Chapter 84: The Truth About Exploring an Unexplored Ruin
Chapter 84: The Truth About Exploring an Unexplored Ruin
Akira planned to go to the unexplored ruin together with Elena and Sara again.
Just like before, he met up with Elena and Sara near the border between the wasteland and slum city. The situation was the same as Alpha planned to stop giving her support once Akira was out in the wasteland.
Alpha donned a full-body battle suit with a fastener on her upper and lower body. The glossy fabric stuck tight to her skin as it pronounced her already charming body lines even more. The fastener in front of her extended from under her neck, all the way down between her legs, and to the back. She let that fastener open down to her belly. Her fair skin was clearly exposed through that opening, showing that she was not wearing any underclothing.
If the people around Alpha could see her now, there was no doubt that she would gather a lot of attention. Although it showed less skin than her usual swimsuit, there was not much of a change in its seductiveness.
Akira saw that and stopped himself from making any comments thinking that it was at least better than her usual swimsuit. Clearly, he had more or less gotten used to it by now.
He saw Elena and Sara heading his way as the meeting time was getting closer, Alpha then smiled and told Akira that she would stop her support.
“So then, good luck for today.”
“You can call me anytime if you feel lonely, okay?”
In contrast to Alpha who smiled when she said that, Akira pouted. Alpha then just giggled and vanished from Akira’s vision.
Before Elena and Sara arrived there, Akira took a deep breath and returned his expression back to normal.
Elena and Sara stopped their vehicle next to Akira’s, Akira smiled at them.
“I’ll be in your care for today.”
Elena smiled and replied, but somehow, her smile was a little clouded.
“We’ll be in your care too. But there’s something I want to ask you first. Akira, do you have an auto-drive function on your vehicle?”
“Can you set it to follow behind us?”
“Okay, once you set it like that, can you get on to our vehicle? There’s something I want to talk about.”
Akira did find that a little weird. Even so, he set his vehicle in auto-drive to follow behind Elena and Sara’s vehicle before hopping into their vehicle. Once Elena made sure that Akira had set himself in, she then started the vehicle and drove to their destination.
Sara, who was sitting in the driver assistant’s seat, stood up and turned back to Akira who was sitting behind her, she then apologetically said.
“Please let me apologize first, we’re really sorry.”
“It seems that someone discovered the ruin that we went together the other day.”
Akira was obviously a little surprised. He did expect that it would happen sooner or later, but he did not think that it would happen so fast.
“…I see. But it’s not like it’s Sara-san and Elena-san’s fault, or like, do you have any idea why that happened?”
Elena, who was driving the vehicle, answered Akira’s question.
“Nothing. Or at least, we’ve done our best to make sure that wouldn’t happen. Well, even if the information about the existence of the new ruin leaked from the selling route that we’ve employed, there is no way they would know about the location of the ruin too. And according to my scan back then, no one was following us either.”
Akira just smiled lightly and said.
“Well, it’s just a pure coincidence then. So I don’t think it’s your fault. Not to mention that it might be because of something that I did. After all, I went back straight to the city the first time I returned back from that ruin. So it might have been me all along.”
It was indeed unfortunate that other Hunters knew about that ruin, but that would happen sooner or later anyway and this time it happened sooner than expected. That was all Akira thought.
Elena and Sara frowned when they heard Akira’s answer, Elena then mumbled.
“…So you’re not suspecting us at all, huh? Aren’t you least bit suspicious that we sold the info about that ruin? I did tell you that the info of an unexplored ruin alone can fetch you a lot of money, remember?”
“Not at all.”
“Why can you be so sure about that?”
“The reason, hmm….? Just my intuition, I guess.”
There was a short pause before Akira continued. He was thinking of any excuse as to why he thought so and conveyed anything that came up in his mind to Sara and Elena while half-joking.
