With Alpha’s help, Akira could see an indicator in his vision guiding him to his station in the defensive point number 14. As he followed that indicator, he eventually arrived in front of a building in the middle of a plain opening, there was a shutter in the wall of that building. He could see a stairway leading underground. When he peeked behind that shutter, the indicator was pointing downwards.
“It seems that the Yarata scorpion made their nest in the underground city of the Kuzusuhara ruin.”
“I didn’t know that Kuzusuhara ruin had an underground city.”
The person leaning beside that shutter noticed Akira and immediately operated a control panel near him, the shutter creaked and slid open.
Akira found it weird, so he asked that man.
“This shutter is also an object from the old world, right? How did you move it?”
“This one can be opened and closed with a button, you see. Although, we still need an expert hacker to be able to control it. But then again, it’s an old-world relic made using old-world technology, so it’s not like having an expert hacker guarantee that you can take control of the control panel. Since we are on that note, be sure not to mess with the control panel that you find in the underground, in the worst-case scenario, it can trigger an alarm and this place will be overrun with monsters in no time. Get in, I need to close it again quickly.”
The shutter shut after Akira stepped through it. The sound of the steel shutter echoed as it collided with the floor, it was reminding him that he was no longer ‘outside’ in the wasteland.
When Akira walked down the stairs, he suddenly stopped as he saw a huge load of explosives lined up in front of him.
The man from before noticed Akira’s expression, so he explained.
“Those explosives are just insurance in case anything bad happens. If the monsters underground push us up to this point and it’s obvious that it’s impossible to defend this point, we’ll blow those explosives and stop them here. Don’t worry, it won’t explode if you step on it, though, don’t kick or step on them on purpose, okay?”
Akira looked stern and glared at that man.
“…What will happen to us in that case?”
The man laughed as if he was joking.
“If you guys do your job properly, then you guys will be either dead or have fully withdrawn from the underground by then. Work hard if you don’t want to be among the former.”
Akira sighed and continued walking deeper into the underground where the gathering place was located. Although that man said it as if he was just joking, Akira knew that he was serious.
The underground city was illuminated by lightings installed by the people who went down there before Akira, it showed its real appearance after being warped in total darkness for years. Ruins of crumbled shops piled up over one after another, this showed that it was once a bustling place filled with people.
But instead of people, it was filled with monsters right now. The underground city consisted of complex hallways filled with monsters, it caused the underground exploration to be extremely difficult.
The people who had explored first had cleared and installed illumination in certain points in the underground. Although they were able to secure those areas, the underground was still more dangerous compared to the surface above.
As Akira was walking past the already secured hallway, Alpha explained to him the details of the request. Although he had heard a simple explanation from her beforehand, he wanted to confirm the duties of the defense team in detail, so he asked Alpha about it in the middle of their idle banter.
During this Yarata Scorpion Subjugation request, the Hunters were mainly divided into 3 teams – the exploration team, the extermination team and the defense team.
The exploration team was responsible for exploring the underground city when it was filled with total darkness. They had to map the underground city and mark the locations of any nests that they found. The team mainly consisted of the Hunters who were proficient in using information-gathering devices.
The extermination team’s main duty was, simply put, hunting and exterminating monsters. Basically, they had to hunt and exterminate Yarata Scorpion’s nests, expand the secured area and provide support to the exploration and defense team if needed. It mainly consisted of Hunters with excellent fighting skills.
As for the defense team, looking from where Akira was sent to, it seemed that its main duty was to protect non-crucial communication relay stations. Akira looked happy when Alpha explained that to him.
“In that case, then it’s really an easy job that even a small kid like me can do, right? I’m glad I asked.”
“Akira, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but stay vigilant, okay?”
“I know, I know. I’m just glad that it’s not as hard as I expected. I thought it would be some kind of super-hard request since the requester even accepted all of my demands.”
“I really do hope that’s the case.”
As Alpha said that as if she was hiding something, Akira looked slightly worried while making a puzzled face.
“…Alpha. If you’re only scaring me to keep me on my toes, can you please stop it? I’ll properly do my job. Or is it that you’re expecting something to happen?”
“If I have to say anything, I guess it’s a certain someone’s bad luck that made him encounter monster swarms twice in the same day, or got him chased by a swarm of Yarata scorpion after getting dispatched for a rescue request, or made him run alone in the wasteland for an SOS request.”
Akira hung his head low without saying anything back. He knew that he had bad luck and he understood that Alpha was warning him not to do anything that might worsen it.
“…I’ll do my best to avoid any situations where I can only rely on my luck.”
“Yep, you should do that. Let’s hope that your bad luck won’t go so bad to the point where I can no longer compensate it with my support.”
