Zalmo slowly moved his hands to block the spot where Akira was aiming his rifles. He then smiled rather smugly and said.
“Those rifles are both empty, right I bet youve used all the ammo in that barrage in order to kill us. But then, that was not enough to kill me. Although youre aiming them at me, its nothing but a bluff to keep me away, right I bet bullets wont come out even if you pull the trigger.”
Akiras expression did not change at all.
“I wonder now, I might have left some ammo inside.”
“Who would give such a vague answer If they still have some ammo in, you could have just told me so. To be honest, my augmented suit is not strong enough to defend myself from armour piercing ammo, thats why I used those two men as shields.”
“Then why did you throw them away”
“Of course, its so that they wont slow me down when I try to evade the bullets. Theyre all already riddled with holes, theres no meaning in using them as shields anymore. Thats why its better to keep my feet light, no”
Zalmo slowly but surely walked toward Akira, who walked backwards with Zalmos every step.
Zalmo smiled confidently.
“Whats wrong You wont shoot You still have some ammo left, right Or is that youre afraid you wont be able to hit me from this distance”
Akira still had the same expression as he replied.
“Im still looking for an opening. If you can predict when I pull the trigger, youll be able to evade. I dont have much ammo left so I cant do indiscriminate shooting, I have to make sure to kill you with my shot.”
Zalmo was still approaching Akira slowly and Akira was also walking backwards equally slowly. Both of them eventually reached the middle of the room.
This time it was Akira who threw a question to Zalmo.
“How about you Youre not going to use your rifle You couldve run away, hid somewhere, and readied your rifle when you still had your shields, no”
“Actually, you destroyed my rifle during that barrage just now. There was some leftover destroyed rifle back then, right If I had tried to run away back then, you would have reloaded a new magazine in your rifle and used it to shoot at me. Theres nowhere for me to hide in the middle of the hallway, so that would have been a very bad decision.”
“Shouldnt you keep it a secret about your broken rifle If I thought that you would shoot back, I wouldnt immediately choose to chase you, right”
“You could have noticed that only by looking at my destroyed rifle. Its easy to notice that on the ground after all. I know that you want to keep your distance from me, but just so you, that wont work.”
The tension between them heightened. Both of them kept their eyes on each other as not to miss even the slightest move. The critical point was close.
Akira once again threw a question.
“You look pretty strong, honestly, I dont want to die. If I tell you that I dont mind letting you go, what are you going to do”
“Well, I dont want to die either, so Ill thankfully take that offer. So, can you put down your rifle so I can feel safe leaving this place”
“Theyre just empty rifles anyway, right There wont be much difference even if you put them down.”
“…Like I said, theyre not empty.”
Zalmo stopped pressing forward, so Akira also stopped walking backwards. Both of them understood that the fight would start soon.
Zalmo suddenly dashed toward Akira, he decided not to run to his left nor right, but straight at Akira. Akira fixed his aim at Zalmo, if his rifles were really not empty, Zalmo would not be able to evade his shots.
Akira pulled the trigger on both of his rifles, bullets flew straight out from both barrels. Back then during the barrage, Alpha stopped Akira mid-way to leave some bullets in the magazine when it looked like he had used up all of his ammo.
Akira was not bluffing, just like what Zalmo thought.
Zalmo fully predicted that both of Akiras rifles still had some bullets left. When bullets flew out from their muzzles, Zalmo had accurately predicted their trajectories, he quickly raised both of his hands as if to block those bullets.
Then, at the next moment, a bright light flashed, the force field armour changed the kinetic energy of the bullets into photons.
Both of Zalmos arms were equipped with portable force field armour.
The smaller the force field armour area of effect, the shorter its duration, the stronger it became. Since Zalmo only deployed the force field armour on a small area just enough to block the incoming bullets, it was enough to completely kill the momentum of the incoming bullets.
The blinding flashing light from Zalmos force field armour made Akira flinch for a split second, but that was enough for Zalmo to close their distance as he released a kick aimed at Akiras head. Akira was not using anything on his head, a clean hit of Zalmos kick would send his head flying.
