Chapter 27: Recognition of the Young Hunters
Chapter 27: Recognition of the Young Hunters
A lot of Hunters gathered in an open field near the city, Akira was among them.
The open field was located near the city border right next to the wasteland and since it had a vast area, it was occasionally used as the meeting ground for the Hunters who took certain requests. Many portable shops were also set here. The Hunters gathered here after taking a specific request from the Hunter Office.
It was the duty of the Hunter Office to distribute requests to the Hunters. There were all kinds of requests posted on the net and all the requests had restrictions based on Hunter Rank.
Hunters with Rank 10 were not even considered as real Hunters, it was rank for a complete amateur, as such, the number of requests that a Rank 10 Hunter could take was very limited. The request that Akira took was to patrol around the Kugamayama city. Hunters would join together with other Hunters to patrol the area in a vehicle that the Hunter Office provided. Their main job was to thin out the monsters around the city.
For this request, the pay was guaranteed even if they did not encounter any monster at all. Moreover, they would get more money if they did encounter monsters and eradicated them. So for those who were lacking skills, they could still get paid just by riding the patrol vehicle. And even if they met some monsters, the other Hunters would help them fight those monsters. So in short, they would have a better chance of survival. And for those Hunters who sought glory and money, they just had to kill those monsters faster than anyone else.
As for the new Hunters who wanted to rise up to greatness, this was a perfect request for them. After all, it was not a life-threatening job, so their chance of getting killed was relatively low.
A lot of Hunters completed their request registration through their information terminal. As such, this method of registration became most common among Hunters. But for Akira who was not very skilled in operating his information terminal, it was not as easy. But thanks to Alpha, who was there to operate his information terminal, he just needed to go to the gathering place.
Eventually, a Hunter Office’s staff stood up and used a sound amplifier to give instructions to the Hunters who had gathered there.
“Line up and show us your Hunter ID!! After that, get on the vehicle assigned to you! You can do anything you want until the departure, but if you are late in boarding the vehicle, we’ll take that as you abandoning the request. Now, form a line!!”
All the Hunters lined up as if they were already used to this kind of thing. Akira joined one of the lines and waited for his turn. When he was called, he imitated other Hunters and just held up his Hunter ID on the Hunter Office staff’s information terminal.
After the staff finished reading information from Akira’s Hunter ID, he assigned him a vehicle.
“Go to vehicle number 14!! Next!!”
Akira left the line and headed towards his assigned vehicle, midway, Alpha looked a bit curious as she said to Akira.
“Number 14, huh? That does sound like a number for you.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Don’t worry, it’s just a number with a certain meaning.”
“…So what kind of meaning does this number 14 have?”
“It’s nothing to worry about. Just leave everything to me. It’ll be alright since you have my support. So let’s work hard and come back alive!”
At first, Akira just tilted his head in confusion. But he eventually became very bothered by it since Alpha kept telling him to stop worrying about it.
“Seriously though, what exactly does this number 14 mean??”
“That one over there is your vehicle, let’s go board it.”
Alpha just kept smiling, there was no sign that she would explain the meaning behind number 14.
The vehicle number 14 was a big truck designed to traverse the wasteland. Its roofless cargo tray was fitted with cheap long benches on both sides. Hunters were already sitting on those long benches. Some of those Hunters stared at Akira as he was about to board the truck.
There were many armed Hunters gathered in his vehicle. Akira thought that those Hunters were so powerful that he would not be able to win against them in a one on one fight. Thus, he could not help but imagine the worst-case scenario which made him nervous. But then Alpha suddenly flew to his front and changed her dress.
“Akira, this seat is empty.”
Akira was a bit surprised as he sat on the seat pointed by Alpha and locked his face forward. But the scene in front of his eyes made him forget about his nervousness. He made a puzzled look as he asked Alpha.
“Alpha, why did you change your dress?”
Alpha struck a pose in front of Akira and smiled at him.
“Does it look good on me?”
The truck was designed for traversing the wasteland and its cargo tray was filled with fully equipped Hunters, but in the middle of the cargo tray, Alpha was posing in a sexy swimsuit without showing any embarrassment. It made a very contrasting scene.
Moreover, Alpha should have been attracting a lot of attention in that situation, but no one even batted an eyelash. It was such a weird scene that it reminded Akira the fact that Alpha was indeed an abnormal being.
