Sheryl was overwhelmed trying to calm the children down.
Loud explosions and blinding light that suddenly came out of nowhere, Dale and Colbert lying on the ground, Akira and Guyver shooting each other and moreover, a monster coming running at them; there were numerous reasons for those children to panic.
But Sheryl did not flinch, and she bravely forced everyone to shut up. However, there was a limit to how long she could continue to keep them quiet. After all, the sound of gunshots showed no signs of stopping any soon, which proved that the battle was still going on. The children were under great pressure and were close to breaking down.
Sheryl scanned the situation and looked for Akira. Not too long after that, she saw Akira running toward her direction. He did not seem injured at all.
She let out a relieved sigh.
“Akira is on his way back. I’ll go and ask him about the situation, so wait here.”
After Sheryl said that to her gang member, she went to meet Akira. The other children also calmed down when they saw Akira unscathed.
Sheryl jumped off the cart and went to Akira. While that happened, Sebla slowly pushed himself up, he was still all wobbly.
Sheryl also noticed Sebla when she was looking for Akira, but she just ignored him. It was because she did not care whether Sebla was dead or alive.
Akira was relieved when he saw that Sheryl and her gang were still okay. Now he just needed to wait for Dale and Colbert to kill the monster.
Akira did think of helping Dale and Colbert, but he prioritized going and making sure Sheryl and her gang’s safety first. If only he had not stepped off his vehicle, he would not have to face all the troubles that he just went through. Thus, he thought that it was sensible to be cautious at least now.
He saw Sheryl walking towards him. He also noticed Sebla pulling himself up from the ground not too far from her. It seemed that Sebla was yet to recover from the effects of the stun grenade, so Akira did not put much attention on him. But that proved to be a wrong decision.
The moment Sheryl passed beside him, Sebla suddenly reached for her arm and pulled her towards him. He then strangled her and pushed the pistol in his hand on her.
“Stop, don’t move!!!”
Sebla yelled desperately at Akira.
Sebla had mostly recovered from the effect of the stun grenade. But his movements were dulled because of the fear, confusion and panic.
He had made a deal with Guyver to betray Sheryl and her gang. He and Guyver planned to kill Akira and the other people and share the relics among them. Sebla knew that it was Guyver who shot at Dale’s vehicle, he also left all those devices around to attract the monsters, and he had always been looking for a chance to kill Akira and the other 2 Hunters.
Sebla did lose his consciousness when he was hit by the stun grenade, but he woke up relatively faster. However, he kept himself close to the ground while the confusion prevailed and utilised the chance to slowly checked the situation around him.
But he could not understand much of what was going on. He did hear gunshots, so he guessed that someone was fighting. He did not find Akira’s corpse around so there was a chance that Akira was still alive. Thus, he guessed that Akira was fighting against Guyver. That was all that he could make out of the situation.
He then saw Akira return back alone. The moment Sebla saw that, his face twitched. There was a good chance that Guyver was dead at that point, but Guyver being alive or not was unimportant for him right now. He was more interested in knowing whether Guyver told Akira that he was planning to betray Sheryl and her gang as well as to kill Akira and the other 2 Hunters.
The reason why Akira glanced at Sebla was simply to check him. But to Sebla who was in a panic, it seemed as if Akira found out from Guyver that he was also planning to betray him and so he was coming to kill him now.
Sebla was blinded by the terror of losing his life. Right at that time, his eyes caught Sheryl. He could not come up with anything else as he aggressively grabbed Sheryl’s arm.
He did not even think about the consequence of his action.
As he tried to blackmail Akira by holding Sheryl hostage, Sebla’s face was twisted with fear, and the hand which held the gun was also shaking. It was a very dangerous situation.
Sheryl shouted at Sebla with full hostility.
“Do you really know what will happen to you if you do this?”
“Shut up!! Just shut your mouth!”
Sebla shouted back at her as he prodded his gun.
Akira then tried to calm Sheryl.
