Multiple grenade-like objects flew out from behind the wreckage. Akira quickly grabbed his AAH assault rifle and shot all of them while they were in the air. One of them was a hand-grenade, due to the impact-trigger function of the grenade, it immediately exploded instead of bouncing back to the person who threw it when it was hit by the bullet. The rest were information interference jamming smoke grenades, the explosion from the hand-grenade caused the jamming smoke to expand very fast.
The jamming smoke not only spread around Akira, but it even blanketed the whole area. Akira noticed that and found it suspicious.
“Alpha, this will also make it hard for him to ascertain my position, right? Is he planning to use the smoke’s cover to escape?”
Akira thought that much of the jamming smoke would affect the information-gathering device of both sides and so his opponent was planning to use that chance to escape. But Alpha replied with an unfavourable answer.
“The composition of the jamming smoke can be adjusted to increase or decrease its potency. So in short, he could have adjusted its composition to only have a minimal effect on his own information-gathering device. If my prediction is correct, he should still have a good ability to ascertain your position.”
“Doesn’t that mean that he can clearly see me while I can’t? That’s really convenient.”
In the worst-case scenario, it would be as if Akira was fighting without any information-gathering device support. He understood the graveness of the situation and made a cynical remark of it, to which Alpha just smiled.
“You can just let him think so and take him out when he lowers his guard.”
“…I don’t really know what’s going on, but I’ll be counting on you.”
“Leave it to me.”
Akira quickly moved following Alpha’s order.
Akira’s visibility was not affected by too much within that jamming smoke. Since it was not thick, he could still see up to a little distance in front of him. But even so, his ability to detect what was around him was greatly reduced. After all, he did not have the advanced image analysis support from the information-gathering device.
Akira grabbed his CWH anti-material rifle and shot at the wreckage where Yajima hid. The CWH special ammo flew at high speed and stirred the smoke before blasting the wreckages, making a loud banging sound. He did get some hit on the wreckage where Yajima was hiding, but Yajima quickly moved to the other wreckage before getting hit.
Yajima thought that Akira kept on shooting to smoke him out from the piles of wreckages.
He was able to confirm Akira’s position while hiding himself, it was because his information-gathering device was not affected by the jamming smoke. He was searching for a chance to return shots at Akira.
He had absolute confidence in his quick draw skill, at least, until Akira evaded his quick draw. But even so, he did not think that there was any need for him to try other kinds of attacks. There was no mistaking it that the quick draw technique was the most powerful technique that he had, as such, he had no other choice but to kill Akira in order to regain his confidence.
Yajima carefully gauged his chance.
[He’s just randomly shooting at the wreckages thinking that I might be hiding there. Judging from the fact that he started shooting in a wider radius, he doesn’t know my location yet. The jamming smoke is working as intended. He doesn’t know my location, but I know his location precisely. He’s one of those Hunters who does not use a helmet, and looking at the way he evaded my shot, he doesn’t have an enhanced body. It’ll only take one bullet to his head to kill him. I have the upper hand here.]
The reason why Yajima did not run away was because he had to kill Akira. If the HQ discovered anything about him and his friends, it would be extremely hard to execute their plan. In order to avoid such a situation, he had no other choice but to kill Akira.
Yajima could accurately see Akira’s movement with his information-gathering device. He even knew exactly where Akira was hiding. Yajima blended in with the smoke and carefully moved from the wreckage he was hiding.
Yajima had ascertained Akira’s location. He knew for sure where Akira was hiding, what he just needed to do next was to shoot in that direction. He could see a faint shadow of Akira in the middle of the smoke that was slowly dispersing. Although it should be impossible to see Akira without any support, Yajima was able to clearly see him.
Akira took a shooting stance, he was aiming at a wreckage in the opposite direction to where Yajima was. Yajima who saw that from behind Akira smiled, his years of experience and his own intuition were saying that he had already won.
Yajima jumped out from behind the wreckage where he was hiding, and at the same time, he quickly grabbed his handgun and directed it at Akira’s head. He had already lined his aim, he only needed to pull the trigger next and it would confirm his victory.
But no bullet flew out from its muzzle. Both his handgun and his whole arm was torn off by CWH anti-material rifle’s special ammo.
