After Elena finished giving Akira her warnings, she then changed to her serious negotiation face and said to him.
“Im honestly delighted to hear that you would share with us such valuable information about the location of that unexplored ruin. But were still Hunters too, and it doesnt feel right to just accept that information for free. Not to mention that Shizuka would definitely scold us later if we do so. Thats why I have a suggestion here.”
“Yep. How about we accompany you in exploring that ruin Well also help you gather relics, sell them, and then we can share the money after subtracting the ammo expense. If theres any relics that we want, we can buy them from each other and add the price to that persons share. So, what do you think”
Akira thought about it for a bit before replying.
“I dont mind, but wont I just slow Elena-san and Sara-san down”
“Dont worry, we didnt have any trouble when we were together during the Kuzusuhara city underground ruin exploration. So I dont think theres any need for you to worry about it.”
Elena also smiled and added.
“Im sure youll help us out rather than slowing us down, and even if you do slow us down. Im sure we would be able to handle it just fine. So dont worry.”
Akira knew that Elena and Sara would say that by judging his performance during the Kuzusuhara city underground exploration. But in reality, he was only able to do that well thanks to Alphas support, while the ruin they were going to explore was a place where he might lose that support.
If that happened, of course, Akiras fighting capability would drop significantly. So he was worried if that might cause a significant inconvenience to Sara and Elena.
“Alpha, do you think itll be okay”
“From my point of view, its a good thing that you get someone who can help you out when you lose my support. So I wont stop you, this can be a good training for you too.”
It seemed that Alpha had no plans to stop him. So basically the possibility of Akira holding Sara and Elena back was not enough of a reason for her to stop him. She also judged that it would serve as proper training for the worst-case scenario, which was losing her support during an exploration.
Akira bowed to Sara and Elena.
“I understand, Ill be in your care then.”
Sara smiled happily and said.
“We have a deal then. It has been quite a while since our last ruin exploration, and not to mention that its an unexplored ruin too. I cant wait to start.”
Elena also sounded happy as she asked Akira.
“Well follow your schedule as to when we can go. So, when would be a good time for you”
“I can go anytime.”
“Is that so In that case, lets go tomorrow. After all, We need to prepare ourselves too. Well finish our preparation tonight. Other than that, lets talk more about that ruin, not to mention that I still have to tell you about the basics of selling relics too.”
After that, Akira talked with Sara and Elena to share the information about that ruin as well as to reconfirm their plan for tomorrow, and Elena taught Akira about the common knowledge of selling relics.
When he got used to Saras provocative appearance, Akiras focus shifted to Elena.
Sara was wearing a white T-shirt while Elena was wearing a black T-shirt. When they sat together next to each other on the sofa, it boosted the contrast between them.
Elena donned calm-but-sleek and clean clothing that made her look like a smart girl. It even made her look like some kind of high-class princess. Her skirt extended all the way to her ankles. Since she was sitting next to Sara, who was not even wearing a pant nor a skirt, Elenas skirt looked unnecessarily long. And unlike Saras T-shirt that did not hide the valley of her chest, Elenas T-shirt fit snugly up to her neck.
Akira inadvertently compared Saras appearance with Elenas. They too noticed that. But for both of them, it was not something that bothered them since they were not wearing clothing that would embarrass them when seen by Akira.
But with that being said, both of them were still interested in what Akira had to say after comparing their clothing, while at the same time, it was a rather embarrassing thing to ask him directly about it. Both of them then glanced at each other before looking back at their own clothing.
If they used Elenas appearance as the bottom line, then Saras clothing was rather provocative. Although it was not like Akira stared intently at her, it was also a fact that Akiras gaze was sometimes sucked into the valley between Saras chest. Sara knew well that it was because of the clothing that she was wearing.
It was not that much of an issue if Akira was completely cool about it. But it was obvious that he was trying hard to avert his gaze from that particular part of Saras body and that he was not doing a good job at it. Every time his gaze inadvertently shifted there, Sara started to get embarrassed too. But it would be even more awkward if she just came up with a random excuse to change her clothes, not to mention, Elena would definitely not let that slide later.
