The pressure continues to build within my throat, the small spherical mass of mana is becoming tighter and tighter, the dense energy fluctuating and spinning wildly as more and more mana is forced into it.
I'm reaching the limits of my tolerance, I have to act soon!
I can see the Queen advancing into the forest, her personal swarm of guards being forced to move with her. It's clear that she intends to personally enter the battle and defend her colony against these large interlopers.
I think if these damned Croca beasts hadn't shown up she would probably have been content to just release her healing spell and then retreat back into the nest, but with such a large portion of her workforce under threat she must feel compelled to act.
A caring mother, striding into battle for her children… It's very moving Gandalf! And no I'm not crying! I can't cry, I'm an ant, but within, I am deeply moved by this maternal devotion.
For the moment I'll gloss over that this situation is entirely my fault…
On my back Tiny has continued to survey the battlefield, hooting aggressively at our foes and occasionally lashing out with his little fists whenever he could locate a target. I'm impressed the little fellow has managed to maintain his seat all this time, it couldn't have been easy in the swirling melee.
I'm drawing closer and closer to the Titan-Croc even as they are drawing closer and closer to me. They've almost reached the ants now, just a few more meters and those claws will begin to reap a dark harvest of ant experience. I won't let it happen!
Suddenly accelerating I charge forward out of the pack, brushing aside my fellow workers in my mad rush to reach the crocodiles before they are able to act. I want to draw their attention away from the colony as much as possible, I have to be fast!
My force mana sphere is as dense as I can make it, no matter how I try I can't force any more energy into it. It is wildly spinning inside me, a tiny, ultra-dense, hot fog of mana just begging to be released.
As I reach the edge of the field I climb onto the back of a nearby worker and leap into the air. Directly before my face the Titan-Croc looms. Cruel eyes stare directly into mine. Massive jaws part to reveal a wealth of barbed teeth, ready to snap out my life.
Delivered to you fresh like the cold mountain winds, receive the shout of my people!
Opening my mouth I finally release the energy I've contained within . Like a bullet from a gun, like a directed explosion, the mana bursts out with irresistible force, as if I shot a cannonball from my mouth.
Time seems to slow down in this moment. Or perhaps my perception speeds up. The chaotic motion all around me stills and the small details become larger and larger in my eyes. I can see the huge bulk of the Titan-Croc in front of me as I float through the air, it's maw opening wide, ropes of saliva clinging to each tooth, ready to crunch down on this meal that has delivered itself by airmail directly.
The two Croca-Beasts on either side ignore me, preparing to advance into the horde of ants with claws bared, their arms are already being drawn back, thick cables of muscle bulging beneath their scales.
Behind me the workers continue to battle the centipedes, a ferocious melee of insect vs insect in all of its savage glory. Only a few workers have responded to the impending threat of Croca-beast, I can see their antennae slowly twitching in the air as they turn to face this new threat, no fear or shock showing in their faces, only dedication.
Then the magic is released.
A concussive force erupts, bursting into the air with the power of a battering ram. With my heightened senses in this moment I can see the very air itself warping and twisting around the fearsome energy.
It was difficult to aim after leaping into the air so my blast doesn't smash into the Titan-Croc's mouth as I'd hoped but rather cannons into its chest.
At that moment of impact, I could see the change come over the monster's face, an ever so slight flicker of surprise registering in the eyes.
Then the strange sensation of time slowing ends.
And the Titan-Croc catapults away into a tree like a crocodilic missile.
The tree shatters in half as the enormous mass of monster crashes into it like a thunderbolt. The burst of noise is deafening.
[You have slain level 12 Crescente Gula Garralosh]
[You have gained experience]
[You have reached level 8]
One hit…. KO?
Are you kidding me?!
The Titan-Croca lies amidst the broken remnants of the shattered tree, unmoving. The monster's massive chest appears to have been caved in, as if struck by a giant's hammer. The two smaller Croca-Beasts are wearing an expression that could only be the heartless monster equivalent of shock.
I land on my feet before them, looking up at their crocodile faces.
They look down at me, not seeming to quite understand what it is they are looking at.
Then Mother arrives.
Moving with the irresistible power of a freight train the Queen crashes into the Croca-Beast on my left. Her immense jaws immediately scissor the Croca-Beast across its mid-section, directly cutting the dreadful monster in half!
Holy heck Mother?! How much Biomass did you spend upgrading your mandibles? They look sharper than mine!
After defeating the first Croca-Beast so decisively the Queen turns toward the second, her powerful mandibles clicking ominously, covered in ichor. The monsters in this place do not know the word retreat and the remaining Croca-Beast shows no sign of backing down. I don't know if these creatures are incredibly brave or just immensely stupid but they do not retreat.
The Queen doesn't slow down, aggressively advancing towards the final monster, who roars and swings one powerful claw towards the larger creature. The Queen doesn't even react, allowing the claws to rake into her carapace. The force of that impact would have sent me flying but she doesn't budge, cold eyes staring down at the Croca-Beast with contempt.
Only when the Croca draws back its arms do I see that the blow hasn't even left a mark on the shiny dark carapace of Mother. Exactly how highly upgraded is this Queen?!
Then I remember the dedicated workers, constantly battling for food and returning as much of it as possible to the nest for the Queen to eat, not only giving her the energy to produce the young but also allowing her to take in ferocious amounts of Biomass.
There is no doubt she is the most highly mutated member of the colony, probably possessing many mutation advanced to boot. For whatever reason her advancements seem to be the less ostentatious kind as I can't really see a visible difference in her carapace or mandibles yet they are clearly immensely strong.
Not wasting the opportunity given by the opponents reckless strike, Mother opens her jaws wide and plunges them down, all of her crushing weight behind the strike. Even the powerful Croca-Beast is no match for the Queen in a contest in strength and is smashed into the ground, pinned by those potent mandibles.
After adjusting her grip slightly, Mother puts the beast out of its misery…
What the hell was that?! I don't think even the Titan-Croc would have been able to resist her strength for long. I had no idea you were so strong Mother!
The Queen doesn't seem too fazed by the experience, standing tall once again she surveys the battlefield with her cool, imperious gaze. Merely being in her presence has driven the workforce into a frenzy, redoubling their efforts and driving the centipedes completely into the dirt. The battle is all but over, many workers already having switched to transport duty, moving injured ants out of the fight and breaking up food for transport back to the nest.
We've won! The spoils of war shall be ours!
When the Queen spots me dancing in triumph in front of her she makes her way over to me, suddenly casting her immense shadow over my face.
Uh, hi? How are you Mother? …
Raising one powerful foreleg the Queen suddenly slaps me on the head. Not hard enough to injure me but certainly enough to smack my head down into the ground and make my brain spin.
Before I can recover myself she has already turned and started to make her way back to the nest, a detachment of workers following her every move.
Did I… Did I just get told off by Mother?
This is quite depressing!
I think I can understand why. Despite the fact that this victory will provide the fuel that will ignite the colonies engine, at least thirty workers have laid their lives down here. Those thirty workers would still be alive if not for me starting a fight so close to the nest, drawing in the workforce and being unable to contain the conflict.
The other thing I hadn't considered, is that although this food might allow the Queen to lay many eggs, there are now thirty less workers to help hunt for them, feed them and care for them, which will stretch the remaining workforce right to the limit.
I hope the Queen isn't too mad. I'm definitely reflecting on my mistakes…