When Akira returned back into his room, he was beaming. He could not contain his happiness. His eyes were locked onto the bundles of money on the floor. It was the payment that he got from selling relics to Katsuragi.
“8,000,000 Aurum…!!! We got 200,000 Aurum just the other day, and I was thinking that the idea of living in a 20,000 Aurum per day room was already crazy enough. But this is just on a completely different level…”
He had to keep his cool outside, but once he returned back inside his room, there was no more need to hold himself back. When he received the money, he did not react much because it did not feel real to him at that time. But now that he looked at the pile of money for the second time, the reality finally seeped in and he was overwhelmed by it.
Although the amount of money overwhelmed him, he had no idea what he would use it for. After all, if he could come up with some useful ideas on how to use this much money, he would not be staying in the slum city. Akira was simply mind blown by it. So for now, he was acting like a person from the slum city who was just lucky enough to get a huge amount of money.
Alpha then calmly warned Akira who was so excited.
“Let me tell you this beforehand, this money will be gone in no time. To be more precise, we will use everything tomorrow’s afternoon.”
Akira was taken aback.
“U-use everything? It’s 8,000,000 Aurum, you know?”
“Yep. That spare money will be used up in no time.”
“Spare money?! No no no, 8,000,000 Aurum is a huge amount of money, you know?!”
With his sense of money, Akira could not understand what Alpha was saying. He remembered that he had to fight to the death against 5 other slum kids a few days ago just over 300 Aurum. The current 8,000,000 Aurum in front of him just could not be compared to mere 300 Aurum. Thus, the number and strength of the people that would be attracted by this money and the level of the danger that it brought would be simply on an entirely different level. But even so, Alpha said that it was only spare money and Akira’s brain could not fully comprehend that.
Alpha then answered back calmly as if to rectify his sense of money.
“It’s just spare money. Do you know about those medicines used by the Hunters in the Frontline? I’m not even sure you can use this money to buy enough portions of that medicine for one battle, you know? That’s the worth of this spare money.”
“…But still, you just can’t compare me with those amazing Hunters.”
“You need to dream big. It’s for the sake of exploring the ruins that I mentioned to you when we first met.”
Akira was a bit shocked but he did not look fully convinced. He flinched a bit when he heard how Alpha wanted him to rethink his standard. He then asked Alpha.
“By the way. You haven’t told me anything about the ruin that you want me to explore. So, what kind of ruin is it?”
Alpha smiled meaningfully.
“It’s a secret for now. After all, it would be a problem if you know how dangerous it is and decide to give up early on. But the least I’ll say is that it’s not a place that you can reach with your current equipment.”
“I don’t really understand it but… That information in itself was enough to discourage me.”
“Don’t worry. Once you get better equipment, it’ll change your perception of danger too. It’ll change your opinion from impossible to possible. That’s why we’ll use that 8,000,000 Aurum to buy new equipment. Just think that your goal, for now, is to upgrade your equipment. By getting better equipment, you’ll be able to explore more dangerous ruins which will allow you to earn more money. Then we’ll use that money to get better and better equipment. So we’ll go with that cycle to improve ourselves.”
Akira tried to imagine what was lying beyond that endless cycle, but he could not come up with anything.
“So, until the day when you become stronger, have equipment suitable for your strength, and have a different sense of money compared to now, you should give your best effort. Worry not, I’ll also do my best to help you.”
“…Well, of course, I’ll do my best.”
To Alpha who was smiling confidently, Akira could only reply back with a smile.
“And it’s as Katsuragi said, top-class Hunters usually don’t buy equipment using cash. It’s because the amount of money that they use in a transaction is enormous. It’s not like they can walk around carrying a large amount of money. Thus, it’s common for them to open a bank account and pay using a card. It might be a good idea for you to open one soon.”
Akira then looked back at the bundles of money on the floor. He could only smile bitterly as he realized that his sense of money had really undergone some subtle changes compared to just a few seconds ago.
“Yep yep, I knew it, you’re messing with my sense of money… Haah, I guess I can no longer live in the slum city.”
“That’s a good development. Do your best.”
