Elma took us to a cafe-like shop adjacent to the Mercenary Guild building. It somehow resembled San*ku Cafe.
I ordered something like cafe au lait and something resembling a sandwich. Elma also ordered cafe au lait. The young girl refrained from ordering anything, but I got her a cafe au lait and sandwich anyway.
“So what’s your name?”
“Um… I’m Mimi.”
“Oh yeah. We haven’t introduced ourselves yet huh. The name’s Hiro.”
“Shut it, you. So you’re Mimi. So what can you do? Do you have any skills useful when boarding a starship?”
Telling me to shut up was kinda cruel lady… Self-introductions are important y’know.
“Um… What exactly would you have me do?”
“……I already have a rough idea after hearing you say that, but I’ll lay it out for you anyway. This guy doesn’t need any support when it comes to combat, so anything other than that. Things like supply procurement, organizing information, negotiations with clients, liaising with the Mercenary Guild, contacting port security for take-off and landing requests and other such procedures.”
“I don’t have any experience in any of them…”
“I thought so. I guess you can only be entrusted with looking after the ship then. Cooking and laundry work… And since you’re a lady, please take care of this guy’s ‘physical needs’ as well.”
I involuntarily spat out the contents of my mouth. Physical needs!? You’re being a little too straightforward there lady!
“Ew. That’s gross!”
Elma, who was sitting just in front of me, angrily glared at me. My bad. But you’re partly to blame too y’know!
“You— Whaddya mean ‘take care of his physical needs’!?”
“What’s wrong? I thought you already had that intention when you decided to let this girl board your ship. Isn’t that right?” Elma matter-of-factly stated with a nonplussed expression.
“I admit I thought she was really cute and I want to get along with her more if possible, but I wasn’t thinking of taking it that far right-off the bat, you idiot!”
“What’s up with that? You’re surprisingly pure, aren’t you? Are you really a pampered young master or something?”
“That’s not it… But what’s with this shit anyway? Is ‘doing it’ with a girl the moment she gets onto one’s private ship taken as common sense here or something?!”
“That’s not the case if both parties are engaged in an equal relationship. But your relationship with this girl is anything but equal. So it’s not surprising to consider something like that at all.”
What the hell? I don’t even know how to retort. There wasn’t anything about this sort of stuff in Stella Online.
“No, no. I ain’t thinking about doing something that low. I’m not that much of a lowlife y’know.”
“Hmm. Well, it doesn’t really matter to me in any case. It’s enough that you’re aware this sort of thing is taken as something normal here.”
When I glanced towards Mimi, she shyly avoided my gaze with a bright red face. No, no. You don’t have to react like that okay! I won’t do any such thing. I didn’t rescue you with such a goal in mind!
I was screaming those retorts inside my head. But they’ll sound like flimsy excuses if I say them out loud. So I decided to keep them to myself.
“What do you want to do Mimi? Or rather, what were you doing walking around that sort of place anyway? If a defenseless girl like you wanders around in those sorts of areas, things like that are bound to happen.”
“Did you commit some sort of crime and escaped into the 3rd Block perhaps? What about your guardians?”
The moment she heard the word ‘guardians’, tears started to fall from Mimi’s eyes. Oh c’mon. Now you made her cry…
Mimi started telling us about her story as she cried. It was a typical tragedy.
Mimi grew up happily in a normal household on the 2nd Block. But one day, all the related personnel responsible for maintaining the colony’s oxygen plant died in an accident – including her parents.
Somehow, Mimi’s parents ended up taking all the blame for the said accident, and almost all of their properties were confiscated. Mimi, who was still a student without any proper source of income, was expelled to the 3rd Block due to her inability to pay taxes in order to stay in the 2nd Block.
“The hell. Is that okay? There’s no safety net or something?”
“I have no idea. The important thing is that this girl literally has nowhere else to go.”
“Yeah, I guess… She’s got no more other options left huh.”
If Mimi doesn’t choose to board my ship, the only place she could come back to was the 3rd Block. If something similar to the incident earlier happens once more, there would be next to no chance of her escaping again.
“Um, please… I’ll do anything. So please let me board big brother’s ship.” Mimi desperately pleaded while bowing her head.
