When he regained consciousness, Akira found himself confined in a white space. Everything was filled with white nothingness no matter how far he looked. It was as if the maker of this world gave up midway. But surprisingly, he did not find it strange or uneasy to be standing inside such a world. Inside his hazy mind, Akira somehow understood that he was in a dream.
He saw Alpha standing not too far from him. She was emotionlessly staring forward. It did not look like she noticed him. As he looked at her, it felt like she was just a frozen humanoid doll standing there.
Suddenly, this Alpha spoke.
“First try, failed. Didn’t reach the target. Unable to continue due to the subject’s death. Searching for methods to provide support.”
She then continued as if she was reading a record from her memories.
“Second try, failed. Didn’t reach the target. Unable to continue due to the subject’s death. Searching for methods to provide support in battle.”
She continued giving the same report without any emotional fluctuations.
“15th try, failed. Didn’t reach the target. Unable to continue due to the subject’s withdrawal from the request. The subject is alive. The subject withdrew from the request due to fatal injuries. Adjusting the guidance method.”
“16th try, failed. Reached area 1. Unable to continue due to the subject’s death. Revaluating methods to provide support in battle.”
Alpha just kept continuing to report the status. Akira couldn’t understand what she was reporting about.
“87th try, failed. Reached area 7. Unable to continue due to the subject’s death. Revaluating methods to provide support in battle.”
“88th try, failed. Reached area 4. Unable to continue due to the subject’s withdrawal from the request. The subject is alive. The subject withdrew from the request due to the loss of motivation. Adjusting the guidance method.”
She kept continuing for some time.
“497th try, failed. Reached area 9. Unable to continue due to the subject’s death. Revaluating methods to provide support in battle.”
“498th try, failed. Reached the final area. Unable to continue due to the subject’s withdrawal from the request. The subject has turned completely hostile. Already dealt with the situation. Current location, unknown. Completely readjusting the guidance method.”
“499th try, in progress. Haven’t reached the target area. Confirming the current condition. Finish.”
Once Alpha was done reporting, the white world suddenly turned pitch black. Akira could see Alpha floating alone in the middle of the darkness before slowly blurring and vanishing into nothingness.
Akira’s consciousness faded away together with it. Eventually, everything vanished into nothingness and the dream ended.
Akira opened his eyes. He was still dazed after that strange dream, but he had forgotten most of the details of the dream. He then realized that he was lying on a bed inside a room that he did not recognize. He was so surprised that he completely forgot about the dream that he just had.
If it was Akira from the past, he would have definitely jumped off and confirmed his surroundings the moment he found himself in an unfamiliar place. But now, although he was surprised, he did not put up his guard. He was only dazed after waking up.
The reason why he lost his sharpness was because he was now used to waking up in a safe place compared to the dangerous back alley. He now woke up in a room that felt safer and looked more expensive than his usual room. But the main reason he didn’t put up his guard was because he saw Alpha smiling at him.
“Morning, Akira. Where you able to take a good rest?”
Akira looked around and confirmed his surroundings. It seemed like he was staying in someone’s place since it did not look like a hotel room. The blood and mud that stuck on his body were already cleaned. He was also changed into a white t-shirt and a long pant. He had fully recovered from the tiredness, having woke up feeling refreshed he did not feel pain anymore. He was completely recovered physically. After he noticed this fact, he completely shook off the haziness from when he woke up. But it was visible from his expression that he was confused.
“Morning, Alpha. Where am I?”
Alpha then pointed her finger to the door to answer Akira’s question. Sara then entered through that door. She looked a bit surprised as she saw Akira.
“Akira, you’ve woken up, huh?”
Sara was only wearing a baggy T-shirt and undies, it was a set of clothes that showed a lot of openings. Her wearing such dress also showed that it was a safe place, thus Akira was able to relax too. But on the other hand, he was also more confused than before.
“How do you feel? If it’s still hard for you to wake up, you can lay back, you know?”
“Uhh, I’m fine.”
Although he was still confused about what was going on, he was physically fine. And in order to show that, he answered back confidently. Sara smiled back knowing that Akira was really fine.
“I see. Thank goodness! This is our place, Elena’s and mine. Therefore, you don’t have to worry, we have kept your stuff in another room. We’ve also washed your clothes and left them there. I’ll bring it to you if you want to change.”
