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Written by: sus#4634

  1. Arc of Blindness: 1 - 7
  2. Arc of Interpretation: 8 - 15
  3. Arc of Colonization: 16 - 23
  4. Arc of War: 24 - 30

Prologue

The Asteroid

A long time ago, a catastrophe took place where an asteroid from afar hit the world. The ensuing chaos wiped out many of the dominant animals, reducing the world to ashes. The only survivors were small insects.

The Rainforest

The tropical rainforest is not a place to die. Despite its positioning surrounding the impact, new plants regrew in the ashes of the old. Millions of years had passed, and now this was an insect metropolis.

The Ants

Many species of ants had adapted to live here, including one very opportunistic Honeypot society. Founded recently, it has been growing fast. With flowers abundant, this society has been packed to the brim with sweet, sugary nectar.

Chapter I

Underground

"What are you doing? Don't go in there!" The loud words echoed in Tail's ear as she instantly stopped in her tracks. "Hmm? What's in there?" Tail asked, confusingly. Fly answered with an annoyed stare. "Didn't they teach you this? That's part of the royal territory. Only Royal Caretakers can enter. And even then, they are not allowed to do anything but take care of Queen Sun's brood."

"So, where are we even going?" Tail asked. "To the replete stores. This will be important. It's where all of our backup food is stored. You'll need to remember one thing: These stores allow us to live underground for at least seven nights."

Tail looked around the soily, moist tunnels as she followed Fly to the repletes. "So, what do the repletes look like?" she asked. "Just like you and me, except with gasters that look like pots of honey." "Woah, really? Where do they even get the honey?" Tail asked. "Right oustide the nest. There are nectar filled flowers to be seen everywhere. Once you're old enough, you'll get to see for yourself," Fly responded.

"So, when will I be old enough to go outside?" Tail asked. "Well, you hatched four nights ago, so approximately eight nights from now," Fly responded. "Ah, we're here," Fly said with a delighted look.

Trophallaxis

"You're lucky to be with me today. This place is located directly south of the queen. The nest setup is essentially three rings surrounding Queen Sun's chamber in the middle, with eight lines sprouting from the chamber, each holding another chamber wherever the rings intersect. That's 24 chambers excluding the Queen's, and the one we're in is the closest southern one. Your nursery is the closest one to the east and the anthill is middle of the west chambers.

"So, what do we do now?" Tail asked. "Simple. You need to regurgitate honey. Just push your throat muscles and release the barrier in your gaster, while using your mandibles to create a tunnel to one of the repletes. I suggest you do it to the one on the left, looks like it has the least amount of honey," Fly answered. "But what's the point? It sounds disgusting anyway," Tail commented. Fly was dumbfounded. "So you can share your honey with the rest of the colony. Normal ants can only store so much honey." Tail reluctantly said "Fine." She hooked onto the replete and regurgitated the sugary liquid.

"You know, it really isn't that bad," Fly said. "In case of an emergency, you'll need to know this, one could happen at any time. For all we know, enemy ants have invaded our nest and took control of the western chambers." As soon as Fly was done talking, an ant rushed into the chamber. It was a young worker. "Enemy ants have invaded the nest! A swarm of them killed off the foraging lines, and they have taken control of the western chambers. They are marching toward us AT THIS VERY SECOND!"

Chapter II

Invasion

"What?" Tail was shocked. "There's no time to explain. The enemies are much more numerous. Many ants have already died. Our remaining workers are building a tunnel to the eastern part of the nest. You must help them and take as many brood as possible! Go now! There is no time to waste!" Immediately the worker ran off to the next chamber. The unfamiliar scent of enemy ants was already seeping into the nest. "Let's go!" Fly said. She was probably just as worried as Tail - but she knew panicking wouldn't help anyone.

But then Tail remembered something. "What are you waiting for?" Fly asked. "Come on!" Then Tail spoke. "I need to protect the repletes. Go do whatever it is you have to do!" Fly was confused. "Your a single worker. You can't do anything if a swarm of ants come here." "That's not what I meant!" Immediately Tail started taking blocks of dirt and covering up the chamber. "Go protect the queen," Tail said. Fly then knew what she was planning to do. Fly then ran off down the path. Meanwhile Tail kept placing blocks of soil on the four entrances, preventing any ant from getting in. As the scent of enemy ants was getting greater and greater, Tail knew death was getting closer. She could hear faint bites and sprays. But before she knew it, Tail was done blocking the entrances and ran off to help with the tunnel.

As soon as she reached the eastern part of the nest, an array of panicking workers were in view, each digging and carrying brood. The scent was now looming over the entire nest; it was clear that the enemies had reached the center of the nest. Tail started helping to dig the tunnel that led directly away from the invasion. Eggs and larvae were being carried by workers, each pack being deposited by the tunnel. "The tunnel is complete! Start making a chamber," one of the leading tunnelers said.

The tunnel was now 12 ants wide which was a significant length. A space the size of an ant was forming at the end of it. The tunnel seemed to grow quickly, but it wasn't over yet. Tail decided that her tunneling duty was done, and scrambled to go and get Brood out of the other chambers. She ran to the center of the nest, looking for loose larvae. She hoped that the enemies had been pushed back, but quite the opposite had happened. As Tail approached the Queen's chamber, acid sprays were in view and she could see the ants fighting. Tail got worried as she realized the Queen wasn't in view. Could she have died?

Occupation

Now wasn't the time to worry though. She found a pack of brood and carried as many as she possibly can back east to the new tunnel. The chamber at the end could now fit 70 workers. "It's big enough! I think it's time to start bringing in the brood," one of the ants said. "Agreed," another one said. Brood started piling up, and the rest of the ants moved to get more brood. This had all happened so quickly. One second Tail was being toured, and the next the entire colony was in a crisis. "Tell the others the chamber is done! Get the Queen over here," an ant shouted. "Where in god's name is she anyway?" another ant shouted. Some ants went back to get the Queen and tell the other ants of the news as Tail had helping deposit the received brood in the new chamber.

