Wikus spent two days relearning how to speak and walk. Luckily for him, he wasn’t an infant and already knew the language, the meaning of the words, and how everything sounded, he just needed to know how to make the sound with his new mouth. Once he learned how to make the actual clicking noises, it didn’t take long to connect certain clicks into making words which meant that he was back to being his whiny self in a new body.
Although Wikus didn’t leave his shack much, due to the growing group of prawns outside of it, he was still shaky on his new legs and was often forced to lean on Samuel when attempting to walk around in the small space his home provided. Something about his knees going the opposite way still made his steps uncertain as he felt unbalanced without support. He also was very unused to his new, smaller arms and was working out how to control them.
His body was aching all the time and all over which made him more irritable than usual. He honestly didn’t know why Samuel put up with his whining and abuse, since Wikus would often take out his frustrations and anger while re-learning everything on the prawn verbally or with smacks to his arm. Although it never seemed like Wikus’ hits had any effect on the prawn so he suspected that he had not inherited the prawns’ known strength. He was as strong as he had been when he was a white, skinny man.
“My queen,” Samuel interrupted as Wikus read a scrap of newspaper aloud, simply for the practice. “Word has spread that MNU has returned to clear out the district and transport us to the new district.”
Wikus felt his stomach, or whatever organ he now had that acted in the same way as a stomach would, turn at the sound of MNU. “Do you think I’m in danger?” He instantly felt dread well up inside him. He couldn’t handle running away from MNU again. He had barely escaped from them the first time.
“I would not let any danger happen to you, my queen, nor would any of your other subjects.” Samuel insisted.
“But I don’t have a name or a number,” Wikus pointed at the imprint on the side of Samuel’s head. “Won’t MNU try to take me away? Should I try and hide?”
“No, no, hiding would be bad. You could get left behind.” Samuel shook his head. “Not all the prawns have these,” he pointed to the imprint. “They will just assume that you were skipped over like others.” Samuel took the few steps over to the mattress and sat down next to Wikus. “I promise that this transition will go smoothly for you, my queen.” He began to rub at Wikus’ antennas as he had taken accustom to doing in the past few days when Wikus would complain about everything hurting.
Instant pleasure began to roll throughout Wikus’ body starting from the tips of his antennas down to his newly formed feet. Wikus closed his eyes and made a happy clicking noise in the back of his throat. He had been so surprised the first time Samuel had touched his antenna and made him feel so good but Wikus had figured it was something like a back massage; a soothing gesture to relax the body. And since he found himself to feel completely boneless after Samuel would rub up and down his antennas for a few minutes, Wikus really never had the energy to question Samuel why it felt so good.
“Your antennas are beautiful, my queen,” Samuel clicked quietly to Wikus as he continued to gently run up and down the antennas. He rubbed a bit harder at the bottom and Wikus felt his entire body jerk spontaneously at the pleasure.
“Oh,” Wikus clicked happily as he moaned and leaned into the touch as much as he was able to.
Samuel slid closer and eased one hand off to rub at Wikus’ leg as he continued with his other hand to stroke his antenna. “My queen,” Samuel nuzzled into Wikus’ neck as the hand on his leg trailed closer to between Wikus’ slightly parted legs.
Wikus jerked as he felt Samuel’s longest finger-tendril touch something between his legs. Quickly standing, Wikus moved away from Samuel’s hands, but too quickly and found himself stumbling for a second before he caught himself against a wall. “What the fuck was that?” He yelled at the prawn.
“Were you not enjoying yourself, my queen?” Samuel asked carefully.
“I, that’s not what I was asking! You, you fuckin’ touched me.” Wikus accused. He knew that prawns were hermaphrodites and was aware that he was now as well, but he still had not explored his newly attained areas and honestly had no plans of doing so.
“You have not had a problem with me touching you for the past few days, my queen.” Samuel answered.
“Well, yeah, but that’s ‘cause I didn’t know that what you were doing was supposed to be, well, uh, sexual.” Wikus stuttered out. He crossed his arms over his chest, suddenly realizing that he had been unknowingly molested for the past few days.