Alpha’s sexy swimsuit showcased her long legs and her alluring figure. Akira did not want to comment on her fashion sense but he couldn’t resist.
“…All I can say is that it’s not appropriate for this situation. Even someone like myself, who doesn’t know much about common sense, understands that swimsuit is not appropriate in this truck heading to the wasteland.”
Alpha smiled mischievously.
“I bet you’ll be bored since you’ll have to keep looking at the vast and empty wasteland for a long time during this job. So I thought of adding some colours to your views. So what do you think, it’s pretty good, isn’t it?”
It was true that her swimsuit was pretty good and he admitted that. But its aesthetics were spoiled because it stuck out like a sore thumb among those Hunters.
“I don’t really care, just turn back to your normal dress.”
Alpha smiled as she was having a good time teasing Akira.
“If you keep looking at me with that scary face, you’ll look suspicious, you know?”
Akira let out a sigh and decided to stop urging Alpha to change her dress.
All the nervousness and uneasiness that he felt when he was boarding the truck were gone after having this stupid conversation with Alpha. And of course, he was not that stupid to not realise that it was exactly the reason why Alpha changed her dress in the first place.
As Akira was about to forget everything and focus on the present, the Hunter sitting beside him clicked his tongue in annoyance. His name was Hazawa.
“Another kid, huh!! What the heck is going on? It is so unlucky to get assigned to this truck!”
Another Hunter near him then chuckled and mocked Akira.
“What the heck are you talking about? It just means that we have fewer competitors, so we’re actually lucky to get on this truck.”
Although both of them agreed that there were useless Hunters in the truck, they did not agree on their situation. Hazawa looked at the young Hunters around him, especially at Akira, then he shouted.
“I wanted to do a risk-free job, you know!! I heard that new monsters have started appearing in Kuzusuhara ruins and changed the distribution of the monsters there!! That’s why I wanted to do a safe job until things returned back to normal, is that too much to ask?! But even so, to think that I would get assigned to this truck filled with kids, this is just too unlucky!!”
Akira looked around to see other Hunters in the truck, he noticed that there were many around his age in this truck.
Hunters mostly did their job in the wasteland. Caution and cowardice would not help Hunters in earning a lot of money. On the other hand, it would keep them away from doing anything that would endanger them. The other experienced Hunters only smiled at Hazawa’s behaviour, it was obvious that they understood Hazawa’s line of thinking.
But there was one young Hunter, named Katsuya, who could not let that slide. He shouted back at Hazawa in anger.
“Are you kidding me?!! My Hunter Rank is 19!! And I’m not using cheap equipment like yours!! Both of our skills and equipment are on different levels, you know!!”
Katsuya was pretty confident with his own skill, and in reality, he was indeed pretty skilled. But since he was a young Hunter, he was frequently looked down upon. Thus Hazawa’s remark now rubbed him the wrong way.
Hazawa looked at Katsuya and the other Hunters and mocked.
“Humph. You’re just one of those Drankam brats, right? I know you guys were carried through your ranks by the veteran Hunters, like hell I can trust that Hunter Rank of yours.”
Drankam was the biggest operational Hunter gang in the slum. It was a relatively big gang with Hunters as its members. A lot of people used the gang to attain success.
The Hunter Office often gave preferential treatment for such big and influential gangs. Whenever the Hunter Office gives out a big request which would consume both time and a lot of human resources, it would allow such gangs to decide on the team’s composition, handling the lack of human resource and even distribution of rewards. After all, it was easier to govern the rowdy Hunters when they were affiliated with a gang. Because of this reason, the Hunter Office was actively recommending Hunters to join a gang, which indirectly led to the formation of such big scale Hunter gangs.
The Hunter Office also managed these Hunter gangs. One of the indicators that the Hunter Office used to evaluate these gangs was the average Hunter Rank of its gang members. Thus it was rather common among the Hunter gangs to let the new Hunters tag along with some veteran Hunters to raise their rank faster, which in turn, would increase the gang’s average Hunter Rank.
The Hunter Office had some toleration for such conduct, after all, it was also a method to raise the next generation of Hunters. It was fine as long as the Hunters that got carried, still finished their increasingly difficult requests equivalent to their Ranks in the future.
As such, there were few Hunter gangs which only raised up their average rank in order to get the preferential treatment from the Hunter Office. Those Hunter gangs were filled with amateur Hunters with a high Hunter Rank. But that was not the bad part, the worst part of it was when the new Hunters, oblivious to their real situation, thought that it was all due to their own skill they got ranked up and ended up doing something foolish. And in case they had to work together with another group for a job, the whole group would have to pay the price of their foolishness.
