Kibayashi finished explaining the summary of what happened. But of course, he could not tell Akira the complete story behind that deal, after all, Akira was still an outsider in the end.
“Well, I guess thats the gist of it. If you want to know more about the detail, you can ask me anytime, but itll cost you. And since its a piece of insider-information only known among the city staff, itll cost you a lot of money. So”
“Nah, thats enough.”
Akira said so since he felt that he had heard enough information.
To be honest, Akira did not care if the city wanted to twist the truth. To him, it was something that lay in a world that had nothing to do with him.
Akira had been living in the slum city near the lower district of Kugamayama city for all his life. As such, matters pertaining to the Kugamayama city, the other cities and the corporate government were on a whole different world that was not related to him at all. Or at least, that was the case as long as it did not cause any harm to him.
“I see. Do you have anything else you want to ask Just go ahead and ask anything you want here. Once either you or I leave this place, it would be too late to ask anything. Ahh, although I said you can ask me anything, just dont ask for more reward money. Its not like the city has a bottomless treasury, you know. If you have any complaints about your reward money, you shouldve complained before you signed that doc.u.ment. But on the other hand, if it has nothing to do with money, Ill try my best to grant anything you ask. Im very much interested in you. So Im planning to support you the best I can.”
Kibayashi was telling the truth, he was really interested in Akira. But Akira did not understand the reason why.
“Which part of me piques your interest”
Kibayashi smiled widely while telling Akira the reason.
“What, you ask Your way of living, of course!! The level of recklessness!! Just go out there and die or go out there and live!! Thats really something!! Im also a part of the Hunter Office, so I can access information about Hunters, and that includes information that is not made public. Have you ever seen your own battle record You fought against Cannon Insects with just your AAH rifle. You charged into a building full of Yarata scorpions all alone and returned back alive. And you even took out more than 500 scorpions in the underground city. Then to top it off, you took out 3 relic thieves alone, although all of them were cyborgs and 2 of them even had powered suits. These feats are not something that a Rank 20 Hunter can normally accomplish. Not even possible for a Rank 30 Hunter. Although, it seems that you got all beaten up to be able to do these. Its great that we can patch you up, though Im sure that youll get all beaten up again in no time.”
Akira looked rather disturbed as he asked.
“…Was my body that bad”
“Yeah, thats why it took 60,000,000 Aurum to fix your body. I did say to you that the medical bill does make sense, remember One of the treatments that we used to fix your body was limb regeneration, its a treatment that we normally use on people who have lost their limbs, you know. Without all of those treatments… Well, its not like youll be dead tomorrow or something, but I bet you wont survive another year. So thanks to those treatments, your body is basically as healthy as most of the people who live in the middle district.”
Akira was speechless when he heard what Kibayashi said. But Kibayashi just smiled and continued.
“You feel like youre in your tiptop shape right now, dont you Thats thanks to all those treatments. Youre from the slum city, right So I bet you mostly eat those foods that the city distributed freely in the distribution area. Those things sometimes contain nasty stuff, you know. Like monsters meat which no one knows if its okay for consumption, or food produced from old-world relics which we dont even know how they work. Of course, its not like itll kill you the moment you eat those foods. But its definitely bad for your health if you keep consuming those foods for a prolonged period. There were even reports of cases where they caused immediate effects, I heard that it was because of the nanomachines which they couldnt fully clean-up from the monster meat or some unknown nanomachines that were mixed in the food produced by suspicious-looking old-world relics. I wonder if you ever noticed it yourself.”
Akira frowned. If asked whether he had noticed it himself, the answer was definitely yes.
Akira was able to connect to the old-world domain, that in itself could be considered as an immediate change. It was an ability that the current technology could not explain yet. Although he was able to meet Alpha thanks to that, it was not like he could honestly feel happy about it.
“…So the City Management is distributing those kinds of foods, huh”
“Well, its just like what people say, theres nothing more expensive than free stuff. You can get them for free, but theyre unhealthy. So I hope you understand that part. By the way, its basically written in the wrapping of the distributed food and the signboards in the distribution areas, you know But well, I bet there are not many people in the slum city who can read those warnings though. On the other hand, Im sure those who can read the warning decide not to say anything since theyll be troubled if the city stops distributing free food. Although there are good people out there who give out healthy food for free, I bet they are not the majority. Moreover, if such information leaks outside, big influential people in the slum city would immediately monopolize those people. Well, thats just how it works in the slum city. Its not like I can do anything about it even if you complain to me.”
