A Dance, A Duel


Stepping into the clearing, immediately, the sounds of catcalling hit her ears, the sight of dancing caught her eyes. Their brightly colored displays were nothing short of challenges for her attentions and intentions. Oh, how they primped and preened. Yet, they kept their distance, at the edges of the glade. She always thought it funny that the men who desperately fought against one another couldn’t look her in the eye.

She stalked across, eyeing one potential suitor after the next. The days were growing cooler, a grateful break from the oppressive heat of summer. In time, it would be winter, but for now, there would be dancing.

A cool breeze swept through the clearing, and she paused her hunt to lean into it. The wind swept over her, and she sang quietly to herself. It was a tune she’d known all her life, never been taught. The melody simply came to her, like an old friend.

She lazily eyed the men who vied for her attention. They all seemed so small, so submissive, and not simply because she was taller than all of them. In a word, they were submissive. It was as if they thought that would appeal to her. Truth be told, it did, in a way. They recognized her position of power, and set down their egos and aggression. There were no territorial disputes here, for she was no man’s territory. She was her own sovereign nation, these men her subjects.

Did they know what fate held for them? If they did, would they dampen their own raging instincts? She doubted it. After all, she was acting out her own instinctual drive in all of this, just as they were. Those men and she, they were simply doing as their natures demanded.

Ah, there was a possibility.

Further back than the others, she saw him. He was diminutive amongst these little men, true, but there was something in the way he moved that drew her in. Once he noticed her watching, his dancing intensified. She found his efforts rather endearing, and she smiled to herself. There was a sincerity in his movements that she found lacking in the others.

Another breeze swept through, and she let her fragrance be carried off towards him. She saw the exact moment when he caught her scent, saw it in the triumph of his movements, in the jubilation of his posturing. It was sweet, really. She returned his posturing with her own motions, and held a welcoming stance.

Visibly excited, he moved over towards her quickly, nearly skittering, then slowing as he neared her. There was a hint of pleading in his eyes, as if he were worried that she would turn him away at the last moment. Well, he should be worried, even if it was for the wrong reasons. But he didn’t know that just yet.

He bowed before her. So formal, so hopeful. She shared her smile with him, gave him a colorful display of her own to let him know he was her chosen.

He was a rush of movement, then, circling around her, behind her. He sprang up and onto her back, mounting her, followed by furtive squirming and thrusting. She endured him for minutes, and then, disappointingly, he was done.

A certainty struck to her core that she had chosen well. There would be another generation to follow.

She was suddenly ravenously hungry. It ran through her, consumed her. That hunger told her what must come next, and she saw no reason to deny it its due.

Her chosen stirred, moving to dismount. His movements were a desperate plea, begging to escape her now that his role had been played. No. If he wanted to escape, it would take far more than begging. He would have to fight for it.

She turned, quick as panic, and grabbed hold of him. He struggled mightily, all the more impressive for his diminutive size, but it was over before it had begun. She felt him lash out, thrash against her, but only distantly. She was hungry, and he had one more role to play.

Her head snapped forward, jaws open wide. She bit into him, quick little bites, and he stopped struggling soon enough. The hunger within crowed in victory, but she was too starved to bother listening closely. Soon, there was nothing left of him but a few scraps. She ran her tibia over her mandibles, cleaning up any stubborn scraps.

She spread her wings wide, and flapped them in triumph. They carried her away, seeking out a place to lay her eggs that the cycle might continue anew.

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