The Queen felt herself grow larger as she borrowed the strength of her children. The ants could feel themselves be diminished, but they allowed it willingly. They would sacrifice far more for their Queen, this was nothing to them.
Garralosh watched from the place she had struck the Queen, that powerful tail once more swung lazily through the air as she watched her prey with cruel eyes. She moved slowly, unhurried. Every movement of the giant monster gave the impression of power and confidence. Even as the weakling before her grew larger, she felt no threat.
The Mother of the colony was concerned. Her core had begun to run low. The Queen had poured out all of her mana to empower her carapace and now she had spent much of what remained to activate this feature of her War Queen evolution. She had gained two main things when she evolved. First, the aura to empower and drive her children in battle, and second, the ability to gain strength from those she had birthed herself.
She grew until she was half again as large as she had been. She took a moment to steady herself and then charged.
She slammed into the side of the giant croc and felt the creature shift, ever so slightly. The Queen was encouraged and once more opened her jaws wide.
Her mandibles closed with shattering force and the sound of something cracking rose in the air. The Queen pulled back to take in the damage of her assault. Before her eyes, a single, glowing scale now sported a crack, several inches deep.
She sensed danger and leapt, pushed down with all six legs. Garralosh, irritated by the damage caused to one of her scales, finally moved. Her head snapped around with blinding speed and her colossal jaws snapped shut where the Queen had been just moments before.
The Queen settled herself before a blinding pain rocked her head. Her antenna! Between the teeth of Garralosh dangled a singular antennae, so small and tiny in those jaws. The Croc snapped her jaws again and the organ was gone. Biomass for the great beast.
Garralosh chuffed her laughter once more. Air swirled around her as she did so, as if a titan had gripped a bellows.
The pain could be ignored. The threat to her family could not. The Queen pushed her suffering to one side and once more stalked on her six legs around Garralosh. Grant despaired. The Queen had grown to be the second largest monster she had ever seen. A titanic ant who wouldn't be able to fit within the nest, even after they'd modified it for her evolution! Even with her strength increased to such a degree, she still couldn't penetrate the defences of that monster!
Even if the Eldest were to awaken, what could they do?! A lower tier than the Queen, with none of her physical strength, would they be able to cause a wound to this creature? Would the colony really die this day?
Perhaps they should have run. They should have hidden themselves away. Would Garralosh really have pursued them? Perhaps, if the colony had given up the humans, then Garralosh would have left them alone? Would that have been acceptable?
For the first time, she felt doubt. She herself had run forward to assist the Queen, but now that she was here, what could she do? She could only watch, and try not to get in the way, as the Queen battled on behalf of her family.
The Queen herself had not given up. Whatever damage she was able to do would aid her most troublesome child when they came out to fight. Every second she fought drained not only her own core, but that of the beast as well. Each moment she endured was a small victory. She would fight for as long as she could, until death claimed her. She could only believe that the troublesome one would be able to finish the work that she could not.
That child… Full of strange ideas and dispensing such careless wonders. With such a leader, the Queen felt certain the colony would survive without her.
And so she would hold nothing back!
With a silent cry, the Queen dashed forward once more! She pulled greater strength from her children, which caused her core to begin to sputter and blink as the final wisps of mana were drained from it.
Still larger she grew, and as she drew near, Garralosh opened her great mouth wide in delight. Would this prey give a proper struggle? It had been so long…
A low growl rumbled in the back of the monster's throat and shook the air once more, but the Queen paid no heed. She would strike a blow here for her children, nothing could shake her indomitable will. Again, Garralosh, who had returned to moving in her lazy, unfocused way, accelerated with shocking speed for a monster of her size, snapped forward, her jagged teeth flashing in the sun.
The Queen had anticipated it, and once again leapt, her momentum carried her forward and over the body of the beast, away from that deadly maw. She landed heavily on the other side of her foe and immediately flattened herself against the ground as that massive tail swiped through the air above her. Dirt blasted into the air from the wind of the strike, dirtying the antennae of the ants on the wall.
But the mother of the colony had no time to clean her remaining antenna, before Garralosh could reposition her tail, the Queen had already struck.
With the strength of her whole body behind the strike, the Queen chomped down on her hated enemy.
And this time, she broke through. Hot blood sizzled as it flew into the air and the Queen felt a surge of wild joy as she felt the scales crumple beneath her mandibles and the soft flesh underneath.
Garralosh rumbled a growl, not in pain but anger! How long since she'd suffered a wound? Prey should know its place! The great monster struck out with her second arm closest to the Queen and knocked the puny insect backward a few metres. The Queen scrambled to regain her footing, there would surely be a follow up coming.
Quick as a snake, Garralosh whipped her head around, her throat contorted as if it had become engorged from within.
"Mother! Time to move!" Vibrant said.
The smaller ant had zipped into the battle without the Queen having noticed her move. She was grateful that her daughter had made a move however, as a moment later she dashed to one side just that tiny bit faster due to Vibrant's aura.
Just in time. Garralosh's grossly bulged throat gave way to her open maw and from between her jaws spewed a blast of boiling magma. The air itself hissed and steamed as the temperature soared. Garralosh shifted her head and lunged forward again as she unleashed another blast of liquid rock. The Queen shifted her position desperately but even with Vibrant assisting she wasn't able to avoid the splashes completely.
The magma sizzled into her infused carapace which caused the Queen to clack her mandibles in pain. Hot! She backtracked quickly to put some distance between herself and the beast. When she tried to steady her footing, she slumped to the ground.
Shocked, the Queen checked her condition and with dismay realised that her core was empty! Crippling pain exploded through her body and she writhed in place on the ground. The ants on the wall froze in horror as their mother appeared unable to move.
The Garralosh spawn who watched from a distance grinned malicious grins as drool dripped from their elongated teeth. Play time may be over at last, time for the feast to begin.
Garralosh herself leered hungrily at her fallen opponent. She swallowed the magma that had accrued in her gullet and began to stomp toward the Queen, her mouth open in a horrific crocodilic grin. Now she would feast, then she would burn the nest to slag, send her children in to purge it of the meddlesome insects and then she would crush the humans beneath her feet. Then her revenge would be complete. With each step she loomed closer to the ant Queen until she was nearly on top of her, a delicious morsel.
In that moment, when delightful images of her victory rolled through the mind of the great Croc, she failed to sense the dense magic that came her way. A roiling sphere of immense power that slammed into her side and expanded into a vortex of death that attempted to crush her body to pieces.
Garralosh roared in pain and tried to fling herself to one side. To her shock, she found even her own boundless strength wasn't enough to escape the pull of this vile magic! She dug her claws into the soft earth and scrambled to avoid the damage that rent her side.
For the ants on the wall, that spell was a welcome sight, and so were the pheromones they heard coming from behind them.
"Get away from her you BITCH!"