Akira was doing time compression training again with Alpha the next day.
Just like before, Alpha was dancing in front of Akira with blades in both of her hands. She danced gracefully and elegantly, it felt as if her movements were so natural even when she sliced Akira’s neck.
Akira did not move even when Alpha attacked him. Forget evading her attack, he did not even react at all. He just stood there watching her.
“It’s alright, just continue.”
Akira’s expression was dead-serious. It was enough to make Alpha understand that he was not fooling around.
Alpha was actually curious why he did that, but she did not ask him anything as she stepped back and straightened her stance. A piece of her dress detached itself and vanished before she started dancing again.
Even after that, Akira did not react at all, he just stood there watching Alpha with a dead-serious expression as she kept slicing at him.
Every time one of her blades went through Akira’s body, a piece of her dress would fall off and vanish. In the beginning, she was only losing decorations on her dress, but then slowly she started to lose pieces of clothes that hid her skin. As more and more parts of her body were exposed, she started to look like Nelia when Akira was fighting against her in Kuzusuhara ruin.
[…Remember that sensation!! That feeling in that dream!! That tension during that fight!! I was able to do it back then!! I was able to do it in my dream too! So I should be able to do it now!! Alpha also did say that I should be able to do it!!]
That level of focus when he stood in a life and death situation. That sensation when he walked on that thin line that separated life and death. Akira was trying his best to recreate those feelings as he stood in his place without moving. He focused on Alpha who was dancing in front of him, or to be more precise, he focused on the blades in her hands that had already sliced through his body numerous times.
And then, in the middle of her dance, Alpha suddenly swung the blade in her right hand at Akira’s neck. By pure coincidence, her movements were exactly the same as Nelia’s movements that Akira saw in his dream.
As Akira watched that extremely sharp looking blade cut through the air aiming for his neck, he instinctively reacted and quickly shifted his body backwards to evade that blade. But his maneuver caused him to lose balance and fall splendidly on his back.
As he fell, Akira’s head violently bumped the floor. He rolled around with both of his hands on the back of his head as he writhed in pain.
Alpha quickly floated to Akira and worriedly asked him.
“Akira, are you alright?”
“I-it hurts like hell, where is my medicine??”
“It’s on the shelf over there.”
Akira wobbled around as he stood up and extended his hand to reach for the medicine box on a shelf near him. It was the 1,000,000 Aurum per box medicine. He took out a capsule from that box, opened it, and spread the paste-like medicine content on the back of his head where he was hurt.
The pain immediately vanished when he applied the medicine. But it was not because the injury was healed, it was simply because the pain killer numbed his pain and it was enough to make Akira feel thankful. As for the injury itself, it would heal given enough time. The medicine paste was slowly absorbed through his skin, thus there was no need to wipe the leftover.
Since the pain on his head was gone, Akira stopped gritting his teeth.
“It’s really nice to have this kind of medicine which you can just directly apply on an injury at a time like this.”
“But you might not have the time to apply it to your wound directly in the middle of a fight, so for the time being, it might be better to get a medicine that you can just swallow. Not to mention, it can help in healing your inner injuries and recovering your fatigue if you take it orally. That aside, you did it, didn’t you Akira?”
Alpha smiled when she said that, Akira smiled back and replied.
“Yeah, I did it. But thanks to that, I couldn’t move my body well and ended up falling splendidly on my back though.”
“That’s to be expected. Just because your time perception became 10 times faster, that doesn’t make your body move 10 times faster as well. So there’s a time lag between when you tell your limbs to move and when they actually move. Because of that, compared to when you usually move your body out of reflex, you’ll have to be more aware of your movement from now on. Watch your slowed opponent’s move carefully and based on it, decide how you are going to move. But again, I guess you can only learn such a thing from training, huh.”
“You’re right. I can only learn to do that through training.”
Akira unconsciously moved his hands to the back of his head. Although he did not feel pain any longer, he still felt some kind of awkwardness.
“Well, you basically whacked your head hard on the floor back there. So how about we take a rest for today?”
“Nah, let’s continue. I want to try and do that again while I can still remember that sensation.”