Akira could only smile bitterly to Alpha, but she smiled back teasingly at Akira.
There was an opening in a junction where the hallways met, illuminations and communication relay were installed in that big opening. 8 Hunters who looked bored were guarding the area. It was the defensive point number 14 where Akira was stationed. One of those Hunters noticed Akira who was coming from the hallway, he then laughed and tapped the other Hunter’s shoulder.
“That’s my replacement, so I’m out.”
“Wait!! Isn’t this just another brat?!!”
“Don’t worry, it just means that this job is so easy that they think it’s okay sending children here, you know? Later then.”
That Hunter then smiled mockingly and waved at Mimata, his Hunter friend. He passed beside Akira and left the defensive point.
Mimata watched in jealousy as his friend left and proceeded to the surface. After his friend had gone from his view, he shifted his gaze to Akira. It was obvious that he was so disappointed having Akira there, he didn’t even try hiding it as he exasperatedly asked Akira.
“So, what is your Hunter Rank?”
Mimata frowned, his face was saying that he was annoyed and displeased.
“Another piggy-backing brat, huh. Why in the world does this station keep getting children…? Just be sure not to get in my way, okay?”
‘Piggy-backing’ was a derogatory term used for the Hunters who got support from other better Hunters and borrowed powerful equipment to get a high rank. They did not have real ability and skill suitable for that rank. Most of the young Hunters from Hunter gangs were piggy-backing Hunters and the whole gang was often mocked for letting young Hunters do that.
Akira did not know the meaning behind that mocking term, but he could somehow feel the meaning behind it from how Mimata said it. Akira also fully understood that he was able to gather all of his achievements thanks to Alpha’s support, so he just ignored it as he asked Mimata.
“Are you the one in command here?”
“There’s no one in command here. We’re just a mismatch of random Hunters, deciding on the person in command would only cause a fight. I have no plan watching over you little brats. If you’re looking for someone to help you, then get along with those kids over there.”
Akira turned at the direction that Mimata pointed when he said that. But he suddenly turned around, walked away, and sat not too far from both Mimata and the group that Mimata just pointed, isolating himself from the rest of the Hunters.
The other Hunters looked at Akira, wide-eyed. But he was not bothered at all.
“Akira, are you sure you don’t want to join that group?”
“Yes. I think I’ll just cause a fight if I go over there. But Alpha, if you tell me to go, I’ll go.”
Alpha looked at that group of Hunters once again before she turned back to Akira and smiled bitterly.
“You’re right, let’s not do that.”
The group that Mimata pointed at was Katsuya’s group.
The Hunters in the defensive point number 14 were divided into 3 groups, Mimata’s group, Katsuya’s group and Akira alone.
Katsuya’s group consisted of Katsuya, Yumina, Airi, a young girl by the name Reina and an adult woman by the name Shiori.
Mimata’s group thought that Katsuya’s group was filled with piggy-backing Hunters because of such a composition. A group of young Hunters with one adult Hunter, he bet it was a group of amateur Hunters with one veteran Hunter, he assumed that Shiori was there to watch over the other green Hunters. Though in reality, that was not the case. But, it was also understandable that Mimata made that assumption.
Both Mimata’s group and Katsuya’s group spent their time by having silly talks. As time passed by without anything in particular happening, it slowly shaved their vigilance. But they also kept their information-gathering device to focus on a small range scan, thus there was a minimum possibility of facing a surprise attack.
Up until this point, no one doubted it was an easy job that even a small kid could do.
Akira was chatting and studying with Alpha. As a kid who had grown up in the slum city, he was not good with letters and he lacked common sense. In order to learn the knowledge needed to be a successful Hunter, he needed to study the basic knowledge first. He still had a lot of things to learn, that was why he used any idle time he had for studying.
Alpha suddenly turned her head, Akira noticed that and followed suit. He found Katsuya and Reina walking towards him.
Reina pulled Katsuya and dragged him to Akira. She then looked down at Akira who was sitting on the ground and said.
“You, your name?”
“Why are you sitting here alone? Come with us.”
“No thanks, I’m good here.”
“Why? Is it so that you can play hooky by yourself here?”
“I have no plan playing hooky here.”
“Don’t lie, you’ve been just sitting here quietly doing nothing.”
Both Katsuya’s and Mimata’s groups were at least still watching their surroundings, but Akira did not seem like he was monitoring his surroundings at all. Or at least, that was how it looked from outside, so it was understandable why Reina thought he was playing hooky.
But Akira just answered back swiftly but casually.
“I keep my eyes on the scan result of my information-gathering device. That was why I noticed when you guys came over here.”
