Sheryl, Akira, and some of Sheryl’s gang members gathered inside a room in the gang’s base, there were leftovers of battles scattered all around the places inside the room. After Akira killed the attackers, the gang finally calmed down.
Sheryl had a grave expression as she asked a question to her men.
“How are the casualties?”
Alicia also had the same grave expression.
“…5 people dead, many are injured. I’m not even sure whether Erio can be saved or not.”
“…I see. Take the wounded to the clinic. If they ask you about the payment, just bring out mine and Katsuragi’s name, they should give you decent care after that.”
Akira was taking care of his own wounds while he overheard Sheryl’s conversation. He checked his medicine reserve and called Alicia. He then lightly threw a box of medicine that was still pretty much full.
Alicia looked at the medicine box in her hand and was surprised, she knew that it was one of those 2,000,000 Aurum per box medicine. She also knew that Akira was telling her to use that for Sheryl’s men, but when she thought about how much it cost, she could not help but hesitate.
Akira thought for a bit while making a rather sad face before saying to Alicia.
“I’ll just put it on Sheryl’s tab. No one could have seen this coming, so don’t worry, I’ll give a big discount.”
Sheryl smiled at Alicia as if to calm her down and said.
“It’s okay to use everything, so hurry up, before it’s too late.”
Alicia looked at Akira and Sheryl and lightly bowed, then rushed out of the room.
Sheryl then bowed to Akira and thanked him.
“Thank you very much. It should be able to save a lot of souls… So, uhmm, how much is it? Although I’m not sure when I can pay it, I will definitely pay for it eventually.”
“Just pay me with anything. I said that to make them think that it isn’t free. After all, although I know that you guys don’t have money, it would be troublesome if you guys start leeching off me.”
“…I understand. I’ll take up on your generous offer then.”
Sheryl bowed deeply one more time to Akira.
Akira then continued tending on his wound. He swallowed several pills of medicine and straightened up his broken bone while the pain killer was still active. He then took off his augmented suit and applied the paste-type medicine on his skin that got peeled off due to the friction with his augmented suit. Although the pain killer was still active, he could feel pain when he was applying the paste on his exposed flesh, but he just gritted his teeth and continued tending his wounds.
He seemed to be already so used to it as he covered his wound with bandages before putting his augmented suit back on. Akira then lightly moved his arm to check his broken arm, but he felt something was not right.
“Hmmm, my arm doesn’t feel right though, is this because of that crazy thing that I did?”
But Alpha then said to Akira with a serious expression.
“I have bad news regarding that subject.”
“Eh…? Is there something wrong with my arm? I knew that it would be bad so I took a rather large amount of medicine though, wasn’t it good enough?”
“For your body, it will recover just fine after a short rest. I’m talking about the damage to your augmented suit. It was already in a bad shape before, but after that fight, its condition has considerably worsened. Some of its parts are broken, so to make sure that it’s still functional, I’ve changed some of its parts from nerve-transmitter type to movement sync type. But due to that, those particular parts can only move slower than usual.”
“My augmented suit is in such a bad shape?”
“Well, you got eaten by a monster, ran down a building’s wall, got shot, used its full power back in Seranthal building, and so many other things. It’s in a pretty rough shape right now.”
Akira thought and remembered everything that had happened. It was true that he had been using his augmented suit pretty crudely, so there was no surprise that it finally broke. He then asked Alpha.
“It’s not like I lost your support, right?”
“Yup, it’s because of the damage on your augmented suit, so it’s not like you lose my support.”
Akira seemed relieved, but Alpha then warned him.
“But it doesn’t change the fact that its ability has been significantly lowered. So you can’t do any crazy moves like that again until you get a new augmented suit.”
“It’s fine. I’m planning to stay inside the city until my new equipment arrives anyway, so I’ll just take it easy for the time being.”
Akira finished tending his wounds, put back his augmented suit, and took his rifles back to his shoulder. Although he was still not in his tip-top shape, he was ready to fight again, as a matter of fact, he had returned to his usual state of mind where he was ready to fight anytime. So now he shifted his focus to the men that he had been ignoring until now, the attackers that he had knocked unconscious before.
