Chapter 25, Head Equipment, Intuition and Occult
When Akira received notification from Shizuka about the arrival of the augmented suit that he ordered, he immediately stopped his studying and packed up his things before setting off to Shizuka’s shop.
Akira looked excited as he entered the shop. Shizuka saw him and gave him a welcoming smile.
“Welcome, the item that you ordered has arrived. I’ll take you there, so just follow me.”
Shizuka took Akira to the shop’s warehouse. He saw many items and goods lined up inside the warehouse, then his eyes caught the augmented suit that was on the hanger rack.
The greyish black augmented suit hanging there was made of something that looked elastic. There was a metallic part that formed a skeletal frame extending from the backbone of the suit to all the 4 limbs. And it did not come with a helmet or any head equipment.
Akira circled it, his eyes locked to the augmented suit. Shizuka giggled as she watched Akira who was behaving more childish than usual.
“It’s the TLT type C-style augmented suit. Its name is Keilon. It might be 2 generations behind the latest generation augmented suit, but its hardware is not that different compared to the current generation. The basic setting software is already updated to its latest version, so don’t try to increase its capabilities by installing new software. In the worst-case scenario, a wrong adjustment can make it twist to the opposite direction than intended, so be careful.”
Akira’s eyes were still locked into the augmented suit as he listened to Shizuka. He looked just like a small child who was excited about his new plaything.
Induced by his curiosity, Akira extended his hand to touch the augmented suit. The suit was made of synthetic fibres with countless thin but hard wick woven together. As he traced the thin wick, his finger arrived at the metallic skeletal frame.
Akira continued to feel the metallic part. The metallic part was way softer than he thought, and as he pressed it a bit, the metallic part deformed as if it was made of gum. Akira pulled his finger back in panic.
“S-Shizuka-san. It’s softer than I thought though, is this normal?”
Shizuka laughed which made Akira relieved. But a part of that laugh was Shizuka enjoying Akira’s comical reaction.
“It’s alright. That part is elastic and soft when the suit is OFF in order to make it easy for the user to equip it. So then, don’t just stand there, let’s try putting it on. I’ll need your body measurement for the first time setting. So take off your clothes just like when I took your body measurement.”
Shizuka then took Akira’s body measurement like last time. After she finished, she went behind the augmented suit and operated her information terminal to send the data to the suit.
Once the data was received, the augmented suit automatically adjusted itself as it started to wriggle. The sleeves, inseam and body part of the suit readjusted itself to mimic Akira’s body. Akira gasped in surprise when he saw that. After the adjustment finished, Akira put on the suit with some assistance from Shizuka.
The soft and elastic metallic part of the suit did not impede his movement when he equipped it and tried to move his limbs. But it was a different story for the weight. Although the weight of the suit was distributed across its humanoid shape, it was still quite heavy that Akira would get tired quickly if he tried to move around in it.
Shizuka took a good look at Akira before she nodded lightly.
“Yep, you look cool.”
“Thank you very much.”
Akira answered back while being bashful, but then Alpha interjected.
“Yep, you look really cool!! It’s wonderful!”
“Why are you so mean to me?”
“Because it sounds like you were mocking me now.”
Alpha looked offended, but Akira just ignored her. Shizuka then continued checking the augmented suit.
“Well then, go ahead and turn it ON, the switch should be somewhere around your waist. Although I think there should not be any problem, be sure to immediately cancel the start-up process if you feel something is not right.”
Akira then turned the suit ON. As the augmented suit booted up, he could feel the metallic part woven in its wicks and in its skeletal frame start to harden. And at the same time, Akira could not feel the weight of the suit anymore.
The augmented suit supported its own weight and it moved together with its user, that was why the user would not feel its weight when it is turned ON.
Akira was a bit surprised when he could not feel the suit’s weight as he tried to move around. Looking at how Akira was behaving, Shizuka knew that there was no problem with the augmented suit.
“It seems that the suit booted up without any problems. Remember to move around slowly for now until you get used to your enhanced physical ability from the augmented suit. I would have recommended you to pick up some random heavy guns lying over there to test your enhanced strength but it would be problematic if you break them accidentally. So be sure not to touch anything, okay? You can go to the wasteland and pick up some wreckages to test your strength. Also, remember to be careful when you grab your gun. It’ll easily break if you use your augmented strength violently. Note that the metallic part of your augmented suit only hardened in order to provide support when you carry a heavy gun or any other object. So remember that you’re basically still vulnerable to bullets and monster attacks, okay?”
(p4553r: Basically an 8 million Aurum suit with no bulletproofing? o_O)
(Silavin: I believe there are stronger bullets/guns than what we have in RL right now)
Akira nodded firmly.
“I understand. I’ll be careful.”
