Chapter 3 – What you really want.
The streets of Dressrosa were silent, with only the sound of Jinglette’s bells echoing through the night as she jogged her way to where Sugar said to meet up. Sugar was already there waiting for her to show up, tapping her foot impatiently.
“Is she coming or what? If nothing happens in five minutes I’m going back for the night!”
“I’m sure she’ll arrive, master,” said the monkey toy from a hiding spot.
“Sssh! Get back to hiding!” replied Sugar with a stern look on her face. The monkey gasped and hid not wanting to upset her. The sound of jingling bells could be heard in the distance getting louder and louder.
“She actually came after all,” said Sugar with fascination. “Is Rick’s brainwashing not all it’s cracked up to be? Or is he aware of this and sent out his puppet to spy on me?”
“Is that you Sugar?” asked Nami as she stopped in front of her.
“Ah, Jinglette!” So you did come after all! I was beginning to think you weren’t coming.”
“I’m sorry. But I had to sneak out whilst my master was asleep. Oh, I feel so bad for going against him…”
“Why? Arn't you a responsible adult? Why have you got to refer to this person as master?”
“Because he’s my master! I have to do whatever he tells me! He’s so kind and caring.”
“I see. How long have you been with him?” Despite how Sugar was pressing Nami for information, Nami didn’t seem phased by such questioning.
“I have always been with my master since the beginning. My first memory of him is when he gave me my name and that I am a marionette meant to entertain people. Entertaining is what makes me happy, so my master made my dreams a reality.”
“So if you are a puppet Jinglette, where are your strings? Puppets can’t walk around by themselves.”
“Oh, I can walk without my strings if my master says I can! He told me I could today.”
“Also why do you have human skin? Marionettes are made of wood right?” Nami was suddenly unable to reply, as she began to wonder about that herself.
“You may think you’re a puppet Jinglette, but from what I’m seeing you are just playing pretend.” At this point, Sugar was starting to reveal herself more.
“But… But I am a puppet. My master said so…”
“Also look at yourself. You’re a human. Eventually, you are going to keep growing up to the point where you will no longer be able to do what you are doing. Real puppets can go on forever and aren’t tied down to the flaws of human nature. So you could be doing this as long as you want, but at some point, your dream will come to a stop once you yourself… stop in this case.” Nami didn’t know what to think now. Had the man she had obediently stuck by for the past 2 years been letting her live a lie? Or was this girl trying to make her go against him? She was left speechless for a few seconds.”
“I’m not saying all this just to make you feel bad Jinglette. I’m going to watch your show, but I want you to be aware of this before I get round to showing you what I wanted you here for.”
“I don’t know if I can trust you Sugar,” replied Nami. “I get the feeling you don’t want me to like my master anymore. I will never go against him!”
“Hold your horses Jinglette, that’s not what I’m here to do. If you just hold on a sec, I’ll show you what I asked you here for.” Sugar turned around and whistled. “Hey, it’s time now! You can show yourself!” Just then the monkey toy appeared before Nami, running up onto Sugar’s shoulder. Before Nami could speak, a small group of other toys arrived and gathered up around Sugar.
“Hello there Jinglette!” said all of the toys. "We’ve been eager to see you!”
“It’s those toys I saw walking around the other day!” replied Nami in surprise. “I can’t believe these guys can walk and talk by themselves!”
“Meet my friends Jinglette,” said Sugar in a cheerful tone. “These guys are who I wanted to show you.”
“To make you an offer.”
“You see Jinglette, I have special Devil Fruit powers that can do exactly what you see with these guys here."
“Devil Fruit powers?! What can you do Sugar?” replied Nami feeling confused.
“A long time back, I ate the Hobby-Hobby Fruit. The powers of that fruit allow me to turn people into living toys.”
“Plus it gave me eternal youth as a bonus, so I’m not exactly as young as I look.” Nami couldn’t believe it. She gazed upon the toys thinking about Sugar’s powers.
“So the reason you asked me here is…”
“My offer is to turn you into a real marionette, Jinglette. Given how much you want to be a puppet, I have the power to grant you that if you want.”
“I can’t believe it… Being a real marionette without worrying about getting old…”
“Are you in Jinglette? I can grant that right now.”
