Running from your past never works, especially when it's hunting you down.
Former yellowjacket queen, Balsa, has taken refuge with her cousin Juniper after the destruction of her own home by the legendary beemen. When other yellowjacket cities disappear, Balsa must choose between her oath of secrecy and her duty to Juniper's children. But the beemen have other plans, and Balsa's choice is not among them.
"I am Ash," the stranger, a cousin not of Juniper's city, trumpeted. "You hunt in Dogwood territory."
Balsa glared up at Ash. "Your queen rules one of the outer cities. This territory belongs to the inner cities. Begone."
"That ant belongs to me." Ash dived in, grabbing at a piece of the ant.
Balsa furiously swatted the smaller cousin-stranger aside. "Hunt elsewhere, fool. I have children to feed."
Ash struggled back to her feet, ready to attack. Then hesitated, finally noticing Balsa's bigger bulk and heraldry. The cousin-stranger bobbed her head briefly. "Forgive me, Majesty. I did not realize... I will hunt elsewhere."
Loss chopped through Balsa's heart as Ash flew away. So many lost opportunities, every chore a reminder of what she could have had, should have had. The dead ant lay on the ground beneath her. Food for Juniper's children, not her own.
Her dreams had been shattered, hope stolen in the dark of sleep-time. She'd left the remnants of memory scattered across the gaping burrow that had once been home. Or so she'd thought, until Willow had that very morning brought word of cities vanished in the sleep-time. Cities that left behind the twined scents of hot metal and acrid emptiness, the taste of near-death.
Willow's description left little doubt in Balsa's mind that the Beemen had returned.
Long and Short of It
Review: How would you react if no one heeded to your warning? Balsa knows the beemen are coming again but cannot get anyone in the hive…