Rodin activating an old-world automaton was the result of multiple coincidences layered on top of each other, basically, it was his bad luck.
The chance that his friends got that information about the old-world automata.
The chance that they decided to pay Kurosawa to lead the exploration when they were preparing it, thanks to that, they were able to safely reach their destination, although hiring Kurosawa was not cheap at all.
After they found the four automata, Kurosawa decided that it was impossible to secure more automata in case something bad happened. So to prevent any complications, he told his men to stop searching the area anymore.
Thanks to the agreement between Kurosawa and Togamis party, Akira and the others left the area right after. Thus preventing them from finding any nearby automata if there were still some left.
Kurosawa did tell Rodin to at least convey his warning to the rest of Rodins friends, but Rodin deliberately left that out from his explanation to his friends. Therefore, the rest of the team thought that Kurosawa gave Rodin permission to go. Thus they did not say anything as they allowed Rodin to go alone to search around the area.
That was the reason why Rodin was able to reach this place. After he left the room, he randomly looked around and came to this area by pure chance where he found more old-world automata.
The automaton was inside a container in the middle of a relatively small room. From the outside, the container looked like a stasis pod. The upper part of the lid was made of a transparent material, which let Rodin clearly see what was inside that container. The automaton had female features and was in a deep sleep inside that container.
Rodin was mesmerized by that automaton and smiled widely.
Normally, he would immediately return back to let the rest of the team know. That was the best decision considering the risk and reward ratio. But his smile turned wry, he seemed to be seriously at a loss as he just stood there.
There were many relics in the ruin that were dangerous to mess with. When Hunters found them, they tended to keep their fingers away from them and asked specialists to handle them. Of course, there were many types of old-world relics that were treated this way as it was common-sense among the Hunters, and the old-world automata were one of them, as a matter of fact, Kurosawa did exactly that.
But there was one big con with that process. The credit of finding the relics would usually not go to the Hunter, but to the specialists whose services were expensive. Most of the time, these specialists got their cut right after those relics were sold to some companies through their connection. Of course, it was not a problem at all for the Hunters who only wanted to exchange those relics for money, but it was a big problem for Hunters who wanted to get their hands on those relics themselves.
When a Hunter called for a specialist, normally, the deal was for the Hunter to accept that the specialist would take the relics and sell them. It was still possible for the Hunters to buy those relics themselves, but considering that there were large corporations vying for the same relic, normally these Hunters had no winning chance at all.
After taking his time calculating his options, Rodin extended his hand to the terminal of the container. Although he did not understand what the buttons were for, he started pushing the buttons randomly while checking the reactions. He carefully pushed the buttons and flicked the switches on the touch screen panel, only to find that there was barely any reaction at all, but that did not stop him.
Rodin always had a zealous admiration toward maid automata and it was doubly true for old-world automata. Thanks to their mechanical bodies, they retained their young and beautiful appearance, and as a machine, they had an unwavering “loyalty” towards their master. It was as if those automata were made just to fulfil a certain desire, an oxymoronic existence made into reality through old-world technology. When Rodin knew about them, he knew well that it was impossible for him to get these automata, but even so, he still could not help but yearn for them.
Although it was a very rare case, there were reports when a Hunter somehow activated an old-world automaton and that automaton registered that Hunter as its master by pure luck.
Those super lucky Hunters would then explore the ruins with their advanced automata, thanks to which, they were able to quickly reach success and became first-rate Hunters. This kind of rumour was not that rare in the eastern district. Although they were rumours, parts of them must be true. After all, even a short investigation could easily uncover those Hunters.
One thing that Rodin did not take note of was that those rumours also said testing luck by doing something similar was not recommended at all.
But even so, he still decided to test his luck here, and the reason for that was because he saw Shiori not too long ago. The figure of Shiori standing straight next to Reina was like his idealistic admiration brought to life and it aroused his desire. Even more so when the automaton in front of him was already in a maid uniform.
Although he understood that it was a dangerous bid, he could not push aside the chance of getting an old-world automaton. Considering this chance might not come to him ever again, Rodin could not stop himself from testing his luck there.
That was when all the luck that was piling up on one another was extended even more. The container in front of Rodin that was wrapped in a dark cloud suddenly made a hissing sound before opening up.
As Rodin unconsciously took a few steps backwards, the lid of the container was fully opened and the maid automaton inside it finally opened its eyes. It then pulled itself out from the container and got itself standing on the floor.
The rush of anxiety and happiness that filled Rodins mind caused him to make an awkward face as he said to that automaton.
The automaton turned toward Rodin with its face devoid of emotions.
Then at the next moment, the automaton formed its hand into a chop and thrust it toward Rodin, impaling him right through his chest. Its white-glove covered hand easily pierced his augmented suit and planted itself into his chest, up to its wrist.
