Chapter 100: Striking A Deal
Chapter 100: Striking A Deal
On the second floor of the pub, Tomejima, Colbert, and a young girl by the name of Viola were sitting on the same table, waiting for Akira .
Tomejima checked his watch, it was still 15 minutes before the meeting time . He had been checking his watch multiple times now . It showed how much he hated this period of wait . It was somehow obvious that he wanted to postpone the negotiation as much as he wanted to finish it at the earliest .
Looking at that, Viola tried to calm Tomejima down .
“You’re so restless . How about calming down for a bit? You won’t be able to do a proper negotiation if you don’t calm down . ”
Tomejima looked at Viola, obviously annoyed .
“Just shut it, I know it already… I did let you sit on the same table but don’t say anything . If you do something that causes me more trouble, I’ll have you take responsibility . ”
“I know . I won’t bother you . I just want to meet this Hunter Akira . Although I have no plans to help arbitrate between you two, I’ll at least help you calm him down in case if anything bad happens . You’re okay with that, right?”
Viola smiled, she looked amused . That was a smile of someone who enjoyed conflict .
Viola was not Tomejima’s co-worker, she was not working for the pub either, nor she had any connection with the brothel on the third floor . She was just someone who had some kind of connection with Tomejima and had him let her attend the negotiation too .
After Tomejima finished making a deal with Shikarabe, he immediately started gathering information about Akira . Viola was one of his information sources and all of the information about Akira that she gathered was all important information, none of them was useless .
Akira killed Sibea, a former Hunter who fell from grace, and all of the officers from his gang before taking over Sibea’s gang in the slum city . He then let his lover be the leader of that gang and was controlling the gang through her . Then, when that gang got in some trouble with Shijima’s gang, Akira killed the person that Shijima sent and dragged his dead body back to Shijima’s base . Akira also got involved with some kind of trouble with the young Hunters from Drankam somewhere in the lower district’s main road and they almost had a fight there .
Tomejima who received all of this information thought that Akira was an extremely dangerous person . He killed without hesitation without even thinking of the consequence, he was the epitome of your usual maniac . Although it seemed that he had enough common sense to avoid trouble with a big gang like Drankam, it seemed that he was barely able to do that .
The company that Tomejima was working in was not as big as Drankam . If Akira really planned to wage war against it, he had no idea how far Akira would go before he would stop .
Tomejima once heard what Yamanobe thought about Akira, someone who went crazy from killing too many people . Tomejima could not agree more with those words . That was why he wanted to make a deal with Akira first . Depending on how Akira saw it, he might see the incident from last time as one of Tomejima men trying to kill him . Even Tomejima himself did not want to get roped into trouble with Akira just because of what Kadol did .
Tomejima had no idea why Viola wanted to attend that negotiation, but it was true that she knew a lot about the other side, the dark side, of the lower district . Thus in order for him to finish his negotiation with Akira peacefully, he let Viola attend that negotiation.
That was also the reason why he picked that pub to negotiate with Akira. After all, Akira at least stopped himself from killing Kadol the last time he was in that pub.
As for the reason why Colbert was also present, it was to help him contact Akira. Tomejima also thought that if Colbert, who was Akira’s acquaintance, was also present, Akira would at least hold himself back from getting violent. Just to be safe, he also asked Shikarabe, but Shikarabe refused since he had a lot of things to take care regarding the bounty hunting.
Viola smiled bewitchingly at Colbert as she asked him.
“Say, won’t you tell me more about this Akira boy?“
“I already told you what I know, didn’t I? It’s not like I’m that close to him . I’ve told you everything that I know about him . I’m sure you’ve also done some investigation about him anyway, right? So, isn’t it like you know more about him than me?“
“I want to hear it straight from the person who knows him, you know . Even if I did some investigations about him, it’s not like I hear or see him myself . That’s also the case with the incident regarding Kadol . From what I gathered, it seems that Akira is a pretty strong Hunter . But if that’s true, then why Kadol would try something that stupid? You were there when that happened, right? Do you know anything?”
