Satoru talked quietly, hanging back. Maybe he was afraid of the queerats ahead overhearing.
“You’re over thinking it.” I was a little uneasy, but still felt like I should refute him somehow. “The Robber Fly colony is under our control, right? If they were to do something to us, and other people found out, the colony would be exterminated. They know that well. So they shouldn’t have any incentive to hurt us.”
“You can never tell what their motives are. Queerats may think like us sometimes, but they’re still rodents after all,” Satoru said, suddenly sounding much older than his years. “Anyway, we can’t be careless. I definitely won’t let them know we can’t use our cantus. You be careful too, Saki.”
How in the world am I supposed to be careful, I wanted to ask, but this wasn’t the time to argue.
But as we walked through the pathless forest, my uneasiness increased.
Would we be able to fool the Robber Fly colony? This new worry replaced my previous fear of the Ground Spiders, growing exponentially as time wore on.
How much more do I have to walk? Suddenly, one queerat turned around and shouted something, but I was so exhausted my mind was too hazy to comprehend anything.
“What did it say?”
“I didn’t really hear, but it was probably something about having arrived.”
Satoru’s words caused a ripple of anxiety to run through me.
Through a gap in the bushes ahead, a new queerat appeared. Its appearance was distinctively different from the six that we had been traveling with. A good size bigger than the others, it was wearing a helmet with a hoe-shaped crest and scaled metal ring mail. It was probably the same rank as Captain Pinecone from the Ground Spiders, or maybe even higher.
For a few moments, Helmet stood listening to the report from one of the queerats, then approached us carefully.
“Gods, welcome,” it said in astonishingly fluent Japanese, sweeping off its helmet. “I am a messenger for the Robber Fly Colony. Θξ%∞★∀∂ is my name.”