The story opens, as it so often does, upon the sunny deck of the Thousand Sunny, home and primary, secondary and tertiary methods of transportation of the globally-infamous Straw Hat Pirates, as it sailed through one of the ever-rare peaceful stretches of ocean to be found in the New World.
The Sunny had reached said stretch about a day prior after leaving the blazing area of water it had surfaced in after leaving Fishman Island, following the course of the steadiest of the three needles in the ship's Log Pose.
The reason as to why the Straw Hats were following such a course, despite their captain's frequent and vigorous protests, was actually quite simple: Their navigator had put her foot down... His throat... While wearing a steel-toed boot.
To be fair, the extreme reaction wasn't entirely her fault. After all, she had almost been carbonized by an underwater volcano that week, so she had no desire to go close to another one, especially one that the Log Pose wasn't even registering.
Either way, after leaving the marine inferno, the ship and its crew were put through what could best be described as a maritime hell, wherein they were put through a gauntlet of ordeals. These trials included, but were most certainly not limited to, snap-freezes that literally shattered the ocean beneath them and put them on the lookout for Ex-Admiral Aokiji, massive lightning bolts soaring down from the clear open sky, at least three random waves twice the height of the megagiant Oars, and enough Sea King attacks to fill their pantry for a month, even after factoring in their captain's appetite. Honestly, the things were obsessed with them, and the way they kept staring contemplatively at their Captain was rather disturbing.
After a week of the madness, they well and truly understood why the first half of the Grand Line was called what it was. Their introduction to Paradise looked like a spring picnic in comparison!
But, nevertheless, Mother Nature had finally taken pity on them and given the crew a much-needed reprieve, one that the crew was enjoying to its fullest.
The crew's swordsmaster and firstmate, Roronoa Zoro, had, unsurprisingly, curled up under one of the railings to take a nap, sake bottle forgotten beside him. The sniper and shipwright, Usopp and Franky, were seated under the mainmast, comparing notes on some sort of new cannon. The doctor, Tony Tony Chopper, was simply lying on the forecastle happily sunning his fur.
The navigator, Nami was seated on the quarterdeck by her tangerine trees updating her maps, and the archaeologist, Nico Robin, was lounging on a deck chair nearby, a book in hand. The cook, Sanji, had firmly parked himself on the ladder to said quarterdeck, and was currently in a heated argument with the musician, Brook, over whether he could go and play music there or not. And as for their captain, Monkey D. Luffy? He was sitting on top of the lion's head bowsprit, eagerly scanning for a new island.
"Naaaamiiiii!" He whined impatiently. "How much longer until we get there!?"
Nami rolled her eyes and contemplated telling him again that she didn't have a clue, but she was saved the trouble.
"CAN IT, LUFFY!" Sanji barked as he took his attention off Brook for a moment. "NAMI-SWAN AND ROBIN-CHWAN ARE TRYING TO RELAX, I WON'T HAVE YOU BOTHERING THEM!"
"That is the exact same goal I desire as well, Sanji!" Brook protested indignantly as he brandished his violin. "Nothing would warm my heart more than to serenade them so that they might enjoy this lovely day... even though I don't have a heart in the first place! Yohohoho!"
Sanji snorted derisively, causing Brook's eye sockets to somehow contrast in annoyance. "I know you, Brook. You're just going to sing about panties!" He walked up to the musician and jabbed a finger into his sternum. "I'M WISE TO YOUR TRICKS!"
"Oh, you wound me, Sanji!" Brook gasped, putting his carpals to his foreskull and mock-fainting at forty-five degrees. "I swear to my afro that I will not sing about panties, you have my word! I will be a complete gentleman!" The impossible blast of gas that escaped his fleshless cheeks did not support his position.
"Oh yeah?" Sanji huffed out a cloud of smoke. "Sing me a few lyrics."
Almost instantly, Brook snapped his violin to his chin, brought his bow to its strings, and started to play. "Ooooooh, nothing quite so soothes, as the sight of bloom-!"
"THAT TEARS IT!" The cook roared as he snapped his foot up into the skeleton's jaw. Unfortunately, in the haze of his chivalrous fury, Sanji put more force into his kick than he intended. As a result, Brook's skull wound up popping straight off of his spinal column and soaring high into the air. By the time it started to fall down once anew, the Sunny had already moved forwards enough that the skull plummeted into the water with a definitive plunk.
