Nelia and Kain were easily able to find the building where Akira was hiding by following his tracks.
Nelia’s and Kain’s powered suits were equipped with advanced information-gathering devices. Not to mention, there were particular substances stuck on Akira’s body such as dust from Kain’s missile barrage. So, they only needed to increase the sensitivity of their own information-gathering device to find Akira’s trace even inside the thick colourless mist.
Kain looked at the building and asked Nelia.
“That building, huh? Is he thinking that we’ll just catch up with him if he runs away?”
“Yup, maybe he thinks so. It’s a good thing that we don’t have to chase him. Let’s just quickly finish this.”
The moment he said that, Kain’s force field armour flashed brightly from the impact of a bullet. Away from them, Akira was aiming at Kain from the window of that building.
Nelia hid behind Kain.
“It seems that the boy is expecting a fight.”
“That damn brat, looking down on us!!”
Kain’s powered suit’s control device quickly analyzed the impact angle and made a conjecture about where the shot came from. The camera on the head of his powered suit captured the image of Akira holding his CWH anti-material rifle on one of that building’s windows.
Kain quickly aimed his 4 big guns toward Akira’s direction. Those huge cannons then released a barrage of warheads at Akira, causing a loud bang.
Those big guns normally could only be used by humanoid mechanical soldiers, but Kain was able to handle them thanks to his powered suit. The warheads released by those big guns could tear metals as if they were sheets of paper. But even so, they were only able to cause slight damage to that building.
Nelia was shocked.
“That’s one strong building. Although it might only be the outer wall that is durable, I wonder how long it has been standing there.”
There were many types of old-world buildings. Their locations, positions and ages showed the different techniques and technologies used to construct those buildings. The people of the eastern district did not know for sure about the era and the culture when the Kuzusuhara ruin was constructed. But by seeing just how strong the building in which Akira was hiding, Nelia and Kain caught a glimpse of the culture and the era when Kuzusuhara was thriving.
But Kain just brushed Nelia’s question.
“Like hell if I know! So how was that? Did that finish him off?”
“Nope, the control device is still locked.”
“He survived that again?!!”
As Kain shouted, he took another shot from CWH special ammo. Akira had evaded that barrage as he ran through the hallway and shot Kain from another window.
“That damn br-…!!!!”
Another shot hit Kain, cutting his words midway. Akira judged that Kain would not shoot back at him, so he quickly took another shot at Kain.
Kain fixed his stance and readied his guns again. Nelia stood behind him and also helped him shoot back. They showered the window, where Akira was, with bullets that would easily turn a tank into papier-mâché. Those bullets passed through that window and created holes on the wall inside that building.
Since Alpha told Akira to quickly leave that position, he was able to avoid those bullets. As he was running through the hallway, his face turned grim when he saw the walls that were about to crumble down after the recent barrage.
“Yikes!! That’s scary!! I won’t even leave a trace if I get caught in that!!”
“Although it’s not as strong as CWH special ammo, with a similar budget, that barrage has more or less the same amount of destructive power.”
“I can only shoot one bullet at a time while he can go full auto. I’ll be dead if I get shot even once, while on the other hand, he can take a direct hit from CWH special ammo just fine. This is just crazy.”
Akira smiled bitterly. Although he had decided to stand up against Nelia and Kain, it did not make them any weaker.
Akira looked at the CWH anti-material rifle in his hand. It was indeed a rifle that carried overwhelming firepower when he was underground, but now, it was barely able to do any damage.
But even so, it was true that it was his lifeline. Even if he loaded AP bullets into his AAH rifle, it would only ricochet on Kain’s powered suit like water falling on an umbrella.
(p4553r: AP bullets are Armor Piercing bullets)
“Although I heard that this CWH special ammo can easily destroy a tank…”
“But they didn’t say that it can easily destroy any tanks, right?”
“Well, that’s true. It’s just that I’m starting to doubt whether it can even do anything since it seems that my shots barely damage him at all. So how much do my shots affect him? Wait, it does affect him, right?”