“Ah, I’ll take them myself.”
“Don’t worry, you’re our guest, after all. I’ll bring them to you, just wait here for a bit.”
Akira was swept away by the flow. But once Sara went outside the room and closed the door, Akira immediately went into panic mode.
“Alpha, what’s going on here?”
“For now, you just need to know that this is a safe place. If you can understand, then calm down.”
“Even if you ask me so…”
“Wouldn’t Sara feel weird if you suddenly understood what’s going on although you have just woke up in an unfamiliar place? So just ask Sara first, I’ll give you my explanation after that, okay?”
Akira then nervously waited for Sara to come back. He was feeling strange to not be able to relax although he knew that he was in a safe room. He understood that he should calm down to think clearly but he was unable to do so and as he continued to wait for Sara, it became harder for him to calm down. As such, he looked nervous when Sara came back and handed him his clothes.
Adding to the fact that Sara was looking at him, Akira awkwardly tried changing his clothes. But Sara thought that it was because Akira just recovered that he was moving awkwardly, so then she gently asked Akira.
“Akira, should I help you?”
“I-it’s okay. I can manage.”
“Is that so? You just recovered, so don’t push yourself too hard, okay?”
Since Akira was not used to getting such a gentle treatment, he could not help but feel more nervous. But he realized that Alpha looked amused as she was looking at him who was flustered. So he quickly finished changing his clothes before Alpha could comment on him getting flustered.
After that, Sara started explaining to Akira of what was going on.
“I’ll tell you this first. It has been 3 days since you fainted.”
Akira was very surprised, but then Sara calmly continued her explanation.
When Akira fainted, Elena, Sara and Katsuragi immediately checked his condition. Akira suffered no fatal injuries. Since he had consumed a lot of medicine in a short duration, all his wounds were forcefully and rapidly healed. All the healed areas had strange scars. These scars would have vanished if his wounds were healed naturally. But all his wounds were already completely healed by medicine, so these scars were left behind. Although his clothes were drenched in blood, thanks to the medicine that he took, his breathing and pulse were stable.
In the worst-case scenario, he simply fainted and was far from any fatal condition. As such, Elena and the others were relieved after confirming Akira’s condition. So, she immediately told Katsuragi to head to the city and Katsuragi completely agreed with her.
After that, Elena and Sara brought Akira who was still unconscious to their home and laid him on a bed. Although he was in no danger, Akira did not wake up for a few days. Elena and Sara thought that it was because of the overdose from medicine.
The medicine distributed in the Eastern district were mostly a mix of nanomachines and all kinds of different chemical compounds. It was basically like a DIY set to close a hole in the wall. The advanced nanomachines in the medicine could act as substitutes to the cells and close the wound.
Although it was convenient, this medicine also had some drawbacks and side-effects. Repeated healing through induced regeneration might cause premature ageing. Or the nanomachines sometimes misunderstood the injured state as a normal state and stopped healing altogether.
Akira fainted because of a similar reason. It was an indication of medicine overdose after taking a lot of medicine in a short span of time to heal his wounds and rejuvenating his fatigue. It was by no means fatal, but he would stay unconscious until the nanomachines inside his body calmed down.
Then as Elena and Sara predicted, Akira woke up after sleeping for 3 days.
After Akira heard everything from Sara, he bowed politely.
“Thank you very much for saving and nursing me.”
“It’s fine, don’t mention it.”
Akira was happy at how Sara was being considerate to him, he was smiling slightly. But his expression immediately changed to be apologetic.
“Uhh. Well, technically, you accepted an SOS request… Right? It’s kinda hard to say this when you have saved me, but to be honest, I don’t have any money at all. So how should I repay you?”
Akira wanted to pay them back for their help. But even if he wanted to do that, he couldn’t. After all, he could not earn any money for the last few days. He was just stating the truth. But as he finished speaking, he wished he could take it back. Akira was ashamed of himself as he hung his head low.
But Sara just casually shook her head.
“As I said, it’s something that we did because we wanted to. You don’t need to worry about it. I and Elena have no wish to ask for any compensation.”
