Togami was fiddling with his information terminal, he was trying to see Akira’s Hunter record.
Akira said that his Hunter Rank was 21. After knowing that Akira’s Rank was lower than his, Togami started mocking Akira. But now, he was hoping that it was actually just him making a bad joke there.
Togami had seen Akira in action up close and felt the difference in their skill. He experienced it firsthand and understood the fact that Akira was too strong for a Rank 21 Hunter. But that was not the biggest problem yet.
The biggest problem was how Akira was so casual about it. He did not show even a trace of pride, snub, or self-confidence in his own skill. Although he was strong, he was not prideful of his own skills at all.
[…Don’t tell me that it’s normal to be that strong for a Rank 21 Hunter, or is it? No, that can’t be normal! He’s definitely weird! He’s abnormal!! So there’s just no way…]
If it was normal for a Rank 21 Hunter to be as strong as Akira, then there would be no problem at all. But if that was the case, if Akira’s strength was considered normal, then it would mean that Togami was weak according to that standard. For Togami, who always thought that he was a skilled Hunter and prided in that, it was a bitter pill that was too hard to swallow.
Togami tried to check Akira’s Hunter Rank while half praying. But his expression showed that his prayer was not answered. According to the record from the Hunter Office, Akira was indeed a Rank 21 Hunter.
Togami was still in a shocked state as he asked Shikarabe.
“Uhmmm… There’s something I want to ask.”
Although Togami was a part of the anti-Katsuya faction, he was still a young Hunter. So in short, he was a type of Hunter that Shikarabe hated. Since Shikarabe had no particular impression on Togami yet, he still saw Togami as one of the young Hunters that he did not like.
Shikarabe sounded annoyed as he said.
If it was the usual Togami, he would have lashed back when Shikarabe said that to him. But not this time, his face looked tense as he continued.
“About that Akira… Who exactly is he?”
“What do you mean by that? He’s a Hunter that I paid to join the hunt. I know that he’s not from Drankam. But I have no plans to listen to your complaints about taking in a Hunter who is not from our gang.”
Togami flusteredly tried to correct Shikarabe who was misunderstanding him.
“That’s not what I meant! That guy, I won’t accept that someone like him is just Rank 21, you know?! It’s definitely strange!!”
Shikarabe was a bit surprised but he quickly understood what Togami was talking about. He smiled mischievously for a few split seconds, then his face immediately returned back to normal.
“Hunter Rank is an indicator of how good a Hunter is in his job, but it doesn’t show how strong they are in a fight. If you have great stealth skill, you can avoid any monsters and return from an old-world ruin with a big load of relics. And if you can bring expensive relics back to the Hunter Office, you’ll be able to raise your Hunter Rank despite having no skill in fighting at all. And conversely, even if you have an amazing fighting skill but you have problems bringing back relics from the ruins, then your Hunter Rank will be low. But well, I bet it’s rare for you to find that kind of Hunter though. It’s unavoidable to encounter monsters when you go to the old-world ruins after all. So it’s important for them to learn how to fight. For those Hunters who are good at fighting but bad at exploring the ruins, they would increase their Hunter Rank through taking monster-hunting requests. That’s why it’s not fully wrong to decide the skill of a Hunter from his or her Hunter Rank.”
After Shikarabe said that, he smirked at Togami.
“But, uh, what can I say? Let’s say that there’s someone who thinks Hunter Rank is proportional to fighting skill. That guy has always been taking easy requests to increase his Hunter Rank, and when he finally works together with another skilled Hunter, he realizes that he’s actually slowing his partner down. Let’s say that person misunderstands his own skill since he has always been focusing only on increasing his Hunter Rank, I’m sure it’ll give him a shock when he sees how the skill of his partner is so different compared to what he was expecting. Even more so when his horrible personality made him not to doubt his skill but instead look down and mock his partner… Ah, I’m not saying that guy is you though, Togami. After all, it’s completely a matter of individual personality. But well, it’s not like I want to say bad things about the gang that I belong to, but the truth is that kind of Hunters have been increasing lately in Drankam and it’s true that people have started saying bad things about Drankam. Something like the Hunters from Drankam are nothing but incompetent Hunters with powerful equipment. But I don’t think you’re one of them, okay? After all, I invited you to join the hunt for the bounty monster. I have no idea what indicators they used when they picked you, but if the people in the upper echelon picked you, so maybe they’re not mistaken, just maybe.”
