After he left Carol, Akira headed to Sheryls base.
Akira seemed to be in a good mood, noticing which, Alpha asked him a question.
“You seem to be pretty happy, was it really that fun talking with Carol”
But Akira reacted in a surprised manner, it seemed that he did not notice it himself or he just simply did not feel that way.
“Do I look really that happy right now”
“Yup, I always kept my eyes on you, so I can easily tell.”
“I see, well, its true that it was fun. After all, I got to hear a lot of things about being a Hunter.”
Alpha smiled gently after hearing Akiras honest answer.
“I see, thats good to hear. In that case, it might be a good idea for me to gather information around that subject to talk with you too.”
Alpha said gently. On the surface, it was as if she was saying it was for Akiras sake, but behind it, she was only doing that for the sake of keeping him away from Carol.
Akira thought for a bit before replying.
“Hmmm. Well, to be honest, I learn more about common sense in the eastern district instead of knowledge about being a Hunter from you after all. I guess I want you to teach me about common sense first. After all, I dont even know where the Kugamayama city is located in the eastern district, so, you can teach me about being a Hunter later after that.”
“Sure, got it.”
Suddenly Akira extended his hand and grabbed the man next to him, that man had Akiras wallet in his hand. In one fluid move, Akira drove a kick with his enhanced strength to that man who was not using an augmented suit nor an armour. Although Akira held himself back, his kick still hurt. Enough so as to force the man to roll on the ground and writhe in pain.
Akira happily picked up his wallet and then walked toward that man. That man who was still gasping in pain, noticed Akira walking toward him and desperately reached for his pistol in his pocket. He aimed it at Akira as fast as he could, but due to the pain, he was too slow.
With a smirk, Akira kicked the pistol away from that mans hand. The pistol flew and slid on the ground. Meanwhile, it had that mans hand bent at a weird angle, it was obvious that the bone inside it was broken. That man screamed in pain.
Akira was in a good mood. Unlike back then when Alna caught him off guard and took his wallet, this time, he was able to properly protect his life-staking money. Alpha did not even need to help him at all, Akira was able to identify that man entirely with his own ability. He felt the satisfaction as if he had redeemed himself.
Thanks to that, even with all the sins the man had taken against Akira, the boy was in such a good mood. It could be said that he was being considerate to that man and only rendered him incapacitated. If Akira was in his usual mood, there was no mistaking it that man would have died by now. This was the back alley, it was not a strange thing to find one or two corpses lying here and there. His mood was the only thing that saved the man.
That man looked fearfully at Akira, who smiled at him in a good mood and said.
“You got really unlucky today trying to prey on me.”
Akira still sounded like he was in a good mood when he said that, but he immediately delivered another kick after he said that. That man shrieked, slammed to the ground, and rolled over.
For Akira, that was the end of the incident, it was done, it was finished, he got stronger, he was no longer careless anymore. After he could confirm that, he just turned around and walked back toward the main street.
But the voice behind him told Akira that it was not the end of the incident. That man, who was writhing on the ground in pain, suddenly shouted a curse.
“…Goddammit, I didnt hear anything about this…”
Akira stopped, his smiling face turned cold in a snap.
Viola had an office hidden among the countless buildings in the Kugamayama citys lower district. Colbert was there with Viola that day.
She was sitting on a sofa and said to Colbert in a good mood.
“Geez, youre so cold, how about you come over here”
Colbert was sitting not too far away from Viola and was able to clearly hear her invitation.
“Geez, youre no fun.”
Colberts swift reply was more out of wariness rather than coldness toward Viola, but that did not ruin Violas mood at all, she was still smiling like usual.
Colbert looked at Viola, who seemed to be in an excellent mood, and told himself to be careful not to get involved in any troublesome stuff that she had in mind as he said to her.
“So then, why did you call me today Is there anything you dont like in the report that I gave you Just so you know, Im not going to return the reward.”
