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Morrock, Capital of the Empire of Bluewood, Imperial Palace

The precious crystal goblet worth dozens of gold royals shattered into hundreds of crystal shards and the dark red wine stained the dragon wood paneling of the study walls, the liquid dripping down onto the thick rich carpets.

Emperor Varacen stood over his dark wood desk, glaring the kneeling messenger who brought the news of Duke Sturm's army defeat at the hands of the rebels. The news took over three five-day weeks to arrive at the Capital, despite the speed of courier dragons and relay stations. Varacen stared at the trembling soldier with a yellow slash tied diagonally across his chest from his right shoulder, marking him a member of the messenger corps and sighed, "Go," waving the thankful messenger away.

"Kill him," Varacen spoke to no one in particular as the messenger left his study, the thick dark wood doors closed by his personnel eunuch. He sighed again as he flopped down onto his chair, looking at the map on his table. "And bring me Sturm, alive preferably."

His eunuch brought over another crystal goblet and a bottle of garnet wine, the colorful garnets clinking against each other as the eunuch filled the crystal goblet halfway, the wine glittered in a rich blood red shine in the goblet.

A muttered scream drifted into the study despite the closed thick wooden doors and Varacen nodded, sipping the wine and rolling a piece of garnet in his mouth before spitting it out. "Ahh, 30 year old garnet wine from the alps." His mood restored and he spoke to thin air again, "And the witch?"

A mysterious voice appeared out of nowhere, "Dead it appears with her guards."

Varacen raised his eyebrows, "Two Imperial Lifeguards?"

"Yes, Your Majesty," The voice appeared out of thin air. "By all eyewitness accounts, once the Lifeguards were killed, she rebelled, and appeared to have been killed in the resulting melee that followed."

"Pity," Varacen took another sip of the wine. "Oh well, we still have her brothers to play with." He looked at the map again, "This brunch of rebels at the south is wasting a lot of my resources, I have to finish my fight with the Twin Alliance. or this rebel group will forever be a thorn. They must not grow strong."

"Send the Rock down to take over all of Sturm's forces," Varacen said, after debating in silence for a while. "Tell him to use all resources at his disposal to crush the rebels before they grow stronger, I don't really care how he does it, as long as the rebels are destroyed."

"Yes, your Majesty."

-----

Sea Cliff Mines, Dungeon Level 1

Both teams were gathered at the first room of the dungeon, having a quick cold meal and some field maintance of their weapons. More than three hours had passed since they had entered the dungeon and successfully mapped and explored almost the whole level.

Master Sergeant Pike finished his report back with base and hopped up on a rock outcrop and clapped his hands, gathering everyone's attention. "Alright, we are almost done with this level. Just a little more to go." He pointed to the tunnel where an image of an ant was drawn. Each tunnel openings had images of monsters drawn next to them, from stick drawings of a twin tailed scorpion to slimes and ants. "That tunnel most likely has the way down to the next level."

Apparently, the first level of the Dungeon consisted mainly of Honey Slimes, Spider Ants and Sand Scorpions. The two golems were busily wandering in and out of the tunnels as Number One transported the dead carcasses of the ants and scorpions out of the tunnels, while Number Two ferried them out to the exit.

All the tunnels so far led to a cavern or room while some passages looped back to each other or ended in dead ends. So far the four tunnels that they explored each had a room or cavern and unfortunately for Team One. only they encountered a Champion monster, the rest were just a group of mobs or the harmless slimes. But other than the chest from by Team One, they found no other chests in the other rooms, leading them to speculate that only rooms with chests most likely have a strong monster inside.

"Everyone ready?" Pike asked as the team members policed up their trash. "Alright let's go. Team One will be the vanguard, Magister Thorn and the ladies in the middle. Team Two will be the rear guard."

Once everyone was in formation, Pike nodded and Loke set off, leading the party down as the forward scout. Kristine, waved her sensor wave, sending sonar beeps every ten seconds, and the mapping program in her tablet automatically updating a 3D rendering of the Dungeon. Their lights lit up the tunnels and a swarm of angry chirping ants charged out into the hail of thunder and fire.

-----

Sea Cliff Mining Station Operations Center

A bank of monitors temporarily set up on one side of the room displayed the choppy and lagging video stream from the dungeon exploration teams. Captain Blake stood watching the irritatingly lagging and jerky images, wishing that they have real-time telemetry instead as the jerky images were giving him a headache.

"Ford," Blake spoke over the open air real-time conferencing call with Commander Ford back at the Bridge in UNS Singapore, "We will need people with experience in dissecting monsters. Get all the butchers, tanners, anyone who knows how to process monster parts here as soon as possible."

"Got it, Sir, I will check with the Princess about who to call," Ford nodded, "Looks like a great haul we got eh?"

"Oh yeah, they did great," Blake replied, trying not to grimace as he watched the lagging video captured from their helmet cams. "I seriously do not know how the monsters will respawn after a few days inside that dungeon. I hope what Thorn said is true."

"It's magic. Sir," Ford grinned, "Well, if it works, we can send regular hunting trips in the dungeon to harvest for what we need."

