Carol had already finished her meal, she was only sitting there sipping her after-meal tea. While on the other hand, Akira was still enjoying the meal in front of him, it was simply because he took his time to enjoy each and every meal that he ordered and he did order quite a lot of meals.
Carol had also already transferred the 40,000,000 Aurum compensation money that she had promised for the relics that Akira had lost. Akira then casually confirmed it, said his thanks and returned back to eating.
Normally, the amount of money that a Hunter earned regularly was proportional to his or her skill. So it was not strange that it did not faze Akira when he received that amount of money since he was strong enough to kill the automatic weapons. But compared to that, it was completely different from when Akira was lamenting over the relics that he lost when he shielded Carol.
Carol had no idea how in the world Akira killed the autonomous weapons. The more she thought about it, the more she was confused, and the more she was interested in the young boy in front of her.
Alpha then said to Akira.
“Akira, you got a message from the Hunter Office.”
Akira pulled out his information terminal and checked the notification message from the Hunter Office. It was an emergency SOS request from the Drankam, to be more precise, it was a request to join the rescue team sent to rescue the Hunters trapped in the Seranthal building.
The situation inside the restaurant started to get agitated. When Akira glanced at Carol, she was also focusing on her own information terminal. And it was not only Carol, but all the Hunters inside that restaurant were also checking their own information terminals. It seemed that the notification message was sent to all the Hunters in the area.
Akira could hear some Hunters around him talking.
“Theyre asking me to go inside that ghoul building Its that building that would eat anything that goes inside it no matter whether its a Hunter or monster, you know I have no plans to go there myself.”
“Is that so I dont mind taking it though.”
Hearing what their friend said, the other Hunter snorted and said.
“Whoah there, what are you talking about Its the Seranthal building, you know Its one of the 7 great mystery of Mihazono ruin. Its exactly because Drankam knows that they cant challenge that building even after they prepare themselves, thats why theyre issuing this request. And looking at the details of the request, the corpses of the monsters will be owned by the Drankam, the ammo expense is paid by ourselves, and the basic reward is small. So, is there any reason why we have to take this request I bet that SOS request was sent by one of those Hunters through the insurance company contracted with Drankam, and Im sure even Drankam only sends their Hunters although they dont want to because theyre in a contract with that insurance company. Some of those insurance companies usually have contracts with private security companies or Hunter gangs to make sure that they would definitely take the SOS request issued by that insurance company. After all, normally, no one would want to take on such a dangerous request. Like seriously, who would want to take this dangerous request with such small reward”
The other Hunter just smiled and shook his head before replying.
“Well, its true that its not a profitable request. But lets think carefully here, if we look at it as a request from Drankam that would give us a boost in our Hunter Rank, its actually not that bad. After all, nothing bad can come from raising our Hunter Rank. Moreover, we can get this SOS request participation written in our Hunter Record. I heard that you get a big Hunter Rank boost if you take an emergency request issued by the Hunter Office due to the Hunter ethics improvement program from the Corporate Government. I also heard that some corporations, which is mindful of its public standing, tend to choose Hunters who participated in such emergency requests. And to top it off, although its not like its my aim, for those Hunters who want to form a connection with Drankam, this might be a good chance for them.”
After hearing his friends opinion, the other Hunter then interjected.
“Hmmm, Drankam, huh It has grown into a rather big gang and I heard that it has a good standing with the City Management at the moment after completing those bounty requests. So, I guess its understandable that some Hunters want to join that gang. But I heard that it focuses only on accepting young Hunters lately and it rejects application by most of the common veterans. Ahh, I see, so those Hunters who got rejected might take this request as a chance to prove their skill, huh.”
“It seems that Drankam is deepening their relationship with the Kugamayama City Management and the Hunter Office. So for those who want to hop on the bandwagon, this might be a good chance. Drankam itself has its reputation to uphold, so Im sure theyll also properly prepare their Hunters for this request. Its indeed as you said, for Hunters who want to improve their track record and get a boost in their Hunter Rank, this is actually a perfect chance to do just that.”
