Chirui is about to learn that every living thing must struggle to survive. Her first test is to break through the egg in which she has developed and slept for the last several months.
Even though she has never known the world beyond her egg, she knows her name. It has been spoken to her many times since before she can remember. It is the first inkling of memory she has.
She calls out instinctively, a nasal chirping, to summon her kin. A sudden swell of determination boils within her, and she knows she must break out of the egg. She writhes within tight leathery walls, struggling to right herself. She uses the claws on her feet to find a grip on the thick flesh. She pushes outward with her powerful double-jointed legs. She loses grip, and the fleshy walls cave back in around her.
Chirui rests for a moment, then, she extends her legs again with more force. She sees a sliver of light pour into her world. She blinks a few times while her eyes adjust to the brightness. Fascinated, Chirui squirms more, wriggling her body into the outer world of light. She slides out with the mucous. Exhausted, she rests again for a while. Her delicate gills breathe fresh air for the first time.
She sees a long serpentine thing unfurling at her side. It scares her at first. She strikes at it with one of her forelimbs, and is unpleasantly surprised by a jolt of pain. It is then that Chirui realizes the long thing is part of her. It’s her tail. She moves it again experimentally.
There are new things flooding her senses. She can smell and taste the air in the chamber around her with the long pair of sensory tentacles connected the base of her crested head. She smells the other eggs near her, and then, a comforting chemical scent that is the unique signature of her Hive.
Chirui decides it’s time to try and move again. She is tired, but very curious about her surroundings. With some difficulty separating herself from the egg mucous, she eventually rights herself, and begins to crawl away from the nest of eggs.
She hears something ahead. Hurried pattering coming her way. Chirui becomes frightened. She crouches, gills fluttering quickly, bracing for some unseen monster. Large forms come into the chamber. They notice her.
Something changes in the air of the chamber. Chirui can feel it. She feels a familiarity with them, and is no longer afraid. They walk closer. They extend their own sensory tentacles out toward her. She does the same. She absorbs the individual chemical signatures passed between them.
The Large Ones caress Chirui’s head crest with their three fingered hands. They make soft sounds that she doesn’t understand, but they are gentle and caring.
The Large Ones take her out of the chamber and into a tunnel, then to another chamber. This one has a shallow pool of water. Chirui likes the blue color that seems to make the pool glow. The Large Ones place her gently into the warm water, and wipe away the remaining sticky goop leftover from the egg. She touches the water with her hands, then, experiments with splashing. A few of the Large Ones cringe at getting wet, but do not anger.
Chirui’s eyes catch a quivering image on the water’s surface. As she stills her movement, so does the water. She sees the Large Ones’ reflections on the surface, then she sees her own.
Chirui sees a metallic dark bronze face staring back at her with bright amber eyes. It even blinks the same time she does.
The Large Ones whisper, and their sensory tentacles curve upward. Chirui returns to looking at the rippling reflection in the water. Somehow, she knows the image is herself, and that she is the same as the Large Ones.