an English translation of the novel

Page 40-41

“I don’t know if they actually know anything about the equipment used during the Warring States, but it’s hard to imagine they invented these things on their own. I’m convinced they have a source of knowledge.”

I immediately thought of the false minoshiro. When we visited the Robber Fly colony twelve years ago, Satoru had wondered whether they had captured a false minoshiro. Of course, the Giant Hornet colony might have captured one too. But since the existence of false minoshiro was a secret, I couldn’t tell Inui about it.

The battle began to shift in the Giant Hornet’s favor. Their archers began firing on the enemy gunmen. Between volleys of shots, they would continue pressing forward.

“The arqubuses too. They’re inefficient because you can only fire once. Then you have to clean out the inside, reload the powder and bullet, and pack it all down before you can fire again. But the queerats have managed to eliminate this step almost entirely. In the ancient past, Japan had designed a rudimentary cartridge, and the queerats simplified it even further. They’ve improved the whole thing dramatically.”

I watched the gunmen fire, insert a new cartridge into the barrel, and prepare to fire again.

“I don’t know exactly how they’re made, but the general idea is that the bullet and gunpowder are wrapped in oiled paper and inserted into the gun barrel to allow for sequential firing. …sometimes their intelligence frightens me.”

Overcome by the difference in fire power, the Giant Hornets could have chosen to pull back and engage in long-range combat, but they pushed forward still and began a brutal close-quarters fight.

“You know just about everything about queerats, don’t you? And here I thought I knew a good deal already.”

“No, no… Your knowledge is a lot more comprehensive. I’ve just had a lot of opportunities to see how their colonies function from the inside, thanks to my job,” Inui said, flushing. “Do you know what they call us wildlife conservation officers amongst themselves? Regular humans are gods, but we’re the gods of death. Well, I guess you can’t blame them.”

Contrary to their name, the wildlife conservation officers don’t do much wildlife conservation. Their main jobs are to eradicate harmful species and stamp out any queerats who disobey human rule.

Page 42-43

“…anyway, I’ve seen a good number of colonies, and the strongest is the Giant Hornets, no doubt about it. And they’re especially formidable in close-range fights.”

“Why are they so powerful?”

Inui smiled. “It’s a secret I haven’t even told the higher-ups, but I’ll tell you. The Giant Hornet soldiers all take a certain drug before battles.”

“Drugs? Like narcotics?”

“Something like that. They blend cannabis with a certain psychotropic substance extracted from the queen’s urine. The formula is a secret, but it seems that when they take it, their mind is cleared, their sense of duty is heightened, and their aggression reaches a peak while all sense of fear is suppressed. It creates the ultimate soldier.”

A chill ran up my spine. The Giant Hornet soldiers were indeed swarming over the battlefield, throwing themselves at the enemy without the slightest hesitation. The scene overlapped with my memory from fourteen years ago. They had faced down the enormous Ground Spider mutants with bravery that bordered on recklessness.

The fight was over in just over an hour. The allied army, which had started with an advantage in numbers, was now reduced by half. Survivors limped away in ragged groups and the rest lay dead on the field.

“I am deeply ashamed that I could not do as promised.” Kiroumaru returned from his position on the front lines. “It’s difficult to believe it took over an hour to deal with this pack of weaklings.” Kiroumaru smiled, but there was a chilling, wolfish gleam in his green eyes.


I had returned to the Department of Health and was writing up the battle report when Mr. Watabiki appeared, looking flustered.

“Welcome back.”

“Ah, Saki. How did it go?”

“…the Giant Hornets had an overwhelming victory. I think it’ll be hard for the Robber Flies to recover from this.”

“I see. Well, I’m not surprised, since Kiroumaru was in command.”

Page 44-45

It pained me to think about the innumerable corpses piled all around the battlefield. Although they were rodents, they had the intelligence to commit such acts of violence.

But there was no time to feel bad for them. If we simply let the bodies rot where they were, there was the risk of spreading infectious diseases. Usually, cleaning up was the job of the Environmental Health division, but since the queerats had reached a temporary truce, they were tasked with burying the dead. Although, mass incineration of the corpses with cantus might still be necessary.

“How did it go on your end?”

“Um, well, the result was unexpected,” Mr. Watabiki said, his face unreadable.

“So you mean the Goat Moths won?”

“Yes, in a sense. …the Spider Wasps changed sides.”

“Huh?” I was speechless.