Akira smiled bitterly to Alpha who was smiling for a different reason. He then shook it off and said.
“So now, we’re going to buy equipment with this money, right?”
“We’re going to buy equipment that will increase the effectiveness of my support. I guess you should be able to at least buy the lowest level equipment with 8,000,000 Aurum.”
Akira was very surprised as he asked Alpha.
“8,000,000 Aurum only enough to buy the lowest level, huh? What in the world are we going to buy with this money?”
“Augmented suit? It’s that thing that allows me to carry heavy stuff, right?”
“Yep. But it’s a different story for you. Since you have my support, it’ll allow you to do a lot more things other than just carrying heavy stuff. So you can look forward to it.”
Alpha smiled confidently as she said that.
Akira went to Shizuka’s shop the next day.
When he entered the shop, he saw Shizuka behind the counter resting her chin on her hand looking bored. But the moment she noticed Akira, she immediately stood properly and smiled at him.
“Welcome. Are you here to buy ammo again?”
“Nope. I’m actually here to buy equipment, you see…”
Shizuka smiled as if to tease Akira.
“Oh my, it has been quite a while since you bought that AAH rifle, so you’re finally willing to buy new equipment, huh? I’m happy to hear that, you know. After all, it’ll be hard for my shop if I only rely on the ammo trade.”
Akira apologized while being flustered. Looking at that, Shizuka giggled and apologised.
“I was only joking. I’m sorry. So then, what do you want to ask me…?”
“Actually, you see…”
Akira then let out a sigh and explained the real reason why he was there, to buy an augmented suit.
After hearing his explanation, Shizuka whistled.
“…Augmented suit, huh? Well, it’s not like I’m not selling those here, but to be honest, my shop focuses more on guns and ammo. I didn’t put any augmented suits on display, so it’s not like you can browse for the real thing here. And even if you place your order, it’ll take some time before you can get it since I order it from outside. Although I still can do a basic setting for augmented suits, I think it’s better if you buy one from a specialized shop, you know?”
“Is that so? But I don’t know any specialized shop for augmented suits though. And even if I know one, I’m not even sure they’ll let me in. Not to mention that I know next to nothing about augmented suits, so I’m afraid the shopkeeper would swindle me to buying something bad. Sara-san also said to consult with you if I have any questions about equipment, so I’ll be really thankful if you can help me here.”
Shizuka smiled happily.
“I can’t refuse if you put it that way. Okay then, if you’re okay with my intuition, I’ll give you a hand. So then, how much money are you planning to spend on this augmented suit?”
Akira was so happy that Shizuka decided to help him, so he answered back casually while smiling.
“It’s 8,000,000 Aurum and it’s in cash.”
Shizuka was a bit surprised when she heard Akira’s answer, she then looked at Akira as if she was interrogating him.
“…This much money, where did you get that from? Is it from selling relics? You can’t get 8,000,000 Aurum unless you gathered a lot of relics or obtained some high-quality ones, right? Either way, you would have had to go to dangerous areas to get those relics. Although you just got almost killed not too long ago, did you really go somewhere that dangerous already?”
Shizuka was able to immediately pinpoint where to get such relics using her intuition and her ability to analyze. So Akira panicked as he answered back.
“Ahhh, well, I was actually stocking up relics for a while and sold all of them in one go. Because it’s common for a small kid like me to get targeted if I go walking around with a lot of money, I was only selling a portion of my relics and hid the rest. Now I just sold all of those relics that I piled up. I’m trying my best not to put myself in danger. And it’s as you said, I almost got killed not too long ago, that’s why I’m thinking of buying better equipment. The reason I decided on buying an augmented suit is so that I can run faster when I get into a dangerous situation. That’s why I’m thinking of spending more money than usual to avoid being in the same situation like back then…”
Shizuka’s gaze was intense, but she did that because she was worried about Akira. When Akira noticed it, he started spouting excuses in a panic that he did not know what he was even saying. He was making excuses as if he was a kid who was desperately trying to come up with any excuses that he could to avoid getting scolded.
