After arriving back to the city safely, Akira went straight to the Exchange Centre and lined up in front of one of the counters. And just like the last time, that Nojima guy was the one standing behind the counter.
Nojima remembered Akira vividly. But he did not immediately respond to Akira, instead, he acted as if Akira was just another stranger to him.
“Give me your hunter ID if you have one… Wait, it’s you, huh?”
Nojima was rather surprised at how much Akira had changed. The last time he met Akira, he thought that Akira was just another little brat from the slum. But Akira looked so much different now. He actually resembled a Hunter with the equipment that he scavenged from Kahimo and Hayya. But that was not all, the biggest difference was the faint aura that he was giving off, it was an aura of someone who had gone through the baptism of the wasteland.
Just registering yourself as a Hunter does not make you one. But the person standing in front of Nojima was indeed a Hunter, despite being only a newbie.
Looking at him, Nojima laughed a bit as he thought that Akira would not die anytime soon. Then he recomposed himself and started moving into his order of business.
“So, what do you have this time… That’s weird, was that one you brought before due to pure luck alone?”
Although it did not look expensive whatsoever, it was an item that he brought back after putting his own life on the line. Thus, Akira was a little bit annoyed when Nojima badmouthed the item that he brought.
“Well, I’m sorry that it looks awful. But even so, it is a relic of the old world that I brought back from the ruin. I should be able to get the rest of the money from the previous relic with this item… And also, what do you mean by pure luck?”
Akira made a twisted face, which, Nojima just laughed lightly.
“You’ll know soon.”
Nojima took the same tray that Akira used before from the back shelf and used his other hand to operate the terminal. After that, banknotes came out from the machine beside it. Nojima took that money and put it inside an envelope before extending it to Akira while laughing.
“We finished checking the relic that you brought before. For this time, your total payment is 200,000 Aurum.”
Akira’s mind went blank for a sec when he heard that number. He then slowly reached for the envelope and took out the money. After touching and seeing the real thing in front of him, he was dumbfounded. For him, who fought to the death for mere 300 Aurum yesterday, this 200,000 Aurum was simply unbelievable.
Nojima was satisfied with how Akira reacted and laughed.
“There are not many kids who got this much money here, you know? Use them wisely, okay? Well then, go now before you start attracting more attention.”
As Akira regained his composure, he immediately put that envelope into his chest pocket in panic and awkwardly left the Exchange Centre. Looking at how Akira changed back from a newbie hunter to a small boy from the slum, Nojima let out a bitter laugh.
Even after leaving the Exchange Centre, Akira kept moving awkwardly, he just could not calm down. Seeing that, Alpha talked to him with a soothing voice.
“Akira, calm down. If you let yourself shaken by just this much money, it’ll only get worse in the future, you know?”
Hearing these words, Akira, who was speechless after getting the amount of money that he never imagined, inadvertently opened his mouth.
“Hah! Just this much money, you say!? What the heck are you talking about!? It’s 200,000 Aurum, you know!? It’s a huge amount of money for me.”
Alpha locked her stare at Akira as she said to him with a strong tone.
“No, this is just a small amount. It is simply nothing compared to the amount you can earn with my support. Get this inside your head.”
“W-well, even if you tell me so…”
“Moreover, you look like a retarded kid talking to himself now, so be more careful.”
Akira closed his mouth in panic. Because of the huge amount of money that he just got, Akira could become an easy and delicious target. Moreover, he was sticking out like a sore thumb since he was behaving awkwardly.
“Let’s take a rest for today. I’m sure you’re pretty tired after returning from the ruin. Moreover, you’ll only attract more attention if you’re just standing here.”
“Y-you’re right. I understand.”
Akira was calm enough to answer Alpha with a whisper. But he was still looking rather restless on his way to his sleeping place. But then Alpha suddenly stopped him with a serious face.
“It’s not this way.”
“Eh? But my sleeping place is over there.”
“Nope, you’re going to sleep in an inn today. You have the money for that now, right?”
“W-well, you’re right, but…”
Because he just received an amount that he could never imagine, Akira felt really heavy parting with the money. But then Alpha smiled gently to him as if she was reprimanding a small kid.