“Then I’ll-“ but before Nami finished her answer, Rick immediately came into her mind. The chance of a dream come true suddenly took a backseat to the man that made her who she was now.
“Jinglette? What’s your answer?”
“I can’t do it…” Nami looked down in shame.
“Because my master would be upset if I changed. He likes me the way I am. I don’t want to upset him…”
“I see. You really care about him, huh?”
“Yes… He means everything to me. I will never go against him no matter what. Even if it means turning down your offer.”
“Shame. You’re missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity here.”
“I can’t Sugar. I shouldn’t even be out here. I’ve gone against what my master would want, so I really should be going back now…”
“Aw, come on Jinglette!” said the monkey toy. “Why not be one of us? We’d love for you to be able to perform forever! Becoming a real marionette would work out so well for you!” The other toys looked disappointed as well.
“I’m sorry. I must not do something my master wouldn’t want. I must obey him.”
“Fair enough Jinglette,” replied Sugar not sounding that upset by it. “You have your reasons I suppose.”
“Sorry Sugar… I have to go now. I’ll hopefully see you at the show…” With that, Nami walked sadly away leaving the other toys disappointed.
“Are you just going to let her go like that?” said the monkey toy to Sugar. “You wanted to erase one of the Straw Hats right? Why are you letting her walk away like that?”
“Silly monkey,” replied Sugar with confidence. “I was never planning on transforming her tonight.”
“I plan to really screw with that Rick guy,” she said with a devilish smile. “I’m gonna make sure to tear that girl apart from him to test just how powerful his brainwashing is. From tonight’s display, it sure seems like his hold on her is loosening if she’s able to do something he didn’t order.
“I see master! It would be too easy to just do it now. I suppose crushing them emotionally sounds more fun.
“That’s the idea! When I feel I’ve had my fun, I’m turning Nami into a marionette that will obey me instead. The Straw Hats have already lost their treasured navigator.”
“So what’s next master Sugar?”
“I’ll watch from the shadows over Nami and Rick. Eventually, Nami will soon crack and come crawling back to me. Just you wait. If I bump into Rick again, I’m gonna keep screwing with him.”
“Sounds like a plan!” Sugar chuckled to herself as she and the toys turned away to head back to their homes.
The morning had arrived and Nami ended up having a sleepless night. She wasn’t able to stop thinking about Sugar’s offer which had her emotionally conflicted. Rick walked into the room and Nami immediately got up and stood at attention, now behaving in her usual manner like the previous night never happened.
“Good morning master! Did you sleep well?!” she asked excitedly.
“Morning Jinglette my dear! I slept very well thank you. But I must say you look like you didn’t sleep as well. I can see it on your face.”
“I guess sleeping somewhere else and being away from my strings was a bit difficult…”
“I see. Well not to worry then, we’ll get you back in your comfort zone in no time! After breakfast, I’ll string you back up and we can practise the new dance number before going back out into Dressrosa.”
“I like the sound of that master!”
“Fantastic! I’ll prepare breakfast for us. As Rick went over to the kitchen, Nami suddenly froze for a few seconds as a strange image popped into her mind. She put her arm against her head feeling pain.
“What’s the matter Jinglette?” asked Rick noticing she seemed a bit off. The pain stopped and Nami was left feeling confused.
“I’m ok master. I think I might have a small headache or something.”
“Don’t you worry! I’ll grab some headache pills which will cure that in no time!”
“Ok master. Thank you.” Rick left the room to find the medicine cabinet elsewhere on the ship, whilst Nami was left feeling confused.
“Why am I thinking about a flag? I don’t understand this at all…”
“Later on, Rick was above the stage puppeteering Nami to practice their new segment. As Nami watched her body move around, she couldn’t help but feel concerned about what Sugar had been saying last night. She was forgetting some of the lyrics to the new song a few times because of it.
“Is something the matter Jinglette?” asked Rick noticing that the number of mistakes was happening more than usual. “You still don’t seem to be your usual self.”
“Sorry master. I guess I’m just really tired...”
“Well, you might need to wake yourself up a bit more. The next show is in a few days and we can’t disappoint all those people. So get yourself into gear because we are going to be practising for most of the day.
“I understand, master.”
