Akira, Darris and Katsuragi were traversing the wasteland in Katsuragis trailer. Kuzusuhara ruin was not that far from Kugamayama city, but it would still take them some time to reach Kugamayama city. Akira usually covered the distance by running, but most people would prefer riding a car.
Darris and Katsuragi were in a really good mood after their victory in the last battle. They were zealous since they dealt with all the monsters that had been chasing them for most of their journey. They could not help but smile jubilantly as they were talking to Akira about all the problems that they faced on their journey and the situation on the Frontline.
Akira, who spent most of his time in the Slum city, had almost no chance of listening to this kind of story, so he listened closely.
“Ohh. So thats what its like in the eastern region, huh”
“Yep. After all, were talking about the Frontline here, the boundary separating the unknown territory. Its normal for Hunters in that place to own tanks, you know. They bring their tank around like us carrying our guns. But well, its also because the monsters there are so strong that you would have no chance against them without a tank.”
“So youre transporting goods from such a dangerous place, huh I cant even imagine how dangerous it would be to stock up goods. Being a merchant is not easy, right”
“Well, you can say that. And not just stocking, therere a lot of things that we need to do like making connections, finding business deals. All of them are just as hard as stocking goods.”
“I see, you are really amazing. Theres no way I would be able to do what you are doing.”
Looking at Akira, who was genuinely amazed, Katsuragi could only smile bitterly.
“But well, I cant deny that todays stocking was way harder than usual. So dont think that its normal for us to face something this hard. If you try, you might find that its not really hard, you know”
Akira tried to imagine himself working as a merchant, but he could not see himself being a successful merchant. His thoughts were visible on his face, Katsuragi laughed as he noticed it.
“There are a lot of ways to be successful. You can just be a successful Hunter while well be successful merchants. Thats all there is to it. I might be going around selling goods in a trailer like this at the moment, but Ill use todays revenue as a stepping stone and make my business bigger. Then one day, Ill join the Corporate Government and be one of the 5 greatest companies.”
Akira was very surprised. Even with his limited knowledge as a slum city boy, he knew just how big Katsuragis dream was.
“One of the 5 greatest companies, huh. Thats a pretty big dream.”
“Once I join the Corporate Government, Ill issue money coins and its name will be Katsuragi coins. Then Ill make people update their catalogue using Katsuragi currency.”
After Katsuragi laughed as he talked about his dream, his face changed to a more serious expression.
“…And this job is my first step towards my dream. Thats why Im really thankful to you, you know Its because of you that were able to survive without abandoning my goods.”
“Is that so In that case, just consider that you owe me a favour. After all, you can help me in a lot of ways if your work goes well.”
“Of course, but go easy on me on the discounts, okay Just like I said, I really need money right now.”
Although they were taking different routes, both of them were aiming to achieve success in the Eastern district. They were having a good time talking to each other. In the middle of their talk, Alpha who was also enjoying their chat suddenly made a serious face and said to Akira.
“Akira, quickly look through the right window with your binocular.”
Looking at how Alphas mood changed so suddenly, Akira immediately tensed up. He quickly grabbed his binoculars and connected it to his information terminal. He then checked his surroundings with Alphas vision support. In that direction, he could see a dust cloud in the middle of the vast wasteland.
“…Katsuragi, youre the one who brought those monsters here, right”
Katsuragi smiled bitterly and tried to evade the question.
“…Well, about that, you see…”
“I dont care who brought those monsters here. But tell me something, were those monsters just a fraction of a bigger group”
Katsuragi immediately understood what was going on from Akiras behaviour. As such, his face immediately turned grim.
“Darris! Put the searching device on the trailer to the Maximum Area Search setting!!”
“If we do that, its sensitivity in detecting monsters will reduce, you know”
“Just do it!”
Darris noticed that Akira and Katsuragi looked disturbed, so he quickly changed the setting of the detection device just like he was told to. Katsuragis face turned grimmer as he looked at the information shown on the detection device.
“Focus it to the 2 oclock direction and zoom in 60 times.”
