Holy moly, I'm completely wrecked. Each of my three brains feels like seared mush; soft and jelly-like, yet wreathed in hot, hot flames. I managed to gain two whole levels in cerebral endurance in just under two hours, that's how mentally intensive this work was. However, I have been successful.
I have triumphed!
Despite being some of the most draining and mind bogglingly difficult mental work I've done, I managed to complete the project as well as I can. It was enough to gain me three levels in core surgery, going to show just how difficult what I was attempting to actually was. Each of those levels helped significantly with the task at hand however, so I can only be grateful in the end.
In front of me sits a gleaming special core, plump with energy, ripe with the encoded information of my artisanal hand crafted creature, ready to be instantiated as a pet.
I knew I wouldn't be able to make a heap of edits to the creature I'd created after successfully fusing the cores together, so I hadn't gone crazy with it, but I was mostly able to hit my goals. After the fusion was complete there were a few oddities that had slipped into the design. A few sloppy bits about the place, such as the one leg that somehow had lost its knee joint, but managed to gain two extra feet. Fixing these took a bit of a toll on me but I was able to have the finalised creature I had hoped for: an oversized aphid, roughly the same size as myself, stuffed full of spare energy.
Naturally I used that energy to shape the egg production pathway, something that took a heck of a lot more potential than I had thought it would. The egg production organs are expensive. Luckily I had enough budget after fusing six of the normal aphid cores together. Then it was a simple matter of neatening up the edges. I lowered the creatures Cunning a little, I want them to be dependent on their ant masters after all, took away the poison gland, made them overall a little weaker and gave their Biomass production organ a mutation that increased the amount of Biomass they could produce straight out of the gate.
So if all things go according to plan, once reconstituted, this core will give rise to the first aphid Queen, let's call her Aphy, who the colony will care for and raise until she is mature and can start producing her aphid offspring which the colony will nurture and use as their own Biomass producing herd. This should work out well, by the time Aphy is producing eggs the colony should have the numbers and levels to start launching raiding parties into the expanse itself and with a little clever planning the aphid farming project could go into action at that point.
Nice work Anthony!
I'm quite proud of myself, I have to say. This was a lot of effort and could prove to have a major effect on the colony going forward.
Weary but satisfied, it's time to retreat back to the colony. We've been gone for roughly a day, which isn't as long as I thought I'd be off on this particular excursion, but I'm chasing a rest and I want my aphid core to begin its life as a loyal pet of the colony, something I can't really do down here.
The three of us battle our way up the surface via the shortcut and then make our way across the land towards the ant hill. I can't wait to nestle into a nice chamber and get some sleep!
As we approach the colony I start to notice something is going on. It looks like there is a lot of activity around the anthill. Heaps of ants and it looks like … humans? What the heck is going on? Each moment we draw closer the more questions I have. The humans have been grouped together, surround by workers on all sides and they seem to be moving closer to the anthill and almost appear to be about to climb up with the intention of going into the nest.
That would be insane! Certain death!
What on earth do they think they are doing?!
Weariness forgotten my legs scrabble wildly into the dirt as I break into a sprint, rushing towards the nest. The workers are the first to notice me coming and make way before I crash into them, I don't drop any speed until I reach the front the human group and start making my way up the anthill where I notice a few of the twenty are waiting for me.
"Sloan!" I gasp at the ant general, "What the heck is going on here?!"
Sloan flips his antennae around in a confused manner. "We found these creatures living in close proximity to the nest. In your absence we weren't sure what to do so we convened a council and discussed the matter."
"And?" I demand.
Sloan's mandibles twitch slightly at the tone of my pheromones. The twenty hatchlings I trained had to put up with my angry roaring on many occasions. I can almost see the fear of thwacking rising within him.
"Well, uh, we decided that it would be best to remove the threat and collect the Biomass that these creatures represented …"
All of the nearby react with a twitch when they hear the sharp kinetic thud of my mandibles impacting on the poor generals carapace.
"You wanted to eat the village?!" I roared.
"We were going to feed them to the Queen!" Sloan protested, "when we approached these creatures they were strangely unafraid of us, they even approached us of their own volition! So we gathered some workers to herd them over this way and they came without a fuss!"
"You didn't think that was a bit odd? That these things would just wander up to the nest and feed themselves to the Queen without protest or fighting back in any way?"
I can see the gears turning in the generals head.
"No" he replied firmly.
"I would gladly give my life to the colony, perhaps these creatures feel the same?"
"Not every organism on the face of this world is so eager to die for the sake of the colony you eejit! Think it through! I don't want the village harmed, they have a great deal of information that they can teach us!"
"You never said anything about that to us!" Sloan protested weakly.
"Never mind that!" I roared, "spread the word that these humans are not to be harmed and they will be returning to their homes shortly."
"Of course, Eldest."
All right. I might have stuffed up a little there. But why the heck are the humans just going along with this situation? Where the hell is Enid? Or Morrelia? Surely they wouldn't be so stupid as to let their people march into the ants nest!?
I cast my eyes amongst the crowd, desperate to locate them so I can form a mind bridge and explain this event away with some excuse that doesn't let the village know how close they came to being Queen food.
Unfortunately, I don't spot Enid or Morrelia amongst the people. I do notice one man, dressed in a white robe, with one harm, waving at me enthusiastically from the front.