Akira went to Higaraka Residence Ruin using his bike to test the information gathering device that he bought the other day from Elena. Relics in that ruin were hidden among the wreckages and the monsters that roamed the area were relatively weak. It was the perfect place to get himself familiar with his new information-gathering device.
It was his first time visiting a ruin other than Kuzusuhara ruins. Thus, Akira could not help but get a bit excited. He was looking forward to seeing a ruin with a different scenic view. But he was only half satisfied when he arrived there.
“It’s… Somehow different to Kuzusuhara ruins.”
Akira looked a bit disappointed as he walked through the ruin. Although it was true that it had a different scene compared to Kuzusuhara ruin, all the crumbling and abandoned buildings that were packed close to each other in the area reminded him of the Slum city. Thus, it was a huge letdown for him since he was looking forward to a ruin filled with advanced technologies.
Alpha smiled at Akira and explained.
“Higaraka Residence ruin is from a different era compared to Kuzusuhara ruin, you see. That’s the reason why it looks different.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just like the people of the current era who are trying to rebuild their civilization using the technology that they retrieve from the relics of the old world, the people in the past also did the same. So the people who built Kuzusuhara ruin and the people who built Higaraka residence ruin are from 2 different eras. Even the Kugamayama city where you live right now might be called Kugamayama ruin and regarded as a ruin of the old world 100 years from now.”
“…I see. So it’s like the civilizations in the eastern district were annihilated not only once but many times, huh?”
“Yep, that’s correct. That’s why don’t expect to find the same kind of relics that you found in Kuzusuhara ruin here. But since our main aim here is not to collect relics, let’s take it easy for today. I’ll be adjusting the information gathering device, so you can just walk around randomly the area.”
Akira then pointed his finger at a small-sized binocular-like visor that he was using.
“Do I really only need to put this on?”
The visor was a part of the information gathering device set that he bought from Elena, it was basically some sort of an information display device. The visor part was made of a clear and transparent material so that it did not reduce Akira’s ability to see. Akira was also able to just lift it up if it was blocking his view. It might be because it was originally Elena’s that it was relatively small, making it a comfortable fit for Akira.
“You can take it off if it bothers you. After all, I can just display my scan result of the area directly to your vision even without that visor. But you can also keep it on to avoid people from getting suspicious about where you get your information from. Even if you remove it, you can just say that you’re using contact lens-type information display.”
“Well, it’s not really bothering me, so I’ll keep it on. Not to mention that I don’t want to deal with all the suspicion, so I think I need to get used to it. Alright then, let’s go.”
Akira stopped his bike under the shadow of an abandoned building in the outskirts of the ruin and put a camouflage sheet over his bike. He then started walking deeper into the ruin.
This would also double as ruin exploration training for Akira, thus he carefully stepped into the ruin and explored around the area. While at the same time, he would also look for relics in the abandoned houses as part of his relics hunting training. As he explored a random house, he found utensils and other small articles. Although these were still old-world relics, the technology of the current era was able to produce their substitutes, that was why these were considered cheap relics. These were not relics that Hunters would risk their lives in bringing them back to the city. Akira hesitated for a bit before eventually returning them back from where he found them.
As Akira looked at the outward appearance and the insides of the ruin, he mumbled.
“These buildings are pretty sturdy, I wonder if there are people who live here in secret.”
“As long as they can secure enough food, water and ward off the monsters, I’m sure there would be a lot of people who want to live here.”
“…So the slum city is still better, huh?”
“There might be people who can find a solution for the food and monster problem and cannot live in the slum city for some reason. So they might have decided to live here, you know. There might be traps that are left by those people, so you should be careful.”
As Akira moved deeper into the ruin, he found a dead greedy crocodile corpse lying on the ground. It was pretty big, it was even bigger than the monster that Akira kicked and killed the other day. It was obvious how scary it would be if it was alive. Akira would have approached it carefully had its head not been half destroyed.
Looking at the greedy crocodile from a close distance, Akira let out his honest opinion.
“This is a huge monster.”
