There were small disturbances around the edges of the seething mass of monsters, particularly toward the front and forest sides, the latter of which I couldn't really make out. When we got in range, I was able to see small groups of ants engaging in a seemingly endless series of running engagements with the horde.
Small groups of five or six ants were launching themselves from hiding places, either tunnels or out of the tree line and making lightning quick attacks against the monsters closest to them. Some launched acid barrages before they retreated with sharp movements, others plunged toward the mass of enemies and engaged them in short, violent skirmishes before they broke and fled. At any one moment there were upwards of thirty groups attacking the horde independent of each other, and those were the ones I could see!
It seems as if Victor was having similar thoughts to me in the next phase. By breaking into smaller groups that managed themselves, the risk to the overall force was reduced and we became too difficult for the horde to tackle. If the monsters were to chase the pesky ants, they'd simply run away, disappear into tunnels or vanish into the forest. If the monsters pursued too far, then they would regain their senses and break away from the control that bound them, which for our purposes was just as good as killing them.
Some groups would be caught, snapped up by monsters who moved quicker than they expected, or blasted by magic from the wizard lizard and its attendants, but even so there would only be five ants lost at a time. Obviously five ants is five too many in my opinion, but I can understand the tactic, it's basically what I want to enact with the humans.
After conversing with Isaac, the humans arranged themselves into small teams, half of which stayed in reserve and the other half moved forward to engage the fringes of the horde. I took my pets with me and moved up to attack also.
I needed levels and there's only one way I was going to get them. Time to fight.
[Stay alert crew. We don't know what might happen and we're out in the open now.]
[I will, Master. So long as I live, no harm will come to you!] Crinis declared.
[Punch!] Tiny roared.
Fair enough then.
It felt a little odd to be approaching the horde so brazen and open like this. We were dependent on the horde itself being as ungainly as it had proven to be in the past. My senses were sharpened to their maximum, trying to grasp any indication that some funny business would be going on. But I detected nothing.
As we drew closer, I used every resource available to me to try and detect the Kaarmodo at work, or more likely, it's slave attendants. Crinis also utilised her mana sense, though it had a much shorter range. As we approached, we sensed nothing, so I made the decision to engage.
With Crinis on my back, Tiny and I drew closer to the horde until the masses of monsters were within twenty meters of us. Seeing us approach the centipedes clacked their claws angrily and the hounds growled a warning which we promptly ignored.
Not giving our opponents a moment to gather themselves, we charged straight into them, ploughing through the front rank with explosive force!
Tiny smashed the enemies around him with powerful sweeps of his fists, the kinetic force enough to shatter the body of any monster he hit. From my back, Crinis extended tentacles to the creatures beyond my reach and began to saw them apart in a gory and terrifying display of her alien physique.
For my part, I simply chomped, alternating between the two skills I needed to level, piercing and slicing each monster as it come within range of our jaws.
Then, we fled!
[Get your hairy ape butt out of there Tiny!]
Grumpy and discontented with the short burst of action, Tiny flung the surrounding monsters away from himself and joined us in our exuberant flight from danger.
The fight had lasted only seconds, we'd impacted hard, inflicted as much damage as we could and fled before the horde could surround us. Using our superior speed we hurtled back into the hills over a kilometre away from the road itself.
The monsters pursued us for hundred metres or so before they fell back toward the main body of the horde, following the directives given to them by the mind that had suppressed them.
In order to prevent the colony from ambushing them as they had previously, it appeared that the monsters would no longer pursue away from the support of their fellow horde monsters. Which meant the colony now had to expose themselves to inflict damage.
We were trapped in a way. We needed to inflict damage, it was absolutely necessary that we reduced the numbers of the horde before they reached the colony. There was no way we could hope to fend of these tens of thousands of monsters in one pitched battle, they'd simply roll over us.
Once the horde had settled at the angle we'd attacked ( and the monsters had consumed the Biomass of their fallen brethren), we waited a while to see if anything changed. After a half hour, I was confident that no steps had been taken to prevent us from engaging again, so we did.
This is going to take a lot of time.