Sabo shook as he pulled his new shirt over his head and around his collar wincing as the action pulled at the healing wounds on his back. Sabo swallowed hard as he felt the purple silk against his skin. His master didn't like the thought of his slaves in anything but the best and as a show of generosity he allowed them to wear the fine cloth.
Sabo took a deep shaky breath to calm himself. He was a slave now.
He would have to get used to that thought.
He had been bought.
Someone had actually paid money so that they could own him and it made him sick.
The only thing that kept him from jumping ship and letting the bomb collar do its job was the promise he and his brothers had made. He would keep going as long as he could possibly stand it.
He needed to see his brothers again. He would see his brothers again. He just had to bide his time now.
"I suggest you wipe that horrified look off your face boy," an old man wearing the same purple silk uniform snarled at him. "You won't like what happens if you have anything but a smile on your face. These nobles want you to be happy to serve them so I suggest you act like it."
Sabo felt like screaming. After everything was said and done he was back with the nobles. After he had fought so hard to get away. Oh well, at least he wasn't one of them. He'd rather be a slave than a noble.
This family was higher than his own. He couldn't remember the name of his new… owner, but he recognized it when he heard it which meant they were probably a prominent family.
Not as high as the Celestial Dragons but they were still pretty powerful.
He knew this was coming for a while. Darius had dragged him out of his cell a couple of days after forcing them onto his ship. He had given Sabo a beating and whipped him to make sure he would behave himself before he had a video chat with the noble. He had examined Sabo over the video transmission, said that he had nice features and looked clean enough. He had made an offer and from that moment on Sabo had belonged to him.
He didn't have the heart to tell Ace or Luffy, ashamed that he hadn't been able to defend himself or stop the transaction from taking place. Ace probably thought something truly horrible had happened to him because he hadn't told him what happened. At the time he was just in denial that it had happened. The blonde thought that maybe if he didn't say it or acted like it hadn't happened it would make it go away.
He was stupid to hope that the entire thing was just a nightmare.
He was now on a ship that belonged to a stupid noble family. Everything was the same hideous purple color and he hated it.
The old man was now griping at him for something or another. "If you don't get your act together you're not going to last." Sabo heard the last of what the old man said.
He rolled his eyes.
"Shut up," he told the old man.
"You can't talk to me like that. Has no one told you who I am?"
"Why should I care who you are?"
"I am the slave master. In other words I am your boss."
"So, you're still just a slave. Like me."
The man's face grew red. "If you don't watch your tone boy you'll be getting a beating."
"Bring it on old man."
The man slapped Sabo across the face. He was surprised at the strength that was put behind the hit.
"Don't look so surprised. I have been a slave for many years and had to do hard labor for most of it. I'm stronger than I look. Now, get into the kitchen and start washing dishes unless you want a real beating."
Still a little shocked at how strong the man was Sabo went into the kitchen and started washing dishes. He shook his head to clear his mind. He was acting more like Ace than himself.
He needed to be smart about this.
Getting on the bad side of his new boss was not going to help. He needed to find out where all the keys were and hopefully he would eventually be able to sneak in to find his own. Then he could run away and find Ace.
He sighed. That would be easy. Not.
Thatch was ready for this to be over.
It hadn't been hard to locate a giant purple ship. Luckily there weren't too many around.
But they had been chasing the thing for the past four hours.
Not that he regretted it. No, he would do anything to see Sabo safe on deck of the Moby Dick again. He was just annoyed at the fact that it had taken them so long to catch up to the ship. They should have been able to get the brat back a lot sooner.
Sabo should have never left Sabaody on a ship other than the Moby Dick.
He sat on the railing of the ship watching intently as the purple monstrosity grew closer with every passing minute. Marco stood by his side.
"Is it in range yet?" the first division commander asked.
"Give it another ten minutes," Thatch responded. It wouldn't be smart for them to start firing until they were sure they were in range.
Every one board was preparing for battle. Even Pops, who had spent the past few hours entertaining Luffy and Ace. He probably wanted to keep them close so that he could keep an eye on them. They were going to be the new additions to their family after all.
If they agreed to it.
Thatch hoped they would. If they agreed to be part of the family then even Garp couldn't tear them away from Pops and the crew would never have to go through the past few weeks of worry again.
