Chapter 99: Dealing With The Aftermath
Chapter 99: Dealing With The Aftermath
The Hunter Office sent some staffs to where Akira was . It was because Akira had reported to the Hunter Office that he found a monster that looked like the bounty monster, which should have been defeated, still roaming in the wasteland . That was enough of a reason for the Hunter Office to at least check it .
The staff that the Hunter Office sent was Kibayashi . The moment he heard that a strange report reached the Hunter Office and it was from Akira, he quickly jumped in .
After Kibayashi reached Akira, he listened to Akira’s explanation and more or less understood what had happened . He then laughed hard . He tried to suppress his laughter before he said to Akira .
“So you killed it? This snake? All by yourself? After it ate you? Y-You, b-blasted your way out from its inside…”
Kibayashi could not hold back his laughter, it seemed that he found what he just said himself really funny .
The adrenalin that was coursing through Akira’s body during that fight had already calmed down . What was left after that fight was only the tiredness and worry for all the ammo expense that he had incurred in that battle . Not to mention that he had lost his vehicle too .
Akira looked annoyed as he replied .
“…Yeah, you have a problem with that?”
It seemed that somehow Akira’s reaction amused Kibayashi even more . Kibayashi could not stop laughing for a while, he eventually stopped and amusedly said to Akira .
“It’s all good that you’re as reckless as ever . You’re just so interesting . ”
“Is that so? Well, thanks . ”
Akira pointed his finger at the overgrown snake .
“So then, what’s the result after you checked it? Is that thing a bounty monster or just a normal monster?”
“Well, unfortunately, that thing is not a bounty monster . We have no idea if it’s just a mutated monster of the same species or maybe one of the children of the bounty monster, but the conclusion is the same, it’s not the bounty monster . I know that you worked super hard to kill it and I’m sorry to say this, but the Hunter Office would not categorize a monster that you can defeat alone as a bounty monster . But well, we’ll at least pay you some reward money for killing it though . Ah, right, you didn’t take the bounty hunting request, huh . But don’t worry, we’ll treat you as if you had taken the bounty request, I can at least do that much for you . ”
“Well, thanks . ”
From the other’s point of view, it was a monster that could be killed by a Rank 21 Hunter if that Hunter tried hard enough . Akira could understand that fact, but it still annoyed him .
Kibayashi looked at the annoyed Akira, he then smiled and said to Akira .
“You looked pretty displeased . But well, I guess that’s to be expected huh? Since you worked so hard to kill a monster that looked like a bounty monster but still you wouldn’t get that much money out from it . ”
“Yeah, I used quite a lot of my ammo in that fight, you know . I’m getting a huge loss out of this . Not to mention that my vehicle is totally wrecked . I just bought that vehicle recently . ”
“In that case, we can reimburse some of your money . If you sell that pseudo overgrown snake’s dead body to me, I’ll negotiate with the Hunter Office to at least reimburse your ammo expense . ”
“Then how about my vehicle!?”
Akira suddenly reacted to that promise, but Kibayashi shook his head .
“I’m sorry, but no matter how you slice it, there’s no way we can reimburse your vehicle . ”
“…I see . Well, it already helps me a lot if you would pay me my ammo expense though… So then, can I go back home now? To be honest, I’m super tired right now . ”
Akira looked super duper tired when he said that, but suddenly his face twitched .
“Ah, right!! I have no vehicle now!! Dammit!!”
Akira shouted loudly, Kibayashi then tried to calm him down .
“Calm down . I’ll at least give you a ride back to the city . You do look so tired after all . You can take a nap there, I’ll wake you up when we arrive . ”
“…Is that so? Thanks… Haaah . ”
“Don’t mention it, I can at least do that much for you . ”
Even after he calmed down, Akira looked completely opposite of Kibayashi who seemed to be having fun there .
Kibayashi decided to head back to the city with Akira while the other Hunter Office staffs stayed behind to analyze the snake’s corpse .
Akira was sleeping like a log in the backseat of Kibayashi’s vehicle . Another Hunter Office staff member was sitting in the driver’s assistant seat next to Kibayashi . That particular staff suddenly asked Kibayashi a question .