For a moment, all movement on the Thousand Sunny froze as the crewmates took in the turn of events. Then...
"MY AFRO!" Brook howled as he materialized his soul in Sanji's face, allowing the rest of his skeleton to clatter to lifelessly clatter to the deck. "WITHOUT THAT AFRO, LABOON WILL NEVER RECOGNIZE ME! IF MY SKULL DISAPPEARS INTO THE OCEAN, I'LL HAUNT YOU STRAIGHT TO THE GRAVE AND BEYOND, YOU BASTARD!"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Sanji swiftly apologized as he backed away from the apoplectic spectre. "I'll get it back, I swear!"
"Haven't you done enough, shit-cook?" Zoro groaned as he slowly roused himself from his slumber, stretching in an effort to work some life back into his limbs. "I'll go and get it. Besides, you'd probably die in ten seconds if you went into these waters anyway."
Sanji's eye twitched furiously for a moment before he shot a scowl at his age-old rival. "Oh yeah? Like you could do any better, mossbrain!"
"You wanna go, honorary okama?!"
"I'LL TURN YOU INTO CHARCOAL YOU FUCKING-!"
The clash was interrupted by a loud splash behind the ship.
"What now?" Zoro demanded.
"I believe that Nami might have gotten impatient with your bickering." Robin (Well, a Robin) informed them as she sat on a nearby bulwark, smiling airily.
"What makes you say that, Robin-chwan?" Sanji asked enthusiastically.
"Oh, just something in the way she looked like she wanted to rip your heads off before diving over the side of the ship."
"WHAT!?" Sanji squawked before hastily scrambling for the railing, kicking his shoes off as he went. "WAIT FOR ME, NAMI-SWAN, I'LL SAVE Y-!" CLUNK!
Sanji was cut off by a sopping wet hair-adorned skull flying up to slam into his forehead before bouncing onto the deck, prompting Brook's skeleton to spring to life and pounce on it eagerly.
"IF YOU REALLY WANT TO HELP, THEN THROW ME A LINE ALREADY! AND HURRY! I THINK THERE'S SOMETHING MOVING DOWN HERE AND I DON'T WANT TO GIVE IT ANY IDEAS!"
One hastily flung rope later and Nami was back on the Sunny's deck, toweling her hair dry while Brook bowed before her over and over again.
"Thank you, Nami my dear, thank you!" The skeleton sobbed, despite not having any actual eyes to sob with. "You just saved my chances of reuniting with Laboon! I can never repay you! I'll write songs in your name, epic ballads that will be sung throughout the world! I'll need some inspiration for them, may I-?"
"Finish that sentence and I'll throw you overboard next." Nami threatened flatly.
Brook hastily switched tracks. "By the way, I'm impressed by how effortlessly you were able to retrieve my skull!"
Nami paused in her drying as she blinked in confusion at him. "Huh? What are you talking about? It was only ten meters deep by the time I got it."
Brook nodded in agreement. "Maybe so, but I know better than anyone that my afro weighs a lot once it becomes submerged in water! I've never noticed it before, but you must be a fantastic swimmer if you were able to retrieve it so effortlessly!"
Nami beamed visibly at the praise, jutting her chest out a bit in pride. "Heh, thanks! I learned young while I-!" Without warning, she suddenly cut herself off, freezing in place.
Brook blinked in confusion, albeit without eyelids. "Hm? Is everything alright Na-?"
Once more, Brook was cut off by a harsh kick from Sanji, although this time he was merely thrown through a wall, as opposed to over the side of the ship.
"Wire your damn jaw shut, you stupid skeleton!" Sanji scowled. "Stop bringing up bad memories for Nami-sw-!" SMASH! SLAM! "ACK!" His tirade was interrupted by a hail of ammunition, metal and biological alike, slamming into his back.
"How about you stop putting holes in our ship!?" Franky demanded as he cocked his Weapons Left. "It is SUUUUUPER annoying to keep repairing the damage you cause!"
"Yeah!" Usopp agreed, waving his Kabuto around furiously. "Do you want to sink the Sunny like the Merry!?"
"Oh bite me, you two! This has nothing to do with-!"
"-wait, did you guys hear tha-"
Whatever Sanji was going to say was cut off by Luffy bodily slamming into him, sending the two into a tangled, uncontrolled tumble into the railing.
"... Luffy, I'm thinking of a phrase. If you say that phrase, or anything related to that phrase, I'll beat you bloody. Now... why did you hit me?"
