Chapter 175, The Mansion’s Monster
Akira and his companion finished checking the corpses outside the mansion, so they moved to check the corpses inside. Since no one took care of the corpses, the mansion was filled with them from the last battle. The floor, as well as the walls and the ceilings, was still dyed red with blood.
Akira and the other Hunters felt nothing at all when they were welcomed with such a scene as they stepped into the mansion. But that was not the case for Erio and the other non-hunters, they looked obviously distraught.
A short check was enough for them to find a room filled with dead bodies inside that mansion. The people who came beforehand had no interest except for the loot, so they just piled the corpses in one place to clear the way for them. Colbert decided to start working in that room.
As one of the many people who were responsible for that, Akira, did expect to find something like this. But he also noticed something that he did not understand when he saw all the corpses there. Alpha noticed it.
“Akira, what’s wrong? If you regret fighting in that battle, it would be great if you can hold yourself back from doing something like that next time.”
“No, that’s not the problem. I just thought with all of these corpses and blood, this place doesn’t smell like blood at all.”
“Oh, about that, huh. There are reasons for that, you see. The cyborg, for example, doesn’t rot even after they die. While the medicines that they use sometimes also contained an anti-rot drug. It is also said that the colourless mist of the eastern district prevents the smell from spreading. Well, it’s basically the same reason as to why the corpses out there in the wasteland don’t smell.”
“So that’s the reason, huh?”
“Although most of them are in a bad shape, they’re basically the leftover after that battle. Fortunately, most of them still retain their original shape, it should at least help Erio and the other children to identify those corpses.”
“Now that you mention it, that is kind of true.”
Akira nodded as he understood what Alpha was saying. After that, he immediately lost interest in that subject. Although there were other things that were out of place, he did not notice any of those.
While Erio and the other children were checking the corpses, Revin was checking the equipment those dead corpses left behind.
It did not matter if it was a powerful rifle, or if it was mostly destroyed, it was nothing more than wreckage. Of course, Revin could fix them, but its worth would still be greatly lowered. As for the augmented suits, although they were expensive, most of them were readjusted for personal use. So it would be worthless to resell them. Not to mention that he would need a good connection for selling them too, otherwise, he would not be able to sell them at a good price, and to top it off, taking them off from the corpses were too much of a hassle.
That was why Revin was separating the augmented suits from the rifles that were easier to check if they were badly damaged or not. Thus easier to predict how much money they could fetch from selling them. Colbert, who noticed him, looked sternly at him.
“Revin. Didn’t I tell you that you’re free from doing that as long as you don’t forget the real reason why we are here?”
“Don’t worry. With this many corpses around, we’ll have to wait for a bit until Erio and the other children finish checking all of them. I’m just using the waiting time for something more productive here.”
“If you have free time, you should help them in checking the corpses or help to keep eyes on the surroundings.”
“Don’t worry, I’m doing that too.”
Although Revin was answering lightly, he was still sorting the loot with a rather serious face. Since these were not old-world relics, they had no obligation to bring them to Katsuragi. Furthermore, he did not have to spend bullets to gather them. He needed to get money from wherever he could in order to repay his debt.
Colbert also knew Revin’s situation. Because of that, he held himself back from saying anything more after letting out a big sigh.
Akira was watching the surroundings when a question came up in his mind.
“Colbert, I feel like we already found and carried quite a lot of bodies, are they really that many?”
“Hm? Well, it’s not that many if we’re talking about the debtors for the company that paid me. But the boss of the company, Tomejima, seems to have discussed it with the other companies to share information. So in short, we’re also searching for the debtors of those companies too. That’s why there are a lot of them. Also, there are not that many people who are interested in doing this job.”
“Is that so? Why is that?”
“I don’t really know the details, but the recent rumour is that someone found pretty expensive relics from a rather unexpected ruin. So I’m sure they are more interested in that rumour.”
Of course, in the case of Colbert, he still had not completely recovered from the trauma after both of his hands were eaten by monsters during an expedition, that was why he was not interested in that rumour. As for Revin, he could not go hunting for relics because of the deal he had with Katsuragi.
