With the heavy hitter taken out of the equation there isn't much left to the fight. Crinis and I quickly destroy the Titan Crocs and rush back to help support Tiny and Vibrant.
The giant ape and ant soldier are beaten and bruised but victorious as they lord over their fallen enemies. Tiny is beating his chest and roaring his challenge out to the world whilst Vibrant does a manic, high speed dance around his ankles.
[RAAAAARR] Tiny bellows.
"RAA HAHAHAHAHA!" Vibrant cackles.
I was right to team these two up. They fit together like peas in a pod. The only problem is, who is the brains of the operation?
In the distance there are yet more crocs, huddling together in small posse's like leathery hoodlums. For the time being they aren't responding to our provocation but I'd rather not put their tolerance to the test.
For now there aren't any groups within two hundred metres, which is roughly how far we've advanced into the expanse.
["OK, hold off on the celebration already you two"] I snap, ["We've won the first skirmish but there are more to be had. Let's eat quickly and prepare our next move."]
I don't need to tell them twice. The gang quickly breaks up and we start stuffing our faces full whilst keeping a watchful eye on the surrounding monsters. I myself head directly for the Double Crocs. It's been some time since I've been able to eat a tier three monster of this size and I don't intent to let the opportunity go to waste!
OM NOM NOM.
There really is a distinct flavour to croc. I think it's growing on me, to be honest. Particularly the tails. Now that I think of it, the double croc evolutionary choices are really making sense to me. Double the tail to eat? Nice!
I manage to reap a nice harvest of Biomass from the first croc but as I'm moving towards the second, Crinis cries out mentally.
[Master! I can feel vibrations coming this way, lots of them! I think it's a wave!]
["Everyone back to the tunnels! Go Go Go!"]
Tiny seems reluctant to move, still shoving huge fistfuls of food into his mouth until his cheeks are puffed out to a ludicrous degree.
[Tiny! Move your big butt back to the tunnels! Right now!] I yell at him even as I activate my dash skills to rush at Crinis and throw her onto my back.
With that maw of hers she can eat ten times faster than the rest of us, she's so damned heavy already she must have eaten two or three crocs at least!
Tiny cannot refuse my direct command. Unwilling to part with his meal he grabs the body of the double croc he was eating and throws it over his shoulder before dashing and leaping his way back to the tunnel.
How greedy! Wish I'd thought of that. At the very least I might have been able to grab a tail
With all possible speed we rush back to the tunnel entrance we used to reach this point and position ourselves defensively. I'd figured that we would encounter a wave or two during our attack on the expanse and in my mind the worst case scenario would be if we were caught out in the open. The monsters in a wave are low level, without many mutations and generally tier one with a few having evolved, generally not much of a threat. But if they were to surround us in the middle of the marsh, where mobility is difficult and there are native monsters who could interfere and get in the way
It could get nasty.
Safely retreating to the tunnel that leads up to the colony and effectively blocking it, preventing any monsters from reaching my family and then continuing the assault is by far the best choice.
[Tiny in front, Crinis right behind to support, make sure he doesn't get surrounded. Vibrant, stay behind Crinis and move up to support when you can, don't let yourself get caught. I'll stick to the roof]
We quickly take our positions and it isn't long until I can see the wave of monsters approaching through the tunnel entrance. They roll through the marsh as a dark mass of shadow beasts, the occasional normal, animalistic monster mixed in.
Curiously, they don't seem too interested in feasting on the native monsters in the expanse as they pass, leaving them undisturbed for the most part. I think I see the odd flower monster getting trampled but nothing seems to go out of its way to kill or eat.
This behaviour is just so un monster like that its baffling to me. What hold does the creature controlling this expanse have on these monsters? Is it a skill? A mutation? Or something to do with their core? I just don't have the knowledge to explain it.
Hopefully soon, I will.
It doesn't take long for the monsters to reach us. Tiny finally stops snaking on his croc and flings the remaining food behind us, saving it for later, before flexing his fingers as lightning begins to crackle around his body.
I myself head towards the ceiling and grip it tightly, drawing on my water transformation construct to stockpile some condensed water mana in preparation for a forceful water cannon. That spell has proven to be the most effective so far at cutting through the shadow beasts strange flesh quickly.
[Advanced Grip has reached level 4]
Nice! Grip hasn't levelled in ages! Why now?
I guess I haven't been doing a whole of gripping. Where once I almost exclusively travelled on ceilings I'm more a floor walker now. Somehow that feels a little disappointing to me, as if something of my ant nature is lacking. I guess I walk up and down the colony walls but that probably does less for xp wise than hanging off a ceiling during a fight.
Internally I resolve to hang upside down a bit more as I brace for the incoming wave.
The monsters grow larger in our eyes until they crash into us with tremendous momentum. Tiny meets the challenge willingly, his massive fists smashing the first monsters into past the moment they rush into range.
Forceful Water Cannon!
The tunnel is immediately filled with sound of desperate combat as the monsters throw themselves at us like berserkers, mindlessly advancing into our attacks and getting cut down just as quickly.
My spell zigs and zags through their ranks, slicing through them without mercy. The spray of water saturates the tunnel and the incoming monsters who quickly fall prey to Tiny's lightning and fists.
Any that reach his sides are snatched up in Crinis tentacles and torn to pieces or flung back towards Vibrant who falls upon them with savage flee, her mandibles swiftly ending the threat.
We battle in this way for a full fifteen minutes before the wave has expended itself. The tunnel is packed full of Biomass, to a ridiculous degree and we are tired and battered. Tiny in particular has suffered the brunt of the fighting so far, cuts and bruises dot his body as the massive ape catches his breath.
Since we are close to the shortcut anyway, I decide that we should stuff our faces, heal up, and deliver the rest of this food to the surface for the colony to pick up before we continue our assault.