Darris was confused after hearing that order. If he did that, it would make it impossible for the device to cover other directions, thus it would increase the chance of them getting ambushed. But he immediately followed the order nonetheless. Once he did, Darris and Katsuragis face turned stiff after checking the result.
Akira then pressed them for an answer while making a very serious face.
“Sorry to ask you this while youre busy, but answer me… How many more monsters are left from that group that was chasing you!”
The dust cloud that he saw from his binocular was caused by another group of monsters. The result from the searching device showed that monsters were swarming towards them from afar.
The swarm of monsters that were chasing Katsuragi from the eastern wasteland was naturally divided into several groups depending on their type and moving speed, and those groups were moving separately from each other. The group that attacked Akira and Katsuragi sometime ago were the frontrunners of the main group. As for the groups that consisted of slow monsters, they gave up midway and returned to their original territory. Now, the group with moderate speed finally caught up with them.
Katsuragi and Darris looked very tense as they talked to each other.
“Katsuragi, can we reach the city at this rate Can we make it”
Katsuragi shook his head.
“Nope, we wont make it. Theyll think that we brought the monsters and the citys defense force will kill us together with all those monsters… Looking at how fast that group is moving, we might be a little bit faster if I push the trailer to its maximum speed. So how about buying time until we can run from them, well head to the city once we put some distance from them.”
This time, Darris was the one who shook his head.
“Thats impossible. We only have little energy left inside the trailer from the long journey. The trailer will run out of energy if we take a detour.”
They rejected each others suggestions and let out a sigh not talking anymore, silence prevailed. Since no one was giving anymore suggestion, Akira gave his.
“How about heading back to the ruins Ill guide you through the ruins this time. Im pretty knowledgeable about this area. I think we might be able to survive if we go there. And even if the trailer runs out of energy, its easier to evade those monsters or break up that monster group in the ruins rather in the wasteland…”
In reality, Alpha would be the one guiding them. He hid this fact as he gave his suggestion. But Katsuragi flat out rejected his suggestion.
“No, we cant.”
Looking at how Akira was shocked by his reply, Katsuragi regained his composure. He then told Akira his reason.
“…We just left piles of monsters corpses in the ruin. The blood, meat and bones there shouldve attracted other monsters by now. In the worst-case scenario, it might even attract strong monsters from the deeper part of the ruins. Theres no way we can win against those monsters.”
Akira doubted that reason as he looked at Alpha, asking for a confirmation. Alpha then answered back with a serious face.
“While his reasoning is true, he also doesnt want to leave the trailer behind. Also, the situation will only worsen if you go back to the ruins now.”
After hearing this, Akira dejectedly let out a sigh.
“Do we have no other choice but to fight in this place… Ah right, cant we use the weapon that you carried from the Frontline Its some kind of super-powerful weapon, right”
Katsuragi shook his head.
“No, you cant use those weapons unless youre using an augmented cloth adjusted for handling those weapons, and itll take at least 4 hours to make preparations. Well also need the corresponding special ammo that we dont have right now. We normally procure ammo from a different route after all… Dammit!!”
Fighting back in this place was their only option. Everyone in the trailer understood this. They accepted this fact on different levels which was shown on their face, none of them looked relaxed at all.
Akira prepared his gun while Katsuragi drove the trailer to a more advantageous position and parked the trailer. He readied the machine gun ammo for easy and fast reload. Akira and Darris stood ready not too far from the trailer. They would make contact with the group of monsters in just a few minutes.
Akira rushed to finish his preparation just like Alpha told him to. He reloaded a new cartridge into his AAH rifle, took out all the cartridges inside his rucksack and put it out in the open so that it is easy for him to find them. He also prepared medicines in case he needed it in an emergency, he had already put some of them inside his mouth in case if the effect from the last one weakened. With that, Akira finished all the preparation that he needed except for his own resolve.
Alpha was standing beside Akira just like usual. He was feeling nervous but he had a sense of reassurance from making all the necessary preparations, he then asked Alpha.
“Alpha, answer me honestly. Can I win… Or more like, do I even have any chance to win”
He felt like Alpha would say that there was a good chance he would lose if he asked whether he could win. Thus he changed his question midway.