“Sorry for the wait, so, let’s hear your explanation now.”
They were stripped naked off all of their equipment and their hands were tied tightly with the anti-bullet sheet, all of them were already awake and they were looking at Akira with a grim face.
They already understood the situation that they were in, but they did not panic and they looked completely calm. Not too far from them, there were 4 corpses of their friends lying, killed by Akira. Those were kept there to scare the attackers that Akira spared. They thought that Akira might see some worth in sparing them since he did not kill them yet. As they thought so they believed that they had a chance for negotiation.
Other than the attackers, there were also Akira, Sheryl, and some of Sheryl’s men inside the room. Sheryl’s men were glaring at the attackers, but that did not scare them at all.
The one person that they needed to negotiate with was Akira, so there was no need to pay attention to other people, they at least knew that much. And since Akira was just a boy, they hoped that they could find some openings that they could take advantage of.
One of the attackers cautiously spoke to Akira.
“If we tell you everything, will you spare us?”
Akira replied casually, there was no intimidation in his voice.
“One thing for sure, I’ll kill you if you don’t. But don’t worry, I don’t like torturing people, so I’ll give you a swift death. After all, if you won’t tell me anything even if you’re dead, then you’re better off dead.”
There was no killing intent or a sense of threat from his voice, but the attackers understood very well that Akira was being serious.
“Alright, what do you want to know?”
“Right, for the starter, why did you attack this place?”
Akira and Sheryl tried to extract as much information as possible regarding the current incident. To put it simply, the reason why the attackers attacked Sheryl’s base was because they were in need of money. So they decided to attack a shop that seemed to have expensive goods but weak security, that kind of reasoning was common in the slum city. So after gathering information, they ended up choosing Sheryl’s base to rob.
Among the information that they gathered, it included the information about the Hunter that was protecting Sheryl’s base. It particularly said that the Hunter protecting Sheryl’s base was a weak Hunter who got his wallet stolen, and when the pickpocket’s friend scared him, that Hunter pulled back and ran away. It must have been the information that those men received from the same information broker who gave the same information to some pickpocket that Akira had been encountering lately.
The moment that subject surfaced, Akira’s mood immediately worsened. But he was somehow able to keep his calm. The attackers were really frightened when that happened, but Akira did not give a shit about that.
There was still one thing that Akira and Sheryl could not understand, it was how they knew that there were expensive articles in Sheryl’s shop and who bought that article. Unfortunately, the one who told them that was already dead, to be more precise, Akira killed that guy.
That person was Zalmo. According to them, Zalmo joined their group before they knew it and he brought all kinds of information to the group, he was also the one who prepared the fencer to sell the relics that they would rob. Among the attackers that Akira spared, it seemed that none of them knew Zalmo well.
Akira found that weird, but since it was impossible for him to defeat Zalmo without killing him. Akira thought that it could not be helped and decided not to question the attackers that he spared further about that subject. He did not think that they were lying and Alpha agreed with him.
After listening to their explanations, Akira looked at those men pitifully and mumbled.
“What can I say… It’s really important to get the correct information, huh.”
Sheryl agreed with him as she said.
“That’s right. As far as I can get from their explanation, it seems like they were tempted by rumour, or more like, tricked by fake information. I guess that’s the gist of it, it’s really troublesome.”
According to those men, after gathering all kinds of information, they concluded that there was a few million Aurum worth of articles in Sheryl’s shop, and the owner of that shop did not know that and the shop was guarded by a weak Hunter.
If that was true, it was only to be expected for strong people like Zalmo to try to rob that place. Akira could understand that reasoning.
Akira and Sheryl explained to them that they were mistaken, but they could not believe that because of Sheryl’s dress. Sheryl dress was an expensive old-world relic that even got refitted, it was enough as proof to cement those men’s misunderstanding. It made them think that Sheryl must be earning a lot of profit enough to get her that dress.
But when Akira and Sheryl told them that she only got that dress as a gift from Akira, her lover, rather than from the profit of running the shop, those men were so embarrassed that they hung their heads low. It was not rare for Hunters who were earning a healthy amount of money to buy their lovers expensive things out of their own money to express their pride in their abilities.
