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Writteninsanity t1_j57mz22 wrote

"Hold the line!" A commander yelled somewhere above us. Had that been closer than the last? Were the soldiers faltering? Were they going to break through the gates soon?

"Clelia" my Quartermaster shouted, "task at hand," I was about to apologize, but they'd already taken off toward the entryway.

I returned to work, peeling back one of the cradles I'd spent a lifetime creating. As I opened it, the child inside started to wriggle, exposed to the elements again. "Come here. It's okay," I whispered as I reached into the cubby and pulled out the baby.

They weren't ready to leave, but we had to go.

"Here!" one of my coworkers called. I turned and passed the child to them as its soft coos were drowned out by legions of footsteps above us.

For a moment, I locked eyes with Avicia as they took and then tucked the baby. They nodded at me, then looked to the door. "Are you coming too?"

I shook my head, "May the Keeper guide you," I offered as a blessing. Avicia stared for a moment and then shook her head as well. I'd trained her; She'd joined the nursery when I'd already seen generations rise in service to our Queen. "Go," I added.


"I will find you," I lied, "I'll be right behind you; I just can't- " I stopped trying to explain, "Get out of here! Take them to safety."

"The Queen will still need you when the sun rises, Clelia," Avicia turned away and took a deep breath. I thought she would add something for a moment, but instead, she took flight down the hallway, following other aides who had been given their precious cargo.

I steeled myself before setting on another cradle. They were well sealed, meant to keep the children safe from the harsh elements, but if the fortress was overrun they would become prisons.

The first lock on the cradle came away, and I pulled out my weapon to break the second; it wasn't like I needed to leave it in good condition for the invaders.

"The Queen!" Came a panicked cry from the stairway to the upper floors. "The Queen! They've found the Queen!"

A murmur swept over the room, and then a buzz. The shaken soldier stumbled down the last steps and then tumbled into the nursery. He was covered in a million small cuts, breathless from shouting and injury.

I pulled the child out of the cradle and held it close; it was somehow brave enough not to cry.

"They came from above," the soldier sputtered out, "th-there are too many. We're all going to-" they were cut off by two guardsmen covering their mouth and pinning the soldier to the floor.

It sounded like there were footsteps on the stairs for a moment, but then it became clear; It wasn't a soldier. It was a lockstep march of countless invaders.

My Quartermaster rushed over to the guards and pushed them off the soldier, exchanging quiet words as I passed the child I'd freed off to another runner. There wasn't time for a solemn exchange as the Quartermaster rose and spoke.

"Grab what you can now. We're leaving. Those who can fight, we're headed upstairs."

I took a deep breath and sent a silent prayer out to the wind that my lie to Avicia wouldn't be held against me. As I started toward the stairway, the Quartermaster met my eyes and shook their head. It was slow, apologetic.

I understood. I was old. I would be a liability in a formation. They were denying me a chance to fight and die for my Queen.

Just as I was about to turn away, my Quartermaster walked toward me. "Teach the young Clelia," they commanded, "they're going to need you."

"Yes, Quartermaster."

"Iris," they corrected before walking toward the militia.

I didn't stay to hear the speech, instead, I took off down the hallway as the last children were freed by others. I flew over the structures that had been built over generations, fixtures that had been carved by my friends.

I went to the walls.

The walls of the fortress had stood since before the Queens had guided us here with their infinite wisdom. They were built of the strongest materials I'd ever seen. They were mightier than mountains and had stood against storms.

But even with all their might, the walls hadn't been enough. As I erupted into the cool night air, I could see them, the invaders. From my vantagepoint, they resembled a black river that stretched across the mighty plains into the yawning void of the night. They had scaled the walls at dusk. Our soldiers were mightier and better trained than their savage masses, but it hadn't mattered. We numbered thousands. They numbered millions.

I was about to leave for the rallying point, a sky-piercing tree far from the invaders, but then I saw it. Our neighbors had a castle as mighty as ours, but it was besieged. They had just begun fighting off the first wave of the same invasion. They would be overrun.

It was the end of the world.

They say that the mysterious is the will of the Keeper. The hive sleeps and is suddenly clean. The walls crack and repair themselves. The Keeper did it all.

