The Straw Millionaire, the Cat, and the Princess Volume 1 Chapter 1 part 4

Mars seemed to have a sweet tooth. He didn’t seem very interested in the ramen we had yesterday or the yakisoba and takoyaki we had today, but he seemed delighted by the sweetness of the roasted sweet potato.
“Delicious! What is this?”
“Oh, you’re right, it’s sweet.”
“Wow, you know your stuff. This is a real hit. We’re particular about our sweet potatoes. Nothing beats Beni Haruka,”
the two-legged cat munched on the sweet potato, looking intrigued, and the vendor proudly told us.
“Brother, are you new to Japan?”
“Yeah, just arrived recently,”
“Japan has many delicious things, not just sweet potatoes, so enjoy your stay,”
“Already enjoying it,”
Perhaps pleased by Mars’s enjoyment of the sweet potato, the vendor gave us a small sweet potato as a gift and left.
“Tonbo, put this in the junkyard. I’ll eat it later,”
“Yeah, sure.”
As I stored the small sweet potato, Mars stuffed his mouth with the one he had, purring loudly. He really is just like a cat. As I watched Mars eat the sweet potato, I heard music from another moving vendor.
“Oh, another car playing music. Is that also selling sweets?”
“Oh, that’s kerosene… It’s a fuel delivery truck.”
“And what about that big one over there?”
“That’s a Self-Defense Forces… special transport vehicle.”
Mars, stretching to look, observed the kerosene delivery truck from the opposite side, while on the other side was a transport vehicle for the SDF’s combat robots.
“It’s a pretty primitive-looking robot, huh?”
“From an alien’s perspective, maybe, but all Japanese kids aspire to pilot one.”
“Even Tonbo?”
“Well, if I could ride one, I’d want to, but it’s harder than getting into Tokyo University.”
Those combat robots are for grappling with city-destroying monsters that come out of dungeons, so there probably isn’t a guy out there who doesn’t want to pilot one.
Even I, back when I was in elementary school, seriously dreamed of becoming a hero who would swoop in with a robot in front of people in trouble, defeat monsters with a big gun, and then leave. My sister and I used to play with an upside-down child’s chair as a makeshift cockpit.
People forget their dreams as they grow up. But the fact that they can’t truly forget those dreams is also part of being human. As I made a determined face, imagining myself holding the control stick and being a hero, Mars’s words interrupted my thoughts.
“But those kinds of things are commonplace in space, so maybe they’ll come by for an exchange someday.”
“Huh? Really!?”
I grabbed his shoulder, shaking it vigorously, and Mars nodded with an annoyed expression.
“Yeah, really.”
“Huh? Huh? Seriously!?”
That would be nice. A dream expands… I thought as I watched the camouflage-covered special vehicle in moss green until it disappeared around the corner.
Yeah, robots are cool. If I ever get one, I’ll definitely paint it a cool color! As I reaffirmed my determination, feeling like a child again, a soft paw tugged at the hem of my clothes.
“Look, Tonbo, another noisy car is coming!”
“Oh… that’s, uh, a Yankee car.”
Mars, who had just come to town for the first time today, was curious about everything.


