Child of the Xenomorph

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


Follow the story of a girl who’s life ends up enwrapped with those of the aliens she once feared so much.



Elle is a girl trapped by the confines of lab. Even she doesn’t know who she truly is. Until one fateful night. She joins the aliens the men are vigorously studying, and uncovers an even more
insidious plot.

Submitted: November 18, 2017

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Submitted: November 18, 2017

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This world is not our own. This is something humans have believed so much in since the beginning of time. We believed ourselves to be dominant, to be conquerers of all things. Perhaps that was true on Earth. We ravaged and destroyed and warred for centuries upon centuries, until we reaped what we had sown. Though we were at the very peak of technology, we could not reverse the slow dying of our home world. So expeditions set out. We scoured the galaxy, looking to take root in new soil. Many expeditions went terribly wrong, the ships and colonists falling prey to unspeakable horrors. 
That's when we arrived at Origae-6 at last. Finally, a peaceful, beautiful new world, a blank template for a fresh start. We placed the embryos in would-be-mothers while the colonists set up new homes. Everything was perfect. Until we found the monsters. 

I growled in frustration, vigorously scratching my essay out. I couldn't figure out anything to write for my assignment. It was important to mention the things, but I wasn't able to write about them without-
Even at the mere thought of them, a searing pain split through my head. Come. The word I had come to hate oozed through my head, along with dark thoughts of claws and gnashing teeth. I shook my head vigorously, trying to rid myself of the presence. I could understand the word, but it wasn't it any language I had ever heard of, and understanding it scared me. 
I heard footsteps coming up to my room, and I snapped myself out of it, standing to greet whoever was coming.
The footsteps turned into a pounding knocking at my door, and as I opened it I prayed to whoever was listening it wasn't my cousin. Anyone but my cousin.
To my everlasting despair, the brown haired demon in front of me smiled in sadistic pleasure. 
"Hello, Elle," he said fluidly. His pointed face reminded me of the creatures he studied, save for his piercing blue eyes. Without me inviting him in, he shoved open the door and stalked inside my tiny cabin, his polished boots clicking softly on the smooth ground. He circled me, like a shark eyeing its prey. 
"Hi, Calvis," I said coolly, mustering all of the hate within me so that maybe he could see it in my midnight eyes. I refused to let fear show. The scars on my back already said enough. 
"It's time to come down to see your beasties, witch," he purred, walking over to grab my arm with a false gentleness. I caught a glimpse of the whip I dreaded so much curled around his waist, like the tail of the xenomorphs. At the thought of them I felt a pang of longing, for a reason I couldn't pinpoint. 
Come. The word echoed once again. 
I tried to pull out of his grip, but of course it was to no avail. "Why?" I asked, trying not to let desperation leech into my tone, nearly failing. "You don't need me for your experiments." 
"Oh, but that's precisely what I need you for," he said, grasping my arm tighter. He began tugging me out of my room. "If you don't resist, things will be a lot...easier for you." As if he needed to make his point clearer, his hand drifted down to his wicked whip. My scars sang with the memory of agony at the hand of that instrument. 
"Please, I can't go down there." I didn't know what would happen to me if I got that close to those personifications of darkness. Tears threatened to fall out of my eyes.
Calvis snorted. "Like I have already said, that is exactly why you are going to go." This time, he yanked my arm so hard I had to bite down a yelp of pain. I made my legs step with his, forcing myself to cooperate.
The halls of the laboratory were shiny and welcoming, an illusion to the demonic things not far from me. The presence in my head grew stronger, feeling like an ugly thing curled up inside of me. Maybe that's how people infected with chestbursters felt. A hideous, powerful presence. 
I tried flashing looks of 'help me' to the passing scientists and soldiers, but as always, they barely paid me a passing glance. Like I would spread my curse to them. So I changed tactics and kept my head down, my ebony hair seemingly absorbing the light around me. 
Another side effect of my curse. My mother was pregnant with me when she was attacked by a facehugger and implanted with a baby xenomorph, a chestburster. Doctors managed to remove me before the chestburster carried out its grisly deed, but were unable to save my mother in time. They say that my flesh was striped with black veins, and nearly disposed of me, until I had shown signs of life. 
All of this I pondered as I trudged toward the pit of despair the scientists kept the aliens. A room of solid stone, something their acid blood was unable to burn through. The scientists kept mine in a similar room, not made of stone but just as confined, cut off from everyone. They gave me useless assignments to test my wit, and assigned my monstrous cousin to inflict pain upon me to see if I had any inhuman defense mechanisms. As if I were nothing more than a lab animal. A yawning pit of hatred opened up within my soul. I wanted to die. And I wanted them all dead. Slow, painful, well deserved deaths. 
I entered an elevator with Calvis, and awaited the dark room the xenomorphs were kept in. It emitted death and agony and all things wicked and dark. I had never seen a real xenomorph, only pictures and drawings. But ever since then I had heard that one word. 
Come. 
Come.
Come.
It battered my brain relentlessly now, growing stronger and more intense with every click the elevator made down to the room. The elevator door shuddered open, and I gasped at what I saw. 
An alarmingly small cell, crammed with the most beautiful, horrible creatures I have ever seen. They had a slightly humanoid stance, but that was where any resemblance to a human ended. Their black muscled bodies were corded with something akin to ridges, or veins. Long spikes protruded from their backs, arching above them in a wicked curve. The tails whipped and sliced around their bodies rapidly, ending in a gleaming point. I could see long glinting claws wrapped around the thick stone bars, grasping for the soft flesh of human prey. 
Most magnificent was the head. A large, smooth cylindrical dome stretching directly backwards, ending in a snarling maw. One xenomorph in particular was aimed toward me, it's black lips curled from its metallic teeth, saliva gushing and pooling onto the ground below. A hissing guttural sound came from it. 
Well done. Instead of being something I thought I could hear, the scraping voice was heard in the back of my head. The pain was gone.
"Well, well, well, what a surprise," Calvis drawled, his scratchy voice cutting through my spiritual moment. "The demons are excited to see the witch." 
He nodded toward his comrades stalking about the cavern, holding hefty weapons. At his nod, the soldiers began shooting the xenomorphs with non lethal bullets. Enough to cause a ton of pain, but not to kill.
The xenomorph's screams immediately filled the cavern. It was soul wrenching. I dropped to my knees as the wails of the creatures grew and grew as the soldiers pumped bullets into them. The wails were not of any animal. No, I heard true anguish and torture, the cries of a sentient being. Tears welled in my eyes. I couldn't let Calvis know this was affecting me. He would know something was wrong and create even worse experiments. 
I stood shakily to my feet. Calvis was eyeing me curiously. 
"Change the bullets to lethal," he said casually. 
I couldn't keep it in anymore as the first gorgeous life was extinguished in a flurry of screams. 
"Stop!" I cried. "Please, there's no point in this!"  
Calvis turned his cruel eyes to me. "Hold
your fire!" He called out. 
I couldn't believe he listened to me. "Thank you," I said, choking back another sob. The xenomorphs were growling and hissing, communicating among themselves.
Calvis grabbed my chin out of nowhere, his rank mouth inches from my face. "You don't think these things deserve to die?"
"I think you all deserve to die," I snarled, and spat in his face. 
The punch knocked me out.

I woke up to him whipping my ripped up back. I screamed as the pain lashed through me relentlessly, coming over me in waves and refusing to leave. Calvis left me in a bloody mess, as darkness washed over me again. 

In my dream the xenomorph that had been looking at me earlier held me in its clutches. It whispered a number to me over and over. 4709. 4709. 4709. 

When I woke up again, my clock told me that night had fallen. Everyone would be asleep by now. 
With a groan, I stood up, wincing at the still fresh wounds on my back. I felt the warmth of blood still oozing down my flesh. I shoved the pain away as I shuffled toward my door. They never locked it. I had always been perfectly submissive.
The door opened without the slightest resistance. I snorted softly. They were idiots for underestimating my motives. 
The walk down the hall was a long, torturous one, but I made it to the elevator. It made a slight creaking noise, and in fear I looked down the darkened hall. To my horror, i heard voices around the corner. 
The elevator went down too slowly and a million times too loud. By the time I reached the bottom, I could hear clamoring voices above me. But it vanished when I saw the xenomorphs. 
They were peaceful now, hissing softly to one another. The dark blue xenomorph that was in my dream was looking at me again, and I could've sworn it nodded at me. I looked around to see if there was anything I could apply the mysterious number to. Over to the right of the cell, there was a glowing passcode lock.
I started to walk over there, hissing through my teeth at the continual pain. Panic seared through me when I heard the elevator cranking. I stood above the passcode lock.  
Was I really ready to die? I was almost sure that despite my delusions, the xenomorphs would have no problem killing me. The choice was pounding in me. 
I was ready to die for a greater cause. And especially if the other demons who had tortured me would die in the middle of it.
My choice solid, I punched in the numbers, 4709. 
The doors to the cell clanged open just as the elevator doors opened. To my surprise, the xenomorphs completely ignored me and set upon the men who came in. The men were completely unprepared, and their cries were the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. The dark blue xenomorph stopped in front of me.
Welcome, sister. 
And for the first time in my miserable life, I smiled. 
I could've sworn it smiled back. 


Chapter 2:

The wind whistled past my ears, singing to me a song of freedom. I rode upon the dark blue xenomorph’s back, the air filled with the triumphant screeches of victory. The wretched laboratory was destroyed, the wicked beings within it sent to wherever dark places they belonged. Most of them, anyways. I did not see Calvis among the slaughtered, and the thought of him escaping filled a small part of me with fear.

You’re safe now, sister, the xenomorph I was riding purred into my mind. You will be well taken care of.

A question formed in my mind. Why help me?

She chuckled, a guttural, snorting sound. I am not sure why I determined that she was a ‘she’. I just knew. 

You will find out soon enough.

Well, could you at least tell me your name?

She then messaged me a series of clicks and hisses that I presumed to be her name. The closest sounding words I could use to describe them would be, ‘J’Khati’. 

We ran the rest of the way in silence, the other xenomorphs running alongside us. I estimated there was a rough fifteen of them. The screaming of the men faded far away behind me, and I let my fear go. I was safe.

The mountains and crags of Origae-6’s landscape rose all around me, and I was astounded at its beauty. Three moons hung brightly in the speckled night sky, illuminating the ground and casting a glow on the xenos. I had only read about this in books, and only two times in my whole life had Calvis taken me outside. It was when I was six and eight, too young to run away, and I barely remembered any details. Now the glory of it took my breath away. A wild song sang through my veins, and I let out an inhuman cry of joy. J’Khati roared with me, our smooth and raspy voices intertwining in a happy symphony, bouncing along the valley. 

J’Khati and the rest of the xenomorphs raced into the forest, the trees seeming to be a protective wall from us and the humans. 

I stopped my thoughts at that note. I was already starting to view the humans, my species, as another one entirely different from me. I shook my head, internally confused, I supposed I would figure it out later. 

As we traveled deeper into the woods, I felt a powerful, authoritative presence grow in my mind.

Welcome, my child. A melodious voice flowed through my head. 

Who are you? I asked tentatively.

Your Queen, the voice responded. I gasped. J’Khati grunted in acknowledgement. She must’ve heard the Queen too. 

Now in the distance a dark structure appeared. It looked organic, a strange combination of twisting bonelike materials. It was a fascinating piece of architecture, and there was a tube entrance to it, with four guardian xenomorphs standing watch. They growled when they saw me on J’Khati’s back, but when J’Khati clicked back at them, they nodded and let us through.

Inside it was pitch black, but for some reason I just knew where everything was.Branching from the main tunnel was many smaller tunnels, with busy xenomorphs scrambling to get to their jobs. It was as if I had downloaded the map into my brain and had autopilot to wherever I needed to go. Only J’Khati was my ride.

Down, down, down we went, until it the tunnel opened up into a large room. By now the other escapee xenos had gone their own separate ways, until it was just me and J’Khati in the large room. And in the center, was the Queen. My Queen.

She was incredibly majestic, towering at least twenty feet tall. Instead of a simple cylindrical crest, hers was an impressive frill fanning from her head in a huge crown, fit for a queen. She was black with a copper undertone, making her glow from the inside out in a unique way. Tucked under the typical two arms were another smaller pair, held out in a welcoming gesture.

 I hopped off of J’Khati’s back and bowed as low as I could go. 

The Queen chuckled softly. My child, you have no need to go through such lengths, though I am flattered. I bid you welcome to my humble little hive. I know you have already met your sister, J’Khati. 

J’Khati nodded at me, and I smiled at her. One question was nagging in my mind, however. 

What do you mean by, her being my sister? I asked.

She was the chestburster that came from your mother, the Queen said simply. Her transforming you through the process rather made you her sister. And therefore, my daughter.

The Queen said the information so matter-of-factly that it almost didn’t hit me right. J’Khati was the xenomorph that transformed me? Not that I resented her for killing my mother. I never knew my mother, and she was just the body that was selected for me to be carried in. And J’Khati didn’t exactly have a choice whether to kill her or not. No, the thing that startled me was that J’Khati was my sister! I had a sister! 

Without being able to stop myself, I ran to J’Khati, tears streaming from my eyes. She held her arms out in a warm embrace, pressing me to her soft chest. Though a xenomorph appeared hard and uncomfortable, their skin was actually incredibly smooth and soft, not quite mammalian skin but not quite reptilian. She rested her large head on the side of my neck.

And I knew I was home. At last, I had a family. 