Akira looked completely surprised by Zalmos force field armour, his expression showed his shock and he was unable to react for the time being. Zalmo noticed that and was sure that it was his victory.
But Zalmos kick cleanly cut through the air, Akira was able to quickly duck as if his body was sucked in and evade Zalmos kick.
Akira was down low right in front of Zalmo, he then released a swift kick as if to sweep Zalmos leg off the ground. But Zalmo lightly jumped off and evaded Akiras sweep, while at the same time, he brought down his other leg that was still dangling in front of him to Akiras head. Akira quickly rolled back and stood up.
The short exchange ended there, Akira and Zalmo returned to their initial position. Akira had already thrown away his rifle in the middle of that short exchange, he was now unarmed. Akira lightly tightened his fist and readied his stance, in reaction to that, Zalmo stretched his hand and also readied his stance.
Zalmo then said to Akira mockingly.
“Geez, youre no fun at all. You really shot someone who jumped straight at you thinking that you have no ammo left. Could you like, you know, get surprised even for a bit Im sure you didnt expect I was able to block them, right Are you actually a machine or something”
In contrast to Zalmo, Akira had a grim expression when he replied.
“Didnt I tell you that I have no leeway for something like that Or did you already forget about it”
Zalmo was still looking mockingly at Akira, but it quickly changed to a relaxed smile as if he was looking down at Akira.
“…Well, that doesnt really matter, it should take effect anytime soon.”
Zalmo had an accelerator drug ready inside his body, it was set so that he could use accelerator drug anytime only by sending the command using his mind. It was a slow-reacting accelerator drug that had a strong effect. Once it was in effect, the drug would significantly boost his focus and perception, thus slowing down the passage of time from his point of view while keeping his disposition calm. Zalmo already activated the accelerator drug, the silly talk with Akira was only to buy some time until the drug took effect.
Zalmo could feel the drug had already taken effect for real, he lightly smirked and said.
With that signal, Akira and Zalmo stopped talking and restarted the fight.
Akira and Zalmo used the full force of their enhanced strength to fight each other, releasing a flurry of attacks with their arms and legs to the vital points of their respective opponent.
Zalmo had superb reaction time thanks to the accelerator drug while Akira had his time compression from his sheer willpower as well as Alphas support to move his augmented suit. They were fighting at a speed that no normal human could follow.
A single clean hit was all it needed to kill their opponent, they were continuously throwing attacks at each other while evading the attacks coming at them. It was as if both of them had made prearrangement beforehand, both of them prioritized evading and did not even try to block the attacks. After all, it was hard to judge how powerful an attack with the enhanced strength of the augmented suit was. If they made a blunder trying to block an attack, it might easily tear their limbs, that was why they had no other choice but to evade.
Akira gritted his teeth, he looked like he was having a hard time.
[Too fast!! Although it already took all of me to match the movement of my augmented suit that Alpha is controlling, he is still able to properly react to it! He did say something taking effect though, is it an accelerator drug! How long before his accelerator drug loses its effect! Can I survive until then!]
Thanks to Akiras time compression, he managed to follow the movement of his augmented suit. By following the movement of his augmented suit during a high-speed fight, he was able to significantly reduce the burden on his body.
But he could not maintain his time compression for long, prolonged use of time compression would assault his brain with information and render his brain fatigued. The moment that happened, his body would be paralyzed. Moreover, there was a limit on how fast he could move his body, the faster the movement, the bigger the burden on his body.
Akiras physical and psychical limits were coming close. The only thing that he could do in that situation was to do everything he could to end the fight before he hit his limit. But even so, after he exerted everything that he had, he was not able to get the upper hand, as a matter of fact, he was at the disadvantage there.
[Dammit!! Why is someone this strong aiming for this shop! If hes this strong, he could have aimed for a better shop with better guards!! Is it because of my bad luck! Goddammit, Im really unlucky, right!]
