Carol was keeping her eyes on Akira as he was talking with Elena and Sara.
Carol was, objectively and subjectively speaking, a beautiful girl. And even when they were compared to her, both Sara and Elena were pretty beautiful too. So, looking from the outlook alone, Sara and Elena were not that much different from Carol.
But even so, Akira reacted very differently when he was with Elena or Sara compared to when he was with her. Carol thought that Akira had no interest in girls at all, but now she had to change her opinion after seeing that.
[I wonder where this difference comes from Is it just because he has known both of them for longer Is it just that hes bad at dealing with people that he doesnt know very well… No, I dont think thats the case.]
Carol immediately rejected the guess that came up in her mind. Thanks to her long experience dealing with a lot of people, she at least knew that she was heading in the right direction and that might give her a hint on how to seduce Akira.
If it was only because Akira had never experienced the allure of the opposite sex, then she might need to find another way to approach him. As Carol thought so, she decided to keep that in mind, at least for now.
[Well, theres no need to rush myself. It has only been 2 days since we met. Ill just slowly and carefully approach him to make sure that he wont cut his relation with me.]
Shikarabe arrived right on time. The other Hunters there looked a bit surprised when they saw him step out from his APC with an irritated look.
Shikarabe then said.
“Sorry, am I late”
“Dont worry, youre not late, you came just on time. So then, you look pretty annoyed though, what happened”
“Nah, its nothing.”
“If its really nothing, as the team leader, I at least want to know the reason, alright”
Shikarabe frowned and looked at Elena. Elena looked back at Shikarabe without changing her expression. After a few seconds of silence, Shikarabe sighed and said.
“…Since Im here in Mihazono ruin right now, the people in Drankam are telling me to at least join the Drankam team even if its on name only, and it was not easy refusing them. Thats all.”
It seemed that Shikarabe really did not want to work under Katsuya even if it was only on paper to the point that he even hated the idea of explaining it to other people.
Elena and Sara smiled bitterly. Both of them understood Shikarabes hatred toward Katsuya and they knew well that he really hated Katsuyas gut. As in matter of fact, there might be a part of them that sympathized with Shikarabe.
Carol smiled smugly, she knew very well that Shikarabe was a man who would not allow his personal feelings to get in the way of his job. Getting himself in a Drankam team in name only, would not cause him any loss, thus, it was only to be expected if Shikarabe accepted that demand. So, the fact that he did not do that showed that he was prioritizing his personal feeling, which was indeed a very rare thing for him. Carol thought that it was indeed strange and made her wonder who was this Katsuya who caused Shikarabe to even go that far.
Akira himself did not show any particular reaction. After all, for him, the in-fighting in the Drankam was none of his business as long as it did not cause any trouble for him or the other people that he cared for.
After they finished a short briefing of their next request, they then headed back into Mihazono ruin.
They did not find any particular trouble from there. Since they decided to lower the difficulty of the rescue requests that they accepted, they did not have to fight a swarm of monsters in narrow places nor they got to encounter any relatively powerful monsters. They just went back and forth from the Hunter Office branch to the Mihazono ruin to escort the Hunters that they rescued without any trouble.
Since they took easier requests, the reward that they received from each request was lowered too. But it was compensated by the number of requests that they took. So, looking at the total rewards that they got that day, considering the difficulty of the request, it could be said that they were making a killing here. There might be some Hunters who had to suffer because they started taking easier requests instead, but that was not their fault since being able to effectively convert risks into profit was one of the essential skills for Hunters.
As they kept the cycle of taking rescue requests and small breaks, the sun eventually set, and Mihazono ruin was once again veiled in by the darkness of night.
Elena and her team returned and parked their vehicles somewhere near the Hunter Office branch, they then stepped off from the vehicles and discussed what to do next.
Everyone there looked tired. Especially Elena, Sara, and Shikarabe who had been rescuing Hunters since the previous day, they needed to take a proper rest soon.
Elena looked obviously tired as she said.
“So then, lets break up here and meet up again tomorrow to work together with the same members again. Make sure to let others know if anything comes up.”
Shikarabe then said.
