Chapter 16, Sheryl’s Gang
Akira walked through the slum city with Sheryl as she asked him to. She was wearing a dress that was above the standard of the slum city, as such, Akira looked like an amateur Hunter walking together with his follower. It was not a rare scene in the slum city.
But even so, a lot of people were attracted by them and some of those people looked at them with meaningful stares.
Sheryl guided Akira around the city. At first, they started to walk around the old territory owned by Sibea, then from there, they kept walking further away.
The slum city was quite a wide area with big and small gangs scattered around. Each gang had their own rules in their territory. Thus it was dangerous for people who did not know those rules to wander into other gang’s territory. Akira’s sleeping place in the back alley was actually within a gang’s territory. The reason why he was left alone was because he was in a region where there was no need for the gang to maintain order.
Akira also had a certain level of knowledge about this kind of thing. And since he was always steering clear from the places that he did not know, there were a lot of unfamiliar places in the slum city, although he had been living there for a long time.
“I’ve never been in this place before, it’s quite clean around this area, although it’s still inside the slum city.”
The area was filled with buildings that looked relatively strong. There were stalls filled with all kinds of stuff like a poorly maintained pistol, rusted knife, simple accessories and so many other things. There were all kinds of people roaming the area as well. That scene was proof of how well the economy, safety and public order of that area was. It was also proof of just how powerful the gang that owned that territory had.
As Akira looking around excitedly at the unfamiliar place, Sheryl just smiled and said to Akira.
“The buildings around this area were originally a part of the extension plan of the lower district. But it came to a halt and so the buildings ended up abandoned as the managers of the area left this place.”
It was not a knowledge that a little boy who always slept in the back alley of the slum city would know. So Akira was a bit amazed at Sheryl’s knowledge, he then asked Alpha.
“That thing just now, did you know that too, Alpha?”
“No, I didn’t know.”
“Is that so? So there are things that you don’t know huh?”
Akira thought that Alpha knew everything. As such, he was shocked when Alpha gave him that answer and it was shown on his face too. But his face then changed as Alpha continued.
“I don’t know about what she said just now. By the way, it was expected that they would abandon this place after the expansion. The city actually had no wish to seriously develop this area right from the start. But even so, it’s an easy thing for the head of government to push the development. So I bet someone took the money for the development and it ended up being abandoned like this.”
“…You do know, huh?”
“What I don’t know is what kind of story that was spread among the people. Although someone owns the place now, I’m sure they’re doing something in the shadows. And even if some of those people who are related to this problem are discovered later, they’re in a position that would let them go unpunished.”
Akira was actually a bit curious as to why Alpha knew things that common people would not know. But he decided not to ask her since he knew that it would be pointless.
Alpha was indeed a special case. Other than the fact that Akira was the only person who could interact with her for some reason, there were still a lot of things about her that Akira did not know. But he intentionally ignored those point.
For him, the important point was that Alpha was not his enemy. There was no doubt that she was a totally unknown entity for him. But for him, it was far more important that she was not his enemy.
No one would extend their hand to a dirty child from the slum city. He always knew that no one would help someone like him. Even after Alpha helped him, he understood that it was a rare exception, so his views about the world did not change at all.
But that was also exactly why he did not dig too deep about Alpha, he would rather choose not to ask if it meant that Alpha would stay as his ally. Or at least that’s what he thought for the moment.
Alpha suddenly smiled mischievously at Akira.
“But still, when you walk side by side with Sheryl, it looks like you’re having a date.”
Akira coughed and turned to Alpha. Of course, it was really suspicious since from the outside, he looked like he just coughed and then looked toward the direction where no one was there. But even so, Sheryl did not react to that at all. It was because Akira already told her not to ask. And if it meant that she would be able to gain safety by ignoring it, Sheryl would definitely choose to just ignore it without any hesitation.
“A date? You know that this isn’t a date, right?”
“Nope, it’s a date. You can go ahead and argue otherwise, but you do know that arguing with me is futile, right?”
Looking at how Akira was making a conflicted face and gave up on arguing, Alpha smiled as she was enjoying it.
“So with that being said, since it’s a date, let’s buy something for Sheryl.”
“…Alright, I just have to buy something, right?”
Akira was also thinking that it would be useless if he argued back. And it was not like buying a present was dangerous anyway. Although it was something unplanned, if it meant that he could satisfy Alpha by sacrificing a small bit of his money, then he would not mind. Moreover, if he prioritized his ego and made a bad argument, Alpha would explain in detail all the benefits that he could get from buying Sheryl a present. Akira thought that it would not be worth it as he headed to one of the stalls. As for Sheryl, she just followed behind Akira.