“Hmmm, so youre planning to take this request, huh
“Its as you said, its a dangerous place that it has even become an urban legend… So if only someone would accompany me there.”
That Hunter then smiled bitterly at what his friend said.
“…Alright alright, I get it, but youll pay for the ammo, okay”
“Im glad that I have a partner who would understand.”
After those Hunters finished their meals, they took a short rest there before leaving the restaurant. They were close enough for Akira to hear their conversation, so basically, they were paying more or less the same expensive meal as Akira, which meant that they were powerful Hunters able to afford such a luxury.
After listening to those Hunters, Akira said with interest.
“It seems that people react differently to this kind of request, huh”
Alpha at least tried to confirm it with Akira.
“It seems that I need to educate you about that too. So then, whats your plan Are you planning to take that request”
Akira then answered back with the exact answer that Alpha had predicted.
“No. Im done for today. Ive gathered enough money for the day and Im already tired right now.”
Akira then returned back to his information terminal to refuse the request.
Carol suddenly asked Akira a question.
“It seems that you got that message too. Im refusing that request though, how about you, Akira”
“Im refusing it too.”
Carol smiled since Akira gave the same answer as her.
“Thought so. I have no plans to go anywhere near that building for the time being.”
As Akira placed his information terminal aside and was about to take another bite of the meal in front of him, suddenly a notification reached his information terminal, it was a call from Shiori.
“Akira here. Im sorry but Im in the middle of eating right now. If its not an emergency, can you call me again later”
“Im really sorry, this is an emergency. Ill keep it short, so can you please give me some of your time”
“Alright, what is it”
“Akira-sama, I want to make a request to you to escort Milady. As for the period of the request, if its possible, I want you to start from right now and itll be until we can guarantee Miladys safety. At most, itll take the whole day today. And since we dont have much time right now, if its possible, I wish youre okay with postponing the negotiation about the reward to later. But please dont worry, I swear on my loyalty for Milady that I would definitely pay you with a suitable reward.”
“…This has something to do with that emergency request to the Seranthal building, doesnt it”
“It seems that youve heard it as well. Yes, Milady decided to accept that emergency request. So I want to ask you to protect Milady during that request-“
Akira immediately interjected.
“Im sorry, but I cant take that request.”
Shiori went silent for a few seconds.
“…Is it okay if I ask why If its because we dont agree on the reward beforehand, we can quickly decide on the advance payment and Ill immediately transfer it right now. And if its hard for you to meet up with us right now, I dont mind if you meet up with us later. If its something that we can help with, were willing to make compromises.”
“The answer is still ano. I wont take that request and I dont plan to negotiate about it.”
Akira could feel that Shiori was a bit surprised and bewildered on the other end of the call as he continued.
“Ahhh, its not like I refuse because I dont like you or anything. The reason why I wont take that request is simple, its because I dont want to go anywhere close to that Seranthal building, I dont want to die after all. So, sorry about that.”
Shiori sounded very serious as she carefully asked Akira a question.
“…Is the Seranthal building so dangerous even Akira-sama would say something like that”
“Well, its at least dangerous enough for me to refuse any request that doesnt promise me enough money. Of course, it might be just me being a coward though. I cant tell you the details, but something happened that causes me to hesitate to go anywhere near that building. Thats why I wont accept that request. Im sure you have your own reason as to why you need to go there, which in that case, make sure to be extra careful. Its in the middle of an old-world ruin after all, so anything can happen. For example, your information-gathering device might lose sensitivity inside that building and you might suddenly not be able to use your information terminal there. Or if youre not careful enough, you might get surrounded by mechanical monsters without you realizing it or you might even find the monsters using the facilities inside that building. So yeah, I wont accept it, later then.”
Akira only said that and ended the call. He then put his information terminal aside one more time before returning back to eating again.
Carol was curious about what that call was for. But it might annoy him if she needlessly butted into his business there, so she was putting on a smile indicating that she was not bothered at all.
