More and more reinforcements appeared, plunging directly into battle without fanfare.
I was once again struck by the coordination and eerie silent aggression of the ants.
If a wave of soldiers were to appear, their gallant charge would be accompanied by shouted battle cries, faces adorned with noble expressions of sacrifice, determination and the thirst for victory.
This scene would stir the hearts of all who saw it, bringing tears to the eyes of elf maidens as they hastily composed epic poetry and songs about the dashing heroes who had so boldly, so heroically gone into battle that day, songs that would live on forever.
This moving scene would never occur when the colony advanced into battle however.
The workers made no sound, no battle cry, as they advanced on the enemy. As soon as the ants were close enough to detect the battle they simple ran forward to engage the foe, their cold eyes showed not a flicker of fear, hesitation, joy or triumph.
To me, this behaviour is heroic in another way. The ants are truly selfless, not considering preserving their own health, willing to sacrifice their life at a moment's notice to further the growth the colony. They needed no high ideals to do this, they were not seeking reward or riches, in the minds of the workers this was their task, their job, their purpose in life.
I appreciate you workers! Even if nobody else cares, I Anthony, am deeply moved by your single minded dedication!
Viva the workers!
Viva the colony!
It is for the sake of these workers and their growth that I have launched this anti-ape crusade. From the time I approached the tree and cut it down to all the time I spent charging through the horde of monsters and knocking them around I've been careful to injure the apes but never deal the finishing blow.
No, I have been saving all of this delicious Xp and Biomass for the workforce. After evolving and levelling up I doubt I'd be able to benefit much from these apes anyway. Instead of taking all of the resources for myself I'll help the colony by creating opportunities for the workforce to develop its strength, absorbing Biomass and gaining levels, as well as providing food for the colony to grow the next generation.
More and more workers are flooding into the battle, as many as fifty of the monstrous ants have engaged in bitter combat by this time, gradually overwhelming the apes with their vicious mandibles and acid bombardment.
The scene has become increasingly chaotic as acid rains from the sky upon ants and apes locked in deadly combat. Everywhere I turn there are groups of monsters battling to the death, workers darting here and there, using their mandibles to savagely bite down on their enemies even as the apes scratch, punch and discharge their electricity towards the insects.
What a vicious melee!
I continue to run interference through the ranks of the enemy, scattering them whenever it seems like a worker will become surrounded or threatened. With all of these factors working together it isn't long before the entire horde of spark chimps has been defeated, becoming fuel for the powerful engine that is the colony.
Feeling tired and satisfied, I survey the battlefield. Workers are picking through the remains of the apes, some of them already eating, others picking up the food and beginning to transport it back to the colony.
The workers are smarter than they appear in many areas, they know how much food the colony needs and will be sure that any excess isn't wasted. Particularly since the first creature to eat a food source is the one to gain the Biomass from it, passing on food stored in the social stomach will cause the worker to miss out on nutrition but not Biomass.
Perhaps this is why the workers transport so much back to the nest, this way the Queen and the workers who are almost full time helping the brood are also able to amass Biomass points. Since we have successfully secured more food than the colony realistically needs to keep all of the members going today, the workers will take it all for themselves rather than let any of it go to waste.
In this way my goals have been met.
I'm sure lots of workers were able to gain levels during this melee, not to mention the huge amount of Biomass consumed will allow many of the ants to mutate and improve the performance of their bodies. This will make the workforce more effective in fighting and growing the colony which will in turn allow the workers to amass more experience and Biomass as they battle, creating a positive feedback loop that I have no intention of slowing down.
Oh no, get ready workers, there are no breaks on this train.
With all of this food lying about I make sure to take my own 'tax', as well as letting Tiny get his fill. My little ape friend is getting larger at an increasingly rapid pace at the moment, almost visibly growing with every passing meal. It won't be long before he doesn't comfortably fit on back and will have to get around on his two feet.
About time you slacker!
After filling up on the spark chimps I only manage to gain three Biomass, a long way from the wealth I accrued from the berserkers. Those points immediately go into Regeneration +2 and Pheromones +1. The regeneration gland has proven to be incredibly useful already and I'll stick to my commitment to prioritise its growth. If I'm going to be conducting more battles with the workers like this then I can see the value in increasing my pheromones, allowing me to direct the flow of the ants faster and with less effort.
Since the colony has been provided with ample food for the time being I'll wait until my next campaign and spend some time working on my magic skills.
I really have too much to do at the moment! In addition to fuelling the growth of the colony I want to find more monster cores so I can reinforce myself to the limit before evolution as well as level up all of my body to +5, get to level ten and find the space to improve all three of my foundation magic skills!
Anthony, you are one busy ant!
Before I leave the area I notice that there are a few workers who are being left behind by the others, struggling with injury. Despite my best efforts I couldn't be everywhere at once, some of the ants being injured was inevitable. I'm pleased enough that there were no casualties on our side but it still gets my heart down to see these workers struggling with their wounds. One hatchling in particular has suffered three injured legs and cannot walk effectively, feebly dragging itself along the ground towards the colony.
Even with half of its legs broken and unusable this little worker is still carrying an ape in its mouth as it pulls itself through the dirt back to the nest.
Now that, is some dedication.
Moving quickly I make my way over to the tiny hatchling and gently pick them up in my mandibles. No worries little chap, this trip is on me.
Tiny, completely stuffed by this point, painfully hauls himself onto my back where he flops listlessly. Is this a food coma? Perhaps he went too far this time..
With my small passenger in my mandibles, who is turn carrying food in their own mandibles I make my way back to the nest safely.
When I arrive I head straight down to the Queens chamber where I find mother already busy healing a few of the injured workers, tapping them on the head with antennae to pass on the healing energy.
Good on you Queen, keeping the workforce going full strength!
I deposit my fellow worker before the Queen and look up to her gazing down at me with approval twinkling in her large eyes. Before I leave she gives me a quick pat on the head with one foreleg and moves to heal the hatchling I delivered.
She really is smarter than the workers by quite a bit…
Time to go practice some magic!