Akira looked away and just stopped their conversation there.
Colbert noticed it, but he did not dig too deep. He believed that it was understandable for a Hunter like Akira to at least have some interest in such a rumour.
Akira suddenly looked at the door into the room. Colbert followed suit and saw two men enter the room. Revin stopped sorting the loot the moment he noticed them.
Those guys walked toward Akira and Colbert and casually said to Colbert.
“Well now, isn’t it Colbert? What a coincidence meeting you here.”
Colbert lightly laughed.
“Peppa, huh? Why are you here?”
“Nah, I just came to say hello since I heard that you’re here. Moreover…”
Peppa looked at Akira, Erio, and the other children as if to evaluate them before lightly laughing.
“I see that you’ve really splendidly fallen now, to think that you’re earning money by taking these brats with you. You’ve really stopped being a Hunter, huh. But like, isn’t it hard living without hunting for relics?”
“I can say the same to you too. Seeing you here means that you have nothing better to do, right? Or is that you’re here to scavenge the dead Hunters? Well, for a Hunter like you who can’t get any good relic even when you get into the ruin, I guess it’s not a wrong course of action though.”
After that short exchange, Colbert was still calm like usual, while Peppa looked slightly offended.
The guy who came with Peppa, Bosch, interjected and stopped Peppa.
“Peppa, cut it out.”
Peppa clicked his tongue and stopped prodding Colbert. Colbert snorted and looked exasperatedly at Bosch.
“Bosch, you should keep him properly under your leash, isn’t that your job?”
Bosch lightly smiled, it was an honest smile for his old friend.
“Don’t say that. It was your job in the first place, wasn’t it? I’m already giving it my best, you know?”
“Humph, though that might be true, that is your job now. So I have nothing to do with that. I know that we’re acquaintances, but you should stop him from picking a fight like that. It’s dangerous.”
Colbert and Bosch had a friendly air around them.
“So then, Colbert, what are you doing here? Don’t tell me that you’re here to pick up the loot from these corpses.”
Bosch caught Revin who was sorting the loot as if there was nothing to worry about. Peppa looked mockingly at Revin.
“I’m here to search for dead debtors. These other guys are here to help me out… And also, just leave that guy alone. He’s in big trouble from debts, you see. As someone who is also here to keep my eyes on him, I can’t really bring myself to tell him to stop, you know?”
After Colbert said that, Bosch could not help but frown.
“You’re still doing work for those creditor companies, huh?”
“…Well, I have my reasons too.”
“I know it’s not my place to say this, but if you get yourself too comfortable working inside the city, you might not be able to return back to doing Hunter job, you know? You already have both of your arms healed. Honestly speaking, I think it’s a good idea if you go hunting for relics once in a while as a rehabilitation.”
Colbert was a little bummed from that rather harsh but indeed true advice from his friend.
Tiol was munching the corpses inside a room. He ate the cyborg bodies whole together with their mechanical parts. He easily lifted the mechanical body up with his left hand and put them inside his mouth.
His left hand was no longer of a human hand. To be more precise, a huge gun grew out from his left shoulder. As he ate more and more cyborgs, the gun on his shoulder grew longer and bigger. Eventually, once it grew out into a complete rifle, it detached from his shoulder and fell to the ground.
There were already other parts on the ground. Small arms were growing out from some of those parts and those arms suddenly started moving. They were dragging themselves toward each other and reassembled themselves into something that looked like an autonomous turret monster.
The newly made turret walked away and lined up beside the other autonomous turrets that were made before it. There were already a few dozen autonomous turrets lined up inside that room.
Tiol, who was eating metals without saying anything, suddenly stopped and looked away. Although he was looking in the direction of a pile of dead cyborgs, he was actually able to see past that pile and through the wall behind it too.
He then turned at the small mechanical monsters in front of him as if he was giving them a command. After that, all of the small mechanical monsters immediately sprung into action. They removed the wreckages blocking the entrance to that room and left the room.
Tiol only silently watched the small mechanical monsters leave the room. Once all of them were out, he started eating the Hunter corpses and their equipment again.