There were all kinds of goods exhibited in front of the stall, but Akira eyes stopped on a row of broken guns lined up in front of the stall. Guns were indeed an important possession in the dangerous slum city.
[…Nope, not guns.]
Akira lightly shook his head. It would just be bullying if he gave Sheryl a broken gun that might accidentally discharge its bullet. Not to mention that it was not something that normal people would give in the middle of a date. As such, he continued to look for something safer. But since he had no experience in giving someone else a present, he did not know what kind of present he should get. As he was confused and could not decide on any present, he looked toward Alpha for help.
“Alpha, which one should I take?”
“Think for yourself.”
As Alpha smiled mischievously at Akira, he replied back with a grumble.
“…You did say that you would tell me anything if I ask, didn’t you?”
“But I did answer you, right? You should pick what you want to give, that’s an answer, right?”
“So that’s it? That was your answer? That’s what you meant?”
“Yep, that’s it. That was my answer. That’s what I meant. It would also be a lesson for you if you give her something strange and make her give you a weird look. So give it your best.”
Alpha smiled as if she was having the time of her life. As for Akira, he just gave up and quietly grumbled inside his heart as he continued looking for something to buy.
“What are you looking for?”
Sheryl feebly asked. Akira hesitated for a moment before replying back with a troubled face.
“…Is there anything that you might want in this stall?”
“Ahh, well, you see, from the explanation yesterday, you’re my patron… No, acquaintance…? What’s the right word, again?”
“Yep, that’s it. You might need something as a proof, right? We’re in a close enough relationship to give each other present after all. So yep, I’m planning to give you something that you can use as proof for establishing our relationship. But I don’t know what might be a good present.”
Alpha told Akira to pick something by himself, but since he ended up asking the person that he intended to give his present, he decided to use that as an excuse. After all, Akira wanted to avoid giving something strange and making Sheryl look at him weirdly.
Sheryl was surprised, she never thought that she would be able to pick her own present. After all, Akira did not look like someone who would do that at all.
Although in reality, Akira only did that because Alpha told him to, Sheryl could not notice that. As such, it was a very surprising for her.
“…S-so, which one do you want?”
Hearing how Akira was pressing for an answer, Sheryl smiled happily.
“Uh, if I may, I would like to receive a present that you pick. After all, I believe that it’s better that way.”
If she had to be honest, she actually wanted to answer back that the more expensive his present was, the better. After all, the more expensive the present she received meant more important Akira thought of her. And it would also make a better proof of their relationship. Not to mention that she would be able to sell it for money if she needed to.
But she understood that in her condition, it would only make Akira angry if she asked for something expensive. Moreover, she did not know just how expensive the most expensive thing in that stall. As such, Sheryl decided to attack from the other direction.
Sheryl’s face and words meant to say she would be happy for whatever Akira picked for her as long as Akira gave a serious thought for her present.
But Akira did not catch her subtleties. Even after a beautiful girl spoke to him and looked at him with affection, Akira could not calm down, he was instead even more confused.
“…Alright then. In that case, don’t complain if I buy you something strange, okay? This is your chance if you want to pick anything, you know?”
Sheryl was a bit surprised by a reply that she did not expect at all, but she just kept it inside her heart. Being that persistent asking for confirmation was something that was expected for Akira to do, it was a normal thing for him, so it was not like Akira being nice to Sheryl.
But even so, looking at how Akira seemed to be a bit desperate, it showed that he really wanted to avoid the situation where he had to rely on his sense to pick Sheryl’s present. But Sheryl kept that for herself and made a gesture as if she was thinking before she smiled and said to Akira.
“I won’t complain no matter which one you pick. But well, if you insist, can you please pick an accessory? After all, I think accessories would work the best in this case”
“I see, okay then”
It was obvious that Akira looked a bit relieved.
[…As I thought, a gun was a no go, huh]
Akira was relieved since he knew what he needed to look for, as such, he started looking again with a calmer expression. After a moment of hesitation, he finally picked a rather expensive pendant and gave it to Sheryl. He picked that pendant because of 2 considerations. First, because it was an accessory, and second, it could be sold for quite a sum of money in the exchange centre.
“Thank you very much, I’ll treasure it”
“Ah, right, just go ahead and do whatever you want with it”
Sheryl showed as much as gratitude toward Akira, but Akira replied back with such a cold reaction.
