Metro Labyrinth Chapter 13: Looking Up

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 The boss’s tentacles are coming at me from the side before I can regain my bearings. I caught it with my great shield, but I am flung off with the great shield.



“Damn!” (Shuu)



 Rolling on the ground, I  quickly get up, biting back the pain. A line of brown liquid shoots out from the tips of two more tentacles. The second large shield that caught it melted away, and I hurriedly removed it from my hand.



 The tentacles fall on my head. This time, I leaped forward at an angle with my [Enhanced Leaping Ability]. I closed the distance.



“Ha!” (Shuu)



 Firing three [Burning Ball] from the fingertips of my right hand. An [Electric Ball] from my left hand without pause.


 The surface of the hemispherical shape explodes. An electric current is sent through the hemispherical surface. The tentacles stop moving.



(–Did it work?) (Shuu)



 The surface is dented, and it smells like something burning. A sticky brown liquid is dripping from it, but with a shake, it quickly returns to normal.



 The tentacles attack again. The tentacles are very long and as thick as my torso, and they move about freely, and now there are four of them.


 Smashing and thrashing, the tentacles raged. The ground shatters and walls are gouged. The wind pressure alone is enough to make you feel as if you have been getting beat up.



 The tentacles reached the walls with little time to spare. In other words, the entire room is within range.


 The tentacles are pushing me away, and I can no longer get close to it. It is not enough to fight back, there’s still enough to dodge.



“Holy sh*t! F*ck!” (Shuu)



 The tentacles’ trajectory is unreadable until they are swung. Since they have no joints, they can bend at will.


 In addition, the slime has no facial expression. I cannot read its emotion. I cannot predict attacks from the direction they look or anticipate their first move.


 It is completely different from the Metro Beasts I have dealt with in the past. It is no longer a creature, but a machine.



 Pulling out my [Hypha Sword]. I dodged a swing from directly above and slashes at the tentacles.


 The sword that slashes at the tentacle breaks through the surface membrane, but as soon as it gets stuck in the slime inside, the blade crumbles and dissolves. What is stuck in the tentacles is the powerful acid itself that was released earlier.






 Another tentacle strikes my back as I paused for a moment. I was pushed forward and slammed headfirst into the ground. My consciousness faded away.



(This is—F*ck!) (Shuu)


(Move, or else I’ll die–) (Shuu)



 A tentacle is coming right at my head from above. I cross my arms to catch it. My kneeling leg was crushed against the ground.



 Just in time, I have a circular shield on both arms, but it still doesn’t kill the impact completely. My body goes numb as if an electric current runs through my spine, and my next move is delayed by one step. Then, six more tentacles descend on him all at once.



“Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)



 Pieces of stone fall down in flurries, and what is billowing in the air is not dust but gray smoke. Those are multiple [Smoke Screen Ball].


 The smoke was pierced through and slashed at. Stabilizing my broken left arm and crushed left eye. I create a [Hypha Sword] in my right hand and throw it at the slime’s body.



 The sword, which draws a straight line in the air, pierces with a thwack. However, it only breaks through the membrane and spills some of the liquid inside. Probably the same as the tentacles, the liquid inside is a strong acid. It starts to quickly dissolve and decay the sword.



“Ahhhhhhh!” (Shuu)



 By using my [Enhanced Leaping Ability], the distance is shortened in an instant, and I summoned my [Hypha Hammer].


 Driving the butt of the stabbed mycelial sword. The sword is pushed all the way to the base.



(Did it reach inside?) (Shuu)


(Did it heat its weak point?) (Shuu)



 Information was passed down from Tamiko’s mother.


 The slime’s weak point—its internal organs deep in its mucus.


 If you destroy that, it will die.


 The question is whether or not an attack can reach there.



(How’s that–?) (Shuu)



 The Slime is momentarily jerked up. Stiffening for less than a second.


 Then—it expands explosively, and countless tentacles are unleashed. Unleashing its anger.



“Woah!” (Shuu)



 I jumped back, but my left leg is swallowed by a tentacle in mid-air. “Shhhhhh!” With a scorching sound, my left leg is torn off from the knee down. Unable to land properly, I fell to the ground and rolled.