“The other items that came along with the augmented suit are inside the box over there. It should include extra energy packs for reserve, maintenance kit and a simple manual. You should be able to find the site where to download a more detailed manual inside the simple manual. So be sure to read the manual… I guess that’s all, do you have any other questions?”
Akira took some time thinking before asking Shizuka.
“By the way, do people usually use a helmet with their augmented suit?”
“Armour, augmented suit and basically any other equipment are actually optional. Are you one of those people who prefer to use a helmet? I’m sorry, I should’ve clarified with you beforehand.”
As Shizuka looked sorry and apologized to Akira, he replied while getting flustered.
“Ah no, I’m just wondering if it’s weird if I use a helmet along with the augmented suit. I didn’t mean to complain. I also did say that I’ll tell you if I need anything when I consulted with you. So please don’t be sorry.”
“Is that so? I’m glad to hear that.”
Seeing how Shizuka smiled at him, he felt relieved knowing that she was back to her usual mood. So then he continued asking questions to her.
“Shizuka-san, you did ask me if I’m the type of person who uses a helmet, right? So there are people who prefer to not use a helmet, huh?”
“Yes. It’s actually more common, you know. Some people prefer to use an information terminal on their head, so the helmet that comes as a set with the augmented suit would get in their way. There are also people who prefer not to put anything on their heads too. That’s why head equipment is optional when you use an augmented suit.”
“So there’re people who do that too, huh? To be honest, I think it’s safer to put on a helmet…”
“There really are people who do that, you know. For example, both Sara and Elena don’t use a full-face helmet, right?”
Akira recollected his memory of Sara and Elena’s augmented suit, it was indeed true. He also remembered that the Hunters who attacked Sara and Elena also did not use a helmet. But even so, it was not enough reason for him to not use one. On the contrary, it made him question it more. Thus he asked Shizuka again while looking puzzled.
“That’s true… But why, though?”
“Well, there’s a reason for it, but it’s an occult thing, you know.”
“Occult thing, huh?”
“Yep, you want to hear it?”
Looking at how Akira was genuinely interested, Shizuka smiled as she began her story.
“There’re people among the Hunters who don’t want to put any helmet no matter how good the helmet is. For example, there’s this helmet, although it’s a full-face helmet, it is bulletproof, has a wide-angle display so the view with the helmet and without the helmet is exactly the same, can also transmit sounds without any obstruction as if there is no helmet. It fits perfectly and at the same time it does not exert any pressure on your head, and if used with the augmented suit, it’s basically weightless too. But even so, there are people who would not use this helmet, do you know why? Of course, it’s not because of money.”
Akira stood silent for a brief moment trying to think of a reason, but he could not come up with anything. He then gave up and surrendered.
“…I have no idea.”
“For some reason, putting that helmet will reduce their intuition, or so they say.”
Akira looked puzzled after hearing an unexpected reason as the answer. Shizuka smiled as if she was enjoying his reaction which was exactly like she expected.
“Yep, intuition. It seems that those people would ditch powerful helmets or any other defensive equipment in order to keep their intuition sharp, you know. Since in my opinion, I’m also someone with good intuition, so it’s not like I can’t understand their reason.”
“Hmmm… I don’t think I understand it…”
“Well, it’s true that it’s very subjective. There are people who doubt it, but eventually, since it’s about their own feelings, there are a lot of people who trust their own gut and do whatever they want. I don’t think there’s any problem as long as they decide that based on their own preference. But it causes some problems in certain situations, for example, when arming people who work in a private military company. There’s a story where someone who was responsible for arming his squad did not believe in such occult and forced everyone in his squad to equip their helmet. You know what happened then?”
“Although they used a high-quality helmet in order to convince his squad, their fatality rate increased, you know.”
Shizuka said that in a mysterious tone as she was watching Akira’s reaction, she then smiled with satisfaction.
“It’s not like there’s any real proof and it’s quite doubtful when you say you don’t want to use a helmet because it impedes your intuition. But a tangible proof like fatality rate did come up. That’s why it’s called an occult thing…”
“…Uhmmm, so, is it better if I don’t use a helmet?”
Shizuka answered back in a way that calmed Akira who looked unsure of what to do.
“I’m sorry but I don’t have a definitive answer to that. After all, there are also people who really like their full-face helmet. There’re also people out there who took this story seriously, didn’t put their helmet on, and got killed because of that. If you want to put on a helmet, then I think you should. If you don’t want to, then you shouldn’t. That’s all I can tell you. Not to mention that I heard good Hunters feel awkward when they’re using equipment that they don’t usually use. So like I said, it’s fully a subjective topic, you should decide that for yourself.”
Akira looked a bit conflicted before he made a decision and smiled bitterly.
“I understand. For now, since I don’t have any money left to buy a helmet, I’ll just assume myself to be one of those people who don’t prefer a helmet.”
Shizuka smiled and said.