But if Saras appearance was used as the bottom line, then Elenas clothing would be too straight-laced. It was true that Elena picked that clothing since they were having a guest. When they were not having a guest, she usually wore even worse clothing than Sara right now. There were many occasions where she was not wearing anything other than her bath towel while operating the information terminal perching on her shoulders. Elena herself was fully conscious about that fact, that was why she consciously picked a very reserved clothing to hide her usual unsightly appearance even though it might give a wrong impression about her.
But compared to Saras appearance, it could be said that Elena was overly conscious about her own appearance there. It was true that Elena did not find it amusing at all that Akira kept sending his gaze to Sara. Although she understood that it was because Saras voluptuous body was further pronounced by her clothing, Elena, as someone who had confidence in her own body, found that rather vexing.
But it was not like she could just come up with a random excuse to show her legs and lower her T-shirt. After all, there was no way Sara would let that slide later.
Both Elena and Sara decided to pick their clothing more carefully tomorrow. Although they were in a completely opposite situation, they reached the same conclusion. They then carefully chose their words to make sure that Akira would not notice their real feelings.
Unfortunately, Akira noticed that they were acting weirdly. But of course, he did not know the reason behind it.
On the next day, Akira took his vehicle to the meeting place he had agreed upon with Sara and Elena. Their meeting place was an area between Kugamayama city and the wasteland.
Although Akira did not mind meeting up in the city or near the ruin, he decided to follow Elenas decision. According to Elena, since there was a good chance that it was an unexplored ruin, she wanted to do the search carefully to make sure that this information would not leak to other Hunters.
Akira arrived earlier than their meeting time, so Elena and Sara were not there yet.
Alpha was sitting in the drivers assistant seat, and just like always, she was wearing a dress that did not fit the wasteland at all. She then said to Akira with a serious expression.
“Akira, Ill reconfirm about it again beforehand, youre really okay with it, right”
“Yeah, its about me going in supportless this time, right Im okay with it.”
Lately, Akira realized that he was being fully reliant on Alphas support. It made Alpha worry whether he would act calmly and rationally if he suddenly lost her support, thus she decided that it might be a good idea to train Akira so that he would still be able to stay calm even if he lost her support.
It would be a good thing if Akira could learn how to fight monsters while exploring that ruin with other Hunters who he trusted. And although he had visited that ruin once, since it was not fully explored yet, there was still a good chance that he would meet some monsters. Thus, it was a perfect chance for his training.
It was not like Akira himself was not worried at all. But he knew that resolve was his responsibility, so he replied back firmly to Alpha while hiding his nervousness.
“This is a good chance to figure out my current ability. Just let me do it.”
“Alright then. Lets start, good luck.”
Alpha smiled gently at Akira. Then, at the next moment, her image disappeared from Akiras view. At the same time, his augmented suit suddenly felt heavier and sluggish. It was because he had completely lost Alphas support.
Akira shifted the goggles on his forehead down and properly put it on his face. Those goggles were the same set that came together with his ERPS information-gathering devices integrated augmented suit, PWD Silence. Thus, those goggles were showing the data gathered by his information-gathering devices. It was also equipped with a simple far-sight function. If Akira focused his gaze on a certain point, he could use that function to enhance his vision and zoom into that particular point to get more accurate information.
Although it was an exceptional pair of goggles, it was nowhere near Alphas support. It did not take that long for him to appreciate Alphas support.
As Akira was adjusting his vision through a terminal, he suddenly found a signal coming his way. When he focused his information-gathering device to that angle, he was able to see that it was coming from a vehicle that was heading in his direction. It was Elena and Sara.
Akira waved at Elena and Sara. Sara, who was sitting on the assistant driver seat, waved back at him.
“Theyre right on time. It would not be strange to get a little late if they had encountered some monsters on their way here, so its rather impressive that theyre right on time. I guess thats because theyre skilled Hunters, huh. What do you think, Alpha”
Alpha did not reply back at all, Akira quickly realized that he was in the middle of a training session.
“…Ahhh, thats right… Dammit.”
Akira snapped back to hide the loneliness that he suddenly felt creeping.
After meeting up with Elena and Sara, Akira guided both of them to the ruin that he visited not too long ago.
