The next day is an ordinary, slightly cloudy day.
The reservation is scheduled for the evening, so I head over to Yoyogi Dungeon to get another <High Recovery>, since I failed to do so yesterday.
When I turn around, in response to the sudden voice calling to me from the entrance hall, I see a long and slender woman with a ski mask rushing towards me. Before I can even wonder who it might be, she wraps me in a surprise hug. Our surroundings become slightly noisy.
Huh? Hah? What’s going on?? Eh? …Is that possibly…
“Yes, I passed!”
Passed? She means the competition or whatever she mentioned previously, doesn’t she?
Anyway, this isn’t the set of a TV drama. It’s inevitable that this kind of scene would attract attention in a place like this.
In a hurry, I leave the entrance hall while taking her along, heading to an inconspicuous table at the YD Cafe that Ms. Naruse always takes me to.
“Well, please drink this first, and calm down.” With those words, I place a cup of café au lait in front of her.
“Thank you.” She says and takes off the ski mask.
In response, her short-cut hair, which has translucent bangs flowing down at the sides, smoothly spills down.
Her appearance, as she occasionally tucks back her bangs, has become even more refined than before, drawing my attention to it.
“Pheew, a ski mask is handy, but since I get sweaty beneath it, I can’t put on any makeup.”
“If you say so. I wouldn’t know, but Ms. Mitsurugi, you’re a celebrity, aren’t you? Is it okay for you to show your face around here?”
“Nah, I’m a novice at best, so no one will pay attention to me. Also, I won’t be noticed anyway since I don’t have any makeup on.” Even her gestures as she cackles look elegant.
This isn’t because she’s totally overdone it with the status increase, is it…?
“If you say passed, you mean the model audition you talked about before?”
“Yes. It’s thanks to you, Mr. Yoshimura!”
“No, you’re the one who’s been doing your best, right? It looks like you’ve been diving quite a bit since then.”
“About that…” She begins, and takes out her D-Card.
It’s normal to show one’s license card. You only show your D-Card if you trust the other party.
It’s not such a big deal with a brand new card, but generally, a man and woman showing their D-Cards to each other could be taken for lovers.
At that moment I feel like I can hear people making a stir around us.
However, I stop caring about my surroundings the moment I see her D-Card.
“In merely six weeks. Moreover, I have only gone to the first floor.” Ms. Mitsurugi whispers after bringing her face close. “Mr. Yoshimura, you did something, didn’t you?”
What she shows me next is a record of the slimes she killed as I had requested from her before.
It’s 118 slimes per day on average.
Wow. That’s far more than my leisurely dungeon hunting has yielded.
Assuming one slime takes five minutes, it’d be twelve slimes per hour. I guess that means she has been diving close to ten hours per day.
She did this for a total of 42 days. It’s been almost every day since we last met…
“Was it okay with your job for you to dive so much?”
“I said that it was a special daily training regime until the comp’, and had my agency turn down any offers except for those that were unavoidable.”
The SP she has acquired per day on average is 2.36. This value times 42 days. 99.12, huh?
In short, since it’s around 100 points, she’s now in the top one thousand?
Considering it now, the points I obtained after killing close to 2,000 slimes is a mere 5 points. I suppose it might be owed to me having killed them one after the other.
However, assuming that most of those points have been allotted to AGI and DEX, she’s already in the region of superwoman. She can likely control her body down to a millimeter by now. Now that it’s like this, all that’s left is her imagination.
“Hmm, I might have taught you the trick, yes, but the speed at which you’ve progressed is thanks to your own efforts, Ms. Mitsurugi.”
“As promised, I haven’t spoken about it to anyone besides Ryoko.”
“I know. …Grats.”
Once I congratulate her, her eyes moisten, apparently moved to tears, and grasps my hand atop the table.
“So, what about Ms. Saito?”
Getting flustered by her unexpected touch, I reflexively change the topic.
“Somehow it looks like her acting has improved like mad. She’s become totally popular recently, and nowadays I can’t get her to hang out with me much.”
“Eh? Then you’ve been diving by yourself? That’s dangerous.”
“Can I have you come along then, Mr. Yoshimura?”
“Eh? Me? Umm, if I find some time, I guess.”
“It’s a promise, okay?”
Ms. Saito has apparently dived with the same number of killed slimes per day for around 30 days.
I guess, in that case she got roughly 71 points. If those have been assigned with a focus on DEX, I’m pretty sure that she’s stopped being a normal human as well.
“It’s the same for Ms. Saito, but Ms. Mitsurugi, you better not show this card to anyone.”
“I know. Showing each other’s D-Cards is for people very close to each other, like lovers,” she laughs.
“No, I mean it’s better if you don’t show it to people like that either.”
She corrects her seating posture because of my serious look.
“And so, umm, it’s just a hunch, but…”
“…The current rank one, who appeared all of a sudden, seems to be a civilian from Area 12.”
“So I hear.”
“About that, is it possibly…”
We stare at each other silently. The hustle and bustle in the cafe sounds like far and distant ocean waves.
“I plan to go to Yoyogi as much as possible, even after beginning this new job.”
“Say, can we exchange email addresses?”
