When Akira was heading to where Sheryl was held. Another change happened outside the mansion.
A few dozen vehicles went past through the gate that Akira kicked down. Since Katsuya killed the entrance guards, no one was there to stop those vehicles.
A large trailer stopped in the courtyard. Its huge backside opened and revealed multiple powered suits under its cover. They were about 5 metres tall with thick bodies and limbs, those thick limbs gave off a powerful and durable impression rather than simply being heavy. There was also a big gun lined up beside each and every powered suit.
The other trailers also opened their backsides, showing the same powered suits and tanks under them. While some of the other trailers started disembarking the soldiers inside them.
Those people were from Haurias. Rogelts guess was correct, Haurias used the chaos caused by Akira and Katsuya to attack Ezont Familys base.
Haurias commander looked around the mansion and gave his men an order.
“That info was correct! Lets use this chance to crush the Ezont Family!! Go out there and join the battle!”
The activated powered suits slowly moved their huge limbs to get up before grabbing the huge gun lying next to them. They then fixed their aim at the mansion in front of them.
Right at the next moment, a huge explosion flashed from their torsos. High-calibre rounds hit their large torsos followed by a loud banging as they were toppling over one by one. The armour platings around the area where they were hit, crumbled down and made a loud banging sound when it hit the ground.
The one that shot them was a black powered suit that appeared from behind the mansion. Those robots were designed for agility with light thin limbs and bodies. It was manoeuvring around quickly on the ground with the mobility support device equipped under its feet while carrying huge guns that looked unfitting with its small body.
That black robot was Rogelts powered suit. Rogelt then shouted from inside his powered suit as if to let everyone in that place hear him.
“You damn bastard!! I knew you would come!! Ill crush you here and now!”
The other undamaged Haurias powered suits and tanks focused their aim from the general direction of the mansion to that black powered suit. But that powered suit manoeuvred nimbly to evade the incoming rounds while shooting back at them. Haurias foot soldiers spread out so as to not get swallowed in that exchange.
With tanks and powered suits involved, it was no longer on the level of a battle between the slum gangs.
Akira watched what was going on from the mansions rooftop and could not help but frown.
“…What the heck is going on”
Just right outside the mansion, there was an ongoing chaos between dozens of tanks and powered suits. Not to mention the cannon barrage coming from outside the mansion by Haurias side, Ezont Familys powered suits were shooting back at those cannons from inside the mansion. Haurias powered suits flooded the courtyard trying to neutralize Ezont Familys powered suits, but a black powered suit was blocking them.
Quantity-wise, Haurias had the upper hand with their tanks and powered suit. But the black powered suit was obviously a few times stronger than a common powered suit and it compensated for the lack of number on the Ezont Familys side.
It would not be strange to feel a sense of superiority if someone was to stand somewhere high while looking down on the ensuing battle. But since Akira knew very well there was a good chance one of those huge rounds strayed and hit him, he was only able to smile wryly with a stern face.
“What kind of battle is going on here They even have powered suits out too, this isnt on the level of a fight between slum gangs…”
Akira watched the black powered suit closing its distance against its enemies. It bobbed and swayed, evading the incoming bullets to get close enough before using its chainsaw-like weapon to cut down the cover together with the enemy hiding behind it. Fire sparkles flew everywhere as it cut the whole thing together and left a clean-cut powered suit and cover in its trail.
Akira inadvertently asked.
“…Whoah, thats really something. But why is that powered suit fighting in such close proximity from his enemies It has a gun with it, right”
Alpha answered his question.
“The anti-force field armour device works better when its in close range, you see. Of course, some of the warheads have anti-force field armour devices installed on them too, but its impossible to have the same negating power in those relatively smaller warheads. Not to mention that it might also be for scaring the enemies by showing its ability to fight in close range. Other than that, it might be its users preference, I guess”
“You still remember back then in Seranthal building when Shiori cut down the huge monster, right I bet it has similar equipment to Shiori. There was also Kanae who fought the smaller monsters using CQC. Those people who have that kind of preference often have the talent and skill to support it, you see. For them, fighting in close range is much easier and they do perform better in close range.”
“I see, so thats how it is, huh.”
Akira nodded as if he was fully convinced.
From Sheryls point of view, it looked like Akira found an answer that he just mumbled himself. Although she did find that strange, she felt like Akira would tell her not to ask him if she tried, and since it might even worsen his mood too, Sheryl decided to stay silent.
“Akira, lets not spend our time watching them and get out of here. It would be bad if you get involved in that battle.”
Alpha was urging Akira to withdraw, but he had a conflicted expression as he said.
