There once was a man who was the King of the Pirates, his name was Gold Roger.
He had achieved everything this world can hope for. Fame, Fortune, and Power the likes of which the world has never seen.
His final words before his execution sent men into the seas.
"My treasure? You can have it, if you want it. Find it! I left everything there in that place!"
His words had sprung the world into the Grand Pirate Era, a dawn of men chasing their dreams to achieve the same level of merit that he had!
But alas, all dawns must end, giving way to the dusk. Time gives way to the change of dreams, and most would never come close, miring down into depravity.
And this is the story of a man.
A band of brothers and sisters.
A squadron, forever faithful, and their quest to end the Grand Pirate Era.
"Gaah!" Coby yelled, being kicked to the ground as some men laughed. He recoiled, feeling plates drop on him.
"Come on, be grateful brat." Leered a Pirate as his mates scrapped their plates with bones on them.
The boy looked up, his glasses stained with gravy as he looked up, glaring at the indignity of it all. If only he didn't get onto that damn boat by mistake!
He turned around, and collected the plates and the bits of chicken and meat bones. He placed them onto the plates, and he looked down at him, and his stomach… gnawed at him. There has to be some meat scraps on the bones…
Something other than stale hard bread and water.
He gave a laugh and a smile. "I am! After all! I'm alive, aren't I?" Coby beamed, and the pirates above scoffed before dropping another plate.
"Then get to cleanin', Chore Boy." And they walked off with a laugh. "Let's go grab some rum boys!"
Coby grabbed the plates, and placed them in a bin so they can be washed at the basin. Next up, he got some brushes and a pail of water, getting to work on the rocking ship.
It has been a week since his enslavement by the Alvida Pirates. All he meant to do was go out to fish, just as usual, then return home to read, and cook up his dinner. Darn his clumsiness! And darn his cowardice!
Was he just going to waste away on this ship like this? Cleaning it day in and out, with no one appreciating his efforts? No chance of escape. Minimal food…
Someone has to come. They have to!
"Who is the fairest of all the seas?!" Roared a voice through the mess hall under the ship's deck, and Coby heard every man in attendance stand at attention.
"You are, Captain Alvida!" Coby can hear her footsteps as he felt a shadow loom over him and he looked up, seeing the cloaked hat wearing obese caricature of a human pig. She leered, grinning darkly.
"I couldn't hear you, Coby~" She sang, her spiked iron mace tapping against her shoulder as Coby gulped.
"You are the fairest of all the seas! Oh Captain Alvida!" He sang, grinning wide as Alvida let out a snarking scoff.
"Good lil' runt. Now get cleaning! I want this mess hall spotless! Then it's swabbing every inch of the deck!" She turned, and waddled away, her flunkies behind her as the rest of her crew were as nervous as can be. And for good reason, Coby can see the bloodstains on her blackened mace. Ironic that a woman who is a clean freak leaves her mace marked like that, just to send a message.
Coby sighed, focusing on cleaning as his arms ached tirelessly, his knees scraping along the ground. His only decent meal of bread being in the morning...and when no one is looking, chance scraps from the trash bin.
He had a dream that one day, he would become a Marine, serving under the World Government Navy. No Marine should suffer this!
As he got up, going over to the next corner of the boisterous dining area, Coby's eyes remained rooted to the ground. Don't look up at them. Don't earn their ire…
"So, what got you onto Captain Alvida's ship anyway, bucko?" Said one bald pirate to his lanky thin companion as they sat at a table, drinking booze and eating up dried meat.
"Me? Well I had to get out of my boring-ass town and find the One Piece left behind by the King of the Pirates!" Slim said to Bald. Coby couldn't bother to remember names: he was too busy cleaning and trying to survive and appease his mistress. "I mean, so many people are out tryin' to find it, why not me?!"
"Ha!" Bald chortled as he elbowed Scarface. "Here that? This chump thinks he can get the One Piece!"
"Well I used to! I gave up, I mean, don't you hear the tales of the monsters who live on the Grand Line?" Slim shrugged. "When I heard what kind of people that live there, well, gotta focus on Number One!"
"Like Sea Monsters? Or the Pirates that roam there?"
"Obviously the Pirates who are already there! Rookies coming in from any of the Blues don't stand a chance. It's one in a thousand, lemme tell ya. And I ain't taking that bet!"
"Smart man, haha!"
Coby scoffed, pushing the wet cloth along the wooden floors as he scanned across what he could see.
"Hey, Chore Boy!" Coby heard someone call to him, but didn't answer. He stood up on his knees, satisfied to see the spot he had scrubbed clean…
Only for some rum to be poured on, and he looked up, Gauntface sneering at him as Baldy and Scarface chortled.
"You should pay attention when you are addressed, brat." He jeered. "So, don't you think I'm a smart man?"
'No. All of you aren't for turning to this life.' He thought. Coby smiled, grabbing his pail and dumping his rag inside to wetten it up again. "Good head on your shoulders, I can say."
"Heh, all well and good. Maybe you'll survive longer than most Chore Boys." Gauntface smirked, showing some missing teeth. "Gonna be all fun seeing ya look all bentbank and old, all scrubbing the decks."
"If he makes it that long, we'd just dump him for a new slave anyway." Baldy added as Coby looked down at the rum covered mess and got to cleaning that spot. Again.
"Chore boys are like tools, always good until they lose their edge. And when they're worthless, well, they're just thrown into the trash."
"Yeah, expendable like those stupid Marines am I right?"
Coby stopped scrubbing.
"Yeah! Between being some stupid law abiding citizen on some island and wasting away and this? I'm as free as a bird! I got more gold than I ever could as some lousy fisherman!"
"Yeah, who signs up to the Navy anyway! All just cannon fodder lemme tell ya."
Coby was looking down, and he was feeling himself shaking, gripping his wet rag.
"I hear they put their own men in cannons when they run out of balls, I say."
"More like all Marines have no balls am I right!" And the trio laughed to themselves in merry good cheer.
"Ha! Good joke boys!" Said a voice, but Coby didn't pick it up.
"You'll all be getting balls and chains before long…" Coby muttered under his breath, not aware that his whisper was a loud one as he scrubbed. The sooner he gets done with this, the sooner he can eat and soothe the gnawing pain in his empty belly.
"Oh! Hey Cap'n!" Said Gauntface, suddenly a lot less loud and more nervous as Coby felt a shadow loom over him. He turned, and a leering Alvida stood with several of her crew pushing a tray behind her, obviously her lunch.
"What was that Coby?" Alvida asked with a smirk. "Could have heard you say something about a chain?"
The pink haired boy suddenly felt fear rush down his spine. Her hand was still on her mace. Him and his big mouth!
"Speak up, boy!" Alvida smashed a stool beside her with her iron mace, and the boy scrambled up to his feet, pail and rag in hand. The pirate trio close by scooted their chairs away in fright too.
"I-I said…" Coby stammered, seeing them all. He saw Gauntface, Scarface and Baldy's fearful perplexions turn to expectant amusement. "I said…" He gulped, doing his best to calm his racing heart. "I think some chains, lavish chains really, would be good on you, oh fair Captain Alvida."
"Really. And what sort of chains are we talking about?" The fat pirate sneered. "Can't have any talk of any treason on my ship now. Sends a bad message. Precedent needing to be upheld and all."
Was this to be his life? Sucking up and giving false praises. Being demeaned and looked down upon as less than human?
"I think… gold chains will look nice… but I know what would look better…" The pain… that damn hunger…
"And what would that be?" Alvida darkly smiled, lifting a hand to prop up her carls near her puffy cheeks.
"You'd all look good in wrought iron! And you'd need dozens just to wrap around you! You fat disgusting Sea Cow!" Coby barked.
"Ehhhhhh?!" The pirates pushing the tray and the trio had their eyes wide as plates and mouth agog.
For a moment Alvida looked like she had been slapped, right before baring her teeth and lifting her mace high. "No one's ever badmouthed me and liiiiived!" Coby could hear yelling coming from somewhere, but he stood tall and proud. If this is how his short life ends… So be it.
"You little punk… Now…"
"Captain Alvida!" Came a voice at the far end, but Coby closed looked up, jaw clenched, knees and shoulders shaking.
'No regrets!' Coby gripped his fists as she brought it down…
And a massive crash ripped through the mess hall, sending people flying, Coby included as he was sent flying from some debris. He heard some men yelling as a table was on top of him, and a surprised grunt and yell from Alvida.
"What was that?! Huh! Where's that brat!" No time to think. Run!
Coby scrambled behind the table, and right in time too as a crash landed where he was a minute ago. He scrambled through the shocked and fearful pirates, and he could hear the fat pirate captain yelling at him as he ran with his pail.
