021 – Bill Bundle Face Slap 2

 


Translator: SFBaka


“Ah…”

“Um… Isn’t that Elma-san?”

Mimi and I ended up seeing a certain someone’s sorry figure while we were walking on the way to the convenience store on the 3rd Block. She was leaning on the wall a little further from the convenience store’s entrance and sat directly on the pavement while covered by a white hooded mantle. Normally, this get-up would be enough to make it difficult for others to recognize you. But the hood on the figure’s head was distorted into a strange shape. That’s definitely because of her pointy ears.

When I took a closer look, I managed to spot a few empty liquor bottles behind her. Maybe she just couldn’t handle her problems anymore and just resorted to drowning her sorrows by drinking alcohol.

“Hiro-sama…”

“Nmm… We’ll just ask about her circumstances for the time being, alright?”

We approached the figure in white and stood to the side. The person in question was startled by our approach and trembled slightly. Somehow, I felt a hint of danger while looking at her figure.

“….Tsk!”

Her actions were lightning-fast. The figure in white drew her laser gun with blinding speed and aimed it towards me. However, my reaction was equally fast, and I was able to aim my own weapon at her at the same time. I saw eyes akin to a dead fish peeking out from under the dirty, white mantle. Oh boy. Looks like she really had it bad. She stared at me for a while with a lifeless gaze, slowly lowered her laser gun and proceeded to display a mirthless smile.

“Fufu. What? Did you guys come to make fun of me or something?”

“That’s not it, idiot! You did take care of me a while back, so I just wanted to see how you were holding up… And, well, Mimi insisted y’see.”

“Elma-san…”

Mimi sat down right next to Elma and held both of Elma’s hands in hers. Elma smiled softly as she looked down on their overlapping hands.

“Looks like our positions have been flipped in just the span of half a month huh.”

Mimi couldn’t say anything after hearing Elma’s words and silently went to take Elma in for a hug. Elma weakly hugged her back.

“So, how are you?”

“The compensation and penalty fees filed by the Sector military… I already sold my entire assets and bled my savings dry, but I still couldn’t manage to get enough.”

“How much is left?”

“About 3,000,000 Enel more…”

“3,000,000…”

I checked my assets on my personal terminal. I have about 3,500,000 Enel on me. I definitely had more than enough to bail her out.

“I can’t earn money right now either since repairing my ship would take more than two weeks, and even the reward money I made during the mission was canceled out by the fines due to the accident I caused… I did try to consult the Mercenary Guild about it though.”

Elma powerlessly shook her head.

Well, I guess that’s about right. Repairing a totally damaged ship would take a lot of time, and if a merc can’t use their ship, they can’t make money. There would be no lending company that would offer a loan amount of 3,000,000 Enel to a wandering mercenary, and 3,000,000 Enel is a pretty exorbitant fine, to begin with. She could try going to banks, but are there any conventional banks in this world?

But still, she’d already sold all her assets and used up her entire five years-worth of savings, but she still ended up short 3,000,000. Just how large were the penalty fees anyway? That’s pretty damn scary man.

“What’s the payment deadline? What’ll happen if you can’t pay?”

“Today… In about two more hours… If I can’t pay, they’ll send me to forced labor in the orbital prison on Termaine III. There are a lot of former pirates imprisoned in there. Once they learn that I’m a former merc……”

Elma began crying in despair.

I was prepared for the possibility of dying while out in space when I first got my ship. But this… This is just…!”

“Elma-san…! Hiro-sama!”

Mimi looked up at me as she cradled the sobbing Elma within her arms. Her gaze was begging me to do something.

I crossed my arms and began considering things. Yup… Bailing her out would be simple enough. I’ll just have to pay the fines, and she’ll get off scot-free. But doing that would reduce my funds to just a little more than 500,000 Enel.

Well, that’s still a pretty big amount. But it isn’t something that would last us indefinitely, considering the operating expenses of my ship. There’s no problem if we just went for some minor repairs and resupplying, but if something went wrong which leads to our ship getting wrecked, the fees would be astronomical. But I guess it won’t be much of a problem if I was able to make a lot more money quickly… Should I hunt down the remnant pirate groups in the area for starters? Mimi kept looking at me with an uneasy expression. Man. I just can’t refuse that gaze.

