The slum extends from the outskirts of Kugamayama City and it sits right next to the wasteland. It’s a place riddled with crime and bad economy, and not to mention the monsters roaming close to the edges, and the bandits prowling in the inside for weak people. It’s basically a garbage dump for the city. So, Akira decided to be a Hunter in order to get away from such a place.
As Akira walked through the familiar road of the slums with Alpha, it reminded him just how strange this Alpha was. A refined facial feature with shiny and lustrous hair. Silky skin paired with a developed body highlighted by her tight sexy dress. Alpha is a being that would tempt any member of the opposite sex. It was just out of place that such a being did not attract any attention.
Moreover, this so-called old world design should’ve been more than enough to attract people’s attention, it’s so great in quality that even an amateur could easily understand that it was an expensive dress. If someone that was knowledgeable in the technology of the old world saw it, he or she would immediately be able to recognize that it was made with the advanced technology of the old world. Although it is an ancient relic from the old world, anyone would be able to tell that such a dress was a treasure amongst the other relics. So in short, it is an object that would garner a lot of attention.
Normally, it would have caused an uproar with all of those conspicuous things gathered in one place, but no one reacted to Alpha at all. Thus, the fact that he’s the only one who could see Alpha finally hit him.
And so Akira whispered to Alpha.
“So other people really can’t see you, huh.”
“Didn’t I tell you so before? You didn’t believe me, huh?”
Seeing Alpha’s mood had turned a bit sour, Akira tried to make excuses in panic.
“Ah, I didn’t mean it like that, it’s just that it’s not like I can normally notice it. After all, it’s only normal to think that others can see what I can see, right? So I thought that there must be someone else other than me who can see you too.”
“Oh, I see, that’s what you meant, huh. Well, explaining it will take a long time, so let’s put that aside for another time.”
Unlike Akira who was whispering, Alpha answered his question with a clear voice, but it was only Akira who could hear that voice. If Akira responded back with the same clear voice, he would look like a suspicious boy talking to his imaginary friend.
“Akira, what are you going to do now? Do you have something you need to do after this? There’s no need to worry about me, you can just go and do what you want.”
“…Something I need to do, huh?”
Akira looked up into the sky. The sun was setting and the night was drawing near.
“I’m just going to sleep for today.”
Alpha looked a bit surprised.
“You’re going to sleep already? This early?”
“Yeah. The night is coming soon, I have to prepare a place for me to sleep.”
Akira went into one of the dark back alleys. He still had some time before the sun completely set but he had already crawled into a corner where he usually slept and leaned himself onto a makeshift wall made of scrap materials.
It would be really hard to find him there unless you already know that someone was there and intentionally looked around that place. Hiding himself like that was one of the things that he learned to stay alive in the slum as a kid.
Basically, Akira would start his day when the sun rises and end it when the sun sets. After all, he would need lighting to be able to work at night. But of course it was not free, so for a little boy without money like Akira, it was simply something that was out of his reach. Moreover, the already dangerous slum will get more dangerous once the night falls and Akira didn’t have the strength to be able to stay active during the night.
The biggest reason as to why he tried not to move around during the night was to minimize the danger. Since he knew that he would be asleep when others were still awake. He himself didn’t know for sure if it was the right choice. After all, the people who were awake during the night might also be good people. But one thing he knew for sure was that he was able to stay alive up until that point by doing that, so he believed that his way of living was not wrong and decided to keep living like that.
Once he set his sleeping place, his stomach growled for food, to which Akira just sighed and ignored it. But then Alpha made a suggestion.
“If it’s possible, it’s better if you eat some food, you know? If you keep yourself starved like that, your physical ability will diminish, which in turn will lower the success rate when you explore the ruins”
Akira shook his head lightly.
“…I have nothing to eat. We completely missed the food distribution from the city and I don’t have any money to buy food since I used them for my gun and bullets. I’ll just endure it for today and wait until tomorrow’s food distribution… by the way, don’t you need any food, Alpha?”
