an English translation of the novel

Page 231-232

Unawares, Maria had come up next to me and was clasping my hand tightly. How did humans come to wield such a god-like power? The story of its origin was always vaguely glossed over in history textbooks.

“…the number of PK users grew rapidly and eventually reached 0.3 percent of the entire population. In the ensuing years of societal disorder, further statistical data was lost. However, a rise in the percentage of people diagnosed with schizoid personality was documented.

“Only 0.3 percent?” Satoru muttered doubtfully.

I couldn’t believe it either. What had happened to the remaining 99.7 percent of the population?

“What do you mean by societal disorder?” Maria asked.

“In the beginning, ordinary people ostracized PK users. Even though they only had weak abilities, it was more than enough to potentially destroy the social order of that time, and PK users kept that fact well hidden. For Japan, this destruction began with the Boy A incident.”

“Boy A? Is that his name?” Mamoru’s brows furrowed.

“At that time, it was common practice to withhold the names of minors involved in criminal activities, so a codename was assigned.”

“What did he do?” I asked.

At the worst, I expected the answer to be that he had committed robbery or something like that.

“A’s powers were rudimentary, but one day he realized that he could open any lock he came across. Using this ability, he repeatedly broke into homes in the middle of the night, raped nineteen women in their sleep, and killed seventeen of them.”

We were frozen with shock. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Rape. And murder. …killing people.

“Wait a sec! That’s impossible! Because wasn’t A human? A human killed another human?” Satoru asked hoarsely.

Page 233-234

“Yes. Following A’s arrest, the number of crimes involving PK increased, but most went unsolved often because common methods of surveillance were rendered useless with PK. Normal people began attacking PK users as a whole, beginning with personal harassment and elevating to public abuse that nearly ended in executions. In defense, PK users formed their own factions and the most zealous of them proposed establishing a PK-exclusive society. Indiscriminate terrorism by PK users followed. The resulting political, ethical, and philosophical conflicts plunged the world into an age of violent discord. Without previous experience in this situation, there appeared to be no end to this world war.”

I turned mutely to look at the others. Fear had wiped all other emotions from their faces. Mamoru was cowering on the ground with both hands over his ears.

“…country with the greatest military power, America, started a civil war in order to eradicate all PK users. Using electric shocks to distinguish between normal people and PK users, and the wide-spread availability of guns, the population of PK users in North America dropped from 0.3 to 0.0004 percent in a short amount of time.”

Satoru kept shaking his head, whispering, “This can’t be true.”

“…on the other hand, the scientific superpower, India, successfully differentiated the DNA of normal people and PK users, was researching methods for controlling peoples’ genes. Unfortunately, their search was unsuccessful, but the data garnered were found to be useful later on.”

As if in a dream, I gazed at the animal-machine caught between the pincers of the tiger crab. Could it actually be a demon sent from hell? It would lead us astray with its strange words, and eventually make us go insane.

“…ironically, because their lives were continually being threatened, the surviving PK users’ abilities evolved rapidly.  At first, PK was thought to be the projection of energy from the breakdown of sugar in the brain. Because of that, it should have been naturally limited to the amount of sugar in the body. But that was incorrect. In reality, there was no upper boundary to how much energy could be used. At that time, the strongest PK user had enough power to stop a nuclear attack. So the balance of power shifted to the PK users and governments all over the world collapsed. The history books we have now make no mention of the past civilization because it was, in essence, completely reset. The wheel of time was reversed, and we returned to the dark ages. Due to war, famine, epidemics, and other disasters, the human population fell to under two percent of what it was during the Golden Age.”

Page 235-237

I felt my heart shudder. It was a really unpleasant feeling. I wanted the false minoshiro to stop talking, but I couldn’t get my lips to form words. It seemed like everyone else was in the same state.

“…it is impossible to say for sure what happened during the Dark Age that was the next five-hundred years. Infrastructure collapsed, and naturally, Internet communication was severed. Once again, the spread of information was limited by geography, and people reverted to living in a narrow, closed-off world,” the false minoshiro said cheerfully, as if this were wonderful news. “However, some new books were published during that time. The most reliable literature from that era, says that societies in Northeast Asia were split into four conflicting groups. Ironically, due to the sharp decrease in population, such segregation was possible. The first group was slave empires ruled by PK users. The second was non-PK hunter-gatherer tribes that wanted to escape the slave empires. The third were wandering bandits who used PK to pillage and murder. And last was scientists who wanted to preserve the ancient knowledge and technology.”

“Books, like the ones you mentioned earlier, the really small ones inside you?” Shun asked, breaking the silence.

The tension eased a little as the subject changed.

“No. Normal books made with the old printing method. Our library scan these books and record the character data.”

