Chapter Two: The Rubber Queen

One Year Later – East Blue

"Are we almost there?" A calm, masculine voice called out to her from behind.

She stopped her monitoring of the ship's steering device for a moment and turned over her shoulder.

There, lazily reclining in one of the seats of their vessel, was her sole companion.

Uzumaki D. Naruto.

His platinum blonde hair had regained some of its color over the year since they had journeyed out together. It was still a softer, almost silvery, yellow but it no longer had the washed-out dullness that it had the year before. It only fell down to his shoulders, keeping it rather short in comparison to how long it used to be.

The majority of his chest was exposed, as he only wore a burnt orange, kimono-style robe, trimmed in black, held closed at the waist by a small black sash. A black pair of shorts lay underneath the robe. Around the back, just before his waistline, the robe split in half, leaving space for his long nine tails to flow from behind him freely. They were settled on either side of him, resting against the seat as the ship made its way along the ocean.

Two cute, yellow, fox ears popped out of his hair, sitting atop his head and flowing slightly with the breeze.

But his most defining feature, in her opinion, was on his face. It had come as quite a shock when she had gotten her first clear look at him.

His face now proudly showed his six whisker marks, three on each cheek. They fit his features completely, and added a sense of emotion to his every expression. Something that she had grown to appreciate within the year they had spent together.

She could say without hesitation that she was closer to Naruto than she had been with anyone else in her life.

They had gone through Hell together, after all.

Something like that makes you friends for life, and neither had even considered separating.

Not that she would hear of it, even if Naruto did want to separate. The whiskered blonde truly had her indebted to him, although he would never admit it.

She knew, and that was all that mattered to her.


She snapped out of her thoughts and looked up at Naruto again. His whiskers fell along with his face, and his eyes, despite being a fearsome red, still managed to show his concern.

She nodded and turned back to the front of the ship, "You should be able to see it now."

Naruto glanced past her, and saw she was right. A small dot in the distance, growing in size as they approached, revealed that they were finally about to reach land.

The island was still pretty far off, far too great a distance for a normal human to spot. But there was nothing normal about them, and their pairs of slitted eyes had several perks. The enhanced vision was merely the tip of the iceberg.

Their target was supposedly on the island, if their 'Client' had accurate information. The information was three years old, so they had some lingering doubt, but the cheerful man had seemed rather confident that the target would still be here.

They were aboard a fast boat, but considering the sun was just barely peaking above the horizon, they still had plenty of time.

So they were in no serious rush, and glided across the waves at a pace that could be considered 'leisurely'.

At least, it was to them.

Seeing they wouldn't be arriving for a while he leaned back into his seat, satisfied to relax until they arrived.

He idly let his eyes drift over his female companion. Yugito. She gave no family name, but that was hardly a rare case in this world. Many went their entire lives without speaking, or sometimes even knowing, their family names. There are many general reasons for it. Orphans, outcasts, or sometimes even abandoning their names entirely, due to a dangerous Pirate lineage.

He never asked, and she never told him. He was fine with that, it really made no difference to him. Yugito was Yugito and nothing would change that.

She was wearing a deep blue halter top, leaving her shoulders and arms exposed to keep cool. It cut off before her waist, leaving a strip of skin exposed at her stomach. The shirt itself clung tightly to her chest, accenting her generous bosom. A white cloud pattern was displayed along her left breast. A simple pair of tight black shorts went down to her mid-thigh. A pair of fingerless gloves covered her hands.

Her blonde hair, just a shade darker than his own, was wrapped tightly in bandages as it flowed behind her from the wind.

He knew she preferred to dress more conservatively, but they were on the ocean, and she enjoyed wearing clothes that wouldn't limit her flexibility. Plus, when you consider how every other female seems to dress out on the sea, she would be considered conservative.

She was older than him, but he wasn't sure how much. Not that he'd ever ask, he knew there were certain questions you simply didn't ask a female, and age was pretty high up. She looked to be in her twenties, although with Devil Fruit powers it was hard to tell.

The vessel drew closer to the island, and the features became clearer. There seemed to be a large city in the center, along the coast, but that was not where they intended to go.

Instead, they turned east, heading for a small village to the side of a large mountain.

Finding a port was rather easy, since the village itself was along the coast, so they quickly docked and tied their boat.

Climbing onto the pier, Naruto helped Yugito up after him, then they headed into the village together.

"Cozy little village, isn't it?" Yugito said as they walked down the cobblestone path that ran alongside the wharf.

It was a seaside town, and the locals all seemed to be extremely happy. The houses were all wooden and warm, and the paths that strayed from the shore were made of dirt, giving it a rural feeling.

Naruto nodded his agreement, "'Foosha Village' A village of windmills, that's a pretty accurate name." He said gesturing to the many windmills that dotted the landscape. It seemed a little silly to name your village after something like windmills.

"But it begs the question. Which came first? The Village or the Windmills?" Yugito pointed out as they strolled down the path.

"The Windmills." A gruff voice from their side came.

They turned to see an older looking man, sitting on a porch of one of the houses overlooking the docks. He was dressed casually and a wooden cane rested against the arm of his chair.

He scratched at his small beard, "I'm the mayor of this village. Woop Slap. Can I help you young'ns with something?"

Naruto smiled and scratched the back of his head, "Yeah... We are looking for someplace called 'Party's Bar'"

The mayor raised an eyebrow at the request but shrugged and pointed off to the side.

Sure enough, a few buildings over, a freshly-painted green sign was posted above a small tavern, with the name 'Party's Bar'.

They gave the old man their thanks and went inside.

"Lufia slow down! You're going to choke if you keep that up." The bartender warned her favorite customer for the umpteenth time. Every time she made food for Lufia the young girl ate as quickly as she could, without being a slob of course. Makino had managed to beat some table manners into her head. It was only natural that she learned to be a proper lady!

That didn't stop her from inhaling the food. She just made no mess when she did it.

Lufia frowned as she bit into a large piece of meat, "But Maki~Nooo~! This is going to be the last time I'll eat your cooking in a while!" She pouted childishly.

"Then you should take your time and savor it." Makino said firmly, already getting to work cleaning the pile of plates stacked beside the young girl.

'Lufia?' Naruto blinked at the strange girl. She was eating more meat than even he could put away, dressed in a red bikini top that covered her large breasts, and a simple pair of blue shorts. A yellow sash was wrapped around her waist, and he could see a straw hat hanging from her neck.

Straw Hat? Check.

Total lack of modesty? Check.

Likes Meat? Check, if those thirteen plates were anything to go by.

Yep. That confirms it. This is the girl they were searching for. It was a freak coincidence to run into her in the first building they checked, but Naruto just chalked it up to his absurd luck.

"Excuse me?"

Lufia bit into another piece of meat and glanced at the young man. "Yes?" She managed to get out between bites. She was still hungry!

Naruto smiled and sat down on the stool beside her, "Can we talk to you for a moment?"

"Un!" She nodded without stopping her devouring of the meat.

"Well, my name is Naruto," He continued, unbothered by her lack of attention. He would get this kind of thing from his 'Family' all the time, so he was used to it. "I have a package for Monkey D. Lufia, that is you right?"

Lufia nodded again and smiled as she tossed the clean bone onto the now-empty plate. "Who's it from?" She asked, not all that interested when she has a new plate in front of her, provided by Makino.

He reached into his robes and pulled out an orange package. "Your brother Ace."

Suddenly, the meat was forgotten, and a napkin appeared in her hands. She wiped the grease off as fast as humanly possible, and nearly ripped the package out of his hands.

Despite her excitement, she opened the package slowly, taking care not to rip the wrapping itself. She hadn't heard a word about her brother in three years! Of course, she was excited.

Inside the package, was a white envelope, presumably containing a letter, and a small wooden box.

Naturally, she reached for the box first-

"You should probably read the letter first." Naruto squashed her excitement at getting a present.

She pouted slightly but complied, opening the envelope with the same carefulness she used on the wrapping.

She gave it a quick scan, seeing it was much longer than she thought Ace was ever going to write her, at least three pages.

But her excitement didn't wane, and she quietly began to read.

The other three occupants of the bar just waited patiently as she worked her way through the letter.

Her face went through a full myriad of emotions, from joy, sadness, excitement, and finally settled on happy, with a set of misty eyes.

Her smile betrayed her tears, and everyone could see she was overjoyed to receive the letter. "So Ace joined the Whitebeard Pirates... Guess he's pretty far ahead of me now..." She smiled wider and wiped her eyes, "Doesn't matter, I'm still going to be the Pirate Queen."

She turned to the box, and smiled up at Naruto, "Ace said you were going to explain this part."

Naruto nodded and opened the box, showing her the inside.

With no small amount of excitement, she looked inside to find... "Paper?" Her smile became strained as she looked at Naruto.

