Metro Labyrinth Chapter 161: Second Wave

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~3rd Person Perspective~



“–their hiding place has been found,” Sudou said. “It’s a little hidden metro southeast of here.”



 The operation to rescue Giran was to take place at midnight on this day. The participants were Noa and the other members of the “Governor’s messengers”, Dignified Gungal Balls and Hakuou, and Sudou and the other elite members of the Nakano Village security team (including some carbuncles).



“Hidden metro?” Kure asked.


“The village is a little closer to Shinjuku, so no one has noticed it until recently. It seems to have been a stronghold for bandits in the past when they were frequent victims.” (Sudou)



 When Noa looked over to see a guard with his shoulders shaking in anger.



“Our guys searched the place and found traces of people coming in and out of that metro not too long ago. It’s a point we’ve been checking regularly, so it’s a good bet. How these people knew about such a remote place is questionable, though.” (Guard)


“You mean the old bandits? There seems to be a story behind that.” (Yoshitsune)


“…About eight years ago, there was a series of disappearances of carbuncles outside the village. The witness testimony revealed that they were systematically abducted by outsiders, and although the control and security measures were strengthened, the situation did not improve at all. …That led to the dispatch of Mistress Wanda and the rest of us from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to this place.” (Sudou)



 They were talking about the “abduction of Carbuncle by human outlaws” that the village chiefs were talking about.



“The abducted carbuncles were never returned, although no more victims were reported shortly after our arrival. …It was suspected that the abduction was for the purpose of slave trading, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government investigation did not confirm any such movement of money or people, and the perpetrators were never caught. The carbuncles were left angry and dissatisfied.” (Sudou)



 The carbuncles looked down in frustration, and the guards clenched their fists that trembled in silent anger.



“After the abductions were over, we found the metro. There were few metro beasts there, and there were traces of what appeared to be several people holed up in the area. We determined that this was the stronghold of the kidnappers, and we have been monitoring it ever since, in case they come back someday.” (Sudou)


“You don’t think this has something to do with the Border Crossing Brigade, do you?” (Yoshitsune)


“Well, we don’t know. However… the incident started a little after the Ikebukuro coup d’etat. If the commander was related to the coup d’etat, could it really be called a coincidence in terms of timing…?” (Sudou)



 Both Kure and Yoshitsune frowned in disgust. Seeing that, Noa also realized the possibility, albeit late. She couldn’t help but turn her head away from Tamiko, whose eyes met hers, who is looking confused.



 That self-proclaimed Tsuruhashi Minato can copy the abilities of his opponents by eating their sporangia. Just as he did with Yoshitsune’s [Indestructible Sword].



 –Noa remembered, he also said they have [Discovery].


 That’s certainly what he said when she first confronted that man.



 The missing Carbuncles who never returned… That man who came back to the criminal’s base…


 If the truth of the case is as speculated, it would be truly horrifying.



“–And what are you actually going to do?” asked Hakuou. “If the other party is sneaking into the metro, the best plan is to secure the exit.”


“It doesn’t suit my nature to be passive,” said Fungal Ball. “What would you do if he escaped again after a while? I won’t chase after that bastard’s ass anymore.”


“That said, we can’t just knock in the front and jump in, right? They have a geographical advantage over there, or rather, that burnt man is too dangerous. I can’t imagine what kind of trap he’ll set.” (Kure)


“Let’s split up,” Sudou said. “A diversion team from the front and a rescue unit from the back door.”


“Back door?” asked Yoshitsune.


“Their hideout is on the fifth basement floor, and we’ve dug a direct back entrance to that level in case something like this should happen. The entrance on the ground floor and the exit on the fifth floor are well concealed so that they cannot be easily discovered. The last time I checked was last month. If there haven’t been any changes in the metro since then, it should work this time.” (Sudou)


“You well prepared.” (Yoshitsune)


“It means that the people in this village haven’t forgotten the grudge from that time.” (Sudou)



 They nodded, their eyes filled with raging anger and determination. They had a reason to fight.



“We, the people of Nakano, have some questions we would like to ask the leader of that group. Now, let’s get ready.” (Sudou)





 The diversion team consisted of the “Dignified Fungal Balls”, Kure and Yoshitsune, and several elite members of Nakano and Sudou. Since combat was inevitable due to their roles, they were made up of strong fighters.



 The rescue team consisted of Maria Hakuou, Noa, Tamiko, and Aomoto, and Nakano’s group of guides, including Kumagai and the carbuncles. Cooperation with the diversion team is made possible by taking one of the hypha balls of Dignified Fungal Ball. Incidentally, the women refused to carry it, so it was forced to Kumagai. [T/N: Including Tamiko? Must be Noa’s influence, good job.]



 They all left the village before the date changed and headed for the metro under their breath.



“Tamiko, that hood is cool!” (Carbuncle)


“As expected of the daughter of the first captain of the ‘Acorn Battlefield’!” (Carbuncle)



 After being praised by the Carbuncles for her black hood, Tamiko exclaims, “Ninnin!”



“The carbuncle’s headbands are also cool,” said Noa.


