Chapter 208: Living Metal
The excessive offer sent mumbles racing through the auction hall. Everyone turned to look their way.
Upon seeing it was a beautiful woman who made the bid, their curiosity turned to well-meaning smiles and furtive glances.
“Clearly this beautiful young woman has a heart of gold. We humbly thank you for your charitable contribution. Ten thousand, going once.”
No one lifted their voice to contest the price.
“Ten thousand going twice.”
“Ten thousand… sold! The deal is concluded.”
He struck his gavel against its sound block, indicating the sale of their first item. Just as fast as it was brought on stage, Lan Jue’s new sculpture was carted off.
Xiuxiu allowed her arm to drop, when a young woman came to record the sale. The deal wouldn’t be complete until the end of the auction, but she needed to register her pledge now.
The bid caller nodded congenially towards Xiuxiu. “We’re off to an excellent start thanks to this young woman, who’s generosity will undoubtedly make the charities very happy. Alright! Next up is our second item…”
As the auction continued, Su He turned his head towards Lan Jue. “You know the price of that piece was set at…”
Lan Jue lifted a hand, cutting Su He off. “This is my first time on Lir. I just wanted to leave a little mark of my passage. Not just money, but goodwill. Moreover, charity is good for cleansing the spirit. So the amount isn’t entirely altruistic.”
Su He chuckled and said nothing more. He shot his friend a thumbs-up.
Xiuxiu’s example helped the other nine charity items sell at higher prices than their projected value. None reached the ten thousand mark Lan Jue had set, but they contributed no small amount to the cause. After all ten items were settled, they paused to collect data.
The bid caller took the time to explain the charity, detailing its goal of putting the money towards fighting genetic diseases and cytological research.
The exciting commencement of the auction had raised the excitement levels of the gathered auctioneers. None had expected such a sky-high price.
Lin Guoguo and Xiuxiu took turns picking out items they liked. The most expensive was thirty-thousand NEU.
Lan Jue simply sat, watching the parade of items pass by with appreciative glances. None, however, really seemed to catch his eye.
Su He also participated, bidding on several items. He purchased two bits of jewelry, which he undoubtedly did with the intent of giving them to his new wife. Ya Xiu watched, the affection in her eyes growing. She slid her hand in to his, their fingers interlacing. Their love for one another was clear.
“Now on to the rare metals.”
With that the older man stepped down. A young woman took his place as the bid caller.
“Remember that all of the items we see here today have come from our own planet Lir. These rare materials are no exception. We have thirty-seven items up for auction today, with six available in large quantity. I encourage our honored guests to pay close attention. Don’t let someone else snap up your opportunity.”
They were approaching the main event, with the rare metal section underway. The participants were growing more excited with each passing moment, salivating at the prospect of a good buy. Many of the more serious auctioneers were opening their eyes, and focusing their attention upon the stage.
“Our first item: seacopper. Ten times harder than brass, enough to rival gemstones. It is also a third the weight of brass. It is an integral material in the construction of alloys. Today, we have ten tons of seacopper on offer. The bidding will begin three million.”
The previous art section hadn’t seen an item surpass even one million. This was starting to get in to the big money.
“First lot of seacopper. Bidding commence.”
“Three-hundred ten million!”
The bid caller shouted out the numbers with the help of assistants below the stage. The seacopper was gone quickly.
All, that is, but for a single remaining piece of indigo blue seacopper. It bore the color of the sea that birthed it, and was such a hue that looking in to it was like staring in to the depths of the ocean. However, upon closer inspection it was revealed to be textured. This sort of copper was only found three thousand meters under water, which made obtaining it very difficult. It also made it valuable. She had spoken true, it was a fine metal for alloy construction.
One ton of this metal combined with another was enough to build a Sovereign-ranked mecha.
Lan Jue recognized the auction house’s strategy. The rare metal would further inflame the auctioneers, as it was one of the best rare metals they had on offer.
Each of the ten tons were sold for around four million each, carved up and separated to their respective buyers. A full four tons was purchased by one man.
As Lan Jue anticipated, the next item didn’t live up to the seacopper that had proceeded it. One after the other, items were paraded in front of him and sold but Lan Jue saw nothing that would compare to the seacopper in use or value.