“Nope, its nothing about that at all. The report that you gave me was not bad. I just wanted to ask some stuff directly like whats your impression of that shop.”
“Im sure I wrote it in my report already, you didnt read it”
“I did. But even if its about the same subject, people usually give a different opinion when theyre asked directly compared to what they wrote in a simple report, you know. Even when you do negotiation, you would rather meet the other party directly even if it was something that you couldve taken care of with text messages, right Thats just how important the information that you can get just by talking directly. Or at least, for me, its that important, you do know that, right”
Whatever the case, Viola was the one who hired him. Colbert made that as an excuse to give up there.
“…Alright, so then, what do you want me to tell you this time”
“A lot of things, for the starter, what kind of girl is this Sheryl”
Viola smiled bewitchingly at Colbert as they started going deeper into that subject.
That day, Colbert did not go to Sheryls shop out of pure coincidence, he was hired by Viola to investigate Sheryls shop. Although he hesitated at first to accept that request, since the reward offer was pretty generous, he eventually decided to accept it.
The only reason why Colbert tried to help out Levin was because he could do so while completing Violas request, and in case if it got exposed that he got that request from Viola, he could use it as an excuse to evade. It might also help him to avoid getting roped into troublesome stuff later on, after all, either for better or for worse, Viola was famous for causing trouble. A lot of people would raise their guard when they noticed that Viola had made some moves and there was nothing bad with being extra careful.
Viola asked Colbert about a lot of things and Colbert answered all of her questions. Most of them were about the same thing that he had already written in his report, while the rest were about some stuff that he thought to be unnecessary to be written in his report.
Viola was listening closely to Colbert, who had known Viola for a long time, at this point, he knew for sure that she had something completely different in her mind behind her outer expression. She sometimes looked deeply interested when she actually did not care at all, sometimes she looked like she did not care at all when she was actually really interested, and sometimes it was neither. Viola only showed an expression that would help her get more information.
Colbert knew that Viola had manipulated information in order to indirectly control other people multiple times in the past. So he took great care and was being very careful as he was speaking to her, but even after that, he was still doubting himself–wondering if he was already dancing to Violas tune.
“…Thats basically the gist of it. The boss of that gang and the owner of that shop, that Sheryl girl is basically a pretty impressive girl. After all, it seems that she has Akira on her palms too, so its not like her beauty is everything. This is only my guess, but I think that shop is doing well.”
“You have a pretty good review on that shop.”
“Its just my opinion. If youre questioning it, you can meet her and decide for yourself. In the first place, why are you interested in that shop There are a lot of other similar shops in the slum city, right Is it because Akira is involved”
“Now that you mention it, did you see Akira there”
“I didnt get to see him when I went there. He might have been hiding somewhere. That room was surrounded with white sheets, he might have been hiding behind one of those sheets, though I cant really say for sure.”
“I see, well, I have a lot of interest in that shop. Lets just say that a lot of other shops are getting alerted by their new competitor. Its nothing strange at all, right”
“…Well, if you say so.”
Colbert could see Viola was hiding all kinds of stuff behind that excuse which she just gave. He could not tell if that was just his imagination or not since he might be mistaken, but he had no means to confirm it for sure.
“…If thats all, Ill head back home now. You can call me if you need anything else… One more thing though, I just want to make sure, its up to me what to do about the relics that I bought yesterday, right”
“Yup. Thats one of the rewards from me, you can do anything you want with them. Ill at least tell you this out of kindness, it might be a good idea to sell it, and dont bring that to the Hunter Offices exchange centre. If you get comfortable doing that, youll never be able to return back to being a normal Hunter.”
Colbert glared at Viola.
“Humph, its none of your business.”
“But of course, its completely up to you.”
Viola smiled when she said that. Colbert made a rather frustrated look as he left the room.
The door banged as Colbert slammed it on his way out. Viola looked at it and mumbled.
“Looking at how he acts, I dont think he can return back to being a normal Hunter at this point. But well, thats one way to live.”
