Back to the past.
Past Arc ⑬
The incident that was the trigger for Potimas Hyphenath becoming an internationally wanted criminal, was something that could have easily become a horrible tragedy. The incident itself was significant enough that it became a hot topic in the news throughout the world at the time. The world learned just how dreadful Potimas Hyphenath was. However, the information that was relayed in the news was only the tip of the iceberg. For those who knew the truth, they were in fact relieved that it was contained with only that amount of damage and were glad that it wasn’t more. That’s just how over-abundantly evil Potimas was. No matter how cunning and careful Potimas was, “they” became just too much for him to be able to conceal and burst out into the open. That was the truth behind that incident. The incident where the number of victims totalled 376 people.
「Human trafficking huh. How flagrantly anachronistic.」
On looking at the documents he was handed, Foddway sighed. Human trafficking, in other words the slave trade, was something that still couldn’t be eradicated completely despite being a relic of the past. The Sariera Society also put effort into exposing organisations that smuggled slaves. The objective was rescuing the people who had been illegally sold as slaves.
However, Foddway himself had no intention of condemning human trafficking in general as being inherently evil. That was because there were times when human trafficking was necessary for stimulating the economy. Poverty stricken parents who sell their children would also be able to recover their livelihoods, and it was not necessarily always the case that the children would suffer. In a somewhat overstated interpretation, human trafficking could be seen as a service dealing in manual labour. If both those being sold and those doing the selling are happy, then it makes for a practical business. That being said, such decent slave traders wouldn’t be called slave traders in the first place. Under a different name, it was something occurring throughout the world.
The human trafficking that Foddway considered to be evil was the type that was brought to mind by the general public on hearing the term, in other worlds, the criminal type. Selling off abducted children. Using sold people to commit crimes. The type that should be exposed and judged. In the documents that Foddway was staring at, were recordings of black-market dealings so despicable that there was no room for defence.
「Well then? The originators and the dealers have been secured, right?」
「Indeed. They have been crushed with the cooperation of the police forces in the region.」
The one who answered Foddway’s question, was a man wearing a suit, but such a thing felt unsuitable for such a brawny person. He was a director of a security company that Foddway ran personally. Or rather, that was just a fancy way of saying that he was the captain of a unit specialised in actual combat. As Foddway was a bigwig in the financial world, there was times when it was necessary to do shady things. Things that couldn’t be revealed, such as resorting to violence. That was also the case on this occasion, where an illegal human trafficking organization was exposed, but not in an admirable way, but instead with the bloody methods of suppression by brute force. The proper way was to gather evidence, and judge them according to the law, but Foddway knew that they would have gotten away in such circumstances. Thus the strong measures. Which were illegal of course.
「It seems that you had a hard time.」
Foddway murmured that while looking at the captain’s neck. A bandage was wrapped around it. Foddway had strong confidence in the captain’s skills. On account of him making a living in a shady business, Foddway had as much trust in him as his normal personal bodyguards, or even more. That’s precisely why he was able to report directly to Foddway like this. For something to have injured this captain, Foddway interpreted it as meaning that there was considerable resistance.
「Oh, not really. There were no problems with actually suppressing them. I got this wound in a bit of trouble afterwards.」
However, the captain casually denied Foddway’s words.
「This is a bite mark from one of the people we rescued. Perhaps due to being drugged, they were in a state of confusion. It was really pitiful.」
Against the assailant who had injured him, the captain was sympathetic. Surely due to how pitifully the person had been treated.
「It was that bad?」
「Indeed. It is likely that they were being administered illegal drugs. From what I could see, it seems that they had completely lost their sanity. Every last one of them.」
The state of affairs at the scene must have been gruesome indeed, for this captain who worked in a shady business to show disgust. That shows just how badly victims of human trafficking can be treated.
「You’re looking pale. Are you okay?」
「Excuse me. I am just feeling a bit unwell. I can continue with my report.」
The captain was looking ill. Foddway interpreted that as him feeling unwell due to having recalled some unpleasant memories. However, while the captain continued his report, his complexion became visibly worse. Having reached this stage, Foddway realised that the captain had genuinely fallen ill.
「You look terrible. Let’s continue the report another day. Sit down for a while.」
Unable to even articulate properly, the captain sunk his large body into a sofa that furnished the room. Seeing him like that, Foddway made a telephone call to arrange for a doctor.
That was what saved Foddway from death.
There was a piercing scream. The scene witnessed by the people who had come running, was that of the collapsed Foddway, and the captain who had bitten him in the neck.
In case it’s not clear, the opening paragraph is more like a summary after the incident with the rest describing part of the incident itself.