Title: The Everlasting Flame
Cover Story: Solo Journey of Jinbe, Knight of the Sea Vol 27: "Next morning, hero Jinbe sets off with Poneglyph in tow."
Trebol, in a callback to last chapter: You little shit! You're coming with me!
We see the explosion set off on the King's Plateau. Everyone on Dressrosa is distracted from the Birdcage as they look to the palace rooftop.
Franky: Whoa! What the heck is Luffy doing up there?
Kyros: Take cover!
Sai: I'm starting to get a bit concerned now...
Bartolomeo: No explosion can keep you down, Luffy-senpai! Keep going!!
Cavendish is still asleep.
Viola: Only one person would be mad enough to cause an explosion like that, and have the means to do it also.
Kin'emon: My lady! Can you see if Straw Hat and the others are all right?
Viola: No, the smoke is too thick right now, I'm afraid.
Usopp: I still feel the auras of four people! Yes...they're alive! Wait...what's this? There's a fifth person there! Who could it be?
Cut to the palace rooftop. Luffy is still covering his face from the explosion, trembling, until he begins to realize something.
Luffy: I-I'm not dead!
Law: What is this? The flames are surrounding us!
Trebol: I don't understand! How...how...
Suddenly, the flames surrounding the four of them are sucked in one direction, toward a figure, where they disappear.
Sabo: Sorry I'm late.
Law: Who are you?
Sabo: Let's just say I'm Sabo, second-in-command of the Revolutionaries, the heir to the Mera Mera no Mi...who has things to make up for.
Sabo: Not now, Luffy. We can sort everything out later. Right now, we need to teach these guys a little lesson.
Trebol: Behehehehe! If it isn't the Revolutionary Sabo! You just got one big family now, don't you, Law? It's just a family of one shit after another!
Trebol coughs in pain as he reapplies his mucus covering, until it is back to nearly its normal state.
Trebol: Since you ruined my chance, you little Revolutionary shit, you will die first!
Trebol leaps at Sabo, who prepares to counter. However, Trebol suddenly finds himself being held back...by Doflamingo's strings!
Trebol: Young master...why are you preventing me from killing him?
Doflamingo: Law and the Straw Hat have been immobilized, and yet you have been so incompetent that they have been beating you regardless! This is not fitting behavior for an Executive! Your work is done here, Trebol. Perhaps forever.
Trebol: But...but we're family! Without my assistance, how could you have become King? You need me!
Doflamingo: I needed you to get what I wanted! I only included you in my family because you were useful to me! Now you're worthless. Just like father and brother were.
Doflamingo: What is "family," you ask? Family is nothing more than people making connections with others to get what they want! My father taught me that. Because he was my kin, I was forced to give up the lifestyle I was destined for! Just to fulfill his dream of living among commoners! And how did that turn out?? That was when I realized what family was, and that was the day I built a family of my own just for that purpose.
Trebol: No! I'll show you my true loyalty, young master! I will take care of these shits once and for all and prove to you that I do matter.
Doflamingo: You are quite possibly the saddest person I have ever met. Very well. Things should be made easy now.
Trebol: I'm coming for you!!
Sabo: It is sad that you're in this situation...I suppose there's only one thing to do...
As Trebol leaps toward Sabo, Sabo grabs him by the beard and flings him upward with one hand.
Sabo hits a flying Trebol with Fire Fist, causing another explosion, this time high above the palace, out of harm's way. When Trebol comes crashing down, he is smoking, burned to a crisp.
Sabo, to Doflamingo: Your underling may be pitiful, but you're no better than him. You just threw away your one ally left in this battle. Now, your end will be much swifter.
Doflamingo: Who are you to tell me about family, Revolutionary?
Sabo: I know a lot about family, actually. Like you, I once took mine for granted. But...that changed.
Flash back to 12 years in the past. We see Dragon and Ivankov standing at a hospital bed.
Dragon: Is he going to pull through, Ivankov?
Ivankov: I believe so. He gave me a scare at one point, but his vitals are steadily going up.
Sabo: Guh...where...where am I? Where's Ace? Luffy...?
Ivankov: I can't believe it! He's awake!
Dragon: You were attacked by a ship of Celestial Dragons, who shot at you for nothing more than their own amusement. You're lucky to be alive.
Sabo: What about Ace? Luffy?
Dragon: We rescued Ace and Luffy, and they are recuperating back at Foosha Village.
Sabo: I was...so stupid...to sail off like that...
Dragon: Now now. Don't get too worked up. You're still in critical condition.
Several weeks later, Sabo has made a full recovery, and is walking with Dragon.
Sabo: Now that I'm all better, can I go back to Ace and Luffy?
Dragon: You could do that...but I have a proposition for you.
Dragon: I know you hate World Nobles as much as I do. They will stop at nothing to get their way, and they will have the government on their side. If Ace and Luffy choose to sail off as pirates like you did, they will likely be targeted by the government, just as you were.
Sabo: Yeah! Which is why I want to get back to them! So I can protect them!
Dragon: What about training under us? We have powerful people here who can teach you anything about fighting. Join the revolutionaries, Sabo, and protect your friends!
Sabo: I have thought about it, and though I want to see them, I should stay here. Being so close to my former family caused me to head out before I was ready, before I had trained enough. Now, I can properly train here. I'm gonna become a revolutionary, and protect Ace and Luffy from the World Government!
Flash forward 5 years. We see Sabo get stronger and rise up through the ranks, finally becoming the Chief of Staff. He is now ready to head on an adventure.
Sabo: What mission do you have for me, sir? I'm ready for anything!
Dragon: Yeah...about that...I'm afraid I can't let you do that.
Sabo: Why not? This isn't fair!
Dragon: You know that we lost Iva and Inazuma to the World Government recently. I can't let that happen to you or anyone else. Effective now, the Revolutionaries are going under for a while.
Sabo: This is completely unfair! *storms off*
Three years later. Sabo gets the news about Ace's death.
Sabo, to Dragon: I HATE YOU! If you had let me go and help Luffy and Ace, this wouldn't have happened!
Dragon: And what if the Marines had captured and executed you, too? *Puts head down and sighs* Maybe you were right. Anyways, you know Luffy has disappeared. Once he reappears, however, I'll see what I can do...
Back in the present
Sabo: Thank you for giving me my chance, Dragon-sensei! Alright, Luffy! Let's knock this bastard to Kingdom Come!
Sabo and Luffy leap toward Doflamingo, and Doflamingo leaps toward them, eager to resume battling.