After Akira arrived near Kuzusuhara ruin, he followed Alphas instruction to take a particular route. He paced his bike around the outskirts of the ruin as if to circle the whole ruin.
“Alpha, why are we not going into the ruin”
“If we go into the ruin, well have to go near the temporary front base. Its not like we can use that wide road made for sending supplies into the deeper part of the ruin.”
“But isnt it easier if we just go through that road Since its a properly built road.”
Alphas expression was sayingyou didnt get it, didnt you as she shook her head.
“If you go through there, itll definitely gather a lot of attention, you know A young and not-so-strong-looking Hunter going back home with a lot of expensive relics. A rumour like that would definitely spread around if we do that.”
Akira slightly frowned.
“Im no longer the old me. After all, my current equipment cost me 500 million Aurum, so are they really going to still look at me as a young weak Hunter”
“Indeed the current you have way better equipment compared to the past you, but judging from the relative danger of the places that youre frequenting, you still look like a young boy coming into dangerous places that dont suit your current skill. Of course, if you say that you can fight those big monsters guarding old-world facilities without my help, that would change my mind.”
Alpha said so with a challenging smile, Akira lightly frowned.
“…That would be a no.”
Akira looked a bit depressed, Alpha smiled at him as if to cheer him up while also approving of his reply. He smiled bitterly in reaction to that as he paced his bike faster. Not too long after that, once he had put enough distance between him and the temporary front base, Akira went into the ruin.
The ruin was filled with half-destroyed buildings, of course, most of the roads there were not maintained. It was not rare to find some of them semi-blocked or even fully closed by rubbles. There were only limited roads that Hunters could pass through, and that was if they were bringing vehicles designed for the harsh condition of the wasteland.
Akira was able to navigate through those difficult roads relatively fast thanks to the expensive bike that he bought and Alphas advanced calculation ability. Though its wheels bounced a few times against the hard rubble, its body was mostly undamaged.
Akira saw a huge pile of rubble blocking his way to the direction that Alpha was instructing him to go, so he was going to take a detour around it. But Alpha controlled Akiras augmented suit and prevented him from doing that.
“Alpha The way forward is blocked, you know”
Alpha took control of the bike and accelerated right into that pile of rubble. Akira was slightly thrown off-balance by the sudden acceleration but he flusteredly returned to his posture.
“It would take too much time evading all the blocking rubbles. Since you got yourself an expensive bike, lets make the best use of it.”
“Wait for a sec! Theres no way we can just charge through that pile of rubble!!”
The pile blocking Akiras way forward was at least 8 metres high. Its slope was sharp enough to make it unscalable. As Akira was still flustered, his bike did not stop accelerating. At this rate, if he kept going forward, he would collide right into the rubble, and with that speed, not only his bike, it might as well danger his life too. But Alpha ignored him and kept on accelerating the bike.
Akira, who felt that his life was in danger, unconsciously used time compression. The scene in front of him slid past him at a slower pace, then suddenly, the direction of the sliding scenery in front of him changed. Alpha changed the direction of the bike, at the same time, she used small rubble on the ground to propel the bike to the sky and to the big building to its right. Akira was so surprised as he was lifted off the ground together with his bike.
Alpha forcefully readjusted the bikes posture in the middle of the air. It then landed on the side of the big building without losing balance at all. Thanks to the bikes exceptional shock absorption device, its tires were able to land on the buildings wall just fine.
Alpha was still in control of the bike as she paced the bike across the buildings wall, Akira was so surprised that he was barely able to do anything there. It went up until it was higher than the rubble blocking the way before it once again changed direction, went straight across the building wall while maintaining its height, and past the rubble blocking his way before heading down to the ground.
As Akira frowned seeing the ground coming closer and closer to his face, the bike bounced again and left the wall. It then readjusted its posture in midair again and landed its two wheels safely on the ground. Once again, thanks to its exceptional shock-absorption system, it was able to land on the ground barely sending any shock to Akiras body.
The bike then just went straight without slowing down. It took some time before Akira returned back to reality and looked at Alphas confident smile.
“Arent you glad that you got yourself a bike instead of a vehicle After all, it would be hard to get past that rubble with a vehicle.”
“…You have a point there.”
Akira smiled bitterly. All the complaints that he had in his mind were erased. After all, he did not have to take a detour around that pile of rubble and was already used to doing reckless things like that. And more than anything, he actually pretty much enjoyed that.
“Want to try doing that yourself on our way back”
“Thanks for the offer, but no. If I do that myself, I feel like I would crash into the wall instead.”