“If you feel really heavy parting with just this amount, it will only lower the worth of your life, you know. And it’s not like we’re going to use it needlessly. Since you acquired it properly, so you should use it properly too. I’ll give you my support on how to efficiently spend money too… So, you trust in my support, right?”
Akira just could not say no after being told that. Both of them had promised to build trust between them. And so he made a firm nod while trying to calm himself down.
“Thank you, so then, shall we go to the inn now? By the way, is it really okay if I pick the inn for you to stay?”
“Yeah, I’ll leave it to you.”
“This way then.”
Alpha giggled as she walked in front of Akira to guide him. As he was following Alpha from behind, he could not help but to worry just how much money he would need to spend for the inn.
It was normal for inns to let their customers bring their weapons. But since they would bring strong and destructive weapons, it would cause death victims and huge damage to the inn if they used those weapons to cause a ruckus. As such, all the customers were expected to behave nicely. It was a basic rule that all the customers should adhere to. Now then, even if you cause someone’s death or some kind of loss to the inn, you would still be considered as a well-behaved customer if you properly pay the inn enough compensation. But since Alpha picked a cheap inn near the slum city, the rule was not very strict here. The inn would gladly accept an armed kid from the slum as long as that kid paid them. Thus, Akira was able to make a reservation without any problems.
Akira reserved an average-priced room. The room was pretty big and because it was an inn designed for Hunters, it had a big empty area for Hunters to do maintenance on their equipment or to just keep all the relics that they had on them. The room even had a bath and a bed too. Not to mention, there were also a variety of foods inside the refrigerator. It was definitely safer to sleep here than outside. There was a stark contrast comparing it to Akira’s sleeping place in the back alley.
“20,000 Aurum for a night huh… That is simply a robbery…”
Akira fully understood why he had to pay so much money for the room. But, Akira did not look happy, even though he was able to sleep in such a luxurious place that was way better than his sleeping place in the back alley. Instead, he made a rather complicated face.
Understanding why he should pay so much money was not the same as actually paying the money. Akira’s hand was shaking as he was paying for his room. Alpha was the one who picked that room. If it was up to Akira, then there was no mistaking it that he would opt for a cheaper room.
Akira let out a sigh, it was clear that he was rather disappointed since he had to spend his money on some needless expense despite the fact that he was against it. Realizing that, Alpha just laughed awkwardly.
“I’m sure there are a lot of things in your mind right now, but how about you relax and take a bath for now?”
“…Bath? A bath?! Yeah, I’m going to take a bath now.”
Akira immediately beaming with happiness the moment he heard the word bath.
There were buildings equipped with baths even in the slum city, but there were only certain people who could enjoy such a facility. Unless it was someone who owned the bath or someone with enough money to pay for the bath, it was impossible to have the chance to enjoy one. For a small kid who was living in one corner of the back alley like Akira, the only thing that he was able to do was to wipe off his body with a piece of cloth using the water not good enough for drinking.
Akira was only able to vaguely remember the last time he went into a bath, as such, he was happily heading to the bathtub.
Akira washed his body while waiting for the bathtub to be filled with hot water. He washed every nook and cranny of his body with a soap that was prepared there and enjoyed the water by using it rather excessively. It was not something that he could do before. He was enjoying such a luxury that was definitely out of his reach when he was living in the back alley. It took sometime before he washed mud and dust off his body and started to make bubbles with the soap.
Once he completely washed his body, he checked the water in the bathtub. He then immediately dipped himself into the hot water tub until the water was level with his shoulder. He relaxed back as he let out a strange moan. He then let the water take over his body as if the hot water just washed all his tiredness. As his face started to ease off, his consciousness melted into the hot water and he could not help but mumble some words.
“How is the water?”
Akira immediately turned into the source of that voice, he could see Alpha was already dipping herself in the bathtub together with Akira. She was sitting in a provocative pose right beside Akira, but the mist prevented Akira from seeing her figure clearly. Water droplets formed on her skin and were sucked into the valley in her chest. The only thing that hid that wonderful body was the mirage and the mist produced by the hot water.
