Chapter 191, Ominous Deal
After Akira got his new set of equipment with the help of Shizuka, he took his new vehicle for a drive to the Higaraka Residence Ruin.
His new vehicle was an APC fully refitted for traversing the wasteland. It had a cargo hold filled with ammo and his new bike behind it which made it too big to go through certain places inside the ruin. Akira was planning to take his bike instead if he had to go through smaller roads.
As for his new guns, he brought with him a pair of modified and enhanced SSB multi-weapon rifles, and just like last time, he bought an augmented suit that came with the maintenance cupboard. As a matter of fact, he bought an augmented suit from the same high-end line of product as his previous one, and not to forget the coat which was equipped with forcefield armour and camouflage capability.
Plus the ammo and other consumables, Akira spent 1.6 billion Aurum this time. Putting aside whether those were suitable equipment for a Rank 42 Hunter, as expected, it was a huge amount of money for the current Akira. In order to get a big enough garage for his new vehicle, Akira also had to pay a renovator to expand his garage which also increased his rent. As such, he was rather strapped for money at the moment.
In order to recover from that situation, Akira decided to sell the rest of the relics that he had stockpiled inside his house. His goal going to the Higaraka Residence Ruin this time was just like previous times, to trick others on where he got those relics from.
Of course, there were already some Hunters that noticed Akira was trying to trick them. But if he kept going to the Higaraka Residence Ruin even after knowing so, those Hunters would start to question their guesses again. Viola was also helping by spreading that rumour as well, or at least, that was what Alpha told him.
It had been quite some time since the last time he had visited Higaraka Residence Ruin. As expected, the Hunters who were searching for relics in that ruin using old-world information-gathering devices were already nowhere to be found. Or at least, that was what he thought, he was dumbfounded to find that he was mistaken when he arrived in Higaraka Residence Ruin.
There were multiple vehicles parked around the ruin, and judging from their size, they must have been made for humans. Huge machineries were busy round the clock tearing down buildings as Hunters were standing on guard around the area. There were also people trying to find relics among the torn down buildings. Compared to before, the ruin was filled with more people.
“Alpha… What the heck is going on here”
“No idea. Lets ask someone who might know.”
Alpha pointed at the Hunters. Among those Hunters guarding the area, Akira spotted Colbert and the children from Sheryls gang.
Colbert noticed Akira coming at him.
“Akira, huh Do you still have something to do in this barren ruin If you came here to trick people about where you got your relics from, this place is already too popular for you to do so. Or is it that you really did hide your relics here In that case, you have my condolences.”
“That is not important, so, what in the world is going on here No matter how you look at it, its strange to see this as the continuation of the ruckus from last time.”
Colbert raised his eyebrows and lightly smiled.
“Ohhh, you dont know, huh When you were working in Kuzusuhara ruin, there was a small incident, and this is the after-effect from that incident.”
“Incident What incident”
“They found old-world equipment to connect to the old-world domain and its still working. I heard that it fetched quite a lot of money when they brought that back to the Hunter Office. So the people here are basically searching the ruin for similar relics.”
Akiras gaze inadvertently turned toward the ruin.
“…But still, isnt it overkill for them to do this Theyre basically destroying the ruin.”
“I bet thats just how much that relic cost. Although the first sale price is not revealed to the public, I heard that there are multiple corporations fighting for it. I dont know who found it, but he must be one lucky bastard.”
Working as a Hunter means to gamble with ones life, thus most Hunters believed that they could earn a huge amount of money to justify risking their lives. Then from time to time, a really lucky Hunter would appear albeit very rarely, but it was enough to reaffirm other Hunters to keep chasing their dream. This was the huge force that pushed ruin exploration in the eastern district. The scene in front of Akira was a simple manifestation of that dream. As a matter of fact, Akira himself was one of those Hunters chasing such a dream.
“According to the rumour, the one who found that relic originally found an empty secret room. He was so enraged that he started destroying the walls around him which led to him finding that relic. I heard that he only found out that it was an old-world communication device after he got that relic appraised in the relic exchange centre. He originally brought that relic to the exchange centre thinking that it should at least bring him a bit of money and did not expect it to be a jackpot. I know this kind of thing happens from time to time in the Hunter world, but I heard that the person went through a lot of things after that. Like getting confined in the Hunter Office since they thought he was someone who can connect to the old-world domain. Well, he was released afterwards though after knowing that he was not. But in the end, it was nothing but a rumour, so I dont know if its real or not.”
