Chapter 281: The Aftermath of A Trouble
After finishing their businesses with Akira and the others, Katsuragi and Darris started their preparation to leave Sheryls base. Before he left, Katsuragi, who was already sitting in the drivers seat, left a few words to Akira.
“Im glad that I dont have to go looking for you out in the middle of the wasteland… Good luck… And dont die, Akira.”
“…You too. I heard that the area around here is regarded as a part of the wasteland. So, be careful out there.”
“You can definitely say that again.”
Both of them smiled at each other. Akira, with his usual smile and Katsuragi, with a wry one. Katsuragi then started the trailer and left.
Akira closed the shutter down and heaved a sigh.
[I got new equipment and replenished my ammo stock. I guess whats left is to wait, huh]
He would attack back when attacked. If there were no problems, he would raid the inner wall once he got his new equipment from Saka**a Heavy Industry. Either way, there was no rush to do either. The only thing he could do right now was to wait. With that in mind, Akira reminded himself to calm down. Not to get ahead of himself.
Alpha, who saw him act in such a manner, found it to be rather strange.
“Akira. Whats with that troubled face You got new equipment and were able to replenish your reserve ammo, right”
“…Well, its 16 billion Aurum, you know Although its an upfront payment, its basically a form of debt. I dont have the money to pay it back.”
Akira was thinking of repaying any of his debt as soon as possible. Naturally, paying the debt back was his priority and he assumed that the other party did think of it as a debt. Even so, 16 billion Aurum was not a small sum for Akira.
“We can just do his request sometime soon. Im sure it will be fine.”
“Well, that might be true. But we dont know for sure when we will actually be able to do his request. A debt which I dont know when I can pay back… I still really cant mentally set it aside.”
At the moment, Akira could not achieve anything without making some sacrifices. Nonetheless, he still feels like he might have made a mistake. His thoughts were still stuck with the sum that he had received from Shirou as upfront payment.
Alpha smiled and tried to cheer him up.
“Lets just hope that you will find a time after were done with the current issues. Your worries are meaningless if you die after all, right”
Akira finally relaxed. He might not be able to pay back the 16 billion Aurum debt. However, to at least begin repaying, he needed to survive. Thus, he decided to look at his situation with optimism.
“Akira, putting that aside, you have received a message from Drankam and Reina. Both are requesting to meet you in person.”
After Akira heard the details of both messages from Alpha, he was a little bit caught off guard. He asked Alpha to tell them to come here if they really wanted to meet him. It did not take long for both to reply:I am coming right away.
A vehicle with Drankams logo was racing through the slums. There were only two people in that vehicle: Arabe, who was a negotiator from Drankam and Shikarabe. Arabe was the one who had to explain the situation to Akira, and was there to speak with him. Meanwhile, Shikarabe was there as Arabes escort.
With the looming trouble just right around the corner, Arabe, who was sitting on the drivers assistant seat, sighed.
“Negotiate with a 50 billion Aurum bounty target, huh… This is not something a normal Hunter gang would do. Even if were from the same city, you know”
Shikarabe smiled wryly.
“But we have no other choice but to do it, right To prevent further conflict with Akira after the Katsuya incident, we even went as far as to prepare a peace treaty through the Hunter Office. If we are going to scrap that peace treaty, in the worst-case scenario, the whole gang might get eradicated, you know”
“And thats by the Hunter Office Or by Akira”
“Is there a difference”
Hearing that, Arabe once again sighed and could not refute. Nonetheless, he commented.
“To think that incident would cause problems till this point… Katsuya was a huge pain when he was still alive, and he is still causing trouble even after his death. What a really troublesome guy.”
“Thats just the way it is, but it is also thanks to him that Drankam can grow this big. So, lets just think of it as us finally needing to pay our dues.”
Arabe raised his eyebrows since it sounded like Shikarabe giving Katsuya recognition.
“I didnt expect you of all people would say something like that. I thought you hate him.”
“And I did tell you this so many times before. Im not that stupid as to let my personal feeling affect my evaluation.”
