Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint Chapter 161

Chapter 161 - The Military State's Afternoons

༺ The Military State’s Afternoons ༻

 

 

  Not long after walking along with the flow, a large factory on the outskirts of District 15 appeared. It was one of the clothing packet factories that existed in every city.

 

  The huge factory incessantly swallowed people into its depths. It was inevitable to go against it. We, too, were drawn into the factory, as if sucked in by the flow of people.

 

  This was a clothing factory that processed alchemic fabric into clothing packets.

 

  It was an extremely labor-intensive facility. Countless people had to process the alchemic fabric and even a slight delay at one stage caused problems in the next. As such, no matter how many laborers there were, it was never enough.

 

  In other words, even single-day laborers were welcomed here.

 

  “…So. You want to do labor just for today?”

 

  The supervisor, who managed the laborers, frowned as he looked back and forth between me and the Captain. I gave a convincing smile as I replied.

 

  “That’s right.”

 

  “Jeez. That’s what you say after casually coming in with a woman by your side…?”

 

  The supervisor, grumbling yet simultaneously scheming to underpay us, showed great interest in the Captain, who was relatively well-dressed.

 

  While pretending not to notice the Captain, the supervisor glanced sideways at us.

 

  “You don’t expect to get paid the full amount for just one-day labor, right? The pay is typically 70% of the usual rate. Hey, you go to Rail 7 and follow the instructions. And Woman, you look perfect as a model. Go to the fitting room and try on the clothing packets.”

  

  It shouldn’t really matter who he chose for the job. In fact, using Arch-Avatars would actually be better than people. His specific choice of the Captain revealed his personal desires.

 

  Now then, how should I respond? Just as I was briefly pondering, the Captain, without a moment’s hesitation, shook her head.

 

  “I shall refuse.”

 

  “Refuse? Did you just say you refuse?”

 

  “Affirmative. I must oversee this man or perform a similar supervisory role. Therefore, I cannot be separated from him for an extended period of time.”

 

  The Captain spoke as if it was an undeniable truth.

 

  This outright refusal obviously upset the supervisor who was a figure of power in this area.

 

  「A mere lower-class rat who is looking for single day labor dares to stand up to me, who is acknowledged for my capabilities even among Level 2 citizens? How fearless of…Wait. Fearless?」

 

  And then, the person who appointed this man as a supervisor had just proven their own competence as well.

 

  「This stiff attitude. The unique way of speaking. Could she be…a military officer?」

 

  Sending danger, the supervisor’s mind raced.

 

  Although this was a factory, it, too, was overseen by a technical officer dispatched from the Military State. The rank of technical officers in charge of such large suburban factories was quite high, but…still, they were just technical officers and at most, a commissioned one.

 

  Compared to these commissioned technical officers, a field officer of the Military State, especially those directly deployed in wars, were the very definition of military power.

 

  Being just a supervisor appointed by a technical officer, he was no different from someone who was authorized his rights, rather than actually having them.

 

  It was a status that a mere Level 2 citizen like him, who wasn’t even a technical officer, could not dare to match. 

 

  「Nahhh, it can’t be…is not what I should think! You lunatic, who else would come here out of the blue with such a random request at a time like this? There’s no way she is an ordinary person! Always prepare for the worst, you imbecile!」

 

  The supervisor, who got his bearings together, suddenly donned a solemn manner before speaking.

 

  “Well, if that’s the case, then it can’t be helped. I’ll assign you both together. Go to Rail 7.”

 

  Since the Military State was ultimately a country of humans, it could be that there were foolish people who misused the power given to them without understanding the gravity of their role.

 

  However, such people were usually the first to be dragged to a labor camp.

 

  “If you perhaps have the mana to operate an Arch-Avatar, I will assign you to that task. A worker with mana is quite valuable, after all. Is it possible?”

 

  “I have never tried before, but I can use magic.”

 

  “Then it should be possible. Here, try channeling your mana into this Arch-Avatar.”

 

  The supervisor, pointing to a human-patterned Arch-Avatar akin to a mannequin, politely made his request. 

 

  No matter how foolish she seemed, the Captain was still a captain, so she, of course, was skilled in both Standard and Unique Magic. There was no way she would fail to operate the Arch-Avatar.

 

  As soon as the Captain touched it, blue lines appeared on the mannequin-like Arch-Avatar. Following the central line, the alchemic fabric covering the mannequin unraveled and contracted.

 

  Soon after, the alchemic fabric that once covered the entire figure was woven and compressed into a small packet.

 

  Only someone with sufficient mana could demonstrate such a quick and efficient transformation.

 

  The supervisor swallowed hard.

 

  「Fuck. That mana is on the level of a pretty skilled mage, isn’t it?」

 

  The supervisor lifted his documents to his face before acting like he was scribbling something. Even if it may be too late, he wanted to hide his face from the Captain as much as possible.

