Akira, Carol, and Shikarabe eventually arrived at the meeting site. It was one of the many destroyed buildings inside the Mihazono ruin, but in front of that particular destroyed building, Elena and Sara were standing guard.
Inside that building, there were Hunters who Elena and Sara had saved. They were the remaining Hunters who could not fit in Shikarabes APC in one go. The reason why Shikarabe limited the number of people inside his APC was not based on the open space inside the APC, but it was more based on the number of unknown armed people that he was okay putting inside the same APC with him. So it was more of a matter of his personal safety.
As for the reason why Elena and Sara stayed behind with the remaining Hunters, it was simply because those Hunters desperately asked them to since they were afraid of getting abandoned. After a lot of consideration, Elena decided to take their request. It was because of her good nature and how pitiful those Hunters were. Furthermore, there was also the detail of her contract, and most importantly, it was because she knew that she could kill them all in case they tried to do anything funny.
Those Hunters sighed in relief when they spotted Shikarabes APC. When Shikarabe parked his APC near them and opened the back door, those Hunters immediately flooded the back door together with the relics that they carried with them.
Shikarabe then stepped off from his APC and asked Elena.
“Anyone need the corpse bag”
“Nope. Theres no fatally wounded Hunters and no dead bodies.”
“I see. If theyre really okay, they should just barricade themselves somewhere. Because of them, I had to go back and forth with no escort, you know.”
Shikarabe looked annoyed, to which Elena responded with a light smile as she said.
“Theyre paying with their money in exchange for safety and were receiving that money for our reward. Thats all theres to it.”
“Well, youre right about that.”
Akira and Carol also stepped off from Akiras vehicle and headed towards Elena and Shikarabe. Although Elena and Sara were planning to welcome Akira with a smile, their expression turned conflicted when they saw the girl next to Akira. It was because Carol was using an augmented suit with a design that was obviously inviting the opposite s.e.x.
Elena and Sara did hear beforehand from Akira that he would be bringing another Hunter. But they did not expect him to bring Carol, who was obviously flaunting her charm there.
Akira then greeted Elena and Sara.
“Elena-san, Sara-san, Ill be in your care for today… Is that okay Although I do want to join the team, if me bringing another Hunter is a bad thing, I dont mind moving as a different team. And even if we decide to work as one team, Ill take responsibility if Carol causes any trouble.”
Elena looked a bit troubled as she said.
“Uhhh, wait for a sec, let me calm down for a bit… Alright then.”
Elena knew that she must be making all kinds of faces there. She then told herself that she needed to make decisions with a cool head since she was the team leader.
She then looked at Carol, she tried to throw away her preconception, or at least, put it aside for now, as she spoke to Carol.
“Im Elena, and this is Sara, my best friend.”
Sara awkwardly smiled, it was obvious that she could not completely move on from the shock.
“Im Sara, nice to meet you.”
Carol smiled and introduced herself.
“Im Carol. Nice to meet you.”
Elena then continued as Carol was still smiling.
“Were working as a team of 3 with Shikarabe at the moment. The team leader is me, so if you want to negotiate about the reward, you should talk to me.”
“Okay, but please talk about that with Akira. Im working under Akira at the moment so Ill prioritize his orders too.”
“Well, now that weve gathered here, I would like to take command of the whole team though.”
“Its not like were already formally formed a team, right Moreover, you havent even made a deal with Akira on how to share the reward, right So I think its only normal for me to prioritize on the contract that Ive made beforehand.”
“Well, you have a point there.”
Elena and Carol were smiling at each other. For some reason, Akira could feel the awkward mood around them. But he could not tell the reason why.
Elena then smiled at Akira and took a step closer.
“So then, Akira, lets start the negotiation.”
“O-Okay, please be gentle.”
Akira could feel some kind of pressure coming from Elena as he was questioning if she was standing a little too close.
Shikarabe then interjected.
“If it seems that itll take some time… No, even if it does not, how about we go back first Whichever the case, we need to transport these people after all. No matter whether well move as one team or not, Im sure both of you need to talk it out first before deciding. So, both of you can finish that in the middle of our way back. Moreover, its easier to handle the contract process if we do it near the Hunter Office.”
Elena then calmed herself one more time.
