The characters are wasps from the devastated nest of Ys’drktha. The other survivors from the cataclysm are being held and tortured in the pits of the neighbouring Ak’thaan nest, being slowly dismembered and eaten by drone wasps or fed to the writhing masses of larvae.
There are crimes for which a man is not killed, but chased into the wilds, away from his home and country, to not return or be killed on the spot. In one culture is the condemned mutilated, and even his vocal cords are damaged so that the voice is unrecognizable to his friends and family. This is the punishment for people too obsessed with their own prestige.