In the Throes of Love and Death

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 Prologue Two

In the Throes of Love and Death 

An eyewitness account of a Draknai mating ritual, written by Lara Shenka (2096)

I had always felt fascinated by the Draknai, but it was not until I stumbled upon one of their mating rituals that I discovered just how animalistic their culture was.  In the beginning, I had been intrigued by their physiology, especially their skin and their teeth, and then later on I began to sneak off site to watch the way they interacted. 

Every day I dared myself to get a little closer by reducing the magnification of my infrared binoculars.  Soon the binoculars were discarded and I crept nearer and nearer, until I could not only see their distorted bodies, but hear them too.  The Draknai’s terrible warbling cries had scared me at first, until I started to analyse them, just like my adopted father had taught me to.  The way the pitch seemed to rise and fall reminded me very much of an old rusty brass instrument, and when the tone got too high it would crack and make my ears pop, but at least I was not frightened any more.

One dark night, I plucked up the courage to go right up to the edge of their little camp, only to find that they had all vanished.  Then I saw a sudden flicker of lightning skewer upwards into the cloudless sky, then another and another.  Feeling particularly brave on this day, I followed the lights to a small ravine where I came across the Draknai ritual.

The Draknai were dancing around piles of sizzling white rocks, their bodies swaying hypnotically as if they were in some sort of trance.  Sparks and crackles flooded out of the peculiar glowing stones, casting flashing angular lines of light across the alien’s mirror-like skin.  They hopped and bobbed about in overlapping circular patterns, around three different heaps of the electrified stones.

            A strange sickly sweet scent filled my nostrils, but it did not appear to be coming from the prancing grubs, it seemed to be coming from a different pair of Draknai, who were separated from the rest.  The solitary couple seemed to be totally immersed in each other and beneath their translucent membrane; faintly glowing lights could be seen.

            The assembled Draknai had become as still as statues as they watched the couples metamorphosis.  A deep rumbling, humming noise filled the air as the watchers waited expectantly for new beings to appear.

I focused on the nearest of the two emerging entities which appeared to be the male, I watched as six glistening white limbs squelched their way out through the wilting skin, and then with a flash of movement the creature within tore outwards explosively.  Sticky golden ichor dribbled down over the bug’s brilliant white body and its bright red multifaceted eyes twitched erratically.  The curious creature could almost be considered beautiful, if it was not for its oversized abdomen that was being dragged ponderously along behind it.

Then came a sight which took my breath away, the giant insect unfurled the most amazing rainbow hued wings which glimmered prettily in the moonlight.  The wings were still damp and sticky from the bugs birthing, so it shook them lightly to try to dry them out.  The wings looked so light and delicate that I remember wondering about how they could possibly lift the rather large alien.

            Then the smaller female bug erupted suddenly out of her discarded skin, her face seemed longer with sharper eyes and her body was almost stick like until it reached the big bulky abdomen.  Her wings however, were much larger than the males and they seemed to glow with a light of their very own.  She flapped them gently and leapt upwards to try to shake off the remaining goo, and the throng of assembled Draknai jumped back, startled by the bugs sudden movement.

The two newly reborn insects then noticed each other and they suddenly seemed to remember their attraction to each other, so they immediately resumed their previous snuggling.  Their new limbs caressed each other’s bodies lightly and their swollen abdomens bumped together gently as they began to mate.

The noise of the assembled Draknai got louder and louder, they sounded angry and many of the aliens were roaring feverishly.  One by one, they edged nearer and nearer to the entwined couple, until eventually the male insects head shot up to glare at the frenzied crowd that was hesitantly approaching.  The gathering stopped and stood like statues as hundreds of tiny red eyes surveyed them suspiciously.  Then the humming and the buzzing started anew as the new and old Draknai squared off uneasily.

Suddenly, the bonding was over, the female bug split away from the male and fell to the ground in a heap.  The juvenile maggots saw the separation as their chance to attack, they pounced on the glistening white male bug with their pincers twitching and their jaws frothing.  The male bug retaliated by using its big strong sickle-like forearms to swat and maim the wild mob, while he tried to protect his mate.  The fight was nasty, I remember feeling sick, because I had never seen so much of the nauseating pungent yellow blood before. 

The female then went through another quick metamorphosis, her pointy abdomen softened and opened slightly as she began to release her offspring.  I lost count of how many tiny round eggs she laid, there were dozens of them all around her.  Yet all the while, her mate was engaged in furious combat, protecting her for as long as possible so she could complete her task.

Then it happened, with the most almighty scream (which sounded almost human), the male insect fell to the ground, as the young grubs twisting jaws cut through his white shining carapace and spilled his golden blood upon the ground.  The maggots swarmed over their fallen elder, munching and slurping up his blood, almost as if it was an aphrodisiac.

The female bug squawked loudly at the death of her partner and she fanned her giant wings at her petulant childish brethren as she tried to take flight.  She rose haltingly as still more eggs were being ejected from her underside.  Her wings still looked wet, which was not helping her to gain height away from her terrible transgressors. 

She was half way out of the ravine when the first grub bounded up and on to her back, sinking its teeth in between her shoulder blades.  Yet, the female bug did not fall; she kept climbing right towards where I was hiding.  Then a second grub was upon her, followed by a third and then a forth.  She screamed loudly and grabbed at the rock face to try to pull herself upwards.  Her head rose slowly over the edge of the cliff and she stared painfully into my eyes, pleading for help as only a new mother could.  I reached out for her, but it was too late, her wings were shredded and the weight of the grubs pulled her back into the pit where she was ruthlessly devoured.

I could watch the scene no longer, so I fled back into forest, tears streaming down my cheeks and an overwhelming feeling of pity tore at my heart as I thought about the race of creatures who were born from both love and violence.

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