“No, I don’t need food. Neither do I drink nor sleep. So there’s no need to worry about me.”
“I see, well, I’m sorry but can you let me sleep then? Goodnight.”
After he said that, Akira laid down on his side. And then Alpha said to him gently.
“Goodnight and sleep tight.”
Akira, who had closed his eyes, thought to himself.
[…Goodnight, huh? It has been quite a while since the last time someone said that to me… Wait, this might even be the first time.]
As Akira let himself be taken by the drowsiness that was more powerful than usual because of his tiredness, he tried to search into his past for such a memory. Putting aside whether that kind of thing had actually happened to him or not, he at least had no recollection when someone said goodnight to him. He slowly fell deeper into sleep thinking about this.
On the next day, Akira opened his eyes just before sunrise. He stretched his body to completely wake himself up. Everything was just like his normal everyday morning up until that point.
Alpha who was right next to him greeted him with a smile.
“Good morning, did you sleep well?”
Akira jolted and immediately fully awoken as he pointed his gun toward the source of that voice. He showed a level of caution as if someone that he didn’t know suddenly appeared beside him.
Alpha looked a bit surprised seeing his reaction, but then she gently said to him.
“I’m sorry, did I surprise you?”
Akira’s expression changed from one that showed a caution towards a stranger to one that showed a little bit of trust, although with a bit of hesitation. Then he finally remembered about Alpha.
In contrast to Akira, Alpha showed a graceful smile.
“Yes, it’s me. Did you forget about me?”
Akira finally calmed down. He let out a sigh of relief as he lowered his gun and awkwardly apologized to Alpha.
“…Sorry, I was just a bit surprised there. After all, most of the time, when you wake up with some unknown person by your side, there’s a good chance that the person is a robber.”
“It’s okay, don’t mention it.”
Akira confirmed that he didn’t make Alpha mad, and so he felt relieved as he didn’t end up losing the only supporter that he just acquired.
[…Now that I think about it, bullets won’t be able to hurt her, so I guess she didn’t feel that threatened when I pointed my gun at her. Thank god, that was really dangerous.]
Although he had quite a hardship yesterday, for Akira, this day was different from yesterday. Today is the day when his life together with Alpha starts.
After that, Akira went to the food distribution area. It’s a place where food from the city is distributed for free. They do this twice per day as the morning distribution is done early in the morning. Although there was still some time left before it started, there were people already lining up for food. Akira added himself at the end of that long line of people.
Everyone should behave and line up nicely during the distribution. If someone were to cause trouble or cut in line, that person would not get any food. There were even times where the food distribution was stopped because of that, and of course, the person responsible for that was beaten to death.
This was also some kind of teaching method from the city. The city would be better if the people in the slum at least learned how to stay in line. It also reminded them that everyone in the slum will share the consequences if even a single one of them did not follow the rules set by the city. Thanks to that, and the sacrifices from the people who were beaten to death in the past, even the most ruthless people in the slum would line up orderly during the distribution.
The food distribution also functioned as an event to gather people from the slum who couldn’t get food on their own. It’s also a way to maintain the civil order. After all, people of the slum wouldn’t just quietly wait for their death when they have no food and money. Instead, people who have met their wits’ end would pick up guns, that strangely enough were circulating freely in the slum, and turn into robbers. So the food distribution minimized these kinds of people by only distributing a minimal amount of food. It’s thanks to this food distribution that Akira could survive up till this point.
The distribution had started and it was finally Akira’s turn to get his food. Once he had gotten his food, he moved a bit away from the line. Keeping a certain distance from the line is very crucial for a kid like Akira. If he moved too far away from the line, then someone would come to rob his food, but he also needed to put some distance from the line so that he wouldn’t disrupt the line or cause any trouble. So it’s the best line of action for him to eat his food at a safe distance. And since both the robber and the robbed had guns, it was best to avoid any needless fighting that might get someone killed.