I'd dreamt once that I'd seen him. Massive enough to dwarf our fortress and surrounded by soldiers from every Kingdom. The preachers had said that it was impossible to know the Keeper from within the hive. Impossible to know his ways.

Impossible or not. He was the last hope.

I might have been old, but I still had wings. I took a leap of faith off the hive and shot off into the night, away from the tree, away from safety and toward the one place I'd seen the Keeper before.

There was something there as I approached, something massive and arcane, but it wasn't the Keeper as I remembered them. The Keeper was a pure being a white cloth, but this was a myriad of colours.

The end of the world didn't have time for perfection. I needed them.

I flew up to the Keeper and cried out, but he didn't deign to look at me. I landed on his massive form, and he didn't offer attention.

My Queen was dead. My home was ruined. I would be a blasphemer.

"Avicia, Iris. I'm sorry."

I plunged my weapon into the Keeper, pressing it into his skin and piercing divinity. He growled, and I could feel the air vibrate as he did. I tried to pull away, but my weapon was stuck fast.

Of course, striking a god was to invite death.

My vision began fading, but as I felt the world close in around me, I heard the Keepers' voice, somehow both soft and mighty.

"What's going on with the bees?"

I fell with the first step the Keeper took toward the hive. I dipped into the black.

"Ants!" The Keeper bellowed as a mighty war cry as the colony came into view. I would die, but divine wrath would sustain the hive.

For Queen and Colony.


/r/Jacksonwrites to join the colony. Thank you to Deco-nouveau for calling me out on misgendering the bees early so I could avoid later embarrassment.


Killfile t1_j57v86a wrote

For Queen and Colony.

Holy shit...


mymamaalwayssaid t1_j58qanc wrote

This seriously may be one of the best prompts I have ever read on this sub, and it's about bees. In the span of 2 minutes I was pulled into and actually stirred by your story.



ArseneArsenic OP t1_j593c64 wrote

I would kill and die for a series in this setting.


redwingpanda t1_j5arltz wrote

I'm legit sitting at my workbench tearing up right now. This was masterful.


Saryylyss t1_j584bjc wrote

My day was made astoundingly better having taken the time to read this. Bravo!


deco-nouveau t1_j57nq4g wrote

The fact that some of the warriors and workers were male is frustrating. They're bees!

Otherwise, this is excellent


Writteninsanity t1_j57nvjp wrote

I’m actually doing an editing pass to remove gendered language aside from queen. The first pass should be done soon.

Edit: Ya know, aside from the he / hims to refer to the keeper. Aside from that it should all be gender neutral unless I missed something now. I know that the bee's names should all be feminine but...

Wanna know what? I liked the names but you're right. Names changed to still be Roman inspired but now female. Thanks.


DezXerneas t1_j58oziq wrote

It's fine to use masculine pronouns with Bees/Ants. They don't really have genders like us so any language you use wouldn't be completely wrong.


leech_of_society t1_j594skt wrote

What? Nearly all bees are female. Male bees are only made seasonally, are thicker, look way different, and die off after queen mating season. Every single worker bee is a female and the males are only made when they're needed.

10 out of 12 months every honey bee you see is female, and even during those two months only 1% of all bees are male.


GertrudeHeizmann420 t1_j598r1w wrote

Genders, not sexes. Bees do not have a concept of "woman" or "man" and therefore it doesn't really matter what names you give them


RinLY22 t1_j59bt33 wrote

Well, the bees aren’t the ones reading this now. It’s us humans that do operate on the basic understanding of genders - and how certain names etc reflect that.

For readers that are invested/familiar with the knowledge that bees are generally female - it would not be as immersive and thus enjoyable to read if you used the wrong references.

You can call a woman Bob or Andrew, but it’s going to be confusing.


N0tBurn1ngEvidenc3 t1_j59uf52 wrote

Bees have 3 genders none of which match human genders

Drone, Worker & Queen


leech_of_society t1_j5af4tq wrote

That's fair. We chose to label drones as male because of their chromosomes and them having a penis. But I'd still argue you should call them by the feminine pronouns, because we as humans decided they're female.


Winjin t1_j5bb2up wrote

Would you mind if I try translating it? Any specific recommendations?

As far as I understand, the names are female, but I should do my best to keep them referring to themselves as genderless as possible.