“…Youre right. Okay then, Akira, youre okay with that too, right”
Akira then returned to his vehicle with Carol. Elena and Sara watched Akiras back with a conflicted face.
They then once again drove through the ruin. Akira asked Alpha a question while driving the vehicle.
“Alpha, what do you think was that”
Alpha casually replied.
“I dont think theres any need for you to worry about that. Even for Elena, there are times when she has a bad mood and its normal that there are people who just dont go along well with her.”
“Hmmm, I guess youre right about that.”
“Im sure both Elena and Carol could differentiate between their jobs and their personal feelings. Im sure its just that because they were thinking about what to do with the contract. Dont worry. I think it wont go as far as causing a fight. Moreover, it seems that you really trust them, so I bet you have no plans to complain about the details of the contract and the way theyll share the reward. But for Carol, its their first time meeting each other. So to get a better deal and to make sure not to get swindled, its nothing strange for them to show off a little bit of intimidation like that.”
Akira was fully convinced by Alphas explanation.
“I guess youre right about that too.”
Lets say there was a certain girl who liked a certain boy, although it was not as far as love, that girl pretty much liked that boy and she thought that boy also liked her back to some extent. But when they planned to meet up, that boy brought another girl, who was a beauty in a seducing attire. Akira was still so socially inept that he could not imagine what those girls whom he was going to meet might feel.
There were a lot of reasons why Akira was socially inept. He grew up in an environment that did not give him the chance to learn such a skill, he originally already had a distorted character, and to top it off, although Alpha knew it, she always came up with another excuse to convince Akira while keeping him unaware about that aforementioned fact. Of course, Alpha did that intentionally, after all, it was better for her if Akira stayed that way.
Alpha looked and smiled at Akira who was successfully tricked by her words.
They were driving through the Mihazono ruin toward the Hunter Office branch. Midway, they were communicating with each other using the local connection of their information terminal to talk about the details of the request and the current situation.
The request that Elena and Sara took was an emergency request. Basically, it was a request to save the Hunters who could not get out from the ruin on their own. The request did not come from those Hunters, it came from the individual insurance companies that those Hunters were registered in.
There were all kinds of insurance for the Hunters. Most of them offered a subsidy in case those Hunters got badly injured. But in order to get their injuries treated, they needed to return back alive first. Thus, in order for them to return back alive, the insurance companies offered all kinds of service in case those Hunters went into a ruin and could not come back on their own. When those Hunters sent a request or when they were out of reach for a certain period of time, the insurance company contracted to those Hunters would dispatch a squad to help them.
Some of the insurance companies had their own special squad to send, but most of the insurance companies usually either made a request to the private security companies that they were contracted with to send their squads or sent that request to the Hunters. And that was how Elena and Sara received that emergency request.
By getting such an insurance before going out to the ruins, in case if they got attacked by monsters and could not return back on their own, these Hunters could just barricade themselves somewhere while waiting for a rescue squad. Or at least, in the worst-case scenario, the rescue squad would retrieve their bodies instead of leaving them in the wasteland.
Akira then asked a simple question to Elena through his information terminal.
“So basically, this request is made by the insurance company for Drankam and then Drankam distributed it to us, am I correct”
Elena refuted that.
“No, this one comes from a completely different source. It seems that there was a lot of things going on with Drankam, including that similar request that Drankam made yesterday. But our request this time has nothing to do with them.”
Akira sounded a little confused.
“Is that so But if thats the case, its weird that Shikarabe is with you…”
Shikarabe sounded a little irritated as he said.
“Its true that Drankam also dispatched rescue squads and its true that they sent me a request to be added to that squad. But I declined it and decided to join Elena and Saras team that has nothing to do with Drankam management.”
“Why did you do that”
Shikarabe shouted as if he was venting his anger.
“The leader of Drankams rescue squad is Katsuya. Even if its on name only, I refuse to work under him.”
Akira flinched back a bit when he heard Shikarabe shout. Shikarabe did not stop there and even started complaining. But after a few minutes of complaining, Carol suddenly interjected and stopped him.
“Shikarabe, you should stop here. If you want someone to listen to your problems, I can do that for you after we finish our job here. I can even give you extra services depending on how much money you would pay me, you know”
“No thanks. I have no plans to spend my hard-earned money on you.”
