an English translation of the novel

Page 101-102

Shisei Kaburagi’s gaze traveled over the fallen Koufuu Hino. His expression didn’t change, but a aura of burning rage radiated from him.

“I will deal with this. Everyone, please suppress your cantus,” he said calmly, though the terrible force of his anger was still palpable.

He removed his sunglasses.

A silent stir rippled through the crowd. Very few people had ever seen Shisei Kaburagi’s face.

He had large, almond-shaped eyes that shone with a clear light. Now that his entire face was revealed, he looked almost handsome. Except for his strange irises.

There were two pupils in each eye, each surrounded by a golden iris that glittered in the darkness. This was a genetic trait passed down through the Kaburagi bloodline, and was said to be proof of the family’s extraordinary powers.

Speaking of names, Shisei’s true name was 四星1. 肆 was an alternate form of 四, and it had the added meaning of ‘to kill’.

“Filth,” Shisei Kaburagi said in a low voice.

Two holes appeared in the bubbles holding the pent-up explosion. The suppressed energy shot directly at the two remaining false human queerats.

The caltrops tore through them at such high speed that their torsos were instantly vaporized. The remnants of their bodies hit the ground with a thud.

Shisei Kaburagi turned his terrible gaze upon the crowd. Everyone stood rooted to the spot, not even daring to breathe.

Suddenly, about a dozen people were lifted into the air. Looking at the suspended, struggling forms, I realized that they were all false humans.

“Did you think you could deceive me?”

The queerats were catapulted out into the darkness at supersonic speeds like ricocheting pachinko balls.

“Watch out!” I shouted.

The few soldiers that had survived Koufuu Hino’s slaughter had gathered up their remaining ammunition and were sneaking up behind Shisei Kaburagi to launch one final attack.

1 四星 means ‘four stars’.

Page 103-104

Shisei Kaburagi didn’t even bother to turn around.

The air seemed to thicken as the arrows and bullets flew toward him, and they slowly came to a stop.

He turned, almost lazily, and looked at the queerats with his four-pupiled eyes.

In a flash so bright I thought my retinas would burn off, the remaining six hundred or so soldiers evaporated. All that remained was a thick mist. A second later a burning wind swept over us. If I hadn’t used my cantus to protect my face just in time, I would’ve been blistered by the heat.

Shisei Kaburagi walked slowly toward Koufuu Hino. The arrows and bullets clattered to the ground behind him.

“Koufuu. Hold on.”

As Shisei Kaburagi lifted him up, Koufuu Hino opened his eyes and coughed up a lungful of blood.

“I can’t believe it. Those l-little rats actually got me…”

“I’m sorry. I was careless.”

Koufuu Hino didn’t seem to hear him.

“Why were the children of god given such…frail bodies…”

Satoru and I began to run toward him to help, but Shisei Kaburagi shook his head slowly.

“The artist in me…is losing its flame…what a waste,” he continued to whisper incoherently. “May I leave beauty in my wake…”

Those were his last words. A faint glowing image lit the darkness. It was a young woman. I watched with bated breath. She stood naked in a field bathed in the light of a setting sun, smiling gently at us. Even now, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful.

Just as I was wondering who she was, the image slowly faded away into the darkness.

Koufuu Hino, wielder of the most powerful cantus, had passed from this world.

Shisei Kaburagi put on his sunglasses and stood up.

“Everyone, please stay calm. The immediate danger has passed. Are members of the Security Council present?”


Page 105-106

There was movement in the crowd. First to stumble forward was Mr. Kaneko. His face was deathly pale and shock seemed to have rendered him speechless. Next came my parents, and a wave of relief washed over me. I was certain they had survived, but seeing it for myself brought tears to my eyes. I ran forward and embraced them.

Behind them, I saw Tomiko walking calmly toward us.

“How’s Koufuu?”

“He’s gone,” Shisei Kaburagi said.

“I see… Every queerat that was even marginally involved with this will be exterminated. All others are considered suspects until further notice.”

“Of course.”

“I never thought this would actually happen,” Tomiko said in a harsh voice.