“Are you sure…? Ah, I mean, that is… Uhh…”
That would be really helpful to Akira, but he could not just accept it. Akira hesitated. But even if he hesitated, it was not like he had the money to pay them back. As such, he looked really thankful. Then Sara’s face turned serious.
“…Well then, in exchange for the reward. I have something to ask you. So can you answer it honestly?”
“If that’s all, then of course. What is it?”
Sara was a bit surprised as Akira answered back casually with a smile. Sara then stared at Akira with a serious face. She then let out a sigh and asked him a question.
“You were the one who saved me and Elena in Kuzusuhara ruin the other day, right?”
When Akira was still unconscious, Sara went to Shizuka’s shop by herself. And when she started talking about Akira, Shizuka smiled bitterly.
“Fighting against those many monsters, that must have been really hard for Akira.”
“Moreover, he had to do it twice in a day, you know? Isn’t that a very rare experience? Is it because he has bad luck or was it Katsuragi who brought bad luck to him? Or even maybe both of them have bad luck? Since they were able to survive it, we can just laugh it off now. But that Katsuragi and his friend, it seems that Elena squeezed them for rewards. They just can’t stop grumbling. Although they were able to transport their goods from the Frontline, they were complaining that more than half of their profit was used to fight back those group of monsters.”
“But even so, they were able to survive without any grave injuries. So I don’t know if they actually have good luck or bad luck. By the way, where’s Elena?”
“Elena is working as Katsuragi’s escort not too far from here. I came here alone today.”
“Is that so… So then, why are you here today?”
Shizuka who was listening to Sara changed the mood as she made a serious face. She more or less understood why Sara came to her today.
Sara made a bitter smile and was surprised since Shizuka was able to guess the real reason why she came. She then made a serious face.
“I did tell you before that we were saved by someone in the Kuzusuhara ruin, right?”
“Yep. You told me that story so many times. I even remember all the details, you know?”
“By any chance, do you know who it was?”
Sara stared closely at Shizuka. But Shizuka did not make any noticeable reaction to her strong gaze. Shizuka looked at Sara and thought for a bit before answering her question.
“Why do you ask me?”
“You have a good intuition, after all.”
“Is that so? Well, in that case, my answer is no.”
Sara called her name with a strong tone as she kept staring at Shizuka. She was unconsciously leaking her intimidating aura as a Hunter.
But Shizuka did not budge at all. After all, she was working as a merchant who faced Hunters on a regular basis. Moreover, she knew well about the friend in front of her right now. There was no need for her to panic, she knew that well as she calmly answered back.
“I really don’t know and I have no one that I’m suspicious of being that person either. And even if I have a guess, if my guess is wrong, it’ll definitely cause trouble for you and that person. I may have some inklings, but the person asked me not to say anything to anyone. So if I tell you, then I’ll be betraying that person’s trust, thus I won’t say anything. That person didn’t threaten me, but since that person told me to keep a secret, I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to say anything. After all, it would be big trouble for the shop if I do something that might annoy my customers. So I can’t say, no matter what, my answer is I don’t know.”
Sara did not say anything, she just locked her gaze on Shizuka. But Shizuka’s expression did not change as she continued.
“Moreover, it’s not the main problem here, right? You already have a guess as to who that person is and you’re almost certain of your guess. But since it was logically impossible, you’re trying to clear your doubt by relying on my intuition, right?”
After being told so, Sara finally realized that her guess was correct.
The words written on that paper were illegible as if they were written by a small kid. Akira’s reaction when she showed him her bullet pendant. And finally, the medicines that Akira was carrying on him. When she found the same medicine that she had received inside Akira’s belongings while she was organizing his stuff, it confirmed her suspicion that Akira was the one who saved her.
But even then, she had no definitive proof. Moreover, according to her experience as a Hunter, she made a conjecture that even someone with as much fighting power as Akira, would not be able to save her in that situation.
Sara who was not sure of her own guess then went to Shizuka to rely on her intuition. Even Elena admitted the sharpness of Shizuka’s intuition, which was so good that even irrational possibility turned into reality. She believed in Shizuka’s intuition to give the final verdict that Akira was the person who had saved her.
Sara was taken aback as she realized this, but then Shizuka continued.
“By the way, how much do you want to know, Sara? Do you just want to know who saved you? Or do you still have a lot of questions that you want answers for?”
