Chapter 71: Adding Salt to Injury
Chapter 71: Adding Salt to Injury
While it was not always true that the enemies of your enemies were your friends, but almost always, the friends of your enemies were definitely your enemies. According to what Katsuya said, he basically put himself in a position where he allied himself with Akira’s enemy. Thus, from Akira’s point of view, Katsuya and his friends had already shifted from being innocent people, who got roped into this situation, to his enemies.
It would be nothing strange if Akira suddenly opened fire. Because of that, Alpha warned him with a stern expression.
“Akira, you can’t. I won’t allow you to do this. It’s 7 vs 1, 6 of them are used to fighting, while the remaining one can fight you equally even when you have your augmented suit. You can’t take this fight.”
“7 against 1, huh…”
Those words were mumbled more to himself than to Alpha. Since he always communicated through telepathy with her, he thought that Katsuya and the others will not be able to hear what he said.
But his stance was already showing that he was ready to fight. Currently, his focus was divided into two, observing the enemies in front of him and planning on how to dispose of all of them. As such, he forgot his usual routine. Thanks to that, his obviously hostile statement that he just mumbled were heard by Katsuya and the others.
Yumina did not think that Akira would not recognize the difference in their strength, so when she heard him mumbled that statement, she was hoping that he would withdraw from that place.
But Shiori suddenly said something unexpected.
“It’s not 7 against 1. I, Reina, and Kanae would not get involved in this fight. We won’t aid Katsuya-sama nor Akira-sama.”
After she said that, Shiori pulled Reina behind her and Kanae.
Yumina was taken-aback when Shiori said that. There was no trace of blame in her voice, she was just purely surprised by that statement.
Katsuya and Airi were also surprised. Without dropping their guard against Akira, they looked at Shiori as if they were asking her what she was thinking.
Akira’s expression did not change at all, he was still observing Katsuya and the others closely as he sent a glance to Shiori. He tried to guess what Shiori’s group was going to do next since they made an unexpected but suspicious decision.
As Akira and Katsuya’s group focused their attention on Shiori, she showed a wilful expression and said to both of them.
“Katsuya-sama, if you are going to risk a fight in order to protect someone, who you just met for the first time, I do think it’s a commendable act and I can respect that. But it is a completely different thing if it gets Milady involved too. So please handle this situation without involving us.”
Shiori said that with a serious face while exuding an intimidating aura.
“Akira-sama, as long as you do not pose any danger to Milady, including misfire, I can promise you that we won’t attack you. So please make the right decision to avoid any needless battle.”
Shiori basically said that her group would not help either side if they decide to fight it out. While at the same time, she was also questioning Katsuya’s decision to risk his and his friends’ life for Alna’s sake. She was also telling Akira to rethink whether this fight was really that important or not.
Both Akira and Katsuya could make a decision to not fight there. But if none of them backs-off, then anything that would happen after that was their responsibility.
Shiori then pushed Reina, who still could not recover from the confusion, backward as if she was urging her to move. They were slowly distancing themselves from Katsuya and Akira.
“Milady, let’s go.”
Reina tried to resist a bit as Shiori pulled her away from that place, but she did not try to seriously break off from Shiori to fight beside Katsuya against Akira. To be more precise, she did not even want to be chosen as the third party observer there.
Shiori frowned as she said to Reina.
“My apologies. Milady, I’ll have to pull you away even if it’s against your will… Or is that you’re planning to repeat the same mistake again?”
Shiori did not clearly state what kind of mistake she was talking about. It was so that Reina would figure it out by herself about the worst mistake that she made in the past.
Reina immediately remembered everything that Shiori might be referring to.
That time when Yajima and Akira were arguing in the underground city, both of them were making statements without any proof or evidence. So there was no telling which one was lying and which one was not, but actually Akira was telling the truth at that time. But again, there was no guarantee that it was also the case this time.
She also remembered that she was taken hostage when she carelessly approached Yajima. So, she feared that the same thing would happen again if she tried to approach Akira to calm him down or if she tried to approach Alna to protect her. After all, if Alna took her hostage, Shiori might be forced to fight Akira again. And if Akira took her hostage, then Shiori might be forced to fight Katsuya.
She would just end up as a deadweight again and be forced to watch people killing one another in front of her eyes.
The regret that she was holding inside her heart since that day pushed her to make her decision.
