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The stream trickled lightly in the canyon, disrupting the quiet noise. Birds chirped, adding their small song to the chorus. A small figure crawled across the bank, leaving miniature footprints in the mud. Her heavy load left a mark as she dragged the leaf by the stem. She arrived to the colony, depositing the leaf on the food load. The damp scent of the stream wafted to her, making her think of the great flood that occurred a few years before, wiping out the ant hills of the Red Desert.
The ant’s small kingdom meant a great deal to her, and she devoted herself to finding food, and protecting the young, even if it meant her life would be spent. Despite its small size, the kingdom of Queen Superba was the most prominent of the ants in the canyon, with her sister, Acacia, to the east higher up in the canyon.
“Primax, where have you been?” a worker asked as she scuttled towards Primax.
“I just brought in my daily amount of food for us adults, and now I must go find some food for the larvae.” Primax said to the other worker. The ant nodded and followed Primax into the cool canyon.
“What kind of larvae are we getting today?” the second ant questioned, clicking her mandibles together.
“Well, Millet, the beetles are running low. I think we should search for worms along the bank.” Primax said. Millet turned her head towards the stream, watching for some rocks so they could cross and search for food. Primax’s antennae twitched as she picked up some pheromones.
“Funnel-Web ahead. He’s hunting, Millet. Stay close.” Primax said to the smaller bulldog ant. Millet nodded her head and started to cross the river, jumping from one stone to the other.
They were almost to the other bank when a wave of water smacked into the ants.
“Millet! Millet where are you?!” Primax shrieked. She fought against the water, but smacked into a rock. Millet popped up a few inches over.
“Primax, help me!” Millet screamed, struggling against the rubber gloved hand that plucked her from the rock. Primax plunged back into the water, kicking towards the human’s boot. The water was not even to the man’s ankle, but to Primax and her sister, it seemed like a very deep river.
Another gloved hand pulled Primax from the water. She looked over to see Millet curving her stinger towards a ripped spot in the rubber.
“Millet! Stop! Stop!!!!” Primax screamed, trying to get Millet’s attention as the human holding her pulled out a corkboard and pin. “Millet! Stop struggling! Please!”
Her plea was unheard. The man plunged the pin through Millet’s abdomen, ending her struggling. Primax screamed, and was dropped into a plastic container.
“You killed her! You killed my sister, you great ugly brute! Let me out!” Primax shrieked. The humans stalked back to the nest, and caught a few more ants, pinning them to boards and putting some in other containers.
Primax banged her head against the container until she passed out, screaming all the while for her sister, her mother and queen, and her very life.
Primax’s vision swirled as she came to. Instead of the round Tupperware she was first captured in, she was placed on a patch of dirt, with a piece of cardboard in the middle. She shakily stood on her legs, examining her surroundings. A rock was placed behind her, but that and the piece of cardboard were the only landmarks. She turned to her right and began to walk, when her mandibles smacked into an invisible barrier. She stepped back, and her abdomen met the same barrier.
“No. This can’t be happening to me. This is just a nightmare.” Primax said, her voice cracking. The lights suddenly went out, leaving a black-light to be the only source of available light. A pair of hands quickly lifted the cardboard, revealing empty space.
“What is this place?” Primax asked herself aloud.
“Your arena of death.” A voice answered back. Primax instinctively swiveled her head to source of the voice. Her sharp eyes immediately caught the sight of the spider.
“Who are you?” Primax said, sliding her stinger out of its sheath.
“Morte.” The spider said as she dropped down from a spindle of thread. Primax caught a glimpse of the red hourglass shape on the spider’s belly, marking her as a black widow. “But you’ll only have a minute to say your last goodbyes to the specks of dust.” Morte said as she scuttled towards Primax.
Primax sidestepped, avoiding the spider in enough time to get ready to attack. Adrenaline rushed through her veins like it did whenever she and her group of workers brought down prey and enemies.
“You little sneak!” Morte hissed, her fangs dripping with venom. Primax made the second move, slowly stalking her enemy.
