||Home is Where your
Summary of previous part
(read in full here)
Genster and Gloed, Naga
hermaphrodite dragon masters from Zekira have found themselves into
trouble. They're stuck in a cave, far from their ideal habitat, being
assailed by an invisible, intangible rock-swimming creature who loves to
play with it's food. The Naga, being no slouches themselves, have fended
it off for days, but the lack of food, water and sleep is of course
getting to them. There is no help in sight, the locals all know better
than to come close to the cave and there are no dragons close enough for
Genster to use her innate summoning abilities.
But their luck changes when Schub, a reptilian
humanoid enters the cave, hoping to be able to go for a swim (even if he
was warned not to). As a spaceship engineer trainee he is not familiar
with the dangers of this planet. Gloed, thinking their enemy has returned,
knocks him from his feet and the blue-skinned youth loses
consciousness. Just as Schub is waking up, his commanding officer Grash
and communications officer Blad realise that the
third of their crew is missing and go out to look for him. The two older
reptilians are savvy and hardened men who know to look for tranq darts and
to alert the local authorities before venturing into the cave.
After a near escape, the five run for their lives and take off with their
ship, only to be shot by the locals who obviously prefer outsiders to be
eaten by the creature in the cave. The team pull out all the stops (and
some illegally applied boosters) and make it to space. But their ship is
damaged and they need to stop at the next planet over, Erizon. Once there,
the two Naga are given the option to wait for repairs to be made or to
seek their own transportation. As luck would have it, a dragon was close
by and Genster was able to contact it to give them a ride.
The dark shadow of a dragon, passed along and the mythical beast landed a
short distance away. The midnight blue dragon had patches of lighter
colour on his wings, making him look like a map of the stars. This dragon
was clearly bonded as a dark-skinned human descended.
said and introduced himself, "I heard some people wish
Gloed posed herself in front of her deaf sister, intending to take up the
bargaining in her usual act-first-ask-questions-later-style, but it was
Genster who laid the first contact. Turning her attention to the dragon,
Angith, she relayed their story. With her lacking social skills, her story
was crude and full of weird turns. But to Angith it made sense.
"Our job as watchers is to protect others,
is it not?" he asked his rider.
"When we're at home." Ladeyn added.
"It won't take long to bring these girls to
a place where they can further their studies."
Ladeyn shrugged. As usual his efforts to find the Xinaith again had
yielded no success and he might as well humour his dragon. Though to call
the six-armed gorgons "girls" seemed to be a bit of an
understatement to the scientist. He'd seen plenty of alien races over the
years, but most had legs.
Gloed hissed, uncertain about this man's cooperation, she was ready to
take him on. Genster could take hold of his dragon if need be and then
they would be out of here anyway. Once more, Genster stopped her sister
telepathically and assured her that the duo would help them.
"So where were you headed?" Ladeyn asked them.
"Zar" Gloed hissed, drawing out the consonants in a menacing
Ladeyn looked back to Angith and asked: "Do you know it?"
"Do I ever not know a place?"
the Tanzanite-coloured dragon replied.
Ladeyn grinned, knowing his dragon did have an uncanny ability to navigate
as most of his colour did.
"You're in luck ladies, we know of the place." Ladeyn bowed
politely and gestured for the Naga to embark.
An invitation to Balehome
Angith appeared in a purple sky over a desolate landscape with tall spires
that escaped the dangerous gasses below. Though the city was more used to
space travel, there was a place where dragons could land and offload
passengers and goods. It wasn't often used so Angith landed without a wait
and left the Naga.
"My sister tells me to give you her thanks." Gloed mumbled.
"It was my pleasure." Angith
Then Ladeyn and Angith departed and left the Naga to find their own way.
Genster stared at her sister and said: "What now?"
They might have lied a little as Zar had not been where they'd been headed
at all. But then, they hadn't gotten lost because of an accident either.
So Genster could not blame her sister for lying as she'd done the
"The dragon probably realised." Gloed told Genster.
"Angith wouldn't betray us."
Genster was certain of that.
"Well I guess it matters little where they dropped us as long as it's
where we want to be."
"Do we want to be here?"
"No, but we can get to The Refugium from here and from there board a
ship and then we're back on track. We just need to decide which planet to
go to and which dragons to bond."
Her words weren't cold yet when a chitinous dragon appeared next to them.
The Myrmex Warrior Venom had been sent out to look for candidates to bond.
