We lay in wait, ready to spring the third ambush. It's been six hours since the second battle, which had been another successful ambush, something that seemed to make Victor very irritated, a feeling I was also beginning to share.
The horde was massive. Tens of thousands of monsters made up the rolling carpet that made its way toward my home and even after two successful fights, we were only just making a dent in it, so the possibility existed that Garralosh and the wizard lizard just didn't care that we were killing their zombie monsters. Even if we kept up this pace, more than half of the monsters would still make it to the colony, more than enough to seriously endanger our existence.
But I just couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't going to go down that way. Why would they let us attack them, make ourselves stronger and them weaker, without any sort of retaliation? It didn't make sense for them to do that, especially when they could reach out and do damage to us so easily, or at least, I think they can.
With no concept of exactly what the Kaarmodo can do, we are left fumbling in the dark as to what its intentions might be. All in all, I'm starting to sympathise with Victor, having an enemy you have no information on refuse to do anything, thus denying you information, is so frustrating.
The second ambush went smoothly, that's a win, focus on that. We launched another Gravity Bomb, followed by an acid attack before retreating into the tunnels, so far so groovy. This time we'd prepared larger underground spaces in which to do battle.
I personally had been a little shocked that the monsters weren't restrained from following us into the tunnels, after all, the collapsing tunnels did half of the damage in the first ambush, but nope. When the enemy had charged down after me I'd been so shocked, a dragon-wolf cub had run up and bit me on the nose before I even realised it!
The fighting had been fierce down there, face to face, mandible chomping action and more soldiers had fallen than in the first fight. It pained my heart, but the survivors were able to gain valuable experience and levels in their skills which could make all the difference in the future. Not to mention that the colony produced more soldiers on that day than it lost by four times, but still. Those are my siblings. I can't and won't be that callous about it.
My anger and rage toward the invaders has built with every death they have inflicted on my family in a way that no amount of devastation in Liria could have achieved. Garralosh is going to pay for the losses we've suffered and it isn't going to be cheap.
I looked to my left and right. It was dark in this forest at night but I could still make out the long lines of ants on either side of me, waiting for the signal to launch the assault. They were so still that they might have been sleeping, if not for the pheromone chatter I was picking up through my antennae.
"Not long now."
"Remember the plan soldiers."
"… How do I look sharp? Do I have to angle my carapace to look pointy or something?"
"No, it's an expression I heard in the last ambush. It means to be focused."
"Look sharp soldiers!"
I really need to keep my pheromone gland shut. I keep throwing out statements or phrases that I learned in my previous life to the confusion of the ants around me. I frequently find myself having to explain things to a puzzled ant, only to have my words repeated back to me by several hundred other colony members later in the day.
News travels fast through a colony of ants.
I'm feeling a little nervous, the battle is going to be slightly different in nature this time. No tunnels will be deployed. Victor has been increasingly cautious and doesn't want to our attack patterns to become predictable, which I agree with. We only know a fraction of what is possible with magic and I already know that they could flood us, use earth magic to crush us to death under the ground and a host of other things. Just because they haven't doesn't mean we should arrogantly assume that they can't.
I run over my status since the last fight one more time, double checking what I've gained. It's unusually important for me to be on top of my status right now, since the colony is kind of depending on me to evolve and somehow battle a dinosaur to death.
Level: 36 (Special core)
Skills: Expert Excavation (III) Level 5; Deadly Acid Shot (III) Level 3; Advanced Grip (II) Level 5; Shattering Bite (IV) Level 15; Advanced Stealth (II) Level 5; Splintering Chomp (III) Level 16; Tunnel Map (II) Level 6; Mana Transformation (III) Level 11; Condensed Mana (III) Level 3; Finer External Mana Manipulation (III) Level 2; Empowered Mana Sensing (II) Level 1; Core Surgery (III) Level 6; Expert Exo-Skeleton Defence (III) level 7; Distant Pet Communication (II) Level 2; Rapid Dash (II) Level 6; Expert Water Magic Affinity (III) Level 2; Advanced Stamina (II) Level 9; Pet Growth Speed (I) Level 1; Mana Scrooge (II) Level 6; Expert Cerebral Endurance (III) Level 12; Profound Mediation (II) Level 5; Advanced Precise Shooting (II) Level 5; Severing Bite (III) Level 9; Enhanced Mind Magic Affinity (II) level 5;
Mutations: Perimeter Eyes +15, Future Sight Infrared Antennae +15, Mana Binding Acid +15, Rapid Absorption Legs +15, Empowered Mandibles +15, True Diamond Carapace +15, Regrowth Regeneration Gland +15, Persuasive Pheromone Language Gland +10, Bottomless Gravity Magic Gland +15, Adaptable Coordination Cortex +15, Supportive Inner Carapace Plating +15;
Species: Dispersed Mind Ant (Formica Sapiens)
Skill points: 20
I'd gained quite a few levels during the fighting, especially across my bite skills. Greater External Mana Manipulation had reached rank three after my sub brains had used it constantly to feed more mana into my core. The upgrade had given me, much as the name suggests, greater control over the movement of mana outside of my body. I'm beginning to catch glimpses of exactly how the skill can be deployed in more useful ways that just dragging mana into my hungry core, such as defending from hostile magic. I think one more rank in the skill will unlock some juicy knowledge, so I intend to keep grinding it.
I managed to squeak in a few bites of Biomass after the last battle and pushed myself closer to the sixty five I needed to mutate my final body part, the Pheromone Language Gland. Perhaps once this battle is done I'll have the chance to do that and secure my first ever fully upgraded evolution. It's going to be very satisfying knowing that I'm not going to be kicking myself in the thorax and making it even harder to accumulate Biomass and mutate than it needs to be.
I'm also closing in on the bite skill fusion that I've been aiming for. According to Beyn, when all three of my bite skills reach the fourth rank, I'll have the option to fuse them into a more potent skill. Four more ranks in Splintering Chomp and eleven more for Severing Bite till I get there. That's another thing I'll have to focus on during the upcoming ambush.
As the ants around me continue to pep each other up, I take a deep slow breath and run over the plan in my head, one more time.