Metro Labyrinth Chapter 66: Metro of the Dead
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Clearly, this is no ordinary beast.
It is something else that wears the skin of a beast, or rather, manipulates its flesh.
They come at us in droves. They run at full speed through the trees.
“I’m just checking, Noa.” (Shuu)
“If you get bitten, will you be infected and become a zombie?” (Shuu)
“Infected? More of poisonous, some might be.” (Noa)
“So, zombies themselves are not contagious. Okay.” (Shuu)
That’s all I need to know for now. In short, just think of it as a Metro Beast in all its creepy glory.
The zombies responded with D Formation, one of the formations that had been roughly planned out last night. The three of us, me and the others, would be back-to-back, one on each side.
“What the!” (Shuu)
The flesh of the gremlin zombies, emitting a stench of decay, is soft. Neither the slash that severed the arm nor the thrust that pierced through the chest received much resistance against the zombie’s bodies.
But the zombies are neither frightened nor do they show any signs of feeling pain. They attack, while the corpse dangle.
“They are so gross! Target the head!” (Shuu)
This is the typical zombie weakness. If not the heart, why not the head?
Cut off the head, or shoot the head with [White Bullet]. After that, the enemies will stop moving. The headless, head-exploded corpses continue onward without regard to their situation. If this were a movie theater, I would shout “Pigyaa!”
“It’s the sporangium! We have to destroy the lower abdomen!” (Noa)
Hearing Noa’s voice, I grasped my [War Hammer] in my left hand.
“Please, just f*cking die already!” (Shuu)
With my [War Hammer] wrapped in [Light Blade], I bludgeoned their waist. The lower abdomen bursts open and splits into upper and lower sections. This time, they are completely silenced.
“Mr. Shuu! One for me too!” (Noa)
A [Katana] lands on Noa’s feet, who was standing with Kure behind her.
The three zombies that were moving in a group were stopped by Kure. He quickly takes off his jersey, and his naked body is clad in [White Armor]
From beside him, Noa says, “Yah!” and cuts the body in two with the [Katana]. The upper half of its body falls down powerlessly, and the lower half is still trying to get up. Will it die soon even if it is not completely destroyed?
“Ms. Ikari! Get down!” (Kure)
Cure threw down one of the zombies with a bam, then held its legs on both sides and spun around.
“Take this! Kure Typhoon!” (Kure)
In other words, a giant swing. The zombie, now a deadly weapon, has its body used to bat away its friends who are swarming around us. Is this a throwing technique and therefore not considered a move in Kure-style? I don’t understand the criteria.
Still, the zombies are not intimidated, and Kure throws his weapon like a wrecking ball at them, taking advantage of the opportunity to get behind one of them.
The suplex, which had been a dud at his duel with me. With an impact so strong that it sounded like a bomb, the zombie’s upper body is ground as it slams into the floor. It’s a powerful attack that should never be done to a human being.
“Mr. Kure!” (Noa)
A white line runs through the zombie’s head and arm. It was a [White Bullet] that Noa released. I had given it to Noa before entering the jungle in case of an emergency.
During the ten days of questing before coming to Ouji, she had been trained to fire the [White Bullet] at her own request.
It is not something that can be produced indefinitely, and like other mycelial weapons, the [White Bullet] will also decay after an hour or so, but it is useful in times like these.
Perhaps because of her weak explosive strength, the speed and power of the bullet is inferior to those of mine, but she may have a better sense of control than me. I am a bit jealous that someone younger than me can take better action.
“Noa! Your right, squeak!” (Tamiko)
Tamiko is giving precise instructions over Noa’s head.
As Noa moves, Kure stand around to compensate for each other’s blind spots. After realizing that breaking their joints is not very effective, he concentrates on power fighting, using a front choke to smash the neck and a back breaker to crush the torso.
He does this while dealing with the zombies in front of him, I couldn’t help but be impressed.
