Population Control – Chapter 19 (Part 2)
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.
Hey everyone, I hope you’re doing alright!
I’ve heard some of your suggestion from the website, and if yours hasn’t been completed yet, I’m most likely working on it.
But hopefully it’s already better than it used to be now.
Anyway, here’s the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Chapter 19 (Part 2)
The most I did up to now with Regedit was to turn stones and gravel into gold.
All that required me to do was to rewrite all the displayed materials, like silica dioxide, as gold.
But if I want to turn a stone into jewels or drugs, objects with specific crystal structures and molecular bonds, then I need to know said crystal structures and molecular bonds.
Of course, I know no such thing, so I figured it would be much faster to just copy and paste information from already existing objects.
There is a rare mineral known as Benitoite, which can be found here in San Benito. It’s said to be rarer than diamond.
I bought some in advance before coming here in order to copy its crystal structure and compositions onto a stone found in the area.
I took the passenger seat so I could do it on the road.
“Say, can’t you do something about that face?”
Ichikawa labelled the face I make when I use Regedit as ‘sexual harassement’, and looked openly disgusted by it.
I had her take a picture with her smartphone to show me what it looked like, and sure enough, that picture was grounds for a sexual harassement lawsuit. Seriously, I saw the face of a deviant on there. This is bad.
If she sees me making that kind of face, Charlotte will definitely report me to the cops… Then again, I don’t know if her country’s legislation is that advanced.
“I gotta be careful…”
I was feeling a bit dispirited but I still kept working with Regedit.
A few minutes after I started modifying the stone, after we drove for about 2 miles (3km), the copy and paste succeeded.
This was a whole new challenge for me, it left me sweating on my back, but seeing the transformed stone left me with a wondrous sense of accomplishment.
That’s right. What was once a mere fist-sized stone had turned into a shiny and solid Benitoite crystal.
I didn’t copy the shape so it came out raw and rugged, but that’s fine.
Although it was so pure you’d think it was man-made, the final product, shape and all, looked like a natural mineral.
“Oh, I did it… I’ve made Benitoite.”
“Wow… you really did. From now on, I’ll never spend money on jewelry again… Because it will remind me of your face.”
“Ha. Ha. What a terrible thing to say. Ichikawa, I feel like you’ve been a bit on the rough side with me since we came here, for some reason.”
“With all the work you’re making me do, that shouldn’t be a surprise. I did get more than enough money for it, but that’s besides the point.”
I feel like Ichikawa’s driving is becoming a bit wild right now. Scary.
Anyway, time to think about how to turn the raw Benitoite into dollars.
“Ichikawa, let’s go find a jewelry shop somewhere in San Jose. I want to know how much this is worth. I’ll take the wheel from there.”
“Find by me, but they won’t give you a price if you just bring them a raw gemstone, I’m assuming. The characteristics and size of the gemstone are important, but the cut and the engraving are very important, as well.”
I thought I could sell anything as long as I had the object on hand, but I guess it’s not so simple. Was that store that bought the mug back in Okachimachi an outlier?
In the end, we brought the gemstone to a big mall in San Jose called the Valley Fair.
Since there were multiple jewelry stores from national American chains there, I figured that even if they wouldn’t buy it, I would at least get some useful information from them.
But that was no dice. The answer we got was the same everywhere. We’d be taken to a back room, and after being asked to briefly explain how we obtained the gemstone, we’d get the same general answer.
“I’m sorry, our store sells products created in the hands of our designers.
We do not have any professional who specializes in buying raw gemstones, so I’m afraid we cannot buy this.”
‘Oh really? That’s too bad’ I’d say, before taking the stone back, ready to leave, but then the store manager would mysteriously stop us in our tracks. This happened every single time.
“Ah, hum, excuse me… would you be willing to leave the mineral in our care?”
“Why? Didn’t you say you can’t buy it?”
“Our store really cannot buy it at the moment, but I would like our head office’s confirmation.”
“How long will that take?”
“Let’s see… I’d say about two hours. Can I take a picture of it? A real Benitoite slightly changes color depending on the direction of the light on it. I’d like to show pictures to a buyer from the head office so he can have a look.”
Two hours is long enough for a good lunch in a good restaurant. Since we were getting hungry anyway, we left the gemstone in the third store we visited and had the manager give us a receipt before leaving.