The moment Yajima lined his aim, Akira suddenly pushed his augmented suit to the limit to turn his CWH anti-material rifle to the opposite direction. He supported the CWH anti-material rifle with only his right hand and took a shot at Yajima without even looking back before Yajima could even pull the trigger.
The blast from the bullet smacked Yajima to the ground. He still could not process what just happened. In the middle of that chaos, he inadvertently mumbled his first impression of his current situation.
“…You gotta be kidding me…”
Yajima’s right hand that was blasted to pieces left mechanical parts scattered on the ground along with his destroyed handgun. He was a cyborg.
Akira looked like he was in pain. His whole body was pulsing with pain from all the stress that the augmented suit put on his body. Especially his right arm. It was to be expected since he used only his right arm to hold the kickback of his CWH anti-material rifle.
The medicines that he consumed beforehand started taking effect. But it was not like it could immediately heal his injuries. He felt like he would collapse anytime, but he was able to somehow hold his body up.
Akira looked at Yajima who was lying on the ground and asked Alpha.
“…Did I do well?”
Alpha smiled and said.
“Yep, you did a splendid job.”
To be perfectly honest, it was Alpha who aimed at Yajima and shot him down. She controlled Akira’s augmented suit to execute that highly accurate shot.
Alpha was able to completely grasp Akira’s 5 senses, in short, she was able to extract information directly from his sensory organs. She used the image information sent from his eyes to search for any smallest suspicious shifts in the smoke, and thus she was able to guess where Yajima was hiding.
Alpha also had readjusted the setting of the information-gathering device, thus keeping the effect from the jamming smoke to the minimum. Although its effectiveness was still reduced, she could fill that hole with her advanced calculating ability.
So just like Yajima who knew precisely where Akira was, Alpha also knew Yajima’s exact position. The only person who did not know was Akira. Judging from how Akira was acting, Yajima thought that Akira did not know where he was hiding and got lured into coming out from the wreckage.
Akira kept his eyes on Yajima who was lying on the ground and asked Alpha.
“Why didn’t you aim for his head?”
“There are 2 reasons. First of all, it might not stop his finger from pulling the trigger even if you blast his head off. If he pulled the trigger the moment he got shot or before the bullet reached him, he might get a shot on you. So I shot his arm instead, just to be safe. The second reason was because he might still be alive even without his head.”
“No no no, there’s no way he can survive without a head, isn’t it?”
“That man is a cyborg, it might be possible that he has a remote control function. There are cyborgs with no brain in their heads, you know. If it’s just a remote body, then even if you destroy his head where the control unit is, he might have another support unit that can act as the control unit’s substitute, he’s a cyborg after all. But whichever the case, I was worried that he might still shoot back even without his head, that’s why I decided to prioritize taking out any possibilities of him shooting at you.”
Akira took a closer look at the still shocked Yajima. Although he blew Yajima’s arm to pieces, there was no blood splatter at all. But he could see some mechanical parts peeking out from Yajima’s open wound.
Just like Alpha said, Yajima was a cyborg. His body was composed of a mix between mechanical and organic parts, but the only organic part of his body was his central nervous system. Although he had lost his right arm, he did not feel any pain at all. His body was adjusted so that he would only feel minimal pain. But even so, he could feel the impact when the bullet tore his right arm, it caused enough damage to render him unable to continue fighting.
Akira never thought the possibility that Yajima was a cyborg. He looked a bit surprised as he asked Alpha.
“How did you notice that he’s a cyborg?”
“There are a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason is that he’s too good at lying. You got tricked and caught off guard back there, remember?”
“I’m really thankful for saving me there.”
Akira conveyed his gratitude and Alpha replied back with a content smile.
“…So, how is his lie connected to him being a cyborg?”
“I can get an inkling whether someone is lying or not from their expression. Like if they make a strange expression, or if they make any suspicious gestures, or if there’s an inconsistency in their tone.”
“In that case, you should’ve told me back then.”
“Believe me, I also got tricked.”
“…But you just said that you can tell if someone is lying, right?”
“There was no sign in his expression that he was lying. But in truth, he was actually lying. This means that his expression was not connected to his inner mind at all. The only people who could do that are either cyborgs who can completely control their facial muscles or remote mechanical bodies. I bet he recorded his normal expression and was applying it on his face.”
“I see. Well, you’re really amazing.”
“It goes without saying.”
Alpha smiled at Akira in response to his compliment.