Seeing how Shikarabe was talking about Katsuya with a smile, Arable cracked out a soft smile. He concluded that his friend had already gotten over Katsuya.
“But still, what can I say… Its as you had warned me before. Im glad that I didnt invite Akira to join Drankam. No one in their right mind would pick a fight with Lion Steel. In the worst-case scenario, he might even drag Drankam into his fight with Lion Steel. Thank goodness I didnt invite him.”
“Told you. My intuition is as sharp as ever.”
“So, what is your intuition saying this time”
“Hmm, lets see. Well, we should manage somehow, I guess”
“I see. I guess I will pin my hope on that intuition of yours.”
Arabe smiled as he was partially serious about what he said. Seeing his friend like this, Shikarabe cracked out a bitter smile. He seemed to be genuinely happy that his friend had so much faith in him. After all, it was not an exaggeration to say that Shikarabe and Arabe had the fate of Drankam on their shoulders. The weight continued to press on them as they proceeded through the slums and into where Akira was.
Around the same time, a vehicle with a Lion Steel Eastern District Fourth Ward Branchs logo on it was racing through the slums. It was a vehicle that Reinas group had borrowed. There was a large Lion Steel logo painted on it, which bothered Reina.
“Say, Shiori, is it really going to be fine meeting Akira in this vehicle”
”I have contacted Akira-sama beforehand and I have sent the ID code of this vehicle. As long as Akira-sama doesnt see us as hostile, I am sure that he will not attack this vehicle. Moreover, I cannot recommend going through the wasteland on foot. Meanwhile, if we try to hide with camouflage, it would make us look suspicious.”
“Yes, please think of this area as a part of the wasteland. Im not being hyperbolic. It really is being treated as part of the wasteland.”
With a 50 billion bounty target hiding in the slums, the border to the lower district was now being guarded by the city defence squad. Basically, it was recognised as a dangerous area. There would be no surprise if a large-scale battle suddenly broke out. Thus, it was to be expected that the area got recognized as a part of the wasteland.
Kanae smiled amusedly and asked.
“Well, Ane-san. Theres no need to worry about the small things at this point, no”
“Small things… Its for Miladys safety, you know”
“Ane-san, are you being serious The moment Milady agreed to come with us to kill Chloe-sama, theres no need to mention this kind of small things anymore.”
Shiori frowned. She could not refute Kanaes point.
They had basically abandoned the third ward and joined the fourth ward. They could have asked the fourth ward to ensure Reinas safety. However, it would be meaningless if the fourth ward used this as an opportunity to take Reina hostage. Reina also adamantly insisted on joining them. Thus, Shiori made the decision to take Reina along and protect Reina by herself.
Togami suddenly interjected.
“Shiori-san, Akira will believe you when you state we are not hostile towards him, right Wouldnt that already be good enough”
“Well, thats true, but…”
“I dont see any other options. The third ward will see us as enemies. Especially after we allied with the fourth ward to kill Chloe and the others. To prevent any possibility of the fourth ward handing Reina over to the third ward, it is better to bring her along with us. I believe you already considered this, and it is the main reason why you agreed to take her with us. Its also why we are working together.”
“Thats true, but still…”
Shiori sounded defeated as bit her lips. Watching her smile, Reina finally joined into the conversation.
“I do feel bad for dragging all of you here for my selfishness. But please help me out here.”
“Please dont worry about it Milady. As long as I am alive, I will always be by your side to serve you.”
Shiori was so happy that her master was worried for her. That joy made her inadvertently pledge her loyalty. However, she soon realised that her words,please dont worry about it Milady, had basically approved of their current situation. Furthermore, Reina intentionally spoke to induce her to say what she had said.
“Milady… Youve really become strong.”
“Is that so I will take as a compliment.”
Reina smiled happily with dignity suitable for a master.
When they arrived at Sheryls base, they also saw Shikarabe and Arabe. As both parties stated that they were there to meet Akira, they both went inside the base together.
Akira was a bit surprised to see Drankams group come in together with Reinas group. However, he decided to talk with Drankams group first.
Facing a 50 billion bounty target, Arabe nervously and cautiously stated why he was here.
