The Queen seemed quite taken with her new pet. After giving a little advice regarding skills such as Pet Communication, Pet Growth among others. The Queen eventually decided to take the communication skill, the growth skill and the skill that allowed her to view the status of Aphy, the aphid Queen.
Those decisions made sense, since she wouldn't be able to communicate with her new pet without spending a skill on it. Mind magic is not on the horizon for the Queen and Aphy does not have a pheromone gland. Helping her pet grow more rapidly at the cost of a single skill point also seemed worth the investment to the Queen. Particularly when considering the potential benefit of producing aphid cattle as fast as possible.
Finally, after I shared my thoughts that the status viewing skill would eventually lead to being able to manipulate the status directly, possibly also guide evolutions, the Queen decided to pick up this skill as well. I think that was the correct choice. Aphy isn't all that smart and has no chance of being able to access the custom evolution process, not to mention spending her skill points and Biomass points in sensible ways. If the Queen can take over those duties then Aphy will have a much brighter future.
By the time I leave, the Queen was looking down fondly on her new pet as the green shelled miniature aphid Queen turned this way and that, skittering around the chamber under her masters' watchful eyes.
The workers seemed willing to accommodate Aphy without complaint also, making room for the little bug and steering it away from trouble when she got too close to dangerous parts of the walls.
All in all, I'm extremely pleased at how this project has gone! The Queen is happy to have her own little pet and Aphy will produce a host of aphids that the colony can tame and use as our own herd animals. We'll care for them, protect them, bring them to food, and in return they shall reward us with precious Biomass! Gweheheheh. It's perfect.
Burning my minds to a crisp in order to produce that engineered core was totally worth it, and the process helped to reveal some of the technical aspects of combining cores in a non-hodgepodge manner. The practice of lifting one one line of information at a time and layering it over the data within the other core, like transplanting a painting onto another, one brush stroke at a time, felt like the correct method to approach this process. It also helped me to glimpse the pure artistry of the Sophos.
I firmly believe that their fantastical pets are created by taking pieces of one monster and combining it with pieces of another. I originally though that perhaps they had monstrous willpower, able to force hundreds of changes to a core with ease, but now I suspect that they possess monstrous willpower, and they demonstrate godly skill when combining cores, taking pieces from two separate, disparate painting and combining them to create a coherent picture that is completely new.
My mind filled with thoughts of Formo and his brethren, I descend beneath the Queens chamber, past the off shooting tunnels that lead to the farming complex and into my own personal space. Within I find the twenty hatchlings already assembled, their various shapes and sizes filling the small room. Another ant has also made an appearance I see.
'Hi-hi! How are you Senior!"
"Vibrant! Been a while. What happened to your posse?"
The hyper active ant that I'd known ever since she was a grub has now grown into a powerful member of the colony, complete with her own squad of loyal goons who help her when she goes out on quests for the colony.
"They're in torpor, of course! Can't be go, go, GO, all the time!"
Are you sure? You've been non-stop since before you were born! I'm a witness!
Actually, hang on a sec…
"You're looking a little different these days, Vibrant. Are you larger? Not to mention, somewhat more aggressive looking? Did you evolve?!"
"Yup! What do you think?!" Vibrant cheered as she leaped about with excitement.
Finally reached her third evolution! From superior hatchling to some variety of soldier to whatever she is now, it's been a rapid rise for Vibrant, even if she did have my help over the first hurdles. Now she's just as evolved as I am! That can't be right! I'm going to have to get busy is order to make sure I stay at the head of the pack.
I refuse to be the inferior ant! They need to continue to look up to me, their Senior!
Speaking of my Juniors, they are shifting about uneasily as Vibrant continues to dominate the space with her new size and sheer energy.
"How are you all hatchlings?" I greet them.
"We are well, Senior" they respond.
"Although, we aren't hatchlings anymore, not even superior hatchlings" Mendant the healer is at pains to point out.
"You'll always be hatchlings to me Mendant. It was I who taught you from the time you were hatched, after all!"
Several of them wave their antennae in despondent circles, unhappy that I continue to treat them as if they were fresh out of their cocoons. I can't really help it, they've only been out of their cocoons for only a week and a bit! If they were humans they'd still be unable to lift their heads off the floor. In terms of life experience they have nothing going for themselves.
"Okay then. I wanted to talk the group of you about a few things that I regrettably neglected to mention when I was teaching you. This may happen again, by the way, since it's possible I forgot to mention a heap of other pieces of critical information."
Many heads sink toward the floor in despair, a dense feeling of frustration rose into the air. Sorry guys, I'm not perfect! But I'll do my best!
"So, the human village. Let's have a quick chat about that, just lay a few ground rules and all that jazz. Rule one that I would like to propose is this: No killing and eating the humans in the village. Are there any questions about that one?"
Twenty sets of antennae are raised into the air.
"Dang. Alright. Can someone volunteer their query?"
It's Bella, the core shaper who steps forward, her smaller size is dwarfed by the looming physique of Vibrant but her eyes glitter with intelligence as she speaks.
"Those 'humans' represent a copious amount of experience and Biomass that would help fuel the growth of the colony. What benefit are they to us unharmed?"
Many antennae wiggle with agreement around the chamber. I sighed.
"Look, I understand the short term gain that the colony would enjoy were we to harvest the humans of the village and feed them to the Queen, I get it. What you don't understand is the benefits of mutual cooperation between two societies. You are the amongst the oldest of our species, technically, but you've been alive for such a short time."
I turned to point one leg towards the village through hundreds of metres of stone.
"They have the benefit of thousands of years of history, study and development! Far more valuable than a bumper crop of Biomass and experience, is knowledge. You would throw away the thing that our colony needs most for the thing our colony needs least! Experience and Biomass will come, time is all we need. The expertise of the surface races, amassed over time, is there ready for us to access. Knowledge of the Dungeon, of evolution, of language, art, construction, forging, weaponry, armour, enchanting, farming, education and more! That is why we shouldn't attack them."
"I agree with Senior" Vibrant declared, "the humans have helped us fight off the waves on the surface. Without them we would have lost many more workers. They've never attacked us either!"
"Good point there Vibrant. So, are you starting to see the bigger picture regarding the human village?"