Naruto gave a fox-like grin. "Paper." He confirmed.

She visibly deflated on the bar, she was hoping he was going to send her some super-awesome pirate stuff. Like a treasure chest! Paper was just borrring~.

Naruto followed her train of thought easily, and pulled the paper out of the box. "Don't count it out yet, Lufia. It's special, Grand Line, paper."

She perked up slightly and gave him a look as he held it out to her. She looked at the small piece as he opened his palm. After watching it for a moment, the paper jumped slightly to the south.

She raised her head off the table and watched it again. Every few seconds it seemed to nudge its way to the edge of his hand.

"It's called a Vivre Card." He explained, "The pieces of the paper will always move towards each other, no matter where they are in the world."

Lufia's eyes sparkled as she looked at the unassuming piece of paper. The Grand Line sure was amazing! She'd definitely see it soon. 'But wait...' She paused in thought.

"Does that mean this points me to Ace?" She asked.

Naruto nodded. "Yep. And his points to yours. He wanted you to know that no matter where you go, you'll still be able to find each other."

Lufia smiled happily once again. Her brother really did know how to make her happy. Somehow that flimsy piece of paper was worth more than a chest of gold to her.

A stray light caught her eye and she glanced down to see her new Vivre Card. One of the corners had turned orange.

It took her another second to realize her Vivre Card had caught on fire!

"Ahhh!" She panicked and tried to snuff it out with her fingers. Surprisingly, she didn't feel it burn. It didn't even feel warm. She checked again, and it was still on fire, but didn't seem to be spreading.

Naruto caught her attention again. "That's another feature of the Vivre Card. When the owner is in danger, it burns. The card reflects their health, so if it turns really small, it means they are in trouble. But if it is just a tiny portion, like this, then it just means they are slightly injured."

She blinked, and looked back at the card. So Ace was fine then? "What happens when they get better?"

"The card will restore itself to its original size." He glanced back down at the card. "Considering it's early in the morning, and the card is still almost full. Ace is probably just training right now."

Lufia nodded in agreement. They were both certainly rough when it came to training. It would make sense if he had injured himself somehow.

"The card is pretty hard to replace." Naruto said, "So you should keep it somewhere safe."

She thought about it for a moment. She reached behind her neck and pulled out her straw hat. Taking the Vivre card, she placed it inside the band of her hat. It would be safe there.

She placed her hat back on her head happily, and turned to look at her guest.

She hadn't really taken a good look at him, not all that interested until she had heard about Ace. But now, she found he was kind of strange.

His voice was soft, but had an almost purr-like accent to it. His features were weird too.

The first thing she noticed, was his eyes. Blood-red and slitted, they startled her for a moment, but she thought it was pretty cool. The whisker marks on his cheek made him look like one of those annoying red animals she tried to catch when her Gramps would toss her into the dangerous forests outside of Mt. Corvo.

'A fox... I think.' She frowned at the thought. She still never managed to catch one of those. Even when she was really hungry! They just kept hopping into places she couldn't reach. And she could swear they were laughing at her!

Those two animals ears on his head didn't help the image either...

'Wait... animal ears?' She blinked and looked again. Indeed, on top of his head sat two yellow fox ears, and as she looked closer, she noticed the nine bushy fox tails swaying behind him.

"THAT IS SO COOL!" Suddenly, she was beside him looking up at him with stars in her eyes. "Why do you have animal parts?! Can you move them?! Can you use them to fight?! Can they shoot lasers?!"

Naruto sweatdropped at that last one and laughed at her excitement. She seemed a bit childish, but that was fine. He was too, at times.

One of his tails snaked up between them, and Lufia had her starry eyes locked on it as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.

It slowly moved up to her eye-level, and the tip poked her on the nose.

"In that order? I ate a Devil Fruit. Yes. Yes. And I haven't tried yet." Naruto replied.

"Awww..." She pouted, disappointed she wouldn't get to see any lasers. Yet.

Wait... "You ate a Devil-Fruit too?" She looked back up at him with surprise. She hadn't seen anyone with a Fruit other than her own Rubber powers.

He nodded, "I ate the Dog-Dog Fruit, Model: Nine-Tailed Fox. So I'm a Vulpine-Man." He paused and offered his hand. "We still haven't gotten properly introduced. My name is Uzumaki D. Naruto, nice to meet you."

She hopped back on her stool and sat cross-legged. She took his hand in her own with a big smile. "Monkey D. Lufia!" She kept her smile and hooked a finger into her lip. She pulled, showing that her skin could stretch to a considerable distance. "I ate the Gum-Gum Fruit! So I'm a Rubber-Woman!" She let go and her cheek snapped back into place.

She didn't show any discomfort from the snap, despite the considerable noise it had made. Interesting.

He smiled back and gestured to his companion, who was now chatting with the bartender a few seats over. "That is Yugito, she's my companion. She ate a Devil Fruit too." He added since she seemed to like them.

"Really?!" She gushed, "Which one?"

Yugito turned to them with a smile, "I ate the Cat Cat Fruit, Model: Two-Tailed Cat. So I'm a Cat-Woman."

Lufia looked her over, but couldn't find any cool features besides the yellow slitted eyes. She wasn't very impressed.

Yugito gave a cheshire grin, and stood up from her stool. Hers wasn't quite as flashy as Naruto's but it was just as useful. She focused on her abilities and started to shrink.

A moment later, and a small black housecat jumped up to the bar, startling Makino. She gave Lufia one last smile before strolling over to Naruto. She layed down on the bar in front of him and turned to Makino, "Do you have any milk?"

"Uh-" The Bartender was at a loss for words. The only strange things she had ever seen was Lufia's Rubber-powers and even then she rarely saw it. But to be spoken to be a talking cat? It was hard to wrap her head around.

She decided to just treat it like any other customer, and not think about it too hard. "Of course! I'll go get you some. Do you want it in a bowl?" Makino asked.

The cat smiled with amusement, "Yes, please."

"That's awesome!" Lufia said with a laugh as Yugito started to lap at her bowl of milk.

Naruto chuckled and ran his fingers through Yugito's fur, eliciting a purr from the Cat-Woman. "We are both Zoan Types. That means we can turn into the animals our fruits are modeled after. We have a few forms so it is pretty good for fighting."

"Really?" She didn't really understand how that could be useful. It was nowhere near as strong as her rubber powers.

"Really." He confirmed, "Even in our normal forms we are pretty strong, and the Fruits complement our natural strengths."

Lufia stared at him in contemplation for a moment.

She nodded to herself and made her decision, "Alright! You two should join my crew!" She offered with the biggest smile Naruto has ever seen.

"No thanks." He shot her down mercilessly.

Her face fell and she pouted at him, "Why not?"

He gave her a fox-like smirk, "Because... I'm going to be King of the Pirates."

"No way!" She said immediately, "I'm going to be Queen of the Pirates!"

They stared at each other for a moment, before silently agreeing to the same thing.

"Guess there is only one thing to do then," Naruto said as he got to his feet.

Lufia stood up and smacked her fist into her palm. "Let's fight for it!" Even if she was a bit dense, she always knew when someone was ready to fight.

She thanked Makino profusely for the food, and headed for the door, "Let's go! I know a good spot we can settle this at."

Yugito hopped on Naruto's shoulder, and they followed after the young girl.

"Are you really going to fight her?" Yugito purred in his ear. She had wrapped herself firmly around his neck, happy to simply ride along rather than transform back and walk.

"Sure. It could be fun." They were following behind the black haired girl, as she marched her way through a small forest near the town.

"It just seems unlike you to start a fight with some random girl," Yugito commented.

"Nah. You know I love to fight, and this isn't some random girl. This is Ace's baby sister. You heard him brag about how his sister was going to be the strongest woman on the ocean. I'm interested to see if she has Ace's fighting talent."

Both Yugito and Naruto had heard Ace tell his crew the many stories about his 'cute baby sister'. Most of them were positive, saying she had a punch as strong as a pistol, and a will to never give up. Something that Naruto had truly respected. He was giddy to see it for himself.

Yugito understood that. It was just odd to see him instigate a fight like that. He did love to fight, but it was usually the other person who started it. It wasn't really Naruto's style to swing first. It did happen occasionally, when the unlucky bastard was asking for it.

"Alright!" A satisfied voice brought them out of their thoughts.

Lufia was standing proudly in the middle of a large clearing. Based on the torn-up patches of grass and a few knocked over trees, it was safe to guess that this was one of her training spots.

She smiled and settled into a fighting stance. "Let's get started!"

Naruto agreed, letting Yugito hop off of his shoulder to watch the match from the side. She transformed back to her human form to watch the match with her own eyes.

Naruto stood slightly near the edge of the clearing, and they started the match.

Lufia happily took the first move, throwing her arm back she let it stretch out behind her, "Gum Gum..."