"No one escapes me and-" Coby didn't think: he acted, taking his rag and flinging it behind him. "Ack! My lovely shir-whoaaaa!" He heard a crash and dared taking a moment to turn, seeing Alvida covered in dust and filth as he scrambled up the stairs leading to the deck. He heard yelling and cries above
But as he got to the top, he felt a pain in his back and was sent flying a few feet. He rolled across the deck, slamming his body against the mast as a chair crashed beside him as he heard quaking footsteps. The hot sun overhead beaming down, Coby did his best to get up,
"You have balls boy! Insulting a great Pirate Captain such as me!" Alvida cursed as she stormed up to the deck. The men on deck saw their wide and tall rampaging captain stalk towards the pink haired boy.
"Captain! We're under attack!"
"Oh cripes someone insulted her!"
"Hey that's the chore boy!"
"Get the cannons ready!"
"Wait… that ship!?"
Coby turned his head, getting on all fours as he looked up at the imposing and snarling captain, her red plaid shirt taut tight around her flabby yet muscular frame, hand gripping her iron club.
He heard someone grunt and the wood creak, as if someone jumped and came down hard on their feet. People screamed in shock, but his eyes were focused on Alvida. And hers on him.
"You pirates are all the same… vicious vile scum!" Coby yelled, coughing. "This Pirate Era will end! And you filth will be hung and shot for all I care! For ruining people's lives! I only wish I could do it myself!"
"Fitting last words brat. I'll enjoy seeing your corpse as shark bait!" Alvida raised her hand, and Coby closed his eyes.
No regrets! He said what he had to say!
Yet the mace didn't come down, and Alvida let out a roar. "Who dares start tapping my shoulder when I am about to kill someone?!" She bellowed as she pivoted and swung her mace hard. Coby could make out a large figure behind her as the mace struck.
And the iron weapon, bloodstained with so many lives to it's credit, shattered like glass against bricks as iron chunks. Coby can now see the good luck of the utter terror on the pirates faces beyond and around the mask.
"Eh…" Alvida let out as the figure grunted, and she got a good look at his face.
Then he can hear the surprised blubbering and stammering from the once terrifying and murderous Captain 'Iron Mace' Alvida, who stumbled back and fell on her fat backside as Coby saw the figure standing before him, the sun beaming down on high and casting his large shadow.
"Hmmm… That was a hit? Felt like a kitten's paw." Said a graveled voice as Coby can see Alvida clam up and raise her hands in surrender.
"Take whatever you want just don't kill me pleaaaaaaase!" She bayed. Coby couldn't hear any commentary from the surrounding pirates around as Coby felt a throbbing at the back of his head. He reached up instinctively to rub the back of his head, and felt a wetness. Looking back, he saw his hand, his finger tips red.
"You're… You're…!" Alvida gaped as Coby felt his eyes beginning to close. Who… who was this man and…
Were those… epaulets. Like a… Like a Marine's Coat?
Before Coby could say a word, he heard the Marine speak. Then he saw foam spew out of Alvida and her lackies as they too fell to the wood floor. Then he drifted into the darkness, eyes closing.
Captain Bogard hopped across the Mastiff onto the pirate ship, landing as he saw the ramps being established onto the gaudy looking vessel. All around he could see pirates still trembling in fear, and their target, Iron Mace Alvida herself, laying on her side with foam coming out of her mouth, along with a great many of her crew..
"There're pirates below the decks!" Ensign Kruger yelled as he led the other Marines onto the ship, weapons in hand and charging in. "Bring in the chains and let's wrap these scumbags up, men! On the double!"
"Sir, yes sir!" The soldiers complied, busting down doors and opening the cargo hold downward, rifles trained and aimed. Bogard heard sounds of surprise, shouts and gunfire, but they were stifled quickly. The scowling man walked to his superior as he was standing before the mast were Alvida laid unconscious.
"That was quick. And here I thought you wanted to stretch your legs." Bogard mused. The Hero of the Navy, Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp, still wearing his dog mask, turned as he noticed his subordinate.
"I did, got a pretty good leap in there… but these guys weren't worth the time." Garp shrugged before he yawned. Bogard felt his eyebrow twitch. Better not be one of those random bouts of narcolepsy…
"Well, we'll round them up and send them to one of the prison islands in time. What of Iron Mace?" Bogard inquired.
"Meh, probably send her to Impel Down. Most captains usually get sent there anyway." Garp said as he picked at his ear, then flicked off whatever he found. Bogard walked up beside him, seeing what his leader was looking at.
A pink haired boy in a white shirt and blue shorts, with his head…
"We need a medic!" Bogard yelled, seeing some Corpsmen from the Mastiff approaching as he can hear the sound of fighting stopping below deck. The Alvida Pirates have been brought to heel. "Garp, why didn't-"
He was cut off when the titan of a man knelt down and picked up the boy, cradling him in his arms as he took a kerchief in his hand, dabbing the wound in his head with it.
"Vice Admiral sir!" Two male corpsmen arrived with a stretcher. "Wait, is that a child?"
"We'll take him off your hands!"
"Don't let me delay ya now." Garp set him down, more gently than Bogard could remember, and the corpsmen were trotting back to the ship, taking one of the boarding ramps not filled with other Marines coming in with cuffs and chains.
"This kid, he didn't pass out when I used Conqueror's Haki… Concussion did him in." He said. "I think. I can see a lil'wound around his head. Check him with the corpsman."
Bogard raised an eyebrow under his hat. The way his superior was looking down at him… He's never looked that way. "I see..."
"Sir… You took off from our ship less than a minute ago." He said, turning towards him. "Something hap-"
The sound of obnoxious snoring cut in, and Garp's head was tilted, mouth agape enough to draw in a fly. Bogard stifled a groan of frustration, and tilted his head downward as he sighed.
"Every time…" He saw the Alvida Pirates coming out in rows, his Marines training their guns on them as the other Warrant Officers had their handcuffs and chains ready. "Alright men, take them all down to the brig."
"Ummm, sir?" Bogard turned, seeing some marines struggling to push that fat mass that was Alvida. Her hands and legs were cuffed. "What do we do with her?"
"Bring more chains. And wait for the Vice Admiral to wake up, he'll drag her there himself."
"But… that's kinda…"
"Drudgery for a noble and heroic man like Vice Admiral Garp to-"
"He will do it and you will comply and say it was my command, now get those shackles and bindings." Bogard didn't yell, but he was stern as he looked up, and the two soldiers saluted.
"Yes sir!" And they ran onto one of the ramps with a pep in their step.
Light was the first thing he saw… and Coby was blinded, wincing as he raised his hand to block it out.
He breathed, he was alive. He was in…
Ohhh this bed is soooo sooooooft… So much better than the wooden floor and rags.
"Ah? Are you okay?" Said a voice. A soft and feminine one as Coby rubbed his eyes, his vision returning as his blurry sight returned to normal. His hands felt around him, one of them finding a night table with his glasses on it as he took them and placed it upon his nose. Before him was an older woman dressed in white fatigues with a blue trim. He saw several other men in white busying themselves all over the room and many other men, of many different builds and physiques, occupying the beds; some of those also sported bandages. He was the odd one out, being a teenager.
"W-Where am I…?" He asked, then he noticed the insignia on the woman's chest. The blue wings, and the talons of the gull-round-the-world…
"This...this is…!" He gasped, eyes widening. "A Navy ship?!"
The nurse backed away, looking nervous as several other men turned, and out of Coby's eye, one of them reached back into his pocket for something.
"Y-Yes, yes you are. We found you on Alvida's ship and-"
"I'm saved! I...I-"
"Should quiet down." Cut in a voice as Coby's uplifting feeling was sliced in ribbons, making him turn as he saw a man sitting on a chair at the edge of the room. He was in a beige button up suit, with a katana at the hip and he had a matching colored hat that hid his eyes. But the coat…
"You're a Marine! Uhhh.. A-Above the rank of Ensign with your coat no less!" Coby spoke out, eyes bright with joy and wonder as the man's scowl hardened, and the boy gulped as he saw his hardened eyes.
"I said not so loud kid. You're in the infirmary." He reprimanded, and Coby calmed up, shutting his mouth but his eyes were watering.
He… he was saved…! It has only been a week on Alvida's ship…
Nevertheless he was saved! By the Navy no less!
"I trust he's feeling better, Dr. Ross?" The Marine asked the nurse.
"Yes, he got hit upside the head and showed signs of malnutrition and some bruises, but other than that he's perfectly fine." The woman replied as the hat-wearing officer nodded.
"Fine enough to walk?" He asked.
"Umm.. Yes Captain Bogard, he should be okay in that regard… but you shouldn't tire him out. He is recovering from a head injury after all."
"Understood. Kid, I have some questions for you." Coby perked up, sitting at attention.
"We can do it in your office or wherever sir!" The pink haired boy declared, sitting up and replying like a Seaman. Coby could see Bogard tilt his head lightly.