After Akira cut the call, Shiori looked at her information terminal with a grim face. Kanae approached her and asked a question.
“Were ready to go. Ane-san, how is it Youre trying to invite that young boy Akira, right”
“I got rejected.”
“Thats really unfortunate. I actually wanted to see that boys skill from up close. So then, what is with that face You look grimmer than usual for someone who just got her request rejected.”
“The real problem is the reason why he rejected it. He rejected it without giving me any chance to negotiate saying that he doesnt want to die so he would refuse to get anywhere close the Seranthal building.”
Unlike Shiori, who looked really concerned, Kanae was smiling amusedly.
“I dont know why exactly Akira would say that, but if someone as strong as Ane-san would even go that far to say something like that about that place, then it seems that this will be interesting.”
Shiori glared at Kanae.
“…Ill at least go and recommend Milady not to take the request. As for you, go and recheck our equipment… No, redo the preparation. Make sure that we have enough equipment to survive a ruin exploration in a ruin with zero survivors.”
Kanae smiled and said.
“Roger that. But isnt it impossible to change Miladys mind at this point This request is basically a compulsory request, if Milady wont participate, she might get kicked out of the gang. After all, some people from the Katsuya faction hate Milady since they think Milady abandoned Katsuya back then. Thats also exactly the reason why Milady could not participate in the bounty hunting too, remember But well, I guess that was a good thing from Ane-san and Miladys point of view though.”
Among the young Hunters in Drankam, Reina was actually keeping herself in a delicate neutral position in between the Katsuya faction and the anti-Katsuya faction. That was also the reason she came to Mihazono ruin only with Kanae and Shiori. The Katsuya faction treated her as if she was from the anti-Katsuya faction while the anti-Katsuya faction treated her as if she was from Katsuya faction. Because of that, she was having trouble making friends in Drankam.
“One of the requirements for Milady to be allowed to work as a Hunter is that she must be a member of Drankam. So Milady might take it as telling her to stop working as a Hunter if Ane-san tries telling Milady to change her mind, right”
Kanae said those words as if it was none of her business. Shiori was still glaring at Kanae as she said to her.
“…I know. But Ill still recommend Milady not to go there. Itll at least let Milady know that were going to a very dangerous location.”
“Alright then. Ill go and redo the preparation. Ill reorganize the prepared equipment with the assumption that well end up in the red this time… It has been quite a while since the last time I fought without worrying about the expense, I cant help but look forward to this.”
Kanae smiled happily when she said that.
Reina was about to head over to a location that would even make Akira refuse Shioris request without further discussion. While on the other hand, Kanae seemed to be looking forward to it. Shiori was fed up with Kanae.
Shiori instantly grabbed the sword dangling on her hip and Kanae quickly reacted to that by keeping her distance from Shiori. Shiori killed the emotion inside her and was exuding an ominous aura. She then said in a low voice while oozing out the anger within her heart.
“Theres a limit on how much I can bear with your behaviour.”
Kanae kept smiling.
“Its so like you not to pull out that sword here you know, Ane-san. Ah, thats a compliment by the way. Its good that you stay calm. Thats why they trust Milady to you and thats also why Milady really trusts you.”
Kanae stared back at Shiori while smiling. If Shiori really pulled out her blade and tried to kill Kanae there, it would lower their fighting power for protecting Reina. But Shiori knew well that Kanae was smiling at her not because of that.
Kanae was actually smiling because she did not mind either way whether Shiori would pull out her blade and try to kill Kanae there, or that she would not pull out her blade there which meant that she would get to go and fight monsters later. Kanae would not make any provocation if the latter were to happen. It was because it was her principle and courtesy toward the people who employed her, it was her attitude toward her own job. But if that came from Shiori, then she would be happy to respond.
Shiori let go of her blade and said to Kanae.
Kanae just smiled and went to reorganize their equipment.
Shiori took a few deep breaths, reminding her of her loyalty to Reina, and finally regained her composure. She made sure that she could put on her usual smile to her master before going to try convincing Reina.