Those men finally understood that that the truth was the exact opposite of what they were expecting. Rather than a rich shop with a weak guard, it was a cheap shop with a strong guard. They hung their head low the moment they realized that. Seeing them acting like that, Akira and Sheryl looked exasperatedly at them.
Although Akira and Sheryl felt sorry for them, it did not change the fact that they attacked the shop. Akira then changed the mood and asked those men a question.
“That’s all I have to ask. So then, regarding what we are going to do with you next, you can either pay us money or die, which one you want to pick? If you’d rather die, don’t worry, I’ll give you a quick death. As I said, I have no plans to torture any of you.”
Those men looked at each other, one of them then scaredly asked Akira.
“…How much should we pay?”
“Oh, you’re going to let us decide? Well, how about 10 billion Aurum each?”
The moment Akira said that, those men were dumbfounded. One of them flared up and shouted at Akira.
“Are you fucking kidding me?! There’s no way we can pay that much money!!”
“Then how much can you pay us? Just to remind you, you guys did shoot at me fully intending to kill me so I’m being nice to you to let you off the hook only with that much money. If you can’t give me a good offer, I’ll just kill you here and that will be the end of it.”
Those men shivered to Akira’s declaration, there were already 4 unrecognizable dead bodies next to them showing just how serious Akira was. If they could not give a good offer, he would not hesitate to add them to those dead bodies. Another one of them shifted his gaze to Sheryl and begged.
“Hey, are you really okay with that? There’s no good thing that you can get from being greedy, you know? And it’s not like you can get any money if you kill us, right?”
That man thought that it should be easier to talk with Sheryl rather than with Akira.
But Sheryl just smiled and replied.
“I don’t really mind, you can go ahead and die.”
“If Akira decides so, I have no wish to stop him.”
“Y-You’re the boss in this gang, right? He’s just your guard, isn’t it?!”
“Yup, but, this and that are two different things. Not to mention that you guys killed some of my men too, so I have no reason to stop him.”
“…But the guy who killed your men is already dead over there, isn’t it? We didn’t kill any of your men.”
“That’s exactly why we’re willing to let you solve this incident with money.”
Sheryl told them to die with a smile on her face. She knew that Akira would not be satisfied with a small amount of money and she knew well that those men could not pay the amount of money that Akira demanded of them, that was why she told them to die.
Those men had run out of moves that they could make, one of them then said with a pale face.
“W-wait, you won’t get anything if you kill us, right? And you already killed enough people to scare us. So just think about it, it might be a good idea to let us live and get some profit out of that.”
Akira swiftly replied.
“I know, so, how much are you going to pay?”
That man hesitatingly replied back.
After hearing that, Akira looked at Sheryl without saying anything, Sheryl reacted by shaking her head. So Akira replied to that man in place of her.
“Not good enough.”
“…1,500,000 Aurum then!!”
Akira looked at Sheryl again, and she shook her head again. Sheryl thought that Akira was trying to bring that price as high as possible, so she had no plans to nod.
Akira once again replied to that man.
“Still not good enough. And also, I don’t mind if you want to keep increasing your offer, but also tell me how you are going to pay for it. After all, it’s not like we can accept it if you’re planning to pay 10 million Aurum in a 100 years instalment, right?”
Those men immediately closed their mouths. If Akira demanded them to also tell him how they would pay for it, it really limited their options.
Since no one said anything, Akira then continued.
“Well, if you won’t say anything, I’ll assume that you chose death, okay? Or is it that you want to pay but you’re still thinking of how to pay it?”
“We-we’re still thinking.”
“But you’ll pay, right?”
Those men nodded, they knew that they would be dead otherwise.
“I see, in that case, wait for a bit.”
Akira opened his information terminal and made a call.
The person that Akira was calling picked up the call.
“Akira, huh. What is it? Is it something profitable?”
“It depends on your skill.”
“Oh, it’s profitable then. So, what is it?”
It was Katsuragi.
