Homophaga Agricola: A flightless quadruped of the class Aves. While its role in our ecosystem is vital, it is little understood. Scela paused to wet the nib of her pen. Birdsong vibrated distantly on the morning breeze – threshers. She ruthlessly quashed a jolt of fear.

There is no doubting our codependence with these carnivores, she wrote. Agricola’s down, which is shed constantly, has been said to seed and fertilize the world. Their spores oxygenate the air we breathe; we subsist upon a crop that only they can grow. In turn, they feed upon us. Yet what lures only some of our young to die – not all? Is it instinct? Pheremones? I endeavor, by this study, to find out.

She took her bearings from the sun as it rose. Early light stippled the ripe plants, and lit ground full of the long furrows of an Agricola’s claws. She noted a crescent of pressed earth; a spill of blood was dry and flaking on nearby stalks.

Scela closed her book. This field was useless to her; no children slept here now.

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