“I meant no discomfort, my queen; I only wished to please you.” Samuel protested.
“Pleasure me, is more like it.” Wikus spat.
“Yes, that too.” Samuel nodded.
Wikus spluttered, not expecting the honesty to his accusation. “What?”
“You are not in season yet, but you will be soon, my queen, and I do not want you to be startled by what the process is once your season hits.” Samuel explained.
“My season?” Wikus asked, confused.
“Your mating season,” Samuel clarified. “It is why MNU wants to move us before it begins.”
If Wikus was still able to pale he would be as white as a ghost. He had forgotten that prawns had mating seasons. It had been common information that all agents of MNU knew but it had never mattered much aside from explaining why there were more eggs discovered during certain months of the year.
“Oh fuck.” Wikus murmured as he gripped his face. Why did the universe hate him so much? Was he just a lot of fun to torture or something? Was his life some sort of entertainment for some crazy higher beings? It seemed like it.
“Was I going too fast, my queen? I was trying to take it slowly with you. That is why I was only touching your antennas for the first few times. I am sorry if I startled you with my sudden actions.” Samuel apologized. “I did not mean to upset you. But you seemed like you could use something pleasurable in your life right now.”
Wikus shifted from one foot to the other. It had felt really good and it had made him forget about his worries brought on by the sudden news of MNU returning. “I just don’t think I’m ready for that yet.” He didn’t think he’d ever be ready for it, honestly. “In fact, I don’t think I want you touching my antennas either.”
Samuel nodded his head, easily accepting the answer. “I will wait until you are ready then, my queen, and not pressure you.”
“Thanks,” Wikus peered out of the small window of their shack. The sun would still be up for a few more hours. “I want to leave the shack for a bit. I’ve been in here for two days straight and I think it’s making me go stir-crazy.”
“I will accompany you.” Samuel offered as he stood and headed for the door, holding it open for Wikus.
Wikus nodded his thanks as he stepped out into the arid environment. He squinted his eyes and didn’t even acknowledge the group of prawns staring at him as he headed off in search of nothing in particular. He had become too accustomed to large groups following him everywhere. Wikus decided to scavenge just for the sake of having something to do and also so he wouldn’t have to make awkward small talk with Samuel.
“What are you looking for, my queen?” Samuel asked as Wikus began to move some garbage around.
“Nothing really, just hoping to find some metal or something; I kinda have an idea for a new little arts and craft project.” He mused. Normally he would be trying to look for food but Samuel had been providing food for him without question ever since he had wordlessly moved into Wikus’ shack with him.
“Metal,” Samuel repeated.
“Yeah,” Wikus nodded and stopped to look at Samuel. “You don’t have to help, I really just want to…oh, uh, thank you, all of you.” Wikus trailed off as he looked behind him at the small collection of metal pieces collected neatly in a pile. The group of on-looking prawns seemed to swell at receiving recognition from Wikus.
“This is what you wanted, right, my queen?” Samuel asked, trying to ensure that the gifts were satisfactory.
“Yes, this is perfect.” Wikus bent over and began to pick up some of the metal pieces only for Samuel to stop him with a hand to his shoulder.
“You do not need to perform manual labor by carrying your gifts, my queen.” Samuel insisted. “We can finish our walk and the gifts will be back at our shack waiting for you.” Samuel explained.
“Okay then.” Wikus frowned and dropped the items as he stood up. He really hadn’t wanted to go for a walk, per say, but he didn’t mind it so much. He looked around at all the prawns as he passed by them. They would all stop and stare back at him, some even bowing. “I don’t understand why they’re all acting like this.”
“You’re our queen.” Samuel reminded.
“I am not! And even if I was, which I’m not, I haven’t done anything to deserve all of these gifts and all this attention!” Wikus insisted.
“True,” Samuel agreed, “but you can and that is far more than any of us here can do. We have been so lost without any leadership and you are now in the position to lead us. For that alone we are grateful towards you.”
