Nekra Myrminkia (Dead Ants)
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The day We noticed that one of us was missing was the beginning of the end.

We are a Colony. A Sisterhood. A Hierarchy. We care for one another, as we are all Synchronized Workers in the Nest's Society. We sometimes lose one of us, and usually it goes unnoticed — some that venture in the search of pabulum very often do not return, as We are strong, but in numbers, and small and weak on our own. There are a lot of creatures outside of the Nest that wish us harm, but it is nature, and We have gotten used to sacrifices. But on the day We noticed that one of us was missing, We knew that something was not right. Because She disappeared from the line, not while scouting.

We did not ask many questions, as there was a lot to do, a lot to work on. We still had to bring an entire apple to the Nest; fortunately, it had been half-eaten by some big creature already. But a general sense of unease was in the air among us, and We knew We had to watch out. None of our Workers have ever strayed from the line like this, without even releasing pheromones to tell us they've caught a glimpse of a possible another source of food. She, on the other hand, just turned around without a word, as soon as She exited the Nest. We think We saw Her climbing up an oak sapling casting shadow upon our Nest. But not one Worker checked on Her, as We knew We had other things to do that day.

We should have checked on Her. Maybe then We could have prevented the Carnage, if We took that one leaf down soon enough and buried it in the forest litter far away from the Nest.

The next six days passed in relative normalcy. We worked, We fed the Queen and her Royal Offspring. We chattered with one another, mostly about Her. One of us brought up a legend, overheard from a Drone, and We laughed it off and didn't believe it. Who would believe in such nonsense? Terror from above? Mind control? There are much more real threats outside of the Nest, some of them even casting terror from above, in the very physical form of a Bird. But Birds only control our minds with natural fear, because We are their prey. A Bird could not have possibly forced Her to turn around.

Day six became the day of the Carnage. That morning, We marched out as usual, heading westwards, to where one Worker had found a strange, cylindrical chamber made of thin, red metal, with sweet, brown liquid inside. We noticed that the sapling's shadow was different than usual. One of its leaves bulged unnaturally, like something was hanging from it. We thought it was maybe a butterfly's cocoon; We hoped it wasn't a spider. It was something much worse than a spider, though.

At first glance She did look like She was bound to the leaf with a spider's web, but when We passed Her, each one of us looking up, making the entire line irregular and shaky, We noticed how terrible the reality of Her predicament was. From the underside of an oak leaf, Her dead, hollowed out body was hanging by Her tightly clasped mandibles, and from the lifeless hull strange, milky-white growths sprouted outwards. Some of Her limbs seemed like She froze to death in winter, but We had no illusions as for the nature of Her passing, since each glance at Her exploded back instilled more horror in our formic hearts. We all remembered the Drone's tale, about the Terror from above mind-controlling our Sisters and eating Them from the inside. We did not want to believe it, but how could We not believe it? We saw the aftermath with our own eyes. But nevertheless, We pressed on, as We had work to do. An unexplained and strange event, even a scary one, should not stand in the way of a self-respecting Colony. We were the Synchronized Workers, after all.

And then, She released the spores.

The first ones landed on the ground, inbetween us, giving us time to react — which We did not take advantage of, because We did not know what was happening. We just pressed onwards. But then more fell from above, and this time it landed on some of us. Or rather, Them, from now on.

The Terror did not affect Them immediately. Most of Them did not even notice anything, as the wind was blowing in the direction We were marching in, and They were long past the accursed sapling when They got infected. There were a few that tried to shake it off, but it clinged to them like a fly to a spider's web, except They were the fly. Those of us that were spared were too far behind to warn Them; although We wouldn't know how to help Them anyway. There were more of Them than there were us.