“That Yakomaru. Do not underestimate his intelligence or the extent of his plans. Doing so was what killed Koufuu, powerful as he was. Do you understand?”

“Yes. Please don’t worry. Attacks are useless against me.”

“True. You have a 360 degree field of vision with no blind spots, and can even see through objects used for cover. Your reflexes surpass the highest limits of normal nerve cells. Even I can’t think of a way to bring you down. …still, I can’t help but feel uneasy.”

My parents started giving instructions to the members of the Security Council to deal with the situation. My father, in his capacity as mayor, began giving brisk orders left and right.

“The injured who require medical care, come this way. Are there any doctors or nurses here?”

I suddenly realized someone was missing.

“Um, where’s Hiromi Torigai?” I asked Tomiko.

She grimaced slightly and shook her head.

“Huh?”


Page 107-108

“She was always the most worried and cautious one. For all that trouble, she was killed instantly by a bullet to the head. It’s really unfortunate. Remember, she was the only one to suggest postponing the Summer Festival at the Safety Council meeting,” Tomiko said quietly in a surprisingly calm voice. “I can’t remember feeling this much hatred for anything since that fiend, K. These despicable queerats, especially Yakomaru, are going to pay for what they’ve done. I vow to subject him to agony no living being has ever suffered as he dies a slow, protracted death.”

Then she gave a cheerful smile and started gathering members of the Ethics Committee for a conference.

Shisei Kaburagi called over the crowd, “Everyone, please remember your disaster response training. Form your groups of five and assess everyone’s health. If your group is missing members, join with another group. Never walk with less than five. …patrol the village in your groups and conduct a thorough search for any remaining queerats. Even if they claim to be loyal to humans and beg for their lives to be spared, kill them on sight. Be thorough, destroy their hearts or snap their necks to ensure death. Each member keeps watch in one direction, and make sure there are no blind spots above or below.”

Satoru took my arm. “Let’s go.”

“Huh?”

“We’re the only two surviving members of our group from Sage Academy, so we have to join up with another incomplete group.”

“Yeah. What are you thinking about?”

“I don’t know. But my anxiety is gnawing away at me.”

He didn’t say more than that.

We quickly found three people and joined with them at Satoru’s suggestion. They were from the metallurgy plant. Fujita, the leader, was a middle-aged man, Kuramochi was a thirty-something year old man who was also a firefighter in his town, and Okano was a lady about two or three years older than us. One of their group members was in the hospital and hadn’t come to the festival, and the other had died from the poison gas attack. The three of them were full of grief and anger. Kuramochi showed signs of wanting to take revenge on the queerats, and Okano wept openly for the friends she had lost in the attack. Both were worried about their sick friend, so we headed to the hospital.


Page 109-110

“Saki, be careful,” my mother said through tears as she hugged me tight before we parted.

“Even if you have cantus, it’s still dangerous if the five of you get separated. Do not drift from the pack, do you hear me?” my father warned over and over.

“Okay, I’ll be fine,” I said cheerfully.

But there was a nagging feeling of unease that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

 

The only hospital with wards for patients to stay in was in the town of Gold, separated from the center of the district. It was surrounded by paddy fields, where year after year, bright green shoots slowly turned into golden sheaves of rice.

We boarded a small boat and set off down the pitch black waterway. Everyone was dying to reach the hospital as soon as possible, but for safety’s sake, we had to move slowly. It was maddening. Since there was always the possibility of being ambushed in the dark, we sent an empty canoe ahead of us as decoy, but there was no guarantee the queerats would fall for the trap.

“Hey, what’s that thing you’re worried about? Can you talk about it now?”

Satoru spoke quietly, aware that the others would be listening. “Yeah. Something doesn’t add up.”

“What?”

“First of all, why would Yakomaru fight a war he has no chance of winning? You know how he is. He wouldn’t take a risk if he wasn’t absolutely sure he’d come out on top.”

“You guys know Yakomaru?”

Fujita, who was on lookout at the bow, stood and came over.

“Yes. We met him when he was still called Squealer.”