Gathering the large python core, I'm sure it was from the python, judging by the tail section I found it next to, I bring it to the rest of my hoard which I transport into the colony, burying them with my Death Rabbit core that I had saved in the first trap network.
This is the most precious harvest of this battle. I have great plans for this resources! I have to work quickly though.
Before I can begin that work I make one final trip back to the field, to gather some Biomass for myself and to collect my now fairly spherical ape. Are you made of rubber you stupid gorilla!? How do you fit so much damn food in your stomach?
Tiny appears happy to simply lie on his back, rolling about gently in contentment, his distended belly proudly displayed to the forest canopy.
Really classy Tiny, you really are living your best life.
By this time the industrious workers have done a fairly good job of picking clean the field, but I'm not too worried. I head back to the condensed gobstopper of Biomass forged by my Gravity Bomb.
Standing over it I have to say it doesn't look that impressive, a small ball that doesn't really look like meat or food of any kind. The ball is a kind of orange colour, streaked through with different layers and the occasional splash of other colours. Looking closely, it reminds me a little of the planet Jupiter from images I'd seen in textbooks.
Tentatively I try again to lift it, no success. Most of the Biomass of two giant monsters is packed into this little ball! There must be easily over a ton of material in there, it isn't surprising I can't lift it.
I'll have to eat as much as I can here and now then!
Once again I crouch down and start gnawing the hell out of the thing.
OM NOM NOM NOM NOM.
Yield to me you damn sphere!
OM NOM NOM NOM NOM.
[You have gained one Biomass]
This is going to take a while.
I feel like a dog gnawing on a bone…
After a solid twenty minutes of chewing I've managed to gain six more Biomass. The rate at which I was able to extract the food was slowly starting to increase towards the end, apparently chipping away at it was loosening up the Biomass a little. If I had more time I'd be able to get a whole lot more Biomass out of it but I can't afford to hand around.
I just have too much to do!
The food does a lot to reenergise me, helping to close over my smaller wounds and refreshing my mind somewhat. I still need a sleep desperately but it will have to wait a bit longer.
Having eaten I quickly hustle back into the nest and make my way down to the Queens chamber, ants are desperately running about, passing food around, feeding the larvae and presenting Biomass to the Queen.
The only problem is she shows no interest in eating.
I can subtly see that the workers are distressed by this. A small pile of Biomass is growing in the Queens chamber and the workers are wandering back and forth with no real idea on how to proceed if the Queen won't start eating.
When I bustle into the chamber the Queen perks up and pushes through the crowd of workers towards me.
"Are we ready to dig?" she asks, the concern thrumming in her 'voice'.
"Good to go!" I try to reassure her.
I move over towards the slowly dimming walls of the chamber and start to feel out the dirt with my antennae. I'm relying on my Excavation skill to guide my instincts and detect the best place to start digging.
In my Tunnel Map I can see that the entrance where I encountered the humans is roughly two kilometres to the… let's say west. That isn't far enough away to be certain we are clear of human settlement.
I don't know if the entrance I found is in the middle of a thriving city or a cow paddock but since I know that there are humans there we need to surface a good distance away. That means we need to dig not just up, but further away from that entrance.
Eventually I find a patch of wall that feels the most promising to my tingling instincts and start digging. I want to pitch the tunnel upwards about twenty degrees, by the time we reach the surface we should be a long distance away from the entrance I was attacked at.
If we run into an already established tunnel then we'll have to back up, close off a section of tunnel and dig around it, we cannot risk exposing our escape route to the wave.
Even as I dig the glowing blue veins that have penetrated all the way here, to the heart of the colony glow brightly directly in my face. Towards these curling lines of light, to which I once felt such fascination I now only feel dread.
As I begin to remove the dirt the lines fade and vanish on the soil that is no longer connected to the wall, as if it were part of a circuit that had been disconnected. When the mana fades away, the dirt looks perfectly ordinary, as if there had been nothing different about it before.
"We should dig our tunnel here, your majesty!" I turn and say to the Queen.
I use my antennae to indicate the angle we should dig.
"If we dig in this direction we might be able to escape the worst of the wave. Get the workers to dump the dirt in the tunnel leading down from this chamber, if we can block monsters rising from deeper down that would be an added bonus!"
Having said my piece I take the clod of dirt in my mandibles and retreat to the lower tunnel in which we had battled the berserkers. If more monsters like them, or worse, were to attack during the wave we would be in serious trouble.
Even this long, spiralling tunnel has become filled with the mana veins. When the wave breaks, if Formo was correct then this entire tunnel would start to spawn monsters….
If we hadn't been forewarned we would surely be wiped out! If I get a chance I have to make sure I pay the Sophos back for their help…
Returning to the Queen's chamber I'm shocked to see the Queen herself digging away at the wall.
A nervous swarm of workers is bustling around her, even climbing over her in their attempt to render assistance.
I can also hear her gently encouraging the workforce with her soothing voice.
"Come little ones, let's dig a new tunnel here. Dig quickly children".
Although they cannot reply to her the fervour of the workers to respond to her words clearly demonstrates their understanding. The workers are practically vibrating with eagerness and it isn't long before a long chain of ants has been established, feverishly digging away at the wall with the Queens assistance whilst others cart away the dirt and dump it in the tunnel below.
Watching the furious pace the ants are working at my heart eases a little in my chest. Perhaps we might be able to make it after all. They may not be the sharpest tools in the shed but when it comes to work ethic I can't imagine anyone being able to beat a colony of ants.
I have to work just as hard!
I'm so exhausted, my mind feels wrapped in a fog. I can't slow down, there is too much to do and only a little time in which to do it!
I'll leave the digging to the colony for the time being, there are other things I can do to prepare for the upcoming struggle that the others can't.
Emerging back into the first trap network I find Tiny has settled himself down to sleep off his meal happily. This ape has gotten seriously larger lately, it won't be long before he reaches his full size at the pace he is going. Considering the amount of Biomass he packed into himself I today I wouldn't be surprised if he wakes up another foot taller!
Snoring softly, the little bat face seems to peaceful when asleep. It's a little difficult to associate this restful scene with the hooting battle crazed gorilla I'd seen not long ago.
Ah let him sleep. I'll be troubling him quite soon, better he gets rest whilst he can.
Digging away a patch of soft earth I reveal my treasures, the cores I'd saved.
Looking down at the glittering, gem-like spheres my heart slowly begins to burn with anticipation.
If the Sophos can engineer such powerful pets then why can't I?
And if I can, then what could possibly stop us?