The barren plains of the Poan steppe stretched out below the two cavers. They were crouched down on an outcrop of exposed grey rock nestled into the wedge of a lengthy escarpment. Their view of the impending battle was perfect.

“Looks like there will be plenty of meat for the taking when they’re through with each other.” The larger of the two said, spit drooling from its mouth in long sticky tendrils.

“Yes.” The second agreed, “The Queen will be pleased when she hears of this.”

“How considerate of them to host this gathering outside our front door.” The first said, a chuckle bubbling out from its throat.

“What should we do now?”

“I am going to stay here and observe.” The first replied, “You are going to report back to the hive and update the Order. Workers will need to be deployed quickly if we want to reap this bounty of flesh.”

The second caver grunted in response and bounded off in the direction of the hive entrance.

 

The hive is a massive underground network of caves and tunnels carved deep into the bedrock of the Earth. It is the home of a unique race of mutated humans, known as ‘cavers’ to the Poan and Wreghan cultures. The cavers survived the Purge simply by virtue of being underground when it happened. This race of men, originally gold and uranium miners, elected to stick to what they knew and converted to a subterranean life. Over the course of millenia they adapted to and expanded the harsh mining environment, becoming almost unrecognisable as humans. Having no natural predators and a significant imbalance in the ratio of males to females, (on the order of a thousand to one) they evolved an almost insect like reproductive strategy. The role of the few   women in early caver society became simply to breed, with gestation periods reducing relatively sharply, eventually hovering around the two month mark. New born babies were cared for in much the same way that a bee colony cares for its young. Incubated in specially constructed compartments while being fed and cleaned by workers. The parallels with insect culture do not end there.

Due to a quirk in the genetic make-up of the caver women, the vast majority of children born to them are infertile females with perhaps one in every two thousand children being male. It only took a few generations for the gender balance to be reversed and now females vastly outnumber males. All children except the males are raised to be one of two classes. Workers or hunters. On the rare occasion that a female begins to develop sexually she is transferred to the queens gallery, a vast, almost cathedral-like space within the hive that houses the other breeding females. The breeding females are cared for by a small army of mid-wife workers. Their role is to clean and feed the queens ensuring that they receive an optimum calorie intake to support the almost industrial level of child production. Each queen is capable of  bringing to term anywhere between ten and fifty children at a time.

The queens, having nothing much to do besides eat and squirt out babies, developed an advanced level of shared consciousness that in effect gave them a single, highly intelligent mind. When cavers refer to their ‘Queen’ they are in fact referring to this vastly superior intellect that orchestrates all of the cavers subterranean activities. The male caver no longer serves any useful purpose beyond the provision of semen to the queens. They are kept segregated from the queens and the rest of the caver population by specially selected workers in a kind of reverse harem. The harem workers keep the males in a perpetual state of arousal, milking them periodically to provide a steady supply of semen to newly ovulating queens.

 

The remaining caver turned back to the checker board tableau of armies maneuvering below her. She licked her lips in anticipation.

“The Queen will feast well tonight.”

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