Sara could not answer. There were indeed a lot of questions that she wanted to ask and a lot of things that she wanted to know. But the thing that she really wanted to ask, the thing that she really wanted to know, it was just a small part of it.
“Think carefully before you ask. Decide between what you want to know and what you don’t need to know and then ask your question. Ask your question with utmost sincerity, if that person lies to you after that, then that’s what it is.”
Shizuka said that she did not know. If that was true, then Sara’s guess was mistaken. But if it was a lie, then it meant that he did not want to reveal it no matter what or that he wanted to have nothing to do with Sara. Sara understood that and could not reply.
In the end, she could just ask Akira after he woke up. But for some reason, she was hesitating. The moment she realized that she was hesitating, she immediately realized the reason.
Sara did not want to be denied of answer by Akira. That was all. She finally understood that.
Sara who just came to realize a lot of things stared at Shizuka and thought that Shizuka must have understood everything way before herself. Shizuka might have even understood the reason why Sara was hesitating, which she herself did not realize.
But Sara decided not to ask Shizuka any further. It was not something that should be asked to ny others. It was something that she should find herself. That was her thought as she smiled to change her mood.
“Alright then, I’ll ask him myself when the time comes. Thank you, Shizuka.”
Shizuka replied back with a relieved smile. But it then changed into a teasing smile.
“You’re welcome. So then, just a piece of additional information, I’ll tell you my guess. Sara, do you know about the people who are connected to the old domain?”
“People who are connected to the old domain? I’ve heard about them before, but…”
“Go ask Elena for more detail. She should know more than you. But if I have to give you a simple explanation, they are people who are connected to the old network for some unknown reason. I heard that there are even people among them who can pinpoint the locations of individual people, monsters, ruins and buildings. It might sound very convenient, but I heard they also face a lot of problems because of their ability. I’m talking about those people.”
Sara then imagined Akira to be one of those people. If that was true, then someone like Akira would have the ability to save them. If Akira could pinpoint locations of each people inside that thick colourless mist, then he would be the only person who could see clearly whereas everyone else were helpless. It would give him a boost to his winning rate. It would also explain why he wanted to hide his identity. If the people that he saved wondered as to why he could save them, there was a good chance that those people would notice he was a person who is connected to the old domain. And if it were to spread, it might even danger his life.
Sara kept staring at Shizuka.
“…You do have a very good intuition, couldn’t you just say that from the start?”
Shizuka smiled as if she was teasing Sara.
“It won’t be right if I tell that to someone who hadn’t resolved herself, right? So do your best out there.”
Sara accepted her answer as she nodded while looking a little bit annoyed.
On the same day Sara heard about the people who were connected to the old domain, she asked Elena about it just after Elena finished her night bath.
“Elena, do you know about the people who are connected to the old domain?”
Elena then just wiped her body enough to not make any mess before operating the information terminal that was attached to her hand. She wrapped herself in a bath towel without bothering to wear her undies. She was looking so unladylike. Sara had repeatedly reminded her about this But Elena would never listen and answer back that it was only necessary to keep everything around her dry. So Sara started ignoring her when she looked like that.
Elena then replied back in such a way that was unexpected to Sara.
“People who are connected to the old domain? It’s rare for you to ask something like that.”
“Well, Shizuka told me that you should know better than her, you see.”
“To be more precise, what do you want to know? Since you have come to ask me, it means that you want to know something that you won’t be able to know from a simple search on the net, right?”
As for Sara, she actually wanted to know everything right from the most basic knowledge, but she could not say that as it would annoy Elena. So she changed the way she asked Elena.
“There are benefits and dangers, both to the people around them and to themselves as well.”
“That’s an interesting question, well then, let’s start from the benefits that they can get themselves.”
Elena then started explaining happily.
The benefits coming from being a person who is connected to the old domain extends on a very wide range. The biggest benefit is being able to connect to the network that was built during the time of the old world called the old domain network. Even at the moment, the old domain network was still filled with a lot of invaluable knowledge. But the current technology could not connect to that network. Normally, one would need a terminal that could only be found in the ruins to connect to the old domain network.
