Thanatyak looked out of the entrance to the hive, gazing off at red sand outside. A warm wind blowed across the rolling dunes, scattering dust into the air.
"Thanatyak, you going to stand there all day?" a rigid voice called out from behind. The purple changeling glanced around and saw his brother Cocoonis, along with his sister Nymphia. Cocoonis was slightly taller than Thanatyak and had a carapace that shone in a brilliant an emerald coloring, a far cry from the typical changeling's ebony colored carapace. Nymphia was the smallest of the three siblings due to her being born a roach rather than a stinger. Her carapace was as red as the sky at sunset. They stood glaring at Thanatyak with more than a hint of irritation in their eyes.
"Oh, shoot," Thanatyak exclaimed. "Its time for training drills, isn't it?"
Nymphia pressed a shook her head, a look of disappointment in her brother on her face. "Yeah, you idiot! If we're late again, Commander Kilik is going to kill us!", The red changeling yelled.
"Come on, Nymphia, let's just go", Cocoonis said to his sister.
Thanatyak put a claw behind his head, "I tried to remember! L-look, I'm sorry. Alright?"
"Not sorry enough", Nymphia mumbled bad temperedly.
The trio made their way through the rocky and eroded halls of the cavernous hive to the training hall, bumping past many soldiers as they raced against time.
They threw open the doors to the training hall and nearly gasped at what they saw. Standing next to their commander was the Queen of the Hive herself.
"Queen Chrysalis!" They exclaimed as they bowed.
The Queen turned to the commander after eyeing the three changelings, inspecting them for any abnormalities or anything else that might have made them undesirable for duty. "Kilik", she began. "Are these three the secret weapons you've been telling me about?"
The commander bowed as he spoke. "Indeed, your majesty. I have crafted them into the perfect dragon killing machines."
"Hmm. And one is only a roach... How old are they, commander?" Chrysalis inquired.
The commander cleared his throat and dusted off his armor. "They were hatched thirteen years ago, your majesty."
The queen glanced back at the three soldiers, observing them very closely. "They are thirteen years old? They should have been on the battlefield for four years by now."
"Your majesty, I have conducted an experiment with this group. Cocoonis! What tool do you use to kill a dragon?"
Cocoonis stepped forward, speaking respectfully at the two superiors currently conversing. "Sir. A sword, sir."
Kilik smiled. "Exactly", he confirmed, turning back to Chrysalis, "Our previous generations have grown up with the idea that weapons are for the weak. Trying to get them to use a blade is like trying to squeeze water from a stone." He informed her in an angry tone. "When a situation arises where a weapon is required, we can't hope that they will somehow toss their pride aside and pick up a blade. For the past fifteen years I have trying to abolish these prejudices by taking a few hatchlings from each brood and training them in the ways of the sword, without exposing them to the biases of the rest of the hive. Now war with the dragons it seems that my work might be ready for field testing."
"If I may interrupt, Commander Kilik", Thanatyak interjected respectfully. "I get the part about the weapons, sir, but that doesn't explain why we haven't been deployed. We've been combat ready for four years and the dragon war has been going on for at least five."
Kilik turned to Thanatyak. "Do not interupt your superiors, Thanatya-"
"I also wish to know, Kilik" Chrysalis said. "Tell me why you haven't played your trump card yet."
The commander looked at the queen and sighed. "To be honest, I had hoped I wouldn't have to." Turning back to the three, "Only a few of my protégés have shown the amount of you three have. It would be a shame to put it to waste by sending you on a suicide mission", Kilik explained. "But after the attack on Titan Outpost, we're going to need every able bodied soldier we can get. You three have more than shown your ability with a blade and your ability to make split-second decisions in the middle of a fight, that's why effective immediately, I'm promoting each of you to the rank of squadron leader."
The three nodded, struggling to contain their excitement in a professional manner. At long last would they be able to join the rest of the hive's military and fight back against the invading dragon menace. They saluted their commanding officer and bowed before their queen, remaining silent until told otherwise.
"Rise", The Chrysalis instructed. Nymphia, Cocoonis and Thanatyak obeyed. "You three will be deployed along with your new squadron, The Wings of Freedom, to Horn Valley in three days time. Kilik will give you a full briefing tomorrow, but for now I merely wish to review the code Kilik has taught you."
The three spoke at once as they bowed her head in unison, "Yes, your majesty,"
Chrysalis turned to Kilik and nodded, giving him the go ahead to proceed. The commander turned to Nymphia. "Nymphia. Recite tenet number one!"
The red changeling stood up straight as she spouted out, "Sir, one cannot win if one does not fight, sir."
One word could be used to describe Nymphia. Soldier. She lived and breathed for the hive. She wanted nothing more than to drive the dragons to extinction for their arrogance and greed, and Kilik knew this.
"Excellent! Cocoonis. Tenet number two!"
Cocoonis locked his emerald eyes on his commander. "Sir, a sword drawn keeps another in it's sheath, sir."
Kilik beamed proudly. Cocoonis had always been a wonder to teach. Obedient, intelligent and a fast learner, perhaps even more so than Nymphia. He was definitely Tip-of-the-Spear material.
"And, now Thanatyak. Tenet number three!"
Thanatyak took a deep breath as he spoke. "Sir, a soldier's life belongs to the hive first and himself second, sir!"
While not as strong or as skilled as Cocoonis or Nymphia, Thanatyak was fast. With a blade in his claws he sliced with lightning speed and a sense of purpose that was almost terrifying. Once he set his mind to it, Thanatyak would do anything to accomplish it. He would fit in well with his new squad.
Commander Kilik beamed at his three students. "Very good. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you see fit. I've sent word to the mess hall to authorize you for your new meal plans and to the rest of the hive to make sure you aren't treated as grunts anymore. Meet me back here tomorrow at o-eight-hundred hours sharp."
"Yes, Sir!" The three soldiers said as they saluted once more before walking away.
Once the three left the Queen and the commander alone, Chrysalis turned to Kilik and spoke. "We have a lot riding on this little experiment of yours, Kilik. Do you honestly think three soldiers are going to turn the tides?"
Kilik sighed as he glanced back at his Queen. "I don't know if they can, Your majesty, only that they must. Besides, I have more than three of these trainees and my engineers are whipping up a nasty surprise for those over grown lizards as we speak."
"I hope your right, Kilik", Chrysalis said somberly. "If not... Papillion help us all."