Akira looked like he was in a good mood as he was stuffing his magazines back into his rucksack. He was happy that the HQ said the requester would still pay for the bullets that he used. Reina awkwardly approached Akira, Shiori and Katsuya’s group followed behind her.
Akira only glanced at Reina before returning back to stuffing his magazines. Although Shiori looked calm from the outside, she was actually pretty shaken up inside.
Reina hesitated, she looked like she wanted to say something to Akira. But she went silent to think about it. Once she had thought enough, she said.
“Uhmmm, I heard about your call with HQ regarding the reward distribution and if I’m not mistaken, it seems like you told them to divide the reward equally for 3 people, is that correct?”
“Yeah, they asked me what to do and I did say that.”
Reina looked a bit troubled. Looking at her made Akira uneasy too. Both of them were staring at each other, trying to understand why the other person said what they just said. But since their way of thinking was totally different from each other, neither could not catch the meaning behind their short conversation.
But before they could clear up the misunderstanding, Akira quickly drew a conclusion and looked annoyed as he said to Reina.
“Are you thinking of telling me to give you all the reward from that battle since I was in the middle of your support request and what I did was just a form of support for you? Just to let you know, I won’t do that, okay?”
Seeing how Akira’s mood worsened, Shiori quickly put her guard up, the same happened with Katsuya and his team.
Reina could not immediately understand why Akira said that, but the moment she did, she shook her head in panic.
“Ah, no! That’s not what I meant!! It’s the opposite!!”
“You took out more than half of the scorpions that we defeated, right? So if the reward is divided equally, it would mean that my reward will be way bigger than it should, are you okay with that?”
“We stopped them together, so it’s only to be expected to divide the reward equally, right? Well, if I had to pay for my own ammo, I would like to divide it equally after covering for my ammo expense. But since the requester paid that for me, so I’ll just divide it equally with 3 people. To be honest, I don’t want to argue too much about that, or is that you have any complaints about it?”
“W-well, not really, but…”
“Then you have no problem dividing it equally with 3 people, right? If the reward from the extermination request is only divided according to the number of monsters that you take out, won’t the Hunters who focus on scanning enemies only get a small amount of reward? It’ll definitely cause a fight, you know?”
If not for Reina and Shiori, Akira would have found himself surrounded by scorpions back there. Reina and Shiori did work well. Akira seriously thought so.
Moreover, it was not like Akira had discussed with them beforehand as to how to divide the reward. He could not think of any better way to share the reward other than dividing it equally among the members of the team that was formed on the spot.
Although Reina understood what Akira was saying, it was not like that was enough to convince her. It was true that she did not want to be a deadweight for him, but she also understood that she could not produce the same result as him.
“Milady, since he is okay with it and it doesn’t reduce the amount of reward that we receive, I believe we should just accept it. Arguing might only cause a needless fight.”
Shiori was signalling Reina that continuing it might cause another fight with Akira. Thus Reina quickly decided to stop arguing and said in a panic.
“Y-you’re right. It’s not something worth fighting about.”
“So, is that all?”
Reina was about to answer that question, but Shiori suddenly interjected.
“That would be all, we’re sorry to have troubled you. Milady, let’s return now.”
Shiori immediately suggested Reina to consider withdrawing from the conversation. Reina looked a bit troubled with her sudden request before awkwardly leaving that place together with Shiori.
After they walked away from Akira, Reina asked Shiori.
“Uhmm, I was trying to be careful back there. Did I do something wrong?”
Reina was actually trying to be careful not to cause a fight, but then Shiori suddenly pulled her away from that conversation. So she thought that she did something that she should not have done.
Shiori frowned as she answered.
“Well, it’s true that you caused a misunderstanding which worsened Akira-sama’s mood, but I believe it was because of Milady’s clumsiness. But again, with that being said, you can’t blame your clumsiness. It’s wrong to assume that the other person will always understand what you’re trying to say. There’s always a possibility where the other person misunderstands and their misunderstanding might not get cleared up or even become worse.”
“But I just wanted to talk with him, you know…”
“Milady, you yelled at him once that he can just die alone somewhere. So, I believe that you should not rush into a conversation so quickly, you should give him some time to cool himself before talking to him again. He’s not like Katsuya-sama, he would not just laugh it off if you make a spicy remark about him.”
“Y-you’re right. I understand.”
Reina wanted to know how well she performed, she wanted to know Akira’s opinion about her performance, that was why she wanted to talk more with Akira. But it seemed that she had to postpone that for now. Reina looked depressed since she understood that it was all because of her own action.
Reina and Shiori had left Akira to his own devices, but Katsuya and the other two girls were still there. Katsuya looked hesitant as he asked Akira.
