Ace and Luffy lay on the ground, their bodies covered in wounds. Their surroundings were only filled with destruction, broken and scorched ground. The rocky ground around them was in a mess, along with the sand.
Around them were several large craters. Their fight had brought them quite far from the town area and into the desert. So several parts of the desert were now turned to glass, with large amounts of land mass scattered around.
The desert was already lifeless, and yet the fight between two pirates had somehow made total destruction of it.
Both of them were winded with smiles on their faces.
"Heh, takes you back, doesn't it?" Ace said, laughing, "You have gotten strong Luffy… but I'm still better."
"You only won this time…" Luffy said, not minding. "But remember I'm still a new pirate, and yet I almost had you!"
"Sure, keep telling yourself that." Ace said, laughing. In truth, Ace was still stronger than Luffy, and yet the strength difference wasn't as great as Ace assumed.
After fighting Jack just a day ago, Luffy had gained quite a good amount of strength. In particular, his mastery over Haki, that is why even Ace had a bit of a hard time against him. Ace could tell that his brother was already around a Division Commander-level.
Which was saying something for a kid that just started his journey into the Grand Line. Ace wondered what kind of brutal training their gramps gave him.
But then again Ace remembered Garp's words. It was almost a year back, he was in the New World with some of the members of the Whitebeard pirates when Garp and the Marines showed up.
Ace had to distract the old man while his other crewmate escaped. Garp then told Ace about how much Luffy changed after he was gone and how good of a marine he would be. He also added that Luffy was taking his training very seriously.
Of course, Luffy hadn't become a marine, but still, he was far stronger than he expected.
'Gramps wasn't lying it seemed.' Ace thought, a small smile on his face, 'You truly changed little bro… I might need to up my training.' he thought internally, "Heh, don't get your hopes up. You still have a long way to go. Hahahaha!"
"We'll see about that. I'm gonna be the strongest man in the world, and find the One Piece. Tell your old man to look out, I'm coming for the old man's title. Shishishi…"
"Uh-huh, you have to go through me first. Ehahhahah…" Ace said, his stomach grumbling, "I'm hungry."
While Luffy and Ace were lying down, a good number of people gathered. There were at least a hundred of them. All pirates and bounty hunters. They had been hiding in the sands or around the broken rocky terrain for cover. All of them mainly came here for the opportunity of capturing the two famous pirates.
"I think we should move… they look pretty beat up. I think we can take em!" One of them said.
"A-Are you sure… one of them is a logia?!" Another one asked.
"Heh, don't worry. I have some sea stone laced nets… we just have to get close." The first one said.
"Yeah, but… I'm not sure. What if they attack us…? we'll die!" Another one said.
"But… that's 'Fire Storm' Ace, and 'Fallen Hero' Luffy. Just getting one of them would give you enough wealth and fame." A brave one said, "You pussies wait here, I will collect my share alone."
Hearing his words others also got motivated and started moving on them.
But suddenly, a green-haired swordsman came from nowhere and started looking around. It was as if the man got lost.
"T-That's Pirate Hunter Zoro!" One of them said.
"Did you come here to stop us from catching your captain?" Another one asked.
"We aren't afraid of you!" Another one added.
"Eh… why would I stop you guys?" Zoro asked, a bit irritated. "I just got lost… Wait? Luffy's here?" he looked around and found Luffy lying on the ground with another pirate. But in doing so, he gave his back to the group of bounty hunters and pirates.
"He's off guard! Get him!"
Zoro just looked over his shoulder and glared, "Shut up!" And with that, the whole group of hundred pirates suddenly felt a chill run down their spine.
It was as if death loomed over them, before they could even move, they lost consciousness, and with foam coming from their mouth.
Zoro smiled. "Pretty useful skill… no wonder Luffy uses this all the time." He mused, nodding along as he walked. "Now, where was Luffy again…"
"That's the opposite side, you moron," Kuina said flatly, walking down from another corner, on her side, one could see many ice sculptures. Which were more or less unfortunate pirates that crossed her way and got trapped in ice.
"I-I know that," Zoro said, correcting his way.
"You have gotten stronger," Kuina stated. A small smile dawned on her face. "So you figured out Haki… heh, well. I also figured out a nice little skill."
"Kuina-swan!" Sanji said, his feet creating a tornado as he rushed to her side, blowing away wind and flames on the way, with a heart-shaped eye. "I missed you Kuina-swan!"
"Oh, you guys finally made it here," Gin said, walking towards them with Chopper on top of his head while White Fury was being carried over his shoulder. He was a lot larger, almost double his normal size, in his half-zoan form, mainly because it helped carry White Fury, who was fast asleep.
Also, it worked as a part of training. Gin was following in his Captain's footsteps of always constantly training. His captain had shown him the way of the grind, and he would follow it!