Author's Note: So, this is a three-way crossover with Gravity Falls, Star vs the Forces of Evil and Over the Garden Wall, all mixed together with the world of One Piece. Why? Because why not?
Wirt sighed in relief when he was finally able to retreat to the cartographer's cabin, his own personal sanctuary aboard the good ship Shooting Star. The only other person aboard this ragtag crew with a head for navigation was Dipper, and he far preferred documenting the unnatural phenomena of the Grand Line to plotting out the ship's course. His talents were probably better used keeping an eye out for those same phenomena, now that Wirt thought about it.
In truth, Wirt preferred it that way. He wasn't much of a fighter or a cook or a deckhand, but he could read a map and plot a course and keep his crew on track, even if they were, in his opinion, headed in entirely the wrong direction.
He wanted to get out of the Grand Line. He wanted to find a nice, quiet little island, maybe in East Blue, far from the reaches of the Marines and live out his days in as much peace as Greg would allow him. Maybe find a nice girl and... God, it'd been years since he'd even touched a clarinet.
But the Captain said otherwise. Star wanted to explore the farthest reaches of the New World and Beatrice reckoned that that might be the only place far enough from the Marines that they might be safe from the creeping grasp of the World Nobles.
Well, nobody ever said that he wasn't accommodating. So to Saobody and beyond he went.
He unclasped his cloak as he fell to the seat at his desk, tossing the stretch of fabric to the hook behind the door and missing completely. He noticed that Greg's own cloak was still up there, sea green in contrast to Wirt's crimson red. He wished that his brother would wear the damn thing.
He understood that Beatrice wouldn't. She spent so little time in human form to begin with, and when she did she needed to always be ready for a quick change. A heavy cloak would get in the way of her wings and slow her down. But Greg didn't have that excuse. He just said the thing was uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable. Wirt scoffed at the very thought. Uncomfortable would be some random accident tearing a hole in the back of his shirt and exposing his brand for all to see. Uncomfortable would be the Marines being called in to deal with a trio of escaped slaves bearing the mark of the Hoof of the Galloping Dragon emblazoned upon their backs.
Uncomfortable was not a little extra weight to carry around. A little extra protection that could very well keep them safe and secure on this ship.
His thoughts drifted from the cloaks to the brands to the past, however much he wished they wouldn't.
Wirt had been six when his father set out to see the world and make his fortune. He was eight when they saw his wanted poster and his mother realized he'd never planned to come back. He was ten when he accepted the truth and his mother found someone to replace him.
Wirt was twelve when Greg was born, but it wasn't until he was sixteen that he really accepted the fact that they were brothers. It was only then that he realized what that meant.
He just wished the realization hadn't come at such a cost.
Burbank was a small island on the farther reaches of South Blue. So far removed from the Grand Line that there was barely any Marine presence, if only because there didn't have to be. The people were, by and large, honest and quiet. They didn't make waves and in return their little island in the middle of nowhere was untouched by the pirates that plagued much of the rest of the world.
But they were not immune to tragedy. They could not avoid the eyes of the Celestial Dragons.
Wirt had no real idea of why the Noble family had chosen to come to their small corner of the world. From what he learned of their dynamics in the coming months and years, he could only assume it had been at the pushing of their young daughter.
Islands close to the Red Line, where the Nobles' presence was common, taught even the youngest amongst them to never cross a Dragon's path for fear of suffering too great to speak of. An island like Burbank... most of them had never even heard of the Nobles that ruled the world, nor the Holy Land that they inhabited.
The Marines had come in the day before to lay down the law. Do not speak to the Dragons. Do not look at the Dragons. Do not get in their way.
The adults accepted it, however reluctantly. They knew rules existed for a reason.
Children were never so understanding.
Wirt was supposed to have been looking after him. His mum and Greg's dad had had a shop to run, despite the Noble visit. But a glimpse of Sarah on the other side of the square and his mind was gone. Greg wandered off.
