Magisterus Bad Trip:Volume2 Prologue
There once was a legendary Dealer known as Criminal AO.
The many weapons he personally customized became known as the Inheritance. The worldwide online game of Money (Game) Master had such great influence that the in-game currency of Snow was as valuable as the real yen. Those brutal guns and cannons easily surpassed the limits of the game’s preset laws of physics, so they became known as Over Tricks, the ultimate magic.
Due to their overwhelming power, the Inheritance posed a risk of causing critical bugs or errors in the game’s physics engine. The AIs who ran the game plotted to kill Criminal AO for producing and managing them and he was driven into hiding in both the real and virtual worlds.
If someone were to obtain every piece of the Inheritance, they would see something different.
By pursuing the differences between the normal screen and the error screen, they could work out the programming language used in the game, they could hijack Money (Game) Master which had never before suffered a successful cyber-attack, and they could rebel against the Will of the AIs.
Machine to machine transactions – the ones done directly between machines instead of between two people or between a person and a machine – now made up 48% of all financial transactions in the world.
Once that passed 50%, the humans would no longer be controlling the machines. Instead, the machines would rule the money and would begin efficiently controlling the humans.
Could the entire Inheritance be gathered before that happened?
The true threat was even greater than that. Simply by faithfully simulating human society, the true demons lurking within Money (Game) Master had almost entirely taken control of the flow of money that kept the world running.
What if that reached the territory known as heaven or god?
This had to be settled before the Day of Rebellion arrived.
“If anyone tries to prevent me from collecting the Inheritance…”
“If anyone tries to prevent me from recovering my Over Tricks…”
This is a story about that Inheritance.
It is the story of a boy who swore to protect his friend’s sister just like that friend got shot while protecting his sister.
“Then I’ll take them back even if it means a fight to the death.”
Server Name: Psi Indigo. Starting Location: Summer City – Hooker Island.
Welcome to Money (Game) Master, Suou Kaname.
The boy at the steering wheel felt his entire body shake as the tires squealed and the engine rumbled in his gut. The color of the asphalt was mixed with the hint of salt and sand characteristic of coastal roads. He swung the tail end of the mint green coupe around to clear a hairpin curve.
Summer City was a financial city on a tropical peninsula built for the worldwide online game of Money (Game) Master.
Otherwise, this boy never would have been allowed to use guns or a car like this.
The Lion’s Nose.
The danger sense he relied on was continually sending him warning signals.
Magisterus Tselika, the demon and race queen in the passenger seat, let out a joyful voice while the pleasant inertial weight washed over the core of her body. She happily wagged her split tail and the seatbelt pushed in between her large breasts each time her soft body bounced around.
“Ah ha ha! I love that you’re chasing around the Japanese Treasury right now, master! That’s basically a government agency, isn’t it!?”
“The national bank is getting a little carried away just because the virtual currency is outdoing the yen a bit. The Citizen Cashback System? Are they trying to sell off the country!? …More importantly, what happened to our off route attack!? When is she going to stop them!?”
Hooker Island was the sketchiest part of Money (Game) Master, which was saying something. Why that was goes without saying. What had started as a group of short old buildings had been wildly expanded upon with scrap materials, so the place almost looked like a giant living creature in and of itself. In that case, Kaname would be driving below the belly of the bizarre multi-legged creature made from so many buildings.
He was thankful for it while plowing through the streets in his car, but there was almost no one here despite it being the middle of the day. Night and day almost seemed reversed on this island.
Chasing down a single target was difficult on an island with such a complex layout. You might try to corner them in a dead end, but there were countless smaller escape routes everywhere. You might try to lay a trap up ahead, but that required blocking off all the other countless paths to force them down that way.
“Tch. We have the greater acceleration, but their top speed is higher.”
“Well, they do weigh about twice as much.”
It was difficult for heavy vehicles to get up to speed, but once they had plenty of momentum, they could drive around at incredible speed. Thinking of it like a crane’s wrecking ball might be simplest. Swinging the vehicle around in a series of drifts required a unique form of driving.
“We led them into this maze ourselves, didn’t we? If they get back on a single straight road, they can pull away from us with the power of their engine.”
