Population Control – Chapter 13
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 13 is here!
If you guys didn’t know, the author has joined the website’s official discord and has been pretty active. If you want to talk to him, please go right ahead. His English is great so you don’t have to worry about that. He’s @ixige if you’re wondering.
Sorry for the long delay by the way, took a bit of a vacation to study some stuff for my coming-up exams, work on some projects, go see some of my family, and deal with my awful flu/toothache. I’m already working on Chapter 14 as I’m writing this.
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Anyway, here’s is Chapter 13, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 13: So, how much do you know?
The next morning.
Yesterday, I agreed to give Ichikawa one day to think things over.
Well, I wasn’t really that hurried for an answer, but that’s just how things went.
Still, I don’t know what kind of terrible plan Ichikawa will use that extra time to come up with. I’m worried. I know first-hand, from past events, that Ichikawa’s foresight and cleverness can go way beyond what I can imagine. I better be cautious.
Case and point, in our previous office, there were swarms of people sniffing around me for my money, but the only person who ultimately caught the tail of my Regedit is Ichikawa. That alone makes her feel like enough of a threat, but what’s even worse is that she followed me all the way to Nigeria to solve that mystery. What I don’t understand is, why is she so obsessed with finding an answer?
Does she want money, or something else entirely? All she should know so far is that I can turn mugs to gold. Unless…
At the office.
After the first meeting of the day was over, I told Ichikawa to stay in the room for a bit so we could talk. I’ve decided to ask her directly about her goal.
If she just wants money, then I can take care of that. If that’s all it takes to be on good terms with her and get her cooperation, it’s fine by me.
Everyone has left the meeting room by now save for the two of us.
Slightly worried that people could see us from outside, Ichikawa closed the curtains of the room’s windows. She then looked back at me with a serious face.
“…Is this about yesterday?”
“That’s right. It would be complicated to talk about this at my place since Charlotte is there.
Anyway. I’ll say this from the get go, I don’t have any intention of being hostile towards you, Ichikawa. If anything, I’m just grateful for everything you did for me.”
“Thank god. You’re always treating me to dinner, it would be pretty bad for me if we were on bad terms.”
“Don’t worry about the dinners and the washlet, I don’t mind sharing them with you no matter your stance. I just want us to get along. But there is one thing I’m worried about.”
I’m aware that Ichikawa uses the toilet at my place now and then after dinner. I noticed because my toilet paper has been decreasing much faster than when I lived by myself in Japan.
While the company does have foreign-style toilets, they unfortunately don’t have Japanese washlets. Seems like it will take more getting-used-to for a woman born and raised in Japan to live here.
“…The golden mug…”
“Exactly. Ichikawa, if you’re willing to accept the risks I mentioned before, I won’t just ask for your help one-sidedly. I have every intention to repay you fittingly. Same goes for Lucas and Charlotte. But if you’d rather avoid the risks, then I won’t say anything.”
Well, there are some things I don’t think I can tell her either way. There is no real need to tell her much about my mission and the secret of my regedit.
“It’s a difficult decision to make…”
“Ichikawa, I’m not as good as you when it comes to probing people, so I’d like you to hear me out. I want to know why you came all the way to Nigeria to find out about my secret. Depending on what that important wish of yours is, I might even consider cooperating without having to put you at risk at all.”
Ichikawa sighed and smiled wryly.
“That’s a very kind bargain… You won’t live very long if you act that nice. Or maybe you’re just that reluctant to let anyone know about the golden mug?”
“It’s not just that one mug. For example, I could probably turn that mug with the frog into gold, too. But you know, that would make it a little bit more difficult for me to sell the story that the first one was just some vintage pottery.”
Damn it, I was just trying to correct her and I ended spilling the beans about the most important part. Now that she knows, Ichikawa is no longer at zero risk. This conversation is going to turn into something much different than a negotiation.
“…Like I thought, you really can turn ceramics into gold.”
“That’s right. I guess you already knew. But don’t let anyone else in on this.”
My tone turned serious. At this point, I’ve already gone too far to step back.
“I see what you mean. First, you’d be killed by some gold distributors or people from the gold mining industry, and in the next three minutes, they’d kill the person working with you. In other words, me. Or maybe they’ll torture me and only kill me after 30 hours, without forgetting to ask me how to make the gold of course.”
“Yes, that’s especially true in a country that produces a lot of gold like Nigeria. You have to be careful.”
My power might seem tough but all it would take to kill me would be to shoot me from a distance.
