Metro Labyrinth Chapter 105: The Search of the Traveling Shark 1

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 A man who calls himself Sato, who seems to be a shark Metro Beast.


 Come to think of it, there is also a shark Metro Beast in New Tokyo.



 Sharks are saltwater fish, but I read somewhere that there are some species that adapt to freshwater and swim back through rivers. Well, in a land where golems and giant antlion are common, a shark swimming in freshwater would have a very small impact.



 Although I have yet to encounter one, I am familiar with names such as the Spike Jaw, which is covered with hard spike-like scales, and the Evil Shark, which has tentacles that resemble squid legs, and which is sometimes sold as food at the market in Sugamo.



“I’m sure shark fin’ chikuwa is delicious, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“I thought the same thing, but you don’t have to say it at this moment.” (Shuu)



 Thinking back, this may be the first time I have met someone with the name “Satou” since I woke up in this world. A hundred years ago, there would almost certainly have been one or two in my class or workplace.



(What was it, again?) (Shuu)


(Didn’t I hear “Satou” somewhere?) (Shuu)



 I think I heard that name somewhere. Noa, or whoever it was, or a glimmer of a story. Was it some great Tribe figure or something?



“Hey, Utsuke. You’re just lying over there, so come get that quickly.” (Satou)


“Ha, yes, master. Please don’t call me Utsuke…” (Sou)



 Following Satou’s orders, Utsuki trudged along to the other side of the bonfire.


 In the meantime, I put on my pants and jersey that are laid out by the fire. They are just a little damp, but I don’t care. If anything, I have experienced worse dampness many times. I am not raising any flag.



 My bag on the floor is also soaked inside. It was a little discouraging, but I didn’t have any valuables with me, and I could use the banknotes if I dried them out.


 I wonder why my backpack, which was left behind in the plaza here. Did it wash up here with me?



“I brought it with me,” said Satou. “The water had swallowed most of the stuff on that floor, but I picked up your stuff. I picked it up while I was bringing you in.”


“Eh, ah… Thank you…” (Shuu)



 He said lightly, but why did this person help me? Did he bring me here when I was about to drown at that time? My lifesaver? A shark?



“What, I am not to be thanked. Rather, it seems that we got you involved.” (Satou)


“What?” (Shuu)


“Waaa, heavy! Ugh, I’m not good at manual labor…” (Sou)



 Utsuki returns along with a dragging sound. She is holding on to the headless corpse of a giant arm… Boss Met.




“Why……?” (Shuu)


“I brought it along with me because I know it’s a fine trophy of yours. Isn’t there also the horn you swing there?” (Satou)


“Oh, right.” (Shuu)



 The horn that I used as a weapon was lying beside the bonfire. I was thinking of taking it as a souvenir, so I am even more grateful.



“The first thing to do is to eat the sporangia of the horned beast. A hunter takes life in order to live and eat, right? That’s what I learned from my good friend, a hunter.” (Satou)


“Oh, right.” (Shuu)



 That’s what you were saying earlier about “don’t hunters have things to do first”?


 Just as the Shark Gentleman said, I grew up being told by my teacher that leaving a sporangium makes me guilty. Regardless of the circumstances, if it is a prey that I have killed myself, I cannot let that blessing go to waste.


 I held my hands together in front of the headless corpse and used my [Katana] to cut the belly. From there, I switched to the knife I had brought with me and proceeded to cut away the flesh.



“So, do you know about ‘Family’?” (Satou)


“Eh?” (Shuu)


“It is the art of transforming a target – a Metro Beast or a person – into a living, subservient being. It is different from the [Training] used by you, hunters, and it is an evil method that twists even the very nature of the species.” (Satou)



 I don’t know what he is trying to say, but I listen to him as I continue my work. The body of Boss Met, the meat is tough and difficult to handle. The fact that the body of the Boss Met is hard and hard to handle is another reason why Noa’s absence is so painful. She would have been able to easily separate the flesh from the skin with her [Dagger].