The news that the chamber was done traveled quickly, and many workers started flooding the tunnel. Still though, no soldiers were in view. Tail assured herself that they were still fighting the enemies. "We have all the brood we could get, and the Queen is here too! It's time to close the tunnel," one of the returning ants said. All the brood being carried by the returning workers were deposited in the new chamber. Tail caught a glimpse of the Queen, but was unable to fully examine her past the crowd of ants. The sound of death had started advancing again, now acid sprays could be heard even inside the chamber. Ants started picking up pieces of dirt and covering the entrance to the tunnel. Tail was among them, and soon more ants did the same.

The entrance of the tunnel was now a dead end, as the tunnel had been fully blocked off. The sounds of war started dying down, and as hoped, the enemies didn't detect the remaining ants hidden inside the chamber. Tail realized that the ants here didn't even number in the hundreds, and the colony originally had thousands of ants. They were less than 1/20th of the population they once were. To make matters worse, no soldiers had survived the attack. It was a huge hit.

As Tail thought about this, the Queen had finally shown herself, slowly inching to the middle of the chamber. The ants around began looking horrified. "Th.. that's the Queen?" Queen Sun was hurt seriously. One of her legs had been bitten off, while her back had an acid splash, not to mention the great amount of bite marks that covered her entire body. It was clear she was caught off guard, or that she couldn't get past the numerous trail of ants.

Queen Sun's wounds were being licked by most of the workers in the room. "W-we have taken a hit.. but.. this colony will.. it will live on!" the Queen said, before slowly falling to the floor. Thank god she didn't die, or else the colony would have been doomed. Shortly after, one ant started to speak. "Some were orange, and some were dark red with a black face.. We stood no chance, because they had two types of ants.. Even if we did manage to kill the swarm of orange ants, our remaining forces would have been killed off by the red ones!"

Chapter III

Hideout

Instantly the ants started murmuring. "What?" "Multiple species in a single colony?" "Impossible!" "Settle down," an ant interrupted. "I saw it too. They had multiple species in their trails. They came straight from the north of the anthill and caught a trail off guard. But what we need to focus on is surviving." "Agreed," an ant said. "We musn't worry so much. Chances are they will leave by night."

"But what if that isn't enough? They most likely know the queen survived. If we were to move back into the nest, they would only attack us again," an ant challenged. "So you are saying it would be better to stand here underground until we all starve?" Tail then remembered how she had covered up the chamber of repletes. "I.. I have an idea! When the battle started, I had covered up the chamber of repletes. There was absolutely no trace that the chamber even existed! I suggest we open the tunnel now and survive on the stores. We can survive at least a week. After all, the ants won't come back in here without a reason. We will only get caught if we go outside!"

"I stand with her!" Murmurs of agreement rippled throughout the crowd of ants. "But what will we do after that?" "Well.. D.. don't we have a week's supply? I have decided! We tunnel straight south for a week and survive on the repletes. We will start a new kingdom," the Queen said weakly, with all of her strength gone. It was set.

Rays of Light

It had been eight nights since the initial decision; the emotions of the colony were a mix between exhausted and hopeful. Only consuming honeydew, the ants had grew weaker, but the journey was coming to an end. A massive tunnel more than 3000 ants long had been created. The repletes had been moved from their original chamber all the way across, and it only took a day to get all the ants into a new Royal Chamber.

"Preparations have been completed," Queen Sun exclaimed, now fully healed. "Start work on the new anthill." Of course that required more digging, but the slightly upward slope of the tunnel to get all the way over to the new location made it a lot easier. The ants were very close to the surface; it was only a dozen ants away. The Royal Caretakers had been preoccupied building a new chamber for the repletes, and designing the entire nest itself. It was planned to be much more elegant than before, with strategic locations to allow sneak attacks and defenses.

Tail, meanwhile, had just began helping a group of ants dig to the surface. She had been recently made a scout by Queen Sun herself after meeting the experience requirements and for keeping the repletes safe, allowing the colony to survive. "Yeah, pull that pebble over there," an ant said. The sound of dirt crumbling had started to fill Tail's brain. In the background she could hear the Royal Caretakers talking about the nest. "I think we should have a secret tunnel that loops around." "No, it would take too long to traverse it." Tail persistently pushed the words out of her ears, waiting for the first light to shine through, so she could go outside for the first time in her life.

As the last few bits of dirt came crumbling away, very empty repletes were being moved by ants into the new chamber. Things were looking up for the colony. They will have finally ventured outside for the first time in a week. It seemed to be all coming to a close. Rays of light fludded from the new hole as the first ants walked through it. "Scouts, deploy!"

Chapter IV

Strangeness

Five ants were sent to survey the outside world. Each of them had never seen the outside world before, but they were deemed capable nonetheless. Each had been properly trained and could record trails with pheromones, and they were instructed to be at maximum 50 ants from the nest. Their names were: Leaf, Stone, Spring, Flower, and Tail.

"Wow," Stone said, scanning the habitat. "I can't believe we are really outside! The space is so big!" Leaf stared straight upwards. "It's like we are tiny. It's like the world is covered with giant green plants. Amazing!" But Flower was concerned. "I was told there would be a bright cyan void straight up, with maybe a few giant plants mixed in. But here, everything is covered!" "It's probably fine," Tail said. "After all, we are 3000 ants away from where we were before. It makes sense the habitat would be different." Spring was visibly confused. "But we were taught that these giant plants would be lime green in color, but they seem to be a more bluish, dark green. Not to mention that how large these plants are should compensate for the distance from our original home."

Tail was confused too, but hid the feeling anyway. Leaf announced "Well, we were told to scan the environment for any danger. It's a simple task, and we have done that. There doesn't seem to be ants or anything that is large and can eat. Mission accomplished, right?" "I say we call on the foraging squad to examine the situation," said Tail. Leaf agreed. "You can go ahead and do that, and we will keep a look out for anything suspicious. Tail entered slightly back into the nest and called on the first foraging ants. "Foraging Squad One, there's a discrepancy between what we expected," Tail announced, before quickly leaving the nest again.

