The Supernova Eleven
Summary: In any other reality, they would have been called the Eleven Supernovas, and each of them would be a notorious pirate in their own right. In this reality however, they would come together under the same captain, be part of the same crew, and be known as... The Straw-Hat Pirates.
Chapter 1: The Beginnings of Brilliance
Somewhere in South Blue*:
"I bet I could make that cannon ten times more powerful," said the red-headed apprentice, who was dressed in the grease-stained overalls of a mechanic.
"I doubt it," his fellow apprentice, a tall girl with short dark hair, replied. "You'd probably end up blowing yourself up, kid."
"Yes, do stop coming up with such destructive ideas. You're supposed to be learning to make ships, not weapons of mass destruction." The old woman who was the head of the workshop tried to look stern, but the good advice simply slid off like water off a duck's back.
"Why not?" demanded the boy. "Ships should be able to do other things besides carrying people and stuff!"
"Yes, but conducting genocide on a grand scale isn't one of them."
Sensing defeat, the apprentice stalked to his workbench and sulked.
"Mercy!" The manager sighed. "How did I end up with such a bloodthirsty kid?"
Elsewhere in the Grand Line:
"Yo-hohoho, Yohohohoo...Bink's sake... ARGH! I can't take it anymore!" The boy yelled, prancing around the campfire in a frenzy. "It keeps playing over and over in my head and still I don't know the words!"
The old man sighed. "I told you, that's all I remember. It's been almost what... forty years?"
The boy sniffed as he adjusted his glasses. "I bet if I'd been around at that time I'd remember."
"A song that some random group of pirates who stopped here sang decades ago? You are a talented musician of the Long-Arm tribe, boy. No doubt about that. But you give yourself too much credit."
The boy pouted. "Music sure beats trying to make a quick buck off the cultists." Getting no response, the boy started fiddling about with the Tone Dial he always wore around his neck. The Dial had obviously seen a lot of use, for it was cracked in parts. It was quite a wonder that it still worked. A click of the topmost protrusion started it playing.
The tinny sound that came from it somehow managed to convey the grand glory of the full band that had, in the years past, immortalized the rollicking tune. The boy listened, enraptured, but just as it got to the singing part, the damaged dial stopped playing, cutting off the words.
The boy sighed. "And you just had to sell the other good dial to them, Pa."
Pa shook his head. "You're hopelessly obsessed. Though... I wonder if the person who bought it ever managed to make use of it."
"One day, I'll find out." said the boy, dreamily.
Somewhere on a ship in the Florian Triangle, a lonely skeleton sneezed.
Somewhere in the West Blue:
The lifeboat drifted aimlessly. The two survivors on board were seemingly more dead than alive.
One was asleep, taking refuge from the cruel sun in the shadow of the second. A wave slapped the little boat roughly and the sleeper stirred.
"There's been no sign of a boat yet," the second survivor whispered through parched lips. "Go back to sleep."
"I'm so hungry... we're all that's left, aren't we?" While adult in appearance, in many ways she was still a child.
"Don't talk. Save your energy."
Her face crumpled. "I should have known... I always bring disaster to everyone around me."
"Don't cry. It's a waste of moisture," There was a hint of annoyance in his voice.
"You should have left me to die alone."
"Listen to me!" The girl found herself forced to look into the other's angry, sunburned face. "Remember what he told you! It's all right to want to live!"
They were dying in a boat, in the middle of the ocean and no hope of rescue.
"It's all right... to want to... live..." the other repeated softly.
High above the Grand Line:
"Welcome back, High Priest!"
He was a man of enormous presence, and revered amongst all who lived in Bilka. The Pilgrim High-Priest, he-who-bravely-descended into the Blue Sea below for months and even years at end, all to bring back wondrous marvels and knowledge of other cultures. But even the sturdiest of adventurers appreciate a place to call home, and he was glad to be back in the temple with the memories of his three-year pilgrimage behind him.
The acolytes were busy carrying the fruits of his labour, assorted artifacts and multiple scrolls, all obtained via the trade of the dials that were so valued in the blue sea below.
"It has been too long, Brother Reis." The High-Priest's smile spanned from ear to ear.
"Bilka rejoices at your return. "The head priest of the temple bowed to the larger man. "What is this wondrous object you have here?"
The 'wondrous object' the high-priest was holding was certainly something out of the ordinary. It was small electric-blue oval, about the size of a small chicken egg, with a dense covering of swirling bristle-like hair.
