AN: I apologize sincerely for how long it's taken me to update this one. First I got distracted by all the others stories I'm working on, and then I kinda had a bout of depression about this one, but Matthew and I are re-watching this arc again, (we watch the series once every year. :P) and I remembered how long it's been. Sorry, I promise to get back on the bandwagon where this story is concerned; which means I'm even willing to start writing about Wanze. I hate him so much...so so so much.
Chapter 28: In which Tom reveals the future
~**Water 7, Haiseijima, (scrap island) twenty-two years ago**
The cannon's fire echoed across the sea and the scrapyard island. "Ooowaa! Waaa-!" Twelve year old Cutty Flam shouted in fear as he fired the cannon again. "Take that you bastard! Take that!"
Battle Franky 8 was running, assisted by the explosive shots from the rear cannons, as fast as it was able. "It ain't working-! Dammit-! It's gonna eat me-!"
The enormous sea king that was chasing after the ship seemed to think so too. "Graa-!"
As it lunged, trying to claim it's lunch, the small battleship rammed onto and up the scrapyard island. The boy went flying off the ship as it's roll shattered it half to pieces. "Ooowaaa!"
**A little later***
"!" The child held his head and rubbed the big stinging bump on top of it.
"Nma, what the heck are you doing? ! You're gonna die one of these days!" A sixteen year old Iceburg yelled as he pointed to the wreckage of the Battle Franky 8. "Why are you always making these weird dangerous things instead of helping? !"
The blue haired boy looked up to shout back at his fellow disciple.
"Shut up! It's none of your business, Bakaburg! These are my important warships! It's a 'Battle Franky'!"
"I don't care what the heck it is, just throw it all away before someone gets hurt!" The teen scolded.
"What do you care what's lying around here? This is the scrapyard island!" The younger boy glared and pointed at Iceburg. "Just you watch, I'm gonna build a new warship that can win against a sea king!"
Iceburg scoffed. "Nma! Like heck you could win! There are a bunch of 'sea kings' the size of islands." He turned to go. "Why don't you go get eaten or something!"
An enormous shadow fell over the two.
"Yo..." The merman coming towards them held three full masts under one arm. The other holding the whole rest of the nearly finished ship. "If you're a ma-n..."
He threw the ship high into the air. "Do it with a Don!"
Before it could begin it's fall the master shipwright skewered the ship with the three masts, the impact rolling it, making it landed perfectly in the sea next to the scrapyard.
"Okay." Tom-san, a golden puffer merman at least twice the height of a normal man and half that across his chest and stomach, turned back to his two apprentices with a smile.
"Tahaha! Launching complete. I made a good strong ship. Built with a don! Right Yokozuna?"
"Gero gero!" Tom's pet, the sumo frog Yokozuna, answered.
The merman dusted off his hands. "I'll finish up tomorrow!"
"Let's go home now." He motioned to the two young humans to follow. "I think I can deliver a 'don' of ships to the customer tomorrow."
Both boys followed him, their argument temporarily forgotten. "I'm hungry."
**Tom's workers Main Office**
"What's the count up to in Battle Franky?"
They sat together at the dinner table as the younger boy looked up excitedly. "Eight! I was so close!"
Iceburg snorted. "You liar, Bakanky!" He turned to their mentor frowning. "Tom-san, don't forgive him. He only makes weird weapons!"
The merman laughed with a gusto. "Taha...! ...! ...! ...Bakanky!"
Was that the only part he had heard?
"You laugh to much, Tom-san. Something got you good." Tom's secretary, Kokoro, placed a full plate in front of the still chortling shipwright.
Unsurprisingly Iceburg and Franky were glaring at each other, since Tom wasn't going to pick a side. She would have to intervene, (Once again!) and distract them from their own nonsense.
"Oh yeah," She murmured softly. "The trade ship carrying the wood...it was taken by pirates again." Pirate activity was growing, which meant they couldn't get the materials needed for shipbuilding. "The number of pirates increased after the pirate King died." She served Yokozuna who croaked at her in thanks.
"This town's finished...It's been swallowed by the Pirate Age."