I’ll never let you be hurt again, Shaniya, J’Khati said to me comfortingly. 

And the memory exploded back to me. A name echoing in my ears when I was younger, only to be forgotten later. My true name, Shaniya. 

J’Khati led me through the tunnels to the sleeping quarters. All of the xenomorphs were still buzzing with activity, not needing much more sleep than a few hours, but I was getting tired. The exhaustion of the night was catching up to me, and I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I was free, truly free. 

J’Khati whistled and clicked to the xenos. I’m telling them who you are, she explained to me. Once they can have a tag to you, such as a name, you can be linked to the hive mind. 

Sure enough, voices started pouring into my head.

What an odd addition-

Isn’t she a human?

How exciting!

She doesn’t belong here

I can’t wait to find out more about her!

I was overwhelmed by the voices piling through, but I was too tired to do anything about it. 

I’ll nap with you for a while, J’khati told me.

Sounds like a plan, I agreed sleepily.

As I curled up into J’Khati’s dark blue belly, my mind immediately started drifting off to sleep. I was so tired...so very tired.

I fell asleep so fast I didn’t see the claws forming on my fingers.

Chapter three:

This couldn’t be real. I was safe, wasn’t I? I was in the Hive, untouchable by human hands.

But that didn’t stop the fact that I was being tortured by my worst nightmare 

The whip bit into my back, ripping up bits of torn flesh. I screamed, the pain being the worst I had ever felt.

“Hold her down,” Calvis sneered in an oddly feminine voice. Several soldiers ran over and pinned me to the ground stomach down, my flailing making no difference in the face of their strength. 

“Wake up! Hold in there, Shaniya!” Calvis said once more. I was suddenly confused through the pain. Was this a dream?

Just as the thought raced through my heated head I woke up, coughing and sputtering. I was convulsing uncontrollably, a horrendous pain searing through my entire body, located in my spinal region. J’Khati was beside me, with several other Xenomorphs, holding me down as I thrashed. 

‘Stay calm, it’ll all be ok,’ she cooed.

I didn’t quite believe her. Was their hospitality a trick? With a shoot of horror I thought that I had been infected with a chestburster. Was I brought back just to be a host?

I screamed as flame and nails shot through my bones, my veins, every fibre of my being. I could feel the creature coming out of my back...spines splitting my skin…I could feel the warmth of my blood dripping slowly down my back.

I suddenly started choking on what I presumed to be my own blood. My skin inside my throat felt like it was melting. My spine seemed to be thrashed and extended. I looked over my shoulder and saw that a spiny, gray, wormlike creature had sprung from above my posterior. I screamed again, but no human voice came out.

An alien cry echoed from my throat, sounds no human voice box could make. I tried saying, “what”, but all that came out was a series of clicks. 

Just when I thought it was over, a new wave of pain smashed through the roof of my mouth and below my tongue. My mouth filled with blood, and I had to keep spitting to prevent myself from choking on it. 

And just like that, as suddenly as it had come, the pain vanished. The Xenos keeping me down backed away, and to my horror the worm that had came out of my back started moving as I started to rise.

Wait a second. I paused, staying completely still, and so did the worm. Now that I thought about it . . .

Concentrating all my thought, I lifted the worm to my face. It wasn’t a worm at all, but a tail. An extension of me. I was black with little glints of extremely dark grey, and I admired the shiny blade at the end. I whipped it back behind me, wincing as I almost knocked a nearby Xenomorph in the face.

‘Watch it!’ He grunted into my mind.

‘Sorry,’ I mumbled back to him.This would definitely take some getting used to. 

‘Could you lead me to something I could examine myself in?’ I asked J’Khati.

‘Follow me,’ she said, and I followed her down the winding hallways. 

She brought me to a particularly reflective wall. I stood in front of it and looked at myself.

I would look somewhat human at first glance, with me appearing to be so in nearly every way. My pointed, elvish face was the same, as was my black hair and eyes The black veins squiggling along my body hadn’t changed, and I still just looked human. But when I turned, the resemblance ended. 

Black spines pointed downwards, unlike the more tubular spikes arching from a Xenomorph’s back. Following my spiked spine ended with a long, black and grey tail, tipped with a gleaming blade, very much akin to a Xenomorph’s tail. My white hands were tipped with wicked looking, hooked black talons, and my toenails had undergone a similar transformation.

‘I guess that’s all that changed,’ I told J’Khati.

‘Then why were you spitting blood from your mouth?’ She asked.

That was a very good question. I opened my mouth, looking inside. I could see the glimmer of something sharp looking just behind my first set of teeth, and I felt the urge to do a more forceful yawning motion.

I did something like a yawn, and a upper and lower jaw were thrust forward out of my mouth, lined with glistening, sharp silver teeth. It wasn’t a wormlike contraption like a typical Xeno. No, it was like a retractable set of jaws right behind my first set of teeth, more primitive looking than a Xeno’s. 

I thought I would be horrified, but I found myself filled with satisfaction. This was it. This was the true form of my body. 

“Yes,” I whispered out loud, but it came out in the form of a growl. I realized my vocal cords must’ve changed too. 

‘This is amazing!’ J’Khati said, clapping her talons together in delight. ‘Being with your own species must have unlocked another part of you!’

I ran over and hugged her, our tails intertwining in affection. I accidently bumped her in the rear, and we both laughed.


J’Khati decided that I should explore the Hive on my own, since she was going to a meeting with the Queen and her guards, so I was nervously making my way through the passageways. I had found out where the bathroom was, a large leaf that had to be changed by some unfortunate Xeno every day, and the nursery, where mothers were waiting for their eggs to be implanted via facehugger into an animal.

As I explored further, I heard voices gradually becoming louder in my mind, indicating Xenomorphs were getting closer.

‘I wonder where the freak is,’ a girl voice said.
‘Yeah, I honestly don’t know what the queen is thinking, letting her in here. I wouldn’t trust her as far as my inner jaw goes.’ A thuggish male voice chimed in.

Just as he said that, three Xenomorphs appeared in front of me around the corner. I could tell by the looks of them that there was two girls and one boy. 

‘Well well, here’s the half-breed,’ the first girl sneered. She was an unattractive stony grey. The smaller girl was a darker grey, and the boy was an incredibly dark brown.

‘What do you want? I asked, trying not to let fear leak.

‘We just want to know how well you’ll fit in here,’ the smaller girl said, her tail flicking back and forth like a cat in front of prey.

They formed a circle around me. I raised my tail instinctively, fear rising in me.
“You’ll never actually belong anywhere,’ the boy hissed. ‘You’re unnatural in both worlds. You shouldn’t even exist.’

“I mean, can you do this?” The larger girl asked, and struck out with her lower jaw. Her teeth grazed my shoulder, and I gasped as blood sprayed out. 

‘I can’, I retorted weakly, and thrust my inner jaws out, hissing at them,

‘Ha! Even her jaws are weird,’ the smaller girl said, but I noticed she took a respective step back.

Without warning, the boy hit me with his claws on the stomach. I screamed and tried to strike back, but missed by a long shot. The stony gray girl tripped me with her tail, slashing me at the same time. 

‘Failure,’ she hissed, and raised her claws to slash my face. I closed my eyes.

Just then, J’Khati raced around the corner and roared. And I don’t mean that word lightly. Her roar was one of pure rage. It ravaged my ears so painfully I clamped my hands over them. 

She raced over and stood over the younglings, her corded muscles rippling under her dark blue skin with the movement. I noticed the drastic size difference between her and the younger Xenos. She towered above them, and was quite a formidable sight,

‘How DARE you touch her!’ She bellowed into the Hive mind. ‘She is my sister, sharer of my soul, blood of my blood, and she is MINE! She is part of this Hive as much as you are, if not more, and I expect that you treat her as such!’

The young Xenos were trembling beneath her. ‘Y-Yes Firstborn,’ the lead girl said. ‘I am so very sorry!’

‘Me too!’ The littler girl said, her metallic teeth clacking together, the dome of her head arched so far back to see J’Khati that it nearly touched the still growing tubes on her back. 

‘The Queen knows of this, and is very displeased,’ J’Khati growled into our minds. ‘Go see her for your punishment.’

Heads hanging low, tails dragging behind them, the younglings skulked off. 

J’Khati turned to me. “It’s time I teach you the art of self defense.’

Chapter four:

 


The room was large and forbidding, the dark ribbed walls stretching above me, enclosing me in. I was slightly terrified for J’Khati’s defense lesson. I hoped she wouldn’t accidently rip me to shreds. It seemed that the Xenomorph’s expectation regarding the resilience of human flesh was a little too high. Regardless, I shook myself and took a deep breath.

‘What are we working on first?’ I asked her.

‘Well, your first line of defense is your claws,’ she instructed. ‘Hold your right arm slightly above your head and poised as if you were to slash down. WIth your left arm, hold it halfway up your body and slanted to the side, as if you were going to slash it across.’

I did as she instructed, holding my black claws above my head and across from my body. I felt a bit silly, but I figured I should listen to the master. My long black hair draped across my arms, and I had to shake my arms a few times to get it off.

“Oh, by the way, a friend of mine has opted to give you language lessons,’ J’Khati added. ‘Telepathy is limited to the individual Hive and its Queen and drones. Outside Hives cannot communicate telepathically with other Hives. For this reason you should learn the language. Your lessons start after this one.’

‘O-Ok,’ I stammered. I was pretty nervous about meeting more Xenomorphs after my last encounter, but I would survive. I hoped.

Without warning, J’Khati lunged at me, claws extended toward my gut in a killing blow. I slashed down near the front of her head, but she expertly ducked under the movement, rolling to my side. She nicked my waist, and stood up. If she had visible eyes I would’ve sworn she was looking down her nose at me.

‘Amatuer move, but at least you didn’t just stand there with your mouth open.’ She lunged again, but this time I was ready. I sidestepped her, uppercutting at the same time so she couldn’t duck, and landed a square hit to the underside of her jaw. 

My moment of victory ended when her tail wrapped around my legs and yanked me onto the ground. 

“Oof,” I grunted audibly as my back slammed onto the cold ground. J’Khati slinked over me, and pressed a talon to my chest.

‘You are showing more promise, but you must always be prepared. A Xenomorph soldier does not give up until they draw their last breath. We will fight for our Queen and secondly our lives, not showing mercy or second thoughts. We think of all sides, all possibilities the enemy may hold.’

‘Ok, ok,’ I said, annoyed. I thought my moves had been fairly good for a beginner, and a human at that, but I thought wrong. 

“Nevertheless, you did land a good hit on me, and that is difficult to do. You’re off to a good start.’ J’Khati smiled at me, her metallic teeth glinting. 

‘Thanks,’ I said, and pricked her back with my tail.

She yelped, and leapt off of me. I jumped to my feet, surprising myself with my own agility, and slashed my claws across her face, not enough to seriously injure but to sting. She jabbed with her tail, but I ducked, using all my weight to jump toward her chest. She bowled over, and I pinned her arms down. Before she could do anything else, I leaned down with a wicked smile, and kissed her biomechanical neck.

‘A Xenomorph soldier must always be ready,’ I communicated to her tauntingly. 

Her jaws were agape. I let her up, and to my great surprise she was trembling.

‘No one, NO one, has ever been able to do that to me,’ she told me, her gravelly voice full of reverence in my mind. ‘You shocked me with that blow to my jaw, yes, but that attack...I wonder what more potential you hold.’

I shrugged. ‘I just did what my body told me to do.’ I didn’t know quite what to do with this information. I was just as agape at what I did as J’Khati was. I looked down at my own hands, so human, yet so alien at the same time. What was I?

Should a creature like me, with a human capacity for such great evil, and a Xenomorph’s uncanny ability to fight, exist?

I shook my head. I couldn’t let such doubts get to me. They would only destroy me.

‘It’s time for your language lessons now, Shaniya,’ J’Khati told me. ‘Let’s go.’

I followed her beautiful form, her dark blue figure walking along the passageways with an inhuman grace I never had a hope of matching. Her muscles rippled underneath her skin, a being of pure power. She truly was the perfect organism.

‘I have heard your thoughts of doubt in your mind.’ Her voice penetrated my admiring thoughts. ‘You think you are a monster.’

‘I guess there’s no such thing as privacy anymore,’ I snapped before I could think, and then I felt bad. ‘Sorry.’

‘No, I am sure it would take some getting used to.’ She paused from walking, turning to me. Her glossy head was close to my face, and I ran my hand along her smooth carapace in an affectionate gesture.

‘Shaniya, I haven’t known you for very long. But there are certain things I know about you. I know that you have a good heart. You rescued us from that heinous prison. You didn’t let rage cloud your heart and mind when those bratty hatchlings picked on you. I have hope in you. You will be a great asset to the Hive. The Queen, my Mother, believes in you too.’

‘Thanks, J’Khati,’ I said, tears welling up in my eyes. I hugged her, and she hugged me back.

‘I love you, sis,’ she said tenderly.

I love you too.’

 

We finally arrived at language lessons. A plain black Xenomorph was waiting, her tail flicking back and forth in obvious impatience. When she saw J’Khati and I, however, her tail rose in greeting.

‘Ah, J’Khati, my sister!’ She said, bounding towards us in startling enthusiasm. They bumped heads and intertwined tails, and afterwards the new Xenomorph turned towards me.

‘And this must be darling Shaniya!’ She said, running over and grasping my talons. She paused for a moment, but then went on with her bubbliness. ‘I didn’t expect you to look so...human, but no matter! We shall turn you into more of a Xenomorph yet!’