Rodin raised his eyebrows in surprise, he then smiled wryly and made a sad face. Before all of his luck could bring him a good end, he had reached a bad end first. He lamented as he fell down to the ground.
“…Yep, saw that coming….”
The pain and reality pulled him back from his thoughts, he was back into his Hunter mode. While enduring the fatal wound on his chest, he reached for his rifle and shot at the automaton.
It was common sense among the Hunters in the eastern district that when they found an old-world automaton, they would have to call for a specialist and definitely keep their hands off the automaton. The real reason for this wisdom was simply because there were already so many Hunters who ended up dead after not obeying that warning. When a Hunter activated an old-world automaton inside the ruin, most often than not, the automaton immediately turned hostile and killed the Hunter who activated it.
From the ruins point of view, these Hunters were like armed robbers. Although different automata had different A.I, most of them had the same view as the ruin regarding the Hunters. Thus in order to retain their value, they would try to kill or repel these armed robbers.
After that, some automata with better A.I would gather information from what they could see and react according to the emergency protocol based on the old-world standard. And thanks to their advanced technology, most of these rampaging old-world automata were designated as bounty monsters.
Some people believed that this was fake information spread by huge corporations in order to protect their profits. Because of this, there were people who thought that the chance of the old-world automata recognizing the person who activated them as their master was actually higher than what was rumoured, not to mention that there were super lucky Hunters who served as evidence to this doubt too. This was the reason why there would always be Hunters who were willing to test their luck.
Rodin was one of these Hunters. Unfortunately, he did not win his bet and now, others would have to pay for it too.
As Togamis party was riding their vehicles through the wasteland heading out from the ruin, Akira thought of something and threw a question to Togami.
“By the way, you did say that youre planning to not spend a night in this ruin, right Will that still be true if we had found an old-world automaton It seemed that those guys were standing inside that room for quite some time, you know I bet theyve been there for more than a day.”
“To be honest, even if we had found an old-world automaton, I thought that we would find it in broken condition, which in that case, we can just carry it back normally.”
“Is that so Then if we had arrived in that room first, we would have had to give up carrying the automaton back, huh”
“Thats not exactly true.”
“So, you had another plan”
“Although I dont really like it, I had 2 plans. The first is to contact Drankam and ask for their help. In that case, we would have to prepare to guide them to the old-world automaton. Im pretty sure we will have a smaller cut if we do that though, thats why I dont really like it. The other plan is to break the automaton to make sure that it wont go on a rampage before carrying it back. If we can skillfully break it, we might be able to restore it later, but of course, this would lower the selling price too. To be honest, it feels stupid to be breaking the relic that you have worked for, thats why I dont like this idea either.”
In reality, back then when they found the holographic image of the old-world automaton, if there was a sign that it might cause any danger, Kanae and Shiori would have stepped in and destroyed it without even consulting first.
“…Although I will only decide based on the situation when we find the automaton, its basically one of those two plans.”
Togami frowned as he imagined being thrown into that situation, he then noticed Akira was looking surprised at him.
“Nothing. I just thought that you really have put some thoughts into this.”
“Of course. Exploring ruins is basically gambling with my life after all. Its only given that I would at least consider such a situation, even you do that too, right”
Akira awkwardly looked away and made eye contact with Alpha who was smiling teasingly at him, so he looked away from her too.
Seeing that, Togami was rather surprised to know that Akira actually did not think that far. He was not sure if he should be exasperated by that or if he should be impressed that Akira had survived this far with such a naive way of thinking.
Back to Kurosawas team.
The Hunter who was guarding the entrance to the room where they were standing by, spotted Rodin returning back.
“Youre back, huh. Good grief, just what the heck were you think-”
He was about to welcome Rodin back with a light joke, but his face immediately changed when he saw Rodins condition. Rodin was stumbling and dragging his legs in a hurry through the hallway, leaving a trail of blood behind him.
“Were under attack!! Rodin is injured!! Asking for reinforcement!!”
After he shouted that into the room, he immediately ran to help Rodin. The moment he lent his shoulder to Rodin, who looked like he was about to fall anytime, Rodin immediately fainted which might be because he thought he was finally saved.
Kurosawa and the other Hunters darted out of the room. Kurosawa then told them to watch the direction where Rodin came from as they approached him. After they met up, Kurosawa immediately put down a foldable turret and expanded it. As the gun rapidly unfolded, it turned into a huge gun with a barrel that was longer than the width of the hallway.
Kurosawa quickly scanned and checked Rodins condition. The life-support medicine, the augmented suit that helped him to move even when he was seriously injured, and his skill to explore the ruin alone allowed him to return back alive.
“We can still save him!! Get him inside and treat his injury, quickly!!”
The guy who was carrying Rodin hurriedly went back into the room. Kurosawa and the other Hunters slowly retreated back to the room too while still keeping their eyes on the hallway.