Alpha just smiled like usual as she answered back.
“You do have a chance to win since Im giving you my support. So give it your best too, okay”
Alpha was not lying. But she did not reveal how much chance he had in surviving this monster horde attack. She thought that revealing it would only lower his already small chances. Thus, she did not give an accurate number.
“I see. So I can win, huh”
Akira also did not ask any further. It was better to not know things that were better left alone. Both of them seemed to agree on this point.
Akira readied his gun and looked at Alpha. He was about to say something but stopped midway, seeing that Alpha just smiled back.
“Akira, I did say this to you before but Im repeating once again. Since you spent all your luck to meet me, Ill take responsibility and properly assist you. Thats why you cant give up no matter what, okay I give my support assuming that you have resolved yourself, you know. So dont forget that. If you give up, then Ill also stop providing my support.”
Alpha smiled while teasing Akira and he could only smile bitterly in return.
“Youre right, motivation and resolve, both are my responsibility. So then, well, since were in this situation, Ill be relying on your help.”
Alpha smiled proudly and answered back with full confidence.
“Just leave it to me.”
Akira laughed lightly. He already threw out the feeling of wanting to give up and his will to fight back started growing.
Akira resolved himself, with this, he was finally truly ready.
The monsters were already within the shooting range of Katsuragis machine gun, but he did not start shooting. After all, there was no point in making a pre-emptive attack in this situation. He also wanted to save his ammo, thus he waited till those monsters were close enough for the machine gun to inflict maximum damage. There was a need to draw the enemy close enough, Akira and Darris also understood that. Thus they only held their guns ready while waiting for the monsters to get close range.
Since monsters that could attack from long-range were already killed by Katsuragi and Darris before, this group only consisted of monsters that could only attack from close-range. Thanks to that, the three of them were able to stand their ground while waiting for the monsters to approach them.
Once they got close enough for the machine gun to inflict mortal wounds on them, the machine gun started spewing bullets. Those bullets tore the monsters on the front of the flock and splattered their blood and meat onto the monsters behind them.
Although the monsters behind them were showering under their companions blood and meat, they kept charging at Akira and others without even slowing down. Akira took his aim and pulled the trigger on his gun. The bullet that came out from his gun tore right through his targets forehead and instantly killed the monster. Then he shot the monsters that jumped over that corpse and killed those monsters too.
Then the next one, and the next one and the next one. With the help of Alphas support, Akira was able to perform way better than his original ability as he kept reaping the life of those monsters. But that only caused a small dent considering the total number of monsters. The monsters just kept pouring at him with no end in sight, and so the hopeless endurance battle had started.
They desperately fought a fierce battle. They already lost count of how many monsters they had killed since the battle started. Akira did not care about anything else other than shooting those monsters and following Alphas instruction.
Due to the power of the anti-monster bullets, it also had a strong kickback. The powerful kickback scrapped Akiras stamina bit by bit every time he pulled the trigger of his gun. But thanks to the medicines he prepared beforehand, he was able to maintain his fighting strength.
He swiftly reloaded a new cartridge every time he ran out of ammo. And when all the cartridges that he prepared on his suit were exhausted, he grabbed cartridges that he prepared on the ground near him as he ejected the empty cartridge and immediately loaded it into his gun. Although he got more and more worried as the number of leftover cartridges kept decreasing, he ignored it and just kept shooting. After all, hesitating now would spell his death.
Every time he felt pain in the arm that supported his gun, Akira would swallow the medicine in his mouth bit by bit. The medicine would recover his body, without it, he wouldve already lay limp on the ground by now. He paced himself so he would not run out of medicine quickly while maintaining his optimal fighting strength. He gritted his teeth and kept shooting as he adjusted the dosage of the medicine he was taking.
Alphas orders were near perfect. She considered the speed of each monster as she gave out orders. She tried to prevent the monsters from approaching Akira by telling him to target the front row so that its corpse would block the monsters behind it. She gave out orders to maximize everything that might help Akira.
But it was a completely different matter as to whether Akira was able to follow her orders. Not only was his ability still amateurish, but he was also nervous, agitated and tired. Thus his movements were becoming duller as time passed. He could not perfectly follow half of the orders that Alpha gave him. But she would immediately adjust her instructions depending on the previous result.
