377 – Hostility
Editor: Thor’s Stone
“They were surprisingly accommodating regarding your resignation, weren’t they?”
After exiting Inagawa Tech’s building, I whispered so that only Kugi and Dr. Shouko could hear my remark.
Mr. Dixon kept making snide remarks regarding my relationships with multiple women, but he didn’t really try to dissuade Dr. Shouko from joining us.
“I’ve already submitted all the relevant documents and properly handed over all my tasks before I was sent to work for the military, so they shouldn’t have anything to nitpick about. You already know of my origins, right? The empire is surprisingly tolerant of people with backgrounds similar to mine. Or should I say sympathetic……? Well, the point is they treat people like us quite fairly. We’re mostly free to choose our own careers.”
“I honestly wasn’t expecting that.”
“Basically, they’re worried that if they treat people like me poorly and push us to the brink, we might bite back. We’re designed to be geniuses after all, so it would be really bad if we escaped, went off the grid, and conducted some weird and harmful research or something like that.”
“I see……? But shouldn’t there be more than a couple of ways to force someone to be obedient pawns?”
This was a world where there is such a thing as surgical enhancements that would allow someone to surpass human limits. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was technology that would allow others to implant a chip into a person’s brain in order to freely manipulate their actions.
“Of course there are. But if ways to forcefully manipulate people exist, there are also ways to effectively nullify their effects, as well as methods to avoid getting controlled without being found out. And people like me are really good at stuff like that.”
“So, instead of forcefully making you guys submit, they try their hardest to make you feel welcomed and needed instead so you’d swear allegiance voluntarily.”
“That’s how it is. Well, it’s not like this empire is paradise for people like us, so they’d still monitor your actions for a certain period, and a certain degree of mental adjustments are mandatory.”
“It’s basically similar to taking a questionnaire. You’d be led to a private room and undergo something akin to a psychiatric evaluation. Various investigative equipment are hidden inside the room, so they’d be able to get a mostly accurate reading of your thoughts.”
What about free thinking? And what exactly are they gonna do if you didn’t pass that evaluation? Scary stuff.
“Speaking of which, what about confidentiality regarding Inagawa Technology’s info and company tech? You good with those?”
“I already returned all the devices containing relevant data. I can’t do anything about the stuff that’s already inside my head, but there’s a non-disclosure agreement.”
“So, it’s not possible to tamper with the contents of your head huh?”
“Well, not exactly. They can do that, but it’ll greatly affect one’s memories and personality……”
“That’s freaking scary.”
In other words, if they tampered with your head to erase certain memories, your personality will also be greatly affected. You might even turn into someone else entirely. That’s seriously terrifying.
“So it is like that.”
“Is it not the case with your country, Kugi?”
“I have heard that my country also has a device that seals memories.”
“Hee? So, psionic technology can also do something like that huh? It’s not memory deletion but sealing instead huh……? Is something like hypnosis?”
“I have only heard of the device’s existence from someone else, so I am not so clear regarding the details…… It is apparently a measure used when expelling people from other countries who we have previously detained.”
So, it should be a way to prevent foreigners from freely talking about the country’s inner workings huh? No matter how I think about it, the Holy Vuelzarus empire really seems like a pretty insular, or rather, exclusive country.
“So, what should we do now? Are we gonna join up with Mei-kun and the others as planned?”
“Let’s do that. Your opinions regarding medical and research equipment we’re gonna get is also–”
Before I could say ‘important’, I paused and warily looked around. I wasn’t sure what exactly happened, but my back suddenly felt all tingly. I also think I felt a chill on the back of my neck. It’s similar to the feeling I get whenever a tricky opponent gets behind me in a space dogfight.
“I feel like I’ve been marked by something or someone really dangerous.”
“……Hostility. And quite an intense one at that. It was only for a moment, but it certainly was there.”
Kugi seemed to have felt it as well. She also scanned the area warily, with her fox ears jittering on top of her head.
“Hostility huh? Doesn’t working as a mercenary carry a risk of making quite a few enemies?”
“Even so, I’m actually quite reserved compared to others in this line of work. I haven’t done anything that would make anyone resent me except for space pirates and the like.”
Well, aside from pirates, only nobles came to mind. After all, I beat down a fair share of knights and nobles during that imperial tournament I was forced to participate in, so the possibility of being resented because of that wasn’t exactly zero. There’s also the possibility of the source being the nobles who messed with the Dareinwald house.
“What are we gonna do?”
“It’s usually better to run away and escape during situations like this, but…… let’s join up with Mei and the rest first. If there’s a risk of engaging in battle outside of the ship, joining up and moving together with Mei would be the next best thing.”
The best thing is, of course, successfully evacuating to one of our energy-shielded starships, but the Black Lotus was about to undergo refurbishment and an overhaul, and Krishna wouldn’t be able to adequately accommodate all of us inside it. Err, I suppose we can still make it work somehow if we all squeezed in. Anyway, that would be our last resort.
“Dr. Shouko, please send a message to Mimi and the others. Tell them that there’s a possibility we’re being targeted by an unidentified party, so they should finish up their shopping and join up with Mei’s group as well.”
“Nn, I got it.”
As I watched Dr. Shouko take out her portable data terminal from her pocket and began operating it, I made sure I’d be able to draw the sword and laser gun strapped to my waist at a moment’s notice. I don’t think they’d launch an attack on us in the middle of such a crowded city block, but it’s not like the possibility was zero.
The man and the girl with fox ears – probably someone from Vuelzarus – began to scan the surroundings cautiously almost at the same time, so I couldn’t help but click my tongue in annoyance.
“Tsk…… That’s some intuition. How troublesome.”
I only leaked out bloodlust for a short instant, but they were immediately able to pick up on it. Their sense of vigilance was out of the ordinary. Even nobles who’ve received full physical enhancements shouldn’t have been able to notice at this distance.
“Are they psychics? How troublesome……”
Even though this galaxy is quite vast, there aren’t that many people who have managed to awaken psionic abilities. There are some species with innate psionic abilities like the elves, but there are only a handful of individuals in the known galaxy who are able to notice hostility from this far away.
“Even so, he sure is making quite a splash……”
I muttered while checking my target’s background information on my tablet terminal.
I thought he was just a small-time villain, but he turned out to be quite the bigshot. I should have checked with the Mercenary Guild straight away. Owing to his relatively reserved personality, eyewitness reports are hard to come by.
“Being late to act sure cost us……”
I was away for just a couple of years, but to think something like that would happen within that short time period. That place wasn’t exactly safe, and being close to the center of the empire was inconvenient for me…… Also, all the people involved have already been purged, so it took a while to gather vital information.
『Captain, Target Alpha has begun to move.』
“Make sure to keep an eye on him. But don’t let him notice you. That bandit might be a psionic. Use anti-psychic equipment while monitoring him.”
『……How troublesome. I’ll take some from the ship.』
“Alright. For now, a mental wave-blocking helmet should be enough.”
I’m not sure what kind of abilities he has exactly, but since he was able to detect my killing intent from this far out, it should be telepath-related. If that’s the case, then mental wave-blocking equipment should prevent one from getting detected by him as well as prevent the target from messing around with the head of my subordinate.
“I won’t let you get away…… I’ll definitely make you pay the price for what you’ve done.”
I muttered to myself while watching the bandit, Captain Hiro, from afar.
Just hold on dear. I’m coming to rescue you soon.