‘This is Fecta, my sister,’ J’Khati said, annoyance barely seeping into her tone. ‘She is usually a little overexcited about everything.’

‘Oh yes, we will have great fun with language together!’ Fecta said, practically bouncing back to where she was perched. 

I noted that she had nearly the same amount of ridges and crests embellishing her head and spine as J’Khati, more than the other Xenos I had seen bustling about. And the aggressive hatchlings had perfectly smooth domes, instead of any ridges. I wondered what that meant. 

‘I’ll leave you two to your business,’ J’Khati said. ‘I’m on border control today. I’ll see you later, Shaniya.’

With that, she trotted off, leaving me to the mercy of Fecta’s teaching.

‘Let’s begin with simple sentences,’ Fecta said, and thus started two hours of difficult teaching. I quickly learned how hard it was to speak their language. For instance, a low warbling click means, “I am hungry,” and a medium toned warbling click means, “I find you very attractive”. I was slightly terrified I would be accidentally flirting with everyone I met. 

By the end of the lesson my new vocal cords were exhausted, and so was my overloaded brain. I did figure out the basics of it, and I did feel way more accomplished and part of the Hive.

‘What’s it like, being part human and part Xenomorph?’ I really wanted to go, but Fecta was unrelentingly pressing me with questions, and I was too nice to just leave.

‘Well, it’s always been hard, even before being around the others species unlocked the rest of my physical features,’ I admitted. ‘I had a wicked cousin named Calvis, and I think he would’ve truly killed me if I stayed there for very long.

‘That’s awful,’ Fecta said, sympathy filling my mind. ‘I’m glad you’re here so you can be properly taken care of.’

‘Me too,’ I agreed. 

‘How did your fighting lessons go?’ She continued to press me.

‘They went well. I was better than I thought I would be. In fact, J’Khati said that I was more powerful than she expected me to be.’ I didn’t know why I felt compelled to tell her more, but I just felt like she should know. She was just so nice.

‘That’s...interesting,’ Fecta said. I could’ve sworn I caught a hint of something in her tone, although I couldn’t pinpoint what. 

‘Are there any other abilities you have, other than your new vocal cords, tail, and claws?’ She asked. ‘I promise this is the last question.’

‘Yeah, I have an inner jaw, of sorts,’ I said, and extended it. Fecta looked fascinated at my jaws, and I retracted them. 

‘Incredible,’ She gushed, and clapped her talons. Just then, J’Khati walked in. 

‘Come, Shaniya,’ she said. ‘I’ve captured some prey for us to eat. After that we should take a walk outside. It’s not good for you to be away from sunlight for so long.’

It was true. I was starting to feel like a wilting flower. ‘That sounds nice,’ I said, although I also wanted to get away from Fecta. I didn’t like how she seemed to be able to get anything she wanted out of me.

‘Thanks for the lessons, Fecta,’ I said politely.

‘My pleasure. Be practicing for tomorrow!’ She called after us.

Once we were gone, and she couldn’t link onto our mind stream anymore, I talked to J’Khati. ‘Does Fecta have a knack for getting info out of you?’ I asked.

She snorted loudly. ‘Don’t even get me started! You have no idea how many secrets that girl has gotten out of me. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a unique gift to her.’

‘Don’t you think that could be a dangerous thing for a single Xeno to have?’ I pointed out.

J’Khati gave me a weird look. ‘Fecta is odd, but I assure you, she is harmless. She’s never even gone hunting, for goodness sakes. And give her some respect. Not only is she teaching you a whole language, she is my sister, and therefore, is yours.’

‘Yeah, yeah, I know, I was just wondering,’ I said quickly, and shoved my weird suspicion aside. I didn’t know why I had thought that rude thought about Fecta, and thought about other things. 

After all, I had a family. And as far as I knew, family trusted each other.

Chapter five:

It had been several days since J’Khati started taking me outside, but I would never get over its wild beauty. I had been vigorously training with her, and taking lessons with Fecta. I was well versed in both drastically different arts. I had also grown a lot closer to Fecta, and although she was a little strange, I had developed a grudging liking for the odd Xenomorph.

The air was crisp and cold, my warm breath fogging around my face as I exhaled. I heard birds and insects chirping and buzzing all around me, and became acutely aware of everything happening around me. I heard the crunch of leaves as J’Khati and I stepped cautiously out into the forest. Sunlight filtered through the trees and cast a golden halo around J’Khati. The rushing sound of a waterfall erupted my senses, probably half a mile away. Apparently more had changed with the transformation than I thought.

“It’s beautiful,” I said audibly, trying to put to use some of the lessons Fecta had already taught me. 

J’Khati grunted in surprise. “Indeed,” she said. “When there’s no combat.”

The air of danger returned to me. “Are there enemies here?” I asked.

“There shouldn’t be, not so deep within the borders,” she reassured me.

I decided to switch back to telepathy. I was a fast learner, but not that fast. ‘Are we hunting today?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Let’s go deeper into the woods. I will let you select your own prey.’

We traveled silently through the forest. It was odd, hearing the birds and other animals go silent at the approach of J’Khati. They knew what a predator she was. 

Over a hill I spotted a wild boar. Humans had brought animals from Earth and introduced them here. After a while the animals bred and created wilder versions of the tamed species. They roamed the wild, apparently providing ample food for the Xenos.

‘I want that one,’ I said to J’Khati. She nodded.

I dropped into a crouch, the bushes hiding me from the boar’s sight. It was rustling in the leaves, completely oblivious of the hungry girl stalking it. I made sure to avoid twigs and dry leaves, and I padded noiselessly, until I was right in front of it.

I waited, until it started to come towards me. Mustering all of the might that I could into my legs, I lunged out of the brush and forwards. My tail whipped out behind me, balancing me in midair. The boar didn’t even have time to shriek as my razor sharp inner jaws closed around its throat, crushing its windpipe. Blood filled my mouth, and I instinctively spit it out. I then realized that I didn’t even find it unappetizing. The blood didn’t taste awful, and my stomach growled in unrealized hunger. 

“That was fantastic!” J’Khati told me out loud, bounding over to me in effortless grace. “I have never seen such skill in a beginner! And you’re not even fully Xenomorph.’

“Beginner’s luck, I guess,” I said, trying to sound careless but inside feeling a little freaked out. I had no idea why I was good at any of this. 

“Let’s take it back to the Hive and show the Queen,” J’Khati ordered. “She will be so pleased.”

Hauling the boar back was no easy task, but J’Khati helped me out. I heard oos of appreciation from the other Xenos, and I saw a couple give me jealous glares. I held my chin hi, marching alongside J’Khati, my hand on the boar’s hide. I wanted them to know that I was part of this Hive. I was one of them, and I could contribute.

At last, we slung the boar in front of the magnificent Queen.

She was still a sight to behold, and I didn’t think I would ever get over it. I supposed she was slumbering, as she slid out of her crown and stretched her head. Enormous silver teeth were displayed as she yawned, and peered down at us. 

‘What is the matter?’ She asked us telepathically.

‘Shaniya killed a wild boar herself!’ J’Khati said, walking forward. ‘Her training is exemplary! I have never seen any other Xeno match the progress she is making at her stage. I think she should upgrade to being a Runner level, and begin helping around the Hive and making border patrols.’

The Queen turned to me. ‘Well done, Shaniya!’ She complimented, and I blushed with pride. ‘I am so proud of how far you are coming. It would be my pleasure to promote you to Runner status. I am sure you will be a valued asset to the Hive.’

‘Thank you so much, Mother,’ I said, bowing my head low. ‘Your generosity is greatly appreciated.’

‘The customary promotion party will be held, of course,’ the Queen said. ‘Tonight, in this room, the whole Hive will be here to celebrate the promotion of you and several other hatchlings. I hope you enjoy yourself.’

She then yawned again, and her and J’Khati spoke aloud for a few moments. I didn’t understand anything they were saying, so I just backed out and left them to their business. I made my way to J’Khati’s room, where I decided to take a nap before the party. I was out before I knew it.

Tsalken-
I was extremely unhappy about this whole ‘party’ business. I hated groups, and having to interact with anyone. Actually, I didn’t like other Xenomorphs a whole lot. All they did was pick on me and my small size.

You’ll forever be a Runner, they’d say to me. I shook my head. No time for negative thoughts. I scampered down the hallways, avoiding other, larger Xenomorphs. I nearly ran face first into a full-blown Warrior, narrowly dodging his large chest.

“Watch yourself, kid,” he told me firmly but kindly. 

I nodded, and continued to run. I hoped I wasn’t late, but not too early. The others wouldn’t notice if I arrived a few minutes after it started, with everyone else. 

I stumbled into the Queen’s chamber, tripping over someone’s tail and falling, my snout smashing into the ground.

“Ow,” I said, standing up and rubbing my snout.

The Xeno who’s tail I tripped over turned around. Great, just great. It was Laika, the meanest girl in the Hive.

“Tsalken, what are you doing here?” She sneered at me, her lips curled back, displaying her large fangs. 

“I’m here for the party, just like everyone else,” I said nervously.

Thankfully it seemed she’d rather get back to her friends, as she said, “Just don’t touch me again, or I’ll rip your talons off,” and with that she turned back to her vicious little possy.

I gulped, and ran away as fast as I could. Maybe I would always be a Runner. Because all I ever did was run away from everything.

I approached the prey pile, realizing I was quite hungry. There was a juicy looking rabbit on the top, and I didn’t think anyone else wanted it, so I began to take it when a pale, fleshy hand snatched at it too.

“Sorry!” I instinctively blurted, backing away as fast as I could. Then I saw who I had touched.

Rumor of her had spread faster than fire around the Hive, the stories of a girl who was neither Xeno nor the other hostile species, Human. Some said she was ugly, others said she had a unique prettiness about her.

But I thought her beautiful in the most strange way.

A mane of thick midnight hair draped down her head, and around her body. Her milk white skin looked awfully delicate, like someone could just poke her with a claw and drain her of life. I didn’t understand her stature, as I had never seen a Human before. She looked faintly Xenomorph but not. She had talons and a long, magnificent, silvery black tail. When I touched her, she jerked back, and the patches of skin under her eyes turned a slight pink color.

“Not your fault,” she mumbled out loud, and started to turn back into the crowd.

“Wait!” I called, then wondered why I had just said that. 

She turned back to me. “What is it?” She asked.

I struggled to think of a good reason to back up my statement. “Um, there’s enough on this rabbit to share.” 

She smiled, displaying broad, herbivorous teeth. “That sounds good to me,” she said. “What’s your name?”

“Tsalken,” I said. “What’s yours?” 

“Shaniya,” she answered. Without saying another word, we took some meat out of the rabbit and ate together. Soon enough, the Queen roared, and got our attention.

“I would like to congratulate the hatchings who have gotten to the Runner level,” she said. “They have trained long and hard, and are well prepared for the training ahead. As a Runner they will perform basic duties around the Hive, such as delivering messages, cleaning, building, and helping in the nursery.” 

She then rattled off several names, including mine and Shaniya’s. The Xenos all cheered, celebrating the promotion of more talons to help the Hive. Shaniya slapped her fleshy front talons together, creating a loud noise. This movement got her a few weirded out glances from the Xenomorphs around her, and she stopped, putting her talons to her sides and mumbling, “sorry,”.

I decided to ignore the strange movement for her sake and moved on. “Are you happy to be a Runner now?” 

She shifted her shoulders up and down. “I suppose so,” she said nonchalantly. “Anything to be more accepted here.’

“I know what you mean,” I said, indeed knowing exactly how she felt. I was so glad to have found another person that was as much an outcast as I was. Maybe we would even become friends.

“Hi, Shaniya!” An excited voice exclaimed from behind me. “How’s your language coming along?”

“Well, thank you Fecta,” Shaniya said politely. A black Xenomorph walked, no, more like bounded from behind me, landing elegantly beside Shaniya.

“That’s so cool you’re a Runner now!” She squealed. “I remember those days, and how excited I was!” She wrapped her tail around Shaniya’s, visibly squeezing it. 

“Yeah, it’s great,” Shaniya said absentmindedly, although I noticed she rubbed Fecta’s dome in an affectionate gesture. 

“Come, let’s go talk to J’Khati,” Fecta said mischievously. “She’s talking to her oh-so-important captain of the guard. I think we should spice up her time, shall we?”

A wicked smile spread across Shaniya’s face. “Sounds great,” she said. “I’ll see yah around, Tsalken,” she called over her shoulder to me.

“Yeah, bye,” I said, and I was alone again.

Shaniya-

Yeah, Fecta had definitely grown on me. She proved she could be great fun as we darted in and out among the crowd, narrowly avoiding stepping on tails and talons.

Just as we reached the muscular form of J’Khati, however, a scream echoed down the hallway.

“We’re under attack! We’re under attack!” A panicked Runner screamed as she ran into the Queen’s chamber. “Run for your lives!”

Pandemonium reigned. Xenos were screaming and running in all directions as gunfire sounded in the distance, increasingly coming closer. Panic and rage grew in me. How dare they attack the Hive?

“Warriors, attack formation!” The Queen ordered. “Split up and go down the South and Southeastern passageways. I can tell by my intel that you’ll cut them off there!” 

J’Khati scrambled with her captain of the guard to get to the area, and on her way she shouted at me and Fecta, “go down the escape tunnels and get out of here!”

“But I want to fight!” The words slipped out of me.