“That big sized powered suit must have an equally big generator. I bet half of the generator output is routed to maintain his force field armour. Although it doesn’t look like it had any effects, there’s no doubt that each shot shaved its energy. So don’t worry about it and keep shooting.”
No matter how much it affected Kain, there was a limit on how much Akira could do. He crouched close to the ground while moving through the hallway to his next shooting position.
As Akira was crouching through the hallway, he could clearly see Nelia and Kain through the wall, it was thanks to the vision enhancement from Alpha.
Because of that, Akira was able to quickly line his aim at them the moment he peeked out through the window. If he took more time aiming, it would not give him enough time to evade the returning fire. Even the slightest delay would be fatal. He heightened his focus to the peak to maintain a high level of accuracy, he could even feel the time stretched out as he kept shooting.
Akira peeked out for a short moment through the window and sniped Kain, he then quickly pulled back and moved to his next shooting position before Kain could shoot back at him. Akira was the mole in their game of whack-a-mole, but in his case, one whack would turn him into minced meat. In order to avoid getting whacked and to get the chance to shoot Kain at the same time, Akira repeatedly executed that dangerous sniping.
On the other hand, the player in their whack-a-mole game, Kain, was aiming his heavy weapons toward the windows of that building while waiting for Akira to show himself. He was waiting to see Akira’s muzzle the moment Akira took his aim. The 4 heavy weapons he was carrying were aimed at 4 different windows of that building, but of course, there were more windows in that building than his limbs.
Kain aimed his guns toward the windows that he guessed Akira would shoot from, he set his rifles ready so he could pull the trigger the moment Akira peeked out. If Akira showed up in any of the windows that he was aiming, it would be the end for Akira. Thanks to his forcefield armour, even if his guess was wrong and took a direct hit from Akira, he could keep on playing this game just fine. He absolutely had the upper hand here.
Akira kept on shooting from the windows that Kain was not aiming at. Although the impact threw Kain off-balance, he was able to quickly return fire. But the moment he did that, Akira had already pulled back and was on his way to the other window.
“A miss, huh. Next!”
Akira took another shot from a different window, Kain countered back, but it was too late. The extension limbs of Kain’s powered suit were quite heavy. Not to mention that the 4 big cannons that those limbs were carrying added to the total weight he was supporting. On top of that, most of the generator’s output was routed to his forcefield armour. Thanks to that, his movement was greatly slowed down.
“No luck. Next then.”
He only needed one correct guess as to where Akira would shoot from and it would be his win. But Akira was able to keep avoiding the windows that he was watching. Statistically speaking, if it was completely a uniform random chance, he would have killed Akira about 3 times by now.
Kain kept on receiving CWH bullets from Akira while trying to shoot back at him. He kept on hoping that his next guess would finally get a hit, but after that so many misses, Kain started getting irritated.
“Next…!! Next…!! Next…!! Dammit!! Next!!”
Kain thought that it was all because of his bad luck and started getting more and more annoyed, but in truth, that was not the case. Alpha was telling Akira where to shoot, she kept picking the right windows where he would be able to easily evade Kain’s attack.
With her superior detection ability, Alpha was able to ascertain Kain’s stance and accurately calculate where he was aiming. She knew exactly where he was aiming and she placed Akira in the safest window when he sniped Kain.
Kain noticed that Akira was somehow able to read his guesses. He didn’t notice it until now because Akira was only able to barely evade getting hit. If Akira was able to perfectly evade his aims without any trouble, he would have found out sooner. Akira’s lack of skill made him notice it later.
“Dammit!! Dammit!! F*cking dammit!!!”
Kain yelled in anger. Nelia looked annoyed as she said.
“Kain, you’re too noisy. If you want to shout, cut the connection first.”
“Nelia!! You should take a better aim than that!!!”
“I’m doing that even without you telling me!! He’s evading my shots too. Moreover, I never thought that he could evade this well. As expected of someone who killed Yajima, he might really be an agent from the city.”
Nelia continued wording out her guess.
“This means that he’s somehow able to accurately read our movements, huh? I guess that’s also the reason why he could survive that missile barrage from you.”
Kain sounded surprised as he replied.