Kure’s fighting-style, which dared to seal all attacks other than throwing, chocking, and grappling, are clearly only suitable for one-on-one battles. However, his strangle and grapple are quick, and his throws are positioned to check a large number of opponents. It cannot be dismissed as being a talent man, but experience and training accumulated over a long period of time in order to maintain his self-possession in a harsh environment. Hiring him was a good decision, at least from a practical standpoint.
I cut down a zombie that was grabbing at me. It sounds bad to say I’m off my guard, but I have enough time to worry about the others and think about this and that, for the moment.
The zombies are energetic, abandoning the exhaustion a moving corpse should have, instead dashing with all their might, grappling with all their might, and biting with all their might.
However, if you observe them calmly, you can see that they have one advantage and one glaring disadvantage.
First of all, their movements are monotonous. There is no thought, no coordination, and the “me first” mentality is so strong that the zombies even collide with each other. They are too strong in their own headlong rush to the point of stupidity. They seem to have lost even the intelligence of an animal.
The fact that they have no fear of pain or injury is a threat, but many of them are unable to display their endurance and power to the fullest because of their rotting bodies.
The fact that the head and chest are not their kryptonite was initially disconcerting, but once the weak points were cracked, it didn’t matter.
(Will I dare to try it?)
Running the [Katana] horizontally, I split the upper and lower body of the one closest to him.
The upper body falls and stops moving, but the lower body still tries to run, losing its balance, and falls down. The legs are unable to get back up and flaps its legs like a spoiled child. It was so horrifying that I regretted it a little.
The sporangium is located in the lower abdomen. The side of the lower abdomen that contains it is still trying to move. In other words, the weak point is the driving force or command center that moves the corpse.
I look at the individual that was first cut in half left and right in a moment of hesitation. Only one of the halved bodies is trying to get up. I felt as if I had opened a door that should not be opened.
I don’t know how it works, but something is parasitizing on one of the sporangia, and as long as it is intact, it will continue to move. It is quite a horrifying view of zombies. As one would expect from New Tokyo.
If this is the case, it might not be a good idea to dismember the zombie.
I throw the sword in my right hand at the zombie and create a new mycelium at my fingertips. A bright red ball of mycelium.
“How about this then?” (Shuu)
[Fireball]. The zombie that takes a direct hit burns up with a pillar of fire.
The classic undead are usually afraid of fire. So how about the New Tokyo version?
The [Fireball] is certainly effective, and it can kill a zombie with a single ball. But the other zombies don’t seem to be intimidated by the flames. It’s worrisome to me that they are so indifferent. They should be more scared; they are probably going to burn up there.
The area is humid, and the fog is so thick that it’s soaking my face. The trees will not catch fire if we use it here in the clearing.
I also let go of my [War Hammer] in my left hand and placed a red ball in each hand. I forgot to tell them.
“You guys attacked us. No hard feelings.”
“…they are not coming anymore, are they?” (Shuu)
“I don’t think any are nearby, squeak.” (Tamiko)
Silence has returned. Only the smell of decay remains.
There are still some moving corpses, so I use my [War Hammer] as a broom to gather them up and burn them.
With this, the battle is over for now. I exhale loudly.
The impromptu party’s first battle was a victory. The best part is that no one was injured.
“Thanks to Ms. Ikari and Ms. Tamiko. Though, it was our first time teaming up, it went rather well.” (Kure)
“Thank you very much, Mr. Kure. You did a great job.” (Noa)
“As expected of the one in charge of the weirdo, squeak.” (Tamiko)
“I don’t remember being in charge of that, but thank you, boss.” (Shuu)
Even from my eyes, the coordination between the three was not bad. Even though they average at 25, they were able to win over level 30s without getting hurt, so I guess it’s a good thing.
