- "Make your choice, raise your sails and move ever-forward. The chaos of the seas awaits you!"
Shimotsuki Village was a humble village whose infamy skyrocketed upon the origins of the world-renown Roronoa Zoro were traced back to it. There was no escaping the fate that had bound this place: a haven for individuals aspiring to be Pirates, the only variable in the equation of the World Government.
Although a haven for aspiring Pirates, there were two youths who were being promoted to join the enforcers of order – the Marines. They were Dravolos Ashraf and Horvazh Alene, children of the Vice-Admiral Horvazh Maxwell. Incredibly gifted in their own right, they were candidates whose first promotion has enabled them the position of Captain and their own vessels to surf the four seas to bring about order.
Dravolos Ashraf, the wielder of the Tan Tan no Mi, an impressive swordsman, but even more impressively a blacksmith of considerable skill thanks to his abilities. Inspired by a combatant of great skill while younger, Ashraf employed a style of swordsmanship foreign to his comrades and shared by his sister.
Horvazh Alene, a prodigy of the Rokushiki and an impressive swordswoman. Training alongside her brother since childhood, she is a woman who has grown up with the belief of redemption and mercy ingrained into her heart. She does not swing her blade out of a sense of justice, but out of a sense of imparting atonement through her own mercy.
The young woman looked upon her new Marine vessel and her chest floated with pride. Finally, she was able to pursue the dream that she had pursued for all those years! Her eyes scanned the immediate area, and Ashraf was not in sight however. "It seems we were placed on two different sides of the village. However, I should at least visit him once..." After a brief moment of contemplation, the blond haired woman dashed off away from her newly provided marine vessel, her eyes focused and filled with exhilaration.
On the opposite end, however, stood a young man with a very different gaze. Ashraf had seen his vessel before him. His dreams were coming to a fruition, and yet something stuck at the back of his mind, weighing his freedom down.
Ashraf had recently returned from sword practice with Alene. He had other work to attend to in regards to his part time occupation at the local clothing store, meaning he left early. It was a while if he had simply walked through the standard path, so he opted the shortcut through the edges of the forest.
Much to his surprise, his current guardian had been discussing something with one of the island's elders and their local community representative in the council. Although he initially paid it no heed, his name soon popped up into the conversation, and he could not help but stay and listen.
"Ashraf has nearly finished his training to enter the Marines. And yet, I can't help but feel we have been unjust to him..."
"Do not fret about the past, Elder. It has been too long for Ashraf to now know what truly happened to his parents."
"But it is unfair. It was due to both that terrible Pirate Alliance and the exceedingly swift actions of the World Government that his parents were caught in the crossfire...To think that he would end up allying with those very people under the illusion of their justice seems so...wrong."
Ashraf could only gape his jaws in awe, clamping them shut before any sound could be heard from his presence.
Was his entire life a lie? Was the training he undertook...meaningless? Did the people he truly trusted...betray him?
It was only a few days until he was promoted to an official Marine officer and yet...now his entire life has been broken apart.
"...The only choice left for me is to..." Ashraf looked upon the marine vessel before him. "Seek the truth of my family's death." He began walking into his vessel ahead of schedule, aware fully well of the guards present in front of him. "To do that I must...abandon Justice."
The guards before him interlocked their spears in a cross formation, barring his entry. "Cadet Dravolos, you are unable to enter this vessel until the ceremony is complete. Please stand in the waiting area." The guard on the left had spoke, unflinching.
"Furnace." Ashraf had spoken under his breath, as his body began to heat up and his skin flushed a bright red. The guards had found something wrong but it was too late. Ashraf had already grabbed their spears and melted through the steel that composed them.
"Ahh!!" The guards screamed as they frantically let go of their melting spears, their hands beginning to flash red as their skin peeled in response to the burns. "Melt then Remold." The spears burned a brilliant white surrounded by a border of red, before suddenly reforging into smaller, roughly katana-shaped tools in his hands.
The guards immediately took the initiative and took out their pistols, shooting rapidly at his non-vital areas in order to subdue the young man. But it was ineffective. The blistering heat from his body had weakened the bullets before they could reach his body, leaving only minor bruises as a consequence.
Ashraf swooped in with both of his makeshift weapons in-hand, but as his blades would reach the necks of those guards, they had suddenly been cut in half. "...!" Ashraf's eyes widened as he saw the golden hair of the figure that had intervened in Ashraf's goal. Her amber eyes were ignited as she turned to face Ashraf, her sword gripped with all her might.
