“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.