Naruto raised an eyebrow. 'Straight into the Devil-Fruit powers? Well then, two can play at that game.' His red eyes flashed, almost imperceptibly, as his Devil-Fruit powers activated.

Lufia smiled as her opponent didn't move, "...Pistol!" Her arm rubber-banded, and flew back across the clearing, using the momentum from the stretching, and augmenting it with her own strength, it lashed across the field, striking Naruto in the chest.

Or it should have... But instead, she watched with wide eyes as her hand passed through Naruto, and continued flying, slamming into a tree behind him with enough force to knock it down.

"AHHH!" She screamed, horrified she had just punched through her opponent. She wound her arm back quickly, and stared at the gaping hole she had left in her opponent's chest. She didn't mean to kill him! She didn't think she hit him that hard!

A light chuckle caught her attention, and her eyes shot up to her opponents face. He was smiling.

Naruto just laughed it off, and pointed to her left.

She followed the finger, and saw a fist rapidly enclosing on her face.

With a resounding smack, Naruto's punch sent Lufia flying back across the clearing. She crashed into a tree with a groan.

Regaining her bearings she jumped back up to her feet and shook off the dirt. Looking up she saw two Naruto's both smiling cheekily at her. One still had the gaping hole in his chest.

"Huh?" Was all she could manage.

The uninjured Naruto snapped his fingers, and the first one vanished. Seeing her confusion, he gave her a brief explanation, "One of my Devil-Fruit abilities allows me to use Illusions. Like the one you just saw."

Lufia's eyes were full of stars once again, "That's so cool!"

"But, I am curious." Naruto spoke up, "How are you okay after that? I hit you pretty hard."

This time Lufia gave a superior smirk, "I'm a Rubber-Woman remember? Blunt attacks don't work on me. They just bounce right off." She tapped her scrawny arm as if to show off her strength.

Naruto's eyebrows shot up in surprise, that was certainly useful. "Huh... Interesting. Does that work with all blunt attacks?"

She stopped and scratched her head in thought, "I think so. I'm not completely resistant, if you hit me hard enough I'll feel it. But I haven't met anyone besides Gramps that can do that yet."

So he just needed to hit her harder? Good. It's nice to fight someone who can really take the abuse you put them through.

The small chat stopped and they both settled back into their stances.

Lufia struck again, unbothered by her attack not working the attempt before. "Gum Gum Pistol!"

She lashed out faster this time, hoping to get him before he activates his Fruit again.

Once again, her fist flew through the image of Naruto, and once again she saw another approach from her side.

Smirking to herself, she ducked under the first blow.

Naruto was surprised she dodged, as she moved faster than he was prepared for, but didn't have time to prepare another move. Lufia's arm, that had still been extended, came flying back at them. He had no time to move, as the back of the fist slammed into his chest, sending him flying back from the force of the reverse Gum Gum Pistol. Now it was Naruto's turn to crash into a tree.

Grumbling to himself as he got back onto his feet, he glared at the wicked smile of the girl in front of him. He really should've been prepared for that.

This time he went on the offensive, rushing forward, his eyes flashed, and five copies of himself approached Lufia from all sides.

She lashed out at the center copy, the one he had originated from, but her fist passed through harmlessly.

A strike to the back of the head told her he was behind her, and the force of the blow had her driven into the ground.

She got back to her feet quickly, intent on hitting him back for that one, but stopped as she looked around.

Surrounding her, and filling the clearing, were at two dozen of the same blonde haired man. They were all smirking at her, completely identical.

Lufia wasn't bothered in the least, and wound up another Pistol. "Gum Gum..."

The copies watched with amusement, curious what she was planning.

With a big smile, she threw her attack, "Pistol!" The fist flew quickly, singling out a copy of Naruto.

The 'copy' widened his eyes as the attack struck true, punching straight into his stomach. He dug in his heels, preventing himself from getting knocked off his feet, but still felt the power behind the attack.

'Man that girl hits hard.'

His copies vanished as the attack forced him to lose his concentration. He rubbed his stomach wincing at the power behind the blow.

He stared at his opponent with no small amount of surprise. He could even see Yugito's jaw on the ground.

"How did you know which was the real one?" He asked. He was proud of his technique, and would be incredibly disappointed if it had a flaw so glaring that a young girl could spot it in a single fight.

Lufia shrugged and settled back into her stance, "Instinct."

Naruto shot her a weird look. 'Seriously? She picked the right copy on pure instinct? Yugito can't even tell them apart, and she has enhanced senses!' Shaking his head at the strange girl, he fell back into his own combat stance.

They rushed each other once more, Naruto forewent Illusions this time, deciding to settle it with hand-to-hand combat.

They exchanged blows at a fast pace, no fancy attacks or complicated maneuvers. Just a simple fist fight.

They say that two experienced fighters can learn a lot about each other through an exchange of blows. It was something that Naruto had learned through the time he had spent with his 'Family'. And in this moment, he could say he was slowly starting to understand Lufia.

She was strong, shockingly so. Her small arms were skinny and thin, likely caused by her rubber powers, but underneath lay defined muscle that showed their strength through her powerful blows.

She was strong, and not just physically. She definitely had the willpower that Ace loved to brag about. Every time he knocked her down, she just got back up with a determined gleam in her eye. And soon enough after, he'd be the one on the ground.

She was experienced, Ace had told him that much. He bragged that they fought every day for several years, and that both became good fighters. It was true, and it showed. She had no 'style' but that hardly mattered, instincts and experience made up for the lack of technique.

She gave as good as she got during the fight, and by the end of it they were both covered in dirt, sweat, and blood.

They were standing opposite each other, both trying to catch their breath as they happily glared at each other.

They were fairly matched. Naruto was faster, and more agile, but Lufia's Devil Fruit gave her more durability and potential for power.

Naruto frowned and wiped the blood slipping down his chin. She really punched hard.

Lufia rubbed at the red marks covering her arms. She had been unprepared to deal with that part.

They both glared at each other from across the clearing.

Then they smiled.

The smiles turned to chuckles, and before long it escalated to full laughter.

They were both happy. Happy to find a worthy opponent, and happy to enjoy the great fight they just had.

Lufia dropped her stance first, and smiled up at Naruto, "You're pretty strong Naruto."

He smiled back and tried to brush the dirt off his orange jacket. "You are too Lufia. Ace wasn't lying when he said you'd be good."

Her face lit up as she heard her brother had complimented her. She turned to Naruto with determination. She had already decided Naruto was going to be a part of her crew, but now, after that fight, she knew just which position he'd hold. She was going to be looking for one anyway, it was just luck that he had found her instead.

"Naruto!" She called out. "I'm still going to be Queen of the Pirates!" She shouted, letting her determination show.

But then she smiled, "But you can be my King!"

Naruto was caught off guard by the declaration, and looked at her with bemusement. "Your King?" He asked.

She nodded, "You can't be a Queen without a King right? So you'll be my King!" It was simple. Makino had explained it to her one day. Queens always had a King by their side, so if she wanted to be Queen, she had to find a King first. Naruto was perfect! He could match her strength, and had a super-cool Devil-Fruit. It made perfect sense to her.

Naruto could only stare back with bafflement, 'Does she even know what she's saying?' While the Pirate King/Queen was a title, calling them like that definitely suggested something more. He had a strong feeling she wasn't aware of what she was implying.

He wasn't exactly sure how to handle this situation. He had little experience with girls, besides the time he spent with Yugito, and he had a feeling Lufia was going to be much different from the rest.

So he did the only thing he could think of. He looked to Yugito for help. He saw her on the edge of the clearing where she had settled down to watch the fight. She seemed just as surprised as he from the bold proclamation. He sent her his best pleading expression, and she caught his eyes for a moment. She shrugged carelessly, and sent him a 'It's your decision' look.

He sighed internally. 'Great. Thanks, Yugito.'

He glanced back at the cause of his plight, and instantly regretted it. She had big pleading eyes and her lower lip was starting to tremble.


He considered his options. On one hand, he could just say no. That would probably end poorly for him, either with the girl actually crying, or simply not giving up. Her determination was already made clear, and if Ace's stories were anything to go by, Lufia was not so easily dissuaded. Ace had told him about how Lufia had stubbornly followed him around, even after Ace had spit at her and pushed her off a cliff. If Lufia turned that determination on him, he would be dealing with her for quite a while.

On the other hand, he was planning on gathering his own crew. It would be rather hard to become King without any crew members after all. Lufia was pretty much everything he would want in a crew member, strong, earnest, and knew how to enjoy life. Despite being a bit naive, she was perfect.

"Naruto!" The voice of Ace echoed through his mind. "When you meet Lufia, make sure she's okay for me, alright? She attracts trouble just as easily as you do, so I'd really appreciate it if she had another person looking out for her." The memory flashed through his head, and made the decision for him.

