Disclaimer: I own no characters except for Kai Zakolski, whom I first used in the story As Long as They Continue to Search in Will Passed On. All other characters, including the animals, were created and named by Oda Eiichiro; I merely flipped through the One Piece Blue and used as many characters as I could, creating suitable first or last names, or breaking the name into two for a first and last name. W. G. Institute and its environment are products of my imagination, so I suppose I own that. I do not own the state of Maine, Canada, the United States of America, the fictional island nation Alabasta, or anything else I might stick in that's obviously not mine. In case you couldn't tell, Alabasta is owned by Oda Eiichiro, and while I'm not too sure who owns the first three if anyone can claim ownership of them at all, I certainly don't own any of them.

Author's Note: This, unlike my usual works, is (should be) extremely plot-intensive and, simultaneously, extremely condensed, because otherwise you'd probably wind up with a story way too long to really comprehend. Even so, I think that all the little episodes that I've had to cut are still important…maybe if I cut too many scenes and get enough reviews, I'll make a separate collection of one-shots. Anyhow, this is a little experiment if you will, so I'd appreciate any feedback you can give me. Thanks!

This will probably wind up being a trilogy; I'll make no secret of that. Before you start jumping to conclusions, no, it won't be one big story chopped into three. I intend to make sure that each part has its own story: a beginning, an ending, and a climax. You'll be able to read any of the three parts on its own. It's just that the story's too long to tell in one go and it's got a few parts to it, so in the last part, I'll be tying events from all three works together into one.

Now, with that said, enjoy!

Deeper Than the Sea

Prologue

The village called Fuchsia in the northern mountains in the state of Maine of the United States of America was in no way a well-known village. It was on very few maps, and the few strangers who entered the village would look from the map to the road signs and back to the map, and then sheepishly ask where they were. Sometimes they were, indeed, lost, but more often then not they were on the right track, but their map failed to note the existence of the village. In fact, most of these people were hikers; they would leave one of the larger towns at the foot of the mountains and hike up through the mountains, and find themselves baffled when the nature came to an abrupt halt and they found themselves in front of a ridiculously tall wall.

No one really knew why the hiking trail came out by the wall (or why the wall had been built to cut off the hiking trail—no one really knew which came first). However, these bewildered hikers would generally start around the wall, and find themselves in a pumpkin patch.

There was no end to the laments of the farmer who owned this pumpkin patch, for some unfortunately dim hikers would help themselves to the 'fruits of nature'; the village tried to be self-sufficient, and so this farm, being the only farm in the village, was a great deal more extensive than the village itself, and from the far ends of the pumpkin patch, the only hint of human life forms was the pumpkin patch itself.

Unfortunately, it seemed that pumpkins growing in orderly rows for as far as one could see was not sufficient evidence that someone might own said pumpkins for most. The farmer was seriously considering getting himself a troop of guard dogs to save him the agony of lost pumpkins. Without the guard dogs, however, the farmer marched around the farm with a rake, which was his weapon against the more aggressive of the pumpkin-poachers. But the farmer was a kindly man, and would gently explain to the hikers that this was his farm, and would they please stop eating the village's winter food supply? And when the hikers would ask, what village? The farmer would explain to them that there was a village right over that way, if they would just follow the wall. And then he would invite them to his home for a cup of tea.

Sometimes, hikers thought that the farmer was simply too nice, and came to the conclusion that they were being conned. This was generally where the farmer's rake came in handy.

Either way, the farmer generally managed to guide the hikers to the village, and from there would point them in the direction of the next stretch of the hiking trail. Sometimes, hikers just left. Other times, they asked about the village. The farmer only seemed to grow vegetables, but what about fruits? Were they imported? How about meat? Was there good food and lodging in Fuchsia Village? Could they find a place like a supermarket or a McDonald's? The farmer would reply to them all: there was a girl on the other side of the village who had an orchard where fruits were grown, very little was imported, he had a great deal of livestock which the butcher bought regularly, there was excellent food and lodging and even some selection of places, would they like directions? No, there were no silly supermarkets and McDonald's was bad for their health.

Most often, however, they asked about the wall.

The farmer would laugh, and explain that the village of Fuchsia had not grown out of nowhere. W. G. Institute had grown out of nowhere. Fuchsia had sprung into being beside and was dependent upon W. G. Institute, and hence its population was less than 100. Most of the local residents lived at W. G. Institute, as faculty, staff, or students, and population of W. G. Institute totaled two to three hundred.

Naturally, the baffled hikers would always ask, "So, what is this W. G. Institute?"

The farmer would tell them. He always did. After all, the mysteries and legends behind the place were unsolved, but no secret at all.