“Right!? If you’re going to as night-fighters, this is our formal wear!” (Carbuncle)


“They won’t know they will be raided! They won’t know what hit them!” (Carbuncle)



 During night missions, Nakano’s carbuncles use headbands and helmets to block the reflective jewels on their heads. Tamiko’s black hood coincidentally matched this trend.



“Damn, I didn’t expect to be forced to protect small animals and little girls in such a remote place. It’s all because of that damned wolf.” (Maria)


“Um, don’t say that, Ms. Hakuou. You and your sister can take a relaxing soak in the hot springs when we’re done.” (Aomoto)


“…Oh, I suddenly feel really motivated.” (Maria)



 Hakuou suddenly has a nosebleed. Anyway, we arrived at our destination in no time.



 When we lifted the iron plate door buried in the soil, we found a vertical hole there. Looking for presences or tracks on the surroundings, it seemed that the bandits had not discovered it.



“…Oh, a vibration. Twice.” (Kumagai)



 In Kumagai’s hand was Fungal Ball’s hypha ball. The whole operation was led by a diversion team, and the two vibrations of the hypha ball signaled, “We’re entering the metro.”



“Okay–” said Aomoto. “Then we’ll go too. From here on out, it’s enemy territory. Are you all ready?”


“Squawk yeah!” (Tamiko)


“You flubbed it, Ms. Tamiko.” (Carbuncle)



 A few hundred meters away from the rescue team’s hidden entrance, in an inconspicuous crevice behind a rock, there is a hole through which a single person could pass. This seems to be the entrance to the hidden metro.



 The inside is narrow and dimly lit. It was more like a naturally formed cave than a labyrinth. As Sudou led the way, they reached the stairs in less than a minute. It was almost a straight path to the fifth floor, and it would take less than an hour if nothing happened to us.



“There are no guards outside or up here, huh? I did not expect that,” Kure said. “It’s not typical; you’d think they’d know we’d broken in.”



 When Kure suddenly turned around, Yoshitsune was coughing lightly while covering his mouth, “*Cough*, *Cough*.”



“Are you okay? Could it be that there is a ‘reason why you can’t enter the metro’?” (Kure)


“…You were talking to Mr. Abe, you heard him. Yes, I have this cough when I go into the Metro.” (Yoshitsune)


“Metro asthma, something like that.” (Kure)



 It’s a rare disease that is as difficult to treat as Mycelial Failure. Breathing the air in the metro causes inflammation of the bronchial tubes, resulting in breathing difficulties and other symptoms. Although the disease does not affect people’s lives as long as they stay away from the metro, it can be fatal if the attacks become severe. There is no fundamental cure for the disease.



“It’s a difficult disease. It’s a painful disease for hunters. Your level now makes sense.” (Kure)



 Kure wondered why Yoshitsune, a Fungal Genius born with strong skills, was still at level 57 at the age of twenty-one. And was this also the reason why he had been actively seeking sporangium on the way to Nakano?



“Well, it’s impossible for me to casually go hunting like everyone else.” (Yoshitsune)



 Kure though it was a shame. If it weren’t for that, he might have been on the rankings by now, with his own brother at the top of the list.



“Well, I guess such things are well balanced in the world. It can’t be helped. I have to do what I can.” (Yoshitsune)



 Perhaps it was because they had known it since their birth, but Yoshitsune was quite unconcerned about the situation.



“Isn’t it okay if you don’t push yourself too hard? If you can keep a lookout outside, we’ll be less worried about being attacked from the side.” (Kure)


“No, if it’s only for half a day, I’ll be fine with just a little coughing. I won’t hold you back, so please don’t leave me out of the group.” (Yoshitsune)



 Saying that, Yoshitsune gave a big smile. Rather than worrying about his body, it’s more like revenge on his enemy, or something.



 The first time they went down from the third floor to the fourth floor without incident, and shortly after they came out into a little open space,



“—wait.” (Balls)



 The group stopped dead in their tracks at the sharp voice of Fungal Ball.



“…something is here.” (Balls)



 At the same time, Kure and the others braced themselves.


 The faint presence was short-lived, then they grew in number and surrounded the group.



 A faint sound resembling cloth rubbing resounded here and there, and the faint light of the firefly moss reflected their bodies.



“Hey, you bastards” and Fungal Ball. “Didn’t you say there are no Metro Beasts?”


“Yes,” Sudou said. “This is the first time I’ve seen them here, or rather in all of Nakano.”



 The mud-colored, irregularly shaped fluid bodies stuck to the floor, walls, and stone pillars.



 —They are slimes.



(Did this also come from the self-proclaimed Tsuruhashi?) (Kure)



 It’s rare that a beast that wasn’t there before suddenly springs out due to changes in the metro. However, such a coincidence at this timing–?



 The room shook.


 The sound of a huge body being dragged echoes from the darkness in the back of the room.



“—Haha…” (Kure)



 Kure’s lips formed into a wide smile. He couldn’t help it.



(If Shuu was here.)  (Kure)


(What would he say?) (Kure)



 Slithering out of the darkness,


It was a huge mass of muddy water that had swollen up to the ceiling.



T/N: Seems like slimes are strong in the post-apocalyptic world unlike in most isekais.



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