"Uh... I'm hungry?"
"AND AS FOR YOU TWO-!" KRACK! "OW! WH- CHOPPER!?"
"STOP FIGHTING, DAMN IT! I WANTED TO SPEND THE DAY RELAXING, NOT PIECING YOU MORONS BACK TOGETHER!"
"AREN'T YOU MAKING YOUR JOB THAT MUCH HARDER BY HITTING ME!?"
"AT LEAST I KNOW HOW TO CAUSE THE LEAST DAMAGE WHILE PUTTING YOU IDIOTS DOWN! NOW SHUT UP SO I CAN APPLY SOME PHYSICAL THERAPY!"
"Alright, alright, that's enough already!" Franky snapped, grabbing the two by the scruff of their necks and pulling them apart. At least until Chopper switched into Heavy Point and snagged him in a headlock.
Sanji, for his part, spotted Brook trying to sneak away as he dodged away from the pair's flailing. "Oh no you don't!" He bellowed as he dove at leapt at the undead musician.
"Okay… this is getting a little out of hand… I'll just..." Usopp muttered nervously. He started to carefully edge away from the fight... until a fist flew out and impacted his jaw, spinning him in place before he flopped down face-first.
"Et tu, Luffy?" he groaned into the deck.
"Hey, you guys were all fighting each other, and I didn't wanna get left out!"
"Oh, well in that case- USOPP RUBBER BAND OF DOOM!"
"OW! HEY, WATCH IT, THAT WAS MY EYE!"
"Oh, I'm sorry, I- TABASCO STAR!"
"AND THAT'S WHY YOU KEEP THE CLASSICS!"
A deck above the chaos, Zoro and Robin calmly overlooked the free-for-all brawl.
"Dumbasses." The swordsman muttered.
Robin chuckled goodnaturedly. "I'm actually surprised that you're not joining them."
"Are you kidding?" Zoro scoffed as he brandished the sake bottle he was carrying. "I am way too drunk for that." He glanced at the fight again, where Franky was outright sitting on Luffy. "Oooor maybe not drunk enough." He punctuated the statement with a gulp of sake before offering the bottle to Robin. "Want a shot?"
Robin contemplated it for a moment before noticing a conspicuously empty spot of deck. "In a second."
Inside Sunny's dining Hall, Nami sighed tiredly as she strolled down the corridor that lay on the outside of the aquarium, contemplating the myriad of aquatic fauna that populated the tank's insides.
To her credit, the navigator barely flinched as (a) Robin laid a hand on her shoulder without warning.
"Is everything alright?" The 'archaeologist' asked in concern.
Nami bit her lip sadly. "I... yes. It's... just bad memories, that's all. I'll be fine."
'Robin' stared at her silently for a moment before squeezing her shoulder comfortingly. "You can always talk to us if you need to."
Nami nodded slightly before slowly pulling away. "I'm... just going to turn in early. Keep an eye on the Log Poses and wake me up if anything changes, alright?"
'Robin' watched her for a moment more before sighing and nodding. "Very well. Sleep tight, Nami." And with that, she was gone.
Nami sighed heavily as she stared sullenly into the depths of the aquarium. Specifically, she was contemplating one of its larger inhabitants: A megamouth shark, snoozing comfortably on the sand lining the bottom. It wasn't exact, but with it's jaw closed it looked almost like a-
Nami spun on her heel and marched out of the corridor, harshly banishing the train of thought to the deepest, darkest pits of her mind.
Several hours and one impromptu post-brawl party later, the Straw Hats were sleeping the night away in their rooms, dead to the world at large. The Thousand Sunny rocked peacefully in the waves as its twin paw-anchors held it in place, the ship itself appearing to rest in the moonless night.
Unfortunately, the world was not dead to them.
That fact was made harshly clear by a hand slipping out of the water and clutching at one of the Sunny's anchor-chains. Said hand was slowly joined by another, and the two began working their way up the chain in tandem, working together to haul their owner, a large, unidentifiable figure, out of the water and up onto the ship.
Upon reaching the bulwark, the figure gripped the edge of the ship and hauled himself up and over the edge of the ship and onto the deck. The figure landed with a surprising amount of grace, freezing as what little 'thump' he made seemed to ring out across the deck like cannonfire.
Below deck, Nico Robin shifted minutely in her bed as a multitude of instincts raised a ruckus in her mind. She then settled down as said instincts were silenced by the warm, comfortable, safe feeling that seemed to emanate from her bed.
