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 9 is here!
Sorry for the long delay, I’m in the process of moving countries, which is taking a loooot of my time. But I should be done with that by tomorrow. This situation is also what kept me busy last time, since I had to go through an awful lot of complex paperwork.
Anyway, here’s is Chapter 9, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 9: What? Is that not okay?
After traveling for two days on a connecting flight, I finally took my first steps right above the equator, in a land that never leaves the embrace of the sun.
Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria.
Lagos is the biggest city in Nigeria, and it’s been experiencing amazing growth these days.
Be it in population density, or growth, or the like, it’s the undisputed number 1 in Nigeria. There is hardly any match to this large city throughout the whole African continent, let alone in Nigeria itself.
Including the people of Lagos, the multi-ethnic country of Nigeria has a population of 200 million, the largest in all of Africa. Even compared to the whole world, it about the seventh or eighth in terms of population, and it has a mix of over 270 ethnic groups. It’s the perfect setting to create a country of complete chaos.
These numbers have given quite a push to Nigeria’s economy, which allowed its GDP to keep growing in the recent years, until it became ranked first in all of Africa, and the 20th worldwide. Thanks to this, Nigeria became part of the MINT economies, which are referred to by some as the second BRIC. BRIC being the shorthand for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and MINT the shorthand for Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey.
It’s safe to say the country is on a roll. It has even overtaken South Africa, which used to be the face of the African continent until recent years.
The company that I’ve been transferred to, the Mibu corporation, seems to have found some good opportunities in this rapidly growing country and city. But the Mibu corporation is not the only Japanese company that came to Lagos. There are apparently about 30 Japanese companies here, struggling to plant their roots in the country.
The office I’ll be working in is located in the ‘Yaba’ district. They call it Lagos’ educational district, because most of the city’s IT industry and universities can be found here.
Fun fact, the Yaba district has a relatively small population compared to the rest of the city, but it’s around this area that big companies like google have set up their offices in Nigeria. End of very fun fact.
“You must be Kageyama, right? Welcome to your new post. The trip must have been long. Put your luggage in the corner over there for now, I’ll show you the way to your residence later. But before anything else, I’m going to teach you about the business we run here, and about everything you need to know to live safely in this country.”
The head of the company’s subsidiary in Lagos, mister Oba, came to meet me in person.
Mister Oba has narrow eyes, seems to be of Japanese descent, and looks physically pretty fit. Unfortunately for him, the little hair he has left on his head is here to testify to him probably being in the second half of his forties.
Working under him in this local subsidiary, there are only about 19 people. It’s a small team. Including me, only 6 of us are Japanese.
From today onward, this place will be my battlefield.
Having anticipated the business expansion of Nigeria, as well as their social responsibility initiatives, and their worries over energy supplies, the Mibu corporation has built renewable power plants within the country. But Nigeria is an oil-producing country. If a complete outsider starts successfully trading clean energy here, some people will not take it well. And by some people, I mean mainly the government.
By this point, the organization has already been branded as an enemy by some government officials who have ties with other businesses. Because of that, they were apparently forced to change their policies in ways that put them at a disadvantage.
Nigeria has also been receiving a lot of help for free from China, as well as many loans with no interest. Some government workers are probably hoping to get appetizing favors from China’s local agencies by throwing monkey wrenches in Japanese businesses.
You’d think that would be considered harassement, but according to the senior employee who explained all this to me while grinding his teeth from anger, the company has no proof of the government officials’ interference, and even if they did have proof and presented it, they would still be crushed powerlessly, and there is nothing they could do about it.
For all those reasons, using Nigeria’s social responsibility initiatives and selling them energy is no longer an option. But since the Mibu organization has already built renewable energy plants and doesn’t want to let the electricity they generate go to waste, they came up with the idea of using that power to create a Crypto mining farm. On top of that, they’re planning to establish a crypto currency market here to fuel a speculation fever among the wealthy of this fast-growing country.
To do so, they have to buy, mount and set up the equipment for a crypto mining farm, and they need to set up a system for the crypto currency market they want to establish. And that’s where computer engineers like me come in.
“The area around here is a relatively safe, but don’t take the same route to work everyday. Be it during the day or the night, do not go out alone. You’ll also have to keep your money and your expensive possessions in a safe, and you better not let your maid or chauffeur know where you hid it…”
The safety training course kept going on and on. Well, there is no helping it. This is not Japan. If I carelessly go to a convenience store in the middle of the night, I might be found dead the next morning. Unfortunately, it seems like Lagos is really the country’s number one in everything, and their crime rate is no exception.
These problems aren’t exclusive to nighttime. The level of safety here is basically comparable to Johannesburg. Think of the danger of going to buy alcohol alone in a suspicious alleyway after midnight in your neighborhood, and time that by a hundred.
Even though I just came here, they still put me through the whole, very long, safety training course. Then, mister Oba and I had a talk.
“Well then, Kageyama. From now on, you will be this subsidiary’s technical director. You’ll take care of on-site preparations and adjustments, and oversee the work that will be done.”