The City Management mostly kept its hands clean from the slum city. As long as the slum city did not cause any bad influence on the rest of the city, the City Management would leave the slum city alone. It could even be said that the order in the slum city was guarded by the people of the slum city.
Even if the slum city was technically a part of the lower district, people regarded it as a part of the wasteland. That was why people had no problem robbing under the daylight just like those thugs who attacked Akira the other day. Even if those thugs killed Akira, no one would try to capture those thugs. But it also worked both ways, no one would try to capture Akira even if he fought back and killed all of those thugs as long as those thugs were not affiliated to any organization.
But then, if someone said that that slum city was lawless, that was completely wrong. If power was everything, then the ruler of the eastern district was the Corporate Government, while the ruler of the slum city was Kugamayama city, and both the Corporate Government and the Kugamayama city hated unruliness. If the order in the slum city worsened to the point it even caused damage to Kugamayama city, the City Management would not hesitate to clean the whole slum city together with everyone inside it.
That was why the people of the slum city at least kept the minimum level of order. And the gangs in the slum city were overseeing that by maintaining the order in their respective territory.
“I dont know whether its because of those foods or not, but the nanomachine residue in your body was pretty bad. Although I know all Hunters rely on drugs, you particularly consumed a huge amount of medicines, didnt you”
“Yeah, that is my only choice if I dont want to die after all.”
“Im sure youll keep doing that in the future no matter what I say. So make sure that you check your nanomachine residue and get them cleaned at least once per month. Most drugs for Hunters contain nanomachines no matter whether its healing medicine, accelerator, stimulant or any other kinds of drugs.”
“Is it bad if I get residue inside my body”
“Well, there are exceptions and it depends on the type of nanomachine. The effect also differs for each person. But the baseline is, the residue is basically a contaminant, so its better if you think of it as harmful to your body.”
Kibayashi then explained to Akira the dangers of the nanomachine residue.
There were rare cases where the person had very good compatibility with the nanomachine inside his or her body, in which case, the nanomachine stayed effective and brought positive effects for basically forever. In contrast to that, most of the time the nanomachine residue acted as a contaminant as it bought a negative effect on the body.
Sometimes the body would not be able to expel the nanomachines from inside even after they had stopped working. Some Hunters, unbeknown to its risk, think that those nanomachines would not cause any harm since it had stopped working anyway. But in reality, it often interfered with the effect of the new drugs that they consumed.
And when the effect of the drug that they consumed reduced, these Hunters tend to consume the drug in a bigger portion which in turn increased the amount of nanomachine residue inside their bodies. Then the cycle continued until the drugs that they consumed had barely any effect at all on their bodies. Moreover, the residue might even harm their bodies when they consumed drugs with nanomachine with the opposite effect.
While working as a Hunter, Akira ended up having to consume a huge amount of medicines. He consumed medicine while ignoring the consumption warning. And so the nanomachine residue had been slowly piling up inside his body without him even knowing it.
Kibayashi sincerely warned Akira since he still wanted to enjoy watching Akira.
“Basically, for a Hunter, the body is their main asset. There are Hunters who think that they only need guts to do impressive feats and end up neglecting their bodies. If you want to survive for long, be sure to take good care of your body just like how you take care of your rifles. If you dont take proper care of your rifles, the bullet that it spews might fly in the wrong direction, it might even explode too. Therell be a good chance that the rifle itself will explode any time you pull the trigger. Same is the case for your body as well. Its not at all funny if you die because of something as stupid as that. So make sure to be careful.”
“Okay… Hm Speaking of rifle…”
Akira remembered about his own equipment. At the moment, he had nothing other than the clothes on his body.
Akira scanned the whole room one more time, but he could not find his stuff anywhere. So he then asked Kibayashi.
“Where are my equipment”
Kibayashi did not know where Akiras equipment was as well, so he used his information terminal to contact another staff member. After that, he then conveyed the bad news to Akira.
