Reina noticed that Akira was using CWH anti-material rifle’s specially designated ammo. All the magazines scattered on the ground were of the same type too.
Reina was surprised since she knew how powerful and just how expensive those bullets were.
“Why are you even using CWH anti-material rifle’s special ammo?! It’s overkill to use that ammo against a Yarata scorpion, isn’t it? Are you here planning to hunt a tank or something?!”
“I’m just using them to complement my lack of skill!! Like hell, I would fight a tank!!”
“How in the world did you get this many ammo?!! You would have had to pay a huge amount of money for all of these bullets!! Or like, have you been earning that much money?!!”
“The requester paid for them and they approved it when I told them I’ll be using loads of specially designated ammo for CWH rifle!! If you have any complaints, you can go ahead and say that to the requester!! I thought that they would refuse when I made that demand, you know!! It’s exactly because they accepted my demands that I’m here right now!! Now that I think about it, those people in the HQ must have predicted that something like this would happen huh, dammit!!”
Akira was lamenting his situation, he vowed to himself that he would make good use of this experience.
Reina turned to Shiori, she was wondering if Shiori also predicted this situation. By the way, Reina did not expect it at all.
“…I thought that something like this might happen, but the possibility was too small. I believed that the swarm would not be this dangerous if we faced it using all the facilities installed in the defensive point and with the help of all the Hunters stationed there.”
Reina’s eyes started getting watery when Shiori pointed out that hurtful fact. After all, Reina had nothing else to blame other than her own selfishness now that she was in this place. If only she had stayed together with Katsuya’s group, she would not be in this situation now.
Shiori suddenly turned her gun towards the centre of the hallway in a swift motion and started shooting. Reina inadvertently turned toward that direction and saw countless scorpions creeping out from the hallway showered under the flying bullets.
There was not even a single scorpion that passed through Akira. So Reina was taken aback when she saw those scorpions.
“Where are those scorpions coming from?!! Are there more holes other than this one?!!”
“Milady!! More are coming!!”
Although their number was not too many, the new scorpions closing in from the left and the right sides surrounded Akira and the girls. Reina and Shiori started shooting at those scorpions coming from the direction that they were facing.
“Their number is too small for them to come out from another hole!! They might be the scorpions that are coming back after exploring the area other than the defensive point 15!! Both of my both hands tied right now, so you girls need to deal with them yourself, okay?”
After Reina answered back, Akira sounded really desperate when he continued.
“I’m leaving those scorpions to you, alright!! I’m really counting on you girls, okay!! I’m really leaving those scorpions to you girls!!”
Akira was obviously so desperate as he yelled that. At the moment, he had to deal with the swarm gushing out from the hole in front of him, so it was impossible for him to deal with the scorpions coming from his flank. He really needed Reina and Shiori’s help in this situation.
Reina looked amazed, but she quickly pulled herself back together and smiled confidently.
“…Just leave them to us!!”
Since Akira was a Hunter who was skilled enough to quickly spot that swarm of Yarata scorpions and hold back that swarm all by himself, Reina was so excited that someone like him asked for her help. After all, Reina was dejected and felt inferior when Akira told her about his evaluation of her. But now, Akira relied on her. It basically meant that he recognized her skill and this fact greatly encouraged her. It cleared up her feelings of inferiority that was swelling inside her. The irritation and the impatience that had been slowing her down and causing her to make rasher decision were gone now.
Reina quickly started shooting the Yarata scorpions that were coming at her. More and more Yarata scorpions were appearing in front of her. In the middle of the battle, her rare talent started to shine, she herself noticed that her psyche was heightened and sharpened as she started to smile confidently while shooting at those scorpions. Because of that, she was able to quickly shoot down the scorpions in front of her one by one.
Shiori, who from time to time checked how Reina was doing in the midst of the battle, was taken aback when she noticed Reina fighting so skilfully and accurately that she even looked elegant.
[…To think that Milady was this skilled. I guess I really misjudged Milady’s skill, but still, why so suddenly…]
Although she was happy with the unexpected sudden growth, Shiori also found it strange that Reina suddenly got this good. Although it was totally unexpected, it was a welcomed surprise, thus Shiori did not try to think too deep about it. After all, she was not in a situation where she had the leeway to do that.