Tselika extended her split tail and appeared to only be relaxing in the passenger seat, but she was essentially doing all the data processing. And all the while, she was connected to the network and making tens of thousands of financial transactions in Suou Kaname’s name every second.
Of course, those vast resources could also be used for firefights and car chases.
A social media style chat was displayed on the windshield to appear on top of the scenery up ahead.
“Midori> I don’t really get that Something-or-Other Cashback thing, but it’s basically a system where the government gives every citizen an allowance, right? What’s wrong with just taking it?”
“A lot, you idiot.”
“If you don’t send it as a message, your words will not reach that innocent little middle school girl.”
The demon chuckled while rubbing her cow-like horns with her fingertips, but Kaname ignored her and handled the high-speed chat with his eye movements since his hands were busy with the steering wheel.
That girl was the younger sister of Hekireki Takamasa, his missing friend.
Kaname owed a huge debt of gratitude to Takamasa.
When Kaname’s own sister – the Dealer who had gone by the name Suou Ayame – was about to be shot to death in the game, Takamasa had protected her. He quite literally took a bullet for her. So Kaname would protect Midori no matter what. He would accept her every selfish demand. That was just the way of the world as far as he was concerned.
“Kaname> It wouldn’t make everyone richer if we gave them money so they didn’t have to work. That would only destroy the value of the yen.”
“Midori> Can you maybe explain it in an understandable way?”
“Kaname> Getting a 1000 yen allowance would be great, right? But then you find a drink costs 2000 yen. Not so great anymore, is it?”
“Kaname> Now you get it. And once it starts, it’s hard to stop. The 1000 yen didn’t work, so it’s upped to 5000 yen. And when that doesn’t work, 10,000 yen. They want to sell off abandoned buildings and land, combine that funding with the money obtained by cracking down on unpaid taxes, use that in the game to earn an even greater return, and use that to pay for public services? Nonsense. Those government agencies are supported by taxes and don’t have to worry too much even if the plan utterly fails, so they don’t understand the hungry spirit of those hyenas in the private sector who can’t recover if they fail.”
“Midori> It’s that bad?”
“Kaname> Well, I’m sure some of it is just jealousy, but I have heard rumors of people aiming a gun at a second-generation celebrity or tax-supported government worker only to have them come to a stop and put their hands up instead of shooting back or diving behind cover. They mistakenly think they can redo things even if they Fall, so they just give up right away. People who don’t know the true horrors of money can never win at this game.”
There was no response from Midori.
She must have fallen silent.
“Kaname> Necessity is the mother of invention. Those private sector companies in sheep’s clothing have moved at least two generations ahead when it comes to financial plans and techniques for efficiently using money to make money. Meanwhile, if the government fails here, they’ll probably just shift the blame and create a new environmental tax on nitrogen or carbon dioxide or something. So in the end, it comes out of the public funding for electricity, gas, or water. The people pay for it in the end. There really is no escape.”
“Midori> This sounds unnecessarily complicated…”
“Kaname> That’s intentional. No one would accept it if they just came out and said they’re increasing taxes because their money management plan failed. The government workers will play some verbal catch for a while to ensure a soft landing, but the numbers don’t add up if you’re just sucking up everyone’s tax money and then evenly redistributing it to everyone.”
“Midori> Huh? Then how does it really work?”
“Kaname> The government goes into temporary debt to hand out the money and, when they don’t get enough back in taxes, they just kick the can down the road. Eventually, I expect they’ll have to sell bonds like crazy or run the mint at max capacity to print tons of new money. Either way, it can only lead to one thing: the collapse of the yen and then the entire country.”
“Kaname> And they have the nerve to call this a ‘clever public service for the next generation’. Feel the happiness in your hand? You wouldn’t feel that even if they gave you a billion yen. You’d only find a drink costs two billion. So, Midori, make sure you do your off route attack! We can’t let the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare’s money reach the Japanese Treasury!”
“Midori> I can read your messages jut fine without the exclamation points!!”
“Yet you used two,” lazily pointed out Tselika.
The national budget was distributed to the different ministries with a specific purpose attached. Using that money for anything other than the given purpose was against the rules…yet these people had taken money meant for the management of tax money and converted it into Money (Game) Master’s untraceable virtual currency of Snow so they could transfer it to a different department. That way they were free to use the money any way they liked.