[…One injury in his chest, but what caused that injury Its not from a bullet… Horn then But I dont think we have spotted monsters with horns around this area.]
Kurosawas thought was cut short as he saw an old-world automaton coming at him. Since it had a maid uniform and a figure of a young lady, he thought that it was Kanae or Shiori at first, but he immediately understood that was not the case.
“…An active automaton! Is that blood on its glove! So it was from that automaton!”
Kurosawa immediately held down the trigger. The explosion filled the hallway with smoke. He had preset the warhead to explode after a fixed time such that it exploded right before hitting the automaton.
When the smoke cleared up, the automaton was no longer present, not even the leftover wreckage could be seen there. Kurosawa frowned and clicked his tongue.
[…It got away, huh. I bet that one did not damage it that much. Seems like the warhead exploded before it should, did it break the explosion timer Or maybe it hacked into the warhead timer As expected of an old-world automaton… its really advanced…]
Kurosawa was relieved that it at least left them alone for now, so he folded his gun and continued to ponder.
[Maybe I shouldve used rifle mode instead of cannon mode…]
Kurosawa lamented his bad decision as he retreated back into the room.
He glanced at Rodin who was being treated on the floor.
“How is he”
“Hell live. But he wont be up anytime soon.”
“Can you at least get him to wake up I have questions.”
“Thats not gonna happen. Its a pretty bad injury, so hes basically under the stasis mode to make sure he survives. If we wake him up, it might cause his situation to worsen, he might even die.”
Now Kurosawa had to think of another approach. The other Hunters who saw him at a loss got curious.
“Is there something you need to check as soon as possible”
“Yeah, I want to know what happened when he got attacked. This is just my guess, but I bet he got attacked by an old-world automaton. I saw an automaton back there, unfortunately, it got away though.”
Murmur propagated through the other Hunters.
“So, there are more old-world automata”
“Dont tell me Rodin activated an old-world automaton.”
“We dont know for sure yet, it might be just a humanoid robot, right”
Kurosawa raised his hand to calm the other Hunters down.
“Thats what I want to ask this guy. In the worst-case scenario, if he really has woken up an old-world automaton, we might need to break the old-world automata that we have right now.”
“There are 3 possibilities. The first one is that this guy found an old-world automaton and activated it, this would be a relatively better scenario though. The problem is if the automaton activated on its own even without him trying to do that. It would have been better if it was because there was an activation button that only comes up when you get close enough, but it would be really bad if it activates on its own in order to remove any unauthorized intruders. This would mean that the other 4 automata that were guarding might activate anytime soon. After all, that one automaton might have been activated simply because the system is still in the middle of its activation sequence. A full-fledged old-world automaton is often designated as a bounty monster, and we have four of them down here with us. If we have to fight them, it would be super tragic.”
The Hunters looked at each other worriedly. Although they understood that the four automata with them were a huge liability, they did not want to break the expensive relics that they had found if it could be helped.
“B-but its just your guess, right Its not like we have to break them just because we considered the worst-case scenario that is unlikely to happen, right The specialists that weve called will get here soon enough. We just need to wait until they get here…”
Kurosawa threw a death glare to the Hunter who was voicing out that naive thought and immediately shut him up.
“Im sure some of you think that I can do something crazy since I was only paid to lead the team, so I have no business regarding the profit that you can get from this exploration and whatnot. I wont deny it, thats why you decide what to do. As I thought, the amount of money in line here is just too huge, so its not for an outsider like me to decide.”
“W-wait, its your job as the leader to make that decision, right!”
“If its up to me, then well break the automata. Are you okay with that”
After Kurosawa warned the Hunters as such, they staggered back and went silent.
“Ill go watch the hallway, so you guys can take your time to make your decision. There are too many things that we dont know at the moment. The situation might get worse the longer we delay, or it might not. We might be able to wait for the specialists to get here first, or we might be already well too late now. Just remember that when you take your time discussing.”
Kurosawa then turned around and headed to the entrance as the other Hunters behind him started debating.
As Togamis team headed outside the ruin while searching for relics that they could gather on their way out, Akira suddenly threw a question to Alpha.
“The thing that we talked with Shiori about, it seems that I can get an automaton for 1 billion Aurum, do you think its a good idea to get one when I have some leeway”
“I dont think that its necessary. but… Do you want one”
“No, I just thought that you can control my augmented suit and my vehicle, right So you might be able to do the same for the automaton too.”
“But I dont want to.”
That short answer was filled with rejection.
Akira was shocked since that short answer was more of Alphas revulsion towards his suggestion than it being impossible. There was a brief awkward pause, Akira then tried to change the subject.
“It was just a simple thought, nothing more. Its not like Im planning to force you to do it. It just reminded me of Tsubaki back then when she was using an old-world automaton.”