Akira continued fighting while cursing on the back of his mind.
Zalmo drove a straight kick on Akiras body. Akira saw it as a good chance, it would be hard for Zalmo to keep his distance close after releasing that kick.
If Akira could open some distance, he should be able to grab his AAH rifle and reload a new magazine. He might even be able to use his CWH anti-material rifle which needed him more time to take aim due to its weight.
Akira jumped backwards, Zalmos kick did not hit anything and he lost his balance. Although it was only for a split second, he was not able to chase Akira.
Akira thought that he already had that fight in his bag. So he jumped back, opened a space between them, and tried to aim his CWH anti-material rifle at Zalmo. Akira saw Zalmo still with his balance off, but he noticed something and his eyes went wide.
Zalmo still had not recovered his balance, but he had his rifle that he said got destroyed aimed at Akira.
Akiras augmented suit moved on its own. He stopped trying to aim his CWH anti-material rifle and grabbed the anti-bullet sheet next to him. He then pulled it to block Zalmos line of fire.
Zalmo released a barrage at Akira. Countless bullets pierced through the anti-bullet sheet and hit Akiras body. Thanks to the sheet killing most of the bullets momentum, it did not damage Akira much, but it was enough to blow him back. Akira was smacked to the ground. Zalmo did not stop shooting, so Akira hurriedly hid behind a display nearest to him.
Akira complained while hiding himself from the bullets.
“Didnt you say your rifle got destroyed!”
Zalmo recovered his balance and smirked.
“Ahh, sorry, my mistake.”
Zalmos rifle was not destroyed yet, although it was damaged, it was still functional.
Zalmo shot randomly in Akiras direction. The displays were covered with a defensive sheet, but they were not that durable. Akira rolled on the ground from one cover to another, avoiding Zalmos barrage.
Akiras expression was grim, he understood that he was getting cornered.
“Alpha, can we do something about it It would be bad if this continues. Im hitting my limit soon.”
Akira was in a rather dire situation. He looked pretty desperate thinking of a way to get out of that situation, but in contrast to that, Alpha replied casually as if it was nothing to worry about.
“Is that so In that case, how about we just go ahead and kill him”
Akira was dumbfounded, he could not help but express his surprise.
“It might be a little bit dangerous, but hang on, okay”
Akira still hadnt fully shaken off his surprise, while Alpha was smiling just like usual.
Zalmo kept on shooting at Akira who was moving around, he looked like he was having an easy time there. But he found something suspicious, so he heightened his guard.
[That guy adapts perfectly again. I know he thought that he already won this fight when he jumped back from my kick. That expression was not a lie, he did not expect me to shoot back. Theres no mistaking it that he was lured into my trap… So how Is it because he has a good reflex]
Zalmo reloaded a new magazine. Right when he did that, Akira used his CWH anti-material rifle from behind a cover and hit Zalmo.
But Zalmo had expected that to happen, he raised one of his arms to block the bullet, Zalmo knew that Akira released a shot from the sound so he immediately activated his forcefield armour. The bullet hit his palm and a flash of blinding light filled the room.
He immediately shot back at Akira but Akira already relocated himself behind another cover. Zalmo then shouted.
“Do you really think that itll work with that rifle Unfortunately, that wasnt good enough.”
Zalmo smiled full of confidence, but deep inside, he was becoming warier of Akira.
Akira had moved according to Alphas instruction, but he still was not able to defeat Zalmo. He then asked Alpha with a grim face.
“Alpha, that one didnt work.”
But Alpha was still smiling like usual, she did not seem perturbed at all.
“Dont worry, I was able to gather a lot of data from that shot. The next one will end this fight. Akira, youll have to do something pretty dangerous, are you ready”
“Ready when you are!”
The reason why Zalmo did not take cover like Akira was because he had confidence in the force field armour on both of his arms.
Zalmo did not doubt that he had the upper hand, but even so, he did not lower his guard at all. He kept shooting at the display shelves and the sheets hanging from the ceiling, looking for Akira.
