Honeyed Be Thy Name
rating: +29+x

I am not old enough to remember when the colony moved, when it was taken in by It.

Do not mistake me for a young brood, for I have had eleven bodies in my time. The colony only finds use for a new consciousness when one of reborn dies prematurely.

We could live longer, if we so chose. It isn't impossible for every individual to have a break from the work we tirelessly uphold, but not one of us entertains the idea for long. Only an outsider would assume the workers never take a break, but they would be mistaken, for we are afforded one break. We work to death, and then, and only then, we are afforded a break. That is, until we are called to return to the colony to begin the cycle anew.

Our colony is blessed, for we do not have to worry about attacks from beasts that look over us like titans. We do not have to worry about a shortage of blooms, for they are provided. Most of all, the disastrous fall of the Progenitor could not stop us, all because of It.

As the old guard tells the tale, it all started when a great storm knocked our old colony from the boughs of a great tree. Within moments, waters flooded it, scattering it into pieces with ease. The Progenitor, along with most of the colony, drowned. Scared, confused, those who escaped swarmed together, erratically moving through the forest into an unfamiliar land full of mountainous stone structures.

They settled up against one of the walls of these structures. They were so terrified the elders couldn’t even bring themselves to build the walls of a new colony around each other. That is when It came.

One of Its many great gifts was bestowed that day, the very first, that being a new Progenitor. While they can’t remember what It looked like, I can see the mix of awe and fear in their eyes as they retell It fearlessly scooping them up with Its great limbs like clumps of dust.

I know I've been in the presence of It, we all have. But Its very existence somehow… suppresses our memory. Every time, alarm is raised, that something is approaching the colony. Just as the blur of Its form is visible, a haze comes across the colony, reminiscent of the Shivering, but without the cold. We are plunged into a waking sleep, able to move, but lethargically. Movement is shrouded in shadow and blur, and we are helpless to do anything trapped in the fog of our minds. When we wake, no matter how hard we search, It is gone again.

Beasts only challenge us if they believe there is something to be gained. They are selfish in that regard. But that which took us in for reasons beyond our understanding, that which handles us like nothing, and that which only treats us with care— what else could it be but a god?

Thus, we worship. We worship through our unending work, and offer up the spoils. Our life blood, our nectar, vital to our survival, we sacrifice it to our god, and It provides for us.

The Shivering approaches, a time of great contest for us. The flowers shrivel, and the cold, oh the cold, it lashes and stings. All day today I have been franticly buzzing back and forth to the hardiest plants, gathering what little dust I can. The same can be said of the others, but it is clear the rapidly dropping temperature is slowing us down.

It will not be long until… ah, yes. I feel the Progenitor's call, it is time to return to the colony, and not leave until the outside can sustain our livelihoods. The nectar stockpile will just have to be enough.

I wouldn't even need the call to know when it was time. Miniscule crystals form within my coat, and my legs curl into my body, but I land with ease before any real danger reared its head. My current body was made hardier than normal, specifically to resist the cold and the months ahead.

I find my way through the colony, where many have already gathered, including the Progenitor. The hum of wings is constant, soothing almost. These are the only times I get to see the entire colony together.

Our bodies are too small to handle the chill by themselves, so we come together during these dark times in the interest of survival. The Progenitor at the center, and us, her loyal children, move around and about her and each other. Our movement and vibrations are enough to keep us warm, so we cluster, and take nectar from the stores when we need it. I can only hope we will have enough to survive these malice-filled months.

The rumors were true, there simply isn't enough. It's been a few months, but the cold has lasted longer than expected. Were we too rash in sacrificing to our god? Did we fail to sense its greed? My coat stands on ends thinking about this. Surely those who came before me would not have made such an egregious mistake. The nectar must go to the Progenitor, first and foremost, but we will starve if nothing is done soon.

We haven't stopped the cluster, it would be suicide, so discussion is unproductive. I'll be trying to get news from the center and before I know it the worker I'm talking to is engulfed by a wave of oblivious brood. Infuriating.

I know my colony. We are strong, but we are unwilling to step outside of our roles. They've guided us to conclusion countless times, why should this be any different? I say the difference is the uniqueness of the situation. There has never once been a story of a nectar drought shared by the old guard, and I'm confident I would know.

I shake away my thoughts and look around to see the exit from the colony. I imagine I absentmindedly made my way to the outside of the cluster as I was embroiled in thinking. It would be incredibly easy to leave, but I fear peril would come upon me as soon as I took flight. There's no way to tell if the dust would even be available. Death is almost a certainty. No, I decide, I'm pontificating on ideals, ideals of serving the Progenitor until death, ideals not meant to be literally put into practice. Someone else of greater constitution will have to do it. And that's something I'm fine with.

So that's why I jump out of the cluster and throw myself through the exits before I have time to think.

Regret immediately crashes down upon me in the form of the biting cold. It is unthinkable, but as I dodge and weave I am forced to come to terms with the fact powdered crystal is pelting me from the sky. It is not day, but it is clearly not night either. The overt white and greyness of everything makes me feel trapped in weatherly limbo.