Reina and Shiori were showing that they had the skills to cover Akira’s back as he continued shooting desperately at the Yarata Scorpion swarm.
Akira had emptied so many CWH magazines, he kept on using those expensive bullets without a trace of hesitation. If the requester had not paid for the ammo, Akira would have already gone bankrupt a long time ago. It could be said that he could perform this well only because of Kugamayama city’s economic power.
Akira was having a hard time holding the swarm from coming closer. Both Alpha’s support and the economic power of the city that allowed him to survive the swarm were not of his own. And even with both of those things, he was only barely able to hold the swarm off.
“Alpha!! No matter how you slice it, aren’t there just too many of them?!!”
“You’re properly holding them back, so let’s keep calm and hold the ground. Even if you complain, it won’t reduce their number after all.”
“At this rate, I’ll run out of ammo in no time, you know?!”
“Let’s run as fast as possible if that happens, I believe you’ll be able to run away from the swarm if you’re willing to sacrifice both of your legs.”
If Alpha took control of his augmented suit and made him run as fast as possible while ignoring the stress that it put on his legs, he might be able to run away from all the scorpions. But of course, it will put his body under immense stress. Akira also understood that very well, that was why he wanted to avoid that situation as much as possible.
“W-well, let’s do that only if we really have no other choice, okay?!”
“Of course. Let’s hope that you can take out all the scorpions or the reinforcement from the HQ arrives here before we run out of reserve ammo.”
“That’s right!! The reinforcements!! They’re coming, right?!! Are they already somewhere close?!!”
“I still can’t find their signals within my scanning range.”
Even Akira did not want to get both of his legs torn off. He continued to fight back the scorpions while also trying to retain his fighting spirit.
Their hard work was not for naught, the swarm finally stopped coming. They squeezed their leftover energy to clean up the rest of the scorpions.
Alpha smiled and cheered the tired Akira for his hard work.
“Good job there. It’s finished. That was rather lucky, wasn’t it?”
“I-It’s done, huh…”
Akira dropped on the floor right where he was standing, he let out a long sigh as if he was expelling all the tiredness that had built up inside him.
“But Akira, in the end, the reinforcements didn’t come at all. I wonder if something happened to them.”
Akira quickly reached for his terminal and contacted the HQ.
“This is number 27! HQ!! You there?!”
“This is HQ. What’s the matter?”
“Where are my reinforcements!? They’re not coming at all, you know?”
“We’ve told them to go to your location. They’re not there yet?”
“I don’t see anyone else here!! Thanks to that, we had to deal with a swarm of scorpions just with the 3 of us, you know!! Tell them to hurry up!”
“Roger that. Before that, I’ll need to access the record from that battle, so wait for a bit.”
The monitor of Akira’s rental terminal changed. It seemed that it was sending some kind of information. But once it was done, the HQ did not immediately answer back. He was about to say something to the HQ, but suddenly the HQ staff gasped.
“What the heck is this!? W-wait for a sec!”
Right after that, Reina and Shiori’s terminal rang, those were calls from the HQ.
Reina answered the call and yelled.
“This is number 17, what’s going on with the reinforcement?”
“This is HQ. Can you tell us what’s happening there?”
“We just finished fighting against a swarm of Yarata Scorpions.”
Shiori then interjected.
“This is number 18. Let me give a more detailed explanation. We just encountered a huge swarm of Yarata scorpions. Most of the scorpions came from the hole, it can be assumed that there’s a big scale nest down that hole. With that in mind, please dispatch a search team and an extermination team this way.”
“…I see, we’re just wondering if number 27’s terminal is malfunctioning. Wait for a bit while we access the record of that fight. We’ve contacted the reinforcement, so just wait there until they arrive.”
“Please wait, what do you mean by malfunctioning?”
“It’s the record from number 27’s terminal. The number of scorpions that he took out doesn’t make sense. So we need to check the record from both of your terminals to confirm it.”
“I believe that his terminal is not malfunctioning. We saw it by ourselves how he took out the scorpions that were gushing out from that hole all by himself.”
“…Seriously? Once you confirm the safety of that area, can you snap a picture of the hole and send it over? And also, it would be great if you could put some illuminations too.”
“…I’m not happy to do it, but I guess I have to, huh.”
“Well then, that’s all.”
