Subject: Located Net Slum
It took a lot of time, but I was able to find the location of Net Slum.
I’ll be waiting at Carmina Gadelica.
The email from Wiseman arrived three days after I had the phone call with Mr. Tokuoka. In other words, I was able to mull over the call for three days.
I decided to go to Net Slum alone.
BlackRose was eager to accompany me.
“It’s dangerous to go there alone. I’ll go with you!”
“The purpose is to chat together. It’s no good if we call on too many people,” I said, calming her.
“For the time being, I told the other party that you’re heading there from here,” Wiseman said.
“Thank you, Wiseman.”
“We will wait here,” Balmunk said, looking at the plaza in front of the Chaos Gate.
“If you run into any problems, please contact me. I’ll rush over immediately.”
However, if such a situation occurs, various things would already be too late.
We were sent off and used the Chaos Gate to move to Net Slum.
A lot of people suddenly came around and surrounded me.
“A stranger has arrived.”
“A stranger, you say.”
“It’s a stranger.”
They sounded the same as last time.
I tried to loudly announce that I had made a promise to Helba, but nobody listened to my words.
However, suddenly, there was a sharp voice that said “Wait!”
A small old man’s PC appeared, scraping through the residents.
His appearance was familiar. This was the PC that Helba talked with the last time I visited Net Slum. The name was…
“Tartarga. That’s my name.”
I told him that he had read my mind.
“I receive your messages. Please follow me.”
Tartarga beckoned, and when I tried to follow him, the fence quickly collapsed, creating a path.
I watched the Net Slum residents obediently follow Tartarga’s words; he seemed to have a high position in the city.
Although it looked shabby, there was a seemingly large population in this city.
“Don’t excite them too much,” Tartarga said while walking in front of me.
“During the last incident, I was attacked by a leaf monster and some of them were killed. Then everyone gets upset.”
“Do you guys live here? This is an…”
I swallowed the words “unauthorized server.”
“Originally, this was a collection of data gathered from NPCs considered duds,” Tartarga said.
“Dud PCs were gathered together by playing around with funny character data. Nowadays, the boundaries are so blurred that some people have forgotten whether they are PCs or NPCs. Possibly, there may be some people who have no physical body and only move around their character data. Yes, like Harold…”
That was the name of the developer of “fragment,” the predecessor to “The World.”
“Those who hang around in this town are not suited for a meaningful life. They are neither human nor wandering AI. Still, for them, this city is a home and a paradise. They get angry if it is threatened or damaged.”
We were in a corner of the plaza.
Garbage was piled up like a mountain there, but Tartarga stepped into the center and went deep into the cave at the foot of it.
A trash mountain cave?
Eventually the cave ended at a wooden door.
Tartarga knocked on the door and we heard “come in” from the other side.
Inside was a beautiful office.
Helba, who was sitting at a desk and writing something, looked up at us.
“Welcome, boy. It’s good that you made an appointment unlike last time.”
She turned to Tartarga then turned to me.
“What’s the news?”
“I received a request today.”
“That seems like a good thing. It’s all about finding the location of Net Slum」
“Let me confirm that first. Helba… what is your purpose?”
A mysterious chuckle.
“You have helped me many times. You taught me many things. But the essentials remain a secret.”
Helba smiled and looked at me. Neither affirmative nor negative.
“Your aim is to protect this world. Am I right in thinking so?”
There was a short pause.
“You’re right. I don’t think there’s a significant discrepancy in that. So?”
“Well, I would like you to cooperate with the system admins,” I said.
“Please cooperate with Lios. Cooperation with the admins will be indispensable for solving the current incident.”
“Hackers like us don’t have the same position as the system admins.”
Herba tilted her head.
“If the other side will show politeness and sincerity, then it is not a problem for us to join hands. I think you’ve come to the wring place and asked the wrong person. You should ask the system administrator first.”
I shook my head.
“At first I thought so too. But no, that’s not right. Your persuasion is essential in establishing an alliance between hackers and system administrators. Lios has a strong distrust of hackers. So I have to get you moving first.”
“In other words?”
“So,” I continued. “Please give administrative access for Net Slum to the system admins.”
Helba’s attitude remained unchanged. She listened to me with a slight smile.
But it was obvious that the air in the room had changed.
A person like me understood it. If I kept the current situation like this, I would get seriously burned.
But I had to believe in my conclusion.
After I had received Mr. Tokuoka’s advice, I thought about it many times.
Over the past three days, I’d been thinking I was crazy.
It was this morning that I concluded that it was just me.
In some ways, Helba was like me.
In short, a disagreeable person.
She does not divulge her thoughts, hides herself, does not respond to questions, and deceives others.
She must have been secretly laughing behind the scenes.
Enthusiasm would not be enough to really move such a disagreeable person. Nor would logic be sufficient.
She would laugh at enthusiasm alone. With logic alone she would just reply with more logic.
How can I convince such a person?
I thought about myself.
For example, I hadn’t been willing to start The World in the beginning.
But Yasuhiko had persuaded me to start the game.
Why did I start the game? What did Yasuhiko see?
