234 – To the Dinner Venue
Editor: Thor’s Stone
After getting dressed, we headed to the high-class local restaurant reserved for tonight’s dinner under Mei’s lead.
It looks like we had a minor dispute with the other party regarding who would pay for the bill. It’s not that both sides were trying to avoid paying. Rather, we both insisted on paying for the meal for the other party. Mei insisted that we paid for the meal because we were the ones who invited them for dinner anyway, while the other party said they would pay for the meal as part of their thanks for saving them.
In the end, they agreed to let us pay. If it really bothered them they could just opt to increase the rewards given to us later on.
“They sound kinda stiff, don’t they?”
“Stiff, is it? It might just be as Master says. They seem to put an emphasis on following proper procedure.”
“Following proper procedure huh. Well, that’s not really a bad thing anyway. We can also say they’re very sincere.”
“Aren’t they just stubborn sticks in the mud?”
As usual, Whisker retorted to Tina’s blunt remark.
“It’s fine for now since we’re only talking among ourselves. But don’t you dare say something like that in front of the elves, alright?”
“Ahaha, it’s okay. Don’t worry.”
Tina cackled mischievously.
“You’re really not gonna mess up, right? If you do, then no alcohol for you.”
“I’m gonna keep my trap shut, Boss!”
She immediately turned serious the moment she heard about me barring her from drinking. Well, Tina’s Tina after all. Whisker turning serious too was a bit amusing though.
We all chatted casually like this on the way to the restaurant except for Mimi, who was making a troubled face.
“Is something wrong, Mimi? You’re making quite a grave expression there.”
“Ah, no. I was just thinking about what kind of trouble we’ll possibly get involved in this time based on our previous experiences. I was wondering if we could plan ahead or something.”
“I see…… That’s true. But won’t it be difficult to do that?”
“Yeah…… I have absolutely no idea what we should do.”
Well, I can make some inferences about what’s going to happen next based on previous patterns to some extent. It may sound like I’m getting ahead of myself, but maybe Tinia-san got interested in me. Well, it might not be me as well. She could take an interest in any of my crew members instead. And since we managed to rescue Tinia-san and the others, we would be warmly welcomed in Refill IV. After that, we would get involved in the political power struggles going on in Refill IV…… Well, something like that, I guess.
As for how to completely avoid such a scenario, the only situation I can think of was to not visit the planet in the first place. That’s why I suggested we cancel our plans to tour the Refill system and go somewhere else instead.
“Well, whatever happens, happens. We’ll get some profits out of it anyway, so don’t worry about it too much. When push comes to shove, we can always choose to run away.”
“Can you really bring yourself to turn tail and run though, Boss?”
“I think Big Brother would rather see things through to the end instead of running away.”
“That’s not true, guys.”
Elma gave me the side-eye. I can do it. Really. I’ve kinda said the same thing several times in the past already and failed to follow through, but I’ll properly run away when it seems really hopeless, okay? It also takes courage to sound a retreat under impossible odds after all.
“We’ll be arriving soon, everyone.”
“Okay. We walked for quite a bit huh.”
“An RV would be useful in times like this. Maybe we should buy one?”
I experienced the hardships of descending onto a planet in the middle of terraforming not long ago. It was a very valuable experience. I really wouldn’t want to experience that again, but since it’s already happened once, it could happen again. It wouldn’t be a waste to make some preparations for that possibility. There was also that incident where the planetary colonies were overrun by berserk aggressive lifeforms as well.
“That sounds good. An RV huh. I wanna tinker with it–”
“You really like fiddling with their engines and frames don’t you, big sis?”
I see. But I kinda feel like if I left it to Tina, she’d do stuff like making the muffler unnecessarily bigger so it would make quite a racket or paint the body with aggressive colors. It might actually turn into a vehicle that wouldn’t look out of place if driven by those ‘Hyahaa!’ guys¹ from the end of the century.
“That looks like the place. Let’s hurry and get inside.”
“Elven food huh. How exciting!”
The exterior of the restaurant was pretty normal, but I wonder how the interior looks?
“Welcome, everyone. Your companions have already arrived.”
“Thank you. Please lead the way then.”
“Certainly. Over here please.”
We were guided by a restaurant staff member wearing something resembling a folk costume with arabesque patterns and proceeded to the back of the building. The exterior of the building looked like it was something made of concrete and metal, but the interior was rife with wood.
It kinda had a Japanese-style feel to it. Thick wooden beams ran up the ceiling of the building. The warm yet gentle lighting contributed to the mysterious and tranquil atmosphere.
“It has a really mysterious atmosphere to it.”
“This is the traditional elven style.”
“Hmm. It’s kinda neat.”
“Yes. It really calms you down.”
It looks like the interior design was a hit with the ladies as well. Wood was apparently a super-luxury item in this dimension. Since they used plenty constructing this building, I guess that just proves this establishment really was high-class. It looks like I can look forward to the dishes as well.
“Please take off your footwear and leave them here, then you can go up.”
“So we should take off our shoes.”