'I don't think this is exactly what Ace had in mind.' He sighed to himself.

He looked back up at his new partner with matching determination. He gave her a firm nod and held out his hand.

Lufia smiled widely, "Yes!" She jumped up in the air and let out a small whoop. She snatched his hand in her own solid grip, and they shook on it.

He smiled as she showed her excitement, it vanished the lingering doubt he had. "So that makes us what? Co-Captains?"

She nodded, "I guess... Oh! But since we have two Captains we need a crew twice as big!" She had big eyes and a childish smile as she pictured herself and Naruto standing together in front of a large group of Pirates. On a massive ship, of course.

Naruto could only shake his head at her logic, he was slowly starting to figure out how her mind worked. "So how many crewmembers were you planning to have?"

"Ten!" She replied immediately, "At least ten." She added after a moment's thought. She wasn't opposed to a large crew, but they had to be special.

Naruto chuckled at her plan. 'Twice as big' was still just twenty if she had only wanted ten in the first place. That was tiny in comparison to the many other pirate crews.

But, he was fine with that. "You know, I'm quite partial to nine, myself." He said, letting his tails sway behind him in agreement.

Lufia smiled, and put a hand on her hat, "Nine, huh?" She giggled, "Shishishi~ Sounds perfect!" She looked up in the air and stared at the sky for a moment.

Her eyes filled with panic, "Wha-?! It's noon already! I was supposed to leave the island hours ago!" she complained loudly.

"Does it really matter?" Yugito asked, making her way over to them.

Lufia frowned, "Of course it does! I was supposed to start my adventure at the same time Ace did. Now I'm hours behind!"

The two Zoan-types shared a look.

Yugito spoke up, "I think we have something that can make up for that lost time."

Lufia tilted her head in curiosity.

"This... is..." Lufia couldn't believe her eyes. It was, in a word, "Awesome!"

Naruto chuckled as he stepped into the boat. He couldn't judge her excitement this time, he had the same reaction. It really was awesome.

Lufia had stars in her eyes as she drooled over the look of his vessel.

The 'ship' if you could call it that, was more of a boat than anything else. It was long and narrow in design, made out of a shiny black material instead of the usual wood. In the center of the boat, length-wise, was an open compartment. It had four wide, two-person, seats, set in two rows but separated by the open walkway in the middle. An additional 'Helmsman' seat sat just in front of the passenger seats, designed to give the Helmsman a clear view of the ocean.

It was an odd design, with a large portion of the front of the ship being completely covered. The back had a large circular thruster built in.

The entire boat was black, with the exception of silver trimmings along the edges. The sides each had a large head of a white wolf painted on, facing the front of the ship with its fangs bared. Due to the design, and speed it travels, it was aptly named, 'Hunter'.

Naruto smiled proudly and helped the two ladies off of the dock, "Welcome aboard Hunter! She's the fastest boat you'll ever see! Hunter's design was based off of Ace's own boat, Striker."

Lufia's eyes met Naruto's with surprise, she looked down and saw the ship in an entirely new light. "So it's like Ace's?" She smiled with happiness, glad to have that small connection to her brother.

Lufia was a kid in a candy shop aboard the strange ship, darting her head in every direction as she tried to take it all in at once.

"How does it sail?" Lufia asked. While she was still happily inspecting every inch of the unique boat, she noticed it was missing the one thing that made a ship move. It didn't feel like a Pirate Ship if it didn't have a sail!

Naruto plopped down on one of the seats in the front row. Closest to the Helm. The seats were cushioned, and colored dark grey.

He ushered Lufia to sit next to him, "You'll see."

Yugito took her appointed role easy enough and settled down in the Helm. Yugito was usually in charge of steering them, since Naruto's navigation skills were limited at best. He could use a compass, but that was about as far as it got.

She, on the other hand, had a bit more experience with it. She couldn't predict the weather or anything crazy, but she could get them from island to island with little trouble. Especially in someplace calm, like the East Blue.

After doing her routine check on the ship's controls, she placed her hands into two small holes located on the console. They were tubes, with two levers inside. She grabbed them and focused her Devil-Fruit powers.

The real reason Hunter was based off of the Striker, was Ace's ingenious method of using his Fire-based Devil-Fruit powers to generate thrust for his small craft. Taking the concept a step further, Naruto incorporated it into his own ship, Hunter.

Suddenly, the tubes flared with bright blue light as Yugito's hands were encased in azure fire. The fire traveled quickly through the tubes, fueling the thruster in the back.

Yugito's Devil Fruit was more than just a simple Zoan-type. It was a Mythical Devil Fruit, just like Naruto's. Granting her the abilities of the mythical Two-tailed Cat, better known as the Nekomata. One of the abilities, is the blue-fire she uses to fuel their ship. She prefers to call it Soul-Fire, considering its properties. It was one of the more useful abilities of her Fruit, and one she had no problem using.

With a small jerk, the ship fired up its thruster, and started moving at a slow pace. They pushed off the dock, and started out to sea.

"Ohhhh!" Lufia was sitting cross-legged on the seat next to Naruto, leaning on the edge of the ship as she looked toward the back of the ship. She could see water being kicked up behind them slightly, and some blue light coming from the large metal tube on the back of the ship.

She spun back around on her seat and settled down next to Naruto, watching Yugito as she steered them away from the port. "So it runs on fire-power?"

"Yep! And with Yugito's Devil-Fruit powers, we can get anywhere we want, without relying on the wind." Naruto said.

Lufia looked rather amazed, that was pretty cool... But it took a bit of the fun out of it, didn't it? Wasn't the entire point of sailing to... y'know... use a sail?

Naruto caught on to her thoughts easily enough, but didn't really worry about it. Hunter wasn't designed to be used for sailing expeditions. It was just to hop from island to island. "We'll need a real ship, of course." He said, "Obviously, Hunter offers no place to sleep and has little place to store food. So we'll need a proper Pirate Ship if we want to gather a crew."

It was one of the reasons Hunter was designed to be fast. Naruto and Yugito had sailed around a considerable amount using her, but never had to sleep on the ship. They simply reached their destination before nightfall. They never traveled far, and instead stuck to short routes and island hopping. If they wanted to go someplace like the Grand Line, they'd need a real ship.

Lufia rapidly nodded her head in agreement, excited all over again about getting a large ship of her own.

Naruto looked at his new Co-Captain with amusement. She was lost in her own fantasies again. She was definitely going to make the trip interesting, if nothing else.

Suddenly, his hair stood on end and a shiver went down his spine. He looked out to the sea, it was calm and peaceful. But something was weird.

It was quiet.

"Something is wrong..." He said without thinking, catching the other two passengers attention.

He couldn't put his finger on it, but something felt odd to him.

The feeling surged, and his instincts were screaming at him. Something was strange.

The feeling rose higher, and he finally understood. Something was coming.

"Yugito! Stop!" He shouted.

She didn't hesitate. She pulled back on her sticks the moment she heard her Captain's voice. An instant later, and the ship slid to a halt. If they had been going any faster, it might have been harder, but they had been moving slowly.

Yugito looked back at her Captain, alarmed. She rarely heard him raise his voice, and if he did, things were serious. "What's wro-"

She never finished her sentence, as a loud roar shook their boat.

A massive Sea King lunged out of the water several dozen meters in front of them. Its large jaws were spread wide open. It snapped closed harshly, attempting to swallow its prey.

Only to miss its target.

Its teeth sank into nothing but air as the ship had made its sudden stop just short of the Sea King's mouth.

The newly-formed Pirate crew were frozen in momentary shock as they realized they were very close to becoming the beast's lunch. If they had continued to sail, they would've slid straight into the Sea King's mouth.

"The Lord of the Coast!" Lufia shouted as she jumped to her feet.

"You recognize it?" Naruto asked, incredulous.

"Yeah." Lufia growled, "That's the bastard that took Shanks' arm!"

The Sea King realized it had missed its prey and caught sight of them. It reared its head back and let out another fearsome roar. It was monstrous in size, with teeth long and wide as a human head. It was ugly too. A dark, oily brown, with red bloodshot eyes. A singular fin ran along the top and bottom of its body, giving it the appearance of a massive eel.

Lufia's blood boiled at the very sight of the beast. Not only had it almost killed her, and taken Shanks' arm, but it had tormented the town for years afterward.

With eyes glaring murder at the beast, she crouched low and pushed off the boat with as much strength her legs could provide her. The Hunter sank a deeper into the water slightly as the force launched her into the air.

She flew upward, gaining height until she was nearly eye-level with the monster. Reeling her fist back she performed her signature move. "GUM GUM..."

It was a move that she had practiced for ten long years, and she had gotten it down to perfection. It was fitting, in a way, to use her most practiced move against the monster that had forced her to take her training seriously.

