The dustrider’s mother was mantis-blooded, and for this reason, he never knew his father. He never felt comfortable using swords in combat, for they always felt like a severed limb, something missing from his person. He had long scars along his forearms from where a surgeon had removed razor-like protrusions from his wrists as a child, the only outward signs of his heritage. His reflexes could not be carved out, however, and proved to be without match.

When it came to combat, he preferred the snug fit of a dragonfly rifle against his shoulder. He loved the scent of black lavender twirling out of the chamber after each shot, the satisfactory pulse of recoil that preceded his foes crashing to earth. He’d erupt out of the bushes on his crimson hornet, moth-wing poncho fluttering in the wind, and drop a whole squad of beetle cavalry without harming a single one of their steeds.

The hornet was actually yellow underneath- but his signature beetroot paint announced his arrival on the battlefield louder than the buzz of its wings. The coloration carried with it tales of his past exploits, from his offensive against the locust-riders of Kansas Minor to his legendary dogfight with the twin moth-keepers of the Concrete Rivers. The old bug’s exoskeleton had been scarred by just about every weapon known to warriors of his size, but it still had five legs and two crooked wings with which to fight alongside him faithfully.

Of course, no amount of experience on the back of an insect can protect a dustrider in his sleep. The hornet jockey met his end while camping on the shores of Lake Inferior, siphoned until dead by a lone mosquito.