Once the figure was certain that he had managed to infiltrate the ship undetected, he started to skulk his way across the deck, eyes sweeping across the deck in an effort to estimate the likely location of his target. Ultimately, he swiftly but stealthily made his way across the deck's lawn and up the stairs to the door on the ship's second level.
Applying a minute amount of force that his frame didn't bely, the figure pushed the door open and slid into the ship's kitchen. He crept over the floorboards, making certain that his weight was always properly distributed so that he never made a sound.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the figure reached his destination: the freezer. He grasped the handle and gave it a testing tug... before withholding an exasperated sigh as the door refused to so much as budge, on account of the band of metal across the doors he had failed to take into account. Without missing a beat, the figure ran his hand over the metal that held said slab in place before finally allowing himself a relieved sigh as he found what he was looking for.
The figure patted himself down for a second before withdrawing his tool of choice: A thin, wedge-shaped piece of metal. He then slid the tip of the wedge into a seam in the metal, holding it in place. He paused for a moment before swiftly raising his fist and bringing it down on top of the wedge. He then repositioned the wedge to another part of the same seam and repeated the process within seconds of the first impact.
The figure then went completely still, listening intently for any and all responses to the swift metallic thunks that had arisen from his actions. Satisfied once more that he was yet undetected, the figure worked his fingers into the seam and slowly levered the metal off of the bar, thus allowing him to swing the freezer's doors open.
The figure raised widened his eyes in surprise at the copious amounts of meat that stuffed the cold storage unit, but he definitely did not complain. Instead, he drew a large net off his back and shook it open before swiftly, albeit painstakingly silently, emptying the contents of the freezer into his net.
Once he had filled the net with as much as he could carry, which was a little over ninety percent of the freezer thanks to the size of both himself and his net, he tied it shut and slung it over his back again, barely even flinching under the weight.
Once more, the figure slunk out of the kitchen as silently as he could manage, sliding the door shut behind him. The interloper slowly made his way down the stairs and to the bulwark before raising his right arm and leg up onto the railing, preparing to vault into the ocean and off to freedom, leaving none of the ship's inhabitants any the wiser.
And he would have gotten away with it, too... if not for the electrified pole of metal that slammed down on top of his skull, causing him to drop the net and stumble back from the railing as he clutched his throbbing cranium.
"You chose the wrong night to make yourself an acceptable target, asshole." Nami snarled, tapping her Sorcery Clima-Tact in her hand.
The figure's reply was to shake his head furiously as he cleared the fog of pain from his skull. He then proceeded to snarl furiously as he rounded on thief and drew himself up to his full height. His very, very, very tall full height.
Nami blinked in numb shock as she slowly looked up at the massive form towering above her. Because of the lack of moonlight shrouding the surroundings into darkness, it was impossible to make out any fine details about the prowler, but the general gist of it was that he was huge, his full ten feet utterly dwarfing her meager five-foot-seven-stature.
"Uh..." Nami grinned shakily as she tried to restart her train of thought. "On second thought... truce?"
The figure narrowed his eyes savagely. As means of response, he reached over his shoulder and whipped off a rough trident that looked like a bunch of metal rods that had been forcibly bent into shape, instead of forged or cast.
Nami swallowed heavily as she redoubled her grip on her Clima-Tact. "Guess not..."
In most other situations, Nami would have been producing thunderclouds like nobody's business for a Lightning Bolt Tempo so that she could fry her opponent to a smoking crisp. Unfortunately for her, in those situations, she wasn't on her own ship, which she very much did not want to devastate with a stray shot of lightning, gale-force winds, or whatever else she could use.
As such, Nami was forced to fall back on the only two tactics available to her: putting her relatively rusty bojutsu skills to use, and...
Nami took a deep breath as she prepared to scream-
And promptly snapped her mouth shut as she barely managed to redirect a savage thrust of the thief's trident, which was swiftly followed up by a hail of heavy blows that she was forced to block, each impact against her Clima-Tact feeling like a sledgehammer.
'Damn it!' Nami thought furiously. 'The way this guy is going, if I try and call for help I'm liable to bite my tongue off! I need to find an ope-ACK!' Her train of thought was violently derailed as the interloper rammed the staff of his trident into her, blowing Nami's guard wide open and sending her stumbling back.
