I had never seen this part of the hive before. It seemed
manufactured. I'm not sure how to put it really. The walls seemed square-ish. It suddenly occurred to me that the hive was underground, near a township that I had passed on the bus ride here. Something caught my eye (if you'll excuse the irony in that statement)
something gleaming within the resin. Breaking away the sticky secretions, I found a bright yellow sign. The smaller letters had worn away with age, but I was still able to make out "Pump Station 4". It took me a minute to realize where I was. This was a water treatment plant, specifically one I saw just before we had driven into the park.
A noise caught my attention. It sounded like someone being smothered
muted moans and cries. I followed the sounds, delving deeper into the pseudo-industrial section of the hive. As I explored, more and more resin disappeared, until I found myself outside a door marked "Flow Control Station". I nudged the door open, trying to stay in the shadows. Even as a vicious creature of the hive, I reserved the right to be freaked out of agonizing screams being muffled in a dark, abandoned building. Inside the room, I saw something that made me gasp. 3 large, fleshy eggs
each just like the one I had been put into. I approached the closest one, which was open and empty. I could still smell the musk of Praetorians in the air. Whoever was inside the egg had been taken away perhaps no more than minutes before I had arrived. The second egg was closed, obviously working at condemning another poor bastard to this life. The third egg had since fallen silent, and now only the faintest of groans were audible. I watched as the egg slowly opened, and watched it slowly pulse as it re-absorbed the mutagenic fluid. I slowly approached the egg, and inside was a young, pale xenomorph. It was weakly crying in pain. Unconscious, like I had been. The clothes it was wearing were faded and half-dissolved from the process. I studied the shirt. It looked so
familiar. The colors were nearly bleached away, and the design was horribly distorted. Wait
it was a Hawaiian shirt
I suddenly realized who this was. This poor, shivering Xenomorph was Benjamin. He was the youngest one in my class. He had been jumped ahead 2 grades in his school career, so he got beat up a lot. After he met me, we became friends almost immediately. He was an orphan, just like me. We became mutually adopted siblings, as far as we were concerned. I told him I would never let anybody hurt him again. I had promised
~Oh god, Benjie. I'm so, so sorry.~ I felt responsible for this. I should have been there for him. I lifted his limp body out from the wet prison. I couldn't let those Praetorians find him. I couldn't let them abuse him like they had done to me.
I ran as fast as I could with Benjamin. I could sense the heavy presence of the Praetorians, but I couldn't hear anything aside from the ambient trickles of water. I had to find a way to move faster. It occurred to me that I might be able to move faster on all fours. I rested Benjamin on the floor, and carefully proceeded to rip off his shirt. It definitely helped that I had makeshift stitch-rippers on the ends of my fingers, but every second I wasn't moving felt like hours. I tied the tattered fabric into a cord and bound Benjie's wrists together. It was difficult with an elongated skull, but I was able to slide Benjie's arms over my head and around my neck. Propping him up between my spines, I dropped to the floor and dashed down the hallway.
As I ran, I wondered how I would handle Benjie when he woke up. I would be there for him. I had let him down once, I wouldn't let it happen again. I rounded a corner and froze as I saw a Praetorian round a corner ahead. I was cornered. I could feel multiple presences approaching. I wouldn't give up Benjie, not without a fight. I carefully lifted him off of me and placed him behind me. I began to drool profusely, and bared my teeth, ready for them, and perhaps the end.
Suddenly, I was lifted into the air, and drawn into an overhead vent. A Xenomorph's tail was wrapped around my waist. I tried to shriek but a black hand clamped my jaw shut almost instantly. I looked behind me to see a Praetorian. I prepared myself for the end.