“Im sure you have read my message, but allow me to convey it one more time. First, Drankam has no desire to be hostile with you. So please, keep this in mind as you listen to what I need to say next.”
It was basically about what was left of the Katsuya faction. What they might do, how to handle them, and a formal apology from Drankam.
The Katsuya faction was a huge faction inside Drankam. However, with Katsuyas death, its influence quickly waned. Nonetheless, they had infallible loyalty towards Katsuya. Many of them still held a strong grudge against Akira. Some of them signed the peace treaty with a heavy heart. Some even outright refused to sign the peace treaty.
In the end, Drankam decided not to kick all of them out of the gang. Instead, they chose to keep them under close observation. After all, it would be troublesome for Drankam if they sneaked out of the gang to attack Akira on the same day they left. The peace treaty between Drankam and Akira was made through the Hunter Office. If they left Drankam and immediately attacked Akira, Drankam could not simply relinquish their responsibility by claiming that those who attacked Akira had already left the gang. Moreover, many of the Katsuya faction were youngsters. In order not to prolong the feud between the young and the veteran members of the gang, the gang decided not to deliver any harsh punishment onto them. They originally planned to let time naturally chip away their grudge.
Their decision was partially right. Unfortunately, it had also partially backfired. Just the other day, several members who were under close watch suddenly vanished. Since they were not kicked out of the gang and were put under close watch, Drankam was able to track their movements. There was fear that they would use Akiras situation as an opportunity to attack him. Since they stayed with Drankam after the incident, Drankam could not simply claim that they had nothing to do with the gang. No matter what they come up with, their association could not be dropped. Thus, the gang had no other choice but to do something to resolve this situation internally.
“In this situation, I want you to understand something. Even if they attack you sometime soon, its not Drankams will. They are acting independently. We will take this as an internal issue and deal with them ourselves. Considering the situation, you might want to ask for some escorts from Drankam. However, this is an internal problem. So, Im sorry to say this. Although we will not be hostile with you, we cannot join your side. We will stay neutral, so I hope you can understand.”
Arabe explained and lowered his head to perform a deep bow.
On the other hand, Akira did not understand why he would come all the way here just to say this. For all that he cared, they could just handle it themselves without telling him. Thus, Alpha warned Akira.
This was just how badly Drankam did not want to get into a fight with him. However, Drankam was also afraid of being seen as Akiras ally by Lion Steel. That was why they came all the way here. It was to cement their neutral position. Thus, although with a slight delay, Akira was finally able to understand why Arabe came all the way here just to explain.
“I see. Fine then. Its also a positive for me that you have no wish to fight me. Its also helpful if you are going to eliminate those who are trying to attack me. So, feel free to do whatever you want.”
“Thank you very much.”
Arabe raised his head and sighed in relief. Watching him, Shikarabe smiled wryly.
The next order of business was with Reinas group. Reina stepped to the front as the representative.
“Uhhh, lets see… where should I start… I guess I should start with our situation, huh”
Reina then gave a short explanation to Akira. It was basically about Reinas group accepting a mission to kill Chloe from Lion Steel Eastern District Fourth Ward Branch. The fact that they were already opposing Chloe. They even tried to attack Chloes group. Although they did not manage to kill her, they were able to kill Latis. They also managed to kill off some Hunters that were attacking Akira in the process. Finally, in the worst-case scenario, a war between branches might break out.
Akira was astonished. In the previous message, Reina only mentioned someone about their discussion being related to Lion Steel and Chloe. He never thought that it would be this big of a bombshell.
“So, theres something I need to confirm with you about the matter with Chloe. Its not like you will tell us to keep our hands off her since shes your prey, right”
“Nah. Just because I want to kill her, doesnt mean I wish others will not try to do so. You can go ahead and kill her if you want. As a matter of fact, I dont really care even if its due to a disease or an accident. As long as shes dead, I dont really care.”
“I knew you would say that.”
Reina casually exclaimed, but deep inside, she was extremely relieved.