“You can’t win against me, ant. I kill everything that is dropped into my lair.” Morte laughed wickedly. “Even look at the display case on the wall.” Primax flicked a glance at the cases of dead insects. Flies, centipedes, other spiders, ants, dragonflies. The cases went along the whole wall.
“You’re wrong, Morte. I will kill you.” Primax said, charging towards the spider. She caught the widow off guard, slamming mandibles deep behind Morte’s eyes. Primax secured her with two of her legs as her stinger curved under, oiled with the venom she could’ve easily killed a person with. She inserted her stinger into Morte’s soft stomach, making the spider curse aloud. She stung her again and again, filling her with toxins. She released the spider, backing away.
“Is….Is that the best you can…do? I’m the Queen of Death…I can’t be...killed…” Morte shuddered her last words as her legs collapsed, leaving Primax the victor of the human’s sick game. Primax heard the human teenagers whoop and jeer at one another.
Morte’s owner began taking down the reminders of her reign of death, putting the dead specimens in plastic baggies and into a shoebox. A teen reached into the tank with some tweezers, pulling out Morte’s carcass. Primax watched as a pin nailed the spider into the corkboard in one of the display cases, and was hung on the wall.
Another hand reached down, plucking Primax from the glass cage. Adrenaline was replaced with anger as she readied herself for the attack, curving her stinger inward. She was dropped back into the tank, and given a piece of meat to eat.
“This is torture. I hope the colony is surviving.” Primax said with a slight sob, as she started to eat the small piece of food.
She finished, and started to burrow into the dirt, building a small lair for her to avoid the human’s gaze as she plotted her escape from the ‘Arena of Doom’.
Primax crawled out of her tunnel a few hours later, her dark attuned eyes letting her see the room.
The teenagers were about the room, either asleep or late night texting. Primax put her claws to the glass, and attempted to climb. She slid down after a few inches after she misplaced a foot, but she tried again, reaching the screen under the lid. She found a small hole, and squeezed her body through it.
“Idiot, Primax! You forgot about the glass lid!” She cursed herself. She scurried over the screen, and found the small hatch that Morte’s former owner used to feed her victims to her. It was left unlocked, so Primax pushed her way out. She stood on top of the glass lid, staring at the dark carpet that the table on which the terrarium was on sat. She backed up, and ran forward, leaping down onto the bed.
She hit the blanket with extreme force, knocking the wind out of her. She raked her small claws against the fabric, trying to gain a foothold. She slipped, landing on a texting boy. Terrified, she scampered off of him and under the bed, watching as the teen finished texting and went to sleep.
Primax panted heavily, and ran out the open door. The darkened hallways loomed over her like massive, ominous canyons. Primax continued scurrying, searching desperately for an open window or a crack in the wall.
A curious Brrrowow brought Primax to attention. She turned around the stare at a tabby kitten, his paws dangerously close to Primax’s head.
“Go away! Shoo! Leave!!” Primax yelped at the cat. The tabby cocked his head to the side and batted his paws at Primax. The kitten swatted, barely missing Primax’s mandibles.
Primax backed into a corner in the hall, her heart pounding. The kitten pounced, pinning Primax to the ground. Primax snapped her mandibles around the kitten’s paw, making him scream in pain.
The kitten’s owner stumbled from his room, blearily looking around. He finally located the kitten, and swatted Primax from his paw. Primax hit the ground, and gathered herself dizzily. The boy suddenly scooped her up in a jar, and dumped her in the terrarium, sealing up the hatch she escaped through.
Primax cursed the human, and crawled back into her burrow, longing for her colony and Millet.
She woke the next morning to see another piece of cardboard separating the cage.
“Great. Who or what do I have to kill now?” She said as she finished removing herself from the hole as she twitched her antennae. “ANOTHER spider?” she whined as she processed the pheromones. The hands reached in again, and removed the cardboard. A small tarantula huddled in the far corner, the hairs on his legs raised.
“I’ll only say this once. I’m not afraid of you, and you have good reason to stay away from me.” The spider said with a quivering voice.