Her arm reached its maximum stretch length, and she poured every ounce of strength into the rebound, "PISTOL!" She shouted as the fist cut across the air with the speed of a bullet, smashing into the side of the monster's head.

The force sent it reeling back, an impressive display considering the size of the Sea King. The monster let out a wail of pain as its body fell to the side, crashing into the surface of the water and floating there. Unmoving.

Lufia landed back onto the ship, and pulled her hat back down on her head.

The beast stirred once more, and it slowly pulled itself back up. It turned to the group, now sporting a massive bruise on the side of its face.

Lufia put all of her anger into the best glare she could manage, "Get lost."

The beast froze, remembering the last human that had said those words. Its danger instincts took over, and it let out a final small wail as it turned around and dove back below the surface.

The two Zoan-types sighed with relief as the Sea King left, and Lufia slumped into her seat beside Naruto.

"She's stronger than I thought." He heard Yugito whisper.

He didn't acknowledge it. He was too occupied with his own thoughts.

'What... was that?' He had no idea what that feeling was. It was like he instinctively knew that something terrible was about to happen. He had grown nervous for a moment, and he could've sworn he had felt the hair on his tails stiffen.

But what happened? Was it just instinct, like Lufia had used to see through his Illusion? Or was it a piece of his Devil Fruit? He snapped himself out of his thoughts with a sigh. He'd just have to look into it more. But right now...

He looked to the young woman beside him, who was being awfully quiet. She was sitting in silence, with a contemplative look on her face, as if coming to terms with what had just occurred.

It didn't suit her, he decided, to have that grim look on her face.

"You look better with a smile on your face, y'know." He nudged her in the side with his elbow.

Surprisingly, she didn't respond. She stayed focused on her own thoughts, staring down at the straw hat she had placed in her lap.

She did pull herself out of her thoughts, when she felt something warm and fuzzy surround her. She looked up to the side, into the concerned eyes of her new partner.

He had wrapped all nine of his tails around her side, and used them to pull her against him. "Are you okay?" He asked gently. He hadn't realized the attack had bothered her that much, but she looked pretty disturbed about it.

She had mentioned 'Shanks', and the name rung a bell, but he couldn't quite place it. He wanted to ask, wanted to know what had bothered his new friend so greatly, but it wasn't the appropriate time.

He'd give it some time first.

"Yeah," Lufia said as she placed her hat back on her head.

He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and gave her a quick one-armed hug. "You shouldn't make such a scary face Lufia, I can't have my partner being sad." He was inwardly shocked at how easy the words came to him, and how right they felt. He wasn't sure why, but his gut was telling him that she was definitely fit to be his partner.

She perked up a bit as she heard him openly acknowledge their partnership for the first time. She gave him her best smile, but at the moment, it still came out a bit half-hearted.

He internally frowned, but thought of a way to cheer her up.

He glanced at Yugito, and gave her a quick nod. His helmswoman understood, and started back up the thruster, getting the ship moving back at its slow pace.

"You might want to hold on to something Lufia..." Naruto warned.

"Huh?" She tilted her head in innocent confusion.

"Punch it, Yugito."

The Cat-Woman smirked as she fired her hands up with the full power of her Devil Fruit, and pushed forward on her controls.

The ship's thruster let out a loud pop and suddenly roared to life, flaring with a large stream of blue flames. The fire wasn't just for show and the Hunter quickly picked up speed, cutting through the waves at a rate that made sailboats look like snails.

Lufia, despite herself, couldn't contain her excitement. She threw her hands up in the air, her momentary depression long forgotten.

"WOOOO! Shishishi~"

She let out a loud cheer and laughed happily as they skipped across the water.

Her straw hat wasn't prepared for the wind, and nearly lifted itself off of her head. But Naruto had been prepared, and pushed it back down on the mess of black hair, surprisingly content to hold it there while his partner enjoyed the ride.

They sailed out for some time, giving their newest companion quite a rush with Hunter's speed.

After a while, Yugito had slowed it down. They were still moving quickly, about the speed of a caravel, but nowhere near their max speed.

It was exhausting to fire up the engine like that for long periods of time. For Yugito, it was like comparing a walk to a full-on sprint.

While she could make them go a lot faster, it would also wear her down just as quickly. So she tended to keep the pace moderate, as it usually let her last much longer. Slow and steady does win the race, in this case.

Lufia had settled back in her standard cross-legged pose, and was amusing herself with a pair of Naruto's tails. They were extremely soft, so she couldn't help herself.

Yugito was diligently keeping the group on course, heading to the closest island in the area, Lufia hadn't given any specific direction besides "Forward!" so she decided to head to the closest town, hoping to bump into potential crew members.

Naruto was leaning back in his seat, eyes closed in pleasure from the mixture of the sea breeze and Lufia's light strokes along his tails. His arms lay lazily on the back of their seat, and the side of the boat.

His ears twitched atop his head as he heard a very faint sound in the distance. He tilted his head and focused.

There it was again. It sounded like... Cannon fire?

His eyes snapped open. He called out to his Helmswoman, "Yugito."

"I heard it." She said, already putting more juice into the engines. She had spent long enough with Naruto to know what he wanted. When there was trouble, Naruto either sought it out in curiosity, or it all came crashing down around them without warning.

The former was usually cleaner, so she headed toward the sounds of action. It was better for everyone if they made the first move.

Hunter dashed across the waves with a vengeance, on the trail of whatever had caught its attention.

It didn't take long for them to find their mark, a luxury cruise liner that was being attacked by a Pirate Ship.

The Pirate Ship itself, was a blinding eyesore compared to the vast blue of the surroundings.

It was pink.

Completely pink.

With painted wood on everything from the deck to the masts. Its figurehead was a rather weak attempt at a swan, with hearts covering its eyes.

The sails, each had the same large pink heart painted in the center. Atop the crow's nest, lay the Jolly Roger. One that Naruto actually recognized... Unfortunately.

He visibly deflated into his seat.

'Dammit... I was hoping to see something exciting.' He pouted to himself as Yugito drew them in close. It was the Alvida Pirates. One of the weakest, if not the weakest, pirate crews in the East Blue.

And considering the East Blue was widely regarded as the 'Weakest Sea', these guys were the bottom of the barrel when it came to criminals.

Yugito pulled the Hunter between the ships, still unnoticed by the two groups due to Hunter's small build.

The Pirates had just started boarding, if the shouts and shadows passing overhead were anything to go by.

He turned to Lufia, ready to make a plan of action.

"Gum Gum... Rocket!"

Naruto watched, slightly amused, as his Co-Captain shot herself up to the deck of the cruise liner, somehow going unnoticed by the Pirates.

'Eh...' He shrugged to himself carelessly, 'She'll be fine.'

He turned to Yugito instead, "Do you want to go aboard?"

His Helmswoman shook her head and stretched, arching her back in a cat-like fashion. She curled up in her seat and relaxed, resting from the use of her Devil-Fruit.

Naruto smiled and shook his head. Looking back up at the two ships, he shrugged and followed Lufia aboard the cruise ship.

He hopped up and landed on the railing, right beside his partner.

This first thing he noticed, was the surprisingly calm atmosphere. The group of civilians had already been grouped up in a ballroom of sorts when the pirates boarded. So the pirates were able to keep them contained with little to no bloodshed.

How boring.

He wasn't itching to see a bloodbath, but if there was no fight, how was he supposed to join in?

A flash of orange caught his attention from the corner of his eye.

A young girl, was sneaking aboard the Pirate Ship, hugging the wall and clearing thinking herself to be stealthy.

Not that it lasted, as a door opened and she was immediately busted. Luckily for her, they were a low bounty crew for a reason, and the nameless grunt went down in a single blow to the groin.

'Ouch...' Naruto was almost sympathetic for the poor bastard. Almost.

The girl slipped passed the grunt, and into the cabin. Leaving the man twitching in pain on the ground.

Well, he had found something interesting after all.

"Lufia, I'm going to go check out the other ship. I'll be back in a minute, okay?" He called out to his newest friend as he spun around on the railing.

Lufia waved him off, and stepped down to the deck.

"Later!" Naruto gave a small wave back as he leaped aboard the Pirate Ship.

Lufia glanced at the spot where her partner had vanished, she was slightly curious about what he was doing, but didn't think about it too hard.

She turned her attention back to the group of three pirates she had been watching, they seemed to be looking for alcohol.

She stepped forward on the deck, she was going to try and find someone fun to fight...

Her stomach growled.


...Right after she found some food.

Nami was not having a good day.

"Well, look at what we have here boys!" The second fattest pirate aboard the Miss Love Duck said to his fellow grunts.

"Seems like we've got ourselves a stowaway." A sniveling voice agreed, coming from the shortest of the bunch.

"What do we do with her?" A third voice asked.

"Tie her up for Alvida!" Another suggested.

The group broke into squabbling, put kept their swords pointed at the young girl they had found inside their cargo hold.