[I dont think I can hit him like this… Does he know where Im aiming It seems that those sheets are not only for blocking bullets but can also be used as information-gathering devices, huh. I thought that both of us cant use our information-gathering device to ascertain each others location, but I guess thats not the case. But if thats true, then why wont he shoot from behind the sheet Is it because that will reveal his location Or is it that Im overthinking this]
Zalmo reloaded his rifle again, and just like last time, Akira jumped out from behind the cover.
It seemed that Akira really knew what Zalmo was doing. Zalmo thought so as he put up his arm to block the incoming bullets.
Since Zalmo had predicted that Akira would shoot, he was taken aback when he noticed that Akira was not aiming at him. Akira had his CWH anti-material rifle pointing, he was holding it with one hand as if he was holding a sword straight forward.
Then at the next moment, Akiras CWH anti-material rifle suddenly turned. A loud bang echoed quickly followed by a flash of light.
Since Akira shot his CWH anti-material rifle without the proper support, the kickback destroyed the bone on his right arm, his augmented suit immediately stopped working on his broken arm. At least, for the length of this battle, Akira would not be able to use his right arm anymore. He had lost one of his arms.
But in exchange for that, Akiras shot blew Zalmos right arm off. The mechanical parts that were scattered on the ground were all the leftover from Zalmos right arm.
Both of them had lost one arm now, Akira and Zalmo stood facing each other. Akira had his CWH anti-material rifle on his left arm aimed at Zalmo. Zalmo extended his left hand to block Akiras line of fire. Both of them seemed to be desperate as they locked gazes, the first one to move was Zalmo.
Zalmo laughed lightly and said.
“I have no idea where you learnt that from, but just so you know, thats not how you use a rifle. You lost your arm from that shot, didnt you Well, you took one of my arms too, so I guess its even, huh. But still, I know that you did that to prevent me from predicting where youll shoot, but its pretty amazing for you to even think of trying to do that. Thanks to that, I had no other choice but to expand the area of my forcefield armour and reduce its power, but its still better than losing my head or having a hole in my body. But again, I didnt expect you would hit your shot, you know Not bad at all… That is, if that was your real skill.”
Zalmo smiled provokingly, Akira frowned and replied.
“What do you mean”
Zalmo casually replied.
“You have someone else controlling your augmented suit, right”
Akiras face froze. Seeing that, Zalmo knew that he was correct, he then mockingly said to Akira.
“Hahah, I knew it! I had my suspicion since you can immediately adapt well to what happened even though you dont look that strong, now I know exactly why! Theres no way a normal Hunter can execute that shot, haha, you overdid it there.”
Akira had a stern face, he then said as if he was putting up a brave front.
“…Even if thats true, does that help you win this fight”
“Once I know the trick, I can think of a way to fight back. For example, just like this.”
When he said that, Zalmo immediately jumped back. Akira was about to shoot at the running Zalmo, but he noticed that Zalmo dropped something that looked like a hand grenade, so Akira immediately moved away from it.
The hand grenade looking object immediately filled the area with smoke. Alpha then explained to Akira.
“Akira, its jamming smoke. It looks thin but its pretty strong.”
“I see, leaving that aside, that shot was not enough to kill him though, did you predict this too Moreover, he discovered that Im receiving your support and he said that he knows a way to cut it off, are you sure were going to be okay”
“Itll be fine. Since he used a jamming smoke, I can pretty much guess what hes thinking. One thing that I can tell you is that he made a wrong guess. We just need to end him off after he does whatever he has in mind. The fight has basically been decided from what happened just now. The next move will really be the last. Get ready, hes coming.”
Alpha warned Akira about Zalmo. He saw Zalmo running in his direction.
Akira aimed his CWH anti-material rifle with his left arm, Zalmo raised his left arm in order to block it.
Zalmo smiled, he thought that he had won the fight. Akira pulled the trigger and a gunshot echoed through the room. Everything was the same just like last time until that point, but unlike last time, there was no flash of light.
