Akira continued searching the ruin. The inner part of the Kuzusuhara ruin expanded through a wide area and it was still quite a distance away from the deepest part of the ruin. But even so, compared to the outskirts of the ruin, the buildings were not that dilapidated, and the condition of the area was not much different compared to the deeper part of the ruin.
Alpha was floating horizontally next to Akira as if she was lying on top of an invisible bed.
“Akira, youve been driving around for some time now, are you not going to check one of those buildings”
“I just thought that I should check the structure around this place first. Thats for the sake of registering buildings that seem to have expensive relics too. By the way, is it true, its better to aim for big buildings”
“Hmm, Im not really sure about that. Larger shops are easy to spot, so I feel like other Hunters would be searching such a building first. In that case, you might only end up with a small number of relics instead. Whats more, big buildings like that tend to be guarded by relatively powerful monsters. So all in all, it might not be a good choice.”
Akira nodded, then something came up in his mind.
“…Wait, isnt this considered as support from you”
Alpha smiled mischievously at Akira.
“I wont count a small silly talk like this as support. If you really want to do this without my support at all, it might be better if I remove my image and voice too. But I just thought that you would be lonely if I do that, right”
“Well, thanks for being considerate.”
Akira smiled wryly.
In the middle of searching the ruin, Akira suddenly stopped his bike and looked around him.
The large building next to him seemed like it had been chomped by something big. Next to it, there were multiple corpses of greedy crocodiles together with the leftover of what seemed to be the defensive equipment of that building. Other beast-like biological monsters were feasting on those wreckages.
One of those monsters suddenly noticed Akira and stopped eating, but it immediately lost interest in him and returned back to its meal.
After watching that for a few seconds, a certain word came up in Akiras mind:food chain. It was a word that he had learnt from Alphas class. He always thought that he would not be able to see for himself the meaning of all the words that he learnt in Alphas class, but that did not seem to be the case.
“…A living organism that started as a creature that eats buildings instead of grasses… Nah, that cant be.”
“Hmm, they might be the monsters produced by facilities with self-readjusting food chain preservation function in order to clean up the city.”
“No no no, it would be meaningless for them to be eating the building then, wouldnt it And even if thats true, then why would they even go as far as to fight the defensive equipment just to eat that building”
“They might need to eat fresh rubble in order to be able to harvest the energy pack implanted into one of those self-repairing buildings. So basically, for them, the buildings are like fresh meat while the already destroyed buildings are like rotten meat.”
Akira listened to Alphas explanation with full interest.
“...Is that so”
Alpha smiled, amused.
“No, thats just my guess.”
Akira frowned and looked slightly annoyed, but Alpha did not seem to be bothered by that at all as she kept smiling like usual.
“I dont mind if you want to talk about how the world works, but dont forget that were in the middle of a job right now. If it still bothers you that much, I can reserve some time to give you an extra lesson about the monsters living in the old-world ruins. Though it wont be detailed to the point that you would be able to use that knowledge in real Hunter jobs. Do you still want to do it”
The very same question was also in active research in the eastern district. Any pieces of knowledge that the researchers could get from that research would then be used to help them to pinpoint the nests and the production facilities of those monsters as well as their distribution around the eastern district.
“No thanks, at least not for the time being.”
Akira interpreted Alphas smile as telling him to stop dilly-dallying and get back to his job, so he once again operated his bike and left that place.
After Akira left that place, an abnormality happened in one of the dead greedy crocodiles. An arm suddenly burst out of its strong scales.
The owner of that hand forced itself out of that greedy crocodile after he tore a hole in that carcass.
The other monsters in that area quickly focused their attention on Tiol and attacked him. Though Tiol only looked emotionlessly at those monsters, his right arm already swung at their heads while his left arm, which was in the shape of a cannon, was already shooting at them. It did not take long for him to destroy all the monsters attacking him. Once he was done, he immediately vanished into the deeper part of the ruin.