(Silavin: God damn it!!! Bloody mist of censorship! The enemy of mankind!)
Of course, since Alpha had no real body, she could not really dip herself into the water. She was only showing such an image to him. But since it was an image produced through high level calculation, there was not even a shred of strangeness coming from that image. It was an image produced by calculating the distortion coming from the refraction of the hot water. As long as Akira did not reach his hand for her, she would look perfectly normal. The only thing that showed that her beautiful body was not real was the hot water vapour coming through her body.
Akira’s mind was still numbed from the pleasure as he answered back.
“…It’s heavenly… Why are you naked by the way?”
Alpha giggled mischievously.
“You can’t get into the bath with your clothes on, right?”
“…Well, that’s true.”
He was convinced by Alpha’s answer and gave a slight nod without expressing much reaction in seeing her naked. He turned his head and continued enjoying the bath.
Alpha kept staring at Akira and kept giggling, she made sure to remember Akira’s lack of reaction.
“Akira, don’t you have anything to say after seeing my body?”
Akira looked rather puzzled as he slanted his head. He tried to use his brain, but most of his consciousness had already been melted into the hot water, so he could only answer back in fragmented words.
“…? …Well… You did say… Something about… Computer graphics or something… So like… That’s fake… Right?”
“Yep, you’re correct. But that is not the main point here. It’s more like, do you have a comment, or impression or something after seeing my beautiful body?”
Akira slanted his head again while looking puzzled. After trying to rack his now-shutdown brain, he finally opened his mouth.
“…You have… Huge chest…?”
Alpha giggled awkwardly.
“Well, it’s indeed true. But I was asking for your opinion about my body, or like your preferences and type. But… Your answer just now feels rather bland.”
Although he was just a small boy, it did not change the fact that he was in a bath together with a beautiful girl. But Akira’s reaction there was really weak. It was as if he had no interest in her well-endowed chest, or her glossy skin, or her soft and smooth back. But for Akira who already let the hot water take over him, his eyes were saying that he had no interest at all in Alpha’s naked body.
Before the hot water lulled Akira to sleep, Alpha gave him a warning while giggling.
“You’ll get yourself drowned to death if you sleep here, you know.”
“…Like hell… I would let…Myself die here… What… Should I do?”
“Get up from the bath, wipe your body dry, go to your bed and sleep.”
Akira got himself up while wobbling from side to side and slowly dragged himself out of the bathtub. Then he wiped off his body, changed to a pyjama and dove onto his bed. He was then immediately assaulted by heavy sleepiness.
The good night that Alpha always said in a soft and sweet voice, Akira could only answer back vaguely due to his sleepiness. And then he went straight to his dreamland.
On the next day, Akira woke up not too long after sunrise. Compared to his usual schedule, he woke up really late. All the tiredness that had built-up and the bed that was way better than his usual place in the back alley were at fault for making him wake up so late.
And even after he opened his eyes, Akira was more disoriented than usual. The comfy bed dulled his brain. But then Alpha spoke to him while smiling.
“Good morning, Akira. Did you sleep well?”
“…Good morning, Alpha…? Wait?! Where am I!?”
As Alpha spoke to him, his consciousness returned back, but then Akira immediately jumped in surprise as he found himself waking up in an unknown place. He then looked around him in panic. If he was in the back alley and not wary of his surroundings, then it would be a fatal mistake and he would be dead by now. His face turned really pale as he was panicking.
Alpha answered Akira’s question in a gentle voice in order to calm Akira down.
“This is the room inside the inn that you’re staying, don’t you remember?”
Akira finally remembered what happened yesterday as he let out a sigh of relief.
“…Right, I slept in an inn yesterday, huh?!”
Alpha then pointed her finger in a calm manner.
“For now, how about you get something for breakfast? You don’t need to go to the food distribution place today, so you can take it easy.”
The food was included in the rent and there would not be any refund if he didn’t consume the food. With a happy mood, Akira started preparing his breakfast with the food that he usually would not be able to eat.