The HQ ended the call after that.
Akira was picking up the magazines that were scattered on the ground and putting them back in his rucksack.
CWH anti-material rifle’s special ammo was expensive already, and it was even more expensive to buy them in the form of a magazine rather than as individual bullets. Akira had used dozens of those magazines and the empty magazines were scattered on the ground.
While Akira was picking up the magazines that were still loaded with bullets back into his rucksack, he imagined the money that he would have spent on those ammo if he had to pay them by himself. It did not take much time for him to figure out that there was no way he would be able to pay for it as he looked all gloomy.
Akira then turned to Alpha, he sounded worried as he asked.
“With all of these ammo that I used, it’s not like they would tell me to pay them myself, right? It will be okay, right?”
Alpha smiled bitterly as she said.
“Don’t worry, it will be okay… Maybe.”
“I’m not a staff member of Kugamayama city’s Long-term Strategic Division after all. So I can’t say for sure. But don’t worry, it will be okay, I think, maybe, probably, I hope so…”
“You should’ve stopped at ‘it will be okay’…”
Alpha was only teasing Akira and he too knew that, but his face twitched as he imagined what would happen if the unlikely case turned real.
As for Shiori, she started scanning the inner side of the hole just like the HQ told her to. She first installed some illuminations near the entrance of the hole. When she finished, the illumination shone brightly and showed the scene inside of that hole.
Reina could not help but express repugnance as she caught a glance of that scene.
Due to the powerful bullet that Akira used, he blew the scorpions into tiny bits. Those tiny bits mixed together with the dead corpse of the scorpions as both of those things were trampled by the countless scorpions that were gushing out from the hole. They were mixed together and kneaded into a single humongous pile of meat.
Limbs and other parts of Yarata Scorpion were sticking out and formed a huge pile of flesh, it made anyone who looked at that pile of flesh wondered how the heck that terrifying thing ended up there. Looking at that pile of flesh, there was no way they could count the number of Yarata Scorpions that Akira had taken out. They could only approximate the number by calculating the time Akira spent fighting those scorpions, the number of bullets that he shot, and the width and height of that pile of meat.
Both Shiori and Reina did not have the leeway of checking Akira in the middle of that battle, but still, they did not expect it to be this intense. Shiori regretted that she accepted that order from HQ.
Shiori stopped Reina who was about to come with her.
“Milady, please wait in the hallway. This is not a place for Milady to step into…”
Reina winced as she replied back.
“I-I’m okay. I can handle this.”
“I believe there’s no need for Milady to push yourself too hard. I was the one who accepted that job from the HQ, So please wait in the hallway.”
“It’s okay. I’ll help too. Since I also took this request, I might get to see this kind of thing more often from now on. So I might as well get myself used to it while I have the chance.”
Reina still looked scared as she squeezed out a smile and stepped forward to look into that hole. All the pile of meat that covered the ground from the dead Yarata Scorpions felt so squishy as it absorbed the impact from Reina’s step. Reina could not help but to twitch when she felt that, but she did not step back and kept pushing forward.
Reina and Shiori proceeded deeper into the hole while installing the illuminations. There were Yarata Scorpions’ meats scattered on the walls of the tunnel too. Every time they took a step, they could feel the soft squishy meat on the floor. They tried their best to endure the situation while continuing to install the illuminations.
After Akira finished picking up all his magazines, he peeked into the hallway, it was the place that he trusted Reina and Shiori to defend. It was filled with Yarata scorpion corpses, it showed the fierce fight that Reina and Shiori had while defending the place. Although there were corpses scattered not too far from him, the area around him had no corpses at all as if it was deliberately cleaned beforehand.
It was not like Reina and Shiori had Akira’s extra powerful ammo, because of that, more than half of the scorpions that they killed retained their shapes. The hallway was pretty wide, so unlike a narrow hole, they could not just randomly shoot at these scorpions just like what he did.
The scene in that hallway was proof of Reina and Shiori’s skill. Akira was a bit surprised when he saw it. Although he could not make an accurate prediction of their skill from that scene, he at least knew that it was amazing.
Alpha then explained to Akira what he was seeing.
“There are not that many traces of meat or blood splattered on the wall and the floor. It shows that they did not just randomly shoot at these scorpions, they properly aimed and shot at the scorpion’s weak points. Moreover, to think that both of them could defeat these many scorpions, it seems that they are pretty skilled.”
