After cleaning myself up a bit, I finally managed to convince my mother and Hazel to let me leave. They were naturally filled with questions, but I didn’t have very many answers that would be satisfactory. I could see their eyes filled with worry. Was this what it was like for people who lived double lives, like strippers or drug dealers that didn’t want their families to know? Well, nothing I was doing was strictly illegal, but that only calmed me down so much as I thought about all of the things I had to do so far to survive.
It would all be worth it though. This next meeting was the point and time where I could finally start earning the kind of money I needed to change my life. This was the beginning. It was hard to feel that motivated as I was taking the bus to get there. At the moment, I was completely poor. No, I was worse than poor, I was $10,000 in debt. I supposed that wasn’t much worse than the debt my family had always had hovering over them, but I wasn’t even out of high school yet.
“I don’t understand why you bother with all of this.” A voice came from my watch. “I’ve seen how the economy of this world works. It’s all digital. It would be easy to put number into your account.”
“That would be theft.” I responded.
“Theft is merely a term the weak use when they aren’t able to protect what they own for themselves. They try to make it a moral issue, claiming that you being stronger or smarter, and thus entitled to their resources, is somehow wrong. Yet, in the end, they acknowledge it anyway. There is a clear class of elites, who keep the majority of the money. They use their superior positions to extract money from those lower than them. Rather than saying they’ll do it or hurt you, they do it claiming they are giving you something, like food or a home, but it’s still basically extortion.”
“I see that you didn’t waste any time ending up on the wrong side of the internet.” I rolled my eyes. “Please avoid certain forums.”
“Please, Master…” She responded dismissively. “I didn’t need to do much to see the flaws in your system. However, if you want to delude yourself into some kind of sense of morality, it’s not like I have room to say. I am merely your slave, after all. By the way, how does your world feel about slaves?”
“You’re a machine. There are no laws regarding you. As for those in slave collars, slavery is allowed by the wasteland, it’s not allowed here. A business will abide by the laws of the land the business finds itself in.”
“That’s quite a convenient since of morality.”
“I miss the original voice for my watch. Should I just turn you into code?”
“M-master! Don’t destroy me. I didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just trying to understand Master better.”
“For example, I’ve use the internet to gather intel on the Chloe Auction House that you’re working with. They have chapters in nearly 76 countries worldwide. Several billion dollars worth of goods cross their hands every year.” Cecelia offered hastily to try to be useful.
“I could find out that much with a search engine.” I growled.
“Ah! W-well, did you know that the woman you are currently meeting, this Lily, is both single and looking?”
“H-how could you know that?”
“I found her profile page. Although, she’s only part of sites for wealthy. She clearly wants to date a rich man. Hasn’t had any luck so far, as she’s a virgin.”
“I’m not even going to ask how you know that.”
“She put it in her profile once, but she quickly deleted it. I was able to recover it in the archive.”
I coughed. “You might still be useful to me. To some extent. I won’t scrap you.”
“Th-thank you, Master!”
I let out a sigh. “I probably should get a wireless earpiece so I can talk to you without being overheard.”
“It still amazes me how far you have come in certain areas, but completely absent in others. It was like our cultures developed completely counter to each other.”
“Your ability to interface was league beyond our own. LCD, OLED, VR… these were only in conception in our world. On the other hand, we were much farther along in intelligence, software, and robotics.”
“Fascinating… but we’re here now, so be quiet.” I mumbled. “I can talk to myself on a bus without weirding people out, but the café is a bit different.”
Actually, I did get a few weird looks as I spoke to my watch, even though such a technology existed in this world. It was probably because she kept calling me Master. That was the result of the Master code, which was ultimately the only reason that she was listening to me right now. The Master code had saved my life many times so far, so I had to have faith in it. I admitted I was a little scared letting her onto the internet, but she didn’t launch any nuclear warheads yet, so it was okay.
Getting off the bus, I found myself at the same location I had met Lily the first two times. Was it boring meeting Lily at the same place? Would she think so? Maybe, she would have been more entertained if I came up with a wilder location.
Our relationship is just business!
I shook my head as I reminded myself of this simple fact. It was bloody Cecelia going on about her relationship status. I was pretty sure Lily had been quite flirtatious the last time we met, but I had ignored it because I assumed that was just something she did with all guests. However, I wasn’t a virgin anymore, and my mind naturally started to think a bit differently, especially after what Katarina had told me.
I hefted a giant duffle back over my shoulder which was ultimately how I intended to pass off the bones when the time came. Of course, they were in my watch at the moment. I’d summon the velociraptor when the time came. There was no point risking my life or the bones by bringing them out sooner. As I interested the restraint, I found the beauty sitting at our familiar table. Taking a deep breath, I walked over and sat across from her, setting the bag down like it was heavy, even though it was empty at the moment.
Actually, I was probably overreacting. Despite popular opinion, a velociraptor was only about the size of a turkey and it only weighed about 30 pounds. If it was the size people imagined from the movies it definitely wouldn’t have fit in my inventory. That was why I had started with this skeleton over any of the others.
I froze slightly, glancing up to see Lily watch me with pursed lips. She was as lovely as always, wearing a descendant dress that showed generous cleavage. Her hair and makeup were done up in a way that one would think she was leaving for a fine evening event immediately after. It was enough to take any man’s breath away.
“You look just as beautiful as always.” I responded.
A small smile appeared on her face. “May I see that black card I gifted you last time we met?”
I didn’t expect her to just jump right into it. Given out last few experiences, I had been preparing to give small talk for a bit, at least until we ordered out food. Instead, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the card, putting it down on the table.
“I have to apologize, their isn’t anything left on it. I had to max out my withdrawal for various sudden reasons.” I felt slightly ashamed admitting this.
She liked rich guys, right? What was I doing thinking I could compete? Just because Katarina and Kiera liked me didn’t mean I was a Casanova among college-aged women.
“You don’t need to worry about that anymore.” She took the card and then slid it through a device attached to her phone.
A second later, she handed it back I took it back and looked at it, which was foolish because I knew it wouldn’t look any different.
“Congratulations, you limit has been increased to $100,000.”
I nearly dropped the card. “Wh-what was that?”
She giggled. “When you act surprised like that, it is always quite cute. However, you don’t need to be so surprised. Assuming you brought the item you promised, then you would make at least $20,000. Even paying off your debts, I think an extension of credit is in order. Although, that is only one of the reasons you’ve been awarded an increased credit line.”
“What’s the other?”
“Naturally, it’s your recent association with Mizuki company.”
“You know about that?”
“The Chloe Auction House has its ways. We know when we’re being looked into, and we know who is doing it. As for why the heir to the Mizuki fortune has an interest in you, I have to admit that I’ve become deeply curious.” She smiled and leaned forward, showing even more of her chest. “Care to comment?”
“Why? Are you jealous?”
I was trying to reflect her questioning, but her blunt answer shocked me. Before I could come up with a response, she reached out and grabbed my hand.
“I don’t like to see other women swimming around what I’ve set my eyes on.” She declared. “I want to make it clear that you’re mine first.”
I couldn’t help but swallow hard. As always, I couldn’t tell if she was genuinely interested, or just enthusiastic about her job.