Hunkered down amongst the trees, I waited along with my fellow ants, mostly scouts, for the enemy to arrive. We were roughly a hundred metres from the road and would have to charge across open ground in order to get close enough to launch our acid strikes. Only the soldiers with sufficient speed and range had been chosen to take part in the first phase of the ambush, for good reason too.
There was more risk to this plan, but potentially greater payoff. Moving away from the tunnel based strategy we'd employed in the previous two battles meant we would be more open, but ensuring we didn't become predictable and play into the enemy's hands would be well worth it.
"Steady people, they're coming" I heard from my left.
And they were. The horde crawled into view, a seemingly endless tide of monsters that walked with eerie quiet, their natural instincts suppressed to the point they almost seemed alien to me. Well, more alien than the crazy, vicious monster creatures who spawn out of thin air underground they normally are.
We continued to lie low and wait, concealed behind the tree line. The plan wasn't to hit the front of the horde, which we'd done in the past, just in case they were prepared for such a tactic. So we waited for five minutes after the first monsters had passed us by before we crept out of our hiding places and began to sneak our way closer.
The scouts had all taken stealth as a skill and at this point they probably had more levels in it than I did, since I didn't get much of an opportunity to train it anymore. But it felt nice to drop into my old habits, flexing my six legs to keep my body low and close the ground, sticking to the darker shadows and avoiding the light.
This was a night raid, which was one reason why we were comfortable advancing over the open ground. Somewhere overhead the moon shone down on us (I assume, I can only see a vague shininess overhead) which doesn't really help me sneak, since I'm so shiny myself.
If I get any more sparkly than this, they'll think I'm a vampire! The lame kind! But I do love my diamond carapace. After my evolution, the first thing I'm going to upgrade is my carapace to get MOAR diamonds! Gweheheh. The birth of the crystal ant is not far away!
Slow and purposeful, my team of scouts and I crept closer to the enemy. No magic assault at all in this attack in case we are detected. The horde grew closer in my eyes, the monsters looked lifeless and their behaviour was off-putting. Whatever it is that controls these monsters, I don't like it.
We've still not been sighted. Things are looking good so far. I'm actually not the ant in the front for this maneuverer, Wills has put herself out there since so many of her fellow scouts are the first in the firing line for this plan. I can see her now, a little larger than the other scouts due to her inflated stats, ahead of me and to the left.
Slowly, the lead scout began to raise her business district into the sky, huddling her lower body toward the ground until her acid barrage was primed to fly like the third quarter profits, in a high arc. At this signal, the rest of the scouts, and myself, formed up into a line with Wills and assumed the same aggressive posture. Time for a hostile takeover.
Despite being covered in darkness and utilising our stealth skills to their limits, we were still treated to the drill instructor like shouting of Wills as she organised her scouts.
"Not yet you scum! Why are you so impatient? Are you scouts, or are you larvae? Form up the line! Wait for my signal!" she harangued her troops.
I assume she wasn't talking to me at least. If she was, I might have to have words…
Along with a pheromone shout of "NOW!", Wills unleashed the first shot of the barrage, one which was quickly followed by dozens more.
POW! POW! POW! POW!
I fired my own acid at a steady pace, aiming for power and distance as opposed to accuracy or concentration. The acid would arc high into the air and separate into a wider spray as it fell, reducing the concentration of damage but we didn't really care. The horde was so large and dense that every bit of acid we unleashed would land on something.
Even the sound of the acid being fired wasn't loud enough to reveal our positions, being only a dull muted thump as the acid burst out, like a new product being launched with a stealth marketing campaign. A torrent of acid was in the air before the first of it landed, alerting the enemy to our attack. The sizzle of flesh and the roar and groans of monsters is the first sign that battle has begun.
At first the enemy wasn't able to spot our position and the monsters milled about, confused and angry as I gleefully continued to empty my acid gland along with my siblings.
Eat acid, suckers!
Then things changed.
A light erupted, blazing into existence above the horde with an intensity that blinded me for a moment before it faded a little, allowing me to see. As my vision focused again I saw that above the horde, three great balls of light now hung in the air, illuminating the surroundings and stripping us ants of our stealth.
We were exposed!
"Run for it!" I shouted to the scouts as the horde turned to face us and charged, hungry to feast on ant flesh.