The leader of the powered suit squad from the Kugamayama city, Guutol, was pressed with a difficult decision.
Normally, they would just kill Akira since he had rejected their demand. But they could not do so, easily, this time. As the outside camera was directed at Akira, it quickly identified him. Hunter by the name of Akira, who had added a system note – a dangerous Hunter.
The commander of the defence squad was given high-level privilege so that he would have no trouble doing his duty. Furthermore, at the moment, a high ranking officer from Sakashita Heavy Industry was in the upper district of the city. As a form of cooperation between Sakashita Heavy Industry and City Management, they were sharing information between them.
That was where Akira’s information came in. It included records from when he escorted the inter-city transport to the Zegelt city. This job took place in the eastern side of the eastern district. He fought against multiple powerful monsters as well as powered suits, and to top it off, repelled a group of Nationalists that had originally come to kidnap an important officer from Sakashita Heavy Industry and won.
After Guutol skimmed through Akira’s information, he understood that attacking him would be a terrible idea. There was a good chance that the whole squad would get wiped out.
It was a given that an important officer from Sakashita Heavy Industry would be guarded by a powerful bodyguard. The Nationalists would have known about it. Therefore, they would have sent powerful combatants to kidnap the officer. The fact that Akira had won against them, meant that he might be as powerful as that bodyguard. Although they had no idea how powerful such a person would be, Guutol at least knew how powerful a certain bodyguard from Sakashita Heavy Industry by the name of Hammerz was. After all, he was there during a recent battle near Mihazono ruin.
Of course, Guutol did not think that Akira was as strong as Hammerz. However, it does not change the fact that he repelled the Nationalists, who attacked the inter-city transport vehicles. Therefore, he was obviously at least that strong. Moreover, the record from that inter-city transport-escort mission also stated that, at the very least, Akira was able to fight powered suits without using one.
To put the cherry on top, one of his men then reported to Guutol.
“This is Unit 6. Commander, we’ve confirmed that the monster, which might be the source of that large battle signal just a moment ago, is dead.”
“Got it. Does it still retain some of its original shape? Can you at least tell what kind of monster it is?”
“This is just my guess, but… It seems to be a type of giant insect, a cyborg soldier wasp. Its length must have been around 50 metres.”
“What!? Even a common inter-city transport vehicle would be destroyed in no time against that thing, you know? Why the heck is it doing here!? They should be only way further to the east or way up … Dammit! What the heck is going on here!?”
Personally speaking, Guutol wished that it was a mistake. However, that monster matched the predictive size from its signal during that battle. Since it was already dead, it meant that someone must have killed it. Adding to the information that he had received about Akira, it was impossible not to suspect Akira of killing it.
He made sure to keep that in mind as he made his resolve and once again returned to his main duty.
“This is my last warning! Drop your weapon!”
Guutol ended up having Akira’s muzzle pointed in his direction. That simple move showed zero hesitation, which caused Guutol’s worry to get closer to reality.
Guutol knew that Akira did that not due to a spur of emotions. Akira pointed his weapon at Guutol because he knew full well he could win. He thought the only reason why Akira did not shoot right away was because, as expected, he was hesitating to pick a fight with the whole of Kugamayama city. In the case where they really ended up fighting, there was a good chance Akira would get swayed by his emotion and go a step further to actually attack Kugamayama city.
Of course, Guutol had the resolve to forfeit his life in order to protect Kugamyama city. But given the option, he would still pick a better situation to fight. He could not afford to endanger the city. However, that did not mean he could just back off. Akira was not in a calm state of mind. He could not allow Akira to go back to the city in his current state.
Guutol was really stuck in between two hard choices.
Akira was also close to pulling the trigger. He wanted to avoid any unnecessary fights. But it was not like he could simply back off either. He already believes that lowering his rifle now would only lead to nothing good. Moreover, even if he decided to escape, those surrounding him did not seem to be willing to just let him go.
As his thoughts gradually moved towards fighting being the only choice, then it was better to make the first strike. Although Akira’s logical mind was still functional, deep inside him, he could hear a voice screaming at him to kill everything in his way. While listening to that voice, even Akira’s calm side was looking for a good reason to start a fight. He frowned and was close to finally making his resolve.
But suddenly, Guutol said to Akira.
“Alright, I get it! You don’t need to disarm!”
Akira did not expect that at all. However, Guutol did not stop there as he continued with a stern tone.