Viola was the one who offered to pay Colbert with relics rather than with money in order to lure him to accept that request from her, taking advantage of his wish to never return back to being a regular Hunter.
A call reached Violas information terminal, she reached for her information terminal and said in a good mood.
“Its me… Yep, yep, Ive spread the rumour… Nope, my job is only to spread the information around to incite the fire and it is done when the fire has already started burning. Of course, I dont mind going further, but itll cost you more, you know… If you dont want to pay me, then just wait. I did properly spread the rumour, so its only a matter of time… Yes, well, later then.”
Viola ended the call.
“I wonder what will happen from here and on, I cant help but get excited.”
Viola smiled, imagining all kinds of possibilities.
The man who stole Akiras wallet was folded over the ground. Akira was walking toward him with a grim expression. That mans face was distorted not by the pain from his broken hand, but also by the fear of Akira who was coming at him.
He did think of running away, but the pain from his stomach and his hand, as well as the fear of getting killed by Akira, prevented him from making any sudden movements. It was impossible for him to make a run.
Akira stopped right in front of that man and asked him with a calm voice as if he was whispering.
“What do you mean by that”
But that man begged for forgiveness instead of answering Akiras question.
“P-please spare me!! Im really sorry!!”
Akira prodded his rifle at that man and asked him once again.
“Answer. My. Question. What do you mean by what you said just now… If you answer my question, I might give you some of my medicine… If you wont talk even under threat of a gun, then Ill be more than happy to grant you that wish.”
Akiras mood had gotten considerably worse. Even if that man did not answer Akiras question because he could not organize his mind from the terror of the rifle that Akira was pointing at him, Akira would probably not care about that and just kill that man.
That man desperately begged Akira to not kill him.
“O-of course!! Ill tell you!! Ill tell you everything!! So please dont shoot!!”
Akira lowered his rifle, pulled out his medicine box, took out some pills, and forced them down that mans throat. He did not care even when that man groaned. Then Akira grabbed that mans broken hand and forcefully realigned it.
That man screamed in pain when Akira realigned his broken hand, his face was distorted in agony. But his surprised and pained face immediately changed. The medicine worked wonders, the pain from his stomach and his broken hand from Akiras kick slowly but surely waned. Even his hand that was bent in an unnatural angle until just now, after Akira forcefully realigned it, that man was able to move it again albeit only slightly.
That man was confused and surprised that Akira really shared some of his medicine, but his confusion and surprise were blown away when he noticed Akira had already pointed his rifle at him again.
Akira really shared his medicine, just like he said. So, just like he said too, he might as well kill that man for real. That man opened his mouth in panic. If Akira thought that he had abandoned his promise, Akira could pull the trigger anytime, so before that, he tried his best to start speaking.
“…I bought that information. They said that theres a certain careless young Hunter who carries a lot of money but an easy target to pick… And that it would be fine even if I get caught since someone got caught in the past too, but when that pickpocket ran and hid behind another Hunter, that boy was scared and ran away… The rumour is basically saying that youre an easy target and that itll be fine even if I get caught…”
Akira remembered that he got careless in the past and had his wallet picked by a young girl named Alna. Unfortunately, he was not able to get his money back. After all, Katsuya protected Alna.
At that time, their difference in power was just too big, although he was against the idea, Akira ended up backing off. If Alpha had not stopped him back then, it was almost certain that a fight would have broken out and Akira would have been killed in that fight.
Akiras mood immediately turned for the worst the moment he remembered that. His expression turned cold, although he was emotionless, a wave of dark and gut-wrenching anger could be felt welling out from him.
Looking at that, that man got super scared as he begged Akira to spare him.
“I-Its not me!! Its the information from the information broker!!”
Akira replied with a calm voice.
“How did you find me Did you see a photo of my face or something”
“…They told me some descriptions like the hairstyle and body build… And also they showed me a blurry picture too.”