Soon about 10 ants came up from the nest and looked around. There was a slight pause before one of the ants said "Well, what did you expect? We are 3000 ants away from where we were previously." "No need to hide it, we are all as confused as you are. But this environment seems to be much more dense and healthy," one of the ants said. "So, what do we do now?" Spring asked. "You watch and learn," the oldest ant said. "This is a worm," she said, watching every movement of the wiggly thing that the entire group saw but never mentioned. "That? It looks all slimy and disgusting. We ate that thing daily a week ago and we didn't even know this is what it originally was?" The scouting party was disgusted. "The 'slime' is not that bad, it's just a bit of moisture these worms secrete to make movement easier. You can just lick it off," one of the foraging ants said.

The oldest ant then bit the middle of it open. She then proceeded to take a bite out of one of them. "Tasty." After a short pause, one of the foraging ants explained what was going to happen next. "You ants were brought to learn about this place, as you know. We let you out first as a test to seem how dumb you are. Not bad, to be honest. Didn't overlook anything. Simply examined the situation and reported. We were supposed to allow you to follow us, but the denseness of this place worries me. It must be a deeper part of the rainforest, where prey are abundant, yes, but where predators are also abundant." Another ant agreed. "You all can just go inside and do whatever it is you do." The scouting party began to retreat, but a new ant came out of the blue, immediately halting their movement.

A New Friend

"Hey, I'm Wisp." All the ants looked confused. "H - how did you find us??" "Well, I was wandering throughout the undergrowth and heard that you came all the way here. If you want, I can show you around," Wisp said. The ants could tell she actually meant it; they all seemed to agree with the guidance. The oldest ant once again was the first to step up. "What can you teach us?" "Well, you seem to want to know exactly what lives here," Wisp said. The ants murmured in agreement of her guidance. "Everyone except for the scouting party, go into the nest. You guys, follow Wisp."

Wisp then starts walking toward a colossal brown rough block shaped like a cylinder. "This is a rotting log. It is full of small creatures, and the growing larvae of bugs." "You mean some bugs just leave their defenseless larvae here?" The ants were confused. "No, the larvae aren't defenseless completely. All can move, and some can even attack," Wisp said. "Well I'm Claw," the oldest ant said. "I'm willing to be taught your knowledge." "Nice to meet you, Claw," said Wisp. "The other thing I wanted to show you were predators. Follow me."

Wisp headed up a small slope that led to a cliff. "Just up ahead is a spider nest. Around here, they have many different forms and can even camouflage. But they aren't very common." "Wow," Stone said. "So that's what they look like!" "Well, more or less, but where we came from, they were smaller and much easier to kill," Claw said. "Well, I guess I get what your saying. Life on the edges of the rainforest aren't diverse; maybe a few types if beetle or spider. Life here is much more diverse. It's the middle of the rainforest," Wisp said. "Well, that's the basics of life here."

"So, why are you helping us? And where is your colony?" Claw was keeping the thoughts in the back of her head until now. Wisp's gaze then darkened. "My colony? Well.. they were killed." The ants were confused. "Who killed them? How did you escape?" Leaf asked. "It's a long story, but a large army of ants swarmed the nest. My colony was very powerful, but to use that power, they had to die. We had so few soldiers at the time.. But I am hoping to be apart of this colony," Wisp said. "I'll have to ask my Queen about that. You seem pretty trustworthy, so I'll give you a chance," Claw said. "Thank you," Wisp exclaimed.

Chapter V

Landmarks

Ten nights later, the society of Honeypot Ants direct their five foraging groups, each with 10 ants, to leave the nest and find food. The colony, now 300 ants big, is full of food and larvae, and advancing quickly. Among the foraging groups is Wisp, now a full member of the colony, helping to teach them about the environment. Outside paths have been established, with many of them leading to food - enriched places. Tail had been helping underground for nine of the ten nights, but has now volunteered to help explore the outside world. Tail, wanting to learn more about Wisp herself, had asked to be in the 4th foraging group, and was accepted.

From the first day outside again, Tail was already confused. "So, where exactly is this new group of 'special flowers'?" "Wisp showed us to it 7 days ago. Oh, wait, yeah, your the new ant. You can follow Dry here, you are both going to the same place after all," said the leading ant. The ants disbanded into groups of two to three, and Tail moved to Dry's side. "The flowers are north west of the nest, so we should just go west. They are pretty darn big, and can replenish fast due to all the soil resources. Each one of them can can be harvested for 60 drops of nectar before the end of the day," Dry stated. The two headed west, and along the way Tail spotted many diverse creatures along with small plants and shrubs.

"Well, we are here, and there seems to be no predators. You can go call on the first gathering group. Once we can be sure that there isn't any danger, we won't have to send scouts to check every day. Anyways, after you're done, you go join up with Sky and Flock, who will be east of the nest." "Got it," Tail said, before scurrying southeast. Although the sky itself was not visible, Tail could still see the dots of light were darkening, signaling the coming night. "G1, northwest flowers are clear." Tail was still adapting to the new messaging system, where you could just say S1 instead of scouting group one, and then just specify the direction, the item, and then the status. The group called would react accordingly.

After the announcement, Tail went east as was told by Dry. In the distance, she could see a what looked like a sea of leaves, bushes, and plants, all mixed together. Sky came out of an entrance, then picked up a patch of leaves lying on the ground, and went back in. As Tail got closer, she could see only darkness inside. The sound of leaves rustling got greater and greater as Tail stepped on more and more leaves, hiding beneath her feet. "Hey, Sky, what are you doing in there?" Sky came out of the structure. about 25 ants away from Tail now. "We're collecting water to moisten up the brood chambers. I assume Dry sent you here, to learn of the new procedure." Tail entered the structure, and saw a small pond with dark shadows falling upon it.