I stopped understanding what it was saying right as it got to the main point.

“So you’re with the fourth group then?”

“There was regular contact, but apart from that, we did not work together. Libraries exist to protect human knowledge, but were unfortunately the target of many attacks during that age. Because of this, automotive archive robots were invented. In urban areas there were once models that could travel freely through drainage systems, but their functions were destroyed by nuclear attacks. The only types that remained were the ones made to imitate living creatures, impervious to the elements and able to take in and create their own energy. Those were then further modified, until they were able to change their form according to their surroundings. The Autonomous Evolution version, like me,” the false minoshiro said proudly.

“Creating your own energy…so what do you eat?” Mamoru lifted his head.

“Animals of the appropriate size. Organisms like microbes can be consumed and digested as is. Or, when the opportunity arises, I can catch small mammals and suck their blood.”

Just imagining that was disgusting. I turned away from the false minoshiro.

“…then what? What happened between the Dark Age and now?” Shun returned to the original topic.

Page 238-239

“During the Dark Age, there were no groups apart from those four, right? So which one…?”

I finally understood. We were direct descendants of one of the four groups.

“The first to die out were the bandits.”

Hearing this, I was slightly relieved.

“Each family of bandits were made of about twenty or thirty related members. Because they did not hesitate to use PK, and sometimes massacred entire villages, they were highly feared. However, this lifestyle was extremely unstable. {To the bandits, the slave empires and nomads were prey, but to these two groups, the bandits were nothing more than a nuisance, so they used every possible method to exterminate them.}”

“Every possible method?” Satoru asked, though I wished he hadn’t.

“The bandits’ preferred method of transportation was by automatic two-wheeled vehicles. Although in that time there were no longer any means to produce engines and tires, they used PK to revive iron production techniques. They used hundreds of kilos of iron to make wheels and used PK to propel them at speeds of three hundred kilometers per hour. They tore through the plains, sparks flying from the wheels, ransacking villages as they went. Whenever the villagers saw the dust clouds and heard the roar of their engines, they knew the death gods were coming. In defense, the villagers dug pits lined with sharp bamboo spears and strung thin wires up at neck-height. They also used other simple yet effective traps such as planting land mines, putting slow-acting poisons in food set out as bait, infecting young women with deadly diseases and letting the bandits rape them, and more.”

Once again, I was so disgusted I had to fight the urge to throw up.

“Of course, the bandits retaliated by attacking mercilessly with PK, but their downfall ultimately came from infighting. Since they were all related by blood, the bandits were formidable against enemies from outside the group, but within the ranks, there was always the fear of being killed by a fellow bandit. To survive, they had to be wary of  any sign of hostility from another member. This kill-before-you’re-killed mentality escalated to the point that dissolution of the group was inevitable.”

Page 240-241

We wiped the sweat from our faces and tried to undo the knots in our stomach. But it seemed like Mamoru had finally reached his limit; he turned and started throwing up into the thickets.

“Stop it! Shut up!” Satoru shouted. “Don’t listen to what it says!”

“No…hold on. I just have a few more questions,” Shun said, though he was pale as a ghost. “That’s enough about the bandits. What happened to the other three groups?”

“The approximately nineteen slave empires in Northeast Asia survived for six hundred years on a policy of mutual nonaggression and nonintervention. Out of the four empires that existed in the Japanese archipelago, I only have records of the Holy Cherry Blossom Empire, which consisted of the Kanto and Chubu regions. The Holy Cherry Blossom Empire’s longevity was second only to the New Yamato Empire, which encompassed everything west of Kansai. However, the Holy Cherry Blossom Empire went through ninety-four generations of emperors in five-hundred seventy years.”

“You don’t have to tell us the histories of all ninety-four of them,” Maria said, frowning.

“Why did the emperors succeed each other so rapidly?” Shun looked more shaken than the rest of us, but pressed onward resolutely.

“‘A Study of the Holy Cherry Blossom Empire’ quotes historian J.E. Acton, ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute powers corrupt absolutely’. The PK users that ruled the slave empires wielded a power that had never before existed in the history of humanity. They were literally god-like, but such powers came with equally devastating consequences.”

The false minoshiro’s story was so captivating that we hung onto its every word despite our better judgment.

The Holy Cherry Blossom Empire started as an oligarchy ruled by a select group of PK users. Wave after wave of political purges occurred until only one person remained, who then ruled as an absolute monarch.

“The emperor’s whereabouts were always concealed, and he traveled with numerous body-doubles, but in an empire with a large population of PK users, it was impossible to detect and thwart every assassination attempt. So after the bandits died out, {one family of PK users ruled over tens of thousands of citizens.} But even this couldn’t bring true peace and stability.”