Akira made a promise to Kibayashi to meet up with him in front of the Kugama building. The first time Akira saw that tall and huge building that was stuck into the inner wall, he was utterly amazed by its majesty. But after all this time, he already got used to it, which also signified his growth.
Akira was happily waiting for Kibayashi. At first, Kibayashi only said that he had something he needed to talk about with him, but then Akira said to at least treat him to a meal or something, and now they promised to meet up in front of the Kugama building. Akira could not help but get a bit excited.
Kibayashi appeared right on time. They then went into the Kugama building and into a restaurant on the first floor before picking a seat randomly.
“You can go ahead and order anything you want. Ill put it on tab anyway and its not like Im paying for it either. So feel free to choose from the most expensive ones first.”
“Eh Ah, sure…”
Unlike Kibayashi who was in a very good mood, Akira seemed rather disappointed. Kibayashi smiled amusedly at that.
“Whats wrong Were you expecting to go to a high-class restaurant or something Thats out of the question, you know. Although the City Management would pay for it, its not like I have an unlimited budget. Unless its for a negotiation with a high-ranking Hunter, they wont let me spend that much money, you see. But if you tell me that you would treat me, I dont mind going somewhere else, you know”
Akira silently browsed the menu as he started looking for the most expensive dishes that he could order there as if he had some grudge against Kibayashi. Kibayashi who saw that could not help but find it amusing.
After they finished placing their orders, Akira immediately cut to the chase.
“So then, what is it you want to talk about”
“Actually, there are a lot, but I guess Ill start with the investigation first.”
“You do know that there was a huge fight in the slum not too long ago, right So why exactly were you involved in that battle”
“In the first place, why does it sound like its already a given that I was involved in that battle”
Akira tried to play ignorant, which might be because he was a bit annoyed after his expectation of getting a good meal was completely missed.
But in reality, Akira himself did not deny that he had killed many people and fought fiercely in that battle. He also knew that the Hunter Office preferred Hunters to behave nicely and he did something that deviated from the Hunter Offices preference. So a part of him was telling him that there was no reason to proactively talk about that subject with the Hunter Office.
Kibayashi then pulled out his information terminal, clicked some buttons, and put it on top of the table. Akira looked at the video playing on that information terminal and frowned. Kibayashi smiled happily seeing that Akira reacted as he predicted.
“Well, although its actually a secret videotape, its not that big of a secret. And since youre involved in this incident, it should be fine.”
Kibayashis information terminal was showing the video of Akira fighting a black powered suit.
“In all honesty, Im really glad to find that youre as reckless as ever. I had a good laugh the first time I saw this record, you know”
Akira lightly ruffled his head.
“How did you get this video”
“I only got it from my superiors, and I have no idea how they got it. Someone might have been recording you from afar using a telescope or something from above the wall. Or it might be from some secret cameras planted somewhere that coincidentally recorded this video. Well, either way, I bet the City Management has something to do with it.”
Akira let out a big sigh, he had a given up face as he started explaining to Kibayashi.
Kibayashi listened closely to Akiras explanation. After that, he said to Akira as he tried his best to hold back his laughter, which obviously he was not doing very well.
“U-Uh, s-so, I get it that you went there to save your girlfriend. Its not that strange for people to be moved by love, especially for a young boy like you. B-But still, no kidding here, did you really fight that powered suit just to kill a pickpocket Are you okay in the head Ah, dont take this wrongly please, Im actually complimenting you here, you know After all, your action and line of thinking are as reckless as always and I really like it.”
Akira looked obviously annoyed.
“Just so you know, its not like I did that because I wanted to.”
“Y-yeah, youre right.”
Kibayashi then laughed hard again. Before he continued, he noticed that Akira was pouting and thought that it might affect the thing that he was about to bring up next. So he tried his best to calm down.
“Well, I get why youre in that place now. Personally speaking, I respect your decision, so you have my condolences, that must have been hard… Geez, can you stop pouting like that That aside, Im sure you do know that the Hunter Office puts their effort into cultivating good manners among Hunters, so it would be troublesome if theres a Hunter who can win against a powered suit only with an augmented suit and is willing to do that just for money. After all, there are quite a lot of Hunters out there who are talented in fighting other people but could not do well exploring the ruins. So its our duty to give them jobs that would help to keep public order while at the same time keeping them away from doing anything that might disturb it.”