They would just have to make sure that the brats grew up strong and knew how to have fun.
He really hopped that Pops would let them take the brats to Sabaody Park. It would be just what they needed to get their minds off of what happened the last few weeks.
Speaking of the brats, they really were putting them through a lot. Luffy and Ace both refused to see Lyra until Sabo was with them. They refused to eat anything or leave deck too. None of the crew had the heart to make them do anything they didn't want to at the moment, so they were sitting next to Pops, arms crossed stubbornly as they waited for the action to start. That was okay because at least they were with Pops which was the safest part of the ship.
He blinked realizing that the purple ship was now within range of their canons. He smiled and gave the order to fire warning shots.
They didn't want to destroy the ship.
Not until after Sabo was off of it anyway.
Sabo was exhausted. It had been a really long day. After he washed the dishes he cleaned the stove and then had to scrub the entire deck, by hand, by himself. After that he was forced to clean himself up and then watch as the master ate his dinner.
He wasn't allowed to eat when the rest of the slaves ate because he was new and hadn't earned the right to eat yet, so while they ate he cleaned up after dinner.
He wasn't all that hungry anyway; at least that's what he told himself.
He had just dropped to his floor space in the room that was designated for the slaves to sleep when he heard the distinctive sound of a canon.
He sat up.
They were being attacked?
Who would attack in the dead of night?
Actually there were a lot of people who would do that.
The others around him were now sitting up and whispering fearfully to each other.
Even Luffy could handle some cannon fire and not get scared.
He felt a jolt and knew that the ship had been hit.
The other slaves around him started to freak out. He just laughed quietly to himself. It would take more than one cannon to sink a ship this size.
He would have gone out to watch the action, it was the only exciting thing to happen all day, but the door was locked from the outside so he was stuck in here with the idiots that were freaking out.
There was some more cannons fired and Sabo laid back down. He might as well try to get some sleep. Maybe if the others stayed up then they would be too tired to work and he would be allowed to eat because in comparison it would look like he was working harder.
No such luck.
The door swung open and the old man was standing there.
"Get up! We're under attack. Get to your stations. Your job is to die to protect those on this ship if necessary."
"We're fighting?" Sabo asked excitedly.
"Don't be stupid boy. Of course we're not fighting they wouldn't give us weapons. We're shields."
They were supposed to be human shields?
This was his chance. The ship was going to be in chaos. He might be able to find the key to his bomb collar if he is quick enough.
He felt a hand grab the back of his shirt and yank him towards the deck. "Don't even think about running."
He sighed and allowed himself to be man handled onto deck. He would just have to wait for an opportunity to slip away.
The slaves were all on deck, standing around the master, protecting him from any harm that might come. If he were smarter he would stay below deck then at least he would be better protected.
Did he really expect one body to stop a cannon ball?
Sabo was placed so that he was between the master and the mast. What good this did he didn't know. But at least he'd be able to watch a bit of the action.
He couldn't resist taking a peak at the attacking ship and heard himself gasp.
He'd know that ship anywhere.
It was the Moby Dick!
What were they doing attacking a noble's ship? It wasn't really their style.
Maybe they would be able to help him! If they didn't blow up the ship first that was.
The cannon fire lasted for about twenty minutes before it suddenly stopped.
Sabo turned his head to see what was going on.
He was shocked to see Marco, in his phoenix form, headed towards the ship.
The boy watched as the pirate changed form midair and landed on the deck with a thump. He no longer even tried to look as if he wasn't watching the pirate. It was really nice to see him and if he got the pirate's attention, then just maybe Sabo would be able to get out of here tonight and start looking for Ace and Luffy.
"Sorry for the intrusion. And the cannons. We just needed to get your attention," he said casually.
"W-why?" the master asked.
"Well you see, I'm looking for a friend of mine. Maybe you've seen him." Marco held up a picture of Sabo that had been taken a few weeks before Garp had dragged him and his brothers away from the Moby Dick. "We've been looking for him for a while and heard that he might be on your ship."
All the slaves turned to stare at him.
Marco was here for him.
He tried to call out to the man but a hand was shoved over his mouth before he could say a word and he was dragged off deck.
He turned to see the old man from earlier.
