-Off the coast of Rye Harbor-

The sea was bright and blue, reflecting the light of the late afternoon sun. It was unusually warm for the spring season, so warm that even the water wasn't as bitterly cold as it normally was. A small town on the coast of the ocean was bustling, citizens running around like ants. Even though it was a Saturday afternoon, the townsfolk still had so much to be done. Fisherman were out on the water while merchants were vying for the attention of their consumers. The town pulsed with air scented with the fish, vegetables and general stink of the denizens. It was a relatively calm day, considering the small amount of noise that, on most days, suffocated the air.

Some miles off the port a black shape bobbed in the water. It was of the inconspicuous sort, and it blended in with the other boats coming into the dock. Brown, syrupy wood bent in the ebb and flow of the water, and its sparkling silver nails and hooks lit up like little fireflies. It stood about a 80 meters high, with a width of fifty and a length of around two hundred. A fine ship it was, despite a few scratches here and there, and it mirrored the joyful ambiance of the crew. On the front of the ship, in gold letters, read, "The Bloody Wolf."

"Today was a good day, wasn't it, mate?" A jubilant, brown-haired young man shouted to his companion. The boisterous man itched the band-aid on his nose and leaned out over the edge of the deck, laughing to the water.

His friend watched the Australian from underneath a cover of dark chocolate brown bangs that were parted to one side, then smiled. Normally the other boy's eyes were completely devoid of all emotion, but they shone whenever the Asian man graced the room with a smile.

"Indeed . . . Captain Kirkland must be pleased." His eyes shifted to the upper decks, where their captain was located.

Like a lion after the kill, Captain Arthur Kirkland lounged about on his chair, legs splayed out and resting on the table in front of him. The captain was young, though his arrogant exterior (and amazingly large eyebrows) often misled others into thinking he was older. Word among the crew was that their beloved captain was only fourteen years old. Of course, whoever was caught saying such blasphemy was threatened with the nine-tail and whip. He had a messy shock of dirty blonde hair hid under a showy red captain's hat that displayed a single feather. The rest of his gaudy outfit matched his blood-red hat, accompanied by lace that spilled out of his cuffs and an array of unnecessarily large golden buttons. His face was serene as he lay in the sun, but then he cracked open one of his eyes. Then the captain sat up and yelled, "Kyle! Leon! What are you to doing, lazing about? We're about to come into port, you buggers, so you better move your arses and do something helpful!"

Kyle saluted and muttered to Leon, "This is his good mood?" The Asian boy rolled his eyes and muttered back, "You were expecting something different?" The duo trotted away to manage the ropes and sails.

Arthur watched them leave, then sighed and leaned back into his chair. "Those gits . . ."

"Come on, don't be too hard on them. We did just have the raid of the century." The captain looked up at the speaker, who was standing over him. Clear green eyes stared into his own, and hairs that escaped from a short ponytail fell into his youthful face.

"Vash . . . " The standing man raised his eyebrows. Vash Zwingli was the ship's doctor, a lucky find that Arthur thanked his lucky stars for receiving. Besides the first mate, Dr. Zwingli was the only man who could chide the young captain or give advice on seafaring matters.

Vash looked out at the advancing port and quietly said, "We will be arriving soon. You might want to shed that outfit of yours and dress in something more appropriate."

Arthur snorted and pulled his hat over his eyes. After a moment, he finally relinquished and stood up from his seat, motioning for Vash to take his place and watch over the crew.

"Make sure they don't burn down the ship," he quipped as he left for his cabin. Vash rolled his eyes, thinking that the job given to him was more appropriate for second in command, but began examined the crew anyway. There was Kyle and Leon, and then Im Yong Soo, all regular shipmates. Over on the starboard side, there was the First Mate, Francis Bonnefoy, flirting with some other shipmen, Elizaveta Héderváry and Katyusha Braginski. Even though he was a horrible flirt and at first glance seemed unable to handle the job of First Mate, Francis was a capable man once he put his mind to it. Yao Wang, the ship's cook, was undoubtedly in the belly of the ship, doing who knows what. Not a bad crew, all in all, Vash thought to himself. He'll need them for the hard life he's chosen.