It took two days to clear the battlefield. Two whole days of the entire colony working around the clock, hauling, cutting, storing and generally stuffing their faces at every possible moment. Even with so many ants eating so much, the nest was still stuffed to the brim with Biomass that needed to get consumed yesterday. The Queen had consumed the most, from the moment she had recovered until she's been forced to rest by concerned members of the twenty. Well, the nineteen now, I suppose.
Grant's core had been recovered, but nobody suggested we reconstitute her. Having a member of the family, a sibling, start following one of us around as a pet was too weird for any ant to consider. This did mean there was an opening on the council, which I suppose would need to be filled at some point. I have no idea how they plan on going about that, try and find the next oldest soldier? Raise up a new council from scratch? I don't want to be involved, whatever they decide.
I mean, believe me, I've got my own problems. Tiny, Crinis and I had started consuming the Biomass that had once been Garralosh and it didn't take us long to realise a few things. One, it did feel a bit strange to be consuming the monstrous remains that had once housed a human being. Two, as expected of the old monster, she was Biomass rich. And three, there was no way we were going to be able to get through all of it before it dissolved to nothing. Garralosh was one chunky croc. She must have weighed around twenty tons! Even after a good chunk was lost to the Gravity Bomb, we couldn't handle it at all. Not to mention the core we dug out of her. I don't even want to think about that massive thing.
And since this food was the most rich of all, I decided it would make the most sense if it was consumed first. After we had filled ourselves to the brim, and all of my stomachs were packed, I told the surrounding ants to dig in, eat some for themselves, take some to the Queen, take some to Victoriant and her sister as well.
Spread the love, you know?
The next thing I realised was that I couldn't stay up on the surface for nearly as long as I could before. The mana in my core flooded out at a truly disturbing rate. By the time I finished eating, I was practically running on fumes and had to roll my swollen abdomen back into the nest. It was a lot harder to manoeuvre in there since my evolution, quite a few tunnels were too small for me to even consider entering. I was able to make my way down to my old resting chamber and rested there.
And so, for the last two days the ever ongoing cycle of eating and resting had repeated themselves until the surface was somewhat back to normal, the carpet of Biomass had been consumed, and the colony was able to return to business as usual. Brood production went back into overdrive, the Queen now producing three hundred eggs per day. Not satisfied with this rate of growth, the colony sought to take advantage of the fading vestiges of the wave and took Victoriant and Antionette out of the nest and into the Dungeon for a power levelling spree.
By the evening of the second day they returned to the nest in triumph! Both of them settled in to evolve to the fourth tier where they would begin their lives as egg producing Queens of the colony. There was quite a lot of energy amongst the nest at that, I have to say. A great deal of excitement and anticipation. It felt as if the very first Formica Sapiens colony had reached a major milestone of producing our first home grown egg laying Queens.
As they were evolving, Tiny, Crinis and I have a small opportunity to take stock. I'm super happy that the wave is receding, obviously. Far less danger, the ease of exploration is opening up again. There's a ton of stuff I want to do in the Dungeon after all. I've been hoping to check in on the Sophos for ages, for example. I know they can't be too far away, beneath Liria somewhere, for sure. I really want to go deeper and see how things work down there, forge a path for the colony and all that. But more to the point, as the mana levels are falling, my little hidey hole, so close to the surface, isn't providing me with enough juice! I have to go deeper in order to live!
The Queen has it even worse than I do. Her chamber has been relocated to a much deeper location, forcing the colony to expand down toward the swamp expanse. With spawn rates returning to normal levels, we are easily able to handle such a project. The colony has grown strong, and from here out will only explode in capability.
I also have a ton of skill points and Biomass I need to deal with, I picked up a heap of levels from my fight with Garralosh, as I expected from a battle with a creature so far above me. I'll have to deal with that sooner or later. For now though, I'm not too bothered. I'm looking forward to a more relaxing existence where I'm not stressing about dying every second of the day.
No existential crises! No imminent doom! I feel as if I just slip into torpor and stay there for a few weeks. I don't want to do a thing!
Of course, I can't do that. The nest is positively buzzing with activity and energy. Brood Tenders are rearing and teaching, mage ants and core shapers are experimenting, carvers are building and studying. Even the soldiers and scouts have gone nuts, hunting and exploring in the Dungeon without pause, eking every little bit of experience and Biomass they can get before the wave is over.
It seems as if once the surface clean-up was complete, I fell in a heap whilst the rest of the colony just kept on going. The guilt is overpowering! Or perhaps that guilt is just the constant niggle of whispers and tugs that filter through the Vestibule. I don't want to think too closely on that though, instead, I ignore it with all my strength!
So I finally pick myself up and head up and out of the nest. I may as well pay the humans a visit before I wander off, just to make sure they aren't doing anything too stupid. With Crinis riding on my now much more spacious back and Tiny following behind, I make my way out of the nest only to pause when we crest the top of the hill and come across a team of carvers working on something that appears to be shaped from solid earth.
"What are you guys… oh my god."
The dozen workers jump at my words and pull back to reveal that the massive project they are cooperating on is an earth carving of me, post evolution. I appear to be standing watch over the entrance to the colony, my steely eyes and noble antennae are matched by my fierce mandibles and aggressive pose. The statue manages to convey a sense of protectiveness and dignity that I'm fairly confident I don't possess.
The carvers are frozen as if they were naughty children caught with their hands in the biscuit tin. For my part, I have no idea what to say and can only shake my head in disbelief.
After a minute, I turn to walk toward the human village.
"Make one for Grant," I tell them.
The carvers each look at each other before they nod and begin to shape the soil next to my own effigy.
I have to wonder, where the hell did they get the idea for that?