Separations and Plans
Garp sat slumped in his office completely numb.
How did he not see this coming? How could he put his grandsons in this kind of position?
He knew that Rob's farm wasn't doing well and that the man had changed since his wife had passed a few years ago, but he had thought under all of that the he was still the good man that Garp had saved years ago. He had thought that Rob would at least look after three children long enough for other arrangements to be made.
The vice admiral was a good judge of character. He must have been too focused on getting the boys away from the pirate crew and missed the signs that the man would betray his trust.
News of the farmer's death and the Whitebeard pirates' hand in it had reached him. He hadn't been too surprised to find out that the pirates had gone after the boys, Newgate had said they would be, but he was shocked that they had actually killed Rob.
He had gotten hold of the old pirate using a transponder snail and had got the whole story from the pirate captain himself. Now he was stuck at headquarters knowing that his grandchildren, his boys, were in the hands of slave trader and there was little to nothing he could do at this point to stop what he knew would come next.
Whitebeard had stated that they would be rescuing the boys and then they would be staying with him.
Garp could do nothing but agree. There was practically no chance that they would be accepted into the navy and having the boys grow up with a pirate crew was better than them growing up as slaves.
Ace shook his foot again, trying to dislodge the piece of sea stone that was wrapped around his ankle. If he could just get it off then he could burn through the ropes and then save Sabo and Luffy. They would sneak up onto deck and take one of the life boats.
Ace wasn't sure how long they'd been on the ship but he knew that with every passing second they were drawing closer and closer to Sabaody and spending the rest of their lives as slaves.
The men on board were some people that Ace could have gone his whole life without knowing and be happy. They were rude, loud, smelly, and liked to use him and his brothers as Piñatas.
Once they had discovered Luffy was made out of rubber, instead of putting sea stone on him, they just tied him to the rafters of the ship and took turns hitting him back and forth with various objects. It was a great source of entertainment for them.
It had just annoyed Luffy for the most part until one of them brought out a spiked club.
Ace shuddered at the images of them beating his brother that would never leave his mind. Luffy had lost consciousness and just woke up a few minutes ago. The doctor had patched him up a bit saying that they couldn't sale him if he were dead.
They tied Ace and Sabo up like Luffy too because they had, foolishly, tried to attack the man that had been beating Luffy. They weren't able to do much, weak as they were. After a month of hard labor with almost no food and nearly a week with nothing but a banana and a piece of bread each, and just enough water to keep them alive they were sick, dehydrated, starving, and weak.
The sea stone didn't help either.
It seemed to drain all of Ace's strength and he couldn't feel his fire anymore.
At least they hadn't put it on Luffy. Not yet anyway.
The door to their cell opened and Darius appeared. Ace felt himself tense. It was never a good thing when he came to visit. Last time he was here he took Sabo away because he had spit at one of the men to make them leave Ace alone and when he came back he refused to talk about what had happened.
"My men tell me that the two of caused them some trouble." He paused as if waiting for them to say something. Ace just glared. "We can't have that. We'll be arriving at Saboady in the morning and I can't have you causing trouble for my men. It sends a bad message to those I want to do business with." He walked to Sabo and put a hand on his cheek and smiled. Sabo tried to move away but was unsuccessful. He laughed at the weak struggles that the blonde was making before pulling his hand. "I think that you will all be easier to manage if you're not together. Therefore I've made a decision. Once we reach Saboady, little Luffy here will be going to the human auction. Ace will be going to a human shop, where they will be able to shut you up and keep you away from people until you're sold off. Sabo, you will be staying with me. I already have a buyer for you."
"Enjoy your last night with each other." The man laughed and turned to walk out.
Ace felt his heart hammering against his chest. His last night with Sabo and Luffy?
"Ace, was he telling the truth? Are we not going to see each other anymore?" Luffy asked.
He didn't know how to answer so he just didn't.
"I-I can't do it," Sabo said shaking his head. "I can't be a slave. I won't!"
Once again Ace didn't know what to say. He had never felt more helpless, hanging there, tied up, his brothers needing comfort but he couldn't even offer that because he needed it too. He was terrified of what was coming the next day. To have their freedom stolen from them, possibly forever? It would be worse than death.
