Substance I: Shadow Moses (Pyscho Mantis possess Meryl)

While I’m not done translating (or paying for it), this chapter of the Metal Gear Solid – Substance I: Shadow Moses novel really stood out to me. It does take inspiration from Metal Gear Solid 4’s Screaming Mantis boss battle, but Mantis’ ruthlessness with Meryl and Snake is like wow.

Here’s some of the original text. Continue reading for translation.

スネークですら耐えがたい音楽の奔流に、メリルはすでにのみこまれていた。背後にいたメリルは、デザー トイーグルをスネークに向けて近づいてきた。彼女が自分の意志でそうしているのではないことは、あきらか
だった。大きく見開かれた目はどこにも焦点が合っていない。ただの一度も瞬きをしないその目は、彼女の

Meryl had already succumbed to the onslaught of music that even Snake could barely resist. Behind Snake, Meryl pointed her Desert Eagle at him and drew in closer. It was obvious that her actions were not her own. Her wide-open eyes, unblinking and focused on nothing, were proof that she was being controlled. The way she walked and held the gun was awkward, like some marionette strung along by invisible threads.

“Snake, do you, like me?” asked Meryl clumsily, as if she had just learned to speak. “Snake……do…you like me? He-y, Snake…”

Her voice was muffled as if behind some mask. The words were broken. “Snake……..Sna…..ke…Hey…” Even breathing was difficult for her. Pulled suddenly by invisible threads, Meryl’s elbows jerked up above her shoulders. From the front, they formed a M-shape with her head. Strung by the threads, Meryl’s body floated into the air. Behind her, something black and grotesque came briefly into view before disappearing. It too was floating, and had been in an identical pose to Meryl’s. The entirety of its thin, rope-like body was covered with glossy, black rubber. Its genderless silhouette combined with a gas mask and dust-proof goggles had made it seem even more inhuman. With its long arms spread wide, it had looked just like a praying mantis. Meryl was under the control of Psycho Mantis.

Snake drew back, pointing his gun. All that separated him from Meryl was an office desk. Although her mind was being manipulated by Psycho Mantis, it was Meryl’s own, real physical body. If he fired, he would hurt her.

“Hey, do you……like……me?”

Meryl’s right arm shot out straight from her shoulder. She held the Desert Eagle in her hand. The barrel drew a straight line to Snake’s head. Meryl took her finger off the trigger guard and let it rest on the trigger. If she shot, the bullet would fly through Snake’s head and her own unnatural posture would likely destroy her shoulder. He had to take the gun, and he had to do it now.

“Snake……., no… Don’t steal my gun,” said Meryl, reading Snake’s intentions.

“If I’m a bother..….then, shoot……me.”

Mantis had infiltrated Meryl’s mind and was reading Snake’s thoughts. He knew that Snake would not shoot. Meryl’s body floated even higher, settling on the office desk. Bending her knees in a jerky fashion, she drew a cigar from the cigarette case by the ashtray.

“Hey Snake……you like these, right?” Holding out the cigar, she put down the Desert Eagle and lit her lighter. Now’s my chance, thought Snake, but before he could move her cigar hand was again holding the Desert Eagle. It was like some magic trick.

“I like……you. So, I know everything……you are thinking.”

Meryl smiled, or rather, her mouth spread into the mechanical shape of a smile. Her eyes stayed wide open. Meryl’s right hand, still holding the Desert Eagle, flashed forward and struck at Snake’s face. The blow struck hard. A ring filled his ears and his brain shook in its skull. The smell of rust filled his nose. The flesh of his left cheek had ruptured and a stream of blood was flowing from his nose into his mouth. Unable to defend against the sudden attack, his body crumpled to the floor.

“Meryl, stop.”

Snake stood up, spitting out blood. Meryl was kneeling with one knee up, gun pointed straight at him. It was a perfect firing stance.

“Snake……say that……you like me.” The Desert Eagle spouted flame. The bullet flew past, grazing Snake’s left ear. The bullet struck a wall portrait behind him and fell to the floor. They were less than meter apart. A miss was virtually impossible. Was it a threat? Did she miss on purpose? Considering the situation, Snake looked at Meryl. Something was different. Meryl blinked.

Maybe. Maybe Meryl’s mind wasn’t asleep and was only trapped, still awake. What if Mantis had control of her body but her mind was still aware? What if she was still here, still fighting against Mantis inside her own body?

Meryl floated into the air. Kicking a chair aside, Snake jumped to the side of the desk. Meryl’s shot blew apart the chair’s back, leaving no traces of its Outer Heaven logo. Rotating around to the back of the desk, Snake fired his SOCOM at the ceiling directly above Meryl’s head. It was just a threat. If Mantis’ abilities were psychokinesis and mind-reading, Meryl must be floating from psychokinesis. No matter how strong his ability, it was unlikely that Mantis was far away. He may even be inside this very room. If Meryl was still aware, he might be able to weaken the shackles on Meryl’s mind by threatening Mantis. The action was based on assumptions about assumptions, but Snake decided to trust his instincts. Still floating, Meryl’s body spun 180 degrees towards Snake. The Desert Eagle let out a barrage of rapid fire. Running behind the suite’s leather sofa, Snake fires his SOCOM, intentionally avoiding Meryl.

“Meryl, can you hear me?! What are you? You can do something. What was the life that you lived?!”

Those words were Meryl’s own, spoken before they had come to this room. “I want to find out who I am, what I can do, and what my life was.” These were the words she had spoken to Snake.

To free herself from the hero legend that tied her.

“This is not training. It’s a fight for life and death. There are no heroes or heroines. If you lose, you die a dog’s death.”

When you really die, there is only death. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no “heroic” death or “tragic” death. Death is just an end.

Meryl’s expression changed. Her eyes blinked and wrinkles formed in her brow. Emotion seemed to return to her mask-like face. The fake mechanical smile loosened.

“Snake……”

Meryl was trying to speak. Not the Mantis-controlled Meryl, but the real Meryl Silverburgh.

The floating Meryl dropped to the floor as if the threads had been cut. Suddenly, her body slipped with tremendous force on the floor and slammed into the bookshelf on her left. Books that lined the shelves tumbled down onto her back.

“Meryl!” cried Snake, rushing over.

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