“Well, thats kind of true. But it would be really convenient once you can do it yourself, you know Should I train you to do that”
“If its really something that I need to learn in order to finish that request of yours, then sure… Or is that there are places that I cant go to unless I learn that trick”
“Thats a secret for now.”
Akira felt a bit scared that Alpha did not say no. But since she offered to train him to do that, it meant that it was possible for him to learn that manoeuvre. And when he imagined himself doing that trick on his own, he could not help but get a bit excited.
After that, Akira kept going deeper into the ruin following Alphas instruction. He was able to go through small roads that would have been hard to go through with a vehicle thanks to his high-performance bike. Because he was able to force his way through rubbles that he would have usually gone around, he was able to arrive at the inner part of the ruin relatively quicker.
Once Akira arrived in the inner part of the ruin, he stopped his bike and looked at the scenery. Once he scanned the area around him, he then made a serious face and said.
“Alpha, this place…”
“This is the inner part of Kuzusuhara ruin. Although its not the deepest part yet, at least were no longer in the outer part of the ruin.”
Akira could see the place where he had given up the first time he came to that ruin. The ground was properly paved, there was no crack at all. He could not find any crumbling buildings either. It was a completely different scenery compared to the outer side of the ruin where it was filled with half-destroyed buildings.
He felt a bit intimidated by the scene in front of him. The area was completely silent as if it was shrouded in a thick colourless mist, but his vision was not blurry at all. He could see clearly the scenery in front of him which should have been blurred if there was a colourless mist.
Akira looked over the city in front of him and felt something was weird about it as if it was devoid of any sign of people. Compared to the outer part of the ruin where there was still some leftover of human civilization, the inner part of the ruin felt so unnaturally empty.
“Alpha, is it really okay for us to just go straight deeper into the ruin like this This is one of those, right The areas that are still properly maintained by the old-world drones, right”
“Yep, thats exactly why its very clean.”
“So in short, those security drones are also roaming around this place, right Its not like I would get shot the moment I enter the city, right”
“Well, regarding that, it would be fine if you just follow my instructions. Thats why, make sure not to ignore my instruction like before, okay”
Alpha had a rather deep sarcastic smile when she said that. Akira remembered the time when he got attacked by a huge monster when he ignored Alphas instruction and smiled bitterly.
“Roger that, lets go then.”
Akira once again paced his bike forward and went straight into the city that gave off an unsettling feeling.
An old-world city that still maintained its condition. Normally, anyone would get killed the moment they stepped into that city. But that did not happen. The thing besides Akira was preventing that from happening, Alpha had the ability to prevent that from happening.
As he thought that it must be because Alpha was doing something there, it helped him from being overly cautious.
It was true that it was thanks to Alpha. But in reality, it was completely different from what he guessed.
Akira looked around with full interest. The area around him was properly maintained, it was as if he was brought back to the old-world era. But with no human presence anywhere, it was unsettlingly calm and silent.
The road was wide and nothing was blocking the road, though there were also no other vehicles or bikes other than Akiras bike. But even so, he followed Alphas instruction not to pace his bike too fast. Compared to when he was outside the city, he was going rather slowly.
“Alpha, why do we have to go this slowly”
“Were making sure not to go past the speed limit of this road, you see.”
“Speed limit Does that kind of thing exist in the old-world ruin”
“Yup, so we have to properly obey it.”
Alpha was speaking as if to calm down a small boy, Akira seemed to be not fully convinced by that.
“…Theres no one else other than me here though, do I still need to obey the speed limit”
“Thats just how law and rule work, you see.”
“Is that so I see then.”
Akira hummed, seeing that, Alpha smiled bitterly at him and said.
“If you cant accept it no matter what, just simply keep in mind that the security drones will swarm you if you break the rule. And if you force your way through them, theyll call even bigger and stronger security robots to stop you. And even if you can deal with them too, youll have to fight those big humanoid soldiers that the Kugamayama defence squad fought in Mihazono ruin the other day. You dont want to do that, do you”
Akira nodded firmly while making an annoyed face. Although it was able to fully convince him, another question came up in his mind.
“I just thought of something though. Those mechanical monsters guarding the old-world facilities usually have that camouflaging device, right So its not like they are actually hiding somewhere nearby, right After all, its impossible to see through old-world camouflaging with naked eyes, right And its hard to detect them even with an information-gathering device. So like, are we really going to be alright”
Alpha smiled at the worried Akira as if to calm him down.
“Dont worry, it would be alright.”
“Is that so Then I guess theyre not around, huh.”
Akira smiled and sighed in relief. After all, when he thought that those monsters might actually be around him and that it was just he could not see them, that in itself was scary enough. But Alpha then smiled and said.