“Are you sure it’s okay to make that promise to this boy? Looking at that dead corpse, he must have used quite a lot of ammo, you know . Although you did say that you’ll add some bonus, I don’t think you can reimburse his ammo expense just from the reward of monster hunting requests though?”
Kibayashi laughed merrily .
“It’s fine . I got to see an interesting battle record after all . So you don’t need to worry about it . ”
“Haaah, I see . ”
There was an air of superiority from the way Kibayashi laughed . The Hunter Office staff found that weird, but since he knew about Kibayashi’s bad reputation, he just decided to forget about it .
In reality, the overgrown snake that Katsuya’s team defeated and the overgrown snake that Akira defeated were one and the same . The overgrown snake was actually a snake inside a bigger body . The relatively smaller snake was the real body, it used everything that it ate to construct its outer body . It was analogous to a human inside a powered suit .
The one that Katsuya’s team defeated was that powered suit . While the real body detached from its outer body and escaped . And to cover its escape, it set the outer body to rampage around .
While the one that Akira defeated was the snake’s real body . Although to be more precise, it actually had an even smaller body inside it, but Akira killed it before it could detach and escape since he scattered all of those bullets from inside the snake’s body .
Kibayashi actually knew that the one who actually defeated the overgrown snake was Akira and not Katsuya’s team .
He also knew that Akira did not know about that . That was the reason why he was really amused by that situation .
Kibayashi had no plans to report that to the Hunter Office since he knew that it would be useless . The Hunter Office had already broadcasted the news that the overgrown snake had been killed . Retracting that statement and announcing that another Hunter actually defeated the bounty monster would definitely cause a dispute, it would be a huge problem since Drankam was also involved .
While on the other hand, it was true that Katsuya’s team defeated a powerful monster that might as well be considered as a bounty monster . So it was not worth the trouble making a correction to that announcement .
[Well, I’ll at least reimburse your ammo, that way, I’ll be able to enjoy your reckless act again . ]
Kibayashi was already interested in Akira, and with what happened this time, he got even more interested . He smiled as he was looking forward to the next time he would be able to see Akira do another crazy thing .
After returning back to his home, Akira took a dip inside his bath . He looked much more dazed than usual as if most of his soul was sucked by the warm bath .
The moment he arrived back home, he quickly fell asleep and only woke up in the middle of the night . But even so, he was still extremely tired . He was stuck in a situation where he was awake and sleepy but could not fall asleep . Thus he dragged his body out of the bed and went to the bathroom in a semi-conscious state .
Akira looked so tired that it would not be strange if he suddenly fell asleep anytime . So, Alpha who was inside the bath with him, just like always, warned him .
“Akira, be careful not to fall asleep here . It might even be a good idea if you get out of the bath . You might drown if you fall asleep here, you know . ”
“…It’s alright . I took so many… medicines back there . ”
“That’s the medicine to heal wounds, right? Not the medicine that would help you breathe underwater . Moreover, when exactly did you take them?”
“…Back there… That time… Ahh, right, Alpha, you weren’t there . ”
Akira was still completely in a daze when he said that . The effect from the medicines that he took when inside the snake had completely waned and he had completely forgotten that Alpha was not there when he took those medicines .
Alpha was smiling like usual, but she then carefully asked Akira a question .
“Ah, right, you promised me that you’ll tell all the details later, right? This might be a good time for that, what happened back there?”
Akira was about to say something, but he stopped . It was not like he did not want to explain it to Alpha, it was more because he did not have the communication ability to do that .
He gave up explaining what had happened with words, so instead, he sent the scene of what had happened straight to Alpha through telepathy . Akira chose that option since he could send visuals, line of thinking, and even feelings through telepathy .
But in the end, it was just a reconstruction of Akira’s memory . The accuracy of that information was very low since there was nothing but hazy pictures of the inner wall of the overgrown snake only illuminated by the flash muzzle from his DVTS minigun . Moreover, it was subjective information based on Akira’s point of view, not to mention, it did not contain the full information about his mental state at that time . It was a rather confusing scene, it was as if he was inside a dream-like state until the moment he broke out from inside the snake’s body . It contained no more information than that .