“This is the greedy crocodile. This type of monster evolves by eating other mechanical or biological monsters and turning the metal that they eat into their scales. They would even process guns and other weapons that they eat inside their body and make them grow on their body for their own use, you know. There were a lot of cases where greedy crocodiles had evolved its body so much that people would mistake it as a mechanical monster, but this monster is actually a biological monster.”
“So it’s like those weapon dogs, huh? But this one has no gun on its body though.”
“It’s a type of monster that greatly varies individually after all. I think this one hasn’t eaten that many monsters with guns. Or the Hunter who defeated this monster might have cut off its guns and took them home. After all, many of the guns growing out from this kind of monsters are good guns, so there’s a chance that the one who killed this monster was actually aiming for its guns from the start. That’s also the reason why only its head is badly damaged, it might be to make sure that its guns are still intact after killing it.”
“I see, I wonder if I can kill it too.”
“Since I’m with you, I’m sure you can do it. But it’s a different story whether you can take its guns home or not. After all, that will be impossible with a bike, unless if you’re planning to carry them yourself back to the city.”
“No thanks. So it’s impossible until I either buy or borrow a vehicle, huh.”
Akira then left that area and continued his exploration. In the midst of exploring the ruin, he thought of something and asked Alpha.
“Alpha, it seems that you’re very knowledgeable about the monsters. I wonder if you know the origin of these monsters.”
“Only a part of it. And I only know it as a second-hand knowledge. It’s not like I’ve investigated it myself and there are a lot of guesses embedded in it. But my information source is a secret, okay? It’ll be too much trouble to explain it, so don’t ask about it. But of course, I don’t mind telling you if you’re ready to hear 100 years of oral explanation with a lot of permissions and confirmations.”
Alpha smiled invincibly at Akira while he just smiled back bitterly.
“I won’t ask you where you get that information from. So then, why do monsters like that greedy crocodile exist?”
“They might originally be test specimens that ran away from some experiment. I bet they were planning to make some kind of cyborg for military purposes. Or it might be from an experiment where they tried to make a machine that has the same regeneration ability as a biological creature. Or adding an organ that would allow it to regrow its own body parts so that they didn’t have to do any maintenance and then planning to install that organ in a human. I think they were trying to create a nanomachine that would make that possible. It’s common sense for such research to be tested on animals like a dog or a crocodile first before testing it on humans. It’s also possible that a war broke, and these test subjects managed to escape from the lab. This could have happened when they just finished the nanomachines and were about to test it on humans. But well, of course, there’s a chance that someone released it to the wild as a horrible prank.”
Akira imagined a lot of stuff as his face frowned.
“…Whatever it is, it gives us a lot of trouble. What the heck were the people of the old world thinking?”
“Compared to the technology of the current era, the technology of the old world was abnormally advanced. Since they had the means to do a lot of things, it made them want to try everything. I believe that part of humans stays the same whether it’s for the people of the current era or the people of the old world. And if they make a blunder because of their curiosity, their current civilization will be wiped out and become a part of the old world civilization.”
“So you’re saying that someone might just make a big mistake and destroy the whole civilization tomorrow?”
“…I at least want the current civilization to not get wiped out before I die though.”
Akira just mumbled out his real opinion, but there was nothing in this world that would guarantee that.
As Akira continued his exploration, he found a mansion that looked completely different from the other abandoned buildings around it. Although, just like the other buildings, it was abandoned and was deteriorating for years, it gave off a look that someone rich had lived in that mansion in the past.
Akira thought that he might be able to find some expensive relics inside it as he entered and searched that building.
But his expectation was immediately shot down. Although there were many rooms inside the mansion, all of them were more or less empty. Most of the other Hunters also thought the same and had fought each other for the relics inside this building, that was why it was left with nothing. They even took all the relics that they would have normally ignored. The mansion was left with nothing but dust and dirt.
Akira just could not give up that easily as he continued searching the mansion. But he found nothing at all. Thus he started to get sloppier and sloppier every time he checked a room. Then, right when Akira almost got fed up checking the empty rooms, Alpha suddenly called him.
“Akira, wait, go to that room.”