Akira was keeping his eyes on his surroundings which doubled as training for him while talking with Alpha. But when he noticed a small change in his information-gathering device, his expression immediately turned stern as he shifted his focus to check that signal more closely.
But before he could do that, Alpha suddenly warned him.
“Akira, there are monsters.”
“Monsters? Not Hunters?”
“Either that or it’s a group of non-human cyborgs that are moving in an organized manner. It’s up to you to think which one it is.”
“Alright, I’ll go and get back my rifles from Erio and the other children.”
“There’s no need to do that. Since we have them here, how about we get them to fight too? After all, it’s not like you’re here to protect them anyway.”
“Are they going to be okay?”
Akira was a bit surprised by that suggestion from Alpha, but she replied with a smile that was filled with confidence.
“I’ll take command, so it’ll be okay. Meanwhile, you should try to face them without my support as a training.”
Akira reloaded armour piercing ammo into his AAH and A2D assault rifles.
Erio and the children were using the same goggles that they used for training. The goggles itself was nothing special, but even so, it could be used to communicate with each other in short-range. That was why they were also using those goggles outside of training.
Instructions suddenly appeared on the displays of those goggles in a similar manner as if when they were in the middle of that training. Erio and the other children were surprised and looked at Akira the moment they noticed those instructions. But when they saw Akira hurriedly readying his rifle and repositioning himself, they also flusteredly started moving out following the instructions on their goggles.
Colbert noticed that change and readied his rifle. He then looked at Akira with a stern face and threw a question at him.
“What’s going on?”
“Monsters. Get ready.”
Colbert, Bosch, and Peppa immediately checked their information-gathering device, but their devices did not show anything suspicious. But even so, Colbert, who knew Akira well, immediately prepared himself to face the incoming monsters. Of course, Bosch and Peppa could not hide their confusion. Peppa looked at Colbert with obvious doubt.
“Don’t tell me that you believe that brat.”
“You do you. Don’t go complaining about other’s decisions just because you can’t make your own.”
Peppa clicked his tongue and repositioned himself too. Bosch smiled bitterly and followed suit. It was not like both of them believed in Akira, but they believed in Colbert who believed in Akira.
Colbert noticed that Revin was still sorting loot and shouted at him.
“Revin!! How long are you going to keep doing that? Get yourself ready!!”
Revin sighed annoyedly.
“Why in the world are there monsters in this place? I only came here to help you since I thought that I would be able to earn some money without spending any bullets, you know?”
“In that case, feel free to fight those monsters with your fist. I know that you’re using an augmented suit, right? You should be at least stronger than normal humans.”
“Dammit! If I end up in red again because of this, then there will be no meaning in coming here.”
Revin mumbled as he also got himself ready.
Everyone there had repositioned themselves to welcome the incoming monsters. They were waiting beside the big holes on the walls and the door to that room to set up an ambush for those monsters.
Erio and the other children were posted on defensive places, they were waiting with bated breath. They were using the wreckage around them to help them support the rifles that they borrowed from Akira while waiting for Colbert’s signal to start firing.
Erio, who was carrying Akira’s DVTS minigun, could see the monsters crawling behind the covers in his goggle’s display. When an instruction to blow them away together with their covers came up, he quickly pulled the trigger. The repeating sound of the DVTS minigun echoed through the room.
The DVTS minigun unleashed a barrage of bullets that easily pierced through the weak covers and demolished the mechanical monsters hiding behind them. Since it was equipped with a part to help fix it to the bike’s arm, even Erio who was not using an augmented suit could withstand the kickback and control the minigun to some extent.
But the overwhelming firepower that was eradicating the monsters could not eradicate the fear of a battle. Erio gritted his teeth and pushed his fear to the back of his mind as he continued cleaning the rest of the monsters.
As for those who did not have enough firepower, Alpha gave them instructions to help them compensate their firepower with the type or the amount of ammo that they used. Thanks to that, Erio and the other children were somehow able to maintain the upper hand.
Akira was facing monsters not too far away from Erio and his friends. Since it was also training for him, he had to guess the monsters’ weak points and aimed carefully at those points without Alpha’s support nor his time compression.
