communications room inside the Ashen Dragon where the Transponder Snails were located. Luckily, Ace bought them baby transponder snails they could always carry with them. Hepha needed to make a few calls…