“Sheryl, Don’t provoke that guy, it’s dangerous. Just calm down, and try to keep your mouth shut. Don’t try to complicate things. Alright?”
Sheryl was thinking of looking for a chance to break from Sebla’s strangle, but after Akira told her that, she just obediently stayed quiet.
Sebla felt that strange change in behaviour from Sheryl. His face that was twitching in terror changed into a slight smile.
“T-that’s right!! Just shut up and don’t do anything stupid!!”
Thinking that he was getting the upper hand, his tension eased off a little. Hence, he was now able to reconfirm his situation. But once he realised that he was hopeless against Akira, who still had his rifles, his tension raised up again.
Sebla’s gaze quickly focused on the rifle that Akira was carrying. He then glared at Akira and shouted.
“Drop your gun!! Now!!”
Akira locked his gaze with Sebla, thinking about what could be done. But when Akira focused his gaze on him, Sebla flinched back and tensed up.
Right before Sebla’s nervousness manifested into action, Akira dropped his rifle to the ground.
Alpha never imagined that Akira would drop his rifle, that was why she looked at Akira with a surprised expression.
Akira did not answer her question, he focused all of his attention on Sebla.
Sheryl was also surprised when she saw Akira drop his rifle since she also thought there was no way Akira would do that. After all, she thought that he did not care too much for her.
She was so happy that she was even close to crying, she did not expect Akira would even do something so dangerous as to drop his rifle in front of his enemy just to save her. While at the same time, she was also feeling so much guilt as she forced Akira to do something that dangerous.
Sheryl was so filled with emotions as her eyes started tearing.
Sebla smiled mockingly after Akira dropped his rifle. It showed that Akira was listening to his order. That caused him to calm down and feel that he had the upper hand. The figure of Akira standing there just looking at him seemed to Sebla as if Akira had given up and had no idea how to get out of that situation.
Sebla had the choice of keeping Sheryl as his hostage and escaping from that place. But his fear and hatred toward Akira pushed him to take a more aggressive approach.
Right now, Akira had no rifle with him, so he might be able to kill Akira now. As that thought passed through Sebla’s mind, he couldn’t let it go. His thoughts manifested as he pointed his gun at Akira, grinned, and pulled the trigger.
But Akira was able to easily evade the bullet launched from Sebla’s gun.
Akira had placed all of his focus on Sebla, he was aware of the ever so slightest move that Sebla made when he tried to shoot. Sebla was moving in slow motion from his point of view. As such, Akira was able to correctly judge when and where Sebla would shoot from where he was aiming the muzzle, the slow-motion when he pulled the trigger, and the slight change in his expression.
Akira had stretched his time perception and was able to easily evade Sebla’s shots.
While Sebla’s gun was away from Sheryl, Akira quickly closed the distance between him and Sebla. He then grabbed Sheryl with his right hand and pulled her away from Sebla, while his left hand got hold of Sebla’s gun and sent Sebla flying with his right kick.
Sebla did not even have the chance to express his surprise when he saw Akira evade his shots. His focus was immediately shifted to the pain on his stomach as he was thrown into the air.
When Sheryl returned to her senses, she found Akira grabbing her right arm. Sheryl, who realized that Akira saved her, hugged him tightly.
Sebla was still confused by that sudden change of events and the pain in his stomach only made his confusion worse. He placed his hands on his stomach as he rolled around in pain.
Akira looked at the gun in his left hand that he took away from Sebla. He then threw it away as if he had no interest in it. It was the gun that Guyver lent to Sebla, so there was no telling what kind of trap was installed in it. Akira walked back to his rifle and equipped it while Sheryl was still clinging on him.
He then pointed his rifle at Sebla. Akira’s eyes met Sebla’s who lied on the ground pale-faced. Sebla’s expression greatly distorted as the pain in his stomach was slowly replaced with fear of death. Akira’s expression did not change much when he saw that. He was about to pull the trigger but he suddenly stopped.
Akira turned to Sheryl who was still clinging at him.