Akira once again stopped his bike. But this time, it was not because something piqued his interest.
“…Alpha. Unless my eyes are tricking me, there is a swarm of Tank Tarantula right”
The roads and buildings in front of Akira were crawling with spider-like monsters, some of them had metallic skeletal frames while some of them had concrete-like bodies. Although some of them were unarmed, most had cannons growing on their backs. And their length ranged from barely 1 metre to all the way past 3 metres.
Akiras expression turned stern. But Alpha was smiling like usual as if it did not bother her.
“Those are a swarm of spider-type armoured insects. Classification-wise, theyre similar to the Yarata Scorpion.”
“…So theyre not Tank Tarantulas”
“Tank Tarantula is the name of a bounty monster, so it doesnt refer to a type of monster. But if one of those spiders eat enough food to grow abnormally big and go through an abnormal evolution, theres a chance that itll grow, evolve, or maybe mutate into something similar to that Tank Tarantula.”
Akira thought for a bit before he decided not to avoid them. He let go of the bikes handle on the right and grabbed his rifle.
“Are you going to fight them I dont see theres a need to fight them though”
“I dont want them to turn into a swarm of Tank Tarantulas later just because I leave them alone now. And thats still my stance. Even if the possibility of something like that happening is very small, I should be prepared. Whats more, this is a good chance to test my new equipment. After all, Im free to use as many bullets as I want this time. Ill fight without your support first, but if things are getting bad, Ill need your support.”
“Alright. Ill stand back and watch this time, so you can go ahead and give it your best shot.”
Akira looked at the gun in his right hand and smiled bitterly.
“Though to be honest, rather than my skill, I think youll have a better look at my new equipment and all the free ammo that Im going to use this time.”
At first, Akira was looking for a multi-type rifle that could shoot out grenades like his A4WM automatic grenade launcher, but he later decided to take that requirement off. After all, a rifle and a grenade launcher were basically two different things, so putting them into one gun caused the cost of that gun to skyrocket.
So in the end, he aimed for a gun that could do long-range sniping and continuous firing on top of being compatible with a wide range of ammo. After checking all the guns that Shizuka recommended within his budget and searching for the best gun among them, Akira decided on an SSB multi-weapon rifle.
SSB multi-weapon rifle was an amalgamation of DSS assault rifle, DVTS minigun, and CWH anti-material rifle. Its total length was just a little longer than an AAH assault rifle and shorter than a CWH anti-material rifle. It was compact enough to be used with one hand. It was also equipped with force field armour technology to reduce its recoil, thus effectively reducing its kickback and increasing its accuracy. But in exchange, it actively consumed energy packs to power its force field armour. The stronger ammo that Akira used, the faster it would burn through its energy pack. So, although it had so many features, one of its drawbacks was how much he had to pay for using that rifle.
Akira then used the rest of his budget to buy modification parts for that SSB multi-weapon rifle and his A4WM automatic grenade launcher, which totalled 200 million Aurum. And he still had to buy ammo, energy packs, and other consumables on top of that.
As he aimed his SSB multi-weapon at the spiders, Akira frowned, worrying if his new equipment could perform as well as he expected; considering all the money that he had splurged for it. The spiders immediately noticed him and tried to swarm him. The spiders with cannons on their back aimed it at Akira and started shooting at him.
Akira pulled the trigger, his SSB multi-weapon rifle was loaded with a magazine filled with ammo that was as expensive and as powerful as CWH anti-material rifle special ammo. Although the kickback from that ammo was nothing to scoff at, thanks to the recoil suspension system of the SSB multi-weapon rifle, Akira barely felt anything. Inside his extended time perception, Akira was extremely surprised, but of course, that did not stop him from aiming at the spiders in front of him. Even in that extremely extended time perception, he could feel multiple bullets leave the barrel of his rifle. The moment that bullet reached its target, it showed no mercy and blew its target to smithereens.
