Etranger - Chapter 152

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However, for some reason, the name of the person who did the report was never revealed. The two reports, old and new, were tied together and submitted while maintaining anonymity. Biyeon wrote her questions pertaining to the matter, as well as additional issues that needed to be resolved, in a memo on the cover of the reports. That matter was then handed over to another group as a new task. 

Those series of actions made the agents feel more anxious. That meant that there was no way for them to get out of this, unless all the questions were properly addressed. In those agents’ eyes, it was akin to receiving the death penalty. After the first presentation, the agents had to desperately reflect on their own qualifications. Incompetence soon became grounds for dismissal. 

At Rain’s request, coupled with the consent of the families, an unconventional education thus began. From then on, the Essen agents had joined them. The learning process started with them handling some strange machines. One of them was called a ‘typewriter’ and the other one was called a ‘mimeograph. They had also received a tool used for calculation, called the abacus. For six hours a day, the agents learned how to use it to do calculations with assistance from the Essen agents. 

All the Essen agents did a good job. The results were astonishing even to the experienced agents. Work efficiency and productivity exponentially increased. They did not have to wait for the scribe’s manuscript, and the same document could be copied and shared instantly. Doing calculations with the help of the abacus allowed them to be ten times faster. If they got used to it, they might be able to do it a hundred times faster. 

A month later, it was time for the second presentation. The agents’ attitude towards work was completely different. After experiencing what it was like during the first presentation, the agents knew that the only thing they could do was to ensure that their reports were accurate. 

“There’s no difference?” asked Biyeon. 

“It was the same. It was actually measured,” answered the agent.

“Did you check the scales? Was there any difference between the scale used for inspection and the one in the storage?” 

“As for that…”

“The graduations on the scale in the storage are different. There were a lot fewer graduations on the scale used for inspection. Who changed the scales?” 

“I...don’t know.” 

“Analyze the cause once again.”

The second presentation was even more disastrous. The agents were treated as though they were children. During the first presentation, the questions asked were mainly about the ‘what’, aka the facts, whereas during the second presentation, the questions were centered on the ‘why’, aka the cause. 

Up until now, the agents had not really concerned themselves with the ‘essence’ of the issue. They were in great distress trying to connect the cause and effect. Why was it like this? Why did it get bigger? Why did we do that? Why? Why? Why? The questions clearly required something more than just simple arithmetic. A diachronic perspective, the ability to see the essence of the problem; the methodology for interpreting the different aspects of events and predicting their flow. The abilities and insights were given to them in ways they could never imagine.

This time, Biyeon took the initiative to start their training. The agents had learned a methodology. It was a new way of handling and interpreting numbers. It was like some sort of magic that allowed you to present a situation using numbers, match causes to their effects, as well as understand the flow and the different sides of a situation. The numbers were arranged using a very complex and tedious process. The numbers were used together in different tables, revealing a standardized and consistent system. 

This was the process of ‘double-entry bookkeeping’, which was considered the greatest invention in human history in episode 285. It was being reproduced in this world. 

It was time for the third public presentation.

The agents held on to the principles and did hands-on practice over the course of one month. Although it was very clumsy and crude, everything was reorganized into a standardized system and all the data finally had some sort of elegant uniformity. Once uniformity of all the data could be achieved, it would be very easy to put them together. As a result, ‘holes’ that people thought could be hidden were being exposed everywhere. Biyeon was still the only person who had the ability to interpret the table. 

Problems hidden by someone within the complex system were being revealed. Sophisticated hypotheses and tests would be required, but it was only a matter of time. 

“I’m getting goosebumps…”

A man in the audience, who was working under the Taeshin official of finance, shook his head. Behind him were individuals from influential families, who came out of the presentation hall with pale faces. 

“From the looks of it, there were several weak spots.” 

“That number is the scale of embezzlement, right? Whoa… That’s incredible.”

“It’s impossible to fabricate anything now.” 

“There is probably going to be a bloodbath…”

The agents were silent. They were both physically and mentally exhausted. Nonetheless, in their heads, they could hear the sound of a sword grazing their necks. 

“We won’t even be able to dream anymore,” said somebody. 

“What will happen to us?” asked someone else. 

“Die, or at the very least, we’re going to get dismissed…” Somebody started crying. 

Information had never been publicly shared with everyone like this before. Additionally, people only realized how information could be misused only after the methods and facts of the distortion of information were exposed via actual cases. Furthermore, they knew exactly how much harm that information could do to the royal family. It truly gave them goosebumps… They would probably never mess around with information ever again. 

The presentation was over. Everyone awaited their fate. 