 

“That level of mana is enough to let you handle an entire rail by yourself. Both of you, go to Rail 11 together. If you say you’ll handle the Avatar, they’ll understand.’

 

  「I almost got fucked. Someone who can perform such skilled magic can’t be an ordinary person. Even if she is, with that level of talent, she could be of a higher level than me. I’m lucky I made up the excuse about the model, or else….」

 

  The supervisor broke out with cold sweat, chills running down his spine.

 

  What a clever guy. If only my friend Anton was half as clever as him.

 

  Approaching the supervisor, who was desperately trying to avoid eye contact, I leaned in and whispered in his ear.

 

  “You’re lucky, Supervisor. You got it correct.”

 

  Even though he guessed correctly, he couldn’t feel happy about it at all. He just desperately wanted us to move on quickly.

 

  As I left the room and closed the door, I could hear the supervisor’s thoughts seep through that gap.

 

  「…Let’s be more careful in the future.」

 

  Labor was exhausting in a simple way.

 

  Numerous people stood on both sides of an ordinary conveyor belt. When alchemic fabric was placed in front of them, the laborers either cut or folded it according to their role and passed it to the next person.

 

  As the alchemic fabric gradually took the shape of clothing, passing through each person one by one, it finally reached the Captain and me. When it did so, I dressed the Avatar in it and then signaled.

 

  With that, the Captain used her magic, transforming the clothes into a packet and stored it in a box.

 

  Before long, we reached the hundredth clothing packet.

 

  After sealing a box full of packets, I wiped the sweat from my forehead.

 

  Who am I? Why am I here?

 

  Surely, I wasn’t born to do this. I graduated from playing with dolls long ago. So why was I still dressing up dolls?

 

  However, the conveyor belt kept moving and the work showed no signs of ending. New fabric kept coming in front of us.

 

  In the end, I wasn’t able to endure any longer, furtively calling the Captain.

 

  “Phew. It’s tough, right? How about we just call it a day and dip?”

 

  “Negative, it is adequately bearable.”

 

  However, the Captain didn’t show any signs of fatigue.

 

  No, she was exhausted, but was more focused on her duty, her eyes sparkling with intensity.

 

  「It is rewarding. Much better than sitting in the Windowless Room, connecting to a golem. Every time I complete a task and fill a box, the meaning of this work seems to become clearer.」

 

  Ah, this slipped my mind.

 

  The Captain was a signaller who had endured harsher labor than any factory all by herself.

 

  Moreover, even though she never openly displayed it, she had enough mana to continuously sync with a Synchro-type Golem for about a day. The Military State treated her strangely, but she was still an elite in her own right.

 

  「A hundred! Has there ever been something I have stacked 100 of besides canned beans?! This means I am someone who can create a hundred of something!」

 

  Military State, I don’t know if you were protecting or exploiting the Captain, but one this is clear.

 

  You guys are bad.

 

  I sighed and continued with my work.

  

  With that, as this tedious time, as if something had grabbed a clock and stretched it, passed…

 

  “Avatar team, your work is over. Time to clock out!”

 

  As the supervisor shouted, the laborers touching the Avatars asked him in puzzlement.

 

  “Isn’t it an hour earlier than usual? We could still squeeze out a bit more….”

 

  「If I said you can leave early, just go! Damn it, why are you confronting me about it? There’s a military officer here! An officer! We need to send the military officer off first!」

 

  Despite his true feelings, the supervisor replied coolly.

 

  “Today, the mana in the air is sparse. Thanks to the newcomer, we’ve met our quota, and we can’t afford for you, the mana wielders, to collapse. As such, we’ll change shifts a bit earlier today.”

 

  “When have you ever been considerate of that?”

 

  “Quiet!”

 

  “Even if that’s the case, if we leave now, our daily wage….”

 

  “I’ll pay the full amount!”

 

  “Thank you! Take care!”

 

  The laborers, having gained an hour of precious free time, left like the tide ebbing away.

 

  How sharp of you, Supervisor.

 

  Contrary to his guess, we had just come for fun, but there was no need to tell him that.

 

  I called out to the Captain, who was still focused on compressing packets. She glanced regretfully at the box she hadn’t completely filled.

 

  “It is a pity. We could have filled five hundred. A once-in-a-lifetime achievement for me….”

 

  I’m gonna say this again; Military State, you guys are bad.

 

  It was around the time when the sun that had previously been in the center of the sky was now setting. After earning some free time, we received our day’s wages and left the factory.

 

  Considering that one-day laborers were often underpaid, the supervisor had been quite generous to us. Although it was double the amount for a regular laborer, it wasn’t too excessive considering the Captain helped them exceed their quota. 

 

  The Captain, feeling a newfound pride in earning money by her own effort, walked with a spring in her step, holding the alchemic gold in her embrace. Unbeknownst to her, her golden hair and skirt lightly bounced as she walked. 

 

  “Is this your first time earning money? Why are you so happy?”

