Chapter 2:

Crimson Heart

My boring life as a mercenary

- Boom morning, soldiers! This is your favorite military v-tuber, Mary Claymore-chan! How have you been? I'm happy to see you are all fine, my dear teammates! Before the stream starts, I would like to remind you of the importance of friendship! You see, some days ago, I received a report from one of you guys, King_Reng45. He told me about how sad he was after moving because his new home wasn't exactly what he was expecting. But then, one of his roommates invited him to hang out, and they visited a lot of places like a police station, a hospital, and even a school! King_Reng45 ended up having a lot of fun, and in the end, they became good buddies! Isn't that awesome? That's why you should always value your brothers and sisters-in-arms! I don't know why he called his new friend "Loser", but I'm sure that's proof of how close their bond is now! Let's salute our teammate, my dear soldiers! Moving on, in today's stream, we will learn the history behind the classic soviet semi-automatic pistol, Makarov! Later, we will play some warzo-

- Woah, so you are an otaku after all! - a female voice said, right behind me.

- KYAAA. - yeah, definitely not a girlish scream made by me.

That startled me. But just a little, of course. I was so focused watching the stream that I didn't even notice this person approaching, but it's not like I jumped from the chair I was sitting on and dropped my smartphone on the floor. I looked behind me, and she was staring at me with a happy face.

- Crimson, Claymore-chan is a streamer that uses an anime avatar. She's a real person. Watching her doesn't make me an otaku. Do you understand? - I said while bending down to pick up my phone.

Don't you start. Watching anime and watching people that look like anime are two completely different things, you hear me?

- Ah! So she is one of those creepy old men who disguise themselves as cute girls online to get easy money from naive guys? Loser told me about them!

Please, don't say such heresy so casually…

- She's not like that. Claymore-chan is an admirable person that would never lie to her fellow teammates. She's my role model. I learned everything I know about how to be a proper soldier with her. - I said with a proud expression.

And no, I’m not a simp.

- I see. If you say so. - Crimson replied without doubting me. - You seem to like her a lot, Kireng.

- Yeah, you could say that. - I answered smiling.

To be honest, when I first heard I was going to work with “that Crimson” from now on, I was expecting someone way more troublesome to deal with. I mean, she does have a murderous aura that is so intense that I can almost see it sometimes, and whenever we exchange looks it does feel like her yellow-colored eyes look deep into my soul and whisper: "I could have killed you, and you wouldn't even have noticed, you know?", but she's always so friendly and energetic. It's not like she would go crazy out of nowhere and kill everyone while we sleep, right?



- Crimson, just so I know. You’re not the kind of person that loses their cool easily, right?

- Oh, I almost forgot! - she avoided the question. Again. I guess I won’t be able to sleep tonight. - Kireng, Boss ordered me to tell you and the others to go to the table. She said we'll have an emergency meeting in ten minutes. Well, you are already here so don't leave, ok? I'll go find Loser, Crush, and Joe.

And then she left in search of our teammates around the apartment.

Did she say emergency meeting? Did something happen? Can it be... we are going to have a real mission?! Some real mercenary work? I knew we were going to have some action sooner or later! Since Boss needs all of us, it's probably something big. I wonder what kind of person hired our services. Perhaps the government wants us for a dirty job? Maybe a wealthy businessman needs some badasses to protect his money? Another mercenary group needs some help to fight a common enemy?

I passed the last ten minutes thinking about all the possibilities. I can't contain my excitement!

- We are broke. - said Boss calmly. She is standing with her hands on the table.

I'm starting to understand why Joe ended up like that.

- Boss, I have a question! - said Crimson, raising her right hand. She is sitting on a chair on my side of the table.

- Ask away.

- Aren't we always broke?

- Yes, but this time we are so broke that we will get in trouble if we don’t do something about it.

I just wanted to shoot something...

- Don't we have some money saved for emergencies? - asked Crush while leaning on a wall with his arms crossed.

- We had some, but someone decided to make a fuss around the city while pursuing a cat, and we had to use it to pay for the damage done.

- Ugh... Sorry bout that. Wish I could control my love for cute kittens... - he apologized while putting his left hand on the back of his head.

Perhaps God is punishing me for not choosing a more samaritan path? Should I have become a teacher or something?

- Mmmmmrrrgg. - looks like Joe had a good idea. He is sitting on a chair on the other side of the table, face down over it.

- No, Joe. We don't have enough explosives. That's out of the question.

- Mmm...

- ARE WE GOING TO EXPLODE SOMETHING?! - everyone's attention turned to me. - Did I get it wrong?

I looked around and noticed that someone is missing.

- Wait, where's Loser?

- Loser said he's busy. - Crimson replied.