Akira stared into the food that he received. It was a sandwich wrapped in transparent plastic with a unique code written on it. Due to some unknown reason, he didn’t start eating immediately. Looking at that, Alpha inquisitively asked him.
“You won’t eat?”
The food that he received was synthetic food produced by a still-functioning suspicious tool excavated from the old world ruins. The food was relatively safe to eat with vegetables that have been experimentally cultivated in the wasteland, though it was hard to measure in terms of the level of contamination of the area. It also came with meat from a biological monster that was believed to be safe for consumption. These kinds of food were distributed freely to the poor people of the slum with goodwill.
After giving out the food, they would wait for a while to check if someone died or mutated because of it. If nothing like that happened, they would sell it to the commoners. And then another food made from ingredients that no one knows for sure whether it’s safe or not, would be distributed next time.
That was the real identity of contents in his sandwich; its bread, and everything inside it.
“…No, I’ll eat it.”
The people who distributed the food would not say anything about it, but the people who received the food had a slight idea of what was going on. It was the same for Akira, he had noticed it more or less, but not eating was something he could not choose to do. He would die if he didn’t feed himself with that food.
The food’s taste was rather weird. Leaving the price and the safety aside, it’s not something that you would eat because you want to. You would only eat it if you wish to survive.
Akira said to himself that he would become a successful hunter so that he would be able to eat safe and delicious meals. As he kept eating his weirdly flavoured and potentially toxic sandwich, he glanced onto the person who he thought would be able to grant him that dream. Alpha reacted by showing him a gentle smile.
Eventually, the people of the slum who survived by relying on the free food would pay back the generosity that they received. After all, they’re the first line of defence against the monsters that attack the city. They’ll be fighting against man-eating mutated creatures and autonomous weapons that would attack humans, using their raw flesh, blood, and guns that circulate freely in excessive amount in the slum. Thus buying time for the City’s defence squad to completely exterminate all attackers.
Among all the people that survived the attacks, there would be some who still remembered how to fight against these monsters. These people would become the lowest level of Hunter. If they do well, they’ll be able to bring back relics from the ruins and contribute to the economy of the city. Some portion of the profit from this will be used to maintain the free food distribution in the slum.
So in short, Akira becoming a Hunter meant that he did what the city expected from him. You might think that as someone without power, he had no other choice but to do so. However, Akira strongly believes that this was a decision he made on his own. So even if he was forced to pick his life choices once more, he would still pick the same path of becoming a Hunter.
Akira went to the Kuzusuhara City ruin for the second time, but this time, he was traversing the ruin following Alpha’s guidance. Some part of the roads in the ruins were buried under the rubble of the destroyed buildings and thus, was much easier to get lost. There were even areas that were like a maze. If he wasn’t careful, he might get trapped in them. Not to mention, there were monsters that had turned this confusing place into their nest and there were also places constructed as a home for them.
The Hunters who came to the ruins in order to search for relics would hunt monsters that obstructed them from reaching their goal. They sometimes maintained a road leading deeper into the ruin to make their job easier. And, as they went deeper into the ruin, some of them would encounter strong monsters and meet their demise. After repeating this process multiple times, the terrain would be harder to traverse and filled with stronger monsters as you go deeper into the ruin. But of course, thanks to that, there would be fewer people who were able to go to the deeper part of the ruin, thus you could find valuable relics still left behind there. In short, the deeper you go, the more dangerous it is and the more money you can earn.
Akira knew that as well, that’s why he only explored the outskirts of the ruin yesterday. But today, he aimed to go deeper due to Alpha’s suggestion. Of course, Akira hesitated at the beginning but Alpha convinced him and so he decided to follow her suggestion.
He knew that he couldn’t get any expensive relics if he didn’t go to the deeper parts of the ruin. And since Alpha told him that she would lead him and that everything would be alright as long as he followed her instructions, it was rather hard for him to refuse. He had decided to become a successful Hunter and had come to this place because of the deal he made with Alpha. So if he couldn’t move forward despite Alpha’s guarantee for his safety, then it would be impossible for him to be a successful Hunter.
