"Aah...we are not off to a good start," Run mutters, shifting inside the rather cramped barrel. "I mean, this is not what I imagined us to be doing on our first-" A soft snort interrupts the red head who strains his eyes and even ears against the darkness of the barrel...only to find himself confronted by closed eyes and quickly accompanied snoring. Run sighs heavily, closing his grey eyes as well. Things were going smoothly, they put the 'Lord of the Coast' in his place on their way out of Foosha, the skies were clear, the seas were calm...all the way up until that whirlpool. Regardless of the circumstances, a grin still splits Run's face. "Dahahaha! Well, if things were too smooth, they wouldn't be interesting, would they? What will be will be, huh." He lets his head fall back against the wooden wall...only for the barrel to shudder and his head to smack against the top. "Figures."

Luffy snorts once again, his snoring briefly interrupted as he stirs slightly, shifting about in the barrel. The very next second the whole barrel shifts and Run braces himself quickly.

"Whoa! Luffy, shift back! Go the other way! Go the other way, Luffy!" The whole barrel begins to spin quickly, tossing the two men about inside. "Urp! Gimme back the bobbing, please!" Their world turns end over end for what seems like an eternity before finally coming to an abrupt halt, and being lifted only to be set right side up. Muffled voices reach his ears through the barrel and his eyebrows raise. "Oi! Luffy! C'mon, wake up! I think we're on a ship!" Regardless of his calls, the snoring continues and Run wiggles about, getting a hand between himself and Luffy to lightly smack his friend on the cheek. "Wakey, wakey!" The snoring halts for the briefest of moments before continuing. "Alright, sorry about this, Luffy. Wake up!" A firm slap strikes Luffy on the cheek, and his eyes snap open before he suddenly surges skyward...


'Smash!'

Without rhyme or reason, the top of the barrel very suddenly explodes in a shower of splinters as a young man in a straw hat surges skyward. "Yeaaaaahhh! I slept great!" exclaims Luffy, thrusting his fists skyward in a long stretch. This has the unfortunate effect of knocking out a man standing too close to the barrel, sending him sprawling across the deck where he lies motionless. "Huh?" Luffy scans his surroundings quickly, finding himself in in the kitchen of an unfamiliar ship, and facing a trio of unfamiliar faces. Two men and a pink haired young boy in glasses...and none of them look like Marines. "Who're you guys?"

"That's our question!" explain the pair of men, even as Run stretches up behind Luffy.

"Eh? Oh, Run! I slept really great inside there! How'd you manage?"

"I couldn't sleep," Run tells him, rolling his shoulders. "Little too cramped for my tastes."

"Hehehehe! That's cause you grew too big!" The red head chuckles even as he cracks his neck loudly. "Hm? Oi, that guy is gonna catch a cold if he sleeps on the floor like that, y'know." The two men climb out of the barrel with little effort while the pair of men yell at them...and finally shove sword direction in front of Luffy's face when they ignore them.

"You two," growl the pair. "Are ya ignorin' us even when ya know we're pirates?!" Luffy simply ducks under the blade and approaches the boy in glasses. "Wha-"

"Man, I'm starved! You wouldn't happen to have any food, would ya?"

"You damn brat! Listen when people are talkin' to ya!" The pair of men raise their weapons, aiming at Luffy's back. If Run believed that either one of them actually had what it takes to injure his friend he might have interfered. Instead he simply watched as the blades came down, and were summarily destroyed by a single punch. Both men stagger backwards, falling flat on their behinds as they stare at Luffy in shock.

"Oi, what's the big idea?! You can't just attack someone like that when their back is turned!"

"Wh-Who are you?"

"Me? I'm Monkey D. Luffy! Nice to meet'cha!" The two exchange looks quickly, and decide to quickly gather their friend before making an escape. "Huh. Wonder what got into them, Run?" With no response forthcoming, Luffy quickly looks around, finding his friend to be missing. "Run? Oi! Run, where did you-" The door across the room suddenly flies open, and slams against the wall with the accompaniment of glass bottles clinking together. "Wha-"

"Found the pantry!" Run says, grinning from ear to ear while hoisting a small box of bottles. "And the alcohol!"

"Yahoo~! Food~! Good find, Run!"