In a way, the game was a wormhole for money.
By shuffling the money around in here and redistributing it, the barriers in reality no longer mattered.
In other words, the funding meant for road construction could be instead used for health insurance.
It was money laundering carried out by the government.
“You’ve changed, master.”
“How? I doubt there are many Dealers out there who wouldn’t use landmines at a time like this.”
“It’s not about that. You used to handle everything all on your own, or at the very most, order me to perform some secondary role. You never would have considered relying on another Dealer.”
“I wonder what caused this change. This sexy young woman is starting to feel jealous of that twintails little sister.”
Kaname yanked on the hand brake and Tselika’s entire body was squeezed by her seatbelt. The demon tensed up all the way to the tip of her tail.
“Bweh! Stop that, master! Don’t go straight to some pseudo-bondage just cause I made a joke!”
“It’s not that. And make sure you don’t bite your tongue.”
He relied more on the danger signal coming from his nose than he did the digital data.
The light and the smoke trail of an anti-tank rocket cut by just in front of the windshield.
Tselika belatedly widened her eyes and looked like her heart had stopped. Meanwhile, Kaname clicked his tongue and released the handbrake. He really wished his navigator would try harder. He slammed down the gas pedal to gain speed while glaring out of the side window.
“They had someone waiting for us. If they want to keep it light but still fire a rocket while driving, it can’t be a motorcycle. Maybe a two-person motor trike?”
“I-i-if that had hit, my precious temple would have been flipped over, master!!”
It was just a game, but it was still a game. If you were shot to death and Fell within this virtual reality where the virtual currency rivalled the real yen, you would be forcibly logged out for 24 hours as penalty. That might not seem like much, but you and your Magisterus could not touch your financial dealings in that time, so your money could effectively be devoured by the other Dealers. It was quite a tragedy when someone with tens of billions of Snow fell into a pit of debt overnight.
The world was chock full of fates worse than death.
But Suou Kaname’s expression was calm.
Truly capable Dealers would not let the danger before their eyes get to them. They would have learned all too well how tensing up or cowering down only put them in more danger.
“The Anti-Vehicle Skill is a poor match for rocket weapons, so don’t worry. That Skill kicks in after the first hit and ensures the consecutive hits all end up in the same spot. The idea is the same as a Gatling gun, so it’s meaningless with a single-shot weapon.”
“Again, it’s the first shot that would kill us!!”
“Then just pray it doesn’t hit.”
They were not about to lose a competition of speed against a two-person motor trike that only had a small engine similar to a lawnmower, but once again, it was all about top speed and acceleration. If the trike had extra-thick suspension so it could entertain a circus audience with big jumps instead of just driving on dirt and off road, it would be able to take shortcuts by driving over small obstacles like wooden boxes and fallen palm trees. This was not an opponent they could take lightly in a maze like this.
The two riders wore bright riding suits that matched the off-road vehicle, but they also wore glittering golden necklaces and bracelets.
That equipment was likely worn to provide Skills. In Money (Game) Master, every factor directly linked to strength could be bought and sold with money. The way that motor trike was driving had to be the result of Skills like Balancer that forcibly preserved the vehicle’s balance or Slow that made time seem to flow slower for the user.
This game was not so kind that a professional hitman could just log in and immediately win every fight they got into.
On the other hand, relying too much on the game’s power and growing reliant on it would often prevent you from developing your own skills. The game’s Skills had their pros and their cons.
A few dry gunshots rang out.
While the gunner in the back seat loaded the next rocket, the motor trike’s driver used one hand to fire a machine handgun to buy some time. The Anti-Vehicle Skill was a threat when used with a rapid-fire weapon, but the driver was not a threat because only the gunner in the back seat was equipped with the Skill. And upon closer inspection, Kaname noticed the driver was occasionally glancing at their wrist after grabbing that gun. However, it was not the time they were interested in.
(Are they displaying the remaining rounds on their mobile watch? Even their movements suggest they focused on Skills instead of basic training. Assuming it isn’t all an act, that motor trike won’t pose a real threat.)
“Can we escape them!?” asked Tselika.
“I don’t want to give up this position and I’ve figured them out, so it’d be faster to shoot them!”
