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 16: Pounded Gravel Yam (Part 2)
Lucas has already written three papers by now.
If he manages to get them published in journals overseas, then there’ll be presentations, examinations…
“I gotta get him to work soon.”
One day, in March, I decided to call Lucas.
We met at my place, but without Charlotte this time around, since she was at her school.
Usually, she would be the one sitting next to me, but today she’s been replaced by a black woman wearing a suit.
“Lucas, you’re going to be the CEO of an IT company. This order comes directly from Mibu. You’re gonna have to gather some of you graduate acquaintances that don’t have a job and are into computers. Pick the nicest ones you know, no troublesome people. I’ll leave the choice of people to you entirely, so you’ll be free on that end, but I don’t want to hear you say you can’t do it. I’ll take care of the necessary finances.”
“That’s insane, mister Kageyama! My experiments are finally starting to show results, I’m busy as hell, and you decide to call me now?”
“Save it, Lucas. I know your experiments are already on paper.
You’ve done some splendid work, I must say… ‘Verification of potential Immunogenicity-reducing effects of Viral Vectors in Gene Therapy’, was it? Truly splendid.”
“H-how do you…”
“Forget about the small details. You only have to keep one thing in mind: I am not someone you can mess with. The next time you try to deceive me, I’ll have to be a bit tougher on you. I’m paying you many times what you’d get paid anywhere else to work for me, and that’s not to help you enjoy your life on campus.
If you’re as busy as you claim, then you’ll just have to delegate to other people. I’ll give you the money for that. Regarding the smaller details of the procedures, you can contact miss Leila here. She’s a lawyer.
That aside, all you have to do is sign your name.
Miss Leila, please explain the rest to him.”
I looked at Leila, the female lawyer in a business suit sitting beside me, and gave her a nod.
Following that signal, she spoke for the first time since Lucas got here.
She very concisely explained everything pertaining to the procedures of establishing a company, the legal obligations of the founder, and the advantages of entrusting some issues to attorneys.
By the way, it’s very rare to find a female lawyer here in Nigeria.
“This is a rough summary of our business plan, read it. Just start with 5 or 6 people; you can gradually increase those numbers later on. And do not be too generous with the salaries. “
Ichikawa made this business plan halfheartedly by just inputting relevant numbers in a template. Well, she brought that template from the company and it apparently does a pretty good job at covering the main points, so it’s realistic enough to be taken as being something concrete.
Now that I’ve put him in front of the fait accompli, there is no more escape for Lucas.
“Say, Lucas. Even if you end up becoming an MD in title, there aren’t any open posts at your laboratory and university, right? So why not have a taste of what it’s like to be the president of your own company, even if only until a new post opens up? I have all the money you’ll need. You just have to look for people and gather them together, that’s nothing….”
“B-but I don’t know anything about IT.”
“Like I said, just look for people, and leave the technical stuff to them. Come on now… When did I say anything about you having to become a computer engineer?
As you’ll be a CEO, I do have to talk to you about funding, sales and employees tomorrow, but the funding and sales won’t be an issue. After all, in essence, I’ll be the one placing the orders.”
“Then maybe I’ll… but I’m kinda…”
He’s still hesitating. I have to put the last nail in the coffin.
“Lucas, if you do it, I’ll cover all your travel expenses for that international conference in June in LA that you wanted so hard to go to. Haven’t you been troubled because your lab’s budget is too tight to pay for it? Well, there you go. I’ll even add some extravagant sightseeing tour to the mix, how about that?”
“You’ll get pocket money, too. The salary you’re getting here is very high, but it won’t be enough to play around in the US… Maybe 10,000 dollars will do?”
“…I’ll do it. Please let me do it.”
I might have given the impression that I’m an awful guy holding a girl hostage and forcing her big brother to do my bidding through carrots and sticks, but that’s a complete misunderstanding.
And it’s not like I’m making him part of a shady business either.
Once Lucas does start that company, it really will rack in huge sums from Mibu.
After seeing out a still anxious Lucas, Leila came back to talk to me.
“Boss, I have to say, you sounded like a mafiosi asking a man to trade his daughter for his debt…”
“Really? Good thing I didn’t get Charlotte involved then. I’m betting they’ve had these kinds of experiences in the past… By the way, why are you calling me boss?”
“That’s…. I don’t really know myself.”