Akira then entered the room that Alpha pointed. Since Alpha even told him to go inside that room, he thought that there must be something there. But he was bound to get disappointed after he scanned the room, it was indeed empty.
“Is there anything in this room? I can’t find anything.”
“It has a secret door. I believe that the door leads to a secret room in the basement.”
Akira then looked down onto the floor. Any openings on the floor were already filled and covered with dust and dirt. But suddenly he saw a green frame on the floor, with vision support provided by Alpha.
Akira walked to that frame and crouched to take a good close look at it. There was a groove on the floor that wasn’t completely covered with dust. He then slipped his finger into that groove and moved the tile. He could see a hidden knob under that tile.
“Is this it? How did you find it?”
“I just used my high calculation ability to analyze the image data from the information gathering device. Ain’t I amazing?”
Alpha smiled after she said something that sounded like “you can go ahead and praise me now”.
“…Oh my, that was pretty straightforward of you.”
“Eh? But like, that’s really amazing, right?”
“Yep, I’m indeed amazing. I’m glad that you find my support amazing.”
Alpha looked a bit surprised when Akira praised her straightforwardly, but she quickly returned back to her usual smile.
She thought that Akira would ignore her just like always, that was why it was rather surprising for her. A different outcome from her prediction showed that she had not observed Akira enough and that she still had not fully understood this person named Akira.
Alpha concluded that she needed to observe him more in order to make a more accurate prediction of his behaviour. But as she thought of that, she did not show it on her face which was smiling like usual.
Akira grabbed the secret knob, pulled it up and entered the basement. No sunlight was able to reach the basement, making it completely pitch dark. The faint light that entered the room from the opened door was not of much use either.
Akira thought that since it was a secret room, he could hope to find some unclaimed expensive relics and used a portable flashlight to check the room.
As the light filled the place, Akira could see the 4 concrete walls that were surrounding him. The room was empty, there was nothing but the floor, walls and ceiling that was covered in dust, there was not even that much dust down here.
Akira turned to Alpha with a dumbfounded face, seeing which she smiled to cheer him up.
“Yep, there’s nothing here, someone must have found and emptied this place before us… But it’s not my fault.”
Akira actually was not planning to blame Alpha at all, thus he felt a bit sorry when she awkwardly tried to make excuses to him. So, he casually replied with a little bit of joke.
“…Ah no, I was just wondering if there’s another secret door.”
“According to my search, I don’t find anything though. But, do you want to try looking around a little more? If you can find another secret door that I didn’t detect, then it means that the information gathering device is faulty. Try to check the walls and the floors as closely as you can.”
Since Alpha’s answer sounded hopeful, Akira decided to check the room one more time. He checked the walls and the floors very closely that his nose was almost touching them. He was looking for any grooves like the one from before. But he could not find anything in the end.
“…Nope, nothing. Alpha, do you find anything?”
“Unfortunately, I don’t find anything too.”
“…I guess I’ll just go back home now.”
Akira then turned off his light and was about to climb up the ladder when he suddenly stopped. He then extended his hand outside and pulled the trap door close. As the only source of light in the room was gone, the whole room went totally dark.
Akira then scanned the whole room, but he could not see anything.
“That didn’t work, huh. I thought that if there’s any groove, there should be some light leaking out from that groove. But now that I think about it, we’re in the underground now, so I guess that’s to be expected, huh.”
(p4553r: Our boy Akira has started to grow up. Coming up with something like this and not just relying on Alpha for everything.)
Akira looked like he had given up this time for sure and was about to return back outside. But right when he was about to go, Alpha suddenly called out to him while smiling.
“It did work, I found something. Although, it might be a little different than what you are expecting.”
Even inside that completely dark room, Akira could see Alpha clearly. After all, she was actually some kind of image data that was displayed directly into Akira’s vision, thus her image was not affected by the brightness in the place. In the next moment, the room which had nothing but Alpha and darkness was projected as a black and white image into Akira’s vision.
“I’ve expanded your vision, this is an image made from the data gathered through the information gathering device. Although it has no colour, it should be enough, right?”
In his vision, Akira could clearly see Alpha who was bursting with colours inside that black and white world. It was weird for him to see how only a small part of his view was coloured.