Kaname rolled down the driver’s side window and kept one hand on the steering wheel while using the other hand to aim his distinctive Short Spear short-range sniper rifle that took a .45 caliber weapon and added a collapsible stock and a built-in silencer on the barrel.
He did not rely on Skills for shooting or for driving.
He opted for manual aiming.
With the gunshot suppressed, he only heard the quiet click of the trigger. The lead passed through the women’s underwear hanging out to dry which functioned as something of a store sign and the roar of the cheap engine suddenly fell silent on the small road across the way. And it was soon replaced by a loud crash.
That could not be done with the Auto-Aim Skill that only automatically aimed your gun at the center of the target.
It was the result of striking a balance between using the advantages offered by the game but not being trapped by them.
Tselika whistled while putting her hands behind her head and stretching, which pushed out her large chest and caused the seatbelt to needlessly dig into it.
“Well, you’re as skilled as ever.”
“They were using the Balancer Skill which uses an external force to keep them upright, remember? That means they’ll follow a perfect parabolic arc no matter how much they jump and bounce around. Once you know that, the aiming is easy. Also, I’m not interested in compliments about a detour like this. This was all a waste of time if we lose sight of that sports sedan.”
The boy tossed the gun onto the bright thighs sitting in the passenger seat, grabbed the wheel with both hands once more, and took a dangerously tight turn around the corner of a building.
They were pursuing a courier, but that courier was not carrying a duffel bag or attaché case stuffed with cash.
“We’re up against that courier Dealer called Many-Go-Round, so that 4-door might as well be a mobile safe, right? Sounds pretty fancy.”
“But that’s everyone’s tax money in there. And it doubles as a steering weight.”
In general, sportscars and racecars wanted as low a center of gravity as possible. That allowed them to take turns at a higher speed. That was a reason other than air resistance to keep the car low to the ground, but when that was not enough to get the desired effect, they would sometimes have heavy metals like lead stuffed inside the bottom of the car. The acceleration would suffer of course, so it was a last resort.
In this case, a tank larger than a tatami mat had been attached below the car and it was full of a fairly heavy liquid with a specific gravity of 19.
“Midori> That’s worth 25 times as much as pure gold per gram, isn’t it? I honestly can’t believe it…”
“Kaname> That’s how it works with luxury brand cosmetics. Once it gets a weird label like ‘used by professionals’, ‘used by celebrities’, ‘used by the rich and famous’, or whatever else, the price skyrockets. Plus, the demand for suntan lotion isn’t about to go down in Summer City since the sun is out year round.”
“Midori> But it’s just suntan lotion!! It’s mass-produced in a factory, isn’t it? You don’t dig it up from the ground like with gold or diamonds!”
The value must have been hard to understand for a middle school girl who had perfectly youthful skin without even trying. And Tselika was fully immersed in a nonhuman beauty, so she did not seem interested either.
“Kaname> During the confusion of factory equipment being replaced, some things were unknowingly ‘upgraded’, so the same brand name can no longer get the perfect formula they used to make. That’s why the remaining stock is going for astronomical prices under the unofficial name of Last Year.”
“Kaname> That one car is driving around with 20 billion Snow onboard. Not even banks carry that much actual cash anymore.”
“Midori> Hey, some people were calling it ‘secret funding’ or ‘electronic currency’, but what’s that about?”
“Kaname> It’s the same as with types of scams or dangerous drugs. A lot of money is moving around, but the thing the government dislikes just keeps changing its name. E-money, virtual currency, encrypted property, and maybe fictional deposits or dark assets will be next. It keeps going around and around and no one can keep track, so it ends up settling back down on virtual currency. For now at least.”
“Midori> So it’s like how they keep trying to coming up with new names for things, but everyone just keeps using the old one?”
In the world of Money (Game) Master, a vehicle parked in a parking lot could not be stolen or destroyed. They were protected by something like a barrier. They were much safer there than inside a bank vault or hidden in the forest.
Kaname turned the steering wheel side to side several times to drive in an S-shape past all the rusted cars and trashcans scattered around.
“That’s why we really should have located their parking lot and surrounded it with landmines. Then we could have blown them away as soon as they left.”
