Population Control – Chapter 5
This is a translation of a Japanese novel. You can read the Raw here.
This is a work of fiction, with depictions of violence such as death of many people at a time. It is not suitable for readers under 15.
Chapter 5 is here! Not much to say about this one, save for maybe telling you that Hida beef is pretty expensive but Yonezawa beef is even more fancy and expensive. Well, I tried to make that obvious in the chapter, but just in case.
Anyway, here is chapter 5 of population control, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 5: Troublesome work and troublesome juniors
“Mister Kageyama, your skin is all bright today! That meat really was something else!”
Monday, at the company.
I didn’t get a compensatory leave for working on Saturday, so here I am, back at work. Hattori, on the other hand, is doing great. What’d he do to feel so great on a monday? Is it because of all the meat he ate? Good for him.
The tests we launched on saturday are apparently progressing well, too. Hattori said that for the first time in a while, he was able to report our progress to our superiors with a smile.
As for me, like he said, my skin is looking all bright, but it’s not because of the A5 Hida beef. Well, maybe the meat had a little something do with it, but there is a bigger reason.
Yesterday, after returning home from the Yakuniku place, I used Regedit on myself.
And, wouldn’t you believe it, I successfully managed to make myself physically younger to some extent.
It was not easy.
When I first checked my own registry, I was stunned by the sheer amount of data and details. The data structure and system were astonishingly different from what I expected. If my mind hadn’t been strengthened by that guy, this could have been very dangerous.
If you place someone in front of a group of system files he’s never seen before and tell him “You can do whatever you want with these. But do it at your own risk!”, then even if he’s the greatest mind in the world, he still won’t be able to do anything without first looking for at least one file that makes sense to him.
After a while, he’d go: “Oh yes. I understand… that I don’t understand anything.”
Then he’d just give up and look away from those files unless he absolutely needs to mess with them.
When I looked at my registry, I felt the exact same way.
Inside my registry were many multidimensional parameters, ordered within multiple abstraction layers, and a lot of ‘methods’ that I could see but could not use because I did not understand what they were for. This was clearly different from an inanimate object with a simple structure like my mug.
Even more problematic was the fact that, despite the many, many abstraction layers, there were no simple parameters like “HP” “MP” “Speed” or “Luck”, which you usually find in games.
In a game, if you wanted to modify your physical strength, there would be a “Strength” or “STR” parameter, but my parameters are much different. In my registry, the physical strength was given as a multidimensional table that showed the contraction at the cross-sectional area of each part of each muscle, as well as the supply of energy for those areas relative to the surrounding amino acids. But that’s not all, there were other values such as the duration of each process and more. I wasn’t very diligent in my biology classes from high school onwards, so this was all nonsense to me.
“Wish I could get a manual or call customer service. Who knows, maybe they’ll tell me to turn my own self off and on again?”
I tried making a purposely lame joke to help me loosen up, but of course, that did nothing to change the situation. It just made me hate myself a bit.
But it’s fine, I have a strong mind.
Afterwards, the first thing I did was to consider the option of a sample code and… Well, no, the first thing I did is try to make my wish come true. What wish, you say? Well, my wish to become younger, of course. That might be weird for someone who’s not even thirty yet, but the sense of defeat from not being able to handle my Yakiniku hurt my pride.
That being said, when I tried to find a way to switch my age from 29 to 24, I realized that it just couldn’t be done.
In fact, there was no easy-to-understand parameter like “Age: 29 years old” in my registry. For those guys, those higher forms of intelligence, there is probably no meaning in recording how many times the sun rotates around the earth starting from the birth of each life form in their simulation. If they want to know the age of an ‘Object’, which in this case was my own self, they can count the difference between the current time and the time the Object came to be. And that’s only natural. In fact, it would be weird if they didn’t do it that way.