“Alright, I understand. I’ll do something about it, so don’t worry and leave it to me. So go ahead and eat your sandwich, okay. I think you haven’t had a decent meal yet, right?”
Perhaps she finally felt reassured due to my words. Mimi gingerly reached out for her sandwich. When I turned towards Elma, I found her making a really disgusted face.
“Well, that’s the case. So would the nice and considerate Elma-senpai please guide Mimi through the proper procedures for officially boarding my ship as a crew member?”
“Are you serious?”
“It’s going to cost you. A lot.”
“A lot? It’s that expensive?”
“The payment for head tax and 2nd Block residential tax plus accumulated late penalties, all remaining unpaid indemnity fees for the bereaved worker’s families due to the incident involving her parents and the fees in order to grant her the right to freely move to any sector amounts to a total of 500,000 Enel.”
“You serious? Like, totally serious?!”
A man with an uptight atmosphere wearing a suit and had hair parted in a 7:3 ratio looked at me with a serious face and charged me an exorbitant price. If you convert 500,000 Enel to Japanese Yen, it’ll be 50 million! 50 million Yen! What’s up with this absurd price?
We were currently at the main office of the Population Management Bureau of the trading colony Termaine Prime; in other words, a government office. We came here in order to go through the proper procedures for Mimi to be officially recognized as a crew member of my ship. But when they checked Mimi’s information on their database, we were led to a backroom and billed outrageously.
By the way, Elma said she disliked the atmosphere inside a government office and took the opportunity to disappear somewhere when they called us to the backroom. Mimi went together with me, but when she heard the price, her face turned blue and was now trembling like a small animal.
“Yes. I’ve actually already rounded the amount off for you sir. Would you like to confirm the details?”
And so, the guy showed me the details. I saw them, but I couldn’t judge if the price they told us was the proper amount or not even though I could read the numbers.
Just the fee for securing an unrestricted moving rights pass was already 200,000 Enel man! Are they seriously not trying to rip us off?
“…What’s up with burdening a minor with the debt incurred by her parents? Don’t you have a policy that would allow her to decline that kind of negative inheritance by filing for bankruptcy or something?”
“Well, there actually is one in place. But the other party should have applied for it within three months after knowing the existence of the debt. It’s already way past the grace period. It can be said that making her move to the 3rd Block in order to exempt her from paying the debt is a so-called safety net,” the government official declared without a change in his expression.
What kind of shitty ‘safety net’ is that? Sure, you wouldn’t have to pay the debt if you move to the slums, but you’d also be losing any form of support from the government as a result.
In the first place, they should have known that forcing an underage girl without any skills to support herself to live in the slums was a recipe for disaster. It’s not some damn safety net but just plain abandonment. Are the heads of the folks administrating this colony screwed on right?
“I’ve heard that mercenaries do earn quite a bit, but I can’t imagine you being able to pay 500,000 Enel sir. I think any further discussion is a waste of time. I’m not too familiar with the place, but I’m sure there would be a suitable playground for you to unleash your desires in the 3rd Block. Can’t you just be satisfied with that and stop reaching for things beyond your station?”
The bastard with the 7:3 parted hair smiled in contempt. Hah! You sure about that? I really wasn’t planning on doing any of that stuff to Mimi once I take her in, like what this bastard is obviously thinking.
But… fine. You bastard. You’re looking down on me huh? I’ll take you on, sucker.
“Alright, that’s fine. 500,000 Enel, correct? I can pay that kind of money in a heartbeat.”
After hearing my words, the 7:3 hair bastard’s expression turned ugly right away. Yeah, that’s what I wanted to see.
“What? So it’s not just your personality that’s bad but even your ears? 500,000 Enel. I’m gonna settle that amount right now. Go and process it already.”
“…Are you trying to make some sort of joke sir?”
“Annoying. I’m telling you to process it already.”
When I took out my portable data terminal and showed my willingness to pay, the man with 7:3 parted hair finally proceeded without hesitation. His personality was the absolute worst, but he sure works fast. The entire process was finished in no time.
The payment of 500,000 Enel to Termaine Prime was debited from my account, and a certificate stating Mimi’s debt was fully cleared and her unrestricted traveling rights pass were both issued.
This unrestricted traveling rights thing seemed to be some special pass which would exempt you from paying taxes unless you decide to settle down somewhere in the future. It’s really expensive. This alone was 200,000 Enel. It’s like paying taxes in advance.