Logically, antagonizing the Lion Steel company would yield no benefits. Nonetheless, Akira had done it. Thus, there was a good chance that Akira tends to decide based on his emotions. Even if he did it purely out of his own interest, it only proves just how abnormal his thought process was.
Thus, Reina was worried that Akira might insist on killing Chloe with his own hands. That he might see anyone in his way as enemies. Reina was relieved after she was given confirmation, everything was just her own concerns.
“Just one more thing. We are both aiming to kill Chloe. So, do you want to work together That way, the Fourth Ward will be able to provide you with support. I dont think its a bad idea.”
“Im sorry, but I have to refuse. I want to have the freedom to decide my actions. If I work together with someone else and something goes wrong, it might turn really troublesome.”
“Thats true… If youre going to say yes here, then you would have already accepted branch manager Flips offer.”
Reina expected Akira to turn down her offer. Since he did as she had expected, she moved on to the next subject.
“In that case, would it be okay if we stay close to you With Chloe after you, its better for us if we stay near you. If possible, we want to use this HQ as well.”
That was when Shikarabe suddenly interjected.
“It would be great if you can grant us permission as well. Though we wont stay as your bodyguard, this is a good opportunity for us to hunt those from Drankam who want to kill you. Youre planning to stay around here for the time being, right”
“As long as you dont get in my way, you can do whatever you want. If you want to stay here, you should talk to Sheryl. After all, its not like I own this place. Im just borrowing this place from Sheryl as well. If she tells me to get out, I will have no other choice but to leave.”
Akira said it as a matter of fact. There were no signs he was joking. The others there were flummoxed and inadvertently turned towards Sheryl.
“I wont say such a thing.”
There were thorns in her words. It was rare for her to express annoyance toward Akira like this. Akira found it to be a bit weird. Meanwhile, seeing their exchange, Carol smiled bitterly.
Shikarabe and the others were even more discombobulated. It seems like Akira would really obediently leave if Sheryl told him to get out. That was the atmosphere of the room at the moment.
Shikarabe glanced at Arabe and Reina glanced at Shiori. Both Shiori and Arabe immediately stepped forward to negotiate. They treated Sheryl not as a leader of a slum gang, but as someone with the power to have a say on Akiras actions. As such, they had no other choice but to take their negotiations extremely seriously.
The result was, Reinas group being allowed to take one of the rooms inside HQ. Since it was a room that was prepared for guests who were looking for relics from Tsubakis territory, the room was well decorated and of considerably good quality. Togami was amazed when he stepped into the room.
“Whoah! I didnt know something like this existed inside the slums. And here I thought they would assign us into a warehouse or something, but this is amazing.”
Erio, who guided Reinas group to the room, smiled wryly when he heard Togamis remark.
“Well, theres a good chance this whole place will be turned into a pile of rocks tomorrow.”
Akira was also inside the building. It would not be strange if the Hunters after him attacked this place. The buildings defences have been bolstered by several modifications to the point it was as strong as a fort. Nonetheless, Erio, who had known Akira for a long time, knew once a building got involved in a fight with Akira in it, there was a good chance that it would collapse.
“This room is also equipped with a bath. Though, you can use the large bath that everyone usually uses if you want. For that one, you need to book a slot first before you can use it. You can book your time through the terminal installed in this room. Ah, but you need to know this first. If Akira-san or Boss wants to use it, we will prioritize them. Im sorry but thats just how it is.”
Although the room was luxurious for Togami, it was nothing special for Reina. She casually stepped into the room and looked around.
“I see. Well, its only to be expected. Its Akira and the boss of this place after all. Were basically here because they allowed us to be here.”
“Yeah, it cant be helped. Its Akira-san and the boss. It might be possible to make a compromise if its only one of them, but with the two of them together, we cant really refuse them.”
“Yeah, thats… Wait What”
Reina stopped midway. Erio just said something that caught her completely off guard. She frowned and tilted her head before asking for confirmation.
“Two of them together Do you mean like…they go in the bath together”
“Yup, theyre in a relationship, after all.”
