Yanagisawa somehow managed to make a deal with Tsubaki. After escorting him out of her area, Yanagisawa suddenly asked Tsubaki something in a rather good mood.
“Before I leave, may I ask just one thing. Are you sure its okay not to clean up after Katsuya His speed in creating a local network is not normal. Theres a good chance, or more like, its obvious that another AI is helping him. Its not safe to leave someone like him wandering around your area, right Im pretty sure he will cause you some trouble. If you ask me, I would gladly take him out. That way, you will have fewer problems to deal with compared to if you were to do it yourself.”
Yanagisawa put up a lot of extra offers during his negotiation with Tsubaki in order for Tsubaki to accept a deal that would profit him more. One of them was the information about Katsuya as well as an offer to clean him up. But Tsubaki did not accept that offer.
“That isnt something that I need to ask of you.”
“Is it because asking me would violate some kind of rules between the caretaker AI”
“Im not obliged to answer that question.”
Tsubaki replied with a rather apathetic attitude. Yanagisawa found that weird, but it would be bad if he pursued that question any further and caused his relationship with Tsubaki to sour.
“I see, well, it doesnt really matter. Just contact me if you need me. Ill try my best to comply.”
“Of course, I hope youll fulfil your part of the deal, your promise.”
“Dont worry, just leave it to me. Im a guy who never abandons his promises. In the first place, theres no way I would abandon a promise that I made with a ruins caretaker. It isnt worth the trouble later on.”
Yanagisawa was deliberately taking a rather casual attitude just like usual. But even so, it did not seem that he was lying at all.
Tsubaki then smiled deeply and asked him a question.
“In that case, to make sure that youre not going to break your promise, may I ask you one question”
“Sure, you can ask me anything. I dont want you to cancel the deal midway after all. So Im willing to answer just about anything, you know”
Yanagisawa was talking casually just like usual. Tsubaki reacted with her usual smile as well. She then asked her question with an equally casual tone.
“Very well, I shall gladly take you up on your offer then. Please tell me why you broke your promise with that caretaker AI You broke your promise with them, so I dont see why you wont do the same to me. So, please tell me the reason.”
Yanagisawas smile turned stiff.
“…Uhhh, I dont understand what youre talking about though”
“You did meet me once in the past when you were brought to me by one of those AI, right Although, at that time, you didnt call yourself Yanagisawa.”
Yanagisawas expression immediately turned stern.
“…How can you tell Im sure Ive erased all of my past footprints. Even the other ruins couldnt recognize my ID. I was sure the ruins would identify me as a completely different person!”
“The facilities inside ruins identify someone through various different methods. For example, people who can connect to the old-world domain would be assigned different identification the moment they access the old-world domain. So if their connection to the old-world domain is jammed, the system wont be able to recognize their identity correctly. In that case, they would be given a temporary identification and identified as a different person.”
Tsubakis smile widened.
“Isnt that exactly why you dont bother fixing your old-world connection”
Yanagisawa smiled bitterly, Tsubakis guess was correct.
“As for how I was able to identify you, in my case, I dont need to connect to the old-world domain. As long as Im connected to my own area, I can identify you. After all, we locally record any past visitors. Thats why I took you back to my own area during our negotiation.”
Yanagisawa lightly rubbed his head and sighed. He then slightly regained his usual expression.
“I see. Well, it might be way too late to say this, but I guess I should restart fromlong time no see, huh”
“In that case, I shall also reply withlong time no see. Now then, if you may answer my previous question.”
Tsubakis gentle smile was not a guarantee for Yanagisawas life. If he made a wrong move there, he would be dead. He knew that very well as he replied.
[Its for the sake of humanitys happiness and to save them. For that sake, there is a need for me to get that thing! If I have to add anything, its true that I accepted their request to subjugate a certain ruin and I had no wish to break that promise. There were just different interpretations between us on what it means to subjugate a ruin. I believe it was their mistake for not explaining it properly to me beforehand, or was it my mistake]
“I see. It would be too much trouble if I have to readjust the minute details regarding our deal. So let me warn you, if you break your promise, Ill give the data about you to them, okay”
After Yanagisawa said so with his uncharacteristically serious demeanour, he returned back to his usual attitude as he lightly smiled and continued.
“I wont break my promise. You didnt need to do that, you know. Geez, you just cant trust me, can you Im the one who stands to lose if this deal breaks down, you know”
“That would mean you would happily break your promise if its more profitable. Which means, you would cause some kind of damage to me if it is profitable for you. The moment I have to do something to make sure you wont break your promise, I would no longer have any trust in you.”
“Geez, thats so strict. Do you really hate me that much”
Yanagisawa smiled wryly which Tsubaki then replied with a straight smile.
“Yes, I really hate your guts.”