Akira was surprised by its firepower as he swept through the swarm. Although it reduced the intensity of his barrage, it was more than enough to pierce and kill the spiders. Akira biked up to the top of the scattered metallic wreckage of the dead spiders mixed with the rubbles and other things while he kept shooting at the spiders.
The falling warheads from the spiders bombarded Akira, but he was able to evade them with the speed of his bike as he turned left and right to disrupt their aimings. While at the same time, he was also circling the swarm, releasing a few shots every time he spotted that swarm from the openings between buildings.
Every time Akira passed through a crossroad, multiple warheads would be immediately released in his direction from the spiders both on the ground and on the buildings. But he accelerated his bike to slip through those warheads, or sometimes, he would compress his time perception to its limit in order to evade them, while leaving the spiders chasing him behind. He then sometimes stopped his bike to lay and wait, and immediately released a barrage the moment that swarm made a turn on that crossroad.
Akira kept circling the swarm while shooting at them. Every time he made a full round, the radius of the swarm got smaller and smaller. Akira prioritized shooting at the monsters with weaker-looking bodies made of a mix of brittle mechanical parts and flesh, thus leaving only the strong armoured spiders behind. He also shot down all the spiders that were latching on the building walls as they smacked down right to the ground.
Right about when the size of the swarm was halved, Akira finally ran out of ammo. But even so, he kept aiming at the swarm.
Akira had also equipped his SSB multi-weapon rifle with a guiding beam. Thanks to a rather extreme modification part that he had bought, he managed to add a mini-missile launcher on his A4WM automatic grenade launcher fixed on an arm behind his bike. And that guiding beam was able to work together with that missile launcher.
Akira fixed his aim at the relatively strong looking spiders. When he did that, the information display on his goggles marked those spiders. That was when he pulled the trigger and released multiple missiles from behind him straight to those spiders.
The small-sized missiles floated for a while as if they were fixed in that positions, but then, immediately, some of them went overhead, drew a perfect curve before raining down at the spiders from above, while some of them travelled parallel to the ground following the guiding beam from Akiras rifle with a huge momentum before colliding with the spiders from the side. With the missiles coming from above and from the front, the explosions immediately devoured the spiders.
When the aftermath of that explosion subsided, the swarm left nothing behind at all. Only a larger sized monster that led the swarm was left in the middle of the destroyed swarm.
That monster, which looked like a pseudo Tank Tarantula, started to move. Part of its body opened up, exposing pods behind them, and released multiple mini-missiles that immediately hunted for Akira. Akira, who saw that, could not help but frown.
But he immediately accelerated his bike and jumped straight into one of the buildings near him. The missiles that were chasing him were not smart enough to pursue him as they collided into the wall of that building. As each explosion took a part of that building away, the missiles dug through the building and caused it to crumble down. Akira forced his way through that building on his bike and jumped out from the crumbling building. The building behind him crumbled down and made a loud sound as it fell to the ground.
The pseudo Tank Tarantula released another barrage of missiles. The missiles filled the sky before raining down on Akira. But before those missiles flew downward, Akira quickly compressed his time perception and reloaded a new magazine into his SSB multi-weapon rifle.
Multiple anti-forcefield armour bullets flew out from the rifles muzzle in rapid succession. The bullets ripped through the air and hit the Tank Tarantula right on its head. The bullet was even powerful enough to pierce through its head all the way to its torso, making a mess of that monsters inside.
The Tank Tarantula exploded from inside, engulfing its big body in flames before blowing up into small pieces. With the mini-missiles losing their guidance system, they just flew straight down to the ground and exploded. Once all the missiles had exploded, silence returned to the ruin.
Akira heaved a big sigh.
“…I somehow got through that.”
Alpha smiled and praised him.
“Good work, that was not bad at all.”
“Thanks, but still…”
Akiras happy face was decorated with a bitter smile.
“…Normally this would leave me with a big loss.”
Akira started to calculate the total cost of the ammo he spent in that fight but he immediately decided to stop before he could come up with the precise number. He then told himself that he would refuse to pay for the ammo that he used that day no matter what.
