After Elena, Sara, Carol, and Akira returned to Shikarabe, Shikarabe listened to their explanation and understood the current situation. He then sighed and looked disappointed. Although the SOS request that they took was considered to be completed after searching the target area, the reward was far less compared to if they returned back with the rescue targets.
With this, not only Shikarabe ended up coming all the way there while forced to bring along a burden with him due to the gang that he was in, but his first request of the day also ended up badly. He then let out all of his disappointment and psychical tiredness together with a sigh before continuing.
“So our first request for today is a dud, huh. I feel like today will be an unlucky day. So then, whats the plan next”
Elena answered his question.
“We didnt use much ammo, so Im thinking of heading to the next request-target right from here. Although, I dont mind heading back too in case you guys used most of your ammo when we were not around.”
Shikarabe glanced at Togami, he thought that Togami would make a complaint. But unlike what Shikarabe was expecting, Togami was still standing there with a serious face while properly keeping his eyes peeled.
Shikarabe was wondering the entire time while waiting for Elena to return, he was waiting for Togami to act out. In the end, nothing happened at all, which indicated Togami had changed. This questionable fact made Shikarabe feel a little bit disturbed as he continued.
“Were okay with that, after all, nothing happened at all when you were gone.”
Elena watched Shikarabes face closely. Although it did not say that nothing had happened, it did not seem that it would affect his performance during the rescue request either.
“I see, in that case, lets hurry up and head to the next location.”
“…Hmm Wait for a sec, I just got a notification from the Hunter Office, give me a few seconds to check it.”
Shikarabe noticed that a notification from the Hunter Office had reached his information terminal. As he pulled out his information terminal and was about to check it, almost at the same time the same notification reached Togami, Elena, and Sara too albeit a little later. Sara also pulled out her information terminal to check the details of that notification as she turned to Akira and said.
“It seems that we also got notification from the Hunter Office too. Akira, wait for a bit while we check the details.”
The people who received those notifications started checking their own information terminals and they reacted differently when they read the details of that notification.
Elena and Sara looked obviously annoyed as if they just got roped into something troublesome. Togami on the other hand, seemed rather excited as if he just got something that he had been waiting for. While for Shikarabe, he seemed a bit panicked and extremely irritated.
Elena and Sara then started talking to each other. Shikarabe immediately used his information terminal to call for someone and he seemed to be negotiating with the person he was calling, he also sounded really displeased. While Togami just stood there waiting for Shikarabe to finish his negotiation.
Suddenly, a call reached Elenas information terminal. Elena stopped discussing with Sara and picked that call with a stern face, she then started talking with whoever on the other side of that call in a bad mood.
Akira frowned and asked Alpha.
“Alpha, do you have any idea whats going on”
“Nope. But looking at this, one thing for sure, it doesnt seem to be anything good.”
When Akira checked Elena, Elena sounded a bit angry, which was rather rare for her.
“…Leave that aside for now… Yeah, thats right. You should at least know where we are right now, right! Were in the middle of the ruin, were in a situation where we might get attacked by a swarm of monsters any second, you know! At least give us some time to relocate!! Or are you actually trying to kill us or something!!”
Elena then cut the call and immediately gave Shikarabe an order.
“Shikarabe, well head back now.”
Shikarabe was still talking in his information terminal as he glanced at Elena and nodded to convey his affirmation. He then signalled Togami to get into the APC with his hand and went to the APC himself while still on the call.
Elena, who was not even trying to hide her displeasure, was taken aback when she noticed that Akira was looking at her. She then lightly sighed to calm herself down before she apologetically said to Akira.
“Akira, Im sorry, but is it okay if I tell you the details later We need to return back to the Hunter Office for now. Ill tell you the details after that.”
“Sure, I dont mind, is it better if we hurry up then”
“No, its fine. Theres no need to hurry up… After all, we have no obligation to go that far.”
Elena was only mumbling in a small voice in the last half of her sentence before she returned back to her vehicle. Sara smiled bitterly and followed behind Elena.
Akira turned to Carol. Carol seemed so relaxed and calm there. Unlike Akira who did not understand what was going on at all, it seemed that Carol had some inkling about the current situation.