“Uhmmm, there’s something I want to ask you, what do you mean with that support request?”
Akira answered back apathetically.
“Just ask Reina.”
Katsuya was a bit annoyed by Akira’s behaviour, but he held himself back and asked Akira once more.
“We’re Hunters from Drankam and she’s one of my team members. Well, I’m basically the leader of our team, so I wanted to know what she did when she was away from the team. I need to give a full report to the gang, you see. It has something to do with the reward, so, can you please tell me?”
“Just ask her.”
Akira answered back again, apathetically. It was as if he did not care at all.
Katsuya raised his voice and pressed for an answer again.
“Is it something that you can’t tell or is there anything that you’re trying to hide?”
“You can get all the details from her, can’t you? Or is it like you’re someone who doesn’t mind leaking the request that you took from others without asking for approval?”
Akira was someone who took his request very seriously. Although he was not told to keep it secret, it was not like he was told that he could freely tell other people either. Not to mention, he got so close to trying to kill them. Thus he thought that it was for Reina and Shiori to decide what to tell and what to hide.
Akira thought that Katsuya could just go ahead and ask Reina instead. If Reina and Shiori told Katsuya everything, then it must be something okay to tell others, but if they refused to tell Katsuya, then it was indeed something that he should not share with others. Akira concluded it as such and that was why he told Katsuya to just ask Reina and Shiori instead of him.
Akira’s behaviour was rubbing Katsuya the wrong way. He just went silent and continued packing his magazines as Katsuya was glaring at him.
Yumina looked worriedly at Katsuya.
Katsuya had a bad habit of taking actions thinking that he was correct. He was simply worried for his teammates and he was only thinking of doing his duty as the team leader. One thing for sure was that Reina and Shiori fought with some monsters when he was not around, he just wanted to know what happened. That was all.
But the person who knew what happened would not tell him anything, rising Katsuya’s anger. But, even so, Yumina thought that it was not enough of a reason to cause a fight.
At this rate, Katsuya might start yelling at Akira or even use force to make him talk. Yumina decided to calm him down before that happened.
“Katsuya, let’s just go back. It’s faster if we ask Reina.”
Katsuya was shocked, believing that Yumina took Akira’s side rather than his own.
Looking at how Katsuya reacted, Yumina was able to immediately predict what he was thinking, so she quickly tried to explain it to him.
“It’s not like you can fully trust an explanation from a random stranger, right? So I think it’s much faster and more reliable if we ask Reina, who’s in our team.”
Yumina smiled gently at Katsuya when she said that.
Yumina worded it out as if she was mocking Akira. This was something that she would never do normally. This was done not only to calm Katsuya down but also so that Akira would blame her instead if anything bad was to happen.
“I agree. It’ll only cause you more trouble if he gave vague or even fake answers.”
Airi stated that straightforwardly.
Katsuya finally calmed down after hearing Airi and Yumina.
“You’re right. I guess it’s true that it’s meaningless to ask him, huh. Let’s head back then.”
After saying that, Katsuya turned and left that place. Airi did not say anything and followed behind him. Yumina, who was the only person remaining, stood there looking at Akira.
Akira did not seem like he was bothered by how they treated him, as a matter of fact, he did not even look at them. But even so, Yumina bowed politely to him as if she was saying sorry before following Katsuya.
Alpha smiled intrepidly and said.
“Although 3 of the 4 people here were prone to causing a fight, it ended peacefully. That girl is pretty good.”
“Is that so? Katsuya and Yumina. Those two seem to be in good terms and have been together for a long time. I’m sure this is not the first time she interjected to defuse the situation.”
“If that’s true, I guess she’s having it hard, huh.”
“I bet she’s doing that happily on her own volition, but Katsuya might have become like that because he’s been unconsciously relying too much on her. Well, it has nothing to do with us though.”
Although he felt sorry for Yumina, it was not like he wanted to get involved in troubles that Katsuya and his team caused. He wished good luck for Yumina in case she was really doing that on her own volition.
Akira was talking with Alpha while watching his surroundings. Although he looked like he was seriously keeping watch from the outside, he was actually supporting his posture with his augmented suit while relaxing his body.
Akira, Shiori and Reina were able to deal with a swarm of scorpions with only the three of them. It gave them an amazing accomplishment but left them dead tired. Because of that, Alpha decided not to tell Akira to watch his surroundings as a part of his training.
One of the staff who had a good intuition noticed that Akira was relaxing and not watching his surroundings properly, so he yelled at Akira and asked him a question that he would not be able to answer if he did not properly keep watch of his surroundings.
But Akira was able to answer him just fine. Of course, it was all thanks to Alpha.
That staff looked surprised and said to Akira.