They kept walking around the slum city for a bit after that and returned back when the sun set. Sheryl bowed deeply toward Akira as they went to different directions.
“Akira, thank you very much. And also, please take a good care of me”
“Yeah, you should be careful on your way back home”
“Yes, you too, please be careful”
Sheryl looked so reluctant as she said her goodbye and left. She thought that it was really unfortunate she could not score more points from Akira today. But she was satisfied that she was able to get a small token of their good relationship. The moment she turned back, her face changed to a serious expression as she was thinking of her next plan.
Akira just stood there for a while as he was seeing Sheryl off. Seeing how Akira just stood there even after Sheryl had gone from his views, Alpha was a bit puzzled and asked Akira.
“Akira, you’re not going back home?”
“Hm? Just for a bit… It’s her first day, after all, so just to be safe”
After saying that, Akira turned and headed back to the inn that was located in the opposite direction.
After Sibea’s gang was destroyed, its former territory was open for anyone to take. But it was not like other gangs would immediately use force to capture that territory. If any of them made a bad move, it might instead cause a fight between gangs and incur a big loss to them. It was more important for them to negotiate with other gangs and divide the open territory in such a way that everyone would be satisfied with it. A fight would break if they could not reach a consensus during the negotiation and they would eventually try to kill each other after that.
The building that was used as the headquarters by Sibea’s gang was the centre of that open territory. All the money and resources that Sibea’s gang had were gathered in that building, but almost half of it was already gone as the former members of the gang brought some of them as souvenirs to their new gang. So anything that was left there at that time did not worth that much.
But the building itself is still worth quite a lot. It was a very strategic building for anyone from the slum city who took that building. But it was not a well known building and it was deserted at the moment. If anyone took that building, the other gangs would think that a certain gang had made its move and occupied the building which would be a trigger for war. It was a dangerous place even for someone who was not affiliated with any gang to use it as a sleeping place.
Sheryl was standing in front of that deserted building waiting for someone. It was not like she had a promise to meet there and it was not like she called anyone to meet her there. But it was because there was a good chance that the people she was waiting for would pass through that place. That was what she thought as she was waiting nervously.
After waiting for a bit, the people that she was waiting for finally came. So she buried her nervousness and uneasiness deep inside her heart and said in such a confident manner as if she was invincible.
“Hello there, welcome to my base”
They were the members that were left of Sibea’s gang. It was not like all of them had smooth sailing even for those who joined other gangs. Some of them could not get along in their new gang. Some of them were treated badly. Some of them were banished after the souvenirs they brought with them were taken from them. And some of them were not even accepted by any gangs. To put it simply, those people were the members who were stuck in those conditions and having a hard time.
So if those people saw Sheryl walking with Akira, they would definitely come to ask her.
“Your base? What do you mean? Wait, that aside, why were you with that boy? That was the boy who killed Sibea, right?”
As the other person asked her while making a puzzled look, Sheryl just laughed and answered back.
“You heard what I said, it’s my base now starting from today. The reason why I was with Akira was because we had a talk. And from there, we concluded that I’ll be the boss of this place starting from today. That’s why this building is my base now”
“Akira? Is it the name of that boy?”
“Yep, it’s a good name, right? So then, why are you guys here? Are you here to take something that you forgot?”
It was clear that Sheryl was teasing them. Although she knew that it would only antagonize them, it did not stop her from taking that stance. After all, she did that in order to show them that she had a powerful support that allowed her to do so.
It was pretty effective as the other members started to put up their guard.
“…We’re here to ask you that since we saw you together with that boy. So then, what do you mean by, you had a talk with him?”
“Do I really have to explain everything to you? I did say that I’m the new boss of this place, right? So I had a talk with that Akira and he said that he’ll help us. But you see, since he’s working as a hunter, he’s so busy that he doesn’t have the time to take the lead, that’s why I’ll be the one taking the command. You should think of me as his proxy. But like, since Akira has an image that he should keep, so I’ll be the boss in public. But again, since I’m also the one giving orders, that would make me the boss for real, you get that?”
But then one of them shouted.
“But he’s the boy who killed Sibea!! If only he didn’t kill Sibea, we wouldn’t be in this state now!!”
“That guy gathered that many people just to kill one boy but got shot back and killed instead, so what are you talking about? Are you stupid?”
“Oi Sheryl, don’t get ahead of yourself! No matter how strong that boy is, you’re alone right now!”