“That might be better than staying undecided. You can anyway buy an optional set later, just tell me when you change your mind.”
Shizuka then changed the subject.
“Remember that just because you got yourself an augmented suit, doesn’t mean that you can do anything dangerous, okay? Contact me if anything bad happens. Just come to me if you find anything faulty, but remember, it’ll take at least one month to get it fixed. Ah, and also, be sure to turn off the suit or put it under daily life mode until you exit the shop else you might damage something unknowingly.”
Akira then turned OFF the augmented suit, thus its weight suddenly returned. He thought it would be impossible to go back to the inn under this condition, thus he turned it back ON and set it to daily life mode. The weight of the suit reduced considerably. Although there’s a slight weight, it would not impede his movements.
Akira and Shizuka then went back to the shop and they started conversing professionally like a customer and a shopkeeper.
“I tried my best in picking an augmented suit that would satisfy you. I’m sure you’ll come up with a lot of things once you actually use it, but I hope you’re satisfied with it for now. If you find anything that you want to complain about, there’s no need to hold back. I’ll help you if it’s something within my boundaries.”
“I think it’ll be alright, but I’ll come again for consultation if anything crops up.”
Shizuka smiled as it seemed that Akira was satisfied. She then added.
“There’s one thing that I forgot to tell you. Don’t forget that you’ll need to buy energy packs and other things for your augmented suit beside the usual medicine, so keep that in mind. It’ll be meaningless if you only buy a new energy pack once you run out of energy. Since you already bought one, you need to maintain it so you can use it anytime.”
“Yes, I’ll be careful. Thank you very much for everything.”
As Akira politely bowed, Shizuka smiled and offered Akira some of her goods while making a joke.
“Don’t mention it. And now that you have an augmented suit, you should be able to wield guns that you couldn’t before, right? I’ll be looking forward to when you order more guns.”
“I want to meet your expectations, but I’ll have to earn enough money before that. So please wait patiently.”
Akira casually replied back with a smile. He then bowed his head and went back home.
Shizuka saw Akira off as she mumbled.
“But that aside. He bought an AAH rifle not too long ago and he already bought an augmented suit now, huh. That’s really fast. Not to mention that he was lucky enough to get rescued by Elena and Sara when he was in a pinch. He might become a great Hunter in the future… Just maybe though.”
Shizuka looked worried for a bit before recovering immediately.
The faster a person is running on the road to success, the more focused he would be, the narrower his vision, and finally, the bigger the damage he would suffer when he meets bad luck.
Shizuka immediately changed the things in her mind before she unconsciously said what she thought and jinxed it.
Akira who already returned to his room smiled seeing the augmented suit that was hung on the hanger rack.
“Now that I already have my augmented suit, I can start looking for relics again.”
There was a need for him to pay the rest of 500,000 Aurum to Shijima and he almost ran out of money too. He only had enough money to stay in this bath-less room for a few more days.
Akira wanted to earn more money and move to a room with a bath as soon as possible, but Alpha just rejected that idea.
“We won’t go to the ruins anytime soon, you know?”
“Eh? But you said that I can go to the wasteland again once I get my augmented suit, right?”
“Of course you can go to the wasteland, but not to the ruins. It’s dangerous and I’ve decided to keep you safe, you know. I’ll do my best to find a solution against your bad luck.”
From the way Alpha said it, it felt like she was exaggerating his situation. Akira winced a bit as he wondered if his bad luck was not something that he could fight back unless he had an equal amount of resolve.
“I-I see. If you say so, it can’t be helped then. So, what should I do from now on? We’re about to run out of money to even stay in this cheap room, you know?”
“It’s alright. We’ll take requests from the Hunter Office to earn money for the time being. Your aim, for now, is to complete requests from the Hunter Office and get your Hunter rank up until you can borrow a vehicle for exploring the wasteland.”
“Vehicle, huh? Hmmm, is there any reason why I should prioritize that?”
“It’s tiring to run away from a group of monsters with your legs, isn’t it?”
Although Akira was convinced by that reasoning, he was making a conflicted face as he realized that the way Alpha worded it out was as if he was ought to encounter another group of monsters in the future.
“Exploring the ruins for collecting relics will come after that. And I’ll be the one choosing the requests too.”
“…Well, if you said so, then I’ll leave everything to you.”
“Just go and take rest for today. I’ll finish the augmented suit’s setting while you sleep. You’ll have augmented suit training for the whole day tomorrow. I’ll have you get used to it so that you’ll at least be able to fight while using it. Then we’ll start taking requests from the day after tomorrow.”
“Augmented suit setting? But Shizuka already did that, right?”
Alpha smiled invincibly to Akira who looked a little bit sour.
“She only configured the most basic part. I’m going to configure the setting tailored for you to maximize my support capabilities. I only need you to connect your information terminal and I’ll do the rest myself, so don’t worry.”
