All of the hatchlings became Scentless now. They all hatched with the same poisoned scent, all born with stubby wings, all died within a Sun Cycle. More sisters had fled the nest with the scent of terror-confusion-fear-distress and never returned. Little was still the only one who could taste the poison and smell the infected sisters. Other sisters just knew that hatchlings were dying and thought that Sisters were being called to Sky-World, many never to return.
I must tell Mother, Little scent-sang to She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. I must tell Mother that our sisters are fleeing to Sky-World and not coming back. They are not being Called. They are not leaving to forage. They are fleeing from something…
Disturbing Mother is against the Rules, sang She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless.
It is the Apple Life Liquid, Little sang. I’m certain! And the Apple Life Powder too. Sisters drink the Apple Life Liquid, they become sick and flee; hatchlings are fed Life Powder and they are born deformed and sick and they become scentless. I must tell Mother!
Before She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless could protest, Little followed the scent of rose-rain-rimmed-with-flame. She climbed and climbed up the cocoons and nectar pots and when the scent was strong she new she was very close to Mother.
Suddenly sour prickles scattered through Mother’s scent: G-g-G-G-g-g-g-G–Get….###…o-O-o-out…
(Terror-fear-shock-fear!) No, Mother! Little scent-screamed. No! Don’t leave!
Leave? She is not leaving, a Sister sang. What is the matter? No one disturbs Mother!
But she is sick! She will leave!
The sister bunted Little with her body. Stay away from Mother or you will get the Stab!
Little froze. Stabs were never used with sisters. Stabs were used only to protect Mother or to protect oneself in Sky-World.
You are the same Sister who chewed through pots, sang the Sister. Leave! Leave Mother alone! Follow the Rules!
The Sister bunted and pushed Little and she tumbled over other sisters who were sitting on cocoons. Little stood up at the bottom of the hill of nectar pots and cocoons and scanned the air for the scent of the Sister, but she was not near. Then she scanned the air for She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless.
Maybe she is taking a Scentless sister to Sky-World? Little skittered over to the tunnel leading to Sky-World. She climbed up the tunnel until her eyes stung with the blast of COLOURS AND LIGHT. She smelled a faint waft of the dreaded terror-confusion-fear-distress (Get-out-ggg###–ett##outtt>>>!!!) She tried not to drown in panic as she scrambled after the scent trail. Then Little saw She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless, a few bee lengths ahead, scuttling farther and farther away through the grass blades. Too far away. She never went this far.
Wait, wait! Little Scent-screamed. It is me, your Little! Don’t go! Wait for me! Little buzzed her wings, lifted off the ground slightly, and zipped ahead. She landed a few bee-lengths in front of She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. The terror-confusion-fear-distress from She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless smelled stronger and burned Little’s antennae. Please don’t go, please don’t go! Little approached her when suddenly She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless pounced.
STAB! STAB! STAB!
Little frantically dodged the stabs and untangled herself from She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. She scuttled back. Each stab had released a pungent scent of KILL-terror-DEATH-terror-KILL-TERROR-TERROR! It made Little’s stomach squeeze and her brain scramble. She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless stood still, a cloud of fear-exhaustion-confusion-fear surrounding her.
It was me, Little softly sang. Why did you try to Stab me? (Confusion-devastation-fear-fear-abyss-of-unknown…)
I don’t know, sang She-Who-Takes-the-Scentless. (Fear-exhaustion-confusion-fear…) I…I don’t remember.
Please don’t leave, sang Little.
Leave? Why would I leave, my Lovely Little?
Both of their scents smelled slightly more peaceful.
Let us return to the nest, sang She-Who-Takes-The-Scentless. There is much work to be done.