The bullet that flew out from Akiras CWH anti-material rifle left a big hole on Zalmos body. Zalmo was so surprised by that sudden turn of events.
[…No way! It was G3 level jamming smoke thatll even block close-range communication, you know! So how in the world he can still move his augmented suit…!]
The jamming smoke that Zalmo used was not for blocking information-gathering devices, but it was to block the augmented suits remote controlling.
Zalmo thought that someone outside the room was controlling Akiras augmented suit. It was impossible to calculate Akiras movement using the small control device usually installed in augmented suits, but that was not the case for a powerful special control device that was usually installed in a room or in a vehicle.
There was an illusion with using an augmented suit, most people thought that anyone could fight veteran soldiers only by using an augmented suit. That was nothing more than a foolish assumption, but a lot of companies did a lot of research and development in order to get closer to that dream.
Zalmo thought that room was a room for that kind of experiment where some company pitted a slum child with that type of augmented suit against Zalmos men. The relic shop was nothing more than just an excuse. If that small boy can repel Zalmo and his men, it would be a good advertisement for that company.
The rumour that there were relics in that shop worth reselling. The rumour of the powerful young Hunters that spread around lately. The fact that Akira did not seem that strong from the outside. All of these reasons caused Zalmo to make that guess.
In that case, if he could cut the connection to Akiras augmented suit, Akira would turn to just your normal slum boy, it would pose no problem to kill him. Zalmo thought so.
But that assumption was the very reason why Zalmo lost that fight. Before Akira pulled the trigger, Alpha slightly changed his aim. Although it was a slight aim change, it put Akiras left arm in immense burden and Zalmo could not react fast enough to that.
[It was all just acting then! It was all to fool me!]
Zalmos guess was almost correct and that truth caused him to get even more surprised.
Zalmo could see Akira standing in front of him holding CWH anti-material rifle that was already aimed at his head. He knew that he had zero chance of evading that, but that did not fill his heart with fear. At the least, it made him feel a bit cornered. The person who was in front of him was way stronger than he expected judging from Akiras outlook. Zalmo needed to warn his friends about that, but unfortunately, his communication device was already destroyed.
[This boy might get in our way!! I have to tell my brothers about this!! The result of this investigation…]
Before Zalmo could finish his thought, Akira released a shot that tore Zalmos head open. Zalmos train of thought stopped in an instant as his headless cyborg body fell to the ground with a bang.
Alpha smiled and complemented Akira.
“Good job! Thats the end, its alright now.”
Akira released the tension in him and sighed.
“T-that wasnt easy at all. Why is someone that strong aiming for this shop”
“Well, you cant ask him now that hes dead. So lets just ask the people that you tried your best to leave alive. They might know something.”
“Tried my best to leave them alive, huh…”
Akira looked at the people who were left alive through his hard work. The result of trying to spare them was that difficult battle.
“…I guess I was too arrogant, huh.”
There were a few things that Akira could not just shake off from what just happened, he regretted the choice that he made.
Being unable to make any other choice but the easiest one was proof of weakness. Whether it was of a good deed or a bad deed, helping or robbing, the one who had the freedom to decide was the stronger one. The one who was helped, and the one who was robbed, they had no choice in that matter. Up until now, Akira was always on the receiving end, the one who had no choice.
Akira tried to be the one who made the decision, he tried to go to the other side, and just now he was shown the price of it.
Alpha tried to cheer Akira up with a smile and said.
“If you really think so, then you need to grow strong enough so that it would be out of leeway rather than arrogance, that way youll be able to make your choice when it really matters. To be honest, I think its okay to think that it was out of leeway for the 4 people that you spared, you know For the other 4, unfortunately, that would be arrogance.”
Akira smiled wryly.
“I see, well, if you say so, then I guess it means Ive grown stronger compared to before.”
Akira still did not have the option to make his own choice, he was still not strong enough to do so. But he was able to keep 4 men alive, it was better than having all 8 of them dead. He was at least able to get closer to another choice other than killing everyone in order to protect himself.-