The Original stirred from her sleep once more, agitated by the incessant dripping that seemed to grow stronger and stronger in their once secure home. Rising up on her six limbs, as she took a step, a light splash was heard. The Mordukai, being insectoid in nature and thus encased in chitin, were not known for their ability to tactilely feel anything at all other than perhaps heat. Their hard exoskeleton simply made the sensation of touch impractical. Thus, it was a surprise to the Original when she found the ground giving way slightly as she took steps, surrounded by a thin layer of water.
Typically, Mordukai nests were reasonably hardened against both rain and wind, the wind simply passing far overhead, and the rain either collecting in the U-shaped tunnels leading up to chambers or soaking down into the groundwater. The insects would then simply hunker down in their chambers with their trapped air and hibernate out the rain at a very low metabolism, waiting for evolutionarily evolved triggers that would awaken them once the humidity dropped. Things were different this time though.
The Original crawled over to the entrance of the tunnel leading to the main chamber, entering it a few feet before finding it completely full of water. She decided to turn around, and returned to the chamber, circling it, listening to the droplets of water and testing the walls with her claws. As she struck one of the walls lightly, part of it collapsed onto the Original, causing her to leap towards the center of the chamber. The nest was unstable. With the rains not abating, it was possible that they might all drown down here.
Unable to effectively communicate this to her sisters, the Original simply began tunneling into the portion of wall that collapsed at a 45 degree angle upwards, strengthening it as she went and removing debris. Within a few minutes, Workers had joined her as they realized what she was doing, and the nest began moving into action collectively. Other Workers scurried about transporting eggs and larvae closer to the escape tunnel, once the other two Soldiers in the nest worked together to move the Queen into position to escape. As they worked, little balls of soaked dirt would occasionally fall from the sides of the nest, making the Mordukai move faster.
An hour later, the Original busted through the final layer of dirt, causing a small stream of rainwater to begin pouring down into the nest, but this was of little consequence. She emerged onto the surface and took up position looking out at the environment for predators as the other Soldiers brought the Queen up first, being the most important member of the nest.
It was the first time the Original had ever seen the Queen, her frail form attached to the enormously bloated abdomen full of eggs. She was perhaps 75% egg sack and 25% body, much of her legs and arms having withered away. While a human might look at this and feel aghast, it was normal for Mordukai. The Soldiers set her down on a patch of wet grass, all three Soldiers forming a defensive triangle around her.
Meanwhile, the Workers formed an ant chain, transporting egg and larvae from claw to claw up to the surface. As they did that, the Original observed their surroundings carefully.
The wind was fierce today, rocking the treetops and at times even cutting down into the undercanopy, the rain constant and thick. It poured in both droplets from the air and small streams from the trees, and there were no animals in sight. All had decided to take shelter. In contrast, the Mordukai stood now resolute, in the open against the wind and rain, determined not to perish.
One Queen, three Soldiers (two carrying the Queen), eight Workers, each Worker carrying at most four larvae or a pile of eggs, they began moving further uphill, travelling primarily North. Their objective was simple, keep moving to safety and ride out the storm, relying upon their stored fat and the plentiful water surrounding them.
That looks quite nice. I haven't had the time to get around to posting due to family and the school year starting up with all sorts of documentation and training necessary especially since this is my first year teaching.
The Original Soldier stirred from her sleep deep within the Nest. As usual, it was quiet, pitch black, and comfortably both humid and mildly chilly. Digging underground definitely had its own benefits such as reasonably well regulated temperature, but it also had its downsides as the Soldier had to feel her way out of the caverns in combination with her antennae 'smelling' the trails where other Mordukai had recently passed. Where they often passed, was a greater trail often leading towards the entrance of the Nest.
As it approached the entrance, there was a familiar squishing sound as the Soldier crawled down into the water trap. In her mind flashed the impression of rain, further reinforced as the Soldier emerged to a light drizzle combined with a rare, yearly smell in the air. The Mordukai's astute antennae twitched in the air, collecting the particles and sending a pattern of impulses to her brain that indicated the rainy times had come.