IxamxUnicron t1_j58swsw wrote

How WOULD a beekeeper handle an ant infestation? Is there any salvaging it?


crazyreadr t1_j58xid6 wrote

If the hive is on a constructed hive stand, the legs of the stand can be placed in cans of oil. Ants/hive beetles don't like the oil and will not cross it.


Halikan t1_j5bbbej wrote

A bottomless bronze sea, engulfing each pillar of our home, impassable by foot. They sizzle in the sun, keeping destruction at bay. A defensive measure so massive only the Keeper could have managed to construct one, let alone four of them.

While workers can take to the skies to gather sustenance, the invaders are left with no further reinforcements. Slowly, their numbers will dwindle into nothingness as the final pockets of strife are snuffed out.


DrewTheHobo t1_j58yozh wrote

This was amazing, stop bringing the Onion Ninjas! It doesn’t quite work, but I think this would be a fantastic story for /r/hfy!


Writteninsanity t1_j5953vf wrote

Humanity is a god in this one, but I also don’t think it QUITE works because we all know who the real heroes are.


DrewTheHobo t1_j5971sh wrote

Very true! Too bad there’s no /r/bfy


The5Virtues t1_j599b0c wrote

There should be, bees are awesome lil buddies, they deserve all the Fuck Yeahs!


DrewTheHobo t1_j599est wrote

Ngl, I bet there is a sub that’s basically /r/bfy, we just don’t know what the name is.


Writteninsanity t1_j59de9w wrote

I mean there is that one where everyone wants to fuck the bees...


DrewTheHobo t1_j59ga87 wrote

Pretty sure that just HFY… Or a few specific chapters of ”Out of Cruel Space”


OGAesire t1_j58ts5q wrote

I felt that. Growing up it was "my life for the swarm".


knightrider073 t1_j58zmf1 wrote

Wonderful. It took me to an unknown world and brought me back to reality. Outstanding writing.

For Queen and Colony.


ZenerGr t1_j58tgog wrote

The fact that we get to understand that they are bees not right from the start but near the end like the prompt is fucking awesome. Good job ... May the keeper guide you


bbbbbbx t1_j594vef wrote

Bee movie lore?

This was really awesome tho, I would totally watch a novel about this


SampiKala t1_j59bc1e wrote

I'm just going to pretend I don't have tears in my eyes


rad_avenger t1_j5a1xmw wrote

Holy shot, this was amazing.

For Queen and Colony!


evilsquidmonster t1_j5acer6 wrote

I actually started crying reading this..I need to see Clelia avenged !


Pangolindrome t1_j5bnbm0 wrote

And I’m crying because of a story about bees. This was incredible.


CDNLiberalEH t1_j5bryzt wrote

Well done ! Didn’t want it to end. For “queen and colony” gave me Redwall vibes a little bit there. Sentient bees trying to survive all sorts of hazards would make a great story setting.


z3bru t1_j59ompa wrote

Damn, stunning. Thank you very much!


Silvermoon81 t1_j5aovub wrote

This was wonderful! The imagery, the perspective, the ending....I love it all.


throwawaynerp t1_j5at46o wrote

Could actually def make a good mini anime series out of this.


TheCrunchyFerrett t1_j5b621g wrote

Just adding to the "Thank You!" pile. This was an utterly unexpected positive impact on my day.


maca77aq t1_j5b94ue wrote

damn. you’ve got me tearing up over here.


yoderftw t1_j5b95ww wrote

This is incredibly well done. Instantly pulled me in and someone started cutting onions by the time I reached the end. Bravo!


Hminney t1_j5baw0e wrote

I was tearing up early on, and it got better! Very powerful!


DerG3n13 t1_j5bgye7 wrote

Actually got goosebumps from that one! Gonna need to demand moar, even if thats pointless.


Jdavis624 t1_j5brvwe wrote

Holy cow. I think that might be the best prompt I've ever read. Really great job


johnclark6 t1_j5bxtiy wrote

This was one of the best responses I've seen on here. I'm actually emotional. Those brave bees!


SuperiorCrate t1_j5e532o wrote

This is pure art. I need to see a whole story written like this. Best thing I’ve ever read here, and that’s a high bar to pass.