an English translation of the novel

Page 260-261

The letter was hastily written with a brush pen in my mother’s familiar handwriting. Just seeing that was enough to make me start crying.

 

Dearest Saki,

I write this letter, confident that you have made it safely to the Temple of Purity.

Although I do not know how we’ve arrived at the present situation, I do know that many have already died at the hands of the fiend that has descended upon the district. Right now, we must do everything in our power to stop it, so we are returning to the district. If we should die there, then that is our duty. It is said that knowledge is power, and knowledge is necessary to defeat the fiend. As the head librarian, I now pass that knowledge on to you.

Do not come after us. We will do everything we can to stop the fiend, but in the event that we fail, there is something you must do.

What I am about to write falls under class four, category three, “catastrophic”. As such, please burn this letter after you have read it. Do not let personal feelings hold you back. Keep the best interests of the district in mind. Do not forget that you were chosen by Tomiko-sama.

Do you remember what I said about weapons of mass destruction at the Security Council meeting?

There was a time when weapons that could annihilate mankind many times over filled the earth. Most of them have been destroyed, and time has rendered the rest useless. I said that it’s possible that supercluster bombs still exist, but even if they did, I can’t imagine that they are still in working condition.

However, when I was looking through information on the bombs, I found another report. According to it, there is one weapon that could have survived a thousand years and into our time. Ironically, it is a weapon designed by those without cantus to wipe out cantus users. It had the disgusting nickname “Psychobuster”.


Page 262-265

The psychobuster was developed by the Americans and secretly brought over by the military when they were stationed in Japan.

 

The section after that was titled “Tokyo” and filled with mantra-like script interspersed with numbers. I couldn’t really understand what exactly the psychobuster was supposed to be.

 

Saki-chan, I’m sure you’ve already figured out the reason we need this horrible weapon.

We can’t kill the fiend with cantus.

In the past, every time a fiend appeared in a town, mountains of corpses filled the streets and the rivers ran red with blood. Perhaps one way of looking at the fiend is as the result of our collective karma. In that case, there is no way for us to eliminate it.

After reading the accounts of attacks throughout history, I know that every era has had to suffer their share of fiends. There are also records of what I can only describe as divine intervention. Once, when buildings were being torn down and piled together to act as obstacles against the fiend, a piece of rebar just happened to ricochet right into the fiend’s chest, killing it. The people tearing down the building died of death feedback, but ultimately, many lives were saved.

However, attempts to replicate the event all ended in failure. People who tried to destroy buildings near a fiend were all immobilized by attack inhibition. There were also attempts to hide the intent to murder through alcohol or narcotics, but unfortunately, none succeeded. No matter how hard you try, it is exceedingly difficult to deceive yourself.

Still, there was a hint to the solution in the most recent occurrence. 257 years ago, the fiend K was killed by one doctor’s heroic actions. The doctor injected K with a lethal cocktail of drugs. Although he was killed by K soon after, K also died.

I don’t know what would have happened to the doctor if K hadn’t killed him. It’s very possible that he would have died of death feedback., but the most important point is that he was somehow able to kill K.  

I don’t know to what extent the doctor was aware that he was injecting poison into K. Just writing this down makes me shudder in fear, but I believe that given a certain kind of medium, we would still be able to kill another human without using cantus.

As you would expect, records show that attempts to use bows and arrows and guns all ended in failure as it’s impossible to use these weapons without a definite intent to kill your opponent. 

But the weapons of mass destruction developed by the ancient civilization have no such limitations. Hundreds of thousands of people can be killed with the press of a button, but while you may understand logically what you are doing, it doesn’t feel real. In other words, it’s a device that can override our conscience and abhorrence toward killing and make it possible to commit mass murder. 

The psychobuster is considered a weapon of mass destruction, but it does not operate on as large a scale and is more suited for assassinations and terrorism. In any case, it’s a weapon that does not make the user feel like they are killing, so attack inhibition will most likely not prevent you from using it. Perhaps even death feedback can be avoided as well.

