Metro Labyrinth Chapter 103.2: Fungal Genius

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 In the normal course of events, there is no way a knife can beat a sword. The difference in reach is obvious, and the strength and power of the weapon are also great. If the skill of the wielder is the same, it is not easy for a knife wielder to get around the sword and close the gap between the wielder and himself.



 Nevertheless, I have struggled more than double against “lower-leveled” opponents who use weapons with a shorter reach than mine. The topmost among the enemies had been holed up in the vicinity of Sugamo, Kure, a prodigy in the art of melee combat and a pervert, was a man who dared to close the gap. I was able to deal with him by switching from [Katana] to my bare hands with [Iron Fist], and in the end, I won a crushing victory.



 Despite the absolute difference in strength, I struggled because of my lack of experience in fighting against other people. Because I had spent my entire life in a cave fighting Metro Beasts, I had fallen behind in the techniques and experience that those with intelligence should have learned.



 After coming to the surface, I was aware that my ability to deal with such situations had improved a little through the unwanted troubles I had gone through since I came to the surface. I had trained with Noa many times, and during my stay in the town of Ouji, I had repeatedly defeated the red-haired pervert that was coming on him.





 Here I go again, with a new kind of “strong enemy with no sense of delicacy,” who sneaks in the gaps. Moreover, this bandana girl called Toroko, who is holding a knife in front of me suddenly disappears from sight and appears behind me without a sound, showing an unidentifiable maneuver that looks like instantaneous movement.



(Until we find out what she is doing, it may be easier to deal with her without the accumulated [Katana]) (Shuu)



 I don’t think I can hit her with a long, heavy, hard-to-handle weapon. The fact that I am barehanded against a knife is also scary, but that level of disadvantage is an everyday occurrence.



(I’d like to get out of Kawataro’s line of fire at some point.) (Shuu)


(I could leave the square, but I doubt he’d let me.) (Shuu)


(I’d rather take that guy out first.) (Shuu)



 Now that [Leaping] can’t be used, it would be a suicidal act and turn my back on them.



(I’d rather stay close to that kid, so I don’t get sniped at.) (Shuu)


(However, I have to deal with that strange mobility skill as soon as possible.) (Shuu)



 My body is being scraped away from wanting to survive this far. The bleeding is worse than I thought, and the blue-black mold that heals my injuries is also sealed. It’s not always the case where the losers won’t return to the battlefield after being treated with [Healing] or the like. In other words, time is not my ally.



 Open your eyes and take a deep breath. The moment I was about to take my first step.


 Kawataro’s body, standing on the roof, moves slightly. The released [White Bullet] passes through the place where my head used to be – no, not this one.



“Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)



 Toroko disappears from in front of me. The real target–behind.



“Shhhaaa!” (Tamiko)



 My fist swung backward and cuts through the air. My timing was off. The girl’s body dives forward in an instant.


 The girl’s body lunges forward and tries to sneak close range. A sudden front kick grazed the side of her body. My heel hits bone, and her face contorts slightly.



“Tamiko, stick to me properly!” (Shuu)


“Kuh, ah!” (Toroko)



 The knife is swung with a yell. It is swung from side to side with the aim of hitting me.


 The knife handling is sharp and precise. She moves both hands without pause while mixing in feints and slides the blade with minimal movement. The onslaught of Boss Met’s wild, storm-like onslaught is the exact opposite: a series of small, thin, condensed, and quick blows, like those of Kamaitachi [A/N: a Japanese weasel ayakashi]. Its skill and sharpness cannot be compared to the grappling claws of the Metro Beast boss.



(However…) (Shuu)


(What is this discomfort?) (Shuu)



 There is no difference in physical ability between her and the current me due to my level. I respond while being aware of her position without turning my back on Kawataro. If I am not concentrating, she would draw blood in an instant.



 Using only my reflex speed, I avoid the tip of the knife, and then I deal with my opponent’s knife. The knife grazed my arm, and as a counter attack, my fingertips tore her cheek.



 She swayed to the left – and in an instant, she is on my right. Without even taking a step forward. It was as if it was a magic trick.



“Kuh!” (Shuu)



 While brushing away a blow aimed at my stomach with my cloak, I quickly pondered what I has just seen.


 It’s not instantaneous movement. How could such an ability be achieved with mycelium? It’s a world of “Buttobi’s World,” so it’s impossible to say for sure. [T/N: Buttobi aka Buttobi CPU! is a manga series.]


 She lunges at me – and when I think that her body instantly becomes smaller. No, it moved away. No jump, no step.



“No way—” (Shuu)



 I roll on the floor in a panic. Four [White Bullets] shot in rapid succession penetrate my cloak. It grazed my back just a little, but there was no damage.


 Kawataro had his left arm out in front of him, his palm facing up, and his right hand on top of it. Did he continuously eject the hypha projectiles produced in his left hand by flicking it with his four fingers? It seems more difficult to aim than with the thumb, but that is the technique of a pro.



“You have good instincts!” (Kawataro)



 Kawataro further extends his arms and swings them crosswise. The barely visible projectile, which flew in an arc, arced toward the target and struck him. The bullet arcs and changes its trajectory toward my, gouging your arms and thighs. The bullet curved, I believe it was a different kind of Fungal Skill called a [Curved Bullet] or something like that. I wonder if it is possible to aim so accurately with that thing.



 I look toward Toroko, keeping an eye out for Kawataro.


 She is not there. Not in front, not to the right, not to the left. I don’t feel her behind me either.



