The Geiger ticks were enough to unnerve the lieutenant as he followed his post-apocalypse guides to their destination. Thankfully, his people were able to wear their proper gear in response to the radiation, but Uhlman and Damir seemed to shrug it off somehow. Perhaps they have been doing this for years to make this an irrelevant issue. The glass for the eye slots had occasionally fogged up, but Itami hoped that they wouldn't occur in the midst of a fight.
His second-in-command had grabbed his attention. "Lieutenant, there is a path on our right. We should ask."
"Understood, Kuwahara." The officer ran up to Uhlman and tapped him on the shoulder. "Hey, there seems to be a path back there. Should we keep an eye on it on our way back."
Behind the Russian gas mask, his eyes seemed to express sadness. "You do not have to worry. We blew that tunnel up a couple of years ago. Nothing is ever going to get through there."
"What happened there?"
"An evacuation went wrong. Some idiot decided to split the evacuation into two groups; however, the defenders defending the other group got overrun by the monsters. We had to blow the tunnel up to prevent them from getting deeper."
"I'm sorry for asking. Perhaps I shouldn't have asked."
He shook his head. "It's okay to ask. Hopefully, that won't happen as often with people fleeing the Metro." Then he continued into the dark tunnel with his flashlight leading the way. "Let's keep going, we're almost there."
Time passed as the Third Recon Team bypassed old service rooms - some filled with blood and others simply empty. Cobwebs filled the empty spaces as they occasionally stumbled upon a small shack with the skeleton of someone's unfortunate fate. The depressing atmosphere simply altered the lieutenant's preconceptions about the Metro. Then the party halted as the lieutenant approached his guide once again. "Why are we stopping? You said we're almost there."
"I know, but listen for a second."
Itami's thoughts had ceased for a moment until they could distinctly hear rattling in the distance. The longer he waited, the more he was able to recognize gunfire in the distance. Then there was shouting and bestial cries that filled the tunnels. "Is the outpost under attack?"
"Probably, but let's hurry and give them a hand." Uhlman replied before the group double-timed their pace.
The closer they approached their destination, the volume of gunfire increased. Yet, they were discovering several fallen corpses of creatures that were unseen to the Japanese until this very moment. When the guns had fallen silent, the lieutenant could see a spotlight turn its full attention upon their direction.
"Friendlies from Polis!" He shouted. It wasn't formal as Itami imagined, but perhaps military formalities just didn't matter at this point.
One of the sentries at their station was quick to reply to Uhlman, but their mother tongues were enough to keep the lieutenant from understanding their conversation.
When the talk was finished, he walked back to the Japanese officer. "Lieutenant, it appears we have to show of force to the nosalises. Then they will back off and let us continue on our little adventure."
Itami stole a glance from the team's medic. "Kurokawa, Sasagawa get in the rear. Everyone, get on the line." When his orders were taken out, the JSDF personnel joined the Rangers in the defense as their only barriers consisted of an amalgamation of metal sheets and a gate that could be torn apart by modern saws. As the newcomers settled into their positions, they could hear a bell ringing from afar.
Uhlman crouched beside him as he pointed to the tunnel entrance on the right where there were bodies littered across the tracks. "Don't worry, we installed an early warning system to know where they are coming from. The path from the left should be fine."
The man behind the spotlight had shifted the focus to the right tunnel. Off in the deep darkness were burning eyes of hatred, moving rapidly towards the defensive line. Shrieks echoed from their number as one of the Japanese soldiers started to shake, but a Ranger beside him had placed his hand on his shoulder. Of course, he spoke in Russian, but Itami appreciated the comfort of these men.
The first glimpse of the monster revealed itself as an oversized mutated mole moved upon four limbs before ramping up its speed onto two. Then their guide shouted the order. "Open fire!"
Gunfire erupted from the firing line as Itami joined the ranks in repelling the mutants. Few shots were required to kill these creatures, but he noticed the Rangers with their open magazines. Apparently, it took them a quarter of their magazines to properly kill these creatures. Then he noticed some of the nosalises jump up from behind their kin to attach themselves to the pillars before leaping from one to the next. The lieutenant placed his shots into their torsos - the impact of the force was enough to stop three in mid-air.
Yet, it was not enough as their strength in numbers increased over time. If he kept this up, they would expend more ammo than they killed. His fears were alleviated when he heard the familiar sounds of his team's light machine gunner pulled the trigger. This was assisted by a heavier machine gun of greater caliber, often tearing the monsters apart from sheer firepower alone. Despite these losses, they were relentless in their desire to kill them.