Then there was a twist of event. A monster that was faster than any other suddenly jumped towards Akira. Of course, Akira focused his shots at that monster, after unleashing a barrage of bullets and confirming that they hit that monster, he thought that the monster was already dead and shifted his focus towards another monsters. Because he was in a panicked state and tired, and had seen monsters dying after getting shot like that, he made a wrong assumption.
“Its not dead yet!”
Hearing Alpha scream at him, Akira aimed back to where the monster was in a panic. But it was too late, although it was badly injured, the monster was already too close to Akira. Its speed didnt reduce after being showered in countless bullets as it charged towards him. It then jumped trying to bite him, but it could only push him down while taking bullets from his gun.
The reason why it missed to bite Akira was because it had lost its original form after getting shot several times. Thanks to that, Akira was able to narrowly escape death. But it did not change the fact that his life was hanging by a thread as that monster opened its jaw again and was getting ready to take another bite.
The death that was approaching Akira distorted his sense of time, it felt like everything around him was happening in slow motion. The same thing happened the other day as he remembered when monsters attacked the slum city and he almost got killed. So he did what he did back then as a reflex. He thrusted his AAH rifle into the gaping jaw together with his arm.
As the gun reached the deepest part of the monster, it stopped for a second due to the pain. During that opening, right before its fangs sunk into Akiras arm, Akira grinned and pulled the trigger.
The bullets that spewed out from the gun destroyed its head. It then fell down to the ground with bullets flowing out from behind its head.
Akira shoved the corpse aside. The excitement of his victory was dampened by the stinging pain on his right arm. His right arm was injured when that monster jumped on him.
Alpha immediately shouted at Akira while making an unusually grim face, it helped Akira to stay awake as he almost fainted from the pain after narrowly escaping death.
“Quickly take some medicine!! You should still have some in your pocket!”
Akira immediately reached out to the capsules inside his pocket while trying to withstand the pain and spread the contents of the capsule directly onto his wound. Thus another intense pain assaulted him immediately.
“You cant faint here! Youll definitely die if you faint here! Get a hold of yourself!”
The medicine that he applied to his wound caused severe pain, but Akira was barely able to bear the pain without fainting. He gritted his teeth and stood up. He then took the rest of the medicine orally.
The healing nanomachines inside the medicine detected that Akira was in pain as it immediately gathered on his wound and started healing it. Since Akira pushed himself to keep moving, his open wound only got worse which was immediately healed by the nanomachines. This cycle continued as he started shooting again while enduring the pain. Most of the monsters were able to come close to Akira while he was lying on the ground, one misstep was enough to turn the situation worse.
Akira, Katsuragi and Darris were trying hard to fight back. But the situation was getting worse. The monsters were already close enough that it would be nigh impossible to fix the situation.
Katsuragi then mumbled from the driver seat.
“…The machine gun is running out of ammo… Dammit, this is the end, huh”
His words leaked out through the mic in the trailer, hearing which Darris also complained.
“…So this is as far as we go, huh”
Akira did not say anything because he did not have the time to join them. But inside his heart, he was actually agreeing with them. Eventually, his gun ran out of ammo too.
Alpha then smiled at Akira and said.
“This is the end.”
Seeing how Alpha smiled gently as if it was really the end, Akira could only smile back bitterly.
Akira was surprised after hearing what Alpha said. Then the next moment, explosive projectiles rained down on the monsters around them. Explosions turned most of the monsters into minced meat as blood and meat splattered around the area. Then the area near Akira and the trailer were swarmed with anti-monster bullets, thus further making sure of their safety.
The sudden change of events left Akira confused as Alpha pointed her finger towards the wasteland while still smiling. He tried to stand as fast as he could and looked towards the direction Alpha was pointing. There he saw familiar faces of 2 female Hunters riding a vehicle while unleashing countless bullets on the monsters in the area. They were Elena and Sara.
Sara was standing on the vehicle while carrying a huge gun that did not suit her size. The gun on her hand kept launching explosive projectiles from its muzzle.
