Amateur Astronomers

a webnovella by Jack L. Montgomery


The Aculeatians. Their Matriarch stands at 22 feet tall. Her drones, around 15’. Large petal-like plumes and a golden mane around their queen’s head gives the impression of a halo. She has four eyes and four large twisting antennae--both a green so vibrant it makes those that glance into them feel poisoned and irradiated. She has terribly large mandibles, large enough to crush the skull of any other beast on this side of the solar system. Five rows of teeth line both of these horrible incisors, and her deadly mouth creeps up her pink face all the way up to the large curled horn placed in the center of her exoskeletal skull. Though her mouth lays vertical on her face, a rare one-in-a-million chance survivor will swear they saw her mouth curl into a smile while she tore apart their homes with ease. This could, in part, be due to her ability to morph her shape into any terrible thing that she pleases. Her thorax is tall and arches upwards, further helping her look down upon her subjects and those at her mercy. Four pairs of forelegs: Plumed coxas on the top pair, though not on the bottom. Long spiked femurs and tibias on both. If you’re unfortunate enough to have your planet spotted by these invaders, these lethal yet somehow beautiful appendages are usually the last thing you see. Pink hairs travel all down her thorax, femurs, and abdomen. Four hindlegs hold her up high off the ground. One pair of her tarsus curls inwards, pointed with a single claw. This talon is not to be underestimated of course. The other pair arches upwards and then down, and sports didactyly chelas. Not only are these limbs good at carrying this grim reaper of sorts across the metropolises she turns to cities of blood, but are also well suited for throwing the rubble and the bodies out of her way as she tears through more and more of the galaxy. At the bottom of her abdomen rests the stinger that her horrible species is named for. It injects a toxin so fatal it dissolves skin, blood, bones, organs... In a matter of seconds, it turns a living thing to nothing. A puddle. A bubbling, liquid mass, unidentifiable. A sight to behold. A truly horrifying sight to behold. Thankfully, most people targeted by these galactic parasites die to other aspects of their anatomy before they have to meet this fate. Her drones lack much of her plumage and color, and only sport two eyes and antennae rather than four. One less pair of forearms as well. Their horns, mandibles, and stingers are significantly smaller than the Matriarchs, though they’re still a horrible blight on any planet. They have larger wings than their matron, circling around her like a shield of ophanim worshiping their higher power. Their buzzing (the language of these horrible beasts) can be heard several days before their inevitable arrival. It grows louder day by day. It starts as a low hum, like a song. But louder it grows, until it becomes unbearable. It creates a buzzing unable to be drowned out. A limbo before the hell. They’re invaders. Colonizers. They infest planets and suck them dry before leaving them a husk of what they once were. They’ve been dubbed the apex predators of all the nebulas. They’re also called New Jerusalem’s locusts. All you can do when you hear them is pray. And now, they were on the horizon.