“You were able to find me only with that”
“L-Like I said, I got the wrong person. I mistook you with that boy Hunter.”
“Didnt you say back there that you didnt hear anything about this You didnt say that you mistook me for that easy prey, right”
That man was lost for words. Akira fixed his gaze at that man without saying anything. That man could not bear the pressure and started to tremble as he begged Akira.
“I-Im really sorry, I was tricked by that information broker, they gave me the wrong information. Its my fault, Im so stupid for getting tricked by that information broker. So please, have mercy on me.”
Akira stared down at that man with his rifle still pointing at him, and that man looked back at Akira with a puckered face.
Akira suddenly lowered his rifle. That man looked so relieved, but that was immediately proved to be premature.
Akira grabbed that man by his neck and pulled him up, he then smashed that man on the wall of the back alley. That man groaned in pain, but Akira did not stop there, he then said to that man with a cold and heartless tone without even looking at him.
“First of all, let me get this straight, you were not tricked by that information broker. I am indeed the fool who got my wallet easily stolen by a brat. I was that weakling who ran away when the Hunter who was protecting that brat confronted me. The info broker did not lie to you, that information is correct.”
Then Akira looked straight into that mans eyes as if he was peering deep inside that mans soul, that mans face was filled with terror.
“But I have no plans to just end that incident there. Im not done with her yet. I dont care where you got that information from, but make sure to tell that information broker that its not the end of the story yet, got it”
Although Akira grabbed hard on his neck, that man managed to nod. Akira then released his hand, that man coughed and fell over to the ground.
Akira swiftly turned around and started walking away again.
That man was coughing while trying to calm his breath. When he was dropped from Akiras grasp, he saw his pistol, which Akira kicked from his hand, lying there on the ground near him. That man slowly stood back up and reached for his pistol.
The moment his hand reached his pistol, a gunshot echoed and his pistol was blasted off from his hand. That man could not help but turn at the source of that gunshot and saw Akira there with his AAH assault rifle aimed at him. Akira was the one who shot his pistol.
That man screamed and ran as fast as he could into the depth of the back alley.
Akira silently lowered his rifle, he was now in a terrible mood. He had the same grim expression that he had when he was about to fight Katsuya.
Alpha flew and stood in front of Akira, she enlarged her image in Akiras vision.
“Akira, take a deep breath.”
Akira took a deep breath just like Alpha told him to, he did that multiple times. After a few repetitions, he slowly calmed down.
Alpha smiled gently at Akira to calm him down and said.
“Are you good now”
“Dont mention it.”
Alpha smiled as if it did not bother her at all. Akira seemed slightly dispirited as he let out a big sigh.
“To be honest, I thought Ive already completely moved on from that, you know.”
For Akira, it was something that was already over. Or at least, that was what he thought. If nothing had happened, he would only have chuckled when he remembered about that. It was really something that was already over in his mind.
But it seemed that someone did not want to let him end it there, so in Akiras mind, it changed fromalready over to ashort pause, and now it was backon play again.
Alpha then worriedly said to Akira.
“I think its a good idea if you just head back home without visiting Sheryls base today. It would be bad if something were to happen when youre in such a bad mood, you wont be able to try to defuse the situation, right”
“…No, Ill at least visit her briefly. After all, I did promise her that Ill come even if itll be rather late than usual… Moreover, theres something I want to ask Sheryl.”
Akiras face turned tense again as he thought of what to do to solve this situation.
Sheryl was working in her private room when someone suddenly knocked on the door.
Alicia opened the door and said to Sheryl.
“Boss, Akira-san is here.”
Sheryl glanced at Alicia, who was alone. She then tilted her head and asked.
“Where is he”
“Hes talking with Erio right now, hell be here in a minute. And also, theres actually something that I need to tell you…”
Alicia hesitated and looked rather worried.
“…Im not really sure what happened, but it seemed that Akira-san is in a very bad mood right now. So, be careful.”