“I have some stuff that I need to do for Drankam, so I wont be returning back to the city, instead, Ill stay here in Mihazono ruin tonight. Ill still stay inside the connection range, so there shouldnt be any problem contacting me. Akira, you should really change your connection service from that cheap line soon.”
Akira thought of something and said.
“Wait, youll stay here Are you still planning to go to the ruin again”
“Even for me, I have no plans to go to the ruin again for the rest of the day. Ill be staying in a Drankam facility nearby. Drankam actually built a temporary base nearby so their Hunters dont have to go back and forth from the city. After all, itll take quite a lot of time to go on a round trip from the city. Well, its true that I can just sleep inside the APC, but since theres a bed in that facility, it would be a waste not to use it.”
Sara then said.
“Well also stay somewhere nearby, to be more precise, in one of those trailer houses. Which means… The ones heading back to the city are only Akira and Carol, huh…”
Elena, Sara, and Shikarabe turned to Akira and Carol.
Elena looked at Akira and thought.
[If he was alone, I wouldnt mind inviting Akira too, and Im sure that Sara isnt against it either, but…]
Sara looked at Carol and thought.
[…Of course, theres no way I can invite Carol too since I dont know her that well, and Im sure that Elena would not want that too.]
Elena and Sara glanced at each other, both of them knew each other and had been together for a long time. It did not take much for them to understand what the other person was thinking.
Akira suddenly turned to Carol and asked her a question.
“Im heading back to the city though, how about you, Carol”
Carol glanced at Shikarabe, Shikarabe obviously looked alerted and slightly frowned. She then smiled and said.
“Ill head back to the city too. Akira, can you give me a ride”
Akira was a bit bothered by Shikarabes reaction. Although he was sure that there must be a reason for that, he simply decided to just forget about it. He then lightly bowed to Elena and Sara.
“Well then, Ill be heading back now. Ill be in your care again tomorrow.”
Elena lightly smiled.
“Be careful on your way back home, and make sure to get a good rest when you get home.”
Sara also smiled lightly and said.
“Dont drop your guard yet until you reach the city, okay”
Akira and Carol returned back to Akiras vehicle. They then waved at the other Hunters who would stay behind and left that place.
After Akira and Carol left, Elena turned to Shikarabe and asked.
“Shikarabe, do you have some free time after this”
Shikarabe guessed the meaning behind that question as he frowned and said.
“It depends. Im really tired so I want to get a good rest as soon as possible.”
“Its about Carol, I want to know more about her. Youre acquainted with her, right”
Shikarabes face turned stern, his guess was correct. Elena and Sara who saw that were a bit surprised.
Shikarabe thought to himself without saying anything, some of what he was thinking got leaked on his face. He then carefully chose his words as he said.
“Well, its true that it might cause trouble if I try to evade your question about her without giving any good excuse or explanation, but I feel like itll also cause trouble if I explain everything about her. So Ill only answer questions that wont cause any trouble among us while were still taking the SOS rescue requests together. To put it simply, shes not a good girl, but its highly unlikely that her bad personality and habit would cause any bad effects on the current SOS rescue requests that were taking. Her ability as a Hunter is also not something to scoff at, so I dont think she would slow us down either.”
After hearing that answer, Elena and Sara made a troubled face. Elena then asked Shikarabe a question.
“Uhhh, she sounds like nothing but trouble though”
“I leave it to you how you want to interpret it. And even if its true that shes a problematic person, that doesnt mean that her problem might cause us any trouble in this short time span when were working together. Its true that I wont invite her to my own team, but if someone else is bringing her along, I wont kick her out since shes pretty strong herself. Thats all that I can say as a team member. If you want to know more about her, Ill tell you but only after we finish this request. See you tomorrow then.”
Shikarabe then left Elena and Sara.
Elena and Sara looked at each other. It was obvious looking from their face that they had no idea how to treat Carol now. At first, they thought that Carol was someone who would not cause any trouble, but that did not sound to be the case now.
Akira gave Carol a ride all the way to where they met up before going to the Mihazono ruin. Carol stepped off the vehicle and stretched her body while facing away from Akira. She then spun around and smiled at him.
