Finally! Back in the nest and away from the crazy! The Kaarmodo is gone (hopefully) and I have nothing to worry about. Let's go get it!

Full of energy, I barrel into the nest and charge down the main shaft. I'm heading for that Dungeon and nothing's going to stop me! Lumbering behind, Tiny shares my enthusiasm. He missed the entire battle and I can tell he's sour about it. The closer we get to the Dungeon, the brighter the big ape's eyes become. By the time we make it to our old resting place his ears are twitching with excitement. I'm with you Tiny, it'll be great to get back to the simple life!

[Eldest.]

No. Pls. Don't do it to me like this. I was so close. So damn close!

[What is it Victor?]

The now much smaller than me general crawls out of a side tunnel to appear in my line of sight.

[I was hoping to have a quick word before you left.]

[Okay, Victor. Hit me. What's happening.]

[The council wants to elevate Vibrant to the position left vacant by Grant's passing. She's the logical choice as the next eldest soldier in the colony, even if she probably won't be around all that much. What do you think?]

[It's fine with me,] I say, a little exasperated. [You don't need me to okay these things. Just do what you think is best.]

[Of course. We just wanted to make sure you approved.]

[It's fine,] I repeat. [Is there anything else?]

I'm itching to go here.

The general hesitates for a brief moment before she shrugs off her concerns.

[I think we'll talk to you when you get back. This time is important for the development of the colony. We don't want anything to go wrong.]

[What could go wrong?] I laugh. [There's nothing here to stop us right now.]

Even I feel the slight chill in the air that descends in the face of my brazen overconfidence.
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[Okay. I'll check in with you guys when I get back. Just keep it simple. Everyone needs to keep learning, keep growing the colony and secure more territory, but slowly. No need to complicate things.]

[As you say, Eldest. That's what we thought also.]

[Alright then. I'll drop in to see Mother when we get down there. Catch you later Victor.]

And finally free!

Tiny, Crinis and I burst out into the Dungeon at last! Muahahaha! Time for these stupid monsters to become my stress relief!


The last vestiges of the wave are beginning to fade now, monsters no longer spring from the walls fully formed, mana levels are sinking back to what I got to experience for a brief time just after I was born. It hasn't fallen to that point yet though, and spawn rates from normal spawn locations are still higher than normal. The colony has been busy cleaning out the tunnels around the nest as fast as possible in order to make use of this. Even the farms have largely been abandoned now, left to try and develop their own ecosystems, hopefully a few spawn locations develop and they can still be used, albeit in a reduced way.

It takes a little while, but we eventually find some action away from the nest where the colony hasn't been able to clear away all the monsters and we smash them like a bowling ball hitting some very brittle pins.

With savage glee Tiny unleashes his frustration through his unstoppable fists. As he goes to work, a grin splits his face and lightning dances across his mighty shoulders. Crinis also lets her… tentacles… down, and the cold fury of the JellyMaw is once again unleashed on the poor denizens of the Dungeon. I can almost see Crinis' cold smile as her writhing limbs perform their dark dance, tearing limb from limb and cutting monsters to ribbons.

I let my pets do most of the work, they need the experience far more than I do and it's soothing to me in a curious way to watch my two friends go to work. A bit of acid here and there is the extent of my contribution. More to let myself grow accustomed to my new range and aiming capacity than anything else. Being able to shoot in front of me without having to turn around is such a boon I can hardly describe it. Especially now that I'm this large. As an insect, I'm not especially flexible, there isn't a whole lot of twisting that goes on, I just have to turn my entire body around to orient my business district. Now I can just lift my commercial interests high, lower the front of my body and POW! Acid time.

The concentrated acid has increased damage, duration and sticking effect thanks to the concentration gland as well. And since it regenerates faster, I can fire it for days! Very happy with my acid system overall. And with new organs comes new opportunities for mutation! I need to play around with my new abilities a little more before I decide on what to do there. If I make a hasty decision before I've had time to consider what I want to do with my acid network back there, I'm sure I'll come to regret it.

Just like this, the three of us happily smash the pitiful and unfortunate monsters that we come across, pausing to eat Biomass occasionally when we find something of a reasonable tier. None of us is particularly struggling for Biomass right now, after consuming Garralosh we have a mighty hoard, but it never hurts. Before we left I quickly purchased the mutation the ants in the colony had been using.

My Efficient Stomach +5 reduces the penalty for consuming Biomass of a lower tier monster. Doesn't eliminate it, but every little bit helps!

Without much dallying, we make our way down to the Marsh Expanse and find the satellite nest where the Queen is currently residing. Dug into the shortcut I'd constructed earlier, this large and spacious chamber is, for the moment, the beating heart of the colony in the sense that all egg production is occurring here. Even Victoriant and Antionette have moved in.

Considering its importance, it's only natural that the place is bristling with soldiers and brood tenders.

[How goes it everyone?]

As I enter, hundreds of ants turn from their tasks to face me for a moment before they return to their tasks. A constant stream of Biomass is being brought into the space and taken to one end where the three Queens are currently residing.

After their evolution, Victoriant and Antionette have progressed from Juvenile Queens to Young Queens! Each of them is able to lay fifty eggs a day. It might not seem like much, but over time it'll rapidly add up. The Queen, post evolution, is now able to produce three hundred eggs per day, bringing the weekly total numbers to two thousand eight hundred new brood each week.

Which is many.

[Hello child,] the Queen greats me warmly.

I almost brace for a solid thwacking out of habit, but she doesn't attack me this time, but rather turns to give me a pat on the head with one antenna.

[Hi there, Mother! How are our new Queens doing?]

[Greetings, Eldest,] Antionette answers. [It's wonderful to be able to contribute something at last.]

[Finally! I can't wait to see my children at work,] Victoriant says happily.

[They are doing very well,] the Queen assures me. [And yourself. What are you planning to do?]

[Going to hit the Dungeon, level up some skills, explore a little. Hopefully get Crinis or Tiny to evolve. Want to try and find a few things also.]

[Oh?]

[It might be nothing, but we'll see how it goes.]

[Very well. Stay safe. The colony needs you still.]

[Of course! You know me.]

[That's why I worry.]

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