To be more precise, it was Alpha who was keeping eyes on the scan result and not Akira. Alpha just smiled at Akira but he ignored it.
Reina was obviously annoyed, but she was convinced by what Akira said and decided to stop pursuing that line of thinking, instead, she tried to come up with another excuse to make Akira listen to her.
“Akira, what is your Hunter Rank?”
Reina looked smug as she stated her rank.
“Mine is 23.”
There was a moment of silence between them. Akira showed no change in his behaviour and did not say anything back to Reina, she was very upset by that as she yelled to Akira.
“Are you listening to me?! I’m Rank 23! I’m above you, you know!!”
“Don’t give me that! I’m above you, so you should listen to what I say!! Just get on your feet and come with me!!”
“No one told me to follow the orders from the Hunters who are ranked higher than me and the request description doesn’t say anything about that too. So I don’t have any reason to obey you.”
“…No reason? That might be true, but!!”
Reina raised her voice when she said that.
As Katsuya saw Reina getting heated, he thought that it would be bad to let her continue, so he interrupted her.
“Well, uhh, what can I say, although she said all of that, she’s actually just worrying about you. Isn’t it safer to be in a group than being alone if something bad happens?”
“I’m not worried about him!! Not even the slightest!!”
Katsuya was actually not trying to help Akira, he said that in order to calm Reina down. But in the end, Reina vented at him too.
Akira then casually said.
“I’ll take care of myself if anything happens. When the push comes to shove, you can just abandon me to die.”
Katsuya was surprised by what Akira just said, but he somehow tried to continue the conversation.
“Even if you tell us so, it’s still safer to be in a group, right?”
“Just leave him alone!! Brats like him can just go ahead and die all by himself!!”
Reina immediately turned and walked away, she was even half running. It was completely visible even from behind that she was livid.
Katsuya actually wanted to ask Akira about his relationship with Elena and Sara. But if he kept standing there, Reina would get angry at him too and he wanted to avoid that. Not to mention, Akira also did not seem to be in the mood to talk. So he had no other choice but to return back following Reina.
Alpha just smiled as she was watching Katsuya and Reina walk away.
“Well, they’re very lively, aren’t they?”
“You can say that again. I bet they were so lively that they even got into a fight with the other group before I came here.”
Mimata’s group was looking down at Katsuya’s group, it was obvious from how they were behaving. The Hunters here already broke into 2 groups when Akira came, so he thought that it must be right after they had a fight between them. And his guess was spot on.
It was doubtful whether they would even help each other if they were attacked by a swarm of Yarata Scorpions at this moment. It could be considered lucky if they were just abandoning each other. In the worst-case scenario, they might even “accidentally” shoot at each other.
Akira planned to run away alone if the situation turned from bad to worse. He was given the right to do so in his contract. Other than the right to withdraw alone, he was also given the right to move alone. So just to be safe, he wanted to avoid any needless fighting.
Akira frowned and sighed.
“…And here I thought I was assigned to a safe place where I can take it easy.”
Alpha smiled mischievously.
“Just give your best so that you can wrap up today’s request as a lucky hit since you’re assigned here.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Akira grumbled, he was forgetting to count himself in his consideration. But in contrast to that, Alpha knew well that Akira was the biggest threat here who might worsen their situation.
Forget about accidental shots, he shot and killed the person who threatened him without even a trace of hesitation. He was probably the most volatile person in this place in case a problem arose. Alpha judged that she needed more observation data to understand the principles behind Akira’s actions.
Alpha was observing Akira while still smiling like usual, but she has always been watching him closely.
Nothing in particular happened after that. Akira had no complaints about it, but that was not the case for the people who were seeking a big reward. As the calmness continued, those people started complaining and talking about what they could do to solve the problem.
Mimata’s group started talking more specifically about their complaints.
“We really have nothing to do, huh? Nothing is happening. I bet those Hunters in the exploration team are also collecting relics while exploring the underground ruin, but we’re in the defense team right now.”
“Even if you want to look for relics, there’re only cheap relics left in the outskirts of the ruin, you know?”
“That might be true on the surface, but I heard that might not be the case down here. There are not that many Hunters who would come to the underground city to look for relics since this place is always filled with total darkness. I also heard that the shockwave from the explosions used by the defense squad during that big fight not too long ago had opened a path to an undiscovered area inside the ruin, you know? It seems that the Yarata Scorpions used that new route connected to the unexplored area to come to the surface.”
“Wait, doesn’t that mean that the exploration team can have all the relics in the unexplored area for themselves?”
“It’s not that strange to find a big load of untouched relics inside an unexplored area. I bet they’ll get a whole lot of money from the relics that they bring back from here. Dammit, I should’ve joined the exploration team.”