“…Katsuya, I’m sorry. I can’t help you this time. I don’t think it’s wise to risk my life for protecting that girl.”
It was a tough decision for Reina, but her love for Katsuya was not big enough for her to rope Shiori into that problem for his selfless action.
Yumina became saddened as she looked at Reina, while on the other hand, Airi’s gaze was saying that she was condemning Reina’s decision. It seemed that both of them loved Katsuya so much that they would be happy to sacrifice their lives for him. Enough that they would choose to fight Akira rather than pulling Alna off from Katsuya and handing her over to Akira–an act which would make Katsuya hate them.
Kanae suddenly said something with a cheerful voice as if she could not read the mood at all.
“Ah, I don’t mind taking Katsuya’s side though.”
Shiori immediately directed a silent but immense pressure toward Kanae, making her retract her words.
“Ah, I’m sorry! I take that back! This is also my job as a bodyguard! So I can’t do that! Well then, we’ll excuse ourselves here! Milady, let’s go back home!”
Kanae placed both of her hands on Reina’s shoulder and started pushing her away to the point that they were jogging. Shiori lightly bowed and followed Kanae and Reina.
After Reina, Shiori, and Kanae put enough distance from where Akira was, he mumbled.
“Now, it’s 4 on 1…”
Katsuya and his friends were staring at Shiori, who left that place, forgetting about Akira. But the moment Akira mumbled those words, their attention returned back to him, their stances indicating that they were ready to fight anytime.
Although they had not pointed their guns at Akira, their hands were already extended to right beside their own respective rifles. The moment one of them touched their rifles, Akira might quickly react by grabbing his own rifle and start shooting. That was why Katsuya, Airi, and Yumina did not dare to make any sudden or suspicious moves.
Akira’s words reconfirmed their current situation, it was not 3 against 1, but 4 against 1. So in short, Akira included Alna as his target to kill, so Katsuya would have to fight Akira while protecting Alna which would put him at a disadvantage.
Katsuya’s expression turned stern. Since the tension between them was extremely high, it shaved their spirits the longer they stood there staring at each other. And that unbearable tension was tempting Katsuya and his friends to make the first move before Akira.
Akira’s expression did not change as he glared at Katsuya. His eyes were saying that he had no wish to lessen his hostility towards them. He simply had no wish to back-off in such a situation. The only reason why he did not make any move was simply because of the difference between their fighting power.
Akira himself had no plans to go as far as to sacrifice his own life just to kill Alna. After all, if that was not the case, he would have made his move when Katsuya and his friends took their eyes off from him.
After losing Shiori, Reina, and Kanae, the gap between their fighting power greatly reduced. But it still did not change the fact that Akira only had a slim chance of winning; even if he were to put down his life.
Akira’s sense of reason stopped him from pushing forward, but his hatred and anger prevented him from backing off. Because of that, he could not make any moves.
The trigger that changed the situation was Alpha. She scolded Akira with a stern expression.
“Akira, step back! Now! If you just wait for a bit longer, you’ll get better equipment. There’s no reason for you to recklessly charge into a disadvantageous fight, without even waiting for your new equipment, just to kill that girl. From my point of view, what you are going to do now is just adding more salt to your injury. If you fight now, there’s no mistaking that you’ll die. Akira, are you going to disobey me now? Do you not trust me now?”
Even after hearing Alpha’s words, Akira’s expression showed no change. The hostility that he directed to Katsuya did not reduce at all as he was still glaring at them.
But then, Akira, who did not lower his guard and was keeping his eyes fixed on Katsuya and his friends, took a step back without turning around. He then slowly stepped back to the alley where he came from. Akira’s expression did not change and he still glared at Katsuya and his friends until he finally vanished deep into the alley.
Even after Akira’s figure disappeared into the alley and his presence completely vanished, it took a few minutes before Katsuya, Airi, and Yumina lowered their guards. All of them let out a big sigh as they were liberated from the high tension which accumulated during that confrontation.
Even though they did not fight at all, they felt exhausted. That confrontation was psychically more taxing than a fierce battle. It might be because they had no experience fighting against another person. Since they were lucky to be proper Hunters and with a big gang like Drankam behind them, Katsuya rarely had any occasion where he had to fight other Hunters.
Although they had gone through a lot of fights during their job as Hunters, this was the first time someone bore such a level of killing intent and hostility at them.
Yumina strongly scolded Katsuya, which was very rare considering her nature.
