It's been two hours now and the little worker just. Won't. Stop!
"Why is your carapace so shiny?"
"How'd you get so big?"
"Can I do the magicky stuff?"
"Isn't talking FUN!"
"What are you doin'?"
"What are you doin' now?"
"Do you like eating? I think it's the best!"
"Should we dig something? I love digging!"
And on, and on.
It turned out the little lump on her back was Crinis who seemed delighted to grab hold of my antennae and migrate onto my back. She even quietly spoke up, saying [Welcome back master] after she'd settled onto my carapace.
So polite! Her voice was very soft and reserved, not at all like the image of the full grown JellyMaw I remember.
All that effort I spent making her more intelligent seems to have paid off! It'll be nice to have a pet I can have a decent conversation with. Tiny is great at the whole silent companionship thing but isn't much for a detailed conversation. Only thing is the little pet seems extremely reticent, no matter how I prodded I wasn't able to get any more words out of her.
Maybe she's just shy
Vibrant on the other hand. Apparently the bizzarre hatchling doesn't seem to struggle with this public speaking.
She won't shut up!
As soon as she could she climbed onto my head once again and practically danced with joy as she pelted me with endless questions, observations and random statements! I can seriously feel a headache coming on
I tried my best to answer her at first but my responses became shorter and shorter the longer the conversation went on. Eventually I just had to shout "I need to talk to the Queen!" and started ignoring her for a moment.
Anything for relief!
The Queen seemed slightly amused by my predicament. I can only imagine that the Queen has been enduring Vibrant's endless thirst for conversation in my absence, seeing as she's the only other ant capable of talking back to the little thing.
My esteem for the Queen has risen to an even higher level. What saint like patience! What incredible tolerance for her own children!
Choking back my emotions I speak to the Queen. "Mother, we need to move the colony once more. We aren't safe if we remain where we are. The humans will come again, and soon".
Hearing of the creatures who killed so many members of the colony and wounded her, a faint anger can be felt from the Queen.
"I know a place where we can go that they won't follow. The problem is that you'll have to move across the surface if we are going to escape quickly enough. Do you think you can?"
Mother seriously considers my question for a moment before nodding. "I believe I will be able to sustain myself for some few days" she says, "I will let you know when the feeling of weakness returns".
"That's great! Make sure you tell me ok?! If you keep it to yourself again you really might get killed this time!" I plead.
The Queen simply acknowledges my words with a wave of her antennae and begins to mobilise the workers to return to the surface. As she makes her own way to the enlarged opening they created for her to enter the layer of workers around her just shuffles along, maintaining their defensive positions as she moves.
Vibrant had managed to hold herself in whilst I was speaking to the Queen but as soon as she begins to move away she pipes up again with her Squeaky voice.
"Where are we going?"
"To the south, we need to escape the humans".
She immediately became enraged. "Humans!? I will die to protect the colony!"
Why did this immediately become about her dying?
"You don't need to die or anything, we just need to move! If we can get far enough south they won't want to follow us" I say.
She seems a little mollified. "Ok then. But let me know if I need to sacrifice my life for the colony!"
"Nobody is asking you to die ok?! Its fine!"
She doesn't seem convinced and shuffles about on my head a little more before moving onto her next line of questions.
"So what are we doing?"
"We are going to get ready to move out. As soon as the colony is assembled we are going to leave" I answer.
"Ok!" . . . "So why are your antennae so funny looking?"
Putting up with Vibrant's pestering I go to Tiny and get him moving. His job is obviously to carry our precious cores in the sack. Inspecting closely the sack seems to be of some sort of fine material. Is this velvet? Or a tapestry or something? Exactly where did he get this thing?
Within ten minutes the colony has assembled, hundreds of workers carrying brood and eggs whilst others surround the Queen to protect her. All together in one huge mass with me and Tiny at the head we move out! The colony is on the march!
We march for two days straight, no rest, no sightseeing and strictly no deviation from the designated path.
Although I say no sightseeing, the pest on my head is completely curious about everything. Along the way I have to explain what a farm is, why they are necessary, the basic understanding of the human digestive tract, gut bacteria, bacteria in general and what a screaming mob of people running for their lives is.
The colony takes a day to make it out the other side of the forest and from there we mostly run into small farming communities on our way south. We skirt around the buildings, ignoring the people as we pass through. There is one instance where we come across a town in the night and rather than deviate we just power straight through, causing the small riot that prompted the little ones excited questions.
After forty eight hours of straight running we dig a temporary nest and almost the entire workforce goes into torpor, me included! I'm knackered after that run! Despite being so tired I spend a little time planning out my own immediate future path.
First, before evolving I need to try and get my mandibles around some Biomass! I'm painfully aware that the further I evolve the deeper I'll have to go into the Dungeon in order to secure a decent source of Biomass points. It'll be much easier for me if I can go on an eating tour of the upper level before evolving so I can be more efficient with my gains. Then I have a heap of skill points saved up. Whilst fighting against weak monsters it'll be a great chance to build up some new skills. I was hugely impressed by the upgraded versions of the dash skills I'd been able to see for starters, I think I'll definitely pick that up. After that I'll have a look and see what I can find in the menu.
I absolutely want to use my newfound core wealth to train core engineering as far as I can. If get a good evolution that will buff my mental stats again I'll be even more effective when modifying cores, increasing my level up speed. The day when I'll be able to realise my dream project is becoming closer and closer.
I also need to pay attention to my pets, paving the way for Tiny to successfully evolve as well as stuffing Crinis full a few times a day until she can start to fight and level up.
The days ahead sure are going to be busy!
First we need to escape though.
The next day we assemble the convoy and move out once more. The journey is tough and we have to tighten our belts a few times, what little monster prey we find is fed to the young and the workers go hungry. Tiny seems to have lost several sizes, I've never seen him so trim!
After three more days we reach the border, the vast monster filled wilderness is spread before us, our safety, our future!