The practice continued as normal throughout the day, which for Nami turned out to be a bit of a rough day. She continued to make some mistakes which were grating for Rick after a while. The pair relaxed in the living quarters that night, drinking tea and relaxing on the sofa. Nami was still deep in her thoughts, doing nothing more than shaking her leg to make the bell on her boot jingle, as a result of non-stop practice that had been drilled into her head. The silence was getting too much for Rick, so he decided to speak up.
“Look is something bothering you today? The practice was shaky at best, you haven’t been speaking much and you seem down in the dumps. Tell me what’s the matter.” Nami gave a deep sigh and turned to look at him.
“Master...Will I always stay a puppet forever?”
“Why do you ask?”
“It’s just… I’m not like all of the other puppets. They are made of wood and can always be ready for a show into the far future. I’m human… I’ll age unlike the other puppets and I worry that I won’t be able to do this forever… What if I get too old to be in any more puppet shows? One day I’ll pass on and the world will no longer get to see me. I want to be a puppet, but I’m just sad that I won’t be able to keep doing this…” Rick was surprised that she would come out with those things. He took a sigh.
“Well, it is true that you will age as time passes by. You aren’t made of wood, so yes you will only be able to do this for as long as you can handle. But Jinglette, you stand out from all of the other puppets.”
“How so master?”
“You’re a human puppet! That’s something completely different from what other puppet shows have done! People have been there and done that with the old tradition. People probably find it dated, so they aren’t quite as popular anymore. But because you are a human marionette, people are interested in puppet shows again! The money we’ve made these past 2 years have shown that! You are loved by many Jinglette, and that’s why you are truly special.” A small smile came to Nami’s face hearing such praise.
“Yes master, you are absolutely right as always! I am special! Thanks to your idea of a human marionette show, you are wealthy and will always continue to sell out of tickets! I get to make people happy and that is the most important thing of all!”
“That’s the spirit Jinglette! I’m so proud of you for all you have achieved in these past few years. There’s nothing for you to worry about. Just keep doing what you are doing and everything will be great!”
“I will! Thank you master for cheering me up!” She gave Rick a hug and even a kiss on the cheek. “Oh, master I’m feeling so tired now. May I go to bed?”
“Certainly. Let’s get you hooked up backstage then.”
With her strings back on, and raised upwards suspended in the air, Nami felt much more at home than the previous night already. She and Rick said their goodnights and Rick left the stage to head back to his room on the other side of the ship. Nami looked at the other puppets thinking about both Sugar and Ricks words.
“I may not be like any of you brothers and sisters, but master says I’m special in my own way. Maybe being a puppet made of wood could mean I can do this forever. However, my master is always right and I must always listen to him. That’s the way it’s going to be.” Just then a sharp pain came to her head again, as another strange fragment in her memory popped into his mind.
“Tangerine trees… A lady with red hair… What is this and what does it mean?!” The pain stopped and the fragments disappeared, leaving Nami in a state of confusion.
“It happened again… Why? I should just go to sleep and forget about this.” She quietly drifted off to sleep, trying her best not to think about what just happened. Her sleep didn’t last long, however, as a few hours into the night, the sound of somebody whispering was coming from down on the ground. Nami slowly opened her eyes to see what was happening but couldn’t see anyone. It was then that she looked ahead of her to see that it was the monkey toy that hung around Sugar before holding onto a marionette’s strings.
“Why are you here?” she asked raising her voice, which caused the monkey to tell her to shush. He held in his paw a note with some handwriting on it that said, “Meet me again tomorrow night at the same spot. Come alone and tell nobody.”
“Could this be from Sugar?” asked Nami to the monkey, to which he nodded his head.
“My master really wants to see you again. Will you come?” it asked her quietly. Nami was conflicted as she remembered what Rick had told her about being special. But a part of her just couldn’t pass up another opportunity to see Sugar again. She wasn’t sure why but her mind had been made up fast.
“Great! I’ll see you tomorrow then with my master! Don’t tell anybody ok? Or this meeting will go bust.” Nami agreed and the monkey climbed back down, leaving the stage as quietly as he could.
“Sugar… Why do I want to see that girl again…?”
Outside the ship, the money returned onto Sugar’s shoulder who had been waiting for him.
“She’s agreed, master. It’s a date!”