Akira returned all the way back to the Kugamayama city together with Carol. Due to Carols request, he dropped her near the red light district of the lower district.
Carol, who just stepped off from Akiras vehicle, invited him.
“Since this is a good chance, how about coming with me to get some drinks”
Akira shook his head and said.
“Sorry but no thanks. I keep myself away from alcohols since they lower my decision making skill and reaction speed.”
After all, there were many occasions where drunk people came into the slum city and ended up as dead corpses. Akira had seen something like that happen in front of his eyes numerous times before, so he had no wish to put in even a drop of alcohol inside his body. And now, after knowing that a disruption in his consciousness would also affect Alphas support in controlling his augmented suit, he was actively avoiding alcohol even more.
Although there was a type of drug sold in the eastern district which would instantaneously snap someone out from a drunken state, Akira had no plans to drink any alcohol to the point that he would need that kind of drug.
Alcohol and women, these two things were the gate to ruin a man, and Carol was really familiar with both of them, but both gates were shut closed in case of Akira. Carol could not help but to smile bitterly and said.
“…So you dont drink alcohol and dont play with girls, huh. Thats a pretty healthy lifestyle youre having.”
Akira looked slightly irritated as he said.
“A Hunters biggest asset is their body, so its a good thing to have a healthy body.”
But then Carol smiled seductively and said.
“I dont think its wise to abandon worldly leisure though. If you change your mind, you can give me a call anytime. Ill be waiting for you, I dont mind if its about my main job or my side job, see you then.”
After saying that, Carol went and vanished into the red light district.
Akira realized that Alpha was watching him with a big smile, so he awkwardly said to her.
Alpha kept her big smile.
“…Seriously, what is it”
“Do you want to know Do you really want to know”
Akira hesitated, but this time, it sounded like Alpha was teasing him and that she actually wanted him to ask her. So he went and said.
“Yeah, I really want to know.”
Alpha smiled happily and answered Akiras question.
“Im happy that it seems my anti-honey trap training works really well. Even with a beautiful girl tempting you with her body right in front of you, you barely gave any reaction at all. But actually, that might be a problem in itself though.”
Akira only gave that short reaction and turned his vehicle back on. But he was not heading back to his home.
“Oh, are we not going back home”
“I want to replenish my ammo and medicines first, I did use quite a lot of them today after all.”
First, Akira went to Katsuragis trailer, and in order to reach it, he had to go out to the wasteland again.
In the middle of traversing the wasteland, Alpha was still smiling at him. Akira was bothered by it, so he decided to ask her again.
“What now Is there anything more you want to say”
“Do you want to know”
“Yes, I do want to know.”
Akira thought that it must be another unimportant thing. Alpha then said with still a big smile on her face.
“Today, you really expressed your trust in me with your body.”
Akira was so surprised that it interrupted his driving.
“Im really happy, you know. After all, theres no way you can jump off a building and run on its wall if you dont trust me.”
As Akira somehow regained control of his vehicle, Alpha continued.
“Its not like I doubted you when you said that you trust me, but still, it really gives a strong impression when you actually show it with your body. After all, there are a lot of people out there who, although they dont lie when they speak, would lose their bravado when they have to prove it with real action.”
Akira stopped his vehicle to check if his vehicle was okay.
“Its great that we deepen our trust for each other, it would allow me to provide you with more support. So yes, lets keep working hard together from here and on. Ill be in your care, Akira.”
Akira restarted his vehicle and slowly drove it forward. He then kept her eyes forward as he said to Alpha who was smiling happily next to him.
“As I thought, it was the right choice to talk about this when Carol is not around.”
As Alpha was still smiling next to him, Akira snapped at her as if he was trying to hide his embarrassment.
“…Yeah, you can say that again!!”
Akira replied loudly to hide his embarrassment and he kept doing that in the middle of his ride to Katsuragis trailer.
After he finished buying medicines from Katsuragi, Akira headed next to Shizukas shop to replenish his ammo. In the middle of his way, Akira remembered what Katsuragi said to him.