“So then, see you again tomorrow… If you still have some time, you can visit my home, you know I dont mind even if you want to sleepover too. I can also serve you some simple food while youre at it. That way, we wont have to meet up first before going to the wasteland tomorrow.”
They were planning to go to Mihazono ruin again tomorrow and they planned to meet up in the same place as before.
Akira shook his head.
“No thanks, Ill go back home. I cant really relax unless Im in my own home, you see.”
“I see, thats just too bad… Seriously though, you refused even when a beauty like me is inviting you, youre no fun at all.”
Carol smiled confidently at Akira, which Akira returned back with the same smile, filled with confidence.
“Sorry, I hope you get a good rest today.”
Carol saw Akira off and mumbled.
“No reaction at all even now, huh. Well, lets be patient here.”
Carol thought it had been quite a while since the last time she felt pleasure in trying to seduce someone as she smiled amusedly.
Akira went straight for the bath when he got back home. He enjoyed the warm water as he dipped his body up to his neck inside the bath while letting the warm water heal his tired body. He had already finished cleaning up and taking care of his equipment before taking a bath. So he could just dive into his bed and sleep after the bath. Thus, fully recovering both his body and mind to face tomorrow.
Akira was more or less in a daze, or it could even be said that he was in a trance. Although there was a beautiful girl with a body that was adjusted to his preference taking a bath together with him without even a slip of cloth on her body, he barely paid any attention to her. This in itself could be said to be a not healthy situation.
Alpha, who dipped her body up until around the cleavage of her chest, suddenly stood up without showing any embarrassment and sat on the edge of the bathtub. Her beautiful figure that was blurred by the shaking of the water surface was in full view right now. The only thing that hid her body above her knees was the steam from the warm water and the water droplets sliding down her skin.
Since Alpha suddenly moved, Akira reacted to that and turned to her direction. He locked his gaze on Alphas extremely enticing body for a few seconds before returning his gaze forward as if he just lost his interest.
Alpha, who saw that, smiled at Akira and said.
“That reaction even when youre in front of this beautiful body. It seems that itll take some time until the priority between girls and food in your brain switch places, huh.”
Akira was still half-dazed as he jabbed back.
“…Save that for later, will you”
Akira was in the middle of enjoying his bath, he let the warm water take over his body while relaxing back. Thus, he had no time to react to Alphas teasing, he seemed pretty irritated to even only tell her to stop.
As Alpha thought that Akira might have gotten too used to naked girls body, she thought to herself that it was a necessary sacrifice. It might have rendered her beauty ineffective, but it was way better than having Akira seduced by someone else. So in order to compensate for that, she decided to improve her support for him.
“Got it. Ill save it for later. So, putting that aside, I want to ask something though, how long are you planning to work together with Elena and Sara”
“Even if you ask me so… I havent really thought about it. I guess until I find a good point to stop, huh Im sure its not like Elena-san and Sara-san are going to keep taking the SOS emergency request in the Mihazono ruin forever either.”
“So in short, youre still planning to work with them at the moment, right”
Alphas expression was saying that she did not hate that idea nor she was happy with it. Akira found that a bit weird as he asked her a question.
“Uhh… Is there any problem”
“Its not like I have any problem with it, but honestly speaking, in order to get you to accomplish the request from me, I rather choose for you to polish your skill in exploring ruins rather than saving people. If I can add more, youll have to be alone when you go to the ruin that I want you to explore. Because of that, I want you to get more skilled in working alone rather than in a team.”
“Ohh, I see.”
Akira understood Alphas reasoning as he deeply nodded. In the end, Alpha only gave her support to him in order for him to accomplish her request. As a matter of fact, it was an advance payment from that exact request. Akira understood that working together with Elena and Sara was purely out of his selfishness. Thus he understood that working together with Elena and Sara did not polish the needed skill for him to complete Alphas request, so there was no surprise that Alpha would find that displeasing.
Akira then replied as if he was trying to make excuses.
“…W-well, I get properly paid and then I can use that money to buy equipment I need to explore the ruins. If you think of it as a period for me to gather money, its not that bad, yes”
Alpha smiled at Akira, but that smile was giving a vibe as if she was scolding him.
