172 – Mercenary Guild – Grakkis Branch
Editor: Thor’s Stone
“You look so cool, Hiro-sama!”
“Un, not half bad. In fact, you actually look really good.”
In addition to my usual mercenary get-up and jacket, I also had the gaudy Silver Swords Wings Assault medal pinned to my chest and had my two Noble-issue swords strapped on to my waist along with my laser gun. Mimi and Elma seemed to find my appearance pleasant and weren’t stingy with their praise. It’s not like I drastically changed my look or anything… Well, I guess being praised like this does feel kinda good.
“At this point, you’re already considered to be an Honorary Imperial Knight. I wanted you to dress like that not only to show off your current identity as one but to let other people realize that you’re someone with status. It can serve to deter anyone with bad intentions from approaching you as well.”
“Is that how it is?”
“Yep. That’s how it is.”
I’m not really all that satisfied with this, but if Elma says so, then I guess that should be the case.
“Ah–…… Mm, I see. Yosh. Anyway, shall we get going?”
“Yes! I’ve already looked up the location of the Mercenary Guild branch here.”
“Great job Mimi. Good girl.”
I stroked Mimi’s head as she held up her tablet terminal with the map application open. If this girl had a tail, it would probably be wagging energetically right now. Yep, how cute.
Mei sent us off from Black Lotus, and we headed for the Mercenary Guild branch of the Grakkis Secundus colony by following Mimi’s lead.
“But there sure are a lot of people here.”
“Of course there are. Since most of the resources being consumed on planet-cities like the Imperial Capital are imported from outside, there are many merchants doing business here. A small part of the food resources are being produced in the under-level geofronts, but the mineral resources are all imported from outside. Most of the food resources are imported as well.”
“Hee…… Planet-cities must cost a crazy amount of money to maintain huh?”
“That’s not really the case. We earn our income by producing highly valued products using the resources imported from outside. These Imperial-grade luxury products aren’t only valued domestically but are very sought after abroad as well you know?”
“Hmm…… But that doesn’t really concern us much, does it?”
“You think so? Just so you know, Tetsujin V is also a luxury Imperial-grade product.”
“Oh…… So Chef Tetsujin is really that amazing huh?”
I certainly haven’t managed to see the limits of what Tetsujin is capable of. But man, once you’ve tasted the gastronomical delights it manages to whip out only by using cheap food cartridges, you won’t be able to settle for anything less.
“Krishna’s fully automated modular bath system is also an Imperial-grade product as well.”
“Ah, yeah, that’s amazing too.”
Once you enter that empty bathtub, it would fill itself up with warm bathwater at a comfortable temperature with the touch of a switch. Your whole body will be washed and scrubbed automatically, and it even sports a handy massage function. It even has a drying function that would dry your entire body the moment you get out of the tub. At first, I kinda felt that it was treating me like the clothes in a washing machine, but once I got used to it, I couldn’t get enough of the thing.
“I see. You really can’t underestimate Imperial-grade products huh.”
“And that’s not the only thing amazing about this place you know? Imperial-grade natural agricultural produce, livestock products, and alcohol products are all of the finest quality in the galaxy and are traded at really high prices.”
“Natural foodstuffs huh. I don’t really remember seeing those being sold at stores in the places we’ve been to. Well, it’s your hometown anyway, so I guess we’ll get to sample some later. Let’s find a good place to eat once we land on the Imperial Capital.”
“Really, Hiro-sama? Wow, I’m so excited.”
Mimi was smiling really happily. Elma also had a cheerful aura about her. Maybe she’s reminiscing about the taste of her hometown. Let’s invite the mechanic sisters too once we’re down there. Both of them seem stressed out due to the fact that they had to deal with their colleagues from Space Dwerg’s branch in the Imperial Capital.
“Whoah…… Man, this place sure is grand.”
“The Prime colony is mainly used as a military installation, so the facilities owned by the Mercenary Guild here on Grakkis are only this and the Mercenary Training Academy building.”
“The Imperial planet-city doesn’t have a branch office operating there?”
“There’s not enough demand after all.”
“I guess that’s true.”
There were still a bunch of mercenaries in this colony who were undertaking escort jobs for mercantile ships, but even if there was a guild branch open on the Imperial planet-city, there probably won’t be any mercenaries who’ll pay it a visit. You had to undergo a lot of troublesome procedures before you’re allowed to land there after all. It’ll take too much time and effort.
The three of us finally arrived in front of the Mercenary Guild branch office building as we continued to discuss such stuff. I wonder what’s up with the wooden swing door with a cowbell hung on top of it though? Was it merely for some aesthetic uniqueness?
The cowbell made distinctive clanging sounds as we entered the building, and I nodded convinced after giving the interior a once-over.
“It has quite a unique interior design.”
“Well, no expense was spared when it was built after all.”
“It’s amazing. It’s like those super-ancient spaghetti westerns¹.”
