After they finished a round, Akira and the other children grouped up. They lined up in front of Akira, who looked a bit dejected as he said to them.
“So thats basically the gist of it, anyone has any questions If not, then lets do another round.”
Erio and his friends asked all kinds of questions, Akira answered them one by one while listening to Alphas explanation too.
“We can see all kinds of things in the goggles, what is with that”
“The training system is taking care of most of the things in the background. Its mostly focused on adjusting your movement as a group, but it also gives individual orders through your goggles. If you follow those orders accurately, you can learn how to fight. Next!”
“How do you know our locations And how does it decide when one of us gets shot”
“Its connected to the information-gathering device in my vehicle and it does calculations based on the data from your goggles and the aiming device of your rifle. Next!”
“The trajectory line from the muzzle sometimes vanished suddenly, what should I do when that happens”
“Reload a new magazine. Its properly counting the ammo inside your magazine, if your magazine is empty, the trajectory line would vanish. Its so that you can learn to protect each other when you reload a new magazine. At the moment, its set so that you can still shoot for a while even after your magazine is empty, but Ill have to change that soon. Next!”
“I can always see the location of the other people in my goggles, is this really effective as a training”
“Its only available to you guys, but not for me. I also dont get that trajectory line nor the specific order from the training system. Im basically fighting you guys while you guys know my exact position at all times. So use that advantage to corner me, or to sneak on me. Basically, follow the orders shown by the training system and learn how to fight from that. Although its impossible to know your opponents location anytime during a real fight, you can actually set a situation where you can do something similar to that. For example, if you install expensive information-gathering devices in all places inside the base and install a security system to support it, you should be able to get a similar situation. Next!”
There was no more question, so Akira decided to stop the Q.A session there.
“No more questions, huh Then lets do another round.”
But Erio flusteredly stopped Akira.
“Wait for a sec! So basically were the only ones who know your location all the time And thats not the case for Akira-san”
No one was asking questions since they were shocked when they heard that from Akira. Akira then casually replied.
“Yeah, I dont get anything like that.”
“This wont be much of a training if I dont at least have that much handicap. Not to mention, we have different equipment too. Unlike you guys, I have my augmented suit and my information-gathering device. So without that handicap, it would be a one-way fight and that would not help anyone.”
Erio and the other children were dumbfounded. They thought that Akira could also see through rubbles and wreckages like them, they thought that Akira was also receiving instructions from the training system like them. But that was not the case, they had that many advantages, but even so, they were only barely able to win in an 8 vs 1 fight.
Without that much handicap, they would not be able to give any meaningful fight to Akira. Their difference in strength left those children in shock.
Seeing that no one asked anything more, Akira urged them to move on.
“So, no more questions Lets restart the training then.”
They finally snapped back to reality, then one of the children sheepishly asked Akira.
“…Uhmm, I cant read the instructions, so what should I do”
“…Just follow the indicators in the map and try to make a guess from there.”
Akira completely forgot the possibility that some of them could not read. It made him feel a bit conflicted remembering that he also could not read until recently.
They then had a few rounds after that, both sides fought desperately in each round.
Akiras victory ratio was 50%. Most of the rounds ended up either with Akira shooting down all of his opponents or Erios side using one of the boys as a decoy to shoot Akira. Alpha adjusted the training to be like that. Akira suddenly asked Alpha a question while hiding behind a cover.
“But still, I didnt expect them to get this strong just by following your instructions. Although, unlike in my case, I bet they dont always move following your orders.”
“Youre right. After all, back in the Kuzusuhara ruin, there was a time when you took an action against my instruction, right”
Akira remembered that blunder back in Kuzusuhara ruin and smiled wryly.
“Im really sorry about that.”
Alpha lightly giggled.
“Well, I do all kinds of adjustment in the background though. For example, when I give them an instruction to go right, they would need to read that instruction, understand the instruction and check if its safe first before actually following that instruction. So if they take 10 seconds to go through this process, Ill adjust it to show that instruction 10 seconds earlier before its actually needed. That way theyll move much more efficiently.”