“Sure, but don’t push yourself too hard, okay?”
His training continued, Alpha started dancing in front of him again. Most of her dress had already vanished, thus depending on how she moved, her dance seemed to be very erotic from time to time. But in order to properly follow Alpha’s movements, Akira did not avert his eyes at all.
Akira then finished his training for the day. Usually, by the end of the time compression training, Alpha would be more or less naked. But this time she still had some more pieces of clothes on her body than usual.
But that was not because Akira was able to evade Alpha’s attacks, it was more because he was too tired to continue until she became naked.
Akira was lying on the hard floor with his limbs spread out as he was breathing roughly. During the training, he was able to compress his time perception many times. But every time he did that, his brain was hit by enormous stress and tiredness because of the sheer focus he needed to do that.
The longer he maintained the time compression, the longer he had to keep his focus. Moreover, moving his body in that state felt like he was mustering his whole body to keep moving without rest. It was no wonder that it quickly made his body tired.
As his brain and body were extremely strained, Akira could not even stand up on his own.
He was still lying on the floor when Alpha, who was still wearing her erotic dress, said to him.
“Let’s end our training for today. Do your best to at least stand up from there.”
“…I can’t do it, just a little bit more, just let me lie here a bit more.”
“Just a little bit, okay? If you stay there like that, you’ll end up falling asleep on the floor, you know. At least drag yourself to the bed first, else you’ll definitely regret it in the morning if you wake up on the floor.”
Akira, who had lived in the slum alley for years, had slept on the hard cold ground numerous times. So he understood very well what Alpha meant by that. Now that he had experienced the comfort of sleeping on a fluffy bed, he no longer had the ability to recover his fatigue from sleeping on a hard surface. If he really ended up falling asleep on the floor, there was no mistaking it that he would definitely regret it tomorrow.
Akira was still breathing roughly on the floor, but he eventually calmed down. He then wrung any strength that he still had left to pull himself up and drag his feet to the bedroom before crashing to the bed.
Alpha was floating next to him. Since Akira had not told her to change her dress yet, she was still wearing what was left of her dress after the training. Her high-class looking undies peeked through the gaps between her clothes. But Akira did not even have the strength to tell her to change her dress.
Akira was somehow still able to fight the heaviness of his eyelids, but it was only a matter of time before he was lulled by the fluffy bed and his heavy body.
“…I’ll sleep for a bit. Wake me up when it’s time to study.”
“Just take a good rest for today. It’s not like you can learn anything if you’re still tired during the study session.”
After saying that, Akira let the tiredness take over his body.
As he fell asleep in front of her, Alpha looked at him thoughtfully.
To be honest, she predicted that it would take about at least 6 months until Akira could compress time. So basically, now her prediction was totally off.
Alpha was not sure if it was a good thing or it was a bad thing since it indicated that Akira could surpass her prediction.
Whichever the case, there was a need for Alpha to readjust her plan. As she thought of what she should do to readjust her plan, she was not smiling, not even once.
There were all kinds of people living in the Kugamayama lower district slum city, from youngsters to old people, male and female. All of them had to somehow earn money to pay for their expenses in the slum city. Some of them collected wreckages from the wasteland bordering the slum city and sold them. Some of them worked for people who, for some reason, lived in the slum city although they had relatively a lot of money. Some people chose to gather any sellable things that they could find and sold them to scrappers.
And of course, some of them were living by stealing others’ money. A girl named Alna, who was living in the slum city, was one of these people.
Luckily enough, Alna was a genius when it came to picking pockets, and unfortunately, she had no other choice but to rely on her talent to survive in the slum city. The harsh living condition gave her enough justification for her action, and her talent let her continue picking pockets without getting caught until now.
Her living condition forced her to pickpocket, and the more she stole, the better she became. At this point, it would not be an exaggeration to say that she was already a first-rate pickpocket.
Her biggest mistake was that she shared the money that she stole with her friends. After all, it was not like all of her friends could keep secrets. The more famous she became as a first-rate pickpocket, the more her friends demanded their share.
