“You’re searching for earth? That ancient planet of legend? Okay, that sure is an interesting joke. So what are you really up to?”
Tarou safely arrived at the station of his delivery address. In a tasteful bar of the station, call sign C111- Allan- scratched his brown hair as he asked. With a good physical constitution, he stood a head higher than Tarou, and when they sat along the counter like this, an outsider would see them as an adult and child, thought Tarou.
“No, it’s true, I tells ‘ya. We’re just doin’ jobs to earn travel fees, and our main objective’s the search.”
Tarou restlessly pressed his butt against that unfamiliar high-class chair. Allan took a swig of his high-proof alcohol as, “Hey, don’t hide it, admiral,” he said.
“On a scavenger hunt with a blackmetal armored warship? No way that’s going to convince anyone. The contents of your load was what it was, but more ‘n anything, you seemed to know the ways of battle. Might you be on a secret mission from the government?”
“If I look like a military man, perhaps you should get yourself some glasses, Allan. I do ‘ave the knowledge, but I really am an ordinary person.”
“Hmmn… well, we all have things we can’t talk about. Hey admiral, how about you give me a piece of the pie? I’ll show you I can do good work. When it comes to ‘Handyman Allan’, I’m a bit famous in this station.”
After he’d downed all the drink in his hand, he immediately placed another order on his display. Tarou hesitated at the unfamiliar taste of alcohol as he took some sidelong glances at the man. In that previous battle, Tarou had seen his skill as a pilot… in his small-size frigate, he had taken down three WIND ships… if he would join the corporation, he would surely be a great help. But as long as Maar was there in control, Tarou couldn’t just give permission so easily.
“By handyman, you mean you take on all sorts of requests? Even if you call it handy, what sorts of things can you do?”
Tarou observed Allan as if to evaluate him. In response, “Oh, so you’re on board?” said Allan as he gave a grin.
“Asking a handyman ‘what can you do’ is a boorish question, admiral. Generally everything. If the man says do it, you do it. That’s a handyman.”
Allan reply was almost a riddle, and Tarou tilted his head wondering if that was really an answer at all. Allan gazed at Tarou with his blue eyes, “How oblivious of the world are you?” he asked.
“Handyman’s a popular job in the stations. Are you some elite straight out of military school? Well so be it. Rather than explain, it’d be quicker I just showed you.”
Saying that, Allan removed a pulse chip from the badge stick to his chest. As soon as he received it, Tarou stuck it to his own forehead.
“… I see. So that’s what it means.”
Sent from the ship was what you could call Allan’s resume. What technical skills he held, what sort of jobs he had taken to that point, and what results he had gotten in them. They were put out in a list. The contents of his work covered a wide ground, and Tarou didn’t have the motivation to read through its entirety.
“Ship pilotin’. Maintenance. From information gatherin’ to cleanin’ and cookin’, looks like you’ve got it all down. Sure enough, it does look like you can do anything… On the contrary, I’d like to ask. When you’ve pulled off so many jobs in 8 years, why do you want to join our company?”
On Tarou’s question, he gave a laugh and answered, “It’s the smell.”
“The smell of money to be made is wafting all over the place from you. I won’t ask the specifics, but you’re trying to do something big. I can tell.”
Allan’s words weren’t particularly wrong, so, “Yeah, well…” Tarou gave a vague response. Searching for information on a long-lost planet… no matter how you looked at it, you couldn’t call it something small.
“Hehe, I knew it. Oh, I’m not telling you to let me in your corp here and now, I don’t mind if you just send around some work to me as an outsider. You can tell by looking at the list, but I can put five people to work at most. Though we only have one ship.”
On Allan’s explanation, “Got it,” said Tarou. And, “There’s somethin’ I’d like to ask as reference,” he continued on.
“If you’ve got five people and decent-enough earnings, why don’t you make a corp? I’m sure you’d get various benefits.”
“You mean set one up on my own?” asked Allan.
“If I could do that, I wouldn’t have so much trouble, admiral. How much do you think it takes to set one up? I won’t say I’ve never put in the effort, but it’s a tad difficult.”
To Allan’s troubled response, “I see…” said Tarou. As he had received a large sum without any effort, he felt a bit awkward.
“By the way, among your five a-are there any women?”
Allan shrugged his shoulders.
“Unfortunately, they’re all dudes. Why does that… Admiral. Could it be… you’re a virgin?”
Tarou shook in shock. Allan sent him a grin, bringing his face close to Tarou’s ear.
“Calm down comrade. You’re among friends. Are you interested in the trick behind pornoholographs?”
Tarou had already decided on Allan’s employment.
Letting out strange voices, Tarou and Allan ran up to Maar.
Maar turned a doubtful face to the two standing still in a bizarre state.
“What’s with that, it’s a bit creepy… and wait, who is that guy?”
Maar blatantly exposed her revulsion. Hearing her tone, Tarou recalled she had only ever heard Allan’s voice.
The two men lowered their bodies, slowly taking distance form Maar.
“Eh? What? Wait, you’re scaring me.”