“A coward? Funny, I thought ALL spiders were as arrogant as Morte.” Primax hissed at the tarantula. “Alright, what’s your name? I might as well know before I kill you for the entertainment of the humans.”
“B-Baro.” The spider stuttered. Primax scuttled over to him.
“Alright, Baro, let’s make a deal. You play dead when I pretend to sting you, and then you get out of here. But first, tell me where I am and how I got here.” Primax said, her voice taking on a threatening tone.
“No.” Baro said, as he pathetically flicked out a leg, sending stinging hairs flying towards Primax.
Primax burst forward, grabbing Baro in her legs and curving her stinger close to him.
“Where am I?!? How did I get here??!” She hissed, snapping her mandibles close to his eyes, obviously not afraid to blind him.
“C-C-California. You were captured and then placed here to fight other arthropods like me until you died and were replaced like Morte was.” Baro whimpered.
“I’m in America? I was in Australia. I would’ve died on the way over here.” Primax growled.
“Not necessarily. You went into a hibernation mode. You lived off of what fat reserves you had.” Baro said back. “You’re now our new hero.”
“What do you mean ‘Our new hero.'? Doesn’t the boy just go out and capture you randomly?” Primax snapped.
“No. The boy’s father is an entomologist, and he went on a trip to Australia to get some of your kind. He brought back some specimens for study and you as a gift for the boy. The father approves of this ‘Fight to the Death’ competitions placed between us because apparently it helps him to see how we defend and attack in the wild.” Baro said back.
“You still haven’t answered my question. What do you mean I’m your new hero?” Primax said as she pushed a claw into Baro’s thorax.
“You and Morte!” Baro started as he flicked his fangs. “Morte said she would somehow free us, and she once tried to bite the boy when he tried to pick her up. That was her plan, to get the boy to the hospital and free us while he was there. You’re our only hope. None of us want to die!” Baro said as he gasped for a breath.
“Who is ‘us’? Is that where he’s getting all of you? Is in some secret room of insects that will soon die?” Primax said as she realized the situation the insects were in.
“Yes. We’re kept in smaller terrariums, and he just plops us in here when he’s bored. He sets up that camera and films us as we die, because his dad asks him to so he can examine them. Right now he’s not paying attention to us; otherwise we’d be poked with a stick.” Baro said.
“How do you know this?” Primax said.
“Morte told us when she used to live in the corner of the room. She spied on them and listened on their conversations. She knew she would eventually be caught, and she was one day when the boy saw her crawling around on the ceiling.” Baro said. “She snuck out of the terrarium the night before she died and told us that she knew she was going to die the next day because she was getting old, and that she knew you would be better than her. She told us to treat you with respect and listen to you. I really do hope you know she didn’t enjoy her title of ‘The Queen of Death’ and she mourned the loss of every one of her victims. She hated to kill for the sport of it.” The words hit Primax with force and sunk in immediately.
“So she wasn’t a bloodthirsty monster? But if she hated that title, why did she say it before I killed her?” Primax said.
“She decided it would be the last time she would ever used it. She despised it.” Baro said.
The walls of the terrarium vibrated loudly as the boy struck his knuckles against the glass. Primax jumped off of Baro, shaking her head as the sound roared in her ears. The boy stopped, but replaced the cardboard and forced Primax forward with a stick towards Baro.
“I’ve told you everything. He’ll know I’m not dead if I freak out before he pins me next to Morte. Please, just end the pain. Please…Please…” Baro said, his voice cracking. “Besides, I’ll be with Morte anyway. Just please, get it over with, and free everyone else.”
“I can’t.” Primax said as she stared at Baro, seeing the fear in his eyes. He quivered in the corner, whimpering and begging Primax to kill him. Primax shook her head and backed into the cardboard, staring at Morte’s body pinned to the corkboard in the display case on the wall. Remorse swallowed Primax as she wished she could’ve let Morte kill her instead.
The boy shoved the stick in the cage again, and shoved Primax onto Baro. Her stinger was pushed out by accident, and Baro took notice. He flung his abdomen onto it, and sighed as the venom coursed its way through him.
“NO!!! Baro, what did you do?!” Primax screamed.