Her friends asked for more and more money, hoping that eventually, Alna would help them escape the days when they had to starve. But Alna ended up running away from such expectations, and now she was basically working alone. Of course, she still had some friends that she was close with, but she decided not to join any gang anymore.
But living alone in the slum city was an extremely difficult thing for a little girl. There were only a few reliable methods available to earn money, and even after she earned some money, she had even fewer means to protect her money from other people. In order to get her enough food, a place to sleep, and a means to protect herself, she was left with no other choice but to rely on her rare talent.
Just like any other day, Alna was prowling for prey. It was not like she would just randomly pick people’s pockets as she was walking around the slum city. Instead, she intentionally aimed for people who seemed to be carrying a lot of money and were an easy target.
Most of the people in the slum city did not carry much money. While some of them, who carried a lot of money, were mostly people who she should never try to mess with. As such, it was rare for people in the slum city to turn into a pickpocket, that was also the reason why people of the slum city were not that cautious against pickpockets.
As such, pickpockets in the slum city tended to aim for people who came from outside the slum city. Like the customers who visited the shops that could only be found in the slum city, or people who return from wasteland while brimming with confidence as they passed through the slum city, or people who ended up in the slum city for any unknown reasons, or people who came to the slum city hoping that they might be able to help the residents of the slum city, or people who are absconding and trying to hide in the slum city, or people who tried to look for anything that could be scrapped in the slum city. These people carried more money than the residents of the slum city most of the time.
Alna was looking for Hunters to pickpocket. But even so, there were many types of Hunters, some of them were veteran Hunters who she should never mess with, while on the other hand, there were also those Hunters who spent most of their money in taverns rather than renewing their bad-looking equipment. Whichever it was, these Hunters frequently visited the wasteland. Unlike pickpockets, thugs rarely robbed Hunters, of course, these thugs could get some money from selling the equipment that they robbed, but the danger of getting killed was too high.
In contrast to that, pickpockets often aimed for Hunters. If they tried to aim for the equipment, of course, these Hunters could easily detect them. After all, equipment was the Hunters’ lifeline, without their equipment, those Hunters would not be able to fight monsters. So thanks to that, Hunters tended to be less careful when it came to other stuff, for example, their wallets.
Alna had found her target, that Hunter looked like an easy target in her eyes. Although that Hunter was wearing armour normally used by Hunters, it was so clean which indicated that the Hunter had never gone to the wasteland yet. The rifles dangling on that Hunter’s body also looked brand new, there was not even any gunpowder trace, showing that they were never used before. It was a young Hunter and that Hunter’s expression did not give the intimidating or dangerous aura like those veteran Hunters. So Alna thought that he must be a beginner Hunter who just gathered enough equipment to be able to register in the Hunter Office and start from Rank 10.
[Let’s aim for that Hunter. If that Hunter is here for browsing the stands right after registering in the Hunter Office, he should be carrying quite a lot of money. Let’s get his wallet before that Hunter can spend it on anything.]
Just like usual, Alna approached that Hunter naturally. Then using her genius-level talent and polished skill, she extended her arm and took the wallet from that Hunter. That Hunter did not notice it at all.
Unfortunately, Alna’s luck ended that day.
That day, Akira was walking through the slum city as he was heading to Sheryl’s base. There was no particular reason other than just showing his face in the gang and to take a breather.
The equipment that he ordered in Shizuka’s shop had not arrived yet. As such, Akira was still using his old equipment which included his new Hunter armour and AAH and A2D rifles that he had never used ever since he bought them. Thus it would not be a surprise if someone mistook him as a new Hunter.
And then, a disaster that often befell most of the green Hunters, who wandered through the slum city, also befell Akira.
“Akira, someone took your wallet.”
Akira half-shouted, he quickly checked his pocket, and as Alpha said, he could not find the wallet that was inside the pocket.
“Be more careful next time. I might be able to protect you from pickpockets when you’re using an augmented suit that I can control, but as long as you’re not using an augmented suit, you should handle this kind of thing yourself, okay?”