“Is it possible for me to do something similar?”
“It’s perfectly possible as long as you have my support. You can even just run around freely without a care while carrying piercing ammo loaded AAH rifles on both of your hands with my support.”
“So in short, I can’t do that myself, huh. After all, if I do that, it just means that you’ll be controlling both of my arms, and I’m sure it will leave both of my arms broken too, won’t it?”
“I’m glad that you’re a smart boy. It’s a good thing that you can accurately evaluate your own ability. You’re mostly correct, although it might break both of your arms, it’ll at least save your life. But don’t worry, it’s not like your arms will be completely torn off from your body. It will only cause some lacerations and you should be able to recover with some medicines.”
“…As I thought, it’s too soon for me to take this request. This is a big mistake.”
Akira was actually asking if he could perform just like Shiori or Reina. Basically, he was trying to compare himself with one of them. But Alpha answered back assuming if he had to face all of those scorpions that the girls faced all alone. Because of that, he was actually misunderstanding Alpha’s answer.
Of course Alpha knew that when she gave Akira that answer.
Not too long after that, the long-awaited reinforcements finally arrived. It was the rest of the Hunters in the defensive point 14 and some Hunters from defensive point 15.
When Akira saw Katsuya, he turned to Shiori and said.
“Although this is a little bit different to what we agreed to, would it be okay if I assume that I already finished your request here?”
The request that Akira accepted from Shiori was to provide support to Reina until they returned back to the defensive point. Although it was not like they returned back to the defensive point, their current situation was more or less the same as if they returned back.
“Of course, thank you for your hard work.”
Shiori lightly bowed to Akira and told him that he had officially finished the request from her. Akira lightly bowed back to Shiori and left the group as the girls went to join Katsuya again.
Katsuya and the other Hunters who did not understand what was going on looked puzzled. Watching Akira step away, Reina looked a bit disappointed. Shiori noticed that, but she felt like it would only cause unnecessary trouble if she asked her the reason, thus she decided to just ignore it.
Shiori finally looked relieved.
[That was really dangerous but I guess it’s alright now. After this, I just need to warn Milady not to move separately from Katsuya’s group again… Moreover, since Katsuya-sama is the group leader, he should have properly stopped Milady… Ah, no, that would be me just venting at someone else, it was me who should have properly stopped Milady. Yes, that’s it, I should properly evaluate my own action rather than blaming it on someone else.]
And so Shiori reflected on her actions once more.
Akira and the other Hunters were keeping watch on that place for not too long before more reinforcements came. It was the exploration team and the extermination team. The place then turned into a proper defensive point and the chain of command shifted to the leaders from both teams and the HQ.
The area suddenly became busy with Hunters as the exploration and the extermination team were preparing themselves to explore the hole.
Akira was told to clean the dead scorpions around the area, after all, those corpses were obstructing the Hunters there. Not to mention that some new scorpions might conceal themselves among the corpses.
But it was not like they could carry those scorpions to the surface, so these corpses were only gathered in a safe place in the underground city.
Akira was carrying the scorpions one by one, although they looked heavy, the scorpions were pretty light for their size.
“These scorpions are lighter than I thought, is it because of my augmented suit?”
Akira thought that Alpha increased the power output of his augmented suit while he was carrying the scorpions. But Alpha shook her head and denied his guess.
“Nope, they’re actually pretty light. They’ll grow lighter if you leave them for a while.”
“That’s weird, why is that?”
“There are various theories, but it’s not like there is any definite proof which confirms any one of them as correct. So just take it as it is and don’t think too much about it. One of the theories says that the nanomachines that were spread during the old world era accelerated their decomposition process. Some of the theories even say that it has something to do with the colourless mist. Just think about it, although the Hunters regularly kill a lot of monsters, you don’t find that many corpses in the ruins, right? But with the number of the monsters that the Hunters kill every day, it should be normal to find some rotten corpses from time to time, right?”
“Now that you mention it, that’s indeed weird. I sometimes find bones and skeletons but I don’t find rotten corpses at all. I see, so they were decomposed at an accelerated rate, huh… Wait, then how about that greedy crocodile corpse that we found not too long ago? Isn’t it weird that we found it still retained its shape when it should be quickly decomposed?”
