The queen-to-be was named Nauqenet. Since her birth, Queen Blix didn’t say anything to anyone. She simply did what a queen was expected to do, and nobody found it strange that her behavior changed so much. The drones were glad to have things running smoothly and quietly again.
Nauqenet grew quickly to maturity but behaved in a manor very similar to her mother, which did not surprise anyone. She spoke many thoughts and ideas to those around her despite the fact that nobody ever added to the conversation or encouraged her to share with them. They disliked her tendencies, but they still loved her as a sister and member of the colony. They also gave her the respect any drone was expected to show a queen. After all, she was their physical superior, and she would presumably one day start her own colony.
Outwardly, Nauqenet seemed very sure of herself, which nobody had any idea was actually very unusual for a young ant of any class, but inside, she was conflicted. She felt like there was something very important she had forgotten. She had a drive to leave the colony and be on her own, but she somehow understood on a deep level that there were many dangers on the surface. Nobody could give her any advice, and it was that that proved to be what convinced her to leave. She entered the queen’s chamber before she left, feeling like she owed her a goodbye.
“I’m leaving now, mother,” she said. The queen nodded in acknowledgment. “I don’t suppose there’s anything about the surface that you know that might help me to survive. You’ve been up there, haven’t you?”
Queen Blix didn’t seem to understand the request. Giving up, Nauqenet turned and left. She crawled through the tunnels she had come to know so well over the weeks of her life and stepped carefully out to the surface. It was almost as dark out there as it was under ground because it was night. Nauqenet had never seen the sky. Dotted with little white points of light, it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. There was a much larger light up there as well shaped like a crescent.
That must be their queen, she thought.
Nauqenet wiggled her wings a little to make sure they worked and then beat them as quickly as she could, lifting off into the air. Everything below her looked so much smaller. The grass jungle stretched out and stopped at a row of smooth, rectangular mounds in many different colors. There were also much larger blades of grass that were brown except for leaves growing on top. Nauqenet flew toward one of them and landed on it. She had flown for only a few minutes, but she was tired and hoped to find some food. There was something else she wanted, but when she thought about it, it felt wrong. She wanted to find a mate, but she also didn’t want that.
That’s what all the other queens do. I don’t want to be like them. Mother is just as mindless as everyone else. If I start a colony, I’ll become like that too. I’d rather be dead.
She decided to explore instead. Once she had regained some energy, she flew toward one of the colored mounds. Light came out of it somehow, and Nauqenet found that there was an opening in the side. She landed on the side of the mound and crawled inside. The mound was hollow inside, filled with piles of wood, stone, and cloth. It smelled like food. Taking again to the air, Nauqenet ventured further in but was startled to the ground when she heard what sounded like semi-melodic thunder.