“No idea . Isn’t it because he’s stupid? The reason why stupid people do stupid things is simply because they’re stupid, right? There might be no deeper reason behind it, you know?“
“And I do want to know about the reason behind that . It might be true that the only reason a stupid person does stupid things is simply because that person is stupid . But it’s just to be safe, you know . So like, won’t you tell me anything?“
Seeing how Viola asked him with full curiosity, Colbert thought for a bit before replying .
“Let’s see . Kadol thought that Shikarabe only invited Akira to increase the number of heads and reduce Kadol’s share of the reward . That’s why he tried to kill Akira in order to increase his own share . And it’s true that Akira does look weak and full of openings… Wait, no, is it because he’s short-tempered? Even if he’s hard-pressed because of his debt, he would normally think through and at least pick somewhere else to do that…“
“Does this Akira look weak from a glance?“
“At that time, Shikarabe was complaining about the situation in Drankam lately . He said that the gang has been accepting more and more incompetent young Hunters and giving them good equipment, so Kadol might have thought that Akira was one of those Hunters, huh? Wait, but I’m sure he knows well that it would bring more trouble than it’s worth if he kills a Drankam Hunter… Or is it because he’s stupid that he didn’t think that far, huh? But again…“
Colbert kept thinking about the reason why Kadol did something so stupid back then while making rounds retracting and creating new guesses .
Viola got the information that she wanted from the way Colbert reacted to her question . Akira looked weak, or at least, he looked weak enough to make Kadol not hesitate when he tried to kill him . While in reality, Akira was strong enough to easily kill a Hunter that Tomejima deemed skilled enough to join the bounty hunting .
Viola thought that this Akira must be a pretty interesting fellow as she smiled while waiting for Akira to arrive .
Just like last time, when Akira entered the pub, the master of the pub warned him with a serious face .
“This is not a place for a little kid like you, go home . ”
“You should’ve said that to the person who called this small kid here . That guy’s name is Tomejima, do you know where he is?”
Akira replied with the same answer as before . But this time, the master’s reaction was different .
“…Are you Akira then?”
“Yep . ”
His face turned stern, it seemed that Tomejima had told him about Akira beforehand .
“…Tomejima is on the second floor, the same seat as before . Just to remind you, don’t cause any trouble in my establishment . ”
“I have no plans to start one . ”
“I don’t really care about that, if any of you cause trouble here, that’s all the same to me . So yeah, don’t cause any trouble, you get it?”
“Got it . ”
Just like last time, he then started grumbling, but unlike last time, his face looked grimmer .
“…Good grief . Calling a brat to a place like this, what the heck is he thinking?”
Akira did not know for sure there whether the master of that place said brat referring to his age or his action from last time .
Akira went to the table where Tomejima was waiting for him . The moment Tomejima saw Akira, he made a rather stiff smile at Akira . It was because Akira brought more weapons than last time .
Akira was carrying heavy rifles used for fighting monsters that normal humans would not be able to even lift without the help of an augmented suit . It was easy to forget the power of those weapons when one negotiated with a Hunter with a good personality . But when those weapons were carried by a dangerous person like Akira, it reminded Tomejima of how powerful they were . He understood why the Corporate Government would even spend a lot of money to improve the moral standard of the Hunters .
Tomejima tried his best to smile at Akira with his stiff face .
“Thanks for coming, have a seat . ”
It would be bad to come off too strong and it would be fatal to come off too weak . Tomejima tried to regain his composure as he tried to poke for Akira’s reaction .
Akira looked around without taking the seat that Tomejima offered . He then spotted a chair without a backrest, so he dragged that chair to the table and sat on it . After all, it would be hard to sit on a chair with a backrest with his rifles on his back .
Although Tomejima tried his best to stay calm, he twitched a bit . Looking at how Akira was reluctant to let go of his rifles, Tomejima kept telling himself that it was at least harder to reach compared to if Akira put his rifles somewhere near his hand .
