How long have I been asleep?! Just what on earth went on around here?! From the mound of the nest the surrounding area is a complete disaster zone! The rings of walls the colony had worked so hard to build are in ruins, smashed apart and, in places, the dirt walls had collapsed to create wide ramparts that had become covered in fallen monsters.
In fact, just about everything I could see was covered in Biomass. Holy moly! Just how many enemies had they managed to kill whilst I was sleeping? Judging by the thick carpet of remains that I see spread before me over the ground, just about all of them! This much Biomass will feed the colony for ages! We could triple our numbers if we manage to shovel all of this into the Queen.
Actually, speaking of the Queen….
Gotta get down there!
Garralosh is scrabbling in the dirt as she tries to escape the howling vortex that is my Gravity Bomb. Good luck with that you mega lizard. If I'd had enough time I'd have condensed it and maybe you'd be dead already. My three sub minds begin to weave together another one as I concentrate on my rush to the front line. I need to get down there before my spell is finished.
"Eldest, you're awake!" Sloan appears at my side to say.
"Obviously! What the hell is going on? What happened to the Queen?"
"She's been fighting Garralosh for a few minutes. The creature is too powerful for us, we could only try and support her from a distance. I think her core has run out of mana!"
"I'll get down there and distract the fat Croc. When you get a chance, get down there and get Mother out. You understand me?"
"Of course, Eldest! Good luck!"
I'm gonna need it…
As they saw me, the rest of the colony had to chip in their ten cents.
"Finally awake, Eldest?"
"The slacker has arrived! We've been doing all the work!"
"Shove some Biomass in it you lot," I grumbled, "I'm here now, aren't I?"
"Barely in time! Work hard, Eldest!"
"Show them what the colony is made of, Eldest!"
As I speed past the ants who huddle at the wall, I can feel them tug at me through my new gland. It's a bit… disconcerting. I don't really understand what it means and, to be honest, I'm still struggling to adapt to my new body! My status has undergone a massive change, I'm more than twice my previous size for starts! In fact, I'd say I'm even a bit bigger than the Queen was before she evolved, but still smaller than afterwards. Which means I'm running around larger than a mini bus. I'd estimate my size at over two metres tall and six metres long. That change is…. Abrupt! I'm not used to this size! I'm freakin' huge now! The other ants look tiny as I skitter over their heads.
The moment I woke up and got moving I took a peek at my status and the change is stunning.
Level: 1 (Special core) (V)
Expert Excavation (III) Level 5; Advanced Grip (II) Level 6; Advanced Stealth (II) Level 9; Tunnel Map (II) Level 6; Expert Cerebral Endurance (III) Level 19; Expert Stamina (III) Level 5; Profound Meditation (III) Level 10; Flicker Dash (III) Level 2;
Mana Transformation (III) Level 13; Condensed Mana (III) Level 7; Finer External Mana Manipulation (III) Level 8; Mana Coveter (III) Level 1; Expert Water Magic Affinity (III) Level 3; Enhanced Mind Magic Affinity (II) level 7; Empowered Mana Sensing (II) Level 9;
Distant Pet Communication (II) Level 5; Core Surgery (III) Level 6; Pet Growth Speed (I) Level 1;
Expert Exo-Skeleton Defence (III) level 14;
Deadly Acid Shot (III) Level 7; Advanced Precise Shooting (II) Level 8; Omen Bite (IV);
Perimeter Eyes +15, Future Sight Infrared Antennae +15;
True Diamond Carapace +15, Supportive Inner Carapace Plating +15;
Rapid Absorption Legs +15, Empowered Mandibles +15, Regrowth Regeneration Gland +15, Loquacious Pheromone Gland +15, Stomach, Musculature, Sub-Neural Network;
Mana Binding Acid +15, Acid Nozzle, Acid Concentration Gland, Acid Stimulation Gland;
Adaptable Coordination Cortex +15;
Bottomless Gravity Magic Gland +15, Collective Will Vestibule +3;
Species: Juvenile Colony Paragon (Formica Sapiens)
Skill points: 9
I put all of the Biomass I had available and took my Vestibule to +3. If anything is going to help me out in this fight, it's going to be that. Then I bought my fusion bite skill for nine(!!) skill points. I'm banking a lot on that skill, I'm not confident I can break through that damn Crocs scales without a truly epic skill!
When I reach the wall and fling myself off it, to my shock I find that my three sub brains have already completed a Gravity Bomb. Far from a maximum power one, but I'll take it! The first spell has begun to flicker and die so the timing is perfect!
Another spinning, dark purple sphere of death erupted from my mouth and sped straight toward Garralosh's monstrous bulk. She seems distracted, since she fails to dodge and the spell strikes home again! Gweheheheheh! Take that you stupid lizard! Feel the superiority of ant-kind with your own body!
Man, my brains have really taken a step forward! With each of them gaining more 'grunt' in the form of buffed stats, and the addition of the third, more powerful sub-brain, coupled with the multiplicative effect of the coordination cortex allowing them to achieve more together than they could apart, they are really proving some serious worth!
Now that I'm this close to Garralosh I'll need to be careful with Gravity Bombs for a time. I switch the pilot sub brain into forming a Mind Magic Array and put the other two to the task of forming gravity bolts. If Garralosh wants to be the heaviest monster around, I can make that wish come true…
"Vibrant? Why are you down here?"
"Helping, of course! Did you have a good sleep?"
"I think I slept a little too well…"
"It's been booooring without you here. Are you gonna fight?"
"Well…. Yeah? Think you can stick around? I could use your speed."
"Everyone needs more speed!" she giggled and dashed behind me.
"First thing's first, we need to cover for the Queen until the others can get her out."
I dash forward to reach the Queen's side. On the sidelines the Croca-Beasts stand in a wide semi-circle around their mother. They appear angry, hungry but somehow, in the eyes of the more evolved ones, I can see their unshakable confidence. They've never seen their mother lose and they don't think they're about to see it happen now. I suspect that unless Garralosh asks them to intervene in her fight, then they won't.
I can use that.
The warm scent of the Queen wash over my antennae as she greets me.
"Hi there, Mother, how's the battle going?" I try to be flippant but I can't help but show my relief that she is still alright.
"Better, now that you are here. I … can no longer fight."
"You did your bit, now it's my turn. The others are going to get you out of here, any second now."
Even when I look back at the wall, I can't see any activity there. Where is the rescue party?! They must be up to something, no chance they'd leave mother down here to die.
"Time to get to work then!" I said.
I left my mother and ran to engage the humongous Croc from another angle. Her scales are glowing orange?! Is that normal? Damn, it's hot! This is going to limit my acid options…
No matter! I can make it work!
With my mind magic array ready to go I fire off my prepared Gravity bolts, focusing both spells on one of Garralosh's feet and begin to weave a mind bridge towards her.
Let's see what goes on in the mind of a former human who turned into a giant lizard!