“Sure, but didn’t I give you my business card before?”
“If Ryoko were here, she would definitely pout and go like 『Exchanging email addresses means that I’d like you to contact me』.” Ms. Mitsurugi says with a wry smile.
While feeling embarrassed due to her words, I exchange email addresses with her.
“I’ll email you, okay? See ya.”
As she says that and tries to leave her seat, I spontaneously grasp her hand and hold her back.
“Ah, Ms. Mitsurugi. As a matter of fact, there’ll be a small party related to our office later today. Want to go with me?”
“According to Miyoshi, it seems to be a restaurant in the ARK Hills called 『Saito』. You fine with sushi?”
“Yes, it’s healthy after all. But, is it okay for me to come as well?”
“At this point you’re fully involved with us. If you like, you can bring Ms. Saito along, too.”
“Got it. But Ryoko said that she’d have a TV-drama shoot until late in the evening. If she hears about it afterwards, I’m pretty sure that she’ll be vexed though.” Ms. Mitsurugi smiles impishly.
“It starts at 5 p.m. Want me to pick you up somewhere?”
“Hmm, the Toguri Museum is close to my place…you know it?”
“Oh, the one in Shibuya?”
“Isn’t that Shoto!?”1
“Ah, no. It’s a cheap rented mansion.”
“The street with the Chez Matsuo Shoto Restaurant, right?”
“Yeah, you seem to know the area.”
“Miyoshi is a glutton, so I’m learning all kinds of facts, limited to restaurants.” I say with a laugh. “Then we’ll go with 4 p.m. in front of the Toguri Museum, right?”
“You can’t stop your car over there…”
“Okay, I will contact you when I leave my place. Since it’s a little less than a kilometer, I think it’ll take five minutes by car.”
“Considering that, it’s right around the corner.”
“Okay. Let’s do it like that. See you later then.” She wraps it up and leaves her place.
Email, huh…? That’s a rather unusual way to get in touch with someone nowadays. Those are my thoughts as I watch her walk away.
Afterwards, I kill just twelve slimes in a hurry, and then head back to the office after obtaining <High Recovery>.
And since time is tight, I try to rent a hired car on the spot. It looks like it’ll be okay to rent it even on the same day. I look it up immediately. Viva, Internet! When I ask Miyoshi whether she wants to drive with me, she answers that she’ll go with Midori-senpai since she invited her.
“Inviting a girl, and meeting her in a hired car…not bad, senpai.”
“Well, it just sort of happened.”
“But, those two seem to have rushed ahead quite a bit, don’t you think?”
“No kidding. It’s also because those two are diligent, but the effect of a dungeon boot camp is fearsome.”
“It’ll be difficult to determine how and where we’ll publicize the rules for getting experience.”
“Very true. It’s all getting more complicated.”
“By the way, what’re you going to do about clothes?”
“I can get by with smart casual, no? Japanese restaurants are always fine with smart casual.”
“Men have it easy. As long as you put on slacks, and wear a collared shirt and a jacket, you can go pretty much anywhere. In that respect, there are times when a woman will feel out of place with smart elegant. I’ll be annoyed if I gotta go with at least semi-formal.”
“Today will be sushi, and the venue is small. I think it’ll be a friendly atmosphere, so casual should be okay, don’t you think?”
“They’re people who can book 『Saito』 last minute on its day off, you know? I think our common sense doesn’t apply here. I’ll get ready just in case…”
“Commoners can’t catch a break, can they?”
“From your lips to God’s ears. I’m just worried that Midori-senpai might show up in a white robe.”
“…That’s a realistic possibility. But, I feel like that old man would be delighted over it.”
Miyoshi takes out some kind of case, and wraps it up.
“Congratulatory gift for becoming healthy.”
“Oh, I see. I wonder whether we should get a gift for Ms. Mitsurugi and Ms. Saito as well?”
“Well, that side depends on you, senpai.”
“Senpai, Mr. Ahmed has paid 5.5 billion for the orb we sold him, understand?”
“…Now that you mention it. So, what’s in there?”
“From a company catering to rich ladies, the ageless, yearned Sunflower of Harry Winston, earrings with a ruby in the center. The price was an astounding 2 million Yen.”
“Say, Miyoshi, can you open earring holes with <High Recovery>?”
“Right, there’s that. However, now is the best time, as it seems to be inactive. If it’s now… That’s the other intent behind it.”
“Ah, so you’re urging her to do it now, as it might not be possible to make a piercing in the future once the skill activates again, huh? But, won’t the piercing close up when the skill activates?”
“That should be alright.”
“My ear piercings are still there.”
Seriously? I expected that it might reconstruct the body based on genetic information, but that’s not how it works?
“Okay, that’s a riddle.”
“Senpai, I told you, didn’t I?”
“That I feel it’s related to something like a metaphysical consciousness.”
“Oh, the thing with <Safe>, right?”
“Yep. I believe that might end up being surprisingly accurate.”
“So that’s another reason why you got her earrings, huh?”
At that moment, something very shameless crosses my mind.
However, as someone fond of science, it’s a question that must be answered. Without the part about dying a lonely death without the corpse being picked up.2
“There’s something that interests me very much, on a private level.”