In the beginning, he would follow all instructions that Alpha gave him without asking anything. But since he ended up doing things that seemed to be meaningless to him, he slowly started doubting Alpha.
He kept his back on the wall as he slowly moving forward. Rather than entering the target building through the door that he could see from where he was standing, he instead climbed a mountain of rubble close to it and entered the building through the window. After that, he immediately got out from that building through the door that he saw before. Then, he kept passing through the same road that he had passed before. Afterwards, he stopped and stood in the middle of the road for a while. He kept making round trips for a few times before going deeper. Although he kept following all the instructions that he had received, he thought that all he did there were just repeating meaningless actions.
There were also times when he got attacked by weapon dogs. When that happened, he would shut up and follow Alpha’s every instructions without asking for a reason. But every time he did something that he thought to be meaningless, his distrust piled up bit by bit. Then eventually, he couldn’t hold it any longer.
“It’s not like you’re actually lost or that you’re picking the road in random, right?”
“I’m not.” Alpha gave him a straight reply.
“I feel like I went through the same exact road a few times though…”
“That’s because it was necessary. We had to take that road in order to avoid dangerous routes. But if you want to hear more reason for that, then it would be because of your bad luck.”
Alpha answered his question in a way as if she was teasing Akira. And so his face twitched a bit.
“…So it was my fault, huh?”
Alpha gave another straight answer to him. Although those short and straight answers were convincing enough to stop him from saying anything back, they weren’t enough to clear up the dissatisfaction and distrust inside him.
After they continued walking deeper for a bit. Alpha suddenly turned back near the end of an alley and gave a similar instruction that she’s been giving for a while.
“Let’s turn back.”
Alpha passed through Akira’s side, he was about to follow her, but suddenly he stopped, his legs just wouldn’t leave the ground. He could see a big road by the end of the alley. He was curious about what’s going on in the other side. He thought that if only he could take a peek, then he might be able to clear up all of his dissatisfaction from all the meaningless actions that he’s been doing.
[…Just a bit won’t hurt, right?]
As he said that excuse to himself, he carefully peeked out his head a bit out from the alley. But what he could see there was just the same old scenery of the wasteland stretched out endlessly.
[…It’s not like there’s anything over here, isn’t it?]
Just when he felt super annoyed because of what he had just found out, Alpha suddenly shouted at him with a strong tone.
“Come back here at once!”
Right after that, from the middle of the empty wasteland in front of his eyes, a light flickered together with a thundering sound. Then he could see a monster there as its optical camouflage temporarily lowered at the same time as its cannon fired. The moment Akira saw it, his face froze. In the middle of the place that he had thought was empty, a huge mechanical monster had stood with its camouflage function on.
The big warhead landed on a building not too far away from Akira. In an instant, that building was blown into smithereens together with the deafening sound and huge explosion from the impact of the warhead. It caused huge rubble to rain down around the area and left a huge crater. The explosion was so big that the ground where Akira was standing shook.
Looking at how Akira was petrified due to the shock, Alpha yelled at him.
“Come back quickly!! You’ll die there!!”
Akira immediately turned and ran as fast as he could. He blazed through the alley as debris crumbled down. Surrounding buildings were shaking because of the impact from the warhead. He followed Alpha’s instruction to hide in a room inside a building not too far away from there. Outside, the sound and shaking from the cannons were still present as dust and shards from the ceiling showered down on Akira.
Alpha looked at him with a cold expression and said to him in a harsh tone.
“That was dangerous.”
Akira who was hiding in one corner of the room just hung his head in response. There was a silence between them for a while before he answered in a small voice.
Alpha could feel self-loathing in that small sorry of his. It was more of a mumbling so it was hard to figure out what he said right off the bat. Her cold expression changed into a pitiful smile. And then she said in such a gentle voice.