Of course, this way of thinking may have had no meaning. It may have been completely misguided. I had to admit it. After all, I made a lot of mistakes.
“Hand over admin rights for Net Slum? In other words – do you show the will of allegiance? Hackers against the system?” Helba said in a soft voice.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a moment now, but I don’t think there’s any particular reason to go that far. I said I’m not afraid to cooperate, but I don’t want you to cooperate with them on anything.”
“I’m not saying you have to cooperate. You ought to cooperate. If you don’t, we’re doomed,” I said.
“I ought to? Hahahaha.”
Helba laughed heartily.
“Only I know what I should do, boy.”
She turned her attention back to what she was writing, as if to say the story ended there. Then she tried to ring the bell on the table.
“Please go back. I’ll call Tartarga.”
“Wouldn’t you like to see Lios be puzzled in front of a pile of garbage?”
Helba’s hand stopped.
“What was that?”
I took a deep breath.
From here onward was a chess problem.
“If you give administrative privileges, Net Slum will be destroyed. Don’t you think so? But it’s okay. Lios can’t do it.”
I smiled. It wasn’t until I tried it that I realized it’s quite difficult to smile. If you thought I was lying, you should try it.
“I heard that Net Slum is a hotbed of crime.”
“I won’t deny it.”
“But at the same time, it also serves as a longstanding institution for such people. If Net Slum is destroyed, hackers who have lost their way will flow into normal towns. From the standpoint of a system administrator, you can never allow that.”
“Even so, he may have been forced to destroy it. The situation is different now. The system is already unstable. In such a state, erasing the data of one town may not be such a bad idea to Lios.”
There was a pause.
I realized that Helba seemed to be scrutinizing what I had said.
Eventually she spoke.
“Why do I have to bother to pass on rights? Isn’t it just a matter of approaching me to ask me to join?”
“I want you to pose as though you trust us and trust Lios. Show it even during the operation. That alone will show you respect Lios’ position. In other words, well, ummm…”
“You’ve thought this over?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“…After all, why do I have to do that? What are the benefits to us?” Helba said.
I took a deep breath and exhaled.
“You can change. Be the first hacker accepted by the system. You can relax knowing that you have taken care of the others, and you can get a deep satisfaction that you have served The World.”
There was another short silence.
Helba laughed a guttural laugh.
“That was like a preface to a self-development book written with businesses in mind. Can we change, you ask? Service to The World?”
“If that’s not enough, in return, ask Lios to treat Net Slum as regular town. You could be treated as a town keeper yourself.”
“Of course, such a stupid thing cannot be admitted. However, it will be easier to achieve the alternative request. You decide what you want to do,” I said.
“The most important thing is that you behave modestly in regards to the system. I want to ask you to do that.”
There was a pause again.
This time it was longer than ever before. Helba seemed to stare at my face, or she closed her eyes behind her mask and pondered. I couldn’t tell.
Eventually she muttered as though speaking a soliloquy.
“It’s still rough and dangerous. Immature and unshaped. The logic is also messed up. But if we temper it, it may be workable.”
Then she smiled.
“Above all, it’s an interesting proposal. This city cannot be analyzed overnight. I wanted to see Lios at a loss in front of Net Slum.”
Helba reached out and rang a bell.
A door opened and Tartarga appeared.
“Gather everyone in the square.”
“Hmm. I understand.”
Helba stood up.
“Net Slum is not my own. Even if I am enthusiastic, I must get the consent of others. I wonder if it will work.”
I hadn’t thought about that. As for hackers, I thought I only had to persuade Helba.
When we left the mound of garbage, there was a tremendous crowd gathered in the square. I was surprised that there were so many PCs in Net Slum.
They cheered when they saw Helba. I thought it was a cheer. The slang they used was so thick that I couldn’t make it out well.
Helba was soaring high in the sky.
She drew a gentle curve and lightly dropped her foot to the top of a mountain of garbage.
She spoke, staring at the square.
“Listen, audience of trash data.”
It was a normal voice, but it echoed well in every corner of the square. The plaza, which had been buzzing until then, calmed down at those words.
“We will now join hands with the system to support the actions of Kite and his party. If you disagree, step forward.”
I found that those in Net Slum were listening intently to Helba’s words.
“Vagrant AIs, innocent wanderers. It’s time to resist God, put an end to the unjustified persecution. Defeat God with your hands.”
Helba’s voice was like a song or an oracle.
“Hackers, rotten villains. You are poisonous. Poison that has been stored without being properly understood. Now is the time,” she continued.
“Listen, audience of trash data.”
She raised her staff to the sky.
“You reap what you sow!”
Someone shouted. I couldn’t understand it well because of the slang, but it turned out to be a roar that inspired them.
Someone else shouted, and another.
They clapped their hands with a constant rhythm, and I moved forward.
It spread in a blink of an eye, and the whole of Net Slum was blanketed in cheers.
I stood still. I was surprised at the loudness of the volume.
Before I knew it, Helba had appeared behind me.
“Right?” she laughed.Please download our sponsor's game to support us!