“But! You’ll have to tell me exactly what went on! And you have to do it here! Until we understand what’s going on, we can’t let you get any closer to Kugamayama city! If you can’t accept this, we will have no other choice but to arrest you with force! So, what say you!?”
Right after that, Alpha immediately interjected.
“Akira, let’s stop here for now. You need to rest and resupply, and also, calm down so as not to make any more unnecessary enemies. We can ask Viola to investigate her whereabouts again later and properly prepare to kill her. They’ve basically withdrawn, so you should withdraw as well.”
Alpha then smiled gently at Akira to help him to calm down.
Akira lowered his AF anti-material cannon and sighed.
“…Sorry, it seems that I’m not as calm as I thought I was.”
As Akira obviously showed no wish to engage in battle anymore, the powered suits surrounding him also lowered their weapons. But none of them move from where they stood.
Chloe’s APC eventually reached Kugamayama city, the APC just went through the slums and headed straight toward the inner wall in the lower district.
However, the powered suits from the city defence squad quickly interfered. Although they could not use their weapons, they had the power to stop the APC with force.
Although it was a heavily armoured APC made to protect an important officer of the Lion Steel company, as expected, it did not have the horsepower to go against three powered suits. It did try to force its way through as it recklessly went through buildings, but it eventually came to a halt. The reinforcement from the city defence squad that the powered suit had called beforehand quickly surrounded the APC.
The doors of the APC opened, and the moment Chloe and her servants stepped out, the city defence squad aimed their rifles at them. Latis quickly took a fighting stance, but Chloe stopped him with a waft of her hand.
The leader of the squad saw that and immediately decided what to do.
“I hope that you will cooperate. Be thankful that we are not arresting you.”
Chloe was not perturbed at all as she simply smiled and said.
“Thank you. So then, can you lead the way?”
“…This way then.”
The man speaking was a bit surprised by how calm Chloe was. However, he still led Chloe into the inner wall. At the same time, he sent a glance to his men. His men understood what they had to do as they immediately proceeded to arrest Latis and the others. At first, Latis and the rest were uncertain whether to just let themselves get arrested or to fight back. Chloe then lightly shook her head, so they decided to stand down.
“…If you could have instructed your men to calm down with just that, couldn’t you have done it sooner?”
“My apologies. It’s a complicated matter related to the main company, you see. Also, it’s different here and there. Here, we are in the city while over there is the wasteland.”
He could not tell if Chloe purposely allowed her subordinates to act out because her safety as an officer from the Lion Steel was only guaranteed when she was within the lower district of the city. It could be because of something else. However, it was not like he could figure it out now, so he proceeded to take Chloe inside without saying anything.
On the other hand, Akira was basically just standing by in the middle of the wasteland with the city defence squad’s powered suits surrounding him. Since it started getting rather boring without anything to do, he eventually sighed and asked.
“Hey, just how long do I need to wait here?”
The leader of the powered suits squad answered through the short-range communication line.
“You still need to stay here. We’re still awaiting decisions from those back at base. So, just wait here and don’t try anything funny. If you don’t want to wait, feel free to go to another city. As a matter of fact, we can escort you there.”
“My house is over here, you know?”
“No. We can’t let you get any closer to Kugamayama city.”
Akira heaved another huge sigh. Guutol, who heard that, also sighed and exasperatedly said.
“Seriously though, do you really understand what you are doing? You’re basically picking a fight with the Lion Steel company. Normally, no one would do that, you know?”
Akira’s bored face turned sour.
“Hell if I care! They attacked me first so I’m just paying back the favour.”
“That’s not the point…”
Akira already told Guutol what he knew. After listening to his explanation, Guutol believed that this matter was something he could not handle. This issue far exceeded his authority to deal with. Therefore, he bounced what he had learnt to his superior and now was awaiting a reply. After all, no normal person could handle a Hunter that broke down negotiations with the Lion Steel company and survived a full-blown fight with them. More so, attract a monster from the upper region to come down, and kill said monster.
“Either way, I bet they can’t really decide before listening to the other party’s side of things. It seems that at this very moment, they’re talking about this with someone by the name of Chloe. We can do nothing but wait until they compile all the information and make their decision regarding this matter.”
Hearing that, Akira raised his eyebrows.
“So, Chloe is basically under arrest?”
“Of course, there’s no way we will let them get away.”