“Hey, Elma.”

“…What!?”

“Come aboard my ship and become one of my crew.”

“……Eh?”

“I’ll pay that three million. So be my crew member in exchange. I’ll have you teach Mimi the ins and outs of being a mercenary from scratch. And you’ll have to act as her support in combat as well.”

“Wha– Wait, are you serious!?”

I ignored Elma who was shocked silly at my proposal and took out my portable terminal in order to check the time. There’s just a little bit more until the repayment deadline.

“We don’t have much time. Go and make your decision already. It’s either you become one of my crew, or get thrown into a prison filled with former pirate inmates to serve as their plaything.”

There’s no middle ground. It’s like I’m forcing her, but Elma looks like she was a person who held a lot of pride, so I was being pushy on purpose.

“But, but why…?”

“If I don’t help you out, Mimi would grieve. And furthermore, it’ll leave a bad taste in my mouth if I left you alone to face such a cruel fate. And well, I kinda want you with me as well.”

She really made a big mess this time around, but Elma was still a veteran merc with five years of experience. She would be great to have around me, who still lacks this world’s common sense, and Mimi, who was born and raised inside a colony.

Also, she had enough skills to handle an out-of-control ship and managed to survive a crash practically uninjured. She would be great as a sub-pilot in case of an emergency. I also plan to have her lecture Mimi regarding ship piloting, but that’s still a long way off.

“Whu– Y– You w- want me…!?”

Elma’s cheeks and ears turned bright red for some reason. Mimi also displayed a surprised expression. Wait, aren’t their reactions a bit weird? I’ll ask them about it later.

“So?”

“Eh!? Ah, um… I– Is that right? So you were looking at me like that huh?”

Elma started fidgeting bashfully. Looking at you like what, exactly?

“Um… okay. I’ll do it.”

I made fun of her as a disappointing space elf, but her choice of stores was appropriate, her knowledge regarding all the related procedures in the guild was spot on, and her advice was pretty useful as well. Her follow-up regarding Mimi, including giving her “meds”, was also good. And it could be said that she wasn’t entirely responsible for her ship going out-of-control as well.

“Oh, um… but don’t you have Mimi already?”

“It’s not like it’ll be any different if we add one more person. Right, Mimi?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“I– I see. So just one isn’t enough huh…?”

Elma made a swallowing gesture and looked at me with a passionate gaze. Huh? Isn’t her reaction really a bit weird? Or is it just me?

“So what’ll it be? Are you gonna board my ship or not?”

“I… I’ll get on board.”

“I see. Then welcome aboard. Do your job properly, okay?”

“I, I know! Please be gentle with me.”

“Hm? I’ll probably be hard on you though.”

What the heck is this girl talking about? That’s a whopping 3,000,000 Enel y’know. That’s 300,000,000 Yen. Of course, I’m gonna be strict with her.

“Oh, alright… Understood. I’ll prepare myself then. It’ll be far better than doing it with pirate inmates at least.”

This girl’s saying something incomprehensible again. Oh well. Let’s just head to the military headquarters and pay her fines off.

We started heading toward the military base with Elma in tow, whose expression was strangely filled with determination for some reason and paid her remaining fines amounting to 3,000,000 Enel. It took a bit of time, but now Elma’s in the clear. She’s going to be paying a 3,000,000 debt by working for me instead.

“Oh boy… Thanks to you, my financial account has become a lot lonelier all of a sudden.”

“I’m truly grateful for your help… I’ll pay you back little by little.”

“Haha. Well, if you don’t do your job well, you won’t be able to get any compensation, okay. I’m expecting a great performance.”

“U, um… Okay. I’ll do my best to satisfy you.”

There’s that weird reaction again? Are we having a huge misunderstanding here?

“We were originally planning to buy some supplies anyway, so you might as well just tag along. We’ll have to buy some daily necessities for you anyway, right?”

“Just a bit then. I have some things still left on my ship anyway.”

“I see. Then let’s get to buying those supplies and hurry back to the ship.”

“Yes, Hiro-sama!”

