To say Marco was conflicted when he saw the Moby Dick rise out of the water would have been simplifying the situation by a large degree. He was hopeful and overjoyed that his family had come to rescue him, but was also concerned and fearful for what might happen to his family on this battlefield. In his throne-like chair, Akainu grinned, teeth flashing, “It seems all of the major players have arrived.” he remarked casually, seemingly uncaring of the world’s strongest man and his crew sailing into Marineford’s port.
“Gurararara! Akainu, I hope you’re prepared to reap what you’ve sown!” Whitebeard cried out darkly, gripping his bisento tightly.
“Marco, we’re here to save you!” Ace shouted, standing next to Pops, and the First Division Commander felt worry and warmth at the same time at his lover’s words.
The seastone chain bound pirate noticed Akainu’s eyes gleam dangerously out of the corner of his eye, and the phoenix’s agitation only deepened. “Oh, Newgate, I don’t plan on fighting.” Akainu replied, disturbingly cheerful, “I’ll even give your precious commander back under one condition: find me the Crystal Heart and give it to me. The Crystal Heart is known as the jewel that will grant its owner boundless power and happiness.”
Unnoticed to all but Marco, Ace, and Akainu, Garp flinched, ever so slightly. “The Crystal Heart?” Whitebeard questioned, confused, “What does a jewel have to do with any of this?”
However, next to Whitebeard, Ace sucked in a very audible cold breath. The Second Division Commander looked at the Fleet Commander strangely, “Are you sure you know what you’re asking for?” he asked carefully, face unreadable.
Akainu grinned smugly, making the Whitebeard Pirates and their allies want to punch him in the face. “Of course I do. I would assume you know of it as well?”
Ace sneered, “Of course I know of it and you know why. I’m guessing Gra-Garp accidentally spilled it while drunk?”
“Yes, and what an interesting piece of information from what I’ve heard of it, especially since it took me a long time to get him drunk and pliant enough to cooperate.” Akainu replied, “You have half an hour to give it to me, and in return I will let the Phoenix and your crew go, with no bloodshed.”
The Second Division Commander looked at Garp, “Can you make the Admiral keep his promise?”
“Ace…” Garp said, looking pained, which spiked the curiosity of and baffled everyone observing the exchange.
The flame user’s face hardened, eyes glinting ice cold. “Can you or can you not?” Ace questioned frostily, folding his arms against his chest.
Garp’s head fell down in defeat, “If you agree to his terms, than I will.” he lifted his head again, his tone near pleading, “But really, consider it, is the Crystal Heart worth it? Are you sure you won’t regret it?”
Grey, nearly silver eyes narrowing, Ace glared at the Vice Admiral, “Don’t interfere in my matters, Old Man. If I think it’s worth it, then it’s worth it, regardless of what you think.”
Sighing deeply, facial features looking older than ever, Garp faced his oldest grandson. His expression firmed up with conviction, “If you insist, then I will allow it.” however his mask broke quickly as he had formed it, and tiredly Garp added, “What am I going to tell them when they find out? They’ll be devastated. You’ll be breaking your promise, Ace.”
The flame user gritted his teeth, “I know what I’m doing Gramps.” he replied hoarsely, softly, but on the silent battleground his voice spread fast, effectively shocking everyone present along with everyone watching from Sabaody.
Garp nodded roughly and Ace headed towards his room, slamming and locking the door shut for privacy. Marco felt a sinking feeling in his gut, and his phoenix, dim as ze’s presence was right now, told him something very devastating would be happening at any time. Everyone else started to realize that the Crystal Heart was definitely more than just a simple jewel with a dubious legend. They all wondered what the catch was, as a person like Akainu definitely wouldn’t let such a notorious pirate go just like that. Nearly half an hour later, Ace walked back out with two small bags in hand. One was handed to Whitebeard, “Can you open this after the Moby Dick can leave safely? It’ll answer any question you might have about any of this.”
Whitebeard’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, feeling that something just wasn’t right, but nodded anyway, acquiescing to his youngest’s demands. The younger pirate nodded briskly in satisfaction and hastily headed towards the execution platform, marines parting to form a path for him. He jumped up onto the platform, “Release Marco first.”