“Ohh, thats a bit unexpected. I always thought that Akira had no interest in that kind of thing. Is that why theres no separate bath for girls and boys registered in the reservation system”
“…Yeah. Anyway, that will be all from me, I will take my leave now.”
Erio was able to notice that Reina had already guessed how their relationship worked. Sheryl was the aggressive one while Akira did not really care that much about it. He did not even care about Sheryl going into the bath with him. He immediately reflected on his words and regretted them. He should not have said anything. Looking for a quick retreat, he left the room.
Unlike Reina, Shiori, and Kanae, who were all female, Togami seemed rather jealous. Reina took notice and smiled as she asked him.
“Togami, want to go”
Reina did not saytogether but her words already implied it. Reina did it intentionally as her smile deepened.
Togami froze. He then slowly and carefully glanced at Shiori and Kanae.
“If Milady wants to form a serious relationship with Togami-sama, its not my place to say anything.”
“As long as I dont think youre a bad guy, I wont do anything.”
Which meant, if it was not a serious relationship, or if he was thought to be a bad guy, it would be his end. He would either be sliced into small pieces or beaten into a pulp. Togami had no courage to affirm that right now.
“I-I will have to go out for a bit. I need to check how Drankam plans to treat us…”
Seeing how Togami basically refused to give a straight answer. Kanae and Shiori commented on him as he awkwardly laughed and left the room.
“What a wimp.”
“Lets just say that hes being extra cautious.”
Kanae was smiling amusedly while Shiori heaved a sigh. Reina was laughing since it turned out exactly as she had planned. However, there was a little bit of sorrow in it.
As for Drankam, Sheryl was willing to let Drankam use one of the halls. Drankam also rented out some small rooms for resting. When Togami asked Arabe if he could use one of those small rooms, Arabe refused with no sign of compromise.
“No. I wont let you make any connections to us. As I said, Drankam is taking a neutral stance. So, we wont give you any assistance.”
Reina had already formally left the gang. Meanwhile, Togami had formally taken the request from Reina as an individual. Thus, Reinas group no longer had anything to do with Drankam. The reason why Drankam forced Reina to leave the gang was to prevent the Lion Steel Third Ward branch from seeing the gang as hostile. By maintaining separate relations, Drankam was able to ascertain its neutral stance.
“A neutral stance can also be interpreted as taking the opposite side against all parties, you know To ensure that wouldnt happen, were being extra careful. Make sure that you dont get involved with us too. If you want to borrow another room, you should do so without us. If you understand, keep your distance from us.”
“Alright, alright, Ill do as you suggest.”
Togami sighed and left. After that, Shikarabe asked Arabe.
“What do you think We can go help Reinas group and form a connection with the Fourth Ward branch. Togami got pretty powerful weapons from them, right It would be great if we can get equipment of the same level as him, you know”
“No. In exchange, Im sure theyll want us to help them fight the third ward branch. If Drankam gets involved in a fight between two branches of Lion Steel, we will get wiped out in no time.”
“Then, what if a portion of the Katsuya faction that left the gang went and allied with Chloe Im sure theyll not just throw their lives away. Isnt that exactly why theyre keeping quiet up until now. There must be some kind of reason they are suddenly making their move now.”
“Thats plausible, but its nothing but unfounded worry at the moment. If we ally with the fourth ward due to it, we would be picking a fight with the third ward. Considering the current known facts, we cant afford to do that.”
Even if a portion of the Katsuya faction suddenly vanished because of Chloe, it was highly likely that they could only muster up till 100 million Aurum of supportive funding. Since Drankam should be able to deal with this internal issue by themselves, there was no need to rely on equipment from Lion Steel. Arabe then added that it was not easy to decide on what course of action they should take.
Shikarabe finally backed off.
“Well, its your job. Officers are the ones calculating the profit and losses… So yeah, I get it. Its just that… Im a bit interested in equipment from Lion Steel.”
“At the very least, it was not something that I can decide by ourselves here. I will at least bring up the idea to the other officers when we return.”
Arabe continued and this time, laughed amusedly.