The reason why Hazawa said such a thing was because he himself had gone through dangerous experience because of such kind of Hunters. Moreover, he also noticed that the other Hunter’s equipment were better than his, thus he tried to hide his jealousy with hatred.
“I bet you didn’t buy that equipment with the money that you earned yourself. It’s such a pain in the ass to have an arrogant fool like you around, you know. Hunters like you will only give me more trouble.”
Katsuya looked furious as he replied.
“It’s people like you that will give us trouble!! You just said that you’re planning to sit back and let other Hunters kill the monsters for you right from the start, didn’t you?!!”
“What?! I was just saying that I had no plans to clean up your mess!!”
Katsuya and Hazawa were getting more and more agitated as they quarrelled.
Katsuya was sitting next to two other young Hunters affiliated with Drankam, Airi and Yumina. Seeing Katsuya not planning to end their quarrel anytime soon, Yumina started scolding him. She sounded like she had been taking care of him since they were kids.
“Katsuya, stop it. It would be a problem if they say that you were making a ruckus here.”
Airi also tried to stop Katsuya by joining the fray.
“Katsuya, no need to listen to a small fry like him.”
Katsuya turned to Yumina and Airi with an annoyed look. But Hazawa got furious when he was called a small fry and glared at Airi. She just ignored it and continued.
“If we’re only amateurs, then the other Hunters here are also the same. I’ll definitely rise up from this place in no time, so I don’t have the time to listen to small fry like him.”
The whole place suddenly went silent, the moment Airi said that everyone in the truck was also amateurs, everyone looked at Katsuya and his friends with hostility. Unfortunately, Akira also got hostile stares as the other Hunters mistook him as one of Katsuya’s friends.
A Hunter by the name Shikarabe broke the silence with a big sigh and put pressure on everyone with his low voice.
“You three, stop there.”
Shikarabe’s equipment was on a different level compared to the other Hunters in the truck. He gave out an aura of an experienced Hunter too. He was also a member of Drankam and he was here to look over the other children from his gang. In short, he was a babysitter.
Shikarabe looked around him with an annoyance. It was enough to take control of the whole situation that was about to get elevated into a riot.
“I’ll be looking over these brats, so they won’t give you any trouble.”
The other Hunters could only agree since Shikarabe was stronger than them. Looking at the other’s reaction, Katsuya and Airi made a smug face.
At the same time, the staff from the Hunter Office shouted from the driving seat.
“It’s time!! We’re going now!! Anyone who makes ruckus will be kicked out from the truck and considered as abandoning their job!! And also, you from the Drankam!! Be sure to keep your brats in check!! We’re leaving now!!”
The other Hunters were relieved when they heard that.
Akira looked relieved when the ruckus died down, but he then complained.
“Why would something like this happen before we even get dispatched?”
Alpha smiled and said.
“Maybe it’s because of your bad luck.”
Although Akira was somehow convinced by that reasoning, he quickly tried to refute it.
“…But there’s a strong Hunter with us in this truck. So it should have nothing to do with my bad luck.”
The Hunters in the truck had calmed down as the truck was on its way to the wasteland. The truck traversed the wasteland by surveying its surroundings using the big sensor installed on it.
The rewards awarded to the Hunters in a patrol request was based on the numbers of monsters they defeated during their patrol. As for the monsters, basically it was first come first served. The Hunter Office identified Hunters who killed the monsters based on the information gathered by the devices installed in the truck. In the cases where the monsters were killed during a salvo or when it was unclear who killed a monster, the reward would be divided between the Hunters who were involved in the salvo or even divided among everyone in the truck. It was also mentioned in one of the clauses in the job request so that the Hunters would not complain during the distribution of the rewards.
As for the corpse of the monsters, they were all sellable goods and the Hunter Office had rights over them. It was for preventing the Hunters from dragging those corpses back home and delaying the patrol. Although there were cases where another group was sent to collect them, most of the time they were just left behind because it was ineffective.
The truck continued patrolling the wasteland. Although they encountered monsters, most were spotted from far away or were just all alone in the middle of the wasteland, thus the Hunters were able to take them out from afar.