Akira then threw a question to Carol.
“Carol, do you have any guess about that notification that the others just received”
“Nope. But its not like I have no idea at all though. I gathered some information regarding the Mihazono ruin yesterday, so I at least have some guesses.”
“So, what is it”
“Rather than making poor guesses, its faster if you hear it from someone who is directly connected to it. That aside, we need to hurry it up if you dont want to get left behind.”
When Carol pointed that out, Akira immediately hurried up back to his vehicle, Carol followed suit behind him.
Carol looked at Akira and thought.
[Normally speaking, for a Hunter as strong as him, he should have the ability to gather that level of information. But it seems that Akira is basically an amateur in gathering information, huh… I wonder if I can make my move from that side]
Seeing from how Akira was behaving yesterday and today, Carol was sure that Akira properly recognized Elena and Sara as beautiful girls.
Akira did say in the past that he had more interest in food than girls. But it was not like he had no interest in girls at all either, being able to confirm that was already a huge success for Carol.
So with that in mind, Carol compared herself to Sara and Elena, the 2 girls that Akira properly recognized as the member of the opposite sex. Although both of them were indeed beautiful, she did not think that her beauty would lose to any of them. As in matter of fact, Carol had gathered and spent a lot of money to polish her body, as such, she actually thought that she had a better figure than Sara and Elena.
Of course, it depended on the personal taste whether someone was attractive or not. But Carol did not think that the difference between her and Sara and Elena was that big as to make such a factor so important, unless Akira was only interested in a very limited type of girls. But according to her experience, she did not think that was the case at all.
Carol thought that there might be some kind of particular requirement for Akira to properly recognize someone as a member of the opposite sex. After all, unless that was indeed the case, it was unnatural for him to be so disinterested in her at all. But the reason why she thought so might simply be because she had absolute confidence in her own body.
But Carol had no idea at all what this particular requirement might be. Which meant that she either had to do something to investigate what this particular requirement was, or she should change the way she approached Akira. Akira was indeed a Hunter who was very skilled at fighting, but in contrast to that, he was utterly lacking in knowledge as a Hunter. She might be able to get closer to Akira by sharing that kind of knowledge with him. And the closer she got, the easier it would be for her to investigate the type of girl that he liked.
“Well, I guess theres no need to be in a rush here. Lets be patient about this.”
Carol was sitting next to Akira, who was driving his vehicle, while smiling and thinking about her next plan.
Elena and her team were able to return back to the Hunter Office without any incident at all. They did not even encounter a single monster on their way back. Although they detected some monsters, those monsters let them pass through without trying to attack them. Akira who thought that those monsters called for reinforcements and were waiting to ambush them on their way back. So, that ending felt rather anti-climatic.
When they stepped off from their vehicles, some Drankam Hunters and Hunter Office staff were already standing by near the Hunter Office as if they were waiting for Elenas team. Elena was obviously annoyed and sighed when she saw them.
Elena was going to negotiate with them from here. And judging by the fact that those people were already waiting for them there, it seemed that she would not have the chance to explain the current situation to Akira and Carol.
Elena then glanced at Carol and remembered that she was rather skilled in negotiation too. She then suddenly asked Akira a question.
“Akira, is it okay if I borrow Carol for a bit From here, Ill have to get into a rather, no, a really annoying and troublesome negotiation with those people.”
“I dont mind though, but…”
Akira then checked on Carol. Although he hired her as a guide, she even helped during the battle too, and now Elena asked her to help to do some negotiation. Akira thought it would be way outside of the role that she was paid for, so it would not be strange if Carol refused.
But Carol just casually said.
“Sure, Im okay with helping out.”
Akira was a bit surprised by that.
“Are you sure”
“Yep, Im here because you hired me. So I dont mind doing that much.”
Akira slightly bowed.
“I see… Thank you.”
“Dont mention it.”
Carol smiled at Akira as if it did not bother her at all while taking a note of that strange and sudden change of attitude from Akira.
Elena then said to Sara and Akira.
“Well then. Well be temporarily parting ways here. Sara, can you explain to Akira whats going on for the time being”
“Sure, Ill leave the negotiation to you.”