“…Youre even doing something like that, huh. How did you know that itll take 10 seconds”
“Through a lot of different methods. For example, I measure the lag between when I send an instruction into their goggle until they actually execute that order. I also do other adjustments depending on the psychological state of the receiver, how nervous or tired they are, or if theyre in a dangerous situation, or how difficult the order is.”
Akira nodded in amazement.
“I see, thats really a lot of things to consider and adjust… Well, your support did help a slum city kid who recklessly went to Kuzusuhara ruin to look for relics to return alive, and that boy is now doing pretty well as a Hunter. So I guess its only to be expected for you to be able to do that much, huh”
“Yup, thats true. Arent you glad that you got to meet me”
“Yeah, Im really grateful to you. Ill return back the favour by completing your request, so wait patiently until I can do that, okay”
Although Akira sounded like he was being cynical, he did not lie. He really felt thankful to Alpha and he was planning to complete her request no matter how long it would take him.
Alpha could see through him and smiled satisfied.
“Yup, Ill be counting on you.”
“By the way, how strong are they now since they have your support”
“Remember back then when you saved Elena and Sara in Kuzusuhara ruin Theyre basically slightly weaker than you from that time. Although, thats only true during this training.”
“…All of them as a whole”
“Nope, each one of them.”
“…No wonder why Im having a hard time here.”
After all, he was fighting enemies who were as strong as him from that time, and not to mention, it was in an 8 vs. 1 fight. Although Akira smiled bitterly, he also felt slightly happy since the fact that he could fight them well meant that he had grown pretty strong.
Erio and the other children kept their distance from Akira as they were trying to surround him. The fight had not started yet. Previously, right after the fight started, Akira would immediately focus on those who had not moved much and take them out first before taking out the rest of the enemy. Since that had happened several times, they decided to only start the fight after Erio and the other children had finished repositioning themselves.
Instructions were sent to the goggles, Erio read the instructions shown in his goggles.
“‘Starting from this fight, if you shoot from a bad position, we will void your shot considering the kickback from shooting from a bad posture, huh Then how should I carry my rifle”
Erio looked at his rifle. The trajectory line from its muzzle had vanished. Right when he was confused about what to do, his goggles shown an image of someone carrying a rifle. So he imitated that image.
Erio used both of his hands to grip tightly on his rifle, right on the next moment, the trajectory line extended out from its muzzle. He then tried to carry his rifle with one hand again, and just like last time, the trajectory line vanished again.
“So basically I need to properly carry it with my both hands, huh But I remember Akira shot with only one arm and in a very bad posture though… Ahh, I see. Its because he has his augmented suit so that he can properly stabilize the kickback with only one arm, huh”
After that, the goggles also showed all kinds of other shooting postures which Erio tried. Since the trajectory line only came out when he took the correct posture, it helped him to learn how to correctly carry his rifle.
Erio looked at the other children, it seemed that they were also trying to imitate the postures shown in their goggles. Looking at that, he thought that they looked completely like a group of amateurs. The other children must have thought so too when they looked at each other.
“…It seems that we still have a long way to go, huh.”
Erio had made his decision to train himself so that he can be strong enough to protect his lover, Alicia. Back then when he won against Akira for the first time, he thought that it might be not as difficult as he thought it would be, but right after that Akira won 4 times in a row.
Erio fully recognized his weakness and admitted that he had a long way to go. He let out a sigh as he felt really pathetic, he then remembered about his lover and resolved himself once again. He had already made his decision, things like this would not break him.
The battle started, Erio ran as fast as he could.
Right about the time when Akira and the other children were training in the wasteland. Somewhere in the lower district of Kugamayama city, Shijima put both of his hands on his head in frustration.