“…Well, it’s true that I can see better now. So, what did you find?”
Alpha then pointed her finger to the floor. When Akira shifted his gaze there, he could see a circle with something that looked like a footprint in the centre of it.
“It’s painted using fluorescent material. Although it’s painted with such material so that it’s easy to see, but since we’re in total darkness and there’s a limit on how sensitive the information gathering device can be, it’s still rather hard to notice its glow.”
“…Is it telling me to stand there? Who painted such a thing in this basement? Is it a cultural thing from the old world?”
“I don’t know that far. There’s nothing like this in my knowledge about the old world.”
“Well, since we did find it, I guess I’ll try to stand on it.”
As Akira stood on the place that was painted on the floor, suddenly, a girl in a maid uniform appeared out of nowhere inside that basement where there should not be anyone else other than Akira and Alpha. But even so, Akira was only a little surprised, after all, his first meeting with Alpha was far more surprising. As he thought that it was one of Alpha’s jokes, he quickly shifted his gaze to Alpha.
But Alpha reacted as if she had nothing to do about it at all.
“So, it’s nothing, huh? Akira?”
“Alpha, what kind of joke is this now?”
“Joke? What are you talking about?”
Akira glared at Alpha, but it seemed that she genuinely did not know what he was talking about.
“What do you mean by ‘what’? That girl in front of me-”
Before Akira was even able to finish his sentence, Alpha suddenly took control of his augmented suit and forcefully pulled him away from where he was standing.
“Whoah, what was that for?!”
It was really out of the blue when Alpha suddenly moved his augmented suit. Thus Akira could not follow its movement and his body was subjected to intense stress which left his body in stinging pain after that. He looked annoyed because of her sudden move and his pain as he glared at Alpha.
But Alpha looked back at Akira with a stern worried face as if his annoyed glare was invisible.
“Do you have any headache?! Do you feel like puking at all?! Do you feel dizzy?! Can you clearly hear my voice?! Can you clearly see me?!”
Akira was taken aback by that barrage of questions.
“I-I’m okay. I don’t feel any headache, I don’t feel like puking, and my mind is clear. Only that my body is feeling stinging pain.”
“I see, thank goodness.”
Alpha let out a sigh of relief as she smiled at Akira.
“Akira. Can you still see the person that you saw just now?”
Akira shifted his gaze to where that maid girl was standing, but she had completely vanished.
“…No, I can’t see her anymore. So, what was that exactly? Why were you so panicked?”
Alpha made a serious face as she started her explanation.
“Akira, I’ll explain it to you. You almost lost your life just now, you know.”
“L-lost my life? What do you mean?”
“There’s actually some kind of wireless receiver inside your brain. I’ve told you about this before, right? That’s the special power of the people who can connect to the old world domain, and someone tried to abuse that power just a moment ago that it might even kill you.”
Akira was taken aback when Alpha said that he almost got killed, she then continued her explanation.
The network of the old world facilities that were still connected and working even in this era was called the old world domain. Normally, people would need to use an old-world terminal relic in order to connect to the old world domain.
But among the people of the eastern district, there was a very rare type of people who could do that even without using any special relics. These people were known as the people who were connected to the old world domain.
“…So basically, you’re someone who is connected to the old world domain. I know that you don’t recognize it yourself, but the reason why you can see me or receive my support is because you’re connected to the old world domain.”
Akira was both surprised and puzzled.
“So then, how is it connected to why I almost got killed just now? Even if what I saw just now was something that only people who are connected to the old world can see, that doesn’t explain why that would kill me, right? If I’m going to die because I see one, then I should’ve been already dead after seeing you so many times, right?”
“Everyone who is connected to the old world has a different threshold of how much information and what type of information he or she can process. And in your case, fortunately enough, you have a high level of compatibility with me. The person that you just saw might be someone from the old world domain. People of the old world used to get help from those entities with no corporeal bodies to expand their vision and sense of hearing or to provide them with other kinds of support. They might also exist as a part of a facility as a guide, to provide explanations about that facility. Some might even be sent to gather information or other kinds of jobs. I bet there were a lot of people who were connected to the old world domain during the old world era.”