Sky grabbed two leaves and moved to Tail's side. "First you take the leaf and lick an end of the outside part. Then you just take the other end and fold it onto the licked end, creating a cone. Then just press the two ends down together. The saliva will act like glue. After about 20 seconds, you can let go and scoop a very large amount of water up. Here, you try it," Sky said, passing Tail a leaf. Tail took the leaf and tried the procedure, successfully gluing down the ends and scooping up water without it leaking. "Great," Sky said. "Well, it's getting late. We should probably head back to the nest before the predators of the night leave their hiding places.

Tunneling

As the light of a red evening slowly transitioned into a blue dark night, the foraging groups headed back into the nest. Their next job was to help excavate. "Here is the nest plan," a tunneler said. "The Queen's chamber is south and the anthill is north. Between them is a tunnel that is 100 ants long. There will be five tunnels on each side that will curve. The outer two tunnels will start from the Queen and end with a thin wall of dirt, right next to the entrance. This way it will only be seen in the Queen's chamber, which will allow us to easily flank enemy forces from behind with a significant amount of soldiers, which allows us to surround and kill."

"That leaves four tunnels on either side. These tunnels will each house 10 chambers, in between the Queen's and the anthill. So this will create 80 chambers across the lines, each in a circular formation. I know this is a big number, but we have to think like this to survive. Anyway, the system also creates rows. Starting from the queen, the first three rows will house brood. The second three rows will house our repletes, and the rest will house normal old food. Well? What are y'all waiting for? Get digging."

The 200 or so ants focused on digging immediately got to work. Tail was among them, specifically digging the left outer tunnel, which was the one used for war. Due to the progress done beforehand, this tunnel was already more than halfway done, about a quarter before it reached the anthill chamber. This meant it was about 35 ants away, the curvature included. Additionally, there were 10 other ants helping her, making 11 ants in total. This meant it would go about 2/3s faster than building the escape tunnel during the orange / red ant invasion.

Time was going to pass fast, but the group hit a slightly stony patch of dirt. "This spot is a bit hard," one of the ants said. "But we'll get through it." With much force the ants managed to break a piece off. "Hey, there's a hole in here," one of the ants said. Dust started trickling down, and the situation advanced as now whole pieces of stone were crumbling down onto the floor. Soon the whole wall made a large crackling sound and fell on the floor, revealing a large, mysterious space.

Chapter VI

Caverns

The ants stood in awe. An eerie, teal glow filled the cavern. Dark, green moss covered the floor and walls, with various small plants texturing the ground with a soft, rustling walk. It was a type of space never seen by ants before. "Hey one of us, get the foraging squad! Only they will be able to enter until it has been deemed safe. But we aren't just about to close it just yet.. The rest of us will keep tunneling the war path." The ants stood for a second, waiting for one to inform the foraging ants, until Tail decided that she will go and scurried down the tunnel.

"TL5 has spotted an unknown cavern! Informing to any foraging team," Tail announced, just a dozen ants away from the Queen's chamber. Wisp was the first ant to say something. "Hey, F4, let's go!" Emerging from the right and left second tunnels, the fourth foraging squad rushed to the outer left tunnel. Tail followed them, as she herself was part of foraging squad four. As the ants passed through the tunnel, it was clear now that it was only ten ants away from the ant nest. Judging by this rate, the tunnel would be done in two minutes and any danger coming from the cavern could be led into the anthill chamber and be killed easily by surrounding.

The ants entered the cavern and Wisp seemed to be overly interested in the details of the place. Tail didn't see any danger, just a really huge space that went on and on and on. But it was clear that this space was twisted in some way; the plants seem to survive off of the miniscule light from the teal glow. But then the question becomes, where is the teal glow coming from? The thoughts of the ants broke when Wisp suddenly rushed back behind the entrance of the cave. "EVERYONE RETREAT! There isn't any time to explain! We MUST patch this door up RIGHT NOW!" It was clear now that Wisp new something that the rest of the colony didn't. "What?" The ants were confused. "I just told you, THERE IS NO TIME TO EXPLAIN! GET OVER HERE! TRAPJAW ANTS ARE INVADING!" But then the exchange broke when the sound of marching approached from the distance. A Trapjaw ant shows herself from the side of the cave. "You're too late, Wisp."

Storm

The ants fled in shock as the army of Trapjaws swarmed the tunnels, following them to the chamber of the anthill. The team disbanded to warn the entire nest of the coming storm of ants. "Trapjaws are invading! 100 soldiers are heading this way from the left tunnel! Pass that along to the next chamber! Tail headed straight to the Queen, not knowing exactly what to do. "Queen Sun! 100 Trapjaw soldiers are headed this way from the outer left tunnel! They will take the path to the anthill chamber and then down the middle. What are your orders?"

As soon as the colony heard the news, a panic ensued. "What are we supposed to do?" an ant yelled "How do we defend against 100 soldiers in such a small volume?!" Queen Sun was in shock too, but she quickly developed a plan to kill the enemy. "Develop a front line of about 100 ants slightly ahead of the replete stores! The rest of the ants, create two groups, one for each of the inner tunnels. Once the enemy begins marching down the middle path, both groups will head forward then flank them from behind! We will expend about 75% of our ants in the process, but it's better than going extinct," she announced.

The ants did as commanded. Tail was among the left flanking group, and ordered them to make sure to hide before the Trapjaws had passed the inner tunnel, or else they would be been caught. Every ant knew that though they did outnumber them, they didn't outpower them. Barely any of the ants were soldiers. Only 5% of the colony would even come close to fighting the Trapjaws. They just had so many soldiers in such a small space, that they would be able to shred through the largest army any day. Even though, it was still a smart plan. It was predicted that they would lose 75% of their ants but still be victorious with all of the Trapjaw ants dead. The only question was.. when would all these invasions stop?