“Katsuya!! Don’t expect me to help you if something like that happens again, okay?!”
Katsuya did not think it through as he reflexively replied back.
“Are you seriously telling me that I should have just given this girl away to him?”
“That’s not it!!”
Katsuya’s reply caused Yumina to raise her voice and shut him up. Her fiery reply caused Katsuya to wince back.
“If you hadn’t said what you said back then, we could’ve resolved this peacefully?!! So why in the world did you say that?!”
“I-I didn’t think that he would get enraged, you see.”
“What I’m asking you is the reason why you said that?! Did you really think that he would just laugh it off and forget about it when you say such things?!!”
“I-It just slipped off from my mouth… I-I’m sorry.”
Katsuya sounded like his apology was sincere, it seemed that he at least knew it was his mistake.
After letting out her pent up emotion, Yumina finally calmed down. Her intense glare had returned back to normal. After she took another long breath, she then scolded Katsuya again.
“The next time you do anything like this, I’ll replace that mouth of your’s with a cyborg part and I’ll set it so that you can’t say anything without my permission, okay? Do you get that?”
After hearing his answer, Yumina finally let go of her rage. Now that she had regained enough composure to think about Alna, she approached Alna, who was still dumbfounded by what had happened, and said to her.
“I’m sorry, it seems that things always get complicated because of Katsuya.”
Then Alna flusteredly thanked Katsuya and his friends.
“P-please don’t be! It’s me who should be apologizing for roping everyone into my problem! Thank you very much for saving me!”
Alna was now sending passionate gazes at Katsuya. It was normal for a girl to send such a gaze to a member of the opposite sex who saved her when she was in trouble, and of course, Alna was not an exception.
Airi watched that confrontation between Akira and Katsuya from a location little far from Yumina.
Unlike Katsuya and Yumina, who became Hunters starting from a blessed environment, Airi started from a rather poor environment. According to her past experiences, she bet that Akira was telling the truth.
Airi was at a loss whether to tell Katsuya and Yumina or not, but in the end, she decided not to say anything. After all, if she did, then she would have to explain her reasoning. But the main reason why she did not tell Katsuya and Yumina was because she did not want to ruin Katsuya’s mood. As Airi thought that it had ended anyway, she decided to not tell Katsuya and Yumina.
Akira was walking through the back alley, he was heading to his original destination, Sheryl’s base. His expression had not changed much since his confrontation with Katsuya.
Alpha thought that it would be bad to let Akira meet anyone while he was in this mood. Since with his current mood, even the slightest misunderstanding could trigger an unnecessary fight. So she gently made a suggestion to Akira to calm himself down.
“Akira, how about you take some deep breaths?”
Akira stopped. He did not say anything as he turned to Alpha, while she returned his stare with a smile.
“Hm? What’s wrong? You don’t know how to do it? Do you need me to explain it? Or do you need an example?”
Although Akira was staring at her with an abnormal expression, Alpha’s smile did not diminish. The intonation of her voice also remained the same.
Akira did not say anything as he took a deep breath. He then repeated the process again and again and again.
For his last deep breath, Akira let out a big sigh. His expression loosened and returned back to his depressed face, which said that he hated himself.
Akira then spoke to Alpha through telepathy.
It might be because he spoke through telepathy, all his guilty feelings and the other emotions inside him were sent to Alpha together with his apology. There was guilt, frustration, self-reproach, and gratitude.
“Don’t worry about that.”
Alpha received all of those emotions sent to her and told Akira that it was not that big of a deal.
Akira started walking again, and Alpha walked beside him.
“I know it’s too late to say this, but I really am relying on you for everything, huh?”
“You can keep on relying more on me, you know? You can just ask me anything.”
“Even if you tell me so, I think I’m already relying more than enough on you. So like, rather than that, do you have anything that you want me to do for you?”
“Let’s see… I want you to not die until you can finish my request.”
“Yep, that’s good.”
Akira sincerely apologized and Alpha smiled in satisfaction.
Akira arrived in front of Sheryl’s base, but he decided to head back home without entering the base. Although he had regained his calm, his mood was not fully recovered to his usual self yet. He might inadvertently vent his emotion on Sheryl, thus he thought that it would be better for him to visit the base another day.
Akira retraced his footsteps back to his house.
After Akira left, 2 girls arrived near Sheryl’s base. One of them was a girl by the name of Nasha, she looked just like a normal girl commonly found in the slum city. While the other girl was Alna.