"W-Wait a second!" calls the boy quickly. "How can you two be so carefree?! There's so many more of them up on the deck! If they bring their friends then you'll be killed!" The boy grabs hold of Luffy's shirt, attempting to pull him towards the door even as Luffy marches forward. Run steps in behind the two of them, closing the door with his free hand. Luffy jumps down into the pantry proper as the boy finally releases his hold on his shirt. Luffy searches around the pantry quickly for a few moments before finally settling into a crate of apples.

"Ohhh! These are so good~!"

"M-My name is Coby. You're...Luffy, right?" With no response forth-coming, Run chuckles and nods.

"Yeah, that's Luffy," Run tells him, sitting down and placing the crate of unmarked bottles down beside him. "I'm Run. Tell me, kiddo, is this a pirate ship?"

"No, it's just a passenger ship. It's being raided by Alvida."

"Are their any boats on board?" Luffy asks, not looking away from his meal. "Our ship ended up getting swallowed by this giant whirlpool! Boy, talk about a surprise! We barely had time to jump in that barrel before we were swallowed up!"

"It's...hard to imagine anyone making it out of that alive."

"Well, these things happen from time to time on the sea," Run tells him, carefully selecting a bottle from the crate before uncorking it. "We got lucky that we spotted it before it was too late. We'll should find ourselves a navigator as soon as we can, Luffy."

"Ahh, don't worry, we'll find one!" Luffy tells him, even as the red head up ends the bottle for a second before turning his head and spitting out the liquid.

"Ugh, I was wrong, I was so wrong! That's...is that...cooking sherry? Gah! That's the saltiest thing I've ever drank...willingly!"

"Coby, those pirates from earlier, you're not one of them, are you? It didn't look like you were getting along well with them." Coby lowers his head in silence for a few moments before beginning his story. It's not really much of a story but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of both young men regardless, and when he's finished both Luffy and Run are left sitting in silence. Run finally reaches a hand out and pats the boy on the head.

"You did well to hang in there for two years, Coby," Run tells him.

"Why didn't you run away?" Luffy asks him. "I mean, if you didn't like it?"

"N-No way!" Coby tells them. "There's no way I could do that! Just the thought of Alvida finding me after I ran away makes me go weak at the knees-"

"So, you're a wimp, huh? Man, I hate kids like you!"

"Luffy, c'mon," Run complains. "He's just a little kid. You could try a little-"

"N-No," interrupts Coby. "He's absolutely right. I wish that I could have the courage that the two of you have...to go drifting around the seas in a barrel like that. Actually, there's something that I really want to do as well. Oh! If you don't mind, could you tell me where the two of you were sailing to?"

"We're heading for the Grand Line!" Luffy chirps, grinning from ear to ear.

"The Grand Line?! I've heard that it's nothing but a pirate graveyard there! Why would you two ever want to go to such a terrifying place like that?!"

"Because I'm gonna be King of the Pirates, of course!" If they thought it were possible, Luffy and Run were sure that Coby's jaw would have struck the floor. Naturally, anyone would be caught off guard by such a declaration, even more so if they heard someone who'd just been fished out of the sea in a barrel proclaim in...and naturally, Coby does it best to disuade the two of them. Unfortunately for him, while Run is content to just sit and let the boy tell them all the reasons it's nothing short of suicide, Luffy doesn't take it quite so gracefully, and immediately silences the boy by striking him on top of the head.

"Why did you hit me?" Coby asks, holding his head.

"Why do ya think? Insulting someone's dream is an easy way to earn a beating, ya know."

"We don't have to agree," Run says, earning their attention. "But we don't have to fight just because we disagree." Run stands and stretches his arms skyward before turning towards the door. "We should probably get a move on, Luffy."

"Mm! My belly is full, so let's go find ourselves a boat, Run! Hopefully this Alvida lady is generous."

"I wouldn't put money on it but we can hope, huh?"

"I...I have a dream, too," Coby says, giving the two of them pause. "Do you...do you suppose I could do it, too? If I was prepared to risk my life for it? If I was prepared to die for it?" The scraping of sandals and the clacking of geta halts moments later.

"Heh, most definitely, kid."

