So I've chosen to take advantage of New Year to post the stories that I'm feeling the most inspired about and that I've been pushing back posting for a while now. I've got the first few chapters of this one already written, and a whole arc planned and the beginnings of a second one. Still I'm not promising anything, so as always: read at your own risk.

Also, today is Daz Bonez's (Mr 1) birthday! Actually, it's also Portgas D. Ace's birthday (and Might Guy's in Naruto, who knew those three had anything in common eh?). Just a random fact that gave me the final push to post. You can totally ignore it.

This first chapter is more of a prologue, and really short too, unlike most of the prologues I usually write. I could've made it longer: it is longer in my mind. However, there would've been so many spoilers about the future of this story that I've decided against it. You can tell me if you want to read the rest of the conversation in a chapter further in the future or if you'd rather leave it to your imagination. And since this first chapter is sooo very short, I'm adding the next one too.

So as I always try to warn, this story will contain slash. If you don't like it, just don't read this.

Hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think! Bye and happy New Year!

Chapter 1

"Interesting."

"What is it, dear?" asked Rayleigh, curious.

Usually, when something caught Shakky's attention enough to be considered 'interesting', it meant something was happening that would change the current layout of the playing field ―like when the Mugiwara Crew first made it to the newspaper, when the Eleven Supernovas all made it to Sabaody at once or when the seas went crazy after Shirohige's death―; she noticed those things before most did.

Therefore, whenever she decided to comment on something, the ex-First Mate of the Roger Pirates made sure to pay close attention to what she said.

"A new pirate crew."

"What does this one have to be worthy of interest?"

"Well, the crewmembers themselves are interesting enough, but I'm more curious about their captain."

"Oh?"

"I'm trying to figure out what kind of person he can be, to gather an assortment of people such as these under a common flag, but I can't seem to manage. It's a… unusual partnership, to say the least. Highly unlike, but my sources have confirmed it."

Rayleigh blinked, surprised. A crew Shakky couldn't figure out was unusual enough. She'd often done so with no more help than a few newspaper clippings, so for her to have gathered information from other sources and still get nowhere? Well, that was unheard of.

"Should we be worried?"

"We? Hmm, no, not particularly." She hummed slowly. "Now, the world as a whole? Definitely."

"…That's not exactly reassuring."

"It wasn't supposed to be."

The old man sighed fondly and gave in.

"Tell me about them."