“It sounds nothing but good things though, so, what’s so dangerous about them?”
“The person that you saw was invisible to me, so what kind of person was it?”
“It was a girl in a maid uniform. She didn’t look dangerous at all.”
“Well, they were originally not dangerous after all. The problem is that she was an entity from the old world, thus she was created for the people with old-world equipment. In short, they might be not compatible with the people of this era. But since you were able to see it, it meant that you could receive information sent by her without any trouble. Hypothetically speaking, if that girl was the manager of this mansion and asked you if you need any information about this mansion, then what would you answer?”
“Something like okay, sure, or maybe even yes, please.”
“You might be killed the moment you answer back with that, you see.”
“That’ll be enough to kill me?!!”
Akira was shocked by that unexpected answer, Alpha continued her explanation while giving him a warning.
“As I said, they might not be compatible with the people of this era. Thus she might send you all the information about the mansion into your brain in one go. She might even send the complete blueprint of this mansion down to its molecular level and that amount of data will be enormous. It would be fortunate if your brain filters it as noise and ignores it, but if you’re not lucky, the part of your brain that allows you to connect to the old world domain might try to receive all of that information, and that would likely leave you paralyzed for the rest of your life or even fry your brain and kill you. After all, there were people who were connected to the old world that met their ends just like that.”
Akira was completely shocked. It took sometime before he came back to his senses as he tried to calm himself down by taking a deep breath. Alpha just waited for him until he finished.
“Are you feeling better now?”
“Y-yeah… Alpha, about that question, what should I answer back if I’m asked?”
“Let’s see, I think you should say no in that case. Either that or you should request the information to be displayed in the simplest form so that you can process it through your vision, maybe something in the form of blurry images. Or you can also ask the information to be sent to your information terminal and then ask it to explain the details through that method. There are many methods that you can request so that it won’t overload your brain. But even so, I still can’t say that you’ll be safe for sure. It might be alright if they ask you for permission for every information that they will send, but there are cases where they don’t, you see.”
“…If I meet one like that, then what should I do? Can I do something about it?”
Akira’s face looked grim. It was because he was just told that he was someone who was connected to the old world domain. But there was a danger of sudden death that came with it and there was no way to avoid that sudden death.
Alpha suddenly started talking in a monotonous voice with an expressionless face. It was completely different compared to her usual self.
“Are you sure you want to allow downloading information from the old world domain through this unit, Alpha, in order to avoid harming the subject, Akira? To be more precise, the downloaded information will contain the following topic. First-”
Akira remembered something similar had happened to him before, thus he swiftly answered back without waiting for Alpha to finish.
“You have my permission.”
“Permission confirmed… Well, this will do the trick.”
As Alpha’s voice and demeanour turned back to normal, Akira felt a bit of relief.
“That was the same thing, right? Something like you needed my permission for stuff, right?”
“The reason why you didn’t do that back then was because you didn’t have the permission to ask for the same, huh?”
“That’s correct. Although I got your permission to help you with all kinds of support, this wasn’t included in that permission.”
“Will this happen again in the future?”
“Of course, there are still a lot of things that I need to ask for your permission. But it’s not like I can tell you all the details, but you do know the reason, right?”
“Yeah. Because that’ll take 100 years of oral explanation and you don’t have the permission to ask for the same, right?”
“It’s great that you’re a smart boy.”
Alpha smiled at Akira and he returned with a bitter smile. Deep down, he felt relieved now that he was at least safe from that sudden death.
Akira then turned off his flashlight once more and stood on that place again. The room was immediately filled with colours as the maid girl from before appeared again.
That beautiful girl was smiling gently at Akira. The black and white maid uniform focused more on beauty rather than functionality. It was made of very beautiful fabric and it had an elaborate design all the way up to her neck. Her black shoes were peeking out from her long skirt and both her hands were enveloped in snow white gloves. The ribbon that she used to tie her hair was extremely long. She was floating above the ground ignoring the gravity.
Akira knew that the thing he was seeing was not real, it was just like Alpha. He was looking at that maid girl full of curiosity.