“As long as you keep following my instructions, there wont be any trouble.”
Akiras face stiffened.
“…Theyre not here, right”
Alpha gave off a rather ominous smile.
“Its not a problem.”
“Wait, they are here”
“It would be fine.”
Akira kept telling himself that Alpha was only teasing him in order to calm his nerves.
The area that Akira was in looked like a downtown district in broad daylight except for the missing human presence, it was completely silent and filled with an abnormal atmosphere as if all the humans there suddenly vanished in one snap. But from the point of view of a Hunter, it looked like a treasure trove filled with valuable old-world relics. It could even be said that it was a mountain of relics. Every time Akira passed a building that looked like a shop, he could not help but peek inside, imagining all the valuable old-world relics that he might find inside them.
Akira thought that sooner or later, he would go inside one of those buildings, but Alpha did not show any sign of that at all as she kept pacing the bike forward. So Akira could not help but get curious and asked her.
“Alpha, I feel like weve been going around the same area multiple times now, are we looking for a building with expensive relics or something”
“Well, to put it simply, yup, thats indeed the case.”
“I see. Well, Ill leave that to you, but like, can we stop and take a look at one of those shops I feel like we can get expensive relics no matter which one we go to though…”
Alpha replied casually.
“Its not like you have any money to buy anything there, right”
“…Buy No, I mean like, wait, buy…”
Akira was confused, he did not expect Alpha to say that. What he had in mind when he asked Alpha that question was to break into one of those shops, fill his rucksack with any expensive relics that he could find, and escape the building while fighting back the security drones before finally getting away from that place on his bike. He did not expect to have to pay anything with his money.
“I understand what you want to say, but that would be too dangerous. The only way to get out from this place with those relics is to bring along the city defence squad, render the security drones temporarily disabled, and get out from this place while they are still disabled. And of course, the ensuing battle would leave this place half-destroyed. You need enough firepower to turn this place like the outskirts of this ruin. Have you forgotten the reason why we have to obey the speed limit”
Akira frowned slightly.
“Well, you have a point there, but if I cant do that, then why are we here Its not like I came here risking my life just for sightseeing, you know. My only choice would be to look for a place with relatively weak security to break in, right Isnt that why were just roaming around the area”
“That line of thinking is not wrong, but its better to break into a place where its unlikely to turn into a fight, right Just leave that to me, you did say that youre leaving that kind of thing to me too, remember”
Alpha smiled and sent a rather strong gaze than usual to Akira. Akira who noticed that decided to stop saying anything unnecessary.
“…Alright. Although I dont know whats your plan here, I cant afford to go back without anything. So I expect to get some relics to bring back, okay”
“Of course, just leave it to me. You just need to make sure to follow my instructions. Dont just go ahead and shoot even if you spot a mechanical monster, okay”
“Wait, so theyre actually really here, huh!”
“They wont cause you any trouble as long as you follow my instructions.”
Akira frowned. His expression was a mix of worry and expectation, but Alpha only smiled back at him with her usual smile.
Even after that, they were still only driving around the area for some time. Akira then noticed something strange in front of him and squinted his eyes. He could see a tall building in front of him, and there was a vertical road on the side of that building.
When Akira thought that the old-world ruin was indeed a place filled with strange things, his bike suddenly accelerated. Akira raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“…Alpha, wait, are we going to climb the side of a building again I dont think we can do it for that road though!”
“Dont worry. Not to mention, you ran down on the side of a building not too long ago, remember Well do that again but with a bike this time.”
The bike accelerated even more. It then went to the curved part of the road that was connecting the road on the ground and the side of that building and went straight up scaling the side of that building.
Akira looked down past his feet and into the wall of the building and frowned. He already climbed pretty high up and his bike also started slowing down, if he fell down now, it would be simply disastrous.
“Is it that the old-world roads even have a feature that allows people to drive vertically”
“Not in this road here, this one is basically just a simple wall.”
“Just a wall! And Im scaling a normal wall!”
As Akira was dumbfounded, the bike slowed down even more. At this rate, he would be falling down with his bike. As he thought so, he immediately grabbed his bikes handlebar and raised its power. But the bike kept slowing down, and once it reached a certain speed, it stopped slowing down and continued climbing at a constant speed.
Alpha smiled amusedly at Akira who was still in a panic.
“Although the wall doesnt have that feature, the bike has the feature to prevent you from falling over. Or to be more precise, it has the feature to stick its wheels on the surface that its running in order to prevent losing control of the bike when youre driving through uneven ground. Since its wheels are sticking on the surface, you wont fall that easily. Compared to the last time you were running on a buildings wall, this time its way safer, isnt it”
Akira sighed in relief, but he immediately pouted soon after.