Shijima was the boss of one of many gangs in the slum city and his gang once had an incident with Akira. A guy from his gang by the name of Wataba once went to Sheryls base and threatened Akira to give up Sheryls base.
Wataba was killed in Sheryls base by Akira. Then Akira dragged his corpse all the way back to the gangs base. They were in a situation where they were just one step away from a fight.
At that time, Akira said that with his current strength, Shijima and his men might be able to kill him, but Shijima himself would die too. So in the end, they were able to reach a deal where Shijima could still uphold his reputation by making Akira pay him some money.
Not too long after that, there was no further problem at all. Shijima originally planned to take over Sheryls gang if Akira died due to the dangerous nature of his job as a Hunter, but Akira was able to survive and was doing fine. So Shijima did not make any big moves. The most that he could do was only visiting Sheryls base from time to time to check if Akira was still alive.
Then one day, a certain Hunter caused trouble inside the gangs territory. That Hunter was causing a ruckus since he was being chased by someone.
Gangs in slum city like Shijimas were also functioning as guards in the area. So if someone armed caused trouble in their territories, it was crucial for them to deal with that person with force. If they ignored something like that, it would not only damage the protection money income that they were receiving, in the worst-case scenario, it might cause other gangs to look down on them and attack them.
Normally, Shijima would demand compensation money from these troublemakers and let them go. He was willing to negotiate if it was needed, but he rather not if he was given the choice. It was important to let people know that they had the ability to take care of these trouble makers. So if those Hunters paid him with money, then that would be enough.
Shijima usually checked the identity of the Hunter before dealing with that Hunter. That was when the real problem arose, that Hunter was Akira.
Shijima was being careful of Akira. It was not because of Akiras strength, but it was more because of his unstable personality. After all, he once came to Shijimas base fully expecting a fight. For people who did not want to die, someone who did not hesitate to challenge anyone even if he or she was weaker, like Akira, was someone that they needed to be careful with.
But for the sake of the reputation of the gang, he could not afford to just let Akira go. While on the other hand, it was not worth trying to provoke him since it was almost certain that he would fight back. Shijima just did not know what to do with this single Hunter.
That was when another information reached Shijima; Akira was a careless person who let his wallet get stolen and he was a coward who ran away when another young Hunter threatened him. It was a piece of information that destroyed Shijimas image of Akira.
After hearing that, Shijima was even more confused than before. It was either his mistake for being careful of Akira, or it was because Akiras behaviour changed after he was about to get killed somewhere in the wasteland, or maybe the information that he received was simply wrong information. Shijima could not decide which one was the correct guess.
So in the end, Shijima asked Viola to investigate more about Akira. He knew well about how bad Viola was, but he had also heard how skilled she was. He also heard that he would not have any trouble with her as long as he did not antagonize her. Viola was able to finish that request in a short time.
Then, right now, the reason why Shijima was so frustrated was because he was listening to the result of that request from Viola herself.
Shijima shouted at Viola who he was talking with through his information terminal.
“Goddammit!! Are you kidding me! What the heck is going on Explain everything to me!! All I asked is to get some pickpocket to aim for him to poke for his reaction!! So how in the world did it turn into sending an armed group to Sheryls base!”
In contrast to Shijima, Viola replied calmly.
“Good grief, calm down for a bit, will you Although the situation went out of control, it was enough to give a good result for our main objective to check for his response, right Not to mention, you did say youre not fully satisfied with only doing that, right So we might as well consider ourselves lucky here.”
It was Violas job to spread information to the information brokers all over the slum city that Akira was an easy target for pickpockets. The original request for that came from Shijima, he did that to check how Akira reacted to pickpockets.
But Violas calm answer only caused Shijima to get angrier.
“Lucky, you say! Then how in the world did that attack get connected to me! Youre the one who provoked them, right! I have nothing to do with them!!”
