Metro Labyrinth Chapter 96: Survivor

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A/N: 10/6 – Sou Utsuki’s hair has been changed from “black” to “blond”.



“Nin Nin! Nin Nin!” (Tamiko)



 Squirrel Ninja, who has blended the color of her body into her surroundings with her camouflaging ability, comes back to me. For a moment, I suspected that she had been mumbling “Nin-nin-nin squeak.” throughout the reconnaissance, but she didn’t seem to be aware of it, since she didn’t have any goat monkeys in tow.



“Good work Tamiko.” (Shuu)


“Nin Nin!” (Tamiko)


“How was it?” (Shuu)


“Hmm… I’ve only seen a few of them around here. It’s kind of quiet, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Is that so? Hmm…” (Shuu)



 How strange.


 From the 3rd floor to the 4th floor, and finally to the 5th floor.


 As we dive deeper and deeper, the sense of unease becomes stronger and stronger.



 In the Baphomet colony this time, in the preliminary investigation prior to the subjugation, it was said that there are two bosses in the center of the colony—huge mature individuals. Since they did not fight, their estimated level is unknown, but it is said that it was clearly larger than a normal individual, dignified, and pompous. We don’t even know if it was the second or not, but at least two mature individuals were confirmed to have been seen at any rate.



 Baphomets are metro beasts, which do not possess the intelligence of magic beasts, and they do not form civilized groups when they swarm. Still, the leadership of the beast as a herd is strong, and its will is unified in protecting the boss and expanding the herd.



 Nevertheless, it is not absolute. As their numbers increase, there will inevitably be a shortage of food, and some will become stragglers. It was the initial assumption that these individuals were the ones who appeared near the surface.



 However, something strange began to haunt my mind as w descended to the third floor.



 As we approached the colony, the number of Baphomets increased, their leadership grew stronger, and they blocked our way more fiercely. In fact, I thought that their numbers were even fewer than on the upper floors.



 This became more apparent when we descended to the fourth floor. There were no goat monkeys, who were taking advantage of the violence of their numbers. Rather, we saw more of the other beasts.



 Baphomets often work in groups of several beasts, but they showed no signs of cooperation between groups. In other words, it was as if a nuclear family had developed. The situation that I had feared most, that once they were seen, they would meh, meh, meh, and more and more companions would join them, never happened.



 Although Tamiko and my level were also a factor, we never once encountered a situation where we would have had to struggle. If there had been proper coordination within the colony, the individuals at this level would have received information about the intruder by now, and they would not have been able to relax like this.



“Something weird is going on, I guess. Something that would affect the people in the strike team…” (Shuu)


“Nin?” (Tamiko)


“…Let’s just take a look around this floor for now. We don’t know what’s going to happen, so let’s be on our toes.” (Shuu)


“Nin-squeak!” (Tamiko)


“You mixed it up.” (Shuu)





 Rikugi Metro B5F.


 This place is similar to the 31st floor of Ouji Metro. It’s probably not as big as that one, but it’s a huge pseudo-outdoor floor where one room occupies the floor. Not only the type, but also the appearance is somewhat similar to the urban part over there.




 While the 31st floor of Ouji was “a vast forest and a group of ancient Aztec-like ruins,” the 5th floor of Rikugi was “a submerged temple city”. If I were to use an easy-to-understand analogy, it would be as if you were strolling around with a princess muttering, “It’s too big for my pocket!” However, the one who was by my side right now was not a cool squirrel, but a glutton squirrel. “It’s too big for my cheek pouches!” She’s lost her way.



 The design is in the style of ancient Europe. Stone sidewalks, brick buildings, and stone pillars rising meaninglessly.


 Waterways run along the sidewalks. Of course, for a water metro, the water has not dried up, and the gentle flow of water is still alive. Moreover, if you look closely at the bottom of the water, you can see another passageway there as well.



 The buildings are half destroyed, and grass and trees are growing in the gaps between the stones. Moss is growing on the pillars and walls, and what appears to be a stone statue of a human figure has lost its head and is now a shadow of its former self. A faint mist hung in the air, and the smell of dense water and greenery lingered in the air. The only water flowing slowly is slightly stagnant.


 An ancient city engulfed by water and mycelial plants, marooned in the chasm of time. That’s my impression, anyway.



(I always think…) (Shuu)


(Why would the Metro build something like this?) (Shuu)



 An alien, artificial space that suddenly appears in a cavernous dungeon.


 Who would create something like this, and with what intention? Are there any intentions or motives?


 If there really is a Metro God or a Threadweaver God, I’d like to hear what he has to say about it.



“…very few.” (Shuu)


“…squeak.” (Tamiko)



 Although the range of [Sensor Spores] is halved due to the fog, I can still feel the presence of birds, insects, and other creatures, and the breath of beasts on my skin.



 But the Baphomets, there are just one or two of them hanging around, and they don’t seem to be forming a big force. The image I had of them was “the most aggressive and powerful motorcycle gang in the Kanto region,” but here they are, rather like “a weak team at the bottom of the pack that has been beaten to a pulp by other guys”.