Perhaps even a weapon as evil as this can save the lives of thousands of people like the blessed rain that comes after a drought.

We know the exact location where the psychobuster is kept. Normally, there would be no way to navigate there, but if the object in the box could somehow be activated, it should be able to lead you to it. 

Saki-chan, you have a rare and valuable quality. In a word, I would describe it as strength. Though you cry and are discouraged, you never break. You always accomplish what you set out to do. We have always seen that in you and Tomiko-sama agreed whole-heartedly with us. 

If the psychobuster exists, I’m sure you will find it. Please use it to save the the lives of everyone in the district.

We love you from the bottom of our hearts, and will always watch over you wherever you go.

 

From your mother, Mizuho


Page 266-268

 

I began to cry as I reached the end of the letter.

I passed the letter over to Satoru, who was watching me anxiously. Then I opened the box.

The object inside was about fifty centimeters long and looked kind of like a sea roach. It had a shell on its back made of parallel, overlapping plates inlayed with dark blue stripes.

“It’s a false minoshiro…” Satoru whispered in surprise.

It was different from the false minoshiro I had seen before, but the overall resemblance was there. However, it didn’t have a single feeler on its back and didn’t look anything like a true minoshiro. I would’ve called it a fake false minoshiro, or maybe a copy false minoshiro.

“But does it still work?” I asked, wiping my eyes.

“I wonder. There’s a piece of paper in the box. It might be an instruction manual or something.”

I took out the paper and unfolded it. It had turned completely brown with age and was filled with unfamiliar, angular kanji explaining how to operate the fake false minoshiro.

 

April 11, year 129. Collected from excavated underground storage room No. 4 at the foot of Mt. Tsukuba.

Model number: Toshiba Solar Autonomous Archive, version SP-SPTA-6000

Operating instructions and notes:

 

① The unit must be placed in sunlit area to charge battery before powering on. After long periods of storage, required charging time is minimum six hours under strong sunlight. Battery may drain fully if used in dim areas for extended periods of time. 

 

② To return the unit to hibernation mode, give the verbal command and ensure that the activity indicator lamp is turned off, then store the unit in a dark place.

 

③ When placed in security mode, the unit will obey commands, but may attempt to hypnotize you and escape when given the chance. You must be more wary of it than you are of wild animals.

 

④ The unit was designed with long-lasting and age-resistant materials, but its ability to self-repair has reached its limits. Replacement parts are probably no longer available as the model is quite old.

 

⑤ There appears to be a faulty spot in the electronic circuit. Repair is impossible. When the unit begins to malfunction, power it down temporarily to prevent overheating.

 

⑥ As most of the information contained in the unit is class four, please exercise extreme caution when operating the unit. Under Ethics Committee regulations, all autonomous archives are to be destroyed immediately upon discovery, so knowledge of the existence of this unit must be kept strictly within library personnel.

 

“Year 129 was over a century ago. I really doubt that it still works,” Satoru said.


Page 269-271

“Let’s put it under the sun and see.”

The machine had probably been hidden away in the library storerooms underground for over a century. My mother had taken the time to find and bring it with her when she escaped, so I really hoped that it wasn’t completely unusable.

We borrowed a metal cage from Jakujou and placed the fake false minoshiro in a sunny spot on the temple grounds. There was probably just enough time before sunset to give it a full charge. Only the gods knew if we would actually be able to use it.

 

“This way.”

We looked skeptically at the place Jakujou indicated. It was a large cave in the bedrock of the hill behind the temple, the opening barred with a grid sturdy wooden poles. No matter how I looked at it, it was obviously a dungeon.

“Why here?” Satoru asked, his brows furrowed.

“We cannot let an exospecies stay in the guest quarters. Least of all now, when the queerat rebellion has claimed so many lives.”