For some strange reason, the lieutenant felt his hairs jump up at the strangeness within the atmosphere. He couldn't stop thinking about it in the middle of the fight before he noticed a strange blue light coming from the tunnel his team came from. What exactly was causing that?
Uhlman was quick to alert everyone in their defensive positions. "Ceasefire and don't move! There's an anomaly coming!"
The Rangers ceased firing, but the JSDF personnel did not seem to understand just what was going on. "What's happening?"
"It's an anomaly. It senses movement and electricity," He informed him. "We'll let it do the work for us."
A strange blue ball of light appeared from the left tunnel as the lieutenant was enthralled by this strange phenomenon. His awe was short-lived when objects within its sphere of influence were being zapped by electricity. It slowly approached the humans, shining its raw power towards the defenders. Yet, the impatient nosalises ignored such a natural threat and suffered the consequences. Those that did try to run past it was fried in the process, but left a burning smell within the darkness of the Metro. Attracted by the different species, the blue ball of energy flew towards them with electrical energy charging into the bodies of the intruders who had begun to leave.
The light faded away as it departed from the Japanese soldiers and the Rangers. The last trace of its existence was an explosion that echoed from its end of the tunnel. In the meantime, Uhlman stood up and relaxed in the aftermath of the situation. "Now that you have seen an anomaly, let's get inside for a nice relaxing breakfast. I'm sure you all have a lot of questions on just what the hell just happened."
Itami lowered his rifle and started to follow the Russian towards their only surface outpost. Yet, this experience was enough to tell him that this world was just that different from his Earth.
The small party of travelers continued their way across the lands of the Empire. The Rangers' new destination was not an economic endeavor, but a diplomatic one. They were going to the capital and Artyom was the only one from his group who was able to talk to speak their language so easily. This detail alone made him nervous the moment they were on the road.
A rider joined him, trotting at the same speed as his horse. The knight he had saved from the walls of Italica took the opportunity to start a conversation. "Artyom, we have much to discuss on the road since the journey will take ages."
The Ranger looked at the knight and shrugged his shoulders. "It depends on whatever you think we should talk about."
"I see. After you had properly introduced yourself, you said that you were part of the Order. Is that correct?"
He nodded his head. "Yes. Do you want to know more?"
"Of course," Norma answered. "As a knight, from her majesty's Rose Order, I'm quite curious to know more about your group of warriors."
"In my world, the Metro, our formal name is the Polis Rangers of the Spartan Order. They are an organization that tries to keep the peace between the factions while also fighting monsters and bandits that threaten the local stations."
He was taken aback by one detail in his words. "They? You do not consider yourself a Polis Ranger?"
Artyom chuckled. "I… I am a recent recruit by circumstance."
"What do you mean by this?" He wondered. "Did you do something to earn their attention?"
"Somewhat," Came his reply. "It's a rather complicated affair."
"Truly. It's a pity we do not have any fine wine to drink as we speak of this. Excuse me for asking, but how complicated are we talking about?"
"I came to the Order for their help and I was ironically punished for it."
Norma expressed his confusion. "Your Order punished you when you asked for your help? That has gotten to be the most bizarre response I have ever heard of."
"Let's just say I did something that threatened their mission in protecting the Metro and they had more than a good reason to punish me," Artyom explained. "Despite being on their bad side, they recognized I trying to get their attention to an issue that could have exploded in their faces. So the pragmatic members of the Polis Council inducted me into the Order as a reminder that I could have been executed for my decisions."
"I suppose you were not wrong when you said that the subject is complicated," He commented. "Nonetheless, I think you should be rewarded once we get to the capital. Before you get properly introduced to our country's great emperor, I think it would be best for me to be your host underneath my father's house."
"I appreciate the offer."
He cantered forward and turned in front of him. "Please, you do my family a great honor to host a representative of a foreign land."
Quite an offer he couldn't refuse. Perhaps it is better to make another friend in this new world. "Okay, I will stay at your house."
"Good, I think your time in Sadera will be wonderful. I cannot wait for you to enjoy the sights, beauty, and material my country can show."
The foreign lady that accompanied them had galloped towards their general direction at an alarming speed. "Halt the wagon. We cannot go any further."
Artyom turned around to meet with the wagon behind him as Norma approached her. "Lady Varnia, what is happening?"
"Boars," She replied. "A pack of them are blocking the road."
"How many in a pack are we talking about?" He asked.
"There are nine adult boars, but there is this large one that they seem to follow. I don't think we can skirt around them if they decide to be aggressive."