- Loser's working on something important right now. He's gathering information, and with luck, getting us some money as well. So he won’t be joining us. - Boss complemented.

Earlier, he asked me, Joe, and Crush to leave the bedroom and locked us outside. He's probably using his laptop to negotiate with other informants and doesn't want us to get in his way. Since he seems to like being a loner and clearly doesn't have a girlfriend, I thought he just needed some time for himself.

- Since we need the money right now, I assume getting jobs won’t do. What do you have in mind, Boss? - Crush asked.

- We do what mercenaries do. We offer people to hire our services for a price. - Boss is explaining while gesturing her hands. - But it needs to be work that we can be paid for it right away.

- But no one in Little Clove needs mercenaries. - Crimson said with a confused face.

- True, but I'm not talking about mercenary work.

- Sorry, Boss, but I will not sell anything I’m not willing to lose. - I said.

I may be looking for adventure, but not this kind of adventure.

- We are not doing that. - a small silence. - Yet.

- Yet?

- So, basically, you are telling us to ask around if someone needs something done, and we offer to do it for a good price? - Crush is making sure he understood. - Boss that seems a bit suspi-

- Someone may need help giving a home to stray cats.


Crimson raised her right hand once more.

- Do you think any of these services could use someone who knows precisely the location of all vital points of a body and how to kill without leaving a trace?

Of course not!

- Yes, of course.

Don't lie like that just to convince her!

- Yay! I'll do my best!

Please, don't!

Crush, Crimson... You guys are way too easy to deceive.

- I'm out. This is even worse than getting an ordinary job.

- Think about it, Kireng. If we get a good reputation in the city, we may get enough money to buy some cool military equipment.

- I'm in. When do we start?

- Today. What about you, Joe?

- Joe's with me, right Joe?

Joe slowly raised his right arm. When he was about to give me a thumbs up, it looked like he lost all his strength and his arm slammed back on the table.

- Uuurgh...

I wanna cry. Of course this was not going to be enough to get your motivation back...

- We are all in then.

- Boss, I don’t think Joe-

- We’re moving. Crush, since you have work later, you are dismissed for today. If everything goes wrong, you and Loser are our last hope.

- Aye aye, ma’am! - he saluted and left the apartment.

- Kireng, you and Crimson will cover the east side of the city while Joe and I will cover the west.

She grabbed Joe by his tank top with one hand and started dragging him towards the front door without even trembling.

- Boss, wait. Don’t you think me and Joe have a better synergy?

- If I let you and Joe team up, you both will end up doing something stupid. - damn, she knows her subordinates too well. - I don’t want you two back here until evening, understood?

- Yes, ma’am.

- Okay, Boss!

We replied together and she left the apartment dragging Joe. Is he going to be all right when they reach the stairs? This is the third floor.

Crimson and I got ready and left soon after.

We spent around four hours hunting for some small work that could be done and paid right up, and the result was obvious. No matter how friendly your approach is, no one is willing to trust a stranger that comes to you offering to help for money. Maybe Loser would've been able to convince them? Anyway, that old lady didn't need to hit me with her purse while calling me a disgusting otaku. Why otaku of all things? Is it written on my face or something?

- I'm exhausted…

Right now, I'm sitting on a square bench looking at the sky. Crimson is watching some kids play soccer on a playground not too far from me.

Now that I think about it, that was an idea destined to fail, wasn’t it? Boss really thought this would work?

I was lost in my thoughts when I suddenly heard screams coming from the playground. Oh, no. I was careless. I ran as fast as I could in the direction of the screams and what I saw was…

- Big sis, you are so cool!

- How did she get there so fast? Awesome!

-Woah! She is so high up!

The kids are screaming in joy and cheering for Crimson, sitting on the branch of a tree holding a soccer ball. She climbed down from the tree with ease and gave the ball back to one of the kids. There are three in total, and they are around five years old.

- Thank you, big sis!

- Please, play with us!

- Here, as promised. - This girl gave her something.

Crimson thanked them for the "payment" and apologized for not being able to stay with them. She said her goodbyes to them.

- Bye, big-sis!

- Come play with us next time!

- Bye-bye.

She came towards me with open hands.

- Kireng, look! The fruits of my labor! - Crimson smiled and showed me some candies that the kids "paid" her.

- You deserved it. Good work. - I replied to her, smiling as well. But now I feel like a dork for doubting her for a moment.

While looking at the candies on her hands, I noticed something strange.

- Crimson, you are bleeding a little. - I pointed at her left hand. She’s wearing gloves, but I can see the blood well.

- Ah, the cut must have opened when I climbed the tree. Give me a minute.

Crimson kept the candies, got a bandage from her pocket, and turned around. Then after a minute, she turned back again, and the first aid was already done.