“Yeah. Rather than your equipment, your current personal belonging itself is zero. Its not like we could recover all of your belongings from where we arrested you, as for your belongings that we recovered like your rifles and augmented suit, they were confiscated and broken down by the City Management for inspection in order to clear your name. Right now theyre under the custody of the City Management as evidence. You can have them back, but all the processes will take you at least 1 month, not to mention that all of them were already severely damaged.”
“Did you find my Hunter ID at least”
“I dont know. Either your ID is left behind where we arrested you or its confiscated as evidence. Whichever it is, its faster if you ask for a reissue.”
“Alright then, so here is my request. Reissuance of my Hunter ID, an information terminal that I can immediately use and some Hunter clothes that I can wear. After all, if I go out like this, Ill look like a patient running from the hospital.”
“Roger that. Ill have them sent to this room later. Anything else”
Akira turned to Alpha.
“Alpha, do I need anything else”
“Arent you going to ask for a rifle or an augmented suit”
“For the equipment, I want to buy them from Shizukas shop if its possible. Its not like thats a must though.”
Alpha knew that it was only a matter of preference, but if it was something meaningful for Akira, she had no plan trying to carelessly change his preference.
Although it would mean that Akira would have to walk from the hospital to Shizukas shop without any weapons, Alpha thought that it would be alright as long as he had her support. If he could not even avoid problems on this level, then he might as well never step outside.
“In that case, lets have him introduce us to some real estate agent for Hunters. You need to step up from living in inns soon.”
Akira agreed with her opinion and conveyed it to Kibayashi.
“Introduce me to a real estate agent. Im not sure if I can rent a good house with my Hunter Rank, so please find me a cheap but decent house. And also, hmm, right, hurry up with the payment. I want to buy new equipment with that money. I guess thats all I have to ask.”
“Alright. About the payment, it shouldve been directly transferred to your account. Just check it once you get your Hunter ID and information terminal. Just to be safe, Ill leave my contact in your information terminal after setting it for standard first-use. As for the real estate agent, Ill try to connect you with a real estate agent under the City Management. Ill send the details through your Hunter code later, so check your terminal once you get it. So, anything else If you have nothing else, Ill leave the room. Once Im outside, you cant ask me for anything more. So, do you really have nothing else to ask”
“I see, alright then, take care and good luck in your hunt. Ill be looking forward to your next reckless feat.”
Kibayashi waved his hand and left the room.
It was only a few minutes after Kibayashi left the room when Akira could feel his empty stomach. He had not eaten anything for a whole week. He bet that he was fed through an I.V tube during his treatment.
The moment he realized that he had an empty stomach, his stomach started to grumble. But at the moment, Akira had no money at all, and even if he had some money, it was not like he could leave that place before he could get his Hunter ID. Akira regretted the fact that he did not ask Kibayashi for food.
“…Oh great, I shouldve asked for some food too.”
“Now that you mention it, it has been a week since your last meal. You didnt notice it earlier”
“You didnt notice it either”
“I dont need food. Since you didnt say anything, I thought that you were okay at the moment. Its not like I can tell if youre hungry, you see. So lets just wait, Im sure that your stuff will come soon.”
“…Ah, I shouldve also asked when they will arrive here. You only remember things like this once you miss your chance.”
Akira had no other choice but to keep waiting while enduring his empty stomach. It took about an hour before a city staff member came to that room, bringing all the stuff that Akira asked Kibayashi.
Shizuka was managing her shop just like always.
As usual, she was spending her days selling ammo and other equipment to the Hunters for her living. But, Shizuka herself noticed that she had been sighing more than usual lately. She even understood the reason behind it, it was because it had been a week since the last time Akira visited her shop.
There had been occasions when Akira did not visit her shop for more than a week in the past. But right now, he should have just finished his request to take out the Yarata scorpion nest in the underground city.
Shizukas shop was quite popular. It was selling a pretty good collection of equipment and it had a lot of regular customers. As such, she knew a lot of Hunters who bought their equipment from her shop and never returned.
There were Hunters whom she got acquainted after they bought equipment for a few times in her shop. There were also those whom she knew well after coming to her shop for consultations or getting recommendations for buying equipment. There were even some Hunters who flirted with her or even asked her hand in marriage. All kinds of Hunters went to the wasteland chasing after money and fame just to end up dead. Shizuka knew that all too well.