Togami did not say anything as he listened to Shikarabe. But his face turned pale as he said.
“…I’ll go and get some fresh air for a bit.”
Togami only said that before he left Shikarabe, he seemed a bit wobbly as he left that place.
“Just come back before the Hunter Office staff is here.”
Shikarabe said that and saw Togami off.
After Togami left, Varga who had been holding back, exploded in laughter.
“Shikarabe, you do have a bad personality, you know. No matter how you think about it, Akira is the one who is abnormal. That kid is right, it’s weird for someone as strong as him to be just Rank 21. There’s no way a Rank 21 Hunter can be worth more than 100,000,000 Aurum, you know?”
Shikarabe just laughed and replied.
“Don’t be rude. I wasn’t lying, you know? And I did say that it was not the case for Togami, right? So I’m not responsible for how he takes that, alright? If he takes my words the way I meant it, then there should be no problem.”
Yamanobe smiled and joined in.
“But he’s a part of the anti-Katsuya faction, right? Aren’t you supposed to be liking that guy?”
“It’s fine. He just doesn’t like the fact that Katsuya has girls surrounding him. Not to mention that it’s true he’s getting advantage from that young Hunter preferential treatment program, and he indeed got ahead of himself back then. People like him will change the moment Katsuya recognizes his skill or praises him. I can guarantee that. So from that point of view, he might as well be a part of the Katsuya faction.”
“Ahhh, you’re right about that. That’s a totally possible outcome.”
It seemed that Shikarabe’s anger on the Drankam’s young Hunters had subsided as he and his friends laughed together.
Varga then returned back to his serious mood as he asked Shikarabe.
“Shikarabe, I want to confirm what’s our plan after this. Are we going to hunt for the next bounty monster?”
“I haven’t really decided yet. It depends on how our situation will turn out. Although we used most of our reserve ammo, we might be able to procure a refill depending on the route that we take. It also depends on whether we will hunt the next bounty monster alone or we will join the other team.”
“What will we do about the other team members if we join the other Hunter team? We hired them without the Hunter Office’s approval, they might cause trouble if we bring them when joining another team, you know?”
“To be honest, I want to hunt for the next bounty monster only by ourselves. But if we join another team, we won’t be bringing the others. As Varga said, it’ll only cause more trouble after all. So I’ll be just bringing Hunters from Drankam, which basically means the three of us plus Togami. Not to mention that the record in the Hunter Office also only has our names as the people who defeated the Tank Tarantula.”
Yamanobe sounded disappointed as he said.
“I see, to be honest, I hope we can at least bring Akira and Nergo, you know. Those two contributed more than I thought they would in the last fight.”
It was all thanks to Shikarabe, Akira and Nergo taking all the heat from the Tank Tarantula that Yamanobe and Varga were able to approach the Tank Tarantula without any troubles. Originally, they had put an extra gimmick to force the other Hunters to get close to the Tank Tarantula in case they refused to during that fight.
The vehicles used by the other Hunters were prepared by Shikarabe and his friends. They rigged those vehicles so they could control those vehicles from Shikarabe’s APC. Of course, they installed that gimmick to force the other Hunters to be the decoys. Although in the end, they did not resort to it, they did make preparation for such a thing.
Yamanobe thought of something and voiced out his idea.
“How about bringing the other Hunters together with us by hiring them through a formal request?”
Shikarabe instantly replied back.
“That sounds like a bad idea that would cause a lot of trouble during the negotiation. So if you’re going to do that, make sure to take care of the aftermath too, okay? I won’t help you though.”
“Me neither. I guess that’s indeed a bad idea, huh?”
Yamanobe quickly stepped down without much resistance. In terms of its reward and difficulty, hunting a bounty monster was a very sensitive subject. So if Yamanobe brought along Hunters who were not from Drankam, it meant that he would have to negotiate with the other factions too. Even Yamanobe would not want to have to face that.
The Hunter Office’s staff arrived not too long after that.
Shikarabe and his friends finished the administration work and loaded the leftover wreckage from the Tank Tarantula that they had gathered beforehand into the Hunter Office’s truck.
After they finished their business with the Hunter Office, they still had to take care of some administration stuff in Drankam. Shikarabe used his information terminal to contact someone from Drankam but sounded unhappy as the conversation went on.