The intruder capitalized on the opening with another lunge, intent on turning Nami into a living colander. Thankfully, the navigator was able to snap her staff up between the trident's tines. The force of the attack shoved her back a few feet on the lawn as the attacker pressed his advantage with his superior strength.
This turned out to be a mistake, as barely a second into the standoff Nami twisted her grip on the Clima-Tact, breaking it into two pieces and twisting out of the intruder's path. As a result, he stumbled forwards as the resistance before his weapon was lost. Making use of the opening granted to her, Nami snapped the Clima-Tact back together and swung the staff up between the interloper's legs, hoping to finish the fight in a single blow.
The sound of metal clanging against metal dashed Nami's hopes while simultaneously raising the attacker's ire.
"Who the hell wears a codpiece!?" She demanded incredulously as she yanked her Clima-Tact back, making sure to avoid touching the section of metal that had been between the figure's legs.
"It's a fucking cup, you little-!" The intruder's indignant rasp was cut off by the sound of stirring from the cabins at the aft of the ship. Nami grinned triumphantly at the prospect of backup, but was swiftly cowed by the murderous glare her opponent levelled at her.
Seeming to act on pure rage, the intruder swung hard and wide at her with his trident, in a motion not dissimilar to a baseball bat. Nami's reflexes made it easy for her to duck under the wild swing, but she stopped in confusion as the figure continued rotating along with the swing.
'Why is he- tail.' Nami's thoughts faltered and ground to a halt as she caught sight of the thick, meaty appendage connected to the intruder's posterior that she hadn't noticed right until it was inches from her face.
The tail slammed into her like a small-caliber cannonball, launching her into the mast as a result. Lights flashed behind her eyes the second she struck the wood, her thoughts in such disarray that she couldn't even begin to string together a coherent sentence.
Through the haze of pain, Nami was able to make out two things: The first was the intruder's threatening frame ominously marching towards her, trident held at the ready in a reverse grip.
And the second...
"Alwa... ook for... llow-up..."
Nami blinked blearily at the voice ringing through her head. "Wha...?" She managed to slur.
Ignoring his victim's pained ramblings, the intruder drew his weapon back as he prepared to perforate Nami once anew...
And promptly snapped his head to one of the ship's doors moments before it creaked open, allowing a groggy four-foot tall bipedal reindeer to step onto the deck.
"Hello?" Chopper yawned as he tried to rub the sleep out of his eyes. "Nami? Robin? Is that-" He cut himself off as his nose twitched slightly before almost instantly snapping awake. "Wait, wha-!?"
"AAAAAAAARGH!" Chopper's statement turned into a scream of panic as a tremendous force slammed into him from out of nowhere, effectively punting him off the deck and over the ocean.
The intruder didn't spend so much as an instant contemplating the results of his actions, instead rolling backwards with more agility than his frame suggested in order to avoid the rubber fist that shot out of the door at him.
"GET BACK HERE YOU BASTARD!" Luffy roared as he shot out of the cabin, followed swiftly by his crew.
"What the rubber moron said, you- NAMI!?" Sanji stared at the injured Navigator in shock for a second before literally lighting himself on fire in his fury. "PREPARE TO BURN, ASSHOLE!"
The intruder ignored the insult being hurled at him, instead bolting for the edge of the ship he'd been trying to escape off of in the first place. Snatching up the net of food he'd dropped and sheathing his trident on his back, the thief then vaulted up and over the railing and down into the waters below.
"Oh no you don't!" Luffy snarled, dashing up to the railing and winding up his arm.
"Huh?" He blinked and stared at his navigator as she slowly struggled to her feet. "But Nami!"
"Forget about him! We need to save Chopper!" She ordered, leaning against the mast as she pressed a hand to the back of her head. "If we don't find him fast, he'll drown!"
Luffy briefly glared over his shoulder at the waters before nodding in understanding. "Fine! Come on, let's get him!"
"Yohoho! Right behind you captain!"
And with that, Brook and Luffy leapt over the opposite side of the ship after Chopper.
A few seconds later...
"AAAH! HELP! I'M SINKING!"
"MY LUNGS ARE FILLING WITH WATER! EVEN THOUGH I DON'T HAVE ANY! YOHOH-BLUB!"
"GOD DAMNIT YOU IDIOTS!"
And so the night devolved into a hasty series of water rescues.
But for all the frantic commotion, none of the Straw Hats were able to forget the about the intruder that had violated the sanctity of their home.
No more than said violator could forget them.