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Chapter 742 - Surfs up!
[Get him, Tiny! Hit him with the left! Then the right! Ooooo, here comes the C-C-C-COMBO!]
The big ape flashes a grin, more than a little happy with my ongoing fight commentary as he duels with the latest demonic offering from the third strata, a particularly nasty, snake-like creature with a huge number of clawed hands rising from its back to form a hood similar to what a cobra would have. It's the first of its kind that we've come across and I sent Tiny out to have the first crack at it. He's levelled his Skill significantly over the last few days of concentrated fighting and so far he's managing to more than hold his own against his opponent.
As he should! I don't care about this first strata is weaker than third strata nonsense, he's a full tier above it! I refuse to accept that we are significantly weaker just because we happened to be born higher up. I won't accept this prejudice!
[Get 'em, Tiny! Look for the upper, the upper!]
Totally unnecessary advice on my part, since Tiny is always hunting for that sweet, sweet uppercut. A few moments later, after a masterful feint, he finds a chance when the snake demon rises above him, either to bite or perhaps grapple with the ape using its many clawed hands. Big mistake! Light on his feet as a dancer, the giant ape glides forward one step, his body held low, hands in close to the chest as he drops his centre of ma.s.s and begins to rotate his shoulders.
Here it comes!
His hands flash with light as he activates his Skill, forming a giant fist of pure energy that manifests in front of his own. In one burst, his wings unfurl to their full length and he leaps, springing up from the ground as his fist extends, sending the punch straight into the chin of the looming demon whose head smacks straight into the roof of the tunnel with a thunderous crack, the stone above its head splitting on impact.
Groggy from the blow, the snake-thing reels, trying to put some distance between it and the furious ape-boxer but Tiny is having none of it. Shoulders forward, he charges with surprising speed, his wings beating a powerful rhythm to give a boost of acceleration. As he closes the distance, his fists come alight with chittering electricity that ripples down his shoulders and coalesces around his hands in a near blinding light.
[Yeah, Tiny! Finish it!] I cheer from the safety of the back row.
He sways left, then right, then plunges forward, hands flickering as he punches with maximum speed. Still recovering from the previous blow, the snake struggles to react, trying to swat at the gorilla with its tail but failing to push him away as he lays blow after blow into its body, each one discharging a potent jolt of electricity that sizzles flesh and shocks nerves. Once he gets going, there's no stopping him and the furious rush of punches doesn't cease until the enemy lies still, overcome by the pummelling.
[Yeah! Good job, Tiny! Drag that thing back this way, we'll get some Bioma.s.s out of it for sure.]
[What about me, Master? Have I done well?]
I turn to Crinis who's spent this entire time fighting off ma.s.ses of shadow beast by herself, allowing Tiny the s.p.a.ce to have his one versus one. Dozens upon dozens of tentacles ranging in thickness from wire thin to tree trunk move in a constant flurry of grabbing, twisting or bending monsters into shapes they were never intended to be. I can see the fear effect trigger in numerous enemies, sending them scurrying in terror from the dark orchestra that Crinis is conducting. When it comes to thinning out large groups, she really is in a cla.s.s of her own.
[You did exceptionally well, Crinis. Can you cover us whilst we retreat back to the lines?]
[Alright then, let's go!]
Full of good cheer, we march back the short distance to the defensive wall of the Colony and slip inside, turning over the defence to the detachment of soldiers, scouts, generals and mages placed here. Healed up and rested thanks to us taking over their duties for a few hours, the ants look fighting fit and eager to get back to work. Tiny drags through his hard won Bioma.s.s and once we clear the second defensive line with its second garrison getting ready to rotate with the previous one, we settle down to eat and discuss our progress.
[Still not level eighty, Master,] Crinis reports mournfully, [I have gone pa.s.sed fifty, however.]
[How about you Tiny?] I ask the big ape.
He doesn't pause between shoving huge mouthfuls of Bioma.s.s into his face, just waggles a hand back and forth to indicate 'about the same'.
Hmm. The levelling is going well, all things considered. Despite the huge amount of fighting we're doing, there are simply too many weaker monsters to boost the two of them much more quickly. If it weren't for the juicy xp they were getting from the tier four demons who pop up relatively frequently, it would be a much slower grind. Even so, I'm happy with how things are going and I try to encourage my first two pets.
[You're doing super well,] I praise the pair of them, [we are going to keep grinding at this until you two are both the same tier as me. We aren't going to fight in the third strata until I'm confident that all of us will be able to survive down there, and that means evolutions. Keep doing what you're doing and we're going to be fine.]
With Tiny and Crinis rea.s.sured, I turn my attentions to the roof.
"And how are all of you going? You have a deadline, don't forget. When this wave is done, any of you who aren't tier five will be barred from coming with me to the third strata, you hear me?"
"… yes. We're making progress," comes the muttered reply from thin air.
"Good. This is for your own good, I won't hear any excuses."
The past few days have been rough on the Colony, the endlessly surging wave is putting pressure on the defenders all around our territory, especially in the deepest half. No matter how much we try to help, the moment we arrive at the next site the defenders are hard pressed and struggling to hold on. We relieve them for a while, let them get their legs back under them, only for them to be back under the pump the moment we leave. It's not as if the ants aren't improving either, this sort of sustained combat is giving them Skill levels and Bioma.s.s out the wazoo, but with every hour that goes by, the wave grows more intense. The mana levels continue to rise and the strength of the monsters rising out of the depths keeps growing. It won't be much longer and we'll start to see tier five demons showing up in small numbers, I feel confident of that.
Thankfully, we shouldn't see many tier six like Anga, since they're sentient to some extent. I don't expect many of them will be wanting to leap out into the middle of the Dungeon during a wave. Which means all we need to do is keep holding the line as the pressure ramps up. I've been seeing a few tier five ants popping up here and there, which is going to help. Other than Vibrant that is, who I've seen blitzing about the place even faster than she was before. I think she mutated her aura gland to give even more of a speed boost than it did before as well, since everyone around her was really zipping along.
[Alright,] I announce to Tiny and Crinis, [I think I'll take a look at your cores so we know exactly what we're dealing with and can start making a few decisions as we get closer to your evolution. It's a slight invasion of privacy, I know, but I think we can agree this is for the best. Who's first?]