"T-Then, I'll do it! I'll definitely do it! I'll join the Navy and chase me dream just like you two! I'll join the Navy and catch Alvida no matter-" The ceiling to the pantry is very suddenly pulverized, showering the room with splintered wood and nearly crushing Coby under the debris as a result. "Wha-"

"You're going to catch who?!" demands a female voice. "Huh?! Coby?!" The dust slowly begins to clear, revealing a large woman wielding a spiked iron club standing in the middle of the pantry, and focusing her attention solely on the now cowering Coby. "Well?!"

"Oi, Run, who's that big lady?" Luffy asks.

"Well...I'm not a gambling man but I'd bet that's Alvida," Run asserts.

"Huh? You two...neither of you look like pirate hunter Zoro," Alvida says.

"That big chunky lady is Alvida?" asks Luffy, giving the woman pause.

"You little bastard!" Alvida raises her iron club and brings it down at the two men, who scatter in opposite directions quickly. Luffy lands beside Coby, grasping him by the back of his shirt before grinning from ear to ear and leaping skyward.

"Can't fight here, Run! Let's go up top!" Run follows after him quickly, and the three quickly find themselves on the top deck, surrounded by Alvida's bewildered crew. No sooner has Run's feet touched the deck than one of the men lunges at him, saber aiming for his neck. The red head side steps his thrust and drives his knee into the man's stomach, lifting him from the deck with a single blow before raising his elbow.

"Sea King's Sway," Run says, driving his elbow into the man's back and sending him smashing through the deck with ease. It quickly turns into less of a fight and more of a beating with Luffy and Run knocking out pirate after pirate. "Oi, Luffy, I'm actually starting to feel a little-"

"Gum-Gum...Rocket!" Run quickly ducks, avoiding numerous members of Alvida's crew as Luffy sails through them, scattering them in all directions.

"L-Luffy, what...are you?" Coby asks, having watched Luffy stretch himself out.

"Oh! Well, I'm a rubber man!" Luffy tells him, reaching up and stretching his cheek out. "I ate the Gum-Gum Fruit!" Alvida, who has finally managed to crawl out of the pantry and back up to the main deck approaches Luffy slowly.

"So, you've eaten a Devil Fruit," mutters Alvida. "I guess the rumors are true, after all. Devil Fruits really DO exist. Not only that but you and that red headed brat seem fairly skilled. Are the two of you supposed to be bounty hunters or something?"

"Nope. We're pirates!"

"Pirates? Just the two of you? You've got to be joking!"

"It's just the two of us right now, but we'll find some more members sooner or later!" Luffy turns his head up briefly as if in thought, all while Run picks himself up from the deck and approaches them calmly. "Yeah...I think ten crewmen ought to be enough! I don't want too many, after all!"

"Huh! So you're a pirate. Well, that means that we're all enemies here!"

"L-Luffy, we should leave!" Coby tells him quickly. "You saw how powerful her club is! In these waters she's the most...the most..." He trails off as he stares up at Luffy, who appears completely unfazed by Alvida's supposed strength. "...the most ugly, cragged hag ever! I'm gonna join the Navy! I'm gonna join the Navy and catch your lousy ass!" That seems to be the final straw for Alvida who raises her massive club quickly, and brings it down quickly towards Coby. His eyes close tightly as the shadow falls over him, blotting out the afternoon sun...but after several tense moments he finally opens his eyes to find none other than Run standing in front of him, arm out-stretched and holding tight to the club.

"Dahahahaha~! Well said, kid," laughs Run, glancing over his shoulder with a lop sided grin. "I knew ya had some real guts!"

"L-Let go!" screams Alvida, gripping her club with two hands and tugging as hard as she can but finding absolutely no give. "I said...let...GOOOO!" Alvida braces herself and gives a sharp tug just in time for the red head to release his grip. "Waaaaah!" The large woman staggers backwards, her club flying over her shoulder. "You little-"

"Gum-Gum...!" shouts Luffy, tossing an arm by and stretching it out towards the horizon. "...Pistol!" Alvida's eyes widen as his fist sails back in her direction and striking her square in the stomach before sending her flying into the distance. "Oi! Give Coby a boat! He's gonna join the Navy! So you guys just keep your mouth shut and let him go!"