But it was not like Akira was heading straight there. He took a big detour by heading to a completely different location on the wasteland and then turned towards the direction of Kugamayama city while heading to the ruin. It was so that other Hunters would not be able to easily trace his footprint. It could be said it was a big mistake when he directly returned to Kugamayama city from that ruin the other day.
Sara glanced at Elena who was sitting on the driver seat.
“If Im not mistaken, you dont like that armour, right”
The armour that Elena was using was a body-tight armour that pronounced her body lines way more than her usual armour. Moreover, the part of her body that would draw the attention of the opposite gender was even more pronounced by a belt. Although hers was not as big as Saras, it was at least bigger than the average size.
Elena answered back calmly.
“…Its not like I hate it. Its just that because of its material flexibility, its hard to move in it. So it quickly tires me when moving in this armour. Since that problem is solved by using an augmented suit under it, I decided to start using it again. After all, this armour is much stronger and more durable than my usual armour. And since were going to explore an unexplored ruin, I just thought that its better to use this armour.”
“Is that so”
There was a moment of silence between them.
This time, it was Elenas turn to glance at Sara.
“That shirt under your armour, I thought you dont use it since it has bad compatibility with the armour that youre using right now”
Sara was wearing a shirt under her armour. Although it was not an old-world relic, it was at least stronger than the usual shirt for Hunters, so it was more expensive than the usual shirt. But because it had bad compatibility with her armour, it would get ripped in no time. Because of that, she had stopped wearing that shirt lately, or at least when she did, she would loosen the fastener on her chest to reduce the strain on her shirt. But even so, this time, she completely closed the fastener. Elena bet that shirt would be ripped to pieces in no time.
“…I just thought that it would be such a waste to let them collect dust just because they have bad compatibility with this armour. Not to mention, we have started hunting for relics again, so I might be able to find some durable underclothing.”
“Is that so”
Once again, both of them suddenly went silent after that.
Sara who was wearing more reserved clothing than yesterday, and Elena who was wearing more pronounced clothing than yesterday, both of them were just silently following Akira to their destination.
Akira, Sara, and Elena eventually arrived at their destination. They parked their vehicle under the shadow of the nearby wreckage. To make sure that no monsters would be able to find them, they also put a camouflaging sheet above their vehicles. Then they readied their equipment before venturing down the stairs.
Elena and Sara looked pretty excited as they kept moving deeper and deeper into the ruin. Sara herself looked hopeful to the point that she seemed way too excited, while on the other hand, Elena moved in carefully while keeping her surroundings in check.
Elena remembered Akiras story from yesterday and thought.
[How exactly did Akira find this place Was it really because of pure coincidence]
Although it was true that the entrance was hidden in a rather concealed place, if it was only that much, the other Hunters would have been able to discover this place way sooner than Akira.
Moreover, if it was because monsters just opened the entrance and started coming out from this stair lately, then there should be more monsters loitering around near the entrance.
But according to Akiras story, there were not that many monsters when he searched around the area. Elena was able to confirm that herself after she scanned the area. There were no monsters signals both from around the area and from inside the ruin.
Elena then gathered her assumptions together. The entrance to the ruin was originally hidden in a very concealed place where it would have been buried under the rubbles without anything that indicated its position. But even so, Akira was able to accurately acquire the exact location of that place and somehow locate it, and it was an information that even veteran Hunters and big companies did not have, this was clearly not normal. But Elena had a guess why Akira was able to do so.
[Akira is probably someone who can connect to the old-world domain. It might be an information that he got from the old-world domain.]
If that assumption was correct, then Akira might have a lot of valuable information with him at the moment. That was exactly the reason why big companies always try to get a hold of people who could connect to the old-world domain, some time to the point that they ignored the will of those people. The facts surrounding this ruin somehow confirmed Elenas guess even further.
Elena glanced at Akira as he was watching the tunnel beside Sara.
[What if, we…]
The inner voice inside Elena screamed at her to stop that line of thinking there. But the calm and logical part inside her encouraged her to continue.
Hypothetically speaking, if she could seduce Akira, then she would be able to get the power of someone who could connect to the old-world domain and all the benefits that came with it. Even the information of the exact locations of all the undiscovered ruins in the eastern district alone would earn her a huge amount of money if she sold it to big companies. That is excluding the old-world warehouses filled with relics, or even labs and old-world factories that could produce those very relics. If she was able to seize them and sell them, she would get enough money to easily buy one or two cities in the eastern district.