As Mimata heard his friend complaining, he joined in their conversation.
“About that, you see. It seems that they can’t bring home relics that they find during this request. It’ll be an infringement to their contracts, after all. And if they are found out, the city staff would seize their relics and the penalty is pretty harsh too. But with that being said, it’s not like they would leave the relics that they have found, so what do you think they will do in this case?”
“…If it’s me, I would hide the relics somewhere safe where only I can find them.”
“Exactly, I’ll do the same too. So in short, there might be relics hidden around here by those people. So, want to try searching the area?”
Mimata and his friends made greedy smiles as they looked at each other.
As Mimata’s group was trying to sneak away from the area, Reina saw them and rebuked.
“Hold it! Where do you think you’re going?!”
Mimata answered back apathetically.
“…Where, you ask? We’re just going to patrol around the area.”
Reina could feel that Mimata was mocking her from his random excuse.
“There’s no need to patrol the area if you’re in stand-by here!! Moreover, that’s the exploration team’s job!! Our job is to guard this area!! So don’t go wandering around without permission!! That’ll only bring us trouble, you know!!”
Reina shouted at Mimata’s group, her voice echoed deep into the underground city. But Mimata did not show any concern at all as he replied back.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be back in no time. It’s not like there are any monsters coming here anyway, and if there’s any movement, I’m sure the people in the HQ will inform us.”
“That’s not the problem here!”
Reina was yelling at Mimata’s group but they were ignoring her. It did not seem that any of them were trying to find a middle ground. As their unproductive argument continued, everyone’s attention was on them. Suddenly Mimata turned to Akira who was neither a part of his group nor Katsuya’s group. He then laughed lightly and asked for Akira’s opinion, trying to get Akira involved.
“What do you think?”
Everyone there shifted their gaze to Akira. Mimata was looking at him with the eyes showing that he’s looking down at Akira while Reina was glaring intensely at him, both of them were waiting for his opinion.
Akira who was suddenly pulled into the conversation thought for a bit before answering back.
“…Just go and return back quickly if it’s just for the toilet, after all, we wouldn’t want you to do that here. If you take too long, I’ll assume that you met some monsters and ask for confirmation from the HQ.”
Akira was basically approving Mimata on what he was going to do. Reina looked surprised and angry at the same time, while on the other hand, Mimata smiled victoriously.
“It’s great to have someone who is so understanding. Yeah, I’m just going to the toilet. I’m about to burst to be honest, later then.”
After saying that, Mimata took his whole group together with him and left the area.
Reina was glaring intensely at Mimata’s group, but once they were gone from her view, she turned her displeasure and intense glare towards the next target that she was furious at. She then yelled at Akira while walking towards him.
“What was that?! Are you taking their side?!”
Akira looked a bit annoyed as he answered back casually.
“I bet they won’t listen to what I say anyway, so it’s faster to let them go do whatever they want and have them return back here after that. That’s all.”
The way Akira said it as if it had nothing to do with him rubbed Reina in the wrong way, she then exploded in anger.
“That’s not the problem here?! Are you saying that it’s really okay to let them do what they want?!!”
“I have no right to stop them. If you want to complain, you can just report them to the HQ. Or do you want to point your guns at them and tell them to stop? Well, I won’t stop you though, but I won’t get myself involved either.”
Not to mention that Akira was planning to act alone depending on the situation, so he was not in a position where he could complain about what they were going to do. Moreover, if there were any important notifications like an order to withdraw from the HQ while they were still gone, Akira was not planning to wait for them to return back before withdrawing. To put it bluntly, he did not give a rat’s ass if they were left behind to become the monster’s meal. Akira thought they left that place fully knowing about this fact.
So, relatively speaking, Akira’s status and position here was closer to Mimata’s group rather than to Reina’s group.
Reina was still yelling at Akira after that but he just ignored her. He thought that it would only worsen the situation if he said anything back to Reina.
As Reina realized that it would be pointless to keep yelling at Akira, she just glared at him with rage before returning back to Katsuya’s group.
“I guess the only time when they don’t cause a fight is when they die or something similar to that happens, huh?”
As Akira did not seem to realize that he was also at fault, Alpha just smiled bitterly at him and said.
“Some people just don’t get along with other people. It might be just that your way of thinking doesn’t fit well with theirs.”
“I guess that must be the case.”
If they always picked a fight with other people no matter who they were, they would not be able to work as a group. But Katsuya and his friends formed a group and worked together in their group. So Akira thought that it must be that they were not compatible with people like him or Mimata. After coming to this conclusion, Akira decided to just stop thinking about them.
Silavin: Haha. Akira is so precious in his own way.