There’s Mimi on my right and Elma on my left. From someone else’s point of view, it’s a “flower in both arms” kind of situation. Elma was a gorgeous space elf after all. But some parts of her were a bit disappointing.

But well, having two gorgeous ladies on-board was sure to spice up our journey, so welcoming another member did have its perks. And the new girl is both beautiful and skilled to boot. I won’t lay a hand on her though. I feel like my hand will be twisted straight off if I did.

Anyway, our remaining funds were 500,000 Enel. It definitely won’t last us if we encountered an emergency. I’ve already lazed around for close to a week, so I guess it’s time I went out and made some money.


“Oh, by the way, what happened to the mercenary who cause that accident?”

“That female merc right? Well… She seems to have sold her ship and fully paid the compensation fees.”

“She sold her ship…? And she made a full payment, you say?”

“Yes, that seems to be the case. Today happens to be the deadline.”

“Deadline…? I ordered that she should not be penalized, didn’t I?”

Failure to pay the penalties fined by the military can be considered a severe crime already. That’s all the more true in this empire. Even if it’s stipulated in imperial laws, forcing a person to pay those astronomical penalties in just one week was just too much. In this star system, where the military’s influence is prevalent, it was more likely that any incident of this sort would be unilaterally blamed on the mercenary instead. But if you think about it using common sense, anyone would judge that the repairs of that damaged military cruiser would last more than a week.

“Yes, well… It seems that Captain Baritone of the central department was the one who calculated and imposed the penalties as well as set the deadline.”

“That damned pig…! Should I just tear him apart and feed him to the rest of his species?”

That damn pig didn’t think well of mercenaries, as well as me who managed to make good use of them. So this was probably his attempt at harassment.

There have been talks among the mercenaries that if one of them was found out to have made even a little mistake during the earlier operation (although the incident caused by that female mercenary was anything but little), they’d be sent straight to prison, so I was a bit troubled by the situation.

“Serena-sama?”

“Oh, sorry… But this is concerning. Please investigate it for me. If possible, make it so that pig gets taken down a peg or two.”

“Understood!”

But anyway, I can’t imagine just selling her ship would have let her pay off all of the fines. The mercenary occupation seems to make a lot of money. Should I just quit being a soldier and become one then…?


 


10 Comments

  1. So it was a setup. Elma slapped with a large fine by a pig, but Hiro comes along and pays it off in one go.

    But it turns out there’s corruption in the inner-workings. Making one think, the damage done, shouldn’t of been the millions in the first place.

    Those of us that play Elite, accidentally crash into a security force or a Federal, just get slapped with a 1000 credit fine.

    • Well she managed to wreck military battlecruiser, not some simple crash, so repairs should cost a lot. But yeah, set up by the pig. Hope during investigation they see that fines bloated and return some of the money. By the way Mimi case feels like set up.

    • Considering how expensive a medium sized craft, that much is quite valid, though I can’t say about how expensive everything here.

      And yeah, there goes my elf + ugly-bastard tag

    • what do you mean by playing elite? can you elaborate please?

      • Elite Dangerous is a game. Specifically, it’s a sci-fi open-world MMO uncannily similar to Stella Online that’s described in this WN. You buy ships, upgrade them, explore space, mine, fight, etc all in your bid to become one of the Elite. Check it out on Steam.

  2. Thanks for the treat.

  3. This Graccan Empire should have collapsed by now due to its lawlessness. There is only fiat judgements by non-courtroom judges who are merely either military officials or government officials or even low level bureaucrats who have a key bottleneck position (example: rare metal sales) and can exert their corrupt greed to hold people up with delays unless they pay a bribe. Without courts and lawyers, such corruption is guaranteed to occur and certainly goes on in this story.

    As seen multiple times, there aren’t any courts or lawyers for civil matters, penalties, fines, or payment plans. Instead, it’s the “queen of hearts” style of “off with their head” if they cannot pay. Of course, it’s good if the people in power drive a competitor out of business and then force the whole family into prison because debt created by the head of the family can fall onto the children to pay off as seen in Mimi’s case where she inherited the parent’s debt.

  4. Thanks for the chapter!!

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