“Thank you. I’m coming Morte, I’m coming…” Baro shuddered, and patted Primax on one of her legs with one of his; making a few hairs puff off. Primax shook her head, backing away from Baro’s dead body. He twitched a little but stopped, dead. The boy reached in with the tweezers again, grabbing Baro from the dirt. Primax watched in pain as the pin was pushed through Baro’s back next to Morte.
“I’ll try, Baro. I will try.” Primax said, before breaking into tearless sobs.
Primax came out of her sleep stasis the next morning, and met the teenager’s gaze.
“You’re going to Heteroptera Duel in a few days! Aren’t you just SO excited?” he said sarcastically.
Primax stared back at him with intensity, hating him and his father. She turned her head away, suddenly starving. She collapsed, cringing in a near circle. The teen ran out for his father, who came back in with some potted flowers and feeder crickets. Primax looked up as the crickets began to fall towards the dirt, and bouncing around the glass, frantically crying for help. Primax shook her head at the thought of killing and eating the crickets, but her stomach overruled her mind. She lurched forward, and plunged her mandibles into the cricket, making him cry out in pain. She quickly devoured him, and finished off the other one, and drank some nectar from the flowers.
“See? She’s better. You didn’t feed her though, and I’m afraid if you neglect to do that, she won’t make it through the first five minutes of the battle.” The father said. Primax looked at the entomologist in fear and disgust.
“What’s going to happen to me?” She wondered.
The day passed quickly, and the night before the Duel settled. Primax scuttled worriedly around the cage. Over the past few days, she’d been fed strange new foods, and already she was larger in stature and more powerful.
“Primax! Primax!!” A voice whispered from the top of the cage.
“Who’s there?” Primax said. She looked at the ceiling, and saw a housefly zoom down to her feet.
“My name is Nare. I don’t have long to talk to you. But there are a few things you must know about the Heteroptera Duel. It’s a battle to the death when they stick other captive insects in a much larger terrarium and wait for one victor to emerge on the top. Sometimes there isn’t ever a winner, but there usually is. Here’s your secret; form alliances immediately. Otherwise you’re dead or just another enemy to kill. If you’re the last ones standing, then break the alliance and kill them to get out of there; sabotage can be useful sometimes. If you do win, expect to go in every year until you die. I have to go now. Good luck, Primax!!” Nare finished and zipped out a gap in the screen and squeezed his way through the hatch.
Primax sat in disbelief, thinking of who she was up against. Images swirled in her mind of massive insects, battling each other and climbing out the carnage the victor. She nervously slipped into her sleep stasis, burrowing deep into the dirt as if it could keep her safe.
Primax stirred hours before dawn. The teen tossed in his bed, snoring and muttering things about a girl.
“You sick animal.” Primax hissed at him. She started to pace around the cage again, trying to desperately plot her quick escape. The boy had replaced the old screen with a slightly frayed one, with only a hole big enough for a housefly or wasp. The hatch had been sealed as well, leaving Primax locked in the glass until the time of the Duel.
She crawled back into her burrow, craving the company of other ants. Millet flashed in her mind, leaving a mark of her face. Primax shook aside the image of her little sister, and tried to remember what Nare had instructed her.
Form alliances immediately… If you have to, KILL them… Sabotage can be useful sometimes… Nare’s voice echoed in her head, pounding his instructions further into her brain. She settled down further, slipping into her sleep stasis again.
A pounding snapped Primax out of her stasis. She caught a glance of the boy slamming a spade into the dirt, and prying it up to find her. The blade plunged into the dirt in front of her, sealing the burrow shut until the spade angled towards, tilling the dark earth. Primax hurriedly began to dig some more, but the spade slammed in front of her again, and flipped her into the softer dirt. She flailed her arms around, trying to flip over. Tweezers snapped around her waist, and she was yanked out of the tank, and dropped into a plain white box. The boy closed the lid, and started walking with a happy skip.
Primax fell onto the bottom of the box, sliding from side to side as the box rocked around. The rocking stopped, and a loud roar followed by slams of doors sounded in the air. Primax huddled in a corner, her antennae twitching outrageously as she picked up the scents of the past victims.