As Akira approached Yajima’s body without lowering his guard, he heard Alpha’s warning.
“Although it wasn’t fatal, the CWH anti-material rifle’s special ammo has caused him significant damage. But even so, don’t drop your guard.”
“And also, reload a new magazine. Although it’s not completely empty, the loaded magazine has but few bullets.”
Akira followed Alpha’s suggestion and reloaded a new magazine. Although Yajima was badly wounded, he was still someone who was more powerful than Akira. He kept that in mind as he carefully approached Yajima.
Yajima was not dead nor was he knocked unconscious. He was lying there on the ground, completely conscious. And he was thinking hard about how to escape his current predicament.
Although he was badly wounded, it was not fatal. It might be hard to fight Akira without one arm, but he still could run away from Akira. But of course, he needed to think about what to do since Akira definitely would shoot him from behind if he started running.
Yajima had requested reinforcements from his friends, but he did not know for sure when his reinforcements would arrive. No matter how he calculated the estimated time for his reinforcements to arrive, it would only happen after Akira shot his head. So in short, Yajima was already in checkmate.
After Akira took a few steps closer to Yajima, he readied his CWH anti-material rifle and pointed it at Yajima. Akira understood Yajima was someone stronger than him, thus it did not seem like he had any plan on lowering his guard yet. He stood at a distance where he could safely kill Yajima even if Yajima suddenly jumped and charged at him. His gesture and expression were saying that he would not hesitate to pull the trigger if Yajima made any suspicious moves.
Yajima looked meek as he raised his left hand toward Akira expressing his surrender while still lying on the ground.
“P-Please stop… It’s my loss… Please don’t shoot…”
“Why did you attack me?”
“Like I said, it’s a misunderstanding… Please… Listen to what I have to say… If you just listen… I’m sure you’ll understand…”
Yajima was trembling as he was pleading for his life, he made a plea for Akira to listen to his explanation.
Akira had the upper hand here, he basically had Yajima’s life in his hands. His situation gave Akira a leeway to reassess and think about his next actions.
“What to do here?”
“He’s sincerely pleading for his life, but that meek look is a lie. His plea for you to listen to him is also a lie. He might be planning to talk his way out, or he’s planning to buy time.”
After listening to Alpha’s explanation, Akira turned to Yajima and asked him.
“You’re planning to buy time, huh? So how long do you need to wait until your friends come here?”
“Buying time?! It’s a misunderstanding! I have no plans to do that!! I swear!! I’m not lying!!”
“Akira, that’s a lie.”
Yajima was spouting excuses in panic. Alpha quickly pointed out to Akira that it was a lie, and he believed her.
“I’ll just shoot all his limbs and carry him to HQ, I bet he won’t die even if I do that anyway, and that would also render him completely harmless. Not to mention that HQ did tell me to bring him back to them if it’s possible.”
“You’re right. I don’t think he won’t fight back if you’re going to carry him to the HQ. It’s rather dangerous to carry him around if we don’t do that much at least.”
Akira pulled up his CWH anti-material rifle and lined his aim at Yajima’s left arm. But the pain on his right arm caused him to stop his action and made him twitch.
“T-that hurts. I can still feel the pain though, what’s going on? Shouldn’t the medicine already be working by now?”
“Even with your augmented suit, it seems that it’s still impossible for you to shoot CWH anti-material rifle with a single hand. Your muscles and bones are at their limit, you might need to take more medicines.”
“Then why did you do that?”
“It was because that was the shortest and quickest way to execute that shot. It’s also because you were facing the opposite direction from where he was in order to lure him out. Other than that…”
Since it looked like it would be a long lecture, Akira quickly interjected.
“Alright, alright. Basically, you had your reasons for doing that, right?”
“Yep. If it’s too painful, you should take more medicines now while you have the chance.”
Akira pulled out some medicines and swallowed them. Since he had no idea how long it would take for the cheap medicines to start having any effects, he chose to use his precious expensive medicines instead.
With this, Akira had exhausted all of the medicines that he found in Kuzusuhara ruin. He let out a sigh.
“…It’s all gone now, dammit!! Rather than only paying for my ammo expense, I should’ve made them pay for my medicines too!”
“It can’t be helped, Akira. Like I told you before, don’t do anything dangerous from now on. Remember to be very careful.”