Although it did not explain everything, that was all that Alpha could extract from him . In conclusion, she could not get the information that she was actually looking for from him, and Akira himself actually had no idea what kind of information she wanted from him .
“That must have been rough . ”
“Yeah, you can say that again . ”
Akira’s expression relaxed as he said that .
“But well, I didn’t expect to be able to do that, I was sure I’m going to die there . But again, since I had the time to think that I was definitely going to die, I guess it showed that I didn’t instantly die after it ate me . So I might have actually not been in that much danger back then . ”
Alpha sounded apologetic as she said to Akira .
“It would have been really helpful if I was able to give you support, I’m really sorry . ”
But Akira replied casually as if it did not bother him at all .
“Things like that are bound to happen from time to time . I’m glad I trained myself to know what to do when I lose your support . It was really useful in that situation . ”
Alpha thought that Akira must have acquired some level of confidence after getting out of that situation with his own power . That in itself was not a problem, it was good news for her since it meant that he was getting stronger . But if that confidence lessened his dependency on her, then there was a need to remove that . She should do something about it before he thinks that he could go on his own without her support .
She smiled .
“I’ll give you my utmost support whenever I can, so you can keep on relying on me . ”
Akira smiled in return .
“Of course, I’ll be counting on you . ”
“In that case, there’s one thing that I can help you with right this second . There’s a call from Shikarabe . I’ll connect you, so you can just talk normally from here . ”
After she said that, Akira could suddenly hear Shikarabe’s voice . He was connected to his information terminal through Alpha .
“It’s Shikarabe . I need to talk to you about the reward, do you have time now?”
“Sure . ”
“If you have the time, do you want to talk in-person? I’m in that pub from last time . ”
“I’m inside my bath right now, so let’s talk over this call . Or is it something that might cause trouble between us so you’d rather talk about it in-person with me?”
“It depends on you . Well, I’ll put it straight for you . Our original contract is that you get your share of reward from the bounty prize, subtracted by the equipment expense, and then divided by the number of the heads . But well, the equipment expense is higher than we expected . So in the end, to be honest, your share of reward does not fit your contribution in that battle . ”
Akira’s expression turned stern .
“Are you contacting me to warn me that my share of reward might be pretty small?”
“Whoah there, there’s no need to get angry here . I’m recognizing your contribution in that battle, you know? But with that being said, I have no plans to give you a bonus either . I want to avoid having to readjust everyone’s share after the request is done . Increasing or reducing the reward at this stage will only invite a dispute . It’s a matter of money after all, so I hope you can understand . ”
Akira did not say anything . He got what Shikarabe was saying and he understood it well . But it was only enough to suppress his anger, not completely erasing it . Shikarabe also understood that fact from Akira’s silence .
“But just like I said before, I recognize your contribution in that fight . I myself am not happy to just close this matter by giving you a small amount of money . So about that, is it okay if we pay you with something else other than money?”
“Something other than money?”
“Yeah, for example, how about a vehicle?”
“There are other things that we can offer you too . Drankam invested a lot of money in this bounty hunt . Thanks to that, we got a lot of new equipment like guns or new augmented suits . The gang also lost a lot of equipment in this hunt, so we’re planning to buy their replacements in bulk . The gang is also planning to replace the lightly damaged vehicles which are still usable after a little bit of TLC . I can give you one of those slightly damaged vehicles as your reward . The document will say that you bought that vehicle on the same day we originally planned to pay your reward . We’ll also include some money to repair and make some adjustments on that vehicle . You might be able to get a better vehicle if you use the same amount of money to buy a new one . So in short, I might not be able to give you extra money, but I can use my connection to get you something else on top of your reward money . But well, if you prefer money, I won’t force you though… . ”
Akira suddenly sounded desperate as he said to Shikarabe .
“No, the vehicle is good!! I’ll take the vehicle!! Please make it a vehicle instead!!”
Shikarabe was a bit weirded out by that sudden change of character from Akira .
“I-I see . Alright then, I’ll start working on it . I’ll contact you again later about when and where I’ll hand it over to you . ”
Shikarabe then closed the call . Akira looked really happy, Alpha smiled bitterly at him as she said .