After listening to Akira’s explanation, Katsuragi exasperatedly said.
“…I see, I understand what’s going on, so basically those people need money, right? But why do I have to lend them money?”
“It’s not like there’s any need for you to lend them money, you do have some connections with some companies that handle this kind of thing, right?”
“Well, I do, but even if I introduce them to those companies, I don’t see how that can give me any profit. Are you telling me to get the referral bonus? My skill is in trading and not lending money, I specialize in trading Hunter equipment, so this has nothing to do with my skill, right?”
Katsuragi sounded a bit annoyed, but Akira casually replied.
“All of that money might be used to pay for the equipment from you.”
After a short pause, Katsuragi had thought of all kinds of ways to get profit out of that transaction. So then he carefully asked.
“…All of it?”
“Yeah, all of it.”
Akira’s answer was enough to convince Katsuragi, who replied back happily.
“If that’s the case, then this might be an interesting offer, it’s indeed a profitable subject related to my skill as a merchant. Alright then, I’ll handle the rest. So, what kind of equipment are you looking for? After all, I need to make sure what equipment you are going to buy from me. But still, you are finally interested in buying my goods, huh.”
“No, it’s not for me. It’s for Sheryl and her gang.”
“Yeah. They need extra equipment, I want them to at least be able to defend themselves when I’m not around. As for the details, you can discuss it with Sheryl later.”
To be honest, Katsuragi wanted Akira to buy his stuff. A Hunter like Akira who was earning a healthy amount of money would definitely contribute greatly to the shop’s revenue. Judging by the fact that Akira bought a dozen of 2,000,000 Aurum per box medicines only for his consumable item, it was to be expected for Akira to pay way more for his equipment. Katsuragi squeezed his brain every day to somehow find a way to make Akira his patron.
But it did not change the fact that this deal would be big, so Katsuragi decided to prioritize the profit in front of him right now.
“Well, if it means that they’ll buy some of my goods, then I guess that’s fine too. I’ll head there now, so wait for a bit, okay?”
Akira was about to close the call when one of the attackers who heard that conversation immediately spoke up.
“Wait there!! Are you going to sell us!?”
Akira still had not closed the call when he said to that man.
“You did say that you want to pay but you don’t know how to pay, so I’m just helping you here. You just pay me with that money then do your best to settle your debt with them.”
“Isn’t that the same as selling us?! Even I know how those Hunters who get caught in their debts end up!! Like hell I would accept that! I would rather choose death than take on that kind of debt!!”
That man was shouting on top of his lungs. He knew well about the end that was waiting for Hunters who had a huge amount of debt. When he imagined that end, he could not help but shout desperately.
A gunshot echoed in the room. That man, who was shouting just now, fell limp on the ground and stopped moving.
Akira shot that man, granting him his wish.
Katsuragi voice could be heard from Akira’s information terminal.
“…Whoah, Akira, what was that?”
“He said that he would rather die than take on debt so I killed him. I have no plans to force them to take that debt after all.”
Katsuragi clicked his tongue and annoyedly asked Akira.
“How many left?”
“Don’t kill them. It’s more profitable to keep them alive. Killing them will only cut my profit you know. Good grief… I’ll convince them myself, so don’t kill them, alright?”
Akira then closed the call. One down, 3 were still alive, and those three were looking at Akira while trembling in terror.
When Katsuragi arrived at Sheryl’s base, he quickly got on with his work. He came there bringing quite a lot of people.
Katsuragi was talking with Sheryl. They had a lot to talk about, the peace money, the equipment that Sheryl would buy with that money, the relics that got destroyed from the fight, the treatment for Sheryl’s men that were wounded, and still a lot more.
While on the other hand, Tomejima was talking with the attackers who were still alive about the loan. Tomejima was the guy from the moneylender company that Katsuragi brought. He felt a bit awkward when he saw Akira, but since Akira did not seem to mind him, Tomejima sighed in relief.
The people that Tomejima brought with him were taking photos of the traces from the battle and were cleaning up the dead bodies.
Akira was taking a break while looking at the people working in that room. That was when Colbert and Levin showed up. Colbert came there with Tomejima while Levin came with Katsuragi.
