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438w. It’s Ethan’s first mission.

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“Damn, we ain’t got nothing, Buddy!” Roger berteriak dari sisi atas.

“But the signs!” dari bawah Ethan berseru tidak percaya.

“Yep. Nope. There’s definitely nothing here,” balas Roger.

“But how come?!” Ethan memekik tidak percaya. “I’ve shared them with the elders and they said go. That’s an affirmative, shouldn’t it?” katanya dengan bayangan kembali ke saat dia bertukar informasi dengan para pekerja senior. Dia pekerja baru, masih dalam pengawasan, dia harus melapor pada pekerja senior apabila dia menemukan sinyal.

Dari atas Roger memandangnya iba. “That happened sometimes, Pal. Don’t worry.”

“I’m not worry, I’m upset. How could—how—“

Hey, Buddy, listen. It’s not your fault. I’m gonna go down now and tell you something,” Roger bergegas turun dan mendekati Ethan. Setelah bersebelahan, dia berkata, “It happens, Ethan. Don’t worry. Sometimes—how should I explain this. The signs… it was there, I mean, it is there. I can still barely feel it up there, but there’s nothing we can pick. Not anymore. And that’s the key.”

Ethan menatapnya seolah dia gila. Roger mendesah, mencoba bersabar. “Look, foods leave traces, okay. We can feel their signs, but we could never be 100% sure if there’s still any of them for us to pick. Sometimes it’s their real body that spread the smell. Sometimes it’s only their traces. They’ve already been wiped or cleaned up.”

Mata Ethan membara tidak terima. “But it’s food! Who wipes food?! That’s a total waste!”

“Let me tell you who, it’s human.” Roger tersenyum melihat Ethan membelalak makin lebar. “Oh, you’re so young. Human wipes the food.”

“But what for? Don’t they need food too?”

“Of course. But who knows what for, they’re human. Only God knows what human wants. They’re helpless. Or maybe clueless. I don’t know. Just… don’t let this drag you down, alright? It’s us, ants, against human. We need to survive and they’ll see we can make it. Sometimes I even suspect them to leave false trail to set us fooled.”

“Damn!” Ethan berseru marah.

“Yeah, I know. Now let’s start again. Our people need every pieces we could found.”

“Okay,” Ethan berkata lesu.

“Hey,” Roger memanggil. “Ethan?” dia mengulanginya saat Ethan tidak menjawab. Dia menatap semut baru itu lurus-lurus ketika kepalanya akhirnya tengadah. “Remember, be careful of—“

“Human and chalk. I know,” Ethan menyambung.

Roger tersenyum bangga. Anak didiknya yang satu ini benar-benar pintar. At least by the book. Dia menunjuk ke satu arah, “You go that way, I’ll go this. You know what to do when you find one, okay?”

Ethan tidak menjawab, tapi antenanya terangkat waspada. Itu cukup untuk Roger. Time to get more food.

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