“He’s one of your gang members though, what do you want to do with him?”
“Just kill him.”
Sheryl answered Akira’s question without any hesitation at all. For her, there was no benefit in letting Sebla live. He took her hostage and tried to shoot Akira, although she might forgive him for the former, the latter was simply unforgivable as long as Akira did not tell her to let him go.
Akira looked at Sebla again. Sebla stared back at Akira with anger and hostility, it showed that he was already a lost cause.
All kinds of things ran through Sebla’s mind. The difference between him and Akira although they were living in the same environment until not too long ago and how they were so different right now. Sebla vented out his frustration which sounded as if he was whining.
“Dammit… You just got lucky…!! What’s so different between us!?”
Akira, who was about to pull the trigger, stopped when he heard that. There was a moment of silence between them. He then answered Sebla’s question.
“Didn’t you just say it yourself? That’s true, it’s our luck. You are just not lucky.”
After he said that, Akira pulled the trigger. The bullet pierced through Sebla’s torso, it took a few seconds before Sebla stopped breathing.
Akira looked pitifully at Sebla’s corpse. If he had not met Alpha, he would have been dead like that too. But Akira quickly scrapped that thought. Even if someone would have shot and killed him, it would have been because of a different reason.
Not too long after that, Dale and Colbert also returned after they took care of the monster. Akira pushed Sheryl, who was still clinging on him, away and she obediently concurred.
Akira was still on his guard, it was obvious that Sheryl was crying up until just now, Sebla was lying dead not too far from them, and Guyver was nowhere around. All of these cues made Dale and Colbert frown.
Both lowered their guns and walked to Akira. Dale took another look around and said to Akira.
“I want to know what just happened first, is it okay?”
Akira, Sheryl, Dale, and Colbert exchanged information to confirm what was going on. After Dale understood the gist of the matter, he mumbled.
“That bastard! Doing something like this!! But still, although it’s weird to say this myself, that guy is pretty crazy to pick a fight against all three of us. Did he not think what would happen if his ambush failed? Was he so confident that his ambush would work perfectly?”
Dale looked surprised and angry as he said that. He had explored an old-world ruin together with Guyver. Thus, he more or less knew of Guyver’s skill. And according to his judgement, Guyver was average at best.
Colbert interjected and answered Dale’s question.
“…That might be because of his debt.”
“Debt? That guy has debt, huh?”
“Yeah, I heard that it’s a pretty big debt. I also heard that he was originally planning to pay his debt with the relics that we would gather today.”
Dale looked a bit pained as he said.
“Don’t tell me that he had no way of paying that debt as the deadline was coming close so he got desperate. I guess he planned to take our relics and Sheryl’s relics to amass a lot of money either for paying his debt or for running away from his debt, huh. Now that I remember, he also rushed forward without checking for enemies in the ruin. I guess he really was that desperate…”
Dale tried to make sense of everything that happened that day with the new information he just received. But in the end, they were all just his guesses, and with Guyver dead, there was no way to confirm them.
Akira then interjected.
“We can do that later, let’s get to the vehicle and head back to the city.”
As they were about to head back to the vehicle, Colbert suddenly stopped them.
“Ah, wait for a sec. It’s kinda hard to say this but… There’s one thing that I want to do.”
“If it’s possible, I want to take Guyver’s body back. Ah, I also brought myself a body bag, so it won’t get your vehicle dirty… So, is it ok?”
Colbert understood that what he was asking was something unpleasant for Akira and the others. As a matter of fact, Dale and Sheryl looked obviously annoyed.
Dale looked at Colbert and said with displeasure.
“Just leave him alone. Some monsters will take care of him in no time. That’s a suitable ending for that guy, don’t you think?”
“Even though he’s like that, I worked with him for a long time. Not to mention, I have my trauma with monsters… So like, I feel bad leaving his corpse for the monsters…”
Akira thought that if it pained Colbert that much, then he could just dig a hole and bury the corpse. He found it weird since there was no need to bring it back to the city, thus he popped out a rude question for Colbert.