“Moreover, if it was Elena-san and Sara-san who were selling the info for money, I’m sure both of you would come up with a method that would bring you lot more money, like selling the info piece by piece, right? Well, that’s just my intuition though.”
Elena’s and Sara’s serious-looking expression softened when they heard Akira’s reply.
Elena laughed and replied with a joke as well.
“That’s true. If it was me, I would do it in a more profitable manner.”
“If it’s you, I’m sure you’ll mix some fake info while selling it. After all, it’ll fetch you more money while leaking less info, right?”
Sara also jumped in with a joke, Elena laughed and said to Sara.
“But of course! I’ll sell them as expensive as possible too!!”
She then smiled and said to Akira with a calm voice.
“Akira, thank you for trusting us. I’m honestly happy that you do.”
There were many reasons why a team of Hunters broke up, one of them was trust issues. Exploring the old-world ruin means that they were putting their lives on the line to search for expensive relics worthy of that bet. And those expensive relics were the very thing that made these Hunters doubt each other. Thanks to that, there were many Hunter teams which broke up and ended up pointing their rifles at each other.
But Akira completely trusted Sara and Elena, he did not doubt them at all. Elena was extremely delighted with that fact.
Elena, who was starting to feel embarrassed, decided to change the subject.
“Alright then!! That’s it for this matter!! Now to the next subject, listen closely, okay?”
“Although we’re heading to the same ruin that we visited previously, it might be pretty dangerous this time. So I need everyone to be extremely careful. If anyone gets some bad feelings or any other reasons that make you think it’s better to withdraw, don’t hold back and tell the others too, we’ll immediately withdraw when that happens. I just want to put that out first. Akira, you’re okay with that, right?”
“Yeah. Let’s be extra careful this time. By the way, Elena-san, why do you think that the ruin would turn dangerous this time?”
There were no monsters around that ruin when they visited last time, so Akira was a bit confused why Elena thought it had turned dangerous.
Elena then answered his question.
“When info about a new ruin comes out in the market, it will include all the info regarding that ruin like its location, the interior map of that ruin, the monsters around and inside that ruin, the relics that you can find inside that ruin, and many other kinds of info. But this time, according to our investigation, no other info except the location is available in the market right now.”
“A lot of Hunters will flock to that ruin if they know they can find expensive relics in that ruin, so like, isn’t that just because the people who sold the info didn’t want that to happen?”
“Of course, that’s also one of the possibilities. But there’s also another possibility, it might be because no one returned back alive after diving into that ruin, so no extra information about that ruin comes back to the city. Or the companions of the Hunters, who dove into that ruin, waited outside and killed them on their way back. That would explain why there’s no other info other than the location of the ruin. Or maybe, the people who sold info deliberately only sold the location to make others explore that ruin and wait for the info about the interior of that ruin to be available in the market, that way they can prepare themselves better for exploring that ruin.”
Hearing this, Akira nodded with a serious expression.
“…I see. Let’s be extra careful this time.”
Akira completely erased the thought that the ruin should be safe just because he did not find any trouble the last time he visited that ruin.
On his way to the ruin, Akira was at a loss whether he should call for Alpha or not, but after hesitating for a long time, he eventually decided not to do it. After all, unlike last time with Sheryl, Akira had no extra luggage this time. Not to mention, he had Sara and Elena with him too. They had also decided to withdraw the moment any of them thought that things might get dicey. So Akira decided to do his best on his own for the time being.
Unlike last time, they went to the ruin directly rather than taking any detour. When they stopped their vehicle behind a wreckage near the ruin, they saw a completely different scene compared to the previous time they came there.
There were countless corpses of biological monsters scattered around the area, they were riddled with bullet holes. There were also remnants of mechanical monsters that were blown up with some kind of explosives. And of course, there were also empty magazines, bullet casings, and other equipment as well as dead Hunters among them. All of them were the remnants of fights between Hunters and monsters.
Akira scanned the area and mumbled.