“Since you’re here, I guess it’s okay to assume that you plan to peacefully negotiate with me, right?”
Akira was obviously being careful with Tomejima . He stared at Tomejima and replied .
“I have no plans to cause trouble here . The master below also warned me not to cause any trouble after all . ”
“I-I see . ”
Tomejima thought that Akira was being honest . Or to be more precise, he wanted to believe that it was the case . It was unclear how much it guaranteed his safety, but at least, it reduced the chance of Akira suddenly shooting and killing him there .
Tomejima thought that he was really glad to have informed the master of that pub beforehand, he felt a sense of relief and regained some of his calm .
But even so, his smile was still stiff . Akira was not ready to let go of his rifles during a negotiation although it was some kind of common sense among the good Hunters to do that . But if he looked back, the first person who broke that common sense was the Hunter who accompanied him to that pub last time . And right now, he had to start negotiating with such a dangerous person who was sitting right in front of him .
Tomejima then continued .
“Well, at least, listen to what I have to say here . First and foremost, we have no wish to be hostile with you . This is the most important point . That’s why we want to resolve this incident peacefully if it’s possible . So, up until this point, you do agree with us, right?”
“Yep . There’s nothing better than to resolve this incident peacefully . ”
“That’s great, I’m glad to hear that . ”
Tomejima carefully proceeded while looking closely at Akira’s reaction .
“…So then, about Kadol though . Ahh, he’s the guy who tried to attack you last time . So like, if it’s possible, I want you to let him go . Although he’s already carrying a lot of debt in the first place, as compensation for that incident, he was even made to pay for the equipment of the people that I sent to join Shikarabe’s bounty hunting, you see . So basically, if he dies, then we will have to shoulder more of his outstanding debt . It would be troublesome for us if he doesn’t stay alive and work hard to pay for his own debt… Well, that’s basically where we stand, Akira, what about you? What’s your plan with Kadol? Do you want to kill him no matter what? Since you let him go last time, it’s not like you really want to kill him, right?”
Akira thought about it one more time . His opinion about Kadol was a little complicated, but in conclusion, he actually more or less did not care much about him . He did not think that it was worth the trouble looking for him just to kill him . But if he met him somewhere in the wasteland by pure chance, he might just go and kill him . That was all that he felt about Kadol .
If he met Kadol in the wasteland by pure chance and Kadol ran away from him as fast as he could, Akira had no plans to chase him . But if Kadol started to shoot at him, he might as well kill Kadol without a shred of hesitation .
But if he let Kadol off just because Tomejima asked him to do so, he felt that it might cause more trouble later down the road . Once he reached that conclusion, he then carefully asked Tomejima a question .
“If I let him go, what do you have to offer to me?”
“…That’s why we’re here . Do you have any demand?”
“Even if you ask me so, I have nothing particular in mind . ”
Tomejima fell silent thinking that Akira actually had no plans to do any negotiation with him at all . Akira simply had nothing to demand from Tomejima as it was too much of a hassle for him to try to think of anything . But even so, if Tomejima asked him to be merciful and just let it go, Akira might throw the peaceful negotiation out of the window . Tomejima had a lot of experience in negotiating with Hunters, so he at least knew that much .
Akira then continued .
“You come up with your offer, I’m bad with that kind of thing after all . ”
To be honest, Tomejima wanted to resolve the incident with money, but he could not afford to point that out to Akira . After all, it was something that involved Akira’s life .
If Tomejima offered a small sum, it might anger Akira . After all, no matter who it was, everyone wanted to put a high price on his or her own life, so it would be understandable if Akira did not want Tomejima to put a cheap price tag on his life . While on the other hand, even if he offered a lot of money to Akira, there was a limit on how much money he could pay Akira .
And even if he put that money on Kadol’s tab . Kadol had already been carrying a lot of debt to the point that he was close to his limit . If he put more burden on Kadol’s shoulder, Kadol might decide to run away instead . And if that happened, he bet that Kadol would try to run away to the neighbouring city just to get killed by the monsters midway . So in the end, Tomejima would not be able to gather any money from Kadol and he would have suffered a huge loss .