Nami was not having a good day.

It had started out simple enough, she had managed to bribe her way onto a rich-looking luxury cruise liner. Hoping that the endeavor would earn her more than she had spent. And things had been looking up, for a while. A high-class ball-room filled with wine and expensive food, should've been easy pickings for a young lady with sticky fingers.

It should have been.

But nothing went according to her plan. The people wore expensive clothing, sure. But had no money on their person, nothing she could slip away from them at least. They wore rich clothes and expensive jewelry, but their rooms were under heavy locks. Something that would take her too long to pick without drawing any attention.

And worst of all... The men! She knew she had been asking for it with a low-cut dress, which she admits, she looked gorgeous in, but really?! She was almost certain she had been offered by every single man in that damn room! And most of them had dates! It wouldn't have been so bad if they had something easy to swipe, but none of them carried any money.

So, after a couple hours of wasted effort, she was ready to cut her losses. Maybe try and find some sort of cargo-hold to plunder, or maybe just say 'To hell with subtlety' and raid the Captain's Quarters.

And then it all went to hell.

As if fate was openly mocking her, the sound of cannon fire resounded, and the entire ship lurched with the waves caused by the Pirate Ship's warning shots.

The weak-willed men aboard surrendered immediately, and the minimal security offered by the ship was cut down in an instant.

She had slipped away by the skin of her teeth. Luckily.

Using her ever-present greed as inspiration, she tried to make the best out of a terrible situation, and stole aboard the Pirate's Ship.

The plan was simple, sneak aboard while the Pirates were raiding, strip the ship for all its worth, and leave before they notice anything amiss. Then, sail away on a raft piled with gold, happy as can be. After that, maybe even a bit of maniacal laughter as she imagined the faces of the Pirates when they finally realize they had been robbed. It was a simple plan, but one that should work flawlessly.

It should have worked.

But... Nami was having a bad day.

There were a few holes in her plan, looking back. Things she had never really considered, like how there could possibly be a group of pirates in charge of defending the ship while the others were raiding. Or how the treasure hold was likely filled with gold, and that she hadn't considered how she was actually going to move the piles by herself. Or maybe even the fact that the other ship had already surrendered, and that the Pirate Ship had a high amount of traffic as the raiding group moved treasure to the deck, from the cruise ship.

All very important factors of the plan she hadn't considered. And all factors that led to her current situation. Stuck inside the treasure hold, with a small bag of gold behind her, and a group of very angry Pirates brandishing swords in her direction.

For the first time since she left her village, Nami felt truly scared.

Admittedly, she had been treating all pirates as a joke. Compared to the one she was used to, how could they not be? When compared to such inhuman strength, the normal 'Pirates' were small fry. So she stole from them, carelessly. And she got sloppy.

One mistake was all it took, and here she was, getting a deadly glare from a group of pirates she had been caught stealing from.

She wasn't sure which fate would be worse for her, if they killed her... or if they didn't.

She considered reaching for her weapon, despite knowing it was hopeless.

They were in tight-quarters, she had no room to wield her staff. And she was outnumbered. Heavily.

"-nd I say we just kill her! Maybe Alvida will give us some booze as a reward for catching the thief."

Her attention snapped back to the pirates at the mention of death.

The mention of booze caught the other pirates' attention, and they all quieted down in agreement. In a silent decision, they all focused back on the young girl.

Their blades pointed to her chest, and they slowly advanced, closing in on her.

Until an unfamiliar voice cut them off.

"Now, now..."

The eyes of the entire group snapped to the newcomer.

Naruto had followed his orange haired infiltrator down to the Pirate's treasure hold, predictably.

Unpredictably, however, were the other occupants of the room. A group of Pirates, a dozen or so, had the young thief backed into a corner. Literally.

She was frozen, trapped with a 'deer in the headlights' look on her face as she desperately tried to think of a way out of the situation.

But Naruto had seen something that made his blood boil.


She had given up, in the moment, and was ready to meet her end.

No girl her age should look like that, no matter the situation.

He heard the word 'kill' and he knew he had to step in, before the bastards got any closer to his little 'interest'. He could see her preparing to reach for something, but he had a feeling that any weapon she drew, unless it happened to be a pistol with unlimited ammunition, was likely going to end up in her death.

He didn't know her, but that didn't mean he was going to watch a young woman die. Especially not one with orange hair. How often did he find someone with orange hair? Especially an attractive young woman with orange hair. He couldn't help himself!

"Now, now..."

He drew the attention of the room. Good. Hopefully, that'll keep them off the girl for a moment.

He noticed the lack of disbelieving looks or cries of 'Monster!', slightly surprised, he took another look at himself.

Ah! Right. He had turned into his 'Human Form', hiding his tails and ears. As amusing it would be to see the shocked faces of everyone he ran into, it was rather annoying in public, so he hid his animal features.

Along with his ears and tails, his whisker marks faded back into his skin, and his blood red eyes now shone with deep cerulean.

His eyes met the female thief's for a moment, and he could swear she was telling him to leave. Not that he would, but it was a cute gesture.

He leaned against the door with nonchalance, "...That's no way to speak to a lady."

The bastard pirates glared at him, and a few turned their blades to him instead.

"Who the hell are you?!" A foolish bastard said, swinging his sword in Naruto's direction in an attempt to look threatening.

He stared blankly at the sword, "Careful... Swinging a sword at someone... They might just swing back."

The pirate grinned, showing off the few teeth he had remaining, "And what are you going to do about it?"

He stepped forward, and grabbed the sword with his bare hand, ignoring the gasp from the girl.

The pirate smirked and pulled, intent on slicing his hand open with the blade, but found the sword firmly rooted in place. The pirate's expression slowly turned to fear as he tried to retrieve his weapon, to no avail. He looked up, into the eyes of the blonde.

Big mistake.

The shining cerulean flashed a bloody crimson for a single instant, but that was all it took.

The pirate's eyes widened, his mind clouded over, his vision blurred, and then his world spun.

A moment later, he was on the ground.

'Tsk. I hate using that power,' Naruto grumbled to himself, 'Gives me a nasty headache.' But it did its job, and the group now had their attention focused entirely on him. The girl was completely forgotten.

He flipped the sword over in his hand and grabbed the hilt. The blade had sunk slightly into his palm from where he had grabbed it, but the wound was already closing. Devil-Fruit powers were certainly useful.

"W-W-W-What d-did you do to h-him?!" The short bastard said in a voice that was already starting to grate on his ears.

Naruto snorted.

As, if.

"I didn't do a damn thing. Must've passed out on his own." Like he would tell his abilities to some no-name rabble, smack dab in the middle of the Weakest Sea.

"Bullshit! You did something!" The lanky bastard accused.

Naruto shrugged carelessly, "I think you have bigger concerns."

He gave the sword a few test swings. He was no swordsman, and likely never would be, but he really didn't want to go full nine-tails against some random grunts. That would just be embarrassing!

He could use his fists, but he didn't want to scar the poor girl any more than she already was. He assumed that brutally beating the pirates to a bloody mess with his bare hands probably wouldn't help.

A sword would do. He would just have to be a bit clean about it. Hopefully, no body parts will go flying.

"Oh?" A haughty bastard started with a superior smirk, "And what would that be? We outnumber you ten to one."

It was thirteen to one, but who was counting? Naruto lazily met the pirate's eyes, and a feral grin stretched across his features, "I have a weapon."

"And what does that mat-Ack!" The arrogant bastard never finished his sentence before a sword's blade slid smoothly across his Adam's apple.

A light shove, and he joined his fellow bastard on the floor.

The loud thud seemed to be a trigger that sent the other pirates into motion.

'Finally. Who knew it took two bastards hitting the floor before the "herd" recognized a threat?' He sighed to himself. He would never understand the minds of such animals.

The haughty bastard moved in to avenge his dead comrade, showing a surprising sense of pack-loyalty, despite how minimal the emotion was. 'Maybe they were intelligent creatures after all?'

A quick thrust left his sword buried deep into the chest of the bastard, and the body count hit three.

'Nah.' He revoked his earlier claim as he pulled the sword out of the dead bastard. 'Impossible.'

Feeling brave, bastards four, five, and six, decided that strength in numbers was the key to survival.

Three quick swipes of his sword and Naruto proved that Darwinism does, in fact, apply to the bastards. Good to know.

The remaining eight bastards were suddenly looking a bit unsure of themselves.

That was no good! God forbid the bastards learn.

Deciding that it was just his turn, and they were waiting for him to make a move, he lunged at the short bastard with the grating voice. Doing his best to remove that voice from this world. The sword came in quite handily for that.

The short bastard hit the floor, a large chunk of his throat missing.

It was 7/7 now. It was an even match so far, but it was still any bastard's game.

The fat bastard barreled forward, trusting its natural blubber to protect it!

