Prologue: Monster Gate
The board was laid out, the figures gleaming like the freshly-cast gold it was made of, the board itself a masterpiece of a map.
Upon the board, the outline of a single continent bisecting the area could be seen, with a strip of ocean horizontally dividing the rest of the blue. Occasionally, there would be the yellow-green dots of islands and in rare cases large land-masses, but otherwise it was truly a world ruled by the sea that was depicted here.
“The balance of powers remain unbalanced.”
“Darkness flows about the world in spades.”
“The light of hope burns still.”
“If this continues, the world will destroy itself to right it.”
“We cannot act.”
“Then someone must act for us.”
“Who? The two of us can no longer act directly. And if we send an agent, then the four of you are bound to oppose us. It is the way that will remain even if we use the Herald.”
“Then we must use someone who has sufficient brains to outwit us, someone whom we know can do the right thing and who... has conveniently been freed from destiny.”
There was a momentary silence.
“... the Dragon watches him.”
“The Dragon will lend us its champion, we only need ask. He is, in many ways, the perfect candidate after all. If you're protecting your friend, get off yourself. If the scales tip, a world dies.”
“I cannot in good conscience do this.”
“Then you will not. We will. You remain without his blood on your hands... should it ever come to that.”
“But you are talking about stranding him in a strange world– Ah. I see. In that case...”
A figure was moved.
The other two looked at the third. “This close to the focal point?”
The third smirked, crimson eyes glowing slightly in the dark. “It is the best way, for both of them. And it shall break him from his depression.”
“Or it could drive him mad.”
“We're all a little mad,” he shrugged in reply, as they sat back to watch events unfold.
Silent as a painted ship upon a painted ocean, the waters of the Grand Line crushed upon the hull of the large brig sloop. The ship rocked, its large orange and yellow lion figurehead bobbing slightly as the ship righted itself in time. This was the Thousand Sunny, the pride of its crew's shipwright after all.
On the figurehead, a boy sat. From the simple attire of the youth, the red vest and blue cut-off shorts, flip-flops and a hat made of straw, one would have expected the boy to be rather simple farm boy, instead of out at sea.
%3p style="margin-bottom: 0in;" align="JUSTIFY">Incredulity tended to be the default reaction of normal people upon learning that this 'simple farm boy' Monkey D. 'Straw Hat' Luffy was a very wanted criminal.
“Pretty,” Luffy cooed as he watched the sun rise over the grand Line from his view on the ship's figurehead. So absorbed he was in the sun's rays glinting off the world's most dangerous waters, that he never noticed the red flash in the skies, or see the dark-blue-black blur drop into the murky waters.
Soon, however, he did notice the bobbing figure in the ocean waters.
“Man overboard!” he called dutifully, before leaping down into the waters himself and began promptly drowning with the unlucky chap in the Grand Line.
“Waah, I can't swim!” he yelled, at the same time taking in a huge gulp of sea-water. “Cough, hack, hack!”
“YOU IDIOT!!!” A high feminine voice promptly yelled from the ship, and thus the Straw Hat Pirates began another new day on their voyage.
There was a saying that 'the clothes make the man'. This phrase is applicable to most of humanity, but occasionally one would come across the occasional specimen that serve as the exceptions to this rule. Case in point; while it would take a lot of skill to look good in a white lab coat, the cutting shapeless and the stitching of variable quality, an article that fulfils its basic function and at the same time makes it wearer look like a hobo, the staff of the team of scientists working on the Ener-D reactor of Neo Domino City would point to its resident genius Fudo Yusei as one of the few lucky exceptions.
Even with safety goggles on, the shapeless yet oddly flattering laboratory coat with sleeves rolled up on him with thick safety goggles snapped onto the man's face cut a strangely dashing figure on the young genius, if the looks of the female staff were anything to judge by. This, even when the subject in question was wielding a welding blowtorch. Imagine if Yusei actually put an effort in his personal grooming more than the necessities.
The tiny implement was put away, and switched off, and Yusei pulled away from the machine, pulling his safety goggles off as he wiped sweat from his brow with his forearm. With his left arm, he gave the hand signal.
“Done, Begin test run.” the young genius announced.
“Yes, Dr Fudo!” the assistants and technicians ran to obey.
Yusei, still standing there, idly tilted his head up to admire the large machine that ran Fortune, the connector that assimilated how energy from Ener-D was channelled to cities all over the island. To him, it was hard to believe that this miracle of engineering could destroy the world, without the existence of Fortune. With this, everyone he held near and dear to his heart was safe and happy and finding their own path, and he was a rising star in his chosen field.
He had every reason to be happy, given his background and the lifting from a heavy destiny.
Gloved hands wandered to the sealed deck-box on his hip. Somehow, the scientist found himself incapable of letting go of the cards, despite every single tragedy that he had gone through. Occasionally he might lift a card from the deck.
Sonic Chick was always happy. Junk Synchron seemed to give him an odd look from its two-dimensional space. Formula Synchron he imagined was in mid-eye-roll. The last card... always... always... the card that began and ended... Stardust Dragon.
Yusei grimaced to himself, though anyone seeing would have thought that the young man had just frowned lightly. There was a something lacking... now was a silent, monochrome film in comparison to a time spent weighed under the heavy destiny of the Crimson Dragon, a dull silence in comparison to that time wit the whole Dark Signer mess, and Kiryu, and Crashtown and the WRGP and when Synchro Monsters would destroy the world. There was a spark then, a spark that he missed, that he wished was in his life.
