The Queen could not dwell on thoughts of Putin, however, for she soon detected the presence of a new creature entering the Hive Mind.
She held still for a moment to recognize the new arrival: It was one of her agents on Earth. The Queen’s antennae twitched.
Into the Hive Mind drifted new information, spreading like dye dropped into a pool of water, the visitor pouring out all that she knew.
Many millions of miles away, a heavyset woman slumped on a sofa, barely conscious as thousands of roaches swarmed over her.
Still, melding with the Hive was Mila’s holy communion—the feel of twitching legs against her skin, ecstasy; the loss of ego, bliss.
The Queen thought crossly that the length of time Mila spent in the Hive Mind was inversely proportional to the quality of her information.
But it was not time to dispose of her … yet. She was still the only spy who moved between both Putin and one of the Order’s servants.
While the Queen would not hesitate to devour any of her offspring, she also could be nurturing, a giver of mother’s love.
She inserted some of this affection into the Hive Mind now, sending Mila the perception of smells and feelings reminiscent of infancy.
“You are one with us,” the Queen told her. “You will never be alone.” Suckling. Warmth. A wave of dopamine washed through Mila’s brain.
The Queen accepted that her spy could gain little information about Putin now. “Focus on the Commander. Use guile, for his mind is weak.”
“Watch where he goes, who he speaks with. He is hiding much from you, Soft One. This will please us.” The Queen’s antennae twitched again.
That movement was the equivalent of yanking a plug from a socket. In an instant, the roaches scattered from Mila, and she sat alone.
She did not feel lonely, however, for the Queen’s presence clung to her like royal jelly. Tears streaked her fleshy cheeks.
Slowly, Mila rose from the sofa, trying to remain in the state between dream and wakefulness as if grasping at a spider’s web.
She felt a renewed sense of purpose. She’d feared the Queen would be disappointed in her inability to learn anything new about Putin.
Now she felt foolish for ever having feared the Queen. The Green Mother loved all her children, and Mila knew she must never forget that.
Instead of letting silly fears trouble her, she would focus on her new mission. What important information could the Commander be hiding?
She would start gathering intel tomorrow. The Commander had been away on business, but was due to return to his office.
Deep in space, the Queen observed a distant blue dot as she cracked open another messenger beetle’s carapace and sucked out its innards.