Colbert said so casually, but Akira could not help but frown as he flusteredly said.
“I-I see, well, so, youre basically here to look for relics too, huh”
“Not exactly, I was hired as a guard. Since that last battle, the guards get paid pretty well to watch out for the remaining monsters. To be honest, the money is pretty good, we get paid quite a lot of money just to stand here doing nothing. Thats why I brought along Erio and the other guys to fill the member quota, this is a good chance for them to get some experience as amateur Hunters.”
Erio and the other children there had registered themselves as Hunters. They were basically working as Hunters affiliated with Sheryls gang and they occasionally got requests from Sheryl and Violas connections. Since they brought along decent equipment from Katsuragi when they registered their names, they started as Rank 10 Hunters which were way above Akiras when he first registered himself as a Hunter.
“Are you really okay bringing Erio and the other children just to fill the member quota Those big monsters are pretty strong, you know”
“Well, even if those monsters actually show up, I bet the other Hunters would happily hunt them down first. So these guys wont even have the chance to fight those monsters. Well, even if they do, they can just provide support from afar using rocket launchers. If youre that worried, how about joining us”
“No thanks, I have other things to do here. Later then.”
Akira then walked toward the ruin. But his image suddenly blurred into the surroundings, Colbert who saw that could not hide his surprise.
“Camouflage, huh With this many Hunters in this place, I bet he knows all too well that there are no longer any monsters in this ruin, right Then why did he do that”
A lot of questions popped up inside Colberts mind, although he had his guesses, he could not ask Akira for confirmation. After all, it would not end well for him if Akira suspected him of trying to find the location of Akiras relics. Colbert was standing there feeling troubled for a few seconds before he decided to just forget about it and return back to his job.
Akira turned on the camouflage on his coat and went into the ruin. The coat was equipped with a hood and it was big enough to hide Akiras 2 rifles under it. Although the hood was designed to cover his face and its camouflage would not be complete without it, Akira deliberately let a part of his hood open. Since some Hunters believed that putting something on their head would lower their awareness during battle, Alpha allowed Akira to do it instead of having his focus disrupted if he covered his face with the hood.
The coats surface blended with the colour of its surroundings due to the optical camouflaging unit installed on it. Although it did not make Akira invisible by bending the light, it was good enough to hide him. And in order to prevent other non-optical sensors from discovering him, he turned on a jamming device created using forcefield technology.
One of the Hunters in the area noticed the signal from Akira in his information-gathering device suddenly dim, he inadvertently turned toward Akiras direction. But since there was nothing worth noting, he returned back, keeping his eyes on his information-gathering device.
Similar things happened a few times after that, Akira was honestly surprised at how effective the camouflage was.
“They didnt notice me even when I was pretty close by. If only I knew that it is this effective, I would have bought it sooner.”
But Alpha reminded Akira not to get too confident.
“It might be because their information-gathering devices are set to detect the larger monsters, so it doesnt work well to detect a relatively small object like you. Moreover, there are many monsters out there that can easily detect this level of camouflage. Furthermore, it consumes energy, so its not like you can turn it on all the time. So dont drop your guard just because youre using it, okay”
“I know… By the way, do you think this thing works against those big monsters”
“Maybe. You at least wouldnt need to hide under the rubbles after the rain stopped.”
“I see… As I thought, I should have bought it sooner.”
Akira frowned a bit. In the back of his mind, he honestly just thought that if he encountered a monster, he just had to beat it, it was an obvious answer. And since he was able to do that in all of his encounters up until now, it cemented that line of thinking to his brain. But as expected, being able to avoid fighting left a huge impression on him to the point that he even started considering the option of hiding and avoiding fighting.
Not to mention that he had to pay for his own ammo again now, so he wanted to avoid any fighting that might consume a lot of ammo if it was possible. This line of thinking kept cycling through his mind as he continued going deeper into the ruin.
“But still, to think that an old-world communication device can be that expensive, it might be a good idea to keep one even if I wont sell it.”
Akira sounded as if he was regretting his decision, but Alpha quickly shot that suggestion down.
