Metro Labyrinth Chapter 44: One and one, Sugamo hunter
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“By the way, may I ask you for your father’s name?” (Kaike)
“Oh… Abe Kou.” (Shuu)
I immediately thought of my birth father, my real father’s name.
“Um… he was like a recluse even among Free Folks, so I don’t think anyone knows him.” (Shuu)
“But he was a great hunter, wasn’t he?” (Kaike)
“That’s right… he was a great father.” (Shuu)
The real one is an ordinary employee in the accounting department of a canning factory. He was a man who was respectable, but not a millimeter above his wife’s salary. When I heard that he had an allowance of 3,000 yen a month, I almost cried.
“Have you been to the village where you used to live?” (Kaike)
“No, I haven’t returned……. I don’t think there are any houses or if the village is still standing…”
Detailed answers come flying. Sticky-cold sweat was running down my skin.
“Ms. Tamiko. Do you know the names of either your mother and her partner?” (Kaike)
“Mother is Kinko, squeak. Her partner is… Usui Katsuo, I squeak?” (Tamiko)
“Which Tribe did they belong to?” (Kaike)
“I never learned.” (Tamiko)
They were real hunters who were active on the surface, and there was no lie about how they got there or about Tamiko’s birth story. The guild headquarters would not be able to find any cracks even if they were investigated.
“I see,” Kaike mumbled in her mouth and wrote everything down with a flick of her pen. A minute or so passed without anyone uttering a word.
“That’s right… It’s not uncommon for Free Folk to come, but I’d like to say clearly that it is unheard of where a level 68 and your story to appear. It’s hard to make a decision on my own, so I am not sure if you passed or failed.” (Kaike)
Unexpected. A chill ran down my spine.
“Based on what you have told us, I would like to consult with our supervisor and make another decision on whether or not to continue with the registration as guild members and issuance of family registers, is that okay?” (Kaike)
According to Obuchi, the guild is more concerned with trust when it comes to allowing Free Folk to register as hunters. This is because there is also the aspect of issuing a family register on behalf of the city hall.
However, there is also the dilemma of securing the best personnel possible. This is because it leads to results as a branch and returns in the form of tax revenue to the city. As long as they can determine that the candidate is not a danger to the city, a level 68 is too great a weapon to not be used.
Obuchi also feared that it could be a double-edged sword in the case of a moderate interviewee, but that is about to happen. It’s a bit of a problem. If the interviewer had to re-do it and ask for another Test Sheet “just to be sure”, everything that had been built up to this point would collapse. What was the point of even taking up sumo wrestling in this new world?
“…Ms. Kaike. why don’t we go outside and talk? I’m sorry, but you two are going to have to wait a little while.” (Aomoto)
Aomoto got up and left the room with Kaike. She probably intends to discuss whether or not she wants to continue this interview. I hope the good feeling I got from Aomoto will lead me in the right direction.
“Are they ‘companions’, squeak?” (Tamiko)
“Maybe it’s different.” (Shuu)
~3rd Person Perspective~
“If I can’t make a clear decision here, another branch might take them. He’s a real talent, and I’m sure he’ll become someone big.” (Aomoto)
“That may be so…” (Kaike)
“I’m sure you know that even if he has the skill [Self-Regeneration], an insignia can’t be erased by gouging out the entire flesh, right? He is definitely a genuine Free Folk. He has no criminal record. Then, as usual, we can interview him to see if he is a trustworthy ‘good person’ and decide whether or not he should be accepted.” (Aomoto)
“If he says he’ll bring himself to another branch, we’ll allow a valuable talent to escape, especially given the current situation in the city—the loss would be painful.” (Aomoto)
Kaike is scratching her head.
“The Sugamo branch has a short history and is a step or two behind the other branches in both name and reality. It’s so young that a young woman like me is the member’s representative.” (Aomoto)
“No, that’s…” (Kaike)
“Well, there’s a chance he’s a big scammer or someone diabolical. Though I’m not sure how he could be a bad guy, as far as I’ve seen him act and talk so far, I just can’t see him as someone evil… Well, anyway you-know-that-too- right?” (Aomoto)
Kaike looks a little anxious.
“If that’s the case, we can go through the usual interview process and we can decide if he is worthy of bearing a part of the Sugamo branch’s name.” (Aomoto)
“…I understand. I will make a decision with my own eyes.” (Kaike)
They returned and sat down again across from us.
I was feeling restless. Tamiko though seems to be mysteriously calm.
“…I’m sorry for keeping you waiting… Let’s continue the interview. After that, we will make a decision on whether or not you can register.” (Kaike)
“Thank you.” (Shuu)
I was inwardly relieved. I glanced at Tamiko and she nodded. It seems that she understands the situation in her own way.
Now, the interview could continue without the “discovery of an [Master Threadweaver] ” and the “detection of fake backgrounds” that Noa and the others had been most worried about.
It was very unfortunate that I had to tell these two serious and good-looking women a lie about my background, but I hope they will forgive me as it was a lie so I would not cause them trouble. I will surely contribute to this branch when I become a hunter of Sugamo (I am very determined).
(Now all that’s left is the question-and-answer part… I hate this…) (Shuu)
Not surprisingly, hunters place a lot of emphasis on trust. They want to be able to see through this interview to get a sense of who the others are and prevent them from adding “bad apples” to their group.
Of course, it may not be perfect (some branches have even accepted [Udeochi] like the one I defeated the other day). But that doesn’t mean they will let me off the hook. Especially for those who are not very good at interviewing, it is inevitable that this will be the last hurdle.
