It would be utterly ridiculous if the humans were to be working harder than the ants. That is a situation that could never be borne! Never! Ants are the hardest working, most industrious species on the face of the earth.
Never tiring! Never slowing!
Now it's time to show it!
Watching the humans feverishly working as if possessed by a spirit of madness has ignited a fire within my ant soul. I refuse to be outworked!
I mean … the rest of the colony are working their guts out, as always, it's only me that takes breaks. The workers are either tending to the sudden influx of eggs, keeping them clean, keeping them the right temperature, shifting them between chambers to make sure the moisture in the air is correct, or tending to the larvae, feeding them, keeping them plump and happy. Not to mention that Vibrant has been racing about, followed by her own loyal posse of workers, at a mad dash, hauling piles and piles of surface monsters back to the nest.
According to her, the surrounding forest is starting to look a little thin of surface monsters so I recommended she take her group into the Dungeon farms and upper tunnels to beef up her helpers and provide some more Biomass rich material for the colony.
No sooner had the words left my mouth than she was off, dashing down into the Dungeon and soon enough she was back with her team, carrying large mandible loads of Biomass.
Naturally this means the Queen is getting ready to lay another clutch in the next few days. All of this Biomass has largely been funnelled towards her which means my own preparations need to step up a gear!
What's wrong with the farms? Nothing!
What do we need? MOAR FARMS!
We need to pump out Biomass and cores at a faster rate than ever before in order to kick start the growth of the hatchlings, and there are going to be a heck of a lot of them!
So the first thing I do is clear out the existing farms and chow down, no need to waste the food and I somewhat spitefully want to keep it from the Queen in order to slow down the rate of growth, if only a little.
This nets me a quick 30 Biomass, since they were relatively empty already due to Vibrant and Crinis' attention over the last few days. Then the excavation starts. Currently the farms are four , round chambers about twenty metres beneath the surface. In my grand expansion plan I add another eight chambers, the new ones roughly double the size of the previous.
Due to the size of the task I end up recruiting Vibrant and her gang when they return to the nest and we get our face hands stuck into the dirt.
Ah! The bliss! Ant zen, how I've missed you!
A huge digging project like this produces a heck of a lot of dirt and the villagers are treated to the sight of a steady stream of workers crawling about on the anthill, dumping loads of dirt and doubling the size of our visible home on the surface.
I'm almost curious to ask what they think we are up to over here but I don't need the attention, there's a ton more work to do after all.
Once the digging is done and I've collected two levels in my excavation, enough to advance it to the third rank, expert excavation, I need to do try and increase our core farming speed.
Unlike at our last nest, I don't have a convenient pool of mana charged water that I can siphon off into the nest, in fact, the closest water supply is the river on the other side of the village.
Theoretically I could use my water magic to create all of the water that we needed but according to Beyn, materials created by mana don't quite have the same natural properties or capacity to hold mana quite like the original does. You can survive on mana produced water, for example, but it doesn't hydrate nearly as well as natures' own. This applies to anything made with mana apparently. You can make metals with some advanced classes of earth mage but they just aren't as good as what can be mined. So rather than settle for second best, I want a natural water source for the farms.
What does that mean? More digging!
With Tiny helping me, I get straight into digging out a channel that leads from close the anthill towards the river in a curved line that takes us around the southern edge of the village. Whilst we take care of the surface side of the equation, I ask Crinis to use her tentacles to burrow holes from the end of the channel that drain into the upper four farms, then create a pool in each of those farms that allows the water to drain off the top into further holes into the lower eight farms.
With my increasingly magnificent digging skills and Tiny's brute strength, we dig out a fairly sizeable channel in under a day. It takes a bit longer to make sure the banks of our channel are properly squashed flat to prevent leaking and then to create a gate mechanism at the river end and at the anthill end. The last thing we want is to dump a river worth of water into the nest…
The thwacking I would get from the Queen. Yikes.
Our work didn't go unnoticed in the village and Enid came out to ask us what the hell we were up to. Once we manage to communicate the thrust of the project, the farmers get immensely excited and it isn't long before Enid approaches to ask if I can assist them with a channel system for their farms. In return they offered to forge up some proper gates for our irrigation system, something I was happy enough to accept.
No way I'm digging it for them until I clear my schedule though!
The ecstatic villagers were delighted to have a chance to help out their saviour the 'Great Ant' and they forged day and night to get the gates in place as soon as possible. So it was that a day later the final barrier between the river and the channel were cleared away and sweet, sweet water flowed to the anthill and down into our farms where it began to absorb the ambient mana in the air, drawing our own home grown, free range monsters to feast and hopefully form some cores.
With the major renovations to the nest completed, I can let the accelerated spawn of monsters during the wave take care of the rest and populate the farms. If we keep a steady drip of water going, hopefully in a few days we'll be able to harvest a nice haul of cores.
It had better be that quick. We reached another milestone whilst I was busy digging. At first just one but then all of the first twenty larvae started rolling about and spinning their cocoons.
In a short amount of time they had become pupae, the final stage.