7. Melody of the Underground Passage

Thanks to the efforts of the Kabapu’s Department of City Security (aka Watanabe et al), Across’ last mission was far from a rousing success. Fortunately, however, Excel and Hyatt were able to make it back from the mountains thanks to the help of a friendly yeti- whose fur also made them more than enough money to pay the long overdue electricity bill (and get rid of the ‘horror movie’ atmosphere that was permeating the base).

Now, however, a new problem has arisen- intruders have been detected in the sewers surrounding the base. Excel and Hyatt are dispatched to the security room to deal with them, little realising that their foes are once again none other than the Department of City Security.

Down in the security room (which bears more of a resemblance to a torture chamber), Excel and Hyatt set to work activating the anti-intruder systems and setting off some deadly traps for their unwelcome visitors. Unfortunately, the traps are controlled by a series of unlabelled red buttons, forcing the duo to guess which ones control the most effective traps. With her first guess, Excel manages to bring down a gate that blocks the intruders’ way, however, Hyatt’s attempts are far less successful- the traps she activates are all directed against Excel.

Back at the office, Kabapu muses on the fate of his bold underlings, all the while regretting the fact that he is now too old to don his skin-tight bodysuit and join them in their quest. After debating with himself, he decides to join them anyway, only to lose his nerve when his security comes in and sees him getting changed.

Meanwhile, Watanabe and the others continue their exploration of the sewers, all the while exhorting Iwata to stop fiddling with his weapon; if it’s anything like the first guns Kabapu gave them, a misfire could be fatal. Soon, however, they are distracted by a familiar and disturbing sound- the noise of rushing water.

Whilst the ever-practical Matsuya secures herself to the wall, the others are less prepared, and are swept away by the onrushing wall of water- another one of Across’ traps. Unfortunately for Excel and Hyatt, the trap works a little too well, flooding the security room and washing them away as well. Worse yet, according to the sensors, the civil servants aren’t the only intruders in the sewers- in fact, there are a whole bunch of unknown life-forms down there.

Sumiyoshi is the first to encounter these additional intruders; having been washed away from the others, he awakens to find himself in the company of a group of Puchuus. Even as he is entranced by their cuteness, they part to reveal another Puchuu in their midst, a pink one that is even cuter than the norm. Unable to help himself, Sumiyoshi chases after this super-cute pink Puchuu, unaware that anything is amiss until he comes face to face with a huge, ugly monster- the Puchuu queen. Sumiyoshi has fallen right into her trap.

Elsewhere in the sewers, Iwata cannot believe his luck when he wakes up next to Matsuya. His plan to revive her with mouth to mouth contact quickly goes awry when she awakens on her own, however, and his suggestion that they combat hypothermia by sharing bodily warmth earns him nothing more than a punch in the face. Meanwhile, Watanabe has also ended up next to his own beloved ‘Miss Ayasugi’, but his attempt to steal a kiss meets with similar bad luck when a Puchuu gets in the way.

Whilst Watanabe and Hyatt find themselves surrounded by Puchuus, elsewhere, a different drama continues to unfold. Having possessed the body of a channeller, Pedro makes his way home with Gomez, only to find that his wife is far from happy to see him. Explaining that her feelings for her husband are long gone, Pedro’s wife takes up a flyswatter and uses it to ‘exorcise’ Pedro’s spirit before literally kicking the channeller out of the house.

Back in the sewers, the Puchuus continue their attempt to round up everyone for delivery to their queen. Whilst the hardened Matsuya has no difficulty attacking the cute creatures, Excel finds herself on the run from yet another squadron of Puchuus, only to fall right into the back of queen’s chamber- where Hyatt has been trapped in a bizarre gelatinous goo. And she isn’t the only one- Watanabe is also being held captive at the front of the chamber, next to a handsome looking man who claims to be Sumiyoshi.

The transformed Sumiyoshi explains that the queen has lured them there to suck out the life energy it needs to procreate- and the arrival of a Sumiyoshi-style Puchuu indicates that he has already been ‘sucked’. As the Puchuus advance, Watanabe screams in horror at the upcoming ordeal, but even as the cute creatures close in, he is saved- by Matsuya.

Armed with a variety of weapons from the Across security room, Matsuya quickly frees her colleagues, and she and Watanabe go on the attack, destroying Puchuus left and right. Sumiyoshi hesitates, however- having been confronted by his Puchuu ‘child’, he cannot bring himself to kill it. Stepping in, Watanabe destroys the Sumiyoshi Puchuu, causing his friend to return to his normal, uglier self.

Enraged at seeing her children destroyed, the Puchuu queen sends her pink decoy Puchuu after Matsuya, intending to transfix her with cuteness. However, the hard-hearted Matsuya proves to be immune to her charms, and quickly slices the decoy Puchuu in two. Unfortunately, this only angers the queen further, and as she charges forward (with Excel and Hyatt on her back), the three civil servants run for it- only to get cornered in a dead end.

It looks like the game is up- at least until the trio gain an unexpected saviour in the form of Iwata. Sliding out of a nearby chute, Iwata boldly promises to protect Matsuya, only to chicken out when he actually takes a look at the Puchuu queen. Fortunately, Matsuya is made of sterner stuff, and she hurriedly grabs Iwata’s gun and aims it at the queen.

Before she can fire, however, back in the security room, another water trap is triggered- by the ubiquitous Nabeshin. This wall of water is much bigger than the last, flooding not only the entire sewers, but the city as well.

Floating to the surface of the city, Matsuya, Watanabe and Sumiyoshi decide that the fight must finally be over- surely no monster could have survived a flood like that. They quickly reconsider when something surfaces, however, and a trigger-happy Matsuya quickly fires her gun at their pursuer- who turns out to be none other than Iwata. Fortunately, the gun misfires, leaving Iwata very much alive and still completely love struck by the very woman who just shot at him.

As they float around in life rings at the Across base, Ilpalazzo has no choice but to accept that Excel and Hyatt completed their mission; after all, the intruders are gone (except the Puchuu queen, who is still crawling around the rafters). But now he wants the duo to get to work on a brand new mission- namely, doing something about the excessive water level…

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