Unable to refuse my order, Crinis was forced to extend multiple tentacles which she unwillingly began to wrap around my carapace and squeeze, the lacklustre force evidence to her confusion and reluctance.

[Crinis!] I cried out in agony, [If you don't compress me I'm gonna pop! Please!]

The outward pressure continued to build as the energy in my core swirled dangerously, drawing more and more from the rare core into itself and growing larger with each moment that passed.

Crack!

Deep within my body a horrific sound reverberated outward and waves of pain washed through my entire body, sending me writhing and twisting on the floor.

[Crinis!]

[I'll do it!]

Suddenly afraid, Crinis reached out with more tentacles and wrapped them around my body covering almost every inch of my carapace and began to squeeze.

I became still, not because it hurt any less, in fact, it began to hurt more, but with Crinis wrapping me up so tight there wasn't anywhere I could go! In fact, in her rush to obey my desperate plea, she inadvertently caught one of my legs up in her tentacles and the limb was immediately crushed.

She's strong!

But, holy moly, this hurts! The outward pressure of the growing core has now been met with the inward pressure of Crinis. I have no sound medical basis for this procedure, but I'm rolling with my gut instinct here! If all goes well, maybe I'll survive…

Please finish soon, please finish soon. COME ON!

In the centre of my thorax, my innards are being shredded, pressed down onto the core, they are being used in an attempt to hold the stressed gem together whilst also having to endure the core pressing back against them. Ravaging pain, the likes of which I've only experienced once before, wracked my form.

Back then, the only thing I had to live for was my colony.

Strangely enough, that's still true today!

I REFUSE TO DIE!

[Give it everything Crinis! Don't worry about hurting me!]

[Ahhhh- OK!]

Pressure.

More and more, Crinis' limbs crushed and grinded down on my carapace with such force that even my diamond shell began to crack and splinter beneath her ministrations. The inward force and the outward pressure continued to grind my insides to paste and it was all I could do not to pass out.

Activate the regeneration gland!

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I have a horrible feeling that this is gonna hurt. But if I can keep my organs functioning for a bit longer, maybe I'll be able to survive.


AAAAARGGGHHH!

I'd writhe in pain, but I can't! How much longer to go?!

I rolled my eyes around until I spotted the core lying on the ground in front of me, a steady stream of energy vapour pouring off it and into me. I think I'm about halfway through absorbing what's left of it. Half way through and I'm barely hanging on!

Come on Anthony! Would the Queen whinge and moan like this? No! Hold yourself together! Show the other ants how it's done!

I continued to endure through the agony which seemed to defy the odds and grow worse each second. Just stop it, pain! Nobody asked you to get any worse! EERGHHH. I'm losing my sense of things, as well as my senses. At least I think I am, is everything fading?

I startled Crinis by starting to bang what little was exposed of my head into the floor of the chamber.

Wake up Anthony! No time for sleeping! There's a lot of stuff still to do and it won't get done if you pass out and die here! Grit those face hands and endure you son of a Queen!

Inch by agonizing inch the core was absorbed into me, it's energy overflowing into my own core and fuelling it's growth. I better get one hell of an evolution out of this! Despite my best efforts, my mind is starting to fade. The pain is too much. Is this what it would feel like if Tiny tried to do math? Reality is slipping from my grasp.

It would be so easy. So easy, just to let all go. But I won't. I'm a stubborn creature at heart.

Did I let it go when I was abandoned by my family? Nope. Or when I was kicked out of school and shunned by everyone I'd known? Negative! I'm not likely to give up now that there are people (ants) who actually need me!

Despite the intense pain, a sense of purpose and determination welled up inside me and I grabbed hold of it with all six legs plus my mandibles. I can take it!

And I did. I held on until the final wisp of energy leaked out of the rare core and it disappeared inside me, the ordeal finally complete.

Except it isn't!

It still hurts like all get out! If I don't evolve immediately, I might not be able to hold onto consciousness, pass out and die!

I feel like my guts have been blended, mashed, pureed, minced and then blended again for the hell of it! How much health have I got left?! 6 HP!?!?! And it's still going down?!

Oh.

[Crinis, you can let me go now!]

[Oh! O-Of course!]

Not being crushed to death my own pet helps the pain a little, but not much. It's time, I need to engage the evolution menu!

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