an English translation of the novel

Page 30-31

“Absolutely not!” Yakomaru shouted with his arms crossed in front of his chest. “By the deities of heaven and earth, I swear that we gave no such order.”

“But is the Goat Moth colony not affiliated with you? Or rather, under your rule?”

“It is true we have approached the Goat Moths and labored to join forces. However, our efforts have yet to bear fruit. The reasons are twofold. First, most members of the colony still cling to the old ways of thinking and will not leave monarchal rule behind. Second, the Giant Hornets have had their eye on the Goat Moths for a long time. As allying with us would appear invite violent repercussions, it seems their options were awfully limited.”

“Kiroumaru, is Yakomaru telling the truth?”

“It is the nonsense of a sophist who piles lies upon lies.” He bared his teeth in a wolfish grin. “It is absolutely absurd. Please don’t trust the words of this treacherous snake. To address his first point, I have been informed the Goat Moth queen has already been taken captive. As for his second claim, I can tell you we have never threatened the Goat Moth colony.”

“Yakomaru.” Mr. Kaneko turned his attention to the other queerat.

“My my, I am shocked. The Goat Moth queen, held captive? What could be the source of such inane prattle? The queen is currently in good health and ruling over her colony. Although she entrusts political matters to her very capable regent, Quichy.”

“What gall you have to tell such barefaced lies in front of the gods. Perhaps I should rip out that filthy tongue of yours,” Kiroumaru said, his voice overflowing with menace.

“Kiroumaru, you are not to speak unless addressed.”

Kiroumaru bowed his head at the rebuke.


Page 32-33

“Yakomaru, was it? I have a few questions.” Tomiko leaned forward. “You said the Goat Moth queen is in good health, but leaves affairs of the government to a regent. Is that correct?”

“Yes, that is correct.” Yakomaru said smugly. If he had had the faintest idea who Tomiko was, he would have flung himself at her feet.

“Hmm. But if you are that familiar with their colony’s inner workings, doesn’t it imply that your own colony has a more intimate relationship with them than Kiroumaru’s does?”

“Ah…uh..well, as I mentioned earlier, we put considerable effort into building a relationship with them…so naturally, I have some knowledge of their inner workings.” Having been caught in a lie, Yakomaru began to sweat. “B-but, however close we may be, it is unthinkable that we would order them to defy the will of the gods. If we did, divine punishment would be brought upon us. Why would we take such a suicidal action?”

“So you’re suggesting the Goat Moth colony acted on its own? That does not make much sense to me either.”

“Yes, I have my own theories regarding that. May I explain?” Yakomaru quickly regained his composure.

“Certainly. Go on.”

“For the sake of argument, let’s assume that we gave the order to attack, or that the Goat Moths acted on their own. Either way, to attack another colony without permission from the gods is pure insanity. But what if this was all orchestrated by the Spider Wasp colony?”

Kiroumaru glared with such intensity that it seemed sparks were flying from his eyes. Yakomaru gave no notice.

“It wouldn’t be impossible to obtain the weapons and armor used by the Goat Moths. Perhaps they split into two groups, staged an attack, and played the victim. Both Kiroumaru and my faction are equally matched in power, so if we were to meet in direct combat, both sides would suffer considerable losses. I hesitate to say this, but perhaps the Giant Hornets wanted to rely upon divine assistance to destroy us without putting themselves in danger…”


Page 34-35

Kiroumaru’s clenched fists shook in anger. He looked as though he were about to lunge at Yakomaru, but somehow held himself in check with an iron will.

“But two Spider Wasp soldiers perished,” Mr. Kaneko cut in.

“I assume the loss of a few lives matter not to them. That is the fundamental difference between our colonies and his. For a democratic society like ours, each life carries equal rights, and is an irreplaceable existence in the universe. But the old system serves only the queen, and soldiers are merely disposable tools!”

There was no doubt that Yakomaru was born with a silver tongue. He had evaded all of Kiroumaru’s attacks and sent them right back at him with just a few words. Although everyone here distrusted him to a certain extent, his logic was flawless.