“Elena! The location is a bit different from the request, but those people are from the SOS request, right”
Elena was also shooting at the monsters using a machine gun from the vehicle, it looked like she was enjoying it.
“Thats correct. The SOS request said that theyre in the Kuzusuhara ruins but I bet they arrived in this place after running away from those monsters. Lets eliminate them all!”
“Roger that! The requester will pay for the bullets! So lets not hold anything back!!”
From there on, the battle was overwhelmingly one-sided. Sara and Elena who had surplus money from the last time brought expensive but powerful ammo with them for cleaning the monsters. And their ammo seemed to be working splendidly, worthy of their cost. The explosive bullets that kept spouting out from her gun were like a storm that rained down on those monsters and left the ground clean. Akira was looking at this scene with his jaw dropped on the ground.
After suffering such an intensive attack, the monsters that were troubling Akira and the other two merchants just a moment ago were completely annihilated.
The insides of the trailer that also functioned as a moving shop was wider than it looked. Elena and Sara then met up with Katsuragi and finished processing the SOS request without heading back to Kugamayama City. As Katsuragi and Elena were negotiating with each other, Akira talked to Sara who was not too far. He bowed deeply to Sara while saying his thanks.
“Thank you very much for your help. You really helped us in escaping death back there.”
“Dont mention it. Its also one of our jobs. It was also thanks to you fighting back desperately and cutting their numbers down, that it was not hard cleaning them up.”
Sara laughed in a good mood. It was obvious that her plump chest did not weigh too much as they jingled when she laughed.
“But I was so surprised to find you here too. To think that you would get involved in fighting those monsters, you do have quite a bad luck, you know.”
“You can say that again. I honestly think the same too… I wonder if I should get myself some kind of charm to increase my luck.”
Akira smiled bitterly while mixing a joke. Sara laughed a bit and followed his joke.
“Well, its true that things like that might work. After all, no matter how much information you gathered beforehand, things outside your predictions will still happen. I also had a close call not too long ago… A charm, huh You can also buy one, but I think its better if you keep something that you already had when you got lucky as a talisman. In my case, I have this.”
As she said that, Sara opened the front fastener of her armour and took out a pendant, it was a bullet that was repurposed into a decorative pendant.
“When I almost got killed, someone came and saved us by pure coincidence and gave us this bullet, then I remade it into a pendant like this. Its to remind me of our gratitude and good luck from back then.”
Akira was somehow able to keep himself calm. Sara noticed that Akira was behaving weirdly, but she thought that it was because Akira was still nervous after narrowly escaping death, so she just ignored it. As for Alpha who was always beside Akira, she smiled teasingly toward him.
“Arent you glad The person that you helped not too long ago just came and saved you this time. Whats wrong Arent you happy”
“No, of course, Im happy. So like I told you, it was the right choice helping them that day, right”
“Youre right. Not only you were able to escape death, you got to see a beautiful girls plump b.r.e.a.s.t after all.”
Akira was barely able to stay calm when he heard that. Alpha giggled as she was teasing him.
“If you have no plan of groping one, you can also look at mine though. Or is it important for you to know that you can touch them if you extend your hand although you dont really want to do it”
“Just shut up.”
Akira stiffened his face as to not change his expression as he said that to Alpha through telepathy. But then he suddenly heard Elenas voice.
“No money Are you kidding me”
Katsuragi nervously replied back as he was overwhelmed by Elenas pressure.
“Well, its not like I dont have money, its a big misunderstanding. I do plan to pay you. But I cant pay you right now at this moment.”
Elena kept putting pressure while glaring at Katsuragi.
“Isnt it normal to pay us with cash when you dont write any particular reward on your request We even used expensive ammo back there, you know.”
“I-I know. But, it was an SOS request, right It was an emergency. We were in a dangerous situation that we didnt have the time to write a detailed request, you know! Its not like were planning to trick you!! I swear!!”
Beautiful girls are scary when they are angry. Moreover, if that girl killed a mountain of monsters not too long ago. As Katsuragi thought that, he tried to calm Elena down.