“Is that so So youre basically here to give me a job as security or something, huh”
“Calm down. There, the meals are here, so lets calm down and enjoy the food for now.”
Kibayashi extended his hand to the food in front of him, Akira also did the same although he still looked annoyed.
Akiras mood was getting better as he continued eating. Although it was not a meal from a high-class restaurant, it was still a good meal. So every time he brought a spoonful to his mouth, his mood was slowly getting better and better.
Kibayashi closely monitored the change in Akiras mood before bringing up the next subject.
“Now then, since weve filled our stomach, lets get to the main topic.”
“Huh That one just now was not the main topic”
“Yup. But I cant really say that its not related to the main topic at all. The main reason I wanted to meet you is to talk about a certain request. Well, although I saidto talk about, its actually something close to compulsory. So, let me apologize beforehand. As long as you dont want to pick a fight against the City Management, I recommend you not to refuse it.”
Akira slightly frowned and was obviously alerted. Kibayashi smiled bitterly in an effort to calm the situation down.
“You dont need to be that alert. I actually like you quite a fair bit, you know. So I wont give you any weird requests. And also, although I said its compulsory, normally, most of the Hunters would be more than happy to accept this request, you see. After all, its a request to help you readjust your Hunter Rank. Basically, its a request to boost your Hunter Rank.”
“Boost my Hunter Rank”
“Yup… Let me ask you this first, you do know your current Hunter Rank, right”
“If Im not mistaken…”
Before Akira was able to pull his Hunter Rank out from his memory, Alpha interjected.
“Hm Wasnt it 29”
“The relics that you brought to Shizuka the other day got you to 30.”
So after that short pause, Akira said firmly.
Kibayashi obviously looked exasperated since Akira took that weird pause before he answered.
“Good grief, there are not that many Hunters out there who cant immediately give their Hunter Ranks when asked. You really dont care about it, do you No wonder why people thought youre faking your Hunter Rank.”
“It doesnt really matter, does it”
“If it really didnt matter, we wont be talking here and now about raising your Hunter Rank, you know Since this is a good chance, Ill explain the rest to you regarding that matter. So listen carefully.”
To Akira, who still looked slightly annoyed, Kibayashi started explaining about the matter of Hunter Rank and the request that he was about to ask Akira.
The strength of the Hunters in the eastern district was represented by their Hunter Ranks. Of course, Hunters of the same Hunter Rank did not mean that those Hunters were equally strong. There were many other factors that defined ones strength such as their equipment, experiences, and their talents or preferences. Although it was impossible to make sure that Hunters with the same rank had the exact same level of strength, the Hunter Office tried its best to readjust the Hunter Rank as a good indicator for Hunters skill.
The Hunter Rank was also a good thing for those who submitted requests for Hunters such as for bodyguards or escorts. Since that way, they could decide which Hunters to employ and how much reward to offer those Hunters based on the difficulty of the monsters that they might encounter and their Hunter Ranks.
Other than that, Hunter Ranks were also used for so many other things such as transferring Hunters between cities, deciding the level of difficulties and danger for different areas, or recruitment into private military companies. The accuracy of the Hunter Rank system was an important thing for the eastern district that was filled with Hunters as well as the Hunter Office and the Corporate Government that was ruling over the eastern district.
But with that being said, there were very rare cases in the eastern district where some Hunters showed abnormal strength that was far from their Hunter Rank. The ranking system would only grow worse if they left those Hunters alone which might lead to a full breakdown of the ranking system.
The ranking system was highly valued and the Hunter Office held the sole rights to calculate, decide, and assign that ranking system. That was the power of the Hunter Office as well as a way for the Hunter Office to assert control over those Hunters.
“So thats basically the gist of it, we want someone like you with a big gap between your Hunter Rank and your real strength to get your Hunter Rank to a more suitable number. But with that being said, its not like we can just pull up your Hunter Rank either. Thats why we dispatch this request in order to readjust your Hunter Rank. You get it now”
“I feel like I get it but not exactly at the same time…”
“Just accept the request. Or is it that you have a reason why you dont want to get a higher Hunter Rank”
“Not really, if I have to say anything here, I prefer you pay me in form of money instead of Hunter Rank.”
Kibayashi sighed exasperatedly, but he also seemed to understand where Akira came from.