But the people who are connected to the old domain did not need such a device to access the old domain network. Their method of connecting to the old domain network was unknown even after rigorous research was conducted by the government. Moreover, it was thought that such a connection was not affected by the colourless mist at all.
“Is it really something that amazing?”
Looking at Sara, who looked like she could not believe it, Elena’s expression changed to one that was saying that this girl did not get it at all.
“This is something really amazing, you know? The eastern district is constantly blanketed in colourless mist with a certain level of thickness, the only reason why we could use the long-range communication to contact the capital is because it’s using the old domain network.”
“But isn’t that true for your information terminal too? And it’s useless in thick colourless mist, right?”
“That works through a different network. It’s using the same network used by the relay station in the city, basically, it’s a short-range connection. That’s why they stop working in the colourless mist. If a normal terminal can keep its connection even inside the colourless mist, it would be really convenient. That would be really helpful for exploring ruins that are always blanketed in thick colourless mist.”
The old domain was built using old world’s technologies in the communication facilities, but now only a few of these communication facilities are still functioning in the old ruins. Countless invaluable technologies of the old world were saved inside the DB or Database in these facilities. If one could connect to the old domain and extract these technologies and recreate them, it would bring a huge amount of fortune. Or at least that was what people thought.
But there was a worry that a human brain would not be able to withstand the burden of connecting to the old domain. There were records of people getting killed out of the blue in the ruins, leaving a corpse without any injury. It was thought that these people have got the ability to connect to the old domain because of some unknown reason. Their brain was flooded with information as they could not control the connection, finally, they got killed because their brain could not handle the burden.
“Braindead? Is that even possible? Are we in danger too?”
Looking at Sara who got suddenly got flustered, Elena smiled to calm her down.
“Not just because it only happens inside the ruins, also because the possibility of such a thing happening is simply very small, we’ll be fine anyways. Compared to this, there’s a higher chance that we’ll get killed by monsters. Not to mention that if such a thing happens frequently, then no one would dare to explore the ruins, right?”
“Well, you have a point there…”
“Moreover, I heard that people who can connect to the old domain can pinpoint the location of relics and warehouses inside a ruin, you know. There was a rumour saying that the maps sold to the map brokers were made by people who can connect to the old domain. And so big companies would kidnap these people. So those people who can connect to the old world are less likely to get killed, but they’re more likely to face a fate that is worse than dying.”
“Is that so… Well, I guess it’s true if you say so.”
After feeling relieved, Sara’s face turned serious.
“So being connected to the old domain is not always a good thing, huh?”
“To be more precise, it comes with a lot of benefits so there’re many people who have their eyes on them. They might be able to seek a safe haven under the government, but that would mean that they’ll exchange their freedom for safety. But if they get caught by people who do shady work, they’ll face a worse fate. Ah, but if one of the big companies discovers them, it might dispatch a lot of soldiers to capture them in the name of rescue.”
Elena was happy that Sara was really interested in her speciality which was a very rare thing for her, as such, she was more fired up than usual. Thanks to that, Sara was able to understand well about the people who could connect to the old domain.
It also made her understand why it was hard to get someone who could connect to the old domain to trust her. She hesitated a bit whether it was the right thing to ask Akira when he woke up.
Akira was having a headache now. It was because Sara realized that it was he who saved her and Elena. But to be honest, he did not think that it was that big of a problem. The reason why he was hiding that fact was simply because it was too much of a trouble if he had to explain his motivation and methods. He had only thought about it thus far.
Akira was one of the people who could connect to the old domain, but he did not realize it himself. He did not even know the meaning of those words. The only thing that he knew was that there were some other people who also could see Alpha and he was just one among them.
There was no way Akira could tell them about Alpha. When he was thinking hard of any possible ways to dodge Sara’s question, he realized that Sara was locking her stare on him with a serious face. He was so intimidated by that look that he stopped thinking.
Sara thought that Akira still could not trust them. That was why she was desperately begging with that serious face.
“I’m sure you have your own reason. That’s why I won’t press you with more questions. What I want to know is whether you’re the one who saved us or not. That is all. I won’t ask you why and how you saved us or any other questions. And I won’t tell anyone about anything that you say to me.”
Akira who was pressured by Sara was actually panicking inside his heart, but he stiffened his face and stayed silent. Sara could feel rejection from him, so her serious face started to turn sad.