“What are you planning to do with his corpse after bringing it back to the city? Are you planning to look for his family and give the body to them?”
“No, I will hand it over to the Hunter Office. If he had left his contact address when he registered his name, the Hunter Office would at least try to contact his family, that is if he did submit his family information too. The Hunter Office will take care of the corpse after that. By the way, in order to reduce the number of Hunters who have gone missing, the Hunter Office also recommends bringing Hunter’s corpse to them, you know?”
That was one of the efforts to keep the Hunters under control and make them stay ethical. It would also help the City Management if they could tell which Hunters went missing and which Hunters were dead. Of course, they would assume the Hunters who went missing were already dead, but it was not like they could actually treat those Hunters as deceased. Those Hunters would need to stay missing for a while and there was a lot of administration stuff that needed to be approved before they were declared dead. But by bringing evidence that they were dead such as their corpses, the City Management and the Hunter Office could bypass the administration stuff and cut short the waiting time.
Colbert smiled bitterly as he continued.
“Well, it’s only recommended and not compulsory. But the Hunter Office does suggest us to do that. If it’s about profit, by doing something right like that, the Hunter Office will have a better impression on us. Not to mention that law-abiding companies also include the personality of the Hunters when they’re looking to hire Hunters. By taking Guyver’s corpse back, we would not get treated like those Hunters who tried to attack the other Hunters on the same team, or at least it would lessen the chance for that. It’s basically about karma.”
After listening to Colbert’s explanation, Dale nodded. After all, it was something that concerned him too. Colbert then turned to Akira and Sheryl.
“I can understand your opinion. So like, well, it’s not like I’m doing this to make it up for you, but I’ll give mine and Guyver’s share of relics to you. They’ll fetch you quite a lot of money if you sell them.”
Sheryl interjected. It was because although it would be just ‘quite a lot of money’ for Colbert, it would be a huge amount of money for Sheryl and her gang.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I too messed up, after all. I caused everyone trouble when we were back in the mansion. Even after we said that we would help escort you in exchange for a ride back home, one of my companions attacked you, and now, I’m asking permission to go bring that person’s corpse with us. It would be nothing strange if you’re angry and decide to leave us here. So like, it would be great if you accept our share of relics so that it can at least reduce your anger.”
After he said that, Colbert glanced at Dale. Dale hesitated but he then gave up and said.
“…Alright, I know I’m also at fault here. I’ll also give my share.”
Sheryl asked them again to confirm.
“Are you really sure about this?”
“Yeah, I don’t want people to just leave my corpse for the monsters when I’m dead after all.”
Dale smiled bitterly when he said that.
Sheryl looked at Akira to ask for his opinion. So Akira said to her.
“I guess it’s fine. You should take their offer while you have the chance.”
If Akira does not mind, then Sheryl had no problem with it either. She lightly bowed and took their offer.
“I understand, if that’s the case, I’ll thankfully accept your offer.”
“Thanks and sorry. Alright then, let me get this done fast. Just wait here for a few minutes.”
Colbert then went to retrieve Guyver’s corpse alone.
After he finished retrieving Guyver’s corpse, they quickly continued their way back to Kugamayama city, leaving Sebla’s corpse together with the corpse of the monster that Dale and Colbert killed.
Although a lot of things happened, Akira was able to return back to the city safely. But of course, each of them had different opinions whether they could say that they really did return back safely.
Akira stopped his vehicle near the city, it was somewhere around the border between the wasteland and the slum city. Dale and Colbert said their goodbyes before they went their separate way. Colbert carried Guyver’s dead body to the city while Dale went straight to the lower district.
Sheryl and her gang members went back to their base first without loading off the relics. She then told everyone who was left in the base to help carry all the relics in the cart to their base.
Akira was sitting on the driver seat while waiting for Sheryl’s gang to finish unloading all the relics in the cart.