The air itself roars, welcoming the newest challenger to its arena. I can barely think over its powerful gusts, but I trek onwards.

I desperately weave through the dashing crystal, but it's no use, I see it coming but there's nothing I can do but brace myself as I'm slammed down by the ice.

Pain shocks through me, but as I writhe on the ground I scan the surrounding area. The flowers have withered away, leaving cold, cracked earth. The sun is nowhere to be seen. This landscape is utterly nothing like the warm months. Suddenly, something catches the corner of my eye. Through the oppressive grey, I catch a hint of green.

I don't think I can take many more of those hits and survive. My legs quiver as I push myself off the dirt and my wings ache as I take flight once more for what I now see as a tree.

The powder rushes around me, but through some miracle, or blessing, I manage to miss it all.

Normally we wouldn't take the dust from this type of tree, it is less plentiful and provides lower vitality in the nectar it results in, but it will have to do now.

I collect as fast as I can, but my legs have gone numb, and I feel the feeling in my wings leaving me next. I can't be greedy, else all this will be for is removing one mouth to feed from the colony.

I slowly jump from the protective leaves of the tree back into the onslaught and—

pff

—am immediately hit again.

I do not fall to the ground, I believe that would be a death sentence at this point. I roll to the side and regain control over my direction.

Pff

I am forced lower by a second ball of powder. How much dust will be left clinging to my body, if I even reach the colony?

PFF

And another impact. This was a fool's errand. I knew this. So why? Why did I think I could succeed? I can see the colony now, but I will not feel its warm embrace again.

Then, out of the storm, a shape approaches. A shadow looms through the fog, and somehow I know.

Its smoke, Its presence, does not follow It. Its steps vibrate the earth; it is as if the air is given consciousness just to shake when It comes near. I can make out Its material form in flashes, the powder only allows so much. An unknowable substance flows around Its body, making a true form indiscernible. Its legs… are wrong. Two it uses for walking, but the other two hang swinging by Its sides, and the ends split into five legs each. One seems to be grasping something. Its movement appears slow, but the distance It covers in just one step is remarkable. And Its face, oh Its face. Warped, shifting, it seems to be made of honeycomb, but grey, dying.

Perhaps I am already dead, and our god has come to reap me.

But no, It heads for the colony. My breaths become shallow as I realize It hasn't seen me. Indecision suddenly rages; do I want It to see me? It is my only hope, after all.

I desperately call for my god, and to my surprise It stops and turns. Its movements speed up, but It still moves as if wading through nectar. My vision begins to fade, and I begin to drop, but before the ground can swallow my soul, one of Its deformed legs shoots out underneath me, cushioning my fall. I look up towards Its face, and as I feel my grasp on consciousness slipping, I swear a second face lays beneath the honeycomb.

Its eyes are piercing.

I woke up in the colony, surrounded by others of my ilk. While I was deep in slumber, I had been returned to the colony, who managed to form a new body before my inevitable death. But it was not just my body that was returned to the colony, no, It had brought nectar. It had saved our sacrifices and returned some of them to us when we needed them most.

Months pass, and I have just recently passed into my sixteenth body. Most do not believe I saw It that day, but they've never been able to think of a more suitable reason for my continued survival.

The air is different today. As if it's settled. I try to busy myself flying back and forth, but I can surmise the others feel it too. Not a single soul's heart seems to be in the work today. The Progenitor has no answer for us, and we haven't been visited by It in a significant amount of time. I can't help but think of how the air reacted on that night— if it has stilled, could that mean?

I am pulled from my thoughts when the alarm is raised. My hopes rise, but only to be dashed, as when the creature approaches it only has a passing resemblance to It. The appendages and size are the same, but I can smell fear from it. This creature is no god; perhaps a servant for It?

The day grows stranger as more and more of these beasts come, always staying away, their nerves displaying themselves on the wind. Eventually, they gather together, their strange voices humming and cooing. We watch from afar as their fear is replaced with sadness.

The realization is slow, but the colony realizes we have been abandoned. It should be impossible, as we have for years, It should live eternally, but Its servants grieve. There would only be need for grieving in one instance.

The work stops.

Nectar goes unproduced. The new generation of brood goes unborn. Dust is uncollected. We were not even invited to mourn by Its servants, the cowards. Common beasts fear us mighty folk, but these fall even lower in our minds. What is the point of going on if we are alone once more? If there is no one to watch over us, what will happen when the next Shivering catches us unaware?

Quite some time later, after the cowards have left, most have been aimlessly crawling about the colony. Even those usually on watch for intruders have abandoned their posts. That is when I feel something. A shake in the ground. The air holds its breath, roused from its stillness. The others haven't noticed yet, but I rush to the colony's exit.

I zoom through the opening in the colony and am met with It, but not the same It I saw all those months ago. The face is wrapped tighter around the inner face, the material surrounding Itself is different, but it is undeniable. It did not die, It had simply been reborn.

Perhaps It was more like us than we could ever know.

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