And it did protect the bastard... From the fall he took after Naruto had opened his throat just like the other bastards.

The ugly bastard teamed up with four of the other remaining bastards, and charged him with a mighty roar! Or maybe that was a mating call? He really hoped not.

Stomach, Lungs, Heart, Spine. The four bastard lackeys went down quickly. Joining the growing pile on the floor.

The ugly bastard let out a wail as his 'herd' was culled, "D-Demo-!"

"Shut up." Naruto slashed at his throat. He got enough of that shit when he had his tails out, but now he wasn't even using them!

The ugly bastard kissed the floorboards.

...And then there was one.

"H-Hiiiieee!" The cowardly bastard was backing away into a wall, holding a sword with shaking hands. "S-S-Stay a-a-a-away!"

Naruto smiled.

The final bastard dropped his sword in an instant, and bolted for the door with a speed that almost surprised him.

'Huh... The cowardly bastard is the sole survivor,' He mused, 'That's almost poetic.'

He didn't bother to chase, the bastard was no threat.

He looked down at his weapon of choice, frowning at the large amount of blood soaking it. With a careless shrug, he tossed it to the side, ignoring the sickening squelch it made as it landed among the bastards.

He turned to the final occupant of the room, and looked into the eyes of his subject of interest.

She was staring back with a mixture of horror and awe. On one hand, he had saved her life. On the other, he had ruthlessly cut down an entire group of pirates in front of her. Quite easily.

He watched her carefully as she sorted through her emotions, her face turning pale as she looked to be sick. She refused to meet his eyes, and didn't say anything, waiting for him to make the first move. A hand strayed down to her hip, preparing to reach for a weapon he assumed she had stored somewhere.

He raised his hand slowly, ignoring the stiffening of her body as she prepared to reach for her weapon. His hand went up to his shoulder, and he raised to fingers in a lazy wave, "Yo!" He said, ignoring the corpses behind him.

She stared at him with shock. Disbelieving that he would offer such a casual greeting after that... massacre. She shivered with fear, but her pride beat it down long enough for her to open her mouth.

"You... killed them..." She said, a bit more accusatory than she had intended.

He didn't seem to notice, and nodded shamelessly, "Just as they would've surely killed you."

She couldn't argue with that. They were pirates, and the worst sort from what little interaction she had with them. Death was the most pleasant of the things they had argued about, and she held no pity for the men on the floor. But that hardly made it easier to watch them get butchered in front of her.

The blood alone made her sick, and it took all of her willpower to keep her lunch down.

The tension finally escaped her after speaking, and she fell backward like a marionette with its strings cut. Her bag of gold caught her fall, and she sat there, still in shock over her brush with death.

Naruto let her have a moment to collect herself, and turned to the large pile of gold and jewels, might as well help himself, right?

Producing a large sack from who-knows-where, he started quickly filling it with golden coins and any fancy jewels that caught his eye.

Nami watched him work, and for the first time in a long time, she had no desire to steal any more for herself.

It was that stupid pile of gold that got her into this mess in the first place.

She took another look at the blonde. He was cute, that was certainly true, and Nami felt no shame admitting she found herself attracted to him. He was tall for his age, just past her own height. He had platinum blonde hair that had an almost ethereal look to it, with a slightly silver tinge. His bright blue eyes had captured her attention, and she must've been seeing things because she had thought for a moment, that they had turned red during his battle.

Her mind was playing tricks on her. Surely.

He was strong too, cutting down the group of pirates with practiced ease. It made her wonder just who he was. Was he a Bounty Hunter? It would explain the lack of sympathy for pirates, and the experience he had with fighting.

He wore no blue or white, and considering he was currently looting the pirate ship, it was safe to rule out the Marines.

She briefly considered him being a pirate, but ruled that out easily enough. She was still alive. So there was no way he was a pirate.

Another question crossed her mind...

"How did you find me?" She asked quietly.

He didn't look up from his bag, it was about half full and he was still working on it.

"Honestly?" He asked.

She nodded, but noticed he wasn't looking at her. "Yes."

"Your hair."

"Eh...?" She looked at him with confusion clear on her face, "...My... Hair?"

He paused to look up at her with a serious expression, and gave her a firm nod. "Orange is my favorite color, if you couldn't tell," He gestured down to his primarily orange outfit. "So, when a beautiful girl, with beautiful hair, is nearby, it caught my eye pretty quickly, y'know." He said genuinely.

"O-Oh..." She felt a bit of heat returning to her cheeks, 'Who the hell compliments someone in a situation like this?!'

"So what are you doing in a place like this, anyway?" Naruto asked as he sorted through his loot. The coins weren't great quality, but about as much as he could expect from one of the weakest crews in the world.

The girl hesitated to answer, but caved when he turned his eyes to hers. "I'm... a Pirate Thief."

He quirked an eyebrow, "Pirate Thief?"

She looked more like a Cat-Burglar to him. Dressed in a full blue and black outfit, complete with a bandanna on her head. The only thing she was missing was a black mask and a bag slung over her shoulder, as she tiptoed through the shadows.

He inwardly snickered as he thought about giving a copy of the outfit to Yugito. He was sure she'd be amused.

She nodded, "I only steal from pirates. Although... it usually works better than this." She gave a self-deprecating smile.

"What about you?" She asked as she watched him tie up his bag, "Are you a Bounty Hunter?"

"A Bounty Hunter? Nah... I'm..." He paused and scratched his chin in thought. "I'm a Courier."

"A Courier?" That wasn't anything like she expected. Why was a simple courier so strong? And what was he doing aboard a Pirate Ship?

He nodded, "Yeah. I deliver packages, that kind of thing. But I don't think I'll be keeping my job after that last one."

She dropped her head down, "Sorry to hear that." Why was she apologizing?! She just met him.

"Huh?" He tilted his head in confusion. After repeating his words in his head he waved it off, "Oh! Don't be. It wasn't a bad thing. The job went well, too well. I was offered a new job by the end of it."

She nodded in understanding and glanced at the door.

They could both hear a commotion on the deck, and Nami was ready to get as far away from the ship as possible. She really didn't want to risk getting caught again.

She made her way to her feet on shaky legs. She struggled for a moment to lift her bag of gold, but eventually got it over her shoulder.

"Leaving?" The Courier asked her as she carefully walked to the door, doing her best not to look at the floor.

"Yeah. I guess this is goodbye. Mister Courier."

She heard a chuckle from behind her as she passed through the door. "Nah. I'm sure we will see each other again. Miss Pirate Thief."

"-I'm 'the most...' What?" A gruff almost-masculine voice reached his sensitive ears as he made his way back to the deck of the Miss Love Duck. On the deck, he noticed that some of the remaining crew were staring toward the other ship with an assortment of surprise, fear, and disbelief.

Curious, he glanced across to the cruise ship. His lips twitched with amusement.

Lufia was standing in the center of the deck, looking completely unbothered by the attention she was drawing to herself.

A small, chubby, trembling, pink-haired cabin boy, stood slightly behind her, staring at Alvida with shock. His mouth opened and closed as he struggled to form words.

The deck was littered with the remains of the Pirate crew, and Lufia had an uncaring expression as she waited for the boy to speak.

'She seems to be having fun.'

Across from them, had to be the ugliest woman he had ever seen. Known as 'Iron Mace' Alvida. She was a massive, obese woman with greasy black hair. She had a cluster of freckles covering her chubby face, that was currently twisted into a nasty snarl as she glared down at the two in front of her. A massive spiked mace was slung over her shoulder.

Her glare was completely disregarded by Lufia in favor of watching the pink-haired boy.

Naruto hopped across the gap between the ships, and landed on the railing of the cruise ship. He laid his bag at his feet and sat down on the railing, happy to watch everything unfold.

"Y-Y-You're the m-most..." The cabin boy stuttered. He looked up at Lufia, and a spark of resolve shown through his eyes. He turned to Alvida with every ounce of courage he could muster.


The entire area was shocked into silence by the proclamation.

Alvida's crew all had their jaws on the ground, with varying levels of nervousness as they prepared for their captain to go on a rampage.

Alvia herself was looking at him in shock, before her expression turned murderous. A thick vein throbbed on her forehead, and her face slowly turned red with anger. Her teeth were visibly grinding together, and she looked ready to explode.

The silence was broken by uproarious laughter, coming from Monkey D. Lufia. She threw her head back laughed openly and loud, with her hands on her hips.

Naruto couldn't help but let out a small chuckle. He would've let out a hearty laugh to match Lufia's if he didn't think it would draw attention to himself.

'That kid...' He shook his head with disbelief. At a glance, it seemed that the brat had a death-wish, but looking closer, Naruto could tell the boy had no regrets with his outburst. Even if Alvida were to kill him right here and now, the brat would be satisfied.

