Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Slaver wasps are biomechanical mind-control devices created by the Other, as confirmed by Lady Vrin, who also notes that they're called "Shk-mah" in the language of the Geisterdamen. They are produced by large devices known as hive engines (or slaver engines), and someone who has been infected by a wasp is called a revenant. These revenants, as well as the wasps themselves, are programmed to recognize and obey the Other's voice.

Sparks[1] and Jägermonsters are apparently immune to the effects of standard wasps. Also, it appears that for as yet unknown reasons, very few if any natives of Mechanicsburg have been turned into revenants (it's implied that the Other was terrified of Heterodynes and ordered all her minions to stay clear of the town).

Variant Hive Engines (and wasps) have been created, notably Snarlantz's wasps, capable of affecting sparks[2] (note that Klaus, a successful infectee, is also a living construct), and Harken Maganox's miniature engines. [3]

Though there are no known instances of a revenant ever being cured, "The classic 'revenant' created by the wasps - the shambling monster - is only an unfortunate statistical extreme. " While the infection process can be lethal,[4] the majority of those infected by the wasps remain outwardly normal, just controllable - and possibly even unaware of their condition.

Second novel states that the wasp fuses with hosts nerves - in seconds with ordinary wasps, but somewhat longer in case of the Sparky ones.



Two warriors stand before their queen

Once a hive engine is activated, a number of "warrior" wasps swarm out to secure a perimeter while the "queen", which is part of the engine, generates the smaller wasps that carry out the actual infection. Anyone caught within this perimeter is herded toward the engine and immobilized.

When the swarm is complete, it is released in one burst to seek out all potential hosts.


Slaver wasps "do not last long" outside of their hive engines.

In terms of physical constitution, it seems the human-sized warriors are roughly comparable to an armored human warrior, while the infection wasps are roughly comparable to the insect after which they are named, and are vulnerable to proportionate physical insults, despite the numinous fear they may inspire. (This is a refreshing change from the unkillable boogeymen that appear in other stories.)

Along the same lines, although termed an "infection", there is no suggestion that the infection can be communicated directly from a revenant or that the wasps reproduce other than within a hive engine. Furthermore, at least one sort of general-purpose poison gas used on Castle Wulfenbach was shown to deactivate the wasps, contrary to what might be expected for a purely mechanical device.


Being mindless servants of the Other, the wasps will evidently obey her command voice (or sufficiently similar voice) regardless of the actual source.

A slaver wasp (or the pathogen which it carries) evidently emits a characteristic odor that can be detected by wasp eaters, which are constructs designed to hunt wasps, drawing on the natural characteristics of weasels, which frequently hunt by scent and are occasionally insectivorous. Likewise, by all accounts, Jägermonsters have a taste for "bogs" which extends to slaver wasps.

Although there's no cure for infection, by the end of Act 1 there is an inoculation draught, and Gil allegedly has some sort of workaround to block the Command Voice,[5] possibly from Tarvek.[6]

While Queen Albia of England is channeling a portion of her power through Trelawney Thorpe, she is able to override The Other's hold on her subjects in the immediate vicinity, infusing them with loyalty to herself. While Albia is operating by "remote control" the effect is likely to be temporary and will fade when she's gone, but she implies that she could cure the infection if she were present in person.[7] Presumably, this power is also possessed by Albia's Sister Queens.