“Look at this! The trailer is packed with a lot of equipments! If I can sell all of them, Ill get a lot of money! You do understand me, right! Just for a bit, can you wait just for a bit! Of course Ill also give you more money for waiting too! Okay”
Katsuragi then showed all the goods that he carried inside the trailer. Seeing at how Katsuragi was saying the truth, Elena regained her mood back. She then enthusiastically looked at those goods as Katsuragi squeezed every single cell in his brain for anything that might let him breakthrough his situation.
Akira and Sara then joined them as they looked at Katsuragis goods. It was given for Akira, but for Sara too, it was a rare chance to see equipment used in the Frontline. As such, both of them looked really interested in those goods. Not to mention that Alpha also looked a bit amazed.
“I really wish you can start using these kinds of equipment soon, Akira.”
“Please wait patiently if its about that thing. By the way, which one that you wish for me to be able to use”
“If I have to pick one from this place, then it will be this one.”
Alpha was pointing at a huge gun that in no way a normal human would be able to use. It was made of black metal and was as big as a person with the manufacturers logo carved on its body.
“No no no, no way I can carry something like this.”
“Of course you can once you get an augmented cloth. So you should get one of those first. But well, no need to hurry, well get there eventually.”
Looking at how Akira was staring at that gun, Sara could not help but look at that gun too. But then she shouted in surprise.
“Elena!! Look at this!! Its amazing! They have Ragnarok too!!”
Elena who was called by Sara then came there, looked at that gun, and was also surprised.
“…Whoah, they really have one. This is the gun that can shoot Annihilator Warhead, right”
“Yeah, thats one of my best goods. It was really hard to get my hands on one, you see… Wait, what are you thinking”
Katsuragi started having a bad feeling as he saw Elenas expression when she was looking at that gun. Elena was smiling since she found something that she could use for negotiation as she mumbled.
“…I wonder if Sara can use this gun.”
Katsuragi immediately went into panic mode.
“Wait wait wait wait!! No no no!! You cant have that!”
“But you cant pay us with cash, right In that case, you have no choice but to pay us with your goods.”
“No matter how you look at it, its way above your reward money, right! Please dont make me do this!”
“I wonder which one of us is asking for the impossible. You cant even pay our rewards and ammo from that SOS request and you dont even know when you might be able to pay us. Are you telling us to wait for the reward that we dont even know if you would even really pay us or not We also need money to live, you know”
Elenas expression turned intimidating as she glared to Katsuragi. That was also a gamble. Katsuragi understood that, but he could not say anything. Katsuragi was a merchant. He could not deny the fact that he could not pay them with cash. Even Katsuragi himself was actually carrying goods that he had not paid yet.
Katsuragi who in trouble then guessed that Akira and Elena knew each other as he looked at Akira, seeking for his help. But since Akira was also saved by Elena and Sara, it was more like he was in Sara and Elenas side. As such, he could only look away when Katsuragi stared at him.
After that, Katsuragi begged all he could and somehow the negotiation came to a conclusion. Elena and Sara would be employed as Katsuragis escorts which of course increased the amount of the reward that Katsuragi owed to them. Then in case if Katsuragi could not pay that money until the deadline, Elena and Sara would take Ragnarok with them. It was also for keeping their eye on Katsuragi that Elena and Sara took the job.
As Elena and Katsuragi were talking about the details of their contract. Akiras vision suddenly blurred and he lost all of his power in his body as he fell to the ground.
He did not even have the power to get up. As his vision went dark, he could see Elena and Katsuragi ran to him. It looked like they were saying something, but Akira could not hear it. But he understood that they looked panicked stricken.
Although everything looked blurred in his vision, he could see Alpha clearly. She was smiling like usual as she looked down at Akira who was lying on the ground and said.
“Well, I guess you hit your limit. But itll be okay, just take a good rest.”
Akira could hear that in his haze and felt a bit relieved as he lost his consciousness.
Silavin: Woah. This novel has won top 3 novel in Japan. Well, to be exact, they won the bunkoubon.
The Athena told me that it is basically the top light novels of the year. More information here. There is a high chance this gets adapted into an anime.
Yup. This story is quite underrated right now.