Akira slightly peeked out from the room’s door and shot at the small monsters that looked like a small self-moving portable armour plating. It did not take that many bullets to stop them from moving. But he could not tell if that was enough to actually kill the monster, so he made sure to put in a few more bullets until its armour was riddled with holes and its control unit was obviously destroyed.
Another monster suddenly jumped aside from behind the monster that he just turned into a pile of wreckage and shot at him. Akira pulled back and evaded that shot without any trouble. Although his coat could withstand a few shots, he decided to fight as if he did not have that protection since it was training.
Akira had the upper hand although only slightly. He also understood that if he had Alpha’s support, he would have been able to clear up those monsters in no time.
Although he felt that he was getting better than his past self, he also felt his strength was still lacking.
When Akira kept his eyes on the wreckage that the monsters used as a cover, the equipment on his head scanned for the enemy’s movement and worked together with his information-gathering device to predict the enemy’s position behind that wreckage. Thanks to that, he was able to see the prediction of where the enemies were located on the display of his headgear.
Akira confirmed that the monsters were not aiming at him, so he quickly jumped out from his cover and released some shots at those monsters. The monsters that got shot bent and finally stopped moving after a few shots.
The information-gathering device that he was using at the moment was the information-gathering device that came as a set with his expensive augmented suit, because of that, it was a rather high-quality information-gathering device. Its detection sensitivity was more or less as good as Alpha’s detection ability, but of course, its quality and accuracy also depended on how close those monsters were to him.
Every time Akira gained a new skill, or knowledge, or pieces of equipment, it reminded him of how abnormal Alpha was. And that was also the case this time.
But he reminded himself that he was in the middle of a battle, so he pushed anything unnecessary off his mind and shifted his focus to a question that he had about the current situation.
“Alpha, where are those monsters coming from? These monsters are not the usual monsters that one can find around the city, right?”
“You’re right. And it’s unlikely for these monsters to have come from the wasteland too. If I have to make a guess, maybe one of these monsters that has a self-building feature got inside the mansion and used the wreckages scattered around this place to replicate itself.”
“…Alpha. This is included in your support, though it might not be a question that I should ask during training, at least tell me how many of them are there. I have no plans to keep fighting these monsters like this if they’re still replicating themselves somewhere.”
“Don’t worry, there are not that many of them out there and I don’t detect any reinforcement either. In the first place, if the situation here gets dangerous, I’ll have you escape from this place.”
“I see. Glad to hear that.”
Akira looked relieved, so he shifted his focus back to fighting.
Colbert and the other Hunters were fighting the monsters in another place. Although the monsters there were strong enough to pose danger to new Hunters, Colbert and his friends were no new Hunters. Not to mention, one of them even took debt to get better equipment, so they had no trouble fighting those monsters.
Peppa glanced at Akira and the other children during that fight and was flabbergasted. He thought that those children were only useful for carrying the corpses, but they were performing pretty well during the battle.
“Colbert, what the heck is with those brats?”
“They’re from a gang that I have some connections with.”
“Gang? A Hunter gang? I know that Drankam is putting more incentive for young Hunters, but I haven’t heard of any other gang doing the same though?”
“Nope, it’s just a gang from the slum.”
Peppa took another look at Akira and the other children there. Erio and his friends were fighting following Alpha’s instruction, so they were moving around pretty well. As for Akira, he was putting some restrictions on himself since he was taking that battle as training, so he was moving relatively worse than usual. Because of that, Akira seemed to be performing as well as Erio and the other children, at most, Akira only seemed to be slightly stronger than the other children. Or at least, it was hard to believe that he raided Ezont Family’s base all alone just the other day.
“Don’t tell me that you’re training these children to make sure that your skill won’t rust even if you don’t go to the old-world ruin?”
“Save that for later, we’re in the middle of a fight right now. You’re taking this too lightly, you know. Don’t tell me that you’ve been only going to safe ruin since I left and now you’re back to your old sloppy way of thinking?”
“Heh, look at you running your mouth like that.”
