To set up the shop, I realized that I’d need to make another trip back to earth, if not a couple. At least I had plenty of crystals now, and I could earn even more with ease. Once renting the shop and getting the key, I sent Red on an innocuous errand so that I could privately teleport back to my world. I sent Katarina with her to keep her from returning too quickly.
It was strange appearing in an ally behind my apartment building, but it made heading to the factory easier. I was delighted when I arrived and found that Mizuki had done when I had Cecelia order her to do, and bring more products. I had seriously worried that I wouldn’t have enough to trade for all the human personnel, so when I returned with Kiera, I had Cecelia send a request to Mizuki, which she honored.
I have purchased another quantity of goods for you overnight, as you requested. Your mother has also spontaneously won an additional week at the spa. I hope that all of these requests are ultimately building to something. You do not need to do everything on your own. I’m willing to help you. The more you tell me about your business plans, the more I can help them reach fruition.
Just think about it.
She left such a note waiting for me on the door leading to the factory. After reading it, I immediately stuffed it in my pocket. This wasn’t the kind of thing that talking to Mizuki would help. How could she do anything about my sister being kidnapped in another world? I knew at this point I was exploiting her goodwill, but times had become desperate. I promised myself that after this was all over, I tried to lay out a more coherent plan for her.
In the meantime, I started transporting supplies over to my store. The storefront wasn’t just a means of earning crystals. It was also where I could store my supplies as I started to buy slaves. I couldn’t just jump over to my world and back every time I needed to make a payment, so this acted as the perfect front to laundry my supplies. Every store had a solid metal door that led outside, which was where supplies could be brought in and unloaded in private. After all, caravans needed to be able to have enough to stock to put in their storefronts. This afforded me the perfect ability to bring in my stuff. Hopefully, no one was looking at my innocuous little store too closely, and wouldn’t see how all of this food just made it there.
They were all too focused on their sales to pay attention to me, and by the time I garnered any notice for my food of abnormal quality, it’d be too late to notice anything. Thus, I teleported in as many supplies as I could fit into the back storeroom, and then began to carry it out into the storefront. I didn’t work for long until I started to feel off.
I had sent Red a while ago on my little errand. The errand wasn’t useless. They gave us a map of the mall so that I could find my store. I wanted her to go around and mark what each store sold. It’d make it easier to navigate it in the future. Still, the time it took me to get to the factory wasn’t insignificant. After another fifteen minutes, she really should have been back with Katarina. I was expecting them to help me stock the store before we opened up. We had only a day to make as many crystals as possible, so I was a bit worried.
I locked up the shop. Theft was prohibited in this place, so I wasn’t expecting anyone to steal from us. It still made me nervous leaving that many supplies unintended. At least, no one had even known I brought in supplies. Not enough time had passed by to move so many supplies, and I had never opened the back door. What was currently on display was about the amount someone could pull out of their digitizer, well, not that most people would have a digitizer.
I left the shop and began to walk around the mall. I usually didn’t pay much attention to the others around me, but that was because I traveled in a group. Being alone, I suddenly felt extremely vulnerable among the rough and tough Wastelanders. I had taken for granted the safety net that Katarina seemed to have given me.
“Hey, cutie, why don’t you come in here?” A sultry woman wearing very little gestured to me.
“Ignore her… I’ll give you a ride you won’t forget.” A woman in the shop across from her declared.
“She’ll also give you Chlamydia.”
“You say that like there isn’t a cure.” The other woman shot back.
I lifted my hands, giving them an innocent wave as I forced myself past them. I did my best to avoid bumping into anyone that looked like they might attack me for it. They said that violence of prohibited, but that meant that when someone was violent, both parties would die. I say more turrets and robots. This place had no shortage of protection. They could afford to act authoritarian. As I came out into an intersection with a small courtyard, that’s when I heard a commotion.
“Come on, baby… how much are you?” A man asked.
“I’ve already said, I’m not for sale. Let me pass.” A familiar voice spoke up.
I looked in the direction to see a group of guys that looked like Wastelanders surrounding Red. Red looked extremely irritated. She was resisting punching the guy. Yet, every time she tried to move around him, he immediately got in her way. It was exactly the kind of situation that I wanted to avoid. The problem with the no violence rule is that it allowed groups to bully people. You could nonviolently hold someone down or restraint them, after all.
“You’re a slave, bitch, and this is a slave auction. You’re for sale. I just want to rent you for an hour…”
“More like ten minutes.” One of the others said, causing the group to laugh.
“I’m busy! Leave me be!”
“Most wasteland women don’t get a good diet so their chests are all flat. It’s rare to see such a large specimen. I just want to enjoy those juicy boobs.” The leader reached out to grab her chest.
She slapped his hands away. “Don’t touch me!”
A turret suddenly turned to her, and one of the robots turned her way. The guy held up his hands.
“Woah… baby, you don’t want to have an accident, do you? Although, I have to admit, I like them feisty.”
His actions were starting to create a scene. A crowd was forming around them. I glanced around, and then quickly stepped to the side, working my way behind the crowd. I pushed my way until I was next to the robot, looking like I was just a spectator enjoying the show. However, while they were talking, I quickly took out the dongle and plugged it into the robot, uploading the master code.
“Back off, you pig!” She snapped, taking a step back.
He reached out a grabbed her arm. “You know, you’re so tasty, I think I’ll take you back and enjoy you for free.”
“There is nothing like free!” One of the men backed him up.
I calmly left the side of the robot, and then pushed through the crowd. When Red saw me, several emotions crossed her eyes. It was initial relief, but when she realized the situation, I was stepping in, she had a bit of regret. Her look was far too clear though, and she turned to see me approaching.
“This is my woman.” I declared. “Why are you keeping her from doing what I asked?”
I was going to say she was my slave, but something about saying that felt wrong. However, what I said instead felt even worse. The fact her cheeks turned red didn’t help at all.
As approached them, they all looked down at me with incredulous looks. I was short, after all, and far too pretty to be a Wastelander. I’d been told I looked like a colonist. I could see them almost surprised I didn’t have a slave collar on.
“You’re her owner?” The leader said incredulously, finally letting her pull her arm away as he turned to me.
“Yes, I am.” I glanced over at Red. “Where’s Katarina?”
Red quickly mouthed the words, “went for help.” I didn’t feel the need to inquire further.
“Are you talking about that other girl? Is that your girlfriend? She ran away as soon as her slave was in danger. I thought she was the owner and abandoned her slave. That’s why I was taking liberties.” The guy declared.
“Well, now that you understand your mistake.” I walked out and grabbed Red’s wrist. “We’ll be going.”
Unlike with him, Red allowed me to pull her away. I started heading for the crowd so quickly that it took them a moment to process what was going on. The guy’s stunned expression quickly turned to anger.
“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” He began to move toward me, his men following.
I lifted my hand and snapped. A moment later there was gunfire. There was screaming as the robot suddenly opened fire on the man. He was riddled with bullets before he could even realize what was happening. The crowd broke into pandemonium, people fleeing in every direction, including many of the man’s friends.
I stopped and casually looked at the damage. One of them had been hit in the foot and fell back. He had managed to avoid the rest of the barrage that targeted the lead guy.
“What… what happened?” The guy moaned while holding his foot.
“Malfunctioning robots.” I shrugged, pointing at the robot. “It’s hard to get good help.”
He turned to look at the robot, which had stopped firing once the leader was dead, and was now repeatedly running into a wall. That was the thing about prohibiting violence. There was always an exception.