Translated by JayQue of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Editor: Gwyndolyn, Kris
It wasn’t a very good magnetite; Chen Bai knew as soon as he saw it.
At that time, Berkeley took a fancy to him because of his potential in psychological manipulation. And until now, he was still Berkeley’s most excellent and successful psychological manipulator. To Chen Bai, magnetites were pretty useless most of the time, only to be used during missions with larger areas.
And that was for magnetites of the highest quality. But in this small booth, it was clear that the quality of magnetites was not that good.
But the magnetite the Monkey wanted was very unique.
Most magnetites could only be used once; the higher the quality the more it follows that rule. The one the Monkey wanted was different. Though its power was below average, it won by having its magnetic rings circling around the stone, forming a cycle that could be used repeatedly.
“A hundred thousand?” This price had obviously exceeded the Monkey’s expectation. Chen Bai could even feel his shock through the mask, “You’ll offer a hundred thousand to buy this?”
“Mn, it looks quite fun.” Chen Bai said, his voice carrying hints of pity, “You can’t buy this anywhere outside. Do you want this too, sir?”
Perhaps Chen Bai’s act of being embarrassingly short of money was too obvious. The Monkey choked, then immediately blurted, “I’ll pay a hundred and five thousand!”
Chen Bai was slightly stunned, as though feeling awkward being ignored, but he still looked at the capsule with brimming expectation and hesitantly offered, “A hundred… and eight thousand?”
“Hey, you should still pay attention to the order of arrival when buying things. This is not an auction,” the Monkey rebuffed, looking down upon Chen Bai, as though feeling disdain with his attempt to feign more than his actual abilities. “Why come to the black market if you can’t even set your mind on something for a hundred thousand or above?”
“I couldn’t set my mind because I’m not particularly knowledgeable in this… but I really do like it.” Chen Bai curled his lips slightly beneath the mask. “I’ll pay a hundred and ten thousand.”
There were no rules on order of arrival in the black market. In the words of Heinz, this is where you use money to talk. Before the transaction, no matter how late one came, as long as the money was there, the goods were theirs.
The Monkey had a loud voice, of course, and the commotion from arguing with Chen Bai was not small at all, so it had already attracted the gaze of some of the people around them.
“Hey, what’s that?” The spirited discussions of onlookers were all heard by Chen Bai without missing a word.
“Seems like magnetites; they’re pretty popular recently… This is just at the entrance, and it’s already raised to a hundred and ten thousand? It’s not anything of high quality, right?”
“Aiya, I know that monkey mask. He belongs to that bigshot! The silver mask buddy didn’t know the current market situation being the first time coming here, right?” Another person continued.
“That’s right, that’s right. He dares snatch something that that bigshot’s envoy fancies. He has quite the nerve!”
Perhaps the voices of those last two people were closer in distance, which in any case the Monkey had clearly heard as he looked swelled with might, swiping a hand out at once, “A hundred twenty thousand!”
“Hey hey, it’s already a hundred twenty thousand! What kind of good stuff is that?!”
“Heavens, I’d also like to see how good the magnetite is. A small booth being able to call up the price to a hundred twenty thousand…”
“Ay, that silver mask must be coming here for the first time. His hair is not all grown yet and already he is competing with the bigshot’s envoy. Quickly go back and drink some milk for your intelligence…”
Chen Bai looked as though he was intimidated by the noisy scene here. He took a step backward, actually seeming like the young inexperienced child still with the odor of breast milk that the onlooking crowd was commenting on.
But Chen Bai knew, so as not to make Heinz suspicious, of course he couldn’t raise the price any higher. Just when he turned his head towards Heinz to give up, a broad hand suddenly caressed the back of his waist, then, a familiar voice sounded.
“Putting the ceiling at tenfold.” That voice was uniquely Heinz’, the deep voice saying, “Hand it over, boss.”
His voice was neither loud nor soft, yet it was enough to be heard by everyone around them. For a while, Chen Bai could even hear some onlookers drawing in cold breaths behind him.
Putting the ceiling at tenfold!
In the black market, customers could bid freely with their money at a booth, but they couldn’t ever go more than ten times at the highest, known as putting the ceiling at tenfold.
Which meant, the magnetite that was originally priced at fifty thousand could not be priced more than five hundred thousand at its highest. And this man with a black mask wanted to buy a stone that’s not visible at five hundred thousand!
He was crazy!
This was just the black market’s entrance! The black market might have been disorganized, but it still had a pattern of distribution. One could dredge up some interesting things at the entrance, but it couldn’t be worth five hundred thousand in any case! Didn’t you see that bigshot’s envoy offering only a hundred twenty thousand!
This man just sealed the ceiling when he opened his mouth!
In the bustling crowd, Chen Bai was also slightly surprised. Turning back to look in Heinz’ direction, he said distractedly, “It’s just a stone in a capsule…”
“Mn,” Heinz responded. While they were conversing, he paid the money to the seller, then reached out to take the capsule the other handed over.
“Keep it well, boss.” The Mole’s smile was almost blooming like a flower underneath the mask; he said as he bowed repeatedly. “Keep it well, keep it well.”
The Monkey’s expression couldn’t be seen, but no matter his body language or emotional senses, not only did he look awkward, he also looked quite anxious.
Under the eyes of the crowd, Chen Bai followed behind Heinz as they left the booth.
Having the stone thrust into his hands by Heinz, Chen Bai stroked the bridge of his nose, and offered somewhat awkwardly, “You… how about I write an I.O.U. for the loan?”
“No need.” Heinz forcefully swallowed back the words on buying stuff for your wife being a matter of course, changing it to a cool, “It wasn’t worth much.”
… How much is your yearly salary exactly?