The car continued for a half hour, until it ran onto a gravel drive, and pulled to a stop. The doors opened again, and Primax could feel the box was lifted again. The lid was opened slightly, as if to allow Primax to see her new home for the next few days.
A huge, glittering glass dome covered a large splotch of green, making Primax think of a jungle trapped inside of a crystal.
“Good thing I got permission to get here first. She’ll get used to her new environment soon, and maybe establish some sort of home or trap.” The father said as he opened the door, letting the muggy air sweep towards them.
Primax gasped for breath, but soon accustomed to the atmosphere inside the biosphere. The boy set the box on the ground, and shook Primax out, making her fall on a fern. She instantly scuttled away, searching for shelter and a source of water. She located a dark, protected area under a leafy thorn bush, next to a small concrete pond, and she waited for her adversaries to arrive.
The door opened multiple times after Primax’s arrival at the biosphere. Her antennae told her the identity of each of her new opponents; A female Tarantula Hawk wasp, a female Praying Mantis, an amount of hornets, a male Emperor Scorpion, multiple tarantulas, other scents that she recognized as other spiders and a strange new arachnid, and multiple dragonflies.
Immediately, she began her search for allies. She sought out the Praying Mantis, following the pheromone trail with antennae, but she had to stop three times to clean her feelers. Finally, she located the site of the mantis, but she couldn’t see her.
A green flash darted from the bushes towards Primax, and sharp spikes nearly punctured her armor.
“Do you want to die now, or later, and wait for me to eat you while still alive?” The mantis said evilly, with a slight maniacal tone to her voice. Primax retaliated by gripping the mantis in her mandibles, and whirling her around, slamming her against the trunk of a sapling.
“Ok, ok. I see how you want to play this game. Just to let you know, sweetheart, I’m a two time champ of this duel.” The mantis said as she flicked a claw at Primax, but that earned another slam against the trunk.
“What’s your name? Hmm? Mine’s Victoria.” The mantis asked. Primax dropped her but locked her in her legs, and pointed her stinger at Victoria’s slender abdomen.
“My name is Primax. I was told to form alliances immediately. I was seeking you out, but I’m starting to regret the thought.” Primax hissed. Victoria stared at her with her green eyes with her head cocked to the side.
“I like your spunk, Primax. Sure, why not form one. But let me tell you, if it’s just us two after everyone else is dead, one of us has to die.” Victoria said. She snapped her head to the side, and fled into the underbrush.
“If you don’t want to die, I suggest you get in here with me.” Victoria said from the shadows with a twitch of her head. She giggled a bit, but held as still as the ground.
A tarantula crawled into view, his fangs lustrous in the light that streamed through the glass, and he nearly doubled Primax in size. He turned his body towards Victoria and Primax’s direction when a loud buzzing sound resonated through the air. The tarantula went into defensive position, raising his four front legs in a threatening manner and flicked his fangs.
A blue streak slammed into the spider, making him curse aloud. Primax caught a glimpse of a massive stinger plunging itself into the tarantula’s abdomen, paralyzing him with the venom. The wasp cocked her head at the spider as he held still, giving a final twitch of a leg. She shook the dust off her wings and began to clean her antennae.
Primax scuttled out towards the wasp, staring at her with awe.
“What are you staring at, ant?” the wasp asked in annoyance.
“You. Obviously. I’m forming alliances with some of the others to help demolish the others.” Primax explained. The wasp rolled her head and continued to clean herself.
“Listen, pip, how do I know I can trust you? As far as I know, you’re already formed up with the camel and bolas spiders.” The wasp sighed.
“I’m not. I’ve only teamed up with a mantis named Victoria. I’ll prove it to you!” Primax said excitedly. She called to Victoria, who jumped from her position, waving her arms around threateningly and flashing her eye spotted wings. The wasp stared blankly at Primax but then said,
“Alright. But here’s the deal, when I say, ‘I kill this one’ I mean, ‘I kill this one.’ Got it?” she asked. The other two nodded.