Akira was not used to having someone worried about him. Even more so when it was unconditional. Although he did not realize it, Akira was actually feeling happy. So he was actually in a panic because of the embarrassment and the guilt that he was feeling when he realized Shizuka was worrying for him.
But if it was Sheryl who said that to him, he would have replied back with “shut up” or “stop asking that”. There was a crucial difference between them that Akira himself did not realize.
[Although Akira answered back in such a fashion to dodge her question, there was no deceit in his answer. In order not to do anything too dangerous, it was necessary for him to do something with a little bit of risk. There were no lies in those words too. It was not like he did that because he wanted to, he had to do that if he wanted to survive. After all, for surviving in the slum city as a Hunter he had to take some risk.]
That was what Shizuka’s intuition was telling her as she stared at Akira. She then warned Akira with a tone as if she was seriously giving a warning to a small kid.
“Just don’t do anything too dangerous unnecessarily, okay?”
Seeing Akira sincerely nodding, she replied with a smile and a nod too. She then returned back to her shopkeeper routine.
“Alright then. Shall we hear what kind of augmented suit you want? And since telling me is free, you can say whatever your preferences are.”
As Shizuka was listening to what kind of augmented suit Akira wanted, she looked a bit surprised. After all, there was one thing that she did not expect to come from someone who was buying an augmented suit for the first time.
Akira wanted to get an augmented suit that could operate for a long time. It might still have a limit on how long it could be used, but rather than a suit that would give him enough strength to send vehicles flying with his fist, Akira preferred a suit that he could use to increase his overall strength. He was not looking for a thick strong augmented suit that would give him protection equal to a tank or a mechanized soldier, putting on such an augmented suit would take about an hour and help from someone else too. Rather than that, Akira wanted a suit that he could put on and take off easily, something that would not need too much work to put on. Up to this point, Shizuka had no questions at all.
The thing that Shizuka found strange was because Akira wanted an augmented suit that had multiple control devices in it. So then Shizuka asked Akira for more details.
“Well, it’s true that there are many types of augmented suits. There are mechanized augmented suits with no control device or with a control device. There are also augmented suits that affect the whole body, and of course, there are also those that only affect limited parts of the body. I also heard that most of the augmented suits have its control device embedded into an information terminal or similar devices… But a whole-body control device, huh. Akira, where did you hear that from?”
Akira looked troubled when Shizuka asked him that. He actually heard about that from Alpha but there was no way he could say that to Shizuka.
“…Well, it’s not like I know anything about the details. I only heard that it’s a good type of augmented suit… I’m sorry, did I do something against the norms of picking my first augmented suit or did I say anything strange?”
As Shizuka observed Akira’s behaviour, she inferred that it was not like Akira actually knew any details. He just came up with that after hearing it from someone.
[I guess he consulted with another Hunter about getting an augmented suit and that Hunter must have boasted about the type of the augmented suit that he was using.]
Shizuka’s intuition was almost spot on, she was satisfied with that guess and decided not to pry any further.
“It’s okay. It’s just that you asked something that only a specialist would know. Although it might be just by pure chance, that actually surprised me a bit. Don’t worry, I got the gist of what you want. I can now go ahead and choose an augmented suit based on your request for you, but are you really okay with that?”
“Now about the payment, since I’ll be buying from another shop and being a merchant myself, it would be problematic if I don’t pay upfront for the product’s full price. So I’ll call you after I decide on an augmented suit. You can make sure whether it fits your preference or not before putting in an order for real, then you can pay for it afterwards. Well, if we do this, it’ll end up taking more time before you finally get one, so are you okay with the arrangement?”
Akira thought for a bit before asking Shizuka.
“If I pay you now, would it be faster?”
“Well of course. A negotiation with the other merchant would definitely go smoothly if I can pay for the product right on the spot. There are also cases where a 10,000,000 Aurum that you would get next year would be worth less than the 10,000 Aurum that you need now. Cash is pretty powerful, you know. In a negotiation, the buyers want to make sure that they can get their product cheaply and the sellers want to make sure that they can get their money, so cash is really important, you know.”