I can thank my lucky stars that that guy was considerate enough to put KMS (Kg/Meters/seconds) units in my regedit…
While I couldn’t find an ‘age’ parameter, I did find the timestamp of my birth. Surprisingly, it was marked as my ‘fertilization time’. I have to say, I did not expect that… Mom, dad, I’m sorry. I put my nose in your personal business.
Since I still couldn’t find an age parameter after looking all over my registry, I tried rewriting the timestamp of my birth by adding five years to it, but there were no changes to my body. I thought my body would immediately become younger, but nothing happened at all.
If age was a meaningful variable in the registry, some kind of new event would have been triggered by the change, such as the different parts that compose me adapting to the fact that I’ve become 24. But age isn’t even an existing parameter, so trying to to fiddle with my time of birth was probably a waste of time.
Because of this, I quickly gave up on making myself younger by rewriting my age. To make my physical safe younger, it was quicker to just look for a rejuvenation function in my registry and execute it.
I looked through the registry for a long time, until I found something at a very low abstraction layer. There was a table of the frequency of division of the massive amount of cells organized inside my body, along with some data about the length of my telomeres. I made modifications to these parameters at once, and went to sleep for a little while. During that time, the cells in my body changed, and my body transformed through what could be referred to as a proper rejuvenation.
My bed springs made strange noises during the night, but that didn’t bother my sleep.
And the next morning, after my shower, I found that my skin looked all bright and neat.
It’s worth noting that when I looked at myself in the mirror, there was a substance with a strange color that was excreted through my skin. I also found that same color in my urine later on.
It seems like my body let out a considerable amount of waste in one fell swoop. But I’d rather keep all that to myself.
Still, I almost had kidney failure. I should keep in mind that lowering my body’s age too often or by too many years at once can be dangerous.
Anyway, while I was at it, I also set some dangerous stuff, like my DNA’s likelihood of being miscopied, to 0. This should protect me from getting any kind of cancer at any point in my life, save for the ones caused by external sources.
All the work I put into my rejuvenation kept me up until 4 am. Adding the explosive reaction of my metabolism from the 5 years change to that, it’s safe to say I didn’t wake up unscathed. My body was worn out, I had dark circles and puffy eyes, and I even had some pimples on my skin. With this, I shouldn’t have looked much different from yesterday, yet I didn’t fool Hattori’s eyes.
Yes. He got it right. I did change. I became slightly younger. And from now on, I’ll never have to stare enviously at my junior as he stuffs his cheeks with yakiniku again. Never.
Stuff your cheeks with that.
“So sleepy… I only slept for two hours… So sleepy…”
Actually, I slept for three and a half hours, but that’s a secret.
As I wrote my report with my eyes half-closed, while showing how tired I was to my surroundings, a rude girl came from behind me and started shaking my chair from front to back.
“Mister Kageyama, did you eat meat with Hattori yesterday? How come I wasn’t invited?!”
This was the new employee, Aida.
Although my skin was bright, I was still sleepy and drowsy, but that did not stop her from snapping at me.
Aide is an artificial intelligence engineer who came to work at our company this year, right after graduating from grad school. And I’m in charge of training her.
She’s a 165cm (5’4) tall girl, with a short bob haircut, and glasses. Considering she’s a Stanford graduate, you can guess she’s quite talented. She calls herself the “Glamorous programmer” but I think she’s a bit too lacking in the chest area to be calling herself glamorous. Even so, I’d never say that out loud. I don’t want to get myself in trouble for sexual harassment.
She always wears sleeveless shirts and collared blouses. According to her, it displays her “Adult’s appeal”. Sad to say, that doesn’t work as well as she think it does. Her baby face and friendly personality don’t quite fit the ‘Adult woman’ aura she’s aiming for.
But still, she’s pretty and has a refreshing personality, which makes her extremely popular with some people. Because of this, I’m always the target of the irrational jealousy of her ‘fans’…
…Speaking of which, since she graduated this year, she must be around 24 years old, right? Heh. Aida. Looks like we’re technically the same age now. Take that!
