an English translation of the novel

Page 111-112

Satoru quickly summarized the summer camp incident.

“I see. It’s true that he’s exceptionally cunning, but still, I just don’t believe the queerats can win this. They probably bet everything they had on tonight’s attack.”

“That’s what I thought too…”

I got the feeling there was something Satoru wasn’t saying.

“Earlier, when we were heading to the square, we ran into another queerat troop. I killed them.”

“Did you? Good job.”

“Yeah, but when I checked the tattoos in the corpses, they weren’t the Robber Fly colony’s.”

“It wasn’t?”

I gaped. I was supposed to be the expert in queerats, and I hadn’t even noticed. That was mortifying.

“It said ‘Other’1. That’s the Spider Wasp’s tattoo.”

“Spider Wasp? That’s the colony the Robber Flies attacked, isn’t it? I heard the Spider Wasps went over to their side for some reason,” Kuramochi, who had been listening carefully while steering the boat, said sharply.

Most people had already heard about this.

“Yes, and that’s the big mystery. I can’t figure out why they would do that.”

“Hm. What’s your theory?” Fujita asked.

“…the Spider Wasps must have believed the Robber Flies were sure to win. So in order to ensure their own survival, they betrayed the Giant Hornets.”

“As I thought, they did believe there was a chance of wining. But it looks like they overestimated the Robber Flies. …still, it must have sounded like a convincing plan,” Fujita smiled slightly and shook his head. “There’s one other thing that bothers me. The fact that the Robber Flies did manage to annihilate the Giant Hornets. Kiroumaru is an experienced commander and his soldiers are the best of the best. How were they defeated so easily? I don’t think a surprise attack like tonight’s would have as much of an impact on a queerat army.” His smile faded.

1 The first kanji in Spider Wasp, 鼈, is pronounced betsu, but they used a simpler character 別 for the tattoo, which happens to mean ‘other’.

Page 113-114

“So you think they still have an ace up their sleeve?” I asked Satoru.

“Yeah. Though I don’t know what it is yet. It might be a weapon of mass destruction from the past, as your mother said,” his voice trailed off.

“But Shisei Kaburagi said…”

He had said that it was a cantus user that had destroyed the Giant Hornet colony.

“Yeah,” Satoru said, his expression warning me not to speak further.

If the other three found out about that, it would only cause them to panic.

“…alright. They might have weapons stronger than guns and arrows, so everyone needs to be careful,” Fujita said thoughtfully.

“Ridiculous. There aren’t any weapons that can overpower cantus. It’ll be a walk in the park when we decide to attack,” Kuramochi snapped. “I’ll find those bastards, even if I have to knock down every building here. I won’t rest until I slaughter all the queerats that killed Nemoto!”

“I know how you feel, but calm down. They’ve had a lot of time to prepare. We’ll be caught with our pants down if we’re not careful,” Fujita said.

“Yeah yeah, I know.”

Kuramochi turned away. The boat swayed from side to side, as if channeling the conflicting feelings within him.

Okano, who had been silent until now, looked up.

“I…I want to kill every last one of those fiends. But I’m more worried about Oouchi right now.”

“I know. But I’m sure he’s fine. There are fifty or sixty people in the hospital. They might be sick, but they can still use their powers. The queerats wouldn’t stand a chance,” Fujita said encouragingly.


Page 115-116

“Yeah…you’re right,” Okano murmured to herself.

“It’ll be okay. Don’t worry.” I squeezed her shoulder.

She trembled slightly. I patted her comfortingly. I wondered if Oouchi was her lover. I remembered when I had comforted Maria like this long ago, and my heart ached.

The decoy boat arrived first at the dock, and we stopped behind it. Between here and the hospital was a narrow canal surrounded on both sides by rice paddies. Queerats could be hiding among the plants, or submerged in the mud. Crossing would be dangerous.

“Look there,” Satoru whispered, pointing at the hospital.