Instinctively, she felt the need to hunker down in the Nest as soon as reasonable, but first, there was business to attend to. Another Soldier emerged from the Nest, flanked by two Workers. The four looked at each other, knowing in their stomachs that a store of food would be necessary.
The Original reached towards the other three with an extended claw, trying to get them to come with her. Being a naturally extremely communal species, it was well understood that a hunting party was being formed. Foraging for food naturally happened with Workers for millennia, whilst the Soldiers had taken to defending the Workers, Nest, and bringing down bigger game. Usually the first Soldier simply led the party.
Things were different this time.
Flanking the Workers, the opposing Soldier also motioned for the others to follow her, almost at the same time as the Original. The two stopped for a moment, unsure of what to do, until they both pointed in opposite directions. The Original wanted to hunt the grasslands, the Opposing, the forests. Both were not terrible ideas, but both could not be simultaneously done without splitting the party.
They then set about for a few minutes motioning in opposite directions, occasionally thumping the dirt with their claws, and trying to convince the Workers whom merely stood there watching and waiting for instructions to come with them. Finally, the Original stomped the ground and slammed her foremost claws into her thorax, antennae shaking with frustration. The Opposing pointed once more around them at the forest and pumped its own chest twice, approaching the Original.
Slowly, the distance between the two closed further and further until there was not a single inch of space between their heads, antennae furiously thwacking the opposing pair, eyes almost touching.
A closed claw struck the Original's thorax, and it was on.
Immediately, four split sets of limbs began to jostle one another, claw interlocking with claw, as the pair of Soldiers engaged in a standing duel. Occasionally, a claw would disengage only to thump the enemy in the chest, but the Mordukai never separated their heads and antennae from the fight. At times the Original found herself beginning to lose balance, but she was bigger and stronger, and therefore more likely to win the jousting match.
'Crack' went the Opposing's thorax chitin as the Original threw most of her strength into a half-piercing punch, knocking her enemy just off balance enough for the Original to grind her feet into the ground and lift the Soldier up into the air. It kept struggling, striking at the Original Soldier as best it could, but without the strong foundation of its legs, the force was greatly reduced.
With a resounding and satisfying 'thud', the Original tossed her enemy into the ground.
The Opposing laid there for a few moments before recollecting herself, crawling away on all sixes, and then slowly returning her feet while clutching the slightly broken chitin on the left side of her thorax. Its head laid low in the direction of the Original, antennae almost horizontal to the ground. She had accepted defeat, at least for now.
As more Workers appeared from the Nest and began fanning out in the rain to start foraging for fruits, vegetables, and berries, another Soldier made its presence known, taking up a post by the entrance to safeguard the all-important Queen. It was common for animals to attempt to make Mordukai Nests homes, especially during rains, but that was not something the ants would stand for in most cases.
Motioning once more towards the grasslands, the Original, her duelist, and two Workers set off.
By the time they arrived an hour later, the rains had increased slightly to that of a sustained shower, though not yet the types of monsoon rains that would likely soon come. The party had made their way to a nearby stream that many animals came to for water, using the rain and tall grass to cover their approach. Whilst the Mordukai couldn't see particularly far due to the precipitation, their sense of smell was still acute enough to overcome the rain enough to detect animals beyond their line of sight.
Crawling up to the edge of where the tall grass ended and the stream began, the Original's antennae switched repeatedly in the air, shaking off water and 'tasting' the atmospheric currents. She could 'see' a small herd of a fat creature that loved the water just downstream, and towards that herd the party moved. They creeped and they crawled and they came upon the herd, watching it intently from the grass.
Carefully considering what the Original could remember about the animal, memories she did not know how she had, this animal was extremely territorial, especially towards smaller creatures. In fact, the Original could remember seeing one eat a Worker once. An idea occurred to her.
Looking back at a Worker, she pointed at it with the end of her claw and then lightly tapped her own thorax. The Worker didn't get it at first, so instead the Original did the same motion twice more. Still, the Worker didn't understand. Finally, the Original simply crawled over, wrapped her claw around the Worker's neck, and dragged it to the edge.