The Hunters in the truck were assigned their patrol direction according to their seat. The Drankam Hunters were assigned to watch the right side. As for Akira, he was assigned to watch the left side and he had no luck in spotting any monsters till now.
Hazawa who was sitting next to Akira mistook him as one of the Drankam’s member, thus he tried to get Akira to move away from his side with spite.
“You’re one of them, right? So why are you here?”
Akira answered back calmly.
“I have no connection with them.”
Hazawa looked surprised.
“Is that so? But you’re also just a brat.”
“Even a small kid like me needs money too. There are not many requests that a small kid with low Hunter rank can take. I only got in this truck together with them by pure chance.”
“If that’s the case, then what’s with your augmented suit? Isn’t that something that you borrowed from Drankam?”
The reason why Hazawa was suspicious of Akira was because even the cheapest augmented suit was expensive and it was not something that a newbie Hunter would be able to afford, more so for a small kid.
Hearing Hazawa’s question, Akira’s expression turned serious.
“I bought it with the money that I saved. It was pretty cheap since it is 2 generations behind. But even so, I had to sacrifice most of my accommodation money to buy it. Thus I ended up staying in a room without a bath and hadn’t been taking bath these past few days. I’m planning to move to a room with a bath with the money that I get from this job.”
Hazawa was able to feel Akira’s resolve and motivation and he was taken aback by it. Hazawa could also see Akira’s determination within his eyes.
“I-I see. Sorry that I lumped you with those people. Well, I too want to be able to take a bath every day. I can understand your feelings there.”
Although it was weird to be able to buy an augmented suit only by cutting accommodation money, that line of thinking did not even pass Hazawa’s mind as he was taken aback by Akira’s reaction.
Katsuya and his friends were shooting at the monsters while exchanging light jokes, they were so relaxed. Whether it was because of their real skill or from their lack of awareness of danger due to their lack of experience was unknown but it was enough to grate the ears of the other Hunters who were still annoyed by their behaviour before they were dispatched.
Katsuya was aiming at a monster from afar, he took an aim carefully and pulled the trigger. But since the truck was rocking and distance from the monster, his shot missed the target.
“Missed again, huh. This is hard.”
Yumina looked exasperated as she smiled and told off Katsuya.
“Katsuya, as I said, it’s too far for you. You should bait it to come closer before trying to shoot.”
Airi extended her hand and urged him for the rifle.
“Next is my turn.”
“Wait for a bit!! I’ll definitely hit my next target.”
Even though it was first come first served, only Katsuya was shooting at the monsters. This was because the range of his rifle was superior among the other Hunters. In short, it showed the difference between the equipment that the Drankam Hunters were using compared to the other Hunters in the truck.
No matter how many shots Katsuya released, the monster kept running towards the truck as none of his shots hit it. When the other Hunters readied their gun to take aim, one of the young Drankam Hunters would finally hit their target because of their superior effective range and kill the monster. But thinking about the number of bullets they wasted, it was uncertain whether they would make any profit at all.
Katsuya lowered his gun while looking disappointed since he could not kill all the monsters by himself. Airi extended her hand towards him again.
“Katsuya, it’s my turn.”
As Katsuya reluctantly handed his rifle to Airi, Yumina just smiled bitterly.
The young Hunters of Drankam monopolized the prey because of their better rifle. It was indeed first come first served, the survival of the fittest. There was no rule saying that they should share their prey. But it was a completely different case whether doing so would anger other Hunters or not.
Looking at how Katsuya and his friends were acting, Hazawa mumbled in a bad mood.
“Those brats getting ahead of themselves… Ahh, it’s not like I’m saying that to you, you know?”
Hazawa remembered about Akira who was right beside him, thus he said that to Akira in panic. But Akira did not seem to be bothered at all.
“It’s fine, I know that I’m also a brat.”
“I see, by the way, your gun is also AAH rifle, huh? Mine is also AAH rifle, you see.”
Hazawa then showed his gun to Akira. It was indeed another AAH rifle. Although Akira’s rifle looked better maintained than his, Hazawa still felt happy to meet someone who was using the same rifle type that he loved.
“It’s indeed a good rifle, isn’t it? It’s a famous gun. Although there are people who look down on it because of its cheap price, it was not like the price is everything. If you suck at shooting, you’ll miss even if you use an expensive gun.”
Hazawa glanced at Katsuya. Although Hazawa did not say that intentionally to let Katsuya hear him, still Katsuya overheard him nonetheless since the truck’s tray was narrow.