“If you won’t answer me no matter what, then I’ll just give up. I won’t ask this again, so please let me ask you once again for the last time… In the Kuzusuhara ruin, you were the one who saved me and Elena, right?”
Sara sounded like she was begging. She was desperately wanting to know the person who saved them. Akira was able to get her intention.
“Yes, that’s correct, it was me.”
The mood suddenly got way lighter. Sara’s face loosened, Akira then said his sorry.
“Sorry that I kept it a secret. Well, I had my own reason, you see.”
“It’s really fine. As I promised, I won’t ask further. But that aside…”
Sara then shook her head and held Akira hands.
“Thank you for saving me and Elena… Finally, I can say my thanks. I’m sorry for pressuring you. It was hard for me to be unable to say thanks to the one who saved me. I know that was selfish of me and it’s not something that I should do to someone who saved me.”
After Sara said her gratitude with a smile, her expression changed to an apologetic one. As for Akira, he was a bit surprised as he answered back in panic.
“Please don’t mind about me. You saved me too. So both of us were just lucky. Shouldn’t that be enough?”
“Is that so…? Well, you’re right. If you say so, then let’s settle on that. Thank you, we’re really thankful to you.”
“…Ah well, you’re welcome.”
Sara felt very relieved. She smiled brightly. Akira then returned with his smile. But in his smile, there was a little bit of gloom that Sara did not notice.
Akira who heard those words of gratitude from Sara felt like something just gouged deep inside his heart, something other than pain. But Akira did all he could to not show that on his face.
Akira then had a long talk with Sara over a meal. After all, Akira’s stomach grumbled loudly after they had that talk, it was because Akira was sleeping for a few days without eating anything. Hearing that, Sara just smiled and prepared some meals. It was something offered by the one who saved him, so it was not like he could refuse her.
The foods that were lined up on the table were on a different level compared to the frozen food that Akira usually ate. Sara took some time preparing those foods and Akira remembered hearing her prepare them. But he simply ignored it. His concentration was focused on the foods that looked so appetizing lined up in front of his eyes. And of course, those meals were indeed delicious.
In the middle of the conversation, Sara brought up the topic about when Akira saved her and Elena. She also told Akira that the loot that they got from those people who attacked them earned them quite a sum of money. Hunters who could not stay in a hotel or other permanent sleeping place would have to travel around while bringing all of their money with them. There were Hunters who got their money legally seized by the bank for paying off their debt. Without any money to equip themselves, some would turn into bandits. The people who attacked Sara and Elena were those kinds of people.
The money problem that Sara and Elena were facing was easily resolved by the compensation that they got from selling those loots. They then used the leftover money to get equipment, thus they had an easier time exploring the ruins which increased their income. From then on, they used the extra money that they got to get better equipment and further increased their income from exploring the ruins. Thanks to the positive cycle, they were able to completely bounce back from being fallen Hunters. They even had a better income than ever before. After telling Akira all of these things and saying her thanks, she said that she wanted to give back the money that she got from selling the loot to Akira, but Akira unexpectedly refused it. Sara who was surprised by that asked him again for confirmation.
“But you’re the one who killed them, are you really sure? It’s quite a lot of money, you know?”
“Yes, After all, I decided to leave without looting them, so I have no plans to ask them back now.”
“Hmmm, but even if you say so, not only did you save us, it was also thanks to you that we were able to solve our money problems. So it’s kind of frustrating that we could not repay you with anything.”
Looking at Akira’s reaction, there was no sign that he would accept the money. So if Sara pushed the money to Akira, it would defeat its meaning. But even so, Sara wanted to offer something to Akira for saving her, even if it was just a little. That’s what Sara thought as she mumbled, but then Akira came up with another idea.
“In that case then, please take that money as your reward for responding to our SOS request. I don’t know how much a normal reward is, so I don’t know whether that would be enough but… It’s also frustrating for me not being able to give you anything after saving me. So please accept it and think that we’re even now.”
“Well, if you said so, alright then.”
Both of them then looked at each other as their saviour and smiled bitterly.
Their next topic after that was how they spent their loot money, how she immediately suggested strengthening her nanomachines likewise. Following the momentum, their conversation shifted to about Sara’s body, a body strengthened with nanomachine.