“…You might have something to complain about my instructions, but I will never give instructions that would cause you any trouble. You can ask all the questions that you want later because I’ll answer everything until you’re satisfied. I’ve said this to you before, even if my instructions seem to be meaningless to you, there’s a good chance that you’ll get killed in the middle of my explanation if you ask me for a reason. That’s why I don’t explain anything. I know that it might be hard for you to trust me since we just met yesterday, but it will be a big problem for me if you die, you know. That’s why I don’t want you to die. This might be hard for you but please believe me.”
Akira knew well that Alpha was being considerate to him. While still feeling guilty inside, he opened his mouth.
“…I understand. I’m sorry for doubting you.”
“Don’t mention it. I myself never thought that you would totally trust me right from the start. After all, trust is something that should be built up with time. For both of us.”
All of what she said and how she looked at him, Akira understood that all of them were her being considerate to him and it helped him to get back his mood. And so to change the mood, he forced a laugh. Although it’s just a facade, it’s better than nothing.
“… You’re right, I should also build up your trust for me. So then, what should I do next?”
Alpha confirmed how Akira was feeling. So she decided to be more careful about giving him instructions until he recovered his mood to a certain level.
“You should wait here until the condition outside has calmed down. I’ll somehow lead the monster away from here but it will take some time.”
“Lead, you say? You can even do that?”
Looking at how Akira was a bit surprised, Alpha gave off a meaningful smile to him.
“It’s limited only to some of the mechanical monsters and under a certain condition though. Those mechanical monsters are basically the autonomous weapon that runs on autopilot and programmed to eradicate any invaders. That type of machine gathers image from the outside through the image capturing devices spread around the area in order to get a good grasp of the situation of the area. At this very moment, the monster that we encountered earlier should still be attacking your fake image. Its first attack missed because of the same reason. This method won’t work on monsters with a built-in camera or if they only make a decision based on local information.”
“…Hypothetically speaking, what would’ve happened to me if that monster was of that local type monster?”
Hearing Akira’s question, she answered with a smile and a happy tone.
“Of course, that warhead would’ve scored a direct hit on you and turned you into minced meat.”
Akira flinched at her answer. But maybe it was because Alpha answered with such a happy tone that Akira didn’t hang his head in self-loathing.
“Maybe we should stay and talk to each other for a bit more here. That’s right, if you have anything you want to ask me, then just ask away.”
It’s hard to come up with a question when you’re told that you can ask anything. But looking at how Alpha was waiting for him with a gentle smile, it’s hard for him to tell her that he had nothing to ask about. After all, it was also one of Alpha’s instructions, so he thought that he should follow it in order to build trust between them.
Akira searched through his memories from the time he met Alpha for something to ask about. And then something came up to his mind.
“In that case then, I have one thing I want to ask, why were you naked when the first time we met?”
Alpha was already using clothing at that time. Or more like, she started putting on clothing right after they met. So in short, she intentionally let herself naked there. At that time, it was so much of a shock to him that he never thought about it. But as he remembered it now, he realized that it was indeed weird.
Alpha let out a mischievous smile. The moment he was taken aback by that smile, she erased her clothes and exposed her beautiful body. She showed her curvy and bewitching body to Akira without any trace of embarrassment or hesitation. Making an inviting gesture as she said in a sweet voice.
“What do you think?”
Although he was taken by surprise, Akira was captivated by it. But then he immediately turned his face away in panic and said.
“Even if you ask me so… I mean, like, it’s fine already, so just put something on!”
Alpha showed a bit of disappointment as she returned her clothing on.
“It is a pretty nice body, is it not? It is attractive, right? Don’t you think it would gather people’s attention? After all, you had a good long look back then.”
“I-I couldn’t help it, you know!?”
“In short, that was the answer to your question.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a very effective method to look for someone who can see me. Only hunters would come to the Kuzusuhara City ruin and there are not that many of them, so it’s really not easy looking for someone who can recognize me, you know. That’s why I was naked to attract people’s attention. Moreover, after a lot of testing, it was the best choice so that people won’t run away or hide in caution when they see me for the first time.”