The boys, who had been pinching each others cheeks, stopped and looked at her.
"We're losing hope." She continued. Though it looked like she was talking to herself as she dished out food they knew it was for their benefit.
"We get flooded by Agua Laguna, and we can only get wood and iron from other islands. Then the violent sea and the pirates halt the trading."
She sat herself on the other end of the table from Yokozuna.
"The zousenjyou people are fighting desperately for customers. People are losing their jobs. If Water 7 is left alone it'll become a shriveled island...just waiting for the flood."
Iceburg and Franky were shoveling food into their mouths so fast it looked like they weren't even chewing. Yokozuna was licking his plate clean with long strokes of his tongue. Tom had continued to eat normally, nothing could phase him. Kokoro sighed and looked down at her own untouched plate of food.
"This same Water 7...once rang in an ago of it's own with ships."
Iceburg silently contemplated Kokoro's words, but Franky didn't like to think about such bad things happening. Instead he said, "Yeah, I guess. Tom-san made a great pirate ship too!" He hastily swallowed what was in his mouth and addressed his mentor. "Hey, teach me the blueprint of a pirate ship!"
The master shipwright gave a great full laugh again as Kokoro said "Tom-san, you laugh to much."
The merman looked down at the young human. "Franky, there isn't a single blueprint for a pirate ship in this whole world!"When the boy started to protest he continued, smiling. "If the sailors paint a skull on the flag, then it's a pirate ship. If they paint a gull, it's a marine ship. It doesn't matter what you build, Franky. You must...throw out your chest with a don!"
The scratching of the quill feather pen Tom liked to use woke Franky up. Rubbing sleep from his eyes he came to the lit desk. "You're not gonna sleep, Tom-san? What're you drawing?"
It was like no set of blueprints Franky had ever seen. The thing didn't even look like a ship! But if Tom-san was making it, it would be amazing.
"...Oh...This is this island's...hope."
"?" The child couldn't understand yet, he was to young...but he'd know it all in time. So all the merman said was, "I think Water 7 can be revived with this thing."
Iceburg lay in bed with his back to the desk so they wouldn't know he was awake. Even though Tom-san was always calm he through about Kokoro-san's worries too.
"The judicature ship is here!"
Crowds began to gather as the giant ship docked at the water metropolis.
"What's a judicature ship?" One man asked. His neighbor was craning his head, trying to see over the crowd as he answered. "It's a moving court. Who did they come to try?"
"Make way!" A marine shouted, clearing a path towards the ship. The master shipwright, Tom, was being escorted to the floating court.
"Hey, wait!" Tom's first apprentice, Iceburg, shouted. "What did Tom-san do? !"
"Give back our Tom-san!" The second disciple was yelling too as the two ran to keep up with their master's steps.
"It's okay, don't worry about it." The merman assured them as he laughed. "Tahha! ...! ...!"
"Tom-san!" The younger boy, Cutty Flam, shouted after him.
**Courtroom of the Judicature Ship**
"You're here now..." The judge started, but Tom interrupted with a smile. "It was only a matter of time."
The judge cleared his throat uncomfortable. What criminal went to their sentence smiling? "It's a worldly issue."
The marine captain who was serving as the judge's escort began the trial by announcing his crime.
"For the criminal act of building the 'Oro Jackson' the ship of the world renown villain, Gold Roger...shipwright Tom will be accompanied to Enies Lobby...Where he will be executed!"
Still the merman showed no surprise or dismay, the smile never left his face.
**Outside the Judicature Ship**
The announcement of his crime brought even more crowds of onlookers. "Tom's going to be executed! 'Cause he built a pirate ship!"
The people of Water 7 knew Tom...it just didn't seem fair that such a loving big-hearted, though eccentric, guy was going to die for this. The pirate King had already been caught and executed, not to mention the Oro Jackson had already been burnt at Marine Headquarters. Plus Tom was a shipwright; building ships was his livelihood...why should he be punished for doing his job?
"Tom-san!" Iceburg and Cutty Flam shouted together. The press of the crowd made getting to the ship difficult.
