Writing Prompt inspired
You‘re a lone black ant on a desperate mission. In your mandibles, you clutch the last hope of your small and struggling colony - a crumb of borax laced food. You’re trying to smuggle it into the guarded food chambers of the vicious red queen ruling over her invading army of invasive fire ants.
A trail of crimson pitter-pattered in the wake of the daubed ant. To the observant and to those who were not overly focused on the strict chemical trails marking the swiftest route to from different areas of the colonies, a blood-red dripping ant would have been an alarming sight. And yet Juniper, wiped an arm across his eyes and blinked through his clever cover-up disguise. Hah! No one had even given him a second glance yet! Even if he had been leaving treacherous puddles whenever he stood still for a moment too long!
The Ants of the Fire, for all of their fighting prowess, had little in the way of security. The dark ant had been fully briefed about the dangers of immediate and severe scorching death that this mission implied, about how this particular colony had a signature deterrent of sending piles of ash to the doorstep of any nearby colony, as a warning to stay away and for them mind their own business. But where was the death and danger?! Perhaps, Juniper mused; as he sauntered into the seed storage unit without even tapping in the antennae access codes, it was a national holiday? The Queen’s birthday? A celebration of the birth of her millionth larvae?
“Juniper to base, can you hear me?”
A sloshing red hand reached up and adjusted his antenna, just a tug this way and a little that…Ah hah! A familiar crackle and blipping resounded in his mind, announcing: ‘Antennae Frequencies. Prisma on duty’. Juniper felt his shoulders sag a little in disappointment, he was here, on the eve of his colonies triumph and Prisma was on duty to guide him towards victory?
“Juniper here, I have the Bo-Rax, well, I decided that carrying it in my mouth, given what it is, wasn’t the smartest of ideas! But listen to this Prisma, this place is barely being protected! Do you have any idea of what is going on?”
Prisma was aging, as far as ant years were concerned, and some may even have whispered among themselves that he was not fit to stand at his post on the Antennae Frequencies. What if he keeled over and died while on duty? They would ponder aloud, sometimes in his presence. Or, do you know, he spends more of his shift in the restroom than anything else? Prisma was ancient, he was knowledgeable, he had lived through many invasions. And… he was well and truly absent from his station.
“I have to say, the red dye is working a treat too! I have passed off as an Ant of the Fire at every turn. ” As he said this, Juniper swept an arm, spattering the walls of the seed chamber with evidence of his deception. “Prisma? Prisma, do you read me? I am going to take advantage of this lull and make it towards the Queen’s chambers myself. A hand-delivered morsel!”
As he spoke, the infiltrator began preparing a seed platter, he moved quickly, plucking large striped seeds, small purple husks, even the odd berry that twinkled at him enticingly. Until he had formed a mountain of precariously wobbling food, at the center of which was the hidden Bo-Rax offering.
It was no secret that the Fire queen was a gluttonous creature, who probably would gobble down the entire platter and then, with trembling jowls, she would demand to know where the rest of the dozen platters were.
No matter, Queenie. This will be your last meal!
“Prisma, I needed some directions, the layout here is not what I was expecting” Juniper had stopped long enough to realize that his disembodied guide was not anywhere near the Antennae Frequencies. How on earth had this been allowed?! This was a mission that was going to take down the Ants of the Fire and he had been left to fend for himself? His colony was small, feeble even, but surely there was someone else-- anyone else who could talk him through his attempt at bringing down this colony?
“Alright, Juniper. Just you and me, I suppose!”
With the tray balanced like an expert server, the heavily painted ant stepped out of the seed room, and into the less than bustling corridor of the Fire Colony. A handful of red ants moved past him, rushing with a sense of urgency and almost knocking the poisonous platter out of his hands.
“What’s the rush, fellas--” The first rule of being an undercover ant, was not to draw attention to yourself. Be it through dripping rivers of red, or yelling out of turn. But an almost stumble, and a downward glance stopped him from speaking further.
At his feet, lay the body of an armored Fire Guard. Thick as he was tall, and built as if nothing in the world could possibly take him down. And yet, there he was, twitching and frothing at the mouth. Juniper tried not to look at the lolling gaze, and carefully stepped over the body. Surely someone would be there to clear up the body--
Or perhaps several.. dozen?
Juniper visibly paled, as if it were possible through his rapidly dripping disguise All around him, in this mess hall, laid slumped at their food stations, midway through their meals, gurgling in the most horrifying manner, were bodies of the fire ants.
Had there been a massacre? An illness that was ripping through this colony? Maybe it was time to abort-
But then, the sirens rang out. And the wailing. “The Queen has been killed! Killed!” And the thumpthumping of footsteps of whatever scramblement of Fire Guards that remained. “Look for intruders!”
Juniper froze, suddenly feeling less than disguised. Someone had delivered the Bo-Rax before him and had most likely escaped. And here he was, in a disguise that was failing him, in the nest of the Fire.
“Prisma! The mission is being aborted! I need to get out--”