“That’s a hell lot of them!”
It was a huge mess, the rubbles from the explosives that both the monsters and the Hunters used, flesh and blood of the biological monsters and Hunters, mechanical parts both from Hunter’s equipment and the mechanical monsters. All of them mixed together and scattered all over the area. It could be inferred that a group of Hunters fought a big swarm in this place.
Sara also scanned the area and said.
“If these Hunters came here for the ruins, then where did all these monsters come from? Did these monsters come from the inner part of the ruin? Elena, did you find anything?”
Elena checked the signal from her information-gathering device.
“It’s alright. There’s no monster around the area. If these monsters did come from inside the ruin, it seems that the Hunters have killed every single one of them.”
As Akira approached the entrance to the ruin, his expression turned grim as he noticed that the fight was fiercer around that area.
“…If there were this many monsters in this place, it was actually a good thing that the location of this ruin leaked out. Basically, we had other Hunters scout the inner part of this ruin for free thanks to that.”
Elena agreed with Akira’s opinion.
“You might be right about that. The scariest thing about an unexplored ruin is that it has as many monsters as the unclaimed relics inside it and we have no information about both of them at all. Looking at this, it is better to assume that no one was able to return back alive from searching the ruin, and that’s why there is not much info about the ruin available in the market. Either we just got lucky when we came here last time, or someone made a huge blunder inside the ruin. Akira, we can withdraw now if you want to.”
“…I’ll leave that decision to Elena-san. At least for me, I don’t think we should withdraw yet.”
There was a trace of hesitation in Akira’s voice, it showed that he carefully made that decision after considering the possible danger. Elena smiled happily and said.
“Alright, let’s go then.”
Sara seemed a little bit excited as she joined in.
“I look forward to seeing your performance, but don’t push yourself too hard, okay?”
Akira, Sara and Elena stood in front of the stairs leading down the underground ruin. The wreckage and rubbles around the entrance looked as if they were shoved out of the way by something huge, and that trace continued all the way inside the ruin. It seemed that there was some kind of powerful monster inside.
Akira took his CWH anti-material rifle and DVTS minigun off his vehicle. He did not forget to stuff his rucksack with ammo too.
Akira prioritized filling his rucksack with ammo rather than reserving space for relics. He was planning to throw away some of his magazines in case he found expensive-looking relics later. After all, it was better to find himself having to throw away ammo rather than finding himself running out of ammo.
Thanks to his augmented suit, Akira did not find any trouble carrying all those ammo. Although the energy consumption of his augmented suit increased, it should still have enough energy to last for the day.
Sara and Elena were also gathering their equipment from their own vehicle. It seemed that they were making sure that they had everything they needed since they noticed the ruin was more dangerous than they thought.
Elena then asked Akira.
“Akira, are you ready?”
“Yeah. I’m ready.”
“Alright then, let’s go.”
Elena pointed her rifle to the interior of the ruin and pulled the trigger. The grenade launcher equipped on her rifle launched a canister that vanished deep inside the ruin. Elena and Sara started going down the stairs after that, Akira followed suit after them.
While going down the stairs, Akira suddenly asked Elena.
“Elena-san, what did you do back then?”
“Back then? That’s a mini information-gathering device. I used it to get more accurate data of the area and to check for any monsters.”
“Ohhh, so there’s something like that, huh.”
“That one is a canister type that can be launched from a grenade launcher, but there are many other types that you can use, you know. Some of them can be controlled manually or set to automatically explore the floor. There are even controllable drones that you can use to explore the area.”
“That sounds really convenient. How much do they cost?”
“They’re pretty expensive. The drones can even cost up to 1,000,000 Aurum per drone. It’s all good if they returned after exploring the ruin, but sometimes they get destroyed by the monsters or the connection gets interrupted and the drone crashes. There are even cases when they returned back while bringing some monsters together with them. Not to mention, if you get unlucky, some monsters can trace-back the drone and detect your location.”
