Chapter 146
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We actually make it a good way into this forest.
The trees aren't so close to each other that they would be difficult to pass through.
If I had to state one negative point then it would be the lack of orientation.
In this environment, I can only assume that we’re still walking roughly in the right direction.
I feel how nervous Kyska is, which in our current situation as escapees seems well-founded.
Yet there's something else on her mind.
I just feel it.


<Do you want to say something, Kyska?> (E)

<This is wrong, my princess. You should've already abandoned me long ago.> (K)

<Kyska, no! No, I'm not giving up on you, so please just accept this as my decision.> (E)

<I know I can't ask you to change your mind but please, at least grant me this. If our pursuers reach us... Please, abandon me. If they'd catch you because of me, my entire existence would become a disgrace.> (K)


I can understand her.
Her whole existence is about being a good servant.
This means, being the cause of my capture would make her feel bad.


<Kyska, I'm honestly not sure if I can do this.> (E)


In some way I love her.
As family, a trusted friend, a positive thing in my life.
I don't want to leave her behind.


<If it's like this then I have only one choice.> (K)


Suddenly, she grabs a branch from the ground and points the pointy end at herself.
I can just in time sprint to her side and rip it away.


<What the fuck was that!?!> (E)


The remaining four bugs feel my agitation and stir in erratic patterns.


<If my death can ensure your escape, I'll gladly give my life. You once asked me about my individuality as a drone. If I have any kind of independence. Consider this my answer. Even if you order me differently, I'd rather end myself before being the cause of your downfall. As many times as I need to try.> (K)


Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!
If she's like this I can't control her.
Okay, maybe I could knock her out, but there's no way I could carry her the whole distance.
The flying will already be hard enough, as I’ll need to take frequent breaks.


<Okay, you win! If they're coming after us I'll fly away. Just don't kill yourself, okay? Can we stick to the original plan until then?> (E)

<As you wish, my princess. But if I see you hesitating for even a single moment, I will take my own life.> (K)


She's literally dead set on this.
Well, she has a point.
I'd rather see her as a hostage than dead so she bargains with what she has.
Her life.

So I can only signalize acceptance with pheromones.
One of the few times not being able to hide my emotions works to my advantage.
At least, I don't have to convince her that I'm being honest.
Though, she probably wouldn't have settled for any less than this.

At least, we can continue walking now.
I don't really like to stay for too long in one place in our current situation.


<May I suggest another thing, my princess?> (K)

<Sure. As long as this time you won't resort to suicide threats.> (E)

<This won't be necessary, as it's a mere suggestion. You may wish to send two of your subjects ahead of us in the direction of our destination. The sooner we can connect to any allied forces the better.> (K)


Makes sense.
The bugs can fly and won't be followed and two should be enough to spread out so it's more likely to meet a friendly patrol and send them in our direction.

So I do my best to choose two of the remaining four to fly ahead of us.


<You there, could you please fly in this direction? If you find any of our kind show them the way towards us.> (E)


The big, flying bugs immediately act on my request and fly north, where they'll hopefully remember to separate so they can cover a greater area.
I also contemplate if I should send the other two west and south in the hope that they might alert any allied forces looking for us.
They are able to fly, but would have to move directly through enemy territory and might get shot down.
Not only this, but it doesn't need much imagination to deduce our location from their flying direction.
I'd basically tell everyone who's there about my current position.
On the other side, that’s not too much of a secret so shortly after my escape and I plan to move a bit further.
Also, I don't even know if the Formicea are scouting any areas close to us.


<Kyska, shouldn't we send the others in another direction to inform allied forces about our position?> (E)

<I would disadvise such a thing, my princess. You are far too vulnerable of a target on your own. The area isn't safe and you might need them to ward off foes or as a distraction.> (K)


I don't like how she's planning that I should abandon them when it's convenient.
Yet she makes sense.
Albeit not all too common, it's possible that monsters dwell in this forest.
In this case, being on my own would be bad.
And if our pursuers reach us, they could fly around and harass them.
It's not safe to assume they'd perish.
Now that I think about it, I don't even know what kind of creature they are.
While walking, I decide to simply ask Kyska about them.


<By the way, Kyska, do you know what they are? I’ve never seen this kind of drone.> (E)


Or where they came from.
Or what their role is.
I only can tell from the scent that there must be a connection to me.


<Those are assaulters, my princess. I was very surprised to see them, as they're by no means common, for the simple reason that their existence is so limited.> (K)

<Limited? What do you mean by 'limited'?> (E)

<Well, they're a quick-growing breed, thought to mature within a day if provided with sufficient nourishment, which preferably consists of meat. In this regard, they bear many similarities to hunters.> (K)


This sounds like a quick dispatch unit for dire situations.
Just what I needed here.
They certainly have their use, yet might not be as useful for a developed hive with standing forces.
Yet for an establishing one, it could prove essential to have them if suddenly foes show up.
Still, it's fascinating that Kyska would know about them.


