Overwhelmed. Too much was happening too fast. The one known as Ch’loi did not know how to react. One’s primary purpose had been to preserve the life of one’s guide. One had taken the secondary purpose of preserving the life of the child. These mysterious benefactors had provided security and aid to one, the guide and the child. One owed them a debt of thanks. One added them to one’s circle of preservation and purpose.
“The circle must go,” Ch’loi told the man and the woman.
“What?” Only the man could answer and but weakly. The woman was distraught over it’s infant’s husk.
“Bring one’s kin, there is much danger here. Hurry.”
“What are you talking about?” the man asked.
“Those which drank the infant are… imminent.” The man made no move. One would have to compel the circle to move. “Hey! Let go of-“ Ch’loi grabbed the man and the woman together, nearly throwing them out the door, “Child, come!” The child thankfully, responded. “Take the man and woman outside, keep in the open, keep in the light. Wait for One there.”
“One will bring the guide when one comes, if one is able. Go.” The child took the man and woman by the clothes and pulled them down the stairs. The one known as Ch’loi shut the door, drew the long knife one had taken from the kitchen on the way upstairs and looked up into the darkness overhead. “One is aware of the Harvester’s presence. To remain hidden is irrelevant.” It unfolded itself from its hiding place, a thin, spidery shadow among shadows and dropped to the floor in a crouch but it did not attack. It simply waited, anxious and maybe a bit afraid. “One drank the infant?” The harvester chopped once in the harvester sign language for yes. “Is one a scout?” Again the chop. “Yet one has the reek of kinslayer.” There was a slight bowing of the head. Shame. “Has one betrayed one’s kin?” An aggressive slash! No! “Has one.. betrayed one’s Factor?” Chop-yes. So this harvester had rebelled against the hive order but felt as if it had not betrayed its kin. Its… sisters. The word came suddenly to Ch’loi. It caught her by surprise. It rushed into her mind like those first words of the Firemaker so long ago! It caught in Ch’loi’s mind with barbed meaning and sharp memories. It stuck. It tore. It hurt.
“Did you…” she wanted to ask, why? Why have you become kinslayer-betrayer? But how to put that into a binary series of questions. “Are one’s kin with one?” Slash-no. “Imminent?” Yes. “Is one’s… Factor imminent?” Chop, chop, chop! Yes, yes, yes! Ch’loi felt the cold prickling of an old familiar fear. “How many?” The Kinslayer knocked it’s footbone against the floor. Thud,
thud. Seven. Yahweh have mercy! Seven Factors imminent! A swarm! Given a large enough food source it would become a new hive!
And it was here in Aedlin.