"Hmm. Well, I was about to suggest we could do it where you're comfortable but if you wish, fine. Come along then." Bogard had a hand on the sheath of his katana and turned, his coat twisting as Coby's eyes widened in awe.
On the back of that bright white coat…
Bogard turned, and Coby can see his curious eyes as a strange noise was percolating through the room. Coby stopped, his balled up hands near his chin. It sounded like a squeal had run out.
And everyone else in the infirmary was giving him odd looks.
"Did I just squee?" Coby asked, face brightening up and voice meek.
"Yes. You did." Bogard replied curtly. Coby got out of bed, lips sucked in his mouth as he put on his shoes and walked towards the taller man. He stopped, remembering as he turned to face the doctors.
"T-Thank you very much!" He replied, bowing in respect as he heard Bogard walk away, and Coby followed out and into the hallway as his breath caught him.
"I'm on a Navy Ship…"
"You said that already." Bogard said as he led, Coby followed from behind as his head was on a swivel, noticing portraits and signs leading to differing areas. Holding Cells. Mess Hall. Armory. Cannon Deck. Even stairs leading to the sleeping quarters!
"This ship is so much cleaner than anything I've ever been on!" Coby exclaimed as he took note of the well mopped floors, covered in tile and wood.
"Naturally. How can we clean up the world, if we cannot run a clean ship." Bogard responded. Coby could see some young Seamen at work, busy scrubbing the decks and dusting the walls and window sills.
"Chores Boys?" He asked, almost apprehensively.
"Fresh recruits or those with a good amount of demerits." Bogard explained. "But they all get a salary, everyone within the Navy does."
Coby turned, looking up at Bogard as he walked. "Woooow... " He let out a chuckle, looking to the side. "Better than what I got at least…"
"Save your story for when you see the Vice Admiral, he requested your-"
"A V-Vice Admiral wants to see me! W-What for?! That's amazing!" Coby gawked, making Bogard jump and turn, scowling down at the boy. He clamped up, covering his mouth. "S-Sorry…"
"You seem awfully infatuated with the Navy, are you." Bogard asked, knowing it was a rhetoric question. Coby nodded, but raised his head. "Rest assured, we're here." They turned the corner, and before them was a big door with the sign above it reading 'Vice Admiral's Quarters'. The hat-wearing man walked up and knocked once, then twice in a quick fashion.
"Come in Bogard." Said the grizzly voice inside, and Bogard opened the door as Coby saw the interior of the office. Well kept, save for the two waste baskets filled with chip bags and donut boxes. There lounging on his chair, feet kicked up, was a mountain of a man in a dog mask hiding most of his face. He angled his head, and Coby saw that big grin and those piercing eyes. He clamped up, then he noticed the walls had some degrees and certificates framed. And he noticed the name.
"Up and at 'em, ey boy? Glad to see you're-"
"YOU'RE THE HERO OF THE NAVY! VICE ADMIRAL MONKEY D. GAAAAAAARP!" Coby yelled, Bogard wincing and clenching his teeth together. Some seagulls that were hanging by one of the open windows flew off in sudden fright.
Coby could only gawk and stammer, pointing at him, and tears were forming in his eyes. The Vice Admiral sat forward, and looked at his subordinate.
"Well, guess he is okay, if he can belt that out." Garp mused. Then he laughed. "You have some gusto in ya! Bwahahahaha!" He bellowed as Coby felt eyes on his back and turned, seeing some heads poking in from other doors outside the office. The hat wearing Captain went and closed the door to the office.
"Inside voice. Please." He uttered tersely, Coby covered his mouth.
"He's not some boot kissing or gobsmacked recruit, Bogard, he's just a brat is all. Cut him some slack!" Garp said as he reached into his desk, pulling out a box of graham crackers and snacking into them, even if the crackers were all cracks and crumbs.
Coby was holding the bottom of his shirt, blushing as Bogard took a seat and pulled it up. "Here, the Vice Admiral wanted to speak to you, so get on with it." Coby looked up, and took his seat, leaning back.
Man… this was so soft… he can just sink in and doze off…
"So youngster." Garp mused. "What's someone of your age doing on a pirate ship? You a member of Alvida's crew or somethin'?" He asked with a jesting smile.
"Never!" Coby replied on the dot in defiance. "Never in a million years would I work for a fat whale like her!"
"Of your consent, that is." Bogard remarked, making Coby perk up. "We did some interrogating while you were out the last couple of hours. You came on Alvida's boat by… accident?"
Coby puffed his lips out, while Vice Admiral Garp looked ready to laugh. He sighed, looking down. "Yes… it was a mistake though… I was just going about my day fishing in the early morning when I found out I was on her dingy going out to sea. To her boat."
Garp laughed, and the pink haired boy felt his stomach lurch. "How does anyone mix that up! Bwahahaha! Must be pretty dumb yourself then ain't ya?"
"It was four in the morning, Vice Admiral sir! I was still trying to wake up and try to fish before all the fishing boats went out from the nearby town!" Coby exclaimed. "Was too sleepy…"
"Well, you don't have to worry about that, or about Alvida anymore. Her and her entire crew are down in the brig and will be processed into the prison islands here around the East Blue," Bogard spoke up. "So tell me, what explains your love for the Navy? You clearly don't have an inside voice when it comes to this matter."
"Me? Well…" Coby smiled, looking at the various medals and certificates hanging along Garp's wall, as well as the occasional trophy. "When I was little, I always wanted to become a Marine."
"Have you now?" Garp inquired. "Well ya got some growing up to do before you even think of becoming someone like that." He commented as he snacked on more graham crackers.
"I'm fourteen sir…" Coby was expecting laughter, as he usually got from the townspeople he used to live with, and especially the pirates.
But Garp didn't do so, and from his perspective with Bogard standing behind him Coby couldn't read him. "Hmmm? Didn't your parents keep ya well fed or something?"
"N-No sir… I have none." Coby replied, looking to the side as Garp stopped eating a cracker, then he turned. "They passed away several years ago… Sickness took them both… They had me live in the fishing hut so I wouldn't catch what they had and then…"
"It could be Blue Typhus Fever," Bogard said on the spot. "That ravaged areas in the East Blue for several months around that time didn't it?" Coby nodded.
"We didn't have the money or the means to travel to another island, sadly… our doctors were busy keeping the essential people around my island's town healthy." Coby smiled sadly. "For some poor run of the mill fisherman and his wife living outside of town? Well… it couldn't be helped."
Garp was sitting up straight, but went back to eating his graham crackers. "Apologies for bringing it up, your parents that is." His loud tone was mellow as Coby looked up, eager to move on.
"Well… thank you, sir. You saved me. I… I don't know what else to say, Vice admiral sir."
"For someone who isn't a member of the Navy you sure are respectful." Garp mused. "Well, the kid seems ok." He turned towards Bogard who perked up. "Hey Bogard, we're heading back to base right?"
"Yes. We should be arriving back at Dawn Island Naval Base in several hours, if the winds hold." He replied while Coby looked back at him.
"Good. We can treat this kid to some actual food when we arrive!" Garp got up from his seat. "After that, we'll send ya on the first ship to your island first thing we can." Coby perked up, biting his lip.
"Umm, Vice Admiral Sir…?" Garp looked over at him with a glance. "I don't wish to impose on you or anything, but… can you take me to the nearest recruiting station instead?"
"Recruiting station? What, you wanna be a Marine, kid?" Garp asked, quirking an eyebrow.
"I do!" He exclaimed. "More than anything! It's… it's been my dream sir! I've… I 've always wanted to become a Marine and hunt down bad guys and-"
"We know. You told us this already." Bogard cut him off, and Coby's impassioned speech of his dream came to an abrupt halt.
"O-Oh…" Then he heard a sigh.
"I like your gusto and all, kid, but, I can see you haven't trained a day in your life." Garp shrugged. "Maybe when you're older and matured, you can go to a station. For now, cherish your youth..." He said as he got up, and patted him on the shoulder and walked out, and Coby remained still, looking down at the floor.
Not yet he said… not yet because he was too young. Too frail of body. Too plain…
"He didn't say you can't join the Navy." Bogard cut in, and Coby turned in his chair, seeing the man with his eyes hidden under the shadow of his hat. "You just have to wait a bit."
"But the Navy accepts Junior Cadets into their ranks, don't they?" Coby cut him off, as the boy's memories and recollection of reading all those books in his village's library came back to him. All about the history of the Navy. Their rules and protocols. "They have a Junior Cadet school in Anapoli."
"Yes, but they require a fee to attend." Bogard replied curtly, and Coby clammed up under the tone of his voice. "Plus, you should take into account that the Vice Admiral is looking out for you." He turned and sighed. "Being in the Navy isn't it all great, you know. Now come on. I'm sure you can use a shower and a meal." He titled his head, beckoning him to follow.