“That would be a bad idea. If you have one, youll start thinking about how to turn it into money without alerting anyone. It would be bad if it distracts you, and it would be worse if you have an idea on how to do that since you would not be able to help but try. Then, you would fail and it would end really badly. Remember that the person who found it by pure chance got confined If it was you, they would keep prodding you even if you show the slightest possibility and it would be too late before you even notice it.”
Akira imagined what would happen afterwards and shivered.
“Youre right, that would be a bad idea. Alright then, lets just be glad that someone else found it instead of me so now I know what would happen if it was me.”
Alpha smiled happily seeing Akira was completely over it.
Akira wandered around inside the ruin after that with his camouflage still on. It served as training to help him get used to using that camouflage as well as to trick other people. After all, a Hunter, wearing a camouflage coat, wandering around inside a ruin filled with other Hunters would make people guess why he did that.
That was also the reason why Akira let Colbert and his friends see him turning on his camouflage. If Akira knew that there were still old-world information terminals left in the ruin or if Akira really had a hidden stash in that ruin, it would have been a fatal blunder. But at the same time, it would also make Hunters doubt if it was really a blunder or not.
The rumour about the existence of old-world terminals in Higaraka Residence Ruin and that Akira knew where to find them died down after no one could find anything in that ruin. But the discovery of the old-world communication device rekindled that rumour.
Akira was glad that not that many Hunters believed in that rumour, otherwise, the ruin would be filled with more Hunters.
Although Akira himself did not know if it was really working or not, after he walked around the ruin to adjust the believability of that rumour, he received a call from Viola.
“Akira, do you have some time”
“Im working right now. If its nothing of emergency, can you put it for later”
“It has something to do with your job as a Hunter. I know you have finished your last request and now youre going back hunting for relics, right And youre in the Higaraka Residence Ruin right now, right”
Akira never told anyone where he was going, but Viola already knew. He went silent for a bit guessing where she got that information from.
“…So, what is it”
“If youre going to gather more of those old-world information terminals, theres no need to sell them bit by bit, you can just sell all of them to me. One of my connections is actually looking for them, you know”
“I dont know whether I would get any until Im done searching.”
“But you did find some already, no”
Although Viola said that casually, she also sounded that she was sure of what she said. Akira had no skill to identify whether she really knew or it was just a bluff.
“…Even if I did, I promised Katsuragi that I would bring them to him first, and I have no reason to change that.”
“Dont worry, I already discussed it with Katsuragi.”
Akira paused again, Viola then continued without waiting for his reply.
“It seems that youre putting some effort to falsify where you get those relics from, but if you sell them to me, you dont need to do that anymore, you know If youre suspicious of me scheming something, dont worry, Im not. Its true that Im doing a lot of things behind the scene, but its for the sake of keeping my promise to you and helping Sheryls gang earn more money. So yep, Im working hard to keep my promise to you, you know”
The only thing that Akira could gather from those words was that Viola was not an honest girl. But if he did something to prevent her from keeping her promise to him, then it would be counterproductive. As he thought so, he finally made his decision.
“Alright, Ill visit Sheryls base later.”
“About that though, if its possible, I want you to bring the relics yourself.”
“Its a request from my client, just think of it as showing my sincerity to my client. I wont force you but youll be able to get more money from the relics if you do so. Ill send you the place and time after this. If its impossible for you, just let me know and Ill do my best to adjust it.”
“Are we going to check the relics there too”
“No, I trust you regarding the quality of the relics and it doesnt seem the client is questioning my reliability either. Well, dont worry, even if the client checks it later and finds that it doesnt fit his expectation, I would be the one he would complain to. And dont worry, Ill also be the one paying the money to you. Ill pay you a suitable amount of money and I wont reduce it just because the client complains.”
Akira checked the time and place sent to him and tilted his head. But considering that it was from Violas connection and that the original relic was first sold in the exchange centre of the slum city, he thought that there was no problem with that time and place except that he did not have much leeway in terms of time.
“Alright, Im good with the time and place. Ill be heading there now.”
“Okay, thanks. Later then.”
Viola closed the call, Akira then noticed Alpha staring at him.
“Akira, its not like Im telling you not to accept that offer, but are you really okay with it”
“It would be a waste to just leave those relics inside my house anyway, so Im okay with it as long as I can sell them at a good price safely. And if it causes me some trouble afterwards, I can use that against Viola next time. This time for sure, Ill blow her head off.”