“… I see… Alright then, I’ll send you the meeting coordinate… Yeah, I’ll take over the Hunters from that side too, we’ll go once we’re ready… I get it, okay!! Don’t give the leader position to those people! Just don’t!!”
Shikarabe then cut his call with Arabe. Varga looked at Shikarabe and asked him.
“So, what was that?”
“There’s only 1 bounty monster left. The team sent by Drankam to hunt the multi-turrets Maimai has failed. The multi-turrets Maimai itself has been defeated by another team. As for the overgrown snake… It seems that Katsuya’s team defeated it.”
Shikarabe sounded annoyed as he continued.
“As for the last one, they said that we need to group up with the rest of the Drankam teams to hunt for the last bounty monster—the Big Walker. Retrieve the rest of the equipment that we distributed to the other Hunters.”
Yamanobe tilted his head and asked Shikarabe.
“Sure, so then, why are you upset? The Katsuya faction splurged a lot of money for Katsuya to hunt the overgrown snake, so even you also expected that they’ll be able to take out that bounty monster, right?”
Shikarabe sounded really annoyed as he replied back.
“According to how we are going to form the new team and how big it is going to be, Katsuya might be the leader of the new team, you know!? The upper echelons are having a debate about that right now. The Big Walker’s bounty prize is 3,000,000,000 Aurum! So the leader of the team that takes out that 3,000,000,000 Aurum bounty monster will earn a lot of prestige, you know!! I would rather die than working under that boy!!”
Both Yamanobe and Varga nodded in agreement. Both of them knew well just how Shikarabe hated Katsuya.
Both Elena and Sara looked exhausted as they were traversing through the wasteland. They were sitting on the driver seat and the driver’s assistant seat in their vehicle respectively.
Not too far from them, there was the corpse of a big snake that Katsuya’s team just defeated. It looked like the same snake that Elena and Sara met in Yonozuka station the other day except that it was even worse.
Its mouth was so huge that it looked like it could swallow a whole powered suit or a vehicle in one go. Its width was more or less as big as a small building and it was as long as a few dozen trailers.
That huge snake was a mix-match of all the monsters that it had eaten. A part of its scale was covered by fur from a biological monster, while other parts were covered by armour plating from a mechanical monster. There was even a tire too, it might have been from one of the Hunter vehicles that it had eaten.
The Hunter Office staffs were trying to move the big snake’s carcass using heavy equipment. A group of young Hunters gathered not too far from them, they looked thrilled for being able to defeat the snake. But some of them looked sad since their close friends got injured or even killed in the previous fight.
A Hunter Office staff was talking with Katsuya on the spot, he must have a lot of things to talk about as the leader of the team that defeated the bounty monster. Behind him, Mizuha, the woman who supported the Katsuya faction, was standing while listening to their conversation.
Elena and Sara were not a part of Drankam, they used that excuse to take a rest in a different place not too far from Katsuya and his team. But actually, that was also an order from Mizuha.
Sara looked at Elena who was sitting in the driver seat, she sounded really tired as she asked.
“…Elena, is it okay if I whine a bit?”
Elena also sounded equally tired.
“…Sure, go ahead, although, I feel like I know what you want to whine about.”
“…Is that so? Well, I’ll take that offer then…”
Sara took a long breath and started whining.
“To be honest, the job this time isn’t worth all that hard work at all…”
“I can’t agree more with you… That was my mistake… I’ll have to be more careful about the contract term next time…”
“It’s fine… It’s not your fault…”
“Thanks… I’m glad that you’re my partner…”
Both Elena and Sara still looked super tired while they were showing their appreciation to each other.
Elena and Sara had exhausted their physical and psychical stamina. Of course, they had spent their stamina during their fight against the bounty monster. To be more precise, it was because the fight placed too much burden on Elena and Sara.
The nervousness when they hunted for the bounty monster, the fear when they encountered the bounty monster, and the chaos that ensued after that because of their lack of experience, it was almost impossible for the young Hunters to work as a team in such a battle.
Katsuya’s order was cut mid-way multiple times, it was because he always went to help his team members when the bounty monster smashed their vehicles.
There were even some young Hunters who kept shooting at the bounty monster up close although Elena and Sara warned them that they were too close and they needed to pull back. Those young Hunters refuted Elena and Sara by saying that it was not an order from the leader of the team, Katsuya. While it was correct for them to only follow the orders of the leader, they ended up having to sustain heavy injuries because they fought the bounty monster up close.