“So then, you know? People who use nanomachine to strengthen their bodies will always stock their nanomachine in one part of their body. In my case, that would be my chest. There are also people who save their stock on external cartridges, but it would be a disaster if they lose those cartridges. There’s also a choice to stock a small amount of nanomachine throughout all of my body, but there’s a limit on that too.”
Sara then pointed on her own chest. It was quite a wonderful asset even for a beautiful girl like her and she had quite a stock of nanomachines in there.
“Those people will have their body shape change according to the quantity of nanomachines stocked inside their body. Because of that, the size of their clothes would also change. So I’m sorry if I do not look presentable.”
Sara’s clothing was very revealing. Her bra was modified to be able to change its size through some simple cords and the baggy shirt she was wearing was unable to hide it. It was because she modified her clothes to its limit to fit her changing body size. She was very used to wearing such clothes that she could casually wear them in front of Akira without feeling shy.
But there were people who misunderstood and tried to tease Sara just to end up getting beaten up by Sara’s nanomachine enhanced body. There were already a lot of victims. It was proof of the great body Sara had, but even so, Akira was not affected at all.
“Ah, I don’t really mind…”
But Sara noticed Akira’s strange eye’s movement. She then smiled teasingly.
“…If you’re interested. Well, you did save me, so I might be willing to give you some service.”
“Can you please stop teasing me…?”
Seeing how Akira’s face turned red, Sara laughed as if she was enjoying.
Alpha did not even try to hide her displease as she immediately complained.
“For some reason, your reaction is different compared to when I do that. I think I have a better body, you know? So what’s wrong with you? Are you more interested in erotic clothes? Is that what makes you aroused?”
“If your body’s size changes, then what would you do about your armour before going to the ruins? They are augmented clothes that need to be adjusted before using, right? Do you adjust yours every time you want to use it?”
“In my case, I always prefer armour that is elastic and stretchable. Then I’ll put on more armour on top of it after that. Akira… that thing… is your armour, right?”
Akira then changed the subject of their conversation by talking about when he got his armour from Shizuka. Their conversation then shifted to the reason why they would use their armour, then a discussion about the monsters.
The monsters roaming in the eastern district were weaker the further you go west and stronger the further you go east. So the monsters that roamed the far east in the Frontline were monsters that could not be defeated without tanks or enhanced bodies. But on the other hand, most monsters in the western part could be defeated easily using a handgun. There were many kinds of monsters sprawling from the far east to the west end. Sometimes, it felt like someone intentionally did that for a prank.
Akira who was listening to Sara looked like he did not completely believe her story.
“…Do those monsters really exist…? Polytanks with legs… Is that even a monster?”
“It is, they’re filled with flammable liquid fuel and they’ll come near tanks and people before blowing themselves up. That’s why they’re categorized as monsters. But if you can neutralize them before they blow up, the liquid fuel inside them can get you quite a lot of money, you know. We used to hunt for them before.”
Sara was reminiscing about her past while telling her story to Akira. It made Akira realize the truth which surprised him.
“I wonder why they even made that kind of monsters.”
“Some people say that it was because the factories built during the old world era malfunctioned after they were abandoned for years. Some say that those monsters would aim for cars trying to refuel them… Well, in that case, I wonder why they would chase humans too? Do they want the humans to take them to a car or something? There were also stories where Hunters who got stuck in the middle of the wasteland survived by harvesting fuels from those monsters too. Although, I don’t know how much of that story is true.”
Then after that, they kept chatting about their work as Hunters. It was a scene where a new green Hunter consulting with a senior and talkative Hunter. Both of them were having a good time with each other.
After he finished packing up his things, Akira stood at the entrance and bowed his head to Sara.
“Thank you very much, I’m leaving.”
“You just woke up, so please be careful, okay?”
But then Sara hesitated for a bit before she asked Akira who was about to leave.
“Akira, uhh, may I tell Elena about what we talked about today? Of course, I’ll tell her to keep it a secret too.”
“I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t spread. After all, Shizuka-san already knows about it too.”
“…As I thought, Shizuka knew it, huh?”
“Well, things happened and she discovered it.”