“In that case, I’ll pay you now. I made a bank account so you can charge money from there. And also, please charge for my medicines and ammo from the same bank account too.”
Akira then pulled out his Hunter ID. He went to the Hunter Office before visiting Shizuka’s shop and had opened his bank account. Although it was still new, he was already able to use his ID as a debit card. He only needed to confirm his identity and then all the bills from ammo, medicines and any other bills from Shizuka’s shop would be automatically paid through his account.
Shizuka looked a bit unsure as she asked.
“Uhhh, are you really okay with this? Once the money is transferred, It’s not like I can return it even if you ask me to, you know? Moreover, I might even pick a subpar product, you know?”
Shizuka looked a bit troubled, but she then warned Akira with a serious face.
“…Although I’m happy that you really trust me, it’s better if you think carefully first before deciding something like this.”
There were a lot of merchants who wanted to swindle as much money as possible from a Hunter. But those merchants were nothing compared to those who thought that these Hunters would die soon anyway and scammed Hunters to squeeze all the money they could. If Akira did this in another shop, it would definitely be very dangerous, and Shizuka was worried about it.
Akira also looked troubled for a while before answering back with a straight face.
“…I think the result won’t change even if I try to think hard about it. If I could not even trust the merchant recommended by the person who saved my life, then I would never be able to buy anything from any other merchant anymore. So it’s alright. Even if something bad happens, I’m sure it’s because of my bad luck. After all, I’m someone who got attacked by 2 groups of monsters consecutively in a day. So my luck is already bad enough. And that’s something that I can’t change no matter how hard I think.”
In the end, Akira just smiled bitterly. Shizuka could only listen to him without saying anything.
Akira was trying his best to find a few shops that he could trust. He then picked Shizuka’s shop and decided to buy equipment that would help him survive in the ruins. Shizuka was so happy when she realized that and smiled back to Akira to give him a peace of mind. She was smiling as the shop manager who had confidence in her own merchandise.
“Well, if you put so much trust in me, then I can’t step back now. Alright then, just leave it to me.”
She then took the Hunter ID from Akira’s hand, held it above the terminal on the counter as she operated the terminal. With this, the transaction should be taken care of. And just like Alpha said, 8,000,000 Aurum was gone from Akira’s account in just one second.
“So Akira has become a Hunter with a bank account now, huh? Just be careful, if you’re not, then you might end up debt-ridden, you know?”
Shizuka gave him that warning as she returned Akira’s Hunter ID. After all, in reality, there were a lot of Hunters who ended up being debt-ridden from buying too much ammo or having to pay a penalty for the damage that they had done after failing a request.
When Hunter’s account went below zero, the Hunter Office would lend them money, of course with interest attached. The Hunter who could not repay their debt would be apprehended by the Hunter Office and sent to explore dangerous ruins. There were also Hunters who could not escape from that loop and ended up spending their life working as forced labour to pay back their infinitely piling debt.
Akira then replied back firmly to Shizuka’s warning.
“That’s a good reply. So then, I’ll take some measurements for the augmented suit, come over here.”
Shizuka brought Akira behind the counter and to the back room. The back room of the shop was filled with ammo, guns and other goods.
“I’ll need to take precise measurements so take off all your clothes except for your underwear.”
Akira obediently took off his clothes just like he was told to. Shizuka then used a handheld body size scanner to measure Akira’s body size.
“Try not to move since it’ll cause inaccuracy in measurements, okay?”
“Is it important to be that precise?”
“Well, the human body changes daily, so it’s not really that important. But still, I think it’s better to take a measurement that is as accurate as possible. If you go to a specialized shop, they’ll even take a more precise measurement, you know? You’ll have to put on a body measurement suit and get into a huge measurement device to measure everything to the minutest detail. Not just your body and skeleton measurement, it’ll also measure the position of the organs and muscles, neural network, the number of nanomachines inside the body and all the other information to. The augmented suit maker can maximize the effectiveness of the augmented suit by using that information. These custom-made augmented suits are better than the ready-made augmented suits, and of course, their price is also worlds apart.”
