“You weren’t scared though.”
“No, you’d never see a blowdog around here to begin with.”
“Saki, you saw the blowdog’s true form, right?”
It was hard to say that I didn’t now that he had asked. “Well, kind of…”
“Kind of?” Satoru laughed. “There’s only one self-destructing animal that lives in the wild. All the other ones have been modified by the queerats to be domestic animals.”
“Isn’t there a possibility?”
“For one thing, it’s impossible. Before humans had cantus, they spent a long time modifying domesticated animals, but this only works for animals with naturally good qualities. For example, mellow animals, or animals with good milk production or those who can be modified to have good meat. Domesticating an explosive animal is extremely unlikely.”
Satoru was being a know-it-all again. I wanted to argue, but my blood sugar was too low from hunger to come up with anything. I surrendered.
“Then what’s a blowdog?”
“Ancient biology books talk about a self-destructing animal just like the blowdog. What do you think it is?”
“Umm…” I was quickly losing interest in the topic. It could be whatever it wanted to be. A tiger globefish or a black-spotted pond frog. I was starting to worry about the other three people.
“Ants,” Satoru said triumphantly. “There’s one type of ant in Malaysia that tears itself apart when an enemy approaches and releases a volatile substance into the air. It supposedly warns the nest that an enemy is nearby.”
I was now going from hungry to dizzy. If we kept sitting here, I probably wouldn’t be able to stand up again.
“Anyway, that’s what it is. If normal animals blew themselves up one by one in order to repel an enemy, they’d wipe themselves out because they wouldn’t have any offspring. But it’s different for social animals like ants. Since an individual has no reproductive powers, it’s beneficial for them to sacrifice themselves to protect the nest and queen. If you think about it that way, blowdogs don’t exist outside of the ones that are mutated Ground Spiders…”
Satoru didn’t seem hungry, tired, or worried at all about the other three. It was too much trouble to shut him up. As I slowly closed my eyes, I heard a faint noise.
“…so, the Ground Spider queen is able to freely produce a number of different mutants like the leaf fighters and the frog-looking guys. Out of all these, the blowdog looks like a totally different species; its small head probably means it has limited intelligence about the same as a dog. In other words, in order to make them explode willingly and be unconditionally loyal, they must not be very smart…”
I heard it again. From behind. Sounds of dried twigs and grass being stepped on. Who…or what was there?
I put my finger in front of my lips and Satoru shut up immediately.
Behind me. A sound. I mouthed some words without making any noise.
Satoru hesitated, then stood up decisively and said loudly, “Who’s over there!”
It was kind of a desperate ploy, but there was nothing else we could do. We had no weapons at the moment. If we ran, we’d be caught immediately. We had to pretend that we could still use our cantus.
“Gods, how far are you planning to go?” Squealer emerged from the shadows.
Our plan to attack the enemy while he was unprepared was ruined. I didn’t think he would track us all the way here.
“Even though the Ground Spiders have been exterminated, it’s still dangerous to walk around in the middle of the night.”
“Why? Why did you follow us all the way here?”
Squealer cocked his head at my question. If he were human, he might’ve shrugged his shoulders. “If anything happened to the gods, I wouldn’t be able to explain.”
“We left by ourselves, isn’t that fine?”