The food and the utensils were warm and the drinking water was soothing cold. This was enough to make the food here so special compared to the usually distributed food. Not to mention that he was able to savour such food in a private where there was no danger of anyone robbing food from him. Akira could not help but relax as he was enjoying the food that he could not even imagine he would be able to enjoy.
[As expected of the 200,000 Aurum that I got yesterday]
Alpha smiled meaningfully to Akira as if she knew what was Akira thinking.
“Aren’t you glad that you were able to spend a night in such an inn?”
“Yeah, it is nice.”
The cynical side inside Akira was feeling ticklish as he answered so honestly, but he just could not come up with an argument to refute it. He did feel thankful for it, that was why he fixed his behaviour toward Alpha and decided to answer her properly. Alpha laughed satisfiedly and continued their conversation.
“I’ll tell you my plan for the future as you eat. First of all, we’ll go to the ruins looking for relic only once per week. We will spend the rest of the week training and studying. You’re not allowed to complain even if you want to spend more time looking for more relics, okay?”
“Oh my! You’re so obedient today.”
Alpha was rather surprised to the obedient answer coming from such a cynical boy. Akira then made a serious face as he said.
“Well, after all, I’ve decided to trust you.”
‘Trust’, Akira uttered that word so lightly. But for Alpha, that word was really important.
“I see. Once you’re done, we’ll start right away. So just enjoy your food for now”
Akira nodded lightly and continued his meal while Alpha kept staring at him.
Once Akira finished his meal, Alpha floated in front of him and made a serious face.
“Akira, I’ll tell you something really important. So listen closely, okay?”
Akira nodded with a serious look. The last time he had seen such a serious face from Alpha was when he was in danger of getting killed. Akira remembered the nervousness that he had from back then and his face naturally turned stiff.
Alpha gave him an understanding nod. Immediately after that, her face made a very formal expression as if she was an office worker. The change made Akira a bit surprised.
Alpha made a slight shift in response when her name was called. She then started explaining in a formal tone that matched her formal expression.
“This unit will proceed to give high-level support to the subject Akira. Warning! Are you sure you want to execute all kinds of functions regarding Akira without approval? This action will also include extracting and using Level-5 private information. It’s recommended to request for extra explanation on the information that will be extracted.”
Akira was confused as to what Alpha was saying and why she was speaking like that.
“What do you mean by that?”
“According to the preliminary approximation, it would take at least 120 years of oral explanation for the subject to fully understand the requested information. The more accurate approximation for the time needed cannot be calculated at the moment. Referencing back to the rules of priority calculation, there’s a method to bypass the cognition process rules A887. As such, the time needed to explain such that the subject understands all the points is estimated as…”
“…Uhhh, I don’t really understand, but I just need to say ‘yes’ here, right?”
“It is assumed that the subject agrees with all the items that do not violate the agreement. This includes narrow-sense mind adjustment and broad-range free will interference. Regarding the preservation of the subject’s life, the unit will follow the stand alone self-sufficient article 213873. This will also include the areas outside the special unit and at the same time…”
Akira did not understand anything, but he still tried to listen closely to the explanation. But it only ended up with him being more confused. Even if he tried to ask Alpha some questions, Alpha would just ignore that question as she continued giving that long and complicated explanation. In the end, Akira gave up on trying to understand her monologue.
Akira did not fully understand the details, but he knew that Alpha was asking for some kind of approval and that going against her instruction will bring her immense danger. Akira promised in the past that he would build up trust between them. As such, according to the decision that he made back then, his past experience, and his resolve, he finally made a decision after he hesitated for a bit. He answered back with a serious face.
“My answer to your first question is ‘yes’.”
“Reconfirming. This unit will proceed to give high-level support to the subject Akira. Warning! Are you sure you want to execute all kinds of functions regarding Akira without approval?”
Once Akira gave an assertive answer, Alpha’s behaviour turned back to normal. And then she gave Akira a happy smile.
“Thank you. It’s okay, I won’t do anything bad. So you don’t need to worry.”
Akira felt relieved when he saw Alpha was back to normal. But then Akira showed a bit of dissatisfaction.
“You could have said that right from the start, you know?”