"What are you doing?"
"Trust me when I say you do not want to cross The Master. Not while you still have that thing on." He pointed at the bomb collar around his neck. "He would have set it off if you had said a word."
Sabo pushed the man away and tried to run back on deck. He was going to get off this ship one way or another.
"Don't be a fool. Wait until you have the collar off before doing anything rash."
Sabo turned to stare at the old man in confusion. "Wait until I have my collar off?"
"Of course. I know where the keys are kept and have access to them."
"W-why are you helping me? You hate me."
"A slave's life is a hard one. I would have been doing you no favors if I had been soft on you. I am an old slave and know how cruel this life can be. It is no life for a child. You have someone here who wants you so I will do anything in my power to make sure that you get back to where you're wanted."
Sabo could only nod his thanks at the man as he followed him down the long hallways of the ship.
The keys to the bomb collars were kept in a safe box in a desk. The old man knew exactly where to find them and the combination to open the safe.
Sabo wondered how often he opened it.
He picked out a key and seconds later Sabo was free of his collar. He rubbed his neck enjoying the feeling of the stupid thing being off.
"Now off with you. Get back to your friend as quickly as possible and do try to avoid any gun fire. I can save you from the bomb collar but not from bullets."
Sabo nodded. "Thank you old man. I will never forget this."
"Please do. Forget this day ever happened. Go on with your life and never think of this again."
Sabo didn't know what to say so he waved his hand instead and ran back towards the deck.
He was surprised to hear swords clashing and guns going off.
He flattened himself against the wall as one of the noble's guards was sent flying through the door way. He peered around the side and felt his eyes widen. There was a full on battle between the commanders of the Whitebeard Pirates and the noble's guards going on.
How had things escalated so quickly?
He looked towards the Moby Dick and was surprised to see how close it was. He could clearly see Pops, er Captain Whitebeard watching the battle as if he were waiting for an opportunity to join in.
He saw Thatch run by and then back track.
"What's going on?" he asked the pirate.
"What happened to your face?" the man asked back.
Sabo touched his cheek and winced. He had forgotten that he had been hit earlier that day.
Thatch ducked an attack and sunk his sword into his attacker before turning back to Sabo. With a large grin on his face. "Never mind. Tell me about it later. You have no idea how good it is to see you. We've been trying to track you down for the last month now." The commander swung his sword an approaching enemy. "Now that I found you we can leave."
Thatch motioned for Sabo to come and the boy ran to him. "Look who I found!" he called loudly getting everyone's attention.
The pirates all cheered as Sabo felt an arm wrap around him and lift him up. He turned to see Namur. "Come on, you're getting off this ship."
And before Sabo could respond he was carried onto the Moby Dick.
And just like that he was safe.
He was free.
"You alright kid?" Namur asked staring down at him.
He nodded before launching himself at his friend and clinging to him, sobbing.
He had been so scared.
He had thought that he was going to be a slave the rest of his life, forced to do another's bidding with no one in the world there to care about him. Now he was free and all he had to do was keep his promise to Ace and Luffy.
He pushed himself away from the fishman sooner than he would have liked, clearly embarrassed by his actions.
"Don't apologize. You can cry. You went through a lot today," a deep voice soothed.
Sabo looked up to see Captain Whitebeard standing over him. He was talking to Sabo but his gaze was still locked on the other ship watching as each of his sons returned making sure that no harm would come to them.
As soon as Marco, the last to leave the other ship, stepped onto deck the captain's attention was turned fully to Sabo. "Are you hurt?" he asked.
Sabo didn't know how to answer the question. He wasn't seriously hurt on the other ship but he had been whipped while with Darius. The wounds were in the process of healing but some of them were still bleeding a little.
His silenced seemed to speak for him. "As I thought. You will go to see Lyra immediately."
"Thank you for rescuing me. I really appreciate it, but I don't have time for any of that. I have to find Ace and Luffy. We promised-"
"They are already here and are anxiously waiting to see you," the captain interrupted him.
"They're here? They're safe?"
The man nodded once and that was all Sabo needed to run across deck. He saw his brothers sitting in front of the captain's chair both with arms crossed looking upset at something.
They both popped up and before he knew it he was locked in a three way hug with his brothers.