“There have been very few people who have used it in the history of New Tokyo. It may not be familiar to an uninitiated young man like yourself. But-you-are-old-enough-to-know-better.” (Satou)


“Excuse me… Eh, umm?” (Shuu)


“When I was a kid,” said Utsuki. “In Oku Metro, northeast of Komagome, there was an ogre with a black cloak and a silk hat called the [Oku Vampire]. The beasts whose blood was sucked out of their bodies were at the command of the vampire, and even their own kind began to look at them as enemies. That’s what a [Family] is.” (Satou)


“Heh.” (Shuu)


“Squeak.” (Tamiko)



 It’s about controlling you mentally while you’re still alive. It seems to be different from Ouji Metro’s Bishop’s ability to create zombies by parasitizing their sporangium.



“In those days, they were so violent that they came out on the ground and destroyed entire settlements of Free Folk. When I was a child, if I was caught misbehaving, my mother would say to me, ‘Be a good boy or the vampires will come and kidnap you.’” (Sou)


“How long ago was your childhood, Ms. Utsuki?” (Shuu)


“Has Utsukisou been a loli-hag since she was born, squeak?” (Tamiko)


“Master, please freeze them. Are you going to remain silent while they insult your disciple?” (Sou)


“I pity you, but you are responsible for their hatred. Or maybe you could have done a little more.” (Satou)



 Utsuki bites into the grilled fish to vent her frustration. The smell of grilled fish caresses my nose. I promised myself that I would get to work on the sporangium as soon as I received it, and I stomped on the tail of the squirrel as it wobbled toward the food and held on to her. I would not allow you to run away.



“Let’s get back to the story. The most important aspect of the ‘Family’ process is the transformation of the sporangium of the target. The sporangium is connected to the brain through nerves, so it can literally change its will with its brain. Also, normally, preying on the sporangium of its own kind would not cause growth, but once they are transformed, they are completely different, which means they can grow and mature even if they cannibalize on their kind.” (Satou)


“Oh……” (Shuu)



 I think I’ve connected the dots.


 The theory of cannibalism in the Boss Met colony that Utsuki told us about – the hypothesis that this guy has been gaining power by eating his own kind. If the sporangium had been altered by “becoming a ‘family’,” the story would make sense.


 However, this raises one big question.



“Does it mean that this guy was a ‘family’ of a higher ranked something?” (Shuu)



 I stop the hand holding the knife.


 If I crack open one more membrane covering the tissue, I will find a sporangium. It’s always the same.



 But – I am slightly hesitant to look at it. It is as if I am about to take the last step, the one step from which there is no turning back.



“The altered sporangium can also change color. I’ve only seen it a couple of times, so I don’t know if it’s the same for all of them.” (Satou)



 Determined, I stabbed the tip of the blade. With just a little force, it breaks with little resistance.



“…is this…” (Shuu)



 What appeared there was not the usual white sporangia. Just as Satou said, it’s discolored.


 But—I had seen something similar to this.


 About a month ago, on the 31st floor of the Ouji Metro north of here.



“…a black sporangium…” (Shuu)



 Knight, Bishop, Rook. Three powerful golems named after chess pieces.


 Like the ones in their bodies, Boss Met’s sporangia are black, as if ink had been painted to it.



“Black sporangium,” said Satou. “–It’s proof that it is a demon’s ‘Family’.”





 We encountered an unexpected presence of a demon.


 Why are there demons here? Why Baphomets?


 What is the relationship with our assailants? What is the relationship with Satou? Who is Satou anyway?


 The questions just keep piling up, but above all, the one I want to ask the most right now is….



“… is this something you can eat…?” (Shuu)



 The sporangia of a demon’s “Family”. I ate them in a spirit of “what a waste” without really understanding what they were. I’ve gotten a new ability and leveled up, but I’m not sure if it’s something humans can put into their mouths in terms of its origin (it’s too late, but also in terms of color). It would be fine if I could get away with just a stomachache, but I couldn’t laugh if I became one of those “Family” or contracted Demonic Disease.



“No problem,” Satou said. “The quality of the sporangium might have changed, but a sporangium is a sporangium. As long as they are not rotten or poisoned, they will be of use to us. They don’t turn people into demons or ‘Family’ when they are eaten.”  


“Ah, I see…” (Shuu)



 There is no guarantee that I can believe his words, but based on my own experience, I should not have any problems. I’m not sure if I believe him or not, but I’ll take his word for it.



“Oh, I’m waiting for my fish, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“We’ll be together forever, buddy.” (Shuu)



 The size of the sporangium is not so large in comparison with its huge body. The stomach of the chubby squirrel, the pride of Sugamo, has plenty of room to spare. So, the two of us took one each. It’s nice to share.