While on the other hand, in case if Akira demanded a huge amount of money from him, he would have to deal with it . Hypothetically speaking, if Akira asked for 10,000,000,000 Aurum and Kadol could not pay for that, and if Akira demanded Tomejima to pay in Kadol’s stead, in that case, then Tomejima would have to resolve himself to fight against Akira .
Akira just sat silently waiting for Tomejima’s reply . Tomejima did not know what to do there, should he suggest to solve the incident with money? Or should he somehow push Akira to ask for money? Or instead, should he suggest something else other than money?
That was when Viola interjected .
“In the credit company that Tomejima is working, in case if a debtor with a huge debt is killed by someone, then the company might demand that person to pay for the debt that the debtor has . And if that’s impossible to do because of the strength difference, then the company might sell the debt bond at a cheap price to another company who can do that . It’s one of the things that they do to compensate for their loss, you see . ”
Akira’s gaze shifted from Tomejima to Viola as he asked her a very short question .
“That’s all . I just want to let you know in case you didn’t know . If this negotiation doesn’t proceed at all, then both of you would be in trouble . And if I have to add something, it’s normal for creditor companies that usually deal with Hunters to have some soldiers to collect debts from those Hunters . And those soldiers have a reputation to uphold too . It would not be worth the trouble, you know?”
Akira did not change his expression as he asked Viola .
“To me, it sounds like you’re saying that if we don’t reach a compromise here, Tomejima will sell the credit bond to someone else cheaply and I’ll be forced to pay for Kadol’s debt . Since it’ll only cause trouble for both sides, you’re saying that I should let it go without any compensation, or at least be merciful during this negotiation, am I correct?”
Viola smiled and replied .
“I leave the interpretation to you . ”
“I see . ”
Akira’s gaze returned back to Tomejima . His gaze was a bit more intimidating than before, he kept staring at Tomejima without saying anything .
Tomejima tried to probe the real reason why Viola suddenly interjected as well as confirming how Akira reacted to it .
Viola did not say anything after that . She just sat there to witness how the negotiation would proceed .
After a short silence, Akira let out a big sigh . He then stood up from his chair .
Viola smiled at Akira and asked him .
“Oh, does this mean that both of you have a deal here?”
“No, we have no deal . ”
Akira only said that to Viola and turned to Tomejima .
“Since you’re not saying anything, then you’re okay with that, right?”
Tomejima flusteredly said .
“Whoah, wait for a sec there!?”
It was true that Tomejima did not say anything, and what Viola said about his company was also correct . He was actually thinking about how to use that to lead his negotiation with Akira in a better direction . He was thinking of talking about the terms that both of them could agree on from now on, but he did not expect that Akira would just suddenly get up from his chair .
Viola was also a bit surprised, she then flusteredly said to Akira .
“You’re pretty short-tempered, aren’t you? It’s important to have patience while negotiating, you know?”
Akira did not reply as he prepared himself to leave the place . Tomejima did try to stop him, but Akira just ignored Tomejima as he headed to the stairs and left the pub .
After exiting the pub, Akira let out a big sigh . He himself knew that he was acting out of pure emotion back there .
Beside him, Alpha was smiling at Akira . There was a trace of exasperation on her usual smile . Akira looked at Alpha’s expression and tried to make an excuse .
“…It feels like they think I would take their offer with a little more push, I just don’t like that . ”
“That’s true, I agree with you . ”
“I feel like at that rate, they’ll just pay me a small amount of money to solve that incident, and I feel like it’s a really bad thing . ”
“That’s true . ”
“To be honest, I have no plans to look for that Kadol just to kill him . It just isn’t worth the hassle . ”
“That’s true, it would only cause more trouble . ”
“…Ahh, this actually might be a good chance for me to check how much other people are willing to pay me to avoid getting into trouble with me . But if I make a bad precedent here, I think that in itself is really no good . ”
“That’s right, but those are just excuses, right?”