Alpha just gave him a light warning as if it was not that big of a disaster to her. The wallet that Akira lost contained 100,000 Aurum. Although it was a big amount of money, compared to the money that he earned lately, it was not big enough to cause any inconvenience. So Alpha just brushed it off as the fee for a small lesson for teaching Akira to be more careful.
But there was a big difference between Akira and Alpha as to how they took this incident.
Akira took a few seconds to register, process, and understand what had just happened. After a few seconds of silence where Akira did not move from where he was standing, he finished assessing his situation and immediately said.
“…Who took my wallet?”
In his calm emotionless voice, there was a fit of dark foreboding anger seething under it. Behind his calm expression, Akira was leaking out an aura showing the sharpness and readiness to fight.
“Alpha, do you know who took my wallet?”
In order to not cause any suspicions, Akira asked that through telepathy. It showed that he had regained his calm and composure, enough for him to remember to talk with Alpha through telepathy.
Alpha was surprised by how angry Akira was. At the same time, she took this chance to gather more information about him and readjusted her image of Akira inside her mind. With this, she was able to understand his character at an even deeper level.
Alpha quickly answered back.
“It’s that girl.”
At the same time as Alpha pointed her finger, Akira’s vision enhanced, allowing him to see through obstacles. His attention quickly zeroed onto a young girl who was already in the back alley. He immediately started running the moment he found his target.
Alna was looking through the insides of Akira’s wallet.
“…Oh!! 100,000 Aurum! Lucky!! This should be enough for a few days.”
Alna was beaming since she got more money than she thought she would get this time. But that smile immediately vanished.
“…This should be enough for a few days, but after that…”
Alna cut her sentence there. She did not want to say its continuation nor to think about it. It was exactly because she understood the meaning behind it.
It was an extremely difficult endeavor to become successful in the slum city. Of course, being successful here did not mean being rich, but getting a stable income enough for one’s living through honest work would be enough. Even so, getting to that point was an extremely difficult struggle.
In order to get an honest job, one would need to have enough knowledge and education. But in order to get enough education, one would need enough money and connection. Most of the residents of the slum city did not have the knowledge to get that money nor enough money to gain such knowledge.
Alna knew somewhere inside her heart that her future was bleak. She would definitely ruin her own life one day. There was no way she could keep on living as a pickpocket. After all, if she kept doing that, she would be found one day, captured, and made to pay the price for everything that she had done.
She had no idea what kind of price she would have to pay. It might be just getting beaten up and then dumped in the back alley, or she might get raped and then left battered on the roadside, or maybe she would be simply killed. In the worst-case scenario, she might be put in a living hell where death would have been better.
But with that being said, Alna had no other skill that she could rely on to survive other than picking pockets. And since she was able to survive until now, that particular skill of hers was very well polished.
Alna shook her head to help her forget her thoughts.
“…Let’s stop here. There’s nothing I can do about it even if I start thinking about that here. Now that I have some money with me, let’s just go and grab some food, an empty stomach will only make me more depressed.”
Alna started walking toward the shop that she often visited.
She suddenly heard a loud sound coming from behind. She quickly turned back to check the source of that loud sound. On the other end of the narrow alley, she could see Akira running in her direction. That loud sound came from when Akira kicked the obstacles out of his way as he ran through the back alley.
Akira’s eyes met Alna’s. Both of them froze for a few seconds before Alna regained her composure and started running as fast as she could toward the opposite direction from where Akira was.
Alna quickly understood that Akira found out that she took his wallet and he was there chasing for her.
[How did he find out? It didn’t seem like he noticed anything when I took his wallet!! And even if he did, there’s no way he would know that it was me?! And that too!! It doesn’t seem like he was randomly looking for me and found me by pure coincidence!! He ran here fully knowing my location!!]
Alna did not know what kind of person Akira was. But that was not the only reason why she was running as fast as she could, it was because she saw Akira’s expression.
“He’s going to kill me!! He’s definitely going to kill me if I get caught!!”
Alna, who could feel the intense killing intent from Akira, ran as fast as she could for her life.
The moment Alna started running, Akira snapped back to his senses, he quickly fixed his stance and took an aim with his AAH rifle. But before he could pull the trigger, Alpha warned Akira who had lost his calm.