He walked right up to the Dragons and tried to introduce himself to the slaves carrying their palanquin.
Wirt watched as the patriarch leveled a gun at Greg for his impudence. He was only four years old.
Wirt pulled him back by his overalls. How he'd gotten there in time was a mystery for the ages. The bullet missed them by inches.
The man didn't say a word, merely raised an eyebrow as he prepared to fire another shot. Whatever strength had allowed Wirt to save his brother failed him and he froze now that the barrel was pointed at his own head.
It was only the words of the daughter that had saved them. A girl, at least a few years younger than Wirt himself, who decided that Greg was too cute to be dispatched. Decided to make a pet of a four year old boy and a slave of his older brother. Someone would have to care for the boy after all. Feed him and clean up after him and such.
The people resisted of course. The crowd rioted when the Dragon's announced their plans. The Marines mowed them down in a hail of bullets rather than risk them damaging the Nobles.
Wirt saw his mother shot through the gut. To this day he still has no idea whether or not she survived.
But he knows other things. He knows the cruelties of the world. He knows the dark nature of power.
Wirt remembered the feel of the branding iron being pressed into his back, a bit of wood in his mouth to keep him from biting his own tongue off as two other slaves held him down. His nightmares are haunted by the sound of Greg's muffled screams echoing out alongside his own.
Wirt closed his eyes and breathed deeply, focussing on the scent of ink and paper and the ever present smell of the sea, forcing his mind back to the present. He was not in the Holy Land, although they drew nearer by the minute. They would have to bypass the Red Line, traveling through Fishman Island on their way to the New World. He and Greg were safe on the Shooting Star and would remain so.
He stood suddenly, adjusting his suspenders as he made for the door. Whenever he got caught up in remembrances he always felt the urge to check in with Greg, just to prove to himself that his brother was safe. The fact that he'd come down to the cartographer's room specifically to get away from the crew didn't even factor into it.
He'd only just made it out the door and was heading for the stairs up to the deck when he heard a trumpeting call that he had grown so familiar with the past few years, followed quickly by trilling birdsong. He almost grinned despite himself. He'd really have to get his hands on a clarinet at the next island, so he could join in on the impromptu recitals.
He made it to the deck and saw just what he needed.
There was Beatrice in her hybrid form, blue-feathered wings spread out behind her to bask in the sun as she trilled beautifully. And there was Greg, another Man-Beast on deck. His skin was grey and wrinkled and tougher than it had any right to be and his nose was elongated into a mighty trunk, from which he trumpeted gleefully with the joy of a child.
Wirt watched them in silence, the beginnings of a smile creeping up on him as the improvised music invaded his ears. It was horribly off-key and amateur at best. It was Greg all the way through.
Leaning on the bannister, watching from the upper decks at the impromptu recital going on below, Star Butterfly grinned madly as she wondered briefly if she'd thought to pack her tuba when she'd first commandeered the Shooting Star that she had made her home.
Greg and Beatrice stood in the middle of the lower deck, both proud to put their Man-Beast forms to use making music. Greg towered above even his older brother in this form, a stark contrast to the eight year old's usual place barely even reaching his waist. The points of his tusks gleamed in the light, but the danger was offset somewhat by the serpentine trunk that grew from his face, which he gleefully trumpeted as he danced with the joy of a child.
Beatrice stood beside him, covered head to toe in soft blue feathers, her wings stretched out behind her to bask in the afternoon sun and her beaked face lifted upwards to trill into the air. Star thought it was wonderful that she was standing upright again. Most of the time she just flew around as a bluebird and seemed perfectly content with that.
From what Star had heard from the few times she seemed willing to speak of it, Beatrice had spent so much time as a bluebird in the Nobles' control that her human skin now felt alien to her.
Two of her crew accounted for, Star's eyes darted about the deck, seeking out the remainder. Marco was just to her back, faithfully manning the helm despite the clear weather and straight course. He could never just let them drift with the current.