“Ill leave it as that then. Your main job as a Hunter is exploring ruins, just dont forget about that.”
Akira answered back firmly, so Alpha smiled back satisfied. He then stroked down his chest in relief as he dipped himself deeper into the warm bath.
The next day. Akira picked up Carol and was heading to the Mihazono ruin as planned.
The sun was already up when they reached the Mihazono ruin, it was already well past morning. Akira got a good rest yesterday, thus he was back in his perfect condition.
Carol was sleeping in the driver assistants seat. Before she went to sleep, she smiled and told Akira that he was free to do anything to her while she was sleeping, but he just ignored her.
Akira thought that Carol looked so defenseless when she was sleeping, which was different compared to when she was awake.
He looked at Carol as if he was interested in her. Seeing that, Alpha smiled at him and said as if she was scolding him.
“Just because shes asleep and she agreed to it, it doesnt mean that you should do something to her, you know If youre okay with only an image, I dont mind helping you. So keep your hands off from her, okay”
“Like hell, I would do anything to her. I just thought that she looks so different compared to when shes awake.”
“Hmm, youre right about that. But its the same for you too, or at least, thats the case lately.”
“Is that so Well, its not like I can see my own sleeping face though… And what about thatlately”
“When the first time I met you, it seemed like you always kept one eye open to watch for your surroundings, and you never fell too deep to your sleep. But lately, youve been defencelessly sleeping so deeply as long as I dont wake you up. So you too look very different when you sleep compared to when youre awake lately.”
Akira sounded as if he was thinking deeply when he said that. Back when he had to sleep in the back alley of the slum city, he always hoped that he would be able to wake up the next morning when he closed his eyes. After all, it was not a strange thing if someone killed him and took all of his belongings in the middle of his sleep.
But right now, he could sleep on a comfy bed inside a house with an outer wall, moreover, Alpha would definitely wake him up if something came up. That was why he could sleep peacefully lately.
[…Now that I think about it, Im living a pretty luxurious life now.]
Akira smiled bitterly as he once again realized how much his lifestyle had changed.
When Mihazono ruin finally came to his view, Akira shook Carol to wake her up.
“Carol, its time to wake up.”
Carol immediately woke up, she looked at Akira and mumbled.
“Yeah, the meeting point is just ahead.”
“Hmmmh, I got good sleep, thanks.”
Carol lightly stretched out her body to wake herself up as she smiled and said.
“So then, did you do something to me”
“Oh my, thats just too bad. Theres nothing to worry about, even if you do something, Ill at least still pretend to be asleep.”
“Wait, you were pretending”
“I was asleep. What Im saying is that of course, I would wake up if you do something to me, but Ill still pretend to be asleep. After all, I sometimes get that kind of request.”
Akira replied so indifferently as if he was not interested at all. Carol who saw that then thought.
[…He wont do anything even when I sleep and show him my defenseless side, huh. Hes a pretty hard nut to crack.]
Carol thought that Akira was indeed a difficult person to seduce since he would not do anything to her even when she slept next to him and had already properly given him her permission to mess with her when she was asleep. That was rather unthinkable according to her experience.
[It seems that its faster if I win his trust through doing good work as a Hunter, huh. I guess Ill put extra effort than usual this time.]
Carol thought that it seemed to be highly unlikely for her to be able to seduce Akira with light teasing. It might be faster to try seducing him again once she won his trust. As she thought so, she made the required adjustment in her plan.
Akira and Carol finally arrived at the meeting point. They arrived there way sooner than the meeting time, but Elena and the other 3 Hunters were already waiting. The extra Hunter was a young Hunter around the same age as Akira, he was standing next to Shikarabe.
Akira and Carol stepped off from Akiras vehicle and met up with Elena and the rest. Elena opened the conversation first.
“It seems that everyone is here. So yeah, lets work together again today… But before that, Shikarabe has something to say.”
Shikarabe tried to hide his annoyance as he said.
“Because of my situation, I had to bring one more person. Hes a Hunter from Drankam and his Hunter Rank is… Hey, what is your Hunter Rank, again”
“Its 30. My name is Togami, Ill be in your care today.”