Suddenly a call reached his borrowed terminal.
“This is the commander from the forward base. Number 14, are you there”
“Number 14 here, what is it”
“Your terminal sent a data pack showing that there was a huge fight over there, what happened”
“Oh, just monsters. There was a swarm of monsters that I had to fight.”
“Whats your situation right now Do you need backup”
“That wont be necessary, Im just done with that fight. Ill be heading back to the forward base now for resupply.”
“Alright, got it.”
The call ended there, Akira then smiled wryly and said.
“I see, it was a pretty big fight, enough to warrant a check from them, huh Alright then, lets end here for today. Im pretty sure I already worked hard enough for the day. So lets head back home.”
“Oh my, youre heading back early today.”
“No no no, I already worked hard enough for today, you know. Even putting aside the amount of money that I used today, Im pretty sure eradicating that swarm is good enough for raising my Hunter Rank… Probably.”
Alpha smiled mischievously.
“So in short, this will basically take a little bit more time, huh”
Akira lightly smiled and just ignored Alpha as he turned his bike toward the forward bases direction.
There was actually a different type of monster mixed in that swarm of spiders. Although that unit was not that strong, it was pretty durable.
So, even after all of that fighting, that unit survived. It made sure Akira left that place before sending some data. Once it had done its duty, it deactivated and went limp.
The next day, Akira was placing some orders in Shizukas shop. Shizuka could not help but to make a worried face after she took in that order from Akira.
“You went and used quite a lot of ammo on your first day, did something happen”
Although Akira was happy that Shizuka was worried for him, he also did not want to make her worry as he smiled at her and said.
“Its nothing too bad. I made sure to compensate for my skill with expensive ammo so that I wont be in any danger. Thanks to that, it was not that hard of a fight. Although, it would definitely leave me in red if it was a normal monster hunter request. Well, basically Im buying my safety with someone elses money, but since thats how it is for this request, Im planning to keep doing that.”
Shizuka smiled bitterly.
“Well, youre really contributing to my shops sales and if you say that youre not having any trouble at all, then I have nothing to complain about. Although, I wonder whos getting into trouble because of this.”
“That would be the person who overestimated my skill, and that is not my fault.”
Akira smiled mischievously, seeing that, Shizuka could not help but giggle.
Shizuka then finalized the payment, and just like last time, it went through without a hitch. After that, she turned to Akira and said to him with a serious face.
“…It went through without trouble again this time. At this rate, dont you think that it should be alright for you to get more expensive stuff”
Although he did it because he had to fight a swarm of monsters, it did not change the fact that Akira leisurely used ammo while ignoring its total expense. Although his contract allowed him to do so, there was no mistaking that he would receive some complaints later. Even more so when Kibayashi did not even ask why he needed that money before approving payment.
Akira himself also wondered why he was allowed to do that, he wondered if it was because it was normal for Hunters working around the ruin to use that much money, or if there was another reason for that.
“Although these are only consumables, it would still take some time for the orders to arrive when you order this many, and its doubly true for expensive goods. So it might be a good idea to place an order for some extra now.”
“Ah, thank you but I will have to refuse, at least not for today. I just placed an order now. Ill think about it again after I receive it.”
“I see, well, good luck and be careful out there. Dont lower your guard just because youre free to use as many bullets as you want, okay”
Akira then spent some time talking with Shizuka before taking his goods and leaving the shop. Judging from how he seemed to be absolutely confident in being able to return back alive, Shizuka thought that whatever happened yesterday was not that much of a problem.
Akira once again took his bike to the inner part of Kuzusuhara ruin. That day he had no plans to hunt for monsters, instead, he went to search the buildings around the highway, hunting for relics.
After he spent some time looking around, he decided to just go to one of the buildings there. He parked his bike in front of that building, but before he went in, he looked at his A4WM automatic grenade launcher fixed on the backside of his bike and was unsure whether it was a good idea to bring it or not.