However, the news that greeted them was an unexpected vacation plan. Right now, all the agents were staring at their superior’s mouth with an anxious look on their faces. 

“You’ve all worked hard. Lastly, all that’s left to deal with is this…”

Rain picked up a couple of reports from the first batch, The agents started feeling anxious again. Those reports were like a leash wrapped around their necks. They were evidence containing lies and distortions… Things they were probably shackled to for life… The agents swallowed their saliva. The atmosphere suddenly became grim.

“Please go ahead,” said Rain as she looked back. 

The agents widened their eyes. 

A pair of swords flew. Right before their eyes, the papers were shredded into dust-like particles, which danced within the space. They were as white as snowflakes… Fragments of the reports slowly piled up on the floor. 

“I don’t remember what was written, and who wrote them. From now on, I do not want to remember it either; It just so happens that it is snowing outside. Have a good rest. See you in ten days!”

Rain turned around and walked back in. San and Biyeon scratched their heads as well and waved.

“You’re doing fine. Eat well, and live well! Don’t do anything bad from now on…”

The agents stared blankly at the door, forgetting what they had said. Outside, white snow piled up on the ground, erasing the rough traces of the world. 

Reform — Chapter 2

“Ah… So that’s what happened.”

The old man stroked his beard. His eyes were slightly closed, but the corners of his lips were slightly raised. His current facial expression was rather rare. It showed how interested he was… 

“So, you said that she got rid of all the documents? Hoho- that’s incredible. How did the secretary general react? Since the special documents that she borrowed from me were very much recklessly destroyed…”

“She was surprisingly quiet. When she heard the report, she merely nodded.”

“Yeah… She is a tough person. It would be rather difficult for her if that wasn’t the case… How did the other families react?”

“The third deputy, Prince Ryuin, is making a move alone, looking into the crime pertaining to the tampering of documents. The powerful families on the other hand are surprisingly quiet. 

The old man burst into laughter.

“Now that the evidence is gone, they must feel rather relieved. Rain saw right through it and used it to her own advantage. Besides, she got all the agents to do her bidding. Yeah…that’s it. That’s how you create loyalty. If I’m not prepared to get stabbed first, I will never be able to get subordinates who would risk their lives for me.”

“Now that the shackles are gone, wouldn’t there be concerns about exploitation?” asked a man in his 50s cautiously. 

The person he was talking to was someone who enjoyed intellectually stimulating conversations. Questions like that were welcome. 

“It will be necessary to observe and be wary. Besides, only two out of ten subordinates are genuine. The rest are driven by pros and cons. However, once you have subordinates, the organization is supposed to work that way. That is politics. However, it seems like there will be at least four out of ten who would follow Rain.”

“Why is that the case?”

“Because of fear and gratitude.”

“...”

“Fear binds the mind, so it won’t scatter; gratitude drives them. Hence, the loyalty will be much higher. This time, three people must be on Rain’s side. That would be enough. Three is the magic number for politics. Do you know why?” 

“I...don’t know.”

The man looked down. Lame answers do more harm than good.

“Loyalty is a clear goal to pursue. That is because its value is very evident. However, opposition has scattered goals. The reasons for opposition are always different. Therefore, it’s easy to subdue two people.”

“Yes.”

“If one out of the three is on my side, I only have to win over another one, since the remaining person will follow suit, because of loyalty. However, if you only have one out of four people on your side, it would be difficult. When two people unite, the other two will surely join forces to go against you. This is political instinct. It’s negotiable. Rain seems to know that. She is young, but she’s an incredible kid. Do you understand?”

“I think I understand a little.” 

The man’s facial expression did not change.

“Also, this will have a bigger political impact on Rain. Do you know what it is?”

“There will be less interference from the families.” 

“You got it, but it’s more than just that. Rain’s organization’s information will not leak out from now on. The agents don’t even dare to talk to their family members. Everything will always be transparent and made public. The families’ fears will keep growing since they don’t know Rain’s intentions. The secretary general and the other deputies do not dare to manipulate anything anymore.”

“That’s right.” 

“This has been...very interesting. It’s fun. Who would have thought? What are you going to do now?”

The man looked at the old man. He did not feel comfortable looking at his face, so he looked at his fingertips. His facial expression still had not changed, but he could not stop his eyes from twitching.

“There is going to be a bloodbath.”

“I guess so. It is going to be a big one this time. Are you prepared? Lift your head up.”

The man looked up. The solemn face of the old man was staring at him. The look in the eyes of this great figure was so deep and heavy, such that he did not dare to make eye contact with him. 

“I am ready,” said the man in a deep voice. 

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