"Some sort of fruit. I found it floating near the shores of one of the islands I visited," The High-Priest said. "It was such an unusual-looking object that I thought it would be worthy to find out what it was."
"Did the Blue-Sea dwellers not know what it was?"
"I suspect they did, for though they did not tell me; they tried very hard to cheat me out of it. But the Heavens do not favour those with deceit in their hearts and I refrained from dealing with them. Unfortunately they did not take my refusals kindly either, and I was required to dispense Heaven's Judgment upon those heathens. With that in mind, I think it would be safer kept in the temple before I make enquiries about it in my future travels."
"Alas, the next trip will be longer, won't it?"
"As we venture deeper and deeper into the Blue Sea, yes."
"It can't be helped, but we are always grateful for your selflessness, High Priest... Ah! Enel!" The temple priest motioned to another acolyte. "Take this artifact to be stored in the temple vaults, will you?"
The young acolyte smiled, his golden hair and perfectly-formed wings giving him the appearance of what the Blue Sea dwellers would call an 'angel.'"
Another time, in the East Blue:
The swordsman downed the last of the sake in one shot.
"I told you before." The earrings on his left ear tinkled as he shook his head. "If I can't be the boss, I'm not interested."
Mr. 7 smiled thinly. "Well, I have to say I'm surprised that such a lucrative offer would be turned down by the one who calls himself 'The Pirate Hunter'..."
"I never gave myself that name," said the East Blue native as he motioned for more alcohol to be brought over. "And I don't see any benefit in joining your company. I'm doing just fine on my own, so why don't you go tell your boss to find someone else?"
"Well, that's a shame..." Mr. 7 began smoothly.
The swordsman recognized the moment when the intent in the air changed.
"... you see, now that you know of our existence, I can't let you..." continued the recruiter.
Mr. 7 did not get any further, for the infamous pirate hunter of the East Blue had already moved. The rapier that Mr. 7 had intended to stab through his opponent's heart was duly trapped in the back of the chair he had been sitting on.
The falling shadow of the Santoryuu master would be the last thing Mr. 7 would ever see.
"You can show yourself too," Said the swordsman to the shadows, after he had finished wiping off his bloodied katana.
"You're quite good," Said the figure hiding in the darkness, unfazed by the fact he had been found out.
"So, are you planning to avenge your friend now?"
"He's not my friend. Just a subordinate. And not a very good one, at that." There was a pause as both parties regarded each other. "As a matter of fact, I'm more interested in making a deal with you, Pirate Hunter."
"I've already said..."
"What you really want is a challenge, isn't it?"
The swordsman smiled broadly.
"So how about you try fighting me?" The ring of steel on sheath could be heard. "If I win, you work for me."
"And if you lose...?"
"You become the new boss." The challenger mirrored the swordsman's bloodthirsty smile. "But I won't."
Elsewhere, in the Grand Line:
"Silent as a painted ship upon a painted ocean...*"
The ship sat patiently still upon the calm sea. It was waiting.
"Captain..." The robed crewman holding the Southbird was squirming nervously. "Are you sure about this? They were all laughing at us at Jaya, perhaps they knew something we don't."
"It will come." The captain spoke with a chilling certainty, as if he had seen it all happen. But the observant first mate, who knew him better than anyone, could tell that even behind the facade the man was slightly perturbed.
For one, he was still muttering to himself.
He laid out the card depicting the globe nestled between the two towers.
The second card was placed next to the first. Then he drew the next and his brow furrowed, an unusual display of emotion for him.
Around the ship, an ominous rumbling could be heard. The sea water began to bubble, as if ready to boil. Calmly, the pirate known as the Magician drew another card from the deck. This time he looked thoughtful.
"It is fated. No matter how I try, the sequence of the cards is always the same." The clairvoyant murmured. "The Moon, The Hierophant, Death, and after that..."
The Knock-Up Stream had arrived. Just as the captain had predicted.
"...The Wheel of Fortune."
Somewhere in the West Blue...
The shady figure who sat upon the table was counting the stacks of beli that were scattered around its polished surface. He was carefully arranging them into neat stacks, to be transferred into a suitable case later, unlike the now-deflated sack that had previously held those contents.
Vulgarity in action. He thought in disapproval. Such disrespect for money, just chucking it higgledy-piggledy into a sack as if it were a pile of waste paper. These young upstarts had absolutely no sense of class or decorum.
Although it had to be admitted that they paid well.
It had been a job well-done. But then, for someone like him, smuggling was child's play.
He did wonder though: why in the world would anyone want to be smuggled into the East Blue, of all places?