Elena, Carol, and Shikarabe headed to the Hunter Offices branch. But before Shikarabe left, he gave Togami an order.
“Togami! Take my APC back to Drankam temporary base!! After that, just wait for the next order from Drankam there!!”
Togami flusteredly replied.
“Wait for a second there! What will happen to me after this”
“Like hell if I know!”
Shikarabe sounded annoyed when he shouted back and just left it at that. Togami seemed like he could not completely accept it, but he then dragged himself back to the APC and did what Shikarabe told him to do.
Akira and Sara were told to move their vehicles so as not to block the way, so they did. After Akira relocated his vehicle, he stepped off from the driver seat and stretched out his body, that was when Sara came to him.
He then asked Sara a question.
“So then, what is going on It seems that both Shikarabe and Elena-san looked pretty annoyed though.”
Sara seemed to be hesitating for a bit before she opened her mouth.
“Well, theres just this troublesome thing. Although I said that, Im not really sure whats going on in Shikarabes side, but I think its the same reason why were also roped into this troublesome thing.”
“Its that notification from the Hunter Office, right”
“Yes, the content of that notification is a rather troublesome thing from the Hunter Office that we usually receive from time to time. So about that though… Well, its not that simple, but to explain it properly…”
“If its something that is hard for Sara-san to talk about, then theres no need to do that.”
“Ahh, no, its fine. The message itself doesnt contain secret information or anything like that, not to mention that Elena also told me to explain it to you. So I actually hope that you would listen to it.”
“I understand then.”
“So, about that, its basically a request to join the efforts to investigate this strange change in Mihazono ruin.”
Sara then started to explain the content of that massage from the Hunter Office to Akira. After listening to that explanation, Akira made a stern face.
“…So theyre sending a squad to Seranthal building, huh”
“Yep. They put up all kinds of excuses for sending that squad and I dont really know all the details. Some people said that its for investigating the source of this recent change in Mihazono ruin, others said that its for rescuing the people who are stranded inside that building, or its for taking control of that whole building. It is not even clear whether that information is true or its just someones guess. But one thing for sure, it seems it has been decided that a squad will be dispatched to that building, and it seems that its going to be a pretty big squad.”
Akira made a grim face as he remembered what he had gone through inside that Seranthal building.
“Uhh, is it possible to refuse it”
“Well, although its not a compulsory request, I think its pretty unlikely.”
In order to give a boost to the defense squad from Kugamayama city that the City Management had dispatched, and to convince the people of the inner wall who paid them, the City Management decided to issue that request to the Hunters who had successfully hunted a bounty monster in the past.
With that monster swarm incident the other day and the appearance of the bounty monsters not too long ago, it seemed that the people in the inner wall were starting to feel insecure. But it was not like they could just demand the city defense squad to dispatch soldiers to solve it. It was difficult to readjust the strength of the city defense squad in case anything bad happened while making sure that the people in the inner wall felt safe at the same time.
Moreover, the hunt for bounty monsters also got pretty famous within the inner wall. And the story about the skilled Hunters dispatched to take down those powerful monsters that even warrant a bounty must have calmed down the people inside the inner wall. Not to mention, it would also increase the available budget for the defense squad, it was like killing two birds with one stone.
Because of that, although the request to join that squad was not a compulsory one, it was like half-compulsory. If the Hunters refused that request without a good excuse, it might cause them trouble later. After all, it might cause more unrest in the inner wall since they might think that even the Hunters who defeated the bounty monsters refused to take that request. Thus those Hunters were pretty much forced to take that request.
If the City Management had its eyes on a certain Hunter, there was a good chance that Hunter would have a hard time staying in that city. In the worst-scenario, they would not be able to sell relics and buy ammo. Thus eventually forcing them to go to another city.
There were not that many Hunters who were ready to face that consequence just to refuse such a request, at least, they would try to negotiate a suitable amount of reward for doing that request. In the first place, the City Management would not have issued that request if they knew that the Hunters would not take it. Moreover, losing skilled Hunters was also not something that the City Management wanted.
Sara explained everything regarding that subject plus some other related information that Akira might not know yet.
