Chapter 293: That Akira
Inside a certain room in the upper district of Kugamayama city, Sugadome, an officer from Saka**a Heavy Industry, was looking solemnly at the person in front of him
“Welcome… Or so I want to say, but is this everyone from the investigation team Just you Alone”
Even in the face of a high-ranking officer from Saka**a Heavy Industry, that man, Maruo, was still completely calm.
“The anti-rebuild is working very hard every day to ensure the survival of the eastern district.
As such, were always short on people.
Its not easy to adjust our posting, you see.
It seems like they had to go through a lot of trouble just to send me here.
I hope you can understand.”
“Thank you and I apologize.
I know you must be very busy.”
After that short exchange, it had clearly shown their standing toward one another.
Sugadome then stepped into the main subject.
“Well then, please start the investigation right away.
If you need extra help, we will send some of our men as well.”
Ah, by the way, just to make sure, this Shirou-kun, who is mentioned in the documents, do you have any objection if we deal with him ourselves”
Sugadome squinted his eyes.
“Of course, but please only do so when there are no other alternatives.
If you kill him unnecessarily, we will see that as a hostile act toward our company.”
It was a firm warning from one of the five biggest corporations.
Everyone in the eastern district knew just how frightening crossing them was.
It was not an exaggeration, nor an overstatement.
It literally meant picking a fight against one-fifth of the whole eastern districts economic zones.
Even so, Maruo was completely calm.
“No need to worry about that.
Well then, we will start the investigation right away.
Please let me excuse myself.”
Maruo slightly lowered his head and left the room.
Sugadome saw him off and sighed.
The anti-rebuild had the duty of protecting the eastern district.
Among them, there were those who were extremists.
They saw everything as minute when compared to the sake of protecting the world.
“…I can only hope that things would get resolved peacefully.”
Acting based on caution did not always go along with being effective.
As a high-ranking officer of Saka**a Heavy Industry, Sugadome always reminded himself of that fact.
He understood that he had no other choice but to use such people with great caution.
Nonetheless, Sugadome still had a migraine whenever he saw how these kinds of people around him continued to increase.
Maruo left Sugadomes room and walked past Yanagisawa in the hallway.
[That must be Yanagisawa, huh… Well, my priority right now is to investigate Shirou-kun.
Lets put matters related to him for later.]
[An investigator from Anti-rebuild, huh… It seems that I must hasten the plan.]
Though both recognized each other, they did not say anything as they walked past each other.
Akira took the camping vehicle that he received from Carol to drive through the wasteland.
His destination was where the inter-city vehicle got stuck.
After he spoke with Shizuka and spoke with Katsuragi, Akira prepared as much as he could.
Though, as expected, he could not retain his previous bike, the one he bought from Zegelt city.
Likewise, he could not get more annihilator warheads.
At the very least, he was able to refresh his supply and do some maintenance for his augmented suit and rifles.
With all the supplies that he stuffed into the vehicle, the insides felt stuffy even when only two people were on board.
Akira and Shirou.
“Shirou, theres no need for you to come with me, you know”
“Its fine, isnt it As per our agreement, I will have you complete my request first after you obtain your new equipment.
So, coming with you would mean there will be no need for you to return back to the city first.”
Youre right, but why are you in such a hurry”
“Im sorry, but Im a little desperate right now.
But its not like Im doubting you or anything.”
Akira also had something else to do once he got his frontline equipment.
Thus, he understood why Shirou would insist on coming along, to make sure Akira would prioritize his request first.
Moreover, it was true that Shirou was in a hurry.
He only had 3 days out of the 1 month grace time that Sugadome had granted him.
Thus, he could not afford to waste even a single second.
As Shirou re-evaluated his current situation, he heaved a sigh.
“…I didnt even have any spare time to create a negotiation route to Tsubaki like Sugadome had asked.
If I return back without having done anything, they will really treat me as a renegade from Saka**a.
Say, Akira, if it has come to that, can you please find a way to reserve a place for me in Tsukisada”
“Whoah, you dont even need to think about it, huh Just so you know, Im pretty amazing.
You should take more time to think about it.”
Shirou sighed once again since Akira showed no signs of willingness to negotiate.
Though, it was just a huge misunderstanding on Shirous part.