Candidates who were big on family, who would strengthen the line of his
queen and would care for her children.
"If you want to bond, come with me." Venom said.
Genster took a step back, wanting to analyse the Myrmex' words and
intentions, but Gloed was eager to find a place where they could get
strong allies. This warrior bug dragon was nothing if not strong. And if
push came to shove, she could always poison him with her bite or squish
him with her tail since he was delightfully corporeal.
"Take us." Gloed agreed, grabbing her sister's hand and waiting
as they were being teleported across the stars, arriving just outside a
The day had come, and Malice had little attention to spare for those who
had been brought to witness the birth of his children. Some of them were
kin, Balechildren such as himself, and them he had been glad to welcome.
The rest… not so much, though he respectfully admitted he was impressed
that Venom had found so many to bring to the caverns, herself. Perhaps he
saw nothing on his own to be very impressed by, but if his children chose
them — well, then they would know better than he. They would have felt
the call of a bond.
He felt it himself, moving among the shifting, glistening shapes of the
eggs. He did not yet know who they were, but the bond of ‘hive’ was
upon them all. Their thoughts had grown from formless things, to whispers,
to murmurs, and now to a chorus upon the Mindstream.
They would be Balespawn, for they had to be, but their minds would be
forever within reach of his own no matter how far they might end up
roaming with their bonds, their future hives. This delighted him to the
very core of his being: as a father, as xenomorph, as a Balespawn. Their
every note was distinct and he had already memorized every one.
As for his Queen…
Paroxysm was vaguely unsettled, but also committed. No longer banned from
the chambers as he had been, Malice had been able to watch the transition
in her demeanour as the days went by and the unborn lives within their
shells matured, bringing the day of their birth ever closer. He knew this
was not her first clutching. He knew she could tell this clutch was going
to be different from all of those she’d had before.
He could understand her feeling distaste, sensing and knowing that these
children would be Balespawn rather than Myrmex, but it was by that that
Malice would uphold his promise: they would be strong, they would survive,
and they would thrive.
Then it turned out that he was wrong.
There was no formal gathering, no ceremonious organization. Between the
heaps of eggs glistening in the light of the glowing mosses and fungi were
mounds of food, ready for his offspring to consume. Corpses, mostly: prey
hunted from the fields and forests of Balehome, none of it prepared any
more than by Viscous’s sharp claws, leaving gashes torn in the hide for
the impending hatchlings to better feed from. There were fruits and
vegetables in piles too, not all of it fresh, and the scent of old blood
and early rot mingled their coppery-and-sweet odours into the damp, earthy
smells of the brood chamber.
Paroxysm stayed at the back of it, her constant place of repose, but she
still lifted her head at the very same moment that Malice turned his own,
just before the first sounds of a hard crack among the liquid churning.
::If you would bond my children, then you must come now,::
telepathic voice commanded, reaching to those that Venom had brought for
her. Side chambers had been hollowed out for guests to use as they saw
fit, while others had opted for temporary wooden shelters erected outside
of the mountain: out of the cool earth, under the warm sun, but shrouded
by the thorny and often-toxic plantlife of Balehome.
Malice’s own sending was warmer, more encouraging, directed to those who
were either xeno-kin or Balechildren. ::My children are coming!::
them. ::Come quickly, come meet them!::
The drone Viscous already hovered in the air over the egg, the fore-half
of something that might have begun life as a rabbit dangling from their
jaws. They dropped it as the dome of the egg shattered, and a small
earthy-brown snout snapped at it as the piece of prey fell. The weight of
it dragged the hatchling the rest of the way through their egg in a mess
of glossy shards and luminous liquid as it pounced ravenously upon its
first meal — and Malice stared.
He might not have had eyes the way many other creatures would have, but he
could see still, and he saw the form of his child. It looked very little
like him but very much like its mother: six-legged, insect-like, with a
fat, abdomen-like tail. It had no wings and its body was layered with
plates and joins of chitin. There were more spikes upon its young body
compared to those of any of the three adult Myrmex in the chamber, but
otherwise it resembled them completely.
Had he been wrong? Was it possible to be wrong? How could Myrmex blood
overpower that of his Grandmother-Goddess? It was impossible!