Since it seemed like City Management would not simply let Chloe go scot-free, Akira relaxed a bit and decided to wait a little longer.
Back in Kugamayama city, Chloe was arrested and brought to a city defence squad’s facility for further investigation and questioning. Even so, she was given a room meant for visitors and was treated like a city officer. The reason being that she was a part of the founder family of the Lion Steel company and was cooperative. Therefore, they believe there was no need to take her to the interrogation room.
Considering the status of her family, she was someone with high standing in Kugamayama city. They might even have to send an officer from the city to deal with her. After a short discussion with the company, the officer who was responsible for questioning Chloe, Udajima, went to check with those who arrested her. As he went into the room, he was relieved to hear that she was not just another brat with too much power.
But that relief was immediately crushed. The moment Udajima started questioning her, she started screaming back, exactly like a spoiled brat with too much power.
“Who do you think I am!? I’m from Lorentz house, you know!? The founder family of the Lion Steel company! Do you really understand who you are talking to!?”
A bad spoiled rich brat just barked out her privileged lineage. It showed exactly how spoiled she was. Although she was adorned with an expensive dress, she had no shred of grace. She acted just like any foolish spoiled brat, who thought that raising their voices would get them anything they wanted.
Udajima’s face twitched as he tried to calm her down.
“Please calm down. We just want to know what exactly happened.”
“Didn’t I tell you before!? Were you not listening!?”
“When you said a monster who would not listen to reason, were you referring to the Hunter named Akira? Or is it that cyborg soldier wasp?”
“Were you even listening!? He was trying to kill me! So, he’s no different to a monster, you know!?”
It was important for the city defence squad to make sure whether Chloe was running toward the city because she was being attacked by a Hunter or by a monster. They needed to make that one thing clear. However, Chloe kept referring to that wasp monster and Akira as the same, making it difficult to differentiate them. Furthermore, she kept blaming it on the listener’s lack of ability to understand.
The way Chloe kept bringing up the Lion Steel company and looking down on Kugamayama city made it immensely annoying to Udajima. He no longer had that much patience left. Seeing how she kept calling Akira a monster, Udajima had a good idea.
“It sounds like you’re running to the city since you’re being chased by this monster, Akira. Did I get that right?”
Chloe immediately raised her voice and got angry as if to hide the fact that Udajima’s hit the bull’s eye.
“R-running away!? W-we’re just keeping our distance from him! A-and also, w-what’s so bad about running away, anyway!? It’s the city defence squad’s job to kill any monsters that approach the city, right?!”
“Of course. In fact, we did dispatch our men to deal with the situation.”
“Then there’s no problem with it, right!? Or are you telling me to just face that monster and not to run away!? That is not my job, you know!? Your job!”
As Chloe started to smile haughtily again, Udajima then said with a solemn, straight face.
“That is indeed our job, as such, you are arrested for trying to attack the city.”
In front of a shocked Chloe, Udajima called out two guards and ordered them to arrest her.
“She’s guilty of trying to endanger the city. Arrest her.”
The guards looked at each other with a troubled expression. Since it was an order from their superior, they grabbed Chloe’s arm and arrested her.
Chloe flusteredly tried to fight back.
“What the-!? Are you for real!? Do you really understand what you’re doing!?”
Udajimia looked at Chloe with a straight stare.
“People who bring monsters to the city are guilty of endangering the city. You didn’t even know that, huh? Or did you think we would never accuse you just because you’re from the Lion Steel company? Get off your high horse already.”
“Are you really fine with doing something like this? I will see it as a decision made by Kugamayama city, you know!? I hope you know that when you ordered your men to arrest me! If you want to stop, this is your last chance!”
“If you seriously thought that we won’t arrest you just because you are from the Lion Steel company, you will regret it. Take her away!”
Chloe was dragged out of the room by the guards.
“I hope you understand what you are doing here! You do know what will happen to Kugamayam city if you do this to someone from the Lion Steel company, right!? This is your last chance, you know!?”
“Yeah yeah, you’re the only one who will regret this.”
Chloe kept screaming as she was dragged out, but her voice vanished as the door to the room closed.
Udajima was finally able to calm down a bit as he sighed.
