Having to wait for your legs to regrow sucks. Even if it only takes an hour considering all the healing that the Colony, my pets and I can pour into it. I even mutated these legs so that they grow back faster. An ant without legs is like… pretty much anything without its legs. Not particularly mobile. By the time I have my claws back under me enough that I can walk, the battle is over. After a bruising and bloody exchange, the Legion pulled back and gave the Colony the room it needed to make an orderly retreat. Obviously that also included dragging my sorry carapace inside where far too many medics fussed over me whilst others waited for their wounds to be tended.
“I’m fine!” I told them. “Go bother someone else! Look, you can’t even see my insides anymore!”
It’s true, the muscle has mostly regrown to cover the organs which have been plainly visible not so long ago. The carapace which had been sheared off has also begun to reform at the edges, which is nice to see. Reforging the diamond carapace from nothing can take some time, so it’s nice to see it making a swift recovery. Thanks to the Vestibule, I’ve already been able to unload another full blast from the regeneration gland which, combined with the ministrations of Invidia, have gone a long way to speeding up my recovery. What I’ve found though, is that coming back from heavy injuries like this has a minimum time frame. No matter how much healing magic and regeneration fluid you pump into yourself, there’s a hard cap to how fast my cells will regenerate themselves. Some things just take longer than others, like the carapace for example. With the organs and muscles regrown, the only thing I can do now is wait.
“There are plenty of ants and humans who need caring for, there’s nothing else you can do for me now,” I assure the fussy healers.
“Are you sure about that Eldest?” Mendant asks. “You aren’t exactly… all the way back together.”
“I’m sure. Go tend to our new allies. They look like they need some care.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to just go talk to the prisoner?” The healer asks me, he antennae looming dangerously.
“Not at all!” I protest. “The energy of the healers is a precious resource and I would hate for it to be wasted when it could be better spent elsewhere. Please. Tend to the humans and the ants in need. I will heal given enough time.”
There were indeed plenty of humans and other ants in need of care. Despite the Colony going all in to try and protect their human allies, not all of them had made it back, and many were injured. The number of injured and fallen on the part of the Colony numbered in the thousands, yet another wrong to lay at the feet of the Legion. It would be days before some of them were back to combat readiness, and all would need to draw from the limited supply of Biomass stored in the nest.
After giving me a couple hundred side-eyes (compound eyes and all that), Mendant finally gives in and waves away the swarming healers, directing them to the many others who need their help. Once the council member herself moves away, I take it upon myself to mosey over to where the crowd has gathered. I say mosey. My legs aren’t fully regrown yet, so it’s a bit more of a ‘drag’ but I get over there in the end.
Morellia has, as far as I know, turned herself in to our custody, or something along those lines. Isaac hasn’t been able to communicate all that well since the battle for some reason and Beyn can’t bring himself to talk to her, given that she’s a ‘heretic betrayer’ or some such. Without Enid being here, it’s been hard to find someone to communicate with the berserker, so things have been at a bit of a standstill as far as I can see.
The Legionary is sitting on the ground with her arms raised in the air, her weapons having been taken long ago. With her helmet off, it’s clear to see that she isn’t afraid of what may occur here. Whether that’s because she doesn’t think we’ll hurt her or she doesn’t care, I’ll have to find out. Damn I need some torpor. Hopefully I don’t get dragged away or anything before I talk to Morrelia.
“By the by Protectant, I didn’t see you in the battle,” I say to the empty air.
After a brief silence, I get a near undetectable reply brush against my antennae.
“Please don’t address me when there are so many around. We want to remain secret, remember?”
I tap my antennae together in acknowledgement and wait.
“We could do nothing to prevent you leaping in front of the strike that nearly killed you, unfortunately. Once the guardian pulled you back to the gate, we were positioned around you the whole time.”
“You didn’t show yourselves, even then?” I ask, a touch incredulous.
“It wasn’t necessary. Should any of the enemy have reached us, we would have fought them, to the death if needed.”
I sigh. So many of our siblings made that sacrifice in the battle. Having such potent defenders is nice, but I’ll always feel the council wasted resources that could have been better spent protecting others. Ah well, it’s all water under the bridge now I suppose. I push my tired brains to whip up a mind bridge and I extend it out towards Morrelia as she watches me approach.[Hey there, Morrelia,] I greet her with a wave of an antenna, [how’ve you been?]
Her face twists with an unknown emotion before she finally smiles, her shoulders sagging.
I honestly don’t know what she means.[Thanks for saving me, by the way,] I tell her. [If you hadn’t told me to run, things would have gone sideways pretty fast. That dude with the axe is something else. Look at what he did to my carapace, dammit!]
She takes a good look at the still healing (and completely disgusting) wound.[A foot to the left and he might have carved me clean in half!] I complain. [Is someone like that even human anymore?] [That’s my father] she says quietly. [Lovely guy. Charming even. I mean, so human. Such a warm personality and totally regular level of strength.]
She bursts out laughing.