Fortunately, it seemed that Akira trusted her and Sara. Looking at how he reacted when he saw Saras s.e.xy clothing from yesterday, she thought that there were a lot of possible choices that she could pick from in order to seduce Akira. Akira was still so young and inexperienced as a Hunter, if she kept feeding him with information that fit her needs and added some charm with it, she should be able to easily manipulate him. And so her thoughts kept going deeper and deeper.
Elena herself was no saint, she was a normal girl with a normal level of avarice. And her greed pushed her to keep thinking about that possibility.
“Elena, whats wrong”
Elena quickly snapped back from her deep thoughts when Sara called her. Akira and Sara looked at her worriedly.
She pulled herself together and smiled.
“Its nothing. I was just lost in my thought for a bit. Its been a while since the last time we went hunting for relics, and not to mention, were in an unexplored ruin. I might be just a little bit too nervous, but Im okay.”
[Akira not only saved my life, but he even shared valuable information with me. Theres no way I can betray his trust. Not to mention that if I look at Akira like that, Sara would beat the crap out of me.]
Elena reflected on what she was thinking and erased that foolish thought that she had just a moment ago.
Akira, Elena, and Sara reached the bottom of the stair and continued going deeper into the ruin. Sara took the front and Akira took the rear, while Elena in the middle made sure to keep their surroundings in check.
Elena and Sara used flashlights to illuminate the way in front of them. Although using a strong light inside a dark ruin like this would allow monsters to quickly discover their location, Elena and Sara still decided to use a powerful flashlight because the monsters which lived in such a dark place would have relied more on their sense other than their vision in the first place.
One of the reasons why Elena and Sara decided to use powerful flashlight was also to inform other Hunters about their position. Basically so that other Hunters would not mistake them as monsters lurking in the darkness. It was also to quickly identify any hostile Hunters in case they met any. If they spotted other Hunters with that light but the other Hunters did not do the same, then those Hunters might be planning to ambush them.
But in the end, it was a very subjective matter. Some Hunters just did not want to get discovered by other Hunters inside the lawless and dangerous wasteland. So basically it was a matter of guessing whether they did not turn on their flashlight because they did not want other Hunters to attack them or because they were thinking of ambushing other Hunters.
Akira, Elena, and Sara explored the ruin at a pretty high pace. It was because there were not that many places to check in the hallway and they did not encounter any monsters around.
Akira was walking not too far behind Elena.
Elena was equipped with multiple information-gathering devices. She was using a belt to strap those information-gathering devices around her body. Depending on where she strapped her information-gathering devices, and because of the material of her armour, they somehow boosted her already charming bodyline.
But of course, Akira had no time to spend admiring her charming figure from behind. Since he did not have Alphas support this time, he had to keep his eyes peeled for even the slightest change around him.
In the middle of the exploration, Akira checked the enemy-scan information displayed through his goggles multiple times. He turned and checked his back frequently, and also did not forget to check the information analyzed from the aiming device installed on his rifle.
Seeing how Akira was so high-strung, Elena smiled gently at him and said.
“Akira, you wont be able to stay for long if youre that nervous, you know Calm down. Im also keeping my eyes on our surroundings, so you dont have to be that tense.”
“O-okay, Im sorry.”
Akira took a deep breath to calm himself down before following Elena from behind.
Looking at how nervous Akira was behind her, Elena just thought.
[Hes way too nervous compared to when we were in the Kuzusuhara underground city ruin. Well, were exploring an unexplored ruin after all, but its also true that getting too nervous is also a bad thing…]
But even so, considering Akiras fighting ability that she saw in the past, it was also true that he looked unnecessarily nervous.
[…Well, given his age and his experience as a Hunter, I guess its to be expected, huh. Back then, we also had Shikarabe with us, not to mention, we were sure that we could meet up with the other Hunters if we went back. So I guess its nothing strange if hes more nervous compared to back then. But it should be fine, Sara and I just need to cover for him.]
As Elena thought so, she then stopped worrying about it and continued their exploration.
Akira, Elena, and Sara were able to reach the big open-hall where Akira stopped last time without encountering any trouble. When Sara peeked inside the shops in that big hall, her eyes sparkled.