“Protect Fecta and the others escaping!” She called after her, and then she was gone, swallowed by the darkness of the tunnels. 

We didn’t waste any time getting out of there, running with the screaming mass of Drones and Runners and hatchlings down the escape tunnel. The Queen was roaring orders behind us, and the sound of gunfire grew.

We rounded a corner, and there was a squad of stealth soldiers, crouched and ready to fire.

It was a trap.

I turned around and bumped into my new friend Tsalken. 

“Get behind the rock!” I shouted, and he didn’t object as he crouched behind a boulder, just as the first bullet thunked into a Xenomorph’s heart.

The mayhem was deafening. Xenos crushed one another in the effort to back out. I looked around me frantically, but couldn’t see Fecta anywhere. 

I started running toward the soldiers, driven by an unknown force. I leapt from a rock and let loose a screeching war cry as I slammed the full force of my talons down on the soldier’s skull.

After training with the Xenomorph’s rock hard exoskeleton for the past two weeks, the soldier’s skull seemed to crumple like soil under my blow. The moment my feet hit the ground my tail whipped around, slashing a soldier’s throat and knocking the jaw off of the other. Simultaneously, I struck out with my inner jaw and sank it into the general’s neck, ripping out his windpipe. 

Four soldiers down in under a minute. 

One more to go. I looked around, and stared down the ugly sight of the barrel of a gun.

“No!” I heard a scream that was not my own, and the blur that was Fecta knocked me to the ground. I grunted in pain just as the blast of a gun savaged my ears, and a lithe body fell on top of me.

Panic erupted within me, and I jumped to my feet. I had a shallow wound in my forehead, and blood seeped into my eyes. I blinked a few times, and saw the gasping figure of Fecta lying on the ground.

“Fecta!” I cried, dropping to my knees. “Why? Why did you do that?”

“Believe...in...you,” she gasped, wheezing on her own blood.

“I can save you, I’ll get you to the medics,” I said, frantically trying to find the wound. I found it under her left forearm, right where her heart was. It must’ve grazed her heart, or she would’ve been dead immediately.

“No...time…” she sputtered. She raised her little black head weakly. “Don’t...trust...Queen . . .”

And with a final shudder, she became limp in my arms, her little tail she loved to use so much curled around mine in a final loving gesture.

That’s when the darkness broke within me.

Black fire in my eyes, I rose, letting loose a growl straight from my darkened heart. I met the eyes of the man who killed my friend, and his eyes widened at the raw rage in mine. Good. Let him fear the monster I am.

Letting my inner jaw extend to its full length, my tail curled above me like a scorpion, I bellowed my challenge at him, the sound filling the passageway.

He whimpered, and I saw that he had a broken leg. More fun for me.I stepped on his leg, twisting the talons on my foot into his wound. He shrieked, crying and flailing. Then I had an idea. Fecta could have one last laugh at him.

I stooped over and cupped some of her acidic blood in my hand. I splashed it on his face, and took satisfaction in his screams of anguish. After a while his floundering stopped, and I turned him over. His face was a melted puddle of flesh and bone.

I turned around, and grunted as I hauled Fecta’s corpse over my shoulder. She would get a proper burial, and I would sing her battle song, telling of how she died heroically in battle.

Before I could do anything else, however, I turned around and saw J’Khati and Tsalken running toward me. 

“GO!” She called, stopping when she came to me. “We must leave NOW! The queen has betrayed us!”

Chapter five: 

I couldn’t believe it. The Queen couldn’t have betrayed the Hive. She was so kind, so merciful, it just wasn’t possible.

My mind was still trying to absorb the information as I automatically ran out of the Hive, among J’Khati and Tsalken. I was weighed down by Fecta’s body, but J’Khati slowed down and slung her body over her shoulders. My pace quickened, I continued to run.

The screams and cries faded behind us as the tunnel opened up to moonlight. The forest around us looking deceptively peaceful, but I knew I couldn’t trust it. 

“We need to find somewhere to hide immediately,” I said, knowing I stated the obvious.

J’Khati nodded her massive head. “We need to go deeper into the forest,” she hissed. “It seems the soldiers used the main entrances. There aren’t any uphill. We will be safer there.”

Tsalken just nodded silently, looking completely traumatized. Poor thing. He had probably never seen anything remotely related to violence. 

We started trudging up the mountain, a deep and powerful sadness starting to set into my weary heart. 

Tsalken-

Blood. Crying. Death.

The horrendous scenes kept replaying in my mind. I never knew such evil existed. And I had a feeling I had only seen the least of it.

I looked at Shaniya, just ahead of me. I remembered the whirling tornado of death she had become. I shuddered inwardly, happy she was on our side.

It started to rain, the water pouring down from the grayed heavens. I liked rain. It symbolized washing away, and the starting of new beginnings. Ugh, why was I so weird?

Water washed down my dome, and all over me. I shook myself, getting more water on Shaniya.

“Hey!” She retorted, and I winced, thinking she was mad.

Apparently she wasn’t. She took her long hair and whipped it at me, splashing more water on my snout. I snorted, wondering how she could be playing in such an awful time.

J’Khati obviously didn’t approve, either. “Knock it off,” she snapped. Shaniya stopped, drooping her round head in disappointment. 

Just as we reached the top of the Hive, right over where the Queen’s chamber is, her voice penetrated my mind. I knew Shaniya and J’Khati heard her too, because they stopped where they were. 

‘J’Khati? Are you listening?’ The Queen said, desperation in her tone.

A second passed, a few more seconds, a whole minute, before J’Khati finally said, ‘what do you want?’

‘You must understand,’ the Queen pleaded in our minds. ‘The Humans said they wanted peace. A truce with us. And J’Khati, you know how much war there has been, all the blood that has been shed. All I wanted was peace. So I agreed. I should’ve known better. I let them into our territory, showing them that I trusted them, and they butchered us. Some of my people are still alive, but they plan to enslave them.’

The new information hit us hard. Shaniya gasped, and I whimpered. My mom, my dad...they were all enslaved down there, if they were still alive. And I could do nothing about it.

‘What do want us to do?’ J’Khati sounded strained, and I knew she could barely hold back her sorrow. 

‘You are my Firstborn, J’Khati,” the Queen said. ‘You must become the next Queen. Go to the Ocean Hive, and form a treaty with them. Bring them back, and claim the Hive you have lost.’

‘But Mother-’ J’Khati started to retort.

‘I am old, centuries old, child,’ the Queen said. ‘I will hold out for as long as I can, to put hope in the hearts of this Hive, but when you return…’ the Queen cut off. ‘They’re coming! Go, now! The lives of this Hive rests in your talons.’

And with that, the Queen went silent.

“We need to get out of here, if Mother’s life means anything,” Shaniya urged, gently grabbing the top of J’Khati’s forearm. 

J’Khati nodded, not saying anything. Fecta’s lifeless body still was on top of her, and I got a pang of sadness. She was so full of life, I didn’t think there was any way she could die. 

The three of us walked sorrowfully up the mountain, seeking shelter from the storm, and worse, from the monsters behind us. For what seemed like hours we scaled the merciless rocks, until we came across a cave.

“This will do,” J’Khati said, speaking for the first time. “Now, we must bury Fecta.”

Shaniya went out into the rain and gathered flowers for her, beautiful specimens glowing bioluminescent blue in the night. There was a deep patch of soft soil that we found, overlooking the valley.

“This is a beautiful spot,” Shaniya whispered, water pouring down her cheeks that seemed to be coming from her eyes. Or maybe it was just rain. “She was so artistic, and loved nature. That’s why she never wanted to hunt. She was a very special Xenomorph, and the most lively, gentle person I have ever known. I wish I could’ve known her longer.”

“She was the joy to my life,” J’Khati said, just as quietly. She laid J’Khati down on the patch of dirt. There was no need to bury the dead, as no animal would dare to eat our poisonous flesh. 

I realized it was my turn to say something. “Er,” I began awkwardly, my talons clawing at the mud. “I didn’t really know Fecta that much, but she seemed really nice. I saw her give her life for Shaniya. I think that was awesome.” Wow, I should get an award for the most lame speech ever.

Shaniya gave me a sad smile. She arranged Fecta to be curled up in a sleeping position, and she looked like she was taking a nap. Then, she spread the bioluminescent flowers over her body, casting a pretty glow over her. After that, she whipped her head back and let loose a ravaged cry of sorrow.

Shaniya-

I didn’t sleep well that night, unsurprisingly. When I woke up the next day, J’Khati was crouched at the mouth of the cave, looking out over the valley.  I looked over at Tsalken, who was lying on the side of his small, deep brown body, twitching. I smiled. He was a silly, clumsy little thing, but already I was developing a liking for him.

I walked up to J’Khati, sitting down, and put my hand on her back, stroking the tubes and muscles.

Suddenly, she turned to me. “Promise me you will never leave me,” she said fiercely.

I hugged her neck. “I promise,” I mumbled into her exoskeleton.

A realization struck me. “You must be my next Queen,” I said. 

She nodded. “Wake Tsalken,” she said. “We must continue our journey.”

Even though she seemed so nonchalant about it, I was still in shock about her being the Queen. She would reign and have her own Hive, and her own heir.

I gently shook Tsalken, and he awoke, yawning and extending his inner jaw. 

“Time to go already?” He mumbled sleepily. 

“Yep, sorry,” I said absentmindedly. I turned, and now that J’Khati was in the full light, I noticed her dome had already grown a few more inches, a crest beginning to form. Her dark blue skin was lit up in the light, and she looked truly magnificent.

My jaw dropped. “You’re undergoing the change already?”

She nodded. “Yes, once the former Queen allows it, the next Queen’s body instantly starts to undergo the hormonal changes needed. I should be in my full Queen state by the end of the week.”

I was dumbfounded. Being the only thing I felt proper to do, I dropped to my knees and bowed. Tsalken did the same.

“No, no, that’s hardly necessary,” J’Khati stammered, and I could’ve sworn she did the Xenomorph equivalent of a blush.  

I giggled. “Well, of course it is, you are my Queen, after all,” I teased, slapping her side gently with my tail.

“I could have you thrown in the dungeon for that,” she joked. 

“Not if you can’t catch me,” I chided, and took off running. Tsalken started running with me, and I was caught up by an unreasonable spurt of joy. Even though the most tragic thing happened, there was new hope too. A new beginning. 

And with this new mindset, J’Khati, Tsalken and I ran off into the forest to the Ocean Hive, to give the Humans the treatment they deserved.

Chapter six: 

A week passed. We never ran into the humans, by some miracle. And I noticed the changes in the atmosphere. Instead of the woodsy scent I had become familiar with, the breeze carried a hint of salt and another odor I didn’t know. The trees grew more sparse, the terrain opening up to sparser brushland. I didn’t like it. It felt far more open than I prefered. 

J’Khati and Tsalken had changed too. J’Khati had the most drastic change, by far. Her queenly hormones had completely set it, and she stood a massive twenty feet tall. She was already a large Xenomorph by normal standards, at twelve feet tall, but her size now was incredible. She was truly a glorious sight to behold, her muscular body undulating as she walked, her crown arching high above her head. She had grown her second pair of arms, and it was amusing to watch as she got used to them. One thing was not normal, however. Right under her belly area, her skin bulged. I couldn’t figure out what it was, and I seriously hoped she wasn’t sick.

Tsalken had changed, too. His smooth dome had grown a little more ridged, his features becoming more and more prominently biomechanical, the pipes and tubes of his body sticking out.  

I smiled, mischief rising within me. I dropped to a crouch, stalking him. He was plundering along over the dusty rocks, and when he turned around a bush I seized my chance. I ran over to the bush, and leapt over it, right onto his back. 

“Shaniya!” He barked, twisting and turning around, trying to get me off. 

I laughed, grabbing onto his back tubes to stabilize myself. J’Khati grunted in amusement behind me. 

He wrapped his tail around my waist, and gently pulled me off. I thought the game was over, and started to walk away, until he pounced upon me and shoved me to the ground.

“Ouch!” I shrieked.

“Sorry,” he said, not sounding very sorry at all. “But a Xenomorph always has to be prepared, right?” 

I twisted around, and he let me, until I was facing him on the ground. “I don’t know about your skills,” I taunted, “but one thing you’re definitely working on is your sass.” I kicked him in the gut, not enough to truly hurt, but to surprise him. He let out an “oof” and I wriggled out from underneath him. I tripped him with my tail, and when he was on the ground, rolled him over until I was sitting on his abdomen.

“Who’s got sass now?” I teased, and pecked him on the top of his dome.

Tsalken-

Her mouth touching my dome completely shocked me. It was probably considered a normal gesture with humans, given that she did it so casually. But for some strange reason, her soft flesh touching my exoskeleton shot embers through my insides. 

And now I was having feelings for a weird human hybrid. What else could possibly be wrong with me?

I shook her off, punching her shoulder gently to show that I appreciated her fun. She giggled, and ran off to J’Khati.

“How much longer do you think it is until the Ocean Hive?” I asked J’Khati. 

She shifted her massive head towards me. “Not long. It shouldn’t be more than a day away.”

This information renewing my spirits, I bounded ahead, looking to see if there was any prey to be found.

Shaniya-

I was about to question J’Khati’s strange bump when the pain hit.

I felt as if my veins were on fire. My vision become spotty, and I fell to the ground, screaming. 