“The outer skin does not get decomposed, so instead, it might be empty under its skin. Or maybe its skin has some kind of preserving function that makes it decompose slower. Different species of monsters decompose at a different rate after all. Not to mention that the location also affects the decomposition rate. But then again, like I said, there are many theories trying to explain it. Well, this underground city is basically the old-world territory too, so the cleaning-nanomachines density might be higher than usual down here. That might also be the reason why this place is so clean even though it’s a huge amalgamation of monsters’ nests. Had these monsters created a stench from their natural processes, then this underground city that’s filled with those monsters would have created a stench, right?”
“You’re right… Well, it’s good that this place is kept clean. It’s just that I can’t help but get curious about it, you know.”
There were a lot of weird things in the eastern district. Most of the people in the eastern district blamed the old-world technology for those weird things. And it was true that most of it was because of the old-world technology. For better or worse, Akira and the other people of the eastern district had already gotten used to it.
But if you look at it from another perspective, it meant that there were a lot of old-world relics in the eastern district. These relics contain knowledge and technology that might cause irreversible damage and chaos or maybe even destroy the world if they were misused. The people who were alive in the previous era could not fight back the destruction that these relics brought and became ruins. It could be expected that the civilization of this era would also be wiped out and become one with the ruins if the old-world technology was mismanaged.
As he continued talking with Alpha about the strange things in the eastern district while cleaning the monsters, Akira thought that the meat pile that he just created would also not stay for long as it should be quickly decomposed into dust particles and vanish.
After he finished his job, Akira took out his reserve ammo to confirm how many magazines he had left.
Akira frowned as he noticed that he did not have much reserve ammo left. He would not be able to fight another swarm of monsters with the amount of reserve ammo that he had now. He would have no other choice but to run away if he encountered another swarm. He would have to let Alpha take over his augmented suit to help him run away, which, of course, would cause him to go through excruciating pain on both of his legs.
But that was only half the reason why he frowned.
Akira’s rental terminal suddenly rang, it was from the HQ. Akira hesitated a bit when he answered the call.
“…This is number 27.”
“This is HQ. We’ve finished examining your battle record. We have some questions regarding the same.”
“I won’t pay for the ammo, okay?! I just won’t!!”
Akira quickly said that first. He sounded desperate when he yelled at his terminal.
Akira used a lot of CWH anti-material rifle’s special ammo to fight the scorpions. It could even be said that he was wasting more ammo than needed and Akira himself knew that fact.
It would not be strange if Akira was told by the HQ to pay for the ammo that he wasted with his own money, but unfortunately, he did not have the ability to pay for them.
The HQ staff understood what Akira was worrying about, he chuckled and said.
“Don’t worry about that. The requester will pay for those bullets, there’s no change regarding that. Even if they thought that the amount of the bullets you used don’t fit the result, they would only cancel their contract and reduce your reward.”
Akira let out a sigh of relief. He calmed himself and asked again.
“I see, so then, what do you want to ask me?”
“There are no information relay stations around where you are and you took out those scorpions when they were far away from the terminal, because of that, we could not accurately calculate the number of monsters that you took out. And so we will only calculate your reward based on the approximated number of monsters that you killed. Do you have any request as to how we should calculate your reward?”
“As long as you don’t count it as zero since you can’t calculate the number of the scorpions that I took out, you can just use whatever calculation you want for the reward and then just divide it equally among 3 people.”
“…Are you sure you’re okay with that?”
Akira believed that he did not say anything weird. So he was confused when the HQ asked for his confirmation and decided to ask the HQ.
“Did I say something bad?”
The HQ staff was so surprised that he went silent for a moment, he then replied back.
“…Nope, there’s no problem. It’s just that most Hunters would usually complain that they should have gotten more reward the moment they see the amount of the reward distributed to them in their terminal. That’s why I just wanted to make sure. So let me get this straight, we will do the calculation and the result will be divided equally between 3 people, okay? I already got your confirmation from this conversation, so don’t complain afterwards, alright?”
After saying that, that HQ staff ended the call.
Silavin: Ahhhhh! My god! Akira! You bloody imbecile! Oh well, that just means we will get to see the other two more often. It is highly possible they form a team in the future.