"Yea, but this amount of materials from the monsters will not support a large population," Blake said, "At most a small village or town, but any bit helps in the long run. Especially the mana stones from the monsters if we want to maintain our firearms tech."

Ford nodded again, "I will get with the Princess regarding getting those with knowledge of working with monster parts now." He gave a salute and signed off from the conference call.

Blake went back to watching the lagging videos, and gave up after a while and went to look at the haul coming out of the dungeon instead.

-----

Sea Cliff Mines, Dungeon Level 1

"Watch your head!" Pike yelled as he stood at the rear of Squad One and Two from his team engaging the ants. "They are crawling from the ceilings!"

"Argh, eat lead!" Hitsu yelled, firing his M2 up to the ceiling, sending rock chips and ant parts flying down, before his weapon locked back. "I'm out!"

"Switch!" Pike yelled and Tyrier from Team Two stepped into Hitsu's spot, while Hitsu backed off to reload. Tyrier calmly aimed his M2 and fired single shots, each hitting a different target.

The ants seemingly knew that they were coming and had gathered in force, throwing themselves into the fray, giving their lives for more of their brethren to close into the intruders. Yet it proved futile as the M2 Magespitters made short work of the suicidal ants.

Both Thorn and Irisval helped by launching magical attacks over the heads of the crouching shooters. Thorn sent bolts of chain lightning, which jumped from one ant to another, electrifying them, while Irvisal turned the terrain into soft mud, slowing the ants down greatly and launching rock spikes which stunned the ants, the spikes not strong enough to penetrate the ants' carapace.

Just now, the heavy thumps of footfall appeared behind the party, and Number One golem appeared. Irisval quickly ordered it to attack the ants, and Pike ordered the men to give way for the golem to advance.

The runes in Number One lit up, following Irisval's order, and inside the core of the golem, a magical artificial lifeform powered by Dragonite similar to the hooman's Artificial Intelligence followed the many instructions drawn within its body, connected by the magical connections engraved in its body. Move forward, protect the people, and kill the enemy, its simple brain told it.

Magical muscles of rock and stone, twisted and stretched as Number One strolled forward, passing by the soldiers on its side and raised it left arm with the repeating crossbow. Its right arm pumped the firing handle up and down, throwing heavy bolts down range, each bolt impaling an ant or smashing them into pieces.

The ants were too tightly clustered together in the tunnel that the rather inaccurate repeating crossbow was still able to kill one or more ants with each bolt. When it's repeating crossbow ran out of bolts, it swung its arms mightly, wallowing directly into the mass of ants, crushing and breaking the ants with each swing of its arms. The ants tried to bite and bind it with their spider silk only to succeed in chipping some of its rock armor and the silk could not bind it tightly enough, allowing Number One to break free easily.

The rest supported Number One melee's attacks by firing at the sides of the golem, preventing the ants from surrounding Number One. Finally, the pressure dropped and the ants retreated, leaving behind hundreds of dead, twitching ants.

"Check your ammo!" Pike ordered as everyone took a breather from the fight which lasted only twenty minutes but felt like hours. "Anyone need resupply or injured?"

"Good work, Number One!" Irisval praised Number One, patting it on its arm, which Number One appeared to respond by giving a slight nod.

"We need to give it some melee weapons, or a minigun," James said from the side. "A chain sword will be awesome! Hell, a bloody flamer too!" He excitedly said looking up at Number One, "He will wreak havoc in such close quarters!"

Number One seemed to give a look at James before turning back to Irisval who commanded it to transport the ant carcasses back. "Thank you for your help!" The golem started to pile the shattered body parts of the ants into the basket it was carrying.

"All ready?" Pike asked after everyone refilled their emptied magazines and ensured they have sufficient ammunition. "Let's go, the Queen Ant should be up ahead."

The passageway widened as they followed the echoing sounds made by the frantic ants as they neared their hive. From a width that four men could walk side by side to twice the width as they came upon a huge opening dimly lit by glow moss.

Shadows of ants scurrying around the opening could be seen cast by the light beams from the exploration teams. Angry hisses and chittering came from the ants as they formed a wall, blocking the way into the large room.

"Hit them with explosive rounds!" Pike ordered, which Altied and Hitsu followed the order, switching to their shotguns and firing an explosive shot each directly at the cluster of ants. The force of the explosions and the shrapnel, torn up the ants, sending bits of ants parts flying all over the area. "Clear!"

"Go go go!' Pike ordered next, and they stormed into the opening in a double file formation, and spreading out to cover all points when they cleared the opening. The girls and Magister Thorn hung back and waited for them to give the all-clear before entering cautiously into the room.

Kristine stared up at the mammoth sized Queen Spider Ant, which bloated body appeared to be perched on some sort of mound made out of soil and rock like a throne, its fat ovipositor dangling over the mound, supported by strands of silk attached to the ceiling of the room. Hundreds of crutches of milky white eggs clusters covered all over the walls and ground, while dozens of wriggling maggots like creatures could be seen spawn all over the area.

"Ok, I should have protested more on coming here..."

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