But Shizuka was running a business, and in order to protect her sanity, she was intentionally trying not to let herself be bothered by their death. After all, she was doing business with the people who might die practically anytime. If she let herself be bothered by their death, she would not be able to continue the business. Although she might feel sad, she did not let it interfere with her calm life. People might call her heartless, but she had decided to accept that too.
That was exactly why it was extremely rare for her to be sighing just because one of her frequent customers did not visit her shop for an extended period of time.
[… I guess Im too emotionally invested this time, I wonder why I did that.]
Shizuka kept thinking while managing her shop, to be honest, she could come up with many reasons. It might be because Akira was a small boy and she felt like it was her responsibility to watch over him. Or maybe that it was because of her feeling of gratitude toward Akira who saved her close friends, Elena and Sara. Or maybe it was because she once saw how Akiras body was riddled with scars. Or maybe because Akira bought his equipment from her shop and she hugged him before he headed to the wasteland. But in the end, none of those reasons was conclusive.
As Shizuka was about to get absorbed into her thinking, the source of her worry suddenly appeared and stopped her midway. Akira looked a bit surprised when he entered Shizukas shop.
“Welcome, Akira. It has been quite a while.”
“Eh, ah, yes, it has been quite a while.”
Shizuka was smiling as she was welcoming Akira with her usual self. Or at least, she was trying to act natural.
But Akira replied back awkwardly as if he was overwhelmed by her smile.
Although Shizuka found that a bit weird, she continued just like usual.
“Are you here for ammo refill today How about the request that you were taking the last time you came here, are you still doing it Since I stocked up on CWH special ammo, you can buy a lot of them if you need it. It has been a week already, so you shouldve finished that request, right”
“Ah, yes, that request is done.”
“I see. So are you here to get a normal bullet and AP bullet then”
“Well, about that, actually…”
Akira hesitated, Shizuka looked puzzled.
Akira looked straight into Shizukas eyes, looked away for a moment, and then returned back. He had resolved himself to say what he was about to say.
“…I lost all of my equipment. So can I buy one full set of equipment today”
Shizuka sounded a bit shocked as she asked back.
“All of your equipment What exactly did you lose”
“All of my rifles, my augmented suit, my information terminal, my rucksack and everything that was inside it, and the information-gathering device that I bought from Elena-san. Basically, everything. My personal belongings right now are just the clothes that Im wearing, an information terminal and my Hunter ID.”
Shizuka was taken aback after hearing what Akira just said. She knew that Akira used most of the money that he earned to invest in better equipment. Thus, it meant he had lost most of his assets.
“…Wait for a sec there, what exactly happened”
“Well, a lot of things happened. So then, can I get a full set here”
“Sure, but… How much is your budget”
Shizuka thought that Akira had lost most of his assets. She did feel sorry for him, but it was not like she could give him free equipment or accept credit payment. She was running a business and she had to earn money to pay for her living. That was a line that she would absolutely never cross.
Shizuka was thinking of getting Akira the best equipment with whatever the small budget that he had when she asked him how much money he was planning to spend. That was also why she was dumbstruck by what Akira said next.
“Its 80,000,000 Aurum.”
“…Im sorry. Just to make sure that I didnt mishear it, can you say it one more time”
“Its 80,000,000 Aurum.”
Shizukas face frowned after she confirmed that she did not mishear Akiras answer. It was not an amount of money that a new Hunter could muster. It was a huge amount of money even for veteran Hunters.
Shizuka stared at Akira. He looked scared but he still returned her stare. She sounded stern as she cornered Akira with her questions.
“Akira, what exactly happened You should at least know it yourself that such an amount of money is not normal, right It still doesnt explain it even if you say that its from the reward of your last request. No matter how many scorpions that you took out since the ammo expense is paid by the requester, the reward cant be that big, right So, what kind of reckless thing did you do this time to get that 80,000,000 Aurum”
Shizukas stern voice reflected her worry toward him. Akira felt happy as well as sorry because of that.
“Im sorry. I cant tell you the details because Im bound by confidentiality with the requester. Since itll affect my credibility, I cant even tell Shizuka-san anything. But its not because I dont trust you, its because my contract said that I shouldnt say anything. To be honest, Im not even sure whether its okay to tell you that its a confidential matter…”
Normally, Akira would lie saying that nothing in particular happened. But rather than telling an obvious lie, he decided to just tell Shizuka that he could not reveal anything since it was confidential information.
