an English translation of the novel

Page 393-394

“That’s why you…” Satoru started to say, but stopped.

“We swear absolute loyalty to the colony and the queen. But we are not tools to be discarded. We are second in intelligence only to the gods of this planet, and are unlike other social animals such as ants or bees. And so, based on this belief, all who worried for the future of our colony gathered of their own volition and formed a union.”

“A union?”

“Yes. It was necessary to negotiate with  the queen to preserve our most basic rights. But the queen was enraged. She regarded our actions as an act of treason. …there were a number of complications, and it was with great reluctance we chose this path.”

“This path…you joined forces and completely crippled her. Wouldn’t it have been better just to kill her?” Satoru asked.

Yakomaru shook his head. “No. We did not wish to completely destroy her mental faculties. We only performed a frontal lobe lobotomy. After the surgery, her aggressiveness declined greatly and she became submissive. She continues to bear children and contribute to the growth of the colony. I’m sure the queen herself is much happier like this compared to when she was trapped by her mental illness. …however, since it was our first time performing the procedure, there were several complications with regards to hygiene. Shortly afterward, she began suffering from encephalitis and her mental functions declined considerably.

“That’s terrible…” I whispered.

“It is natural to think that, I suppose. How regrettable.” Yakomaru looked at us accusingly. “Should not all intelligent individuals be given equal rights? That is what I read in the books of the gods. It is the core principle of democracy.”

We looked at each other, bewildered. I never thought I would hear such words spoken by these creatures.


Page 395-396

“Even if your queen was a tyrant, what about the others? Was it really necessary to lock them up like animals in that barn?”

“All the colonies who joined us were dealing with the same problem to some degree. Only the queen can reproduce, so her existence is indispensable. Even so, she should not be able to claim the entire colony as her possession on those grounds. The queen is responsible only for childbirth, whereas intellectual pursuits such as governance and military leadership are handed to those with the greatest aptitude. That is the foundation of the Robber Fly colony.”

The two most powerful colonies at the time, the Giant Hornet and Robber Fly colonies, had very different philosophies. The Giant Hornet colony had over thirty thousand members, making them the largest colony. Although General Kiroumaru led the colony, he was a traditionalist who was deeply loyal to the queen, thus preserving the traditional social structure. All traditionalist colonies held to the idea that the queen was an absolute monarch.

On the other hand, the Robber Flies disregarded bloodline purity and joined with other colonies in a highly unorthodox, rapid bid for power. Traditionalist colonies viewed them as heretics and had started to become wary of them.

“…I see. Well, I have no intention of interfering with your business,” Satoru said, stretching. “I’m kind of tired. We’ll go rest until dawn.”

“As you wish. I will have beds prepared immediately.” Yakomaru’s eyes glowed faintly green in the dark.

 

We returned to the guest house. Once Yakomaru left, Satoru stoked the fire in the hearth and sat down to warm his feet. He sighed loudly.

“I don’t like this. I really don’t like this.”

“Why?”

“The colony, Squealer…Yakomaru, it’s all really fishy. What they say and what they think seem to be completely different. I can’t trust them.”

“But we need their help if we want to find Maria and Mamoru.”

“That’s true,” he said, still looking troubled. “But you saw what he did to the queen. She’s his own mother! How could he do something so terrible?”


Page 397-398

“Well, I mean, it shocked me too.” I shivered as I recalled the empty look in the queen’s eyes. “…but, no matter how articulate queerats are, they’re still beasts in the end. No matter how much their emotions resemble ours, they’re not the same. What Yakomaru said has a certain logic to it. They only did what they had to do to survive.”

“Look at you defending them.”

“I’m not,” I said, sitting up straight. “Don’t humans always project their own values onto animals? We say they have a gentle personality, or that mothers should sacrifice themselves for their child. But that’s not realistic. I’ve read books on animal behavior from the ancient civilization.”

Since my mother was a librarian, I probably had more chances to access restricted books than anyone else.

“And what they said was really surprising. Take hippos for example. In the picture books from Harmony School, they show hippos making a circle around one of their dead in order to grieve. But the truth is that hippos are omnivorous, and they surround dead hippos in order to eat them.”

“Yeah, I know that.”

“Kangaroos are the worst. We all think that they keep joeys in their pouches in order to take care of them.”

“And?”

“When they’re being chased by predators, the mother will throw the baby out of her pouch and escape as the predator eats the joey.”

Satoru frowned. “That’s kind of what minoshiro do. But worse, because they give up their own body parts.”


Page 399-401

“That’s why it’s a mistake to judge queerats through the lens of human ethics.”

Satoru clasped his hands behind his neck. “Hmm. But that’s not what I meant when I said I don’t like this. It’s more like they seem too similar to humans.”

“It’s true that there are no other animals like them.”

Satoru shuffled over to the door to make sure no one was outside. “I have the strange feeling they’re trying to replace humans. There aren’t any concrete buildings in Kamisu 66. When I saw their factories, I could only think that they are trying to claim for themselves the material culture that we’ve abandoned.”

I asked the question that had been gnawing away at me. “I wonder where Yakomaru gained all that knowledge. He said he read about it.

“But he couldn’t have simply come across a book that explained everything he wanted to know.”

“Then how?”

“This is just my guess, but maybe he captured a false minoshiro. False minoshiro can hypnotize people with its lights, but they might not have any effect on queerats.”

The more I talked with Satoru, the more frightened I became. The existence of queerats has always been viewed as something ominous, but now I suddenly felt the full weight of this sentiment.

“…queerats couldn’t possibly be planning to overthrow humans, could they?”

“Isn’t that impossible? I mean, just the two of us could easily crush the entire colony.”

Indeed, no matter how much queerats developed their material culture, there was no way for them to defeat a human with cantus. Besides, cantus was what had destroyed highly developed culture in the first place. But I couldn’t shake off my feeling of unease.

“Hey, what would happen if Yakomaru did to a human what he did to the queen?”

Satoru furrowed his brows. “I suppose they’d become just as disabled. …I know what you’re thinking. If they perfect their technique, they might be able to produce humans they can control.”

I felt a chill. “Wouldn’t…if that happened, wouldn’t it be a disaster?”

“Nope, it would be fine,” Satoru grinned. “The frontal lobe controls our will and creativity. That means our cantus is also controlled by the frontal lobe. Someone who has their will and creativity taken away would never be able to use their power. So there’s no need to worry.”

We stopped there and spent the next few hours trying to get what little sleep we could. I might have gotten a lot of sleep earlier, but Satoru hadn’t.

As I drifted off on the bed the queerats had prepared, a series of nightmarish images floated through my mind. Like Satoru, I had felt something was horribly wrong ever since I came to the Robber Fly colony.

But before I could figure out what that thing was, I drifted away into darkness.