“It looks like it.”
So we need to remove our shoes before stepping on top of the wooden floorboards huh. It really does resemble Japanese-style.
“So we need to take off our shoes huh. That’s pretty unusual.”
It looks like Tina and Whisker didn’t mind either, but they did find it unusual. It’s my first time coming to a place like this as well.
“This is your room. If you’ll excuse me.”
The restaurant staff wearing a folk costume opened what seems to be a shoji sliding door and beckoned for us to come inside. We found three people sitting inside. All three of them were women. Uh, I think. One of them was Grado Clan’s Tinia-san, whose image Mei already showed to everyone earlier.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
“Not at all. It’s us who suddenly came unannounced.”
Tinia-san seems to be their group’s representative after all. She took the initiative to reply as she shook her head lightly. And she looked at me with a strong-willed gaze that felt somehow familiar.
“Please go ahead and sit down. Although you might not be that accustomed to sitting on the floor directly.”
“It’s fine. Go ahead and sit, everyone.”
I decided to sit directly in front of Tinia-san across the table. Considering the circumstances that led to us having this dinner meeting, this would be what’s most appropriate. Mimi and Elma sat to my right and left respectively. Tina and Whisker sat next to Mimi. Mei politely sat on the cushion that was prepared diagonally behind me. Tinia-san tilted her head when she saw that Mei didn’t sit near the table.
“She’s a maidroid so she doesn’t really need to eat.”
“Oh. Maybe they’re not that widespread in Refill IV huh…… Her body is made of mechanical parts so she doesn’t need to eat food to function.”
“I see…… So a race like that also exists.”
It doesn’t look like Tinia-san fully understood what I said, but she nodded anyway.
“Let us properly introduce ourselves before the food comes. I’m Hiro. I’m the owner of the combat ship Krishna and armed mothership Black Lotus. as well as their captain. I’m a member of the Mercenary Guild and am a Platinum-ranked mercenary. This girl is Mimi, Krishna’s operator, and manager. And this here is Elma, Krishna’s sub-pilot. She’s also a member of the Mercenary Guild.”
“I’m pleased to meet you.”
“And these two over here are Tina and Whisker. The one with red hair is Tina and the one with blue hair is Whisker. The two of them are excellent mechanics dispatched to us by the Space Dwerg Company.”
“I’m Tina. Nice ta meetcha.”
“I’m Whisker. I’m glad to meet you as well.”
Tina smiled and waved cheerfully while Whisker gave them a polite greeting. The personalities of these sisters really show at times like this huh.
“And the one sitting a bit behind me is our maidroid, Mei. She’s in charge of the overall operation and management of our armed mothership, Black Lotus. She’s the one who commanded the combat bots that infiltrated the pirate ship together with me.”
Mei gave them a polite bow while sitting in a perfect seiza posture. The only ones who were sitting in seiza among us were Tinia-san and her companions, Mei, and Elma. I and Tina were sitting cross-legged while Mimi and Whisker were trying to imitate Elma. But since the latter two were unaccustomed to sitting on the floor, especially in seiza, they kept fidgeting uncomfortably while trying their hardest not to break their posture. C’mon guys. You can just sit cross-legged like Tina and me if you’re that uncomfortable. It’s not like you’re wearing skirts anyway.
“Thank you for introducing yourselves. Now then, let us properly introduce ourselves as well. I am Tinia, the second daughter of the Grado Clan’s current Leader. This is Miza and this is Mam. Both of them are from the Grado Clan, just like me. They serve as my personal attendants.”
“I see. So they’re your attendants. So Tinia-san really is…… No, wait. Would it be better if we called you ‘Tinia-sama’?”
“Please do not worry and just call me Tinia. It does not feel appropriate to have our saviors call us with honorifics.”
“We also feel it’s a bit inappropriate to call you without honorifics though…… But alright. If you say so. Since both of them serve as your attendants, you really are a lady of high station, aren’t you, Tinia?”
Tinia shook her head after hearing my words.
“I was certainly born into a house of high influence, but that only applies on Theta, or as you call it, Refill IV. I would be nothing but an ordinary lass outside of Refill IV, so you do not need to mind me too much, Hiro-sama. Besides, even though they are my attendants, our relationship isn’t merely that. Both of them are my good friends who have been together with me ever since we were children.”
Uh, they sure looked pretty tense for close childhood friends…… Maybe they were just wary of us, or maybe they were simply nervous.
“Okay then. Since we’ve all introduced ourselves, shall we begin sampling the food? Let’s talk about Refill IV while we eat your local delicacies.”
“Yes, let us do so.”
Tinia-san’s serious expression loosened up after hearing my suggestion, and her lips curved into a soft smile. Fumu. She was already a first-rate beauty, but she’s even more beautiful when she smiles…… Wha– Ow! Oww! Stop pinching my side and thigh, guys. It’s not like I’m smitten or anything. Honest!
 TL Notes: Refers to the Outlaws from Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken). Yeah, they liked to scream ‘Hyahaa!’ in the Japanese audio.