“That was good news . ”
“Yeah . This way, I don’t have to explain to Shizuka-san how I got my vehicle destroyed so quickly! I can also save money to buy a new vehicle later . This is great, really lucky!”
Akira thought that he would end up in red after that day’s bounty hunting . But with this, there was no need to worry that it might affect his Hunter work in the future . And now that there was no more problem to worry about, he loosened up and continued enjoying the bath in a good mood .
Shikarabe was drinking together with Varga and Yamanobe in the pub where he met up with Akira before . Among all the girls who were serving his table, some of them were the girls that he promised to call when he celebrated the bounty hunting . Shikarabe was a man of his words .
After he finished his call with Akira, Yamanobe smiled at him and asked .
“How was it? Does it seem that we don’t need to fight Akira?”
“Yeah, it was even somehow anticlimactic . It seems that he’s really in need of a vehicle . ”
“Vehicle? But like, he already has one, right? Why does he want another one? Did his vehicle get damaged during that fight against the Tank Tarantula? But he just went back normally on his vehicle after that, right?”
“No idea, well, it doesn’t really matter . Now that we have nothing to worry about, let’s get another drink!”
Shikarabe just continued drinking and celebrating with his friends . Of course, he had no idea that Akira fought a pseudo overgrown snake after his hunt together with Shikarabe and lost his vehicle in that fight .
There was a marketplace for Hunter equipment in the lower district of the Kugamayama city . There were also different facilities in that area, like a repair shop to fix or readjust prosthetics, or a facility that looked like a combination of factory and hospital . A lot of Hunters with prosthetics gathered near the hospital while the cyborgs gathered near the factory, and in between those two, there was a shop that could help Hunters exchange normal organs for a battle oriented cyborg body .
Nergo was in that place . He rented an expensive individual room, where he could use the material that he brought himself, to fix the part of his body that got damaged during his fight against the bounty monster . Although from the outside his limbs looked just fine, sometimes sparks could be seen jumping out from his limbs . He was in the middle of fixing those parts .
Just then Nergo received a secret call . He answered that call through a device that would allow him to speak without making any sound .
“It’s me . ”
A troubled voice, which seemed to be a male’s, returned from the other side .
“…Uhhh, what should I call you now, again?”
“It’s Nergo . I don’t want to hear you calling me ‘brother’ . ”
“So it’s Nergo this time, huh? It was Kein last time, wasn’t it?”
“That’s the name that the great cause gave me, while as for my original name, I’ve already given up that name to the great cause . As such, I have no name . There’s no name that refers to me and the great cause refers to us, therefore we’re brothers . ”
That guy sighed exasperatedly .
“I don’t mind changing names all the time, but can you at least let me call you brother . That way I won’t get your name wrong, you know . ”
“No, you’re lacking achievement and zeal to call me brother . Especially, your blunder in the Kuzusuhara ruin was fatal . Because of that Hunter, whom we mistook to be an agent from the city, we’ve failed to steal the relics from the Kuzusuhara underground ruin . If only you gave us more detailed information beforehand, we could have avoided that failure . ”
That man quickly replied back to Nergo, in his voice, there was a trace of mockery toward the hard-headed person that he was talking with .
“You still call me brother but you won’t let me call you brother, huh? I don’t really understand your way of thinking . Just so you know, I work super hard both for my own and for the world’s sake . Not to mention that I also helped out to deal with the aftermath of that incident, right?”
“If only our plan proceeded without any problem, there was even no need to deal with the aftermath, you know . Helping out dealing with the aftermath does not erase your blunder . ”
The other guy sighed, he then started speaking in a higher spirit to fix the mood .
“Well, putting that aside for now, so, how was it? Although I’ve given you the information that I gathered, you still went undercover and infiltrated Drankam to confirm it, right? Did it go well? I was the one who made that fake record, so there shouldn’t be any trouble . ”
Nergo changed his mood .
“About that though, I finished confirming the subject . Today I met the subject by pure coincidence, the subject is not Katsuya . It’s another Hunter by the name of Akira . He’s a pretty strong Hunter, but he’s not a Hunter with a cyborg-boy body . The information that you gave me is correct, he’s not an agent from the city . That news about him was fake news to disguise the City Management’s blunder . ”
“I told you so . There’s no harm in trusting me more, you know? Now that you’ve confirmed it, are you going to pull out from Drankam now?”