Akira took his information terminal and used the cable from the augmented suit maintenance kit to connect his information terminal with his augmented suit. Once it was connected, the information terminal showed an array of symbols, numbers, images and characters that he did not recognise, but he remembered that something similar had happened when Alpha configured his information terminal too. Thus he did not worry about it and went to take a rest.
As Alpha was busy configuring Akira’s augmented suit through the information terminal, Akira was using the note and the stationeries to study by himself. But he then remembered what Shizuka said.
“Hey Alpha, Shizuka-san said that there are people whose intuition worsened when they used a helmet. Is that true?”
“Yep, that’s true.”
Akira was a bit surprised since Alpha said it as if it was a fact and it was idiotic to doubt that in the first place.
“You put that out pretty clearly, huh. Even Shizuka-san said it herself that it was occult belief, you know.”
“It’s a misjudgement and misinterpretation due to the inability to get the needed accurate information and knowledge. It’s because a mix of inability to empirically translate individual sensation or inability to communicate with such a thing or so many other factors. It’s exactly because it can’t be analyzed with the current technology that it’s called an occult thing.”
Akira looked utterly confused.
“…Can you please explain it in words that are easier for me to understand?”
“Of course. Let’s imagine, you are seeing a low-resolution picture of Kuzusuhara ruin. Although it’s blurry, you can still recognize it. But there’s a difference between the picture and the real scene even if the people who see the picture don’t realize it. Since it is a blurry image you won’t be able to make out all the details in it. It’s the same reasoning with a full-face helmet equipped with a wide-angle display or a high quality binocular. There’s always some information that gets lost. And if some of the information that is lost contains warning for an incoming danger, then you won’t be able to notice it. And this is not limited only to information coming from vision. The same reasoning can also be used for any information received through any part of your head.”
Akira looked puzzled and there were a lot of questions inside his mind.
“Feeling someone behind you and really finding someone there when you look back. There are people who have such a level of intuition. But those people have such intuition, not because of their sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell. They, of course, can’t see what is behind them, nor hear, nor smell, nor touch. These people might not be able to directly see the person behind them, but they might have an organ that somehow makes them able to feel the gaze. They might be someone who got such an organ by using technology from the old world or they might be descendants of such people. There’s also the possibility that they got their hands on a relic that allows them to do that and they’ve been using it without realizing as if they suddenly got a superpower. So using a helmet might impede that organ or relic.”
Akira looked confused, he seemed like he could not understand everything that Alpha just said.
“Although you’re talking with me through telepathy, this is something that only happens between me and you. Like I said before, this is possible because of some peculiarities in your brain. But this is not only limited to our case. There are cases where other people could communicate and send information through telepathy with another person or thing too. As an example, some twins can communicate between them through telepathy or like when you somehow notice that there’s danger nearby from the people around you. You might not be able to communicate directly with the people around you, but some information is unconsciously transferred. This kind of information transfer might be blocked by a helmet.”
Akira was barely able to follow through all the new information that was flooding his brain.
“Basically, people who have good intuition are those who for some reason are able to unconsciously receive information and make decisions based on that information. For the Hunters who regularly risk their lives in their job, they’ve always been polishing and relying on their intuition, so having it dulled is like making them fight monsters with their eyes blinded. The more they rely on their intuition, the easier they’ll get killed without it.”
Alpha then stopped her explanation temporarily.
“Did you understand anything?”
Akira was still confused, but he somehow blurted out an answer.
“…So in short, if I put something weird on my head, the things that are hard to notice normally will become impossible for me to notice. And there’s even a chance that it’ll block our telepathy ability, right?”
Alpha looked surprised for a moment hearing his answer, but she immediately smiled happily.
“Even though you didn’t understand everything, I think it’s good enough that you were able to understand this much. That’s why, no matter how good the equipment is, you’re not allowed to use it if it impedes my support.”
“But how will I know if it’ll impede your support?”
“I’ll know it right away and I’ll warn you, so don’t worry.”
“I see, I understand.”
Akira was relieved since he knew that Alpha would warn him when he might try to equip anything strange that would hamper Alpha’s support unknowingly.
“Now then, was that good enough? Or should I explain it to you again with a lower difficulty bar?”
“Nope, that was good enough. You can just tell me the rest of the details while teaching.”
“Is that so? Just ask me anytime when you want to hear the rest.”
Akira rejected that offer since he had a feeling that she would continue with a long and difficult explanation if he said yes. But he did not know that Alpha had already guessed his answer.
Alpha smiled as she was watching Akira closely when he tried to evade that subject. By seeing how Akira reacted, how his expression changed and how his mood changed. She was able to infer Akira’s tendency, personality, things that he liked, things that he hated, things that shocked him etc, basically, the root of his personality. She had always been observing Akira for this very reason.