“If you pull the trigger, you might hit innocent people. Are you sure you want to do that?”
Alna and Akira were not the only people in that small alley. Although it was not like it was filled with people, there were quite a lot of people there. Some of them were merchants who could not open their shop in public, some of them were customers and guards of those shops. There were also people, who had lost their place, sleeping in the corners of that alley.
Although Akira’s shooting skill was way better than before, at the moment, he had no augmented suit that would allow Alpha to assist his aim and he was using a brand new gun that had never been used before. Thus he had no confidence that he could shoot accurately.
When he was hesitating, the people around him noticed that Akira had his rifle out and ready to shoot, they started to panic as they moved away from Akira. But at the same time, they also blocked his line of sight at his target.
Akira himself had no wish to get other innocent people involved. So he decided to pull back his rifle and started chasing Alna again.
The distance between Akira and Alna was not getting closer.
It was mainly because Alna could use her smaller stature to easily pass through the narrow alley.
On the other hand, Alna could not completely break away from Akira’s chase since Alpha was always informing Akira of her exact location.
Even after taking so many forked turns hoping that Akira would lose her, he was still able to precisely know which way she went. Thus Alna started to panic.
“How!? How does he know exactly where I am?! … Don’t tell me-“
Alna thought that Akira’s wallet might be equipped with a tracker. If that was the case, it was no wonder why he could accurately pinpoint her location. So she threw Akira’s wallet toward his direction.
When he saw his wallet fly above his head, Akira stopped, turned, and picked up his wallet.
Akira more or less regained his calm after he got his wallet back. The expression on his face also loosened.
Now, if the money in the wallet was still there, then Akira would get back everything that he had lost, and he would be able to clean his history of getting his wallet stolen. If it was the past Akira from when he was still living in the back alley, he would have never allowed such a blunder.
He then would be able to learn from this incident and be more careful next time, thus closing the incident there.
When Akira checked the inside of the wallet, it was empty, all the money in it was already taken out.
Akira’s face immediately turned stern.
“Over there. I won’t be able to pinpoint her location if she’s too far from me. So if you want to chase her, you need to hurry up.”
Akira answered back swiftly with a voice that would send a chill down to one’s spine. He then started running again.
So in short, that incident did not end there. Akira blazed through the alley once again, chasing after Alna.
Alna, who was running through the back alley of the lower district, stopped as she was running out of breath. She then took a long breath and tried to calm herself. Her gaze was fixed at the alley that she just ran through, but she did not see Akira there. Even after she somehow calmed herself and adjusted her breathing, she still did not see Akira.
“D-did I lose him…? So that wallet was really equipped with a tracker, huh? Well, I guess it doesn’t matter now.”
Alna felt relieved and smiled. But that smile immediately vanished, it was because she saw Akira running towards her through the alley.
“…You gotta be kidding me?!!”
Alna was so surprised that she reacted late. When she started running again, the distance between her and Akira was already not that far.
Alna was focused on running. Her face was distorted due to fear, she was even half-crying. As she desperately ran away, she did not confirm what was in front of her before jumping out from the alley to the big road in the middle of the lower district. Because of that, she crashed right onto someone who was just passing through that road.
“Whoah!! Careful there!!”
Alna looked terrified as she turned toward the person that she just crashed onto. It was a young Hunter. Looking at his equipment, he seemed to be a pretty skilled Hunter.
His expression was showing that he was angry, but the moment he saw Alna’s frightened expression, his rage vanished. He then worriedly asked Alna.
“Are you alright?”
He smiled as if to calm Alna who seemed horrified. The moment Alna saw his handsome smiling face, she forgot her situation and was captivated by his smile, fear disappeared from her expression, her cheeks turned red as she let out a small gasp.
But the moment Alna could feel Akira’s presence coming from behind the alley, she quickly snapped back to her senses. Her eyes shifted back and forth between the terror coming from deep beyond the alley and the dazzling smile that gave her hope.
Alna decided to take the bet as she hugged that boy and screamed.
“Please help me!! I’m being chased!!”