“No, I’ll continue infiltrating Drankam . When we planned to infiltrate Drankam, we also made a plan to make propaganda inside Drankam in order to convert the Hunters in here . After all, it would look strange if I suddenly distance myself after joining the bounty hunt with the excuse to make a connection with Drankam . ”
“I see, well, it’s all good that everything is going well . Well then, I’ll go and gather data about Drankam . I’ll send it to you later once I’m done . ”
“Wait, I have a question . ”
The other guy replied in a good mood .
“What is it? You can go ahead and ask me anything . It’s important to talk and understand each other . It’s the thread that binds people together after all . So if you can’t do that, then you’re just the same as those monsters out there . After all, we can’t understand them and they can’t understand us . ”
“Why are you looking for people who can connect to the old-world domain?”
“Why, you ask? Isn’t that obvious? It’s because they’re useful to have around, you know? That’s also the exact reason why the Corporate Government and the Nationalist are looking for them . ”
“Let me change my question . Why are you looking for them in Kuzusuhara ruin? No wait, are you actually looking for someone you know was in Kuzusuhara ruin once?”
That man did not answer back, Nergo then continued .
“We know just how skilled you are and we know that the Corporate Government also knows about your skills . We know that the Corporate Government even sent you an offer hoping to get your skills on their side . If you just wanted to look for the people who are connected to the old-world domain, you can just climb the ladder in the Corporate Government and search the whole Eastern District . With your skills, I know you can get the right and the power to do that much, so why did you refuse their offer just to stay in Kugamayama city? What exactly makes you stay in this city?”
After a short silence, the other guy answered back in a fashion that sounded as if he was joking .
“It’s for the sake of people’s happiness . That’s also the reason that you, Nationalist, always use, right? You Nationalist think that it’s difficult to bring that happiness into reality under the rule of the Corporate Government, that’s why you’re supporting the forming of nations, right? So that’s also my reason and that’s exactly why I’m helping you . That’s all, later then . ”
“I really hope that you’re not lying . ”
The secret call ended . Although Nergo’s face was a cyborg part that rarely showed any emotion, he twitched a bit there .
Nergo was once called as Kein . And one day, he would also abandon that Nergo name . That nameless man there retraced his conversation just now .
[…It’s true that you’re skilled, but you don’t have a great cause to steer that skill, and that makes it pointless . That’s exactly why I won’t let you call me brother . To be honest, I do want him to convert, but I’m not really sure now . ]
A woman near Nergo suddenly spoke to him .
“Nergo-san, how are you feeling?”
Nergo smiled at her .
“Thanks to you, I didn’t find any broken parts . I’m just doing fine-tuning right now . Mizuha-san, thank you so much for introducing this good repair shop to me . ”
Mizuha smiled back to him .
“Don’t mention it . We’ll be working together from now on, it’s normal to help out a colleague . ”
“I can’t thank you enough, I couldn’t really do any proper maintenance in the previous place that I frequented . Ah, talking about gratitude, I really need to say my thanks to that Katsuya too . If it wasn’t for him, I might have died by now . If it’s possible, I want to thank him directly, or is it like it’s not a good idea for a new member to do that?”
Nergo was saved from a dangerous situation by Katsuya during the fight against the Big Walker .
Mizuha was a bit surprised . Nergo joined the gang through Shikarabe, so she thought that he would share the same view as the other veteran Hunters in the gang .
Nergo was a skilled hunter and he had no disdain toward Katsuya, so it might be a good idea to bring him to her side . As Mizuha thought so, she smiled at him and said .
“Don’t worry, it’s okay . I’ll ask Katsuya to free up some of his time so I can introduce you to him . ”
“Thank you so much . ”
Nergo smiled when he said that .
It was true that Katsuya saved Nergo . But no one knew that Nergo actually intentionally put himself in danger in order to get closer to Katsuya’s faction .
In one of the tall buildings within the inner wall of the Kugamayama city, a man who just had a call with Nergo smiled .