—However, surprisingly. I was wrong.
After that, the interviewer asked the usual interview questions, or rather, the familiar ones.
“What motivated you to become a hunter?” (Kaike)
“What kind of work do you think you are suited for?” (Kaike)
“Are you reluctant to hunt Metro Beasts?” (Kaike)
“Are you willing to take the life of a criminal, such as bandits?” (Kaike)
“What creature made the most impression on you so far?” (Kaike)
“Conversely, what did you find most painful?” (Kaike)
“What is something you that find worth doing in life?” (Kaike)
—I wondered what they were trying to analyze with these questions.
But I took my time to answer each question with a safe answer, but as much as possible without lying.
I was worried that Tamiko might give them a bad answer, but she was surprisingly different from her usual “blabber mouth with zero filter act” choosing her words carefully and honestly saying “I don’t know” when she didn’t understand the meaning of a question. Her special training with Yui seems to have paid off
Kaike’s pen is running over each answer. Aomoto crosses her arms and looks alternately at me and Tamiko.
“Then the last question. What kind of hunter do you both want to be in the future?” (Kaike)
I think for a few seconds and then speak honestly.
“I haven’t thought about it actually, since I’ve made it to the surface alive… Though, I’d like to be free to explore wherever I want.” (Shuu)
I swallow the words “including outside the walls that cover this country”. I don’t intend to go out of my way to violate a taboo.”
“I want to be Abeshuu’s partner squeak, just like my mom and hers, squeak.” (Tamiko)
I looked at Tamiko and she glanced up and smiled.
“…Yes, thank you. That’s all the questions I have.” (Kaike)
Kaike makes eye contact with Aomoto. They both give a small nod.
“…A mixture of clear white and various pale shades… Both of you have a beautiful, marbled canvas.” (Kaike)
“No, nothing” (Kaike)
Kaike chuckles as if to shrug it off. I flip through the paper on the board and nod a few times. [T/N: Kaike seems to have some form of skill [Risk Counter].]
“Yes, it looks fine. …I will allow both of you to register as hunters in the Sugamo branch.” (Kaike)
“Seriously!? We did it!” (Shuu)
“We’ll did it! Pigyaa!” (Tamiko)
The weight on my shoulders was suddenly lifted, and I and Tamiko took each other’s hands and danced.
“The actual activities will only become possible after the training, but …… as a member of the same Sugamo branch, let’s work hard together from now on. I look forward to working with you.” (Aomoto)
“Thank you!” (Shuu)
“Thanks, squeak!” (Tamiko)
“Tomorrow, we will go through the training and insignia procedures here. Can you come back at the same time?” (Kaike)
“Yes, that’s perfect!” (Shuu)
“Okay, squeak!” (Tamiko)
The two of us are so excited that we are almost shouting. Kaike just smiles back.
“Then, please come back tomorrow. We’re done for today.” (Kaike)
Aomoto interrupts with a sharp tone.
“I forgot one thing. Something important.” (Aomoto)
The two of us are suddenly fidgeting with her sudden words. I’d like you to excuse me for any more problems, even though I managed to finish things miraculously. Even if I just did it, I can’t take the same amount of heat as before.
“…I have already confirmed the insignia on Abe-shi’s… But Tamiko-shi’s was not yet confirmed. I don’t doubt it, but… as an interviewer, I still have to confirm it.” (Aomoto)
Aomoto stood up. Slowly and steadily approached.
“Ah, insignia? None, squeak.” (Tamiko)
“I know. But a fluff like you—someone different, a furry creature has limited space for insignia and it is often replaced by issuing some kind of ornament. Well… I have to check it as an interviewer. I hope you understand.” (Aomoto)
“What are you squeaking?” (Tamiko)
Aomoto clutched Tamiko stopping Tamiko from saying anything else.
“Ah! surely, a Fluff—No, it’s not here! Then maybe here, eh!?” (Aomoto)
Aomoto’s fingers roam around Tamiko’s body, ruffling her fur.
“Hey, squeak it! There’s nothing squeak! Don’t touch there, squeak!” (Tamiko)
Tamiko’s squeaky voice echoes through the room. I looked at Kaike to see if this was a legitimate inspection, but she read her own notes and pretended not to notice.
“Oh, how magical this feels… a perfect fit in anyone’s hand… then there’s this tail that makes you want to fluff it forever…! I’m sorry, my fingers, I can’t stop…!” (Aomoto)
“Pigyaaaa! Not my tummy, squeak! Squeak me Abeshuu!” (Tamiko)
Aomoto, with her eyes bloodshot and delivering pecks on a squirrel, had neither the dignity of a Yokozuna nor the pride of a representative. I had already noticed that she was, in essence, a member of the same people as Obuchi. The constant stares he was giving Tamiko were of that sort.
“Ms. Kaike, is she a bit of a simpleton?” (Shuu)
“But she is a well-loved person.” (Kaike)
Kaike does not deny that she is a simpleton.
Though she is a popular simpleton. People call those mascots.
“Woah, you’re so cute! No, I’m sorry! I will apologize by giving you a lot of acorns later, no, this is a legitimate inspection! Where’s the insignia!? Here, In this fluffy belly!? Is there an insignia on the tip of the tail?” (Aomoto)
“Pigyaaaa! Stop it, so good, squeak! Really squeaking good… Ah… Abeshuu… Don’t look, squeak…!” (Tamiko)
“Is this NTR (cuckolding)?” (Shuu)
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