“Ahhh, youre that kind of Hunter, huh Normally, you can get better rewards if you have a higher Hunter Rank, but sometimes there are Hunters like you who dont really understand that. But well, you tend to work alone and you put your time mostly into hunting relics. So I guess thats to be expected, huh”
“Is that so”
“Normally Hunters work by forming teams, and when they do, they usually decide their share of reward or who has the higher position in the team based on their Hunter Ranks. Not to mention that some of the high-difficulty high-reward requests only accept Hunters with high enough Hunter Ranks. Thats why many new Hunters work so hard to raise their Hunter Rank. Moreover, sometimes some corporations would even sponsor high ranking Hunters too, thats also one reason why Hunters tend to be desperate when it comes to their Hunter Ranks.”
Kibayashi glanced at Akira to check his reaction. Though Akira seemed to properly listen to him, he still showed no interest at all.
“To be honest, Hunters who often deal with hundreds of millions of Aurum tend to put extra attention on their Hunter Ranks though. So, do you have any interest in it”
“Well, even if you say so. That request for boosting Hunter Ranking, since most of its reward is in the form of Hunter Rank, I bet it doesnt give me much money, assuming that it gives me any at all, right Honestly, monsters wont get scared of me just because of my Hunter Rank anyway, so I dont see any point in taking that request.”
“You like it or not, I need to have you take that request. Well then, lets start talking about the details. Ill try my best to get a deal that can satisfy you too, so you can just go ahead and tell me your demand. If youre willing to take a reckless request, I might be able to get you a request with a huge amount of money, you know”
“No thanks. As Ive always told you, I didnt do all of that reckless stuff because I wanted to.”
Kibayashi looked at that really annoyed Akira and found it amusing.
“In that case, I can set up a deal that warrants you a huge amount of money in case something unexpected were to happen. So that you can use as much ammo and other expendables as you want. Its you were talking about here, so I can pretty much expect something crazy to happen.”
Akira held himself from saying anything back. He knew very well that it did not matter what he said, it would not be enough to convince Kibayashi.
After that, Akira had a difficult discussion with Kibayashi about the details of the request. When they finished, the sun had already set.
As Akira took a good warm dip in his bathtub back in his house, he looked back at his discussion with Kibayashi about that request.
“Alpha, I know its too late to say this, but is that really alright”
“Let me ask you this instead, do you have any problem with that request”
“Not really, or more like, I dont really get the whole thing.”
To be honest, Akira did his best thinking about what he should ask for during that discussion. But even so, he himself understood that he was so not skilled in that aspect to the point that he would not be able to spot any mistakes in case he made any during that negotiation.
“In that case, since we have come this far, we can only look back and reevaluate after youre done with that request. This will be a good experience for you too. Personally speaking, I think its not a bad deal since theyll pay for the medicines, ammo, and other expendables.”
“Youre right, it really helped me out during that request to the underground city after all.”
Akira remembered back then when he had to compensate for the lack of his strength by shooting out CWH anti-material rifles special ammo. Both when he fought a swarm of Yarata Scorpion and the relic thieves, Alphas support alone was not enough to win those fights. That was just how pivotal using that ammo was.
“Now that I think about it, I really did pretty reckless stuff back then. Its as if Im compensating for the lack of my strength with money, and to top it off, its not even my own money.”
“Yep, so lets use that advantage to our best this time again. Lets stock up powerful ammo and buy our safety, and of course, with others money again this time.”
Alpha smiled when she said that, Akira smiled back at her.
“Though to be honest, because theyll pay for my ammo, I feel like it would give such a sight if I use that money to buy a whole lot of CWH anti-material special ammo to use with my DVTS minigun.”
“Thats a good idea, lets do that!”
“…Huh Thats obviously out of the question, isnt it That special ammo cant be used with DVTS minigun, right”
Akira frowned, he was surprised by that reply from Alpha, but then Alpha smiled smugly and said.
“It would be fine as long as youre using a powerful enough gun that can withstand the rapid-fire of such a powerful and expensive bullet. And since were in the middle of choosing a new gun, you can just put that as an additional condition for your new gun, right”
Akiras view was augmented with the info of multiple types of guns just like last time. Then Alpha discarded all the rifles that could not withstand rapid fire using such CWH anti-material rifle special ammo.
“That pretty much narrows our options.”