“Somehow I get a terrible feeling from this, but go ahead for the time being.”
At that moment, the laptop, that came flying out of Miyoshi’s hand, directly hits my forehead.
“Senpai, I think it’d be a good idea for you to learn some delicacy.”
Yash, A’m showwy.
“Anyway, she had an accident during her puberty, and since then she was always a Phantom of the Opera.”
“She shouldn’t have had the leeway to enjoy getting dolled up.”
“That’s why we’ll give her this with the intention of telling her that she can freely dress up as she likes from now on. The price was reasonable for this kind of gift, and the quality is such that it won’t make her fuss over it unnecessarily. It means she can get her boyfriend to buy her something a lot better.”
Earrings for 2 million Yen are reasonable!? Just what’s going on with you people’s common sense!?
That’s exactly why celebrities are! Celebrities are…! Well, whatever…we got 5.5 billion as well.
“But, it’s definitely not like we can pierce her ears, right?”
“If it’s that papa of hers, I think he’ll be able to get her pierced at a proper medical institute. However, not being able to put on the present right away is a shame! But! Don’t fret! I have made no oversight. There’s also a mini pendant of the same design!”
“I’m pretty sure that she’ll wear a dress with an open décolleté today. But, she won’t have any accessories at her neck.”
“It’s a side effect of her having had a need to hide it until now. Since she’s such a beauty, there’s no doubt about it.”
It’s a prediction that she probably won’t wear any accessories, since she didn’t used to have any use for them. This girl’s intuition is amazing in a certain way. It’s often correct, too.
“That’s why, senpai, please make sure to put it on her, okay?”
“Getting her papa to put it on is age-wise a bit…having said that, the rest of the attendees are all women.”
Come to think of it, she’s right. Oooh, thinking of it now, isn’t that kind of like a harem?
“Well, if I can get them to owe me in various ways with this…” Miyoshi slurps back her saliva.
“Hey, stop it, Oumi trader.”
“No, I mean, don’t you think that they might reserve 『L’Osier』 for us next time?”
『L’Osier』 is a cosmetics producer who runs a restaurant in Ginza.
After it’s renovation and reopening, the floor design has become a bit hectic, and it’s said that the servers move around the outer circumference of the round floor, but it’s no mistake to still label it as a French restaurant representing Japan.
Reservation? Well, for us that’s completely out of reach. I know that much as well.
“Ah, senpai, I know it’s a totally different topic, but…”
“What is it?”
“It’s about <Storage>. The twenty buses in that parking lot…all went in.”
“A-Awesome. I guess that means 200 tons is no problem…it doesn’t seem to have a limit, does it?”
“When I took them back out, I could do so using my own imagination to a certain degree, even if it was slightly further away. That was quite fun.”
“…You haven’t started playing Lego with buses or something, right?”
“Eh? Eeeh? I-I haven’t!”
Miyoshi’s eyes are restlessly wandering about, but as it’ll only increase the number of criminals even if I make a retort here, I’ll drop it.
Pretend not to have seen anything, pretend not to have seen anything.
“Next would be trains or tankers, huh…? If those things fit in as well, smuggling will be the least of our worries. For now, we should just gather the orbs, and hold back on selling them until we find some countermeasure.”
“That might be a good idea.”
We’ve talked about everything needing our attention, and somehow I feel like there’s still plenty of time left.
It’s a little less than four hours until the hired car gets here.
“It’s still noon, so I’m going to step out for a bit.”
“To get something for Ms. Mitsurugi?”
“How did you know that? Are you an Esper?”
“Well, it just follows the flow of our conversation. You’re a simple guy after all, senpai.”
“Ugh…anyway, what do you think would work?”
I don’t want to brag, but I’m fully aware that I lack taste.
It’s impossible for me to know what present to get for a model. Tehe.
“That’s where you learn from others, I’d say. It’s going to be a special piece of congratulatory jewelry, right? In the case of an orthodox beauty, who wears her hair in a bob and works as a fashion model, clothes are her main focus, so it should be OK to go with simple earrings, featuring a single pearl. A big pearl also has impact, and it’s quite noble.”
“I see. Where do you buy pearls?”
“Senpai…if you’re buying for the first time, Mikimoto would be the safe choice. Their main store is in Ginza’s fourth district.”
“Okay, simple, big pearl, Mikimoto, correct? I’d expect nothing less of an agent.”
“Haaah…please do your best to not fail.”
And then I ventured out into an unfamiliar world. Of course, it would be impossible for me to become a hero, though.
- Shoto is an upper-middle class residential district in Shibuya
- This needs a bit of explanation. First off the line above starts with a dirty joke. Seeing as High Recovery regenerates body parts based on a metaphysical consciousness according to Miyoshi’s theory, it’s possible for a hymen to be regenerated as well, right? The part about the death refers to a famous phrase from a long Historic TV Drama series called Oedo Dragnet. It’s basically a story revolving around ninja acting as secret police. So that phrase comes up when they go to investigate something by sneaking around and expect to die in the line of their duty. 死して屍拾う者なし is a fairly often used catchphrase in that series