Peppa laughed at Colbert’s light jab as he started fighting harder to show off his skill to Colbert. He shot down and turned multiple monsters into scrap metals in a short time. Seeing that, Colbert just smiled while providing Peppa with support fire.
They maintained the upper hand during that fight and it did not take long for them to defeat all the incoming monsters.
Erio and the other children saw a notice saying that the battle was over on their goggles, after that, all the other extra information on their displays immediately vanished. They looked so relieved after they were finally released from the gripping nervousness during that battle. Some of them sighed in relief, some of them lightly laughed, some of them cheered, while some of them sat on the ground, tired.
Erio also sighed in relief while also feeling happy that it had ended. As he was basking in the happiness at the fact that he had survived and the sense of self-confidence since he was able to perform well during that fight, his eyes wandered to Colbert and Akira.
Akira was perfectly calm. Colbert and his friends were also calm. They looked as if they just finished taking care of something trivial. Revin even had already returned to sorting the loot. Watching it reminded Erio of the differences between the Hunters and the non-Hunters there, all the excitement that welled up inside him immediately got shot down.
“…Well, it is still a win.”
The fact still held that he had participated in that fight as well. Erio told himself so as he nodded.
Colbert checked the destroyed monsters.
“They are not the security drones of this mansion, right? The heck are these monsters? We’re here just to check the corpses, you know. No one told me that we have to fight these… things… Wait, by the way, Bosch, why are you here? You’re not here for looting the corpses, right?”
“Yeah, we’re here because of a request to check this place. Depending on our report, the City Management might decide to burn this place up.”
A big mansion might be turned into a nest for monsters, not to mention that the bodies inside it provide food for those monsters, thus the City Management could not just leave that mansion be. They sent requests to check the area to decide whether they had to send people to clean the place up themselves or they could trust the resident around it to take care of that place.
“Although it’s an easy job where we just need to look around, it would be bad if we don’t do our job properly. Colbert, if you have some free time, you should help us too.”
“Nah, we are leaving. It’s not a place for these children to loiter around. Not to mention, no one told us we’re going to fight monsters just for checking the corpses.”
“I see. Well then, we’ll go back to our job too… Ah, by the way, because of that request, we’re also taking that general monster-hunting request too. How about you?”
“I see, which means that we’re the only one who will get money from killing those monsters, huh? If you don’t like that, give me your Hunter code later. I’ll put your name in that general monster-hunting request too. If you get nothing for the rest of the day today, then it means that all the rewards will be sent to us. Later then, Peppa! Let’s go!”
Bosch called Peppa as he stood up and left. Peppa followed behind him while sending an unfriendly gaze at Colbert.
“Later then, former Hunter! If you can fight that well, you should get yourself back out there.”
Seeing Peppa did not forget to leave a bad message before leaving, Colbert just smiled bitterly at him.
Akira who saw that exchange then casually said.
“Thought this might be too late, acquaintances?”
“Yeah, we once belonged to the same Hunter team. Well, I did leave that team, after all, I guess it’s no surprise that they don’t like me. But that’s all there is to it. Well now, let’s go back home… Revin!! We’re leaving!! I don’t care if you want to stay here, but just so you know, we won’t wait for you, alright?!”
Revin stopped sorting the loot and flusteredly packed the loot he chose. Erio and the other children also flusteredly got themselves ready to leave that place.
While on the other side of the mansion, Tiol suddenly stopped eating and stared at the wall. To be more precise, he was looking in the direction where Akira fought the monsters he sent. Tiol could see past the walls and look at the scene that was unseeable with normal eyes.
A weird language that was not used by humans appeared on Tiol’s augmented vision. It said ‘total annihilation’, ‘overwhelming difference in firepower’, and ‘pulling back was advised’. Tiol understood that as his expression turned to displeasure.
Tiol then turned and looked in a different direction. He then aimed his left hand that was turned into a big sized rifle at that wall. A loud bang echoed as he released a shot that tore down multiple layers of walls. It even went all the way outside the mansion.
Tiol went through that hole and left the mansion. He then ran through the garden and vanished into the wasteland.