“Hah? Are you seriously saying that?”
Although the guys were threatening her, Sheryl returned it with a mock instead. Thus the guys started looking around their surrounding thinking that Akira was around
“It’s no use even if you look for him. Like I said, he’s busy with his hunter job”.
The guy then walked to Sheryl, but her next words stopped him middle way.
“Do you really think I didn’t tell Akira about you guys? I was waiting here because I predicted that you guys would come here, you know? So do you think I wouldn’t ask him to kill you all if I get killed?”
“…There’s no real reason why he would go that far for you, you know. I bet he’ll just laugh when he knows that we kill you”
The guys thought that half of it was only bluff so half of the guys started to threaten her. But Sheryl’s smile stayed the same.
“He has a particular reason to do that, you know? I’m his favourite after all. See this? I got this present from him. So, do you really think he’ll just laugh it off after knowing his favourite girl got killed?”
Sheryl pointed her finger on the pendant that was hanging on his neck and wiggled it a bit as if to show it off to the other guys. Since she was showing it while smiling with confidence, the guys could not tell that it was a lie. It was not like they completely believed Sheryl’s words. But thinking about the possibility that Akira might take revenge on them was scary enough to convince them.
After the guys debating with each other, half of them clicked their tongue and left the place while the other half followed them not too long after. The only people left there were the small children.
Those children looked at Sheryl with a grim face, but then Sheryl intentionally intimidated them.
“If you have no business here, can you guys just leave?”
“…You do know why we’re staying, right? Let us join your gang”
“So you accept me as your boss? And will obey my orders?”
“…Yeah, you’re the boss and we’ll obey you”
Sheryl lips made a slight upwards curve.
“If that’s the case, I’ll welcome you guys. But just go back home for now. I’m busy with a lot of things too. I’ll introduce you to Akira later, so come here again tomorrow night”
The small children there prefer to sleep in a safe place inside the base rather in the wilderness outside, but it’s not like they could go against the words of their boss. As such, they did not have any other choice but to obediently leave the place.
After everyone left that place, Sheryl went in into the base and carefully checked her surroundings to make sure that she was really alone there. After 10 minutes, she finally convinced that no one was around.
Sheryl’s expression immediately changed, all the nervousness and uneasiness that she was hiding came out on her face. She felt like she wanted to scream there but she was barely able to hold it in as she took a deep breath trying to calm down.
“…That was close… That was really dangerous, I almost got myself killed back there! But I was somehow able to survive that!”
Sheryl received Akira’s protection, but it was not like Akira could always stay beside her. Thus Sheryl needed something that could protect her even when Akira was not around. It was her first step to be able to acquire it and she was finally able to complete that risky first step.
With that being done, she thought that everything would be okay. After all, she did all she could there. The only thing left was the bet. That was what she thought as she crawled up on her bed. Her nervousness and tiredness drifted her to sleep as she was lying on her bed.
[…I was able to take a bath yesterday, I really want to get one today too…]
That was her last thought before she fell asleep.
As for the outside of the base, some of the guys that did not go back decided to stay there.
“Hey. Are you sure we’re going to do this? If Sheryl’s words were true, this is a terrible idea, you know? The other guy is a hunter, someone who usually spends his days killing monsters, you know? Is this really going to be alright?”
“Even if that’s true, are we really going to give up this place to that girl? If we could get this base for ourselves, it’ll increase our standing too, you know. Moreover, I bet that all her words there were only bluffs. It’s also possible that the hunter kid just said random promises to her too. And although she was showing that pendant, it looked like a cheap accessory that you can buy in the stall over there. I’m sure she’s just getting ahead of herself after being told that he likes her or something. If we can kill her now, no one would give a care”
The guys there were planning to kill Sheryl, but there were gaps between their individual opinions. The uneasiness of their own future and their desperations. They were hiding all of those feelings by showing them as anger and scorn. Although all of them had the same goal, they could not coordinate with each other.
After Sheryl had a talk with Akira, they decided to let Sheryl build up her destroyed gang. As such, their base and the area around that base did not become an open territory. By the common sense of the slum city, a lot of people thought that Akira took Sibea’s gang and its territory as revenge. And when it came to whether it would be worth fighting for that place against a hunter, the current consensus between gangs in the slum city was to keep their eyes on him for the time being.