The slight whirring increasing in frequency woke him from his musing as he spotted the panel he had just opened glowing a bright scarlet, almost t(at of the Crimson Dragon's red eldritch power. In fact, almost identical in shade to the Crimson Dragon itself...
“Crap,” he found himself saying.
There was a minor explosion amidst flashes of scarlet light that caused the other scientists to shield their eyes. In the following sonic boom, only a miraculously intact Fortunekassimilative and the Ener-D reactor remained, empty space where Fudo Yusei once was.
The white lab coat, ragged and singed, fluttered to the ground to land slightly before all hell broke loose.
He landed in water.
The murky liquid surrounded his, besieged him on all sides, stealing precious air from his lips and orifices as he struggled against the inexorable pull of the sea. Idly, he wondered if the cards came with him, as the blackness closed in ever deeper.
Far away from him, he glimpsed something large, and scaly, and possibly carnivorous as well, yet, there was this little voice in the darkness that promised calm oblivion. The large thing swan closer, one round orange eye blinking in his face. Undeterred, Yusei glared back until it got the message and swam off.
He floated up soon enough, breaking the water surface for a quick gasp and for the blackness to close in.
Sleep, the voice seemed to say.
“Oi, you sure he's alive?”
“Yes, Luffy! He's got a pulse!”
“This hair is crazier than the shitty marimo, at least the marimo got a manly style...”
“What did you say, shitty Ero Cook?”
“Super hair! It looks like a crab!”
“Crab? Sanji, I’m hungry!”
“Franky, shut up, move back, and give him some space! Can't you see he's waking up?”
“Oi, Chopper, be careful, he might eat you!”
Blink. Blink. Yes, he was looking at the panelled wooden boards that were apparently a ceiling. The soft feeling surrounding him were sheets. Bedsheets. Clean and often used, if the smell was anything to go by. The room was scrubbed well; the scent of pine lingered. And his clothes...
“Ara,” Blue eyes looked down into his own cerulean ones as a mature, melodic voice spoke gently. “Our mystery drowner is awake.”
She moved back as Yusei quickly sat up to appraise the strangest assortment of people he had ever seen, and that was saying a lot.
The mature lady that had spoken just now, and the other girl with hair the colour of flame must be the most mature people here, because he could only see a long-nosed man hiding behind the door, a youth grinning widely like a loon, a green-haired man carrying three swords squabbling with a blond man in a neat black suit, a blue-haired man with a highly developed upper body wearing only a Hawaiian print shirt and Speedos – and boy, did that make a sight for sore eyes– and what looked like a tiny tanuki with a pink top hat and shorts.
Overall, his first impression of them was, I’m travelling with a circus.
“Yo!” The grinning simpleton greeted him from the doorway, holding out a hand for him to shake. “I'm Monkey D. Luffy, nice to meet you!”
Yusei's eyes almost bugged out of his head as the youth's arm stretched, all the way across the room to in front of him. He weakly shook it. “Nice to meet you. My name is Fudo Yusei. May I ask, where am I?”
It was the blue-haired man who answered him. “Well, you're aboard the Thousand Sunny, the finest ship sailing the Grand Line, Nii Chan. I’m the super shipwright of the crew, Franky! Nice to meet'cha!”
“The Grand Line?” Yusei slowly repeated, the words not making any sense.
The girl looked at him oddly. “You're in the world's most dangerous ocean, and you don't know where you are? Oh, I’m Nami, the ship's navigator and cartographer. Yoroshiku!”
“He might be having a concussion,”kthe tiny... thing spoke.
Yusei looked at it. A moment of silence passed before he opened his mouth: “No, I don't have a migraine, thank you for your concern.”
“His faculties are certainly about him,” the mature lady remarked as the long-nosed man's and the simpleton's jaws dropped to the ground in shock that someone had just missed the punchline. “My .ame is Nico Robin, I serve as the crew's researcher. From your expression, I guess that you've never heard of the Grand Line?”
Yusei shook his head. “No, I can only remember being in a laboratory in Domino City, Japan.”
“Japan? There's no such place,” Nami commented.
“Perhaps he came from another world,” Robin offhandedly commented, scrutinising the brunet. “This close to the Florian Triangle, strange things are to be expected.”
“Eh? So... he could be a man-eating monster!” the long-nosed man squeaked from behind the door-frame. “Run for your lives, everyone!”
“Ah, yes.” Robin spoke, ignoring the other's increasingly loud attempts at panicking. “Long-nosed Kun hiding there is Usopp, the ship's sharpshooter and resident liar.”
Yusei gave her a blank look.
“Really. He was around long before I joined,” Robin explained. “Chopper here,” she referred to the tanuki, “is the ship's doctor and resident reindeer, and the quarrelling men are the first mate Zoro and the ship's cook Sanji respectively. Zoro is the man with green hair and three swords, and Sanji is the smoking blond man currently arguing with him.”
The argument was getting violent, if the scuffles and Franky's occasional yells of “Take care of Sunny, dammit!” was any indication.
“We are the Straw Hat Pirates! I’m Luffy, captain of the pirate ship, the Thousand Sunny!” the simpleton boasted, grinning widely as he stood on both feet in front of Yusei. “I’m going to be the Pirate King!”
The bottom fell out of Yusei's stomach in disbelief. A pirate ship?
It was worse... it was a pirate ship run by an idiot.
To cap it all off, he was stranded in a foreign world, apparently sailing on the most dangerous ocean on this world, and he was stuck until he could find a way back, or until either of the supernaturally inclined back home noticed he was gone... which was rapidly becoming not very likely.
There was no question of it now. The fates hated him.