“Do you think what Yakomaru says holds water? You stated earlier that you found the Goat Moths to be the guilty party.” Tomiko said to Mr. Kaneko.

“Yes. …well, common sense would dictate otherwise, but his words cannot be dismissed entirely. I admit we did not consider the possibility of a charade,” Mr. Kaneko said, sounding flustered.

In the end, the meeting was adjourned for the day without having reached a decision. The footsteps of destruction came ever closer, and we had lost our final, precious chance to forestall the impending disaster.

 

The sight of an army a hundred thousand strong was undeniably majestic. Their armor, painted yellow and black like the hornets they were named after, glittered blindingly in the sunlight. Like a single organism, thousands of banners fluttered to the same rhythm and their battle cry made even the trees tremble.


Page 36-37

“Within the hour you shall witness the annihilation of our enemies,” Kiroumaru declared.

Seeing his confidence, I was inclined to believe him.

“I know their battle strategy. Winning is unlikely in a head-on fight, so they will split into smaller platoons to carry out guerrilla tactics and secure better positions. But they are foolish if they think they will win with such a shallow plan. I am going to teach them a lesson they’ll never forget.”

“May the fortunes of war favor you.” I felt extremely out of place, holding a stack of papers in the middle of an army. “However, we take a neutral stance in this war. If the enemy advances this far, we will retreat. Needless to say, we will not assist you in any way.”

“I understand.” Kiroumaru smiled his wolfish smile. “But you need not worry. Not even an enemy arrow will make it this far.”

“Okay. Um, the Giant Hornets have a main force of a hundred thousand. The other side, which is allied forces of the Deerfly, Pyraloid Moth, Cabbage Armyworm, Orb Spider, and Leaf Hopper colonies, number 140 thousand. …huh? Why is the Robber Fly’s main army not included?” I asked as I pored over the reports.

“You should ask that silver-tongued coward. But even with superior numbers, I doubt they have the bravery to face us directly. Perhaps they plan to use these smaller colonies as pawns to thin our our forces. Even with all their drivel about being a democratic society, they still send soldiers to their death without a second thought,” Kiroumaru spat.

“I see. Well, please fight to your heart’s desire.”

“I will.”

He gave the signal and his army slowly started advancing. The allied forces, clearly the larger of the two, made a show of moving in response.


Page 38-39

“You should step back a little,” said Inui, the wildlife conservation officer sent to protect me. “Stray bullets might come into this area.”

“What do you mean by bullets?”

“Queerat wars these days involve not just bows and arrows, but also arquebuses. They are too fast for the eye to see, so you can’t stop them with cantus.”

I quickly retreated to a safe distance. As if they had been waiting for me to leave, the cries on the battlefield suddenly intensified. The two armies began to fight.

Arrows flew through the air, followed by harsh bangs and puffs of smoke.

I looked out over the battle field from the hill we stood on. Against the allied army’s line of archers and gunmen, the Giant Hornets attacked with long spears in a wedge formation. The allied army probably hoped to stop the Giant Hornets in their tracks with a unified assault, but their plan fell apart almost instantly. The Giant Hornets came straight at them through the hail of bullets without the slightest hesitation.

Looking carefully, I saw that the soldiers at the front of the wedge were holding strangely shaped shields.

“Those are deflecting the bullets,” Inui explained.

Although he was shorter and skinnier than I was, Inui had the energy and endurance to travel through the wilderness for days without rest. That combined with his extensive experience as a wildlife conservation officer made him the most reliable person in the Department of Health.

“The bullets can easily pierce normal armor, but if you look carefully at the shields, you’ll see that they’re made at an angle. That deflects the bullets to the sides.”

He explained that shields were first made with rows of bamboo arranged into a V, over which layers of stiff linen were glued and allowed to harden. Then the surface was covered with a thick coat of wax and, finally, metal pipes. The shields were apparently highly effective at deflecting bullets.

“The bamboo part of the shields are just like the ones used by the ancient civilization during the Warring States. But the addition of linen, wax, metal, and shaping to deflect bullets were all thought up by the queerats themselves.”

“I can’t believe it. I knew they were smart, but…”