Katsuya glared at him and Hazawa who noticed that just chuckled mockingly.
Akira then interjected to say his own opinion.
“We’re trying to shoot a monster from a long-range in a moving truck, so it’s to be expected that it’s not going to be easy.”
Akira sounded as if he was defending Katsuya, thus Hazawa’s mood soured while Katsuya looked satisfied. But it quickly changed when Akira continued wording out his opinion.
“Don’t worry though, I’m not someone who would intentionally miss my shots just to bait a monster and make other people take care of my mess. Not to mention, someone said he would take care of them and make sure that they won’t trouble other Hunters too. Just leave those guys alone. Don’t mind them as long as they don’t let monsters swarm this truck from their side.”
Akira sounded like he was saying that Katsuya and his friends were just dead weight to them. Thus Hazawa looked satisfied while Katsuya was obviously offended.
Hazawa’s mood turned better as he lost interest in Katsuya. He turned his gaze back to Akira and said.
“As brothers in arms, I’ll let you take the first monster coming out in this direction.”
Not too long after that, a monster was detected from Akira and Hazawa’s direction. It was a big burly carnivorous monster, the moment it noticed the truck, it started running vigorously towards them.
Akira composed himself, let out a small breath, fuh, and readied his gun.
“Alpha, I’m counting on your support.”
“How much support do you want this time? Since you’re not in training today, how about trying to shoot it by yourself?”
“Nope, please provide me with your full support. The truck is rocking pretty hard, I don’t think I can hit that monster without your support. I’ll use this chance to see how effective your support is during this kind of situation.”
Alpha returned a smile hearing his challenge.
“Oh my, if you say that, then I have no other choice but to show you how great my support is. So leave it to me.”
“I’m counting on you.”
Akira readied his gun and aimed carefully through its aiming device. The weak points of the monster and the TPLine were shown in his view. Although the rocking of the truck should intensely sway the aim, Akira was able to hold his aim through his rifle’s scope on that big monster which was on the very edge of his rifle’s effective range. It was possible because Alpha made fine adjustments to compensate for the shaking from the truck.
As Akira was about to pull the trigger, she raised the power of his augmented suit along with her fine adjustments and hardened it to stabilize his aim.
Akira pulled the trigger of his gun. The bullet which flew out from its muzzle was highly accurate thanks to Alpha’s support and hit the weak spot of the monster. The same happened for his second shot and third shot. All of his shots hit the moving monster as if it was a miracle. The last bullet went straight through its skull and ripped its brain off. Each bullet shot by Akira worsened the monster’s condition from light to severe wounds and finally to fatal wounds. The monster tripped and rolled over before it finally laid dead.
Hazawa was taken by surprise when he saw the monster trip over and die. He never thought that a shot from such distance would even hit the monster.
“Wh-whoah, you’re pretty good.”
Akira lowered his gun and replied back as if it was nothing.
“Well, as expected from a famous gun.”
“Y-You can say that again.”
Hazawa was at loss for words when Akira said it in a fashion as if it was to be expected to hit that monster. Akira was sure that his shots would hit, thanks to Alpha who made it possible.
Alpha was smiling meaningfully at Akira.
“So? What do you think?”
“It was amazing.”
Alpha looked a bit unsatisfied with his answer.
“But you don’t seem that amazed though.”
“Is that so? Well, I got to see so many surprising things since I met you. So I might’ve gotten used to it.”
“Really? In that case, I’ll definitely surprise you in the near future.”
After saying that, Alpha smiled teasingly. As for Akira, he tried to keep his cool while reacting to Alpha so as to not make himself look suspicious.
Hazawa was not the only Hunter who was surprised by Akira’s skill. From the point of view of people who could not see Alpha, Akira looked like a powerful Hunter doing such a miraculous feat like it was nothing.
After the truck finished patrolling the area assigned to it, it started its return trip to the city. On their way back home, the Hunters in the truck already lowered their guard and started relaxing. Most of them started talking to each other and the truck became a bit noisy.
Katsuya didn’t take his eyes off Akira. Akira noticed that but he ignored it.
“Akira. He’s looking at you.”
“It’s not like he’s going to challenge me to a fight. So just leave him be.”
“You’re right, he might be just looking at you since it’s rare to find small kids in this kind of job.”
Akira thought that Katsuya and his friends were unsociable and they were the kind of people who would frequently cause problems. As long as they were not the ones taking the initiative, Akira preferred to keep away from them.