Chen Bai couldn’t help but curse silently in his heart. He’d seen a marshal’s yearly salary in the military’s salary table back in the days. It was high, a few tens of millions a year, so it seemed like five hundred thousand really was nothing to him. Though, to buy a stone that wasn’t proven to work yet?
“It’s fine if you like it. Are you interested in this?” Heinz said as he took a look at the capsule held in his hands.
“…Mn, I’ve seen some in the Beta area before.” Chen Bai had already planned his response, replying as he put the stone into his pocket.
“You’ve seen a lot of things in the Beta area.”
“Mn, because it was closer to the Omega area.” Chen Bai thought for a while and replied, “I’ve seen a lot of the government’s mechs in the past. There were some for capturing contractual beasts, some for collecting magnetites; this thing would take a lot of paperwork to get to the capital… but it’s something common for us there, even children know these.”
Chen Bai didn’t feel prideful or flaunting as he said this, as these were all obvious and common occurrences to him. But right behind him, Heinz’ gaze darkened.
Before this month, the government didn’t even know about the existence of magnetites. They’d only sent a troop of mechs last week after discovering it, and they were not even back yet. How would they have been seen by Chen Bai in the Beta area?
Plus Chen Bai said ‘even children there know,’ which means they didn’t go there just once or twice.
“That’s why you’re so interested in these? Your reaction to the Gabudor was very quick, too,” Heinz asked.
Chen Bai’s gaze wasn’t on him, but rather it looked as though it was attracted to dazzling displays around them. Walking around, Chen Bai replied after a while, “Mn, I really like to read books and research into these detailed things.”
There were lots of traders bellowing around, and Chen Bai was like a child discovering something new; his attention taken away by one thing after another. Heinz followed right behind him, aimlessly accompanying him from the east to the west, then from the west to the east, until his arms were stuffed full of new and interesting little things. He himself had spent almost a hundred thousand before he turned to look at Heinz as though he had just remembered something.
“Didn’t you want to see anything?” Chen Bai asked, then paused, “Right, you must come here often.”
Heinz looked at all the stuff cradled in his arms, a hint of a smile flashing across his eyes before he looked down at the time on his wrist. “It’s almost time; I’ll take you there.”
‘It’s time’ meaning Stone Recognition. Chen Bai already noticed one hour ago when the auction started that Heinz didn’t have any intention to call him away, which left only the Stone Recognition. Heinz really came here for it.
The one in his pocket was still lying there silently. Chen Bai followed behind Heinz, twisting and turning around several junctions before arriving at the deepest part of the black market.
The two went into the long hallway one after the other. Chen Bai then noticed that there were a lot of people lining up here, but only a few could go in at a time, and a corresponding electronic light screen would ask them to choose their seat after they’d been let in.
The whole process was done mechanically. After that, everyone would go up to different floors at different times, no one knowing where the others went.
“Fourth floor…?” Chen Bai stood behind Heinz, seeing that the other had chosen the topmost floor without even thinking. He asked slightly confused, “Are there differences between every floor?”
“Mn,” Heinz responded. After the system displayed his input, he turned and brought Chen Bai to ride the photon lift. “The lowest stakes are different for every floor: first floor is fifty thousand, second floor two hundred thousand, third floor five hundred thousand, and fourth floor one million.”
“A, a million…? For the auction?” Chen Bai stared blankly, looking as though it was his first time coming in contact with large gambling events such as this. But in actuality, Chen Bai’s understanding of the black market was no less than anyone else’s.
Though, it was actually his first time seeing an event such as the Stone Recognition.
“To buy the seats. The higher the seats, the more you get under the same percentage,” Heinz explained. “This is the second time the Stone Recognition game is being held; you’ll know later when we get up there.”
Not only was every floor controlled by a mechanical system, but there would also be two workers at the door. All the patrons on the fourth floor had their own private rooms; the environment inside elegant and comfortable. Ever since he came in, the fruits and drinks in front of Chen Bai never stopped flowing.
He looked at the rules of the game on the light screen, putting it in order in his mind, and roughly understood how to play this game.
Using magnetites as base, the traders will give every client the exact same stones, letting them judge and arrange the stones according to strength. There would be five rounds in total, the stones not set the same in every round, and the people with points in the lowest twenty percent would be eliminated from the game.
Elimination was elimination, but they could still stay and watch the whole thing till the end.
According to the rules Heinz mentioned, if they got the lowest points, it would still be multiplied by the minimum bid for the fourth floor, a system to ensure that top players would not be eliminated at the start, because the three players to win the game would acquire some benefits in the auction for the high-grade magnetite.
“How good will the stones be?” Chen Bai twisted around to ask after he finished reading the rules.
“They say it’s very good. This is my first time here,” Heinz replied as he leaned on the sofa. Even with this posture, he still had his spine ramrod straight.
“… I remember you saying, magnetites became popular in the black market recently?” Chen Bai thought for a bit and asked.
“But the government officials didn’t have any announcements regarding this, is… the information leaked? Or is someone defecting?” Chen Bai asked, before suddenly pausing as if he had just awakened, and added carefully, “Is it inappropriate for me to ask these? I…”
“Yes and no,” Heinz said, taking a bottle of juice and drinking a mouthful. “Just like you said before. In these times where the Alliance must gather to rebuild and recover, someone dared to kidnap a meritorious general’s daughter. It goes without saying that it’s a provocation.
“The Alliance seems to be handling the reconstruction very well now, but that was just on the surface. The Century War had left too many problems, and now whether it is the military or the government, both are having severe fractures, even having some anti-Alliance organizations emerging from the dark.”
Speaking until here, Heinz’ gaze suddenly turned severe, and he looked straight into Chen Bai’s eyes. “One of the largest of them was called Berkeley.”