Panic ensued among my friends. Tsalken ran over to me, worriedly saying something. I couldn’t understand him through the screaming, which was mine. J’Khati also stood uselessly over me, obviously not sure what to do, but shouting in fright. Her voice penetrated my mind.

‘What is wrong?!’ Her voice shouted, frightened. 

I couldn’t respond. The fire inside was eating me up, liquefying my insides, killing me from the inside out . . .

And just like that, it was gone. I felt as if nothing had happened, and I laid there, gasping. 

“What happened?” Tsalken said frantically. “Are you ok?”

I felt my circulation being cut off, and I saw that his tail was curled tightly around mine. Once he saw that I noticed, he turned away, obviously embarrassed. 

“Sister, talk to us,” J’Khati urged, her form towering above me. “We need to know what happened.”

“I don’t know,” I finally said. “All of a sudden, a horrible pain hit me. I don’t know why.”

“We need to rest,” J’Khati said. “We’ve been traveling nonstop. Maybe the Human side of you is reacting to being pushed so hard.”

I nodded, wanting to fully agree but couldn’t. They apparently didn’t realize the extent of my pain, and I realized I wanted to keep it that way. They already had enough to worry about.

“That sounds like a good idea,” I said. “My muscles are probably just responding in a weird way.”

J’Khati nodded wearily, and I realized she was so weighed down by responsibility and stress, she probably couldn’t even fully register anything.

Even though it was the middle of the day, I was, indeed, exhausted. My bones were aching from so much walking, and if I slept now we could move under cover of nightfall. 

J’Khati curled up for a nap. I settled down too, and Tsalken laid down next to me. 

Before I closed my eyes, I heard Tsalken asking me a question.

“Hey, Shaniya?” He said cautiously.

I popped open one eyelid. “Yeah?” I asked.

He shifted uncomfortably. “Would you call us friends?”

I was shocked by the question. I thought it had been obvious that we were buddies, given how we had bonded over this journey, but I remembered he was the outcast at the Hive. Maybe he didn’t recognize friendship when he saw it.

“Yeah,” I said, smiling. “You’re my best friend, Tsalken,” and I meant it.

He smiled, his small white fangs glistening in the sunlight. He was curled up in a little ball, his spiny tail curled around him, his limbs tucked under him, and he looked quite adorable. “Thanks, Shaniya. You’re my best friend too.”

 

When we woke up later, the moon was high in the sky, casting a silver glow on everything. I loved the night. All was asleep, and we could move quickly. 

J’Khati turned toward Tsalken, a puff of steam coming from her maw. “Tsalken, I need you to go scout ahead. Tell me if there’s any obstacles of any kind in the way.”

“Yes, my Queen,” he said dutifully, and ran off.

I seized my chance to ask about J’Khati’s bump. “Hey, J’Khati?” I began.

“What is it, Shaniya?” She asked, already starting to walk ahead.

I didn’t know quite how to word this. “How have you been feeling lately?”

She stopped. “I’ve been fine, given the circumstances,” she said slowly. “Why is it that you ask?”

“You, er, have a bump growing in your belly,” I said. Wow, that sounded awkward. “It’s probably nothing, but I figured I should point it out.”

Her breath quickened visibly, the steam puffing out in a fast rhythm from her large silver teeth. She turned her head to me, the pipes and other biomechanical features in her neck moving prominently as she did so.

“Tell me exactly where it is,” she said, her voice dangerously strained. “Is it between my legs, below my belly, right above the base of my tail?”

“Yes . . .” I said.

She slumped to the ground. I ran over to her, alarmed. 

“J’Khati, tell me what’s wrong,” I said firmly. I sat by her head, now practically the size of me, and stroking her crown in what I hoped was a comforting manner. 

“I never told you I had a mate back at the Hive,” she said, sorrow in her tone. “It was too painful to talk about. I never thought anything of it, the growing appetite, the moodiness, the blood in my waste. I thought it was a side effect of the stress. But Shaniya.” She raised her head and turned to face me. 

“I’m pregnant. And if the bump has been there noticeably...I’m due tonight.”

Tsalken-

I ran ahead, wondering how much further the Ocean Hive was. I couldn’t stop replaying Shaniya’s words in my head.

I was her best friend. Shaniya’s very own best friend. 

I couldn’t stop myself from whooping with joy. The sound of my cry echoed through the air, and I shut my jaws. That was dumb.

A cliff came up to me, and I barely stopped in time. I slammed my talons into the ground, my tail whipping in front of me, and I heard the rocks from my near catastrophic run fall far, far below. I gulped. 

I peeked over the edge of the cliff, and gasped at what I saw.

The amount of water before me was massive. I had seen streams and rivers, yes, but this...this was unimaginable. The ocean writhed and roared as if it was alive, singing to me a song of beauty, terror, and unknown mystery. 

Below me, I heard voices. I looked directly down the cliff, and from a large cave, black hive material spread from the entrance. I saw Xenomorphs crawling from the entrance below me, leaping down the rocks expertly, to the white shore below.

Joy exuded within me. I had accomplished something. I had found the Ocean Hive!

Shaniya-

J’Khati was right. She was pregnant indeed, and due that night. I left her to have some privacy, and cringed at her cries of pain. I had no idea how a Xenomorph birth happened, but I didn’t really want to know. 

About an hour later, Tsalken returned, and when he saw J’Khati, quickly found me, looking very embarrassed indeed. I figured I should find an animal for J’Khati’s facehugger to implant into.

I told Tsalken my idea, and he agreed. After hunting for about an hour, we brought down an apelike creature, which I figured would be perfect. I brought it back to where J’Khati was, and I was shocked at what I saw.

J’Khati was attached to a long, white, fleshy, wormlike contraption, and at the end of it, was a large, glistening egg. She was panting heavily, clearly exhausted.

“Hey,” I said to her gently. She looked at me wearily. “I found an animal that I think would be suitable for your offspring.”

“I want to watch,” she insisted, and detached her rear from the white thing. She settled down, and I brought over the shrieking ape. 

The egg unfolded like a flower, and inside I could see the facehugger under a white film. I pushed the ape toward it, and let the facehugger do its job.

In a movement that made even me jump, the facehugger burst from the egg, and wrapped itself around the poor ape’s face.  The ape screamed and jumped, until it fell to the ground, the facehugger’s sacs subduing it with some type of gas.

“Rest now,” I told J’Khati. “I’ll wake you up when it’s being born.”

J’Khati didn’t object, and immediately she fell into a slumber. 

“Shaniya,” Tsalken said. “I found the Ocean Hive!”

He then told me all about what he had found, about the glory of the ocean, and how they lived in a cliff. I was amazed, and I congratulated him.

“Thanks,” he said, clearly warmed.

The hours passed, and we made idle conversation, until the ape woke up. I knew then that the birth would be soon.

I woke J’Khati up, saying, “the birth will be very soon.”

She shook herself awake, and watched intently. 

The ape began trembling violently, shrieking and writhing. Its chest rose up and down, and it trembled more. Blood spurted through its fur, splashing me in the face, but I hardly cared. I was enwrapped in the process. 

The ape’s skin split open with a sickening crack, and it fell silent. Blood gushed in a stream, its ribs poking from the skin. And in the center was the chestburster, rising from the ape’s chest. It chirped, and wriggled to its mother.

“My darling,” J’Khati said, joy heavy in her tone. She bent down and booped snouts with it. “Shaniya, I want you to name her.”

The honor struck me. “Thank you,” I said, tears welling in my eyes. I looked at the little chestburster, still a worm like creature, cooing and chirping to its mama. “Ember,” I said, my choice suddenly clear. “She is the ember in the darkness of this time. So Ember will be her name.”

“I love it,” J’Khati said tenderly, and we rejoiced under the soft whiteness of the moon.

Chapter seven: 


J’Khati recovered from her birth, and we started making our way to the Ocean Hive. Excitement pounded within my heart. If we could get an army, we could have a fighting chance at taking back the Hive.

Ember had molted from her chestburster stage and was now a hatchling, bounding around and was full of life and energy. She was going to be a big Xenomorph, like her mother, as she was already the size of Tsalken, much to his everlasting chagrin. And quite beautiful, too. With no light to illuminate her, she would appear a normal black. But if the light hit her correctly, a blue sheen appeared across her still-smooth exoskeleton. Her dome was slightly translucent, a skull like structure appearing right above her snout inside of her dome. Tsalken told me that all Xenomorphs had it, but after a year of age their domes hardened and turned opaque. She was still learning words, too, and was learning very fast.

“Mama pretty Queen!” She chirped, bounding along her mom’s side, appearing like an ant next to her. 

J’Khati laughed. “Thank you, sweetie,” she said affectionately, rubbing her slick dome with her talon. 

Ember giggled and ran over to me. She observed my strange appearance, and then decided I wasn’t interesting enough anymore. She bounded off, chasing a golden butterfly much like a Human child would, but unlike a human child, she shot out her inner jaw and trapped the poor butterfly in it. She retraced it inside of her mouth, and then promptly spit it out.

“Yuck!” She hissed, retreating away from the fluttering remains of the hapless insect.

I stifled a laugh. As I did so, the pain struck once more.

By now J’Khati and Tsalken has grown more used to my attacks. But I didn’t let them know they were becoming worse. Much, much, worse. 

I felt like I was going to die. I stopped myself from screaming, which only made the pain worse. Tears streamed down my eyes, but then something new happened. Blood filled my mouth, trickled down my back, and ran from my fingers and toes. I spit the blood out of my mouth, pain erupting within me. It was like my transformation all over again, although much slower and much more deadly seeming.

Tsalken shouted in alarm when he saw me bleeding. Ember squealed and ran away to the safety of her mother. He ran over to me, but then stood there, not knowing what to do.

And just like that, the bleeding stopped. The blood staunched itself, and quickly clotted. I was so confused, and worried about how much worse it was going to get.


Tsalken-

I was terrified of what was happening to Shaniya. She only seemed to be getting worse, not better, and her pain attacks came more frequently. Something had to be done, although I had no clue what.

I curled my tail around hers in what I hoped was a comforting gesture. She smiled, her teeth still coated in her own blood, and hugged me. I breathed in her warmth, heard her too-fragile heart beating inside of her paper thin skin. She was so delicate. A typical Xenomorph could take an average of four bullets inside of it as long as the heart wasn’t directly hit, but I doubted Shaniya could take more than one.

“Are you alright, Shaniya?” J”khati asked, standing over us. Worry wrinkled her snout.

“I am for now,” Shaniya said, breathing deeply. “I can keep going. Once the pain is gone, it’s literally like nothing ever happened. I’m not drained or anything.”

J’Khati nodded, but still looked really concerned. Who could blame her?

“Why don’t you ride on my back?” J’Khati suggested. “Perhaps exertion is making whatever it is move faster.”

Shaniya nodded, and pulled out of my arms. J’Khati leaned down, with Ember watching curiously from beyond, as Shaniya clambered on top of her, settling comfortably between J’Khati’s large back tubes. 

We continued our journey, and I could hear the sound of the sea. We were almost on top of them.

We neared the cliff, and both J’Khati and Shaniya gasped at the sight of the ocean. Even though I had already seen it, it still took my breath away. The beautiful monster the ocean was roared at us, almost as in a challenge to take on its majesty. 

“Who goes there!” A voice called far below us, and I saw a black Xenomorph calling up to us. A Praetorian, by the looks of it. 

“Allies!” J’Khati called back down. “I would like an audience with your Queen!” 

“Come down and you will receive it!” The Xenomorph called up to us.

We carefully started making our way down the cliff. Ember rode her mom’s tail, clinging on like a lizard on a rock. I was scared I would make a wrong step, and go tumbling to my death into the jaws of the roaring waters. 

I was wrong. We made our way down safely, and stopped on a platform that was the Hive entrance. The entrance opened before us, and the guard Xenomorph, indeed a Praetorian, walked up to us.

“Follow me,” he grunted, and we followed him inside, the darkness swallowing us up.


Shaniya-

The darkness was thick, but my transformed eyes quickly adjusted. This Hive was noticeably different. The Praetorian guard barely looked at us before they let us in. They obviously weren’t used to violence.

Xenomorphs ran around us, and I enjoyed the bird’s eye view from J’Khati’s back. The way to the Queen’s chamber was short, and I instantly noticed there was only one way in. If there was ever an attack, they would be in big trouble. 

The Ocean Hive Queen was curled up, her head retreated into her exoskeleton. 

“Your majesty,” the Praetorian grumbled, and the Queen shuddered awake, ejecting from her crown.

“Oh, hi Gradus,” she said sleepily. “Did you bring me some fish?”

“Er, no, your majesty,” Gradus stuttered. “There’s visitors, right here next to me.”

The small Queen adjusted her head toward us. “Oh, hello,” she said meekly. “What is it that you want?”

“Hello, I am Queen J’Khati of the Shadow Hive,” J’Khati announced, standing up straight. I scrambled from her back, so that the Queen could see me. “This is my daughter, Ember, and two Runners, Tsalken and Shaniya.”

The Ocean Queen peered down at me.  “You look funny,” she said.

I tried not to take offense. “It’s a long story,” I said. “But I’m on your side.”

“Sides?” The Queen said, cocking her head to the side. She was positively dwarfed by the gargantuan form of J’Khati. Then again, maybe all Xenomorphs were. “Sides of what?”

Disbelief struck me. “Your majesty,” I began slowly. “Have you ever heard of a Human being?”

“I must say that I haven’t,” the Queen said sluggishly, inspecting her talons. 