“Destructive force, huh…”
Akira bought quite a lot of expensive medicines, it showed that he was wounded badly enough for him to use that much medicine. Since it would be bad for Katsuragi if he lost one of his regulars, he suggested to Akira a set of equipment with high destructive power.
Kill before getting killed. That was the basics of fighting monsters. Katsuragi told Akira that what he currently lacked was the destructive power to do that.
Akiras main firepower was his CWH anti-material rifle and DVTS minigun. Although he was able to defeat the autonomous weapons with those guns, it was true that he had some problems fighting the mechanical monsters inside and outside the Seranthal building.
Akira was heading to Shizukas shop while thinking of asking for Shizukas opinion about it. Moreover, it seemed that Akira also had no plans to pay Katsuragi more money although he was the one who made that suggestion to Akira in the first place. It was just simply a matter of trust.
When Akira arrived at Shizukas shop, it was right when Shizuka was about to close her shop. The sky had already darkened, save for the shops that were only open at night, normal shops would already be closed at that time.
Akira stopped his vehicle in front of Shizukas shop.
“Shizuka-san, are you already done for the day”
“Akira, well, yes, but its fine, come in.”
“Is it really okay”
Shizuka smiled at Akira and said.
“Of course. After all, I want to increase the chance of you getting promoted from being a regular candidate to a real regular to my shop.”
“Thank you very much.”
Akira parked his vehicle in the shops parking lot and went inside the shop. After he went in, Shizuka flipped the signboard of the front door and went inside too. Because the sun had already set, she could not notice that Akira brought a different vehicle than the one that he bought from her shop just the other day.
After listening to the ammo that Akira ordered, Shizuka then asked a question.
“Akira, youre ordering nothing but extended magazines though Are you sure about this It might get a little expensive, you know”
“Its okay. Even it might get a bit expensive, I want to carry more extended magazines.”
For Hunters who often fought powerful monsters, running out of ammo in the middle of a fight was fatal. And there was a limit on how much ammo they could bring with them when they were exploring a ruin far away from the city. So in order to solve this issue, there were all kinds of extended magazines sold in the eastern district.
One of them was a magazine filled with hair-sized bullets that would change into a normal size bullet when shot. These kinds of bullets, which were created by using technology extracted from analyzing old-world technology, allowed Hunters to pack way more bullets into a single round. And thanks to the old-world technology, this kind of modification did not lower the firepower of those bullets. This technology was often used for guns that consumed a lot of bullets, like a minigun.
And of course, that kind of magazine was more expensive than the usual magazine. Some of them cost 2 to 3 times more than a usual magazine and depending on its quality, some of them even cost 10 times more. So if they had no plans to go somewhere dangerous where they had to use those kinds of extended magazines, it would be much more profitable to buy normal magazines.
Shizuka stared at Akira. There was no mistaking that Akira had a reason as to why he would pick extended magazines in place of normal magazines even if it would need him to spend more money.
Shizuka smiled at him, she was putting extra pressure on Akira with that smile as she asked.
“So then, what kind of dangerous stuff did you do through this time”
Akira got fl.u.s.tered a bit.
“Well, its not exactly like I did something dangerous intentionally. Its just that I encountered a lot of monsters, so I had to run away and used a lot of ammo to get away from them. I could get my reserve ammo if I was in my vehicle, but I was inside a building at that time. So… Yes… This is an insurance, its just to be safe.”
Akira was somehow able to say his excuse and it was not like he made any lies there.
According to Shizukas intuition, Akira was actually carefully picking his words so as not to make her worry. But she also knew that he did not lie at all. So basically, Akira did meet powerful monsters that he could not defeat or he ventured to a dangerous place that he could not handle, and when that happened, he properly did his best to run away instead of fighting back.
Shizukas expression loosened as she gently smiled at him.
“I see. Well, its fine then if thats the case. Its better to abandon your relics and save your own life rather than dying with relics on your back. As long as you return back alive, youll get another chance. So Im glad that youre okay.”