She couldn't see Wirt, but Mabel was making her way up to her position. Waving at the brunette as she approached, Star welcomed the girl who had taken to the position of chef by sheer virtue of being the only one aboard who actually seemed to like cooking.
"Yo, Star-bar," Mabel grinned brightly as she took her place beside her Captain. "Where's Dipper?"
Mabel's brother and the final member of the misfit crew. Star grinned cheekily as she pointed upwards. Mabel followed the finger and gazed into the sky with a puzzled expressions on her face.
Marco took pity on the girl and offered her an explanation. "Dip's on lookout duty. Or, at least he's supposed to be..."
Mabel grinned as her gaze shifted to the crow's nest atop the mast. Dipper was notorious for skipping out on just about anything to read the journals that detailed their great uncles' journey into the Grand Line some thirty years previous, but the crow's nest offered privacy that was too enticing to pass up. So he'd definitely be up there... but even odds says he wasn't actually keeping lookout.
"If you'd please," Mabel nudged Star gently with her elbow. "I think my brother needs to join in on the festivities..."
"Ooh, I think he might not be the only one..." Star added, her eyes having finally found their wayward navigator. Mabel followed her gaze to find Wirt's head poking out from below deck, a soft smile on his face as he watched his younger brother and friend make truly terrible music together.
Sharing a brief look, Mabel and Star nodded as one, the chains of command ignored entirely as they often were. Reaching out with her scepter, Star slashed the air in front of her, activating the power of the Sendan Sendan no Mi that resided within the royal heirloom of the Mewnie Kingdom of South Blue. Shearing through space itself, Star opened a hole to the crow's nest, through which Dipper could be seen, happily ignorant of the spacial anomaly as his head was buried in a leather-bound journal.
Mabel raised one arm, fist clenched as she took careful aim. With a gleeful cry of 'Grappling Hook' the appendage shifted to form a three pronged metal hook before firing from her arm, trailing behind it a heavy chain to keep it linked to her body.
The hook embedded itself into Dipper's chest, who took notice of it only then, expressing a look of pure horror as he finally looked up to see the dimensional tear and the chain that was quickly pulling taut.
He was pulled through, kicking and screaming all the way, the journal dropped to the floor of the crow's nest to be retrieved later. Dipper came to a sudden stop when the hook was pulled back into contact with his sister's arm, at which point it reverted into a hand that gripped the front of Dipper's shirt tightly, holding him aloft with practiced ease.
"Whaddup Bro-bro?" Mabel asked with a delighted grin, to which he responded with a growl.
"I thought we agreed," He protested. "No more grappling hooks!"
"You agreed, Broseph," Mabel corrected smugly as her arm returned to normal and she released him. Thus was the power of the Fukku Fukku no Mi, which allowed her to hook into anything, regardless of its composition, and leave it unmarked.
"I swear," Dipper vowed, eyes narrowing. "One of these days I'm going to eat a Devil's Fruit and I am just going to torment you with my power..."
Mabel waved him off with a giggle. Dipper had been making the threat ever since Grunkle Stan had accidentally left the Fukku Fukku no Mi unguarded in its locked chest inside its locked room inside its locked house. When the twins had stumbled upon it, a game of rock-paper-scissors had decided who would eat it and Dipper had cursed his predictability ever since. Of course, Dipper had found two more Fruits that Mabel knew of and so far had yet to eat them...
"I'm waiting for a Logia," he'd claim to her face as he sold them off. But would always mutter, once he thought she couldn't hear, "Or until you stop fishing for Sea Kings."
Which was totally ridiculous. Mabel fished for Mermen (one day, Mermando... one day Mabel will find you again~). It was just that Sea Kings were a bit more common and occasionally pulled her into the water. The butt-heads.
Marco was certain that, if Dipper ever actually ate a Devil's Fruit, the twins would manage to both drown while trying to simultaneously save the other from drowning. It was much safer to just make sure that one of them could swim and save the whole crew the hassle.
"What'd you even drag me down for?" Dipper demanded, his precious cap held in one hand while he straightened his shirt with the other.