Wikus took in the information quietly before he asked for some clarification. “What happened on your ship exactly, Samuel?” Wikus questioned. “You were all in such horrible condition when you came here.” No one had understood why the prawns were all on the verge of starvation when the ship was finally opened. The technology that the prawns possessed showed that they were intelligent beings and yet they seemed mostly like such mindless creatures.
“We were sent with another queen to start a new hive on a planet. But our queen became sick after a year or so of traveling away from our planet. Eventually she died. We were passing by Earth when that happened and we all panicked and stopped the mothership. We didn’t know if we should continue or head back to our main planet. We debated while we were hovering over your planet. No one took charge so no one made any decisions and so we ran out of food and we all turned delirious by the lack of nutrition. You caught us in an embarrassing state, I’m afraid.” Samuel admitted.
Wikus nodded as a few of his questions were answered about how the prawns system of power seemed to work. “So you are all workers or drones of sorts?”
“Most of us were. Some of us were part of the lower upper class and were to make the new upper class on our new planet. I was one of those members.” Samuel answered proudly.
“Was Christopher a member of the upper class as well?” Wikus asked suddenly. Samuel did seem more intelligent than other prawns did, just like Christopher had, so Wikus assumed that the smart were more powerful than the dumb in the prawns’ system.
“Christopher?” Samuel frowned at the name. “You mean the prawn that had been assisting you before me?”
“Yeah, the one that went to the mothership and left to get help.” Wikus nodded.
“Well, I suppose you could say that he was a member of the lower upper class, yes. Though, I worked more with the royals than he ever did. He was more of a,” Samuel twittered as he thought of the proper word, “what human’s would call a mechanic of sorts, I suppose, only he built and designed ships alongside fixing them.”
“Christopher was an engineer?” Wikus confirmed, sounding impressed. “No wonder he was so smart.”
Samuel frowned. “I could have been an engineer as well, but the job was beneath my rank.” Samuel stated looking very proud of himself.
“So what was your job back on your planet?” Wikus asked.
“It is similar to what I am doing now with you. I assisted the royals; made sure they were properly cared for, and offered advice and comfort when needed.” Samuel explained. “It is why I am so capable to care for you even in the awful conditions we are in. But when we move to the new district things will be easier. You can use the move as a chance to set the new hive plans into motion.” Samuel insisted.
“How will we do that?” Wikus asked.
“It will be easy, my queen.” Samuel assured. “You will establish yourself as our rightful ruler and we will begin to form the classes again.”
“I don’t know how to establish myself as the ruler though.” Wikus confessed.
“It is simple, you only need to start assigning tasks to prawns and then all will know to follow your lead. We won’t get too technical for now of our class systems but we could at least have a start.” Samuel explained as his antennas twitched. “The lower class can only understand so complex of a direction but they are a good source of workers. Then the middle class can provide for better workers and even be informed of what you wish to be accomplished so they can continue to order the lower class around.”
“And the higher class? What are they meant to do?” Wikus asked.
“We are to do whatever you desire. We will craft what you want, keep the order for you, provide you with partners for your heat, and make sure that you are cared for.” Samuel seemed to be bragging again of his abilities. Wikus, however, froze and caused Samuel to stop and turn back to look at him. “My queen?”
“Partners for my heat?” Wikus repeated.
Samuel nodded. “To breed with anyone from a lower class would only do you disservice, my queen. My class can provide you with clever young ones to help carry on your rule and will.”
“I don’t want to talk about that anymore. I want to go back to my shack.” Wikus decided and made quick work to return. He was pleased to find the pile of metal pieces waiting for him as it gave him a reason to ignore talking to Samuel for the rest of the day. It did little to take his mind away from the reiterating thoughts of mating season, eggs, and little ones.
When the MNU agents came again, Wikus was surprised by how easy the situation turned out. He came out of his shack when he heard the prawns around his shack begin to make a loud commotion. “Which prawn seems to be the trouble maker?” One of the hired goons asked as he aimed his gun at random.