Akira fell silent . Alpha was smiling at him like usual, it might be just him over-thinking that she looked angry from his point of view . But even so, Akira could not help but feel a bit awkward as he walked through the entertainment district .
After a few steps, Alpha suddenly stood in front of Akira who seemed to be still bothered by what had happened .
“It’s not like I’m angry at you . I do respect your will, after all, I didn’t stop you back then, right? I’m not really bothered by the fact that you broke the negotiation there . Even if you had started a fight since there was something that you just couldn’t forgive or let go of back there, I still wouldn’t mind it . I would have given you my utmost support if that had happened . But again, if you decided to do that just to carefully probe for my reaction, you could have tried to be more careful back there, you know?”
“…Yes, I’ll be more careful . ”
“Very well . ”
Alpha smiled satisfied after hearing Akira’s reply . Akira who saw that was finally able to calm down .
She then made a suggestion to him .
“Since we’re already in the entertainment district, how about we grab something to eat here? You did say back then that you’ll treat yourself something delicious without worrying about the price, right?”
“Ah, you’re right . Alright then, let’s look for a shop with delicious food . ”
“I can help you search through the network, what kind of food do you want?”
“In that case then, make it a sandwich . A real delicious one . ”
Akira remembered the sandwich that Alpha ate the other day . It looked extremely delicious but there was no way he could eat that, after all, it was nothing but an image of a sandwich .
Alpha smiled .
“I don’t know if you can find that level of sandwich here, but I’ll at least give it a search . ”
And so, Akira just forgot about his exchange with Tomejima and enjoyed strolling in the entertainment district . Finding a good shop was the second priority for him at the moment .
On the second floor of the pub, Tomejima was glaring at Viola .
“This is all because you went and said that unnecessary thing, you know!! What are you going to do with this now?!”
Viola kept up her calm demeanour as she said .
“How can I say it? He’s really a short-tempered boy, or more like, he has no patience at all . Even if he’s strong, it won’t take long before someone kills him . ”
“I don’t care about that!! It’s all your fault!! Don’t you understand that!?”
“It’s not like you can afford to keep silent forever, right? I know it’s not like you can suggest to him to resolve it with money yourself, right? I know that you were also hoping Akira would break after listening to my explanation . Akira also did say that he thought you agreed since you didn’t say anything back there . If you had stopped me mid-way, I’m sure he would have not left like that, you know? Or am I mistaken?”
Tomejima was taken aback since Viola was absolutely correct .
Colbert, who was just listening to them until now, finally opened his mouth .
“So then, what’s your plan now? Akira has gone back, so if you don’t need anything else from me, I’m going back home too . Ahh, by the way, just to let you know, I don’t care if you want to fight Akira, but I’ll not lend you my hand, not even to help you contact him, and of course, I won’t be Kadol’s observer or bodyguard . I won’t accept your request to be your bodyguard either . So if you need one, go look for someone else . ”
After Colbert said that as if it had nothing to do with him, Tomejima flusteredly said to him .
“Wait, leaving Kadol aside, how about me? I have nothing to do with that incident, you know?”
“It’s up to you how you are going to put Kadol back on your leash, but what if he does something as stupid as trying to kill Akira again? And what if Akira mistook that aggression? Do you think he would not act because someone would suffer a loss with Kadol’s death? I don’t want to get roped into such things . ”
Tomejima’s face turned grim, he then shouted at Viola again . This time he sounded even more dreaded than before .
“Viola!! It’s all your fault!! I’ll have you take responsibility for this!!”
Viola still kept her calm as she said .
“Don’t worry, I understand . In that case, how about I buy Kadol’s debt bond, that way, his problem will be shifted from you to me . Let’s see, I’ll buy it for 50% discount . ”
Tomejima was taken aback and lost his composure . He unconsciously considered Viola’s suggestions and calculated its benefit .
