The Straw Millionaire, the Cat, and the Princess Volume 1 Chapter 5 part 3

“It probably connects to the net and amplifies thought waves somewhere. For a computation-focused one like this, the security of this planet is almost non-existent, so it can probably connect anywhere it wants.”
 
[Bug, Dead, Want]
 
Mars walked around the room with the barrier cloth and life support device still in hand, moving the cloth-covered paw like a dowsing rod.
 
“Are you connecting somewhere on your own?”
 
As I spoke, the brain shell suddenly fell silent. It doesn’t want to say.
 
“Tonbo, I found it. It seems to be accessing somewhere from the game console’s Wi-Fi module.”
 
“Huh? But we don’t have home internet…”
 
“Probably using its functions to hop onto someone else’s router. I think it’s circling around somewhere and interfering with this TV.”
 
[Tonbo, Body, Tonbo]
 
Mars put the barrier cloth over the brain shell without a word.
 
[Can’t See, Scary]
 
“Even if you say body… If you’ve listened to our usual conversations, you’d know it’s not that simple, right?”
 
“Yeah, Tonbo’s skills don’t seem to be very flexible.”
 
[Ye]
 
I removed the cloth from the brain shell and placed it back in its usual position on top of the color box.
 
“So, is there a way to prevent this person from accessing other people’s networks without permission? It’s scary if they start messing around…”
 
“It’s not that simple. Should we just take it back to the junkyard until we figure something out?”
 
“Well, that’s a bit…”
 
[Ye]
 
“Then should we throw away the game console?”
 
“No, that’s a bit…”
 
[There is]
 
With a thoroughly displeased look, Mars glanced at the top of the color box and tapped my thigh with his paw.
 
“…Tonbo, it’s saying something.”
 
“…Why’s it asking me?”
 
“Because Tonbo found it, so take care of it properly.”
 
Even though I thought it was odd to pick them up like stray animals, I looked at the matte black brainshell and asked,
 
“What have you been trying to tell us?”
 
“[There, a way]”
 
“A way to obtain a body?”
 
“[Something]”
 
“Something…?”
 
“[Trade, body, something]”
 
“Trading something for a body…? How?”
 
“[Letter, including, Trade]”
 
“Oh, including a letter… I see! That’s clever!”
 
“[Naruhodo, desho]”
 
While I rejoiced, Mars groaned and scratched their chin, looking up.
 
“I’m tempted to say ‘how did I not think of that’… but truth be told, I did consider it. I just didn’t use it,” Mars admitted.
 
“Why not?”
 
“[Pirate, know]”
 
“Exactly. It’s risky when the exchange partner is almost certainly a pirate,”
 
Mars continued, folding their arms and tilting their head with an indescribable expression.
 
“Dealing with pirates on a personal level usually doesn’t end well. Letters written to pirates are almost always stored, recognized by the galactic police as cooperation… and sometimes, if the pirates identify your true identity, you might be threatened later,” they explained.
 
“Wait, so was our past exchange okay then?”
 
“Well, there’s no evidence so far. It only gets complicated if they start digging deeper,”
 
“I see, then let’s drop it.”
 
Instead of becoming a burden on Mars later, it would be better to continue steadily as we are now. That was my decision, but the brainshell wasn’t giving up.
 
“[Secret, Code, aru]”
 
“What’s that?”
 
“Is it a code only recognizable to people from your former organization? There was a market-type ability user in your original organization too.”
 
“[There is]”

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Their ability must have been different from my junkyard, allowing them to choose what to exchange.
 
[What’s going on? Why can’t I decode it?]
 
“Even if you tell me directly, I can’t decode it in the current environment.”
 
As Mars said that, his brain shell moved his golden eyes back and forth and then closed them.
 
[Over here]
 
“Oops!”
 
A notification sounded from my pocket. When I took out my smartphone, the notification screen displayed an emoji called [Kaomoji]. Well, they were quite the versatile super-hacker.
 
“It’s fine if it’s on my phone, but don’t peek at my messages without permission.”
 
“It’s no big deal. Tonbo only communicates with mother, right?”
 
“That’s not true! I got New Year’s greetings from my friends too!”
 
“Those friends are guys, right? Meawhile that big brothers always seemed to be chatting with women.”
 
“Don’t compare me to some light novel protagonist!”
 