<How are you so knowledgeable about this kind of edge topic?> (E)

<According to their respective stage of maturity, nurses will be provided with information on different kinds of brood. It's pure luck that the pod I received covered this kind of information. They're so rarely in use because of their obvious disadvantages.> (K)


Am I fine with Kyska belittling them in their presence?


<I'm sure they're fine as they are. I mean not everything requires maximum efficiency. They certainly have their advantages or they wouldn't ever have been created, right? It can't be so bad.> (E)


From what I can gather, those two remaining ones like it that I'm trying to appreciate their existence.
I mean, just as with the hunters, it's strange to think of them as my children, but this isn't a reason to ignore their unconditional devotion to me.
They even sacrificed themselves for my sake, something that I still have a hard time dealing with, but this little bit of acceptance is the least I absolutely have to grant them.


<Naturally, my princess. Just as I said, they pose to be excellent expendable, quick-deployment troops. Yet in other situations, it would be a waste to keep them around. After all, they'll perish in fifteen to twenty activity intervals.> (K)


And Kyska just had to shoot them down again.
Now I feel even guiltier than before.
To think they're this kind of cursed existence.
Single usage lives...
Damn, if I could just make it up to them.
At least I should say something.


<You two... I'm sorry. Sorry that I couldn't grant you a better, a longer life. Just so you know, I'm eternally grateful for your help. And naturally those of your brethren as well. I, I won't forget their, your sacrifice. Thank you.> (E)


If I could change anything, I would. However, I can't.
Some of them are dead and the others the way they are.
Yet it seems like my thoughts were at least appreciated.
That's what I gather from how excitedly they are now flying around me.


<That was very kind of you, my princess. To think you would develop so much. I know how much you are against creating offspring which are limited to their role. Which is why I was so surprised when I saw them.> (K)


Well, is now the time to tell her that this wasn't me, but supposedly the strange voice in my head I heard?


<It was a dire situation. I guess I went into survival mode.> (E)

<Which was for the best. I dare not think what they'd have done to you. Such a great development that you were even able to overcome your hesitance to conduct actions you would've considered too extreme on other terms.> (K)


I can't deny that I killed those men.
It's still weighing on my mind, but it's not like I, as their kidnapping victim, was morally in the wrong.


<We didn't have much of a choice. It's not like those guards would've let us pass.> (E)

<The guards? Oh, I wasn’t speaking about them. What I was referring to was the necessary action you performed to create the assaulters.> (K)


Necessary action?


<What do you mean? Apparently, I just created them as usual.> (E)


Promptly, Kyska gives me a glance and according pheromones, which can only be translated as 'Are you serious?'.


<Princess, you're aware that the accelerated growth of the assaulters couldn't be sustained without sufficient nourishment, aren't you? They require enough energy to increase from their egg form to their current size. This can only be facilitated by providing an environment that allows for this.> (K)


I... don't think I like where this is going.


<Are you saying that they ate other eggs to live?> (E)

<Huh? No, I have no information if the eggs you handed to the humans were assaulters, but it should've been too cold for them to hatch. They require constant warmth to be stimulated. Fortunately, you granted them this when you implanted them into that problematic human.> (K)


Oh my god!
Did I seriously do this?

Just now I remember how Kyska warned me the first time about my ovipositor!
Its original purpose was to sting prey for the offspring to feed on it from the inside while growing.
That's, that's a bit too gruesome.
I think I'm growing sick.
Okay, that guy was an asshole, but it's still hard to justify this kind of death even for someone you don't like.


<Princess! Are you fine? Your pheromones indicated several issues.> (K)


Like killing a man in the most horrible way.
We walk a little further until my wings stop feeling strained.
Now I can make use of them just as I originally planned to do.


<Okay, Kyska. This is going to be a little tricky. Please, cling to me so I can fly us both away from here.> (E)


We left enough trace to make them believe we're heading west while in truth our destination is north.


<I'm not sure about this, my princess. You shouldn't strain yourself like this because of me.> (K)

<Kyska, we settled this already. Now let's figure this out.> (E)


Different from last time, I don't princess-carry her, but we manage to make her hug my torso.
This way, it's a bit more balanced to move around.
Lifting off from a standing position on the ground proves to be difficult, yet it’s far more difficult to maneuver around the branches of the forest.
It takes a while till we can leave them behind us and rise till shortly above the trees, where hopefully nobody will be able to perceive me.
And so we fly further northward.