The Trapjaws had entered the main tunnel and had already started tearing down the few ants who weren't in formation. The two flanking groups then did as stated in the plan: to go around the army and suprise them from behind, killing about three rows of them in the process, significantly lowering the threat level. But Tail knew it wouldn't work. "We must go faster! Did you see how fast the Trapjaws were marching?? For all we know, they killed the queen! When they had finally reached the anthill chamber, the Trapjaws had began fighting the front line. Was there anything the ants could do? "TAIL! Come here," Wisp said, about 16 ants away from the army. Tail did as told and went face to face with Wisp.

"I don't have enough time to explain the full story, but I think you are the only one who will understand. All you must know is that within myself is a stone like no other, a shard that feels like glass and emits a violet haze. You MUST have Queen Sun eat it! Once consumed, the power will allow the Queen to make any egg of hers a Trapjaw ant. It will allow this colony to survive. It will allow this colony to defeat Queen Flame ONCE AND FOR ALL! I am entrusting this task to you! Convince the colony or watch them die to whatever ants attack next! YOU MUST DO IT!" Unable to think and unable to move, Tail watched as Wisp jumped directly in the center of the swarm, exploding into a rain of formic acid. Tearing through ant flesh, the formic acid defeated the entire swarm of Trapjaws in one fell swoop. All the ants were frozen in place, shocked by what had just happened. Among the remains was a small, glowing object.

Chapter VII

Secrets

The luster of the glowing shard could be seen seven ants away, shining out of the perfect mixture of blue and purple, just at the boundary of what actually separates the two colors. "What could it possibly be?" The ants slowly got closer, taking caution from the untold properties of the crystal. "Should we try to touch it?" an ant asked. "No, it might do something," another one responded. "Are you sure? It seems like just a normal piece of gem that is glowing violet for some reason," the first ant said back. Tail realized what had just happened and ran in the middle of the situation. "Listen, everyone, Wisp told me about this thing," she said, picking the crystal up. "It holds the power of the Trapjaw. I'll explain later, but now, I think we need to make sure that all the Trapjaws are dead."

After a few seconds, an ant spoke. "I say we take the entire army down the path and kill any remaining Trapjaws!" The rest of the ants started murmuring in agreement. "Let's go then," an ant exclaimed. The crowd of ants marched toward the cavern at full speed. Before long, they were there. "What is this place?" "Are there any more like it?" "This light is coming out of thin air!" "Hey, settle down! Don't forget why we are all here!" As the ants advanced, they noticed that the caverns went on and on, but soon enough, the ants realized that the caverns were actually only 50 ants wide. It was the dense fog causing the illusion of darkness.

They had reached the edge of the mistifying caves, and had entered a new set of spaces that had the same color as the Honeypot nest.. "I think we have reached the Trapjaw nest," an ant announced. "It seems to me that these chambers have been planned." Suddenly an unfamiliar ant peeked over the wall, looking straight into the army of Honeypot ants. "Wh.. What the hell? What happened to Trench and the others?" More Trapjaw ants emerged. "Enemies detected! All soldiers on alert," one of them said. "I'm sorry, do you want to die? Any ants on our territory will get slaughtered," another one snapped. The Honeypot ants were astounded at the aggressiveness of the Trapjaws, considering that they lost a hundred soldiers. "Are you stupid? Your army is dead. We have a hundred ants here. Tell us everything you know or else have fun having your queen eaten for breakfast tomorrow," a Honeypot ant said.

"Like hell!" It was clear that the Trapjaw ants were very stubborn. "We have two hundred ants! Try killing us!" The Honeypot ants looked confused. "Then where are they?" a Honeypot responded. "They are out foraging, of course!" "In the middle of the night? It's clear the ones here are your only workers. If you were actually populous, then about a hundred more would have showed up. You must have risked all your soldiers, and now that risk failed to pay off. We won, please don't make it harder for us or your queen will only die a more painful, bloody death." One of the Trapjaw ants started laughing. "It's already dead, idiot. Killing us will accomplish nothing." "We're not here, to kill you, we're here to get information," Tail said, as she strided to the front of the army.

"Now tell us. Who was Wisp?" At the thought of this question, the Trapjaws looked as though they were all in a flashback. One of them spoke up. "We had invaded her colony of exploding carpenter ants. We were much more powerful than them, but they put up a good fight. In the midst of the battle, Flora, our military commander, got killed by an explosion. It revealed the Trapjaw crystal in the process. The exploding carpenter ants seemed to know what the stone was, and Wisp stole it before fleeing. We then slaughtered the rest of the colony. Now, go away, you know everything we know." "No, that's not all," Tail stated. "Who is Queen Flame?" "What? We don't even know who that is! Last time I heard of that name was like a month ago when we eavesdropped on some Fire ants that were patrolling just about two thousand ants north from here. They were talking about how they would 'restore balance' or some crap like that. It was weird."

The Honeypot ants looked satisfied. "Well, we have gotten everything we could from them. Let's go home, shall we," an ant said. "But how can we be sure that their queen is dead," another responded. "We don't need to. They would take quite a while to recover, and any time they tried to invade we would probably have like a thousand more ants," the first one argued. "Then let's go home. It would be a waste of time to stay here," another one said, joining the conversation. The army of Honeypot ants slowly marched back into the caverns. But Tail then realized a possible connection between what they were told and the reality. "Two thousand ants north from here," she whispered to herself. "Could that be the same colony that drove us out of our original home?"

Potential

The ants had returned to the nest, sharing the information with the rest of the colony. All the ants new about the story of Wisp, and how she managed to steal a special stone from them and escape. But every new answer brought twice as many questions. How did the carpenter ants know about the situation? Where did the Trapjaws themselves even get the stone from? Every ant was bewildered about the situation and simply wanted more information, including the Queen herself. The next night, a meeting was called to decide what the colony should do next, and to clear up all the new information.