“So, how much do you know?”
“Well, I guess I may as well lay down all my cards here. The first thing I know is that you can turn ceramics into gold. That information puts me at the greatest risk. I’ve already decided to cooperate with you based on that alone.
We’ll need to be careful about anyone eavesdropping on us in the future. I think it’s better to stay together as much as we can.”
There is some truth to that, but I’m pretty sure she’s aiming for the food and toilets at my place.
“…I’ll order two more Washlets next time I come back from Japan.”
“Hehe, thank you. That’s honestly a major concern for me.
The second thing I figured out is that you can win lotteries at will. Did I get that one right?”
…Damn. How long has she been watching me?
“Yeah, I can control the odds of things to some extent. But changing the odds on something controlled by computers like a slot machine or a pachinko machine is useless. It probably wouldn’t work on a roulette either, since that would involve controlling the dealer’s throw rather than just dealing with statistical possibilities.”
“But I’d assume the lottery’s odds are also controlled by a computer to some extent, too…”
Ichikawa tilted her head in confusion.
I thought the same before, too. Why is it that when I change the odds of winning of a lottery ticket in my hand to 100% I end up actually affecting the final results? I mean, if I get my hands on a weekly magazine and modify the characters in it, the characters will just go back to their regular state in the next issue, right? It won’t affect the global chain of production.
But I found the answer to that problem pretty easily. It seems like this is because there was already a function to select the winner of the lottery arbitrarily to begin with. I suppose the sham of modifying the winning numbers to benefit someone influential, like a politician or such, is something that’s become inseparable from the concept of a ‘lottery’.
Long story short, the ability to set the probability of winning the lottery at 100% before the numbers even officially come out is a function that already exists by default in the lottery ‘class’. All I did was to use that already established function.
I don’t want to believe that that kind of fraud still exists in this day and age, but if that’s the case, then maybe the fact that lottery winners often have a bad time with their entourage has become a convenient excuse for the organizers not to have to announce the winners they select.
“Well, I see why you’d think there is something odd about that. I can prove it with the next end-of-year jumbo lottery if you want. Anyway, anything else you’ve discovered?”
There is no use having a deep discussion about the lottery here.
Still, my lottery winnings have already been found out? Well, if she’s been observing me, with how odd I’ve been acting, I guess this was bound to happen.
“The third thing I noticed is that you skin is all pretty.”
“That’s sexual harassement.”
“No, it’s not; even Lucas said he thought you were about 20 years old. You’ve become younger, Kageyama.”
Now that I think about it, Lucas did say something like that.
“Japanese people tend to look young, I thought that was common knowledge. Hasn’t he been keeping up with Japanese variety shows?”
“Nice try, but Lucas is a doctor. He’s still just a graduate student, but he’s a graduate student from a medical school, which should mean that he meets the national qualifications to be a doctor. If he said you’re 20 years old, he must have had his reasons.”
If he has the qualifications to be a doctor, couldn’t he just work as a doctor for a while and then get back to his studies later? Why did try to scam people…
Oh, maybe that’s what he was thinking of doing when he said he’s going to stop the scams. I’ll ask him next time. Just out of curiosity.
“So what you’re trying to say is that my ability has something to do with my skin looking good?”
“Yes, I think so but… Did I guess right?”
Now that things have come this far, I’ll just say it.
“YES!!!! I KNEW IT!!!!”
Ichikawa cheered out loud and jumped up. At that time, mister Oba rushed in, striking the wall in the process, asking what in the world was going on. He must have thought there was something outrageous going on in the office.
Since I was next to a window and Ichikawa was standing near a wall on the opposite side of the room, his suspicions were immediately cleared but he still scolded us, saying “I don’t know what’s going on but don’t do misleading things”.
He then added “I have business to take care of today, so I’m leaving right now” and then left us alone in the room.
“I see you’re very happy….”
“Yes, I knew I was right!!”
Ichikawa kept celebrating and struck a victory pose.
“Right. Look, didn’t you hear what mister Oba just said? Calm down.”
Eventually, Ichikawa slowly started telling me about her past.
Apparently, she used to date a guy she was deeply in love with. Then, one day, when she was expecting him to propose to her soon, the man picked a younger woman and declared that he would live with that girl from that day on. He then straightforwardly told Ichikawa “I simply cannot love a woman who’s over 25 years old” and left her.
