For my story about 12,000 Americans being dropped into an alien planet's desert, I have massive pack predators (Think the Withespikes from The Tomorrow War, but not as hungry, big, or with ranged weapons) that are nocturnal. However, the only reason why is because a diurnal species of massive ant-esque creatures, called Emali, attack and eat the predators if they are out at day.

The features of Emali are:

  1. The size of bulldogs for a worker, German shepherd size for soldiers, and the size of an elephant for the (Mobile) queen.

  2. Have a hive mind, so that workers and soldiers will die protecting the queen.

  3. The queen has 3 pairs of pillar legs and a pair of pincers for eating.

  4. Soldiers can shoot acid out of their tails every 4 hours.

If you have not watched The Tomorrow War (It's an Amazon Original, pretty nuts), don't worry, I have basic facts:

  1. Big, probably rhino sized.

  2. Fast, can swim and climb like nuts, and can glide.

  3. Essentially bulletproof, except on the neck and belly.

  4. Has claws, teeth, and tentacles to shoot spikes (Being modified for not shooting, only stabbing), and can jump.

  5. Males will die protecting their female.

  6. Every 7 days, they all go silent, observing a sort of Sabbath.

I'd like to know how the Emali can kill Whitespikes easily and fast enough to keep them nocturnal. However, both operate as horde killers: They hunt in huge packs. The Emali are most likely small enough to be swallowed whole by a Whitespike, particularly a worker. My question is this: How do the Emali keep the Whitespikes a Nocturnal species?


1 Answer 1


Whitespikes don't help each other.

They cooperate to hunt and as long as each is doing its badass apex predator thing all is good among the Whitespikes. But if one is hurt or struggling, it is avoided by the rest. It is weak. Something is wrong with it and maybe something contagious. A Whitespikes with Emalis all over it (you've got mali!) is quickly abandoned by its comrades, the same as would be true for a Whitespikes frothing at the mouth and chewing its spikes, or one eating great mouthfuls of dirt, or one stumbling along with blood dripping from its eyes. Whitespikes cooperativity only goes so far.

The Emalis Soldiers latch on and stay latched on. Once latched the Emali soldier in question discharges its acid too, since it will probably not survive the encounter and might not get another chance. It takes some doing to get an Emali loose and a Whitespikes in that situation starts doing as fast as it can. Usually the head stays latched on even if the body is ripped off. The Emali are never alone and more latch on in short order. Once there are 9 or 10 it is hopeless for the Whitespikes individual in question - although each Whitespikes is tough enough that it usually does not succumb until individuals from the Cutter caste of Emali show up to cut away pieces and haul them to the nest.

The Email stay inside at night. If they are out, there are small batlike flying parasites that come out and quietly lay eggs on them and there is not much the Emali can do to protect themselves. These creatures lay eggs on other things too but the Whitespikes are perceptive enough and flexible enough to grab them out of the air when they try. Hopefully your characters are too.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice idea for keeping the Emali inside at night! I also never really realized they didn't help each other, so thanks for the info! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDarkeLorde - Don't count on that if you are fighting them, because I made it up. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 20:48

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