“Excellent, well done! The more I try and convince her, the more chance we could have at breaking little miss ex-navigator. If that Rick guy is around town tomorrow, I’m gonna have some fun with him too. When we take away his precious puppet, It’s going to be great watching him lose it and just try to do something to me. He'd be terrified once I reveal my powers, haha!” Laughing cheekily to herself, Sugar left the ship and headed back.
The next day, Rick, Nami and her puppeteer stilt walker had arrived at town again to greet the citizens and hand out more flyers for the show. Rick needed more puppets for the show’s new segment, so he walked off to the toy shop to find some new ones.
“Ah, welcome back,” said the monkey toy. Searching for some new puppets again?”
“Indeed I am,” replied Rick still surprised to be talking to a toy. “Where is the shopkeeper today?”
“He had to step out, so I’m in charge until he gets back. Looking for a certain set of puppets?”
“Do you have any goat ones by chance?”
“Not on the shop floor, but I’ll go and back in the stock room. Now don’t steal anything while I’m gone!” The monkey toy jumped off the till and ran inside the stock room.
“Rather irresponsible to leave the shop unattended. Oh well, not my problem.” The shop’s bell ringed and in came Sugar who had been expecting Rick to be in.
“Oh hey there Mr Gray! Fancy seeing you again!” she said with an innocent smile.
“Ah, you’re that girl from the other day. Sugar was it?”
“Yep! Your memory isn’t terrible after all!”
“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s terrible.”
“Sure. Anyway, what are you doin?”
“Purchasing puppets again. I take it you’re here to see your little monkey friend?”
“Yeah but, I’m actually here to see you.”
“Me? What for?” This was Sugar’s chance to press him without giving herself completely away.
“I was thinking a lot about Jinglette after getting a ticket for the show. How did you two first meet?”
“Yeah tell me! I love to know this stuff!” Rick wasn’t prepared for a situation like this.
“W-well it was pretty straightforward really. She was a lonely girl who wanted the world to love her. I found her crying one day and she explained that she had been trying for showbiz, but it never worked out. She would get consistently bullied and told she was useless from what she told me. I gave her an offer to get her into showbiz and it evolved from there.”
“I see. Sounds like you really saved her future.”
“Worst lie ever! This guy is a piece of cake.”
“Jinglette has become such a lovely young lady. We are really close friends at this point and life has been going very well. She’s a star for a reason, so I hope you enjoy the show she’ll perform in coming up.”
“I’m sure. Jinglette must really care about you huh?”
“Why yes! She’s always there for me and is sometimes too loyal! One of these days she has to be able to find some time to entertain herself without needing me around all the time. I worry about her not fitting in with society due to being on her own.”
“Really? Then you should try and keep convincing her more Mr Gray. I’m sure she’d love to have some freedom once you get her used to it. But then would you feel ok if you two were separated for a long time?”
“It might feel pretty strange at first I suppose… Who knows? Someday I shall try and convince her more. But we are so busy with the show these days that we don’t get the time to think of much else.”
“Maybe she will someday Mr Gray,” replied Sugar as she then started to walk out of the shop. “Who knows? Maybe it might be sooner than we think...? See you!” Sugar left leaving Rick feeling quite confused.
“That girl… There’s something about her that makes me feel a little uneasy. Why on earth would she be asking me such personal questions? Call me paranoid but I’m a bit weary of her.”
“Back sir!” said the monkey toy who arrived back on the shop floor carrying some goat marionettes. “These good enough?”
“Perfect! Thank you very much.” As Rick paid for the puppets, he had a question of his own for the monkey. “What is your name little one if you don’t mind me asking? You don’t appear to have a name tag.”
“My name…? Beats me! I don’t really know!”
“Really? Doesn’t that bother you?”
“Nope! I am who I am and that’s just fine!”
“I see. Well thank you very much, and I’ll be on my way. Goodbye now.”
“Bye! Thanks for shopping with us!” Rick walked away from the shop not feeling quite as comfortable. “Something is fishy about this island. I can feel it…”
Later that night, Nami and Rick were in the living quarters as usual and Nami wanted to ask something.
“Master… May I try sleeping in here again tonight?”
“Really? I thought you found it harder to sleep last time?”
“Well, I was hoping that maybe trying it again would get me more used to it. Sometimes it could be nice to take a break. Please may I?”
“Well if you really want to, then sure I don’t mind.”
“Thank you, master! You’re the best!” She hugged and kissed him and lay down on the other soft immediately starting to try and sleep.
