The return of the Eldest after their brief time apart from the Colony was a momentous event. Throughout the history of our kind, it was always the Eldest who acted as the catalyst of change, the arbour of progress. As we grew in strength, wisdom and capability, there was danger of complacency, of waste and inefficiency as we followed a thousand different trails of knowledge to their fruitless conclusions. Instead, at the critical moment, the Eldest brought us firm paths on which we were only just becoming ready to tread, new ideas to throw our burgeoning industry forward and expand our imaginations.
Most importantly of all, they brought us enemies against which we could test ourselves, obstacles that we had to strive to overcome. This contention is not universally accepted amongst my siblings, but it is my belief that every action they undertook was deliberate and calculated, that they forged the Colony like a smith-ant forges metal, alternating the guidance of their hammer with the intense heat of the forge. In this conflict, we would be forced to purify our conceptual understanding of what we were and how we were to function. To become something even greater, stronger and more ambitious than before. All the while, the Eldest was there, watching over us, guiding us in the right direction. The Eldest saw the beginning and the end of our journey all at once. Only they saw what it was that we would become.
Excerpt from 'Development of the Colony: The first age' by Historiant
I'm up! Boy, I really needed a bit of torpor, more than I thought I did. I feel refreshed! I stretch out my antennae and flick my legs in a few different directions, finishing off with a few short hops to get the joints lubricated. Nice. Maybe I should implement this as a sort of morning exercise for the colony? A healthy body and a healthy mind leads to a healthy society! Perhaps they could set up some of those pheromone speakers for this purpose?
The image of millions of monstrous ants, lined up in row upon row, performing morning jazzer-cise blooms in my mind and I almost fall over laughing.
[Is everything alright, Master?]
[Gah! Crinis?! I actually forgot you were there for a second]
She wiggles a little with happiness.
[Is that because I've become your second skin? I told you I'd never part with you again, this is just a natural progression.]
In what way is this natural? In fact, in what way is any part of Crinis natural? She looks like a nightmare born when another nightmare went to sleep. In order to keep her happy, I'll continue to tolerate this arrangement, but I'd be lying if I said I was getting accustomed to it. If anything, me forgetting that she's attached to me is just my mind fantasising about regaining my freedom.
Grumbling a little to myself internally, I gather up the cores I collected and begin to absorb them. I need to reinforce my core and put myself in a position of maximum strength for the upcoming conflict. Nothing less than peak, optimum condition can be accepted. Before I evolve, I need to take in the Garralosh core also, pushing myself to a new peak of evolutionary energy. It'll be intense, and most likely very painful, but it needs to be done to secure the future of the Colony.
A flicker of energy in my Vestibule captures my attention before it fades away into the background once more. This irritating thing is back again! What exactly is it?! Having these stupid ghost ant signals creep up on me all the time is really getting on my nerves! I'm determined to work out exactly what is giving this strange feeling. I feel like someone is trying to pull one over on me. I refuse to allow it!
Brimming with fierce energy, I sweep up the remainder of the cores and check my status. Looks like I'm getting close to my maxed out core, I'll need to try and source the rest of the cores I need either out in the Dungeon, or perhaps from the city. Maybe I can buy them there? I don't know what they'd want in trade. Would they even be willing to trade with a monstrous ant is another question
Alright then, time to get moving. I spring up to my feet and suddenly dash out the chamber. Maximum speed! As I do so, I focus all of my sub-brains on the Vestibule as it provides a steady flow of energy from the thousands of ants congregating throughout the nest. I'm going to find you, you damn flickers! They must be ants who are causing it, some sort of sneaky ant! I'll uncover your mask and give you a good thwacking for following me around!
Almost simultaneously, I perceive the tiniest sputter of energy within the Vestibule and my antennae sense a disturbance in the tunnel ahead of me. Have I found one of them at last? I can't see them though?!
Even more determined, I put the hammer down and accelerate to the limit! My huge body flies down the narrow tunnel, sending smaller ants scurrying in all directions and diving down side tunnels to get out of my way. Oho! The flicker has moved around the bend up ahead. Need to turn! I slam my claws into the ground and haul my mass around the tight bend before I dash once more. You won't escape me!
Even now, I can't see them, but I can feel that I'm getting closer! Any second now and you will receive my thwack of justice!
"Why hello, Eldest, I didn't expect to see you here."
From behind a bend up ahead, Advant steps smartly forward, cutting off my path. I hop slightly and land with all six legs dug into the ground to slow my advance as my momentum causes me to dig deep furrows in the ground. I manage to stop mere centimetres away from rolling over Advant and causing an embarrassing scene for the council, squashing one of their members.
"Advant? Where the heck did you come from?" I gasp.
"Who, me? I was looking for you, Eldest. It's time for the follow up meeting to discuss the scouting reports."
I grow still for a moment.
"You're timing here is rather perfect, Advant. You wouldn't be hiding anything from me would you?"
I raise an antenna.
"O-Of course not, Eldest! Why would I do such a thing?!"
Leaning in a little closer I stare down at the soldier.
"I'm not sure. That's why it bugs me so much."