Coby bit his lip, gripping his fists and did so, following after the man. To think that the Hero of the Navy would deter his dream…
Once he is sent home, what is waiting for him there? An empty hut. Days of fishing. The looks of pity from the townspeople's faces. He can train, but what can he do? He's dirt poor. Can't buy the equipment for training, or even to attend any dojo of school. And Anapoli was supposed to be his ticket in to attend as a Junior Cadet. Hell, he'd take being a Chore Boy on a Navy warship!
He sighed, leaving the room with him as he followed Bogard. At the end of the day, he was just a civilian with dreams. And they have no place on a warship. At least, stopping the pain of hunger and getting cleaner should help. Maybe. Somewhat.
Several hours later, the ship arrived at the Naval Base and Coby stepped off the ramparts down to the docks. All around him was the Dawn Island Naval Base, founded within the Goa Kingdom of the East Blue. His head was up, and left, and right trying to check everything around the base at the same time.
The ship was in a large semicircle of a bay, with several other ships inside, but none as large as the Nimitz-class Warship Vice Admiral Garp was in charge of. The base itself was built upon with white and grey stone, with walls high and tall and several towers along them. Within, Coby could see plenty of barracks, and the main command center in the middle of the base. A large gate beside it was open, leading out onto a road of some kind. Down the road, Coby could just make out the first buildings of a village.
Coby was turning around, taking in every sight from all around him. Marines of many sizes and stature focused on their duties, marching, doing their work ferrying crates, supplies, and arms to their respective buildings.
An actual… Navy Base! With Marines! People who hunt the bad guys and save people!
Coby couldn't help but raise his hands to his mouth, turning around and around to take in every sight. Every sound of Warrant Officers barking orders. And-
"You're in the way." Said a voice, and Coby stepped aside, squealing in surprise as he looked up, seeing Bogard look down at him, finger tapping on the butt of his katana.
Bogard sighed. "You're not a soldier kid."
Coby winced, stepping aside as Bogard walked forward, other Marines following along as Coby felt a tapping on his shoulder.
"Oi, kid." He looked up, seeing Garp standing tall over him. Coby went ramrod straight, and saluted.
"Yes, Vice Admiral Garp sir!"
"The Hero of the Marines!" Shouted a bunch of Marines marching by, and Coby heard Garp let out a groan, hand going to his face. Coby turned around, biting his lip sheepishly.
"They do that a lot… Now, you want some real home-cooked food? Not some ration crap?" Garp asked, and Coby nodded. "Well, come along." He said, and walked off, his cape swaying in the breeze. Coby tilted his head as he trotted along after him.
"Are we going to the Mess Hall sir?" He asked. Garp's eyes under his dog mask were on him as Coby walked by the side of the mountain of a man.
"Nah, going to town. After all, this is my home base and am the commanding officer here," He grinned lightly. "I think I am allowed to eat wherever I please."
"I see… well… sir, mind if I ask you a question?" Coby inquired as he followed him through the base. Marines doing their duties stopped what they were doing to salute him.
"Welcome home Vice Admiral Garp sir!" Shouted the soldiers as Garp nodded, giving them at ease.
"I mean, if I may ask, what is the Hero of the Navy doing here in the East Blue? I mean, shouldn't you… ummm…" Coby paused, trying to rack up the right question. It has puzzled him ever since this morning after he had some half decent food put in him, that being the rations.
"Shouldn't I be out on the Grand Line, you mean?" The old man finished for him, and the short and chubby boy perked up, and then Garp began to laugh. "Bwahahahaha! Well, no reason! I can do what I want after all!"
Coby almost fell on his face as he got that answer. That's it?
"Vice Admiral Garp!" Called out a voice, a feminine one Coby realized as he turned, as did the mountain of a man. Approaching them was someone that made Coby stop. Wearing a dark blue jacket over a white Marine blouse and blue form fitting trousers was a woman with dark blue hair cut below the ear and auburn eyes. She…
She was the most beautiful woman Coby's ever seen! The boy stood silent as she approached.
"Ah, Lieutenant Ain!" Garp exclaimed, his voice coming out with a sheepishness that Coby, by now accustomed to loud laughters and booming tones, found disconcerting. "I was uhh, just about to talk to you and catch up!" He laughed nervously, avoiding her gaze. For her part this woman, Ain, rolled her eyes.
"Yet the door to the Command Center is off in the other direction," Ain pointed at the building. "Not out of the gate and on the way towards Foosha Village." She sighed. "You really should live up to your station at times sir. Captain Bogard and I can't handle everything around here in your stead."
"Well... yes, you are right, but... that's why I pay you handsomely! Bwahaha!" Garp laughed, nervous.
Ain then noticed Coby, and the boy saw her sharp eyes soften lightly.
"Who's the kid?"
"Oh him? Some stowaway on a pirate vessel we commandeered. There, you can see'em being processed now." Garp pointed and Ain turned towards the direction of Garp's arm. Coby's eyes followed it too.
From the Mastiff, the Alvida pirates were being pulled out in chains one by one, Marines lining up with their weapons at the ready. All of the captives looked miserable but none more than their captain. In the middle of it all, Alvida was a quivering and whimpering mess, no doubt suffering from hunger pains caused by not having eaten a solid meal in half a day.
Serves her right.
"Well, uhh…" Coby rubbed the back of his head, feeling Ain's gaze back upon him in curiosity. "It's a long story… kinda silly but-"
"He woke up super early, went out to fish and got onto her boat because he wasn't paying attention like a sleep deprived dolt." Garp cut him off, picking his nose. "He was brought in as a slave, basically, and was with them for a week before we rescued him, and they all lived happily ever after. The end." Coby flinched.
"Did you have to make it sound like that…" The boy asked, while he heard a scoffing chuckle from the blue haired woman.
"The Vice Admiral tends to be blunt, but I think I wouldn't mind hearing it from the original source whenever I'm not busy." Ain replied with a hand on her hip.
"Well uhh… not like it'll do much… I'm going to be shipped to my home tomorrow or something." Coby sighed. "Too young to be in the Navy and all that…"
"Ah. Well, that makes sense. You do look awful young." Ain surmised.
"He's fourteen." Garp was picking his ear now.
"And he's that short?" Ain's eyebrow quirked up, and Coby flinched again. Harsh…
"Sorry…" Coby didn't know what else to say. Then he got swatted upside the head! "Ow!" He fell, and looked up at the dog mask wearing man. "What was that for sir!"
"Don't apologize for something beyond your control! It's lame!" Garp admonished loudly, and Coby panicked, got back to his feet and saluted.
"Sir, yes sir!"
"You're not a Marine yet! Stop saying sir!"
"Sir yes siiiir!
Coby was doing his best not to cry. The Hero of the Navy… was scolding him! He couldn't help it! Meeting a Marine… the Hero of the Navy himself… it was too much! Before Garp could retort, he heard a chuckle, and saw Ain laughing lightly behind her hand.
"Haaa, I needed that little laugh." Ain said. "Well, I will head back to my office and get Bogard's report… Are you going to Makino's Inn, sir?"
"Where else would I go?" Garp replied, his good mood back. "Come on kid, let's get you some real grub!" He said as he went on ahead towards the road. Coby saw him, then turned back towards Ain.
"Is he… always this…?" He asked, unsure of what to say next that didn't sound insulting the Hero of the Navy one bit.
"Crazy? In a way. But he has his qualities." Ain replied, before she tilted her head beckoning Coby to go to the Vice Admiral. "Now go on before he gets mad that you're not coming along."
"Oh! Uhh, right. Thank you, Lieutenant ma'am." Coby said with a bow, then trotted off. Along his run, he saw some Marines painting up the walls staring at her. Yet it wasn't the most common kind of stare of men gazing at a beautiful woman. It was more like… thinly veiled disgust?
"Don't know why the Vice Admiral keeps her around…" Coby could hear as he walked past the gate.
"Can't keep her at Navy HQ obviously, she was-" And he was out of range as Coby caught up to the long strides of the Vice Admiral as they got on the road. To their left was a great forest and rolling hills and mountains, before them various houses and training fields. The pink haired boy could just make out the firing ranges and courses there…
And down the road, was the sight of a town as Coby wiped his brow. That run built up a sweat. He looked back, seeing the words 'BRANCH 1: DAWN ISLAND' on the walls of the Naval Base.
"Dawn Island… If I remember my maps right… isn't this the Goa Archipelago? Home of the Goa Kingdom?" Coby inquired, and Garp looked down at him.
"Yeah, that's right." He said, sounding gruff about it. "Built the base to be more closer to this village than the Capital City." Garp huffed.
"Why not build it there?"
"Because I didn't want to! That's why. People do what they want." Garp replied, and Coby puckered in his lips at the brusque response before sighing lightly. He has been like that… not giving reason much for most things.
He heard hooping and hollering and turned, seeing the firing range down below, and a group of Marines cheering.
"Five in a row!"
"Damn girl! You keep hitting them bullseyes!"