To my surprise, no attack followed. A young, female voice entered my mind. ~Stay up here, and remain quiet.~ said the Praetorian, as she released me from her grasp and slid down into the hallway. She picked up Benjamin, and cut the shirt free from his hands, discarding it. She held him over her shoulder, and walked down the hallway, calling out to the other Praetorians. Just as I was about to mentally scream ~What are you doing?!~, she reassured me. ~Trust me.~ I watched from the vent as a Praetorian male rounded the corner. ~Siina'thrisss? What are you doing with that young hatchling?~ asked the male. So the female was named Siina'thrisss. I'd remember that. ~I was taking him to the pit, Vahl'isss. I was just
sidetracked.~ The male cocked his head, and I could almost detect a smile. ~You? Sidetracked? I find that hard to believe, Sin
~ Siina'thrisss laughed. ~It was just a couple of human teenagers, but they took off when they saw me.~ Vahl'isss crossed his arms. ~Humans? Are you saying that the moving presence we felt down here were a bunch of fucking humans?~ Siina'thrisss nodded, but Vahl'isss didn't believe her. ~Well, it sure as hell felt like one of us, Sin
~ Siina'thrisss looked exasperated. ~Don't you have somewhere to be, Val?~ Vahl'isss shook his head as he walked off. ~I'll never understand you, Sin
After a minute or so, Siina'thrisss addressed me again. ~Okay, you can come down now.~ I climbed out of the vent, and down the wall to the Praetorian. ~Why are you helping me?~ I asked. Siina'thrisss dropped down to my level, crouching on the floor with me. She chuckled. ~Well, that's a strange way to say "thanks", but you're welcome anyway.~ Siina'thrisss placed Benjamin on the floor, and I pulled him towards me, resting my head on top of his. ~
~ Siina'thrisss interrupted. ~
You just don't trust me because I'm a Praetorian.~ I nodded. The way she said it, it made me feel like a biased asshole. ~Well, I don't condone how the others treat you Half-Bloods. If it were up to me, the pit wouldn't exist.~ ~Wait, is the "Pit" where I was thrown?~ I asked. Siina'thriss nodded ~Yes, it's called that because there is only one real way in or out to the rest of the hive. Everyone we put there is an assimilated human. It's kind of barbaric, but it's the way our queen wants it.~ I was confused. ~But
if you're just going to put every human you
change down there, why wound you transform us at all?~ Siina'thriss was obviously expecting this response. ~The pit is a staging area. Once humans have accepted their new lives, and denounce their humanity, they are fully accepted into the hive.~ Siina'thrisss looked over to Benjamin, who remained shivering on the floor. ~If you want to save him, and yourself, from the others in the pit, you'll have to allow yourself to adapt to your new wants and needs
~ Siina'thrisss now looked directly at me, and her voice became very serious. ~
you're going to have to hunt, kill, harvest and infect humans
For the second time in my life, I passed through this hole in the ceiling. As I crawled onto the floor above, I looked back down into the pit. I saw others looking at me. It was hard to believe that all of them were once a human, like me. I wondered how long some of them had been down there. I turned around to see a drone hissing at me. I reeled, and growled in response. ~Get back in the pit, Half-blood!~ Screamed the drone, as he snapped at me. I stood my ground, shrieking in defiance. Other drones appeared, most of whom were just curious as to what was going on. Some, however, arrived as support, ready to force me back down the hole. They closed in, hissing and snapping at me. Barring my teeth, I hissed back. I was surprised to see them back off. I felt an inflated sense of satisfaction. ~Wow, I must be pretty terrifying!~ I giggled. I heard mental laughter behind me, and turned to see that Siina'thriss behind me, still holding the stance she used to shoo off the other drones. ~No offence, but you're kind of a lanky little drone. Not really scary at all
~ I felt embarrassed. I actually thought that in my starving state, I'd be intimidating to other drones. ~Don't worry, we'll get you some food, and start building you up a bit.~ I nodded, following Siina'thriss through the vaulted hive tunnels as she carried Benjamin.
As we walked, Siina'thrisss turned to me. ~So what's your name, anyway?~ I turned to her, considering that my name, compared to hers, would probably sound very strange to her. ~My name's Will. William Ambland.~ Siina'thrisss stopped, looking out into space. ~What's wrong?~ I asked. After a moment, she turned to me again, and smiled. ~Nothing, it's nothing
~ Siina'thrisss looked where she was walking again, and continued. ~
but that name isn't going to cut it here. You're going to have to give yourself a hive name.~ I shook my head in frustration. It felt wrong giving up the name I had been born with. I looked over to Benjamin, who began to show signs of consciousness. For his sake, we had to be accepted into the hive. I had to adapt. ~Okay
help me come up with one.~ Siina'thrisss thought for a minute. ~How about
N'oktaalisss?~ I thought about it for a minute. ~Fine, but it still feels wrong
~ Siina'thriss giggled. ~Don't worry, Nok. You'll get used to it.~ I shuddered at the nickname, and Siina'thriss laughed.