Akira made an invisible sigh. It seemed that he did not have to explain the fact that he did crazy things like jumping off a tall building and running on its wall. And of course, even Shizukas sharp intuition could not notice that far.
Akira then decided to change the subject while he had the chance.
“Shizuka-san, do you think that Im lacking destructive power”
Shizuka looked surprised.
“Destructive power What do you mean by that”
“Well, its just that one of my acquaintances told me that Im lacking firepower. Fighting monsters is basically boiled down to killing those monsters before getting killed. And it seems that if I have trouble fighting monsters, that means I lack sufficient firepower. Honestly speaking, since Im carrying 2 guns that I wont be able to use without the help of my augmented suit, I thought that these 2 guns would be enough. But am I really lacking firepower”
After hearing what Akira said, Shizuka thought for a bit before answering back.
“…Lets see, I think it depends on your line of thinking. Its true that if you fight a swarm of monsters, you would need more firepower no matter how much firepower you already have. There are also cases where areas that were originally relatively safe suddenly get filled with powerful monsters. But of course, its not like you need to prepare yourself for something like that all the time. After all, it might hurt your wallet if you do that… If its okay for me to say something for my own benefit, I would say that you indeed lack of firepower and I would suggest you buy more equipment from me though.”
Shizuka smiled mischievously.
Akira thought about it seriously and made his decision.
“Alright, I understand. Ill buy more equipment.”
Shizuka was surprised, she then looked a bit troubled.
“…Uhmmm, theres no need to force yourself, you know”
“I dont mind, after all, Im buying new equipment so that I wont have a hard time fighting monsters. Well, its true that I dont have so much money that I can carelessly spend, but rather than putting my life in danger, I would rather put my wallet in danger. So, Ill take a gun that you would recommend me.”
Now that Akira had gone and said it, it was not like Shizuka could back out and not recommend him anything. So in order to answer his trust, she smiled and said.
“Alright. Lets see, if its for the current you… Wait here for a bit.”
Shizuka went to the warehouse after saying that. Not too long after that, she returned with a rifle that she picked for Akira.
“Its A4WM automatic grenade launcher. Since it shoots out grenades, you dont need to aim precisely at your target. It packs quite a lot of punch that would work against monsters with strong armour. And you can use it for indirect fire too, depending on the type of grenades that you load, you can bounce the grenades off the wall and shoot the monsters on the other side of a corner. If youre looking for an addition to your current equipment, I think this is the perfect choice for you. Its only downside is the ammo expense though, after all, it shoots out grenades.”
“I see, so, how much does it cost”
“About that though, give me a sec.”
Shizuka went to the warehouse one more time. She then returned back with grenade launcher magazines and other extra equipment.
“I think you already understand this, but you cant use it without ammo and there are a lot of grenade magazine types that you can use. Ill sell the gun and the ammo as a set, so listen to my explanation first about the characteristics and the power of each type of grenades magazine and their respective price before deciding which one to take, okay”
Even after listening to Shizukas explanation, Akira was not sure which one to buy. So he ended up deciding based on the firepower and the size of the grenades as he picked the most expensive set.
Akira then loaded his new equipment and his reserve ammo into his vehicle. After that, he said his goodbye to Shizuka who was seeing him off outside the shop.
“Thank you very much for today, Im sorry for coming here after you closed the shop.”
“Its fine. Not to mention, you also bought some equipment from me. So dont worry about it. Be careful on your way back, okay”
Shizuka waved her hand, Akira lightly bowed and turned his vehicle on.
As she saw Akira off, she mumbled.
“…Like I said, in the end, he did buy some of the equipment that Im selling, so this is fine.”
Shizuka was answering her own question there. Although she might have missed a business opportunity there because she was concerned about Akiras wallet, result-wise, there should not be any problem. In the end, she was still a merchant and Akira was still her customer.
As Shizukas merchant side made that excuse, her other side just exasperatedly let it slide with that excuse. She then changed gear and returned back to her shop to properly close it. This time, she took more time than usual closing her shop.