Akira actually had no connection with Tsukisada construction; thus, he was incapable of fulfilling Shirous request.
“In that case then, Akira.
How about I focus on creating a negotiation route to Tsubaki and…!”
Shirou was only saying so jokingly, but he stopped middle-way when he noticed Akiras face twitched.
“…You… Dont tell me you already have a route to contact Tsubaki!”
“Thats a lie! Then what is with that reaction!”
“I negotiated with Tsubaki before, thats all.
But that has already been concluded.
So, its not a lie.
I have no negotiation route to Tsubaki.”
“Concluded Then how are you still alive Saka**a tried to negotiate with Tsubaki before.
After conveying the contents of our offer and its demands, she killed everyone there.
This included the negotiator and his escorts.
The negotiator even got his whole body sliced into minced meat you know Well, except for their head.”
Hearing that, Akira was once again reminded of how precarious the situation was back then.
His face turned slightly pale.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, Shirou could relent as this was an unexpected opportunity.
“Although the negotiation ended in failure, you were able to still negotiate.
Heck, youre still alive, which means, you do have a route to contact Tsubaki.
Please! Help me make a negotiation route to Tsubaki!!”
“What Why! Does it have something to do with Tsukisada! If yes, Im willing to talk with Tsukisada about this…”
“Its not that simple, alright Lets just put this matter for later, the inter-city transport vehicle is coming into view.”
Since the gigantic inter-city transport vehicle was visible from afar, Shirou decided to acquiesce to Akiras demand and give up for now.
“…Ill definitely bring this up again later.”
“Alpha, Shirou is asking for that… So, whats the actual situation Can you find a way to make a communication route to Tsubaki”
“That will depend on how they define this route.
If its only a single opportunity to negotiate with Tsubaki without any guarantee for their safety, then yes.
But to be honest, I dont see why we have to do such a thing for him.”
As the inter-city transport vehicle was getting closer.
Suddenly, a call through the general-purpose communication line reached Akira.
“I am a representative of the private military contractor, Brunkel.
Under the agreement with Kugamayama City, Mirukakewa city, and Tarkein city, the area ahead is closed off due to various reasons.
Ill send you the exact area that is closed off.
I apologize for the inconvenience, but please take another route.”
“This is Akira, a Hunter.
I have some business with the Atlas D2771 inside that enclosed area.
I already have permission from Kugamayama city.
I will send you the documents, so please check them.”
Akira forwarded the documents.
The guy on the other side checked them and exclaimed in surprise.
“Ive confirmed the documents.
So, youre that Akira, huh I have things that I need to explain first, so stop your vehicle at the designated location.”
Akira closed the call and made a bitter smile.
“Welp, it seems like it has come to a point where they recognize me asthat Akira, huh…”
“That just shows how great your track record is.”
“I guess youre right.”
Alpha said with a smile, to which Akira was only able to agree.
Akira stopped the camping vehicle pretty close to one of the inter-transport vehicles.
Its large size was barely able to fit into his view.
Around him, soldiers from Brunkel were patrolling around the closed-off area to secure the inter-city transport vehicle.
Akira, for some reason, found them to be strange.
“Alpha, it might be just my imagination, but arent they posting more soldiers within the enclosed area instead of around its outskirts”
“That seems to be indeed the case.”
“Just what is going on…”
Akira frowned, considering that Kibayashi sent him there with such a huge smile, some kind of incident was bound to happen.
Seeing some men from Brunkel approaching the camping vehicle, Akira stepped out.
Those men looked at Akira with interest.
“So, you must be Akira, right Ill give you the map information for Atlas D2771.
Your stuff should be in there, so you can go to pick them up yourself.
Im sure theres no need for me to warn you, dont take others cargo, alright We might suspect you of trying to steal something if you go outside the indicated areas.
So, dont go around entering places.
Just only go through the doors that are open.”
Up until that point, that warning was pretty reasonable.
After Akira received the map information, the explanation took a strange turn.
“I dont mind if you decide to fight against enemies, but as expected, it would be great if you can avoid using annihilator warheads.
The damage to the vehicle will be too big and it might damage the other cargo as well.”
For Akira who was there only to pick up his cargo, he did not expect to find words likeenemies andfight.