“Ohhh, it seems that this shop is filled with stuff. It will be perfect if we can find a lot of relics here too.”
Akira hesitated for a bit.
“Ahhh, I already cleaned that place last time. So I think there wont be any relics left there.”
But Sara did not change her expression as she said.
“Is that so Well, its fine. Elena, Ill leave the lookout to you. Akira, help me.”
Sara then went inside that shop. Elena just stood at the entrance of that shop while scanning the area around for any suspicious signals. Akira followed Sara and entered that shop.
Sara and Akira checked the stuff inside the shop. Since Akira had cleaned that place once before, there was nothing that looked valuable on the racks. At least, that was what Akira thought.
After he and Sara looked around the shop once, Akira then said.
“It doesnt seem theres anything valuable left here. So lets go back.”
“What are you talking about Were going to take back home anything that looks expensive, you know.”
Sara smiled when she said that while Akira tilted his head.
“What exactly are we going to take back home”
“That thing there.”
Sara pointed her finger, Akira turned his head toward the pointed direction. Sara was pointing at a display shelf which contained food-like things that were already past their expiration date to the point that they more or less turned into a block of dirt. Akira seemed more confused than before.
The trio walked back while dragging a cart. On that portable cart, there was the display shelf where the foods that were already turned into dirt were on. Sara and Akira had taken out that shelf from the shop from before.
The rattling sound of the carts wheel echoed through the hallway.
Akira looked at the shelf on the cart while pushing it from behind.
“…Well, I guess its true that this shelf is an old-world relic too.”
Sara heard that mumble.
“Basically, everything that you find inside an old-world ruin is all old-world relic, you know That includes the wreckages and the walls too. The only difference with the usual relics is whether they fetch you money if you bring them back with you.”
“So this shelf can get us a lot of money, huh”
Sara smugly answered that question.
“Theres a good chance that it will, at least, enough for us to bring it back with us.”
It was not like Akira did not believe Sara, but he was still not convinced and it was clearly visible on his face. Elena could guess what Akira was thinking when she saw his expression. So she added on to Saras explanation.
“Old-world shelves, especially the food shelves, sometimes have some kind of preservation functions. And when you find one that does have it, it can fetch us a lot of money.”
“Preservation function, huh. But the food inside it has basically turned into a bundle of dirt, so like, isnt it broken already”
“Its simply just because it doesnt have any energy source. The machine itself doesnt seem to be damaged. And even if it is damaged, it could still be fixed with a simple TLC. And even if its completely broken, the researchers would still happily buy it.”
“Ohhh, I see.”
“The real problem is to spot the shelf that has such a function. In this case, we have no other choice but to rely on our intuition as Hunters. There were cases in the past where a Hunter found a plain-looking box that actually had a high-tech preserving function. So basically if you find relics inside a box, it might be a good idea to bring the box too with you.”
Akira was convinced by that explanation given by Elena. It was also reflected on his face. Elena who saw that smiled in satisfaction.
After that, the trio finished their exploration without any trouble. They went back and forth between where they parked their vehicle and the ruin to carry the relics out. They took out a portable cart from inside Elena and Saras vehicle, it was a portable cart that could be attached behind their vehicle. After they piled all the relics that they carried out into that cart, they attached that cart behind Elena and Saras vehicle and left the ruin to head back to the city.
And just like when they met up, in the middle of their way back to Kugamayama city, they separated and took different routes back.
Akira was talking with Elena and Sara through his information terminal on how to sell the relics. Elena tried to reconfirm again with him through the information terminal.
“Are you really sure that its okay to leave selling the relics to us It might even take a whole month, you know”
“Yes. Its not like Im hard-pressed for money right now anyway, and if it takes that long, then it means that it might sell for a really high price too.”
“Fufufu, alright then. I need to keep my pride as the person who taught you how to sell relics. So you can look forward to it.”
Akira could hear Elenas laughter from the other side of the information terminal. Sara then interjected.
“We got a good relic and we didnt encounter any monsters, its a really good ruin site. If its okay with you, do you want to go to that ruin together again next time”
“Sure, when will be the next time then”
“Lets see. Well, we have a lot of things to take care of too, it would be at least next week or maybe even later. Ill call you again when we come up with a date. Later then.”
