“News! Get your news here!” The newsboy’s cries pierced through the hubbub and bustle of San Marco Square. “Extra! Controversial motorboat legislation to be discussed at council today!” People turned their heads in interest, and the boy started to hand data tablets to the crowd. “Extra! Extra! Motorboats to be banned with new legislation! Read about it here!”
A blue-haired woman and a trenchcoat-wearing man approached the newsboy and took some tablets. They made their way to a busy restaurant and read the news tablets while they waited to be served.
“Huh,” Aika mumbled, reading the headline. “‘Landmark Legislation to Ban Motorboats in Council Today’. Al, what do you think?” She looked at the man sitting with her.
The dark-haired man scrunched his eyebrows as he took the article in. “No motorboats going up the canals, limited only to inter-island and inter-city travel, Gondola Association Representative Alicia Florence taking the floor…”
Aika smiled. “Alicia’s been busy! I do see where she’s coming from...the motorboats are loud and make the canals reek of fuel. I heard a poor Orange Planet Undine got thrown from her gondola when she didn’t get out of the way of one.” This drew frowns from the girl.
“She didn’t get hurt, did she?”
Aika shook her head. “She wasn’t hurt, thankfully...the motorboat stopped its engines and rescued her. I remember when that news broke out…”
“Was quite a scandal, wasn’t it?” Al took a sip of water as he continued reading. “Well, it doesn’t seem to be much of a contest - not as many complaints as I would have expected.”
Aika smirked. “I wouldn’t miss them for sure!” The server approached their table, and the two started looking at their menus.
“The motorboat ban has passed!”
Applause filled the Gondola Association’s conference room as the declaration of the ban was televised to the room. The conference room was much more packed than usual - many undines came to watch from all companies, and an Orange Planet gondolier cried and hugged her companion in relief.
“Now, a closing speech from the Gondola Association’s representative. Mrs. Florence, you have the floor.” The noise in the room quickly lowered to isolated murmurs.
“Dear Council members, I thank you for showing your love and devotion to our wonderful city by helping make this ban a reality. With this, you have ensured the safety of thousands of gondoliers everywhere. With this, you have made Neo-Venezia more serene and beautiful. There is nothing that makes me happier than to see the city you love become more beautiful, and this is one of those moments. Thank you.”
The next words shook the room. “Since the ban was released, I have an announcement to make on behalf of the Gondola Association. In order to fill the void that was occupied by the motorboat transports and ferries that operated inside the city, we will be implementing an expansion of the traghetto’s use as a cargo transport and as a passenger ferry. This expansion will involve the creation of new companies or talks with the current gondola companies. The Gondola Association will release updates in the coming weeks. Thank you.”
The room burst into excited and animated conversations. “Undines on traghettos! What an exciting prospect.” “This opens up more opportunities for male gondoliers!” “What great news! I wonder if Himeya or Orange Planet will be training traghetto undines.”
Three girls burst out of the room and ran down the hallway, talking to each other excitedly. “Atora! Anzu! I can’t believe it! It’s coming true!”
“What is?” Anzu looked at Ayumi.
“You know, after that accident happened, Alicia e-mailed me and asked to see me. She asked me about the traghetto work, and I told her about my day-to-day routine and what I thought about traghettos working as transports. I never knew it would turn into this!”
Atora looked at Ayumi with a curious gaze, slowly turning into a gasp. “Oh! Are you saying she offered you a chance to participate at this expansion?”
Ayumi giggled. “I wish! But I’m just glad that my line of work is going to be so important. I can’t wait to welcome many more customers and talk to them!”
Anzu stared at Ayumi. “Your wish might come true, Ayumi...be careful!”
“Me? Head a company?”
Alicia nodded. “Yes, you - Ayumi Jasmine. The Gondola Association wants you to guide undines that want to work with the traghetto, just like you do. You love your work, Ayumi...For some, the traghetto is where undines work if they cannot pass their promotion exams - but you’re not like that, and that’s what makes you the best person for this.”
Ayumi swallowed in nervous excitement. “But I’ve never led a company before. I’ve never been a mentor.”
“So were your mentors - they were juniors once. Ayumi, you have this wonderful gift of love and passion for your work. I know that you will be able to bring that passion for the future of the traghetto. Trust me - you will make a wonderful company and fill the canals of Neo-Venezia with your traghettos.”
Ayumi started to sob. “I never thought I would meet you like this...and talk to you about this...and just see my dream come true. It just feels so wonderful.”
Alicia smiled and hugged the girl. “It is wonderful, just as you will be. I will be with you every step of the way, and I’ll teach you how to run your company, and I will see you be successful. I promise, Ayumi.”