Before I've even finished speaking Tiny releases a ravenous howl and dives directly into the vertical tunnel, right on top of me!
My plan had been to drop into the roof of this tunnel and scope it out a bit before taking any action. Instead I get pushed down the tunnel by a sheer weight of ape mass that propels us out of the tunnel and sends us smashing into the ground directly between to battling monsters.
Get off me Tiny you stupid ape!
Wait a sec. Er.
[Get off me Tiny you ape!]
He isn't listening. Eyes alive with hunger, for food and battle, Tiny leaps up, planting one foot squarely in my back, before diving headfirst into the nearest monster with his fists swinging and electricity zapping in every direction.
He flattened me. I've even taken damage dammit!
Turns out having a giant ape land on your back is less than pleasant.
Groaning internally I pick myself up and try to switch my mentality back to battle mode after the rather rude shock I experienced. Once I get my feet under my I try to grasp hold of the situation as quickly as I can.
What are we up against?
The tunnel itself is quite narrow and absolutely blazing with light, the mana veins snaking through every surface of the walls. Monsters are battling each other up and down the space, even as new monsters are pushing their way out of the walls were they have been spawned.
Except they are all low level monsters!
Looking around all I can see are the sorts of enemies I'd seen when I first entered the Dungeon. Slugs, centipedes, wolves, the occasional Croca-Beast and Thorn lizards. All of the weakest foes. I was able to fight against this stuff before I'd even formed a core!
I have evolved twice since then, I am so much stronger than I was before! These monsters are simply no match for me anymore! In fact, most of them look very different now, seeing as I've grown significantly taller and longer than I had before. The Dragon-Wolf hounds can't even look down on my any more. Ha!
Prepare to feel my wrath!
Filled with glee I charge towards the nearest Coral-Slug open my mandibles wide and snap them closed.
Without any resistance the ethereal jaws of light snap cleanly through the slug. Your goop can't save you now!
[You have slain a level 3 Coral Slug]
[You have gained experience]
What follows in an extremely cathartic battle. With my much higher stats, body advancements and improved skills these weaker, unevolved and base level monsters are simply no match, practically everything is destroyed with one bite!
I remember when I was afraid of you, take this!
[You have slain ]
You want to spit your horrible acid on me now? I can barely feel it! Muahahaha!
[You have slain ]
Oh you want to slap me around with your tail? How about I bite it off?
[You have slain ]
All the frustration that I amassed in those early days in the upper tunnels of the Dungeon is poured out on these monsters without remorse. Yes, you horrible little beasts. Become my stress relief!
As much as I enjoy the ensuing battle, Tiny doesn't. The monsters are too weak to satisfy his lust for combat, every single one them crumbles after one impact of his colossal fist. After smashing everything in front of him the poor fellow starts to look somewhat despondent. He continues to battle and slay his way down the tunnel but he doesn't have quite the same verve as he did before.
He just can't seem to muster any enthusiasm unless there is a very real sense of danger.
You some sort of masochist Tiny? Can't enjoy yourself unless you are getting beat up?
You need help man.
Soon a decent section of the tunnel has been completely smashed clean by the two of us as we rampage until no monster is prepared to challenge us. Standing amidst the remains of our victims I am aglow with satisfaction having successfully released some of my inner demons and stress whilst Tiny can only look disappointed.
[Cheer up Tiny! Time to eat!] I tell him.
No sooner are the words out of my mouth than a wide grin plays over that bat face and he immediately starts grabbing hold of Biomass and shoving it into his face. I'm just as hungry as he is at this point so I join in with gusto, ripping into my food with all the strength my ant mouth can muster.
Biomass still tastes disgusting, don't think otherwise, but you can get used to anything after a while, even cramming your face with raw monster body parts.
It's disappointing in a way that the monsters here were such a low level, despite killing twenty or so creatures I wasn't able to level up at all, and I highly doubt I'll be able to gain much Biomass, even if I were to consume all of these creatures.
I do manage to come across three small monster cores though! I put these aside to add to my collection for experimentation. It will be some time before I can evolve so there is no need to rush and soak up every core I find, I'd rather use them to advance my skills first, I still feel that the core engineering skill has a lot of potential.
Nonetheless, Tiny and I continue to eat until our stomachs are fit to bursting, only then do we somewhat sheepishly realise that we were supposed to be securing food for the entire colony, not just ourselves.
Got a little distracted there.
It isn't a big deal though, if there is one thing that isn't in short supply during the wave it is spawning monsters. Even whilst we were eating there were monsters spawning out of the walls that we had to destroy between mouthfuls.
I drag myself down the corridor in order to hunt down some more prey and busy myself dragging it back towards the connection to the escape tunnel. After ten minutes I've amassed a small pile of Biomass and Tiny has done likewise after hunting in the other direction.
I head back up the short connecting tunnel in order to summon some workers to come and collect the food. As I do so I notice that the mana vein are already beginning to grow up the connection and into the escape tunnel.
There was no way it wasn't going to happen but it still worries me. Hopefully we will be able to continue digging and outpace the growth of these mana veins, I really don't want to have monsters jumping out of the walls as we dig. The monsters would be quickly killed to be sure, but there is a small chance that a worker would be caught unaware, or that a monster would appear directly underneath the larvae before anyone could stop it.
Dozens of ants have already lost their lives in this wave and we've been very lucky!
"I need some help to collect some food down here!" I announce to the workers after poking my head out of the small connecting tunnel.
At the word 'food', thirty workers immediately stop what there are doing and plunge themselves down the narrow tunnel, pushing me out of the way rudely in their rush to get at the Biomass!
I end up losing my grip and falling once again, this time landing squishily in a pile of monster parts.
As the ants crawl over me and start to carve up the Biomass I take a moment to rest. After fighting and then digging and then fighting some more, I really feel like a sleep!