Releasing it, she pointed at one of the animals on the edge of the herd, spewing water onto itself, then at the Worker. Pretending to crawl towards the herd, the Original made a lot of subtle, crazy movements, as if to draw attention. The Worker watched, then looked at the herd, then at the Original, then at the herd, and then at the Original.
Almost immediately, it tried to retreat into the grass, but the Original snatched it up and tossed it onto the embankment, pointing once more at the herd. The Worker's options were clear; she could attract one's attention, or get beaten like the Opposing Soldier had been.
Stumbling at first, the Worker crawled carefully within what it thought was line of sight of one of the beasts, and then smacked the water with one of her claws. The animal on the edge of the herd's ears pricked up, but it did not immediately turn to face the Worker. A second splash got its attention, bringing the great beast's eyes to bear on the small, three feet tall ant. Breath whooshed out of the beast's nostrils, anger flaring in its mind. Still, the animal did not charge.
The Worker threw its claws at the beasts, and swayed from side to side, as well as pretending to inch forward before retreating in an attempt to incite the creature, but it was strangely docile. Perhaps the rain and mud made it feel less inclined towards throttling the ant.
Glancing back for just a moment at the secluded party in the grasses awaiting the Worker was enough to inform her that the Original was not happy. Thus, she looked left and looked right, deciding to pick up a river rock. The Worker hurled it with all her might, dinging off the great beast's hide. Another breath left its nostrils, this one far stronger than before, as it began charging angrily towards the hapless ant. Thankfully, the beast's comrades looked at their charging friend, and then the tiny ant, and decided the problem could be handled alone.
Meanwhile, the ant whipped around and ran as fast as possible towards and into the grass, lucky that the mud and distance slowed the beast enough that she was safely back with the party as the animal erupted into the grass.
Both Soldiers leapt into action immediately, literally jumping onto the back of the rotund creature and swiftly beginning to drive the sharp points of their claws into it repeatedly. The Original even bit her mandibles down around its neck, trying to rip its head off. They managed to make some penetrating wounds before being bucked off, each time leaping once more onto the beast's back, but its hide and fat was simply too great.
Slowly, the Original was beginning to regret engaging this thing with just the four of them, two of which were practically useless. Retreat began to become an option, but as she fought and envisioned what might happened, she kept seeing at least one of them getting eaten.
And so, in desperation, she leapt down from the beast, snatched up a Worker, and as the creature turned to face her and roared, the Original threw the panicking Worker into its mouth with all her strength as if the Worker were a stick. The hope was maybe it would buy them time to escape, and better to lose the weaker member of the group than a strong one in her mind.
Yet things didn't turn out that way. The Worker somehow ended up lodged in the beast's throat, causing it to start spasming and trying to throw the ant up, but it was simply just too small to remove and too large to swallow. What muscles the animal had around its throat were also too weak to crush the thick chitin exoskeleton of the Worker, and so, it slowly suffocated to death.
Bewildered, the Original pulled the still-thrashing Worker out of the dead animal's maw once it stopped moving, and set the panicked ant down. Carving out a piece of meat slowly, the Original handed it to the untouched Worker and then pointed in the direction of the Nest before then pointing at the carcass. The Worker got the gist of it, already knowing from its ancestral millennia of how harvesting corpses too big to move went. The Nest would eat well tonight and for some time to come. Perhaps even enough to manage to successfully hibernate through the rainy season.
The Original Soldier struggles with an Opposing Soldier in a duel to determine who will lead the hunting party.
The hunting party manages to fell a great beast similar to a hippo by desperating throwing a Worker into its open mouth and accidentally suffocating it to death.
The Nest intends to use this food in combination with other food it can collect to attempt to hibernate through the rainy season.
I'd probably have to do some research into the size of say, Europe and North Africa and then do some looking into how long campaigns were. I know a lot of ancient wars lasted years simply due to how long it took just to reach the enemy. I assumed time would move faster after the first year or so.