(What should I do?) (Shuu)



 Let’s try to hunt a few small fry to see how they react. I would like to see their reactions.



 The smell of their blood and the sound of their own kind will probably make them come out of their shells and say, “Let’s go!” and they would gather in droves. If so, it would be troublesome, but I feel that it is a path we must take if we want to know the current situation of the colony. No, it may not be too late to check the boss’s appearance first.



“…no, let’s do it.” (Shuu)



 Know what’s happening on this floor. That’s just the scope of our job.


 The stairs to the fourth floor aren’t too far now, and even if something goes wrong, we can at least escape upstairs. If there is a risk, it is better to do it early.


 We lock on to a lone goat-monkey hiding in the shadows.



“Let’s catch it. It won’t do any good if we kill it instantly, so let’s have it to call its friends.” (Shuu)


“Then I’ll do it, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Can you do it?” (Shuu)


“Don’t underestimate me. Dealing with that small fry could eat up all my calories, it’s a big deal, squeak.” (Tamiko)


“Go fight chonk squirrel.” (Shuu)



 I received a thrust on my cheek saying “Evil, squeak!”. Quite the heavy paw.


 Tamiko jumps off my shoulder and walks toward Baphomet. The two face each other.



“Meh, meh!” (Baphomet)


“Come fight, squeak!” (Tamiko)



 A bipedal beast with the physique of an adult male and a squirrel at her feet, her tail flailing in the air, with a “Squeak”. At first glance, it looks like a picture of bullying, but this is Sugamo’s pride and joy, the “Super powered” squirrel, a tough and strong squirrel, and her enemy will not even become rust on her front teeth.



 Drooling, the Baphomet attacks with a war cry. Tamiko dodges the attack and bides her time, just as she intended. The way she has been fattening up recently, she is becoming a glutton that seems to have a certain amount of appetite, but she has not lost her natural quickness. This chonk squirrel can really move.



“Evil!” (Tamiko)



 A brown flash shoots straight up and grazes Baphomet’s neck.


 Baphomet stops moving for a moment. A large amount of blood spurts from its neck, and the goat-head falls to the ground. It’s over, victory.



“Good job.” (Shuu)



 When I rushed over, Tamiko wipes the blood from her face with her hand and licks it off.



“…I squeaking killed you…” (Tamiko)


“Well don’t overdo it.” (Shuu)



 The gory squirrel, however, immediately disposes of the corpse and removes the sporangium. Alert and ready, we wait for reinforcements.


 —Here they come.



“…Meeee…” (Baphomet)


“…Meeee…” (Baphomet)



 It was worth it to make it scream rather loudly and spread the smell of blood. The Baphomets peeking out of the shadows with their goat heads. The number of them are —three.



“That’s it?” (Shuu)



 While holding out my [Katana], I twist my head. I thought they’d be gathering in droves.


 I’m not sure if there is not enough food for them, but they all have starving gazes. I didn’t use the [Beast Repellent Spores], but I wonder if I could get rid of them if I did. Would they still be able to resist their appetites and attack us?



 We had to make the first move. I cut down two of them and shot the other one right between the eyes with a [White Bullet]. It takes less than ten seconds.


 We rounded up the corpses and waited for more. There is no sign of further reinforcements.



“…what’s going on?” (Shuu)



 Has the colony already been destroyed?


 But there are no signs of battle in this area. There are no bodies.


 And, above all, why hasn’t the strike team returned?


 They may have been wounded to the point of being unable to move. Even if so, all of them? Why has not a single person returns to call for help?


 If so, were they all wiped out in a mutual annihilation? Or the colony disappeared for some other reason?






 Both Tamiko and I look back at the same time. Tamiko senses the presence with her ears, while I sensed it with my [Sensory Spores].



“……that is.” (Shuu)



 It is a person. Not a goat monkey, but the outline of a human being.


 After jumping over the fence across the road, there is someone standing in the grass.



“……a girl?” (Shuu)



 There is a girl there, even smaller than Noa, a girl who could be described as a child. She has thin blonde pigtails tied in two, sickly white skin, and pointed ears. Human, or perhaps a demihuman?



“…Are you a hunter?” (Girl)



 The girl opens her mouth. Her cheeks are drawn back in horror, her eyes teary, her whole body stained with mud and bloodstains. Her green jersey is in tatters.



“Yeah, I’m a Sugamo hunter. What about you?” (Shuu)


“……saved……” (Girl)



 Her face suddenly relaxed and she collapsed on the spot. I panicked and rushed over.


 The body that I caught was light as a feather. She was so light that if a breeze blew, she will fly away.



“…Yes, I am also a hunter.” (Girl)



 She answered, in my arms, with a quiet, hoarse voice.



“I’m… Sou Utsuki, a member of the Komagome branch. I was a member of… Baphomet Colony’s strike team.” (Girl => Sou)



 I finally found one.


 A survivor of the strike team.



“……was?” (Shuu)



 She nodded, her thin lips moving slightly.



“Everyone but me… was killed by that monster…” (Sou)



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