“There was some annoying stuff to take care. I had to say all of those things in order to say that I won’t do anything bad to you. You’ll need to do some annoying stuff to avoid more annoying stuff, it’s something common in this world. By the way, Akira, about what we discussed yesterday, what do you really think about my chest?”
Alpha asked that question while making a meaningful smile. But then Akira answered back in panic.
“Wh-what the heck are you asking me out of the blue?”
“Yesterday, when I asked about your opinion of my naked body, you said that my chest is huge, you know.”
“…Did I really say that?”
“Yep, you did. Although, you answered back as if you just gave a random answer to my question. But you did vaguely answer me. So as I thought, you really do have some interest in women’s chest. Want to have a touch?”
Alpha giggled mischievously as she was teasing Akira. He was a bit annoyed by that, so he had no intention of answering seriously. But he remembered that he had made a promise to build trust with Alpha, so it was not like he could lie. As such, he decided to neither deny it nor approve it.
“…But, I can’t do that, right?”
“That’s only for now. But you know, Akira, if you want it, you would be able to do it once you finish exploring the ruin that I asked you to explore when we first met. So what do you think? Does that interest you? Do you want to try touching it?”
“Why can I only touch it if I finish exploring that ruin?”
“It’s rather complicated to explain. But do you want to try?”
Akira was visibly annoyed with Alpha who was pestering him.
“…What the heck are you trying to say, huh?”
Alpha just giggled mischievously.
“I’m just offering a concrete reward to motivate you.”
“So in short, a honey trap, huh?”
“Yep, you can say that. After all, it seems that rewarding you with wonderful scenes is not that effective. So I was wondering how about rewarding you with something that you can touch and feel. You only blush a little even when you look at my body up close, that in itself is a rather serious condition, you know?”
Hearing such a silly answer to his question, Akira let out a big sigh.
“Can you do that after I grow up? Once I grow up, I’ll see them and touch them a lot. So is that okay with you?”
“You’re right. After all, I’m planning to get along with you for a long time. So I’ll be sure to enjoy it when the time comes.”
Alpha answered back with such confidence. And then their conversation just stopped there. Akira had no wish to dig deeper into the subject. As such, all the questions that he had about when Alpha gave him some explanations in a formal manner all just slid away.
The check-out is at ten, Akira did not have much time until then since he woke up rather late. But Alpha suggested him to stay another night here. Akira was a bit surprised when Alpha told him that the training would be done here. So, Akira contacted the staff and completed the booking for another day.
“With this, it means that you can take a bath again today”
It also meant that he had used 40,000 Aurum out of 200,000 Aurum that he got yesterday. Akira let out a sigh trying to hide his regret. But he could not skilfully hide it as he ended up making an awkward forced laugh.
Alpha let out a light laugh, and made a serious face.
“Well then, let’s start the training. Are you ready?”
Akira immediately changed his mood and replied back with a serious nod.
Alpha nodded back satisfiedly.
“First of all, I want you to learn to communicate telepathically.”
“For now, I’ll have you learn to talk without making any sound, or at least you can think of it as that. Let’s start our training. After all, accurate and high-speed information exchange is very important in the middle of a fight. Moreover, it will stop making you look like a retarded person talking to himself.”
Akira was planning to do all kinds of training without saying any complaint. But he was rather puzzled to that strange instruction.
“Even if you say so. What should I do exactly?”
“Well, it’s hard to orally explain exactly what you should do. After all, there’s a big difference between each person. For now, rather than listening with your ear and speak with your mouth, think of it like you listen and speak with your heart. I can’t help you with this so there’s no other way but for you to learn to do it by yourself. For the first trial, how about you try calling me using telepathy? You may come up with anything. You can even try giving me easy order like ‘look to your right’ or something. I’ll react to whatever you come up with. So let’s check whether the message is properly sent or not, you can start now”
Although he was rather confused, Akira still started the training just like he was told to do.
For the time being, the training did not show any results. Alpha told Akira that there was no meaning in their training if he continues to whisper to her. So, Akira kept trying to speak telepathically through his mind. He concentrated strongly and strained his mind. He locked his gaze at Alpha while strongly wishing for his message to be set. He then closed his eyes trying to call for her in his heart. He kept doing his training seriously. Although there was no reaction at all from Alpha, Akira kept giving his all in his training in which Alpha instructed only in vague words.
