"Vibrant! We need to get to the Queen!" Grant punched out her pheromone message with all of her strength.

"Wha? To Mother? Why?" The fast moving ant slowed down for just a moment to respond.

"Garralosh is coming to the wall! We need to bring her back a bit closer to the nest. Heal her if we can!"

"Okay! :D" Vibrant replied.

Grant was frustrated by her sibling's seemingly flippant attitude but bit back her anger and tried to focus. For the colony to have the highest chance of success, the plan needed to be followed. Draw the Queen back to the eighth wall and she can fight against Garralosh there.

If they did that, then maybe they would buy enough time for the Eldest to awaken and then perhaps they might just survive.

"How fast are you?!" Vibrant asked.

"Fast enough," Grant grit her mandibles and replied.

"Then let's go! Follow me!" Vibrant chirped before she turned around and ran toward a member of her squad.

"Give us a boost!" She called and the soldier in question ducked her head to allow Vibrant to race up onto her back.

Bewildered, Grant had only a moment to think before she threw herself forward and she too leapt from the poor soldier's back.

"Gogogogogogo!" Vibrant cackled as her legs flashed at impossible speed and she took off across the backs of ants and monsters alike, racing toward the place the Queen was fighting.

This is insane! Grant could only sharpen her mind and race forward, trying to maintain her balance as she dodged snapping jaws, belched flames and raking claws as she scrambled to keep up.

"Hahahahaha!" Vibrant laughed with delight and began to fire acid into the crowd of monsters beneath her as she ran.

Grant cursed. Since she was behind the other ant, this only made keeping up all the harder!

Nonetheless, they made it. Vibrant flung herself from a monster and onto the still glowing carapace of the Queen, followed a few moments later by Grant.

"Mother!" Grant pushed out, exhausted. "Garralosh herself is coming! The colony is going to pull back to the eighth wall. You need to come with us!"

"I can see the creature already, child." The Queen sounded exhausted, but calm.

What?

Grant scrabbled a little higher up her mother's back and looked out over the roiling mass of monsters. The entire battlefield was a mess. Biomass, broken walls spread before her like a carpet. The ground was pockmarked with holes, traps and to her right she could see the human wall beset by Garralosh spawn. The fighting was fierce, but it didn't hold Grant's eye for long. The slow approach of the titanic crocodile did that.

Unhurried, her mouth gaped open to reveal her enormous teeth in a cruel grin, Garralosh stomped her way forward. Every time one of her feet came down the ground groaned beneath her weight. Any Biomass she stepped on was crushed to paste. The giant crocodile looked inevitable, like a mountain of scales and teeth. Her claws gleamed, each looked hard as diamond and as thick as Grant's own head.


How were they supposed to kill that?!

"That's a big Croca! Like, the biggest! Look at those teeth! They'd chop me in half with one bite, no doubt! I wonder how she tastes?" Vibrant continued to talk in a constant stream.

"Pull back to the wall, Mother! The colony will be able to support you from there, and you can get healing!" Grant pleaded.

The Queen's antennae drooped.

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"Very well, child."

Having made up her mind, the Queen didn't hesitate and turned. Under the influence of Vibrant's speed aura, she made excellent time as she stomped her way through the field, stabbing down with her legs to spear monsters on the way. The closer she came to the wall, the more ants swarmed around her. They feasted on any enemy that was foolish enough to come too close and when the Queen reached the base of the final wall, she allowed herself a moment to rest.

The pressure from the horde and the Garralosh spawn had begun to slack as their mother approached. The largest Crocs were the first to pull back, followed by their younger siblings and then the horde monsters. The prepared barrage of the artillery spells and interference tactics of the shadow beasts were almost unnecessary as the colony enacted its final retreat.

Healers, fresh from the nest, rushed forward to tend to her wounds and try to restore her energy. A dozen of the small ants climbed over her, their antennae glowing bright with energy as they touched the healing mana to her carapace.

The Queen checked on her core and sighed. She had begun to run low on mana. Her infused carapace put a great deal of strain on her core and it wouldn't be long until she leached out enough energy to cause pain. Hopefully her fight with Garralosh would be swift.

The ants once more employed their acid barrage from the top of their final wall. The encroaching Garralosh spawn suffered from the rain of acid, the numerous traps and the sneak attacks from Shadow Beast pets launched from hidden tunnels in the soil.

CRUNCH.

Like a nightmare made into flesh, a giant, clawed hand reached over the wall. Claws dug into the packed dirt and muscles bunched as the mother of crocodiles pulled her massive frame over the seventh wall. She slowly swung her head to regard the final layer of defence, as well as the towering nest behind it, before she pulled the rest of her body up onto the wall.

The Garralosh spawn shrank back in the presence of their parent. Whether through fear, respect, or if they were cowed by the crushing aura that she emitted. The ants grew still as their nemesis drew closer. After a week of frenzied battle and preparation, she was finally here, before them.

Even from a distance of one hundred metres, it was clear to see that Garralosh towered over the Queen. Even without standing up, the Croc was far more massive than the largest ant in the colony. It was clear the enormous beast felt no threat from the colony in front of her. She opened her mouth a huffed, an action which caused dark red flames to flicker in the depths of her gullet.

As stillness overcame the battlefield, Garralosh stepped forward at a slow pace. The ants on the wall held firm. The crushing aura and presence of the most powerful monster they'd ever seen weighed down on them, tried to press them into the dirt, but they would not succumb. The colony stood tall, as one, and faced down the demon who had decided that they should die.

Up on the wall, Sloan was calm.

"Let's get into the bunkers then. It won't be long until we get to see the mother Croc's fire."

"Good idea," Victor agreed.

Scout ants began to run up and down the line as they passed along the message. Ants scurried to protect themselves. They threw themselves into prepared bunkers or behind walls in anticipation of Garralosh unleashing her flames.

The Queen was too large for such measures. She readied herself for the onslaught, unaware of the dozen water mages on the wall behind her, ready to lend what aid they could.

Garralosh seemed to watch the flurry of activity with amusement. As if playing with her food, the massive beast continued to take slow measured steps toward the Queen. Flames licked against her teeth with every step but the anticipated roar of flame never came. Instead, the looming pressure grew each moment as the nightmare beast approached.

The Queen had had enough.

CLACK!

With a fierce snap of her mandibles she charged as the light in her carapace flared to its brightest point.

HUFF, HUFF, HUFF.

Air whooshed from the titanic lungs of the Croc, creating a breeze strong enough for the ants to feel fifty metres away. Garralosh was laughing.

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