I heard a rustling behind me, and I turned around. Dozens of Xenomorphs had filled the Queen’s chamber, obviously curious as to what the new visitors wanted.

I couldn’t believe it. This Hive had never been in war. They probably had never even known what violence was.

“We need your help,” J’Khati pleaded, desperation edging her tone. I didn’t know why she bothered. They would be of no help. “My Hive is enslaved by these creatures, these aliens, the Humans. They have no mercy, no moral code. They kill when they wish, and not quickly. I beg of you for an army.”

The Queen was silent for a long, long time. After a while, I dared to ask for an answer. “Majesty?”

The Queen didn’t respond. “Her majesty is asleep,” Gradus said.

Outrage sparked within me. “Our Hive is dying, and your Queen SLEEPS?” I shouted. Tsalken put a talon on my shoulder, but I shrugged him off. “Where’s your sense of honor? Your conscience? Your brethren need you, and your Queen sleeps.”

Murmurs erupted behind me. The Xenomorph’s were becoming agitated. I didn’t care. They needed to hear the truth.

The Queen shook herself awake. “What did I miss?” She asked Gradus. Then she noticed us. “Oh, they’re still here.”
 
“Yeah, we’re still here,” J’Khati snarled, her tail beginning to sway in fury. “We need an answer. Yes, or no?”

“If these Human things are really as dangerous as you say,” the Queen finally began to answer, “I wouldn’t want to anger them. You must have done something to make them mad. My Hive will stay out of this.”

“If making them mad means, minding our own business, then they’ll definitely come after you too!” J’Khati roared, her rage filling the chamber. Ember hid under her belly.

The Queen finally started to show a reaction. “Get out of my Hive!” She shrieked, looking like a housecat hissing at a lion.

Xenomorph’s started hissing, and I knew that was it. 

“Come on, J’Khati,” I said, tugging on her tail. “They’re no better than Humans.”

We started to make our way sadly out of the Hive. Sunlight greeted us, but nothing could help our dampened spirits. Tsalken tried to comfort me, but I shoved him away. I was too angry to be comforted.

On the top of the cliff, Ember stopped riding her mother’s tail and walked over to me. 

“What wrong?” She asked, resting the chin of her little dome on my thigh as I slumped on a tree stump. Well, relatively little. She was still as tall as me at full height.

“Oh, Ember,” I said sadly, stroking her. “You’re too innocent for this sick world.” 

“Yeah,” she chirped, agreeing with me. Bored with me, she amused herself by pouncing on Tsalken’s tail.

“What now?” He asked J’Khati, sadness heartbreakingly heavy in his voice.

“I don’t know,” she whispered. She collapsed to the ground, pain sagging her shoulders. 

Then I heard voices on the wind. 

“I wonder where they went,” a raspy female voice penetrated my ears. 

“They probably already took off,” a deeper male voice answered. “We might as well go back.”

I burst toward the sound, and saw two Xenomorphs walking around aimlessly. The female was a deep black, with hints of brown in her tail. The male was a very dark, stony gray, so dark it was nearly black.

“We’re here!” I called. They perked up, and ran over to me. 

“My mate and I realized what you said was true,” the male said. “We want to join you.”

“You know you could easily die,” I cautioned them.

The female nodded. “We also know what is right. We will not let our brethren die without our help. And at least we will not die a coward.”

“Welcome to the team,” I said, joy sparking within me once more. “What are your names?”

“My name is Zlis’sa,” she hissed.

“And mine is Oseus,” her mate said. 

“Let me introduce you to the rest,” I said happily, and took them back.


Tsalken-

We had more help! 

I was so joyous, I barely heard J’Khati explaining to them the conditions.

“You realize you have to give up your Queen, and pledge your allegiance to me?” J’Khati told them kindly. Ember stood behind her, sucking on her tail.

“Our Queen has no honor,” Oseus said. “We would rather serve a Queen with dignity and respect than the parasite she is.”

“Then I welcome you to the Shadow Hive,” she said. 

“Your Majesty,” they said, bowing. 

And on we went, our hopes renewed once more.


Shaniya-

I almost didn’t see the Human girl among the bushes.

“What’s that, mama?” Ember asked, pointing at the girl.

We all gasped. The girl looked up, her blonde pigtails swishing in the movement. She couldn’t have been more than six years old.

“Dragons!” She squealed in English. The Xenomorphs cocked their heads in confusion. I laughed.

The girl turned her attention to me. “You’re so pretty!” She said. “What’s your name?”

As if on instinct, my vocal cords switched back to being able to speak English. “Shaniya,” I said, my voice raspy from a month of not speaking the language.

I heard a rustling with my sensitive ears, and then two things happened at once. 

A viper, slithering from the bushes. One strike, and it would deliver the girl a fatal bite.

And the girl’s mother, running toward her, her mouth an ‘o’ in horror at the sight of us.

The viper curled into a strike. A few more seconds and the child would be on her way towards death’s door.

I started to run, but I was too far away. A chocolate brown blur sped beside me, snatching the viper and snapping it in half just before it could strike. It was Tsalken.

The girl’s mother ran over and snatched up her child. She looked at me, at Tsalken, and then finally the other four Xenos behind me.

“I have heard of you creatures before,” she said. “None of us have ever seen you, but the scientists tell us hideous stories. But…” she looked at Tsalken, confusion wrinkling her brow. “This one here, it saved my child’s life. I owe it.”

“That’s Tsalken,” I explained. “He is a hero, indeed. But the rest of us are just as good. None of us wish you evil. All we want is peace. The scientists that came here started killing us because they look big and scary. That’s what started the war. And we continue to try and stop it, but the marines still hurt us and attack us. We don’t know what to do about it.”

The woman was silent for a long time. Then she opened her mouth, hesitating.

“Perhaps...perhaps it’s time for a change.” She said, picking up her girl, and walking away into the woods.

Chapter eight: 

The days passed. We began making our way back to the Hive, the trees getting bigger again and the shadows growing longer. Zlis’sa and Oseus mainly kept to themselves, and I didn’t get to know them that well. However, my relationship with Tsalken had grown in leaps and bounds.

I didn’t understand it, the feelings I got when I looked at him. One day he was lounging on a rock in the sun, his chocolate brown exoskeleton gleaming in the light, and his tubes and biomechanical features looked quite magnificent. I had gotten the sudden and powerful urge to run over and snuggle next to him, and bask in the sunlight. And when he smiled at me...I shook my head. The notion that I had a crush on him was absolutely preposterous. A human-xeno hybrid, loving an eyeless, drooling, handsome...remarkable . . .

I facepalmed myself, snapping back to reality. A wind gust burst through the forest and got black hair in my mouth. Ugh. This day was just the worst.

I must have jinxed it even more, because then I felt blood trickling down my legs. I was confused at first, as I hadn’t sustained any injuries. But then I realized.

No, no, no. This could not be happening! I thought I had skipped this month because so much time had gone by, and the transformation had happened. But of course not. 

My monthly bleeding was here. The joys of being a woman.

And Tsalken was the first to notice, of course. Worry wrinkled his eyeless snout as he trotted over to me.

“I’m fine, Tsalken,” I said before he could open that maw of his. “You don’t even have to ask, thanks.”

“That’s what you said when you were bleeding from the eyes,” Tsalken pointed out blankly. “You also said it when you sprained your ankle. I smell blood on you, Shaniya. What’s wrong?”

By now, every other Xenomorph I was traveling with had heard. J’Khati looked toward me, and was starting to walk toward me. Zlis’sa and Oseus also looked up from the boar they were eating, mildly interested.

“You need to tell us everything that happens to you,” J’Khati ordered. “We need to stay on top of your health. You haven’t had an attack in three days. You could possibly be getting better.”

I blushed, my cheeks probably turning a crimson red. “Er, it’s a human thing,” I ended up getting out.

“Because humans just bleed randomly,” Tsalken said sarcastically. “Not buying it.”

“No, seriously,” I insisted. If they were going to try and check me for wounds I swear I would kill myself. I then decided I had to explain what exactly girls went through every month. They all listening, completely enraptured in my anatomical functions. When I was done, I was pretty sure my whole body was blushing in some way

“That’s so cool!” Tsalken blurted when I was done. When everyone else gave him curious looks, he took a defensive stance. “What? You try bleeding straight for a whole week and see what happens to you! Human women are tough!” 

I laughed. Leave it to Tsalken to make something like a period seem ‘cool’.

Now that THAT horrible conversation was over with, I found some absorbent leaves to put into my deerskin harness I wore. I didn’t wear anything else, preferring for my long hair to drape over my small chest. The nights were never cold anyways, so I never had a problem with it.

We kept making our way, until finally, we entered the territory of the Shadow Hive.

“We’re here,” J’Khati said grimly. “I can sense the pain of my Hive. Proceed with great caution.”

We crept through the shadows of the trees, using their dark coloration to blend right into the shadows. Key word, ‘they’. I was paler than the moon.

Already, as we neared the entrance, I heard voices, human and Xeno alike. J’Khati let out a gasp as we got nearer. 

“My mother...they’ve killed her,” she said sorrowfully. “I am the next Queen of this Hive, and I have just linked to their minds. These beasts...they’ve experimented on them, starved them, killed them for the sport of it. I have never known such evil.” 

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. I didn’t know what else to say. 

J’Khati ordered us into our different positions, and we split up. I was to go through the main entrance, and down the western tunnel. I stalked through the woods, hoping I was fortunate enough that they hadn’t installed any high-end security cameras or something. 

I was, so far. As I neared the entrance, I saw two human guards. Easy prey for me. 

I waited, until they seemed distracted by each other. In one swift movement, I pounced from my hiding spot and swiped my claws across one of their throats, taking out the other man with my deadly tail before either could make a sound. Perfect.

I cautiously made my way down the tunnel, aware of all the sounds and shapes around me. The shadows rose around me, enveloping me in their concealing embrace. I was a wraith, an angel of death, ready for my victims. 

Victims that were just around the corner. I heard voices and sped around the corner. There were three humans. I tried to be fast, but I wasn’t fast enough.

Before I could start inflicting blows, they yelled and burst out in gunfire.

“We’re under attack!” One gruff, blond man shouted. Shoot, now the others would all be notified. Bad call on my part. 

I ducked behind an outcropping of rock, just as a bullet whistled by where I just was. I wiped my brow, sweating already. This was just the beginning. I wasn’t usually this exhausted.

The men, and one woman, I noticed, circled around my outcropping. I pounced on the first man I saw, smashing his nose into his brain, and turned around violently, bullets whizzing by my ear. I twisted, cutting my tail deep into both of the soldier’s guts, blood and gore spilling on the ground. 

Dropping to my knees, I heaved, spitting up blood. This was new. I was so very tired as well, my tail, claws, and inner jaw feeling as heavy as lead inside of me. I needed to move faster. Soon I would be too debilitated to move. 

I made my way down the tunnel, my limbs sparking with pain with every movement. By now gunfire and shouts had erupted all around the tunnels, and I knew my friends were fighting back.

Suddenly, J’Khai’s impressive voice exploded into the Hive mind.

‘Brethren!’ She shouted into my mind and many others. ‘I, your new Queen, has returned. And I am here to remind you of something. Who are we? Are we the underdog race that succumbs to being enslaved and beaten like some human pet? Are we the species that bows to another just because they have machinery we don’t? Let me answer that for you! We are NOT. We are Xenomorphs! We are born of shadows, the essence of darkness incarnate. Everything about you is designed to sink into human flesh! Now fight! Fight for your freedom, for honor, for glory. Fight for all Xenomorphs! Because if we don’t, there may be no one else who will.’

Roars exploded everywhere, the raw rage and power nearly knocking me off my feet. 

‘All hail Queen J’Khati!’ A male’s voice shouted throughout the Hive mind.

‘For all things good!’ A female cried.

‘For the future of all that we love!’ I heard Zlis’sa shriek into the Hive. And that is when the great battle started.

Humans screamed and cried as the Xenomorphs fought back. I ran my way down another tunnel, and I saw my greatest nightmare incarnate surrounded by a battalion of soldiers. 

Calvis smiled at me. “Hello, witch,” he purred. “I didn’t think you could get any uglier, but for once I was wrong. What have they done to you?”

“They saved me from the hell that was the facility,” I snarled. “I’m going to give you a slow death for all that you have done.”

“I’d certainly like to see you try,” he sneered, and the soldiers opened fire upon me.

I almost didn’t notice that when I leapt into the mayhem, pain bloomed inside of me. It roared like a flame from my gut, into my limbs, into every bit of me. I almost fell to the ground. Almost.

I channeled the fire within to every blow and strike that I inflicted. A slash to a throat. A tail jab to the heart. A bite to the tender, exposed neck. The pain increased until my vision was overcome with red, but I gritted my teeth until I chipped one of them as I continued. 

That’s when the first bullet entered my body. It struck me in the intestines. Against my will, I screamed as the projectile entered my body. Blood poured out of me, but I knew it wasn’t an entirely fatal wound, yet. 

I only started to become truly worried when the first claw snapped off as I slashed a man. It ripped out of my finger, and as it tore away I saw in horror that the flesh underneath had festered and rotted away. In panic I whipped my tail around and around, hoping to score a hit on someone, but instead I hit solid rock.

My entire tail detached from my body. I screamed with all that I had as the worst feeling I had ever felt ripped me apart. My legs lost all feeling as a part of my spine gave way with the tail, and I collapsed to the ground. I spasmed, my body unsure what to do with itself. I was dying, I was sure of it.