“So…What’s your name?” Victoria asked, a slight giggle hinting her mood.
“Vespis.” The wasp answered back, giving Victoria a strange glance.
“Is she mental, or did she inhale too much hookah?” Vespis asked Primax as Victoria danced around, trying to catch houseflies that flitted by.
“I don’t know, to be honest.” Primax said, as she watched Victoria clumsily fall on her face. “I just hope she isn’t as clumsy in battle as she is when she tries to take a step.”
Victoria stalked towards them with jerky movements, bobbing her head with beat of her steps.
“You know, I don’t think it’s very advisable to just stand around and wait for our enemies to come to us…Why don’t we just go and get them?” Victoria said with a guffaw. Vespis ignored the comment and buzzed her wings, taking off to perch on the top of a sapling.
“Come on, Victoria; let’s go find my bush again.” Primax said as she dismissed Vespis. Victoria started to object, but gave up and followed Primax.
They arrived at the bush, entering the protection of the thorns and the lush leaves. They began to settled down and wait for Vespis, when they smelled the musky, displeasing scent of an arachnid.
Primax’s eyes caught the sight of a strange, six legged creature, staring at them with its multiple eyes and chomped its four jaws at them.
“I’ve been expecting you.” It said in a gravelly voice, marking it as a male.
“This is my bush. Leave at once.” Primax snapped. The creature crawled towards Primax, snapping his jaws. Victoria snuck behind him, ready to deliver a blow to his abdomen if needed.
“Victoria! Go find Vespis!!” Primax screamed, as the camel spider backed her into some branches of the bush. She scrambled into a pocket of thorns, ignoring them as they scraped against her armor.
“Clever, little tick, but it won’t save you completely.” The camel spider said. He began to chomp through the thorns and advancing towards Primax.
Primax’s heart began to thud, pumping adrenaline filled blood around her body. She leapt, clearing over the camel spider, and lured him into the open. He scrambled towards her, stalking jerkily.
Primax began to dance wildly around the open area. She caught a glimpse of Victoria and Vespis making a wide arc around the top of the dome, followed by a few hornets. She returned her attention to the camel spider, which was dizzily chasing after Primax as she continued to dance in circles around him.
“You clumsy fool; I thought for sure you would’ve been able to catch me.” Primax sneered, taking sudden delight in the camel spider’s confusion. She lured close to the small cement pond, backing into the water. The camel spider leapt into the water, and began flailing around, sending water droplets flying into the air and splashing onto the leaves and dirt. Primax waded to the drowning camel spider, and snapped her mandibles around his middle, and inserted her laced stinger into a soft spot of his abdomen.
The spider held still after receiving 4 more stings, and Primax waded out of the water, and watched for Vespis and Victoria. Seconds later, they appeared, still pursued by a few of the hornets, and disappeared behind tall trees again. They popped out again, losing their energy.
Victoria landed, gasping for breath. Two hornets landed behind her, stalking menacingly. They leapt, buzzing their wings to help them reach towards the mantis.
Victoria suddenly gained new energy, and snapped her arms around a hornet, puncturing its body. She opened her jaws, clomping off the hornets head as she slammed a claw onto the other hornet’s head.
Primax rushed forward, grabbing the pinned hornet. She curled her abdomen towards her head, injecting the hornet with venom. She dropped the insect, watching as it finished thrashing around. Victoria finished demolishing the body of the other hornet, dropping what was left of it onto the ground.
Vespis reappeared again, and the hornets that were chasing her were suddenly dispatched by large dragonflies that leapt from their cover. Vespis circled back towards Victoria and Primax, resting her rust colored wings. The dragonflies that killed the hornets reformed their squad, and zoomed off, heading towards the other side of the biosphere.
“What did you do, Victoria? Annihilate the remains or something?” Vespis asked as she stared the mangled remains of the hornet. Its body was ripped into small shreds, and blood pooled from the wounds and the stinger was barely connected to the body.
“Close enough.” Victoria hissed. “It’s my method of killing. To show the other opponents that I mean business, and that I’m not afraid to draw blood.” Primax shuddered at Victoria’s tone. Vespis gave Victoria a cruel look, but started to walk into the darker underbrush.