“But Kiroumaru is the general of the Giant Hornet colony and loyal to humans. Not to mention he saved Inui’s life. To keep him here…” I was at a loss for words.

“We received orders from the Ethics Committee to exterminate any and all queerats, regardless of their colony. These beasts are more than happy to turn traitor when they see the tides of battle turning,” Jakujou said as he unlocked the gate.

His tone of voice suggested that not executing Kiroumaru was some kind of special favor.

The dark dungeon was hot and smelly.

“Look, Kiroumaru. You have guests who’ve come all this way to see you,” Jakujou said.

From the far end, a large, dark shape came crawling forward on all fours. The ceiling looked too low for it to stand upright. I recognized Kiroumaru immediately. His glittering green eyes and complex tattoos that ran all the way down his muzzle. He was big for a queerat, and his face had a uniquely wolfish resemblance. One eye was scarred shut, his entire body was covered in unhealed wounds, and he had lost a lot of weight.

There was the rattle of chains as he approached. He braced himself on unsteady legs.

“Thank you for coming. It shames me that you had to come to such a foul place.”

Even here, his tone of voice was unchanged: proud, with traces of cynicism.

“I’m Saki Watanabe. Do you remember me? This is Satoru Asahina…”

I turned to Jakujou, unable to bear it any longer.

“This treatment is uncalled for. Unchain him at least!”

“But we don’t have permission from the chief priest…”

“Aren’t they in the middle of the ritual right now? We’ll get permission later,” Satoru said decisively, breaking the chains on Kiroumaru’s hind legs with cantus.

“This is a problem. You shouldn’t have done that.” Jakujou sounded distraught.

We ignored him.

“I remember you two well. I know Saki Watanabe-sama from the Exospecies Division, but Satoru Asahina-sama was still an innocent boy when we last met. You’ve grown into a fine man.”


Page 272-274

He walked right up to us, eyes narrowed against the light coming in from outside.

“I apologize for how you were treated… And thank you for saving Inui.”

Kiroumaru grinned broadly. “Please, what I did was only natural. So what do you intend to do about the fiend?” he asked, getting straight to the point.

“An exospecies member has no business with our affairs! Know your place!” Jakujou shouted, but Kiroumaru pretended not to hear.

“The fiend wiped out my most elite troops,” he said to us. “Our arrows were were stop mid-flight and our weapons were torn from us with cantus. We were helpless. Even if it is just a child, I must admit it is something to be feared.”

“What happened after?”

“Although it could have killed us all in the blink of an eye, the fiend seemed to enjoy playing with us. My brave soldiers were shot, stabbed and tortured to death,” Kiroumaru said, his expression unchanged.

“But you made it out okay.”

Looking at his missing eye, I realized how utterly insensitive that sounded.

“I must say it’s almost a miracle that I was able to escape. To allow me to escape, my elite troops advanced in close formation, but their weapons were ripped from them as if attracted by a giant magnet. They fought with their claws and fangs. I saw them being butchered out of the corner of my eyes as I ran by, passing no more than twenty or thirty meters away from the fiend, and dived into a ditch. I must have had heaven’s protection.”

“I see. The fiend has attacked our district… Don’t worry, we will avenge your soldiers.”

“But gods…humans cannot use cantus against each other, is that not so? In that case, how will you deal with the fiend?”

“How do you know that?” Jakujou yelped in surprise.

“The gods underestimate our intelligence. It is common knowledge among our kind. Naturally, that slimy bastard Yakomaru knows as well. I’m sure his strategy hinges on it,” Kiroumaru replied, still not looking at Jakujou.

“Kiroumaru, how do you propose we defeat the fiend?” Satoru asked, perhaps expecting that a renown general like him would have some ideas.

“If the use of cantus is out of the question, we can only rely on the traditional tactics of my kind. Guns, poison arrows, traps… But the fiend is constantly surrounded by Robber Fly soldiers to protect it, so it won’t be easy in any case.”

As I expected, there was no magic solution.