382 – Two People in Business Suits
Editor: Thor’s Stone
After we got in contact with Igasek, they quickly dispatched representatives to the hotel we were staying at.
“I thought we were gonna conduct the negotiations through a holo-call.”
“An analog method like this best ensures confidentiality. Transmissions can get intercepted or subjected to cracking after all.”
“Come to think of it, you chose to send the holo-message recorded by Chris to Earl Dareinwald through a courier back then, didn’t you, Elma?”
So that was due to security considerations as well. It’s because data sent through a network might get intercepted and tampered with before it reaches the intended recipient.
“You sure brought up an old story…… Which reminds me, you were quite amazing back then, Hiro.”
“That sure takes me back.”
Elma displayed a wide grin while Mimi’s lips curled into a sunny smile. They were both smiling, but it kinda felt like what they were getting at was different. How curious.
“Eh, what’re ya guys talkin’ about? Tell me about it too.”
“I’m also really curious!”
“T-This one is curious as well……”
Tina and Wiska’s reactions were just as expected, but even Kugi joined in on the commotion…… Dr. Shouko was grinning as well. It looks like I have no ally inside this room huh? Mei…… doesn’t look like she would intervene either. I suppose she doesn’t think the matter needed her intervention in the first place. Also, her expression was as deadpan as usual, but she did seem curious as well.
“Okay, stop! Let’s just drop that topic! Or maybe just leave it for later. C’mon guys. The people from Igasek should be arriving soon.”
“Alright, Master. I shall ask Mimi-sama and Elma-sama about the matter later then.”
I shouldn’t have said that we’ll leave it for later. At this rate, even if the others didn’t follow up on the topic, Mei absolutely will.
Well, I suppose there’s no use crying over spilled milk. What’s done is done, so I’ll just resolve myself. What? I simply couldn’t control my impulses back then due to anxiety and acted like a knight vowing to protect the princess…… It wasn’t really all that embarrassing.
As I inwardly reassured myself, the hotel staff called to inform us that we had visitors waiting at the hotel lobby. I confirmed with the staff if the visitors were people from Igasek and gave them permission to go up to our room.
“It looks like two people came over.”
“Hmm? Are they acting in a two-man cell just in case something happens?”
“Aren’t they just a sales representative and a field officer?”
“I think it’s actually both.”
While Elma, Mimi, and Dr. Shouko chatted away, Tina and Wiska sat together quietly in a spot a little further away, and Kugi was also sitting quietly beside them. The mechanic sisters remained quiet when it comes to situations like this. If anything, Kugi also tended to act timidly when first getting in contact with strangers.
The sisters simply remained quiet, while Kugi tended to use her telepathic ability to secretly spy on the other party’s actions from an inconspicuous spot. I only noticed such a fact recently.
Kugi’s and my eyes met, and her tails wagged energetically as she displayed a bright smile. It was as if she was saying ‘Just leave it to me, My Lord. I will see through them and find out if they hold any ill intentions.’ How reliable.
As I mulled over such things, Mei, who was standing behind me, approached the door of the room and opened it.
“Welcome. Please go ahead and come in.”
“Thank you. If you’ll excuse us.”
The two people entered the room. One was a slender man in a business suit who wasn’t very tall, and the other was a large and well-built man who was also wearing a business suit. However, it looked like his suit was having trouble containing the second man’s large frame. His arms, legs and waist were practically bulging with muscles.
Was his suit the correct size? Is that really okay? It kinda seemed like his suit’s buttons were dangerously close to popping right off.
“I’m Captain Hiro, a mercenary.”
“I am Igasek’s Ohta. This is Kiram.”
The man who introduced himself as Ohta politely greeted me and also introduced his macho companion.
The macho guy had one more characteristic that stood out. The guy didn’t have a face. No, rather, the guy did have something like a face, but it lacked any features. It was as if his face was a helmet.
“His entire body had gotten converted into prosthetics.”
Perhaps noticing my gaze, Ohta promptly elaborated on his companion’s condition.
“I see. He looks quite strong.”
After muttering in response, the huge guy with an apparent prosthetic body called Kiram scanned me and Mei in turn — or, at least, he seemed to scan us. I mean, his face was round, smooth, and seemed to lack eyes after all, so it only felt like he scanned us with his gaze. Perhaps that blank “face” was just a cover or something and a mechanical lens or lenses were hiding behind it.