Sara and Elena then closed the call. Akira let out a sigh and turned to the assistant driver seat.
The moment Alpha replied, her image suddenly appeared sitting next to him. Akiras face twitched and stiffened the moment he saw her image. This was because although he knew that she would definitely appear, he tried to put more effort to make sure that his expression did not change.
It seemed that he was about to say something to Alpha but decided not to.
Alpha, who noticed that slight disturbance in Akiras feeling, smiled teasingly and asked.
“Were you lonely”
“…Yeah, I was!!”
Since he did not want to lie to Alpha, Akira tried to hide his feelings by snapping back at her instead. Alpha just smiled in return.
Akira glanced at Alpha and saw that she was smiling as if enjoying his reaction. But it made him pout even more as he pushed the pedal deeper and paced his vehicle faster toward the city.
As Akira traversed through the wasteland on his way back to the city, there were some people who were watching him from afar.
“Is he gone”
“Yep, it should be fine now.”
“Alright then, lets trace back their footprint.”
(p4553r: More like their tire prints. lol)
The guy who was watching Akira from afar picked up his telescope. It was a pretty huge telescope.
“Is there any need to keep our distance from them to the point that you have to use such a big telescope”
“Are you stupid Hes also a Hunter. If he finds out that we know hes searching an unexplored ruin, theres no mistaking it that he would try to kill us!! Being over-cautious is just perfect in this case.”
“Well, because of that, were having a tough time looking for his footprints for the last few days though. But before that, did he really find an unexplored ruin Its nothing more but your intuition, right”
Seeing the other guy doubtfully asking him such a question, he became annoyed.
“I did tell you the reason, remember When we passed each other on our way to the wasteland the other day, he was returning back to the city. But theres no nearby ruin from the direction where he was coming, so theres a good chance that he was on his way back from a newly discovered ruin.”
They were the Hunters who were driving in the opposite direction when Akira was on his way back to Kugamayama city the other day. Judging from where Akira was coming, how he was taking more distance from them than usual, and from how he was being careful, they guessed that Akira was on his way back from a newly discovered ruin.
Of course, they had no definite proof for their guess, so it was not an exaggeration to say that it was purely out of intuition. Luckily enough, that guys intuition was really sharp, while on the other hand, Akira was really unlucky that he was found out with such scarce proof.
“His route this time is completely different from his previous route, you know”
“If he did that intentionally, it means that he doesnt want other Hunters to know where he went, right”
“Doesnt that also mean that he simply went to a different ruin from before”
“Good grief, just shut up!! Yeah yeah, I know its just from my intuition!! If you have more complaints!! You can just leave!!”
That guy suddenly snapped and shouted at the other guy.
“Geez, theres no need to snap back like that. Isnt it because I trust your intuition that Im here right now Im sorry, okay”
That guy tried to laugh it off as he followed the other guy who still seemed annoyed as he went silent and walked to the vehicle that they parked not too far from them.
“After all, if its really an unexplored ruin, we might strike it rich in one go. Not only well be able to live the way we want to, we might even be able to buy a house inside the wall. I just want to make sure if I can really put my hopes up this time, you know. Cheer up, theres no need to be that angry.”
“…Humph, lets go.”
After that, they joined with their other friends who were posted in a different location. Then, they used their information-gathering device to find the footprint that Akira had left and traced it back while keeping their eyes open for any locations that looked like an old-world ruin. They eventually arrived at the wreckages where the ruin that Akira found was located.
Elena was also being careful to make sure that no one would be able to trace back her footprint. The reason why those Hunters were able to reach that particular area was more because of their pure luck rather than for their skill. Statistically speaking, it would have been highly unlikely for them to be able to trace back all the way to that place.
Although, it was not clear yet at that point whether their luck was more of good luck or more of bad luck for finding that place.
Silavin: Damn. Akira is precious. Their team up is so precious. But like always, he will be facing issues again. I wish my boy would have his peace for a little longer D:
As for Elena, I trust that her thoughts wont be reflected in her actions. From the way these two act, they already regard Akira internally as the opposite s.e.x (Though they know that he is just a child). So, it is not unlikely for them to really fall for him.