Overall we managed to harvest six cores from the wide section of tunnel, including two tasty looking ones from the Bone Lizards. All in all this has been an extremely profitable trip! It feels good to get levels and Biomass again so freely like this! Now that I don't have to worry so much about the colony surviving the terror of the wave, I'll be able to head down here with Tiny every now again in order to make sure my personal strength isn't lagging too far behind!
I can already feel more heat readings from the walls growing with every passing second. A new wave of monsters is about to spawn and I'd rather not get tangled up with them. I collect my passengers and tell Tiny that it's time to leave.
The big ape has mostly healed up after consuming all of that Biomass but his fist still looks like it's in rough shape. Not too surprising considering what he punched! More importantly he looks relaxed and happy, something I haven't seen for over a week now.
Being a little careful with ourselves we begin the long trek to the surface one more, clearing out the monsters who had spawned behind us as we'd descended. The two little ones are probably the members who gained the most from this trip. I'm not sure that eating more advanced Biomass expedites the growth of young monsters but it probably does, I'll be interested to see how much Crinis has grown tomorrow. Since Vibrant is a fully grown monster, albeit a small one, she will have gained a truckload of Biomass from consuming a creature two evolution levels above her, perhaps as many as fifteen points!
Considering how limited her stomach capacity is, getting so many points from one meal is quite an amazing haul!
Eventually we make our way back to the surface. I climb out first in order to detect if there are any humans or other creatures around the opening to the tunnel. We need to be somewhat careful moving in and out of here as we aren’t too far from the human settlement. Some caution goes a long way in avoiding unnecessary complications!
Since we've cleaned out the lower tunnels twice there shouldn't be too much there for the humans in the church to fight, just the very weakest monsters who spawned above where my new tunnel connects to the old one. Not only have I protected their lives, I've also robbed them of experience. Truly giving with hand and taking with the other. Gweheheh.
To be honest, I haven't hurt them at all, and taking little steps like this to protect my colony, my family, is surely permissible right? Gandalf?
Eh. My conscious is clean.
The four of us begin the long trek back into the forest, well, two of us begin the long trek back into the forest. I'm fairly certain that Vibrant has fallen asleep on my head. Judging by the rhythmic expansion and contraction of the little ball on my back, Crinis has also!
Why I oughtta!
Ah fine. They've had a big day I suppose. The faster they digest that Biomass and grow the sooner they'll be off my back and working hard for the colony. Just you wait you little freeloaders…
It takes a few hours to walk back to the anthill and things are perfectly peaceful on the journey.
However, when we are almost there, faint sounds of battle attract my attention.
My heart slows in my chest as I recognise the sound of human voices shouting and the clash of steel. People are fighting near the colony!
Immediately I start sprinting forward at top speed, not caring that my rapid movement has jolted my two passengers awake. Tiny seems to detect my rising panic and rumbles after me as quickly as his long arms reach out and seize the ground.
With every step my heart is pounding and a scream is rising in my head. Not my family! Not my family! Not my family! NOT AGAIN!
The sickening sounds of weapons crunching through monster flesh are enough to bring tears to my eyes. I mean, if I had tear ducts. Just let my colony be safe!
In a few moments that felt like hours we finally burst onto the scene. The anthill rises like small mountain to my right, dominating the center of the clearing, workers pour out of the top, mandibles clacking with rage, antennae twitching angrily, no doubt sensing the call to arms pheromones that have summoned the workforce to battle!
To my left are ten humans, each equipped with glittering weapons and armour, intricately adorned with insignia and embossed filigree. Two mages stand at the back, ornate staves in their hands and flowing robes running over their shoulders. These are some of the most elaborately equipped humans I've ever seen.
And they are massacring the ants.
The workers swarm forward mindlessly, desperate to defend their home, but they cannot get close enough. The magicians have conjured some type of shield that pushes the workers back, allowing the warriors to swing freely and unleash their sword skills, sending waves of sword light slashing through the ants. The acid fired from above is likewise blocked by magical means, scattering harmlessly and running down the invisible barrier.
In the center of my view is the most horrifying sight of all. The Queen has come out! Her huge frame is shuddering with rage as she tries to heal her children and push forward to rend her enemies at the same time.
My family is dying!
I'm barely coherent enough to roar this words to my companion before my mind goes totally red. My precious siblings are being killed, torn apart like paper, right before my eyes. I have to save them!
In one movement I vigorously shake off the two little ones and start sprinting at the enemy. They dare to attack my family! I'll bite them to pieces!
Blinded by rage I act without any sort of plan, rushing directly forwards. Closer, closer, closer! When I'm just a few metres away one of the spell casters turns his head and almost contemptuously flicks his wrist towards me.
Immediately I feel an impact on my face, as if an invisible barrier just rushed at me, trying to bounce me away.
Not today Mr Mime!
I dig in with my claws and crunch down with my mandibles, trying to rip this wall to pieces with sheer physical force. At the same time, the blow to my head has returned some of my senses. Charging blindly into an unknown force may not be the best idea Anthony, but if it saves the ants it'll be worth it!
Even as I wrestle with this barrier I engage my sub brain to begin construction of a Gravity Spear, if any one spell is going to disrupt their formation this'll be it. The mage seems a little confused at first by my stubborn resistance to his spell, somewhat surprised that I wasn't simply knocked back, possibly even killed by the impact of the barrier. I glare at him as he studies me a little more close, taking in my advanced size and mutated body parts, then he smirks and thrusts his hand forward, doubling the pressure on me in an instant!
Determined, I hold my ground ,refusing to budge. I don't have time to waste with this idiot! Every moment that passes those swordsmen cut their way through the workers like wheat, getting ever closer to the Queen!
[Where the hell are you Tiny?!]
At that moment a thunderous screech blasts the ears of everyone present. The sonic wave so intense it feels like my ear drums have been punched directly. Charging with all of his might, Tiny takes a huge running leap, raising both fists over his head to hammer down on the barrier!
The mage facing me pales in fright when he sees this massive ape monster burst out of the trees, leaping towards them in just a few seconds. He screams something in their language and the second mage, a woman, turns quickly and the two of them raise their staves in one motion as Tiny descends from above.
The pressure on me is released instantly.
Infected by my own desperate rage, Tiny's eyes are completely red as his massive body descends, lending all the weight of his mass to his strike. His fists hammer down like meteors, slamming into the defensive barrier with a colossal impact!