It was Elena and Sara’s job to make sure that as many young Hunters as possible return back alive. Thus they worked extremely hard to pick up those young Hunters and carry them to a safe place.
Elena and Sara tried their best to help out in that fight as they circled around the bounty monster. They were actually gathering information about the bounty monster as well as helping out the other Hunters. Although it looked like a dull job, it was actually a very important job.
But to some of the other young Hunters, it seemed like Elena and Sara were just going around doing nothing.
It was true that the ones who defeated the bounty monster were Katsuya’s team, they were also the ones who shot a lot of rockets at that snake. So at a glance, it seemed that they were the ones that contributed the most during that battle. It was as if they would be able to defeat the bounty monster even without having Sara and Elena around. That was of course if their rockets could hit the bounty monster without the guided targeting provided by Elena.
But in reality, that was also possible. Katsuya and his team actually carried a huge amount of rocket launchers, enough to compensate the low accuracy with sheer numbers. And without Elena and Sara, that accuracy would drop even lower, which meant that they would have taken more time to defeat the bounty monster, thus they would have sustained more losses in that battle.
But not everyone present there thought so. Especially those people who wanted to boost a particular person’s achievement and renown.
Both Elena and Sara seemed to be extremely tired.
“Elena… What’s the plan after this again?”
“…For now, we just need to standby here until they finish their talk with the Hunter Office about the bounty monster. After that… Well, it depends on the situation.”
“…Want to use some medicines?”
“I’m already using medicines…”
Even if the medicine could help recover some of their physical stamina, it could not recover their psychical stamina. They still could quickly react if they suddenly got thrown into a fight, but as long as there were no monsters around, they wanted to get a good rest there.
They then saw Katsuya and his friends approaching them, they also could see Mizuha with them.
The moment Elena saw Mizuha, she quickly straightened up the seat that she had set as flat as possible. After all, it was her job to handle the negotiation. While on the other hand, Sara who was in the driver’s assistant seat still had her seat stretched back, that was just how tired she was.
As Mizuha saw Sara still lying on her seat although Sara knew that she was coming, she looked slightly offended. But then she spoke to Elena without showing it.
“Elena-san. I want to talk about the request though, is it a good time now?”
Elena was actually tired, but when she replied she wrung together all the focus that still remained within her. She could not afford to negotiate while being half-dazed for the sake of Sara too.
Mizuha then explained to Elena about the aftermath of defeating the bounty monster, then she shifted to discussing the reward money based on the survival rate from that bounty hunting. She conveyed that the survival rate was lower than she had expected.
Mizuha then asked Elena a question.
“So, about this survival rate, do you have any excuse?”
“No, just subtract the reward as we’ve agreed beforehand.”
Elena’s expression did not change as she said that, Mizuha’s expression turned slightly stern.
“…Is that all?”
“…Yeah, but if you want me to say something, then about the survival rate, what’s your explanation for that?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s exactly like I asked you. It’s not like you asked me the same question without knowing the meaning behind that question, right?”
Elena and Mizuha stared at each other without saying anything.
Elena thought that she and Sara properly did their duty. She believed that both of them did their best to help defeat the bounty monster. They did not think that they caused needless loss because of their incompetence. That was exactly why Elena refused to apologize for the low survival rate.
So she discreetly returned the question to Mizuha, to know if Mizuha thought that the low survival rate was caused by Drankam’s incompetency.
Mizuha then answered Elena’s question.
“Explanation, huh. Nothing.”
Mizuha had prepared a huge amount of money for that bounty monster hunt. She bought expensive equipment and gathered the people who would use that equipment. Although some of them had a rather low Hunter Rank to join such a hunt, she prepared enough equipment and vehicles to compensate for the lack of experience and skill.
So if the survival rate was worse than she expected, she thought that it should not be because of her lack of preparation. Basically, it must be because of something else.
Elena only replied with that short sentence and returned back to staring at each other without saying anything. Although they did not communicate through words, both of them at least knew what the other person was thinking about.
Elena believed that the horrendous survival rate was because Drankam sent inexperienced Hunters for hunting a bounty monster. While Mizuha thought that it was because Elena and Sara did not do their job properly. Both of them at least understood very well that they were blaming each other.
Looking at both of the people, who he always looked up to, staring at each other without saying anything, Katsuya felt a bit uncomfortable. Thus, as the leader of his team, he interrupted.