Still, it showed some serious courage, something he didn't think he would find inside the small cabin boy. Especially not when the brat's legs were shaking like a leaf.

"What did you say!?" Alvida growled, her eyes were bloodshot and she tightened her grip on her mace.

The cabin boy felt emboldened. He had finally gotten it off his chest, and it felt good. He clenched his fists and gave a weak glare back at Alvida. "I... I'm going to join the navy!" he said, "And then, I'll capture pirates!"

"Do you even know what you're saying?! Coby?!" Alvida glared down at the boy.

"I do! And I have no regrets! I'm going to join the Marines..." He let out a breath and shouted, "AND THEN I'LL CAPTURE YOUR FAT ASS!"

"YOU STUPID BRAT!" Alvida couldn't contain her rage any longer and swung her large mace in a massive arc, intending to crush him.

The boy screamed with fear, and it looked as if his bravado had left him, but Naruto caught something that made him smile.

He didn't look away.

Even when facing certain death, his eyes remained wide open as he watched Alvida's mace come swinging down upon him.

"Well said!" Lufia praised after finally reigning in her laughter. She moved in front of him without fear, and let the mace come crashing down upon her own head.

Coby's eyes filled with tears as he assumed Lufia had just been killed because of him.

"Shishishi," The sound of laughter caught their attention, and Lufia smiled underneath her hat, "That doesn't work~!" She sang as she pushed the mace off her head, "Because I'm made of rubber!"

She threw her fist back behind her, letting it stretch all the way to the back of the ship, "Gum Gum..."

She smiled wickedly at the shocked look in Alvida's eyes and let her arm whip back, "Pistol!" She cried, punching the fat woman straight off of her feet.

The fist continued to stretch, and lifted her off the deck and into the air. It kept going, not stopping until she was clear of the ship. The force kept her moving as Lufia's arm retracted, and Alvida flew off into the distance.

She smiled as she watched her opponent disappear into the horizon.

A small laugh drew her attention, "Enjoying yourself?" Naruto asked from the side.

He watched her turn to him, and saw her face light up, "Naruto! I was wondering where you went... Wait..." She scrunched up her face as she looked him over, "Something's different about you." She tapped her chin in thought, carefully looking him over.

Her eyes went up to his head and lingered there for a moment. They trailed back down to his waist, looking for something different. She couldn't quite place her finger on it, but she was pretty sure he changed something...

Her eyes met his own and a light-bulb went off in her head. "Aha!" She snapped her fingers with a victorious cry, "Your eyes are blue!" She pointed at him.

Naruto gave a fox-like grin, "Yep!" He couldn't help but laugh at her satisfied expression, as if she was ever so pleased with herself for spotting the change.

Ignoring the fact that she had overlooked his lack of ears and tails.

"You done here?" Naruto asked.

She nodded and grabbed Coby by the collar of his shirt, lifting him like you would a small cat.

"Lufia?!" Coby asked, alarmed. He flailed as his feet left the deck. "W-w-what are you doing?!"

She walked over to the railing and carelessly tossed him over the edge.

"AAAHHH-!" His cry was cut off by hitting something soft.

He looked up, and instead of crashing into the water like he thought, he had landed on a cushioned seat. On a boat.

Naruto laughed down at him from the railing, "Are we keeping him? I don't really think we need a cabin boy since we don't have a ship yet."

Copy paled drastically, realizing he might be still be forced to work for pirates of a different crew.

Lufia laughed at his silly expression and hopped down to their boat, "Nope. Coby's going to join the Marines. I figured we could give him a ride."

Naruto nodded in agreement, "Catch, Lufia."

She turned around just in time to catch a large sack, "Oof!" She nearly buckled under the unexpected weight, "What the hell is in this?"

Naruto dropped down beside her with a grin. "Treasure."

"Really?!" Lufia said as she dropped the sack in one of the empty seats. She stared at the sack with awe. They had treasure now! That was so Pirate-like!

"Yep! I decided to uh- 'liberate' some of Alvida's treasure. I'm sure she won't mind." He said cheerfully.

He focused for a moment and his body shifted. His eyes deepened back to their normal crimson color, two ears poked through his hair, and nine long, bushy, fox tails sprouted out of his tailbone.

"Aahhh..." He slumped into his normal seat and closed his eyes. He had his fun. Now it was time to relax. He stretched out each of his nine tails before letting them fall limply on the seat in relaxation.



His ears picked up the screams of the pirates overhead. He caught a few words through the chaos, they had spotted a few Marine Ships.

He didn't bother moving, he had earned his time to relax.

Cannons were firing as the Marines did their damnedest to sink the Pirate Ship. Ignoring the holes they were putting into the cruise ship beside them.

'Are they trying to kill a ship's worth of civilians?' Naruto scoffed. They probably didn't care either way.

Their ship was wedged between the two larger vessels, so they had little to fear from the shots. Technically, they weren't pirates yet, so they didn't have to worry about the marines, but he had a feeling they would still be in trouble if they were caught.

"Yugito can you get us out of here?" He asked.

She nodded and started fueling the engine. "Where to?"

Lufia responded, "The closest Marine Base!"

Yugito nodded and scanned the map in front of her. "It looks like... The closest is in Shells Town."

"Then set a course for Shells Town!" Lufia proclaimed pointing off into the horizon. In the wrong direction.

"Shells Town?!" Coby squeaked. "B-But that's where they are keeping the Pirate Hunter!"

"Hah?" Lufia looked at Coby. "Pirate Hunter?"

He nodded grimly, "R-Roronoa Zoro. The 'Pirate Hunter'. They say that he's a demon in human skin!"

Naruto narrowed his eyes at that comment. 'A Demon?'

"He was captured by the Marines a few weeks ago, they've been holding him there ever since!" Coby said, somehow making himself more nervous as he talked about the pirate hunter.

"He was captured?" Lufia deflated into her seat. "Awww, man... He must be weak then. If he let them capture him so easily."

"No way! He's crazy strong. A vicious beast!" Coby insisted, shaking his arms rapidly.

Lufia tapped her chin in thought, "Maybe I'll recruit him then! If he's a good guy."

Naruto tuned out Coby's rapid warnings as Lufia started to argue with him. He turned to Yugito, who had stopped with the controls to pay attention to the conversation.

"What do you think?" He asked.

She narrowed her eyes, and shook her head after a moment. "I don't think so. To find one in the East Blue of all places..." She trailed off.

He sighed, "Guess that would be too easy, wouldn't it?"

He heard the cannon-fire pickup, the ships were getting closer.

"Time to go."

Yugito nodded her agreement and placed her hands back into the controls.

Lufia caught the action and stopped her argument with an excited smile. She pulled her hat tight against her head and sat down beside Naruto.

"Huh?" Coby blinked at Lufia as she walked away from their 'conversation'.

He saw some sort of light coming from the Helm and scratched his head with confusion. The group looked to be bracing for something.

"Hey guys... What's wron-!"

The engines popped and Yugito's fire blasted them from between the ships with force. They shot across the water, fast as a bullet, before any cannonballs could get a lucky hit on them.

"AAAAAHHHHHH!" Coby let out an unmanly shriek as he was thrown off his feet.

If not for one of Naruto's tails snagging him around the ankle, he would've been thrown from the ship.

The three large marine ships would later report seeing a black blur, kicking up water behind it as it cut through the waves...

...And the sound of a small girl's scream.

Author's Notes (Minor Spoilers)

Chapter 2 is complete.

Female Luffy! I've seen many fics keep their female Luffy's name as Luffy, but I felt that her name should be changed alongside her gender. Do you like the name Lufia? Got any better suggestions?

I skipped over a bit of Lufia's action with Alvida in favor of Naruto meeting Nami. I felt we have all seen the Luffy vs Alvida fight enough times already, and I wasn't really going to change anything.

Hunter's shape is based on a modern speed boat. Just imagine it One-Piece styled, the engine on the back is just a bigger version of the one on Ace's Striker.

Naruto's Devil-Fruit is a Canon fruit, the 'Inu Inu no Mi, Model: Kyubi no Kitsune' The abilities themselves haven't been fleshed out, besides the ability to transform into other people. So, I'm going to be creating the abilities myself.

Yugito's Fruit, however, is not a Canon Fruit, and I'll be creating those from scratch.

Naruto's crew - I'm still uncertain about who is going to be in it. It will probably all be cross-over picks, any suggestions? Or if you aren't feeling Naruto Characters, is there any One Piece character you'd like to see join?

For the record, I won't be using Hinata or Sakura in this fic. They can break fics for a lot of people, so that is a landmine I'd rather not step on. I have nothing against either character, but I don't think either of them would fit in the One Piece universe very well.

I also won't be using Sasuke or anyone like that. Can you honestly imagine a broody 'Avenger' joining a happy, fun-loving group like the Straw Hat Pirates? Because I can't.