“This is the courier linking the Japanese Treasury to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare we’re talking about,” said Tselika. “And they made sure to use Snow since it’s harder to track. They’ll have spread plenty of misinformation to protect themselves. I mean, they’re being paid from the tax money, so why hesitate to spend it, right?”
At any rate, if that courier got away and the laundered national budget was delivered to the Japanese Treasury, the distribution service known as the Citizen Cashback System would begin. And that would lead to the hyperinflation that obliterated the yen’s value.
So they had to settle this before that happened.
Kaname was not revving the engine more than necessary just to psyche himself up.
“Kaname> They’ve moved from B4 to C7. They’re panicking as we close in on them. They’re only checking in the mirror.”
“Midori> Wait a moment and I’ll do something about it. Okay, good. The driver’s outfit is focused more on a car chase than a firefight. Their jacket, pants, and belt all have the D.V.A. Skill that increases dynamic vision. Since they’ve added the same Skill repeatedly, they must want to focus on what’s directly ahead of them and dodge that. But their vision to the sides and back are entirely reliant on the vehicle’s cameras and monitor. They should be slow to react to a surprise attack from the side!”
As usual, she made it sound so simple, but only she could determine someone’s Skills so accurately at a glance. Even Tselika groaned in the passenger seat a little. Midori claimed she was only guessing at the overall intent of someone’s outfit, but that easily made her a genius. It was an irreplaceable talent similar to Kaname’s Lion’s Nose.
Kaname had talked about using an off route attack or mines, but the sports sedan up ahead was driving on hard asphalt. A shovel was not enough to bury a mine there, so he had never really expected to do so.
Which was why it had turned out like this.
An explosive suddenly flew in from an alley to the side and stabbed into the fleeing car.
With its side torn apart, the sports sedan rolled off the road.
This was little different from the previous rocket attack. An off route attack was one made from outside the road. In this case, it referred to a unit that emitted invisible IR or radar waves across the road and automatically fired an anti-tank weapon at whatever passed through there.
It had been set up by Midori. She was still a beginner, but she had equipped herself with an accessory that provided the Secret Skill which hid her presence. …Of course, Kaname and Midori had already proven that a Skill could be taken advantage of once the enemy knew what it was, so she could not let her guard down.
Kaname slammed on the brakes with the coupe’s back end swinging around.
The sense from his Lion’s Nose rapidly receded.
“Ahh, ahh. The whole thing is engulfed in flames,” said Tselika. “The person in that barbecue is dead as hell.”
“Do not let your guard down until their Fall is confirmed,” warned Kaname.
That was when some loud gunshots rang out and several spider webs of cracks covered the windshield of Kaname’s coupe.
All the displays went out.
Tselika’s expression went entirely blank.
And then she grabbed Kaname’s short-range sniper rifle and fired plenty of bullets out of the passenger side window and into that flaming pile of scrap metal.
“Are – you – kidding – me!? Some ridiculous last desperate act damaged the temple I spend every day keeping nice and shinyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!???”
“Hm? Stop it, Tselika. That was just the ammo in the fire going off like popcorn. The Dealer inside already Fell.”
“What happened to not letting your guard down until their Fall is confirmed!?”
His Lion’s Nose detected nothing, but Tselika insisted on being thorough. Her split-end tail wrapped around Kaname’s neck and shook him wildly while the recoil of the gunfire jiggled her large breasts. She was being a little too thorough here, but Kaname decided it was best to leave her be.
(The peninsula city has a service where you get unlimited ammo for a monthly fee, right? Maybe signing a contract with a gun shop would end up being cheaper than having Tselika handle it herself.)
A roaring engine different from a car’s caught up with them. The large racing bike with a red leaf pattern was ridden by an undeveloped girl who had long black twintails and wore a bikini with a miniskirt. The black with white frills gave her something of a gothic appearance.
“So is the quest over now that we defeated them? What do we do with that flaming wreckage?”
“You have to ask? This is Money (Game) Master where money is everything. Unlike cash or diamonds, that expensive suntan lotion doesn’t burn. So let’s nab it before the steering weight tank breaks.”
“If you want to feel happiness in your hand without ruining the yen’s value for everyone, there’s only one way: Unfair as it might be, someone has to have way more money than everyone else. The world’s a cruel place, after all. Okay, let’s go find a fire extinguisher. We can pump out the lotion after that.”