Yanagisawa deliberately made an exaggerated reaction and said.
“Seriously though, why are caretaker AIs so… You know, hard-headed They just cant make any compromise. The business AIs are way easier to deal with, you know”
“Thats because ever since we no longer get a proper visitor, we dont need the ability to make deals. There is also the fact that, to us, there is never a need to make deals with robbers.”
“Even if you say that, wouldnt it be wonderful if we have a chance to understand each other”
Yanagisawa smiled bitterly at his hard-headed negotiation partner that he was facing. Half of it was only an act while the other half was his real feeling. But Tsubaki replied with a wondrous smile.
“Of course there is. Although, the subject of that treatment wont be you. For example, if its someone with a strong sense of duty. I would be more than happy to get connected with that kind of person.”
Yanagisawa got shocked inside, but he kept up his joking demeanour.
“Oh, you like that type, huh I can introduce you to some people that you might like if you want, you know”
“Thank you but no thank you.”
Tsubaki replied back almost instantly, Yanagisawa let out a fake sigh in response.
“I see. Well then, Im heading back to base. Ah, by the way, I need to contact someone in order to do my best to keep my promise and I cant do that with this jamming.”
“Very well. Ill remove it in due time. Ill excuse myself then.”
Tsubaki turned around and returned back to her area. In the middle of that, she activated her optical camouflage and vanished.
Not too long after Tsubaki had left the place, Yanagisawas smile crumbled. He heaved out a huge sigh of relief as beads of cold sweat were running down his forehead.
[…That was dangerous. But it was within my expectation. Tsubaki hates them, thats why she wont tell them even after she noticed that it is me. And since she has insurance to make sure that Ill properly keep my promise, shes more likely to accept the deal… Thats right, its all still within my expectation, theres no problem… Though the matter with Katsuya is outside my expectation, well, its a completely different matter.]
A call suddenly reached his information terminal. It seemed that the jamming had been turned off. Yanagisawa smiled and picked that call, it was from someone in the forward base.
“Commander Yanagisawa! Where are you right now! Get back here and take command! The expedition armies have been crushed-”
“I know. And Ive solved that too.”
“Haah! What are you talking about…!”
“Ill take command through the long-term planning division from here. Tell the rest to obey the orders coming from that division.”
“Wait for a sec! Just what-”
Yanagisawa closed the call there and made another call to Kugamayama city.
“Its me. Tell them to open the emergency officers meeting right away… Yeah, I know. Ive handled the mess in Kuzusuhara ruin. Put all the chain of command under the long-term planning division and start the cleaning up process. Give me another call when the officers are ready. Get on it.”
He then closed that call and was about to call another person when a different call reached his information terminal first.
“Yes yes, Yanagisawa speaking here.”
“You bastard!! Where are you right now! And what do you mean that you have the situation under control! Just what in the world are you doing!”
“Ill tell you about the details through the long-term planning division, Im pretty sure I just gave that order, or is it that you havent received it”
“Just answer me now!”
“Geez. Give me a break already. I just made a deal with the caretaker AI that you angered.”
Yanagisawa could hear a gasp from the other side of the call as he smiled amusedly.
After breaking up with Elenas team, Shikarabes team went to search the inside of the building. Shikarabe seemed immensely vexed. Seeing him like that, Valga chuckled and said to him.
“If you really hate it, you dont have to do this, you know.”
“Its not that simple… Were still in Drankam and its an SOS signal from
a Drankam Hunter. We cant just simply ignore it… Even if it comes from those
“Youre really dutiful, you know”
“Oh is it! Lets go.”
In reality, Elenas team was not able to find Akira. The information terminal lent to him for the expedition was destroyed in the middle of the fight, so it was impossible to track the signal from that information terminal. But after the jamming was disengaged, Shikarabe received an SOS signal from Katsuyas team, and after learning from Nelia that Akira was fighting Katsuya, they went to check the signal and found Akira there.
Unlike Elena, Sara and Akira who immediately headed back after that, although Shikarabe, Yamanobe and Valga wanted to return with them as well, they had to stay behind to search the building. This was despite the fact that they really did not want to. At that time, they hoped that the leader of the team, Nelia, would order them to return back as well. Along with her order, they had no reason to stay behind a dangerous area just to search a building. Furthermore, in order to not get left behind, they had no other choice but to return back together with Elenas team. That would at least be enough to convince people from Drankam as to why they ignored the SOS signal.
But Nelia instead suggested they stay. Now that they had rescued Akira and sent him back with Elena and Sara, it was enough to prove that they were allies. Thus, she thought that it was better to stay there and wait for the next order instead of having to return back to the forward base just to be sent out again.
Elenas team knew that the forward base was organizing reinforcements to send to the expedition area. With the jamming gone, it was easier for them to communicate with each other. Although Shikarabes team did not like it, they still accepted the order.