“Now, now, there isn’t much trouble yet. It’s just a bit unusual to have all of these prawns gathered here like this.” A MNU agent looked uneasily around the number of prawns and back down to his clipboard.
Wikus looked around at the gathered prawns. They were all watching the humans and he could feel their tension. He didn’t want this to become another huge incident and decided to act before things turned bad.
“We were having a party, a moving party, of sorts.” Wikus explained as he stepped closer to the MNU agent. The agent turned his attention toward Wikus but unfortunately so did the goon’s gun.
Suddenly, Wikus was being pulled away and the prawns were swarming in front of him while making loud, angry clicks. “Wait, wait, stop this!” Wikus cried out and the prawns froze. He was released and again made his way towards the agent. “If we could just put the guns away, then we don’t have to have any problems. We don’t want any trouble.”
The agent stared at Wikus with a frown but the goon only growled. “You trying to tell me what to do, prawn?”
“Hold on a second, Jed.” The agent placed his hand on the gun and lowered it towards the ground. “Are you in charge of these prawns?” The agent’s eyes were narrowed with curiosity as he stared at Wikus expectantly.
“No,” Wikus quickly replied. “No, not at all.”
“Really?” The agent questioned. “It would be pretty convenient if all of these prawns would do as they’re told and we get them documented, packed up, and moved without any more incidents occurring in this district. I would even be willing to let a few unauthorized, untagged prawns move into District 10 if there weren’t any struggles.” The agent looked at Wikus expectantly.
Wikus wiggled his fingers nervously as he looked around at all the prawns. “And you wouldn’t ask any questions about an untagged prawn that’s able to order other prawns?”
“Not any questions aside from the ones on this clipboard as long as that certain prawn worked with me and not against me.” The agent confirmed. “I just want to get the job done without any complications.”
Wikus nodded his head. “What would make this easy?”
The agent stared for a moment before shrugging, “A line, for starters?”
“Okay, everyone, make a line behind me. Just stand and wait for the one before you to go ahead. Answer this man’s questions to the best of your ability and then wait in another line until it’s time to pack and move.” Wikus commanded, hoping against hope that things went smoothly. Surprisingly, the gathered prawns did just as they were ordered. They formed a line and the first one stepped up to wait for the agent’s questions.
Wikus, and Samuel who hadn’t moved away from Wikus’ side the entire day, helped the prawns give their answers to the agent. They were then directed to take items they wanted or needed and were loaded up into the large MNU buses for transporting in shifts. The process took a few days, but Wikus went on the last bus on the last day without any struggles or having any questions asked by the agent at all. He wasn’t forced to be branded or renamed and he was utterly thankful for the small mercy.
The last bus was filled with different prawns than the ones that had been gathered earlier by Wikus and he worried that they would cause a problem. But as soon as the prawns got a smell of Wikus’ scent, they all stopped their agitated clicks and stood silently with their attention on Wikus.
When he arrived to District 10, Wikus was the first unloaded from the bus, his ever-present shadow Samuel right behind him. He was surprised that the move had gone so smoothly. He was even more surprised to find all of the prawns waiting there for him.
One prawn stepped up to Wikus and bowed. “Word has spread now about your presence, my queen.” The prawn clicked. “We await your orders in this new area.”
Wikus looked from this prawn to Samuel for reassurance. “Alright,” Wikus began. “I think we should set up housing first, figure out what supplies we have, and then sort out our classes.”
The prawns all clicked in unison a “Yes, my queen.” He expected them to disperse to find new homes but none even moved an inch towards any tents.
“After you, my queen,” Samuel suggested. “You, of course, get first pick in which home you would want for yourself. Although, might I suggest one towards the middle? Then the higher class in the homes around you, the middle class around them, and then the lower class.”
“Is that how it normally worked on your planet?” Wikus asked. Samuel clicked a yes and Wikus nodded to himself as he began towards the center of the district, the other prawns calmly following after him.