“…But, I still have that pickpocket to be killed…”
“Like I said, its impossible for you to hunt for that pickpocket while carrying Sheryl around. Even standing here is already pretty dangerous, you know Moreover, although I dont know the reason, it seems that a fight is also ensuing outside the base. It would be dangerous if you dont escort Sheryl to a safer place.”
A battle was also going on outside the fence of the base. It was a fight between Haurias reinforcement soldiers and Rogelts men that were on their way back after they were told to return to the base.
Akira had thought that he could just escort Sheryl outside the fence and then return back to the base, but it seemed that it was no longer a viable option now.
“Like people always say, if you chase 2 rabbits at the same time, youll lose both of them. Your best course of action in this situation is to evacuate Sheryl to somewhere safe and hope that pickpocket gets killed in the ongoing battle.”
Akira made a stern face, it might really be his only choice there. But before he decided to just give up and do that, another idea came up in his mind.
Akira understood that his plan was unlikely to work. But even so, he was still willing to try. And if it really did not work, he would just give up and retreat, that way it would lessen his regret.
“Alpha, I need your help to control my information terminal.”
“Sure, but what do you need me to do”
After Akira explained his plan, Alpha frowned and said.
“Im not even sure that it would work, but…”
“I know, were just going to give it a try. And if it doesnt work, Ill give up killing that pickpocket and obediently leave this place.”
“Well, if you would feel better that way, then sure.”
Alpha operated Akiras information terminal to send a message.
Inside a building not too far away from Ezont Familys base, Viola was watching the ongoing battle between Ezont Family and Haurias through her binoculars.
“Ohh, theyre fighting just fine.”
Carol was also there as Violas bodyguard, she then exasperatedly said.
“Good grief, youre really an awful woman. But still, although its true that theyre fighting just next to the wasteland, to think that they would bring out tanks and powered suits too. I wonder how much oil you poured for that to happen.”
Viola replied with an empty smile.
“Oh my, you make it sound like I caused them to fight. Thats so rude of you. They did that themselves, you know. I have no power to make them fight each other. And even if I do, just imagine how much damage they would cause had they fought in the lower district. So I really want the City Management to thank me for making them fight in the slum. But well, since of course, I dont have that power, I guess thats meaningless, huh.”
“Ill just leave it as that.”
Carol lightly smiled, it was obvious that she did not believe Viola at all.
Suddenly a notice reached Carols information terminal. Carol checked the content of that message and raised her eyebrows. She then smiled amusedly.
“Viola, I need to leave for a bit.”
“Oh, but youre my bodyguard, you know”
“Im sure youll be safe in this place. So just stay here. I got a request that might earn me 50 million Aurum, you see. If you would pay me more than that, I dont mind staying here though. Im just staying here since I dont have any other things to do, but I dont feel like Ill get any extra bonus if I continue staying here, you know.”
“Well, good luck then.”
Viola waved at Carol. After Carol picked up her equipment that she left in that room and finished her preparation, she then said to Viola.
“I dont really care if its because you planned all of this. But how about you try to be a bit more careful Its only a matter of time before the fire that you set also gets you burned, you know”
Carol then immediately left the room. Viola who saw that only mumbled.
“Looking at how excited she is, it must be from a guy that she likes or something. Either that or it is some kind of time-limited request.”
She then smiled amusedly.
“Get myself burned, huh But even without me setting the fire, they already had enough oil mixed that it was only a matter of time before they started fighting though. And it would have been too late for me to run away if I dont know where and when that fire will start.”
Viola thought that if it was only a matter of time, she could just set it herself so she knew when she had to run away to not get swallowed by the fire. To top it off, she could even enjoy watching the fire too. She was very talented in this kind of thing.
Viola thought that her work there was what god destined her to be, after all, she had the right aptitude to do that kind of work and it was a kind of work that could easily influence someones habit. Moreover, she believed that it was only a matter of supply and demand, and she was on the side who was supplying.
Viola then shifted her focus back to the fight and watched it while smiling.
Sheryl was still carried by Akira as she was looking around. She looked slightly scared.
She could see powered suits fighting each other and their firepower way outside what normal people could produce. Stray bullets that were more like huge warheads ripped off the mansion and opened a huge hole. If it hit someone, there was no question it would turn him or her into minced meat. Sheryl could also feel her feet trembling, someone inside the mansion might have been using explosives. Although Akira was protecting her, it did not change the fact that it was scary.
And Akira was just standing on top of that mansion, it did not seem like he was going to move anywhere anytime soon. It was not strange that Sheryl found it weird and felt worried.
“Uhmm, are we not going to withdraw”
Akira calmly replied.
“Yeah, but just wait for a bit here. Its not like Im just waiting here without any reason, you know.”