Alpha was not so sure what to think of Akira, who seemed to be weirdly apathetic about that matter. Although, it was one of the good things about him. After all, he once turned apathetic even toward Elena and Sara, who once affected his priority.
But the question here would now be whether Alpha herself could be apathetically treated by Akira one day. Although Alpha wanted to confirm it, she could not afford to test it. After all, the act of testing would be enough to increase the possibility, that was one thing that she knew for sure after being together with him for some time.
“Hm Its nothing. Lets hurry up to the meeting place as not to miss your chance to blow Violas head off.”
“…Its not like I took that offer so that I have an excuse to kill her, you know.”
Although Alpha was joking there, Akira was not completely sure that she was joking and smiled bitterly. He then turned off his camouflage and exited the ruin.
Akira was waiting for Violas client inside one of the abandoned buildings in the Kuzusuhara ruin. He had already taken off his camouflage, although he brought along both of his SSB multi-weapon rifles, both of them were pointed down. Akira himself was busy keeping his eyes on his information terminal while scanning his surroundings for enemies.
“But still, this is a rather suspicious place for making a deal. This would be super weird if it were a normal honest deal.”
“Well, Im sure that Violas client would want to hide where he get the relics from, so it would be a good thing for you too.”
Alpha smiled at Akira and Akira replied with a smile too.
“Its time, theyre coming.”
A guy carefully peeked into the room from a door. He then noticed Akira and carefully entered the room.
“Violas contact, I presume”
Akira used one of his SSB rifles and pointed to his rucksack lying not too far from him. The guy opened the rucksack to check its content and confirmed that the rucksack was filled with the aforementioned relic, the old-world information terminals.
“Is this everything”
“Yeah, if you have anything to the complain, say that to Viola.”
The guy closed the rucksack.
“I heard that Viola will handle the payment. If you want to, you can go ahead and call Viola to confirm the transfer.”
“Well then, we have a deal then. So, who would leave first”
“…In that case, Ill go first.”
“Sure, go ahead.”
The guy then shut up and stood there with a serious face while staring at Akira. Akira then carefully left the room, got to his bike that he parked near the building, and returned back to his vehicle that he parked a bit further away since he could not bring it through the small road.
Akira had a rather troubled look.
“What can I say… That one felt like a super secretive deal, the one that would warrant death to anyone unrelated who discovered about that deal.”
“Well, I expected that much from the fact that they set the meeting place to be inside a ruin. Its the kind of place where its normal to find dead corpses, with its location being somewhere Hunters exploring the ruin would not normally stumble to. Although, it was not as secretive as one would expect if it was a secret deal.”
“…Its not like someone would ambush me on my way back, right”
“When that happens, you just need to kill them and make sure to kill Viola too afterwards.”
Alpha smiled, showing that there should be no problem at all. Akira smiled bitterly and rode his vehicle through the ruin.
The guy who was left behind inside the building contacted his friend through a non-wave communication device. He also sent the picture of the inside of the rucksack through the camera installed in his prosthetic eye.
“I got the relics, but I dont know about their quality. Should I return back and get them checked first”
The person on the other side of the call replied with a serious voice.
“No, you dont have to do that. Itll leave a record if you get them checked inside the city. After all, these are old-world information terminals. Bring them to the next location. Once the preparation is done, call the Hunters and let them find the relics. They can then confirm the quality of the relics afterwards. It would be too much work to readjust the appraisal result afterwards if we appraise the relics beforehand.”
“Roger that. By the way, it seems that the Hunters assigned to find the relics are Yanagisawas men though, are you sure it will be fine They might just snatch the relics, you know”
“Ive accepted that risk. Since theyre working under that man, even if they get suspicious of the relics, most of them would prefer not to dig too deep. The problem here would be whether they would be able to find the relics. Although it depends on their luck, they should be able to find the relics just fine if they are at least as good as common Hunters. But in the case they cant, we will send our own Hunters. Alright then, go. Once youre done placing the relics, stay around the area to keep your eyes on the Hunters from afar. If they dont contact you after they discover the relics or if theyre trying to keep the relics for themselves, disguise yourself as a robber and kill them. We can send you reinforcements if you need.”
“Roger that, well start the operation now.”
The guy closed the call and vanished. The powerful camouflage device was something that he received from his boss which indicated how careful the person he was on the call with just now, and how important this operation was.-