The Day of the Nuptial Flight
On an alien world of giant insects, Rover strives to be like every other drone and mate with the queen. When he isn’t able to perform his drone duties, he struggles for acceptance and finds friendship and love in an unlikely place—among humans. Along Rover’s journey he finds he holds a key to helping humans overcome their infertility on his planet and offers a solution for uniting his people with the newcomers to his world.
“The Day of the Nuptial Flight” is a 10,000 word science fiction novelette originally published in Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
The Day of the Nuptial Flight
By Sarina Dorie
I will try to use the words a human might understand, for that is what you are and what you will grow up to be, as much as you may be part of my world, too. . . .
The day of the nuptial flight, the sweet, heady pheromones of the mating season filled the tunnels of our underground hive. The queen’s perfume grew stronger, causing me to tremble with longing as I neared the entrance to the above world. I shot out of the tunnel at the base of our tree and into the air, the light blinding. I collided with someone mid-flight, veered off, and smacked into someone else. A thousand scents crashed down upon me: the queen’s trail lingering in the air, the musky odor of drones following her and trying to conceal where she had gone, the undiluted nectar of the flowers, and the powdery poison of mothraflies amidst our flight. My eyes adjusted to the black swarm all around me. It wasn’t just the queen and drones from my hive in this nuptial flight, but all the queens and drones from every hive. I had my pickings of queens, if I could only find one.
The spray of a queen drifted my way in the wind. I set off in a new direction, my wings humming as fast as they would go. Honey sloshed in my gut tube and my thorax cramped with the exertion of flight. My eyes adjusted to the brightness. Below, I spotted the blue iridescence of a queen. Her abdomen was swollen with unfertilized eggs. A male an eighth her size was busily mating with her. I drifted lower, ready to join him. From the shadowy cover of a tri-leaf, an arachnipede barbarian jumped out and caught them both in its mouth. I flitted off, nearly losing my honey at witnessing the disturbing sight.
I ventured farther from my hive, darting about, hoping to catch another queen’s scent. Any queen would do. My body trembled with need, overwhelmed by the sexual charge in the air. I was out of the thick of the swarm, the drones around me growing scarcer, yet the trail of a queen grew stronger. An opalescent purple-blue glinted in the sunlight. I tore through the air after her, gaining speed. Once I caught up, I danced around her, chittering songs of love and devotion:
“Oh, Queen of the Purple-Blue Tribe,
Your youth and beauty are a thousandfold.
I will explode with passion for you.
And when I cease, I will chew off my genitals and become your handmaiden.
If only you’ll have me, if only you’ll have me, if only you’ll have me.”
I landed on her back, my genitals rubbing against her posterior. My exoskeleton rattled with pleasure, jostling the honey in my gut tube, and my abdominal armor slid back as the queen dropped toward the ground.
We descended into the fluff of a purple pollen bed at the center of a giant flower. I regurgitated over her side, pleased to see her lap up my gift without hesitation. Her tail-end lifted into the air. My body shuddered with pleasure as I brought my abdomen down to fertilize the queen. Her musk of desire called me. My armor slid farther back, exposing the entirety of my genitals. The tension in my muscles was too great to hold.