“……I won’t be able to win against this man or that maidroid.”
Kiram responded to Ohta’s rebuke and his upper body shook. He had apparently shrugged.
“That might be the case if we fought head-on, but that’s not what we’re commissioning you guys for.”
With that in mind, I proceeded to talk about the details of our request.
“To cut to the chase, there’s a possibility that we, or rather, I, am being targeted by another party. However, we need to stay in this colony for a while because our ship is getting refurbished. That’s why I want to ask you to escort us during this period.”
“It seems it’s quite a simple and straightforward escort request.”
“That appears to be the case at first, but the situation is a bit strange. We’ve only arrived at this colony today.”
Ohta’s expression turned suspicious. Well, of course, he’d have his doubts. No matter how you looked at it, hiring a security service company to act as escorts the day one arrives at a colony was pretty unusual.
“Of course, it’s also possible that I’m just being paranoid, but I just can’t dismiss my suspicions. Well, I can’t exactly tell you the details, but there’s a degree of certainty to this matter.”
I couldn’t exactly explain that my suspicions were backed by my and Kugi’s psionic abilities, so I just bluffed. I was a Platinum-rank mercenary after all, so I was hoping that would help make things sound convincing enough.
“Do you have any idea about who or what you’re up against?”
“If I did, then I would probably be able to do something about the matter myself. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Well, it’s not like I’m absolutely clueless, but we were at the empire’s frontier area until recently, and we used a gateway to come here. I don’t believe the ones I’m suspecting would be able to put up such a complete surveillance net on such short notice. That’s why I’m pretty troubled.”
“……In your estimation, what is the caliber of the opponent?”
Ohta inquired with an extremely serious expression. The caliber. Caliber huh……?
“I have no proof, but I believe we’re up against an experienced professional or group of professionals. It would be a joke if it was just some thugs or the local mafia. Well, if that does turn out to be the case, then I’m simply just a paranoid idiot.”
The other party was able to monitor us from a great distance after we got caught in their net in such a short amount of time. It would be reasonable to think of the other party as a pro.
“I’m planning to leave the escort methods to you guys because you’re pros at what you do. But, well, I was thinking that instead of simply defending ourselves from the other party’s attacks, I want to smoke them out and give them a counterblow. Oh, but that’s only if you accept this request, of course.”
“……This matter is going to cost you quite a bit, you know?”
“I have more than enough money. Also, I’ll be satisfied as long as I don’t suffer an attack while staying in the colony.”
It would be fine as long as the other party is prevented from targeting me or my crew directly outside of our ships. I’d probably win if we engaged in space combat after all.
“I suppose that’s what that fellow is thinking.”
“In a way, his guesses are kinda on point. What are we gonna do?”
Hmm. I wonder. I didn’t want to get dragged into a space dogfight if I can help it.
“Igasek huh……? Those fellows are troublesome. I believe they had a rival company?”
“Kouga Service. Are we gonna fight fire with fire?”
“They’re not the only ones with money. For now, let’s go with that.”
It would be troublesome if they escaped to the imperial capital, but they probably don’t know our exact intentions. It was lucky that we decided to lay in wait here. It looks like I haven’t used up all my luck yet.
“Boss, wouldn’t it be better to just get in contact with them normally?”
“I can’t make such a gamble if it concerns that girl. It would be really troublesome if that fellow turns tail and runs away after all. Anyway, have you finished investigating that fellow?”
“We haven’t gotten anything solid. We know that his first confirmed activities occurred at the Termaine system, but even the Mercenary Guild doesn’t seem to know his exact background or origin.”
“He appeared in the Termaine system with seemingly perfect timing, immediately got in contact with that girl, and then brought her into his ship. Besides, how could someone go from Bronze to Platinum in a few months if they didn’t have the backing of someone like the emperor? I’m sure there’s someone behind that fellow.”
“But…… nothing’s coming up, Boss. And there are traces of the imperial intelligence division investigating him as well…… If we slip up, we might also get caught in their net.”
His usual whining is acting up again. This kid is always like this.
“You should be able to deal with that. Just work harder.”
“Uu…… You old hag.”
“You wanna get a taste of my fist?”
The kid shut up quickly when I rolled up my sleeve. Honestly.
In any case, that guy sure is hard to read. I thought he was more of the overconfident type, but…… Well, no matter. I just have to do the usual. I won’t let him get away.