“Alpha, you can’t see her, huh?”
“It’s okay, because of the permission that you just gave, I can see her just fine now. But it’s not like we know for sure if she can see me or not. So be careful.”
“Alright. But that means to her I might look like I’m just talking to myself, right?”
“That is if she can also see you. If it’s only a video data, then it’s the same as those holographic human-type signboards.”
“Now that I think about it, she’s not moving at all. Uhmm, can you hear me?”
When Akira spoke to her, the maid girl bowed politely and gracefully.
“Nice to meet you. Are you here to register yourself as a new user?”
Akira did not understand what she was talking about. But he remembered what Alpha just told him not too long ago, so he decided to refuse it for now.
“No. I just want to ask you some questions…”
“Very well, we’ll be waiting for your next visit.”
That maid girl bowed gracefully once more to Akira before vanishing completely.
“…What in the world was that?”
“It has no real body, it could react when you talk to it, and it vanishes if you refuse its offer. Try to step out from there and then step back in again, but this time try to be more positive and ask for an explanation from her.”
“I guess I’ll try that.”
Akira took a step out of the circle before stepping back in. That maid girl immediately appeared in front of him again.
“I want to ask you something.”
As Akira tried to talk to her again, the maid girl gracefully bowed just like before and said.
“Nice to meet you. Are you here to register yourself as a new user?”
“We need some information first before we can decide about that. So we have some questions we want to ask if it’s okay with you?”
Alpha suddenly interjected, but the maid girl did not respond at all.
“It didn’t work. Akira, take your information terminal out.”
After Akira took out his information terminal, Alpha’s voice then came out from the terminal.
“We want to think about it first, so, is it possible to send your information to this terminal?”
Alpha said that not through telepathy but from the information terminal as her voice echoed inside the basement. But the maid girl still did not respond back.
“Even this doesn’t work, huh? Akira, you go ahead and try asking it.”
“I want you to send your information to this terminal, is that possible?”
The maid girl finally reacted.
“Certainly. Thank you very much for considering using our product.”
Akira then looked at his information terminal, but nothing happened. Alpha also confirmed the same.
“There’s nothing in the terminal. Unfortunately, it seems that the data is sent in a format that this terminal can’t receive. So let’s just give up and go back home.”
“Is there anything else that I can try?”
“We can try to download the data to the terminal through you. Since you can see it, it means that you can receive information broadcasted by that maid girl. But as I explained before, it’s an extremely dangerous thing. I’ll try my best to keep you safe, but I still can’t guarantee your safety. So what will you do?”
Akira hesitated before answering.
“…Let’s do that. It will bother me if we give up and return back without understanding anything like this, not to mention that facing danger is quite normal in this line of work.”
“Alright then. Be sure to tell her to only transfer the data bit by bit, okay? If you feel nauseous, quickly step away from that place. I think the data transfer will stop if you step away from where you’re standing now.”
Akira made his resolve and said.
“…Send the information to me rather than to my information terminal, but do it in small amounts.”
The maid girl bowed politely.
“Certainly. Sending the information now.”
Akira prepared himself to step away from that place in case anything bad happened. But unlike what he expected, he felt nothing at all. He did not feel nauseous nor any headache at all, and his mind and vision were still clear like usual.
“Akira, it’s finished, it’s alright now.”
“That was fast. I was so prepared but I didn’t feel anything, you know?”
“I intercepted and received the data straight to me without passing it through you. The amount of information that went through you was kept to a minimum. To make it simple, I immediately took over the line after you exchanged address and established a connection with that maid girl.”
“I see. So in the end, what exactly was that girl? Not to mention that she already vanished too.”
“It’ll take a long time to explain everything. Let’s just go back home for now. Although it’s not like it can be exchanged for money right away, we have received good results for today. That was rather an unexpected result since we originally came here just to test the information gathering device.”
“Is that so? Well, I guess it’s fine for now. You can explain it to me later.”
Akira agreed with her and decided to end his exploration. And since his bike was alright, he did not have to go back home on foot.
Silavin: Hmm… was hoping there was a second Alpha. That would be an interesting development.