The young knight shook his head. "If only I had a dozen knights with lances to fight them. Pity we have to keep our distance until then."
One of the men in the wagon had grabbed the lonely Ranger's attention. "Artyom, what's going on?"
He cantered towards the wagon to find Timur holding the reins of his horses. "Norma said something about boars. I don't know what they are."
Aleksandr was in the back, resting on the machine gun mounted to the back. At the mere mention of boar, he raised his head. "Did you say boars?"
"Yes. Do you know what they are?"
"It's an animal from the Pre-War era," The heavily armored Ranger explained. "We should thank our lucky stars that we don't have them in the Metro. Is there any nearby?"
"Milena said so. She said there were nine adults and one that is tremendously big."
"Shit!" Aleksandr swore to himself. "Timur, turn this cart around. Shuhrat, get the sticky grenades."
This sudden change to become armed with the best means made the young man ask. "What makes these boars so dangerous?"
All the rangers looked at the man behind the helmet and his face shield. "Artyom, boars have an infamous track record at being hard to kill that a good old Kalashnikov might not cut it."
A strange animal cry was enough for the party to look at the direction they were once heading. Ten strange creatures that almost resembled pigs were kicking the dust off the ground. Yet, they were completely different as their tusks and dark skin made them distinguishable as dangerous animals when compared to their cousins. Norma drew his sword as the imperial agent galloped away from the on-coming charge. "I think they're attacking us."
"Timur, get ready to fall back."
The young Russian rode his horse to the knight and pointed in the direction where Milena was heading. "Follow her, I think we can deal with it."
"Are you sure?" He asked.
"Very much, you're in the way."
He nodded his head. "I understand. Good luck in dealing with these creatures."
When he joined her, Artyom pulled out his sub-machine gun and made sure to keep a good hold on his reins. The machine gun from the wagon had open fired - shaking the wagon as Shuhrat threw grenades in their direction. For the Ranger on horseback, he raised his weapon and lined up his sights against these strange beings that he had never encountered before. The recoil's response was immense when he pulled the trigger. Perhaps it is better to shoot this weapon in short bursts.
A single boar succumbed to the first few bursts of the Dushka rounds. As he pulled his horse away from the oncoming pack, the Ranger was amazed at their durability in this situation. Nonetheless, he had to do his best to dispatch each and every one of their kind. He switched to a different target, focusing on the large boar that was running towards the wagon. Yet, he was able to get three bursts of fire downrange - only to earn its ire when it started sprinting towards him.
He and the wagon galloped away from the creature as he watched Aleksandr cut down several more boars in the process. However, the losses did not deter the boars from continuing the assault. Then Timur reached for the reins and began to move as Artyom took a position further from them and started to cover their retreat. The large boar was insistent on catching up to him as he found himself in a race for his own survival, but it was clear that his Pre-War weapon was not enough for him to keep it off of his trail. The only other weapon he had on him was his Hellbreathe.
When he let his Papasha hang from his torso, Artyom slung his railgun over his shoulder and aimed directly at the huge boar as big as the wagon. Heated streams of fire were discharged from his weapon as he did his best to stabilize his weapon on horseback. Each shot appeared to be weakening its charge towards him as he continued to draw its attention away from the wagon - forcing him to head north and into a forest.
Seeking refuge in this place had now felt like a death trap. Without the open view of the plains, the boar could catch him off-guard at any point as he slowly trotted throughout the forest with his railgun at the ready. Unlike his sub-machine gun, it's weight was quite difficult to carry around as he rode his steed.
The first thing that came into his mouth was, "Where are you?"
His answer was met when he noticed a brown blur rush into his horse as he found himself flying off his saddle and into the grass. Artyom took a quick glance at the ambusher to see its tusks bloodied with its horse. Yet, he knew he was going to be its next victim before he looked to his right to find the Hellbreathe on the ground. As he reached out for it, he heard hooves approaching him before he grabbed the handle and swung his weapon to bear. With the target a dozen meters away from him, the Ranger pulled the trigger.
Author's Note: Pity that I have to end this on a cliffhanger, but I think a decent update from me would be good enough after all of this time. Hopefully, you all enjoyed this little traveling in both the Metro and Falmart.
randomidiot1816: Ha, just like home!
Dr. Killinger: Hey, he has to get to those games in one piece or another.
WeberCode: As you wish.
Paul Lenzen: Thanks.
x-x-TheBurnedMan-x-x: No, he doesn't have Artyom's gift.
tylerxc626: I don't need to email you. I think the site already does that unless you turn it off.
Psihopatul: That is if he does get back to the capital.