"Best shooter in the East Blue-" Coby lost it over the yelling, but he felt it was a safe guess thinking they were practicing firearms. Neat! Whenever a Marine is promoted to a Seaman Recruit, they are allowed to specialize their careers: able to select and enter into any area of expertise they choose.
Obviously, combat and weapons are among the most important skills for the military to develop, and therefore are also among the most diverse within the Navy.
All Marines tend to focus on a singular close quarters combat style too, most often in the form of some kind of weapon they feel most at ease with! Upon enrollment, all recruits receive a rifle and most of them tend to go with being a rifleman. However, other than basic training, there is no requirement to focus on ranged combat: melee weapons like swords and cutlasses are very common and appreciated, and in fact, anything, from Katanas to hammers, maces, axes, naginatas and spears, is allowed. That's not including if said Marine is a Devil Frui-
Coby was thwacked upside the head, holding it as he felt it swell up. "Ouch!"
"Quiet down! You were jibber jabbering like a mad loon!"
"Eh?! I was thinking out loud!?" Coby exclaimed, eyes wide.
"Obviously you fool!" Garp sighed. "Honestly… you are one fanboy of the Navy ain't ya, knowing even basic arms training protocols. Lemme guess, your library." He said, matter of fact.
"Mmhmmm." Coby replied, wincing as he rubbed his head. "That was close to where that pig almost got me… Ow…"
"Then dodge next time if you don't wanna get one upside the head." Garp replied as he reached into his breast pocket, pulling out a wrapper that contained cookies. He plucked them and started snacking. They seemed to be snickerdoodles, or some kind of non-chocolate chip variety.
Coby groaned, rubbing his head and focusing on the village as his stomach growled again. Even after those rations, he was still hungry.
One of the first things he'll do when he becomes a Navy Officer with his own ship is to get a chef or culinary specialist (that's what they call them in the Navy. It's in the books!) to make filling food.
As they approached the village, Coby took note of the various windmills turning as he could feel the ocean breeze upon him. From the look of the simple houses, people going about their day in their crops, all on top of a hill of sorts overlooking the sea. All in all, this looked like a very peaceful place, untouched by piracy. Much more upbeat than his hometown.
Then again, with a Naval Base right down the road, there's an absolute guarantee of safety from pirates or any of their ilk!
As they walked down the road, Coby gazed up, seeing the nostalgic grin on Garp's face as he made his way deeper into town, along with him loosening up his tie. He saw some farmers tending to their goats by their windmills turn, noticing the old man.
"Hey… Is that Garp?!"
"Garp's back!" The Vice Admiral laughed away, waving towards the people.
"I'm back from a good ole patrol 'round the East Blue!" Garp declared. "Figured I'd come down to Makino's for some dinner! Hope those fridges are stocked!" He said with a playful wag of his finger.
"You bet! Money coming in has never been better!" The farmers replied as Coby looked back and forth, observing how Garp looked at peace here. As they got closer into town, his smile turned, well… He wasn't sure how to describe it. Happy yet sad? He didn't know…
Before long, more people were coming out of their houses, no doubt from hearing that Garp was back from the other farmers, Coby had seen some kids from other farms run down into the village. Families young and old.
"Heya old timer! Welcome back!"
"Nab some pirates while you were out?"
"How many of them crap their pants?"
Once again, Garp laughed loud. "Oh we had a few brown pantsers, that's for sure! Bwahahaha!"
"Ummm, sir, were you born he-" Coby was cut off when he was bumped aside, and saw the reason why. A young girl with dark green hair wearing a red dress and a white cap tackled Garp's leg with a hug.
"Grampy!" She called out, and Coby's eyes went wide.
"Ahh! Shiv!" He declared, turning and plucking the young girl from his leg and lifting her up. "It's been a while!" She looked to be about seven to eight years old, with a wide beaming grin as she laughed and giggled in Garp's large hands. "It's been so long! Have you been a good girl while your Grampy Garp has been away?" He asked in a soft cooing voice, playing along as Coby couldn't really believe what he was seeing.
The Hero of the Navy. The greatest man to ever clash against the world's most dangerous pirates: Golden Lion Shiki. Whitebeard. The friggin Pirate King Gold Roger himself!
That man was laughing like a doting old grandpa as he set the child down and was squatting to be head level.
"I have! Mama's business has been going good Grampy! Just doing my part!" She gave a Navy salute too. "Just like when I will join the Navy and cook on your boat!"
"That's the spirit!" He beamed, face full of joy. "After all, to bring down those bad guys, gotta make sure the good guys are at full strength! Like me!"
"Hey kid, you came with the Vice Admiral?" Asked a man as Coby turned, seeing a rather old man around his height with his hands behind his back, wearing a red-white stripe hat, yellow glasses and a similar colored shirt, and he was smiling as Garp was making funny faces and voices with Shiv.
"Uhhh, yeah." Coby replied, still in shock as he did his best to keep up the conversation with this fellow, and still trying to grapple how Garp got chopsticks in his mouth and up his nose… The girl was laughing her tail off, and the other villagers were laughing with him too. Or at him. Coby couldn't tell.
The Hero of the Navy was acting like a clown!
"Well, judging by your face, it seems like you know only of Garp the Hero, not our Garp." The old man said as he offered his hand. "I am Mayor Woop Slap. Welcome to our fine Village!"
"Ah! I'm Coby. It's nice to meet you." He said, shaking it back and trying to regain his composure.
"Let me guess, is the Hero of the Navy not as all glorious and hero-like as you thought? You do seem to be new 'round here." Slap said with a grin as Coby looked back, seeing Garp fling Shiv into the air to catch her, the little girl laughing and having the time of her life.
"You can say that…"
"Ah Garp! Welcome back!" Said a female voice as Coby noticed a green haired woman wearing an orange pocket blouse with a long dress and apron. The hair…
"Ah! Makino!" Garp caught the young Shiv and placed her down. "Yep! Came down from the base to get some dinner!"
"Awww, I wanna fly again!" Shiv pouted, arms outreached before Makino approached and patted the girl on the head.
"Now now dear, you'll be able do that again later. For now, I need you back at the Inn to help busing tables ok? I was wondering where you ran off too!" Makino chided softly. Coby then saw the resemblance. Same green hair… mother and daughter.
"Bye bye, Grampy!" Shiv replied with a grin, waving a handkerchief behind her before trotting behind her and towards a building. It was a large handkerchief, light tan-and were those dog ears?
"Ah! Gadzooks!" How could that little girl take Garp's mask? Coby wondered, unable to close his mouth or look away from the child, who was now skipping towards a simple looking building; maybe a bar of sorts, once, before receiving renovations allowing it to become a proper inn. The sign above the door read 'Makino's Inn'.
A loud smack snapped right next to the boy, followed by a now familiar booming laugh. The Vice Admiral had his palm still on his face and, apparently, no intention to stop laughing. "The little rascal has some wicked sleight of hand!" Makino only chuckled.
"I'll have her give it back soon. Honestly, that child." She sighed, but had a smile on her visage before he saw her turn to him. "Oh! Who is this young boy?" Coby perked up, seeing the pretty woman look down at him with a warm smile. "Is he a Cadet going for Anapoli, Garp?"
"Nah, just some brat we saved from a pirate ship." The Vice Admiral said as he picked his ear. "Nothing too much. Figured he'd get a good meal in."
"M-My name is Coby ma'am! It's nice to meet you!" Coby said with a bow, only for the lady to chuckle warmly.
"No need to be so formal now. I'll make sure the cooks whip up something good for you. After all, being captured by pirates must have been," Her eyes fell a little. "Quite the experience."
"Guess while I'm at it," Garp said with his hands in his pockets and looking around the various townspeople, who now perked up. "Why not treat all these gentlemen to some drinks?!" He exclaimed with a big grin. "C'mon! Food and drinks are on my tab!" He yelled as he marched forward, fist raised high.
And the mass of people began to follow, bumping into Coby as he felt his hand be taken. He looked up, seeing Makino bring him along. "Come along now. I don't want you to get trampled or anything." She said with a wink as Coby felt his cheeks heat up.
Before long, Coby found himself settled in at the bar, which became jam packed with patrons, all of them townspeople, as he was seated next to the Hero of the Navy, the man chatting away with some of the civilians.
To think that the Hero of the Navy would allow himself to be addressed so casually, as if all of those great achievements he has done throughout his life had not even happened, was truly quite the shock.
"Umm, Vice Adm-"
"Garp." The old man cut him off, Coby perking up as Garp took a swig from a pint of ale.
"Just call me Garp when we're here." The old man said. "When I'm in this inn, my titles and rank mean nothing." He sighed, a nostalgic and relieved grin on his face. "Can I ask ya do that for me, ya Navy fanboy?"
"Oh! Uhhh…" Coby collected himself, biting his lip. "S-Sure Vic-I mean, Mr. Garp."