Shizuka kept measuring Akira’s body as she was saying that, but she flinched as she saw Akira’s body condition.
Akira’s body was full of wounds. Among all the small and big old wounds, the wound that he got from fighting the monster groups not too long ago was sticking out the most. Since he directly administered the medicine into the fatal wound, the life-preserving and healing nanomachine forcefully closed that big wound in a short time, thus it left a big scar that looked like a rift. If you think about it, it was not the right way of treating a wound, after all.
That scar was caused by his bad luck, but he was lucky to be able to survive from such a wound. Had his luck been worse even by a bit, he would have died because of that wound. As long as he was working as a Hunter, he would keep getting such wounds in the future.
Shizuka was not aware that she had stopped operating the measuring device after catching a glimpse of that wound. Akira thought that it was strange, so he called her.
“…Ah, it’s nothing.”
Shizuka immediately regained her composure and smiled at Akira before continuing with the measurement.
“Alright!! It’s done! You can put on your clothes now. It would take at least 1 week and up to 1 month before you can pick up your augmented suit. I’ll contact you when the suit arrives, please come as soon as possible to pick it up, okay?”
“Okay, thank you very much for all the help.”
“Don’t mention it. After all, if you get your augmented suit, then it means that I can recommend you more expensive and heavier equipment. So I’m looking forward to you to frequent my shop more often.”
Akira returned to the counter together with Shizuka and said a proper goodbye to her before leaving the shop.
Shizuka waved at Akira as she sent him off. Once Akira exited the shop, she smiled excitedly.
“Now then, since he put that much faith in me, I guess I’ll have to give my everything for this job.”
Shizuka immediately headed out to do her job in a good mood.
When Akira arrived in his room, he asked Alpha what he should do next.
“Aren’t we going for shooting training today?”
“Let’s spend our time inside the room until you get your augmented suit. After all, I feel like you can do much studying or information collection within these few days. So this is a good time for doing that. If we go to a cheaper room, I guess we have enough money to spend for a month.”
Akira looked like he did not want to do that.
“…Are we going to take a cheaper room? In that case, we can at least go to the ruins one more time…”
Of course, if he rented a cheaper room, then he would get fewer amenities. It was out of the question to rent a room without a bath, that was why Akira suggested going hunting for relics one more time, but Alpha casually rejected that idea.
“Rejected, I did tell you that I underestimated your luck, remember? So you’re not going to step out of the room until you get your augmented suit, you get that? Even you want to be able to read and write as soon as possible, right?”
“Well, that’s true, but…”
Although Akira had been studying under Alpha’s effective guidance and had already understood numbers and letters better than before, he still needed Alpha’s help on a daily basis.
“Let’s immediately start now. If you get a good result, I’ll give you a reward by taking off a piece of my clothes… That will make you work hard, right? After all, you’re a healthy young boy.”
“Stop fooling around and let’s start.”
Akira had a bad feeling about it as he tried to change the subject, but Alpha just would not let it go.
“In that case, let’s do it backwards. I’ll put on a piece of cloth if you get a good result. So I’ll start naked, if you don’t want me to remain naked, you should do your best in studying.”
Right after she said that Alpha’s clothes vanished and she was stark naked.
Alpha showed off her glossy wonderful skin in front of Akira without hiding anything. Her appearance could only be described as flawless. Since that appearance was produced by a very complex calculation, it could be changed at will. Alpha’s body was simply so beautiful that it did not feel real at all and she had adjusted her body to suit Akira’s preference. In the present condition where she was not out in the wasteland, her body was way more charming than usual.
“Stop doing such a stupid thing and put on your clothes already!!”
Looking at Akira who was so flustered, Alpha smiled as if she was having the time of her life while still being naked.
“Yep, it seems that it’s working. Let’s start then.”
After that, Akira really started studying under that condition, and as she promised, Alpha did put on a piece of cloth every time Akira got a good score. But she always chose to put on seducing dresses with bold and exposing design, it was so captivating and charming that it disturbed Akira’s concentration.
In the end, it took a week before Akira could make Alpha put on a proper dress.
Silavin: That learning experience…
Is it a blessing or not?