“It’s not that I want to be 25 again, but the fact that I lost to youth has left a stain on my heart that I just can’t wipe off. I must sound so stupid saying it. Even now, I still use expensive cosmetics and anti-aging products like my life depends on it, and what did that do, save for earning me that nickname ‘Angel of the corridor’? It’s so shameful I can’t even feel sad about it.”
Ichikawa’s voice is shaking. I’ve never seen this expression on her face before. She’s must be exposing a deeply ingrained weakness right now.
“But it was all useless, you know? I’m no longer happy being told that I look beautiful for my age! I don’t want to get old! Because of these sorts of thoughts, I just kept going, I switched cosmetics again and again, I even tried yoga, but even so, it kept getting worse…”
She sure sounds passionate about this…
“And while I was dealing with all that, I saw someone who looked clearly younger than the day before right after an excruciating death march! So I was like, what the hell?! He’s becoming younger? I spent years doing research about this and spent humongous amounts of money into it, with nothing to show, and yet he became younger just like that?! What kind of cosmetics did he use? What kind of food did he eat? What’s his trick? And as I looked for how you did it, I noticed some things that made you stand out from normal people, like the mug thing or the lottery thing. So I thought, maybe this is my opportunity.”
I’m a regular person, please don’t paint me like some abnormal creature…
“So that’s why… That’s why I came to Nigeria. To solve the mystery of your sudden change and become younger like you. So that I can be beautiful. So that I can be my true self.”
“Alright, I get it. Then, Ichikawa, Let’s say you had 500 million yen right here.”
I slapped the desk in front of me and drew the shape of a mountain on it with my finger.
“If you use these 500 million to get plastic surgery in Thailand, you can probably make yourself look much younger. I don’t know if they’ll use hyaluronic acid, injections, or very expensive cosmetics, but I’m betting they’ll make it look like a true rejuvenation.”
“…Maybe you’re right.”
“On the other hand, there is my mysterious ability, which might require me to look through every nook and cranny of your body and mess with some parts of it before I can make you younger. I also have no understanding of the theory behind it. The only existing proof of its effects is my sparkly skin. So, which way will you choose? If you pick the 500 million yen, then I should be able to get them to you one way or another.”
I feel like she’ll choose the direct rejuvenation. Then again, I have no basis to say that.
It took Ichikawa about 4 or 5 minutes to give me her answer.
“I’d rather go for your method. Money doesn’t have much value now that I know you can just make it.”
Well, that makes sense.
Wait, hold on.
Does she think I’m going to just hand her money at will from now on…?
“Then, I have to ask you one question. Ichikawa, do you have any kidney problems? Also, you won’t be able to drink alcohol for a while, is that okay with you?”
The telomere-based rejuvenation through my regedit gives rise to a very potent metabolic process. For someone with kidney disease, the large amount of waste released in consequences could end up clogging the kidneys’ filters, possibly leading to a death by acute renal failure. I don’t intend to make her lose 5 years at one go like I did for myself, but I still had to ask her, just in case.
That evening, I reduced Ichikawa’s physical age to 26.
I think it will take some more treatments with my Regedit for her to be really satisfied. But only a few, of course. It’s not like she wants to become a minor either.
In order to work more efficiently, and so that she won’t think that the rejuvenation is easy for me to do, I had Ichikawa lie down naked on a bed before performing the treatment. Given how I passed out last time after the rejuvenation, using a bed is the most convenient way to go.
Maybe because I’ve experienced this treatment for myself, it was easier to do this time around. Although it took me all night last time, this time it ended after about two hours only. I’d say that’s a pretty big leap.
During those two hours, Charlotte saw me looking at Ichikawa’s exposed body with the strange face I make when I use my power. When I was done, she kept winking at my tired self and wrongfully implying various things, so I had to scold her to stop.
Women are so complicated.
Until recently, the only young woman around me was Aida. Her, I can easily handle, but now that there are two more beautiful women in my surroundings, I don’t quite know what to do. I’ve had a long history without a girlfriend, so it’s complicated for me. For now, if I could just avoid being sued for a disgraceful crime, that would be great.
“Cautious, I have to be cautious…”
While saying these words to myself, I lied down on my bed.
Right now, Charlotte is in the maid room, hard at work, frantically studying to make up for the period when she wasn’t able to go to school. I can hear the sound of her mechanical pencil all the way from my room.
I need to put in some hard work too, and reduce the population some more…
As I thought about my mission, flocks of new, crazy ideas came and went.
And before I realized it, I fell asleep.