"Heh." The man scoffed lightly. "Always so formal. So, you wanted to ask me something kid?"
"Umm yes. If I may ask… is this place, well, your hometown?" Coby inquired. The mountain of a man finished and set the mug down. He drank it all down!
"What gave it away? All the people here not kissing up to me like back on base?" He smirked, and Coby nodded. Then Garp laughed. "You're an observant brat, ain'tcha! Yeah, Foosha Village is where I was born and raised! Well, born to be precise. I lived a lot of my life in the jungles by Mt. Corvo! But I always came down here often enough!" He grinned, as a waitress came by to take his mug to replace it with a new one.
"I-I see… well, I suppose it would make sense that you'd, um, drop your guard when at home. Huh." Coby replied, seeing the puzzle pieces fit in his head. Garp let out a laugh.
"In a way." His eyes were looking around the room as Coby sipped from his glass, orange juice, and saw it narrow for some reason. "She has that up here…" He uttered to himself, looking down as a waitress came back with another mug of ale.
Coby tried to look where Garp was looking earlier. He saw naught but the townsfolk gathering and talking up a storm, laughing with each other, and little Shiv collecting empty glasses and various baskets, busy trotting back and forth to the kitchen. Makino was at the bar, handing out drinks to her customers as they were enjoying eating at the credit of the world's most famous hero. Then at the bar, Coby saw a collection of things hung on the wall. Pistols on a rack, probably for show and not loaded. A cutlass here and there.
And a simple Straw Hat.
Was he upset due to the weapons? That had to be it right?
"Man, how long has it been since we've gotten this kind of economy flowing into this town?" Said some of the farmers or fishermen busy chatting sitting at some table behind Coby. "We never got this kind of money coming in!"
"Well thanks to the Naval Base good ole Garp set up, they're using our grain, our booze, and our fish, crop, and livestock! We don't have to travel to Capital City to go to the market now, not when the military can buy it off of us!"
"Yep! Besides, I never liked going to Capital City anyway! If we went by water, the Lord of the Coast may attack us, thankfully that beast has been gone for years now… But if we go through the mountains and Mt. Corvo, bandits would jump us!"
"God bless the Marines!"
"Yeah, so much better than that time when that pirate was around here."
Coby jumped at the sound of a slam just beside him, noticing that Garp had finished chugging his second pint of booze and was now turning his head. He looked very cross.
"To be fair… it was a lot of fun. Never a dull moment. Lots of parties. Red Ha-"
"Dude shut up! Garp looks pissed!" The man was interrupted by his now mortified friend. He turned, and clammed up as he saw Garp glaring straight at him.
"Shit… sorry…" He uttered before the men went back to whispering amongst themselves. Garp turned ahead, mood sour as Shiv trotted by, collecting the mug.
"Grampy? Is something wrong? You look mad." The young girl said as she placed his mug on her tray with the others. Garp blinked, then his visage softened.
"Nothing really. Just a bit of indigestion, that's all." He said, then he leaned in, Coby doing so too. "Ate too many cookies. So as yummy as they are, don't eat just those, okay? You don't wanna get wrinkles fast and in a hurry like me now do you?" Coby tilted his head.
"Ohhh, okay!" Shiv nodded.
"Shiiiiv! We got fried fish for Table Four!"
"Coming mommy!" She yelled, and trotted away as Garp sighed.
"Ummm, sir?" Coby asked, then he felt Garp's eye on him. "I-I uh mean, Garp. Was that, umm, really indigestion or-"
"Don't want to talk about it." Garp replied, sighing as he rested his chin on his fist.
"But-" Coby was cut off from Garp's eyes settling on him, his jaw tightening. He gulped and turned away.
So this place was the home of a pirate once? But who…
Coby looked at his glass of orange juice and sipped from it, enjoying its taste. He sat in silence with the old man as the bar around them was a hive of conversation and laughter.
"Alright!" A huge plate of food was placed on their table, giant ribs and meat with the bone inside on them as Coby perked up. That was all wheeled out on a tray by Makino! "The Garp Special, hope you enjoy it!"
"I certainly will! My thanks!" Garp declared, his grin back on his face as he went for his ribs and began to eat, taking massive bites into his ribs like an animal. "And be sure," He said with his mouth full, making Coby wince. Manners, please! "To make seconds!" He then swallowed his meat and sighed. "And thirds too!"
"Of course of course! I don't pay my cooks handsomely just to be idle ya know!" Makino giggled. "Oh, Coby!" She walked around the giant hunk of meat to see the pink haired boy. "I almost forgot about you! What would you like?"
"I uhhh… Onigiri Rice balls can work…" Coby looked over, seeing the utter mountain of meat beside him as he reached a hand over. "I'll just have some of Mr. Garp's-"
Then his hand was swatted, and Coby recoiled. "Yowch!"
"That's mine and ya can't have it!" Garp barked, making the boy flinch.
"But that's so much! That's like… several different wild animals in there! Plus it was on the table and off your plate!"
"And it's my meat! Order ya own!" Garp growled, then taking a giant shank of red meat and biting into it, chomping loudly. Coby looked back to Makino, who smiled and shrugged.
"He's very protective about his meat. A right proper carnivore who doesn't share."
"As I've learned…" Coby uttered, rubbing his hand as he frowned. This was Garp the Fist? The Hero of the Navy. He had to keep telling himself this.
"So rice balls, and it seems you need some meat yourself. I'll get you that. It's all on Garp's bill anyway." Makino patted his head, and the boy looked flushed as she giggled, walking away.
Well… at least he will finally get some rice and meat in him, and not some moldy bread and already eaten apple cores. He turned, seeing Garp munch and chomp at his meat mountain, already seeing ANOTHER tray being wheeled over from the kitchen. He frowned again.
His appetite was no different, no. It was far more ravenous than even Alvida's. He sighed, and reached forward for his glass and sipped, noticing for a moment that it wasn't orange juice, but something more bitter and sharp.
Then Coby felt hazy and collapsed, face first to the table.
"Hnn?" Garp heard a thump and turned his head. "Hey that's my booze, what did ya want a-"
The sight of Coby drooling, eyes rolled over and tongue made Garp spit out his food.
"Bwahahahahaha! One sip! One sip of light beer!" He guffawed. "And he's out like a ligh-" He wheezed, laughing away as he saw Makino from the kitchen poke her head out.
"Garp! Don't let a minor drink!" She chided. "You need to keep your glass to yourself!"
"I did!" Garp replied. "He's just a dumb kid who didn't even notice! Bwahahaha!" He said with him gesturing with his thumb. "And he wants to be a Marine some day!" And he laughed it away as the dusk came and went into the night, drinking, eating and being merry. And Coby drooling like a passed out drunk.
Coby groaned as he opened his eyes, sitting up from not the table, but from a lounge chair of sorts. He was no longer in the raucous restaurant/bar, but in some kind of lobby? The lobby of an inn from what it looks like. At the desk, head cradled in her arms, was Makino as she slept, a candle light by her side and various key hole rings and deposit boxes behind her.
Coby stirred, rubbing his eyes and taking off a soft quilt off of him, standing in the lobby as he walked forward. To the side, he can see a hallway leading out to the bar, with the sign over the hallway saying, well, 'Party Bar'.
He smiled softly at the dozing Makino. Must be making sure that she will be able to take on any travelers of the sort as-
A weak growl came out, and Coby winced as he placed his hand to his midsection. And another to his head. He can feel a dull headache and the gnawing hunger eating at him. "I didn't eat much that's right…" He uttered to himself. Then he perked up, seeing Makino stir and sit up in her chair, stretching her arms and yawning.
"Mwaaah… what time is it…" She said in a daze as she rubbed her eyes, turning forward. "Ah, you're awake." She yawned again, stretching her arms behind her head. "Thought I heard somethin'... looks like light beer doesn't mix with you don't it?"
"Wait, I drank beer?" Coby asked, then he blanched. "That was awful though!" He stuck his tongue out. So bitter! Adults drink that?! His mind was in an utter haze after that!
Makino laughed a bit, and raised a finger to her lips. "It's an adult thing. Also, we have some guests sleeping upstairs for the night. So…" She shushed, and Coby placed his hands over his mouth in surprise.
"S-Sorry…" He uttered as the woman smiled. "So… were you the one who placed me in that lounge chair when I umm, blacked out?"
"Oh no, that was Garp. He's sleeping upstairs as well." Makino replied as the green haired woman sat up straight. "So, was it a tummy ache or are you hungry? When we made your food you were completely out of it." Coby blushed, puffing his cheeks out before his stomach let out a louder growl.
"Y-Yes, I am." Makino smiled, and Coby found it inviting as she stood up.