Akira aimed his CWH anti-material rifle back at Yajima’s left arm.
Yajima understood Akira’s plans from his behaviour.
[He has no plans to listen to me. I guess it’s obvious that I’m trying to buy more time, huh? It’s thankful that he’s not planning to kill me here, but it’ll be game over if he brings me to HQ. He’s planning to destroy all my limbs before carrying me, huh? He’s one careful boy. What should I do now? If he’s this careful, even if Nelia and the others arrive to save me, he would kill me first before moving to fight them. I still can’t contact them because of the jamming smoke, I’ll again once I’m out of the jamming smoke’s range…]
Although Yajima’s expression looked like he was scared and in so much pain, he was still thinking calmly inside. He was trying to find a way to avoid having to pay the expense for fixing all his 4 limbs and escape that dangerous situation.
Yajima had no way to escape from his predicament. He could not change Akira’s position as the one with the upper hand no matter what he did. In short, he could not turn the table with his own power there. It was also unthinkable that Akira would do anything stupid that would endanger his position. The situation there would not change with only two of them.
But it was a different case with a third person.
“What are you doing there?!!”
Reina’s voice echoed through the hallway. Akira and Yajima could see Reina and Shiori running towards them.
Drankam sent some young Hunters from the gang to help replace the illuminations. Katsuya’s team was among those young Hunters.
The HQ told Katsuya’s group to send 2 of their members to another team. Katsuya tried hard to negotiate with the HQ to rethink, but in the end, it did not work at all. And so he reluctantly sent Shiori and Reina. It was because, amongst all of his members, Shiori was the only person who could handle the situation in case something bad happened when they were in another team.
Reina and Shiori did not know that Akira was in the same team where they were sent to. When they arrived at their assigned station, they only found a cart filled with illuminations and no one around. When they decided to look around for the other Hunters, they saw Akira pointing his rifle toward another Hunter.
Akira and Yajima turned towards Shiori and Reina. His expression turned stern the moment he saw Shiori and Reina. He thought that it would be a huge pain in the ass to explain the situation to them.
“So those two are the Hunters that the HQ sent, huh?”
“It would have been great if they had come sooner while I was in the middle of that fight.”
Normally, Alpha would quickly notice those two and inform Akira about them. He thought that it was strange she did not do that, so he asked her.
“…Now that I think about it, Alpha, didn’t you notice them before?”
“As I said before, the jamming smoke reduced my detection ability.”
“Ah, you’re right.”
Akira was convinced by her answer.
Alpha did not lie, it was true that the jamming smoke reduced her detection ability. But she did not say anything about the fact that she was hoping Akira would at least destroy Yajima’s 4 limbs before Shiori and Reina arrived there.
Of course, Alpha could just control Akira’s augmented suit to immediately kill Yajima. But doing so would mean that she would ignore his will, and to do so, there were many requirements that needed to be satisfied first in order to release her from her bind and execute that action.
But more than that, Alpha had to prioritize Akira’s wish, that was why she could not just ignore his will and force him to do something.
Akira was still looking at Reina and Shiori when Yajima turned to Akira.
He looked at Akira’s expression and found a ray of hope to get out of his crisis.
[He knows them but they’re not his friends. Or at least, they are not close enough for them to believe his explanation without questioning it. And this boy just thought that it’s a pain in the ass to explain what’s going on, didn’t he? He thought that those girls won’t believe him even if he tried to explain the situation.]
Although he was snickering inside, his face still looked desperate as he shouted at Shiori and Reina.
“Help me!! He’ll kill me!!”
Akira inadvertently turned his gaze back to Yajima. Yajima was trembling and shouted again.
“This boy shot me out of the blue!! He’s trying to kill me!! Although I was just working on replacing the illuminations!!”
Akira denied in panic.
“That’s not true!! Well, it’s true that I shot him, but it’s because he tried to kill me first!!”
“He’s lying!! I only fought back because he tried to kill me!!!”
“Are you f*cking kidding me?! You were obviously trying to kill me, weren’t you?!! And you’re the one who shot at me first too!!”
“That’s because you pointed your rifle at me!!”
Akira and Yajima were yelling at each other.
Reina and Shiori were confused. They were only sent there to help with the work to replace the illuminations. They did not know who was saying the truth. Judging from the situation, they only knew that those two fought and Akira won. But they could not tell which one was lying and which one was saying the truth.