But talking about people who would frequently cause problems, Akira was actually worse than them considering the incident that happened in Sheryl’s base the other day. He also understood that but he was playing ignorant.
“Alpha, in the end, I only got to kill one monster though. Are we really going to keep doing this kind of job from now on? How much am I going to earn exactly?”
“Well, one thing for sure, it won’t be enough to let you sleep in a room with a bath. If only another group of monsters attack you like the other day, would you be able to make a lot of money.”
“Give me a break, I don’t want to face that kind of situation for a second time.”
Akira face twitched as he remembered that he barely survived that fight. But in contrast, Alpha just kept smiling like usual.
“You have an augmented suit this time, so I think you have the choice of running away now.”
“No thanks. What would you do if it breaks my legs?”
“Well, let’s use medicine on your legs before they break. I think that should buy us enough time before your legs actually break.”
“Let me make myself clear, can you please come up with a solution so that I won’t get in that situation in the first place?”
Akira’s face distorted when he said that and he maintained his expression all the way back to the city. Akira thought that he would look like a frowning Hunter who was on his way back from his job knowing that he did not make much money.
Katsuya was looking at Akira with a puzzled face, he then whispered to Yumina and Airi.
“Say, did you look at him when he shot that monster?”
Airi shook her head and answered back.
“I wasn’t looking at him too, what’s wrong?”
Yumina asked back curiously, to which, Katsuya replied back with a disappointed face and said.
“So both of you didn’t see that, huh?”
“We’re here for exploration training after all. So we didn’t have the time to look at others… Katsuya, that should be the case for you too, right? So why are you watching someone kill a monster? Were you skipping your training?”
Yumina scolded Katsuya. So he panicked and tried to come up with an excuse.
“I-I’m sorry, okay. I just heard some conversation that bothered me back there. So I was curious and kept an eye on them.”
“Get a better grip on yourself, okay? We’re a team here so we have to support each other, but even so, there’s a limit on how much support I can give you, you know?”
Katsuya saw that Yumina had entered her scolding mode again, thus he glanced at Airi, seeking for help. But Airi asked him a question as if she could not read the mood.
“What’s bothering you anyway?”
Katsuya immediately answered back in order to cut short Yumina’s scolding.
Yumina noticed that Airi saved Katsuya from her scolding, so she just smiled since she knew that there was nothing she could do.
As Katsuya told them what he saw when Akira shot that monster, Airi thought for a moment before saying.
“Wasn’t that just pure luck?”
“It was already within his AAH rifle’s effective range and there was a chance that his shot hit by pure luck. Moreover, the shots might have not hit the monster directly too. The bullets might have hit the ground near the monster and the monster was surprised by it thus tripping over and breaking its own neck. Or maybe someone took a shot at that monster at the same time as him. It’s hard to believe that he intentionally aimed and hit all his shots at that monster’s weak points.”
“I see. But it did look like that to me.”
“Since it’s not like I saw it, I can only say that it might be just coincidence, moreover…”
“Even if he did hit his shots successfully, it has nothing to do with us.”
Yumina then asked Katsuya in an annoyed tone.
“By the way, why are you so bothered by that?”
Airi also joined Yumina.
“Putting that aside, I think you should pay more attention to the other Hunters who are on the same gang and same team as you.”
The reason why Katsuya was bothered by Akira was because of Hazawa. It was clear that Hazawa was looking down at them, but even so, it seemed like Hazawa admitted Akira’s ability. And that was more obvious after Akira took down that monster.
Although Akira and he were similar-aged Hunters, Hazawa recognised Akira’s skill but did not accept his own skills. Katsuya was just simply bothered by this fact. But since it pained him to say that, he just came up with an excuse.
“Well, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just that because he’s around the same age as us, it bothered me a bit. Of course, you girls are more important to me than him.”
Yumina looked embarrassed as she said.
“What are you talking about out of the blue…”
While on the other hand, Airi was delighted as she nodded and said.
“It’s fine as long as you understand.”
Although they said that, Airi and Yumina actually knew that Katsuya was trying to evade the real question. But they were swept off their feet by his words and let him get away with that.
Hazawa looked annoyed watching Katsuya and his friends, he then let out a sigh and said to Akira.
“Good grief, these guys are an eyesore right till the end, huh?”
Akira apathetically replied back.