“Vespis, where are you going?” Primax said as she scuttled towards the Tarantula Hawk.
“If the others smell the blood, and if we were still there, they’d be there before we’d even have a chance to take a step.” Vespis snapped.
Primax looked behind her to see Victoria eat the remains of the hornets, and then run towards them.
“You know, you do have to eat soon. Granted, it’s only been a few hours, but we need to eat.” Victoria warned.
“I refuse to eat the remains of my opponents. I’m a nectivore, not a brainless killing machine.” Vespis barked. Victoria hissed, and snapped her head to the side, watching the underbrush.
A worm inched in front of Primax, tempting her to eat it. She snapped it up, craving more food.
They stopped at a lush spot, where Primax and Vespis could drink nectar and find another shelter spot. Darkness soon fell over the biosphere, and Primax expected cold to sweep in after it; but it remained comfortably warm. The insects slipped warily into their sleep stases, getting out of reach of the nocturnal enemies as they stalked the biosphere.
Primax stirred the next morning, and brought the other two from their stases. Vespis drowsily buzzed her wings to wake up, and fell from her leafy perch, hitting a small pile of leaves.
A loud gush of air signaled the arrival of newer contestants. Primax’s antennae identified them as an ichneumon wasp; a few stink beetles; a grasshopper; and a few more spiders; and a strange species of ant.
“I think we have a chance of getting some of these newcomers.” Primax said optimistically.
“Pfft.. Please. What good will a grasshopper and some stink beetles going to do for us? All their purpose right now for us is food; At least, for the carnivores.” Vespis said the last word with such venom that Primax thought that the poison would quite literally seep from every pore of her body.
Victoria shot Vespis a dirty look but started to walk away.
“You know, if you want to survive the army ants, I suggest you gain some higher ground. Sound good? Well, if it doesn’t, have fun being torn to shreds.” Victoria sneered, clicking her mandibles together in a murderous manner towards Vespis. She giggled a bit and scrambled up the tree and disappeared from sight.
“Mantises. Think they know EVERYTHING there is to combat. Well, I’ve had plenty experience in battle. Come on, Primax. Let’s move like she said to.” Vespis said, as she began to climb up the tree. Primax started to follow suit when her antennae whipped towards the east.
The white army ants poured into view, their massive sickle-shaped jaws snapping. One twitched its antennae and caught scent of Primax.
Primax scrambled up the tree desperately, but was yanked onto the ground, screaming violently for Vespis and Victoria.
Vespis exploded into view before the army ants could destroy Primax. She violently slammed into a warrior, and smashed her stinger into its head. Victoria calmly climbed down the tree, her head cocked to the side.
“Relax, you two. I know how to deal with these nitwits.” Victoria said, suddenly taking on a demonic manner. She danced wickedly towards the ants, and slammed her arms around a soldier. As if on cue, the other soldiers attacked the injured one, ripping it to shreds, and attacked the other ones until one was left. Primax moved in for the kill, suddenly filled with hate.
She pounced, and inserted her stinger into a chink in its armor, filling it with venom. Hatred and wrath poured of her stinger, and killed the army ant. Primax released the dead soldier, watching as its body curled up and stopped twitching. They climbed the tree, and sat on a branch.
“Trust me, Vespis. I think I know a thing or two about the Heteroptera Duel. Two time winner, remember?” She chided the wasp. “I faced them both times, both on the second day of the duel. The humans have this on a schedule. Tomorrow, if I’m right, they will release Stag and Goliath beetles to daunt us. They may be leaf eaters, but they are vicious in battle. We’ll leave the arachnids up to that battle, and we’ll finish them off. We do need air scouts. Vespis, if you wanted to do it I guess you could, but I was thinking of the dragonflies, because they are fast in flight, and they can be inconspicuous. No offense to you of course, Vespis. We need you though, and we can’t afford for you to get exhausted and fall in midflight into the arachnids trap.” Victoria said. Vespis nodded and inspected a claw.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” She muttered.