Ichikawa and I decided to have lunch at a somewhat expensive steakhouse in the mall.
Even though we were in the middle of the day, there was not much light inside the steakhouse.
The windows did not directly let the sunlight in either.
The only actual source of light inside was indirect lighting, which gave the whole place a nice atmosphere, like we were having dinner together in the evening.
“You do realize they’re going to tell you that the gemstone is fake and that you should dispose of it in their store, right?”
Ichikawa talked to me like I was being a handful.
“Why? I think I did a good job replicating the fire and the pleochroism of the real thing.”
The fire of a gemstone refers to the diamond-like colored sparkles it shows in the light.
As for pleochroism, it’s the changes of colors that you can see on the gemstone depending on the viewing angle.
The specific nature of these two characteristics is what distinguishes Benitoite from other minerals.
And I’m pretty sure they were flawlessly replicated in the stone…
“They’ll find a reason. Something like ‘the colors are too uneven’ or ‘there are too many inclusions inside the mineral’. I’m guessing the manager will offer to buy it for a dirt-cheap price.
I mean, even when they’re on the bigger side, Benitoites don’t go beyond 2 carats, which is about 0.4 grams.
But the gemstone you brought probably weighs around 500 grams. That’s 2500 carats, you know? Even if it’s well-cut and reduced to 300g, it will still weigh 1500 carats. The numbers are off.”
“They’d do that just because it’s too big? Huh….”
Two hours later, Ichikawa’s words were confirmed by the jeweler’s response.
“The head office contacted me and… How do I say this… It seems this gemstone is too big to be Benitoite.
The characteristics certainly are a match for Benitoite, but the buyer assessed that it’s a well-made imitation. He said it must be alexandrite with an unusually dark blue, or some sort of artificial Benitoite. Sorry…”
“Is there really such a thing as artificial Benitoite or a peculiar Alexandrite that happens to look like it?”
I feigned interest to see what he would say.
“No, that’s why Benitoite is the official state gem of California… But, well…”
“Long story short, you know this gemstone is the real deal, but you have to consider the orders of the buyer at the head office, too. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, mister manager, are you?”
“Haha… In consideration of the circumstances, our store is willing to buy it at the price of Alexandrite, so I believe it would be a good idea for you to dispose of it here…”
“No need to bother. I’ll just throw this pesty thing in the Monterey river. Maybe the otters will pick it up.”
“What for? You’ve been saying it’s artificial, an imitation and whatnot, and I got the message. It’s worthless, right? If you try to sell it to someone else, your store’s name will suffer from it.”
“Sir, please! I just have to check with head office again! Just one call, sir!”
We hurriedly left the store.
Let’s think of this as a good learning experience; selling gems is not easy. With such thoughts in the back of our minds, we went back on the road and started driving north on the US 101 again.
“I told you.”
Ichikawa was proud as a peacock. Everything happened exactly the way she said it would. I’ll admit it, I lost. I completely lost.
“You did. It was just like you said, I wasted almost three hours for nothing. I don’t need this anymore, you can take it.”
I passed the Benitoite to Ichikawa, who was on the passenger seat.
“I think you should keep it. Who knows, maybe some rich people from Silicon Valley will hear rumors about this and will try to buy it secretly from you.”
Ichikawa had a mischievous look on her face as she said so, like she was making yet another prediction.
And maybe she was right.
But the world of jewelry didn’t leave me with a good impression.
If possible, I’d rather keep things simple like with that shop in Okachimachi.
Anyway, I don’t want to be involved with jewelry in America anymore. It feels as dangerous as dealing with gold in Nigeria.
Then again, maybe it’s the same everywhere. Maybe it’s just hard to cash in on precious objects over a certain sum.
“No, it’s okay. Just take it, I don’t need it. You said you know someone who works on ceramics, right? Can’t she carve metals and minerals, too? Just give it to her and have her cut it in the shape of a flower or something for you.”
“I don’t know, I just might slip up and tell her to cut it into that stupid face you make. I mean, geez, Kageyama, you’re sounding like such an old man right now. You look like you’re 25 on the outside; speak like it, will you?”
“That’s rich coming from a 20-year-old-looking woman.”
Speak like I’m younger? What’s that supposed to mean?