“Indeed, do your best to do the rest then.”
Akira started browsing and choosing rifles again while still enjoying his bath just like last time. And Alpha stood next to him with a smile, just like usual.
On the next day, Akira let Shizuka know what was going on and asked for her help. He also did not forget to place his order for the rifle that he decided to get after a long selection process as well as for the ammo to use with that rifle. There was no guarantee that Shizuka had the type of ammo that he was looking for in-stock and even if she could order those ammo, Akira thought that it would cause her a lot of trouble if she placed such a huge order just for his sake. Thats why he decided to put in his order sooner.
After they finished, Shizuka then worriedly said to Akira.
“I understand whats going on and of course Ill help out too, but, are you alright Although theyll pay for it, buying this much ammo will definitely cost a lot of money, you know. In the worst-case scenario, they might take it as harassment.”
Akira replied with a serious face.
“Kibayashi, the guy that I had a discussion with regarding this matter did give his approval… To be honest, I was thinking if they refuse to pay because of that, I might be able to use it as an excuse to refuse their request though. Even if something were to happen after putting that order in, as long as I keep them without using them during the period of preparing for that request, it should not cause any trouble.”
“I see that youve given a thought about this. Alright then, Ill put in the order with a deposit payment, okay”
Shizuka started working on the documents for placing that order. Just like last time, she also submitted the id code for that request to make sure that the deposit payment would be forwarded to that requester address. There were cases where the order was stopped because there was trouble during the settlement of the payment. Normally, Shizuka did not really care whether the payment would go well or not, but this time, she made a small wish for some kind of trouble to happen. But unfortunately, the payment went through just fine.
“Yup, it went well. To be honest, from the shops side, I should be happy that my customer has no problem paying for the goods bought in my shop, but…”
She smiled bitterly, Akira also replied with a bitter smile.
“Well then, please process the equipment too. Of course, since its not an expendable item, please process it separately. To be honest, even if it gets processed as an expendable item by mistake, I hope it doesnt really get turned into an expendable item.”
“Honestly speaking, I dont think normal Hunters can get such a request unless theyre from the front line though.”
Shizuka then processed the rest of the deal. The payment went through just fine as it was withdrawn from Akiras bank account.
“Thank you for your patronage. Ill let you know when it arrives. Ill give the ammo together with the rifle.”
Akira replied casually, but Shizuka stared back at him with a rather serious face. He found that a bit weird. Shizuka then left the counter and stood in front of him before giving him a hug.
Although Akira was surprised, he just silently let her hug him. Shizuka then gently caressed Akiras head.
“…Im sure that it wont be easy, good luck and give your best out there. But make sure not to force yourself, and make sure to return back alive. Okay”
Akira lightly smiled.
As Shizuka let Akira go. Both of them smiled at each other, slightly embarrassed.
Shizuka once again had a worried look on her face. Akira had already left her shop, so she was all alone in her shop.
The reason why she looked worried was because of her intuition.
Akira once took a request in which the cost of all his expendables was paid by the request giver. He then returned back with a lot of money and used it to renew his equipment. Up until that point, Shizuka was also happy for him.
But in exchange, Akira lost all of his equipment and almost got killed. He even had his augmented suit completely wasted and he had to get hospitalized too. There was no mistaking it, he had to go through a very dangerous situation. Shizuka at least knew that much.
This time, the request that Akira took was a request to raise his Hunter Rank. It was a request that the City Management personally dispatched for him. Though it was not a request that he could refuse, the situation now and then was not the same. If it was a good chance to let others know Akiras real strength that they had always looked down on until now, then it was something to be happy about. It could be taken as a request given to the Hunter as goodwill from the City Management and it should not be something that was overly dangerous.
Moreover, she did warn him not to do anything reckless. Judging from how he responded, it should at least prevent Akira from doing anything too dangerous. As a matter of fact, Akira himself actually did not want to take that request. So he should not put himself in danger just for the sake of raising his Hunter Rank. Or at least, that was what she thought.
Shizuka tried to abate her worry by reminding herself about those facts. She then wished that everything would be fine. She had her own life to think about, and the shop that was important to her to take care of, so she could not just sacrifice everything to support Akira. But making a wish was free of charge. That was why she wished for Akiras safety as she hoped that her intuition would be proven wrong.
After all, her intuition was telling her that her wish would not come true.-