“Guu!” (Shuu)



(No, I’m done.) (Shuu)



 I got up on one knee and kicked the ground with one leg with [Enhanced Leaping Ability]. I head for the stairs to the 50th floor.



“Tamiko, we’ll retreat!” (Shuu)



 Striking and devouring by stretching the surface of its body like a tentacle. A corrosive attack by pumping out the liquid inside.


 I was able to experience the attack patterns of the boss I had heard about. I experienced firsthand their speed and strength.


 We were able to confirm its defenses and physical characteristics. We even found a tiny breakthrough.



 Already, the harvest is good enough.


 There was no chance of winning now, even if I continued.



 We knew we wouldn’t be able to beat them. All we have to do now is go back, formulate a strategy, and build up the strength to put it into practice. Or at the very least, I could ask Tamiko to find a switch for the entrance/exit while I am holding it back.



(That’s enough for today!)



 Jumping on one leg I ran towards the stairs while dodging the tentacles. Tamiko is waiting there.



“Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)



 I hear Tamiko’s voice and turn around.



“—Huh?” (Shuu)



 A large amount of water covers the scene. It is a column of brownish water.


 I realize in an instant that it is the slime’s bodily fluids. I also know what it does.



(From above.) (Shuu)


(It’s like water cannon.) (Shuu)


(Can I run away to the back of the stairs?) (Shuu)


(No, I can’t make it in time.) (Shuu)


(Tamiko is behind me.) (Shuu)


(No, I can’t dodge.) (Shuu)



 With Tamiko at my back, I bring out the mycelial shield.


 Before the threads can fully take shape, the column of water swallows me up.


 The shield melts and covers my body. As my throat burns, my screams are cut off.





 My consciousness returns.


 The arm is being pulled, and I am dragged on the ground. I felt my body landing on a step. It seems that I am dragging down the stairs in a prone position.



“Abeshuu! Are you okay, squeak!?” (Tamiko)



 Tamiko is in front of me. Crying, ash she slaps my nose.



“…Tamiko…” (Shuu)


“The boss isn’t here anymore, squeak! We’re going to make it, squeak!” (Tamiko)



 It seems that she bit my hand and dragged him down. My joke had become reality. Thank goodness I was unconscious.



“So you’re safe? I’m glad…” (Tamiko)


“Thanks to Abeshuu! I’ll be with you until you’re warm again, squeak, so Abeshuu rest once we’re downstairs!”


“I’m resting… Ta-Ta-Tamiko-ko…” (Shuu)



 The words become staccato as they hit the steps. It hurts so bad that I decide to go down with my own two feet.



“…Eh?” (Shuu)



 I almost stand up and notice that my left leg, which has lost everything from the knee down, has only regenerated to the ankle. My arms and body are still burnt to a dark brown. I wondered if it had been too long since I lost consciousness.



“I’m not going to say it again, squeak! Just because you’re squeak to get better doesn’t mean you’re going to push yourself hard again, squeak!” (Tamiko)


“Right…” (Shuu)


“You’ve melted so much that it hasn’t completely healed yet, squeak. It’s like a layer of crusty salt, squeak. It is worse than with the Wraith, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“I hope this makes my face a little bit easier to remember…” (Shuu)



 I remember that my senior at the company couldn’t remember me even after a month.


 In addition, I notice that I am naked. All my clothes seem to have melted.



(Damn it… at the very end, it did me bad…) (Shuu)



 I’m going to wallow in my grudge, you Slime.


 Despite this mess, I gained a lot from it. We will use this experience and reflection the next time, and for that, we will return to the safe house.



 Step by step, we descend, hands on the wall. The hunger is more painful than the intense pain that rumbles incessantly through my body. My legs and feet feel weak, my eyes feel dizzy.


 As Tamiko had said, we soon reach the fiftieth floor. I stumbled and fell flat on my back.



“Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)



 That’s strange, I thought.


 Tamiko seems to have made a lot of progress while I was unconscious. If that’s the case, I should have regenerated more during that time.


 Breathing heavily, I looked at my burned-out palms.



“…The regeneration… has stopped…?” (Shuu)



 Guh, I moaned, not from pain, but from hunger.



(No, this is really bad.) (Shuu)


(Maybe I’m just too worn out from all the regeneration.) (Shuu)


(That means—it won’t heal as it is.) (Shuu)



 There must have been sporangium from the beasts we hunted on the way here.