We exited the tunnel, and what I saw was amazing. A massive cave, bridges of resin from multiple tunnels, it was massive. ~This is where you'll be sleeping from now on, Nok. This is where all the drones stay.~ I was nervous. ~But
but the other drones confronted me before.~ Siina'thrisss didn't look worried. ~The ones who attacked you saw you climb out of the pit. No one here will know about it.~ ~Won't they all know because of the Hive mind, or something?~ I replied. Siina'thrisss smiled. ~
Doesn't work like that
We arrived at an alcove in the cave's wall, some 100 feet from the chamber's floor. Siina'thriss rested Benjamin on the ground. She crouched over him, and I saw her inner jaw salivating. ~What are you doing?~ I asked. ~Your little friend here won't be awake for a while yet, so we might as well keep him comfortable
~ Siina'thrisss said, and she began to spit resinous saliva on Benjamin. ~I'll cocoon him, it'll keep him warm.~ Weird, I know I should have been disgusted, but as the resin hardened, I couldn't help but think about how comfortable it looked.
Siina'thriss now turned to me. ~Now then, lets get you something to eat.~ I smiled toothily (which goes without saying). Siina'thrisss again became very serious. ~Okay, N'oktaalisss. This is important. The only time Half-Bloods are allowed here is after they've been accepted into the Hive
~ She then crouched to my level again. ~
and the only way Half-Bloods are accepted into the hive is if they forsake their humanity.~ We began climbing down to the base of the chamber, where other drones had gathered. As we crawled, I looked back up to the alcove where Benjamin rested. I couldn't help but imagine what would happen if he woke up when I wasn't there. I didn't even want to think about how I would tell him that he had to become a vicious creature or be sentenced to a hole in the ground. ~Nok, are you listening to me?~ I snapped back to reality. ~Sorry, continue
~ Siina'thrisss, without missing a beat, went back to her lecture. ~You can't hesitate feeding. If you do, everyone will know that you're not fully part of the hive.~ I was fine with that. ~Don't worry, Sin. I would've eaten if I could've in the pit. I used to eat beef when I was human, anyways.~ Siina'thrisss didn't seem convinced.
Siina'thrisss waited for me above. I was ready for this. All I had to do was distance myself from my actions. I kept telling myself that it would be easy, as if trying to convince myself. Four Drones above brought down a number of cattle corpses, and the entire group rushed to join the feast. I ran with them, running on all fours, ready to prove that I was ready to join the Hive. As I approached the frenzy, something caught me, and quickly dragged me towards a nearby tunnel.
Pinned against the wall, I was face to face with a Praetorian. But it wasn't just any Praetorian. It was Vahl'isss, the male that Siina'thriss talked to earlier. ~Well, well, well. I don't believe I've seen you before. What would your name be, little drone?~ I was scared, it was hard to think straight. ~W
~ I caught myself, I had almost said my human name. ~
N'oktaalisss. I'm N'oktaalisss~ The Praetorian hissed, not buying any of it. Siina'thrisss charged into the room. ~Vahl'isss, what the fuck do you think you're doing!?~ Siina'thrisss was barring her teeth, and looked like just about the most deadly thing on this planet. ~Oh hello, Sin. Hows my big, bad girl doing this fine day?~ Siina'thrisss dug her claws into one of Vahl'isss' spines, and he dropped me on the ground, shrieking in pain. I backed up as far as possible, not wanting to get caught in the crossfire. ~I've seen what you've been doing, Sin. You've been getting awfully close to this Half-Blood here.~ Vahl'isss growled. Siina'thrisss pushed him against the opposite wall. ~He's part of the Hive now, Vahl'isss! He's one of us!~ Vahl'isss growled at Siina'thrisss, but suddenly stopped his retaliation, and turned to me, shooting me a twisted smile. ~Oh, is he now?~ Vahl'isss pulled himself away from Siina'thrisss, slowly approaching me. ~Well, in that case, I think that calls for a little "celebration". So, you're hungry, are you drone?~ I wasn't sure what to say. ~Uh
yeah, I am.~ Vahl'isss laughed, and shoved me into the main chamber.