"Aww, you do care about the kid after all," Run teases, crossing his arms slowly. "Let's- Several loud booms in the distance give him pause, and seconds later several cannon balls splash down into the sea surrounding their ships. "Whoa! It's the Navy, Luffy!"

"Perfect timing, huh? You should go see 'em, Coby!" The two young men charge the railing of the ship, and leap over into one of the small life-boats. "But Run and I are pirates, so we should really be goin'!"

"I can't just go join them like this!" Coby screams, leaping over the railing into the life boat after the two of them. Run grins from ear to ear as he quickly pulls the ropes keeping them hoisted high in the sky, and finally sends them plummeting straight down to the sea. They splash down beside a second life boat, this one they briefly notice seems to be occupied by a young woman but pay it little mind as they unfurl the sail, and quickly push off from the moored together ships. It takes them several minutes to finally leave behind the cannon fire, and Coby keeps a sharp eye out the whole time while they sail to make sure they aren't being pursued. "Um, Luffy, are you really planning to head for the Grand Line?"

"Yup!" chirps Luffy, smiling at him. "We're gonna build a strong crew and then head their as quick as we can!"

"So...you're the Captain, then, right?" Upon recieving a nod from Luffy he turns towards Run, who sits at the stern of the ship with a hand resting on the rudder. "Are you the helmsman?"

"Nope! He's my First Mate! But enough about that! Tell me about this pirate hunter guy! What's he like?"

"You mean Zoro? Last I had heard, he was being held captive at a Navy base."

"Aw, man, he's a weakling?"

"Absolutely not! He's as terrifying as a demon!" Coby stares hard at Luffy for a few moments, eyes narrowing. "Wait a minute...why are you asking about him?" Luffy grins from ear to ear in response to his question. "No! You don't mean-"

"I was thinking of asking him to join my crew if he's a good guy!"

"Dahahahaha~!" laughs Run. "A pirate hunter on a crew with pirates...well, we won't lack for entertainment or good times, I suppose!" Luffy's laughter echos out across the open sea as well, much to the irritation of Coby who rapidly begins to shake his head, trying his best to explain to them all the reasons it's a bad idea. "Alright! Let's set sail for this pirate hunter, then! I'm eager to see what kind of man he is...!"


"Aaaah, this weather is so nice!" gushes Luffy, precariously perched upon the bow of the ship. Several hours of sailing across the open sea with nothing but the rush of the wind and the spray of the waves...it's such a nostalgic feeling to Run, and one that he's missed these past ten years. But the gentle noise of the sea is soon joined by the calling of the gulls over head, the winged pests swooping this way and that. As much as they irritate the red head, sea gulls is a good sign. It means they're getting close to the coast of an island...or at least some form of land.

"Don't fall off now, Luffy," Run calls to Luffy, watching him stretch his arms skyward. "I don't wanna have to fish you outta the drink."

"Don't worry, don't worry! I'm gonna-" Run jerks the rudder sharply, causing Luffy to flail violently for several long seconds before grasping tightly to the figure head, his arms and legs wrapping around it tightly. "You bastard! You did that on purpose!"

"Dahahaha~! What? Me? Never." Luffy growls at his long time friend who simply offers up an innocent smile in response. "Coby, how's our heading?"

"We're on the right course," Coby tells him. "If we don't lose the wind we should be at the Navy base island very soon. You're actually pretty good at sailing, Run. How did you guys manage to get caught in that whirlpool?" Run offers a shrug of the shoulders to the boy.

"Like I said, these things happen. I learned enough to keep us on a heading but I'm no navigator. Reading the waves isn't exactly my strong suit." Coby nods in understanding while Luffy carefully shifts on the figure head, making sure he's more firmly seated to avoid Run's pranking. "If you don't mind me asking...Luffy wants to be King of the Pirates but why did you decide to set sail?"

"Well...let's just say there's someone waiting for me in the New World. Someone I promised to surpass."

"New World?"

"Aah, well, the Grand Line. But enough about that...tell us about this Zoro guy."

"Roronoa Zoro...he's a famous pirate hunter, like I said. He's a man who's chopped up bounties like a bloodthirsty beast! People say that he's a demon in human form! But beyond that, he's also a prisoner on the island, like I said. I don't know how you're going to even get close to him."

"You just leave that to us..."