“I-I see, I understand.”
Sheryl could not pursue any further if Akira said so. After all, she did not have the ability to escape from that place with her own power. If Akira thought of her as a bother, she might get left behind to die there. She did not say anything any further, she just tightened her arms around Akira to ward off her worry.
Akira seemed a little disappointed and thought.
“…As I thought, it wont work, huh. Well, I did expect that though.”
He did that fully expecting that it would not work in the first place. As he was about to make his next move, Alpha suddenly said in surprise.
“I know, we need to go, right Ill give up on killing that pickpocket and go back home.”
“No, thats not it. Shes here.”
Akira raised his eyebrows and looked in the direction that Alpha was pointing at, he could see Carol running towards him.
Carol stopped in front of Akira and smiled at him.
“Sorry for the wait, did I come too late”
“No, its fine. I didnt expect you to really come though…”
Carol smiled and exasperatedly said.
“Geez, thats so like you. Not only did you call me here with just one message, I even happily ran as fast as I could to get to you. Thats not how you should react to a girl who did that much for you, you know. Or is it that youre doing it on purpose to hit on girls”
Carol was using the seductive augmented suit that she used back in Mihazono ruin. It would not be strange for other people to think that she was using that suit to seduce someone. Sheryl was so surprised by Carols augmented suit and how cold Akira reacted to it.
But Akira just ignored that and proceeded to confirm something.
“Carol, that message is just an escort request, you know. Dont make it sound like I sent some strange message to you. And since youre here, it means that youre willing to take it, right I know its weird for me to say this since I was the one who sent that request, but I didnt expect you to accept it, you know”
Akira sent an escort request to Carol. The content was a very one-sided offer, the reward would be paid later after the request was finished and the amount was open for negotiation. He was also willing to pay for the expense up to some amount, and it had no detailed explanation. To top it off, it only had a coordinate mentioned and a text saying that it was a time-limited offer as if it was only a prank.
If it was himself, Akira would have refused that request. In the first place, he could not reach the designated location under the time limit. Akira thought so when he sent that message. Because of that, he was amazed that Carol actually came.
“But still, its pretty impressive that you could come here under the time limit.”
“I was somewhere nearby, you see. But well, I wouldnt have been able to come if I wasnt using this augmented suit though. That aside, I didnt expect you to send an escort request, but seeing those powered suits fighting each other over there, well, thats understandable. Well, lets go.”
“Wait, Im not coming with you.”
Akira only said that as he lightly pushed Sheryl to Carol. Carol and Sheryl were equally surprised there.
“I still have something to do here, thats why I cant leave yet. The request is not to escort us, but to escort Sheryl. So, there you have it. Ill leave her to you.”
Seeing Akira was about to leave after saying that, Carol flusteredly stopped him.
“W-whoah, wait there! Akira, youre not coming Are you sure”
“Yeah, it would be hard for me to do the other thing that I need to do here while carrying Sheryl around, thats why I sent you that escort request… I know its my fault for not giving enough explanation in that message, but the request that I sent is an escort request, not a request for reinforcement. I sent that request considering my fighting power, if its impossible for you to do that without me coming along, then just refuse it.”
“No, Im okay with that, but…”
“I see. Well, later then. Ill be counting on you.”
Akira immediately left after he said that.
Carol and Sheryl looked at each other, both of them were fully shocked. They could see from each others expression that the other person was equally confused. Carol then awkwardly said to Sheryl.
“Uhh, well, shall we go now”
Sheryl understood that it was not like Akira abandoned her, but she could not help but to make all kinds of guesses as she made a rather conflicted face.
Carol saw that and smiled bitterly.
[Shes having it tough too, huh. As I thought, he really doesnt know how to treat girls.]
If that was the case, then it made sense why he reacted so indifferent toward her. Carol thought so as she escorted Sheryl away from the battle.
The other aim that Akira still had left was to kill Alna, so he once again went into the mansion to finish that job. She might as well already be dead, but of course, no one had the leeway to clean up all the corpses in that situation. He thought that it would be enough if he could find her corpse.
The inside of the mansion was filled with the sounds of gunshots. Ezont Familys soldiers were trying to fight back the invading Haurias soldiers. Akira moved around the mansion while evading both sides.
“They are fighting both outside and inside the mansion, huh. Well, its not like they can bring those powered suit inside the mansion, so its still better than being outside.”
“You might get hit by the stray bullets if you move too close to the outside, so lets only take the route through the inner part of the mansion. Depending on the situation, you might need to break through some walls though.”