But depending on how far they believed Sheryl’s words, they had another choice which was to kill Sheryl and take the base for themselves. And even if what Sheryl said was true, it was still doubtful that Akira would seriously help to build up the gang. There was a good chance that it would cause confusion if they killed Sheryl now.
If they could take over that base, they would be able to get a huge profit. After all, they could get a good position in their gang if they could acquire that base and that territory and handed it over to their new gang. Considering that benefit and the danger from Akira’s revenge, half of them were convinced while half of them were against it.
“Shijima-san also wants this territory. We can get a good position if we give this area to him. So there’s no way I would let a small girl like her take it from me. Don’t you think so too?”
“But if Sheryl was telling the truth and that hunter discovered what we did. It would be the end for us”
“If that hunter was around, Sheryl would’ve brought him with her back there. So this is our only chance to do this”
“But he might be hiding somewhere…”
“No way he is. Not to mention, that I actually doubt if Sheryl really had a talk with him. It might be just a random promise that boy gave her when he slept with Sheryl. There’s no way a hunter without any money like him can keep that promise”
“W-well, that might be so… But still…”
They could not reach any conclusion. But it was enough to clearly divide them into 2 different groups, those who support the idea and those who were against it. Then, the representative of the group that supported killing Sheryl clicked his tongue.
“Alright, we’ll do this ourselves. You guys just standby here and watch this place. You’re good with that, right? Just stay here, at least do that”
“Well, if that’s all, then sure”
“Alright, let’s go”
The people who were going to enter the base nodded to each other and readied their gun before entering the building.
Then on the next moment, they were shot. Some of them got hit on their heads and immediately died there. Some of them got hit on their bodies and escaped death. While some of them got lucky and escaped the building without any injuries at all. All of these people were limping on the ground.
Those who were able to escape from the building quickly looked around while screaming. Then they saw Akira holding his gun under the shadow of one of the alleys. Akira then walked to them and stopped right before them.
Akira looked emotionless although he just killed people. That scene caused the guys who were still alive to start trembling.
Akira immediately replied back.
“I’m the hunter that Sheryl had a talk with. I don’t think I need to tell you this, but just in case it isn’t clear enough to you, don’t you dare lay your hand on Sheryl, you get that?”
Akira then nodded and left the area. Some of those who were still lying on the ground and screaming in pain used their last power to aim their gun to Akira. As such, Akira just walked, pointed his gun back at them, pulled the trigger, and nested a few bullets at them to kill them for good. Looking at such a scene, those who made the right choice and survived without any injuries could not help but screamed a bit.
As Akira walked away from those guys, one of them asked Akira.
“…H-hey, if you did really have a talk with Sheryl, why weren’t you there at that time?”
Akira turned back and pointed at one of the corpses’ face, his expression did not change at all.
“You do understand the answer by looking at this, right?”
Akira then stood up and left that place after saying that.
The people that were left alive winced and then mumbled.
“So he intentionally didn’t show himself back then, huh. What a wicked boy”
Akira intentionally did not show himself beside Sheryl in order to flush out people who were thinking of killing Sheryl. That was what those people thought. Their faces winced even more as they looked at the pile of corpses of their friends. They were trembling in fear thinking that If they followed their friends and entered the building too, they would have joined that pile of corpses.
They could not help but to mumble those words thinking that if their dead boss was a bad ex-hunter who could aim his gun at other people, then his replacement was a worse hunter who could kill people without feeling anything.
“…He just went and killed everyone like that. As I thought, hunters are just scum”
As the guy inadvertently mumbled those words, he looked around in panic and let out a sigh of relief as he could see that Akira was no longer around.
Akira just showed his face to those people and immediately left the place. What was left in that place was only the corpses of those who made the wrong choice.
Alpha asked Akira about what just happened back there as Akira was on his way back to the inn.
“Akira, was that really okay?”
“Yeah, I don’t have the time to be Sheryl’s bodyguard in the first place. If that works well, Sheryl would be safe at least for the time being. As for her future, it depends on her luck… Was that not good enough for you, Alpha?”
From that answer, Alpha thought that Akira would not do anything dangerous with Sheryl as a reason. And so Alpha was able to understand a bit about the person called Akira.
“No. If that was okay for you, then I don’t have any problem with it. That aside, you’ll need to do today’s worth training too tomorrow”
Alpha smiled invincibly as if she was enjoying teasing Akira. As for Akira, his face stiffen as he could imagine just how hard his tomorrow’s training would be.
Sheryl, who did not know anything was so surprised when she found corpses scattered in front of her base the next morning.