"Well, come along. We saved your meal in the fridge." She said as she called for him to follow. The boy did so, and she led the way into the empty kitchen as she turned on the oil lamp lights. He walked past the cutting tables, seeing the various knives and utensils used for cooking. He walked past one giant metal ice box, with the label on it catching his eye. 'GARP'S STASH'.
"That's where we store Garp's meat whenever he's in town." Makino said, looking back at him as Coby blinked.
"From what I remember… didn't he have, like, a giant wheel tray of meat?" He asked as he trotted up to her.
"Three to be precise. Just about emptied it." Makino replied, and Coby rubbed his forehead, still feeling the dull ache. Whether it was from hunger or what he drank, he couldn't tell. He heard the woman inspect her fridge and come by, setting his plate down. It was covered in a paper towel as he removed it, seeing his rice balls untouched.
"Thank you." Coby replied as he began eating them cold.
"Prefer eating them cold huh?" She asked with a light grin as Coby munched on it.
"Just hungry really." He shrugged after swallowing, going back to the balls.
"Well, morning is in a couple of hours. After this you can get a little more shut eye, and I'll cook you up a nice hearty breakfast! Pancakes and bacon sound good?" Makino asked with a grin, and Coby perked up.
"S-Sure. Thank you very much." He said with a blush as the woman giggled.
"Not a problem. It's on the house." She said as she began to move out of the kitchen, Coby taking his plate and following her.
"Mind if I eat in the dining area?"
"Not at all. I'm just tending the front desk. You know, in case we get any early travelers around these parts." Makino replied as she got to the lobby and Coby went off to the side and into the bar. He shuffled into a boothe and sat down, going to town on his dozen rice balls. The meat inside was so much more filling than the rations on the Mastiff, or the scraps he ate on Alvida's ship.
He then heard heavy footsteps form up top, but Coby kept on eating. Probably someone using the bathroom… Until he heard steps down the stairs as he munched and ate. Those were some heavy steps.
"Ah. Good morning Garp." Makino said from the lobby as Coby perked up. What is the Vice Admiral doing up so early?
"Morning… Here, I'm gonna take a bottle of sake and a bit of meat." His voice was somber and light, a far cry from the boisterous blunt Hero of the Navy. "Going to go visit him."
"Ah." Makino's tone shifted. "Well, go on ahead then. It'll be on your tab."
"Right." Coby turned from his booth, seeing the massive shadow of Garp move out of sight and down to the kitchen as Coby continued to eat in the darkness. Sake and meat to visit someone? Coby looked at the clock. It was just past five in the morning! Who would be up at this hour?
Coby looked down, finishing the last of the rice balls in a flurry, content and happy to have a full belly as he waited, hearing the heavy footsteps again, and not a word being said as he got out of his booth and peeked. Makino was looking down at her desk, reading something. Past the window he could make out the form of Garp in his suit, without his coat, walking away. The pink haired boy returned back to the bar and walked silently to the bar door, opening it.
It was still dark out, with barely any lights on; just some street lanterns, a few houses, and Makino's front lobby. But there he could see him. The form of Garp walking away, a massive meat shank on his shoulder, and a bottle in hand.
"Hmmm…" Coby furrowed his brow as he left the inn door, stepping outside and still seeing him walking away, a good fifty yards or so. This may be improper… and rude, but… something inside Coby's gut was telling him to follow.
So the boy did, stepping out on the road and trotting behind houses, fences, wagons and carts as he trailed after Vice Admiral Garp like a stalker, the old man none the wiser, having not taken even one bite of his meat shank. Which was strange, as he had been scarfing his meat feast from before like a starving greedy lion, but now he didn't seem at all interested. Just focused on what's ahead.
The boy trailed him until they left the village, and Coby felt bad leaving Makino like that...but he had to get some level of confirmation. What was 'The Hero', the man he dreamed of aspiring to be, doing at such a time in the morning? He followed Garp down the road, moving further away away from the Naval Base and down the coast. Coby waited until he was further from the Vice-Admiral before he could follow, considering he had little to no cover in the rolling foothills leading to the sand dunes of the beach. The only sounds he could make out were the crickets, the wind, and the waves down below as he followed. Again, Garp never noticed him before he made a turn and Coby went behind a tree, peeking his head out. He seems to be heading towards a more forested section of the coast, one that led higher towards a cliff overlooking the sea.
The path curved, and Coby took it as he could see the end of the treeline, and right there, he saw Garp standing before something, his back turned towards him. Coby could do nothing but be silent as he took silent steps, ensuring to stay behind the trees. He was about fifteen meters away now...
He saw Garp sit down, and his massive form blocked out whatever was in front of him, and Coby took a step to the side. What was he looking a-
"Come on out." Garp called out, and Coby yelped, falling on his backside from the shock. He stammered, getting back to his feet, and seeing Garp turn his head towards him.
"S-Sorry sir! I-I didn't mean to follow I-"
"But ya did anyway right?" Garp replied curtly, and Coby gulped, but even in the dark of night, he can see that Garp's tone didn't seem to be foul. Annoyed maybe, but not too much. "Why?"
"I...uhhh…" Coby stammered, stepping out of the foliage as he caught his breath. Now he can see what was before him as Garp poured himself a saucer of sake, bringing it to his lips.
A simple marble stone grave.
Rest in Peace. Gone before his Time. Amongst the Angels Embrace and Love.
Monkey D. Luffy.
"Monkey… D… Luffy?" Coby said as he approached, standing by the old man's side.
"Yes." Garp sighed, looking down at it as he took a bite of his meat next. He munched and swallowed the meat whole as he took a moment. "He was… my grandson." Coby looked down. His old town would have a cemetery, and most of them have raised mounds to signify body's being buried but…
"There's no sign of a burial…" Coby said lightly to himself, thinking aloud.
"Because there was no body." Garp bitterly said as he set down his sake saucer and poured himself another shot. "He was killed at sea by a Sea King." Then he brought it to his lips, and Coby felt terrible.
He had follo-no, STALKED, his idol when he shouldn't have. This was a person grieving over the loss of his grandson! And he intruded on him! Some upstanding Marine someday he will be!
"I...I'm sorry M-Mr. Garp." He said, looking down.
"Boy." Garp's voice cut in, and Coby perked up, seeing Garp turn towards him with a narrow eye. "I told you before. Don't apologize for things beyond your control." He growled, facing forward as he took another bite of his meat. Coby gulped, nodding.
"R-Right… I'm-" He was cut off, seeing Garp pause. "Urk… never mind." And he went back to eating, taking a big chunk and munching on it.
He said that this Luffy was his grandson… which means… "What… how did his mother and father react?"
"They're dead too." Garp replied, then Coby felt chills when he saw the man glare out to sea. "Especially the father…" He growled, before taking a swig of sake, this time from the bottle. Coby gulped…
"So Luffy had… n-no one to raise him?" No parents in his life. Just like… just like him… Juvenile Sea Kings always prowl near the coast for easy prey from fisherman, he knows as he'd seen some attacks from his own dingy. But… to know it happened to a kid…
"No one. I could have, but when you're the 'Hero of the Navy'" Garp spat, pouring himself another shot into the saucer. "Juggling family and your duty is all but impossible… I tried, but I couldn't take a seven year old child with me. And because of that…" He paused, but Coby could hear the breathing in his nose. "Luffy had no one to look up to… all except for a fucking pirate." He cursed and Coby flinched. That insult may not have directed at him, but he can sense it… The sheer hate and venom in his voice. "He admired that man, wanting to be like him. Stabbed himself in the face to 'prove he was tough' like him. Wanting to go out to sea to be like him… And all it did was get him killed." He shuddered, taking a deep breath, his head bowed and his poured sake saucer untouched. "All because… for all the people and countries and kings I saved…" Coby could see Garp's reflection.
A man wrought with regret, grief, and sorrow. "I couldn't save my own family…" He sighed. "And my duty in saving the world, saving people… led to men I knew and cared for deeply in my life… away and down dark paths." He gulped, taking a deep breath. "One became a pirate because he had no choice, despite my efforts to save him. The other… the less said about him the better." He uttered darkly for a moment before he reached to his saucer, and brought it to his lips. "Ironic, ain't it." He scoffed, and Coby could see his light and pained smile. "For the betterment of all, you forsake the ones you love most. Yet when you cherish and prioritize your loved ones, you send the rest of the world to hell, with you as the deterrent to those who do villainous acts... " He gave a deep sigh.
"And my actions wound up creating a powerful pirate, and a dangerous terrorist who wants to see the world burn…" Garp shook his head. "It's a sick joke." He reached for the meat, and took a bite, munching again.
Coby stood still, jaw agape. "I… I don't know what to say Mr. Garp… I know you don't like me apologizing and all...but…" He gulped, feeling his own eyes water up. Seeing his hero and idol like this… Not even a day ago he was on the floor of a pirate ship, dreaming of being saved by the Navy. He would dream of Sora, the Warrior of the Sea. Of the Admirals and their brave deeds in hunting and defeating villainous pirates. Of Monkey D. Garp, whose strength was so great he would pound mountains into rubble with ease.
