For the moment, warmth and blackness was all it knew, although there was an insatiable hunger growing in it as it too, grew in size and readiness. The sound of the host's blood coursing through its body, lungs and organs was soothing to the yet to be born warrior. It curled its small, under-developed body into a tight ball, not caring that the host was discomforted by the movement and fell into blissful sleep.

Soon, very soon.

Time had no meaning to the unborn warrior. There was no way to judge how much had passed when the hunger became to great to ignore further. It uncurled and stretched lazily, the small sharp talons rending across the soft flesh of the host. It could hear the host whimpering in pain.

It was the sound of music to the unborn warrior.

The pain filled whimpers escalated into all out screams as the small warrior coiled its long sinuous body and rammed its razor sharp teeth into the meat-coated bones of the host's rib cage. It could feel the host thrashing around as it reared again and thrust forward. The bones cracked under the small warriors assault, as its teeth bit into the flesh, tearing and swallowing as it coiled for a third assault.

The host screamed one more time and then the whole body shuddered violently. The warrior propelled itself against the weakened rib cage and tore through in a flurry of blood, bone chips, lung and muscle.

The hot, dry air of the hive washed over its blood and viscera covered body as it slowly writhed its way from the torn and shattered cavity of the host. It hung there, slowly moving from side to side, screaming out its newborn cries of ecstasy and freedom.

All around, the newborn warriors siblings hissed their greetings in return. The newborn finally wriggled itself free of the host and landed with a wet slap on the hive-covered floor. Like a snake, it reared on its long tail and seemed to gaze around the chamber, as if searching for something.

The swiveling head passed before the magnificent queen, secured in her protective hiving, breathing quietly as she disgorged egg after egg, ensuring the continuation of the species. The newborn warrior hissed its pleasure and turned about. Using its tiny, deadly sharp claws, it climbed up the corpse and nestled back into the cavity from wince it came, slowly feeding on the cooling remains.

As the flesh was consumed, the newborn began to grow rapidly.
* * *
Its belly filled with meat, the newborn warrior fell to the floor. It squealed and writhed, feeling the soft flesh of its first shell growing too small to contain it further. Several of the mature drones milled about, watching the young warriors struggle. If it were able to tear free from the first molting, it would survive.

If not…

The white flesh along its skull spilt open and it slid out of the discarded casting, feeling the limbs stretch and strengthen. It was growing so rapidly it would be double its birth size in a matter of a few hours.

Around it, others were tearing themselves free from the hosts. The entire hive rang with the cries of death, mingled with the squeals and hisses of birth. The queen unfolded her massive arms and raised her head, hissing out a welcome.

The young warrior turned its drying skull and hissed along with her, letting she who gives life know that he would be ready to serve her, no matter what she required.

Hearing the youngsters squeal, the queen turned her skull towards it and then grunted. She was pleased with the young ones eagerness.

The young warrior drew itself up with pride, and was eager to hunt and kill for her, to continue the life cycle.
* * *
The young warrior had just undergone its fourth molting since it tore free from the host. It was now fully grown, and ready to strike out as the she who gives life commanded. Little was left of its original host, as the warrior had fed off its flesh, gaining sustenance, size and strength.

In its own way, the warrior almost felt affection and gratitude towards the host. Even though it wasn't she who gives life, the host still provided the young warrior with a secure incubator and nourishment.

Head bowed in respect and reverence, the warrior slid up to the queen. It hissed at she who gives life and waited in silence.

The queen lowered her massive crowned head and regarded the young warrior, running her long talons over the domed skull, as if caressing. A low moan issued from her dagger like teeth.

Bowing once again, the young warrior understood its task and it bolted out of the chamber, hugging the walls as it moved with lightning speed on all fours. The warrior felt charged with life, almost giddy with excitement as it was sent out of the hive into the host's structures. It would capture one of the soft-fleshed creatures and bring it back to the hive.

If it did, she who gives life would be pleased.

The hive quickly disappeared behind as the warrior wound its way through the labyrinth of tunnels and corridors that marked the start of the soft-fleshed creatures home. It was joined by several of its elder siblings, who knew exactly which tunnels and chambers to take. All around the warrior could sense the spoor of the soft flesh, as well as the death pheromones of its own siblings.

Clearly taking the soft flesh would be a little more difficult than it had anticipated. Obviously the host creatures had their own teeth and claws.

It arrived with its siblings outside a large metal box. A dozen other warriors were already scrambling over the soft flesh's structure, banging and tearing at it with their immensely strong talons in a frenzy to get at the soft flesh creatures that hid inside.