“…Kadol is still alive and it’s not like we know for sure Akira is going to kill him, a 50% discount is too much . ”
“Who exactly do you think is willing to buy the debt bond of someone chased after by a Hunter who even killed a bounty monster? If you were in my shoe, how much are you willing to pay for it? I bet you’re only willing to buy it for cheap, right? Or are you going to sell the bond to someone else without telling the situation? It would be really bad once it leaks out, you know . Or is it that you have the confidence you can find someone else who would properly control that stupid guy and takeover his bond? You know that you can’t, that’s why you’re panicking, right?”
Tomejima looked very desperate, all of Viola’s guesses were indeed correct .
Viola gave a fake pitying smile to Tomejima . She then gave him another push .
“I feel responsible for what happened too, you see . That’s why I’m offering to buy that bond for 50% since I’m sure no one would be willing to buy it . I’m willing to pay for your loss and take responsibility . As someone who is working with money a lot, I want you to at least understand my sincerity here . But just to let you know, I believe I already took responsibility by making this offer . It’s up to you if you’re not going to take this offer, but don’t expect me to make another offer, okay?”
Tomejima frowned, he was using all of his brainpower to calculate the loss and benefit from that offer .
“…But still, half price is too small . 60%, how about 60%?”
“Sure, I do plan to get along with you in the future too . So, I’ll take it at 60% . ”
Although they had a deal there, Tomejima still looked unsatisfied . After all, although he was able to minimize his loss, he still lost money there .
Tomejima and Viola used their respective terminals to go through the documents and finalized their deal there .
“So then, I’ll take my leave here . I look forward to making more deals with you in the future . ”
Viola smiled when she said that before leaving that place in a good mood . Tomejima still looked a bit annoyed as he saw her off .
He was still pouting as he operated the terminal on his table to order something to drink . It was obvious that he was going to drink his sorrow away .
Colbert then stood up from his chair .
“I’m going home too . I understand how you feel, but don’t drink too much, okay?”
“If you do, then you can at least accompany me drinking here . I’ll pay for you too . ”
“No thanks, I have no plans to get roped in to drink away your sorrow . If you need company, just call someone from the first or the third floor . Later then . ”
It seemed that he lost quite a lot of money that day, Tomejima did not try to hide his displeasure as he clicked his tongue .
When Colbert left the pub, Viola was waiting for him .
He did not say anything and just extended his right hand to Viola . She also did not say anything back as she handed over an envelope filled with money to him .
The reason why Colbert fanned Tomejima’s worry was because he had a deal with Viola beforehand . Colbert was hired by her .
Viola was smiling as she smugly said to him .
“It’s easier to pay through transfer, you know . Is it okay if I transfer your payment next time?”
But then Colbert said shamelessly .
“As an upright Hunter, I want to avoid transfer history from a suspicious source in my bank account, you see . ”
Viola teasingly smiled at him and said .
“An upright Hunter, huh? Well, I know that different people interpret those words differently . So I have no plans to dig any deeper . ”
Colbert checked the money inside his envelope before putting it inside his chest pocket . He then remembered something that bothered him and asked Viola about that .
“I’m just asking this out of curiosity, what are you planning to do with that bond that you just bought? Both trading bonds and lending money are not your real job, right? Just like you’ve explained to Tomejima, it would be near impossible to resell that bond, are you planning to keep the incident about Akira a secret and sell that bond to the other competitor companies?”
Viola smiled .
“I have a lot of plans with it . But I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do . ”
Viola sometimes did arbitration between conflicting organizations, her skill was highly regarded for that . But Colbert knew that sometimes she would sow the seed of fire herself, fan those flames, put gasoline on them, and then extract money out from both parties . She would go around manipulating everyone as if it was not her responsibility .
Colbert decided that he should refrain from taking requests from Viola for the time being . No one could tell for sure if she would use that bond that she bought from Tomejima to cause more trouble or not . But he bet that she was going to cause more trouble and he had no plans to get roped into trouble that involved Akira .
Colbert reminded himself to be very careful since he knew that getting roped into such a thing would definitely not be worth it .