Levin was putting the dead bodies in the body bags when he glanced at Akira, he then frowned and said to Colbert.
“Akira did all of this, right?”
“That’s what I heard. Don’t stop your hands. We need to put the equipment in a different bag and properly gather the pieces of the cyborg guy.”
Levin started gathering the pieces just like he was told to. He picked up pieces of a destroyed arm, chips that were still enveloped in brain juice, and other pieces that he could find and shoved them inside the body bag. He then suddenly voiced out his impression of the person who caused the scene in front of him.
“…But still, it’s 8 armed Hunters against 1, you know. So is it really true that he did this all by himself?”
“That’s what I heard.”
“…If I can’t pay back my debt to Katsuragi, the very person who caused this will come to me to collect that debt, huh?”
Levin looked at the dead bodies inside the body bags with a conflicted face. Katsuragi said that in the worst-case scenario he would ask Akira to collect that debt. If he got unlucky, that might be as soon as tomorrow.
Colbert then made a suggestion to Levin.
“In that case, how about shifting all of that debt to the company that I’m working for? That way at least Akira would not come to collect your debt, you know?”
“…About that though, one good thing about Katsuragi is that he doesn’t put any interest. So I have no need to worry about the interest, you see.”
“Well, it’s your debt, so it’s up to you.”
Watching Levin, Colbert thought that it would still take some time until Levin paid all of his debt.
Akira was only waiting there, inside that room, he looked bored. He thought that it would not be right to head back home alone, so he decided to stay there. Although, to be honest, he wanted to just go back home and get a good rest. He then mumbled.
“…It’s not a good idea to head back home in this situation, isn’t it?”
Alpha replied to him.
“Personally speaking, I think it’s alright to go back home. After all, among all of them, you’re the one who must be the most tired. There’s no need to stay here just to accompany them. I’m sure it’s alright if you tell them that you’re tired after that fight. After all, it’s not like it’s a formal request where you got properly paid anyway, so I don’t see any reason why any of them would complain.”
“Is that so? But still…”
If it was the previous Akira, he would silently and apathetically head back home. But the present Akira was slowly but surely starting to change.
From Alpha’s point of view, it would be troublesome if Akira turned into a kind person. To put it simply, if he turned so kind to go as far as to cover a total stranger without showing any hesitation, it might cause big trouble for her goal.
Even just now, Akira was giving the money that he could have to Sheryl’s men for buying equipment. It was okay if he did that as an investment, but if he did that without expecting anything back, then there was a need for Alpha to warn him. So she casually asked him.
“Say Akira. About the money that you’re paying for the gang’s equipment, is it okay if I think of it as debt?”
“Hm? Yeah, sure.”
“Do you think that you can get some profit from lending that amount of money? Is that why you lent them money?”
“…Well, what can I say, Carol also did say that selling relics is actually pretty profitable, and judging from how Sheryl served the people who came here, it seems that the shop should do pretty well in the future. So I thought that there should be some profit that I can get back… By the way, why did you ask me that?”
Akira was only giving random excuses, it did not seem that he was expecting to get some profit from lending that money.
Alpha smiled teasingly and said.
“To be honest, if you ask for my opinion, I would rather have you prioritize your equipment for the sake of finishing my request as well as to compensate for your skill. But I have no plans to force you.”
“Even if you say so, I actually don’t want to buy any equipment from Katsuragi. I only did that since I know that he would not help me unless I did that. I already spent 4 hundred million Aurum on equipment in Shizuka’s shop, that should be good enough for now. Well, it should be fine, it’s not like I can stay here forever to guard this place anyway, so just think of it as a small amount of money that I need to pay to take care of that problem. Don’t worry, I will get something back from it if we’re lucky. Well, putting my luck aside, Sheryl’s luck at least doesn’t seem bad. So I guess it should be okay to expect something good from it, right?”
“Is that so? Well, if that’s the case, then I’m fine with it too.”
Alpha decided that she needed to be more careful and keep reminding Akira regarding this small change of heart and his growing kindness, but she did not show that in her face at all.