As Sara smiled bitterly, Akira returned it with another bitter smile.
“That’s right, let me tell you something, Shizuka has really good intuition. That’s why, if you ever get lost about which equipment you want to get, you should go ask her. After all, it seems that her good intuition also works on objects too.”
“I understand. Sara-san, thank you very much. Please tell Elena-san that I said hello.”
Akira casually ended their conversation and left Sara’s place.
After returning back to his room in an inn, Akira hung his head low. It was because he unconsciously compared his own equipment with all the equipment that he saw in Sara’s place and it was also because his room looked miserable when compared to Sara’s place. But that was not all. Akira who was so excited when he was talking to Sara returned back to normal, thus all of the feeling that he was holding back immediately resurfaced.
Alpha look worried as she asked Akira.
“Are you okay?”
Akira replied back with a tone and expression contrary to what he said. So Alpha asked him again with a stronger tone.
“Let me tell you one thing beforehand, you can’t keep a secret from me, you know? After all, I’m always beside you, so I’ll definitely discover your secret… That’s why just give up and confess it to me. That’ll make you feel better, you know. Moreover, I think that’s not something worth locking inside your heart.”
Akira just looked at Alpha without saying anything while Alpha was smiling gently at him. After some time passed, Akira mumbled in low voice.
“…This is my first time feeling bad after hearing someone thank me.”
Akira did not mean to save Elena and Sara. His main motivation was to only kill the people who attacked them. But that was what saved Elena and Sara and they were really thankful to him for saving them.
Akira was thanked for a good deed that he did not even remember, or to be more precise, he felt guilty for being thanked by the people whom he used in accomplishing his own objective.
Alpha understood something, Akira actually had some kind of moral standards inside him. But it was not very distinct. At least with his moral standards, Akira could not accept their help as them repaying his favour. Instead, it even made Akira depressed. It was really hard to understand but in order to know how Akira would react to things, there was a need to understand his moral standards. Moreover, it would also allow Alpha to give more customised support to Akira.
Alpha tried to understand Akira more than anyone else, and it was all for her own sake than anything.
Alpha then gently spoke to Akira.
“I see, in that case, you should help them next time. I think that’ll be good enough.”
“Is that so?”
“Yep, it is. By doing that, you can think of yourself as being even with them, right? It’ll make you feel less guilty too. That’s why I don’t think there’s any problem with that idea, right?”
Akira did not say anything, he gave her idea a deep thought. He then smiled a bit and came up with a conclusion.
“…You’re right, you’re actually correct.”
Akira then nodded strongly as if to reassure himself.
“Thank you, that does make me feel better.”
Seeing how Akira got back to his usual self, Alpha smiled brightly.
“That’s good then. Now, to make sure that you can help them the next time you meet them, you’ll need to get stronger. You at least understand that, right?”
“Good, you look eager now. Don’t worry, I’ll increase the difficulty of your training progressively. You’ll get stronger in no time, you know. So you give your best too, okay?”
Akira did not lie there. He was serious when he said that. But looking at Alpha’s smile, Akira was a bit taken aback by fear. Alpha noticed it and smiled teasingly at him.
Akira who regained his mood suddenly remembered something.
“Alpha, am I not forgetting something here?”
“Something like a few words of thanks to me who gives you support every day?”
“Thank you for all the help. So then, do you have any other guess?”
“Now that I think about it, it has been 3 days since that day, I wonder how Sheryl is doing.”
Akira was asked by Sheryl to visit her base and he promised that he would at least pay her a visit. Although he could not go because of the things that were outside his control, he also remembered that Sheryl desperately asked for him to come and he did plan to visit her.
Although he could not keep his promise, a lot of things happened to him, so it really could not be helped. That’s what Akira prepared as his reason as he went to Sheryl’s base.
Silavin: So, Akira is not the first one and most of the others seem to meet their end. He is the 499th. But it is this speech that makes me worried.
“498th try failed. Reached the final area. Unable to continue due to the subject’s withdrawal from the request. The subject has turned completely hostile. Already dealt with the situation. Current location, unknown. Completely readjusting the guidance method.”
‘Dealt with the situation’, either she killed him or not. Especially when she is not aware of his location.
Well, share your thoughts. I think this novel is really getting more and more interesting.