He strode closer. His firstborn child didn’t look up at him, indifferent
entirely towards his presence, tearing its first meal into bloody chunks
and swallowing them whole. It was left up to Malice himself to lean in and
note the glowing green-on-red eyes his child held squinted as it thrust
its head into the rabbit’s body cavity to get the best of the viscera
— and what he had taken for a simple green bioluminescence at the end of
its antennae finally shed enough of its egg-goo to sputter, sizzle, and
finally burst into the bright green flames of balefire.
More and more, the eggs were breaking apart. Viscous moved hurriedly there
and about, excitedly dropping food into gaping maws and ushering the
grubblings towards the heaped mounds where they could find more. Even
where the dim and shadows of the cavern were long and dark, Malice could
see green-on-red eyes and the embers of fledgling balefires.
Could it be? Did the crossing of Myrmex and Balespawn mean a perfect—
::Union!:: suddenly chimed the child at his feet, looking up at him with
their bright eyes and bloodied face before amending, ::No, Amalgam!
Amalgam Balechild! That’s me!::
He felt their little mind thread through his, even closer than the
connections of the Mindstream, and finally understood.
And all around him, similar connections were occurring. These little
minds, these perfect beings, were finding the ones they matched, the ones
they wanted. They were Balespawn and Myrmex, completely. Neither had
overpowered the other and instead they had combined perfectly, like two
mighty rivers merging as their paths swept them towards the sea.
Malice gathered little Amalgam up and set his child upon his back, folding
his wings in such a way to make sure the grubbling was secure and wouldn’t
be falling off his side, and handed food over his shoulder so that they
could keep feeding. Then he began to move, as Viscous still was, striding
among the mounds of heaped eggs and heaped meals and the growing numbers
of his hungry children, helping them find appropriate things to eat.
Many of the eggs lay still, their translucent shapes very empty when he
cast his balefire light over them. He could not say he was comfortable
with the sight of grubbling smashing in these never-live eggs to slurp up
the nutrient rich insides, but not once did he identify worse than that.
Cannibalism may have been an ordinary fact of birth to the Myrmex, but
Malice would tolerate no such thing. Balespawn did not turn against
Balespawn. Hive should never turn against hive.
Amalgam was the first grubbling upon his back, but not the last. As he did
his circuits, others took notice of him, called to him, tried to climb up
his long legs as their minds settled in with his as well, deeper and
closer than even the Mindstream — and with each one, he felt another
presence grow stronger against his thoughts as well. Following it, he made
his way nearer to his beautiful Queen, his Paroxysm, and for the first
time ever the warrior at her side did not fend off his approach. Venom
seemed mollified, in fact, her body language remarkably free of the
resentment and distrust that had marked their every interaction thus far.
::You are hive now,:: was Venom’s simple declaration as he briefly
regarded her. It seemed the thriving brood around them, now that they had
broken shell and proved their viability, was all that was necessary to
relax the warrior’s demeanour towards him.
He looked to Paroxysm. She, too, had a number of grubblings clustered to
her sides and gorging on food dragged over from the nearest piles. (After
all, a hive could not rebuild if all her offspring went off with those
they had bonded.) If there was anything like affection in her gaze now, it
was of a possessive kind only. He had proven his worth.
::They are not Myrmex as Myrmex always have been,
but they are strong and they are many,:: agreed his Queen, her
thoughts resting at the fringe of his. It wasn’t a bond, not properly,
but it was still a connection more solid than it was tenuous — a growing
tangle of threads through the connection of their offspring. ::My
species will survive, even if it must be in the form of these
She paused a moment, then regarded him with certainty.
::We will have to make even more.::
Malice gazed at her with the fondness allowed to him, then back at the
milling throng throughout the brood chamber will a swell of fatherly
::Yes,:: he agreed. ::We will.::
Genster and Gloed had taken up residence outside of the
cave, preferring the bright, warm sun over the cool dank of the cave.
Especially given their previous adventure. The venomous plantlife was a
bit bothersome but nothing the two of them couldn't handle with their
abilities. Genster had been using her command ability to get some of the
other dragons to bring them food and water though she had not dared to try
her luck on the servants of the queen Myrmex seeing as that could land
them in considerable trouble. She was mostly content to stick to their
little shelter and wait while Gloed hunted.
At first Gloed had had to defend their shelter from other candidates,
onlookers and just beings that resided there. But soon the potential
threats had learned of her foul temper and poisonous fangs and they were
mostly left alone. That suited both Naga just fine. Time progressed until
the telepathic messages from the Myrmex Queen, Paroxysm, and the Balespawn
Xeno sire, Malice, came to urge them toward the cavern.