“…What exactly is going on inside the vehicle Or more like, why did an inter-city transport vehicle get stuck in the middle of the wasteland like this”
“You didnt hear anything from Kugamayama city”
“Yeah, I only heard that the cargo Ive been waiting for quite a long time got stuck in the middle of transport.
I was advised that since it might take a long time to arrive, I should go pick it up myself.”
In that case, Im sorry.
I cant tell you anything, I dont have the permission to do it.”
“Its fine… in that case, if the situation is really that awful, just tell me what you can tell me.”
The guy tilted his head and hummed before speaking.
“We are here basically to take over the job to close the area around Atlas D2771.
Most of the team members present have Hunter Ranks around 60.
Though we were offered the job to storm into the vehicle, we refused.
It just doesnt seem to be worth the trouble.”
Basically, there was something dangerous inside the inter-city transport vehicle.
It was so risky that a group of Rank 60 Hunters refused to go in.
Though Akira was very thankful for that information, it did not change the fact that he was heading there.
He knitted his eyebrows at the thought.
“…Thank you for the valuable information.”
Akira returned back to the camping vehicle.
The guy saw Akira off with an amused smile.
As they watched Akira drive his camping vehicle toward Atlas D2771, the men from Brunkel talked about their impressions of him after seeingthat Akira up close.
“So that was Akira, huh The Hunter who had a 50 billion Aurum bounty on his head.
He doesnt look that strong so I wonder just how strong he really is”
“Yeah, that was Akira.
I heard that he obliterated a group of Hunters that tried to kill him all by himself.
I bet the right amount for his bounty should be way above 50 billion Aurum.”
“I would bet on that as well.
You have to consider the fact that he dared to pick a fight against a branch of the Lion Steel company and survived.
So, theres no doubt his bounty should be way more.”
“Also, hes still young, you know I bet Hunters who eventually manage to go to the frontlines are just like him.”
“Well, I dont know all the details but we should just enjoy his fight from here.”
The Hunters from Brunkel were much stronger than any Hunters around the area, and they showed a deep interest in Akira.
The colossal inter-city transport vehicle was so huge that it might change the definition of a vehicle.
The ramp that came out from inside it was 10 meters wide and it led up to a height taller than a 3-storey building.
It was wide and long enough to give sufficient space for cargo to go in and out of the inter-city transport vehicle.
It was guarded by many soldiers at its sides.
Akira stopped the camping vehicle near the upper part of the ramp.
“Shirou, by any chance, can you tell what is going on inside this transport vehicle”
Shirou raised his eyebrows in surprise.
“You… Dont tell me you came here without knowing anything Wait, the information about the lockdown by Sak**a might not have reached Tsukisada yet, huh… I dont mind telling you but be careful with what Im going to say.
Its basically secret information.
Im sure you know what will happen if they discover their secret information got leaked outside of the big five corporations of the eastern district.”
“Alright, Ill be careful.
So then, what is going on”
[Is this really going to be okay… It doesnt seem like he is good at keeping secrets or lying.
Just like back then when I noticed that he was an agent from Tsukisada, it was easy to judge what he was thinking from his expression.
Someone with zero subtleties like him is not suitable as an investigation agent, so just why did Tsukisada send him out Considering his ability to fight, did Tsukisada send him here because there is high probability combat will be involved in this mission Is that why he came all the way here to pick up his frontline equipment]
Shirou got even more confused than before.
However, he quickly cut it off there and wrapped it up as Tsukisada construction having its own reasons.
Considering how losing Akira here would not help with his goal, Shirou finally decided to tell Akira what he knew.
“…Its not confirmed yet, but it seems like Atlas D2771 is transporting the cube and it got attacked by people who are aiming for it.
Although they were unable to repel the attack, they somehow managed to lock the attackers inside the vehicle.
The cube itself is still safe while the attackers are still locked inside, even now.”
The cube, some people might also call it the seed.
It was a device with parts resembling cubes.
It was found underground, and if activated, it would bloom like a flower and create something from the old world.
These were the reasons why it was called the cube or the seed.
It was thought to be a nanomachine cluster with regenerative capabilities, originally an old-world production device.
Rumours say it could create all kinds of things using its supplies from where it was activated.
It could create humans, biological living beings, machines, houses, factories, or even old-world cities complete with its own denizens.
In the past, one cube fully rebuilt an old-world military base.
