The Gravity Bomb howls through the air like an angry demon. The air itself being sucked into it, causing a rushing wind as it blasts through the air.
Trapped in the grip of the Titan Croc, the unfortunate snake frantically twists its body in an attempt to escape the impending threat, but to no avail.
As it impacts against the entwined beasts the Gravity Bomb flickers for an instant, before expanding in a blink. The high pitched shriek emitted by the ball turns immediately into a thundering roar. The two hapless monsters are gradually pulled inside the ball, consumed by it, as other nearby monsters are also caught in its inexorable pull.
Like the maw of an insatiable demon, the black sphere drags its victims in before they complete disappear, crushed within the void.
[You have defeated level 9 Canem Pythonem]
[You have defeated level 11 Growing Maw Garralosh]
[You have gained experience]
[You have reached level 6]
The horrific sight persists for only a few seconds but the impact it has on the battlefield is immense. Nearby monsters, suddenly freed from the gravity that had seized them slump to the ground, their desperate efforts to resist no longer required.
Several of these monsters, stunningly, turn and flee into the forest! Perhaps they were so intimidated or startled by their near death experience the bloodlust was knocked out of them, causing them to flee?
Whatever the reason, the panic proves to be contagious as more monsters begin to flee the field, their fear spreading to others who, intimidated out of their frenzy, turn and retreat into the shelter of the forest.
Yeah you better run!
Because my core and gravitational energy are completely exhausted. I'm so damn tired!
Even with so many adversaries quitting the field, the battle still rages on, turning around I can see the workforce continues to be locked it combat with other smaller creatures, here and there a larger monster is being swarmed, covered in over a dozen workers at once and pulled to the ground.
The Queen stands tall above the fray, her antennae flaring brightly with healing mana every now and again as she targets smaller groups of workers for her ministrations. To my relief she hasn't pushed herself to the very frontline, risking becoming separated from the workers, but instead has remained close to enough to help where she is needed, lunging forward to chomp at troublesome enemies before she retreats back slightly to heal the wounded and look for trouble spots.
Whilst she probably could rampage through the monsters here, I'd glad she hasn't. If she were to die then the colony would have no future.
Despite being so drained, so long as the workforce is engaged in battle I will be also. A dedicated ant worker has no time for slacking!
Staggering forward I mechanically enter the battle, chomping left and right at every monster who comes in front of my path.
The more Crushing Bites I dole out the more drained my stamina becomes, my physical exhaustion rising to match that of my mind. I continue to be battered on all sides in the fight, smaller monsters rushing in biting and slashing at me as doggedly push through their ranks like a car slowly pushing its way through a crowd.
Eventually I'm forced to activate my regeneration gland, largely because one of my legs becomes complete crippled. My diamond carapace is able to deflect most of the harm but enough 1hp hits will eventually mount up into serious damage.
Thankfully the limb regeneration proves up to the task and my leg is mostly reformed within a minute.
My mind grows increasingly dull as the battle rages on, my actions become almost completely mechanical. Step forward, bite, bite, bite, look around for more enemies and then continue the process. I can barely even acknowledge the voice of Gandalf in my head as the battle continues.
[You have slain…]
[Crushing Bite has reached level 9]
[Exo-Skeleton Defence has reached level 4]
Finally there comes a time where I chomp on a monster and then look around, only to find worker ants picking over the Biomass.
All around me a carpet of remains covers the ground, the anthill rising out of the carnage, a tall spire emerging from refuse.
As my tunnel vision slowly expands and I take in the sights, hundreds of workers are still alive, seemingly unwearied, dragging away Biomass, lifting it in their mandibles before making the journey up the hill. Here and there I can see a large body being picked over by ten or more workers, industriously carving up the Biomass.
The field has been surrendered to the ants. The sheer number of us, combined with my own intervention was enough to chase away all but the most suicidal of monsters, leaving the colony as the ultimate victor.
Tiny staggers over to me.
The poor ape is covered in wounds, a broad smile plastered on his bat face.
You dumb ape… I'm glad you're still alive.
Having seen me and made sure that I'm ok my ape friend turns and begins to chow down on Biomass, wolfing it into his face with wild abandon. It's a good thing, the food will help close over those wounds faster. The big guy must have gained a ton of levels in this fight also, I have to make sure his core is ready to evolve.
No rest for the weary!
Shaking myself and using my own antennae to slap my face, I try to wake up my exhausted mind, much like a human slapping themselves on the cheeks. There is extremely important work to do!
I didn't intend to cause this enormous battle on the doorstep of the colony but since it has happened I will not waste the opportunity provided to help the colony survive!
The Biomass can go to the workers and Queen, I don't need much, but the cores I have to have. Tiny needs to evolve and I have to raise the Core Mechanic skill as quickly as possible. Judging by the ridiculous power demonstrated by the Sophos Formo and his rock worm of death, it is possible to modify and raise monsters to be superlatively powerful. If I can get my skill high enough, maybe I can engineer Tiny or the Queen, and improve our chances of living!
I briefly activate my Mana Sensing and cast my awareness about, seeking those little concentrated balls of mana that are cores.
I'm quite pleased by what I see! Plenty of cores around!
In fact, there is a very large one walking right up to me!
"Hello, your, uh, majesty!" I stutter, dropping my Mana Sensing and greeting my new Mother as she looms over me.
My heads is knocked down as the Queen whacks me across the head with one of her antennae.
Ouch. I deserve that.
"You must learn to be more cautious child" the Queen warns me gently, "you must not endanger your family".
I squirm internally at her words. Family as a concept is … a little difficult for me to understand. I mean, my family certainly fed me and clothed me most of the time but … even this experience of being disciplined by my mother is a bit new.
It feels … nice. I suppose?
"I'm sorry your majes…. Mother. I uh, learned about a great danger and was trying to return and warn the colony".
"Danger? What danger do you speak of?"
"Actually, it's going to happen very soon! I've been told that in one or two days there will be a 'wave' of monsters. Our enemies will appear at incredible rates, coming straight out of the walls! They could appear right inside the colony, right inside the brood chambers!"
As I'm speaking I realise just how crazy this sounds, how crazy this is! I'm talking to a giant ant Queen, who is probably only a few months old. I probably know more about the Dungeon than she does at this point, and what I know came from a single conversation! How is this even going to work?
"Do you believe the colony is threatened?" the Queen's calm, soothing voice breaks into my swirling, tired thoughts.
"I do" I say.
"What should we do, my child?" she asks.
That simple? You believe me just like that?! You'll listen to what I say so quickly?!
Almost as if she can sense the direction of my mind the Queen answers my inner doubts.
"We are family".
I guess we are.