Togami lightly introduced himself. The young Hunter boy that Shikarabe brought with him was the one that Akira was together with when they were hunting for the bounty monster.
Shikarabe then said in a more perky voice as if he was trying to hide his bad mood.
“Akira. If you have anything to complain about bringing this guy along, theres no need to hold back. You can say anything you want, Ill take it for consideration, you know”
Shikarabe looked at Akira as if he was trying to send some kind of message to him through telepathy. Akira was a bit confused by that, he instead turned to Elena and asked.
“Elena-san and Sara-san, are you okay with him joining the team”
Sara answered Akiras question.
“Im actually leaving that kind of thing to Elena and Elena decided that its not a problem as long as the other Hunters have no problem with it too. Thats why, in the end, it depends on you.”
Elena then added to Saras explanation.
“If you dont like having him in the team, feel free to tell us. I have no plans to decide based on majority, so no pressure at all.”
Even if Shikarabe recommended Togami, Sara and Elena had no plans to let Togami in the team if Akira had something to complain about him. After all, they confirmed from yesterday that they had no problem accomplishing the requests only with 5 of them.
But on the other hand, they also had no plans to reject Togami if Akira was not against it. After all, it was the person that Shikarabe himself brought and Akira also did bring Carol to the team yesterday. So Elena could not reject Togami using that kind of excuse.
If it was someone that Shikarabe brought, even though he did not want to do that, that person would at least be skilled enough as not to slow down the team. Not to mention, they had a hard battle yesterday, thus it was a good thing to get more help. Thus, after a lot of thinking, Elena decided to accept Togami to the team.
Akira understood that if he rejected the idea of having Togami in the team, Togami might actually get kicked out of the team. Thus he thought carefully without saying anything.
“I dont mind having him on the team. After all, I also brought Carol to the team yesterday.”
Carol then asked.
“Is there any need to readjust the reward distribution then”
Elena answered that question.
“Nope. Just like how youre paid from Akiras share of reward, Togami will be paid from Shikarabes share of reward. Hell also prioritize Shikarabes command just like you to Akira.”
“In that case then, I have no complaint either. After all, since Akira will take responsibility if I mess up, Shikarabe too will take responsibility if he messes up, right”
Carol glanced at Shikarabe and smiled at him. Shikarabe frowned, he looked obviously displeased.
“…Well, I guess thats how it goes, huh”
Shikarabe looked at Akira as if he was expecting something, but he eventually gave up and sighed.
Akira was a bit bothered by how Shikarabe was acting there, so he decided to ask Alpha.
“Alpha, did I say anything strange here”
“Nope, I think he was hoping that you would be against having Togami in the team.”
“But he was the one who brought Togami here, right”
“Its common when a Hunter has a different opinion than the people in the organization that Hunter is in. Shikarabe actually doesnt want to bring Togami along, but he could not refuse the order from the gang that hes in. Thats why he was hoping he could refuse that order with an excuse that most of the other Hunters in his team are against it.”
“That does sound plausible, I guess Shikarabe is having it hard, huh.”
Akira said it so nonchalantly as if he had nothing to do with it at all. Well, strictly speaking, it was indeed none of his business after all. But getting around troublesome things like that while getting the benefits from being in a gang would definitely help as a Hunter as well as increasing the survivability chance out in the wasteland. It was indeed one of the many important skills for Hunters to reach success.
Akira understood that very well, but he had the habit of looking down at such a thing. That was why he thought that Shikarabes problem had nothing to do with him. That was as far as Akiras skill to get along with other people could go.
Elena also noticed Shikarabes reaction there, but she decided to just ignore that as she continued talking about todays job.
“Thats decided then. Lets go with these 6 people today.”
She had no plans to get involved in the in-fighting in the Drankam and it was not like Shikarabe asked her to reject Togami. Since Shikarabe would be responsible for him and as long as it would not affect the reward distribution, it was a good thing to have another skilled Hunter in the team. Thus, as the team leader, she had no reason to reject Togami. Elena tried not to include her personal feelings when she decided that.
They then accepted an SOS emergency request and went to the Mihazono ruin again, just like the day before.-