“Isnt it fine Ill listen to your problem, so you can at least buy me some drinks.”
“I know that you wont stop there, thats why Im not taking your offer. Elena, you can continue.”
Shikarabe honestly declined Carols invitation and asked Elena to continue with her explanation.
Elena scanned through the rescue list that she received from the company which issued the emergency request. As the leader of the team, Elena carefully checked all the requests on that list and picked some of them. She chose the rescue requests based on the location of the targets, the number of the people, and the amount of reward for those requests. They then would head there to retrieve those Hunters, it did not matter whether they were dead or alive, and then transported them over to the Hunter Office.
As for the rewards, Shikarabe would receive 50% of the share, then Elena and Sara would receive the remaining 50%. The reason why Shikarabe received a bigger share was simply because he was the one who prepared the APC to transport the Hunters that they rescued. After all, an APC was the perfect vehicle to safely carry those fatally wounded Hunters who could not move on their own while they were still alive. Because of that Elena and Sara had nothing to complain about their reward distribution.
And now with Akira joining in, they would distribute the reward evenly between Shikarabe, Elena and Sara, and Akira and Carol. To be more precise, Shikarabe, Elena, and Akira would each receive 33% of the reward. And then from there, Elena would share her reward with Sara as well as Akira would share his with Carol.
Carol and Elena then discussed the details on how they were going to distribute the reward, their discussion went very smoothly since none of them were trying to impose any difficult conditions on each other. As for Akira, he had no interest in how to distribute the reward, thus, he just accepted Elenas suggestion. But since Carol was working under Akira, she started negotiating with Elena, it turned into a rather in-depth negotiation.
The thing that surprised Akira was the fact that not only Carol, but even Elena too, was against the fact that he just accepted Elenas suggestion as it was. When they were done with the long and difficult negotiation, they already arrived at the Hunter Office parking lot.
After they disembarked the Hunters inside the APC and handed them over to the Hunter Office, they moved their vehicle to make sure that they would not block the way. After they stepped off from their vehicles, Shikarabe suggested taking a short break.
“Lets take a break here, one hour should be enough. Ill check the APC and replenish ammo reserve during the break, not to mention, some of the APCs armour is already stripped off too.”
“Sure. Lets meet up again here after 1 hour. Ill also short-list the requests during the break.”
It was the perfect time since Elena and Sara were also thinking of taking a short break too. When Shikarabe was about to head back to his APC, Carol followed him.
“Shikarabe, Ill help too.”
“…No need, go back and leave me alone.”
Shikarabe answered back almost immediately. Carol smiled and just ignored it.
“Its fine, isnt it Akira, lets meet again after 1 hour.”
Carol lightly waved at Akira, she then put her hands on Shikarabes shoulders and pushed him into the APC together with her.
Akira just watched Shikarabe and Carol go inside the APC. But he then noticed a gaze behind him, it was from Elena and Sara.
When Akira turned around, Elena smiled at him while Saras smile was a little bitter.
Elena then said to Akira while still smiling.
“Well, I guess we should go too.”
Elenas smile was gentle. Together with her beautiful face, that smile was a very lovely smile. But for some reason, Akira could feel some kind of pressure coming from that smile.
Akira fl.u.s.teredly shifted his gaze to Sara. Sara smiled at him, it was an amused but mischievous smile.
“At least lets go somewhere else where we can relax first, are you okay with that”
Akira nodded. After all, he had no reason to decline, and even if he had, it might be not easy to decline that offer.
Even in that situation, there were a lot of merchants gathered near the border between Mihazono ruin and the wasteland. As a matter of fact, a lot of those merchants came to Mihazono ruin exactly because of the current situation in the Mihazono ruin, it was the time where they could reap a lot of profits.
Shikarabe brought his APC into one of the supply depots to replenish his ammo reserve and put up new armour plating for his APC. Carol was also there, helping him.
The supply depots were shops that specialized in selling consumables for the Hunters. And with a huge ongoing battle in the Mihazono ruin, it was only to be expected that the Hunters would consume a lot of expendable goods. So some merchants who sold their goods in the ruins decided to sell expendable goods rather than spending efforts trying to sell rifles that might not sell that well in the ruins.