“Good grief, and here I thought that it would go at least half-decently considering that it was someone from the main founder family of the Lion Steel company. I guess I was too naive, huh…”
Although Udajima had lost his conflict for influence against Inabe, he was still an officer from City Management. Thus, naturally, he had the skill to support his position. Despite his influence being less than before, he still maintained his seat as an officer. The gap between him and Inabe had widened and this gap in influence was already well-established. However, given a chance, he still hoped to change the situation.
The officer responsible for the area under Tsubaki was Yanagisawa, but it was also part of the region under Inabe’s control. As such, Inabe had a good influence in that area as well. Moreover, at the moment, Yanagisawa was busy with Sakashita Heavy Industry. He was busy in search of Shirou, so he had delegated most of his administrative duties in that area. As such, most of Yanagisawa’s duties went to Inabe and those who wanted to make some kind of connection with Tsubaki would, in turn, approach Inabe. This caused Inabe’s position to strengthen even further.
Since Udajima was regarded as a part of the opposition faction, he was not given any chance to have anything to do with the area under Tsubaki. He might get a chance if he pleaded with Inabe, but Udajima had his pride. Therefore, there was no way he would ask Inabe.
That was when that matter regarding Chloe reached him. If he could solve this issue and establish a connection with the Lion Steel company, he might have the chance to change the current power balance. Udajima thought so as he decided to face Chloe. However, after watching how she reacted, he realized that it was a huge failure.
“…Well, although she is like that, she is still someone from the founder family of the Lion Steel company. There’s no way they would just abandon her. She’ll at least serve as a bridge to connect to someone else from her family.”
If he could bring more profits to Kugamayama city in exchange for releasing Chloe under better terms, Udajima might be able to regain some of his influence. Furthermore, he would also gain a connection to the Lion Steel company. As Udajima thought so and looked at the door where Chloe got dragged out, he felt envious. He was pondering how, in this world, such a girl held such influence just by being born in the right family.
The moment Chloe was dragged out of the room, her attitude completely changed. She immediately stopped shouting and fixed her posture with her arms still restrained. She even gracefully smiled.
She then glanced at the guards and gracefully said to them.
“I am really sorry for causing trouble to both of you. I don’t really mind whether it is a cell in the basement or just house arrest. Though, can you please let me have access to the web? Of course, a general line would be fine as well. I don’t mind recording it as well.”
They were not only surprised by her sudden change in attitude but they were also shocked by her sudden graceful aura. With her both arms still restrained, Chloe lowered her head with a serious expression.
“If I can’t contact the Lion Steel company, they might think that I am already dead. I’m sure it will trouble Kugamayama city if that happens. So, for the sake of both parties, please let this one thing slide.”
Both guards believed that roughly treating someone from the Lion Steel company was a bad idea. Also, with how Chloe was bowing, they could not bring themselves to refuse her request.
“W-well, if it’s only that much…”
“Thank you very much for your leniency!”
Chloe smiled and bowed deeply toward the guards, but she could not give a perfect bow since her arms were still restrained.
The guards who noticed that let Chloe’s arms go by pure reflex. The moment they did that, they realised that they made a grave mistake. However, even after she was free, Chloe did not try to run away nor fight back. She simply perfected her bow. Therefore, the guards thought that it was not that big of an issue.
Even so, the guards were confused by her sudden change of attitude. They thought it might be a good idea to let Udajima, who was still in the room, know about this. However, before they did, Chloe smiled and asked.
“Now then, shall we go? Where to?”
She then offered her arms to be restrained again. It was an indicative gesture. Though it was only in appearance, it was better to have her properly restrained. It was also her way to covertly indicate, as someone in a higher position, she did not mind getting detained. It demonstrated the clear difference in their position. Chloe, was someone who stood to rule over others.
“Ah, right, this way then.”
The guards were carried away by the mood and restrained her arms again before they continued to take her away, completely forgetting to report back to Udajima.
Back in the wasteland, as Akira was still waiting. Suddenly, a message from the Hunter Office reached him. He took out his information terminal to check but Alpha stopped him and warned him with a solemn expression.
“Akira, before you open and read the content, make sure to keep calm.”
“That was out of the blue.”
“Anyway, make sure to maintain your cool no matter what happens. After you read it, no matter what, don’t panic. Don’t go flying off the handle. Just keep calm, okay? Surrendering yourself to anger would only get you killed like back then in Mihazono ruin, remember? You get what I’m saying, right?”