“…I guess its better not to take that with me, huh.”
Since he upgraded his A4WM automatic grenade launcher with a mini-missile launcher, its size had grown pretty large. Though he still could take it with him, it was pretty much as big as a tank cannon, and of course, bringing a tank cannon with him would hinder his mobility.
In the first place, grenade launchers and missile launchers were not something to be used inside a closed space. He was able to do so in the past thanks to Alphas support, but now that he was cutting himself from that support, it would be dangerous to bring them along with him. Not to mention, it was a hassle to put it back again once he removed it from the bikes arm. So he decided not to bring it along with him.
That was when Alpha suddenly interjected.
“Akira, you can actually take that bike inside too, you know”
“No no no, theres no way to do that, right Like, how am I going to take it up the stairs”
“Thats when technologies come in. You can just step off from the bike when you want to search narrow places. Moreover, theres no guarantee that your bike will be fine when you return back from searching the building, you know Well, in the end, youll be the one to do everything though, so I wont force you. But this is like another test for your luck, do you want to still go through it”
Akira could still park the bike somewhere hard to see, put a camouflaging sheet over it, and pray that monsters would not find it. But with Alpha scaring him, he could not bring himself to take that option. He did not say anything back as he returned to his bike and turned it on while Alpha was watching him with a smile.
The inside of the building was actually pretty wide, thanks to that, Akira could ride his bike inside, albeit only slowly.
From Akiras point of view, the inside of the building was in a weirdly bad condition. Although the walls, the floor, and the ceiling seemed brand new, everything else inside that building was withered. It was as if someone was using that newly made building as a garbage dump.
Akira looked around inside that building unsettlingly.
“I picked this building because of its outer look, but I guess this place is a dud, huh”
“The auto-repair function only repairs the building, not the furniture or any objects inside it. So I guess the cleaning and replacement system inside this building must have been long deactivated.”
“I guess Ill at least look around.”
Akira chose a random room, parked his bike in front of that room, and searched the room for any expensive-looking relics.
When he opened the door of one of the shelves there, he found a dusty machine inside it. As Akira tried to dust it off, it broke into pieces and fell apart. So he threw away anything that was left on his hand before moving on.
When he tried to pull a drawer, the handle went off and the whole drawer crumbled down, spilling the sand and the dust inside it and leaving only the handle on his hand. Akira threw that handle away and moved on.
He then spotted something that seemed to be a display case made of something that looked like glass. When he tried to lift it off to check if he could carry that back, the glass shattered and the whole case fell to pieces.
“Everything here is pretty much broken. This thing is still an old-world relic, right So why is it this brittle Even the plate that I found back in Higaraka residence ruin was not this brittle, you know”
Alpha smiled and explained to Akira as if to calm him down.
“Although theyre made from the old-world era, not all of them were made to stand for a long time. And just like how your SSB multi-weapon rifle depends on energy packs, these things might have been designed to run on energy too, you know. So its understandable for them to deteriorate the moment they ran out of energy. But of course, this is nothing more than my guess.”
“…I see. Well, if thats really the case, then we cant do anything about it. Lets just look for relics that seem durable.”
Up until now, Akira had wondered multiple times as to why Alpha knew that much about the old-world era. He had a lot of guesses based on his limited knowledge. But lately, one of his guesses kept sticking to his mind, the guess that Alpha was from the old-world era too.
Both Seranthal from the Seranthal building and Tsubaki from the Tsubakihara building were also from the old-world era although they were nothing more than AI for managing those buildings. Not to mention, Tsubaki had a body, it seemed that she was also acquainted with Alpha. Alpha also did say something along the line that she could get a corporeal body if Akira completed her request to explore a certain ruin.
So then, the real question would be what exactly was Alpha Of course, Akira could not ask that question to Alpha himself since he would risk losing too many things by doing that.
Thus Akira pushed that question to the back of his mind as he continued searching for relics.-