“I immediately felt cautious of you there though.”
“But even so, you didn’t run away on the first sight, right? What would you do if what you saw back then from afar was an armed soldier?”
“Well, I would run, or at least, I wouldn’t approach that person.”
“Right? That’s why, if I thought of an appearance that would let people to immediately know that I was unarmed and attracted their attention, followed by some kind of reaction that would not be fear, then being naked was the best choice. But well, I never thought that you would react like that and would be so cautious of me back then, I’m sorry.”
Akira frowned a bit. He had indeed overreacted for a bit now that Alpha pointed that out. Although her explanation was convincing enough for him, Akira had some urge to retort back since she teased him by showing him her naked body.
“…But still, I think being naked was going too far, you know?”
“No worries, after all, this body is only a fake body. So I don’t really mind as long as I could reach my goal.”
“Yep, my body is not real and is made with the help of computer graphics. I can freely modify my body’s gender, age, body form, attires at will.”
As if she wanted to prove her point, she suddenly transformed into a small girl younger than Akira. Then she kept changing her appearance from one to another across all ages in front of surprised Akira.
After that, she changed back into her original appearance. But this time, she changed her hair to be short and then changed it to be long enough to reach the floor. She even made it float as if gravity didn’t affect it and made it turn into a rainbow coloured strip. The same with her clothing, she changed it to a school uniform, OL suit, sexy swimsuit, camouflaged cloth, pilot suit, and many other kinds of attires.
Akira was surprised by her change at first. But as she kept changing her appearance from one to another, he instead started enjoying the show. As a kid who was living in the slum, he couldn’t find any form of entertainment. As such, Alpha who kept changing her appearance and pose in front of him was enough to charm him.
Alpha was closely observing Akira as the boy was captivated by her performance. In the beginning, she was only changing her appearance at random. But bit by bit, she intentionally aligned her appearance, age, body shape, hairstyle, and attire to Akira’s taste, but he didn’t realize that at all. She kept changing her appearance and observing Akira while making a gentle and charming smile as if she was enjoying herself.
“Just tell me if you have any request for my dress. Ah, or is it that you prefer me to be naked? Naked, huh. As I thought, since you can enjoy this beautiful body like that, maybe naked is the best one?”
In response to such a seductive question, Akira retorted in panic.
“Anything is fine, just put on something! Geez, Why the heck are you so interested in going naked?!”
“I think it’s better if you get used into something like this so that you won’t get caught in a honey trap later, you know. Don’t you think it’s important to have a special training for this?”
As he let out a bitter laugh, he thought that he would sound like a pervert if he answered “Yep, I do”. So in place of an honest answer, he instead pouted in order to hide his embarrassment and said.
“…No one would try to seduce a little kid like me, you know.”
But Alpha retorted back as if she wanted to close his escape route.
“There might be no one that would seduce you right now, but there are many people who would seduce a successful Hunter. I just don’t want you to get into some trouble with that kind of people when you become a successful Hunter. Ever since ancient times, there have been many men who fell to ruin because of women, you know?”
Of course, he wanted to be that successful as a Hunter, but if someone asked his honest opinion, he actually had no confidence if he could achieve that himself.
“…Do you really think I can be that successful?”
To his question, Alpha answered with full confidence.
“Of course you can. After all, you have me as your support. I promise that I would help you with everything except for a few things. That is, I won’t help you in working on your own inner will, motivation and resolve. Or more like, since I can’t do anything about those things, you should do something about them yourself.”
Akira didn’t say anything for a while, but then Alpha could clearly see his strong resolve emanating from his expression.
“I understand. I’ll take care of my own inner will, motivation and resolve.”
Alpha joyously smiled, showing her satisfaction. That smile was both praise for Akira, who resolved himself, and an expression of happiness for successfully manipulating Akira’s inner will.
Silavin: Hmm… the author sure has his way of explaining fan service… I like it.