“Just let them be. You’ll only waste your energy reacting to them, and it’ll cause you more trouble if you get in a fight with them. Not to mention that they have brought along another Hunter who looks relatively stronger than anyone here.”
Hazawa glanced at Shikarabe who was sitting near Katsuya.
“Well, you’re correct. But still, there are children like them, and again, there are children like you. I’m just wondering how you guys can be so different from each other like this.”
Hazawa was only trying to engage in a silly conversation. But Akira went silent for a while before answering back in a serious tone.
“I’m not that different from those children.”
“Is that so? But from my perspective, you look very different compared to them, you know.”
“We’re the same. Although we behave differently, both of us are children who’re staking our lives out in the wasteland. That’s a fact, no matter whether someone admits that or not. Our luck and skills to explore the ruins, to fight against the monsters and to get out from a mess are not that different. The more dangerous a request we take, the more rewards we can get. But since we’re out in the wasteland, we’re bound to meet different kinds of people. We were not lucky enough to avoid problematic people this time, but we’re sure lucky enough to get back home, that’s all there is to it.”
After saying that, Akira went silent as if he was trying to hide his emotion.
Most of the things that he just said were actually directed at himself.
The biggest advantage of joining a Hunter gang was being able to get support from the other Hunters. But if he had to compare that point, Akira with Alpha’s support was obviously in a better position.
But even so, looking at the other hunters who were similar to him in age, it was true that Akira felt a bit jealous, especially Katsuya and his friends who were having silly talks and joking around enjoying their trip to the wasteland.
Hazawa kept staring at Akira without saying anything, he was in deep thought.
He got a close look at Akira when he used the AAH rifle to easily kill that monster. Although Hazawa looked calm on the outside, he was actually very shaken deep within.
Hazawa knew that he could not do the same feat although he was holding the same rifle. He had no confidence he could hit a target from such a distance. If he was in that situation, he could only spray some bullets hoping to weaken that monster before firing a killing shot. It was impossible for him to defeat the monster with the least amount of bullets like what Akira did. He understood this fact very well.
Hazawa’s gaze shifted to Akira’s gun, it was the same AAH rifle like his. But Akira’s gun looked like it was properly maintained. In contrast to that, he could not even remember the time he had done full maintenance for his own rifle.
As expected of a favourite gun, AAH rifle could maintain its performance even when it was not properly maintained. But it was to be expected that the performance of a gun would slowly worsen if it was not properly maintained. When Hazawa looked at his gun, it looked like a shabby gun to him now.
Hazawa then just smiled bitterly.
[…I could return back home safely from the wasteland although I’m using this gun, huh. It seems that I’m pretty lucky.]
Although he took this relatively safe patrol job because he was afraid of dying, he did not properly maintain his own gun and went out to the dangerous wasteland. Even though this job did not seem worth the money at first glance, it looked even more unworthy of the money to him now.
Hazawa did a lot more dangerous Hunter jobs in the past. He explored a lot of ruins, brought back a lot of relics, fought all kinds of monsters and survived all of those. At the same time, he also saw a lot of people getting killed. Some of them were his fellow Hunters who went to the ruins with him, some of them were bandits who tried to rob him and some of them were his friends who suddenly stopped coming to their usual drinking place. All these deaths weakened Hazawa’s resolve. Eventually, Hazawa decided to exchange his chance of success with his safety.
[…If I keep doing cheap work like this because of fear, I guess it’s given that I would end up being a Hunter with no achievement, huh. Now that I remember it, I was way more ambitious back in the days….]
One of the reasons why Hazawa was so annoyed watching Katsuya and his friends was because he could feel their determination to raise up as successful Hunters. They still tried to chase a higher position despite all the dangers that they were facing. If they did have the ability and the luck, it would be as Airi said, they would raise up in the Rank in no time.
But putting that aside, it was true that Katsuya and his friends were aiming for a higher position, just like he did in the past.
[…I guess this is it for today, I’ll go back home after this and do proper maintenance on my gun. Then I’ll redo everything again. I’ll once again aim for becoming a Hunter that I was dreaming about. After all, I’m a lucky person. I’m lucky that I was able to meet these brats today, it’s as if saying that I should retry again.]
Hazawa made up his resolve in silence.
In truth, Hazawa was actually a lucky person. After all, he was able to finish his job for the day and go back to his inn to do proper maintenance of his gun. He was actually luckier than he thought he was.