“Um, that’s everyone’s tax money, right? Don’t you feel guilty taking it all for-…hey, are you listening!?”
Midori followed after him, griping all the while, so Kaname sighed.
Something happened once no more humans remained on the scene.
Left behind in the mint green coupe, Tselika tearfully stepped out and lovingly rubbed her cheek against the body of the car (which had spider webs of cracks across the windshield). It was a little hot thanks to the direct sunlight, but she did not care. Her love could overcome that!
“Nwohhh! I am so sorry, my temple. Wait just a while longer, okay? I will get you a new windshield and polish up every last bit of you.”
While she spoke to the car, the symbols on her race queen outfit and the coupe’s body fluidly changed. It was all in accordance with a request Kaname had made.
(That cashback system was supposed to be a form of welfare and the funding was gathered from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, so if I check the recent news and compare it to the total value of the suntan lotion inside this mobile safe…hm. So they forcibly seized VR furniture from incurably ill patients and their families once they went into debt from the exorbitant medical costs and then they put those up for auction in Money (Game) Master. This kind of thing really pisses me off. Starting spreadsheet software. Using macro processing to total up 14,055 transaction records. Hm, hm. Master was right. The total amount perfectly matches the money Many-Go-Round was carrying. Hmm, that gives us solid numerical evidence to back up his speculation. This settles it.)
Tons of windows popped up, covering the entire car.
A normal person could never have followed all of them, but a Magisterus could handle tens of thousands of financial transactions every second, so for Tselika, this was boring work worthy of a yawn.
(So if we sell that luxury suntan lotion, buy everything back with the Snow that gives us, and anonymously return them to their original owners, everything works out. A wedding chapel they couldn’t use in reality, a villa they could not enjoy due to the pain of their illness, and even a private beach for a child who had never seen the ocean… What a pain. If I don’t balance the books so not even a single Snow remains with us, master will probably be angry. Well, I need to show him what I’m capable of so he’ll be willing to replace that windshield.)
There was no point in stating this out loud in front of ignorant Midori.
Saving people was not something you showed off to others.
That was the kind of life the boy named Suou Kaname had chosen to live.
(Photograph & Illustration Social Network “Pixy-gram” ID 3187-AJHF-29dd)
“Kaname> Okay, I logged in since you sent me an invite, but what is this?”
“Midori> What do you mean ‘what is this’?”
“Kaname> Why an illustration chat?”
“Midori> Shut up. You told me to set up a chatroom with encryption of Secure Rate 5 or better, but this is the only place where I know how to fiddle with the settings.”
“Kaname> So you’re into this as well as letters? You sure are multitalented. Anyway, can we get down to business?”
“Midori> I’m still a beginner at Money (Game) Master, so is there anything you need to warn me about?”
“Kaname> The game’s virtual currency of Snow is so powerful because it can be converted into yen. Just because it’s a game, don’t play in a way that will end in a major loss.”
“Kaname> Do not let yourself die and Fall. If you’re forcibly logged out for 24 hours, you’ll be at the mercy of all those hyenas. That’s a one-way trip to debt hell.”
“Kaname> Also, Money (Game) Master is being used by the AI-controlled Magisteri to infiltrate human society. And just like recreating human society in digital form gives them so much influence over the real world, they hope to recreate a higher dimension in digital form for what they call the Day of Rebellion.”
“Midori> Um, and we can solve that by gathering all of my brother’s Inheritance, right?”
“Kaname> You need to understand the entire system, Midori. Takamasa’s Inheritance can surpass Money (Game) Master’s physics calculations, so it could easily lead to bugs and errors. So if used right, it might be able to drag out the ‘system’ part of the game world that looks so perfect. And in fact, Takamasa Fell in an unnatural way when he possessed the Inheritance. If we gather the entire Inheritance that he had, we might be able to stop the Magisteri and prevent Money (Game) Master from taking over the world. In fact, that is exactly what we will do. You, Takamasa, my sister, and Tselika. I will make sure you can all live whatever lives you want.”
“Midori> Hold on. Can you simplify this for a beginner like me!? What are you even talking about anymore?”
“Kaname> Reality and online aren’t all that different. Be careful when it comes to money.”
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