Alna worriedly asked Nasha.
“Nasha, are you sure that it’ll be fine?”
“Don’t worry, I carefully picked this gang after gathering all the information that I could get. Even if we get rejected from this gang, they won’t kill us or take all of our possessions… Maybe.”
Both Alna and Nasha were hoping to join Sheryl’s gang.
Although Sheryl’s gang was a relatively small gang, it gathered a lot of attention from the young boys and girls in the slum city.
Starting from its boss, Sheryl, all the members of the gang were young boys and girls and there were even small children too. But even so, the gang was properly managed like a real organization and it had enough influence to provide some level of protection to its members. Moreover, news had spread through the slum city that Sheryl’s gang had successfully secured food and guns too. Thus, the reputation of the gang started to spread. People who heard about Sheryl’s gang normally had good impressions of it. So, many of them wished to join Sheryl’s gang in order to gain benefits.
Nasha smiled to clear up Alna’s worries.
“You were the one who kept rushing it in the first place, remember? So why are you hesitating now?”
“W-well, that’s true, but still…”
“I don’t know the real reason why, but it seems that the boss of this gang prohibits all of its members from thieving or murdering other people. That’s why I’m sure they won’t tell you to pickpocket even after you get accepted. I’ll join first to see if that’s true or not and then you can join in later after I confirm it, that’s our plan, remember?”
Alna sounded apologetic as she said.
“Nasha, I’m sorry. It feels like I’m making you go alone to check the gang just for my sake. Please be careful.”
“It’s fine. I’ve always been thinking of joining this gang anyway, so this is a good chance to do that.”
Nasha then extended her right hand to Alna and opened her palm. Alna took out a few pieces of papers from her chest and handed it over to Nasha while making her grip on it.
Both Nasha and Alna did not think that they would be able to join Sheryl’s gang without any connection or money. And at the same time, they thought that they would have a better chance to get accepted if they had some souvenirs that they could give to the boss of the gang or the people working under her. So their plan was to use their hard-earned money to get a better chance.
As Nasha counted the bills that she received from Alna, she frowned and her face turned stern.
“90,000 Aurum!? Alna, you really overdid it this time!! Are you trying to kill yourself?!”
Nasha knew well how Alna got her money. This 90,000 Aurum was a huge sum that would drive any slum city resident into a frenzy if they were pickpocketed. It was huge enough to make someone kill for retrieving it.
Alna’s face distorted with fear as she replied.
“I know!! I did tell you too, remember?! I was really about to get killed!! Although I got lucky and was able to get out alive, it was really a close call!! I know what I’m doing is really dangerous, that’s why I’m rushing you so that I can live without the need to pickpocket!! So that I don’t have to face that kind of thing ever again!”
Alna shivered as she remembered Akira’s image when he was chasing her and when he was confronting Katsuya’s team.
When Nasha saw Alna shivering, she hugged Alna to help her calm down. Alna’s shivers slowly died down thanks to that.
Alna then hugged Nasha back.
“I’m sorry, Nasha, please be careful there.”
“Rather than worrying about me, you should worry more about yourself. Make sure to remain hidden, okay?”
Alna and Nasha expressed their worries to each other before going their separate ways. Alna went to their hideout in the slum city while Nasha headed to Sheryl’s gang.
Akira spent his days training inside his house without even stepping outside. It was because he decided to stay in his house as much as possible until he got his augmented suit and regained Alpha’s support.
He thought that it must be one of his unlucky periods, that was also the reason why he got his wallet stolen. Thus he stayed inside his house as much as possible.
Akira had spent all of his luck when he met Alpha, so normally, he had no luck left with him. He always somehow managed to get through it with his hard work and Alpha’s support. But at that time, his carelessness wasted all his hard work, and since he did not have his augmented suit, he could not have Alpha’s support. Akira thought these were the reasons why he got his wallet stolen.
Although there was no proof for this, if only Akira did not get careless, or if he had his augmented suit with Alpha’s support, he might have not lost his wallet back then. At least the logic checked out and that was enough as a proof for Akira.
As for Alpha, she wanted to keep Akira inside since there was a good chance that the current Akira would react unexpectedly when faced with a problem. She had no plans to allow him to go out until he got his new equipment, or at least until he got his new augmented suit.
Since both Akira and Alpha agreed with each other on this, he decided to spend his time training inside his house.