“I see, so that canister type, how much does it usually cost?”
“That’s about 10,000 Aurum per canister. It’s pretty expensive for a single-use equipment, so I plan to retrieve it later if it’s possible… The reason why I didn’t use it last time was because it would be a waste if something breaks it. So I just thought that there was no need to use one back then, but this time it seems that the ruin has turned more dangerous than before, that’s why I used it just to be safe.”
Elena seemed a bit flustered as she replied. She had done that all for the sake of maximizing the possible profit from the exploration. After all, if they ended up in red because of that, it would beat the main purpose as to why they explored the ruin. Since they decided to bet their lives on exploring the ruin, it was important to return back with more money.
In order for them to minimize their expenses, they had to put their lives in more risk. It was indeed a harsh world. That was what Akira thought.
As Akira went down the stairs, he noticed the traces of something big and heavy running up the stairs. But the stairs were not that damaged, so it did not cause much trouble for Akira and the others as they walked down. It showed just how amazing the old-world building was.
After they went down the stairs, they went through the same hallway that they went through last time. But the interior of that hallway was so much different compared to the previous time they visited the place.
Unlike last time when they had to use a flashlight to explore the hallway, the hallway was bright enough without any extra illumination this time. Looking at the shadow that cast straight below them, they knew that the light came from above, but there was no lamp-like object fixed in the ceiling at all.
Elena looked around and said.
“So this facility is still active, huh. I wonder if some Hunters went to the deeper part of the ruin and did something to turn the facility back on.”
The interior was bright enough for them to see far deep into the ruin. There were traces of explosives, bullets and blood on the hallway, showing that fights happened there.
Akira stared into the deeper part of the ruin and said.
“There are traces of battles here too, there are also traces of something big and heavy passing through the stair… It’s really weird that there’s no dead monster or Hunters in this place.”
Looking at the traces, the battle should have happened a few days ago. And judging from the blood splatters, there should be at least multiple dead organic monsters or at least human corpses in the area. Since there were traces of mechanical monster wreckage above the ground, it meant that there should be at least some leftover mechanical monsters too. Akira thought that it was impossible for all of them to reach the surface without getting killed on the way.
Sara made a guess and said to Akira.
“…I’m not really sure either. But I think that the cleaning drone might have cleaned them up.”
Although the old-world ruins were left unmanned for years, some of them were always kept clean and in tiptop shape. It was all thanks to the cleaning drones and the self-repair function that was still active even right now.
Those kinds of ruins were relatively more dangerous. Since any traces of monsters were regularly cleaned up, making it harder to gauge the danger inside that ruin. Not to mention, the security functions might also still be active and they would try to eradicate any trespassers.
“It seems that there’s no monster around, let’s carefully go deeper.”
With that signal from Elena, they continued exploring deeper into the ruin while keeping their guards up.
They eventually reached the hall where they collected some relics the previous time they came there. They did not meet any monsters yet. Although there were traces of battles here and there, they did not find any dead corpses from those battles either.
The way forward was branching into two hallways. They noticed that there were traces of something big and heavy having passed through the right hallway, the destroyed ticket gate near it showed the strength of that unknown thing.
Elena turned to Akira and Sara and asked them.
“Which way to go?”
“Let’s go left.”
Sara and Akira did not hesitate when they answered Elena’s question. All of them agreed to go to the left.
When they continued to the left hallway, they found themselves inside an underground city.
There were shops and stands lined up inside, but most of them were already in a destroyed state.
And unlike inside the hallway, there were traces of battles complete with the corpses of the organic monsters, wreckages from the mechanical monsters, and the dead Hunters.
Elena’s expression turned grim. But it was not because of the number of the dead Hunters scattered in front of her, nor was it because most of the relics were destroyed by the explosives that were used in this place.
She turned to Akira and Sara.
“Akira, Sara, are you guys ready? They’re coming.”