Unfortunately for the group of men, Nelia and the rest had no wish to stay behind to help Shikarabes team search the building. Considering Akiras state as well, they decided to leave.
With that, Shikarabe had no other choice but to go down the building with the other Drankam Hunters present. That was until they found a chopped up corpse of a Drankam Hunter.
“This gun owner code… Katsuya This is Katsuya”
Shikabare was so shocked, but he then immediately made a conflicted expression.
“…And here I thought he was someone who wouldnt die no matter what happened. I guess my intuition has really dulled, huh”
Yamanobe laughed bitterly.
“Hes also a Hunter. So he will die when his time comes, just like any other Hunter. But still, this body… He was cut into 4 pieces, huh This is not from a monster. Moreover, his head is not around, just where did his head go Was it crushed or something Was it mixed with all those blood splatters around”
Valga returned after he looked around.
“The other Hunters are unconscious but still alive. Theyre all fainted from exhaustion and it doesnt seem like any of them are going to wake up anytime soon. The rest of their team is on the ground floor. Shikarabe, whats the plan here Should we carry all of them back”
Suddenly an emergency notice reached everyones information terminal. They all made conflicted expressions when they heard the content of that voice notification.
“This is the long-term planning division of Kugamayama city! Weve formed a truce with the caretaker AI protecting the large-scale expedition area! All the Hunters, follow the commands from the long-term planning division and send your location right away! Fighting between Hunters is strictly prohibited! The drones under the AI are already retreating! Dont attack the monsters that dont attack you! You may only fight the monsters that are not under the caretaker AI! Repeat! This is-”
Shikarabe, Yamanobe, and Valga looked at each other, confused.
Inside a world that was filled with empty whiteness, Tsubaki was standing face to face with two Alphas. The Alpha who had lost Katsuya was staring dagger at Tsubaki but Tsubaki just ignored her. The conversation had reached a block.
“Just give it up already. I wont say anything else. The subjects under both of you fought each other on their own. Its not like I can do anything even if you ask me to take responsibility. The jamming was done to throw the invading army into chaos, I didnt do that precisely to make the subjects under both of you fight each other.”
“But I lost my subject because of it. Do you really think that I will let it slide just with that”
“Its not my fault. Its their fault to be present when the jamming was activated. I have neither obligation nor reason to lower the defence of the area under my care just for the sake of the two of you.”
Tsubakis usual flat expression turned rather curt.
“As I said before, if you look down on us thinking that we should sacrifice the area under our jurisdiction just for your circumstances, then we also have our own thoughts on how to deal with the likes of you. The fault lies with you.”
Tsubaki and the two Alpha were staring intensely at each other, the Alpha from Akiras side sighed and said.
“Alright then, lets take that as an unfortunate accident.”
“Thank you for your understanding.”
Tsubaki smiled amicably. The other Alpha seemed not entirely happy with that solution but still did not say anything further.
“Putting that matter aside, I want you to hand over the data of everything that happened during the jamming though.”
“I believe that I have already done that.”
“Theres no data about your conversation with Akira.”
Alphas gaze turned sharp, but Tsubaki replied casually.
“Thats my private negotiation data. I have neither obligation nor reason to share it with you. Ahh, but its not like Im hiding anything, you can ask Akira himself, right”
“Is that so”
“It is so.”
Alphas gaze turned even sharper, but Tsubaki continued ignoring it.
The reason why Tsubaki did not tell that particular detail to Alpha was simply to sow suspicion. She was trying to make Alpha doubt someone who would even sacrifice his own life for the sake of protecting his duties and promises. Someone who had absolutely no reason to be doubted. Basically, depending on how one was to look at it, it was Tsubaki harassing Alpha.
“If thats all, I will excuse myself then.”
Tsubaki threw a deep smile at Alpha before vanishing.
Both Alpha understood that the parting words from Tsubaki were also a warning. It was some kind of demonstration that it was a mistake to look down on her. If Akira and Katsuya were killed, the Alphas would have no other choice but to make their move, and it was true even if Tsubaki only killed one of them.
Tsubakis main goal was to show that she could manipulate the situation to the point that the subjects under the two Alphas would kill each other. That she could do it indirectly to the point that she could be exempted from having to take the responsibility. It was a statement saying that she was willing to pick a fight with the Alphas, to the point that she would kill their subjects when the push came to shove.
“Well, it doesnt really matter, this is an experiment anyway. Lets just move on. But, theres another thing that bothers me. My subject survived while your subject died. This is outside of our prediction. Outside of our prediction means its outside of our control, is that really okay”
The other Alpha knitted her eyebrows in response to the other Alphas worry.