“Well ok Jinglette, I should head off then!” chucked Rick watching Nami make fake snores. “Goodnight my princess.”
“Goodnight master…” replied Nami sounding sleepy. Rick quietly closed the door and headed up to his room.
An hour passed and Rick was still awake who had been having trouble sleeping.
“What a strange day… Nothing really felt right. I shouldn’t be worrying, but I get this strange feeling that something big is going to happen. Something I don’t think I like the idea of…” He turned over the other side of his bed and tried his best to go to sleep.
Meanwhile, Nami had already snuck out quietly and was already on her way to meet Sugar again. She finally arrived with Sugar looking very eager to see her.
“I’m here Sugar. I got your message.”
“Well of course you did! So have you made up your mind yet?”
“About what?” Sugar facepalmed hard.
“My offer silly! Have you decided if you want me to turn you into a true puppet?” Nami didn’t want to disappoint her, but her loyalty to Rick made her admit the truth quickly.
“I can’t. My master says that I am special in my own way. I shouldn’t worry about getting old because I should focus on the now instead of the far future. I’m a special human puppet that makes puppet shows popular again. My master wouldn’t want me to be any different and I agree with him. I have to decline.”
“Really? Aw come on Jinglette, it would be the best decision you could ever make if you say yes! What if somehow that popularity you have right now ends really fast, huh?” Nami was shocked to think of such a possibility.
“But I know I’ll be popular for years to come!”
“Sorry, that’s not how all showbiz works. Not everybody gets the same treatment of being popular forever. Trends die out and most likely they never recover the same popularity they once had. I hate to break it you, but your master is missing some very important things to think about.”
“But… but everyone loves me… That’s what master said!”
“Yeah for now Jinglette. But sadly it won’t last forever.” There was a small moment of silence as Nami began to feel sad. She believed everything Rick said, but thoughts of the future was something she couldn’t ignore from what Sugar had just said.
“I'm not doing this to be nasty. I'm just worried for you. Look, if I can’t convince you then maybe somebody else can.”
“Yeah. Hey kid, come over here!” Out from the shadows appeared a little marionette girl the height of a child wearing clothes that had been seen before, but nothing familiar came to mind. A crossbar was attached to its back and its strings were still intact.
“Hello there!” it said happily. “You must be Jinglette the human marionette! The one my master told me about!”
“Wow!” cried Nami in surprise. “It’s a real living puppet!”
“Meet Cindy,” said Sugar. “She just became friends with me recently. Like yourself, she had similar desires so I gave her the offer and here we are now. She gets to live out her dreams thanks to me.”
“My master is the greatest!” said Cindy spinning around happily. “Now I can be a puppet for the rest of my life and never have to worry about growing up! I’ve even made lots of new friends with the other toys here too! I hope you consider it someday too!” Nami couldn’t help but love what she was seeing. There was something about this puppet that felt like someone she may have seen before. Somebody from the past perhaps?
“Well… I think I need some more time to think about this,” replied Nami still feeling unsure. “But you are amazing Cindy!”
“Thanks! Master says she brought me a ticket to watch your show that’s coming up! I can’t wait!”
“That’s wonderful Cindy! I hope the people that pull my strings will put on a great show for you and everybody!”
“Anyway I won’t keep you Jinglette,” said Sugar. “You best get back before the sun rises.”
“Alright then. It was nice to meet you, Cindy!”
“Same here Jinglette! See you at the show!” Nami gave a cheerful wave and ran off to head back to the ship.
“I hope Jinglette becomes our friend real soon master,” said Cindy happily.
“Don’t worry kid,” she replied with a confident smile. “She will very soon. I’m sure of it.”
As Nami ran back, she passed by a house where some friends of a father were sitting down and chatting.
“What I still don't get is why you have so many pictures of a little girl here? You've never had any kids, right?"
"I don't get it either," replied the father. "I saw them when I came home and it was the freakiest thing. Then I saw the door in this house saying Jennie's Room and it raised even more questions. I've never had a daughter in my life!"
“Weird. What are you gonna do about all this?"
“Probably get rid of it all. I don't want people getting suspicious of me or anything. I don't know who this Jennie is and it's creeping me out. Maybe there's a reason for this? Or perhaps it's all just one big practical joke."