The windows of all three floors of the building were dark, and there wasn’t a sound to be heard. There was a black void where the front entrance would have been. The door appeared to have been left open, but looking closer, I saw that some of the wooden planks that made up the wall had been ripped out.

“What is that? Is the door broken?”

“Yeah. It’s just a huge hole.”

“That can’t be…!” Okano said, her voice rising.

Fujita clapped a hand over her mouth.

“…shh. It’s okay. Even if something did happen, they probably managed to escape. Let’s go check it out first.”

The two boats advanced as quietly as possible. Satoru, Fujita, and I scanned the paddies for any signs of an attack. My heart was beating so hard I was sure everyone could hear it. My palms were dripping with sweat and I kept wiping them on my yukata.

We arrived at the front of the hospital. Part of the entrance had been completely destroyed. What was left was a neat circular hole about two meters in diameter.

“If this was the queerats’ doing, how did they manage to create the hole? I don’t smell gunpowder or anything,” Fujita said, sniffing the air.


Page 117-118

“Who cares about that! Let’s get in there,” Kuramochi said, rising from the boat.

“Wait. We have no idea what’s in there.”

Kuramochi brushed Fujita aside and stepped out of the boat.

We watched him go in mute amazement. We weren’t Kaburagi Shisei. The queerats would have no problem springing a surprise attack on us.

But the darkness around us remained undisturbed. Everything was silent. Kuramochi strode toward the entrance and peeked into the hole.

“…no one. Just splintered wood everywhere. Like some giant ball smashed the door in.” His voice echoed out into the night.

“Saki, isn’t this kind of strange?” Satoru whispered nervously into my ear.

“Why?”

“It’s too quiet.”

“I guess so…”

I paused. It was weird that there wasn’t even the hum of insects. And not just that; at this time of year, the rice paddies should have been filled with croaking frogs.

“…could the queerats be hiding nearby?”

“Yeah. A lot of them, I think.”

“What do we do?”

Satoru beckoned for Fujita and Okano to come closer, and explained the situation.

“…they’re waiting for all of us to disembark. They probably want to strike when we’re least prepared.”

“S-so should we attack first then?”

“Yes. But if we do it now, they would target Kuramochi.”

“We have to call him back,” Okano whispered, her voice trembling.

“No, that would give away that we know what they’re planning. And if they start shooting blindly at us, that would be dangerous too. Kuramochi may not be able to make it back safely.


Page 119-120

“So what do we do?” I asked.

“Wait for Kuramochi to enter the hospital. Once he’s safely inside, we’ll crush the bastards.

Kuramochi hesitated outside the entrance. The inside of the building was even darker than the night outside, but it was still too dangerous to light a torch.

“Heeey. What are you guys doing? Are you coming?” he called back to us, sounding irritated.

“We’ll be right there. Just hold on a minute. We’re going to check out the surrounding area,” Satoru answered.

“Tch. What, are you chickening out?” he scoffed, then stepped resolutely into the hospital and disappeared from view.

Now! We released our cantus into the fields around us.

The rice paddies burst into flames so intense they seemed to almost reach the sky.

For two or three seconds, nothing happened. Just as I was beginning to think that we had been overly paranoid about the whole thing, an entire army of soldiers leapt out of the mud. There were hundreds of them. They drew the weapons they had hidden among the stalks of rice and fired relentlessly at us.

But the moment the queerats revealed their positions, it was over. The flames exposed their positions to us, and they were temporarily blinded by the flames after hiding in the dark for so long. Only a few arrows and bullets struck the boat; most missed by a wide margin and flew over our heads.

The four of us began a merciless attack. Fueled by fear, anger, and a need for vengeance, the images we created wrung the queerats’ necks, smashed their skulls in, snapped their spines, and crushed their hearts. We didn’t even notice the rainbow sparks made by cantus interfering with each other. The only thought we had was that not a single queerat could be allowed to live; they needed to be thoroughly exterminated. The air was filled with the crackle of burning crops and shrieks of dying queerats. It had turned into hell.