“Well, so basically, thats it. Thats why Elena is trying to negotiate with the City Management about that troublesome request.”
Akira listened closely and understood Saras explanation, but a question suddenly popped out in his mind.
“I see… But, I never thought that Elena-san would be that angry, is it that the reward offered was really that bad”
Sara hesitated for a bit before answering.
“…Well, that is… Uhh, you know. The reward is not that bad and Im sure Elena is trying to pull it up higher too. I have no problem with the reward and I dont think Elena has any problem with it either… Its just that, well, they basically just cut in while we were doing another request and theyre bringing a request that is hard for us to refuse. Moreover, they even started trying to negotiate in the middle of the ruin where we might get attacked by monsters any second. So its no surprise that it causes Elena to get mad.”
“Now that you mention it, well, thats true.”
Elena was also a human. It was only to be expected that she might get angry from time to time. And in this case, a request was pushed to her while she was in the middle of doing another request, it might completely throw her schedule and preparation into disarray. Elena might have also gotten angry because of her sense of responsibility as the leader of the team. Things did make sense if Akira saw it from that point of view.
Sara was relieved when she saw that it seemed Akira accepted her explanation, she then immediately tried to change the subject before Akira brought it up again.
“By the way, Akira, you didnt get that notification Didnt you also hunt the bounty monster in Shikarabes team”
This time, it was Akiras turn to hesitate before answering.
“Ah, well, you see, Im basically not allowed to talk about it, so…”
“I see, if thats the case, I wont pressure you. It just got me curious for a bit. Im just wondering how did you perform during the bounty hunt.”
“I didnt do anything big, as in matter of fact, Im not even sure if I deserve the reward that I received.”
Akira thought that it should be fine to tell Sara that much when he said that.
Sara did not say anything for a while, it seemed that she was thinking about something. Her expression suddenly changed as if she just realized something, she then smiled and said to Akira.
“Ahhh, so basically you accepted a request from Shikarabe without going through the Hunter Office to help him as an extra personnel in order to hunt the bounty monster, and then you guys were able to successfully kill the bounty monster, huh.”
Akira gasped, Sara was able to accurately guess what happened just like that. As he looked at Sara with a surprised face, she looked back at him with a smile. He then asked Sara a question.
“…That was enough for Sara-san to make that guess”
Sara smiled amusedly as she answered Akiras question.
“Since you said that youre not even sure the reward that you got matched your contribution, it meant that you properly received the reward, which meant that you took that request. At that time, the only request that Shikarabe offered you was only to help him hunt the bounty monster. Then, judging from the fact that you didnt get that notification from the Hunter Office, that means that request is only a request among Hunters and the Hunter Office has nothing to do with it. Since Shikarabe hired you, it means that he knew you would at least pull your own weight. Thats why he didnt hire you only to be a driver. When you said that you didnt do anything big, basically its because the main firepower during that fight against the bounty monster was Shikarabe and his friends. Then as for you, in order to give support to Shikarabe and his friends, I bet you used expendable equipment that Shikarabe gave you to attack the bounty monster as well as trying to keep its attention off from Shikarabe. When you said that youre not sure you deserve the reward that you received, I can make a guess that its at least not a small amount of money. Shikarabe himself would not pay that much money unless the bounty hunt was a success. Thats why I can say for sure that you were able to successfully kill the bounty monster… You cant confirm whether I got it right or not, okay Itll violate your duty of confidentiality, after all.”
Akira hung his head low.
“…Ill keep my mouth shut.”
“That vehicle is not the same vehicle that you bought from Shizuka, right Is it a reward from Shikarabe Although Im not that knowledgeable about vehicles, that one is pretty expensive, you know. Although you received that as a reward, you still said that you didnt know if it was worth it, huh. Akira, it must have been a hard fight.”
“I cant say anything.”
“Akira, youre an honest kid, arent you”
Sara giggled seeing how Akira was pouting.
She then changed the mood and said.
“Im sorry, my apologies. By the way, just so you know, the ones who cant refuse that request are only Elena and me, so its completely okay for you. After all, that request didnt get issued to you in the first place. I know that youve gone through something really bad in Seranthal, right So if you dont want to come, you dont need to force yourself. After all, this wasnt in our plan at all when we invited you.”