On the night of the Carnage, We worked hard, like always, and returned to the Nest. We rearranged our findings, We reported to the Queen, We cleaned up the Nest's corridors and chambers. As the sun began to set, We wanted to go out again, as We do. But They had already fallen ill, and They blocked all ways out. They twitched in strange ways, telling us in weird clicking to stay inside until day breaks. Their pheromones smelled odd and wrong, even sick and twisted. We did not want Their touch, even to elaborate on what was the meaning of this. Their legs were already covered in a faint, white fuzz that was not there before. We felt that if They touched us, We would become sick too.

Those of us that were sure they were not struck by the Terror regrouped in one chamber. We decided We had to tell the Queen and ask her for advice, so We sent some emissaries to the Royal Chamber. But it was already too late. The Queen herself twitched on her throne, her eyes all white, her legs all fuzzy. She writhed in pain, trying to birth eggs while succumbing to the Terror. Her mucus was mixed with sickening white flakes and tinged yellow with blood. She reached out to us, but We quickly dispersed. Three of us grabbed the Larval Queens that were the farthest away from our infected Ruler and the emissaries quickly returned to the survivors' chamber.

Fortunately, They were not very hostile and mostly stayed in place, guarding the exits. In our group, there were three Drones, and since We managed to rescue two Larval Queens, We figured We were able to escape and form a new Colony when they grow up. The only problem were the blocked exits, but We quickly found a solution to that. We started digging, very carefully, as to not break any existing corridors that would make the entire Nest collapse if buried. We managed to get out before sunrise, and just like that, We were safe. For now.

We marched out in the stillness of a grey morning. We walked for a long time, until we found a suitable place for a New Nest. There were only 30 of us, but it was enough to build a small commune. So far, We were queenless; We had to wait for the Larval Queens to grow up. We settled next to a big creature's structure, so there was plenty of food left by it all around us. One day, soon after settling, We sent three Workers back to the Old Nest to see what happened to Them.

When We arrived back at the scene of the Carnage, what We saw cannot be properly described in any formic language. From a distance, We saw what looked like a horrible siege; but the assailant was unmoving, waiting and pallid white. We saw our family, our friends, and even strangers all overtaken by the Terror, some desperately twitching, climbing any stalks They could find, some already with Their mandibles clutching onto leaves so tightly they looked broken, and some already eaten alive, surrounded by the Terror's web and with its tendrils burst through Their abdomens. The place smelled of horror; We have never experienced such a smell before. Suddenly, We felt another smell, though very faintly, since the Terror was so overwhelming. Even so, We recognized that smell instantly — it was the Invaders. We quickly hid under some leaf and prayed to remain unnoticed.

We should've just turned back as quick as possible, for what happened next was much worse than We ever could've thought. The Invaders either did not see the Terror's reapings or did not care about them; either way, they entered the Old Nest. We do not know what they found there, but they stayed inside. Another squadron of them started slaughtering the afflicted, which soon turned into total chaos — for each bite the Invaders struck upon the ill was the maker of another host for the Terror. When one of the ghastly, twitching Ants was attacked by an Invader, it exploded like a sweet flag with the white growths, immediately taking over the Invader; and it was horrible, and We could not believe how so much of the Terror could fit in such a small Ant. We were frozen with fear, and could not think of a safe way to return to the New Nest.

But soon, We would not have to think about anything anymore, for one of the fights took place dangerously close to us. The Terror exploded, its flakes and spores being ejected in every direction. Including ours. Our first instinct was to run, but one of us realized that if We now return to the New Nest, the new Colony would be in danger. We had to stay.

Maybe it's for the best. Maybe, if We don't return,

CLIMB.
they will tell stories in the New
CLIMB.
Nest, about this place that
CLIMB. WE NEED SUNLIGHT.
no Ant ever returns from, and its hoGO. CLIMB.rrors will be forgotten
DO YOU SEE THAT STEM? YOU HAVE TO CLIMB IT. WE NEED THE SUNLIGHT THAT'S BEING CAST ON IT.
forever.














































GOOD. NOW BITE DOWN.

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