 

  “It’s my first time receiving wages like this. So this is the weight of money….”

 

  “Ah, that’s right. Soldiers get their salary in bulk from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, don’t they?”

 

  “Affirmative. There is no need to spend wages while serving in the military….”

 

  Due to the existence of alchemy, no currency other than alchemic gold could exist in this world.

 

  It was because bills or bank notes could not possibly hold any value in the face of alchemy, that could even mimic gold.

 

  Only the Military State, holding control over the administration of the entire country, could pay wages in form of notes or gold. In neighboring countries, even though they killed off all the alchemists, their economies still collapsed and their countries were torn apart.

 

  “Come to think of it, Bbey is pretty much a captain.”

 

  “Negative. It is not just ‘pretty much’. I am most definitely a captain.”

 

  “Since you hadn’t spent your money and just let it stack, you should have quite a sum left.”

 

  “Affirmative.”

 

  “What do you want to do with that money? Don’t you have anything you wish to do?”

 

  Was it perhaps because she actually felt how it was to receive hard-earned money?

 

  The Captain, holding the day’s wages close in her embrace, actually pondered my question seriously.

 

  「I am a Level 3 citizen. I have inheritance rights, but no assets to inherit, and I cannot leave any assets to my descendants either. In the first place, there is no one to bequeath to. If I die, all my assets will be incinerated.」

 

  Ooooh. Finally, her thoughts reached all the way there.

 

  Is she finally going to show me?

 

  Life was resistance. A fight to protect and maintain one’s small and fragile universe against the fierce and threatening outside world. 

 

  When truly losing something, someone living had no choice but to resist. 

 

  「The money was paid by the military authorities anyway. Even if it is incinerated and returned to the Military State, there is nothing to regret. If that money can achieve something better…If it goes to others who are happy with small fortunes…」

 

  But the signaller didn’t seem to feel any need for that.

 

  You guys are seriously so, so bad.

 

  There is a saying that even opportunity knocks only three times. If you’re this bad, shouldn’t you have used up your chances a hundred times over? Perhaps it’s slowly time for your downfall?

 

  「It is fortunate that I at least still have ties to the facility where I grew up. If I die on duty, compensation will be paid. I have no inheritance, but it will be my…last gift to my younger siblings.」

 

  Soldiers were encouraged to marry.

 

  Simply put, it was for asset reasons.

 

  If not used, assets and property would accumulate. And if they happened to die? It would be immediately incinerated.

 

  Of course, that didn’t mean they could just request bulk payment at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and stash it somewhere. If caught, they would be off to a labor camp.

 

  A family was essential just to spend the earned salary right away. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs didn’t prevent families from claiming wages on behalf of the soldier.

 

  That was why many soldiers established families at a young age.

 

  Well, what if they created a family and could not provide for them because they died? There was still no need to worry.

 

  There may not be an inheritance, but there was still compensation for death.

 

  And it was often an amount far greater than a sizable inheritance. 

 

  Soldiers, who had no choice but to consider what would happen after their death, put all their effort into leaving a family behind.

 

  「Now that I think about it, it is a bit regrettable. If I had married, could I have left a little more behind?」

 

  Even so, at least a positive change was achieved.

 

  The concept of leaving something behind.

 

  The minimal desire of a person who had accepted the inevitable notion known as death.

 

  The Captain, unknowingly tasting the poignant desire that bloomed in her heart, held the small change in the envelope tightly and replied.

 

  “…It is confidential.”

 

  I didn’t ask further. This much was enough for today.

 

  Thus, we were on our way back, walking through the slowly darkening streets, when…

 

  A corner of the market was in turmoil. The part of the market usually filled with a cacophony of diverse voices was just filled with confused murmuring today.

 

  The gathered people were looking around, as if requesting for help, and then suddenly, they shouted upon spotting me.

 

  “Hey! Hughes! We have a huge problem!”

 

  I was usually able to understand what had happened half a beat faster because I could read thoughts. However, at this moment, my Mind Reading was of no use whatsoever.

 

  “Anna got beaten badly…!”

 

  It was because the reason became clear without even needing to read thoughts.

 

  Pushing through the crowd, we found Anna, lying on the ground, bruised on her face and arms.

 

  Anna, usually so tough, now lay there with a face as pale as a seriously ill patient.

 

  I let the Captain run ahead, her expression twisting. Meanwhile, I stood there, scratching my head, and looked at Anna who seemed to have fainted.

 

  Wow.

 

  Things really turned into a shitfest while I was away, huh.

 

  At any rate, who’s going to cook dinner now?

 

  I was quite looking forward to it, though.

 

 

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Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint

Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint

Status: Ongoing Author:
I, a mere con artist, was unjustly imprisoned in Tantalus, the Abyssal Prison meant for the most nefarious of criminals, where I met a Regressor.   But when I used my ability to read her mind, I found out that I was fated to die in a year…   And that the world would end 10 years later.

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