After listening to some detailed explanations from the 7:3 guy, we took all the documents we managed to acquire and left the government office. When we came out, my info terminal’s ring tone went off. It was a message from Elma. She was apparently inside a nearby clothing store. She even sent some navigation info.
“Are you alright?”
“Y- Yes, I’m fine.”
Mimi’s mood had obviously fallen after I paid off her debt. I have no way of knowing what’s going on inside her mind, but after getting chased around by hoodlums and subsequently rescued, spilling out her grievances in a cafe, and getting shocked by the astronomical amount of debt in the government office, her heart may need some time to settle down a bit.
I actually wanted to hurry and have her board the ship so she could rest up, but we still had to buy some new clothes for her so she’ll have some stuff to change into daily.
It’s unfortunate, but I had to take her to the clothing store to buy some new clothes before we could return to the ship.
“So what happened?”
“I hit their faces with a thick wad of cash… err, Enel.”
“Great. That’s more like how us mercs do things. Anyway, I’ve managed to pick out some clothes for Mimi to change into. Here.”
Elma pressed a bag apparently filled with clothes onto me along with the bill. The price… wasn’t that expensive. It doesn’t seem to be that big an amount. Looks like she only bought ordinary clothes.
“For the time being, I bought some clothes, underwear and some other necessary things for daily use. I’m sure it isn’t enough for the two of you, so try to look around yourselves and buy the things you need here in the next few days.”
“Sorry for the trouble. And thanks.”
“It won’t hurt if you express your gratitude more you know?”
“I think I’ve given you the appropriate rewards already, see. And it was a great time waster, right?”
“It wasn’t enough for all that trouble… Honestly. Well, it did serve to kill some time though. This should be fine, right? I’m going back to my ship.”
“We’re going back too. I want to have Mimi rest up soon.”
“That’s good. Try not to get yourself caught up in this guy’s pace. And also, make sure to properly look after him. If you leave him alone for a bit, I’m sure he’ll stick his neck into something troublesome again and get himself killed.”
Mimi responded with enthusiasm to Elma’s lecture. Perhaps Mimi sees Elma as an elder sister figure she can rely on.
“You too. Take care of yourself, alright? If you went and got yourself involved in something troublesome again and get killed in the process, this kid would be forced to roam the back alleys once more. Stop being so reckless.”
“I get it. Elma-senpai is unexpectedly good at taking care of others huh?”
“It’s the wisdom that comes with age boy. You seem to have forgotten, but I’m actually far older than you are.”
“Oh yeah. You’re right.”
It doesn’t really seem like it because she just looks so damn young, but Elma really was older than me by more than a dozen years. She was way too peppy for an old lady though, so I tended to forget.
Never appear again, flat hag.
Your comment is so blunt.
And unoriginal. They should at least try something more interesting.
Flat is sexy though. So it balances out the age.
Government extortion at its finest.
Thanks for the treat.
It seems that a lawyer should have been consulted before paying all that extortion money. I’m losing respect for this MC who tosses out larger amounts of money to pay extortionists as if he has an infinite supply.
Lawyer? What’s that? Is it tasty?! Doesn’t seem to be any in this area or a minor child wouldn’t have been hit with that massive debt and thrown into the slums like that.
Get slapped with a thick wad of cash boy
he does have infinite money hes the mc any time hes low and needs more it will fall into his lap its what plot armor is for
Standard legal extortion. There is an easy to use procedure for waiving or disputing a debt. One that is not publicized in any manner. Lawyers will advise about it after you ask for assistance that few outside the collections industry are even aware exists. The fee is often only two or three times the debt amount😋
Collection agencies will remain quiet until the time limit for applying for the waiver/appeal expires, then they will pester you long after the legal limit on collections expires. They make a good living by keeping the victims ignorant.
This government employee though may be involved in the people trafficking industry that “everyone knows doesn’t exist” or possibly is just an ordinary sadist. He seemed awfully disappointed about the girl escaping the fate station administration had planned for her.
Thanks for the chapter!!
Get slapped with a thick wad of cash boy
government doing the best it knows how to do: stealing
Corrupt government so relatable even if it’s Interstellar fantasy