My phone chimed again. The notification screen displayed the [Kaomoji] emoji. It’s annoying!
 
I grabbed a T-shirt from the shelf and tossed it over the brainshell.
 
“[Can’t see, scary]”
 
“So, what did you want to access on my phone?”
 
“[Body, request, secret]”
 
Another notification popped up on my phone.
 
“[this, use]”
 
Perhaps it was brainshell manipulation; the photo app opened on its own. The most recent entry seemed to be a mysterious mark that resembled a part of an abstract painting. Without pause, the operation continued, opening the email screen, where a convenience store printout number was displayed.
 
“[printout]”
 
“Whoa… they even got the printout number…”
 
“You’re efficient,” I remarked.
 
They must have been quite capable before losing their body. Maybe I should address them as Ms. brainshell rather than being so informal.
 
“[printout, please]”
 
“Got it.”
 
I rushed to the convenience store late at night. I printed out the mark onto stickers and affixed them to each tangerine in two boxes, then released them into the junkyard immediately. The exchange wouldn’t happen right away, but it was crucial to prepare in advance.
 
“[Thanks, Tonbo]”
 
“Well, this should do for now.”
 
If we continued like this, Ms. brainshell’s relatives might eventually receive them. And then… if I could ask them for a spaceship after Ms. brainshell had a body… would that be possible?
 
“Mars, if we manage to get Ms. brainshell a body… should we try asking for a spaceship next?”
 
“In that case, you’d owe them, but… well, it’s better than being pirates, I guess.”
 
[Rely, Ok]
 
Mars nodded in agreement with the generous brainshell’s words and silently removed the T-shirt he had on the brainshell.
 
[See]
 
“It does change when there’s another person contributing ideas.”
 
“You’re in good spirits. You were saying just earlier that you’d return it to the junkyard?”
 
[Back, No, no]
 
“I won’t trade it back, but I do want to watch TV normally.”
 
In response to my words, the brainshell silently restored the TV that had been hijacked. Well, I don’t know how they do it, but if they can talk on a smartphone, they should be able to operate a TV as well.
 
As I reached for the remote to change the channel, the channel automatically switched to a variety show before I could press the button. Was it because of the brainshell… Did they want to watch this program? Wait, if they can operate the TV as a TV…
 
“…Ah! Could this mean… if we ask the brainshell, we could watch paid channels too?”
 
“Huh? The movie channel?”
 
As I glanced at the brainshell, the TV screen suddenly changed, and an old action movie began playing. It was quite a niche title that wasn’t often shown on terrestrial TV.
 
“Wow! This channel! I’ve wanted to watch it since I was a kid!”
 
“Well, it feels like it’s going too far, hacking with high-end cybernetics… Well, whatever.”
 
It was already close to dawn, but Mars and I opened our third beer in front of the TV. We ended up thoroughly enjoying the movie until morning, even though we didn’t particularly want to watch it… and I went to school completely exhausted, sleeping through all the classes.
 

 
Although there had been progress in the spaceship exchange program, we also needed to proceed with the money-making plan to acquire the essential exchange items. So, when the calls from the Self-Defense Forces stopped, Mars and I went on a trip and arrived at Tokyo Dungeon No. 4 by the Arakawa River.
 
“Why do Tokyo’s rivers all smell so bad?”
 
“Oh? Do they? Smell?”
 
“They do. Tonbo like you might be insensitive to smell.”
 
As Mars said that, he covered his small nose with his paw.
 
“Well, maybe it doesn’t smell inside the dungeon.”
 
“Inside, doesn’t it smell fishy?”
 
“It might smell musty.”
 
It seems that there is a safe zone lake about eight kilometers inside East Four. If fishermen come seeking dungeon fish, it would surely be a good business opportunity.
 
I reassured Mars, who was making a disgusted face, and just as we were about to head to the management association for entry registration, my phone rang.
 
“What could it be?”
 
“Isn’t it from your mom?”
 
On the screen of the smartphone I took out of my pocket were the characters “[SDF, surveillance Emoji]” along with a map of the vicinity with five pins. Huh?! Seriously… they’re going that far!?
 
As I showed the screen to Mars with trembling hands, he silently turned on his heel and began to walk back to the station. In the end, unable to show the Earth’s organization the technology we possessed, we gave up on diving into the dungeon and just went to eat near the station and returned home.


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