The ants had gathered around the Queen, prepared for the discussion. "As you all know, the danger of other ant colonies is looming over our head," the Queen said. "We need to discuss: How will we survive? It's clear that we aren't as powerful as the rest of them. After all, if it wasn't for the sacrifice of our friend, we all would have died to the Trapjaw army. How do we stand as powerful as they are?" "Why don't we just pile up numbers? We were only uneven to the Trapjaws because we had so few soldiers," an ant said. "But that won't work. We're not weak because we don't have any numbers, it's because we are Honeypot ants. Our soldiers were not designed to handle the harsh rainforest environment when our ancestors moved in here thousands of years ago."

Most of the ants had agreed with that sentiment; the colony wasn't sure that their entire army even came close to the power of a small band of Trapjaws. Tail immediately remembered Wisp's last conversation with him. "Queen Sun, I have an idea. When Wisp spoke to me, she told me that the crystal contained the power to create Trapjaws. She said that you must eat it or else the colony will have no potential." The Queen looked confused. "You want me to eat that thing?" "Yes, it's the only way we will come close to the power of the other colonies. That is what Wisp said." "You can't be sure it isn't dangerous. It's the same as eating a shard of stone. The pointy edge can make you bleed inside your stomach." "What? We can't just assume it's dangerous." "We can't assume it is not dangerous!"

"But Wisp had that in her stomach for probably almost half of her life. There is something special about this stone.. If you don't consume it, then we can't make Trapjaw soldiers to fight for us. We will be stuck as the weak colony!" Suddenly, some ants joined Tail's side. "Tail is right. If it was dangerous, then Wisp would have died long before from an internal bleeding. And I know it seems that this is all unreal, but that's just because we don't know anything about it. We have been in the dark about these 'crystals' up until now, and it seems they play a serious part in ant colonies around here. How do you think the orange ants had red, acid launching ants fighting along side them?" "Fire ants," Tail said. "I think they are called Fire ants. Not sure about the red ones though." "Wait, so does that mean there are more types of crystals?" "Just how many are there?" "What if a colony has all of them?"

The Queen interrupted the clamor. "Hey, settle down." The mass got quiet and allowed the Queen to speak. "Fine. I will consume the crystal. It is clear that I have to, for the colony to survive. We will be able to make Trapjaws and put them along side our current soldiers, to form a bigger and stronger army. We will figure out what is going on here, with all the secrets about these crystals and everything. It is clear that these crystals are supernatural, and that there are more to be found. But if I die because of this, I won't be the one to blame. Tail, I understand that we will have gained a serious amount of strength from the Trapjaw crystal, but still, Trapjaws are weak compared to an ant that can explode a hundred more. And apparently, colonies with strengths as powerful as that are evidently common around here. We still need a plan to handle this."

Tail, acknowledging the colony's blindness to the world, then spoke of a new idea. "What if we simply know who we are fighting? We can disperse scouting ants across a range of 3000 ants and know just what colonies are nearby, including their numbers, power, type, etc. We may even be able to make allies with some of them." The ants started murmuring about the plan, and about exactly how it would be put into effect. Eventually more and more ants started agreeing with the plan. The Queen then stood up in front of the crowd. "Okay then. Tomorrow, we will send a group of 30 ants outside to scout the area."

Crystal Allegiances

  • Pink (Turtle Ants) - Turtle
  • Crimson (Driver Ants) - Driver
  • Red (Wood Ants) Fire
  • Tiger (Clonal Raider Ants) Clonal Raider
  • Brown (Head Ants) Head
  • Orange (Fire Ants) Fire
  • Sandstone (Indian Jumping Ants) Clonal Raider
  • Marigold (Argentine Ants) Argentine
  • Goldenrod (Dracula Ants) Clonal Raider
  • Yellow (Honeypot Ants) Honeypot
  • Chartreuse (Saharan Silver Ants) Saharan Silver
  • Lime (Weaver Ants) Weaver
  • Green (Leafcutter Ants) Leafcutter
  • Turquoise (Harvester Ants) Fire
  • Cyan (Bull Ants) Bull
  • Sky (Slavemaker Ants) Slavemaker
  • Blue (Jack Jumper Ants) Jack Jumper
  • Purple (Army Ants) Army
  • Violet (Trapjaw Ants) Honeypot
  • Magenta (Longhorn Crazy Ants) Longhorn Crazy
  • Velvet (Exploding Carpenter Ants) Trapjaw
  • Black (Little Black Ants) Little Black
  • Gray (Bullet Ants) Bullet
  • Silver (Matabele Ants) Matabele

Chapter VIII

Exploration

The next day, the colony weighed more than 350 ants. The new environment paved the way for an abundance of food, being used by the Queen to create many, many eggs. Among the new brood were larvae that dwarfed the expected size. These were Trapjaw ants, being born to fight. The production of Honeypot soldiers halted too, being almost completely replaced with the Trapjaw soldiers, who costed slightly more food but had much more power.

"So, where should we start?" "Well, we can try going east." "No, I say west." "Okay, how about we all just split up?" "Fine with me, but it's not my problem if you find something and die before you can report it." "Could you all stop clamoring?? We have a job to do," Sky said. "Since none of you can stop arguing when actually given a choice, just follow me." The ants nod in agreement and follow Sky as she heads south, towards the predicted center of the forest. "Now, something tells me that there's something hidden in the center of the forest. For some reason, the deeper we go, the more interesting things get. That's why we are going south. While we are exploring, try and look around and see if you find anything of significance." The ants walked into a silence both literally and figuratively.

"Well, the forest gets more lush and dense, but it's unlikely there's anything special at the center of it. It's just a forest," Tail grumbled. "Besides, who said you could become the leader?" "I'm just going to ignore that and answer your previous remark. You are probably right, but still, the more lush it gets, the more likely we will find something. In fact, I bet we will find something in the next 20 seconds," Sky said. "Ok. 20, 19, 18, 17, -" "Hey guys, I found something! Looks to me like a trail of ants," Flower said, while Tail utters in annoyance. "Come on everybody, we need a closer view," Sky declared.