**Inside the Judicature Ship**
"Normally, carpenters are not charged for the ships they construct, but this is in regards to the pirate King. It's a special case." The judge pronounced the verdict with regret. This man did not seem to be a bad sort at all but... "All those who supported his piracy, even a little, must be seen as dangerous."
It was the only apology he could make.
"Please escort the criminal."
Two marines came up on either side of him.
Though the smile was still on his face the master shipwright was looking at the judge seriously. "Right now..."He began slowly. "I am developing plans for a steam engine paddle ship...that will run on tracks on the surface of the sea with a don!"
The marine on his left looked up at him but the merman could not be moved. "Hey, what're you doing? !"
Tom never took his eyes from the judge as he explained. "Let's say that the reason this island is so disused is because of bad trade. And the feelings of the town's people whose hearts have gone wild...Are the concern for this sinking island...The opening of the Sea Train will someday be the savior of Water 7!"
The marine hanging off his arm saluted desperately and said, "Excuse us! We'll take him right away!"
"...Wait." The judge looked into the face of the man he was condemning. "...Sea Train? !" This did not sound like a desperate plea of a man wanting to live...he sounded as though he had put quite some time, effort, and thought into the idea.
"The train...! It will puff out smoke, and run on the sea from island to island! It will carry people, things, even ships...unaffected by the weather...Anyone will be able to cross the sea at will."
The courtroom doors had been opened to the people of Water 7, allowing them to watch the proceedings but now they spoke up. "What're you blabbering this nonsense about...I'm ashamed as a carpenter." One said.
"What about the sea kings and Agua Laguna!"
"The tracks will just be destroyed and that will be the end of it!" A man shouted from the back of the room.
"The sea tracks..." Tom answered calmly. "Won't need repairs. It will sway a little below the surface of the water. And it won't go against the waves."
The merman's voice became more passionate, his deep feelings, like hope, for his idea and the survival of Water 7 becoming more pronounced. "The Sea Train will only use the tracks as a guide, like drawing in a rope. There will be no use for logs. I've also thought up a device between tracks and the paddles that will make a dissonance that the fish won't like. So then, the sea kings will hate the tracks, and they won't go near it."
There was a stunned silence in the courtroom.
"You can do that..? !" The man in the back asked in awe.
"It sounds wonderful!" A woman added hopefully.
"There are three islands that will be connected. 'Saint Poplar', 'Pucchi', and 'San Faldo'. It's enough so that the trade between these islands will stabilize and grow. The blueprints will be done soon," The master shipwright finished. "But it's not so simple that a normal shipwright could do it."
The judge leaned forward, fascinated by the idea and picture the man in front of him had painted with his words. But unless it was a benefit to the World Government his sentence could not be stayed. "Can you connect Enies Lobby?" He demanded while the captain assigned to him gave a, "Your honor!" of objection.
Even the marines had gone quite at the unveiling of such a wonder.
"If this technique is completed with a don, and it goes over the ocean, interaction between all the islands of the world will change. The Sea Train is Water 7's hope!"
Iceburg and Franky had finally snuck into the courtroom to be near Tom. Now, with the end of his explanation and the idea taking off in people's minds, the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop. This was Tom-san's idea, what he had created to give people hope, and the two young humans were just as awed as the rest of them.
'If it really works,' Iceburg thought to himself. 'If trade between islands can be established and made routine then...' The teenager looked down at his own hands. 'Then what Water 7 will need is a way to use this together. Kokoro-san said that the people of Zousenjyou fight each other for the chance to work...'
His thoughts were cut off by the judge's words. "How long will it take?"
"Ten years." Tom-san answered promptly. He had already planned it all hadn't he? Every detail...down to the manpower and time it would take to make it. Iceburg was so proud...so proud to have Tom-san as his teacher.
"Then make it!" The gravel slammed down on it's pedistal...saving their hero's life.
AN: Franky's back story is pretty saddening. I cried a lot, but then again, I cried most of the way through this arc :P Sorry again for how long it's taken me to update, but I hope you guys liked the chapter. Please remember to R&R! ^-^