- Are you okay?

- Yes, it's fine. As you know, I work with blades a lot, so it happens.

- I see. Makes sense, but we are friends. You don’t need to hide it from me

- Hum?

I wonder where she got that cut. Did she cut herself by accident?

- Anyway, our break is over. Let’s move on.

- A-ah, right!

We started walking around the city once more. Crimson's not too far behind me.

- So… Do you consider me your friend, Kireng? - she asked casually.

- What are you talking about? We are squadmates, and just that already automatically makes us friends. - Claymore-chan taught me that.

- You mean you think everyone on the squad considers me a friend as well?

I look at her, and she is patiently waiting for my answer.

This is not going to become another “deep conversation out of nowhere while walking around the Little Clove”, right? I'm still in my first week here.

- I can’t answer for them, but I do believe in that.

- I see... I’m glad.

- Do you think they don't like you?

- Sometimes… Besides Loser, I’m afraid the others may fear me. Like everyone else that knows about me.

Loser knows how to read people after all. Though he was more scared than I was when Crimson gave me the knife.

Is she not aware of her own murderous intent? Also, she does have a heavy reputation that could make people feel uncomfortable for just being alone in the same room with her.

That’s odd. I didn't think someone like her would care about this sort of thing. That way of thinking is so ordinary, doesn't fit a professional killer. Don’t tell me this city is affecting her as it does with Joe and me?!

- Well, your lack of common sense is scary sometimes, but I don’t think anyone at the apartment actually fears or hates you. I mean, you guys shared the same home for some time now. They wouldn’t do that if they didn’t trust you, right?

- Ah! - she is surprised by my answer. - You are right!

I didn't say anything that was a big deal, did I? How did she not realize it herself?

- Also, - I continued. - You can always ask them or just tell them how you feel. Like you are doing right now.

- I see... I’ll think about it. Thanks, Kireng. - Crimson gave me a smile.

That wasn’t a deep conversation, I guess. Just an assassin sharing some concerns with her mercenary friend. Nothing special.

- Kireng… - Oh no.

- W-what is it?

- Do you believe in God?

Ok, that escalated way too quickly.

I turned around, and Crimson has stopped. She is deeply looking at the other side of the street. I followed her eyes and saw a beautiful white church with big windows and details in golden. It's probably Little Clove's cathedral. I have to ask. Where did this thing come from? I didn't notice at all. Great, now it's even mocking me by ringing its big bell. What kind of mood is that?

- I do. - I replied, apprehensive.

- Hell is that bad?

What kind of question is that?

- I cant' say for sure, but yeah. It's probably very bad.

- I see...

I looked at Crimson again, and she's a bit depressed. She’s looking down with her fists clenched.

"People are way more difficult to read than books". I remembered what Loser told me before. Many questions popped into my head. I can't understand Crimson at all.

Before I could say something, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

- Wah! - she made a funny face. Is this some sort of child technique to feel better?

I guess she's not ready to talk more about it yet... Thank God, because neither am I.

- You know what. Let’s call it a day. - I said with a friendly expression.

- But it’s not evening yet.

- Don’t worry. I’ll take Boss’s wrath somehow.

- That won’t do! - she came closer and grabbed my hand. - We’ll take it together. We are friends after all!

I’m not gonna lie. That was cute. Even made my heart skip a beat.

We go back to the apartment, and it seems no one is home now. Crimson thanked me for today and went to the kitchen. I think I will take a bath and wait for Joe and Boss. I hope they had a better result than us.

I tried to open my room door. It’s unlocked. Did Loser finish what he was doing? I open it and see him typing on his laptop. He notices me.

-Oh, welcome back. - he greeted me with his usual carefree smile.

-Yeah, thanks. I'm back.

I told him about how we failed to earn a single dime except for the candies Crimson received from the kids.

- Haha, looks like you and Crimson had some fun today.

- Yeah, but I don't get her. She's a very odd person.

- Like how she a trained assassin that cares deeply about what others think of her? Or you're talking about how she's always acting happy and energetic but gets easily depressed when she starts thinking too much?

- Right. I almost forgot you were Mister Intel. Why don't you go talk to her then? - I said that while grabbing some clothes.

- I'm not that good at dealing with people. Besides, she's too unpredictable. What she needs is a good and caring friend like you.

I got close to Loser and said to him.

- She's your friend too, man.

I left the room without looking at his face or waiting for an answer.




Loser stared at his laptop with a serious face.

- That's what happens when you raise a child to be a killing machine, and years later, out of pure selfishness, decides to give her humans emotions - he leaned back in his chair and sighed. - I wonder if Crimson's heart still has salvation. I'm counting on you, Kireng.