She grabbed him by the hand and screamed gleefully into his face. "Random dance party for no reason!"
With that, Star grabbed his shoulder from behind and dragged the twins down the stairs to the deck below.
There was partying to be done.
Star Butterfly, Princess of the of Mewnie Kingdom of South Blue, danced like a crazy person on the deck of the Shooting Star to the 'music' put out by Greg and Beatrice. Mabel danced alongside her, just as crazy as she, and her brother dragged along kicking and screaming all the while.
From the bannister above, her first mate Marco had left the helm to watch as Star made to drag Wirt above deck to join in on the fun.
Marco smiled as he leaned against the railing, watching his friends forcing his other friends to party, thankful that for once Star hadn't dragged him along.
This ship was so many things for the people who called it home. But one constant was that the Shooting Star was freedom.
Freedom in a literal sense for the former slaves. The Shooting Star was a sanctuary for Wirt. It had only taken him a month aboard to stop looking over his shoulder, waiting for his crewmates to rat out him and his brother. For Greg it was a playground and a home and for Beatrice... well, Marco wasn't quite sure. He suspected that it might be Wirt that was her sanctuary rather than the ship, but if that was so then Marco wasn't going to get involved.
He'd leave that to Star and Mabel.
Marco shuddered suddenly, despite the balmy weather, in sympathy for the two oldest members of the crew.
Then there were the Twins... Dipper and Mabel were running from something. Or maybe running to it? They sought the truth of so many things, their Great Uncle's disappearance barely scratching the surface. But the secrets of the Grand Line were ones that the World Government kept tightly under wraps and those who discovered them were likely to meet their end by the Cipher Pols of the Marines.
Aboard the Shooting Star, as pirates and rogues, they were free to pursue their research. Free to discover and learn and experience the world. Marco couldn't begrudge them that.
That was exactly why he was there too.
Marco had met Star just three days into the Princess's voyage. He'd been fishing, quite peacefully, when the Shooting Star shot by and capsized him.
That's what happens when you try to sail a full-sized galleon on your own, you know. The galleon tends to go where it wants, regardless of what you might do.
Star destroyed his dinghy and almost drowned him that day. And then Marine Captain Ludo's forces had almost destroyed his village. It was the beginnings of a strange and arguably beautiful friendship.
Star had fought off the Kappa-Fruit user and his army of SMILE-doped thugs, using the power of her family's Devil-Fruit infused scepter.
Marco had helped. His family line was the reason his small village hadn't really needed the Marines in three centuries.
But when all was said and done, Marco had always meant to stay behind. The idea of leaving had never even occurred to him until Star asked him to tag along. And why would it?
His family's dojo had been protecting the village for three centuries. And Marco was his father's only heir! It had always been expected for him to spend his life there, honing his family's art and keeping the village safe from pirates and Marines alike.
But then she offered him the world.
'I'm going to see it all!' She had proclaimed that day. 'Every island. Every person. I'll climb every mountain and see everything!'
She'd been in the same position as him. A ruler tied to her throne. A shepherd tied to his flock. Their chains were metaphorical, but they were so tight they might've been forged of steel.
And she'd thrown them off. She'd cast them aside. She'd rule, one day, she always swore. But not until she'd lived.
Star had said as much, blood on her face and Ludo's forces on the retreat. And she'd fight off anyone who tried to tell her that she couldn't. All she needed was the right crew to see her through it.
How could he say no?
One day he'd return home, Marco knew. He'd take over the dojo, probably marry and raise an heir to inherit the family fighting style. And when they were of age, he'd send them off into the world, so that they could see just what they were fighting for.
But until then, Marco would follow Star, just like the rest of them. And he knew a little secret that the rest of them didn't.
It wasn't the Shooting Star that was freedom. Not the ship that was home. It was just Star.
And he'd follow her to the ends of the earth. He wasn't sure if she knew it yet, or even if the rest of the crew did, but they all would.
She was worth it. They all were.