Kure’s presence was a big factor. Although he seemed to have a disadvantageous fighting style specializing in physical attacks, he is in fact a very versatile fighter. Depending on the situation, he can be a wall, a decoy, or an attacker. Although he doesn’t talk like it, he is very reliable.
“Hey, hey, can Little Shuu praise me too?” (Kure)
“Oh, sure, well… you’ve been a big help. I’m counting on you, so please do well next time.” (Shuu)
I pretend not to see the heated maiden look he has.
“By the way, what are these zombies? How can a corpse be moving?” (Shuu)
I have a guess, but I want to hear Professor Noa’s explanation.
“Well… there are two types of moving corpses like this one, the parasitic type and the puppet type.” (Noa)
“The parasitic type is a small slug-like creature that lives in the sporangium of the corpse. They extend their own mycelium from the sporangium and manipulate the corpse.” (Noa)
“They seem a bit like golems.” (Shuu)
“Maybe so. It is similar to a golem in the sense that it senses vibration and sound, and it also kills its prey and drinks its bodily fluids. It kills them and turns more corpses into companions, like laying eggs or something.” (Noa)
It’s endlessly creepy to imagine, but at least you don’t get infected by a bite or something.
“In any case, zombies are not well-liked because there is little to be gained by defeating them. Their sporangia are inedible, and most of their materials have rotten.” (Noa)
Indeed, not a penny has been gained from killing so many of them.
“One more thing, how about the puppet type?” (Shuu)
“Yes, a puppet is something that is remotely controlling the corpse with Fungal Skills.” (Noa)
“It’s a Fungal Skill called [Puppet], it’s the ability to embed your own mycelium into the sporangium of a corpse, making it a puppet. It is a very rare skill that can only be acquired by higher rank Fungal Class, such as [Mage] from [Illusionist]. It seems that Metro Beasts can also use it sometimes.” (Noa)
“How do you control them?” (Shuu)
“I don’t really know… but I’ve heard that you just have to think and it will move and that you can only give it simple commands.” (Noa)
Kind of like the fictional necromancer. Hearing about it is amazing, but I’m sure to be scared if I actually see it.
“I think it’s probably the former. I think we were told that [Puppet] can only control one.” (Noa)
Cure puts his hand on his chin and mutters.
“…I don’t think there are that many of them normally… but maybe this is because it’s a closed space… I wonder if the balance has collapsed sometime…” (Kure)
The smashed and charred corpses are covered with dirt and buried.
The next thing to do is to investigate the structure that was put on the back burner. The four of us went to examine it.
Only the straw and mushrooms placed in the corners of the room hint at the presence of residents, but other than that, there is no sense of life. Even if I check the loft, there’s nothing but the corpse of the mouse that the gremlin devoured earlier. Even from the dust piled up here and there, it doesn’t seem to be enough grounds to conclude that someone used to live here.
“There’s nothing.” (Shuu)
“What are we going to do now, squeak?” (Tamiko)
“What should we do next?” (Kure)
It had only been about an hour since we started our search, and it would be a little sad to run back home in fear of zombies and say, “We didn’t get any results…!”
“I guess we’ll continue. We’ll keep an eye out for zombies, or Metro Beasts, and try to hit some other structures. Carefully—” (Shuu)
At that moment, some presence enters the range of [Sensory Spores]. Tamiko also noticed it and her ears perked up, though the noise from the fog made it unclear.
I fixed my gaze beyond the entrance.
And then—I was speechless. I can’t believe my eyes.
There is a shadow hiding in the shade.
Standing on his hind legs, he rests his front feet on the trunk and peers at us fearfully.
It is small. Probably less than a meter tall.
Its ears are pointed. Its nose is pointed. They sway up and down with each shallow breath.
Its pitch-black eyes are dull, and a red tongue peeks out from its mouth.
I pinched my cheeks. I feel pain. That is neither a dream nor an illusion.
I take a deep breath and squeeze all my feelings out of my trembling body.
“A chihuahua!” (Shuu)
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