Alicia asked Erio to hold Akira back for a bit so she could warn Sheryl about Akiras mood. Sheryl noticed that as she frowned.
As Alicia left the room, Akira came in. When Sheryl saw Akiras expression, she was barely able to maintain her expression from shrinking.
Even Sheryl could see clearly that Akira was obviously in a terrible mood. Akira knew his expression was leaking his emotions, so he tried his best to mend that. He tried his best to act casual but he completely failed in doing so.
[This indeed looks really bad… Thank goodness Alicia warned me beforehand.]
Sheryl was extremely nervous, but she still smiled at Akira, trying her best to hide her nervousness.
She sat face to face with Akira on a table, she could clearly feel the heavy mood in that place. She was wringing all her brainpower to think what was the right thing to do there.
Both for the sake of her position in the gang and her own feelings, Sheryl did not want Akira to hate her. Akira was the main supporter of the gang as well as the reason why she could keep her position as the boss in the gang. If Akira came to hate her, her position would crumble. Akira was also Sheryls psychological anchor, he was the place where she would lean to when she was mentally or spiritually exhausted. If Akira abandoned her, there was no doubt that she would break.
If it was the normal Akira, even if Sheryl made some slip-ups and said something that she should not, Akira would just let that slide. If Sheryl said something that caused a misunderstanding, she could explain everything until the misunderstanding was cleared up. If she said something that offended Akira, she could apologize for it. That way, it would not deal a fatal blow on her relationship with Akira, or at least, that was what she thought.
But the current Akira was not how he usually was, Sheryl could not afford to behave normally. She felt that if she made a slight mistake or if she said something that caused even a slight misunderstanding, it would deliver a fatal blow to her relationship with Akira. Sheryl proceeded extra carefully as not to trigger any landmines.
[…S-should I just keep my mouth shut like this Is it a good idea to keep silent until Akira calms down a little B-but, what if that angers him instead Should I take the initiative and put my bet on the chance of cheering him up… While of course, being extra careful as not to make his mood even worse. But I have no idea what made him angry in the first place at all, so… But no…]
As Sheryl put all of her focus on thinking about what to do there, she started to forget about other smaller things. Her face also slowly turned tense.
Although Akira was normally a dense boy, he was able to easily notice that change in Sheryls expression, it showed just how desperate she was.
Looking at Sheryl, who was getting more and more desperate, it somehow calmed Akira a little. He then said to her.
Sheryl flusteredly replied back, she did not expect Akira to talk to her so suddenly like that
Akira tried his best to sound like his usual self.
“…Well, uhh, something happened today and Im not in a good mood right now. I know that myself, but its not like Im angry at you at all. And also, Im trying my best here, but Im sure that I might vent my anger on you, so Ill apologize in advance. Im sorry, if I really end up venting at you, please just forget about it and dont let it bother you too much.”
After he said that, Akira lightly lowered his head.
Sheryl was a bit surprised by that, but she immediately regained her composure and smiled gently at Akira. She was somehow able to calm down and regain her clarity. She thought that it would be less likely for Akira to get angry at her if she was the one who was on the listening side, so she encouraged Akira to continue.
“I understand. I wont force you, but if it helps you if you share it with someone, I can listen to you as much as you want.”
“…Sorry, thanks for the offer, but no.”
Sheryl looked at Akira and tried to make some guesses.
[…It seems that its something serious, I might be able to win some points if I can help him solve his problem… But looking at it, its more likely that Ill be biting more than I can chew.]
Sheryl acted casually as if it did not bother her at all and said.
“Please dont be, its my fault for saying something that I should not. I know that its not like I can help much, but if theres anything that I can do, please do tell me.”
When Sheryl said that, Akira looked at her as if he just remembered something.
“Ah, thats right, theres something that I wanted to ask you.”
Akira took out his information terminal, clicked some buttons, and then placed it on the table so that Sheryl could see it too. Alnas picture was on that information panel, she was the pickpocket who stole his wallet.