“U-uhm, we’re here to talk about what to do from here on, is that okay?”
Both Elena and Mizuha turned to Katsuya. Katsuya flinched when the stare that they were giving to each other just now shifted to him.
“W-well, uh, we’ll be ready to move out soon, so I thought this is a good place to decide that…”
Elena realized that her tiredness caused her to be short-tempered there, thus she took a breath to calm herself down. Mizuha also decided to hold back her displeasure to show respect to the leader of the team that just killed a bounty monster.
Mizuha smiled to Katsuya.
“You’re right. Well then, Katsuya, please explain it to them.”
Elena waited for Katsuya’s explanation with a calm expression. Katsuya felt relieved as he started his explanation.
There was only one bounty monster left. In order to hunt for that bounty monster, they would group up with the rest of the Drankam teams. They still did not know who would be the leader of the new team. Since they would be moving to the meeting ground soon, he wanted Elena and Sara to come along with him again, but depending on the result, someone else might be the leader for the new team.
“So that’s basically the gist of it. Elena-san and Sara-san, please come with us for the next hunt too.”
Elena listened to Katsuya’s explanation without saying anything. After she understood the situation, she thought of all the possibilities inside her mind and came to a conclusion.
She then asked Mizuha.
“Mizuha-san, is what he said correct?”
“Yes, all Drankam teams will group up and hunt for the last bounty monster, the Big Walker. Since it seems that the other Hunter teams are also pooling up their fighting power to hunt for the Big Walker, we’re in a hurry here.”
Elena took a deep breath and said.
“I see. In that case, as we agreed beforehand, we’ll take our leave here.”
Katsuya was surprised hearing Elena’s answer, Mizuha was also making a similar face.
He then flusteredly asked.
“Elena-san!? Wait for a second, are you going to leave?”
Mizuha tried to hide her displeasure and calmly asked Elena.
“Can you tell me your reason?”
Elena calmly replied.
“Our contract is that we’ll accompany and provide support to Katsuya’s team while hunting for the bounty monster. In case if the situation changes, then we’ll have to negotiate a new deal. And if it happens during a fight, we’ll provide support until the fight ends before negotiating a new deal. Now that the team is going to be reorganized to the point that the leader might even change, not to mention that grouping up with the other teams means that there might be infighting which might evolve to a real fight, I believe that this is enough reason to see that the situation has significantly changed and there’s a need to negotiate for a new deal. So with that laid out, I decided that we’re going to take our leave here as stated in our original contract.”
“Don’t you think that we have the right to negotiate too?”
“Of course. If you want to make an offer after I’ve made that decision, you’re welcome to try. That is, if Drankam thinks that it is worth spending time negotiation with us.”
Elena and Mizuha lightly smiled at each other. From afar, they looked like they were getting along, but looking up close, unless you were a dense person, it was obvious that they were showing hostility toward each other.
Having Elena and Sara leave his team here means that the fighting power of his team would diminish. Both personally and as the leader of his team, Katsuya really wanted to avoid that.
Katsuya made a begging face as he asked Elena.
“Elena-san, do you really have to leave no matter what?”
Elena looked apologetic.
“I’m sorry, but yes. I think you can clearly see it, we’re exhausted. We’re not in a state that we can provide meaningful support. We might even just slow you down. So according to our principle as Hunters, it’s not right to accept a request under this state.”
Katsuya looked very disappointed.
Mizuha also confirmed that there was no room for negotiation there, thus she gave up on bringing Elena and Sara along. Her expression then returned back to formal as she smiled and said to Elena.
“I understand. Although it’s a bit abnormal, our request ends here. We hope that you’ll be working with us again the next time we need your help. And please don’t forget to return the equipment that we lent you.”
“We’ve already returned all the equipment that we received from you including the unused ammo… Sara, we’re going home, so at least say your goodbye.”
Elena shook Sara to wake her up, Sara then slowly fixed her posture.
Although she was not planning to sleep there, she was so tired that her mind was a bit hazy, she could actually quickly fall asleep if she wanted to. She then reconfirmed what she heard.
“…We’re going home?”
Elena smiled at Katsuya.
“So then, we’ll be parting ways here. Katsuya, I know that it’s not easy to be the leader of a team, so make sure to keep calm and give your best out there.”
Sara also smiled at Katsuya, she still looked very tired.
“…Katsuya, good luck. And also, be careful. Returning back alive is the biggest victory for a Hunter.”