Did I seriously sound so much like a mafia head that I got a lawyer to call me boss…?
In April, Ichikawa and I took out around 20 pounded yams from the rented warehouse, and used her bulletproof BMW to bring them to the bank of the Osun river.
The Osun river is surrounded by jungle, but if you know where to look, you can find places covered in stone only, just like you would on a Japanese riverbank.
Ichikawa’s driver, Delfino, is a former member of the French Foreign Legion.
He apparently made a name for himself as a sort of hero while working on securing the Angolan borders.
He seems to be quite knowledgeable about the dangers of the jungle and the riverside, and he’s an excellent escort in areas with a lot of nature. In this sort of environment, he’ll be a hundred times more useful than Lucas.
Understandably, I did not pick Lucas as our driver today.
Once we arrived at the riverbank, we asked Delfino to stand guard while we started heating the pounded yams with a camping portable stove and an iron plate that we took from the trunk of the car.
A nice smell gently drifted around.
I caught some species of monkeys up looking down towards here with great interest, but it looks like they were too scared of Delfino to dare come down from their trees and steal the pounded yams.
Speaking of stealing, there happen to be dangerous animals in this jungle such as some subspecies of chimpanzees.
Delfino told us to run to the car if we see any particularly big ape around.
I passed two gas masks with goggles to Delfino and Ichikawa, and then used bear spray from Japan on our surroundings.
Though only a bit stronger than pepper spray, this was enough to make all the curious little birds and monkeys around us run away at full speed.
Ichikawa and I used long knives to cut up the soft-ish pounded yams and threw them to the river.
Delfino wondered why we were doing that, but I made up a lie on the spot about this being a Japanese custom.
I doubt he believed us.
While we were throwing the pieces of pounded yams into the river one by one, one brave monkey managed to bear with the smell of the bear spray and jumped into the river.
It managed to catch one piece.
As if taking this as their signal, many other monkeys jumped into the river together.
The next moment, a shrill scream echoed in the jungle.
Apparently, one of the monkeys got dragged underwater by a crocodile.
Seeing that, the other monkeys scattered in all directions, running away once again.
When that crocodile appeared, Delfino’s expression changed.
One look and I knew: he was in combat mode.
Some of the crocodiles you can find in the rivers around here, such as the African dwarf crocodile, can reach up to two meters, which is 6.2 feet.
And yet Ichikawa and I had been walking around in a sightseeing mood.
We must have looked really stupid in Delfino’s eyes.
Forgive us, Delfino, we didn’t know any better.
By the way, that first courageous monkey only had the time to take one bite out of his piece before it was taken away by another monkey, leaving it stunned.
Nature is indeed a cruel mistress…
After three hours, we had thrown all the pounded yams to the river and were already on our way back to town.
“We’re going to visit the river about 2 or 3 times a month from now on, so we’ll be counting on you again.”
“Well… For classic chauffeur work, my current weapons are enough, but if you want me to do the same work as today, I’ll only be able to ensure your safety if I can get some slightly better weapons.”
Later on, when we asked Delfino to stand guard for us again, Delfino made requests about the equipment he would need.
We complained that we didn’t know how we would go about buying the weapons, but he assured us that he would be able to buy himself the finest of semi-autos if we could give him just 3000 dollars.
Now that that was clarified, I answered Delfino’s request.
“Buy whichever weapons suit you, I’ll give you the money.”
From the on, Ichikawa and I went to throw pounded yams to the river about every other week.
The monkeys kept on jumping into the water to steal them, as usual, and they kept on getting eaten by crocodiles and carnivorous fishes, as usual.
Delfino stood guard for us the whole time, looking a bit happy with the AK-47 and the IWI Tavor he bought to himself.
“This ended up costing us 5000 dollars…” I complained to Ichikawa, but she just went “So what?”.
She did have a good point.
What’s a difference of 2000 dollars for someone who has more than a billion yen in the bank?
Besides, it’s a cheap price to pay to protect our lives.
By June, the rumors shared by the fishermen of Ijebu Igbo had already spread to the states of Lagos and Osun in no time at all.
“Did you hear? You can find gold dust in the bellies of the river’s fishes.”
This brought a wave of excitement to the people living around the Osun river.
As for why that was happening, there were many speculations going around, but it was ultimately anyone’s guess.