The moment she said that, Sara and Akira moved to her front and readied their rifles. Akira put his rucksack down and lined up extra magazines on the ground around him. Sara also did the same as Akira.
From the goggles that he was equipping, Akira could see information from his information-gathering device as well as from Elena’s information-gathering device. He could see countless signals coming in his direction.
Judging from the movements of those signals, it was rather obvious that they had noticed Akira’s position. More and more signals kept appearing in the detection range. The monsters in that area were still alive and kicking. They were only taking a short rest after cleaning up the Hunters that went in before the trio.
Akira pulled the trigger almost at the same time as Sara. As gunshots echoed through the area, it signalled that another fight had started.
Sounds of monsters came out from deep inside the underground city as well as from the already destroyed shops in the area as they quickly gathered at Akira’s location. There were all kinds of monsters, some of them were carnivorous monsters with large strong legs, some of them were half-cyborg dogs with conspicuous mechanical body parts. There were even missile pods with legs that burst out missiles randomly as if it did not care if they hit the other monsters.
Those monsters ran from behind wreckage to wreckage while closing into Akira’s position, but Akira quickly took them out together with the wreckage that they were using to hide with his DVTS minigun. The powerful DVTS minigun also made a quick work of the monsters that were caught moving from one wreckage to another. The bullet storms destroyed everything, both the monsters and the wreckages.
As for the monsters with long-range weapons which were shooting from far away, Akira would take cover behind sturdy-looking wreckage and use his CWH anti-material rifle while relying on the information received from his information-gathering device to aim at them. The powerful piercing bullet from his CWH anti-material rifle could easily pierce through the rubble and the monster hiding behind it.
Elena was also providing support fire while shooting some mini information-gathering devices into the deeper part of the ruin to perform more accurate detection. She then sent the location of monsters with long-range weaponry as well as the trajectory line of the projectiles that they shot to Akira and Sara. She was also sending the precise locations of the monsters that were approaching Akira and Sara to make sure of their safety while providing them support fire.
Sara used the information from Elena to accurately aim at those monsters. She used her A4WM Repeater Grenade Launcher to shoot the monsters that were hiding behind the rubbles from above them or by bouncing the grenade off the holes on those rubbles.
Sara trusted Elena’s information and kept blasting grenades into those monsters. Most of her shots hit the vital points of those monsters like their heads or their cannons which then caused a localized explosion.
Although they had the upper hand in that battle, Elena’s and Sara’s expression somehow looked grim.
Sara then asked Elena who knew the best about the situation they were in.
“Elena, about those monsters though…”
“Yeah, some of them are the same type of monsters that we found in the Kuzusuhara ruin underground city.”
“…I see, so my guess is correct, huh.”
Sara’s expression turned grimmer than before.
The underground city located under the Kuzusuhara ruin was filled with powerful monsters, enough to make the City Management set up a forward base there. During their forward base aid request, Sara and Elena had to fight back those monsters that were coming out from the underground city. There were even times when they were overwhelmed by some of those monsters, but at that time, they were able to receive reinforcement from the other Hunters who were standing guard and the tanks nearby, thus they were able to fight back those monsters without any trouble.
In case if those powerful monsters were mixed in the swarm that they were facing right now, then they were indeed in a very bad situation.
Elena then continued.
“As far as my detection goes, these monsters are relatively weaker than the monsters that we faced in the underground city. But still, it’s not normal to find these monsters in this place.”
Sara then turned to Akira.
“Akira, are you okay over there?!”
“That’s good to hear!! Some of these monsters are dangerous!! There’s no need to try saving your ammo, use your full power!!”
Akira’s answer was firm, there was no trace of panic or fear in his voice.
Sara and Elena smiled when they heard his answer. Judging from his answer, it seemed that Akira was able to hold himself just fine in that battle, thus their focuses that were unconsciously leaning toward worrying about him, in case if he was in danger, shifted to the monsters in front of them. Thanks to that, it greatly reduced the time that they needed to clear up the monsters.