Katsuya just smiled back and said.
“Yes. Elena-san and Sara-san too, please be careful on your way back. We’re in the middle of the wasteland after all.”
As Elena turned on her vehicle, suddenly someone shouted at her as if to stop her.
“You have no right to say that!!”
Everyone in that place focused their attention on to the source of that shout. It was Lilina. Lilina, who was behind Katsuya, pushed aside the people in front of her until she came right in front of Elena.
Sara sounded annoyed as she looked at Elena and asked her.
“Elena, did I say anything strange?”
“It might be just me. But I don’t think either of us said anything strange though.”
Elena also did not even try to hide her displeasure when she answered Sara’s question.
Lilina vented her anger and shouted as if she was close to exploding.
“Both of you!!”
Both Sara and Elena looked back at Lilina, who was glaring at both of them.
“I know it, you know!! Your duty was to protect us!! And your reward depends on how many of us survived that fight!! If only both of you properly did your job, there’s no need for them to die back then!!”
“About the details of our contract, due to non-disclosure agreement, I can’t really tell you though…”
Elena glanced at Mizuha when she said that, so Mizuha replied to Lilina in Elena’s place.
“They’re hired to increase the survival rate of the whole team and it’s true that in their contract, their reward depends on the resulting survival rate compared to the expected survival rate.”
“That means that I got it right, am I not?!”
After listening to Mizuha’s explanation, Lilina shouted at Elena again.
“Leaving aside why you even interpreted that, as your escort, we did our best to increase your survival rate during the fight, you know?”
“Save the bullshit! 8 people died in that fight! But even so, you are saying you did your best back there?! And now you’re saying that you’re going to leave the team midway?! What exactly is going on inside your heads?!”
Elena could feel a slight headache, as she tried to understand what Lilina meant. As she dug deeper into Lilina’s way of thinking, her headache got even worse before she finally drew a conclusion and checked it with Lilina.
“So in short, you who believe that being able to return back alive is the most important thing as a Hunter, think that we abandoned our duty or at least not taking our duty seriously since we prioritized our survivability, huh? And you want to say that if only we followed Katsuya’s orders and did our job better, then no one would have died in that fight, right?”
“That’s right!! So how are you going to take responsibility for that?!”
Lilina shouted even louder than before.
Elena and Sara looked so exhausted as they let out a big sigh. Elena then replied as the representative of her team.
“If you want to complain, direct that to the people who hired us. I’m sure they’ll at least give you some answers. See you then.”
Elena only said that before she accelerated her vehicle.
Lilina saw them off as she shouted at them.
“Wait!! Are you running away now?!”
Elena did not slow down at all, in fact, she even paced her vehicle faster.
Lilina then went to Mizuha. Her expression was showing her anger and sadness for losing her friends.
“Mizuha-san!! Why would you even hire those people?!”
Mizuha looked apologetic as she said to Lilina.
“We hired them since Katsuya vouched for them. He said that they’re skilled Hunters, but it seems that I put too much trust in them. I’ll properly take care of the rest, so just calm down, okay?”
Mizuha tried to calm Lilina down with a gentle voice. Lilina somehow calmed down thanks to that, but she still sounded displeased as she said.
“…Alright, I’ll trust you on this.”
Lilina slightly bowed and returned back to preparing to leave that place.
Katsuya looked conflicted as he saw Elena and Sara off. He was so surprised that he missed his chance to say anything before Elena and Sara left.
Mizuha looked at his expression and frowned. Katsuya’s conflicted expression showed what he was feeling deep inside his heart, and that included a lingering affection toward Elena and Sara.
Mizuha tried to smile and spoke to Katsuya.
“Katsuya, you should finish your preparation to leave this place too.”
When Mizuha spoke to him, Katsuya remembered that he was the leader of his team. Although a lot of things were going through his mind right now, he still had to do his duty as the team leader at the moment.
Katsuya turned and started walking back to his team.
Elena and Sara were traversing through the wasteland in their vehicle.
Elena had set the vehicle on auto-pilot heading back to Kugamayama city. Since she left the driving to the control device, the vehicle was shaking more than before. If Elena was taking the wheel, she would have been able to adjust the acceleration and pick a better route, but Sara knew that Elena was also tired, thus she had no plans to blame her.
Elena and Sara were slouching on their seats. Since no one else was there, there was no need to keep up their appearances. It also showed just how exhausted they were. But they were at least rested enough to have a normal conversation.