“…it’s the same…” (Shuu)



 The change in color does not change the identity of the sporangium. My tongue is not pleased at all, but my body is. The body, which had been exhausted and hungry, is filled, and strength is restored.



“Guu-uh?” (Shuu)



 And my muscles and bones are getting warm. It’s different from leveling up or acquiring Fungal Skill… As I recall, I had the same sensation when I was a bishop. It’s a phenomenon that looks like a status increase. The last time I saw this, I didn’t really feel the change because the boss fight followed immediately afterwards, and then the level up.



 Still, since I am now at a high level by human standards, I should say that I appreciate the improvement in my foundation more than the increase in my level. It could be an advantage over people at the same level.



“Whoa! How much better can I get, squeak…!?” (Tamiko )



 Tamiko leans back with her cheeks puffy. She seems to have leveled up, now she’s 43.



“Silky Cheeks, it looks like you’ve grown a bit. It seems that your hard work has paid off, and I, for one, am somewhat relieved.” (Satou)


“…Did Mr. Satou orchestrate this thing?” (Shuu)



 I asked while drinking the water from the water bottle. Judging from what he has said and done so far, there is no doubt that he has been involved not only in the final scene, but even before that.


 Satou gets off the rock that serves as a chair and approaches. When he stands up, he is still huge. He sits cross-legged in front of the group. Up close, it was as if he had jumped into a screen.



“Well, you have the right to know. Let’s talk about it in order.” (Satou)





 The conversation was going to take a long time, so we decided to have some grilled fish first.



 I don’t even know what kind of fish it is, but I’m sure it’s good. I’m sure of it.


 There was a hint of fat under the crispy skin, the white meat was soft and tender, and the intestines were slightly bitter. Above all, the saltiness is exquisite. I want to drink beer.



 After a long time, Tamiko, who had not stopped crying, “Yummy, squeak!” Tamiko is lying on her back with her stomach flat on my knees. She is in a state of “Squirrel-coma”.



 Satou, sitting across from us, swallows one fish in one gulp, then instantly devours three in total, looking satisfied. That’s what you’d expect from a shark.



“Tamiko.” (Shuu)


“Squeak?” (Tamiko)


“*Whisper* (What is that person’s level?)” (Shuu)


“*Whisper* (Uhm… I can’t see, squeak.)” (Tamiko)


“*Whisper* (you can’t see?)” (Shuu)


“Silky Cheeks, Furball girl. You can’t see my level?” (Satou)



 It seems he could hear me whispering. The shark’s hearing is not to be underestimated, even though it has no ears.



“You seem to have [Discovery]. I would say you have a promising future, but it seems you have yet to reach my level. If you want to reach the top Furball Girl, you’ll have to work harder and harder.” (Satou)



 Is [Discovery] the official name of [Risk Counter]? Even though the [Risk Counter] sounds cooler.



“Oh yeah, there was something you couldn’t see before, right?” (Shuu)


“Squeak. I can’t even see it during the ‘Sparkle’ [Demonic Disease], or the time with Ouji’s Deamon becomes ‘that hurts’, squeak?” (Tamiko)


“How dare you! Do you think of me as a Demon!” (Satou)


“Gyaah!” (Shuu)


“Pigyah!” (Tamiko)



 He suddenly gets angry. His angry voice echoed through the floor, and any Metro Beast would have run away, tail between their legs. The eyes and teeth were also scary. If it were a bad situation, I would have been scared to death.



“…No, I’m sorry for suddenly yelling. I don’t like being lumped in with those damned slugs.” (Satou)




 Satou easily returned to his original good-natured demeanor and apologized while rubbing his head.



“No… I’m sorry.” (Shuu)


“I’m sorry too, squeak.” (Tamiko)



 Tamiko hastily moved from my left knee to my right knee. Leaving a little warm damp spot on my left knee.



“Is that so… It seems that you are also closely related to the demons. Did they spore somewhere?” (Satou)


“Well… something like that.” (Shuuu)



 It’s a long story, and in the first place, a gag order is given. Regardless of whether it is necessary for the two people, who feel separated from this world, to protect it.


 Satou seems to have some kind of connection with demons. It doesn’t seem like a very good one from the way he speaks.



 “Well then,” said Satou on his knees. It looks like we’re finally getting down to business.



He then continues.



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