Even without Sara’s recommendation, Akira was already using his full power without worrying about his ammo expense. But he had to still worry about his leftover ammo. He carefully gauged the enemy and used the openings to quickly replace the empty magazine of his rifle before immediately returning back to shooting and pushing back the monsters that were approaching him. Since he had no other choice but to use his bullets, he was trying to use them as effectively as possible.
As not to make any mistakes when reloading, he would throw his empty magazines far away from him. But after some time, the number of empty magazines around him had significantly increased.
Because of the absence of Alpha’s support, Akira’s shooting skill was lower than usual, and also his actual skill was not enough to efficiently take out the monsters in this situation. Akira was actually compensating that by shooting more than usual, as such, he was using more ammo.
[…I still have some reserve magazines left in my rucksack. When I have to use them too, I’ll call for Alpha. That is if Alpha can still provide me with support in this place though… I guess I should try to ask her now to confirm that while I still have the chance, huh?]
Akira hesitated for a bit, but he quickly made up his decision.
[No, that kind of pessimistic way of thinking will be fatal in this situation! Moreover, if I can’t handle this situation myself, that in itself is a fatal flaw that will definitely get me killed sooner or later! I have to get stronger! That’s why I have to handle this myself!]
Akira pulled himself together and continued shooting.
He was trying to get stronger, he was also putting extra effort to get stronger, and for that sake, he placed himself in more danger. The source of that desire was nothing more than his own will to get stronger. But in reality, there was another reason that he himself did not realize as to why he was trying so hard.
As the fight continued, the sound of gunshots that echoed through the underground city summoned more and more monsters. Those gunshots would not stop as long as the Hunters were still fighting the monsters.
Then eventually the gunshots stopped.
The last person who was holding the trigger was Akira. As the final bullet that pushed through the barrel of his rifle pierced through the head of the last monster alive, it signalled the eradication of the monsters in the area. And with no targets to shoot, the battle came to an end.
The underground city was wrapped in silence, Akira looked around his surroundings while still on high alert.
5 seconds passed, then additional 10 seconds, the silence still continued. After another 10 seconds, Elena smiled and said.
“No more signals. It seems that there are no more monsters around, it’s alright now.”
Elena and Sara finally lowered their guards. Akira let out a big sigh.
There were not many magazines left. Akira smiled lightly, he felt more confident since he was able to survive the battle without Alpha’s support.
Sara smiled and walked to Akira.
“You looked pretty calm there, you did well. There were even some monsters from the inner part of the underground city mixed in that swarm, normal Hunters who never faced those monsters would at least have some hard time fighting them, you know?”
“Well, I was using my ammo without holding back after all. Although, at that point, it can be said that I was already hard-pressed. Had it continued any longer, I would have racked a huge ammo expense since I used quite a lot of ammo to kill those strong monsters that Sara-san and Elena-san warned me about… So those monsters are the ones from the inner part of the underground city, huh?”
“Yep, that’s right. They are actually pretty weak compared to the other monsters that you can find in the inner part of the underground city. For the bigger monsters, you’ll have to get help from a tank to kill them, you know. But I don’t think we’ll encounter any of them in this place. And even if we do, they’re pretty huge, so we can just return back to the narrow hallway. There’s no need to fight them here.”
Elena smiled and joined in.
“Now then, since we’re also in red right now, let’s gather some relics from this place to make sure that we end up with more money than we used.”
Elena then scanned the area around her one more time. That particular area of the underground city was already half-destroyed. After all, both the monsters and the Hunters who fought in that place did not care what happened to the ruin in that area. Although the structure itself was still standing strong thanks to the old-world technologies, the relics inside it did not share the same level of durability.
“…That is… if we can still find good relics in this area though.”
Elena smiled bitterly when she said that.