Full of vim and vigour, we dash off to find Sarah toiling away helping to build walls. The great bear isn't much for digging, lacking the zen-like disposition that ants have towards it, or our powerful mandibles. You'd think hands would be great for shifting dirt, but nope, mandibles is where it's at. The two face-hands are excellent for both cutting into the unyielding rock, and gathering up loose soil into a clump.
[Anthony? You're back already?]
[Yep! Ready to throw myself into unspeakable danger in the hopes of bringing a swifter conclusion to the war. You want in?]
The great bear looks at me and blinks a few times slowly.
[You want me to join you on one of your crazy suicide missions.]
[Why not? You make it sound like something a person wouldn't want to do.]
[Anthony, a normal person absolutely wouldn't want to do that.]
[Bah! Who cares about normal people? I don't see any of them around here. All I see are the greatest and most incredible ant that ever crawled and a gigantic, badass bear of doom. What do you say?]
She thinks about it for a long moment before she slowly nods.
[Okay,] she says, [I'll do it.]
[Wait, really?] I'm shocked. [I thought for sure you'd say no. I was only inviting you to be friendly.]
[You invite people on suicide missions, just to be friendly? Actually, it doesn't matter. I want to help. I want to end this war before it gets out of hand. Then, hopefully, we get some rest and the Colony can have peace.]
It's a great thought but I don't want to tell her that it's highly unlikely to happen. Even after the termites are dealt with, we still have a burgeoning conflict with the Ka'armodo, the worrying demon movements to stress about and the industriousness of the Colony itself. Even without foes pushing back against us, the Colony will always keep growing outwards until it hits boundaries.
With our expansion in the third underway, it's only a matter of time until we get started on the fourth. As I understand it, free real estate is hard to come by down here.
With Sarah recruited, it's time.
We stride past layers of entrenched defences as we make our way towards the main tunnel connecting the Colony on the path toward the termite mound. I don't intend to pull any tricks, we are going straight into the heart of the enemy formation.
With a little luck, they'll come for us and we can hold out long enough for the Colony to take advantage and punch some deep holes in the encirclement.
Complicated plans aren't for me, I'll drive forward, make as much of a mess as I can, and count on much smarter minds to make something good out of it.
As we keep moving, the silent ant guardians watch us with their unblinking eyes, until we leave the last wall behind. My antennae wave constantly as I take the lead, feeling my way forward, looking for traps. The stink of termite is constant in this section of tunnel, their filthy trails clinging to the rock.
It's dead silent, and dark, but that isn't enough to hide from me.
The ebb and flow of mana has never been more clear to me than it is now. I can see the currents, the tiny shifts and ripples, better than I ever could before. There are literally hundreds of thousands of monsters swarming around these tunnels, and the effect they have on the mana flow is considerable.
More than that, so many chunky insects is like lighting a beacon to my antennae. The faint pulses of gravity that I feel send a tingling sensation running down the twilight filament. I can feel them, and they're close.
[Get ready gang, they're coming for us,] I warn the others.
Tiny's eyes blaze with inner fire as electricity begins to ripple across his fur. From the back of my carapace, Crinis begins to extend her tendrils, manifesting her body in increments. Invidia's eye blazes with green light and the air splits open, revealing his enormous cheshire grin.
In the distance, a light tik-tak sound can be heard echoing off the stone walls. Quickly, the sound builds, until the insistent clacking of claws is all around us.
My brains skip into overdrive, working mana furiously, preparing a variety of delights for the oncoming termite swarm.
The first termite rounds the corner in front us, and promptly has its face blasted in by a searing bolt of lightning. I look at Tiny, irritated, and he grins back, his entire body alight with crackling power.