“Director? Me? I know this is just a subsidiary, but you’re still part of a super-major firm, right? I mean, back in my previous office, I was just a senior supervisor.”
“A director is someone with leadership skills and expertise in the field, someone who is capable of negotiating with other departments within the company and even with other companies. Someone who can give precise information to the management and administration, and accurately persent them their options in different situations. I don’t know about the place you were transferred from, but here, you meet the standards to be a director. “
“Of course. At our company, we only use the best computers, so from now on, we’ll be relying on you to negotiate with local vendors to order the equipment we’ll need need and anything we may need for development. I’ll also need you to report any progress to me, and to bring to attention any problem that might occur. Here, take this business card. I don’t have much of a habit of using these here yet, but it might come in handy since there is an american IT company nearby.”
“I understand… I’ll do my best then. By the way…”
Looking at the woman standing next to mister Oba, I spoke with a very slightly intimidating voice.
“Ichikawa, why are you here?”
“What? Is that not okay?”
“You’re the one who recommended me to go work overseas, right?! So how come you’re here, too? Did you recommend yourself?”
Ichikawa looked my way with a slightly embarrassed expression.
Maybe because we’re in a southern country, Ichikawa had her hair tied in a dumpling behind her head, which made her look pretty fresh. But right now, I’m not seeing any of that freshness anymore.
“Well, I mean, they were recruiting people who know their way around computers and can work overseas, right? That excludes people from administrative departments, business development departments, investment departments or even from corporate, right?”
She sure is more talkative than she was back in our office in Yūrakuchō.
Was she always the type to talk like that? Oh, wait. She acted the same way when she was having that girl talk with Aida in the restaurant.
“So, all that’s left is the system development department, the technological development department, and the project management office, right?”
“Then, among the people researching our country’s financial and banking systems, and working on sciences that are strictly related to our country, how many of them do you think can speak English?”
“I see your point, but why would they send you, then? Why not take someone like Aida instead…”
“Aida is a new employee. She might be a Stanford graduate, but she hasn’t shown enough results to be illegible for a transfer to an affiliated company. Besides, if both you and Aida left, who would take care of the AI system development in your stead?”
I have nothing to say back.
“So your English is good enough to come here? I never knew.”
“Well, let’s just say it’s at a level where I’m able to read Python’s reference manual in its original language.”
I guess that should be enough? By the way, the official language of Nigeria is English. They didn’t put English in their recruitment conditions because they’re allergic to foreign languages or anything. It’s just that it’s absolutely necessary here.
When I was first told that I’d be assigned to Nigeria, I was surprised. It’s a country that I thought of so little that I could not even tell where it was without first looking at a map. But I figured I could manage since I can speak English, and on my final interview, I accepted the transfer. I heard there were a lot of people who declined the job offer once they heard their destination would be Nigeria.
Wait, this is not the time to think of that.
“Say, if you can speak English, then why do you always go ‘Someone, come speak in my stead~” whenever you get a call in English?”
“If it had been found out that I can speak English, then I’d have kept getting English-related tasks that would do nothing to raise my salary or my work evaluation. So I kept playing dumb. “
She’s right. Some people back at my old office had a knack for pushing others to use their English skills even on matters that weren’t business-related.
“Also, I was feeling bothered by people calling me ‘The angel of the corridor’ and that kind of things. I also hated how the people there fought over me, stole my mugs, and kept telling me nonsensical things like ‘You and I were a couple in a previous life’ or the like.”
“Did you come to the other side of the planet because of that?”
“Partly because of that, but also… You went to the other side of the planet, like you said, because of my advice. I have to take responsibility, don’t I?”
“Won’t you feel more comfortable seeing a familiar face here? Besides, can you really get crypto mining machines by yourself? I can already picture you lamenting over buying a Antminer S9 from amazon and getting a second-hand counterfeit copy with a broken power supply instead.”
Ugh… She has a point, but that still hurts. I’ve never been good at negotiating and purchasing equipment, even when I did it in Japanese. Let alone if I have to do in English. It would probably be impossible for me.
Like Ichikawa said, her help would be welcome here.
Still, Ichikawa, I wonder what are your actual thoughts on this…
As it turns out, my new home is a packed full of humidity. The wet season is apparently coming to its end, which should help, but it seems to me like the main reason for this awful humidity is that the appartement stayed unoccupied for so long that the air inside became stuffy.
Well, the fact that I’m complaining about the hot temperature in a country that’s right above the equator just goes to show how unprepared I was to come here. I should reflect on that.
Ichikawa and I have been given rooms next to each other in a luxurious residential area on ‘Lagos island’. And when I say luxurious, I mean by local standards. The residential area is 4 miles (6km) southeast of the Yaba district, and you have to cross a bridge to get there. The company will apparently be sending someone by car to pick us up every morning to make it more convenient for us to go to work.
Still, we’ll need private cars to go out during our free time, and I’ve also been told that it’s common practice to get a chauffeur here when you get a car.
Since it was necessary, I was handed a bulletproof Mercedes that a predecessor left here, which cost me only 20.000$. That car was personally bought by mister Oba from said predecessor, and it was stored away until now. Mister Oba also had a BMW which he has handed over to Ichikawa for 14.000 dollars.