Even Akira also did not want to get involved in that battle between powered suits. That was why he did not have any complaint taking the inner route. Although leaving holes inside Ezont Familys base would bring huge trouble to Ezont Family, it was not his problem, so he did not care about that.
“By the way, Akira, are you sure youre okay doing that to Sheryl”
“I had someone to escort her, so Im sure shell be fine. I know how strong Carol is and she was using that strong augmented suit with a high power consumption rate too. Im sure she can handle it just fine.”
“But putting that aside, its not like you can fully trust Carol, right What will you do if she did something to Sheryl”
Akira frowned and said with a serious face.
“…If something like that were to happen, then thats just how far Sheryls luck is. Its not like I can protect Sheryl 24/7 and I have no wish to do so in the first place. Once Im back exploring old-world ruins again, I wont be able to rescue Sheryl all the time if something happens to her. So lets just say that this is also a test for her luck and I hope that shell do her best for that too. If Sheryl finds it unpleasant that I didnt escort her myself, I dont care at all. I have things that I need to do too, I have no obligation to do everything that she wants me to do.”
Including this time too, Akira came to Sheryls rescue, so Alpha thought that Akira had been too invested in Sheryl. Alpha had anticipated that she might need to do something to change that soon, but judging from Akiras reaction just now, it seemed that there was no need to worry about it. Although he might be slightly invested in Sheryl, he had no problem with abandoning her when needed. In the worst-case scenario, he did not even care if she was dead. For Akira, Sheryl was only worth that much.
But another problem came up from there. Between saving Sheryl and killing Alna. Akira actually put saving Sheryl after killing Alna on his priority list. He put more priority on killing Alna. Which meant that it would be difficult for him to change his priority.
Akira would kill Alna, and if Katsuya witnessed it, it would no doubt cause a lot of trouble. Alpha wanted to avoid that.
“Akira, get into that room.”
“Did you find her”
“Just get in.”
Akira went in as he was told to. But there was no one inside that room.
“No one is here though.”
“Then put furniture to block that door.”
“…Whats going on here”
Akira looked suspiciously at Alpha, who looked back at him with a serious face.
Akira thought that there must be a reason why Alpha did that, so he then barricaded the door. Once he was done, he was told by Alpha to wait in the middle of the room, and that was exactly what he did without complaining. His right hand suddenly moved on its own.
“Oh Alpha, is that you”
“It seems that its working just fine.”
“With this, I can get your support through my augmented suit, huh But if Im not mistaken, you said that you needed more time to fully take control of my augmented suit, right”
Akira said so and looked at Alpha, who pouted and replied.
“I really didnt want to do this. I put in a crude control software since its better than having no support from me at all.”
“I-I see, why do you look so displeased then”
“Personally, I really dont want to use that crude control software, you know. But, since its better than nothing, I dont have any other choice but to use it. I can give you some support with this, but dont expect anything advance, okay”
Alpha obviously looked really displeased. Akira winced back since it was very rare for her to make such a face. He then said as if to change the subject.
“I-I see, okay. Ill be careful, by the way, why is there a need for me to get in this room and barricade the door”
“You cant use your augmented suit while Im rewriting the software. So its to buy some time in case your bad lack caused someone to attack you while Im in the middle of rewriting the software.”
“I see. You couldve told me, you know”
Alpha sent a slightly intense glare to Akira.
“Im sure Ive told you this before, if you cant follow that level of order without asking me the reasons then it might be too late. That was also for confirmation, and from the result, I decided that its better to be able to control your augmented suit although I would be using that low-quality software.”
Even Akira understood that Alpha was basically saying if he had followed her order quickly without questioning anything, then there would have been no need for her to install that low-quality software.
“Since were here, you should check if you feel anything weird. Im sure that it would be fine, but since I changed the control software, there might be a different lag time compared to before.”
Akira immediately started moving around and testing the newly rewritten augmented suit as if not to worsen Alphas mood. He moved around, readied his rifle, and checked for any possible uncomfortable sensation from his augmented suit.
“Its fine, no problem at all.”
“Thats good to hear, lets hurry up then. Im sure you want to finish what you come here for and get out of this place as soon as possible too, right”
“Yeah, youre right. Lets go.”
Akira immediately left the room and went to the basement of the mansion to search for Alna.
[…I dont know whats going on but it seems that shes in a rather bad mood. Is it because of the software I remember that she was pretty angry when I called her a good alarm clock too, does it have something to do with that I have no idea at all. Well, this is not a good time to ask her anyway, so lets just do that after Im done in this place. Though I might no longer care about this when Im done here though.]
And so, Akira decided to forget about it for now. With Alphas bad mood and her constantly urging him to hurry up, Akira could not notice why she decided to make sure that he was able to receive her support.-