The strength of the Hiver Queen, and thus, the unification of the entire race, depends on the era of Hiver history. In general, the Hiver Queen is regarded as a semi-divine figure analogous to the Pharoahs of Egypt or the Emperors of China or Japan. A strong Queen will rule over all her daughters and their clans with an iron fist, obviously. But as with any feudal society, Hivers can splinter into warring clans or factions at any moment.
In game terms, how united the Hivers are would depend on how many Hiver players there are and what their relationship to each other is. Are they allies? At war? Neutral? Each of those players represents a Queen and her daughters building a Hiver empire — can they peacefully co-exist or will they be forced to battle to the death?
In background fictional terms, the important thing to remember is that every Hiver Queen is a Princess who once devoured her own mother's brain. Succession in Hiver society is a little gruesome.
Clans that openly defy the Queen and fail in an attempted coup rarely survive. If they do, they must flee beyond the reach of other Hivers loyal to the Queen as quickly as possible — the Queen will not allow them to live for as long as they are anywhere She can reach them. Don't forget, She herself is the survivor of a coup which took place years (even centuries) before, or the winner of a last-clan-standing faction war.
No matter how much time has passed, She remembers. And She also knows, in Her heart-of-hearts, that someday one of Her daughters will take Her place.
It makes things a little tense at family reunions...
The Queen and Other HiversEdit
Things such as a Prince mating with the Queen and staying by her side for the rest of their lives are not unknown although it is not very common for a Queen to favor only one Prince over all others. In general the Queen would avail herself of as many exceptional Princes as possible — a practice which can definitely generate tension with her daughters from time to time as a Princess can become quite jealous and possessive of a valuable breeding partner. Arrogant Queens have been done to death over pushing too hard for their "jus primae noctis".
It is a powerful status symbol to have fathered children upon the Queen. Princes with this distinction are considered highly desirable partners and can exercise considerable political power. However, a Prince who has fertilized the Queen is no more likely to be murdered than any other consort to a powerful royal surrounded by intrigue and fierce competition for status...*cough*...nevermind.
The Queen's guard and her personal coterie carry special rank among all Hivers.
Due to the quirks of Hiver physiology, death is not necessarily the end of any given Hiver's life. A great deal of short and long-term memory is stored in crystalline form in a Hiver's brain case, and these chemicals can be extracted intact for up to 72 hours after death.
Cannibalism among the Hivers is a rather different thing than it is among terrestrial insects. Such an act would be a powerful gesture of love and reverence for the most part — don't forget, the female Hiver's "love feast" is a rite of rebirth.
During the reincarnation process, a female Hiver ingests the remains of her loved one, passing the braincase through the crop only. When the bones and tissue of the adult Hiver are dissolved the brain can be conveyed to her ovaries and encysted into a proto-egg which is conjoined to a second egg (a la Siamese twins). Over a period of days a tiny electro-chemical storm occurs within the female Hiver's ovary during which the old brain in its proto-egg is run through its paces. As many habitually repeated synaptic chains (a.k.a. "memories") as possible are woven into the rapidly forming brain of the infant Hiver in the "twin" egg.
Effectively, the life of the dead Hiver "passes before its eyes", rapidly and repeatedly. As much information as possible is transferred. When the process is complete the proto-egg is reabsorbed into the female Hiver's body, the "twin" breaks free to be hatched in the normal way.
What's truely interesting about Hiver "reincarnation" is that an exceptional worker can experience the ultimate in "upward mobility" — if he impresses his mother sufficiently, he can be "reborn" as a warrior or even a Prince.
Now that's a promotion.
When the Queen grows old, her daughters grow restless. If they sense she is too weak to hold dominion they will eventually begin a battle for the "throne". The winner earns the right to devour her mother's remains, thus ingesting the necessary chemicals to achieve full pheromonal dominance.
As a side note — a Hiver princess who becomes sufficiently isolated from other clans and their children can achieve the necessary hormonal saturation to lay Princess eggs herself. This may partially explain the Hiver fascination with the human game of chess.
If the Queen's body were completely destroyed in some sort of disaster, the Queen's body — or specifically, her ovarian gems — would make a very fine Maltese Falcon, one would think. If this treasure disappeared the search for it would be intense — it takes well over 200 years of isolation for an ordinary princess to turn Queen without ingesting the "crown jewels". There is no price that a Hiver clan would not pay to recover those crystals.
The sudden death or disappearance of a strong Queen is very shocking and disruptive to Hiver society.
If the Queen was weak or senescent however, this chaos is fully expected and usually begins long before her death — her daughters will start trying to move into position to seize the palace or the Queen herself as soon as she shows any serious signs of aging. The story of The Motherless sons and the Mad Queen Fire Lotus illustrates the perils involved in Hiver succession.
Hiver society is ruled by its royalty and battles for supremacy begin almost instantly when a Queen dies, often with outright immediate first strikes against other clans. Mourning for the High Queen is not a luxury that many Hivers can afford — her death means that every clan must join a pitched battle for supremacy and perhaps for mere survival. The Queen's funeral is not just an occasion of mourning but a victory celebration for her triumphant daughter — the Queen is dead, long live the Queen.
During the initial days of any Queen's reign, the majority of surviving Hiver clans will be ruled not by her own daughters, but by her sisters. A sister is already a peer and not nearly as likely to be a loyal member of the new Queen's faction as a daughter, even if they have formed a temporary alliance. Consolidating power will involve producing as many daughters and clans as possible as soon as possible: The new Queen's daughters cannot possibly become peers for decades or even centuries, but they can put a great deal of pressure on her sister-rivals. Over time, this process of expanding the Queen's influence and pressuring strong rivals will continue, as younger daughters compete with those who are older and stronger.
Workers and Warriors who have not lost their mothers will look to the new All-Mother with reverence, respect and awe, but not necessarily affection. The battle is over — there is a new Queen, and She is the only Queen. One does not have to love Her, so long as one accepts Her primacy and obey. Traditionally, Motherless clans would either serve the new Queen, or die. In the space age, they have a third option: Run, as far as they can, and find some place to live out their lives away from all other Hivers. As to how they handle it, this would depend on their own character, their leadership, and what they felt their own mothers would have wanted them to do. Avenge her death? Settle her affairs? Protect her Prince? Preserve her works? Support her allies? Find some way to serve the Hiver empire? As one can see, there are many options.
Prince and Princess Hivers are not burdened with sentiment for the High Mother — they respect and obey her because she is the strongest, the most intelligent, the best politician, the best leader and because she holds the immediate future of their race in her belly. If she vanished, the power vacuum would naturally leave bloody chaos in its wake and every Princess would see it as her opportunity to rule — if she could survive long enough to turn Queen or perhaps develop some new technology which would speed the process.
If there was any mystery involved in the Queen's death/disappearance, it would generally be assumed that someone had arranged an assassination and that all bets were off.