Shizuka kept staring at Akira who was behaving awkwardly as she thought.
[…Akiras requester this time is Kugamayama city, right Im sure he did something dangerous. But on the other hand, it means that the City Management is the one forbidding him from saying anything, so I cant keep digging deeper. It doesnt seem like hes injured and his complexion looks well too. To be honest, I want to know the details, but basically, Akira finished his request and got a huge amount of money, huh. The only reason that I cant honestly praise him is that he might continue doing reckless things if I praise him here, but I guess thats just my selfishness, huh…]
“…Although you said a lot of things happened, it seems that youre not injured at all.”
Akira answered back swiftly.
“Im alright in that part. Or more like, thanks to all the treatments that I took, I feel better than before I took that request.”
Shizuka at least felt relieved after hearing that. She understood Akira had reasons why he could not explain anything to her, but one thing for sure, he was doing fine.
Shizuka looked at Akira with her usual smile.
“Alright. As for the equipment, I can decide everything as long as its under the budget, right With such an amount of money, Ill really use it to pick anything I want, you know So dont regret it later, okay”
Shizuka smiled teasingly when she said that. Akira just replied with a smile.
“Its okay. Im sure that your choice will definitely be better than mine. If I have to make any particular request, then it would be to get a better augmented suit, I dont mind if its more expensive than my previous one. I want to get an augmented suit that can at least last for a few years.”
“Alright, itll be too late to take back what you said now. Just wait here for a bit, okay”
Shizuka then went to the backroom before returning back with 2 rifles.
“You can use these until your augmented suit arrives. These are my recommended rifles that can be used without an augmented suit. AAH assault rifle and an A2D assault rifle. Ive explained to you before about the AAH rifle, so, do you want me to explain about the A2D assault rifle”
Shizuka had predicted that Akira would say yes. And so she continued by happily explaining about the A2D assault rifle.
The A2D assault rifle was basically derived from AAH assault rifle with extra firepower and accuracy. But unlike AAH assault rifle, its parts were designed so that it could be used with AP ammo or P ammo without any extra modifications.
Moreover, it was equipped with a grenade launcher that could be loaded with all types of grenades. It was light enough to be used without an augmented suit and it was loved by the Hunters as the next best gun to use after AAH assault rifle. It used some similar parts as AAH assault rifle and it was a user-friendly rifle.
“Both of them are unmodified rifles. Just try how they feel without an augmented suit. If you dont like its weight, you should avoid adding any modifications that add too much to its weight. Even after you get your augmented suit, youll need to at least keep some rifles that you can use without it. It would be bad if your augmented suit breaks inside the ruin and you have no rifles that you can use without an augmented suit.”
“Is it better if I buy a sight right now”
“If you plan to use that sight in tandem with your information-gathering device like before, its better if you buy one after you get your new information-gathering device. Using a standard sight without an augmented vision is not really that bad. But Im actually planning to include the information-gathering device in your equipment set too, so of course, I already have in mind which sight to get. Or, do you want to choose the information-gathering device you need yourself”
“No, Ill leave everything to you.”
“Alright then, Ill contact you once I have a good estimation of how much the total cost is, so just wait for a bit more. Itll take about 2 weeks until everything arrives after I get the total cost.”
Until he got everything, Akira would be without an augmented suit. So Alpha warned Akira.
“Im sure you know it even without me telling you, but Ill say it again, well take a break from Hunter jobs until you get all your new equipment, okay”
“I know. Its not like Im going to underestimate my bad luck after all. I dont want to fight a swarm of monster or more people with powered suits without my augmented suit.”
He remembered that he encountered a swarm of monsters when he was training outside and he had to fight other Hunters with powered suits when he was out doing Hunter request. Now that he had experienced it himself, he had no plans of going out without Alphas full support and he had no qualms staying inside the relatively safe Kugamayama city for the time being.
After that, Akira finished buying most of his equipment set in Shizukas shop. He stuffed his new rucksack with medicines, ammo and a rifle maintenance kit. He then picked his new rifles and hung them around his body. Once he put everything on, he could feel they were quite heavy, it reminded him just how helpful his augmented suit was.