As Maar furrowed her brow, the two stopped moving again. Tarou looked at Allan. “Dhunga?” he asked, and Allan gave a “Dhunga,” in reply.
“Really, what’s with…”
Maar didn’t understand what was going on. Tarou and Allan let out another, “Dhunga?” sending Maar some eyes of expectation. After a moment of hesitation, she opened her mouth.
“…… Dhu… dhunga?”
With an embarrassed expression on her face, she sent an inquisitive look to Tarou.
On Maar’s voice, the two men high fived.
“Miss Maar. I detect a high concentration of alcohol from Mister Teirow’s breath. As has been said from ancient times, I recommend leaving the drunkards to themselves.”
A hotel in the station. In one of its rooms, Koume turned to Maar and spoke. “I can tell from the smell,” Maar answered, gently pushing Tarou away with a foot.
“Hah… I won’t tell you not to drink, but I can’t approve of you arbitrarily entering my room, Teirow. In your case, you probably unlocked it unconsciously, but you’re really going to be arrested someday.”
Maar looked down over Tarou as he wriggled around. She took out some sort of sheet from her own pocket, sticking it onto the nape of his neck.
“It’s a drunkard sheet. Um, it help the liver enzymes break down acetaldehyde. If you don’t want a hangover, keep it on until tomorrow… by the way, I’d be thankful if you introduced that gentleman already.”
On those eyes as if looking at trash, Tarou swiftly kneeled. His head somewhat sobering up, he gave an explanation about Allan.
“A handyman… I see, if that’s how it is, it’s not a bad deal. When it comes to researching, there’s a limit to what you and me can do on our own.”
With the talk passing through surprisingly easily, Tarou felt let down. Perhaps handyman was a more trusted profession than he had anticipated, he thought as he altered the job rankings in his head. At Tarou’s backward glance, Allan turned to Maar and Koume, “Pleasure to work with you,” he said.
“Yes, it is a pleasure, Mister Allan. By the way, do you boast any campaign experience?”
At Koume’s question, a question mark lingered over the two. “What are you talking about?” Allan tilted his head.
“No, you do not have to pay it any mind, Mister Allan. Even if it was somewhat damaged from the bombardments, you did a good job identifying our coated and camouflaged military-grade armored deck. I was simply impressed.”
At Koume’s words, Tarou swallowed his breath. As he turned his eyes to Allan, he found him awkwardly scratching his face.
“Oh, so I slipped up… yeah, I’ve been on a campaign before. It was so stiff I didn’t last a year. You think I altered my personal history? Don’t worry about that. I was excommunicated, and it was on the government’s orders that my military records were wiped clean.”
“Wiped clean, that doesn’t sound like nothing. What did you go and do?”
“Hm~, it wasn’t anything big. Just hacked a bit around the army’s network. I had some confidence, but they did a magnificent job of catching me.”
As he said that, Allan raised a laughed. Tarou and Maar exchanged a glance, “Will he really be alright,” they transmitted the message with their eyes.
“You don’t have to worry. The hacking was to expose a superior’s misconduct, and taking my extraneous circumstance into account, I got of with excommunication. Think about it, the guys who hack the army’s databanks are usually put to death without a proper trial, you know?”
Due to his complete ignorance towards the imperial government’s policies, Tarou couldn’t offer any judgement, but from Maar’s satisfied expression, he inferred it should be fine.
“Well, it’s a bit of an embarrassing past for a guy who’s never failed a job before. It’d be real helpful if you forgot all about it. More importantly, could you give me the specifics on your course of action? I only heard you were searching for some mysterious thing.”
Tarou sent a glance to Maar and Koume for confirmation, and while he was still a bit hazy, he began talking about their objective.
“I see, an unknown planet capable of habitation… that sounds fishy, but if it’s really there, it’ll be huge. A goldmine.”
Folding his arms, Allan made a serious face. There, Maar opened her mouth.
“Honestly, we were worrying over what to do. For now, we need information, so we were thinking to head for Andoa Station.”
“No, if you’re heading somewhere, you’re better off going to Delta Station. They’re both around the same scale, but when Andoa’s government facilities and personnel, Delta’s about finances. The information you can get is overwhelmingly different. Though if you have business with the government, that’s a separate story.”
Based on Allan’s information, Tarou opened BISHOP and looked at a map.
“Hmhmm, Delta Station is… here. 24 jumps from our present location. That’s far.”
“Yes, but you can use a long-rage jump to get to Delta Station, Minster Teirow. It depends on whether time or money is your greatest priority, but in essence, you can reach in 6 jumps.”
“Is it that? Something like an expressway… yeah~, I think we should prioritize time here.”
As Tarou said that, he quickly calculated the transport expenses.
“That’s how it is, so well, I’ll be counting on you, Admiral. We’re all single, so I’ll being up talks of moving our base of operations to Delta.”
Allan held out his right hand.
Tarou took it, “Likewise,” he returned a smile.
As holographs contain too much data, it is not possible to send them over the network. It is necessary to physically deliver the chips.