Chapter 667 - The Siege pt 12
Ah! It’s nice to have fully grown legs again. Like, just being able to walk normally is such a sweet thing. Only took a few hours too. There are advantages to being a monster, don’t let me say that there aren’t. Heck, if you ask me, I’d prefer monster every time! Which is probably exactly why the bearded bozo picked up my soul for this gig in the first place. Still, if I’d had this level of healing in my past life, I’d have missed a lot less meals. Which might have helped with the whole starvation situation.
No point crying over spilt... life. Got a whole new family with their lives on the line, and it’s time to come good. Waving one antenna through the air I get a sense of the mood in the crowd of ants gathered outside the second gate. Despite the impending battle, or perhaps because of the impending battle, the general feeling is positive. My siblings are so packed full of fighting spirit they practically vibrate in place. I don’t know why I even bother to check anymore, it’s more of a reflex than something that I actually need to do. Trickling through the Vestibule, the whispered will of the Colony is always there within my thoughts, inescapable and inevitable. I know what they want. They tell me, all the time. I can hear the ants defending against the golgari just as well as the Queens deep within the nest. Sometimes I forget that it’s not the normal for me to know these things and I have to consciously remind myself what it is that I’m hearing. It’s a bit weird but I’m getting the hang of it. If it gets worse in my next evolution though, it’ll get annoying.
The other thing that rings alarms to my senses is the concentration of mana. The speed of the rise towards the last wave was much faster in the last few days and we’ve hit that point already. Every hour it gets higher. The shadows are so thick you could spread them on toast. Even this high up in the strata, the stink of death is starting to creep into everything. I mean, it’s not really a smell, but the sickly taint of death mana is starting to permeate the air and stick to everything it touches. I hope they’re cleaning it out of the brood chambers, we don’t want the young getting exposed to this stuff, it’s nasty.
Before too long a full blast wave is going to kick off and the council has agreed that the Legion and golgari are unlikely to want to pursue their siege with an infinite number of crazed monsters flooding the tunnels. Heck, if we ended up holding them out of the nest, their encirclement would end up protecting us rather than hurting us. Given the time frame involved, it looks like they have enough of a window for one big push to try and crack the gates before they run out of time. Since the last attack, we’ve had almost six hours of tense quiet in the nest. Our enemies have all pulled back and I suspect they are gathering their strength and coordinating their plans for an all-out assault.
Naturally, the Colony has not wasted that time. If the enemy is going to give us an opportunity to get some work done, then we ants aren’t going to hold back. The carvers have gone absolutely ballistic, swarming all over the place in a frenzy of mandibles and earth mana. It was quite a sight to see. One second, you’d be looking at a stretch of tunnel, the next it would be filled with ants crammed together like sardines in a can. After ten minutes of furious work they’d vanish, leaving behind a reinforced tunnel with choke points, traps, hardened walls, embedded steel stakes and pristine carvings engraved in the stone.
WHY THE CARVINGS?!
I wanted to yell at them but they were gone so quickly, I didn’t get a chance! Off to their next assignment. Now I sit outside the second gate, awaiting the resumption of the fighting. I doubt it’ll be long, I can already sense the mana stirring at the end of the tunnel.
"I still think we shouldn’t have abandoned the first gate," Vibrant interrupts my thoughts, "it was a great gate! Very shiny and metal and it must have taken so long to build. I know that the carvers worked on it for ages! Think about all that work going to waste, it isn’t right! The second gate is bigger though... and shinier! Why is it more shiny? Is it the metal? I bet it’s the metal. Do you think it’s the metal? Maybe they polished it. I wonder if polishing the gate makes it stronger in some way. Does magic slide off it? It probably doesn’t. Do you know -"
"Gah! Vibrant! Can you hold it in for a minute or two? My antennae feel like they’re about to fall off!"
"No, I can’t."
... At least she’s honest.
"You’ve been like this since you were a larvae, I can’t be surprised about it now," I sigh. "Just try and not die, alright? These guys pack some serious heat, I nearly got carved in half and your carapace is weak as paper compared to mine, so be careful."
"It is not!" she protests, "I’ve upgraded my carapace heavily I’ll have you know!"
"Didn’t you get some mutation that made it lighter so you could run faster?"
"That’s what I thought. Just don’t get killed, alright? It’s going to be hard to make use of your speed out here in the crush."
"Kay-kay, Eldest. I’ll be careful."
I still feel like I’m herding children half the time with the Colony, even if most of them are smarter than me. Good thing I’m not fighting on the same front as Leeroy. I’d have probably smashed her armour to pieces through sheer force of thwacking.
"Movement down the tunnel!" I smell someone call down the tunnel and in a moment I see Burke running back through the darkness.
"I think they’re coming, Eldest."
"Of course they are," I tell her, "what the heck else were they going to do? Leave us alone?"
Around me an elite force of thousands of the Colony’s finest stirs, peppered amongst them the human reinforcements of the village with their antmancers, including the stupid priest. If the Legion wants to break through here and into the nest, they’re going to have to pay a heavy price. I’ll make sure of it.
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