“What do you mean? Even if he’s really an agent from the city, does it have anything to do with his ability to evade our attacks? Or is it that he’s carrying some kind of advanced information-gathering device to read our movement since he’s an agent? That’s just impossible!! Are you telling me that he’s using some kind of advanced information-gathering device that allows him to completely see our movement even from this distance? We’re under the colourless mist right now, you know? Wait, it’s possible that he’s using one, but that level of an information-gathering device is something that the Hunters in the frontline would use. There’s no way someone around this area would use something like that.”
“That’s not what I’m saying. But I guess, it’s something similar.”
Kain got more irritated since Nelia was being cheeky.
“Yeah, right, so what? Just tell me already!”
“I’m sure that you at least know some facilities in this Kuzusuhara ruin are still operating, right? It’s rather obvious when you see those big buildings in the deeper part of the ruin. There are many important facilities in the ruin that are guarded by powerful securities even now. I heard that the city plans to eventually control those facilities.”
“I at least know that much. So, what does it have to do with this?”
“I heard that among the relics that they brought back from the ruin, they found a device showing the full map of Kuzusuhara ruin in real-time… Or was it the technology to access the full map of the ruin anytime…?”
“So then what?? Just tell me already!!”
“What a clueless man. Just like I said, that relic shows the full map of the ruin, all the details, and in real-time. You know it yourself just how unbelievable the old-world technologies are, right? In the worst-case scenario, he might be able to trace even every single bullet that we shoot at him. Of course, that would mean he can do the same for us too. So in short, he might be using that relic as an advanced information-gathering device which can only be used in this ruin. Using its data, he would be able to know where we’re aiming.”
Kain was flabbergasted.
“Well, it’s just a possibility. Although it’s just silly talk, there’s another rumour coming around the same time when the rumour about that relic spread. That ghost story of the Kuzusuhara ruin, the beguiling ghost. I heard that the people, who could access that full map by some kind of means, were able to see that ghost and always ended up dead. Well, it might be just some kind of rumour that the city spread to prevent people from trying to connect to that network which somehow leaked out. That’s why, if he’s really an agent from the city, he might be connected to that network…”
Nelia seemed to be enjoying boasting her knowledge, but she suddenly realized that Kain had gone silent.
“…Kain? Hmm? Kain?!!”
Kain shouted. He sounded very irritated.
“…That damn brat!!”
The mole in this whack-a-mole game knew exactly where he would hit. Kain was so angry since he felt as if Akira was playing him for a fool.
“I’ll f*cking kill you!!”
Kain readied his gun to shoot all the windows in that building.
Akira was in the midst of moving to his next shooting position, but Alpha suddenly said to him with a grim face.
“Akira!! Go deeper into the building!!!”
Alpha moved his augmented suit the moment she said that. She moved him to the deeper part of the building through the hallway that connected the outer side of the building. Akira did not try to resist as he ran through the hallway.
Akira ran through rooms filled with wreckages as he tried to go as far away as possible from where he was. He understood from Alpha’s voice and expression that it was extremely dangerous to stay there, but he did not know why.
Before he could say anything, something happened that made him understand without even the need of asking Alpha. He could hear countless explosions behind him, the shockwaves and the rumbles from those explosions reached him as a piece of it flew past him. The area was filled with smokes soon after.
Kain emptied 2 missile pods onto that building. The missiles destroyed all the windows on the floor where Akira shot from. Some of them passed through the windows and destroyed the walls inside that building.
The explosion funnelled through the narrow hallway and smoke burst out from the windows.
“Whoah there! What do you think you’re doing?! Didn’t I tell you before that the control device wouldn’t be able to confirm the target’s death if you turn that boy into minced meat?!!”
Kain yelled back.
“Shut up!! If he’s really an agent from the city, his corpse would at least get left behind!! And this is way better than wasting our time trying to hit him!! Or more like, if this doesn’t confirm his death, the death confirmation feature of that thing might be broken in the first place. The program should be able to recognize that the key target to remove its lock was in that building!! So how was that? Did you get the kill confirmation?”
“Wait for a sec, I’ll check… Nope, still locked.”
