The Straw Millionaire, the Cat, and the Princess Volume 1 Chapter 5 part 4

“Is it okay to do something like this…?”
 
“Isn’t it? They were the ones who set it up first.”
 
[Ok, ok]
 
We were currently peeking at a meeting of the Self-Defense Forces Dungeon Countermeasures Unit on the TV in the room. It seemed like the brainshell was hacking into a computer of someone in the Self-Defense Forces to project this image, and while the sound was relatively clear, the screen was fixed on the stern face of an older man.
 
[So, this is a report on the procurement agents that were last confirmed with the party that was to become Tokyo No. 9 Land Dragon…]
 
“Oh! Here it comes! Hey, we’re called procurement agents by the Self-Defense Forces too!”
 
“Tonbo… you’re noisy…”
 
“Oh, sorry…”
 
I nodded to Mars, who held up a finger in front of his mouth, looking annoyed, and kept quiet.
 
According to experts, it’s impossible to get through a collapse of that scale with protective skills alone. Also, concerning the capacity of the item box skill, reports suggest that the amount of rock missing from the scene indicates capabilities far beyond those of normal skill holders.
 
“Are you suggesting the possibility of holding unidentified skills? What was the investigation team doing?”
 
“The current agenda doesn’t concern that matter. Besides, adventurers don’t even reveal their secrets to their own kin. It’s difficult to probe into their skills.”
 
“It seems they’re aware of the surveillance by the investigation team. Apparently, they abruptly turned back just before entering Tokyo 4th Dungeon the day before yesterday.”
 
“They’re aware of the surveillance? The report mentioned individual adventurers, but could they be spies from another country?”
 
“There’s no such obvious suspicious spy.”
 
Suddenly being told such a serious thing in such a manner, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
 
“They’re talking about you, Procurement Agent.”
 
“Well, I guess I look suspicious, hanging a yellow cloth around and all.”
 
I knew I looked suspicious, but it was embarrassing to hear it directly from someone else. But safety comes first, so I’ll probably continue diving into the dungeon as Yellow Catman.
 
“Anyway! What about the dragon?”
 
“The Misuku squad searched up to Base C, but found no new traces.”
 
“Nobody will be satisfied if that monster isn’t found! It’ll be too late if Tokyo turns into a sea of flames!”
 
“We have plenty of monsters in the dungeon. Tokyo not turning into a sea of flames is just luck, sheer luck.”
 
“Hayashida! aren’t you ashamed? We, who protect the country! Here we are, unable to do anything!”
 
“If spirit and shame could solve everything, then Hamamatsu city wouldn’t have sunk into the sea!”
 
The meeting continued to escalate, and as a citizen of Tokyo, I began to feel somewhat depressed. The Self-Defense Forces are really going through a tough time…
 
“brainshell-san, can you continue monitoring this in the future? It would be helpful if you could inform us if there are any movements against us.”
 
[okay, but .]
 
“But…?”
 
[You,No clue, wrong.]
 
I was a bit surprised. It’s the first time I’ve seen brainshell-san, who usually just wants a functional body, assert something else.
 
“What does that mean?”
 
[You, call, wrong.]
 
“Oh, so stop calling you brainshell-san?”
 
[Yes.]
 
For some reason, I felt a little nervous. Over the past few days, I’ve gotten used to brainshell-san, who is full of mysteries but is quick and a bit mischievous. Although we seem to be able to communicate, I didn’t think they would respond to personal questions. And the first time brainshell-san touches on personal matters, it comes from an angle I didn’t expect.
 
[I, Hime.]
 
“… Hime? Like a princess?”
 
[Yes.]
 
…Hmm. Could it be that brainshell-san refers to themselves as a princess? Mars and I looked at each other, silently locking eyes for a few seconds.
 
“…I’ve been thinking for a while, but this person is quite bold, huh…?”
 
“Or rather, brainshell-san, you’re a woman…?”
 
“I don’t know? I don’t know about Earth, but in space, people who call themselves princesses can be quite complicated. The one I knew who claimed to be a princess was a female-bodied former male assassin.”
 
Well, maybe even on Earth, self-proclaimed princesses can be complicated. I remembered a female student from the literary club in high school who referred to herself as a princess… and just as I was recalling that, a remark came from Hime-sama.
 
[No, wrong, Hime.]
 
“What’s different?”
 
[Real, Hime.]
 
So, it’s not just a self-proclaimed title, but really named Hime?
 
“Mars, I’ll ask just in case, but is there a possibility she’s a real royal?”
 
“No way. If real royalty were kidnapped by pirates, it would be big news, and I think I’d know about it.”
 

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I see.
 