Reina was confused and asked Shiori for help.
“S-Shiori… W-what do you think?”
“Even if Milady asks me, I myself don’t know for sure…”
Shiori did not know what to do. It was at least obvious to her that something had happened which triggered a fight. Since she was once so close to getting into a fight with Akira, a part of her was actually suspecting him.
But with that being said, Shiori did not think that Akira was lying. After all, when she asked him in the past, he once told her that he would rather answer truthfully even if it might cause a fight with her rather than coming up with a random answer to evade answering the real question.
No matter which one of them was lying, or even if it was just a big misunderstanding between the two of them, there was no way Shiori could tell, and she understood that.
Shiori looked at Yajima and Akira with a serious face.
“I believe that I have to contact the HQ first, will that be alright?”
Shiori thought that if any of them looked troubled when she wanted to contact the HQ, then that person would be the one who was lying. Or at least, the possibility for that person to be the liar would be high. So she stared intensely at Yajima and Akira.
Akira answered back swiftly.
“Ah, right, you can go ahead and contact the HQ. I did report to the HQ that I found a suspicious person who’s not using the terminal from the HQ, then HQ gave me permission to deal with that person even if it meant that I need to kill him. You’ll understand the situation once you contact the HQ.”
“That’s my line!! Just contact the HQ!! I’m sure you’ll realise that I’m saying the truth!!”
Akira and Yajima were glaring at each other. Reina pulled out her information terminal to contact the HQ, but her call would not go through.
“… I can’t get any connections to HQ.”
Yajima, who heard Reina’s mumble, said.
“That’s because this boy used jamming smoke!! You!! You knew that this would happen when you told them to contact the HQ, didn’t you?!”
“You’re the one who used the jamming smoke!! I don’t have any grenades on me!! Just check me, if you don’t believe!!”
“That’s only because you used all of your grenades!! Just stop lying already!!!”
Akira and Yajima glared at each other again. Both of them encouraged Reina to contact HQ, but she could not get any connection.
Reina and Shiori came there to help with replacing the illuminations, which were the same excuse as to why Yajima was there.
On the other hand, Akira said that he was told by the HQ to deal with a Hunter who was not sharing his position through the same network, but Shiori did not hear anything about that from the HQ. Thus there was a discrepancy with what Akira said.
Shiori took another careful look at Akira and Yajima. Both of them did not seem like they were lying.
Reina looked confused as she was observing Akira and Yajima. She could not tell which one was lying. After racking her brains out and still unable to come up with an answer, she turned to Shiori for help.
Shiori came up with a suggestion.
“Well then. Let’s bring everyone back to HQ first. Or at least get away from the jamming smoke until we can contact the HQ.”
Shiori turned to Akira and carefully said to him.
“…Now then, Akira-sama. Could you please lower your rifle?”
Akira’s face was grim, his rifle was still pointing at Yajima.
“…I should’ve killed this guy before they came here.”
“It can’t be helped, it’s not like you can kill him now in this situation. Don’t worry, it should be recorded just fine. It’s highly unlikely that you would get framed. Since we were also originally planning to bring him to the HQ, let’s think of it as a good thing now that you got more help to bring this man to the HQ.”
Akira calmed down after Alpha said that to him.
Since Akira did not lower his rifle, Shiori put up her guard.
“I already heard you.”
Akira then lowered his rifle. But Shiori still had her guards up against Akira.
Shiori knew about Akira’s ability and personality. And so she thought that in this situation, Akira was the one that she should be putting her guard against. Thus it could not be helped as she lowered her guard against the other guy, who was still lying on the ground trembling in fear with his right arm missing and unarmed.
With Shiori keeping her eyes on him, Akira’s focus shifted to Shiori.
It meant that both of them were not watching Yajima.
“Akira!! Stop her at once!!”
It was already too late when Alpha alerted him.
Reina was already standing next to Yajima and extending her hand. It was completely normal to do that to someone who had lost his right arm, lying on the ground without any weapon, and looked completely scared. But it was a fatal mistake.
Yajima pulled Reina’s hand and made her lose balance. At the same time, he stood up, circled behind her, and used his left arm to restrain Reina, choking her.
Yajima smirked vilely and said.
The fear that was on Yajima’s face until a few seconds ago, had dissipated.