I need cores.
Like, super badly.
I need cores for me, I need cores for Tiny, I need cores for experimenting, I need cores to raise my skills, I need cores to fuse into more powerful cores for myself and for Tiny AND I need cores for my other side project!
The number of monster cores we had extracted so far from the farm was a grand total of one! When Tiny and I went in there to cripple the creatures this morning we found a monstrous toad had already slaughtered most of the creatures inside. Tiny had excitedly rushed to engage it, charging up his lightning fist and exploded the foe with one punch.
Luckily he hadn't destroyed the core!
Still, one core every three days is not nearly enough to meet my needs! I refuse!
I just don't have a solution to this problem currently.
Tiny and I are currently resting in the nest. A contented bustle has come over the colony recently as the workers have been busy doing the things that workers love to do. Tending to the brood, expanding the nest, foraging for food. Our new anthill has become impressively large now, the top reaching towards the peak of the trees. I had to ask them not to make it any higher or we'll end up too easy to spot. Our main objective is to hide and ride out the wave after all.
I want no trouble, be it human or otherwise.
To my delight, the pupae have started to hatch over the last few hours, hundreds of new workers emerging to swell the ranks of the colony. When this generation finally emerges we will have reached the one thousand worker mark! A milestone in the life of a young colony to be sure.
This is nothing though. If we expand the farm a little and keep the supply of Biomass coming it won't be long until we reach two thousand, five thousand, one hundred thousand!
That was the other exciting thing to happen this morning, the Queen finally awoke from her rest. After a massive feed provided to her by the workers she got busy producing the next generation. Even as I rest I can hear the workers scurrying about madly with fresh clutches of eggs, stashing them into the egg chambers, fastidiously cleaning them and ensuring they are the right temperature.
This means I means I need to advance the schedule of my project even faster. For that though… I have to have cores!
As I clack my mandibles in irritation I'm suddenly distracted by a noise. Turning around I see that it isn't Tiny snoring for once, though he is asleep, thick meaty arms flung over his face like a hairy teenager. The noise instead came from the pupa stashed with us in our private chamber.
The cocoon has already begun to take on a distinct thin shade as the young larva inside has gone through its remarkable metamorphosis, transforming from a grub and into an ant. Still ghostly white and translucent as its carapace has yet to harden the almost complete worker has started to slowly move, twitching it limbs and stretching out for the first time.
I guess I'll help the little thing out. It is normal for other workers to assist newborns break free of their cocoon, cutting away at the threads with their mandibles. The very first workers in the colony will have this task performed for them by the Queen herself.
I think I can vaguely recall having to bite my own way out, but I don't really have any memory of my pupal stage, I really only became aware of myself after I had emerged.
At any rate, I cheerfully help out the new member of our colony, my sibling no less, break out of the casing by chomping away at the outside carefully, removing sections of threads at a time and clearing the way for the hatchling to emerge.
Gradually I see a little ant face poking out of the gaps and after a few minutes the brand new worker stands proudly before atop its own casing!
Why the heck is this worker so small!? She looks smaller than a normal hatchling by about a third, which makes her very tiny indeed! There is something else odd about her as well. I'm not sure exactly what it is, as a worker she seems a little, energetic? She is practically bouncing around already and she only just hatched!
I remember as a grub this one had a lot of pep but this seems ridiculous.
Before I'm even finished internally complaining about this high energy hatchling she starts waggling her antennae around before locking onto me and rushing in my direction! In a few short moments she has raced across the ground and scrambled up onto my back before triumphantly positioning herself between my antennae and thwacking them insistently with her own.
I hate thiiiiiiiis.
Why the hell is this ant so attached to me?! Why is it so different than the others?
I honestly don't know what to make of this behaviour.
This worker is just so odd. Out of sheer curiosity I flip on my mana sense and extend my mind out of my body. There is a faint concentration of mana in a place that I did not expect. Right on top of my head.
Are you kidding me Gandalf?! This little midget was born with a core?! Tell me it isn't true!
I struggled for that core, I worked hard for that rock! Now you're telling me that a monster ant can just flat out be born with a core? Tell me, swear on your pointy hat and rad staff with the shiny crystal on it that it isn't so!
Despite my protests my new passenger remains stubbornly clung to my head, core on board.
I will have to investigate this later.
For now I poke Tiny awake and make my way out of the nest, tiny hatchling excitedly riding on my scalp the entire way.
Trying to put the distraction out of my mind I try to turn my mind back to most pressing issue.
Damn worker on my head… No! Don’t get distracted!
From what I know a monster can form a core when they are sufficiently saturated with mana and then sacrifice an evolution in order to form it. How the freeloader on my scalp managed to get enough mana before she was even born, not to mention the evolutionary energy acquired by amassing levels. I'll have to put this exception to the rules to one side and focus on what I know!
I myself increased my mana concentration by drinking mana infused water, which judging by how the monsters were addicted to that stuff it isn't an unusual way for monsters to get dat mana.
Soooo. If I can introduce a source of mana water to the farm it might have an effect in increasing the number of monsters able to form a core?
Worth a shot!
Fortunately I created the farm right next to a source of mana water! So convenient…
When we return to the pond I see a few Branchies standing in small groups but they quickly scatter and hide after we arrive. I swear there are a few new young trees growing near the edge of the pond. Have they been planting baby branchies here?!
Hmm. I'll have to be careful not to disturb their local environment. For all I know the branchies require this pond to sustain their lives. Better to be cautious.
In the end I excavate a shallow channel that leads to the farm tunnel and I get Tiny to line the bottom with stones that he smashes flat. We then head down into the farm and disable all of the monsters before hollowing out a small pool directly under the tunnel entrance.
Hopefully this works!