He had a voice of thunder before, back on the ship, in Foosha, in the bar. Now? He was a sad and somber old man, filled with regret.
"I don't blame you." Garp replied as he swallowed. "You and I are cut from a different cloth. If you want to apologize to try and make me feel better, go ahead I guess." He uttered, setting his meat shank down and sighing, grabbing his saucer and pouring another shot. "Tell me kid, were you serious?"
"How you wanted to wish for the Pirate Era to end. Back on Alvida's ship, you made some grand loud proclamation how you wished to end the Era yourself." Garp mused as he turned his head towards him. "The Era that Gold Roger, who was born on this very sea, brought upon with his final words."
Coby perked up, mouth open as he remembered. He had a fist over his heart, looking down.
"Did you want to end the Great Pirate Era?"
"Yes." Coby replied, face hardening. "I do. More than anything." Luffy was motivated by a pirate, no doubt one inspired by Roger. If Roger hadn't existed… If Roger had just kept his damn trap shut, then Luffy wouldn't have died!
"The training a Marine undergoes is wrought with adversity. You will change, you will be broken down, again and again so you can be remade strong enough to fight those pirates who follow Roger's will. It will be tough."
"I can do it." Coby nodded. "I may not be ready now… but I can b-No." He shook his head, and stood tall and proud. "I will be! I have to be!"
"And why's that?" Garp asked, facing his way.
"So I can fulfill my dream! Of becoming a Navy Admiral, of saving and helping people!" Coby declared. "And I want to end the Great Pirate Era! So that no more bad guys will be inspired by that man's words! That is… the Dream I want to make come true!"
Garp was on the draw though. "Would you die for it, if given the choice?" Coby stopped, eyes wide behind his glasses.
"Die for it... well..." Garp raises his head, and looks at the boy as he ponders.
To Die for it… To die… for his dream? "I mean, I read on how... what would be the best way to die at times, in some philosophy books in the library, one stood out to me though..."
"Oh? The best ways to die? Enlighten me." Garp asked, a ghost of a smirk on his face as he took another shot. Coby bit his lip, trying to find the right words.
"Well for one... the best ways to die is... in your sleep. Or doing what you love so that would be your final memory before you pass or... taking on your dream. I mean, if you die taking on your dream, then one shouldn't have regrets. Because they tried." He stood up, looking at the Vice Admiral in the eye, adjusting his glasses all the same.
"..." Garp remained silent. Staring intently back, he said nothing, hearing only the wind from the breeze and the rustle in the trees and grass. Coby breathed soft, but unblinkingly towards him.
"At least, that's what I believe." Coby said, breaking the silence, looking down softly. "Even if I am sent back to my village… I'll join the Navy someday, become the greatest and strongest Admiral and-"
"Save it." Garp cut him off, making the boy perk up. "I heard you already." He said, taking his sake and taking a sip from the saucer. "And you were right. I was going to do that, considering your body isn't ready." He said, pointing at Coby and his puny physique. The boy looked flustered, looking away. "I was going to drop you off at the island and come back in several years time but… do piracy wait for saviors to defeat them? No." Garp took a deep breath, looking up into the sky as Coby noticed that it wasn't as dark out. Looking out to sea, he can see the traces of dawn coming through. "And besides… for a kid, you're right." He said as he turned his way, pausing as he looked to the side, deep in thought before he continued. "This world would be better off without the Great Pirate Era."
"In so many ways." Coby said, nodding. And Garp let off a slight scoff as he reached to his meat shank, about one bite remaining, and tore it off, leaving only a clean bone. The boy's eyes went up as he offered the meat to him.
"If you want to end the Pirate Era, then you must become a Marine." Garp said, setting it into Coby's hand. "And I will train you myself."
Coby's mouth was agog, eyes wide. Did… did he hear that right?
"You… you mean that?" He asked, then Garp smiled.
"I mean everything I say about this. I will make you a Marine worthy of your dream, Coby." Garp replied as Coby looked down at the piece of steak, wanting to scream for joy and jubilee, but was unable too, his lips puckered and eyes wet as he removed his glasses and wiped his eyes. He then took a bite of the meat, eating it to help hide whatever blubbering he would utter.
He swallowed it, then sat down beside the old man, taking deep breaths. "T-Thank you...Vice Admiral Garp." He said, looking up to him with tears in his eyes. Garp didn't reprimand him like before; he nodded lightly.
"Of course." He poured a drop of sake into a saucer, and held onto his bottle. "Swear it, on this sake." He said. "They say that when men drink sake together over an oath, they become brothers. In this, you will become a brother-in-arms, Seaman Recruit." He said as he handed the cup. Coby took it, looking down.
The sake was barely covering the bottom, yet he can see his reflection. The boy then smiled softly.
"Then I swear it…" Coby uttered. "I… I will end the Great Pirate Era, and become an Admiral!" He said holding his glass high, then bringing it to his lips and sipping the light shot down.
Garp was busy bringing his bottle to his lips to share in his toast and to cement Coby's vow when he heard the boy let out a gag then fall over. He turned over, eyes wide as the pink haired boy was flat on his back, drooling with the saucer in his hand and eyes rolled over.
Garp broke out into laughter, head held high. "A sip of beer I can get, but that little sake! You are the lightest of lightweights, no, you're a feather of a featherweight! Bwahahahaha!" He guffawed, arching his back as the boy was now out like a light.
Regardless, even if he's a passed out drunk, he finished the saucer's contents. He turned, seeing the sun beginning to peak out beyond the sea.
"I was looking forward to beginning your training today… but considering you'll probably have a hangover from a single shot of sake, we can begin tomorrow." He said as he stood up, stretching, and draining the last of the sake in the bottle.
Garp let out a sigh, feeling that strong buzz as he looked down at Coby, and then to Luffy's grave.
"Well Luffy, I'll see you again soon." He said, patting the marble stone before turning to the pink haired youth.
That boy spoke with such resolve for someone his age. For him to have a dream like that was crazy. Most children would want to be like pirates, able to break and bend the rules to their favor.
Yet this boy, Coby, all he wants is to help people. To save others from a fate he was beginning to suffer from. From a fate similar to what befell Luffy.
Garp reached down, and gently cradled the boy in his arms, sake bottle in his pocket bottleneck first.
He is so small and weak, yet he dreams of becoming an Admiral, one of the strongest men alive, to save others and to end this age of villainy and piracy.
Garp isn't the best parent, he knows that. He tried, yet he failed, for the call of duty demanded him, lest more innocent lives be destroyed forever.
He failed his wife. He failed Dragon. He failed Roger and Rouge. He failed Ace. And he failed Luffy. All of his achievements and metals and fame, and it cost him his family, and Garp feared that one day he would die an old man remembered by many, but he would die alone.
Did providence send him this boy, as a chance?
Before, he never would have dreamed of taking Luffy aboard a ship as he was too young. Ace wouldn't have had a chance with his bloodline. And Dragon never forgave him for not being there for his wife.
Yet Coby here…
"Not everyone can be a strong Marine… but," he smiled. "With the right help and circumstance, a strong Marine can come from anywhere." Garp said aloud, remembering the words spoken to him when he graduated from Anapoli with Sengoku and Tsuru all those decades ago, spoken by Commander in Chief Isoroku. The grey haired titan of a man began to walk down the path, feeling the sun's rays upon him as he looked down at the sleeping pink haired youth.
"Coby." He said, voice firm. "By the time I have left this world… you will become the strongest Marine, one even greater than me. I promise you…"
And Garp made his way down the hill, the dawn at his back, and the hope for the Navy in his arms.
So yeah, how about that for a bombshell of an AU? Our protagonist will not be Luffy, but Coby(don't think anyone's had the balls to do it). I imagine you can pick up on that Nail causing all those butterflies to form as you can see with Garp's presence in East Blue and Makino.
As for where this is in regards to canon timeline, about 2 years before Luffy sets sail and is found on Alvida's ship. Coby has been a chore boy for 2 years, hence why only for a week his spirit has yet to be broken in. If you have any questions regarding that.
In regards to update schedule, this will be much slower. Like, once every 2-3 months or so since FFESS takes priority. But I don't mind dabbing in this whenevr I'm bored. I've always liked Coby in the Marines and wanted to see a story from his perspective. Sadly, all of them on suck. SB seems to be all about This Bites!(which I am sure is good, but doesn't catch my interest. Then again, most stories with Luffy tend to bore me fast outside of the main canon One Piece manga) so here I go. Third time's the charm thankfully.
Big thanks to Paperman and ShinigamiMaster though. Couldn't have done it without you.
But yeah, this is my pilot that I've talked about. I hope you all enjoyed it. Let me know what you think and what you think is going to happen going forward, now that Garp is going to be more hands on with Coby's training...