“The next few items are rarer still, and their prices reflect this. And so, with your attention we’ll continue. First, we have refined technetium.”
Lan Jue’s face darkened at the mention of the metal. His mind filled with memories of Pearl, and the task he’d done to find who he thought had been Hera.
“Today we’re offering fifty grams of technetium, who’s miraculous effects need no introduction. If metal were given the same ranks as gems, this would be an A. Fifty million starting bid, let’s get going.”
At the bid caller’s instruction, numerous bidders throughout the hall began to cry their numbers.
Rare metals like technetium had the most utility when used in the construction of mechas. A single gram of the stuff was enough to give ten kilograms of alloy metal the ability to heal itself. It was most often used in and around a suit’s core mechanisms.
It was an amazing material, otherwise that woman Pearl would never have had the gall to trick Zeus in to getting some for her.
The technetium offered was ‘only’ fifty grams. But even in such small quantities, it was rare to find this metal on the open market. As a result, the hall was abuzz with excitement. In no time at all the bid had risen to seventy million, and was still going.
“Is this something you’re interested in boss,” Xiuxiu asked.
Her employer shook his head. “There are too many competitors. It’s final price will exceed it’s going rate. Besides, if ever I need anything like this it’s best simply to talk to Chu Cheng.”
Chu Cheng would certainly get him the lowest possible cost. Connections were important here, as this sort of item wasn’t obtainable by everyone.
At last the bid closed, with the price of the technetium skyrocketing to one hundred and ten million NED. The buyer was a gentleman in the front row.
One hundred and ten million dollars. It was enough to build two sovereign-class mechs. With the current buying power of NED 1, one can imagine how rankling the price was. It was already far beyond what it’d be worth if purchased straight. Most of that could be chalked up to its rarity.
The auction continued, with another six or seven rare metals on offer. The bid caller paraded them one by one, but there wasn’t anything Lan Jue found particularly interesting.
“Now we’ve come to the final three items in our rare metals category. The first we’ll discuss is very curious. It may very well be the only one of its kind. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would look this way.” As the bid caller introduced the next item, she indicated the cart on the stage beside her.
Upon it there was a velvet cover, which was pulled away to reveal a crystal box. Inside the crystal box was their prize.
The metal itself was a pale blue, however it’s quasi-liquid surface was dotted with a plethora of star-like impurities that were a dazzling deep sapphire. However, that wasn’t the strange part. Under the watchful gaze of the bidders, the metal began to move of its own accord, like it had a life of its own. It rolled back and forth within the box ceaselessly.
Dozens of pairs of shocked eyes followed it.
“That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, this is a living metal. The very first of its kind ever discovered in the Three Alliances. It is also a gorgeous piece, with an exterior pleasing to the eye. While we aren’t sure of its precise function, we are reasonably assured that it has powerful energy multiplication abilities. During our tests we injected the metal with our softest, gentlest energies. Immediately, we saw a return of over twice of energy investment. Because the metal seems to slow down function when paired, so it has difficulty stabilizing the energy it produces.”
“This metal is a product of our very own planet Lir. It was discovered more than two thousand meters beneath the surface of the ocean, and is likely the only one of its kind. Subsequent attempts to find more like it in the area came up dry. This is an absolutely unique piece of history, and its price will reflect that. In addition to its auto-motive capabilities, our tests also revealed an inherent tenacity. We employed no less than ten lasers of various strengths and sizes in attempts to damage the metal, all to no avail.”
Curiosity danced in the expressions of every bidder present. And yet, all were silent.
“Let’s start the bidding. Due to its unique nature, as a one-of-a-kind living element, we’ve set the opening bid at ten million. Please only increase bidding by no less than ten thousand.”
The reaction of the crowd was diametrically opposite to how they reacted to the technetium. After the bid caller finished her introduction, no one moved. No one spoke. Not a single placard raised.
There were several in the crowd who bore interest in the special metal, which danced and hopped on its own. After all, how interesting and entertaining it was to watch! If only it’s functions were understood in their entirety, then the metal would surely be the focus of a flurry of bids.
But as it was, no one wished to commit to the expense for something they knew nothing about.
- That being, people making only 300 NED a month are able to live reasonably ↩