"Yep, that is indeed quite the trail of ants. Width of 5, length of like what, 200?" "Why don't we go talk to them," Tail mentions. "They are probably nice. And if they are, we will have an ally that will protect us against whatever there is to be protected from." "If you are so keen on making allies, then why don't YOU ask them?" "Okay, thanks for your permission, Sky." Tail runs up to the trail. "Hey, wait up!" A few of the ants, who appear to have giant heads turn to face Tail. "Who must you be?" one asks. "My name's Tail. We are Honeypot ants, and we made our way down here recently. Perhaps we can ally with you? We would like some help getting started." "Okay, I'm Jefferson." "I think I can mention it to the queen when we get back," a different ant says. "You can call us the Head ants," one finally says. "For now, follow me," Jefferson announces. "You can also bring along those creepy friends who keep staring at us if you want to." "They're just observing y'all. Part of my party."

"Guys, come over," Tail mentions to the scouts. "We are invited to the nest." The scouts come over and greet the Head ants as they continue their normal business. The ants enter the nest and start exchanging information. "I think I see something just over the horizon over there," Sky says. "Hey wait a second, are those ants?" Jefferson looks out the hole. "Yes, they are!! What do I do?" "I don't know, Jefferson, try using that big head of yours," Tail comments. "Sir, you are a genius," Jefferson says, as she plugs her large head into the entrance, blocking it off from the invaders. "Wait, they aren't intruders, they are just our allies, the Saharan Silver ants. Not a big deal, they are probably just doing their usual trade with us." "Way to cause a scene," Tail comments to Sky.

"So, anyway, about that alliance," Jefferson continues. "I'm sure the Saharan Silvers could help you out. They basically ally with anybody because it means they can trade and get more supplies. But for us, I think confirmation will be needed from the queen. "That's fine," Tail said. "As long as we have at least one colony to back us up, we will be fine. Anyways, I guess we better get going, and report to our colony. They'd love the good news." The ants walk out of the nest and begin marching to back to the Honeypot society.

Predation

Back at home, ants are working tirelessly on gathering resources. The hard food stores are full of various small carcasses and small fruit, while the repletes are packed to the brim with sugar liquid. The ants have just finished moving almost a hundred eggs to the brood chambers, allowing them to mature with more space and easier care. At least 250 ants are in the harvesting and foraging trails, but the fact that 90% of them are only workers makes them vulnerable to a predator, watching in the shadows.

"Everyone, there's a spider outside!! It tracked us down from our expedition and now is much too close for comfort. We have already told the lines to retreat, but the spider probably already has a body in its jaws by now!! Did.. I say that correctly?" "Good work, Flower," an ant responds as the rest of the ants begin to warn the colony. The rest of the scouts drop down into the nest and the trails of foraging ants follow, along with the harvesting ants. "So, quite a few things happened on our little exploration," Tail started. "We went south and ran into a colony of ants with giant heads. Really useful for blocking up entrances if you ask me. Anyways, we discussed how we would like them as allies and they said they would speak with their queen. They also mentioned about a 'Saharan Silver ant colony', who are also looking for allies and would be happy to ally with us. Oh, and there's a very agile spider after us." "We're aware," an ant responds.

"So, what do we do now? How will we kill the spider," an ant asks. "I say we stay inside the nest until the next day. It will probably be gone by then. We have tons of food anyway. Do we need more? It will probably start spoiling," Sky said. "But then we won't be able to explore more. Besides, we already have a squad of Trapjaws. They are probably agile enough to compete with the spider's own speed." "I agree with Sky," the Queen says, stepping in. "The spider's power is unknown, it would be best if we just wait until it's gone. If it's still there, then we handle it." "No offense, but why do you always appear out of nowhere," an ant comments. "Why are you always never important," the Queen responds. "Let's get going, everyone."

Before any ants can move, though, an extremely fast ant enters the nest. "I had a feeling you all would be cluttered in here discussing the spider. It's been resolved now. An ant told us that you guys saw a jumping spider and freaked out over it, so I just got a few soldiers and it's dead. That's how weak these things are. My name's Track. I'm a Saharan Silver ant. Our colony's ants can walk faster than you could ever run." "You came all that distance just to defeat a spider?" "Well yes, but there's more. We were wondering if we could.. you know.. become allies. We could trade each other whatever it is you have to trade," Track said. "Well actually, we were wondering when you would show up. I'd be happy to accept the offer," the Queen said. "We're in desparate need of guidance. Anyways, you can go share this with your colony and they can exchange things with us whenever they want."

"Hey, you back there," Track said, shifting her gaze to an ant all the way in the back. "Come closer." "What, me?" "Yeah, you." The Trapjaw ant walks towards Track, not knowing what she wants." "You're a Trapjaw ant! This colony killed our friends!! Screw being allies with you all. This is war!" The rest of the ants looked confused, and Track got confused too, wondering why the ants were confused themselves. "What? We never killed a colony," an ant exclaimed. "The Trapjaw ant is only there because Tail, this one over here, convinced me to eat a rock found in a dead body. And it worked. Not sure how, but we have Trapjaw ants."

"Wait.. Oh.. Ohhhh! You just stole their crystal! Why didn't I think of that? They're probably dead by now, unless you killed them already. Sorry for the misunderstanding, it's just that we thought you killed the Exploding Carpenter ants and stole their home," Track stated, calm once again. "So Wisp was an Exploding Carpenter ant?" "Precisely. And that's who I'm assuming you got the crystal from. She probably sacrificed himself. What you must know is that you have a sword, yes, but one that's still sharpening. We'll just get back to our usual colony business, and we will try to help you out whenever we can," Track said, leaving the nest. "What weaklings we are," Tail whispered to the ant beside her. "We got scared out of our minds by a.. a thing that's harmless!" "So what, not a big deal," the ant whispers back. "But if this keeps happening, then we will probably sit here until we die one day. We must learn to interpret out surroundings better!" "What, are you the new Queen? What's with all these wise pieces of information coming from you?" "You know what? Nevermind. At least I'd be the better Queen than you."