“Ugh, that’s amazing.”
It was midnight. Mars gnawed on leftover pizza I’d grab from work, humming to himself, while he kneaded a yellow cloth with one of his meatball-like paws.
This cloth was something I’d obtained through the item box’s junkyard, traded up from a box of tangerines four times. The explanation said it was a “force field-conductive thermal bonding polygey cloth (620%).”, but I had no idea what that meant.
“What’s that used for?”
“This is a cloth that conducts force fields, but it can also boost them at the same time.”
That just confused me more. I poured a third beer and asked again.
“How do you use it?”
“Well, wait, do you know what a force field is?”
“No, I don’t.”
“You know about gravity, right? The opposite of that is repulsion…”
“Wait, wait, just tell me how to use it…”
Mars looked a little puzzled and thrust the cloth towards me.
“When you wrap yourself in this, you can create a powerful barrier. But since there’s no barrier generator, you can’t use it right now… Something like that.”
“Oh, I see…”
“Honestly, this has practical use, so I think it’s best to keep it.”
“Okay, then, I’ll keep it.”
I felt bad for Mars, who tried to explain it all in detail. But even if I listened to the complicated story to the end, I probably wouldn’t understand anything. I’m more of a humanities guy. Anyway, if it’s better to keep this cloth, I’ll keep it. I still have winter mandarins for trade anyway.
“Oh, by the way, Tonbo, bring out the little sweet potatoes from earlier. I’ll have them for dessert.”
“Oh, yeah… ah, sorry, they’ve been exchanged…”
“Huh!? Didn’t you keep them for me?”
“I-I’m sorry!”
The paw of the Popte Mars stuck in my palm hurt just as much as the claw of the cat Mars. I hurriedly took out an orange from the junkyard and presented it to him, flustered.
“This is also sweet, so please forgive me with this.”
As I offered him a peeled orange, Mars sniffed suspiciously with a “Hmm” and then widened his eyes as he took a big bite.
“Sweet! What’s this!?”
“It’s a Mikan, oranges.”
Is there really no such thing as sweets in space? Mars, who had been greatly impressed by the sweet baked sweet potatoes, seemed to be equally excited about the sweet oranges.
“You must have added sugar to this, right?”
“I didn’t add any. I think it’s just as it is from the tree.”
“From the tree!? Why do such sweet fruits grow on trees?”
“I think that’s just how tangerines are.”
Ordinary cats dislike citrus fruits, but it seems that space cats aren’t like that. With a slightly sad expression on his face, Mars nibbled on the orange he held with both paws.
“You exchanged a whole box of these, right? That must be worth 6.4 million Lindens.”
“Is that 6.4 million… Lindens? How much is that in value?”
“My annual income last year was around six million Lindens, I think.”
“Huh!? A box of oranges is worth more than Mars’s annual income!?”
Mars wiped his mouth with his tongue and shook his right claw from side to side, as if to say he didn’t understand.
“With this taste… well, yeah… no, the one who gives out stuff will give out even more. I’ve been to many planets, but I’ve never had fruit with such a refined sweetness before.”
“Is it really that delicious? Even though it’s a special products, a box is worth about three hours of my hourly wage, you know?”
“That’s just how trade works. Usually, the farther away you are, the more valuable things become.”
“I see…”
“Well, local tastes are something you get used to. You won’t know the true appreciation until you leave the planet.”
“Did Mars’s planet have any specialties?”
“My hometown is famous for fried crab shell snacks. They’ve been distributed by the Galactic Integrated Trading Company lately and are available in various star systems.”
Mars lifted his nose, covered in Mikan juice, and said proudly, puffing out his well-groomed chest. As I tried to wipe his face with a tissue, I was swatted away with a “Nyaa!” But are those fried crab shells really that delicious?
“However, it’s a good thing we got a hit with the Force Field Conductive Material this time, but if we keep waiting for exchanges like this during the day… it’ll just be a circle of things of similar value, right?”
“Well, that’s true.”
Mars patted the fabric of the barrier with one paw and pointed at me with the other. “In that case,” he continued.
“If we get something nice in the future, how about converting it into cash over here?”
“Does that mean selling space items on Earth? But would something like this fabric sell?”
It might be possible to sell it as a rare fabric, but I feel like an amateur like me would just get ripped off…
“Well, if it sells as it is, that’s fine, but even if it doesn’t, it’s still a source of income, right? Like this fabric.”
Mars pinched the yellow fabric with a small paw. It seems that Mars already has plans to make money with this fabric.
“Well, if it can be turned into money, there’s no problem. I don’t really understand things like that.”
“Things like that?”
Mars asked with a curious expression.
“I don’t know how to make money and stuff. If I did, I wouldn’t be living like this.”
As I held up a discarded pizza to avoid the draft, Mars nodded deeply.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of business as you do it. Just learn little by little.”
“Is Mars good at that kind of thing?”
“I told you I’m a sailor, didn’t I? Just sailing a ship won’t make you any money, so that’s what it is. That was my job too.”
He said confidently, puffing out his fluffy chest.
“Huh? Really? Will you teach me too?”
“Of course, that’s fine. But in return, if we do it, Tonbo takes the lead.”
Mars poked my face with his fluffy hand.
“Me? Wouldn’t Mars be better?”
“Hey, you know, someday I’ll go back to my hometown, you know? What happens to Tonbo after that, keep living like this?
While saying so, Mars poked at the frozen pizza with his claw. Indeed, I didn’t think it would be okay to stay like this forever. Although I’ve always thought about changing, I didn’t know what to do.
“Well, I guess so.”
“It’s okay, you have such amazing power. Actually, if it were Tonbo, I could earn a lot of money alone.”
He smiled at me like that.
“If you get a spaceship after earning money, of course, that’s great… but even if it’s not such a big deal, having a little more money would make things easier, right?”
I nodded deeply at his words. Indeed, having a little more money would make life easier, rather than enjoyable. Living alone in Tokyo is always tough, and making money is urgent.
“Look, for example, if you had money, you could have one baked sweet potato during the day.”
“I could eat a baked potato. ….. But yeah, if you had that much leeway, you could buy a kotatsu if you endure a bit.”
“You wouldn’t have to drink this weird-tasting sake anymore.”
Mars drank all my third beer and made a strange face.
“Don’t drink if you think it tastes weird! It’s still expensive!”
“Well, well, anyway, since you have such amazing power, let’s live comfortably! I don’t mean to be extravagant, but let’s not have any trouble eating. For the time being, Tonbo will do the purchasing, and I’ll do the selection…”
“Yeah, that’s right. The big goal is to get a spaceship… but for the small goals, let’s earn a living first!”
“Yeah! Let’s do it!”
“Nice to meet you again, Mars.”
In the 1LDK at midnight, on the discarded pizza and third beer on the low table, I and the cat-like alien shook hands for the second time.

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