I quickly suppressed the absurd, fulfilled vendetta in my head before it could go anywhere further. I also halfheartedly apologized in my heart, but I didn’t mean it.
“That’s right! Why only Hattori? That’s not fair! What about the equality opportunities? We should be treated the same!”
Nakayama immediately followed up on Aida’s complaint. It looks to me like they’re more concerned about the easy money from the horse race than the meat.
“It’s just that I was walking by Akihabara and felt like eating some meat…”
“Then you should have called. I wouldn’t have minded coming all the way there for that.”
“Well, don’t you live in Tokorozowa? …If I waited for you to come, the yakiniku place would have closed.”
“Oh… I see how it is. Will the implicit discrimination of the people of Saitama ever end?”
Nakayama is pulling the “Tokyo’s citizens always discriminate against Saitama’s people” card again. He does this sometimes. I thought this was just a self-derogatory running gag, but he sounded so serious just now that I can’t quite tell. I may have bothered to listen further in the past, but I’m not soft enough to do that now.
“It’s not discrimination, okay? Look, I get it. I’ll treat you next time I go, you happy now?”
I just said whatever came to mind. That should be enough to fend him off.
“What about me! I’m also a victim of discrimination! Right, Nakayama? I’m supposed to have an important post here, but you know, I’ve been feeling a little alienated here! I was told I had the right qualifications when I joined the company, so why haven’t you been using me?!
And now, there is this… meat issue! Even when you went out to eat meat, I was still left out! Was I not trained enough to eat meat?! I protest!”
“Aida. Would you please stop spouting nonsense? I’ll get scolded by the higher ups.”
I’m supposed to take care of training Aida, but as you know, I’ve been stuck with the Death March lately, fighting deadlines. I didn’t have time to train a new employee.
Moreover, she’s going to be a very important asset for the company in the future. HR spent a lot of time and money on the selection process until they were finally able to hire this valuable new employee. Knowing all that, I couldn’t possibly involve her in a Death March merely two weeks after she was hired.
There is no way I’d make an important newcomer sleep on pipe chairs and work for 20 consecutive days. First, there is the legal, compliance aspect of it to consider. And second, if she were to quit the company because of it, it would create trouble for many people.
Yet, without knowing anything about what’s really going on, she got all pissed about some meat…
How dare you…
“Alright alright, you too, Aida. I’ll treat you to meat, sushi, shark fins, anything you want. As long as I can afford it.”
“Then, I’ll get one of CORCH’s new bags!”
“You… When I said anything, I meant anything food-related, you could at least retrain yourself to that…”
“CORCH bags only cost around 60,000 or 70,000 yen, don’t they? Hattori ate 200,000 yen’s worth of Yonezawa beef!
60,000 or 70,000 yen is nothing compared to that! Plus it’s not from your regular salary, it’s just easy money, it’s fine! It’s totally fine!
So won’t you please share some with me?”
What does she mean, 200,000 yen’s worth of Yonozewa beef… Wait, no, nothing she’s saying makes any sense…
What am I getting condemned for here exactly?
First, I had to do tons of work on modifying my registry’s parameters, and now, I have to listen to my juniors yap at me. This is the worst. I couldn’t be more tired if I tried.
But honestly, I love my daily life. If possible, I don’t want to give it up.
“It wasn’t Yonezawa beef, and it certainly did not cost 200,000 yet. Where would I get that kind of money from?”
“Hattori said your wallet was thick like a brick! Of course you’d have eaten at least that much!”
Oh man, what should I do? While I’m here having stupid conversations, 2.5 people are being born every second. If I don’t hurry and do something, then…
Translator’s note: So, about telomeres, basically, they’re at the extremities of our DNA, they sort of protect it, and the more you age, the shorter they become. What happened in this chapter might be a tad complicated, so if you have any questions, I’m always available in the comments down below.