“…Didnt I always tell you to at least let me know before doing something like this!”
“Just think of it as a training for you to keep calm at a time of emergency or when facing an unexpected turn of events.”
Alpha said so while smiling. Her expression then suddenly turned rather serious as she pointed her finger.
“Let me warn you about one thing. Dont shoot at it and dont show any hostility.”
Akira looked at Alphas expression and frowned. He then looked forward in the direction that she was pointing at and noticed that a portion of the towering side of the building was distorted. As he put up his guard, the distorted part of the building revealed a mechanical monster. That monster was disengaging its camouflaging device.
That gigantic mechanical monster had multiple legs with wheels equipped on the tip of its legs. It approached Akira and then started climbing the wall beside Akira. Its side camera revolved and was fixed at Akira. Other similar monsters appeared and did the same thing too.
Alpha lightly waved at that drone. The drone looked toward Alpha, who pointed her finger and an insignia appeared floating on the tip of her finger. All the drones there immediately focused their cameras on that insignia.
A few seconds afterwards, all of those drones looked away as if they just lost interest in Akira and Alpha. They then broke up into two groups, one group went up the building, while the rest went down the building. On their way, they reactivated their camouflaging device and vanished from Akiras views.
Akira lightly sighed and lowered his guard. He then sent an annoyed look at Alpha.
“…As I thought, theyre actually there, huh.”
Alpha smiled amusedly.
“I didnt say they were not. Moreover, just like I said, its not a problem as long as you follow my orders, right”
Akira sighed once more before shifting his gaze forward.
He continued climbing the wall with his bike. The road eventually led to an entrance on the side of that wall.
After Akira went through another slope, his posture was back to normal and he felt slightly relieved. But he immediately spotted something that he did not expect and was astonished.
A girl in a black old-world dress was standing there. In contrast to Akira, she did not look surprised at all as if she had been waiting for him. She had a beautiful appearance but she looked at Akira with a business-like expressionless face. At least, she did not look welcoming at all.
She then spoke in a business-like tone to Akira, who had already stopped his bike.
“Welcome to the Tsubakihara building. Im the manager of this building, Tsubaki.”
Akira looked at Tsubaki with a surprised face.
“Alpha, is that one of those projected hologram image thingies”
“Nope, she has a real body. Though I dont know if its an automaton or a remotely controlled humanoid robotic body.”
“Normally, automata are used for an external interface, but in my case, my personality is also downloaded over to this body to allow me to be seen through local connection too. So normally, you should be able to recognize me through your information-gathering device too, but since your information-gathering device has been completely rewritten, I came with this body just to be safe.”
Tsubaki was obviously looking at Alpha. Akira was surprised by that as he looked at Alpha and Tsubaki alternately.
“Alpha, not only she can see you, she can even talk to you too, huh!”
“But she cant hear telepathic communication between you and me, though that doesnt seem to be the case for the telepathic communication from me to you. She can see me through the network, but locally, she can only see you. But still, to think that she would come all the way here to welcome us, I wonder if she doesnt have anything else better to do.”
Alpha somehow looked rather displeased. But Tsubaki did not seem to be bothered by that at all.
“Its a precaution so that I wont get even busier later. Ill guide you in. Over here, please.”
Tsubaki turned around and went into the building. Akira was still a bit surprised as he just stood there.
“Akira, lets go.”
“Eh Ah, right.”
Akira returned back to himself after Alpha reminded him. He then slowly drove through a tunnel that went straight into the building with his bike.
Although Akira was not wearing anything on his head and the sunlight was far away from his reach, he was clearly able to see the interior of the building as if it was under broad daylight. There were multiple multi-legged security drones from before roaming on the walls and the ceilings of that building. Some of them were not moving as they were loading something, while some of them were moving around at a rather high speed. Just like the drones that Akira encountered on his way, all of them had already disengaged their camouflaging devices.
These drones went past Tsubaki who was guiding Akira and also went past Akira without doing anything. But even so, Akira could not help but feel nervous. These drones did not slow down at all as they passed next to him while carrying heavy materials, it was understandable for him to get scared there.
Not too long afterwards, Tsubaki stopped, turned around, and pointed at the wall on her right. There was a ginormous imposing-looking door. The door silently opened up. Behind that thick metallic door, was a room that looked like a warehouse.
“Its over there. Please leave as soon as youre done with your business here.”
Akira carefully looked left and right so as not to get crushed under the passing transport drones as he went into that room on his bike.-