The building had wooden floorboards and wooden tables. There was a wooden counter on the left-hand side of the building, and there was was a wooden rack filled with alcohol bottles installed on the wall behind it. On the right, several other wooden counters for general daily operations were lined up. It was an eclectic mix between a public office and an old-timey pub that smelled of wood and alcohol.
“The materials used are synthetic wood. These types really managed to capture the authentic smell of natural wood.”
“Wouldn’t using real wood be cheaper?”
“Of course not. Especially in this system.”
“Real wood is considered an ultra-luxury item, Hiro-sama.”
“Oh, right. Now I remember.”
We stayed on a log house when we had our vacation on a resort planet a while back, and Mimi, who had always lived in a space colony, was very amazed by the natural flora and fauna found there, including trees and wood.
We walked over to the business counters on the right side of the building and felt several gazes focus on us. Well, we did stand out quite a bit.
I had two swords strapped on my waist despite wearing mercenary gear, and even had a shiny medal sticking out of my chest. And the girls beside me stood out as well. One was a young girl who had big breasts despite her small-ish height, and the other was a slender and beautiful elf. There were quite a few unpleasant gazes mixed in due to my two companions, but they probably won’t make any move due to the swords on my waist.
We finally got in front of the counter, and before I could open my mouth to state our business, the slightly nervous-looking receptionist oneesan greeted us first. I’m sure the reason she looks nervous is because of the swords on my waist as well.
“Welcome. What can we do for you all today, sir?”
“I have something I want to consult with you.”
After saying so, I took out my data terminal and displayed my digital ID. The receptionist compared my ID with the one in their database and was taken aback. Un, as expected of a pro. She managed to keep her cool and didn’t leak a sound.
“Um, err, we gladly welcome your visit, Captain Hiro. As for the topic you wish to consult us about…… is it regarding the award ceremony, perhaps?”
“Yep, that’s right. I want some info regarding that.”
“Yes. The working relationship between the Guild and the Imperial Military is fundamentally quite favorable after all.”
The receptionist oneesan nodded earnestly. Well, in a sense, you can say that the Mercenary Guild is a private sub-contractor affiliated with the military. It’s no wonder the working relationship between the two institutions are good. Of course, not everything was so straightforward, and the power dynamics between the two aren’t exactly clear-cut.
If the Mercenary Guild decides to pull out from star systems with rampant pirate activity due to friction between it and the military, the trade routes would be compromised for the most part, and that may adversely affect the Imperial economy. If that happened, the Imperial government will likely push all the blame on the military and attempt to cozy up to the Mercenary Guild again. Thus, it would be more appropriate to say that the relationship between the military and the guild is one of give-and-take.
“It’s my first time attending such a ceremony, so I basically have no idea what to do and what to look out for. That’s why I came here for some advice.”
“I see…… Well, your clothes and way of speech are a given, of course. In fact, all of your actions will be subject to some scrutiny during the ceremony. And also, you’ll need to participate in a Ball after the ceremony proper.”
“Oh, that…… Well, I have Mei instructing me for those matters anyway, so I guess we got that covered.”
Since my sword training was basically in its final stages, most of the content of Mei’s lessons now was regarding dance and proper etiquette. Dancing with Mei was quite fun, but there were a lot of things to remember when it comes to etiquette.
“What do you mean, sir?”
“Oh, um, we have a high-performance maidroid with us. The etiquette lessons are all handled by her. She’s pretty strict.”
“I see. Next would be your attire then……”
“Will these clothes do?”
Mimi showed her tablet screen to the receptionist oneesan. Geh. That picture seems to be from when I was forced to wear the Noble attire picked out by Chris…… Just when did they manage to take one back then?
“Ara, what a gallant appearance.”
“Oh c’mon…… So, will these clothes do?”
“Yes, I believe there will be no problems. You’re actually quite prepared, aren’t you sir?”
“Well, I guess. I honestly didn’t think these will come in handy like this though.”
I never even dreamed that the clothes Chris picked out for me on a whim would prove useful in this way. Did Chris actually predict something like this would happen? Nah, that can’t be it.
“I’m sorry for barging in on the discussion. Captain Hiro and crew, right?”
When the receptionist oneesan tried to proceed with the consultation, a middle-aged man appeared on the other side of the counter, right behind her, and addressed us. Fumu. He was a pretty handsome guy with a well-built body. The glasses he was sporting were probably one of those wearable information devices Elma told me about.
“Yeah. And you are……?”
Who is this guy anyway? What’s his deal with us? I mulled those questions in my head as I observed the man. His body was trained to an extent, but it doesn’t look like he’s seen much practical combat. His atmosphere was more of an office worker than a mercenary.
“My name is Marcus. I’m the Deputy Chief of the Grakkis Branch of the Mercenary Guild. Once again, I’m sorry for barging in on the middle of your consultation, but I have something urgent to discuss with you. Can you please follow me to the reception room at the back?”