Chapter IX

Sword


Formation


Chapter X

Luring


First Stand


Exposure


Chapter XI

Expansion


Mapping


Chapter XII

Enemies


Skirmishes


Chapter XIII

Advancement


Tunneling


Chapter XIV

Suprise


Battle


Chapter XV

Rage


Sacrifice


Capture


Crystal Allegiances

  • Pink (Turtle Ants) - Turtle
  • Crimson (Driver Ants) - Driver
  • Red (Wood Ants) Fire
  • Tiger (Clonal Raider Ants) Clonal Raider
  • Brown (Head Ants) Slavemaker
  • Orange (Fire Ants) Fire
  • Sandstone (Indian Jumping Ants) Clonal Raider
  • Marigold (Argentine Ants) Argentine
  • Goldenrod (Dracula Ants) Fire
  • Yellow (Honeypot Ants) Honeypot
  • Chartreuse (Saharan Silver Ants) Honeypot
  • Lime (Weaver Ants) Weaver
  • Green (Leafcutter Ants) Turtle
  • Turquoise (Harvester Ants) Fire
  • Cyan (Bull Ants) Bull
  • Sky (Slavemaker Ants) Slavemaker
  • Blue (Jack Jumper Ants) Fire
  • Purple (Army Ants) Army
  • Violet (Trapjaw Ants) Honeypot
  • Magenta (Longhorn Crazy Ants) Slavemaker
  • Velvet (Exploding Carpenter Ants) Trapjaw
  • Black (Little Black Ants) Slavemaker
  • Gray (Bullet Ants) Bullet
  • Silver (Matabele Ants) Fire

Chapter XVI

Discoveries


Army


Chapter XVII

Extension


Warning


Chapter XVIII

Tricks


Approaching


Chapter XIX

Manipulation


Trap


Chapter XX

Destruction


Bombs


Annihilation


Chapter XXI

A New Enemy


Seizing Territory


Chapter XXII

Charting Landscapes


Environment Dormancy


Chapter XXIII

Sea of White


Creature Army


Crystal Allegiances

  • Pink (Turtle Ants) - Turtle
  • Crimson (Driver Ants) - Fire
  • Red (Wood Ants) Fire
  • Tiger (Clonal Raider Ants) Fire
  • Brown (Head Ants) Slavemaker
  • Orange (Fire Ants) Fire
  • Sandstone (Indian Jumping Ants) Fire
  • Marigold (Argentine Ants) Argentine
  • Goldenrod (Dracula Ants) Fire
  • Yellow (Honeypot Ants) Honeypot
  • Chartreuse (Saharan Silver Ants) Honeypot
  • Lime (Weaver Ants) Turtle
  • Green (Leafcutter Ants) Turtle
  • Turquoise (Harvester Ants) Fire
  • Cyan (Bull Ants) Bull
  • Sky (Slavemaker Ants) Slavemaker
  • Blue (Jack Jumper Ants) Fire
  • Purple (Army Ants) Fire
  • Violet (Trapjaw Ants) Honeypot
  • Magenta (Longhorn Crazy Ants) Slavemaker
  • Velvet (Exploding Carpenter Ants) Honeypot
  • Black (Little Black Ants) Slavemaker
  • Gray (Bullet Ants) Fire
  • Silver (Matabele Ants) Fire

Chapter XXIV

Fighting Pressure


A Great Conquering


Chapter XXV

Tall Towers


Hanging Army


Tracking


Chapter XXVI

Swarms


Interrogation


Chapter XXVII

Farming


Breeding

Chapter XXVIII

Infiltration


Seizing

Chapter XXIX

Returning


Penetration

Chapter XXX

Raiding


Occupation


Only One More


Chapter XXXI

Territorial Claims


Declaration


Chapter XXXII

Incursion


Excursion


Chapter XXXIII

The Truth


A Broken World


Chapter XXXIV

Rejection of Peace


Preparation for War


Chapter XXXV

Leaders of Suicide


Rain of Acid


Sky Missiles


The Final Stand


Balance

The crystals shatter, one by one tearing themselves apart into a million pieces. Already each ant starts to deform. It's a matter of seconds before every surrounding ant turns into a pile of flesh and insides. The world has been broken; nothing had been seen, and nothing will ever be remembered. The collapse has happened. The dead bodies degrade into nothingness; almost all ants never existed. Except a few... Flying across the lands are the very queens that started this story, recreated from the corpses of their predecessor. Each queen never knew anything. Alliances, discords, everything is gone. The eight queens now start again, each and every only of the same species, the species that is a morph of all the other species. All that stands to separate them are colors: Black, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Pink, and Cyan, each color just being combinations of the three colors most closely related. Once one kills the rest, the world gets erased. All that the universe is now is a cycle of war that will never end.

Is this truly balance? Perhaps an ant might find the glowing shards, frozen in time, hidden away just beneath the world.

Crystal Allegiances

  • Pink (Turtle Ants) - Global Ant Species
  • Crimson (Driver Ants) - Global Ant Species
  • Red (Wood Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Tiger (Clonal Raider Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Brown (Head Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Orange (Fire Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Sandstone (Indian Jumping Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Marigold (Argentine Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Goldenrod (Dracula Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Yellow (Honeypot Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Chartreuse (Saharan Silver Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Lime (Weaver Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Green (Leafcutter Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Turquoise (Harvester Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Cyan (Bull Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Sky (Slavemaker Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Blue (Jack Jumper Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Purple (Army Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Violet (Trapjaw Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Magenta (Longhorn Crazy Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Velvet (Exploding Carpenter Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Black (Little Black Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Gray (Bullet Ants) Global Ant Species
  • Silver (Matabele Ants) Global Ant Species
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