“If you ever see this girl, I want you to inform me.”
Sheryl peeked at the picture. Judging from her attire, that girl seemed to be someone from the slum city, but her figure was not that bad. She would be beautiful with a little bit of effort, or at least, that was what Sheryl thought when she saw that picture.
Akira did not show any interest even after he saw Sheryl naked, but now he was asking her to help him find another girl. Sheryl felt a bit dissatisfied by that. But she decided to put that for later and asked Akira.
“I just need to look for this girl, right If you would tell us her name and her connection with you, we should be able to find her more easily.”
“I dont know her name, and also, I dont want you guys to look for her. Its just that if any of you spot her, I want you guys to tell me.”
“But like, youre looking for this girl, right What do you plan to do to her after you find her”
Since Akira did not say anything about his relationship with Alna, Sheryl got a little suspicious there.
If it was nothing bad, then she needed to be careful not to do anything rude when she brought Alna to Akira. On the other hand, if it was the opposite, she could use force to capture that girl and that might help her win some points from Akira.
But Sheryl needed to be extra careful on how she would deal with Alna, if Akira was looking for her since she helped Akira before, then it would only cause Akiras mood to get worse if they treated Alna badly.
But Akiras answer to Sheryls question was short and clear.
“Ill kill her.”
Akiras voice was so cold and heartless that it even surprised Sheryl.
Sheryls smile froze in an instant.
Akira sighed to calm himself, he then said.
“…That girl stole my wallet, you see. So, since she stole the money that I gathered by risking my life, Im planning to kill her if I find her again.”
“…And also, theres no need to kidnap her or use force. Although Im not sure if theyre just her friends or if they were just backing her up, she basically has some Hunters protecting her. And those Hunters are more or less as strong as me, or might be even stronger than me. I chased her when I noticed that she stole my wallet, but in the end, I couldnt get my money back because of those Hunters.”
“…Theyre stronger than you”
“Yeah, so theres no need to use force.”
Akira casually admitted that those Hunters were stronger than him, and on top of it, Sheryl noticed that he had no plans to sacrifice the gang just to look for that girl. Although she felt happy about it, she also thought that they needed to get more useful to Akira. Showing that the gang was useful to Akira was an important milestone for the gang.
The only reason why Akira was helping the gang was simply because he was Sheryls lover, there was no other reason. So if they could give Akira more reason to back the gang, it would definitely make the gang feel safer. After all, everyone in the gang was actually worried that they might be abandoned by Akira.
Sheryl replied with a serious face.
“I understand. Ill properly warn everyone. How should we inform you if we spot her Even though you told us to inform you if we spot her, its not like everyone in the gang has an information terminal. Of course, we want to help you as much as possible, but…”
“No, theres no rush. You can just tell me when and where you guys spotted her. After all, she might have moved to another area by the time that information reaches me.”
Sheryl was a bit surprised by that, when Akira said that he will kill that girl, it sounded like he had a deep dark grudge on her, but from what he said just now, it sounded as if Akira did not really care that much even if they could not find that girl.
[I dont really understand whats on Akiras mind, but its better if we do what he told us to. It might break into a fight, after all, if thats the case, we cant afford to get reckless… After all, unfortunately enough, were not ready for something like that.]
Sheryl was not that close to Akira yet, she made a forlorn expression when she realized it.
Akira noticed that slight change, misunderstood its meaning, and apologized.
“…Sorry, I did try my best to be careful, but I guess I still ended up venting it on you, huh Sorry.”
Sheryl somehow managed to give her usual smile.
“Please dont worry about it, everyone has their bad day. If it helps you out, you can vent as much as you want on me, I dont mind it. But of course, as a reward, Ill have you spoil me a lot later.”
“… Ahhh… Well… You can do whatever you want.”
Sheryl was smiling mischievously, which Akira replied with a wry smile.-