“Geez, can you stop accusing me I have nothing to do with those robbers too. I just spread that information like you asked me to. Then those robbers chose to attack Sheryls base using that wrong information as the basis of their decision. I spread that information because you made a request to me. Just think about what would happen if Akira discovered that. Akira might misunderstand and think that those robbers attacked Sheryls base because of you. Im just reminding you of that possibility here. Its true that youre aiming for Sheryls base, right And its true that you want Akira dead too, right You have no connection to the robbers and it was not like you paid them to attack Sheryls base either. Im just telling you here that I cant say for sure if Akira would believe that, you know”
Shijimas face turned grim, it was because he understood Violas point. More than that, he also knew that there was a good chance Viola had done something to make Akira misunderstand the situation. So in short, if Viola wanted to, she could have manipulated Akira and Shijima to fight each other.
Shijima already knew Akiras strength since he heard about that from Viola herself.
Akira once completed a request in Kuzusuhara ruin that earned him more than 10 million Aurum. He also successfully hunted a bounty monster. He then went to Mihazono ruins Seranthal building which even the City Management judged to be a dangerous place and returned back with 50 million Aurum. And not too long ago, he killed 8 armed Hunters all by himself. Viola had gathered all of those proofs of Akiras strength before sending them to Shijima.
Akira was already too strong for Shijima to handle. The current Akira was strong enough to decimate Shijimas gang while having some leeway. Messing with the current Akira would be very risky.
Shijimas expression was more of desperation than anger, his voice also reflected the same thing.
“…S-so, what do you want”
But Viola just smiled and casually replied with something unexpected.
“Oh my, I didnt demand anything from you though Were only talking here since I want to give you my report for your request plus some extra service based on my policy to hold my customers dear. So, was it useful information Normally, you would need to pay to get information like that, you know Or is that you prefer not to know anything Was it something that I shouldnt have done Im sorry if it was, Ill make sure not to do that again next time.”
Shijima was about to retort, but he closed his mouth and gritted his teeth, trying to hold back his anger. He then tried to calm down as he said.
“…Thanks for the information. As a gratitude, is there anything that we can do to help you”
“Oh my, it would be such a waste if you would even go that far. In that case, I might as well ask you one thing.”
Shijima could hear Violas happy voice coming from his information terminal as that bad girl explained her evil plan. Although if it was from her voice alone, Viola had a very appealing voice. But that did not help in this case, Shijima only accepted her request because he did not have much choice.
“So then, until next time.”
“…Yeah, Ill be counting on you.”
Shijima closed the call and immediately yelled as hard as he could.
Shijimas voice echoed through the base.
Akira did not exactly plan the training duration, but since it seemed that Erio and the other children were getting tired, he decided to stop the training.
Erio and the other children received notification in their goggles and heard Akiras voice telling them to stop the training there. They were all really tired as they sighed in relief at the signal saying that they could finally relax. They used their rifle as a walking staff to help them drag their feet back to where Akira parked his vehicle.
Before Akira returned back to his vehicle, he looked around and said in disappointment.
“…I died quite a lot this time.”
Akira could see countless corpses of himself scattered around the ground. Only he and Alpha could see those corpses, they were the results of his blunders during the training. He would have ended up as one of those corpses if this wasnt just a training.
Akiras face looked pretty dejected by the fact of how pathetic he was, so Alpha tried to cheer him up.
“Well, thats just how it is. Considering that the other party had my support, I think this result is not bad at all.”
“…I see… Wait, is that so”
Although Akira sounded like he was still questioning it, Alpha replied with a confirmation. She answered back so firmly that he did not have much choice but to accept it.
Alpha then smiled smugly and said.
“Or is it that you have something to complain about since my support cornered you this much”
Akira replied back swiftly.
“No, I have no complaint.”
Alpha smiled satisfied.
Akira then decided to move on.
“Youre right, your support always helps me a lot. Thank you. lets head back now.”
On his way back to his vehicle, Akira remembered something and asked Alpha.