"...What are you doing, Ash!?" Alene stood up straight before Ashraf, raising her left hand as she gestured for the guards to distance themselves.
"I am abandoning Justice." Ashraf matter-of-factly responded, as sadness enveloped in his soft blue eyes. He drew his sword, clearly making his stance on the issue unwavering.
"Abandoning Justice?!" She exclaimed. "There's no way! You, of all people, can't be abandoning Justice! You made a promise with me!"
"So then, Dravolos Ashraf, you gotta promise me something. We'll join the Marines and with your swords, we will make a difference!" A young blonde girl outstretched her hand, her amber eyes invigorated with passion.
"Of course, Horvazh Alene! These swords are yours to wield!" A young brown-haired man took her hand, his bright blue eyes responding to the girl's passion.
"I have heard rumors of the truth behind my becoming an orphan. Both Pirates and the World Government are to blame. I cannot willingly become a part of the Marines knowing that I can never find who was responsible for the death of my family." Ashraf spoke, choking on his own words.
"Am I not your family!? Abandoning Justice will get you nowhere, Ash! Please!" Tears began to well in her eyes, a somberness enveloped those amber eyes.
That single word broke her heart. The grip on her sword loosened. "Do...do you really mean that?"
Unable to answer her question sincerely, Ashraf poised himself for battle, his blade solidly before him as his hilt was parallel to his abdomen. "Get out of my way, Alene. Or I will be forced to kill you."
"...I will not stand here as you ruin your life, Ash." She responded, steeling herself as she gripped her blade with both hands, keeping its blade facing downward, the hilt narrowly paralleling her neck.
No more words exchanged. The two swordsmen moved at a blistering speed barely comprehensible by the guards watching.
Ashraf slashed his sword downward with the intent of crushing Alene's shoulder, whereas Alene thrusted her sword at maximum velocity with the full intention of disabling Ashraf's fingers. They had read each other's intentions the instant prior to their successes. Ashraf immediately pulled his wrist back a fraction of an inch, readjusting the angle of his slash so it instead diagonally aimed for her chest. Unfortunately, Alene knew Ashraf's habits very well, and used the force of her lighter arm to swing the blade to her right, instead aiming for Ashraf's exposed wrist.
Despite their readjustments, their attempts would amount to nothing. Their blades clashed together with a clang so loud that it awoke the entirety of Shimotsuki Village. But more than that, the ideals of both siblings clashed with each other even more ferociously. One sought to abandon Justice to find truth, and the other believed to abandon Justice would only cloud one's eyes in vengeance.
There would be no returning to these two.
However, Ashraf could not continue this for much longer. Alene had the advantage of resources and allies by her side. Ashraf was alone. But he needed to be alone, and had no regrets for the decision he made.
"Forge!" Ashraf yelled as his sword clashed with Alene, leading to her widening her eyes.
Alene's reinforcements had already made it to the scene and begun closing in on Ashraf. "MOVE BACK!" Alene shouted to her reinforcements, before her figure faded away from her original position.
Within the next moment, a brilliant vortex of flames appeared at Ashraf's position. The heat it radiated scorched the very earth Ashraf stood. Using its presence as cover, Ashraf immediately dashed towards the Marine vessel with the limited time he bought.
Alene ensured the safety of her comrades, but narrowly noticed Ashraf attempting to escape and began to follow him.
But it was already too late. "Furnace!" Ashraf cried, as his hands made contact with the rope connecting the boat to the anchor. Burning through it whole, the boat began to leave the port, and with it, so did Ashraf.
Alene would not give up so easily, however. "Fire!" She commanded the Marines near her. Although they took out their guns and fired bullets, it all ended up being worthless.
Ashraf looked back at Alene one last time, and Alene continued to gaze towards Ashraf. As the flames of Ashraf's forge had died down, so did the anger in their eyes. Through this one gaze all their feelings were conveyed.
Alene turned to face the Marines behind her. "As newly promoted Commander, I order all of you to board my vessel. We shall pursue former Commander Candidate Dravolos Ashraf. One of you report to Headquarters and get his bounty assigned immediately."
Nodding, the Marines under her jurisdiction had begun to do their work. Despite her composure, Alene soon fell under the weight of her own tears. What point was there to a Justice that she had to seek alone?
Ashraf had abandoned looking back. He had manned the craft and continued to the closest island. Although he knew very well that he would be followed, the craft had taken injuries from the bullets it sustained, and he would be forced to change vessels immediately.
Ashraf refused to regret. This was his decision, and he knew the consequences of it. And yet, if there was one regret Ashraf had, it was that he rode on this vast sea all alone...