Akira’s time compression training was doing well. Although it was not like it exponentially increased his fighting skill, his time compression success rate was increasing. He no longer stopped the training because he was too tired to move. But to be more precise, it was because Alpha adjusted the gap between her attacks depending on Akira’s level of tiredness.
Because of that, every time Akira finished his training, Alpha would have lost most of her dress to the point that she seemed more or less naked just like before.
Every time he failed to evade Alpha’s attack, a piece of her dress would flutter away and vanish as usual. Today too, as the last piece of her dress fluttered away, it vanished without making any sound.
As Alpha was floating there with a dress that was barely hiding any part of her body, she told Akira, who was breathing roughly out of tiredness, that the training had ended.
“Let’s end the training here. You did well in today’s training.”
Akira glanced at Alpha while trying to regulate his breathing.
“What’s wrong, Akira??”
“Well, about that dress.”
“Hm? Since it seems that you like erotic clothes, doesn’t this interest you?”
Akira sounded a bit annoyed as he said.
“That’s not it. I’m just thinking that although I’m starting to get a grasp on this time compression thingy, your dress has not changed much compared to the first time we started this training. So in short, I still can’t evade your attacks, and that really bothers me.”
Akira was displeased by the result of his training since he felt that he was not getting better at all.
Alpha smiled to reassure him.
“That’s normal. Even if you can slow down your time perception to 10 times, it’s not like your physical ability increases 10 times. It’s not easy to get yourself used to the lag that arises when you try to move your limbs and when they actually move. Moreover, you’ll have to get yourself to the point where you can move your body freely in that state. So there’s no way you can do it right off the bat. Don’t worry, you’re slowly getting there, I can guarantee that.”
“…Is that so? I don’t feel it though. But if you say so, then I guess that’s true.”
“Yep. So don’t worry.”
Akira picked himself up and started to walk to his room for taking a rest. But when he grabbed the handle of the garage door, he suddenly stopped and turned back to Alpha.
“Turn back to your usual dress.”
Since Akira told her so, Alpha replaced her tattered dress.
Akira was not bothered by her dress during the training since he placed his focus on dodging her attacks, or at least, he tried to do so. So when he returned back to his usual psychical state as he was about to exit the garage, that was no longer the case.
Just like usual, after his training, Akira took rest in his room while eating his meal. It was his usual heated frozen meal.
There was a separate kitchen in his house and it contained a stove for cooking. It was among the leftover stuff from the previous resident. But of course, it was currently not used for cooking anything. Akira had no idea how to cook and it was not like the previous resident also left behind his cooking skill there. Not to mention, the frozen food was not that bad either, so he had no plans to learn cooking any time soon. So, for now, it was just used to heat the frozen meal.
Akira’s living standard had definitely risen. But at least until he found pleasure in cooking, it was highly unlikely that he would ever use those cooking utensils.
As Akira was enjoying his meal during the short break before his study, he asked Alpha.
“What am I going to study today? Are we going to continue our talk about the corporations from yesterday? What was it again? Resource trading and distribution among the cities under the eastern Corporate Government?”
When someone said eastern city, Akira did not know that there were cities other than Kugamayama city until now. But thanks to Alpha’s education, he started to gather common knowledge and increased his intelligence. Although he was more knowledgeable than before, his knowledge was still considered as minuscule compared to the people living within the inner wall.
The reason why Alpha taught all of those things to him was more for her own sake rather than for Akira’s sake.
Alpha was actually probing Akira as she was teaching him. In order to complete her request, she needed him to be more knowledgeable so that he could easily resist any type of beliefs that might become an obstacle in completing her request.
So, studying was important to both Akira and Alpha.
Although their original plan was to study that day, Alpha decided to cancel it.
“We won’t be studying today, after all, it seems that a message just arrived from Shizuka saying that your new equipment has arrived. So let’s go get them.”
“Oh!! I can finally start my Hunter work again, let’s go!!”
In order for Akira to complete Alpha’s request, she needed him to be stronger. So, she prioritized getting better equipment over his study.
Alpha smiled at Akira who looked elated.
Athena13: Big oof Alna, big big oof.
Silavin: Haha. Poor Alna. I don’t hate her. But, she was a little too greedy lol.
p4553r: I’m looking forward to seeing what would happen when Alna and Akira meet in Sheryl’s base. Will she die with grievances or will she become Akira’s aide?🤞