A few days had passed since drone 997754810’s death. Queen Blix hadn’t completely gotten over it, but outward signs of her grief were no longer showing, and she had resumed ordering scouts and gatherers out of the colony. Her willingness to send her children out again was in large part due to the decision to use a trick she learned about from her own mother, who heard about it from her mother and so on for countless generations. It hadn’t been used in the memory of any living ant, but Blix thought it was time to try it if she could. Ants communicated telepathically by sharing a link when their antennae touched. At some point, one ant queen in ancient times figured out how to transfer her will and consciousness into one of her drones. In essence, she temporarily “became” that drone. What rare qualities could that queen have had to even conceive of such a thing? Was she as caring of her children as Blix, or was she manipulative?
Queen Blix called in drone 52789, a gatherer from one of her first birthgivings, and told her to join antennae with her. Without question or hesitation, 52789 obeyed. Blix felt a twinge of guilt for what she was about to do, because she had no way of knowing what would happen or if the drone would recover. She just had to know what dangers stomped around on the surface. It had been so long since she took her nuptial flight, she had forgotten. She did the meditation exercise she was taught, and then she reached into 52789’s mind in search of the control and sensory centers. They were remarkably easy to find. In seconds, Blix was looking at herself through the eyes of her daughter.
“I’m sorry I have to do this, 52789,” she said to ‘herself’. “When this is over, I’ll give you a real name like mine.”
Blix crawled out of her chamber for the first time in a long time and followed another gatherer through a maze of tunnels all the way up to the surface, where the warm sunlight fell directly down on her child’s black exoskeleton. The sight of the jungle of grasses and flowers reminded her of her youth, and in that much more youthful body, she almost forgot she was a well aged queen. She almost expected to feel wings on her back, but when she tried to stretch them out, she was reminded that the body she was in was not her own and never had wings.
Using the sharp senses of her daughter’s body, Blix picked up the pheromone trail of another member of her colony. A scout had found something big and established a trail to claim it and carry it back home. She followed it closely behind the gatherer she had followed out of the tunnels, and after a long walk, they came upon a dead baby bird. An adult bird was a terrifying sight for any insect, but a corpse was cause for celebration if ants did that kind of thing. Baby birds were an especially good find because they lacked feathers and so were much easier to pick meat from.
Blix stepped to the side, off the trail, to take in the scene. Dozens of her children were busy tearing chunks of flesh from the corpse. They all knew how to do their job, and they did it without complaint. They had to. It was their way. Only their queen was capable of the level of thought that caused her to deviate from the job of the body she was in and examine the situation mentally. There had been no danger. No giant feet had come down from the sky. No beaks of death fell upon them from the heavens. Perhaps the death of 997754810 was a fluke. A pure accident. There certainly did not seem to be a reason to fear it happening again any time soon. Relieved, Blix turned without pitching in to the food gathering effort and started to make her way back. She walked beside another gatherer, one who had left earlier and carried a piece of bird big enough to shade them both from the sun’s light.
Suddenly, the shade grew much darker. Blix looked up and noticed a strangely uniform pattern on the surface of something very large coming down toward them.
‘Not again! I knew this would happen! It’s the human from before! He wants to kill all of my babies!’
Blix braced herself for death. She didn’t know if she would pop back into her own mind if the body she was using was killed. It didn’t matter because surely she would find out soon. But wait. The patterned surface ceased its descent and darted forward, making landfall a long way ahead of the two ants on their way back home. The next few seconds revealed that the surface had indeed been the foot of a human. The rest of its form tore its way through the grass jungle at a speed Blix couldn’t have even flown in her youth, not easily anyway. She had never seen a human before, but she couldn’t deny that there was a certain grace to its form and movement. It was not the monster she had thought it was. In fact, it seemed to purposely avoid stepping on her. Why? It didn’t make any sense. Blix was grateful, but she was very confused. She wanted to hurry back to the colony and return to her body so she could reflect on what happened.