I have high hopes for this upgrade. At the moment I can't use my mana for anything other than practice, it serves no offensive purpose, and I can't help but wonder if I'll eventually be able to manipulate my mana into different elemental types eventually. If I'm right then this could be a massive advantage, even if it is a long way off.
For now, this upgrade will give me what I want most, which is a rounded offensive boost.
Choose Infused Mandibles!
MY PRECIOUS FACE!
Once the mutation begins my entire face erupts with painful itching. It almost feels as if wires are tunnel through my head, connecting my mandibles and my inner body.
This is the WOOOOOOOOORST!
It takes a long time for the mutation to end. When it finally stops I feel like crying in relief and once again I'm forced to remember that ants have no tears.
But my heart, my heart is weeping.
Getting stronger is an amazing feeling but the process completely sucks. Having spent my mana and my Biomass it is time to rest up. I still have skill points to spend but I'll keep holding them for skill upgrades and potential magic skills.
Time for a nap!
Without further ado I flop onto my side and begin to drift into the dreamless state of torpor. Tiny scratches around for a while before leaning himself against my back. Before my senses finally fade away I can hear him snoring softly behind me.
With a jolt I shake myself awake, ready to take on another day of challenges! Since there isn't really any hurry I make sure to spend the mana I accumulated whilst resting on more manipulation practice.
I try something different this time, inspired the Queen, that is to say, mother, passing on her healing spell through her antennae. Using my mind to control the flow of energy in my core I direct it out, into my body and up through my antennae. Eventually the mana is released as a brightly glowing wisp of smoke, drifting from the tip of each antennae.
After completing my training I wake up Tiny, who is still snoring happily (is it just me or is he a bit bigger today?) and wait for him to jump on my back before heading down to the nesting chamber.
There isn't really any rush to get started quickly today so I felt like taking some time to play around with the brood.
The little white grubs don’t' have much going for them at this stage in their development, no eyes or ears of any kind. They are totally dependent on the workers to care for them until they are large enough to spin a cocoon.
The little things are cute though. I try tickling them with my antennae and they start wriggling around happily, rolling away to escape. This starts a new game where Tiny and I take turns to roll the little guys back and forth as they wibble and wobble in delight.
Well, enough playing around, time to go and secure food for the next generation!
Wait, I smell something…
I rush out of the chamber and into the tunnel to see the workers rushing about, extremely agitated. It doesn't take long for me to work out why. The scent I detect in the air is the pheromone for emergency, all the workers are rushing down in response to this distress call!
What in the heck is going on down there?
Being larger and stronger than the other ants I push my way forward, Tiny in his customary saddle on my back, rushing down to the Queens' chamber.
Once there I can see the Queen pacing around agitatedly, as many as thirty workers clustered around her defensively. There is one other tunnel leading further down in this chamber and workers are streaming down it at the moment, that is the source of the emergency.
Curious and alarmed I charge forward, bursting into the tunnel and following my fellow ants.
What the heck is going on guys? Tunnel collapse? Food located? Are we under attack?
After a few minutes of running down the tunnel I get my answer, the sounds of brutal impact and flesh being torn are ringing in my ears.
We are under attack!
Defend the colony!
Roaring in my mind I double my speed, I'll reach the front line and smash our enemies to bits! How dare they raid our colony!
When I eventually make it I'm horrified by what I see. Broken and sliced bodies of my fellow workers litter the ground already but as soon as more arrive they throw themselves into the fray.
However, their sacrifice doesn't seem to do much to deter the invaders.
Distorted, bizarre looking creatures loom before me, walking on four legs that end in strange clawed feet, their hunched upper bodies are grotesquely bulked with muscle, with almost no head or face to speak of. From the center of their chest protrudes a hideous beak. Instead of arms, four glistening blades, made from bone or steel, I can't say, extend from their torso attached to short limbs that allow them to slash and hack with brutal force.
What the heck are these things?!
Have they climbed up here from further down below? They look like they mean serious business!
I don't have the luxury of waiting, workers are being slaughtered as I wait around. I have to throw myself into the fray!
Bullying my way to the front by shoving and dragging workers out of my way I put myself at the forefront of the reinforcements. It's difficult to see how many of these insane creatures there are since the narrow tunnel only allows two of them to fight at a time but I can the tunnel is packed with the monsters behind the leading figures.
This is going to be a tough fight. I don't want to take Tiny into the middle of this. I quickly shake my body left and right, like a wet dog, until I dislodge the little guy. He cries out in protest but there is no way he will be able make it through this battle on my back.
I can't do any more for him than this.
Come on then you freaks, let's dance!
Before the rest of my colony start climbing over me to reach their immediate death I charge, drawing the attention of our enemies directly to myself.
I duck under the first strike but already there are more coming!
Slash! Slash! Slash!
With two of the monsters in front of me there are eight blades creating a wall of steel I can't get through, each slash forcing me to duck or retreat.
Well, Anthony, if you can't close in without getting hurt… You'll just have to get hurt!
Dodging left and right I dive forward, trying to slip past the deadly defence of these malformed creatures. The second I move the two monsters in front me react, sweeping their weapons down and around to cut off any chance of escape.
Agony blooms from my back as one of the edges cuts deep into my carapace, piercing and cutting into the muscle below. I grit my teeth and continue to press forward. You'll have to do more than that to stop me!
My desperate lunge has brought me next to the monsters legs, their bulk and the narrow tunnel makes it difficult to turn and bring their weapons to bare on me now and I certainly am not going to wait around to give them a chance.
Mustering my strength I crush my jaws down onto the closest leg, the dense muscle in my head powering them to close tighter and tighter.
My mandibles meet each other, shearing directly through the limb, causing the creature to roar in anger as it loses its balance.
Since these monsters are soft limbed I decide to attack with the crushing bite, the additional penetration of the piercing bite would be wasted on these fleshy targets.
I turn to the other monster and latch my mandibles directly onto its midsection, ripping a deep wound into body. Not satisfied I bite again! Then again!
[Crushing Bite has reached level four]
My jaws are dripping with ichor and the monster is writhing in pain. The leading two monsters are sufficiently distracted to allow the rest of the workers to close in and get to work. Some of them are still injured by the furiously flashing blade-arms but with their numbers the ants begin to grip onto the limbs, pinning the creatures down.
I've already lost twelve Hp from that one slash! Right behind the monsters I just attacked there are two more, and more behind them!
I hope their aren't too many!