"May-maybe Marco will come and save us," Luffy said ever the optimist.
Ace scoffed. "Don't be stupid Luffy. Why would he save us? They gave us up."
He felt bad as he saw tears well up in Luffy's eyes.
"B-but they didn't want to," Sabo said. Ace knew it was more for Luffy's benefit than anything else.
If they wanted them then they wouldn't have given them back to Garp. Or at least would have come to get them.
"I don't want to be a slave," Luffy whimpered trying to hold his tears back.
"We don't want to be slaves either," Sabo said.
Ace looked at the blonde and he knew in that second that Sabo didn't plan on being a slave. He had spent his life trapped by his parents and he wasn't going to be trapped again.
"Don't worry Luffy. I'll escape and come save you someday," Ace said. He was pleased when this seemed to cheer his little brother up a bit.
"If I escape first I'll come get you. You too Sabo."
"Thanks Luffy but I think that me and Ace will come get you before you come to get us." Sabo's smile was sad and looked a little forced.
Ace felt determination start to grow in him. "Sabo, Luffy," he got their attention. "I promise you, even if it's the last thing I do, I will escape and I will come for you. We will be together again. No matter what."
"What if it's not possible?" Sabo asked as tears started running down his face. "There have been guys way stronger than we are who die as slaves. We're just kids. We won't be allowed to train, they'll want to keep us weak enough to control. I can't be trapped. I won't. I'll die first!"
There was silence after Sabo's declaration. "I refuse to die without trying." Ace stated and looked over to his brother. "If I don't at least try to get you I'll regret it. And you will too. Think about Luffy. Do you really want him to be a slave and die knowing that you did nothing to save him?" Ace knew that using their little brother was the only way to make Sabo try to live through this. He wasn't lying when he said he'd rather die than be a slave but they had to try because without them what would happen to their little brother?
Luffy was silent as he watched the two of them talking to each other.
"That was a low blow," Sabo said softly. He was smiling through his tears.
"He'll try to save us but he's too weak so he needs us to save him," Ace said. "And we need to do it fast because he won't last too long without us there to keep him safe."
"I can take care of myself," Luffy finally said pouting.
"Sure you can," Sabo said with a laugh. "Then it's decided. We'll both escape find each other and then go after Luffy."
"I bet we can do it in less than a year," Ace said with a smile.
"And then we can sail the ocean. Just the three of us and we won't have to worry about anyone or anything else. Just the three of us," Sabo said.
It was a nice thought.
The three brothers didn't sleep that night.
They were all too terrified about what morning would bring. Instead they spent all night talking about the adventures they would have once they were all together again. It was amusing to talk about the fun they would have but in the back of his mind Ace knew that if they didn't get help then the possibility of them seeing each other again was slim to none.
That wouldn't stop him from trying though.
It had taken longer than what they wanted to reach Sabaody but here they were. They had to deal with several storms and a few overzealous crews that challenged them, but they made it. Hopefully the brats hadn't been sold off yet.
Thatch stood next to Marco and watched as the commanders divided themselves up into groups of three. He and Marco would be going to the auction house with Haruta. It was the only lead they had on where the brats could be. The rest of the groups would be searching the rest of the mango grove.
"You know we probably would have more of an idea of where to go if you hadn't snapped our only lead's neck," Haruta complained.
The blonde just shrugged looking unapologetic. "He was pissing me off."
"Why didn't you stop him?" she asked turning to Thatch.
"He just admitted to selling the brats out for thirty thousand beri. I was pissed too."
"Fair enough," she conceded.
"Is everyone ready?" Marco asked standing in front of the commanders, Luffy's hat still at his side. Pops had put him in charge or this little operation with the promise to take over if need be.
"As ready as we can be," Izo said.
"Good. Team one, will go to the auction house. Teams two and three are in charge of searching the lawless area where most of the slave trading is done. Team four is searching the tourist area, and Team five is in charge of the shipping area. I have men already set in every dock to make sure that they're not put onto any ships. These are the areas that they will most likely be in. I have some of the crew searching other parts of Sabaody just in case. Our job is to find them and take them back. Pops said that we are to use any means necessary. Any questions? No? Good. Next time we're all back on the Moby Dick the brats will be with us.