“Ohh, so you’re properly keeping watch, huh? Sorry I doubted you.”
“It’s okay. It’s true that I might look like just daydreaming and it’s also true that I’m very tired, so I might be in a bit of a daze right now.”
Akira answered back straightforwardly. Although that staff could not see her, Alpha was floating beside him while smiling.
“Ah, I see, you’re the one who found that hole connected to the uncharted area, huh. I also heard that you went through a fierce battle too. I’m sorry but it seems that you need to work for a little longer.”
The staff then went back to continue his work. Alpha turned and smiled at Akira.
“You did well dodging him.”
Akira smiled smugly.
“Well, it’s fine, isn’t it? Since I can do all of these things only because I have your support, it’s all thanks to you. Not to mention that I would not be able to do this request if I don’t have your support, so if that much of lying is not allowed, then I shouldn’t be here in the first place. I’m 100% relying on your support after all.”
“You’re not wrong there.”
If Alpha stopped her support, Akira would just turn into a deadweight. So he was planning to keep on relying on her so as not to slow the other Hunters down.
Although in the end, it caused a staff to doubt his own intuition when he noticed Akira relaxing, it was an acceptable sacrifice looking at the bigger picture. It was way better than getting ambushed by a swarm of Yarata Scorpions.
After the small conversation, Akira kept watch of his surroundings as time passed by without anything interesting happening.
The Kuzusuhara underground ruin exploration and Yarata Scorpion nests extermination went on for 24 hours. After all, the monsters in the underground city kept active regardless of whether it was night or day. Thus the Hunters had to stand watch 24 hours to secure the area.
Akira’s shift lasted for 8 hours. It was the shortest working shift available. The Hunters who wanted to earn more money could stay in the underground city for 24 hours. But of course, Akira was planning to immediately return back home after 8 hours.
Alpha told Akira that his shift was almost done, so he pulled out his terminal and contacted the HQ.
“This is number 27. HQ, are you there?”
“This is HQ. What’s wrong?”
“My shift is almost over, so please send another Hunter to take my place.”
“Oh? Wait for a sec, let me check again, number 27, huh… You do fulfil the minimum working hours quota. And there’s no problem with the number of Hunters present there, so you can just go ahead and return back home. Thank you for your hard work.”
“What should I do with my rental terminal?”
“You can carry it around as long as you’re taking this request. If you’re afraid of losing it or breaking it, you can come to the temporary HQ and hand it over to our staff. If it’s too much work to do, you can just carry it with you back home. For tomorrow, you just need to go to the first floor of the HQ with that rental terminal. Even if you lose it, you’ll just get your reward subtracted. In the end, it’s just a cheap mass-produced terminal and we have a lot of reserves left. After all, they often break in battles.”
“Roger that. I’ll return back home for today.”
“Be careful on your way back, remember that you won’t get any reward from the monsters that you kill if you get attacked on your way back home. That’s all. Once again, thank you for your hard work.”
The HQ then ended the call. Akira’s work for that day was completed.
Akira took the request for 1 week, so there were still 6 days to go. Although his bad luck was rather worrying, it would be great if he could finish his shift just fine like today for the remaining 6 days.
Alpha smiled and hoped that would be the case.
“Good work for today. You survived another day, we just need to do it 6 more times. Let’s give our best.”
“We’re not done yet for today. It’s not safe yet until I’m back in the city, or at least, I should not put my guard down before I’m back to the surface. Your detection ability will turn back to normal once we’re out from the underground, right?”
“That’s right, let’s head to the surface as soon as possible. It’s a good thing that you didn’t immediately drop your guard just because the situation has calmed down. It’s proof that you’ve grown.”
Alpha was honestly praising Akira’s growth and he felt that it did not feel too bad to be praised.
As Akira was thinking of going back, he caught a glimpse of Katsuya’s team. Katsuya’s team was already underground when Akira came, so if they took the same shift as Akira, they would have headed to the surface before him.
“Those guys are still staying down here, huh?”
“They’re really hard-working Hunters. Or maybe, their contract is different compared to your contract. Well, whatever it is, whether they stay here or not, it’s none of our business.”
“You’re right, let’s return back as fast as we can, I can’t wait to take a bath.”
As Akira was about to excitedly depart, Alpha suddenly reminded him.
“Be sure to finish the rifles’ maintenance before taking a bath, okay? Judging from how tired you are, I’m sure you’ll fall asleep before cleaning your rifles if you take bath first.”
Akira tried to negotiate although he knew it was futile.
“Can I do it tomorrow instead…?”
Akira hung his head low after Alpha rejected him. He sighed and then dragged his feet back home, Alpha just smiled as she looked at him like that.