“Hah!! Is it saying that the target is not dead yet according to the configuration of that program? That Yajima, it’s not like he set the program so it would never get unlocked, right?”
“As far as I can check, there’s no trace that the kill confirmation function was ever modified in the past.”
Kain was obviously irritated, knowing which, Nelia sighed.
“…It can’t be helped then. I’ll go up close and check it myself. I’m sure I just need to get close enough to find at least a piece of his dead body. But in case if he’s still alive, I’ll just go ahead and kill him myself.”
“Are you going alone?”
“It would be bad if you try to blow him up again for no good reason. It’ll be better if I go alone.”
Nelia’s powered suit opened up and she jumped out from it.
Just like Yajima, Nelia was a cyborg. She looked like a young girl from the outside, it was because she adjusted her cyborg body to look like a young attractive girl. If it was a fully all-natural organic body, she would not be able to get such a level of beauty unless she was born with that kind of blessing.
Nelia was using a half-transparent, thin bodysuit. Some cyborgs regarded their bodies as if they were replaceable articles like a piece of cloth, that was why those people had no problem with showing their skin. There were also some cyborgs who used sexy clothes to boast to other people that their artificial bodies were no different from natural bodies. Either she was one of them or maybe even both, the bodysuit she was using only covered half of her body. There was a cord coming out from one of her exposed body parts, it was connected to her powered suit.
When Nelia pulled the cord off from a plug, it quickly retracted back to her powered suit. She then looked up to Kain.
“I’ll contact you if anything bad happens. Keep your eyes on the area around the building. I’ll leave my powered suit here since it’ll only restrict my movement inside the building, just make sure to keep your hands away from it, okay?”
Kain replied back.
“Yeah yeah, you’re not going to bring a rifle with you this time? If you want one, I’ll lend you mine. It’s a bit huge though.”
Kain sounded as if he was teasing Nelia as he moved one of his big guns.
“No thanks, it won’t be useful in close quarters.”
Nelia smiled confidently. She then pulled a belt from her powered suit, that belt housed a rusty knife and so many other sharp objects.
Akira was lying on the ground. His hand twitched. Although he could feel pain all over his body, he was fully conscious.
“…I got blown away again, huh. But I didn’t faint this time.”
This was the second time his body got thrown by explosions today. If he was given the option, he would prefer facing 2 swarms of monsters on the same day instead.
Akira looked up, he could see Alpha squatting near him while looking at him.
“Akira, if you’re awake, then get up.”
Looking at Alpha’s expression, Akira knew that he just survived through some life-threatening situation, but at the same time, his life was still in grave danger even right now.
“Once you get up, take some medicines. There’s no need to move from this place, you can take a rest here for now.”
“Alright, but like, I already ran out of medicine, remember?”
“You still have some of the cheap ones. It’s better than nothing.”
Akira pushed his body up and reached for the cheap medicines inside his rucksack.
On the medicine box, a warning was printed in big letters saying not to take a large dosage in a short time. Akira’s hand stopped when he saw that warning, but he then resolved himself and completely ignored that warning.
Akira swallowed the medicines and then smiled bitterly.
“…No doubt about it, this is bad for my body. I feel like I’m going to faint again, like back then.”
“If it is just like back then, it means that you’ll faint after defeating the enemies when you are completely safe. So let’s hope that would happen again this time.”
“I really do hope so.”
Akira crushed the empty medicine box in his hand and threw it away. With this, he also ran out of the cheap medicine too. The old-world medicine that was still in effect was working hard to fix his body. But it was only a matter of time before the effect waned. The next time he got a fatal injury, he might really end up dead.
He did not even move a finger to increase the effectiveness of the medicines as high as possible. A question suddenly came up in his mind.
“Now that I think about it, why did they start attacking me out of the blue in the first place? Alpha, do you know anything?”
“Unfortunately, I have no idea at all. This is only a guess, but they might be the friends of that cyborg who you killed in the underground. That guy did say that his friends will take revenge for his death, remember? He might have informed them about you before you killed him for good.”
“If that’s true, they really care for their friend, huh. I wonder if they would think that I’m dead with that attack and just leave this place. Like, normally, no one would survive that, right?”