My back spines fell out, one by one. “Hold your fire!” Calvis ordered, and stalked over to me.

“Well, well, well,” he cooed. “Looks like the darling heroine isn’t exactly going to get the happily ever after she wanted.”

And with that, he kicked me in the face. 

I didn’t have any more screaming left in me, only broken sobs and a whole lot of horror as my entire inner jaw fell out, having the appearance of rotten meat. There was so much blood, but my body refused to faint. I desperately wished for death. 

The only thing that made me hold on was a comforting brown blur.

Tsalken-

I had been darting in and out of soldiers when I heard her screams. My heart jolted in panic when I did. I had never heard Shaniya scream, and I had never wanted to. If she had shrieked like that, that must mean she was in deep trouble. 

My cowardly heart was beating inside of my skeleton-like chest as I raced as fast as my legs could take me down the tunnels. At last, my running came in handy.

As I neared the spot where I heard the screams, I heard her sobbing. My heart broke, and I wanted to kill whoever had done something to her. 

I nearly vomited when I saw what had happened. No one was around, but Shaniya was lying in a pool of her own blood. There was an awful stench, and I gaped at her dismembered tail lying next to her. Her back was a mass of mangled flesh, with the white of her spine poking out, and I choked back a sob.

‘Tsalken…’ I heard in the Hive mind.

The wings of hope fluttered in my little heart. I cautiously walked over to her, gingerly stepping over the corpses that she had undoubtedly created.

Shaniya was lying facedown, and I rolled her over. I gasped at her wrecked face, once so beautiful. Her lower jaw sagged open, revealing broken teeth and ripped flesh.

I began to sob, whimpering as pure sorrow rose within me. 

Shaniya-

The darkness was closing in. I could feel it. But as Tsalken held me in his arms, I knew I had to say a few last things.

“I…” I gasped, wheezing as blood trickled down my windpipe. 

Tsalken perked up from his weeping and looked at me. “You’re going to be ok, Shaniya,” he said as fast as he could. “I’ll take you to the humans, where they will fix you. I promise. I made peace with them, remember? It’ll all be ok.”

“No, Tsalken,” I choked out. “Too...late.”

“No, don’t you dare say that!” He cried angrily, desperation heavy in his voice. “Don’t give up. Please, Shaniya.” He lowered his dome, resting it on my chest. “Shaniya, you’re my best friend. More than my best friend. I can’t lose you!”

“More?” I questioned.

He raised his head, looking at me, sadness wrinkling his snout. “I-I love you.”

I smiled, knowing it was a ghastly sight but not really caring. But before I could say anything, he continued on.

“Like, not in the way that a brother loves a sister,” he rambled. “Or a friend loves another friend. I love you in the way that all Xenos dream about, the kind of way that makes me want to run and sing and weep and shout. It’s the most beautiful and painful thing.” His voice broke. “And now you’re going to die and I’ll never get to see you again! You’re not supposed to die! You’re supposed to be alive and having announced an amazing victory for us. This is not how a story should end.” 

I placed my finger on his trembling mouth. “Shush,” I whispered. “I love you too, you hopeless romantic.” And with that said, the darkness on the corner of my eyes took over, and I was swept into sweet oblivion.

Tsalken-

After those words, her body shuddered one last time. She went limp in my arms. 

My gentle heart shattered into a thousand pieces. 

And when I bent down to mourn, I heard something. The faint pounding of a heartbeat. It was joy to my ears.

I had time. I could get her to the peaceful human village. 

My hope barely rekindled, I swept her up carefully, and ran out of the Hive. I would run endlessly, if only it would save her life. 

And after that was done, I would make those soldier’s nightmares tremble in fear.

Chapter nine: 

J’Khati-

I couldn’t believe it. We had won.

My Hive swarmed into my new chamber, cheering and whooping. Of course there would have to be maintenance, because of all the corpses, but that could wait. 

Joy filled my heart. I whipped my tail back and forth in excitement and love for my Hive.

But there was sadness too. Below the surface joy that I felt now there was a deep and penetrative sorrow. My mother had died. She died for what she believed was right, but the humans had turned dark. There would be a mourning ceremony, of course. And the Hive would take the customary three days of weeping for our lost Queen.

There was also the condition of the Xenomorphs themselves. Their exoskeleton hung from their flesh, and they all made creaking noises when they walked, a clear sign of extreme starvation. The familiar rage rose within me. Those disgusting creatures that did this would pay. I know they were still alive, waiting, planning. We had to strike first, or we would all suffer once more. 

My darling daughter, Ember, shoved through the thick crowd of partying Xenos. 

“Excuse me!” Her shrill voice pierced through the deeper voices. Once she hiked her way past the jungle of bodies, she bounded over to me. That was the thing with my daughter. She never just walked. Every movement she did was in a leap or a bound. Oh, how she reminded me of Fecta.

“We won, mommy! We won!” She yelped excitedly, darting in and out from around my hind legs, her neck craning to look up at my towering form.

My rage diminished, love and adoration overcoming it. I swooped her into my arms, lifting her up to my head. We bumped domes, and I blew on her head. She giggled, her tiny white fangs flashing.

“That we did, baby,” I cooed. “That we did.”

That’s when Tsalken’s voice pierced my mind. ‘Shaniya has been badly injured,’ he said. ‘I’m taking her to the kinder human colony, to see if they will help her.’

‘They’ll kill you,’ I said, worry overcoming me. I set Ember down gently before I could drop her. She ran off to play with the other hatchlings. 

‘I have to try,’ he said grimly. ‘I love her, J’Khati.’

I wasn’t remotely surprised. I had been so amused by all of the glances he stole at her when she wasn’t looking. ‘I wish you a safe travel,’ I said sadly. ‘Take care of my sister, Tsalken.’

Tsalken-

I ran for a day straight. I was amazed at how Shaniya managed to stay alive. My arms screamed in pain from carrying her for so long, but I pushed past it. It was a small pain in comparison to the amount I would feel if I failed my mission.

At last, the human village rose from the shrublands. I thought it would never come. I had only assumed where it was, based on where the girl I rescued had been. By some miracle, I had guessed right. For once, fortune was smiling upon me.

The village was surrounded by a forbidding wooden wall. There was a gate, with two human guards standing on either side of it. At the sight of me, they shouted, and rose their deadly weapons.

“Please,” I pleaded, forgetting it would mean nothing but a trill to them. I held up the dying form of Shaniya in my arms. The blood had scabbed, but that didn’t make her body any less bad looking.

The humans shouted among one another, until they walked up to me. They still had their guns out, which made me nervous, and I started to shake.

I have to be brave, I thought. For Shaniya.

The guards stood behind me, and prodded my tail with one of their guns. I was smart enough to understand that as, ‘move’.

The large gate creaked open, the noise startling me and almost making me drop Shaniya. Inside, weird structures crowded the arena like area. Humans were going in and out of the structures, carrying fruits and meats and the cloths they put on their unprotected hides. When they saw me, they all let out unintelligible shrieks, and most of them ran inside of the structures. Except for one.

The young human female I had rescued from the viper squealed something I didn’t understand, and ran over to me. Her mother shouted in alarm, running after her, but the girl had already reached me. The guards around me visibly stiffened as she touched my exoskeleton, but they didn’t move to stop her. 

The little human’s hair gleamed golden in the light. I was fascinated by the variation in the colors of their hair. I had originally thought that human hair only was colored black, like Shaniya’s. Then again, maybe the humans thought all Xenomorphs were just a boring old black, too.

Her mother finally reached us and swept the girl up in her arms, obviously scolding her. When she had a good look at Shaniya, her face went pale, and she ran off, shouting something.

Well, that was helpful, I thought sourly. Just when I was about to lose hope, a human male with gray hair on his chin and a stark white coat walked over. Without any words he gestured up to me. 

This is the right one to give her to, I thought, and handed Shaniya to the male. 

He walked off, carrying my love into another structure.

My heart ached with a selfish sadness at our parting, but I would be back. These humans wouldn’t hurt us. 

And with that, I whipped around, my sudden movement accidently startling the soldiers. They raised their guns, but I leapt past them, and out of the village, back into the shrublands. I had business with the humans who did this to Shaniya.


It was nightfall by the time I reached the facility. This was a lot different from the human village. Instead of wood, this structure was made out of a cold, silver material, standing out huge and ugly among nature. And it looked very, very hard to get into. 

I gulped, crouching in the tall grasses, my brownish black exoskeleton blending into the dirt and the night. A cold wind swept across the valley, and I shivered. This was going to be difficult.

And was I really ready to kill? I had never before taken a life. Even during the battle I didn’t help, I was mostly just trying to dodge bullets and floundering around like the clumsy oaf I am. I was a failure for a Xenomorph.

How could Shaniya ever love me?

I pushed past my doubts. I remembered Shaniya’s broken form, the blood, the screams of pain. I let the rage seep into me, let it bubble and boil inside of my torn heart. I was a Warrior. I was not a cowardly Runner, or even a Drone. I was a Warrior fighting for those he loved. Let them tremble in the presence of the predator I was.

I crept across the open field, feeling horribly vulnerable. I made it to the wall, my heart pounding so hard I felt like it would explode out of my chest. There were no guards, and I felt way too lucky as the doors automatically slid open. Was I really that lucky?

Nope, I wasn’t. The piercing noise of what had to be an alarm shrieked through the halls. Sheer panic shot through me, and I looked around frantically for a hiding spot. I spotted a grate, and I ripped it off its hinges, slipping inside easily. For once my small size came in handy, for it was a very tight fit. 

I gripped the metal sheets inside of it as I hauled myself through the narrow passageways. My back tubes scraped against the top, and I cringed with every noise. But to my great surprise, I didn’t hear the angry shouts of human voices anywhere. Was it possible we had truly killed them all?

After ten more minutes of aimlessly hauling myself around, I heard voices. Or more like, one voice.

For once, I was somewhat lucky, as there was a grate right above where the voice was coming from. I peered through the bars, hoping whoever it was didn’t look up.

It was a golden haired, rough looking male human. He was humming a methodological rhythm, and he was injecting red liquid into a canister of some sort. When I looked around the room, I saw that he had many canisters stacked up, and I had a strong feeling that they weren’t going to be used for good.

Anger rose within me as I realized this was the man that Shaniya feared so much. On our journey she would wake up screaming, and tell J’Khati and I about the horrors she experienced under the hand of this man. This had to be the person who had hurt her.

My fear gone, I roared and shoved the grate off of the entrance to the vent. The man looked around wildly, not seeming to know where the roar came from, and I dropped to the ground behind him. This was my chance. I could stab him through the heart in this precious second and save everyone.

I couldn’t do it. 

My chance wasted, the man turned around and struck my snout hard with the butt of his gun. I reeled back, my acidic blood spilling out and sizzling into the facility floor. I groaned, and tried pouncing at him again, my claws outstretched in what I hoped was a killing blow. The man ducked and rolled, and I landed on the slippery floor. My talons slipped out from underneath me, and my wounded chin smacked painfully onto the ground. I was trembling, and as I tried to get up, the human stepped on my dome, squishing my head onto the ground. 

I was defeated. I would soon be killed, I knew it. 

“I’m sorry, Shaniya,” I whispered. 

Calvis-

I giggled in glee as I pressed the stupid animal’s head to the ground. I loved this, the thrill of the hunt. I had heard the breach alarm go off, but I was waiting for it to come to me. Sadly, this creature didn’t pose the slightest bit of a fight, and killing it would be way too easy for any fun.

Nevertheless, I pressed my gun to its disgusting head. I was going to enjoy this.


Tsalken-

I tensed as I prepared for my death. I couldn’t believe it. My life was going to end, and I never even got to have a life with Shaniya.

I thought of the life we could’ve had. And as I accepted that I was going to die, Shaniya’s voice echoed in my head. 

“I love you too, you hopeless romantic,” she said as I replayed the memory. I couldn’t let that go. I would fight, if only for her.

And with a roar that shook the building, I flung the filthy creature off of me, striking his gun out of his hands with my long tail. Surprise widened his eyes, and I bore down on him, standing to my full height. I let drool slip down from my jaws, and I yawned, extending my inner jaw. I was the darkness that those humans feared so much. There was a reason they wanted to exterminate us. People didn’t just wipe something out they didn’t think was a threat to them. No, they were scared of us.

I smiled, knowing it looked a lot more menacing to that awful man. He leapt for his gun, and I snarled, striking him with my left talon. He yelped as his fragile body slammed into the wall. I picked up his gun, that instrument of hell, and snapped it in two. The man was curled up in a ball now, shivering and weeping, and I stood over him, my shadow covering him in darkness.


Calvis-

I didn’t understand it. How had I been fooled so easily?

I looked up from my pitiful position and flinched as the creature’s drool landed on my cheek. Its biomechanical features were illuminated by the lab lights, casting an eerie glow to the unknown material it was made of. Its eyeless dome stared down at me, black lips curled up in a terrifying snarl. The white fangs flashed, and I saw the glimmer of another jaw inside the first one. 

I gasped as the Xenomorph bent down and sank its claws deep into my shoulders. I refused to give it a response. I would not show it pain! 

It hoisted me up by my flesh, until I was dangling a little bit above its head, my chest level with its jaws. It looked up at me, snarling something unintelligible, but yet resembling some type of language.

And I knew, somewhere in my shriveled heart, that maybe I had underestimated them.


Tsalken-

I hadn’t been prepared to kill before, but now I was. 