Shikarabe was replenishing his ammo reserve and the armour tile of the APC in one of those supply depots. He just needed to leave those ammo and armour tiles near the supply entrance on the side of the APC and the APC would automatically load them. It was a very convenient function that saved Shikarabe from the troublesome work. Sadly enough, Akiras vehicle was not equipped with such a function.
Carol, who was together with Shikarabe, gathered quite a lot of attention. Not only she already had a beautiful figure, to top it off, she was also wearing a s.e.xy old-world design augmented suit. It was only to be expected for her to attract a lot of attention from the opposite s.e.x.
But it would not be the case if they went further to the east, Carols attire would only attract a small amount of attention. It was because the people to the east were already used to old-world relics. A lot of people would say that Carols attire was rather too extreme, but that was only the opinion of the people who were from around Kugamayama city. And if she would go to the eastern frontline, no one would even be bothered by her attire. After all, just like in the case of Akira, who had gotten used to old-world design from Alphas attire, the Hunters in the eastern frontline had also already gotten used to old-world design.
Some Hunters did try to strike a conversation with Carol, but she refused all of them saying that she was busy. They left her alone after she gave them her contact number. Those Hunters were lucky at the moment since they were able to meet a beautiful Hunter. But it was a different story whether that luck would last after that. After all, meeting Carol might be the trigger that would destroy their lives or cause them any other kinds of troubles down the road.
Shikarabe frowned, he looked like he had given up. His stiff expression was not caused by annoyance, it was more because he was trying to control his facial expression. After all, he knew very well about Carols nature.
Shikarabe went inside his APC and operated the control device of the APC to execute an automatic system check. He then lightly leaned over while confirming the result. That was when Carol slowly approached him from behind as not to alert him and slowly hugged him. She wrapped her arms over his neck.
Shikarabe stopped operating the control device and asked Carol.
“What are you doing”
Carol whispered in Shikarabes ear.
“Were done with replenishing the supply, so like, you have time for a small talk now, right”
“I still have to do the check-up, so dont bother me.”
“Its fine, isnt it You just need to wait for the check-up to finish, right So its not like you have anything to do right now.”
There were leftover blood and the scent of dead bodies left inside the APC. Although the ventilation was on, that scent might as well stick there as long as no one did a thorough cleaning and even an anti-deodorant could only go as far as to reduce the scent, not completely erasing it.
But even so, with Carol getting close enough, the sweet fragrance from her body wafted to Shikarabe. It was a sweet fragrance that would easily melt logic and reasoning.
Shikarabe irritatedly said.
“…What do you want to talk about Let me tell you this beforehand though, Im not the same person that you know in the past…”
Carol sported a charming smile and said seductively.
“Oh my, I did pay my price though. Its so rude to say that as if I forced you to give me that information. Even you did enjoy it, right”
Carols hand crawled to Shikarabes chest.
“Moreover, its not like Im planning to extract information about Drankam this time. I know that it seems there are a lot of things going on inside Drankam lately, but I have no plans to talk about that this time. So dont worry, okay”
Shikarabe lowered his guard. Carol did not let that go as she faintly smiled.
“What is it then”
“I want to ask about Akira, you know him well, right”
“Well, its true that I know him, but its not like were close or anything. We have only done Hunter jobs together twice in the past. Unfortunately for you, thats all I know.”
“That Hunter job, did you do it together out of coincidence Or did you invite him to that job If its the latter, were talking about you here, so Im sure you did some investigation about him.”
Shikarabe did not say anything back, it was because he wanted to avoid leaking out any information to Carol. But Carol immediately saw through that as she smiled seductively.
“So, its the latter, huh. In that case, there are a lot of things that you can tell me about Akira, right Dont worry, Ill properly pay you. I dont mind paying you with money, but if you want, we can finish a quick one before the break is over, you know”
Carol then twirled around and stood in front of Shikarabe, her body blocking his views.
Shikarabe shifted his gaze to the monitor showing the result from the APC automatic check-up. The result said that the system was all green, with that, he lost his chance to refuse her saying that he had to fix the error.
He then turned to Carol again, she was smiling seductively and charmingly. It was a hard smile to resist for those who had a taste of her.
Carol operated the APC control device, the back door of the APC slowly moved until it was fully closed.