That military base then sent out soldiers to clean up the illegal occupants around the area.
In other words, clean up people from the current world, and eventually caused significant damage.
Though, there were also records stating how those from the Corporate Government had dispatched men to control the situation. They somehow managed to extract the old-world technology used by that military base, which ended up creating more profits than losses.
Thus, it became widely known that if it bloomed uncontrollably, it would turn into a huge problem.
Though, if the ones using it were able to accurately predict what it might produce and prepare accordingly, it might turn a problem into a blessing; netting them a huge amount.
This was why it was still considered to be a highly valuable relic.
Akira was listening to Shirous explanation while also listening to extra information from Alpha.
This greatly helped him in understanding what he was facing.
However, that did not change how dire the situation was as he knitted his eyebrows.
“Say, is it normal for an inter-city transport vehicle to get attacked like this”
“Well, it would be a biased opinion since I used the opening left behind when the inter-city transport vehicle got attacked to escape.
It is actually a very rare occurrence.
Rather, it almost never happens.
Even if the attackers are capable of damaging the inter-city transport vehicles, it would still be suicidal.”
“Then why do the ones that I get involved with always get attacked”
“Theres no way I would know the answer to that.
Isnt it simply just because the area under Kugamayama is not normal I heard that recently, many huge incidents have occurred around Kugamayama city, you know That is not normal at all.”
Akira unconsciously looked away.
He knew that he was involved in most of those huge incidents.
No one would believe him if he said that he was roped in by pure coincidence.
In some cases, he was even the main source of such incidents.
That was why Akira inadvertently reacted to Shirous words.
Shirou noticed that and found it strange.
“…Say Akira, by any chance, were you dispatched here to investigate those huge incidents”
Since him being an agent from Tsukisada construction was a misunderstanding he wanted to keep, Akira curtly replied.
Shirou did not pursue it any further.
Even if all those incidents were related to Akira, he did not have the leeway to care about it at the moment.
“Well then, Ill go pick up my stuff then.”
“Alright, be careful.
If the attackers are really aiming for the cube, they must be strong.
Though, its kind of redundant to state that since only those with sufficient might would attempt to attack an inter-city transport vehicle.”
“Yeah, its not like my aim is to fight them anyway.
I will just quickly leave once I get my new equipment.”
Akira prepared himself to go inside the inter-city transport and left the camping vehicle.
Up the ramp, it led into the cargo compartment of Atlas D2771.
The squad sent to secure the transport vehicle were securing the junctions that connected to multiple compartments.
Akira walked through the cargo sector A7 and eventually stopped in front of a door.
He gazed at it as if he was trying to peek through it.
Akiras information-gathering device noticed what he was trying to do and prioritized its computational power to analyze the information coming from in front of him.
Though it reduced the area under its watch, it greatly increased its accuracy.
It was to the point that a normal wall would seem transparent to him.
However, Akira could not see through the door.
“It didnt work, huh Alpha, can you give me a hand”
Though he was not able to do it using the power of his information-gathering device, it might be possible with Alphas help.
That was why he asked for her support.
Though it would serve as excellent training if he relied solely on his own ability, it would be meaningless if he lost his equipment in the process.
Thus, Akira was planning not to hold back.
He was willing to rely on Alphas support whenever necessary.
However, Alpha shook her head and explained.
“Akira, unfortunately, I cant see through it as well.
This transport vehicle is divided into multiple sectors with each sector being protected by a powerful forcefield armour.
Due to the abnormally high power being discharged to keep up these forcefield armours; information is blocked from leaking out.”
“Ahhh, so it is one of those that prevent the propagation of information, huh”
“Yeah, no matter how much my support increases the power of your information-gathering device, it is still limited.
I can only improve the quality of the software and how it processes information.
I cant increase the quality of its sensors, which is its hardware.
If the sensors cant even pick up signals from the other side due to interference, I wont be able to do anything about it.”
“I see, alright then.
Please provide me with support for the other parts.
No matter what is going on inside the transport vehicle, I really need to pick up my new equipment no matter what.”
“Of course! Just leave it to me!”
Seeing Alphas usual smile filled with confidence, Akira pulled himself together and smiled back at her.
The locked door between the sectors prevented him from going any further.
However, Akira already received permission to unlock them.