(Then–) (Shuu)





 There she is, bent overhead, holding a knife.


 A sharp swing. But it’s not a real attack. As soon as she lands, she dodges with a backward load and dives as if sliding into my side.



“Haa!” (Toroko)



 Her swing spins around like a spinning top. A slashing attack. I can’t evade it in time, so I quickly guard myself. “Giiin!” The sound of two hard objects colliding with each other reverberated.



“Oh!” (Shuu)



 The girl is alarmed by the response and hesitates to take any further steps.


 I took it out from the depths of my torn cloak.



“…This means I’m no longer unarmed.” (Shuu)



 In my hand is something I happened to see and pick up when I rolled over earlier. It is a lumpy, distorted cylinder with knobby sides and a sharp pointed tip.



 Bosmet horn. Shuu’s charge [White Bullet] smashed it from the root.



 The grip is thick enough that my fingers can barely grasp it, longer than a knife and slightly shorter than a normal [Katana]. Something like a short sword. For my current situation it is reliable, it has a hardness that didn’t budge even when receiving a direct blow. After I bring it to Sugamo, I want to make it into a weapon or have it decorate the entrance of our house.



“Also, I finally understand–your ability.” (Shuu)



 Toroko, who readied her knife, stopped moving.



“… what did you understand?” (Toroko)


“You’re sliding on the ground, right?” (Shuu)



 I should have realized earlier that she was barefoot from the start.



 The sole of her foot seemed to have turned white for a moment when she flew above me. It is a Fungal skill like [Iron Fist] and [White Armor]. I don’t recall seeing anything like that in the books, but perhaps its performance is such that it reduces friction as much as possible.



 Instead of walking, she glides. She can maneuver at high speeds with only a shift of her body weight. Her elusive movements were made possible by that ability.



“And maybe that’s not all!” (Shuu)



 [White Bullets] fly in just as if there’s no time for chitchat. That old man can read the air.



 One more thing. There is very little sound in her movements. Even the sound of the knife cutting the wind is barely audible despite its sharpness. That was one of the discomforts I felt on the way.


 Perhaps it is the same kind of Fungal Skill that Old Man Uni has. As I recall, it is called [Muffling] in hunter’s terms. It is a skill that Noa a [Craftsman] can mainly learn.


“… so what!?” (Toroko)



 At the same time, she is approaching. The slash, which lacks precision, is knocked down with the horn, and conversely, struck the returning blade. She crosses her knives, receives the blow, and uses the recoil to move backward.



“What are you saying! You’re amazing!” (Shuu)


“……Eh?” (Toroko)



 Her movements come to a halt. Confusion appears on her expressionless face. She pushed forward the corner, while glancing at Kawataro from the edge of her vision.



“No, you’ve had a lot of training. You must have had a lot of training. Five years is not long enough.” (Shuu)



 Fungal Skill to slide on the ground. The principle behind this is unknown, but judging from its super speed, it must be as smooth as on ice or in an old gymnasium. To put it bluntly, it looks very difficult to handle. I am confident that I will fall down in two seconds like a beginner on ice skates.



 A skill of starting, accelerating, standing still, turning and maneuvering freely just by shifting one’s weight… A dazzling move that doesn’t show the opponent the first move (I guess it creates a synergistic effect by collaborating with companions). The way to easily erase the presence. The proficiency to carry your feet without tripping over uneven ground with rolling stones and cobblestones, not on even flooring or ice.



 In addition, she is fast, sharp, accurate, and precise in her knife handling and she has [Muffling]. The “Silent Assassin”-like battle style, which is a fusion of these skills and refined to the point of artistry, intrigues my childish heart. There may be other [Craftsman] Fungal Skill that she has yet to show, but it is all crystallized, and it has reached its peak.



 Something like this cannot be learned overnight. I don’t even think that just any middle school girl can embody it.


 I can see the same or even more blood-soaked effort and hard work like the hellish time I have spent in the past five years. Of course, I also have my own qualities.



“I don’t think a mere bandit or a scoundrel would improve himself to such an extent. I mean, how old do I have to be to do what you do?” (Shuu)


“… it has nothing to do with you.” (Toroko)


“Well. Rather, I’m involved because of you.” (Shuu)



 The girl’s lips curved from exasperation. I think it’s the first time I’ve seen an age-appropriate expression from her.



“You seem to be ready to say something just now, so, don’t you guys have a purpose or something like that?” (Shuu)


“…As I said before, I don’t like to talk. If you want to know, you’d better get caught while there’s still life left in you.” (Toroko)


“No. Then… I’m sorry.” (Shuu)



 Another sense of incongruity that I felt since the battle began.


 After coming this far, there’s no way I wouldn’t notice anything.



 Her blade is clearly aimed at something other than my vital point. Even though there is a height difference, her attacks are only aimed at the shoulders and arms from the chest up.


 She is not a fool, and she does not hesitate. Because she had decided to do so from the beginning. She is actually demonstrating what she said earlier, “I don’t want to kill you if I can help it.”



(That’s why I’m taking advantage of it.) (Shuu)



 I thrust the horns at her and crouched low.



“You say that you’re here without the intention of killing me, and I rather appreciate it that you don’t. But… I’ve been through a lot of carnage to get here, you can’t reach me with that, I’m part of the Outsuka Metro Team.” (Shuu)



T/N: Not bad Shuu. I thought you’re being a stupid idiot dumb*ass.



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