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I didn’t tie the motorcycle to the others until I reached the road. If I tied it beforehand, the others would’ve pulled it into a tree. They’re not reliable. I have to create situations where they can’t fail. I tied the motorcycle to eight others, keeping the rope tying them almost the same length. That way, they could walk side by side, pulling at the same time. It wasn’t hard to get them to stand still. While the sun is out, they’re sluggish. Lately, they’ve been getting sluggish at night too. I’m not sure why. Hopefully it doesn’t become an issue.

While fiddling with the box, I discovered a knob. Turning it increases the sound. Along the knob, in letters that curved, it said volume. It should’ve said sound. Maybe they mean the same thing. But with the knob turned to the highest volume, it was enough to project the voice of the prey on the other end very far. Especially on such a quiet path with the others’ footsteps as the only other source of noise. The prey’s voice echoed through the surrounding woods on either side of the road.

Surprisingly, there were a lot of others nearby, stationed along the edge of the woods. They must’ve been attracted by the sound of the motorcycles when they passed through. But the motorcycles traveled too fast. The others must’ve lost interest, turning sluggish instead. Now that a new source of sound appeared, the box in my hands, they’re becoming active again. Their population density is much higher. This time, I don’t think I have to walk in a circle around the prey’s camp to gather others. All of them have already been gathered for me.

But why weren’t they on the road? If they were attracted to the motorcycle sounds, they should’ve been on the road, not alongside of it. Did the prey do something to prevent others from walking on the roads? It makes sense if they did. Their motorcycles can’t travel smoothly if others are in the way. The others might die if they’re run over. But colliding against many of them can’t be good for the motorcycles. The prey might’ve marked the edges of the road with stink sauce. Or the trees by the side were marked. I don’t smell anything. But it doesn’t matter. Whatever the reason, the others are on the road now, following the voice coming out of the box.

Several hours passed. There was still no sign of smoke in the sky. What if the prey knew I could find them by looking for smoke? Then they’d stop burning their fires. But how would other prey locate the garrison? If they already knew the location, it wouldn’t be a problem. Do prey really recognize all locations by name? If that’s the case, I might’ve walked past the prey’s camp already. They don’t necessarily have to be at the end of the road. Like how the building I was just in wasn’t connected to the road, just nearby it.

I’ll climb a tree. The higher up I am, the further I can see. And the trees are blocking my view of the sky. Maybe there is smoke. I’ll put the box down as I climb. It doesn’t matter if the others reach it. I already know they won’t try to eat it. Climbing up this tree is easier than the first time I tried. Last time, I had less stuff on my back too. It’s because I got stronger. Once I reached the top, I raised the visor of my dome. It’s tinted, wearing it obscures my vision. But it protects my face, a worthy tradeoff. I looked around, circling the tree too to get a full view of the surrounding sky. Way off in the distance, there was a tiny pillar of smoke. It was faint, possible I was just seeing things. But that’s fine. It meant I didn’t miss a camp if there was no smoke nearby.

I think any nearby camps were already overrun. Otherwise, why would there be so many others? After walking several hours, I already doubled the number of followers I had. And from my viewpoint above, I saw dozens of others ahead, walking towards the crowd, attracted by the voice. I climbed back down. The smoke was still quite a distance away. If I hadn’t discovered the method to preserve prey, there’s no way I could’ve made the walk. The camps are too far away from each other. I’d have lost my brain to hunger before getting there. I’m lucky. I still have several weeks of food. Maybe enough to last a month. If prey didn’t rot after being bitten, I would’ve had much more. But then there wouldn’t be as many others following me. There’s a balance.

The sun is setting. But that doesn’t matter. I have the cylinder that shines light. When it gets too dark to see, I’ll use it. I don’t think prey would leave traps on the road; they can’t since the road is too hard to dig holes in. But I have to shine the light anyway, just in case. I might step on a spike. Or miss something important without light. I haven’t heard any motorcycles either. A shame. I want to test my metal spikes on them. But even if there was one, all the others would be attracted to it. The prey would probably flee before running into my spikes.

The voice coming from the box changed. The pitch is lower. It must be a different prey. The first prey must’ve gotten sluggish, went to bed. Another took its place despite it being nighttime. Maybe, like me, for some prey it doesn’t matter whether it’s day or night; they won’t get sluggish. I still don’t know why the others get sluggish. The only difference between us is I eat food every day. And I’m smarter. But the others, after eating, they turn sluggish. I don’t. It can’t be about food. Then it’s because they’re dumb. Their bodies don’t realize they have to keep moving to find prey, to secure food. They think it’ll come to them instead. Which isn’t wrong. They just have to wait a very long time. But I can’t afford to do that. I still have my brain. It must be fed every day.

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Virlyce

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