Even though Xenomorphs were eyeless, I knew we all had souls, whether they be good or bad. But now I wasn’t so sure about all humans.

Because looking into those cold, violent blue eyes, I saw nothing but a black hole of violence and despair. 

“For Shaniya,” I snarled, and it was without remorse that with my inner jaw I punched a hole through that demonic creature’s chest.

He flailed for an instant, and then sagged. I spit his blood out of my mouth, not wanting a trace of his wicked blood within me. I discarded his corpse onto the ground, blood gushing from the gaping wound in his chest that I had caused. 

Except now I wasn’t sure what to do next. I looked around me. This was an evil place, and I knew it needed to be destroyed. 

There was a flame burning under a strange vial of the red liquid, and I removed it and set it on the ground near the canisters. If the flame didn’t catch and blow up with all of the weaponry in this place, then I would come back and rip it apart here, metal sheet by metal sheet. 

I turned, and made my way out of there.

I took the hallways this time, and I hated it. The total absence of all life was beyond eerie, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I passed a room, and inside I saw burned holes in the ground and walls, no doubt caused by Xenomorph blood. As I looked a little more, I saw white claw marks scraped down the walls in a desperate attempt to get out. I shivered, and ran ahead. 

A loud explosion happened behind me, and I was hit by a wall of heat. Time to book it!

I ran as fast as I could as a wall of flame erupted behind me. The flame was fast, but I was faster. I ran out of the main doors and to the side, pressing myself against the wall as fire burst through the doors. I felt like I would die from the heat.

I ran deeper into the woods, not looking back. Behind me, the heat was growing more immense, and I heard the groaning of metal. 

BOOM! The entire building blew up behind me, a fireball rising into the night sky. A wall of heat, dirt, and ash hit me at full force, and I tumbled backwards like a leaf in the wind. 

When I finally came to a stop, the building was a smoky wreck.

We would never be harmed again by the humans.

I started making my way back to the Hive, pondering all that I had just done. Although my mind was happy with the logic of us being safe, I looked down at my talons. The talons that had helped take a life ten minutes ago.

I had extinguished a life from the world. I was a killer.

My heart strained with emotion, and I dropped to my knees, my tail arching between my legs and around me in an arch of pain and sadness. My heart at last was strained to the limit, and I bowed my head to my talons and wept.

Chapter 10:

My eyes shuddered open. I was nearly blinded by a blazing bright light. I squinted, trying to adjust to the sudden change. When the fuzz at last ceased from my eyes, I took a look at my surroundings.

I was in a brilliant white lab, the walls so bright they looked as if they could burn you. Fluorescent lights beamed down on me, illuminating the stark whiteness of the room even more. 

Panic shot through me as I took it all in. Labs meant humans. Humans meant captivity. I tried to sit up, but cried out as pain sparked down my spine and exploded in my abdominal region.

Memory flooded my mind. Calvis. Pain. Tsalken. What had happened? How did I get here?

There was only one logical conclusion. The enemy had won. My friends were dead. J’Khati, my sister, and Ember. Tsalken . . .

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I slumped back down onto my back. There was no reason to live anymore. No reason to go on. I hoped that one of their experiments included dissecting me.

That’s when the door to the lab swung open. I turned my head to the side, not daring to try and sit up again. 

It was a man I had never seen before. He looked as if age was just starting to affect him, as his beard was dusted in hairs of grey. His head was bald and shining like the rest of the laboratory, and he wore a stern expression on his face. But when our eyes met, I could see kindness twinkling in his soft brown eyes. 

He wore nothing but white, nearly blending into the lab’s walls. His boots made no sound on the shimmering floor as he quietly walked over to where my head was on the bed.

“I’m glad to see you’re awake.” His voice was rough and deep, but not frightening. “You were out for quite some time.”

Questions rose inside of me, spinning around my mind like a tornado. “How did I get here? What was wrong with me? How am I alive right now?”

He chuckled softly. I had forgotten how nice it felt to be in the company of a gentle human being.

“I wish I could answer all of your questions at once, as I am sure you must be bursting to know all the answers immediately. But I must answer them one at a time. Let’s start with the first, how you got here. Now that is a peculiar story indeed.” 

He paused, and then continued. “I am not sure how hard it would be for you to believe this, as I don’t know what kind of life you have lived before you arrived on our doorstep, but a creature none other than a Xenomorph carried you here.” 

He stopped, gauging my reaction, but when I didn’t faint or scream or cry he kept going. “It gave the soldiers quite a scare,  and they were ready to shoot it dead, but when it bowed its odd head and raised you into the sky like an offering, they knew something was very different about this particular Xenomorph. So they let it in, and the moment I saw your nearly dead body and took you from its clutches, it bounded into the woods. We haven’t seen it since, but let me tell you, I have seen many strange things in my life. That was by far the strangest occurrence I have ever seen.”

Despite my best efforts, I started laughing. The doctor gave me a very weirded out look, and I couldn’t blame him, but I wasn’t able to stop. Laughter exploded out of me, the joy and happiness inside swelling out. Tsalken, my dear Tsalken, had saved me. 

One thing did confuse me, however. How was ‘humans not shooting at Xenomorph’, even a real sentence? It was simply too good to be true. There was hope after all.

“Well, onto the next question,” the doctor said after my fit of laughing was over. “What was wrong with you. Where do I start with that? I guess the simplest explanation was that your immune system was attacking itself. I didn’t get to see it, but I’m guessing at some point in your life right before you nearly died you had a substance in your body that didn’t belong there, almost like some sort of transplant. Your white blood cells didn’t recognize the other white blood cells of whatever was in you, and essentially a war was started within you. Also, you had a bullet in your intestines, which certainly doesn’t help the situation. That was removed first, and your gut should be working again as well as it used to.” 

I nodded, the pieces settling together to make perfect sense. The Xenomorph parts of my body falling off. The rotten flesh beneath it all. 

I should’ve known something of my kind couldn’t naturally exist together. The biology fit together as well as two magnets of the wrong side.

“And you are alive today because of the emergency procedures we did on you,” the man droned on. “Although I have some bad news.”

“What is it?” I couldn’t imagine what could be bad among all this wonderful news.

“Paralysis is something even the best of doctors cannot reverse,” the man said sadly. “A piece of your spine was missing when you came in, essential to the movement and control of your legs. I hate to tell you this, but you will never be able to walk again.”

The words hit me like a truck. I shook my head, feeling dazed. I would be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of my life, as helpless as an old woman. I would never be able to go to the Hive again, for a wheelchair couldn’t cross that type of terrain. The sadness struck heavy in my heart, but I knew I had to be brave. I had already overcome so much, I could overcome this obstacle too. 

“So why can’t I sit up?” I croaked, a lump in my throat because of trying not to cry.

“That is not because of any abnormal reason,” the doctor explained gently. “The pain is just because you are still healing from the numerous stitches and such that hs been put into you. I promise, the rest of you will be fine.”

That news reviving me a bit, I tried sitting up, groaning at the pain. Once I sat on my rear, the pain subsided. I tried to move my legs. 

Just as the doctor said, I couldn’t. There was no response as I tried with all of my willpower to wiggle a toe. I stopped, defeated. My legs might as well been weights tied to my pelvis. 

Just when tears were going to well up again, I heard shouts of alarm from the soldiers outside, and then, “hold your fire!” There was commotion from the doors, and then the best sight in the world popped around the corner. 

It was none other than Tsalken. He daintily stepped over the things in the lab he already knocked over, and when he ducked under a shelf his tail knocked over several jars of important looking chemicals.

I looked over at the doctor, who was clutching his heart. “Oh my…” He trailed off.

“It’s ok,” I said hastily. “He’s a friend.” 

The doctor nodded, gulping. “Yes, I know. This is the one that brought you here. Still, it’s quite a shocker to see one so close.”

I giggled, and Tsalken came over to me, his blackish brown hide shimmering in the lab lights.

‘You have no idea how glad I am to see that you’re ok,’ he said in my head. I could feel his relief and joy rolling off of him.

‘What, did you actually think I could die?’ I joked.

I don’t think he got the joke, as he cocked his head and said, ‘Anyone can die, Shaniya.’

‘Exactly,’ I said, sternness coming over me. ‘Which is why you were an idiot for coming here. They could’ve shot you!’ 

‘Shaniya,’ he said, grinning and shaking his dome. ‘Have you learned anything? When am I ever NOT an idiot?’

‘Good point,’ I agreed, and he huffed. I laughed at him, and then turned to the doctor, still looking like he’d have a heart attack. “They’re all like this, you know,” I said passionately. “All they want is peace, I assure you. I lived with them for a month, and my injuries were caused by something quite distinct from them.” I felt inclined not to tell them about the war with the scientists and soldiers, for some reason. “Is there anyone I can speak to about creating a treaty?”

The doctor nodded. “We can set up an appointment with the mayor. He is a very open and agreeable man. I am sure he will listen to your wants.”

“That sounds great,” I said, which was a major understatement. It sounded like hope. It sounded like, after a very long time, peace at last.

 

One month later-

Tsalken and I sat together on a path overlooking the village. It was the highest point in the village that my wheelchair could go, and I wanted to watch the sunrise before Tsalken went back to the Hive. 

I wheeled myself to the hill, not wanting to be pushed around by him, and he lifted me up and out of my chair with the tenderness of a mother. He set me down on a patch of grass, and then curled up like a cat, pulling me to his side with his tail until I was comfortably settled in the niche between his ribs and hips. His exoskeleton was rough against my soft skin, and I loved the feeling of it tickling lightly against my flesh.

‘What now?’ His voice interrupted me in my mind.

‘Well, I can’t go back to the Hive,’ I said sadly. ‘You’ll have to visit me.’

‘I’ve spent so much time with you this past month I can’t imagine life without you,’ he said gently, swiveling his dome so his snout was pointed at me. 

‘You’re cute,’ I said sweetly, and booped the front of his brown dome with my finger. He snorted, and then continued.

‘You know I don’t fit in among the other Xenos,’ he argued. ‘I should just stay here with you. You know I won’t be hurt. The humans signed the peace treaty with J’Khati over a month ago. There hasn’t been an attack since.’

Tsalken’s words were true about peace, and just thinking about it brought tears to my eyes. I still couldn’t believe it, even though the truth was smacking me in the face. After all the years of torture, there was peace.

‘You need to go to your Hive,’ I said as gently as those words could sound. ‘Your loyalty is ultimately to your Queen, not me. You have to respect that. I will be fine here. And besides, you’ll get homesick for your own species here.’

‘You are all I need,’ he insisted, his tail whipping back and forth impatiently. 

‘Nah,’ I said nonchalantly. ‘As much as you don’t fit in, you need your own kind. And that’s that.’ I didn’t tell him how much I would miss him.

He was silent for a while, the sun barely rising. Light started to filter through the valley, but it’s full glory was still to come.

‘How will we work?’ He whispered.

‘I don’t know,’ I admitted. ‘But we can’t be so worried about the future. Life is enjoying every moment as it is. Like this one.’ I snuggled up closer to his head. ‘Just be quiet, and just...be.’

He turned toward me, his fangs scratching my cheek ever so delicately. A thrill went down my spine at being so close to what could kill me, but was being affectionate. ‘I love you, Shaniya, my best friend.’ He said very quietly.

‘I love you too, bestie,’ I said, not so quietly, and gave him a big, wet, smooch on his dome. He retaliated, obviously bashful. 

‘Gross,’ he teased.

‘Not as gross as your nasty breath so close to my face,’ I shot back with a smile.

And so we teased and snuggled, under the full blazing beauty of the rising sun.

And all was right with the world.

 

Epilogue-

Ember scampered through the darkest regions of the forest, liking the way the light dappled her exoskeleton. Her predatory senses alerted her of every warm body nearby, and she pounced on an unwary mouse, watching it squeal beneath her talons.

She had just eaten, lucky for the mouse. She let it go, watching it scamper into the bushes, and smiled, her fangs gleamed in the few sunbeams that managed to find their way through the thick boughs. 

She continued to explore. Her mom didn’t know she was out, and she slipped out without her mom knowing. Being her mother’s only child got old when her mom wanted to watch her every move.

A cliff rose in the forest, a waterfall thundering its way down the rocks.

“Ooo,” she hissed, making her way carefully along the slippery streams. She pointed her not yet spiked tail out for balance, and ran to the waterfall.

“So pretty,” she cooed, holding her talon out to watch the water shimmer and sparkle on her.

That’s when she slipped, and tumbled with a yelp headfirst into the waterfall. 

She expected to hit solid stone, but she rolled into a dark cave. She picked herself back up, and winced when she put pressure on one of her talons. She must’ve bruised it.

“This is so cool!” She shrieked out loud, her voice echoing right back to her. A small cave, then. This was her best exploration yet. Maybe her and her best friend Elisis could have a secret hideout here!

She explored the small cavern. Algae draped every rock, and it let off a small glow. Little fish darted around her talons, tickling her, and she squealed with laughter.

Then she turned, and saw writing engraved in the wall, in her own language. It read,

Beware the enemy
Unseen, unheard
Beware the enemy,
Crouching within
Beware the darkness
In the light
You must find -

And then the writing was worn away, unable to be read.

Ember shivered. Suddenly this cave didn’t seem so cool anymore. She scampered out, running away from that place as fast as she could, her left talon aching with the movement.

In fact, she left so fast that she didn’t see the sheen on her exoskeleton turn from blue to a deep, blood red.













 


 




 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


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