Deep in the fog of the Florian Triangle...
Dr. Hogback was not pleased. He was in the middle of a breakthrough, and the last thing he wanted was yet another interruption by an enraged fanboy.
But the uninvited visitor was having none of it.
"Give. Her. Back!" He snarled as he wreaked havoc upon the lab.
Oh, one of those.
"It's a corpse you're after? Well... You're going to have to be a bit more specific." He told the intruder, nervously edging away.
The intruder was specific all right. If 'specific' meant 'viciously waving around a pair of honking huge sickles and threatening to cut his head off'.
Undead Fodder #56 and Longleg-spliced-Longarm #2 (those were annoyingly rare) were doing their best to defend their maker, but the agile attacker was making short work of them.
"Absalom is coming." One of Perona's little ghost projections had popped out of the woodwork.
"About time!" said Dr. Hogback in relief, as a decapitated head went flying through the air.
"Not cute at all, but he's very scary, isn't he?"
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"I'll inform Moria-sama," The ghost of the girl replied and faded through the wall.
Dr. Hogback smiled. This intruder was going be turn out to be something of a windfall after all.
Moria-sama was going to be so pleased.
Somewhere, in the Grand Line:
He lay on the floor of the dungeon, watching the warmth of his breath condense into visible wisps of mist.
For days he heard the screams outside as the pirates ravaged the villages. And he was the captain of the guard, sworn to protect the kingdom... yet he'd never even had the chance to die doing his duty. It would have been preferable to the torment of knowing that people were dying and he'd been prevented from intervening.
Yesterday had been silent. Perhaps they were all dead by now, left to their fates while that coward of a king fled to save his own skin.
It was hopeless, but still he remembered the words of that man.
"I will not die here," he told himself firmly.
"Your self-diagnosis seems quite accurate." A voice, vaguely amused, came from beyond the bars of the jail cell. "Shame, I've never dissected a Zoan-type before."
Dalton pulled himself up with some effort. A furry-hatted man stood outside looking in, projecting an aura that was both sinister and yet at the same time, almost benign.
"Who are you?"
"That depends, Mister Bison," The man smiled lazily. "Is the edict that all non-royal doctors in Drum are to be executed still in effect?"
Dalton shook his head. "Now that there is no one to enforce it, no."
"Excellent." The man rubbed his hands in glee. "I'd heard that the doctors of Drum used to be one of the most advanced in the medical field. They must have left some notes... whose castle is this, by the way?"
"Our former king's... it was designed by an architect who studies snowflake patterns in his spare time."
"Don't mind if I use it?"
"Not if you find some way to release me from this jail cell-"
"Deal!" said the man before he'd even finished his sentence.
And meanwhile, in the East Blue:
Upon the shores of a quaint little village adorned with windmills, a young boy prepared to set sail.
"So how many crew members are you going to have, Luffy?" Makino's smile was warm and indulgent.
"Well five is good, maybe nine... no ten!"
He smiled as the wind whipped through his short, messy black hair and the straw-hat that was his most treasured possession. The oceans of adventure lay ahead, waiting for him.
"Well with ten crew, and then yourself as captain, that would make it eleven."
"Really?" He began counting them on his fingers.
"Time to find some good nakama, and then go to the Grand Line," said Monkey D. Luffy to himself.
"Eleven..." he grinned. "It's a good number."
The sea-king known as the Lord of the Coast fell before him easily, because he was strong now. Nothing would stand in the way of his dream. Shanks would be proud.
Exuberantly, he yelled his challenge to the waves:
"I'M GONNA BE THE NEXT PIRATE KING!"
End of Chapter 1
 Somewhere in the South Blue = Place the cameo! And yes, I did get permission first ;)
 Silent as a painted ship upon a painted oceanThis line is from the epic poem that is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Introduction: This Alternate-Universe story is an expansion of my previously completed AU drabble set "In Five Pieces." It is not required to read "In Five Pieces" before reading this fic, but those of you who have, just keep in mind that timelines and events may differ a little from the earlier fic and canon as well. Let's just think of it as an AU of an AU. * dizzy *
I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who reviewed "In Five Pieces", especially Aoihand (whose challenge gave me the idea in the first place) and Readr (For doing an Indonesian translation of it!). You guys are awesome, and when you're all asking me to expand the idea, how could I say no? So this one's for you.
Last but not least, my thanks to my wonderful beta, callosum, who took a lot of pains to proofread this opening and who also made many excellent suggestions which helped shaped how this was going. Thank you and you rock!