Apparently, because he’s been a working for the company for a certain period of time, he gets company subsidies. That’s why he was able to buy and sell a bulletproof Benz for the equivalent of 2 million yen.
A bit towards the west of Lagos island, there is a big local market that’s ruled over by total chaos. Just one look at that scenery on my way to the residential area was enough to tell me why it was unsafe to go drive alone in your own car in these streets.
This is the kind of place where your life could be at risk when going outside alone. It’s no place for foreigners to walk around carelessly. But on the other hand, I’m itching to go out and try some population reduction ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely don’t want to take my own life, but I do have a mission to reduce the population by 4 billion people. To take other people’s lives.
Even if ‘that guy’ doesn’t say anything about it, if I start living lavishly and do nothing, I might get a “The end of the earth” notice one day out of nowhere. I can’t let that happen.
And so, even though there are probably some ways to reduce the population in a span of hundreds of years as new generations come and go, I’ll also need to do some more direct reduction as well. This will be my way of showing off to ‘that guy’.
Determined to go through with what I had in mind, I took out a sort of candy that I brought from Japan. This candy looks like a gold bar, and it actually got me into some trouble when I went through customs due to its appearance.
I took out the candy from its box that looked exactly like a gold bar, then I covered the box’s inside with plastic wrap, and filled it with plaster.
Back at customs, I was asked ‘Why do you have plaster with you?’, and I replied that this was a sample of the latest Japanese wall coating material.
Apparently, for the local airport’s personnel, anything is fine as long as you don’t have drugs. The second their drug-sniffing dog smelled my plaster bag and showed no reaction, I was allowed to enter the country like nothing happened.
It’s amazing how much faith they have in Japanese people here. Thanks a lot, ministry of foreign affairs.
After filling the box with plaster until it perfectly took its shape, I used regedit to turn the water and Sulphate elements that composed it into gold, and here it was, a gold bar-shaped… gold bar. That’s one tasty candy.
For now, I made three gold bars using the box and then placed them in a cheap sports bag that I brought with me to the back streets of the Surulere district, which is not known for its great public order. Even though I was in a completely bulletproof car, I’d still be at risk here if I stopped at traffic signs. The light of twilight reflecting in the eyes of the young men walking these streets made ma feel a bit scared. Wait, no, I take that back, I’m straight up terrified!
Once the danger I was facing became tangible, I couldn’t help myself from tweaking my strategy a little. My plan should work just as well at a cafe in the pleasure district, which is a somewhat safer area since it’s intended for foreigners.
After I got to the pleasure district, I pulled up my car and took my sports bag with me to a cafe.
I left the sports bag on a table outside the Japanese style cafe, as if to reserve that seat, then I went at the entrance of the store and took out several dollar bills to buy a ginger ale. Of course, when I came back, my sports bag had vanished.
I tried to go for a showy reaction and yelled “Oh my god!!”. While the other customers were laughing at me for being an idiot, I returned to my car, stomping my feet and grumbling “These damn fuc–” and such and such.
Good. Everything went just as planned.
Today, I’m putting the ‘Well of virutosity’ theory from Aida’s light novel to use.
Those sneaky bag thieves are in for a surprise when they find out the sports bag contains several gold ingots, more valuable than anything they could have imagined.
What will the thieves do after seeing the gold bars? Will they fight over it with their friends? Maybe they’ll try to cash it in secretly? Maybe their boss will catch wind of it and will want to take it from them? Then they’ll snatch it away, try to escape, shoot each other… No no no, I’m betting some enemy faction will hear rumors about the gold bars and then it might turn into a huge fight.
Or at least, I hope it will.
The next morning, I heard from the news that there were 20 casualties in a big firefight in the Ilasamaja district. Right behind the babbling TV reporter, in the middle of the disastrous crime scene and the many bloodstains, there was one cheap sports bag in a very poor state. The very same bag that was ‘stolen’ from me when I left in on the cafe’s table. Hmm, I knew it. I figured this would happen.
For me, this plan didn’t cost much; just 4.5lbs (2kg) of plaster and a sports bag. Rather, considering that it cleaned up some of the local criminal groups, I got a big return on investments. Good job, me.
More importantly, this was my first step into population reduction, and it’s a big success. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to feel bad over a group of bad guys right now. Rather, all I’m feeling is the elation of seeing my plan bear fruit.
Those gold bars will probably leave some more bodies in their wake before they eventually find themselves in a bank’s safe. After all, they’re gold ingots of completely unknown origins; It would probably take a while for any criminal organization to be able to cash in on it.
And just like that, the morning of my second day in Nigeria was welcomed by the blood of many. Did the strengthening of my brain make me passive to human death? I can’t feel a thing…
Well then, what plan should I go for next?
Translator’s note: I learned more about Nigeria in this chapter than I ever cared to. The other day, someone brought up south Africa and whatnot in a conversation, and this all actually came in handy. Looked very smart for that minute. Thanks for raising my social standing Nyankishi-sensei o7