 —no. I left it on the stairs with the bag. Probably it was dissolved in the acid from the Slime.



“Abeshuu! Hold on, squeak!” (Tamiko)


“…Anything… I have to eat…” (Shuu)



 At this rate—what will happen, if I don’t?



(I can’t heal.) (Shuu)


(I can’t move.) (Shuu)


(What will happen? Will I die?) (Shuu)



 My brain is flooded with fear, and my body rapidly grows cold.



“Uhh… ooh…!” (Shuu)


“Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)



 I don’t care what it is. I want to eat something.


 I’m too hungry. If I don’t, I’m in trouble. I might die.


 I’ll lose my mind before that. I’m going crazy. I’m scared. I’m scared, scared, scared…






 I notice that I’m reaching for Tamiko by my side.



“…No, it’s different … No, it’s not right–” (Shuu)


“It’s okay, squeak.” (Tamiko)



 Tamiko smiles in front of my absent-mindedness.



“……eh?” (Shuu)


“Eat me. If it can help Abeshuu, then eat me, squeak. This time, I will help Abeshuu, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“…What are you talking about…?” (Shuu)


“If I don’t have Abeshu, I’ll squeak here anyway. But if it’s Abeshuu… You’ll be able to squeak the boss by myself someday, squeak. So… Abeshuu…” (Tamiko)


“…Tamiko…” (Shuu)



 My quivering hand stretches out to Tamiko.



“… Are you joking, idiot squirrel!” (Shuu)



 —Grabbing the stone beside her.



“If I eat a pipsqueak like you, my belly won’t be full! It’s better to eat rocks!” (Shuu)



 I open my mouth and bite a rock. I chew it, swallow it, and swallow my vomit with a big gulp. It’s worse than a sporangium.



“Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)


“*Cough* *cough*… hah… Tamiko, anything is fine…” (Shuu)


“What?” (Tamiko)


“Mushrooms or grass… bring me something, anything… please…!” (Shuu)



 Tamiko wipes her tears and nods with conviction.



“I’ll be back soon! Wait here, Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)



 As I watched the bushy tail leave in the darkness, my consciousness slowly sinks into a pitch-black fog.





“…Shuu! Abe.. Shuu!” (Tamiko)



 Tamiko’s squeaky voice. She is once again tapping on my nose.



“I brought you… mushrooms and goblin, squeak…!” (Tamiko)



 Opening my eyes, I gasped.


 The body of Tamiko wavered in front of me. Before she falls over, my hand catches her.


 Her belly is stained red. Behind her are several mushrooms and the corpse of a dead Red Goblin.



“Tamiko!” (Shuu)


“… Abeshu, I can squeak it if I want to… I’ll turn red goblins into squeaking rust on my…” (Tamiko)



 Tamiko smiles weakly and gently closes her eyes.


 I tried to create a [Healing Ball], but no matter how much I concentrate, it doesn’t come out. I have no physical strength left to use my Fungal Skills.






 I crawled into the dirt, grabbed the mushrooms, and threw them into my mouth. Without time to taste it, I swallowed and immediately pulls the Goblin’s body. With what little strength I have left, I ripped open the belly with my bare hands, fishing around inside, I dragged out the sporangium.



 I swallow it without chewing. The sporangium, which I had thought so bad, fills me up better than any meal I have ever eaten. The numbness in my hands eases, and I feel my strength gradually return.



“Tamiko…!” (Shuu)



 I try to squeeze out all my remaining strength and produce a [Healing Ball]. I squeezed it and pours the juice over Tamiko’s body. The cloudy liquid washes away the blood and seals her wound.


 Tamiko slowly opens her eyes.



“…Abeshuu, are you okay, squeak…?” (Tamiko)


“You’re the one who’s… taking it too hard! You’re a weakling!” (Shuu)



 Gently picking up her body I cradled her.



“…Thank you. Thanks to you, my partner.” (Shuu)



 Her tiny heartbeat in my hand, her breathing, conveying warmth to me. It slowly spreads throughout my body.


 I grit my teeth and look up. I look up at the staircase where I tumbled down.



“—When we leave here, we’ll definitely go together.” (Shuu)


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