It smells like trouble. I turned to Mimi and Elma and found them furrowing their brows and cupping their mouths in thought. By the way, the receptionist oneesan’s smile froze on her face when the deputy chief, who was one of her big bosses, suddenly showed up right behind her. From the looks of it, she was drenched in cold sweat. Sorry, miss.
“It won’t fly if I refuse, right?”
“I understand your apprehension, but it’s really not something you have to be wary about for the most part. Not all of it is bad news.”
Mr. Marcus, the deputy chief, displayed a strained smile.
“Well, I guess it’s fine then……”
So it looks like there’s some good news for us too huh. There’s definitely some bad news though, so it’s still quite depressing.
“That’s great. There are some stairs at the back of that passage, so please head up there.”
After telling us he would be waiting near the stairs, Mr. Marcus hurriedly left. It can’t be helped, so I stood up from the counter’s seat and called out to the still-frozen receptionist oneesan.
“Uh, sorry about that. Thank you very much for your help.”
“No, it was my pleasure.”
After bowing lightly to the awkwardly smiling oneesan, I walked to the passage with Mimi and Elma and went up the stairs. Now then, I wonder what’s up…… Will it be something good or bad for us?
We met up with Mr. Marcus, who was waiting near the stairs like he said, and went up together. We entered a room on the second floor, and we found an elderly man with a well-built physique waiting for us inside. Different from Mr. Marcus, the elderly man’s body wasn’t just a result of casual training and workouts. His arms were as thick as logs. He seemed completely capable of breaking a person’s neck with his bare hands.
“I’m Johannes, the Chief of the Mercenary Guild’s Grakkis Branch.”
“I’m Captain Hiro. It’s nice to meet you, chief.”
We then shook hands. Un. He was really muscular, but it looks like he wasn’t gonna do anything like crushing my hand with his grip.
“Um, so I was told there’s some good and bad news for us?”
“Umu. You don’t have to be careful in your speech with me. I actually dislike being all pretentious and stiff.”
“Thanks then…… So, uh, can you start with the bad news first?”
“Yeah, that’s a more pressing concern after all.”
After saying so, Chief Johannes glanced at Elma. Something about Elma? Oh, I think I know where this is going.
“Actually, we were already contacted by someone from House Willrose. I believe you already have an idea as to why?”
“It has something to do with Elma, I bet. I’m not too sure about the details though.”
I’ll just feign ignorance regarding the details. Well, I’m thinking it was something along the lines of handing Elma over straight away though.
“……Yes. To be specific, it was a message demanding the handover of that young lady – the youngest lady of House Willrose – to them immediately.”
“Ah, I see. You think I’d agree?”
Chief Johannes frowned at my answer, and Deputy Chief Marcus started rubbing his right temple with his fingers.
“I would definitely comply if Elma agrees to it, but she doesn’t, so that’s that. Isn’t that right, Elma?”
“That’s right. Unless you throw me out yourself Captain, I have absolutely no intention of leaving your side.”
“There you have it. In the first place, is the Mercenary Guild actually willing to swallow such a demand? Is the guild unwilling to protect its mercenaries from the arbitrary demands of Imperial aristocrats?”
Elma was also an official Silver-ranked mercenary affiliated with the Mercenary Guild, right? I was trying to imply that with my words. The chief’s expression remained unchanged, but the deputy chief’s brows furrowed as he began rubbing the center of his forehead while looking down.
“We have a duty to inform you all about the matter, but the guild has no intention of forcing you to comply. That means, apart from telling you about their demand, we won’t do anything else. Criminals who have violated Imperial Law should be handed over immediately of course, but that young lady over there isn’t a criminal.”
“Or rather, honestly speaking, I don’t want us getting involved in the problems of aristocratic families. Actually, I’m the one who wants to complain here, you know.”
“That’s what he says, Elma.”
“U-Um, I can’t do anything other than offer my sincerest apology, chief.”
Elma displayed a bitter smile. She was the culprit who stole a starship and went off into space without permission after all.
“So, what will you do now, chief?”
“I’ve already told the other party that the position of the Mercenary Guild is to respect the free will of our members. I’ll give you their contact info so you can resolve this among yourselves. However, we will not turn a blind eye to the use of violence and other unjustified means in order to force you to comply. If something like that ever happens, don’t hesitate to contact us.”
“Aye, aye, sir. So, um, what about the good news?”
“The proposal for you to receive the Gold Star has been approved, Captain Hiro. And in line with that, we will promote your Guild rank from Gold to Platinum as well.”
Un, that wasn’t really unexpected. The problem was, I wasn’t really all that happy about it.
 TL Note: Spaghetti Western – a broad subgenre of Western films that became popular in the 1960s. The term was coined by American film critics because most of the films were produced and directed by Italians.
And here’s another fun fact – In Japan, Spaghetti Westerns are actually called Macaroni Westerns. The raws actually use the term Macaroni Western, but I opted for Spaghetti Western for easier recognition by those familiar with the term. Great, now I’m craving some pasta…