“Seriously though, that wasn’t easy at all.”
Elena couldn’t agree more with that.
“Yeah, you can say that again. That was really tiring in all sense.”
“Lilina, was it again? At first, she said that they don’t need us, then after that, she said we didn’t work hard enough. If they really could do that themselves, there was no need for our help, right? Do they even have any idea of how much you worked just to cover them?”
It was rare for Sara to sound so angry. It seemed that she did not like the fact that Elena was overburdened during the last fight.
Elena smiled bitterly.
“Looking at that, I feel like she’ll still have something to complain about even if we sacrifice ourselves to protect Katsuya’s team. Something like ‘these Hunters are pathetic to get killed by something like this’.”
Maybe it was because she was tired that Elena said something so mean that did not fit her character at all.
Sara just smiled bitterly to that rare side of Elena.
“I can see her doing something like that. Although she complained a lot about us being their escort, in the first place, she should realize the fact that they’re so weak to the point that they needed escorts in that battle. Or at least, the people in the upper echelon think that they’re not strong enough to go alone without an escort. It’s such a huge luxury to go hunting a bounty monster with escorts, you know? I wonder if she’s some kind of a rich lady who always has escort everywhere she goes since she was little, that might be why she thinks it’s normal to have escorts.”
As Elena listened to Sara’s mean joke, she remembered about a certain rumour within Drankam. It was about a rumour that there was a real rich lady in Drankam.
Up until now, Elena never took that rumour seriously, and even if it was true, it had nothing to do with her. That was why she did not care much about that rumour.
“Elena, what’s wrong?”
“Hm? It’s nothing. If it’s true that there’s a real rich lady in that gang, then the young Hunter preferential treatment program might have been created for that rich lady.”
“Ahhh, that does make sense. It might cause a problem if that rich lady alone got preferential treatment, that’s why they use that program as an excuse. That’s an interesting way of thinking, but… Isn’t that too much work to do just for the sake of one person?”
“I know, that’s just something that passed through my mind.”
Sara thought that Elena was joking as she lightly laughed, Elena also replied with a laugh.
Elena then continued.
“If this mysterious rich family is not supporting Drankam’s young Hunters, then all of those expensive equipment for the young Hunters would have to be paid by Drankam, you know. I don’t think that those young Hunters would do enough work to pay for those expensive equipment, which means that the more veteran Hunters would have to pay for them… I heard that there’s a gap growing between the young Hunters and the veteran Hunters, I guess I now know where’s that coming from.”
“Moreover, there are young Hunters who behave like that. It’s rather expected that a gap would grow.”
“The most important thing is not that there are young Hunters who behave like Lilina. With that many young Hunters in the gang, it’s to be expected to find at least one of them like her. The real problem is the fact that no one even tried to stop them. All of them agreed with her, although they didn’t express it, they at least agreed with what she said back there. I’m sure all of them back then at least agree with that girl to some degree, including that Drankam officer.”
“That basically means that most of the young Hunters in Drankam think like her, right?”
“Well, I at least don’t think that all of them think like her though.”
Both Elena and Sara thought of the same thing and took a deep breath. Sara then mumbled.
“I really really understand now why Shikarabe would complain about it.”
“Yeah, I totally agree.”
Elena just smiled bitterly when she said that.
The Hunter Office staff finished checking the dead corpse of the overgrown snake. It was also for the sake of transporting the snake, after all, it was hard to transport that snake without knowing its weight.
The staff looked a bit confused when he saw the result of his scanner. A fellow staff who noticed that asked him a question.
“About this though, look at this cross-section view of the inner part.”
“This is… Empty… Huh?”
There was a big long hollow cavity inside the snake. Both of the staff looked confused.
“It doesn’t seem like its digestive tract, nor does it seem like someone gouged it out. What is this, was there something inside that cavity before?”
“No idea, but one thing for sure, this is not a leftover body from moulting.”
The other staff replied to that joke with a laugh as he said.
“So you’re saying that this whole thing is just skin? That’s just impossible. Moreover, it has ‘snake’ in its name because it looks like a snake, it’s not like it’s really a snake, you know.”
“Yeah, if I’m not mistaken, it’s one of those monsters that evolve depending on what they eat, right? Well, anyways the real examination will be done by those researchers after we take this huge thing to the lab.”
They then laughed together as they continued their job.