Akira turned to Alpha who was sitting beside him on the driver assistant’s seat. Alpha was still in her swimsuit. Although she still looked weird in the middle of the wasteland, Akira who was starting to get used to that did not react any differently now, at least not until Alpha changed into another dress.
Alpha asked Akira something that sounded trivial, but to her, it was an important question.
“It’s about when you saved Sheryl. Why did you drop your rifle?”
When Akira was in the underground city, he did not drop his rifle even when Reina was taken hostage. Alpha would accept Akira’s excuse even if he simply said that Reina and Sheryl were 2 different cases. But for the sake of her goal, it was imperative to keep Akira alive.
If there was someone that Akira would sacrifice his own life for, Alpha would have to think of a way to handle that person.
Akira proudly answered.
“I had a feeling that I would be able to evade his shots without trouble. No, that’s not right, it was because I wanted to confirm it. Although I did that when I fought with Guyver too, the time with Sebla was the first time I was able to reproduce the feeling I had when I compress my time perception. I guess the reason why I couldn’t do that in my training with you was because deep down, I knew my life was not in danger. But now that I was able to do it, I feel like I should be able to do it better next time.”
“You didn’t think what would happen if you failed?”
“I bet you would move my body by controlling my augmented suit, right? You did that when Guyver shot me from behind, remember…? Uh, was it a situation where you couldn’t do that?”
Akira’s expression stiffened, if that was the case, then his life was really in danger there. Alpha looked at Akira who was frowning and said.
“There was no trouble about that. It’s as you said, at that time, I was about to move your augmented suit to evade that shot, but you suddenly moved on your own. Putting that aside, I think that’s the reason why you could evade Sebla’s shot. But that is not the reason why you dropped your rifle.”
Akira seemed uncomfortable as he said.
“I was able to kill him without any loss, right?”
But Akira suddenly seemed to realize something as he added.
“Well, it was because I was sure I would be able to kill him even if I dropped my rifle. That’s why I did that. I thought that I could pick the option where I had a better chance of safely saving Sheryl. The situation was different compared with Reina in the underground city. If I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do that, I wouldn’t have dropped my rifle.”
Akira had no plans to get himself killed, Alpha knew that very well. As her worry was resolved by his answer, she smiled at Akira and said.
“It’s all good if that was not a suicidal move. I think I don’t need to remind you about this, but it would be bad for me if you die. The reason why I’m helping you is because it’s an upfront payment for taking my request. So basically you have a debt to me. I have no plans of letting you go from that debt unless you finish my request, you know.”
“I know, I know. Although we had a lot of trouble this time, I think I’m growing stronger and stronger. I should have a better chance in finishing your request. I hope you’re satisfied with this for now.”
Alpha and Akira were talking to each other while throwing jokes from time to time.
As Akira was having a silly talk with Alpha, Sheryl’s gang was transporting the relics from the back cart to their base.
Since some of the relics were pretty big, Sheryl’s gang was gathering quite a lot of attention. But there was no worry of getting attacked since people who saw them knew that they were transporting relics from a Hunter’s cart.
Trying to rob them of those relics meant picking a fight against that Hunter. Because of that, Sheryl’s gang was able to safely transport the relics even when they went through a territory in the slum city that was owned by a different gang.
Akira remembered his fight against Guyver and said to Alpha.
“But still, I’m glad that was a stun grenade. If it was a hand grenade, it would have been really bad. Well, the stun grenade itself was pretty dangerous though.”
“Either it was because he didn’t have a hand grenade, or it was because he thought that he might be in the blast range too. We’re saved because of that though, and we were lucky that it was right after the rain stopped.”
“Does it have anything to do with the rain?”
“To be more precise, it has something to do with the colourless mist effect of the rain. The colourless mist effect reduced the intensity of the light and the sound, so the effect from stun grenade must have been considerably weakened. Although, that’s also the reason why it’s hard to detect a monster in the middle of a thick colourless mist. If I have to give you an example, the DVTS minigun didn’t make much sound when you used it, right? If there was no colourless mist, it would have made a very loud sound, you know.”