“I do think that your zeal to your belief is pretty amazing, you know? But no, it’s not enough . You guys don’t have the power to put your idealism into reality . But you know, I have that power, if only I can go to that place one more time . ”
That man was clenching something in his right hand . It was a black card with a big symbol on it .
“I have the key . I just need to walk through the door now . If only I have the means to do that, I’ll be able to go to that place one more time . ”
That symbol was the national symbol of an old-world nation . The Kuzusuhara ruin was once the capital city of that nation and that card was something that man had gotten from deep inside the Kuzusuhara ruin . It was a highly valuable relic that he got by using the Corporate Government’s special force .
They baited the monsters inside the Kuzusuhara ruin to Kugamayama city and manipulated the City Guard to kill those monsters . After that incident, the danger level inside the Kuzusuhara ruin dropped temporarily, they used that chance to go into the ruin while also bringing weapons from the frontline . That card was something so valuable that he could only get after he put that much effort .
But there were not that many people who knew the real worth of that card, as in matter of fact, he might be the only person who understood the real worth of that card .
“It’s not like I’m looking for people who are connected to the old-world domain . I’m looking for the entity behind them . That one girl that prevented my dream from coming to reality, I’ll make sure that she won’t be able to do that again this time . ”
His expression turned ominous .
“You’re looking for the next one, right? But those people who can see you, those people who can connect to the old-world domain, there are not that many of those people out there . Or maybe you already found one? But even if you did, it’s not easy to go there, so I should still have some time . ”
That guy stared outside the window toward the Kuzusuhara ruin .
“Like hell I’ll let you get there before me . ”
The man who was glaring through the window was Yanagisawa .
The hunt for the bounty monsters had brought different effects to different people . Some of those people had their lives turned over that day, while some people just continued their lives without much change . Some of them received profit while some of them incurred loss, but as long as they returned alive, they would have to face the upcoming days . Just like what they had always been doing, and just like what they would be doing from now on .
That day, all the bounty monsters were killed .
The next day, Akira went to the same entertainment district that he visited the other day .
Although it was a little too early before the usual prime time for the entertainment district, that place was already overflowing with customers . Akira thought that some of the shops in that place must be so popular that Hunters would go there no matter the time .
Akira went to the same pub where he met up with Shikarabe and the other Hunters . But this time, the one who called him there was the person who Colbert was working for, it was Tomejima .
Tomejima wanted to discuss with Akira about that incident where Akira was about to kill Kadol, a debt-ridden Hunter . Akira had heard everything from Colbert, to be honest, he could just ignore it, but Akira had a feeling that it would turn into something really troublesome if he did . So, although it was a pain in the neck, he decided to go to that pub to meet Tomejima .
In the middle of his way to that pub, Alpha suddenly asked Akira a question .
“Akira, it’s not like I’m against negotiating with them, but what’s your plan? Are you going to just accept some kind of compensation money and call it done?”
Akira looked unsure .
“…Hmmm, I really have no idea . To be honest, I don’t have any good plans . I’m sure it’s not like they’re willing to give me a lot of compensation money after all . But letting it go just because he pays me a small amount of money will only cause trouble in the future too . ”
If he let go of the person who tried to kill him just because of a small amount of money, it would definitely pose a danger to his life in the future . After all, it meant that his life was only worth that much .
The most important thing for protecting himself was to make the other party think it was not worth the risk . Or at least, that was that Akira thought .
“It would be great if we can find a good middle ground though . ”
“Well, they are the ones who came to strike a deal with you, so let’s just leave that part to them . And of course, we’ll remind them that they’ll regret it if they try to do anything funny . ”
“You’re right . ”
Unlike last time, Akira brought with him CWH anti-material rifle and DVTS minigun just to be safe .
Akira did not trust Tomejima as much as he trusted Shikarabe and his colleagues . Moreover, he had confirmed from his last visit that the owner of the pub did not mind Hunters bringing in guns with them . Of course, he had no plans to cause a ruckus there, but that might not be the case for Tomejima . After all, that incident with Kadol happened once before .
Akira came a little bit too soon before the entertainment district showed its glamorous and sensual side that he once saw before . So he was looking around, observing the other side of the entertainment district, as he was walking toward the pub that he was heading to .