Reina’s eyes followed Akira’s back as he left that place. It was not like she had any particular reason why she did that, or at least, she herself was not aware of any.
Though, Katsuya noticed Reina’s action.
“Reina, what’s wrong?”
Reina looked like she was somehow in a good mood when she answered back.
“Hm? Ah, it’s nothing.”
Katsuya felt a bit annoyed by Reina’s answer, he thought that she was trying to hide something from him.
He cast aside his displeasure and asked Reina for the second time.
Reina was puzzled since it was rare for Katsuya to do something like this. She then decided to say what she just thought.
“…Well, I just thought that he went back first although he came here after us. By the way, what’s going on with the people who have to take our place?”
When Reina said that, it reminded her that she was trapped there even though she also wanted to go back home. That was why she asked that question to Katsuya.
Katsuya answered back in panic.
“I-I’ve asked them to send someone. So just please wait for a bit more.”
Katsuya immediately thought that it was a big mistake when he said that to Reina. According to the contract between the city and Drankam, the Hunter replacements for the Drankam Hunters would be from Drankam. Because of that, they could not go back home yet like Akira who was able to go back because there were enough Hunters to take his place.
“But still, it’s already been 3 hours, you know. Don’t you think you should at least check with them?”
Reina’s mood was getting worse. She was checking the current situation while talking with Katsuya, and the result from that made her mood worse.
Reina was only temporarily forgetting her exhaustion from when she fought at full power. Now, all the accumulated tiredness weighed down at her. Although they were taking turns in resting, in the end, they could only sit on the hard floor, so it was not like they could recover much. Her tiredness only caused Reina to get even more annoyed.
Katsuya lamented what he just said to Reina. He looked remorseful as he tried to cheer her up.
“They said that they had some unexpected trouble when dispatching the Hunters. But they’re already heading this way, so let’s just wait for a bit more, okay?”
Yumina then tried calming Reina down too.
“Reina, calm down. It’s not like he can do anything about it even if you’re blaming him, right? So just be patient.”
Airi also joined in.
“It’s not Katsuya’s fault.”
Reina’s face twitched. If it was the usual Reina, she would start throwing a tantrum and yelling right there, and after that, Shiori would try to calm her down while reprimanding her. Katsuya and the other two also thought that would happen as they frowned.
And as they expected, Reina tensed up and looked like she was about to start yelling.
But unexpectedly, she stopped and immediately tried to calm herself down. Reina was gritting her teeth as if she was holding back something, she then let out a big sigh.
“…I guess you’re right, I’m sorry.”
Katsuya, Yumina and Airi were surprised by the unexpected turn of events.
Reina was a bit displeased when she noticed how the others reacted.
“What’s with that face? Do you have any problems with what I said?”
“Ah, nope, nothing, right, Yumina?”
“Eh? Ah, yeah.”
“It’s good that you won’t cause a ruckus at every single thing.”
The last remark that was from Airi caused Reina’s face to twitch, but that was all. Reina sighed while trying to calm herself down. It did not take long before she returned back to her usual mood.
Akira judged that he would not employ Reina even if it was for free which was the second-worst possible evaluation, he did not take back that evaluation even after he was about to get into a fight with Shiori.
Then Akira asked the HQ to divide the reward from that battle equally among the three of them. It showed that he judged she deserved to get the same amount of reward as him. Reina thought that he made that evaluation after seeing her skill, that was why she was in such a good mood.
Shiori looked at Reina with a conflicted gaze. It was obvious that Reina’s skill had grown, but the trigger of that sudden growth was because she met with Akira. Shiori actually hoped that trigger was her. After all, she stayed beside Reina in order to help and support her.
Katsuya looked at Reina who was talking with Shiori. The usual fiery Reina was no longer there, he thought that might also be the reason why she was able to hold herself back from yelling.
Katsuya knew well when Reina changed, it was after she followed Akira.
Back then, Reina broke off from his team and chased after Akira. And when they met again after that, she had already transformed.
When Katsuya asked her what happened after she left the group, Reina proudly told him that she fought against a swarm of Yarata Scorpions. She told him how she fought valiantly and Shiori who was with her confirmed that it was true.
By the way, both Reina and Shiori decided to hide the fact that they were so close to getting into a fight with Akira. Even for someone like Reina, she knew well that it would only cause needless trouble if she told Katsuya about that.
Reina was mostly in a good mood after she met up with Katsuya’s team. Many would think she was in a good mood because she went through a good battle, but Katsuya did not believe that was the only reason.
Although he did not realize it himself, he actually found it rather displeasing that one of his friends went together with someone who he hated only to come back later with better skill and better mood than before.
Silavin: Gosh. Katsuya, you need to have better self-esteem here man. Your complex about Akira is showing…