Akiras expression returned back to normal.
“No, Ill come along too if its okay with Sara-san and Elena-san.”
Although it was true that the situation had changed greatly from their initial plan. But for Akira, that was not the case at all. After all, he originally came to Mihazono ruin to help Elena and Sara.
Sara then asked Akira one more time.
“Were more than happy to have you, but are you really sure its okay”
Saras expression turned serious as she said to Akira.
“…Is it because you know you might be able to get some profit from it Despite the danger, you are moving for profit”
“Eh Ah, yes. Yes, something like that. I want to get better equipment after all, so Im in need of money right now.”
Akira sounded a little surprised, but he immediately tried to match his excuse with what Sara said.
Sara did not say anything back for a few seconds, she then smiled and said to Akira.
“…I see, got it. But, theres no need to be reckless, okay”
Akira answered back firmly.
As she listened to Akiras reply, Sara then thought.
[…This boy is really bad at lying. Or more like, hes bad at trying to trick people in general, huh]
Sara confirmed that Akira did not decide to come with her for money.
Moreover, she guessed that he decided to come along in order to help her. Although it might be nothing but her wishful thinking, she had no proof that refuted it.
As Sara thought that Akira decided to set his foot again in a place where he almost got killed in order to help her and Elena, she felt both happy and pathetic at the same time. But even so, since she felt more happy than pathetic, she did not make a saddened face.
Sara decided to use that feeling as the motivation to grow stronger and smiled.
Akira was talking with Sara while waiting for Elena to return back from negotiating.
Akira then asked Sara a question.
“I wonder how long will it take until Elena-san finishes”
“It depends on how hard the negotiation is, so, I dont really know myself. But Im sure the City Management doesnt want to spend too much time on negotiating just to get late in dispatching the squad either. So I think it would end before afternoon even if it means that the negotiation fails.”
“Fail But its not a request that you just can refuse, right”
“Basically, yes. Which also means that there are exceptions. If they cant agree on the conditions that we put on no matter what, then, well refuse to take the request even if it means that we need to change our base of operation to another city. If Im to make an extreme example, they might only pay us a small amount of money just to be expendable pawns. Well, Im sure Elena will properly do her job so that something like that would not happen unless something unexpected happens.”
The one that Elena was negotiating against must be someone who was used to having a hard negotiation. If it was him, Akira would have been swept by the flow of the negotiation and forced to accept a very bad deal. As he thought so, he made a conflicted face and mumbled.
“…That sounds rough.”
“Thats why most of the Hunters hire other people to handle the negotiation for them. In my case, Elena would do that for me, thats why I dont have to do that. Akira… Youre bad with negotiation, right In that case, it might be a good idea to hire someone to do that for you.”
“Hmmm, I see, Ill think about it.”
Akira thought that he was not that great of a Hunter yet, so he would not get roped into such a troublesome negotiation, and he did not need people to negotiate in his place yet. But one day, he might need one, so he just kept that in mind for now.
In reality, Akira was already someone who could easily get roped into troublesome stuff. The reason why he did not realize it himself was simply because he had no misgivings in killing other people and he did not care about the trouble that killing other people might cause. In the worst-case scenario, it was okay to kill, that kind of thinking was a normal thing in the slum city.
Normally, people would try to find a way to solve their problems peacefully, but Akira simply ignored that way of thinking. It had been etched into Akiras mind that the other person always guaranteed to look down on him and his life, there would not be any chance to negotiate, nor compromise. It might be also because of this that Akira was overly lax to certain people.
Although Akira had escaped the slum city, his mind was still somewhere inside the slum city where he knew no other way to protect himself except to kill.
That indeed had caused troubles for him in the past, but Akira always credited that to his bad luck, or at least, he understood that he reaped what he sowed when that happened.
Sara then turned her gaze to the Hunter Office. Elena was still negotiating there. Since there was still no call from Elena, it showed just how hard the negotiation that she was having over there.
[…As I thought, I bet theyre bickering there.]
For Sara who very well understood Elena might be having a hard time, she imagined the scene of Elena trying her best negotiating in the Hunter Offices branch and sighed.-