“Well, lets say that we somehow ended up borrowing equipment from Lion Steel. Even if they send in maid outfits, I will have you use them, you know”
“…Uhh, if that happens, wouldnt it be butler uniforms Like the one that Togami is wearing”
“Its not like we can tell them what to send. But if we really end up doing that, I bet it will be exceptionally powerful equipment. It might even be worth considering Drankam to break its neutral stance. Well, no matter what the design is, if we really end up borrowing from them, Ill have you use them, okay”
“…Uhh, Im good, I have my own augmented suit, you know…”
“No, no, no. Youre basically seen as the leader of the team when youre working outside. I will have you use them to act as an example. I will also do that for Kurosawa. Well, hes interested in that kind of thing if Im not mistaken. I guess he would be the perfect person for this.”
“But if I remember it correctly, he has no hobby cross-dressing though…”
Shikarabe smiled wryly as he thought that he should not have said what he had said back then.
Akira was on the rooftop. He was looking around the surrounding area. A scene of the deserted slums was laid in front of him. Thanks to Alphas support, he was able to detect anyone in the area.
First was Erio and the others. They were using augmented suits with coordination support as they patrolled the area around HQ. Thanks to their equipment and training, they were able to work effectively as a team. They were already strong enough to fight evenly against common Hunters. However, the Hunters attacking should all be high-ranking Hunters. After all, they were after a target worth 50 billion bounty. Even with everything they had, Erio and the others had zero chance of winning against them. Akira, aware of this, did not expect any meaningful support from them.
At the moment, they were checking the surroundings with the help of the information-gathering devices spread around the area. They even had them installed outside of Sheryls gangs area. Normally, that would provoke the other gangs into a fight. However, since the area around them basically got abandoned, no one around would complain.
With the help of those information-gathering devices, they were able to check the situation inside the slums from afar. When they spotted Akira on the rooftop, some of them looked unhappy. They quickly looked away and scurried off when Akira looked back at them.
Although there were not many, there were those that shot at Akira. They used their sniper rifles and shot barely within its effective range. That was just how tempting the 50 billion Aurum bounty was. However, even when they managed to shoot Akira from his blind side, Akira would simply evade it. He would make minimal movements and shoot back at them. His powerful bullet did not face anything it could consider a hindrance as it tore through flesh and blew their head off. It was the obvious end to those who mistook Akiras ability to shoot back. They got lured by his bounty and mistook the distance from him for safety.
Alpha smiled and praised Akira.
“Nicely done. Its pretty impressive that you can already do this much all on your own.”
“Is that so… Well, I guess it is if you say so.”
However, Akira still had a troubled look on his face. As expected, Alpha got a bit bothered by it.
“Is there anything that you find dissatisfying about that shot”
“Thats not it, Its just… I didnt buy this equipment from Shizuka-san, right Im just a bit worried if its going to be okay…”
One of the reasons why Akira always bought his equipment from Shizuka was because he admired her. Another reason was because ofsuperstition. It was thanks to the equipment that he bought from Shizuka that he was able to survive for this long.
At the moment, he was using equipment that he bought from Katsuragi. Akira knew that he was overthinking, but he could not shake off his worries. Thus, it kept bothering him. Even after he intentionally climbed up to the rooftop, exposed himself, tested his new equipment and had confirmed that it was fine, he still could not help but worry.
Watching him act like this, Alpha smiled and tried to reassure him.
“Dont worry. Its perfectly fine. Even that bike that you bought in Zegelt is working well, right The equipment that will be arriving from Saka**a Heavy Industry is also not from Shizukas shop, you know If you keep getting bothered by this, you wont be able to fight with a focused mind.”
“…You have a point.”
Akira gave a deep nod. It was as if he was convincing himself of what he had just said.
That was when Togami came up to him, asking for an extra room. When he asked what Akira was doing up there, Akira just said that he was checking his new equipment. As expected, even Togami winced back when he was told this.
Akira did not even need to say that he was using people who were attacking as target practice. Togami already figured it out without the need for Akira to tell him. Strangely enough, he was convinced Akira became a bounty target because of such actions.
Other madmen might kill for joy. He literally kills because he wants to test how sharp his knife is.-