Akira exchanged his information terminal contact number with Shizuka. If only he had his previous information terminal, he would be able to use the same contact number, but since it was destroyed in his fight against Nelia, he had to use a new contact number now. He also asked Shizuka to contact him through his Hunter code instead if she could not contact him through his information terminal contact number.
Shizuka looked at Akira with his new equipment. He had a better set of equipment compared to the first time he came to her shop. But to her, those equipment did not look reliable at all for some reason. It was because she had a feeling that as long as Akira kept working as a Hunter, he would only get to face more battles and harsher fights.
“Akira, are you planning to go out like this for now”
If he said yes, Shizuka planned to give Akira a stern warning not to do anything dangerous.
But he shook his head.
“No, Im planning to take a break until I get all of my new equipment. After all, its not like I have the ability to fend myself in the wasteland without a complete set of equipment.”
“Is that so Thats good. It seems that youve gone through a lot lately, so it might be a good thing to take a good rest from time to time.”
Shizuka smiled in relief knowing that Akira himself had no plans to be reckless.
They exchanged a short light conversation before Akira left the shop. After seeing him off, Shizuka took out her information terminal and started operating it.
“Since he had also lost his information-gathering device, I guess its a good idea to contact Elena and Sara to get their opinion. After all, I feel like theyll complain if I decide on an information-gathering device to get for Akira without asking them. And Im sure that theyll be happy to hear that he is still alive as well.”
Shizuka wrote a message to Elena and Sara saying that she wanted to ask for their opinions since she was buying a new set of equipment for Akira and sent that message.
After visiting Shizukas shop, Akira went to Sheryls base.
Since he was lying in the hospital bed for a few days and had lost his information terminal, he had no means to contact Sheryl. It would not be strange if she had assumed that he was already dead. So, Akira thought that he should visit Sheryls place as soon as possible before it caused any problems.
Akira was talking with Alpha as he was walking through the slum city.
“But still, 60,000,000 Aurum for medical treatment and 80,000,000 Aurum for new equipment. I already spent most of my money, huh. I wonder whats going on with my sense of money.”
Akira smiled bitterly when he said that, but Alpha just smiled and replied.
“You should be happy that youre earning enough money to use them like this now. You might also think that such an amount of money isnt worth it for winning that gamble with a bad odds even after betting your life and all your personal belongings. But with this, youll be able to get a good set of equipment, you know. Not to mention that since you received that treatment, all of your injuries from that gamble are completely healed now. Its true that it was not easy at all, but result-wise, I think it ended up well.”
“Hmmm, to be honest, Im not really sure about that.”
During that fight, Akira lost his rifles, his augmented suit and all the small things that were inside his rucksack. He got all of them by risking his life, so he had a certain attachment towards them.
He then remembered something. The charm that he bought from Shizukas shop was a good luck charm for his gamble in the old-world ruin. And just like any other gambles, the more you bet, the lesser your chance to win, but the bigger the prize if you won.
[…If what happened back then was because of that good luck charm… If the effect of that good luck charm is to increase the number of occasions of such a gamble… I guess its not an exaggeration to say that it brought good luck by bringing gambling chance with a big bet. Even if I had to supplement the amount of bet with something else, for example, the danger of death. It is not an easy thing to find such a chance where I can get this much amount of money by betting my own life. After all, normally, you can only get a small amount of money even if you bet your own life. So looking from that perspective, I guess it really brought me good luck, huh… Wait… But…]
Akira decided to stop thinking about it. It was because he knew that it would be bad for his spirit.
Moreover, he had lost that charm now. So there was no meaning in thinking about that thing anymore. Akira thought so as he stopped thinking further about it.
Alpha looked a bit puzzled as she asked Akira.
“Akira, what are you thinking”
“Ah, no, I was just thinking about that charm that I bought from Shizukas shop.”
As Akira answered back through telepathy, he also unintentionally sent his thoughts to Alpha about that charm and him thinking he would get to face more deadly fights if he kept that charm with him. It was true that he was able to get a lot of money but, to be honest, he did not want to get into such a fight ever again. And lastly, it also transmitted the fact that it was Alpha who recommended that charm to Akira.
Alpha was obviously averting Akiras gaze as she said.
“Its not my fault.”
“I know, I know.”
Akira lightly smiled, it was rare for Alpha to react like that.