Once he informed the guards nearby that he was going to open the door, a vehicle-wide announcement was made.
It warned everyone in the area that the door was about to be opened.
There was fear of the attackers waiting behind that door.
Everyone in the area was tense as they readied their rifles, this included Akira.
The door slowly opened, and information started to get leaked through the small opening.
Akira quickly acted and analyzed whatever he could.
Any result was shown in his enhanced vision.
He could even see the route that laid in front of him, and fortunately, no enemies were detected.
“…It seems alright.
Im going in.”
Akira went through the opened door and into the hallway.
Immediately after he entered, the door automatically closed, once again isolating that sector.
As he proceeded deeper, he was ambushed by enemies in the form of a swarm of small multi-legged drones.
They were able to freely run along the ceiling, walls, and floor.
Some were even capable of flight as they shot Akira with their laser cannons.
However, with his current equipment, they were basically harmless.
Akira accurately predicted where their shots were going to land.
He easily avoided their barrage and shot them down with charge bullets using his RL2 multi-rifles.
The bullets, charged with energy, formed a wall, which annihilated the swarm.
The drones did not stand a chance against the might of his bullets and got blown to pieces in a blink of an eye.
Nothing was left, except for their remains scattered on the floor.
However, more of them were coming from the front.
Worse, they started coming from behind as well, forming a pincer with Akira in the middle.
Akira calmly dealt with them.
With two RL2 multi rifles in his hand, he could shoot his front and back at the same time.
Without anywhere to escape, the barrage crushed the swarm with no mercy.
Even if they were protected by powerful armour, a single charge bullet easily pierces through them.
It even blew them up to smaller pieces.
As Akira was shooting down the swarm, they were also shooting back at him.
Some of the drones used their defeated counterpart as shields.
They managed to survive barely long enough to shoot back at him.
Their laser cannons released a concentrated beam of energy that even scorched the air.
The beams melted through metal as they went straight for Akira.
However, Akira remained unfazed.
He completely saw through where those rays were going and evaded them.
Meanwhile, the heated air from the lasers was completely blocked off by his augmented suits forcefield armour.
The battle only lasted for a few minutes.
In that short time, countless lasers and bullets were exchanged in that narrow hallway.
Akira, the winner, was completely unharmed.
Even his breathing remained steady.
Meanwhile, the swarm got completely obliterated.
Even Rank 60 Hunters were not willing to go inside this vehicle.
That ambush Akira had just received clearly showed the reason why.
However, he handled it flawlessly.
As a matter of fact, he seemed to be a bit disappointed.
They were weaker than he had expected.
Especially when his enemies were aiming for the famous, invaluable cube.
“…Is that it”
Seeing how he reacted, Alpha smiled and said.
“Thats because of my support, so it only amounted to this much.”
“Well, you have a point.”
Akira did not retort and simply agreed to what she said.
Alphas smile turned softer and kinder.
“Youve also gotten stronger.”
As expected, after surviving the fight with Lion Steel, Akira had indeed become stronger than before.
So much so that even Alpha had to truthfully admit he had done well.
Akira smiled, he seemed happy.
He felt both a sense of accomplishment and happiness since before he realized it, he had become strong enough for Alpha to recognize his strength.
His personal strength and his frontline equipment, Akira had satisfied one of the two requirements to go and do Alphas request.
Furthermore, it would not be long before he satisfied the other requirement.
That was when Alpha lightly teased him.
“But Akira, no matter how weak your enemies are, you should not hope to fight strong enemies, right”
I also prefer weak enemies.
Ive been fighting so many strong enemies up until now… Its great to have an easy battle like this from time to time.
Akira smiled bitterly and went deeper.
After he left the hallway, a change suddenly occurred.
Some of the scattered pieces leftover melted to form a liquid and started combining into a single object.
This green liquid spread along the floor, consuming any other pieces it made contact with.
A large green puddle gathered in one place and started to solidify, as if it was using the metals that it had consumed as materials, eventually, forming a humanoid object.
Once no more liquid was left on the floor, all the wreckage around already got consumed by it.
The only thing that remained was a girl formed out of that liquid.
It was a young girl clad in an old-world augmented suit.
She glanced in the direction where Akira went, and then a moment later, she started running in the opposite direction.
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