As I stood there, I noticed that many drones were watching me. I was afraid of what was to come. Vahl'isss had jumped to a nearby alcove, and I couldn't see what he was doing. Siina'thrisss whispered to me. ~Nok, I know Vahl'isss. He hates Half-Bloods, and he's going to try and make an example of you. Remember what I said, go with your instincts. You're one of us now.~ Vahl'isss now leapt back down to the ground level, laughing as he walked towards me. He was carrying something. I realized it was a cocoon, and my first thought went to Benjamin. I quickly disregarded that possibility, as this cocoon was much larger. He dumped the cocoon in front of me, and with a quick slice of his tail, it opened, revealing a horribly mutilated and half eaten human. But it wasn't just any human. It was the person I had only ever seen in pictures before. It was the body of
my father. Vahl'isss chuckled. ~I've kept this one for some time now. Cocooned him to seal in the "freshness."~ I felt like I was going to be sick. The Praetorian crouched beside me, drinking in my fear and repulsion. ~Bon Appetite, Nokkie!~
The Praetorian now put his full weight onto my neck, and his claws dug into my flesh, causing a trickle of my blood to hiss and crackle on the floor. ~You said you were hungry. Well then...EAT!!!~ My body slammed down onto the cadaver, and a shower of semi-rotten flesh sprayed the perimeter. I was so conflicted. My instincts told me to feed. They told me that there shouldn't be any hesitation to do what I was programmed to do. They told me that I was a killing machine by nature, and that this human was a food source, nothing more. But my conscious mind disagreed. The human ethics still within me stated that this act was disgusting. Feeding on what had once been a family member. My Xenomorph side was ready with a comeback. The Hive was my family now. My previous life was gone; anything that had already passed was irrelevant. Warm, coagulated blood had seeped into my mouth, activating a very powerful part of my brain. The urge to feed was so great.
But I couldn't do it.
I just couldn't
I'm not going to feed.~
Suddenly the phantom voice was back. But this time it was not warm and comforting. It was concerned. ~N'oktaalisss, you have to feed. I know it is painful
I know it feels wrong. But you have to feed on
this human. If you do not, then Vahl'isss will kill you, or perhaps worse, and that is something that I cannot allow.~ I was adamant. ~I'm sorry, but I just can't do it.~
There was a moment of pause, and then the voice spoke again. ~I understand, but I cannot allow you to come to harm. I apologize for what I have to do
~ I wasn't sure what that meant, but before I had a chance to ask, I realized that something was happening to me.
I suddenly felt some tremendous force within me. It welled up, angry and powerful. I suddenly realized that I was hissing and drooling more profusely than ever before. I felt vicious, bloodthirsty. I wasn't able to control it. I dug into the body, ripping and tearing, gorging myself relentlessly. It was enough to render Vahl'isss speechless. He stepped back, disturbed at my sudden rabid hunger. He composed himself, and suddenly realized that part of his "personal stash" was disappearing at an alarming rate. He approached me, hissing. ~You've had enough you Half-Blood piece of
~ I whipped around with alarming speed, slashing Vahl'isss across the face, causing him to shiek and writhe. Siina'thrisss took this chance to dash in, grabbing me from behind. I was possessed, uncontrollable. I didn't want to hurt Siina'thrisss but I fought her grasp, hissing and shrieking. The last thing I heard before being knocked out was Siina'thisss' voice apologizing.
I woke up later in Benjamin's alcove, and realized I was bound in a cocoon. ~Hey, you're awake.~ Siina'thrisss said. She was beside me, and looked pretty marked up from the fight. ~S
~ Siina'thrisss shushed me. ~It's fine. I'm tough, wounds heal, life goes on.~ I felt horrible. ~Sin
~ Again, Siina'thrisss stopped me. ~I know, Nok. I know. I don't know what caused you to act like that, but I know it wasn't you. I could
feel something. Another presence. It's a bit disturbing, but
~ She smiled, resting an arm on my bound chest. ~
I'm just glad you're okay
A few hours later, as Siina'thrisss tended to her wounds, I noticed Benjamin's cocoon moving. Benjamin was waking up. I started tearing the cocoon away, helping him escape. As I tore away the last of the coverings, I saw Benjamin lash an arm out, mouthing the words "get the fuck away from me", and producing an assortment of garbled growls and hisses. He looked at his arm, and began to shriek in fear. I cupped his jaw closed, like Siina'thrisss had done to me. I looked right into his eyeless face. ~Hey, Benjie. We have a lot to talk about.~