“Why should I?” Akainu questioned, though still keeping the infernal grin on his face, “You could try and cheat me, like the dirty pirate you are.”
Ace rolled his eyes, “Then send Marco off first onto the Moby Dick and let them sail off first, I’ll stay here and once I’m done I’m out.”
Akainu stared contemplatively at the Second Division Commander before finally nodding, albeit reluctantly. “Fine then. Let the pirate go!”
Executioners unlock Marco’s restraints, backing away as quick as they can as Ace approached his loved one. “Marco.” he said breathlessly, and Marco felt his heart sink even further.
“Ace, what are you doing, yoi?” Marco asked, fearful for his boyfriend, “You know as well as I do that I’m worth more to the Marines than a regular jewel. What is the Crystal Heart?”
His beloved flame merely smiled lovingly, “Marco, you don’t have to know anything about the Crystal Heart. Just know that I’ll always love you, ok?”
Ace pulled Marco into a deep kiss right on the execution platform, in front of pretty much the whole world. If the phoenix was surprised, he didn’t show it, and gave it as good as he could, especially when he noticed the desperation in Ace’s actions. As soon as they broke apart for air, his boyfriend’s smile turned down slightly, before gently tossing him towards the Moby Dick. Marco landed lightly on both feet, turning to face his lover still on the platform, concern written on his face.
Ace chuckled lightly, before it began to border on slightly maniacal. “Ah, idiots, everyone who’s ever searched for the Crystal Heart on the land are all idiots. After all, Crystal Hearts are made by people and by love. And of course, only the Inheritors of the D can give one away.”
As people stared at him as if he had grown a second head, he went to Garp and handed him the second bag. “You know what to do.” the young man said seriously, before he turned to face the only man he would ever call his father, “Oyaji...you and the others should go. I don’t want any of you to see this. Let’s just say that it won’t be pretty.”
Whitebeard felt the same sinking feeling Marco still felt when Ace handed away the second bag, where was the jewel? He shook his head. “No, son. If this Crystal Heart is as dangerous as it sounds, we will be here to support you.”
Garp chuckled bitterly, and incensed, the other Whitebeard Pirates all cried out their agreements and eventually Ace shrugged helplessly. With the brightest smile he could make, he said, “I see. Oyaji, Marco, Luffy, Sabo, Grandpa, Dadan, Makino, everyone...thank you for loving me.”
With those words said, he reached towards his chest and made his fingers dig deep, stabbing into his own chest with a spurt of blood. The Whitebeard Pirates gasped in surprise, with a few even rushing to the railings to throw up. The flame user looked unfazed, and didn’t stop there, digging around his chest before he ripped something-a gleaming translucent silver crystal with copious flecks of black and gold-out of his chest. The crystal was slightly smaller than the size of a fist, and shaped like a teardrop. Upon closer inspection, the crystal had flames flickering within its depths. Ace placed the bloody jewel onto Akainu’s outstretched hand. A slow smirk slid across the Admiral’s face as the flame user collapsed onto the execution platform. Horrified gasps filled the quiet, and Marco looked as if his entire world had been smashed to pieces. “Go now.” Ace stated, his words travelling across the distance to his family.
Whitebeard roared in agony, and along with his sons, tears started to drop heavily from his eyes. Unwilling to let his youngest’s sacrifice go to waste, he threw out his arm to prevent any of his other children to go and attack. “Retreat!” he cried out hoarsely, before turning to Garp, “Bring me my son’s body for a proper burial, please.” he nearly whispered.
Garp nodded mournfully, not daring to even glance at his grandson’s body. Whitebeard turned away from Marineford as the Moby Dick sailed off into the distance as screams of pain and anger and sobbing slowly filtered away. Akainu faced the video den den mushis, “Portgas D. Ace, Second Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates and the adopted grandson of Garp the Hero himself. What most people don’t know is that his real name is Gol D. Ace. That’s right, Roger’s blood line has finally been vanquished!” he cried out triumphantly, and turned to leave the execution platform, hands playing with the blood covered crystal in his palm.