Alpha already knew the content of the message since she was connected to Akira’s information terminal. Akira, who was still confused, remembered that fact and wondered what it might have been. Judging from Alpha’s reaction, it must be something big. Therefore, he readied himself and opened the message.
The moment he read it, he furrowed his brows and frowned. If Alpha had not warned him beforehand, he would have flown off the handle.
It was a bounty notice. The name, Akira. Reward, 50 billion Aurum. Requester, Lion Steel Eastern District Third Ward Branch. Target was identified as a monster by Kugamayama city.
Right now, Akira was designated as a bounty target.
“Akira, Calm down! You’re okay, right?!”
“…Yeah, I’m okay.”
Akira told himself to stay calm. To not repeat his past mistake. But, his rage started to leak from his expression. His stance slowly slid to a fighting one and it was obvious that he was livid.
Guutol, who noticed, quickly warned him.
“Hey! What are you doing!?”
Akira sent a death stare at Guutol. He unconsciously sent that intense stare filled with rage as if to spite Guutol. After all, he had been obediently following their demand, and yet, he now had a bounty on him.
The powered suits around Akira inadvertently reacted by also taking a fighting stance. They aimed their rifles at him. However, since Akira still had his rifles pointing down, they managed to not shoot. Instead, Guutol once again warned him.
“What is it now? Did you change your mind and decided to fight us now?”
“…Didn’t you get any message?”
“Message? What do you mean? Wait… I just got a short message from Kibayashi… It’s telling me to refrain from engaging you. Well, he’s not my superior so I have no reason to obey him, but… Does it have anything to do with this?”
Since Guutol sounded confused, it only made Akira doubly confused. Right at that very instant, a call suddenly reached him. It was from Kibayashi. Akira seemed bewildered and glanced at Alpha, she lightly nodded and accepted the call.
The moment Akira accepted the call, Kibayashi’s happy voice echoed through Alpha’s telepathy. As a matter of fact, Akira never heard Kibayashi this happy before.
“Yo, Akira! You’ve done it now, a bounty target, huh!? I’ve always thought that this would happen sooner or later. But as expected, I never thought you would entertain me this much, you know!?”
Akira replied with a cold voice that sent a shiver.
“…So, it was you, huh?”
But his ice-cold voice did not affect Kibayashi’s good mood at all. Instead, he replied with an upbeat tone.
“Nope, not me. Ahh, so you’ve checked the notice, huh? Then, I’m sure you’ve read the content, right? The one putting a bounty on your head is the Lion Steel company! Not me!”
“…Is that so? Then, why are you calling me?”
“I just want to make sure that you don’t do anything stupid, you see!”
“Anything stupid…? Do you mean like completely ignoring their demand…?”
“If I’m talking about not being reckless, then yeah, that one! But you’re more than welcome if you want to do it, you know!? To think that you would even consider doing something like that. Seriously though. Just how splendid can you be? Man, you’re just the best!”
Akira thought that Kiabayshi was trying to say that rejecting Chloe’s demand was a stupid move. As he was about to erupt in anger, once he heard Kibayashi’s compliment filled with honest pure bliss, it took him by surprise, barely enough to regain some of his calm.
“…Wait for a sec, what are you talking about?”
“About you! I’m sure you don’t understand what it means to be a bounty target, right!? So, I’m just worried you’ll misunderstand, get too emotional, and do something reckless, you know!? You’ve been doing great being super reckless up until now. So, it would be such a waste if you die in such a stupid fashion, you know!? If you’re going to die, make sure you die in glorious battle!”
Akira was weirded out by how excited Kibayashi was.
“Listen. I’m heading there right now to explain to you what’s going on. So, just wait there for me, okay!? I’ll tell you how to wage a full-blown war against the Lion Steel company! You got it!?”
“Nice! And also, about the powered suits that are already over there, you can think of them as your bodyguard until I’m there!”
“My bodyguard? Why? I’m a bounty target, you know?”
“I’ll tell you everything later! I’m heading there right now! So just wait and don’t do anything crazy, yeah!? You heard me loud and clear, yeah?”
Kibayashi then closed the call.
Akira’s rage had already vanished. It was replaced by the same level of bewilderment. He then glanced at Alpha and she had the same confused look as him.
“…Well, one thing for sure, I think he was not lying.”
“…That one was pretty obvious without you telling me.”
“Should we just wait then?”
“Yeah, let’s just do that.”
Akira then waited for Kibayashi with a continuous confused look plastered on his face.