5,596 Pages

Title: The Heart of the Matter

Cover Story: The Sea Monsters Return-with a message!

<We pick up right where we left off last chapter, with Corazon on the ground surrounded by pirates>

Pirate 1: Well well well, what have we here?

<Corazon remains silent>

Pirate 2: Not gonna talk, eh? Looks like we'll have to make you!

<The second pirate drives his knee into Corazon's midsection. Corazon doesn't make a sound, but the Ope Ope no Mi is sent flying out of his hands>

Pirate 3: Hey! Isn't that the captain's fruit?

Pirate 1: It seems we've caught the thief that the captain told us about! The captain will want to deal with this one personally!

<The pirates take Corazon. He struggles, but is overwhelmed by their numbers>

Corazon: No! I can't-give up now!

<Cut to Law shivering on the ground, on the verge of death. Suddenly, a shadow appears above him>

<Several minutes later, the pirates are walking toward their hideout with Corazon in tow>

Pirate 1: I can't wait to see what Captain Diez Barrels will do to this guy! Seems like every time he comes up with a new and better torture!

Pirate 3: Wait...Shhhhhh. Do you hear something?

Pirate 2: It's just your imagination acting up again, you-GAAAAAAAA!

<The pirates are ambushed by several Marines. Their leader, who is wearing a mask, takes out many pirates, gets the Ope Ope Fruit, and hands it to Corazon>

Marine Leader: I believe you had this, Rocinante?

Corazon: Yes...thank you...I'm so sorry I went behind your backs, but...

Marine Leader: It's all OK. We've got someone here for you <holds Law out>

Corazon: Oh, thank you! Now we need-

Marine Leader: There are probably pirates coming after us now, Commander Rocinante. We should get back to base, where it's safe.

Corazon: All right, but we must hurry.

Marine Leader: I'll contact the Admiral now.

<Cut to Sengoku at his quarters on a ship. His Den Den Mushi starts to ring, and he picks it up>

Sengoku: Hello. Uh-huh. I see. That's great! Bring him here as fast as you can!>

<Back on land, the Marine Leader hangs up his Den Den Mushi>

Marine Leader: Alright then. Everyone move out!

<Corazon carries Law as he walks with the Marines. Soon they are near the coastline and a ship is in sight. Corazon notices something peculiar, though>

Corazon: That doesn't look like a Marine Ship...

Marine Leader: That's because it's not. Hurry, and we can get everything situated...

<Sengoku's room, a few minutes later. The door opens, and Sengoku's expected guests stand at the entrance>

Sengoku: Well hello there...Diez Barrels!

<Cut to the door. Standing there is Diez Barrels, accompanied by Monkey D. Garp.

Sengoku: Good job of capturing him, Garp. Have you heard from Rocinante yet?

Garp: Nooo...I'm getting a little worried!

Sakazuki, who just showed up: That's not our only problem. We scouted the rendezvous area, and there's no sign of the Donquixote Pirates!

<Cut to Corazon. He is wearing a visibly shocked face, as he sees the real person the Marine Leader brought him to>

Doflamingo: Did you think you could keep secrets from me, your own brother, Corazon? I've long been suspicious of you. That's why I sent Vergo here to find out, and lo and behold, what a traitor you are! <The Marine Leader removes his mask, proving that he is, indeed, Vergo>

Vergo: Such a shame that the latest Corazon has failed us...

Doflamingo: C'mon, Corazon. I know everything now. Why don't you speak to us and show us your Devil Fruit-the one inside you and the one you're holding!

Corazon: No! I know the real reason you want this fruit-and that's why I can't give it to you!

Doflamingo: You know about it? Well then, I fear I cannot let you live.

Corazon: Why? WHY couldn't you accept our new life? Don't you know what the Celestial Dragons have done to this World?

Doflamingo: How could you have forgotten, Rocinante? We had no choice in the matter! All because of our stupid father's decision, we were subject to the whims of whomever! They TORTURED US! KILLED OUR MOTHER! Now, it's time to turn the tables on the World! We will gain the mastership they deprived us of!

Corazon: Sigh...there really is no hope for you, brother. Now, I must stop you from using that fruit!

<Without making any noise, Corazon speeds behind Doflamingo. Doflamingo counters in time, and the two exchange blows>

Corazon: I know what you can do with that fruit, Doflamingo! If the Perennial Youth Transplant is used on you, you'll have eternal life! And I cannot let that happen! Because if you do, you can break into Mariejois...and steal the sacred treasure!

Doflamingo: You will not stand in my way, brother...I'll kill you, take the fruit, and gain eternal life!

<Doflamingo strikes Corazon's face with his strings, sending him to the ground. Doflamingo walks forward, searching for the Ope Ope no Mi>

Doflamingo: Don't make this more difficult, brother. Where's the fruit.

Corazon: All's right there... <points to the Ope Ope no Mi, which...has a bite taken out of it! Doflamingo looks at Law, who is using the fruit to rid himself of the Amber Lead poisoning>

Doflamingo: No! NOOOOO!

Corazon: You thought I didn't have a backup plan? Now your fruit is lost.

Doflamingo: I would have killed you and used Law...but it seems like he's in your camp now. Looks like I'll have to kill him and wait for the fruit to come back into circulation!

<Doflamingo flies at Law, ready to strike. Corazon, however, leaps in the way, taking a slash to the chest>

Corazon: If you want'll have to kill me first! Law! Just do the procedure I told you about!

<Several minutes pass. Corazon continues to take more injuries from Doflamingo, as Law continues the procedure. Soon, however, Corazon can no longer move>

Doflamingo: You fought well, brother. But in the end-

Law: GASP...guh-I'm...I'm cured!

Doflamingo: <pulls out his gun, and moves behind Law> -you failed. Look at you. I've got Law here and you can't move. Looks like I win.

Corazon: Not...yet...LAW! THE PLAN!

<Law, remembering what Corazon had told him before, activates the Ope Ope no Mi and carries out the plan. Soon, he and Corazon have switched places, and Corazon is now at gunpoint>

Law: WHAT? This wasn't what you told me!

Corazon: Never mind me. I'm going to die anyways. I have one last order for you, Law, and you MUST follow it. Now, RUN! RUN LIKE YOU NEVER HAVE BEFORE!

<With tears in his eyes, Law sprints as fast as he can away from Doflamingo. Doflamingo tries to go after him, but Corazon, with all his might, gives one last push. By the time Doflamingo shoots Corazon in the heart, Law is a safe distance away. He keeps running, remembering this event for the rest of his life>

<Flash forward to the present. Law and Doflamingo stand opposite each other>

Law: Corazon had been right all along...and now, I must do all that I can to fulfill his quest!

<Law and Doflamingo clash, sword on strings>