The warrior knew that they were there, it could sense them and felt itself being dragged into the frenzy of lust. It threw itself at the box, tearing at the metal, looking for a weakness, anything that would expose the prey.

Crawling on the shell of the structure, it found where part of the metal was sunk inwards slightly. Tentatively, it ran a single talon down the edge of the metal, feeling a slight gap. The warrior squealed in triumph, alerting its siblings to its discovery. Gripping the outer shell with its hind legs, the warrior slashed at the indentation.

The claws drew sparks from the metal as deep furrows appeared.

Other warriors joined and together they pounded and clawed at the metal barrier. The harder they worked, the more the metal gave way to their assault. They could hear the cries of terror and despair coming from the interior as they finally tore the metal apart, tossing the now useless barrier aside.

Like a living wave, the mass of warriors passed through the opening, swarming over the last refuge of the soft-fleshed creatures. A strange sound reached the warrior, a stuttering clash that came from the direction of the prey.

Pieces of hard flesh and liquid sprayed over its body as one of the warriors before it suddenly flew apart. Ahead of the warriors, the prey was backed into the far corner of the structure, holding strange appendages. Each time the appendage made a sound, another warrior fell.

The warrior had to somehow stop the soft-flesh from making the sound. The sound meant death to the warrior's kind. So, they were able to fight after all.

A challenge.

Crouching low behind its charging siblings, the warrior broke from the pack and hugged the wall, moving quickly. It skirted over the unusual formations that were scattered around the soft flesh's hive, not knowing or caring what function they served. It heard and sensed the death cries of another pair of siblings as it latched onto the ceiling.

The prey was too intent on using their appendages to notice the lone warrior creeping up on them.

When one of the soft-fleshed creatures looked up, it was too late.

The warrior lashed out, grabbing at the noisy appendage. It flew from the soft-flesh creature and landed on the ground before his siblings. It screamed and tried to cover its face. But the warrior ignored the creature and dropped from the ceiling, landing in the midst of the group. It whipped about, slashing with its talons and battering the creatures with the long barbed tail.

The distraction was all the other warriors needed. The survivors flowed over the soft-fleshed prey like a tidal wave.

It was over almost as quickly as it had started. The soft-fleshed creatures were either dead or being carried off by the warriors to the hive. The young warrior felt pride as it took one of the smaller creatures and tucked it against its exoskeleton chest.

Like the soft flesh host that the warrior had grown in, this one would provide the life and nourishment for another warrior in service of she who gives life.

Silent as ghosts, the warrior and its siblings left the soft flesh hive and retreated through the tunnels.
* * *
A chorus of squeals, hisses and screams bombarded the young warrior as it and its siblings entered the queens chamber with their hosts. One by one the warriors broke away from the small mob and searched the hived walls for a spot where they could encase the hosts and bring eggs.

She who gives life stared down at the young warrior, and then raised herself in the hive support and roared. She knew what had transpired and was very pleased with the warrior. For one so young it had excelled in her service.

A pair of drones drifted out of the hive and began tearing at the remains of a host that was hived near the queen. The young warrior knew that it was being honored greatly, that the queen wanted the soft flesh it had captured hived next to her gargantuan body.

Reverently, the warrior slunk past the queen and placed the unresisting body of the host into the cavity that its siblings had created. As it backed away, the siblings went straight to work; secreting the hive coating over the host and making sure that it was secured in place. Another drone brought an egg and placed it on the floor before the host.

Once the host regained consciousness, the cycle would repeat, and another warrior would join their ranks.

The queen raised her head and screamed. Her whole body quaked and trembled in the hive supports, threatening to tear loose any second. The young warrior could sense her distress and outrage.

Somehow, the soft-fleshed creatures not only had found, but also were in the process of invading her hive.

The warriors bolted from the queen's chamber, leaving only her and her royal guards. The young warrior wanted to stay behind, but the queen growled angrily at it. Leaping onto the nearest wall, the warrior joined its siblings. The need to drive the invaders from the hive was too great to ignore.

As the warriors flowed through the tunnels, they broke off into smaller groups and took different approaches in the direction of the invaders.

Far ahead, the warrior could hear the now familiar sounds of the appendages the soft-fleshed creatures used to kill. It heard the death cries of its siblings intermixed with the guttural shouts and screams coming from the invaders.

Ahead three of its siblings hugged the wall and turned a corner. The young warrior could clearly make out the sounds of the death appendages and it stopped dead, not daring to move. A loud explosion shook the hive and it was almost knocked from its perch, but it managed to hold fast.