I couldn’t believe it. I thought I had completely understood the dynamics between the colonies. Learning that the Spider Wasps had betrayed Kiroumaru and gone over to Yakomaru’s side was like seeing the sun rise in the west.

Didn’t the whole war start because the the Spider Wasps were attacked by the Goat Moths? But now they had abandoned their allies and joined the enemy.

Then I remembered. Right after they had been attacked, the Spider Wasps happened to run into a worker from the Lotus Farms and told him what had occurred. However, the colony never filed an official complaint with the Exospecies division.

Why? The queerats were vengeful creatures at heart, and it was unimaginable that they would simply hide and lick their wounds after such an attack. That might happen if the enemy were overwhelmingly powerful, but the Spider Wasps had the strength of the Giant Hornet faction behind it, and would have had the advantage.

“…so what happened in the battle?”

“The Spider Wasps abandoned formation and joined up with the Goat Moths. The Spider Wasps’ allies, the Ground Beetles, Tiger Beetles, and Army Ants, were completely dumbfounded. They couldn’t defend at all and were destroyed.”

Page 46-48

“I’m shocked.”

“It’s quite a mystery.”

“So then, with one win and one loss, we’re back to square one again.”

“I don’t know about that. Even now, I doubt there’d be a fair fight between the two of them. Of course, the Spider Wasps joining the enemy side is a big hit to the Giant Hornet troops, but I think the Giant Hornets still hold the upper hand.”

Mr. Watabiki’s optimistic outlook (which stemmed from the fact that since the Giant Hornet faction was the most loyal to humans, it would be more convenient for us if they won) was shattered just four days later.

Unexpectedly, it was Satoru who brought the news.

“Saki! Have you heard?” He came barging into the room, flushed and out of breath.

“What?” I looked at him in bewilderment.

“The war! The main forces of the Giant Hornets and Robber Flies had their final battle.”

“I haven’t heard anything about it. I’ve said that they inform me of fights beforehand, but sometimes skirmishes happen unpredictably…still, they’re supposed to make an effort to let me know the time and location so I can be there as witness and write my reports.”

“So you don’t know the outcome?”

“No…do you?”

“I happened to be passing by near the battleground. There were some samples I absolutely needed to have, but since the queerats we normally use are now out of commission, I had to go find them myself.”

“That’s dangerous. Entering their battlegrounds isn’t allowed.” I frowned.

“Yeah, but it was for a time-sensitive experiment…I think it must have been the day after the end of the fight. There was an injured soldier hiding out so I gave him some first aid and asked what happened.”

Strictly speaking, treating injured queerats was considered interfering with their wars and was prohibited. But that wasn’t important right now. I wanted to know what happened.

“So, what happened? Did the Giant Hornets win?”

Satoru shook his head. “Just the opposite. They were annihilated.”

“What? I don’t believe it.” I gasped.

“The soldier wasn’t that good at Japanese, so I’m not sure what exactly happened, but basically, the entire army was wiped out…massacred. It appears that Kiroumaru managed to escape, but his whereabouts are unknown.”

Page 49-50

The mood at the Security Council was oppressively gloomy.

“Does anyone have any questions about Satoru Asahina’s testimony?” The head of the council, Shisei Kaburagi, asked in a low voice.

A short silence followed.

This time, every important official in the district was present. Tomiko from the Committee of Ethics. Head of the Board of Education, Hiromi Torigai. Kofuu Hino from the Occupations Council. My mother, Head Librarian Mizuho Watanabe. My father, Mayor Takashi Sugiura. And Hiroshi Kaneko from the Department of Health, as well as the all of his staff. Head Priest Mushin, who was now over a hundred years old, from the Temple of Purity was absent, but two monks were there to represent him.

My father spoke first.

“Asahina-kun. I’d like to hear your theory about how the Giant Hornet colony was killed.”

Satoru licked his lips. “I really have no idea. Based on the sheer number corpses at the scene, all Giant Hornet soldiers, all I got was the impression of a one-sided massacre.”

“What was the main cause of death?”

“I don’t know that either. Many were pierced with arrows, but the majority were mutilated beyond recognition.”

“What sort of mutilation?”

“Many were cut to pieces, or shot full of holes as if they had been used for target practice.”

“What did you learn from the surviving soldier?”

“He only knew a couple of phrases, so things like, ‘Giant Hornets, killed’, ‘Massacre’, ‘Only Kiroumaru escaped’. I tried to ask what happened, but he started hyperventilating and screaming in his own language.”

“You couldn’t tell him to translate?”

“No. He died soon after that.”

Silence once again.