“Dealing with the aftermath is the only thing that we can do. Well, its an experiment after all, so theres no need to worry about it. That aside, how about you If your experiment has ended because you have lost your subject, I want to use your computation resources. If youre just going to look for another subject, you dont need all of your current computation resources, right”
“No, Im planning to change the subject and continue with the experiment. If that change fails, then Ill stop the experiment there.”
“Is that so Alright then.”
The other Alpha sulked.
“But still, why did all of this have to happen when it was going so well.”
“No idea, collecting data is also one of the goals for these experiments though.”
“You have a point.”
The Alpha smiled bitterly before vanishing from the white world.
A few days after the large scale expedition, Akira once again woke up in a hospital room. As he was about to push his body up, he inadvertently fell again. He was once again reminded that he had lost his arm and he smiled wryly.
“Waking up in a hospital room, this pattern again,…”
“This also means that youre still alive, so I dont think theres any reason for you to hate it that much.”
Alpha who was next to him smiled gently at him.
“Good morning, Akira. Did you sleep well”
“Morning, Alpha. Yeah, except for my arm, Im good as new.”
“Dont worry, you can just get your arm healed later. Although it might be a bit too late to say this, Im glad that youre fine. Now then, youre already up, so I hope you can now tell me what had happened. Its a good way to kill time as well.”
The doctor who was responsible for Akira came. He gave Akira the document that listed the total cost of the treatment that Akira had received when he was unconscious. The doctor was also there to ask Akira about what to do with his lost arm. They could have healed the arm while he was still unconscious, but since he was a high-rank Hunter, there was a need to get his approval first.
Although there were few who would cut off their own arms in exchange for prosthetics, many replaced their lost limbs with prosthetics. They might do so even disregarding the treatment cost. After all, not a small number of Hunters lose their limbs fighting against monsters. Considering the chances that they would lose their limbs again, they chose to replace their lost limbs with prosthetics. This was instead of having to pay the heavy price of recovering their limbs every single time.
After Akira listened to the doctors explanation, Alpha then gleefully said to him.
“Akira, how about trying prosthetic arms You can equip a gun, blade, or forcefield armour inside such an arm. With the help of my support, youll have no trouble controlling such a complicated battle-oriented prosthetic arm.”
Akira imagined himself sticking a magazine into his arm and shooting with it. The hand part of his arm was turned into a muzzle and returned back to his usual hand after that.
“…Nah, Ill get a normal arm.”
“Oh, why is that”
“I feel like it will not be very comfortable eating or going into a bath with such an arm.”
“If its about the look, you can buy an expensive prosthetic that looks exactly like a normal arm from the outside, you know”
“No, no. its more of a matter of feeling.”
It was indeed an attractive offer considering its function for battles, but Akira did not like the idea of having to go through his daily life with it. Especially when he had an image of accidentally pulling out a rifle or a blade by mistake in the middle of a meal or in the bath.
The doctor noticed Akiras weird behaviour.
“Is there something wrong”
“No, its nothing. Ill take the regeneration treatment.”
“Very well. To put it simply, you basically have two options, either grow an arm from the place where your arm was cut-off, or grow another arm and connect it to your body after.”
The doctor then explained the other details regarding the two options such as their prices, benefits and disadvantages. In the end, Akira chose the latter. After that, the doctor put a prosthetic that looked like an arm-only augmented suit on Akira. It then readjusted its shape according to the data from his measurement until it had the shape of his original arm.
That data would be used to grow another arm later so that it would not give any strange feeling after it was connected. The doctor then left after giving a detailed explanation as to how much it would cost and how long Akira would have to stay in the hospital.
Akira looked at the white prosthetic arm with great interest as he moved it around. He felt nothing strange with that arm as if it was his original arm. He could clearly feel the sensation when he grabbed an object with that prosthetic arm.
“What can I say… It feels so natural like my own arm.”
“Its a medical prosthetic after all. It is extremely sensitive in order to get an accurate reading of your nerves for the new arm. Akira, try extending your hand forward.”
Akira just did as he was told and extended his arm. Alpha was smiling mischievously, his prosthetic arm reached to her chest and buried in between her valley. He could suddenly feel the warmth and the softness of a humans skin as Alphas chest moved forward and buried Akiras arm up until its wrist.
Akira was so surprised that he pulled his arm in reaction. Alpha smiled smugly at him and said.
“I used the data from your augmented suit and tried to apply it to the prosthetic arm, how was it It felt pretty real, didnt it”
Akira had not recovered from the shock.
“…Dont surprise me like that.”
“How about trying touching other places as well while you have the chance”
“Is that so Theres no need to hold back, you know You can tell me anytime you change your mind.”
Akiras face turned slightly reddish, he then turned away as if he was sulking. But Alpha found that very satisfying and smiled at him.-