“That was an old-world automaton and it was a rather good one too. Not to mention, it limited its control to only simple movements while making sure not to affect the independent AI inside that automaton. So the situation is not the same here.”
“Ohhh, I see.”
Akira remembered back then when Alpha got angry the moment he referred to her as an alarm clock. But this time, it was obvious that she was angrier than back then.
“I know that you had no bad intention when you suggested that, but never bring this subject up again, okay”
Alpha then smiled to let Akira know that her mood was back to normal. But Akiras frown still stayed for some time.
It had been quite some time since Kurosawa let the other Hunters discuss what to do from there. Since nothing big had happened, the Hunters regained their calm and their opinion started to lean toward waiting for the specialists to arrive.
Even Kurosawa himself started to think that he might have been a bit too paranoid.
[It has been quite a while since we repelled that automaton and it did not return back to attack us, not even once. Does it really plan to leave us alone The reading from the containers inside the room also does not show anything suspicious, it doesnt seem that theyll wake up anytime soon… I might have gotten a bit too paranoid back then. Well, either way, we know for sure that theres an active old-world automaton roaming outside and that in itself is already dangerous enough. But as long as it doesnt come for us, theres no need to deal with it. Ill at least let the specialists know and leave the rest to them.]
Kurosawa did think for a bit about where the automaton was at now and what it was doing at the moment. His sight slightly shifted up while he was still looking toward the small room that he and his team was securing.
That was when he spotted the automaton in a maid uniform standing on the other side of the ceiling on top of that small room. It was sending some data into the automata inside that small room. But it was not a simple activation signal, the automaton was hacking through the container.
Of course, the container was secured with old-world technology, normally, it would have been impossible to try to break through it. But the old-world automaton used its own communication device to access the ruins signal receiver to imitate it using its advanced computation ability. It was only a matter of time before it broke through the security system.
The automata inside the small room opened their eyes. They then broke through the container using brute force by banging and kicking the lid away.
Kurosawa immediately noticed the signal coming from the information-gathering device planted inside the small room and sprung into action.
“The automata are activating!! Get to your battle station!!”
Although the automata were activated, they might not be hostile. But Kurosawa did not hesitate to throw away that possibility and changed his rifle into machine-gun mode. The moment it finished changing mode, he immediately started blasting. The bullet storms ripped through the door and straight into the room, he could hear the sound of bullets ricocheting from inside the room.
Even if the door opened, Kurosawa would not stop shooting in order to prevent the automata from leaving that room as well as to buy some time for the other Hunters to finish their preparations. The other Hunters present there were not amateurs, although they were surprised by that sudden change of events, they immediately got to their positions. Kurosawa just had to buy them a few seconds.
But those few seconds were hard to get when Kurosawa had to face 4 old-world automata.
The door was blasted away followed by containers flying out from inside the room straight in Kurosawas direction. Kurosawa understood that it was impossible to shoot them down, so he leapt aside to avoid them.
In the middle of that, he saw two automata hiding behind those containers to block the bullet storm…
Kurosawa was about to shift his focus to those two automata that were aiming for the exit, but the remaining two automata left inside the room immediately started to move and took his attention so he had no other choice than to let the other two pass by. One of the two automata threw the container at Kurosawa while the other one used the broken container as a blunt weapon against the other Hunters.
Kurosawa jumped aside one more time to evade the incoming container, he aimed at the automaton attacking the Hunter to try to stop it. But that created a small opening in which the other two just blasted past Kurosawa and escaped the room.
[Dammit, they got away!! No, I should just think that its a good thing we have fewer automata to face now! I can just think of the reason why they broke their forces up later! At the moment, I just need to focus on the enemies in front of us right now.]
Before the Hunters were able to regroup, the automaton swung the large container toward the Hunters. The Hunters who could not get away in time were smashed and crashed into the wall, it even left a dent on the durable container.
The Hunters who were finally ready started shooting one of the automata, but it was closing in too quickly. It was clearly aiming for close combat. In that situation, the Hunters might shoot their friends by mistake.
The Hunters had to pay for their mistakes by destroying the automata that should have been an expensive relic. Now that those automata had turned into dangerous enemies, they could not afford to stop fighting in order to survive.
Even with its long skirt that extended down its ankles, the old-world maid automaton blazed through the ruin. Its long hairs that were present more as decoration than for anything else, would have normally tangled up here and there, but it agilely moved around while making sure that would not happen. It was all possible thanks to its advanced computation ability as an old-world automaton.
Shortly after, the other two automata that had gotten away from Kurosawa appeared behind that automaton. The other two automata just followed that single automaton as if they were under its control.
While they were still running through the ruin, the maid automaton grabbed something from under its skirt and threw it at the other two automata. The other two automata naturally received them.
The three automata then moved through the ruin as if they were a single team.-