It sensed, more than heard the approach of the invaders. They were grunting and calling to one another as they moved. It could feel the fear emanating from the invaders. Yes, they should be afraid.

Two of the invaders appeared. Unlike the group the warrior and its siblings had captured only a short period of time before, these new invaders seemed to be a different species. They had strong shells covering their soft-fleshed bodies and the appendages they had were different as well.

Its body blended seamlessly into the hived wall, becoming all but invisible as the two soft-fleshed creatures crept into the corridor. The appendages swept back and forth, searching for more targets.

Silently the warrior waited until the two invaders passed before springing to life. It sprang from the wall and smashed into the two invaders, driving both to the hived floor. Using its powerful jaw, the warrior slammed into the rear of the first invaders skull, shattering it and killing the invader instantly. Withdrawing the jaw from the ruined flesh, the warrior bounded off the corpse and whipped its tail just as the second invader rose to ward off the assault.

The tail connected the invaders noisy appendage and it flew away. The fear was coming off the invader in waves, feeding the warriors bloodlust and rage.

Even in its fear, the invader wasn't about to give up without a fight. One of its appendages moved and brought up a strange black object.

Ducking, the warrior heard the device bark loudly. Searing pain tore through its left arm as the invader shifted the device. The warrior had no intention of letting the device cause it harm again. It shunted to the side as the device barked a second, third and forth time. But there was no pain to accompany the noise.

The warrior slashed out and caught the invaders device. Like the first appendage, the device was torn free, taking a goodly portion of the invaders body with it. Falling to its knees, the invader screamed loud and clutched at the damaged limb with its other appendage.

It wasted no time in finishing off the invader. One swift swipe of its talons ended the invaders pitiful screams.

Throughout the hive came the sounds of combat where the warriors engaged the invaders. No matter how many warriors threw themselves at the invaders, they seemed unable to stop the encroachment.

The warrior could feel the queen's agitation. The invaders were getting too close to the hive and they had to be stopped. It would not let she who gives life down. The pain it felt in the damaged limb was easing and didn't impair its movements as it ran through the hive towards the queen's chamber.

As it closed on the chamber, the fighting intensified. The invaders were almost near and the warriors were now retreating. No matter how many went down they had to stop the invaders. She who gives life must not be harmed!

It paused on the wall and studied the hived tunnel ahead. A single soft-fleshed invader managed to get past the warriors and guards and was kneeling at the very entrance of the hive. Something burped loudly and was followed by a loud explosion. The young warrior could hear the distinctive cries of the royal guards.

Not cries of triumph, but of death.

To sacrifice itself for she who gives life is the greatest gift that a warrior could ever bestow upon the queen.

It launched from the ceiling and snatched the invader from behind. The momentum carried both into the chamber where the last vestiges of the warriors were gathered, using their bodies as a shield to protect she who gives life. Several others were still engaging the invaders, but the situation was dire indeed.

Struggling against its grip, the invader tried to force the young warrior off. It held the invader tighter and slammed the body into the nearest wall. There was a sickening crunch as the shell the invader was wearing gave way and it screamed out in pain. Drawing the invader back the warrior slammed it a second then a third and forth time into the wall.

At last, the invader ceased its struggles and fell bonlessly to the hived floor. The last vestiges of the battle were disappearing and the queen bellowed in triumph. Her warriors had succeeded in destroying the invaders, and the hive was safe.

Hours passed before any of the surviving warriors ventured out into the hive. None wanted to leave she who gives life until they were certain the danger had been eliminated once and for all.

Raising her massive crown, she who gives life hissed at several of the surviving warriors. One by one they approached her and she held their heads, forcing them up as she disgorged the royal jelly into their mouths.

The young warrior waited in silence, envious of its siblings who were being given the greatest honor she who gives life could bestow. They were becoming the new Royal Guards.

She paused as her gaze fell upon the young warrior. She who gives life seemed to consider it, and then she hissed, beckoning the warrior to come to her.

It could scarcely believe it. Somehow the warrior had impressed the queen enough that she would honor it by making it one of her personal guards. It crawled forward on all fours, keeping its head low until it was situated beneath the queen's mouth. She growled lowly and the young warrior stood and raised its head.

Tenderly, she who gives life held the warriors head and spewed her royal jelly down its throat. The sensation was warm and pleasant to the young warrior and it felt the pain from its damaged limb disappear.

It crouched down at the feet of she who gives life and waited for the new molting to occur.

The young warrior had pleased she who gives life, the queen. The mother and heart and soul of the hive.

End