Descending into the dark, cool cavern sent their hearts into a frenzied
rhythm but as they entered a large cavern their fear was replaced by a
careful excitement. All around them newly hatched dragons were eating,
clawing, glowing. Their eyes were red and green, their insectoid bodies
covered in the green balefire.
Their psionic senses picked up the hivemind and made them a bit
disoriented as a wave of different voices reached them in a single
instant. It took a while for the two of them to single out those that were
important, those that would be their family. But they managed.
The harmony among the cacophony of the hivemind of
dozens of young grubblings had no less than four bright notes sing out
loudest of all towards the pair of Zekiran naga, all of them scattered
about the chamber rather than grouped in any one place in particular.
One after the other, a little mind reached out. It touched just one of the
naga first, truly not mattering which, because from there it jumped along
the psionic connection Genster and Gloed shared to find whichever sister
had been initially missed. The two of them together served as anchor
points to around which a whole new web of minds was spun, shoring up their
psychic walls and offering some more private respite from the general
babble around them.
::Let's agree right now that you won't try to
command any of us alright?:: said the first dark shape to peel
their way out of the shadows of the brood chamber: a brown of various
blotched shades, they seemed.
Genster smiled mysteriously, not making promises but
she did send:
"I can call for you when I'm in trouble no? As you can call for
It felt strange to the light-coloured naga to share her thoughts with
someone other then her sister. But she felt like the change would be one
for the better.
Gloed meanwhile kept her eyes on the surrounding grubblings, she did not
have the command ability anyway and she very much wanted to see more of
the grubbling that had spoken and the others that were approaching. She
strained her ears though they would not help her locate them. Genster
lightly touched her sister's shoulder and pointed at her mind. She even
went as far as to close her eyes, shutting off one of her main senses to
make room for the psychic connection.
Gloed decided she would keep up her guard then, they were supposedly safe,
but she would never make a mistake regarding their safety again.
::Calling is much different
from commanding,:: the brown was willing to agree, coming to a stop
in front of Genster, head craned back to look up the naga's long body and
meet their regard evenly.
::I'm Wary. It's my name, I mean, but a family has to be able to trust
So saying, they too began to scan the room around them with their eyes,
joining Genster in keeping watch as Gloed closed hers.
A couple of yellow grubblings peeled out of the dim from opposite
directions. One was curiously speckled with red and blue, confetti-like,
racing in and calling, ::It's me, it's me, it's
Glare, it's me!:: before pouncing on the end of Gloed's tail, like
a kitten just discovering yarn.
The other was more simply coloured, their yellow fading to pale green on
all their extremities. They sat near Wary, saying, ::Finally,
some people worth this Fer-de-Lance's time. I was afraid I'd have to
settle for staying with mother and father, but you two... you two are
That left just one note of the mind-web unaccounted for, slowly and slowly
making their way from the far side of the chamber, judging by the touch of
Genster wondered if she should go toward the
approaching link, but it was a veritable chaos-fest with grubblings
crawling, eating and getting bonded. Meet, fruit and vegetables, some
fresh, some rotting, were scattered everywhere. Leaving Gloed to guard the
other three was maybe not enough. So Genster sent out soothing and
encouraging thoughts to the last grubbling that would be joining
Gloed meanwhile was already sizing up the three with them. Glare might be
a bit boisterous for her tastes, but Wary seemed like they would become a
level-headed companion. Fer-de-Lance would hopefully fall in line, but if
the yellow-green grubbling liked them, then hopefully there wouldn't be
::I'm coming~:: came the
answering thought as the last of the grubblings arrived in the sisters'
company at last. They were distinctly green with some striking brown
markings, including some mask-like sweeps over their eyes, becoming
evident as they wove through the crowded brood chamber.
This last grubbling plopped down in front of Genster, mouth briefly gaping
in a yawn that showed sharp (if small) teeth as they got cozy, leaning
against her coils. ::I'll be... Viper,:: they
decided. ::Thanks for waiting~::
Gloed visibly relaxed now that everyone was close by and safe.
"Let's eat and then go home." Genster shared mentally,
doing her best to touch all of their hivemembers with her hands, tail and
body in an attempt to do a group hug. Awkwardly, Gloed joined in.
Continue to the Hive
Stats: GENSTER - GLOED
The Balespawn-Myrmex were adopted at Balehome.
Credits: all background images and
reptilian pictures found with google.