Chapter 149
552 9 32
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.




That's neither me nor one of my beetles.
But it still sounds like wings.
But wh-

Behind me!



<Screeech!/There's Princess Erys! Intercept incoming hostiles!> (interceptor)


For now, there are a dozen immediately approaching, but when I look further into the distance there are many more in the air.
And if I know anything about Formicea, then it is that if the message that I'm here in need already spread then it's only a question of time till a massive number of ground troops will arrive as well.


"Shit! Defense formation!!!" (officer)


The soldiers draw closer together and raise their shields and weapons upward.
Also, whoever has a distance weapon prepares to release a joint volley with the others

While messengers and interceptors are basically the same, at the same time they're not.
It might only be a difference in designation, but for a Formicea their role is everything that matters to their identity.
In this specific situation, this means that the identifying pheromones they’re releasing tell me that right now they’re interceptors and nothing else.
And as such they're not here to talk.
They'll do what their role prescribes and take down any enemy that is coming my way.
That is, as long as I don’t do anything about it.


<SCREEAC!/Stop!!!> (E)


Before both sides hit each other, they freeze in their tracks at my command.
Even the humans could probably figure out what I meant.
I speak human and release at the same time corresponding pheromones.


"A fight isn't necessary. You humans can't win this. In mere minutes the whole area will be literally crawling with our troops. There's no way you can get through to me before that happens." (E)


They might even be right below their feet.
Meanwhile, the first interceptors land directly in front of me to shield me from any projectiles.

The officer at least seems to recognize my words and gives a sign behind.
At this, the rider who has the tied Kyska bundle on his saddle raises her up and holds a knife at her throat.


"Princess Erys! We have your maid! Give up or she'll bear the consequences!" (rider)

<Princess... don't.> (K)


My mind is seriously completely blank at this moment.
I don't know how to react.
Well, I do know... I promised.
Kyska would consider her fate of being responsible for my recapture and the subsequent loss of thousands of my brood as worse than death.
In the first place, I couldn't grant the officer's wish even if I wanted to for a very simple reason.
Which might be just the argument I need to turn this around.


"You're misreading the situation, officer. This isn't my brood. While I'm a princess and hold a certain degree of authority, which allows me to hold them back for now, this doesn't mean they're going to follow all of my commands. They're here to assure that I am brought back to the swarm and won't take no for an answer." (E)

"Call them back or we’ll kill her!" (officer)


Kyska is barely conscious at this point.
The exhaustion of the past days was apparently too much for her.

It seems like the interceptors catch on to the situation, thanks to their greater intelligence that is required for the messenger role, and I feel a total of six claws seizing my frame.
Not like I'm especially concerned, they're here to bring me to the hive I wanted to go to in the first place and are just not taking chances.
However, not having a say anymore is leaving a sour aftertaste.
And well, Formicean princesses prefer sweetness.
The only really bad thing is Kyska's predicament.
But maybe I can negotiate with my non-position.


"Do you really think they care about the fate of a single nurse? That's not how this society works. Rather, they're going to fly me away if either of us both come even a single step closer. So I'd suggest that you hand over my maid before you and your men are identified as immediate threats and subsequently get ripped apart by insect claws!" (E)


The only other possibility might be to somehow gather my strength, rip free, and sprint past the interceptors to hand myself over as a hostage.
That's still a big "but" as there are far too many drones in the close vicinity.
And that would expect a bit too much cooperation to my disadvantage.
More importantly, I can't do that to Kyska.

However, even the officer sees that this hostage scenario won't bring him very far.
He simply has nothing to bargain with.
It's actually quite the miracle that there's no battle yet.
I guess the interceptors are still fulfilling their roles if they only stall the enemy.
If this means avoiding a fight that might put me at risk, then it's the smartest course of action.


"Look, we don't even have a reason to take you prisoner. You can just turn around and leave. Maybe tell your superiors you gave your all, but the insects beat you to reaching me. As stupid as it might sound, nobody can expect you to fight several thousand of them. And believe me, it's only a matter of minutes till they're all here." (E)


The cloud of messengers from afar is already halfway here.
This circumstance puts the officer under pressure to decide quickly.


"Damnit! We'll fall back! Everyone, retreat!" (officer)

"Hey! I want my maid back!" (E)


The officer looks back at me with a look of pure annoyance.


"I won't hand over the one thing that is holding you back." (officer)


Damn! What now?
Do I need to convince him somehow?
What about threats?


"Officer, you seem to be misinterpreting the situation again. I'm willing to avoid a fight to maintain the fragile ceasefire we have. You must be aware that this is the case throughout the whole country for now. So I have not the slightest inclination to attack you and your men and change this. However, I'll certainly order for my personal nurse to be retrieved. It's quite a distance back. What do you think? How long can you keep it up, holding her at knife's edge? The moment you show an opening, hundreds of fliers will descend upon you and your men. Something that could be easily avoided if you just hand her over now. As mentioned before, attacking you is the last thing I want to do. But that doesn’t mean it won't happen if you leave me no choice." (E)


Not sure how convincing I am, but it's no lie.
They may be able to threaten me, but transportation would become difficult while always staying ready to kill her, and it's not possible to make the interceptors keep their distance because they can't kill her to send a message.
That's the peculiarity if your life depends on the hostage you're threatening.

Since the interceptors didn't object it seems like they would go along with my plan as long it won't prevent them from securing their prime target.
Me, that is.

By now, the first reinforcements settled down around our position, and in the far distance I can see some hunters running at top speed towards us.


"I'd decide now!" (E)


Before there will be so many that they'll just decide to snuff them out.


"Shit... Corporal, free the insect maid." (officer)

"Sir?" (corporal)

"You heard me! There's nothing to win in this situation. We can only cut our losses. Tarsona cannot afford to lose its sons and daughters during this war." (officer)


And with this, Kyska gets freed from her bindings.
They shove her somewhat roughly in our direction, careful not to provoke them by coming closer.
Gladly, she can just manage to keep standing on four of her appendages.
I'm careful not to give an order too soon, before the human troop retreats in order.
Gratefully, the interceptors behind them listen to me and give way.
Intercepting seems also to compromise with making the enemy go the other way.

The officer turns his horse around but looks one last time at me.


"Well played, princess!" (officer)


I stare back, without saying a word.
I need to play my part despite being at my wits end after all that happened.
Just when the last human crossed the circle of Formicea around me, the first ground troops trickle in and I'm completely shielded away.
I allow myself to lose the strength in my legs and collapse.
As far as this is possible with hundreds of interceptors around to catch you.


<Sruuuuhhh!/Princess!> (K)


Tsk, even in this situation Kyska manages to freak out about me.


<Everything's okay, Kyska. I'm just completely exhausted.> (E)

<Then rest, my princess. The units will take care of your transportation. You are safe.> (K)


Great, flesh coach, huh?
The interceptors and oncoming workers waste no time to lift me up and carry me in the direction of the mountains where they came from.
While it's still grossing me out to float in a sea of appendages, my hurting legs and wings thank me for this.

But safe...
If I reminisce how I thought several months ago about being carried by giant insects down a deep dark hole, I almost have to laugh.