“The fourth day, they crank up the mister so it replicates a heavy rain. It soaks the ground the point that you can’t walk without getting stuck, regardless your weight. That’s our best chance to get kill the arachnids. Then I guess we dissolve the alliance with the dragonflies and kill them off.” Victoria said the last sentence glumly.
“No, we won’t. We’re going to make a plan to get as most of us out of here.” Primax interrupted as she stared at a spider that walked under their perch. “We can drown the spiders. They’re too big of a threat, and we need them gone. But, I think we can form an alliance with the scorpion.”
“Brilliant, Primax! That’s an excellent idea.” Vespis said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Vespis, calm down.” Victoria snapped.
“No, no! I think it’s a GREAT plan, a marvelous scheme….for suicide.” Vespis finished. Primax felt insulted, and walked to the end of the bush.
“Then why don’t YOU come up with something? Every time we come up with something, you shoot us down.” Primax snapped. Vespis shot her stinger out from its sheath, ready to attack the ant. Primax whipped her head around and stalked towards Vespis.
“Because I think that we should listen to Victoria.” Vespis said, ignoring Victoria’s sharp arm.
“I refuse to break the alliance and kill you two.” Primax said.
“Oh, pip, you won’t be the one that’ll be doing to killing.” Vespis threatened.
“Both of you KNOCK IT OFF!!!!” Victoria shrieked as she flung the other two aside with her arms. Primax lost her balance, and fell off the branch, plummeting towards the ground.
Primax smacked the spider, making him lose his breath for a slight second. He then wheeled, and shot Primax off his back. Primax ran for her life, searching for any source of shelter. She threw herself into another thorn bush, and located an escape hole. The tarantula kept smashing into the thorn bush, only to leap back and flick spines out of his legs. He gave up and crashed through the bush, earning a thorn in an eye. Primax shot out of her hole, and screamed from Victoria and Vespis.
A massive black form materialized from nowhere out of the shadows, and huge pincers slammed shut on one of the spider’s legs.
“Go.” The scorpion uttered at Primax. She nodded and scurried off, avoiding small holes. She fell into a small cement stream that cut through the small jungle, and thrashed her way out. Vespis appeared from nowhere.
“What is it? Are you alright? What happened?” Victoria said as she crawled her way into view. Primax rapidly explained how she ran into the bush, the tarantula getting his eye punctured, and the scorpion suddenly appearing. Victoria uttered a slight chuckle.
“Well, I guess your plan will work. Lead us back to the two. If they’re still battling, we can ask the scorpion to help us. That is, if he doesn’t get killed.” She went into her twittering giggly mood, leaving Vespis and Primax to work out the details.
“I’m telling you the truth, Vespis. He really popped out of thin air!” Primax said.
“Alright, alright! Don’t get your feelers in a knot.” Vespis said, exasperated.
They quickly found the spot where the scorpion and the tarantula were battling.
Blood stained the dirt, and the tarantula was missing two more eyes and a few feet. The scorpion was weakened, but he charged again, and clamped his pincers onto the spider again, and inserted his stinger again and again. The tarantula shuddered, but stilled.
“I want to thank you, for saving me.” Primax said to the scorpion.
“Don’t mention it.” He replied back, setting his massive pincers down.
“What’s your name?” Vespis asked, obviously annoyed with the situation.
“Vox. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to find a new hiding spot.” He said, turning to leave.
“Wait!” Primax said. “Will you please join us in our alliance? Please?” Primax blurted. Vox stopped in his tracks.
“What for? We’ll all end up dying anyway.” Vox said.
“To defeat the other arachnids. Then after they’re all dead we’ll all get out alive.” Vespis interrupted Primax.
“I hate to say this, but that’s impossible. Aren’t we all supposed to die, and have only one victor?” Vox said.
“Well, yes. But not this time. Primax has an idea, or at least she says she has one. Why don’t you come with us to Primax’s bush, and we’ll talk.” Vespis said.
“Alright. But if any of us die, don’t stop me when I say ‘I told you so.’” Vox said as he followed the others to Primax’s old bush.