I live in a divided city. One third is human, the rest overrun by bugs. The human area is controlled by feudalism. War barons who call themselves Knights, hoard food and materials, and send the poor to die, fighting the bugs. Homeless children starve. No one helps them.
I am recruited. I am shown a plastic tray, sealed with clear plastic, full of writhing maggots, centipedes and rats. I am told that this is my enemy.
I am subjected to tests. I have an aptitude for flying. I train just for this. On my first mission, I take down an enemy vehicle, but also crash my own. For this, I am punished. My glasses are broken, and I cannot see well. I am told to kill the prisoner, the bug pilot of the ship I brought down.
He’s presented at gunpoint. I am given an electric meat cutter. I am told to carve him up with this. I look at him. He is tall, with shiny green skin, more or less owl shaped, with human style arms. He looks very gentlemanly. I will not kill him. I approach him. He looks ready to die, resolved. Instead, I tell him how I will trim his nails, that he has nothing to fear. I find the thought of being spattered by his internal organs revolting.
He realises I mean him no harm. We make our escape, hiding in ruins with starving human children, I am shown a map of the city, in my mind. I see that battles are blocking our route to bug territory. My new friend complains about his internal bone structure. He explains that this is not his regular form, and he must revert soon.
We steal a vehicle, and find a way round the battles, to a bug-held castle gateway. I have my hands raised as we approach. I don’t want to be shot. We are waved through. I see someone leaving, on a robotic camel. It is Ben Akira Tallamy, but with three lenses for eyes, and no nose. Inside I see other creative people that I know. They are human. I talk to them, glad not to be alone. They explain how things are here, the important etiquette of shaking our hosts appendages when we meet, and generally how relaxed things are. The bugs have their own religious festivals, but you don’t have to attend, or even buy anything.
We are joined by a friendly cat, with a robot leg. Found injured, the bugs saved her for their human guests, realising the importance to us of animal companionship.
My bug friend rejoins us. He has fully reverted. He is now, more or less, triangular. He has mirrorball eyes, and reminds me of Fingerbobs head, slightly flattened.
He wants us to help him communicate with the human section. He wants an end to war, an end to human suffering and starvation.