“I see, hm? But I used that minigun before the rain started, right? And it wasn’t that loud then?”
“Colourless mist is ever-present in the eastern district although the thickness level is different in each region.”
“Is that so? Ah, that’s the reason why the monsters can’t detect us, right?”
“Yep, that’s correct.”
Akira was spending time by learning about what Hunters knew directly from Alpha.
Not too long after that, Sheryl informed Akira that they had finished transporting the relics. Akira was about to turn the vehicle on and head back home when he suddenly realized something.
“Now that I remember, Colbert said all of those excuses and we ended up carrying Guyver’s corpse back to the city while we just left Sebla’s corpse in the wasteland. But when we separated, Colbert was not heading to the direction where the Hunter Office was, I wonder why is that?”
“It’s not like you know him personally and neither is he a Hunter, so it’s normal to leave Sebla’s corpse behind like that. Moreover, when you said Hunter Office, you meant that big Hunter Office branch, right? There are other smaller Hunter Office branches in the city, you know.”
“Is that so? Well, I guess you’re right.”
Since it was not something that interested him, Akira accepted her explanation and stopped thinking about it.
After Colbert separated from Akira and Dale, he headed to the city alone. He then waited for someone to arrive.
In about 30 minutes after Colbert contacted someone, a vehicle stopped close to him. It was a small vehicle designed to be used inside the city.
A man stepped out from that vehicle. Colbert pointed at the body bag that was lying close to him. That man then opened the zipper on the body bag and confirmed that it was indeed Guyver’s corpse. He smiled and turned to Colbert.
“It’s Guyver. Thanks for the hard work.”
“Now that I’ve done my job, tell them to transfer my reward.”
“I know. Just wait for a sec here.”
That man then operated his information terminal and contacted someone. Suddenly, Colbert begrudgingly said to that man.
“This is the last time I’m taking this kind of job, okay?”
“Please don’t say that. Unlike this dead guy, we think that you’re a good Hunter and we trust you. It’s not easy for us to get a Hunter like you, you know. We’ll give you a reward suitable for the job, okay?”
“It wasn’t worth the risk this time. You’re lucky that I’m not asking for an extra reward for this job.”
“You are not satisfied with the reward? In that case, you should discuss it with the boss. We’re just goons, so we can do nothing about it… Oh, it seems that the reward is already transferred, can you check it?”
That man saw a message in his information terminal and conveyed the contents to Colbert. Colbert took out his own information terminal, checked his bank account, and confirmed the payment.
The man then took the body bag and stuffed it in his vehicle’s trunk.
“I know it’s not easy working as a Hunter, but it’s not easy to work as a collector either. We have to go collect the dead body of people in debt like this, you see.”
That man was a debt collector sent by the company that lent its money to Guyver. Although Guyver did not know about it, Colbert was actually his observer. It was Colbert’s job to watch over him and secure his body if he died. It was to make sure that he would not escape so that they could throw him to labour work in case he could not pay back his debt and to quickly collect his body as soon as possible when he got killed.
There were many private assets that could not be seized if the Hunter was still in ‘missing’ status, such as the Hunter Office bank account. The fastest way to seize those assets was by bringing the owner of the assets to transfer those assets, regardless of whether the owner was alive or not. In order to make sure that it was not the collector company that killed the person and brought the corpse to the Hunter Office to seize his or her assets, it was important to have someone else as a witness to testify that the person was actually killed in his line of work. The paper works could be done faster if the witness was someone trustworthy with a good track record.
With Guyver’s corpse in their hands, it was easy to guess that the collection agency would seize all of Guyver’s assets, including the money that he saved to escape from that very debt.
Colbert laughed uncomfortably and said.
“I know how hard it is to work as a collector. The guy who came to collect my debt ended up in the grave after all.”
“Oof, scary. It seems that you’re in a very bad mood today. Well, I’ll listen to your story on our way, hop in.”
That man and Colbert then hopped into the vehicle and they went to the city.