“If they were really royalty, would they even use general circulation cyborgs, even if they were high-end? Moreover, considering that the brain shell is a central component of cyborgization, it makes even less sense. Although the price difference is like night and day, a fully customized one would undoubtedly be much safer.”
 
Now that you mention it, that might be true.
 
“Maybe… the person inside is still a child, raised by their parents to be a princess.”
 
[Hime, Adult]
 
“Hmm… that does seem possible.”
 
Their way of speaking does seem awkward, which only enhances the impression of youthfulness.
 
“Or maybe ‘Hime’ is their real name. Sometimes you see people with names like ‘Prince.’ It’s usually a pity because those people are usually normal, but… “
 
“Oh, so there are flashy names in space too…”
 
To be honest, My name pretty flashy myself. I’m starting to feel like it’s hitting close to home.
 
“Well, in space, even if you’re born with a weird name, you can always change it if you don’t like it. So maybe, they’re just young enough not to have any issues with their name.”
 
“Come to think of it, when I was a kid, I thought ‘Tonbo’ was a cool name…”
 
Being kidnapped by space pirates as a child, with a flashy name, and then being sent back to Earth with their brain exposed… thinking about it that way, she seems even more pitiable.
 
“Um, Princess… even if you get your body back, if it’s too much, it’s okay to take a break on Earth for a while. Once you distance yourself, you’ll surely be able to think more calmly about your relationship with your parents.”
 
[Princess, Break]
 
“Tonbo, what are you talking about?”
 
It’s a story that only a cat, not bound by a name, could understand. I gently stroked the smooth matte-black brain shell, which I’ve grown somewhat attached to since it got its name.
 
[What, Tonbo]
 
“Tonbo, it’s probably best not to casually touch a woman’s brain shell like that. On Earth, that’s called sexual harassment, right?”
 
“Huh? Is that how it’s treated?”
 
“Of course. Tonbo might not have experience with this, but it’s not okay to do that to women on Earth.”
 
“I-I won’t do it…”
 
For some reason, getting lectured like this by a space cat hits me harder than anything else. Maybe I was too casual and thoughtless… I’ll have to be more careful.
 
[Tonbo, Not popular]
 
“It’s not like I’m unpopular. I know the contact information of some girls.”
 
She’s a class representative I’ve been paired with. We’ve even had juice together in front of the convenience store.
 
“I’ve never seen you two in contact. Your sister Chieri even called you an unpopular otaku.”
 
[Tonbo, Otaku]
 
“You don’t need to tell her unnecessary things!”
 
“But even if you don’t tell her, I think they’ll just search for it themselves.”
 
At Mars’s words, the golden eyes of the brain shell blinked meaningfully… I suddenly felt exhausted, and as if to escape those eyes, I slipped under the kotatsu.
 

 

 

 
With the disappearance of the dungeon as a source of income, what were we doing? Well, we were just continuing to exchange items at the junkyard while living our daily lives.
 
I juggled part-time work while lazily playing games or watching TV, while Mars would either sleep all day or spontaneously go sightseeing somewhere in Tokyo. The new member of our family, Brainshell-san, mostly observed our lives quietly but would occasionally engage with us.
 
[Tonbo, Game Lover]
 
“Oh? Well, maybe.”
 
As I lay sprawled under the kotatsu playing games, Brainshell-san spoke using the nearby smartphone speaker. I responded without much thought while button-mashing through an action game where historical heroes mowed down foot soldiers like clouds in the sky.
 
[Tonbo, Women, Like]
 
“Using women… Oh, you mean female characters in games.”
 
It sounded somewhat vulgar. Indeed, on the game screen, female characters who historically never acted as warlords were spinning around, cutting through enemies.
 
“Well, since the character you control is always on the screen, wouldn’t it be better to have a girl than some gruff old man?”
 
[Good]
 
“But they only show the back, right? Monkey-type races sure love their behinds.”
 
Mars, lying on the kotatsu, eating a mikan, chimed in from above. While it’s unsatisfying to be lumped together as all of humanity, few men would dislike backsides.
 
“So, what does Popte like about the opposite sex?”
 
“We’re more into scent than buttocks.”
 
“Scent? Well, I guess that’s how it is…”
 
Indeed, cats and dogs often sniff each other’s scents…
 
[Tonbo, What Kind, Like]
 
“What kind? Ah, you mean what kind of women I like…”
 
[Tonbo, This Character, Like]
 
“Well, in this game, I might like her.”
 
“Tonbo, you seem to like girls with light-colored hair.”
 
“It’s not like that…”
 
“And you like thick chest plates…”
 
“That’s not about thick chest plates, it’s about having big breasts.”
 
Brainshell-san watched us silently as we conversed about such matters.
 
And gradually, he began to ask similar questions while I played games.


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