This humanoid wasp’s gossamer wings beat out a soft, droning buzz. Flashing blades sing in each of her four clawed hands, and the air around her shimmers with magical dust. Dozens more humanoid wasps in a variety of iridescent colors surround her, weapons raised protectively.

    The tosculi are waspfolk that share the Golden Song of the hive, which unites them under the command of their queen. Each hive has its own song, and most tosculi hives are predatory, dangerous places.

    Bow Raiders. Tosculi elite bow raiders are smarter and more capable than drones and common warriors, with midnight black or deep green carapaces that shine with colorful iridescence. Their wings are blood red streaked with dark crimson veins. As rare and prized members of the hive, a bow raider’s life is never thrown away or risked unnecessarily. Seldom does a tosculi warband contain more than a handful of these elite soldiers, and they frequently hold positions of command. Elite bow raiders always lead the honor guard for their queen, both within the hive and on those rare occasions when the queen ventures outside.

    Drones. Tosculi drones are the workers of the tosculi hive: the smallest, weakest, least intelligent, and most abundant of the waspfolk. Their carapaces are mostly iridescent blue with gold abdomens and lower legs, and they have vestigial wings, allowing them to glide but not truly fly. Drones function primarily as menial workers but, during times of war, they also act as highly expendable scouts and soldiers. Because the warriors know whatever a drone knows—thanks to the queen—a drone doesn’t need to survive its scouting mission to deliver useful information.

    Warriors. Tosculi warriors are overseers of work crews and battle groups of drones, directing activities and relaying commands. Though subservient to the queen’s orders, they are capable of acting independently or following their own best judgment, if necessary. The warriors’ most important role in the hive is procuring live hosts for incubating tosculi eggs. Creatures paralyzed by warriors are brought to the queen’s chamber to have eggs implanted in them, and after a few weeks, the larva hatches, devouring its still-living host.

    Hive Queen. The hive queen is the nerve center of a tosculi hive-city, simultaneously one of a hive’s greatest strengths and weaknesses.

    The queen serves as a unifying force. She binds her swarm with an ironclad sense of purpose through a psychic web, known as the Golden Song, that links all tosculi within a hive. When the hive queen nears the end of her life, she selects the most promising of her immature heirs and feeds the heir a special concoction. This speeds the heir’s maturation and makes her ready to become a full-fledged hive queen. The daughter’s first action upon her metamorphosis is to devour her mother and all her sisters, absorbing and becoming the emitter of that hive’s song. If a hive queen dies with no heir to anchor the hive mind or if the daughter’s accession is disrupted, the hive-city plunges into chaos. Tosculi bereft of the hive-mind go berserk.

    A few fortunate ones might escape and become lone renegades, but their existence without the comforting presence of the hive is miserable and short. Unless one of the hive-queen’s surviving daughters is mature enough and ruthless enough to step in and assert control, the hive is doomed.

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