“I’m not sure about that. After all, even after facing that missile barrage, rather than dropping dead, you even shot back at them.”
“Ahhh, you’re right… If I knew this would happen, I would’ve stayed underground. My luck is really the worst, is it because of that? Is it some kind of karma because I was planning to abandon the hostage back then? But result wise, I saved the hostage too, right…?”
Akira mumbled those words out, it somehow reinforced his thinking as he sighed. Looking at him, Alpha smiled.
Nelia, who was already inside the building, stopped in the middle of a hallway.
Nelia’s cyborg body was also equipped with an information-gathering device, although, it was not as strong as the one installed in her powered suit. Because of that, she was barely able to use that device to scan the area.
[The scan range is really bad because of the colourless mist. I guess it’s the same if I just turn this off.]
Nelia smiled. She then turned off the information-gathering device installed inside her body and lowered her ability to detect the enemy. But even so, she was still smiling, the reason for that was because of the other object that she was carrying.
[To think that I got a chance to test this thing so soon.]
Nelia and her friends had transported a huge amount of relics into their truck, but she secretly took some of those relics for herself. Among the relics that she took, there was a relic that would allow her to connect to the network where she could see the full map of the Kuzusuhara ruin real-time, it was the relic that she was talking about with Kain just now.
[Well now, let’s see if this thing still works.]
Nelia turned the device on. The data received by that device was then organized and converted before being added to her vision. Thanks to that, she was able to see the details of the building.
She smiled since it was working as she expected.
[That went well. Since I limited the data only to the area around this building in order to reduce the amount of the incoming data, my data processing capacity should still be fine. But still, it’s receiving a huge amount of data right now. I guess it really is impossible to process all of the data unless I use an information-gathering device too, huh. But well, in this thick colourless mist, I guess this is better than nothing. Now then, where’s that boy?]
Nelia looked around searching for Akira. Although the data that she was receiving was only limited to the area around that building, it even allowed her to see past the walls. Thus, she was able to quickly find Akira.
Nelia was surprised the moment she saw Akira. She then contacted Kain.
“Kain, how’s the situation over there?”
“Nothing worth noting. How about you? Did you find the corpse?”
“Kain, the death confirmation program was correct, that boy is still alive.”
“What the heck!?”
“He might really be an agent from the city. Something like a child-sized cyborg. With his cyborg body, it’s nothing weird that he could survive that barrage and evade our shots.”
“But why would the city even go as far as to use a child-sized cyborg agent? It’s not as strong as an adult-sized cyborg, or at least, it’s not cost-effective at all.”
“Isn’t that because the agent wanted to blend in with the other Hunters as a young Hunter? After all, it seems that there are many young Hunters under Drankam working in the underground.”
“I see now… Wait, doesn’t that mean that the city somehow had enough information to make them send an undercover agent? Where exactly did the information leak from?”
“No idea. But one thing for sure, he must be heading to the temporary HQ to report back after encountering Yajima. Since he can’t contact the HQ through the colourless mist, he has no other choice but to go there and give his report in person.”
“So it’s lucky that we can ambush him on the surface, huh. It would at least slow the defense squad from reacting. So then, what should we do? If he’s really an agent, then he’s pretty dangerous, you know?”
“Of course, we’ll kill him. It’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? Or do you think that I will lose in a fight in a narrow space like this? You just wait there and keep watch, I’ll finish this in no time.”
“Roger that. And also, hurry up, okay?”
Nelia then disconnected the call. Although she looked surprised at first when she saw Akira, she already returned back to smiling.
“But still, to think that there are two of them. So it’s not like he ran to this building purely by coincidence, huh? Did he come here to meet up with his comrades?”
Past the multiple walls that separated them, Nelia could see Alpha who was standing beside Akira. The reason why she did not say anything to Kain about Alpha was because she wanted to avoid getting found out that she secretly took some of the relics for herself.
“Well, it doesn’t really matter anyway.”
Nelia smiled and pulled out a rusted knife, the knife’s cutting edge was completely dulled. It did not seem like it had any cutting ability whatsoever.