Only after 1 hour of no results, despite Akira desperately trying to tell Alpha to look to her right, Alpha suddenly turned her face to the right. Akira was surprised by that while Alpha just giggled.
“Yep yep, just like that. Let’s continue with the training.”
Akira inadvertently replied back using telepathic communication, and then he continued his training just like that. Since he was able to do it once, it was easier for him to redo it. He then kept exchanging words with Alpha through telepathic communication in order to increase its accuracy.
“You’re getting pretty good. You also became able to receive my message clearly. With this, you would be able to clearly catch my voice no matter the situation you are in. If I talk with my voice like before, sounds from outside would make it harder for you to hear it, like sounds from the battle and the gunshot would interfere with my voice. But with this, we have nothing to worry about.”
“Ohh, I see. That is indeed nice.”
“It is, right? This is included as a battle training.”
“But we can do this even outside the inn too. So there’s no need to stay in an in like this, right?”
“Well, a person who’s desperately trying to talk with nothingness would stick out like a sore thumb after all.”
“…Well, that’s true.”
Although Alpha answered back laughing, Akira only replied back while making an awkward smile. After a while, Akira was able to talk with Alpha through telepathy without any problem. And so Alpha moved the telepathy training into the next step.
“That should be enough for normal communication, next is transferring picture, I’ll have you learn how to send an image even if it’s only a vague image. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you can communicate something that is hard to communicate with words only with a single picture, we would be able to communicate easily in the middle of a battle with pictures. As the first step of the training, go ahead and try to send me the image of myself that you want to see. I’ll change my clothes to the one you pick. If my appearance matches the image that you send, then it means that it’s a success. Alright then, go ahead.”
Just like he was told to, Akira imagined Alpha’s dress and tried sending it through telepathy. Alpha’s dress immediately changed. But the dress that she changed into was a really bad dress, it looked like a mismatch of cloth pieces. Looking at that, Akira’s face twitched a bit, then Alpha’s dress vanished immediately.
Akira panicked a bit, but Alpha who was naked at that time just giggled mischievously.
“That one was a failure. The image was not perfectly transferred. Or is it that you wanted to see me naked?”
“T-that’s not it!! Just put something on!!”
“Nope, this is a training. If you want me to put on something, you should work hard and properly send me the image.”
Akira immediately tried to communicate the image again in panic. And again, Alpha’s dress started to vaguely come together. But since Akira was in a panic, the accuracy of his message was worst. As such, Alpha’s dress immediately vanished again.
Akira’s trial and error continued. All kinds of strange dresses came together on Alpha before vanishing again and again. It was actually possible to prevent Alpha from being naked by imagining underwear on her, but Akira was so panicked that he did not even think of that method. Alpha knew it but she just kept it a secret.
Even after that, Akira just kept scoring failures after failures. At last, he was only able to make Alpha put on a single piece white dress without any decoration whatsoever. After that, he took a late dinner.
“That will be all for today. I think you did pretty well for your first day.”
“Even though I did not step outside this room at all, I’m feeling so tired right now…”
“In that case, you should just take a bath and sleep.”
“You’re right, I’ll do that…”
Although he was tired inside, it was not like he was as tired as yesterday. Akira took a nice long bath and then he just went to bed. He let his body taken by the sleepiness into dreamland. As for Alpha, unlike yesterday, she properly got an approval from Akira to stay beside him and keep staring at him.
Today, Alpha asked for Akira’s permission. But Akira who trusted Alpha just gave her his ‘yes’ without even knowing what she was asking.
Alpha would never lie. Akira’s training was indeed designed to increase his basic ability and survival rate. In order to be able to fully explore the ruin that Alpha asked, high level support would be indispensable to him. But that was not the only thing that he would need. For Akira who did not even know what kind of permission that he had given to Alpha at that time, he could not realize that fact.
Silavin: It is interesting to see how this will develop. Since this is sorta real life, that means that the approval stuff might have some caveats like how google does their TNC. Hmm… Just a thought.