“…By the way, I think it worked well as a training for me, but how about for Erio and the other children How is their fighting skill Did they get better”
“Well, although it didnt work out that perfectly, they did receive some training from me. So theyre at least stronger than yesterday. Training-wise, I think it was more effective than if theyre doing their own training. Lets keep on doing this training so that Sheryls gang would get more fighting power, that way they would not bother you that much.”
Akira then remembered Erio and the other children who were so tired after the fight that they looked like they would faint anytime.
“…To be honest, Im not sure if they would come for another training though.”
“When that happens, we can just ask for Sheryls help. Im sure that she wont say no.”
“…Well, thats true, but still…”
It was not a bad idea for Sheryls gang, so it was very likely that Sheryl would say yes to that. Moreover, Erio and the other children could not say no if it was an order from Sheryl. After all, if they did, Sheryl would kick them out from the gang.
Akira felt a bit sorry for Erio and the other children.
After they finished their training, all of them returned to Sheryls base. In contrast to Akira who seemed still full of vigour, Erio and the other children looked so tired as if they were forced to do long-hour labour work. Seeing that, Sheryls men could not help but feel scared.
Sheryl told them to take a rest before she headed to her private room together with Akira.
Akira gave a small explanation to Sheryl about the training and said.
“…Well, so thats the gist of it. Im thinking of doing this training regularly. The equipment that we used for the training is paid with the money from back then when we had that deal with Katsuragi. I think its a good idea to use that money for something like this. If you ask me how is it useful to me, it also serves as a training for me.”
Sheryl smiled happily and said to Akira.
“Thank you very much, Im sure Erio and the other children would be happy too.”
Akira questioned for a second whether Sheryl said that because she knew that was true for sure, or because she only guessed that it was true, or because she only said that as not to worsen his mood, or because she knew it was beneficial for her gang to say so.
Akira looked at Sheryl more intently than usual. She was smiling at him, to Akira, it did not seem that she was only acting, and even if it was, he did not have the skill to notice that.
Sheryl realized what Akira was trying to do there, so she confusedly asked him.
“No, its nothing.”
Akira decided not to let that bother him too much. It was up to Sheryl and her gang whether to continue the training or not, it was not something for him to worry about.
Sheryl observed Akiras reaction carefully. She understood that he had something in his mind but he decided to just stop thinking about that.
Just to be safe, she reevaluated what she just did there.
[…Im sure I didnt say anything that might offend Akira. It should be alright… Is it better if I ask him what he is thinking about No, Akira said that its nothing, so it might be better not to ask him..]
Sheryl still had her usual smile on her face as she thought about a lot of things in the back of her mind on how to make sure not to offend Akira, make him like her, and make him keep supporting the gang.
Sheryl then said to Akira.
“Theres something else that I want to talk about, I got a call from Shijima. He said that he wants to meet me and Akira. What should we do”
“Shijima Whos that”
“Hes the boss of another gang. Hes the boss of a gang that you once visited.
“Ohh, that one If its about gang business, you alone should be enough, right”
“No, he specifically asked to meet you sometime soon.”
“Its just my guess, he might want to check if were okay after that shoot out in the base. I believe he wants to confirm that were not trying to hide if you or I are wounded or killed.”
Akira agreed with Sheryls guess.
“Ahh, so its about that, huh.”
If he refused without a good reason, Shijima might think that Sheryls gang had lost Akiras support and that would definitely cause more troubles later. If it was possible, Akira wanted to avoid any trouble until his new equipment arrived. Unlike last time, Shijima would not look down on Akira and think that Akira was just a common young Hunter, so this time for sure he must be properly prepared for him. When Akira concluded as such and thought of having to fight the force that Shijima prepared, he exasperatedly said.
“…Im tired today, so how about tomorrow”
“Very well, Ill tell him so.”
Sheryl thought that Akira said so simply because he was tired. She did not think that Akira also thought about the possibility of fighting Shijimas gang. It seemed that there was still a gulf between his and Sheryls way of thinking.-