Chrysalis - Chapter 605

Published at 20th of October 2020 06:35:23 AM

Chapter 605: Back in Action

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When the itching finally fades away, Crinis peels herself off the walls and regroups back onto my carapace to reveal something I didn't expect to see. Protectant, her cover dropped without me having to drag her out of the shadows for once, stands right in front of me, in the centre of the room. Exposed to my senses, she wears a nervous air, as if the simple fact of been able to be seen makes her uncomfortable.

"Didn't expect to see you, Protectant. What's up?"

Her antennae twitch in surprise.

"The rest of the nest? The surface nest? The surface? About two hundred million tons of rock and soil? I don't understand the question, Eldest."

Sometimes I forget the ants aren't up to speed with the lingo.

"I just mean to see what's up with you. I mean - forget it. Why are you out of cover? I assume you have something to say?"

"Where have you been?"

The question is more direct than I expected, but it's pretty much what I thought she'd say.

"Right here," I'm still not going to bow down to these babysitters.

"We couldn't see you."

"I know, that was the point of Operation Blackout."

As I announce the name of my scheme I can see her antennae go crazy with barely suppressed excitement. These damn security guards are as bad as the council. They love nothing better than a truly awful plan title.

"Why did you need to hide from us?"

I can almost see her force her intrigue away in order to focus on the point at hand.

"Sometimes an Eldest needs a little privacy. You'll just have to deal with it."

"It makes it hard for us to do fulfil our purpose."

"What did you think was going to happen to me here in the nest? Forget it, you'll just need to cope. We're heading out to do some grinding deeper in the strata now. I want to make sure you and your team keep levelling and progressing your mutations. You can't protect me from anything if you're too weak."

"We'll keep ten on you at all times," she says sullenly.

They hate the idea of getting stronger for some reason.

"That's fine. The others should probably hunt in teams of five, or ten depending on the level of the opponents. Let's move."

Tiny is the first to move, leaping to his feet from where he sat at the entrance to the chamber, his muscles bunching with excitement as he does his little gorilla boxing shuffle, throwing mini-punches into the air. The ape is pumped up and ready to fight. In fact, even Invidia has allowed his Cheshire cat grin to appear. Seems like the whole crew is ready to rumble.

Who am I to deny them? We speed out of our chamber and race through the nest, taking the fastest route through the mighty gates (still being reinforced) and taking new paths deeper into the strata. It's hard to move too quickly in the second strata, what with poisonous little barbs attached to almost everything we see. By now we've become far more comfortable traversing the tunnels and we need less breaks to heal Tiny after he stumbles into something else that wants to kill him.

In this way, we make solid progress as we descend, clearing out tunnels and stripping them bare of Biomass. The pure black mana pulses from the walls, filling the air like tar. I swear that it's getting thicker. Is there going to be another wave soon? Somehow I get the feeling it'll be harder to deal with this time, exposed to the second strata, and the third beneath it as we are now. If we can master the technique that Rylleh used to push the Dungeon veins out of their territory, we'll manage to survive it much better, I should ask how we're progressing with that the next time I get a chance.

For now, I don't need to focus on that. There's only me, my pets, my babysitters, and the need to smash as many monsters in as short as possible a time frame. We need dat sweet, sweet experience! Elemental constructs whizzing with mana, I step forward and unleash all the mana I have into our foes as we press forward. Slowly but surely, the levels come.

This chapter is scrapped from

In the third strata.

"Do you know what we're going up against?" Myrrin asked her friend.

Morrelia frowned and resisted the urge to spit.

"No," she said sourly, "the old man loves his secrets. Aside from the fact we're in the third strata, I don't even know where we are. I don't think anyone does. The commander is keeping his cards close to his chest."

The two remained standing to attention along with their full Legion as they awaited permission to exit the citadel they had arrived in. Even though the Runic Armour shielded them from the elements, the searing heat scalded their skin and the taste of ash filled their mouths. Morrelia had never been in the third strata before, and she wasn't particularly enjoying it now. That was understatement. She'd barely seen any of the place, and she hated it.

The Legion was thoroughly drilled, to the point that when the commander strode back into the hall in which they waited, not a one of them moved. But the tension in the air certainly raised a few notches.

"Finally," Morrelia muttered as she strode forward with her fellow guards.

Her centurion, a grizzled veteran named Pompeus, shot her a dark look and she sighed internally, knowing that she'd get another grilling. She wished he wouldn't waste his time, she'd done everything she could think of to get thrown off this duty, but Titus wasn't having it. She had too much respect for the Legion to keep pushing the boundaries and fallen into line, but a few muttered complaints were inevitable in this situation.

"We've got our marching orders," the commander told them, "form up the troops for an address, we move out in an hour."

Immediately, auxiliaries were sent running to inform the centurions as Morrelia and her comrades fell into line behind the commander. She spotted Myrrin in the crowd and rolled her eyes which caused the younger woman to stifle a laugh behind her visor.

In a matter of moments, things were ready and a thousand heavily armoured, heavily armed members of the Abyssal Legion looked to their commander expectantly. Titus wasted no time.

"Legionnaires. Welcome to the first deployment of our newly formed Legion. We have many old faces from Liria, new recruits from around Pangera and a smattering of veterans from the deep world. I welcome you all."

He paused to stare at them for a moment and each soldier met his eye with firm resolve.

"We've not had long to acclimate, only a few weeks. Like most units, the real work of forging us into a cohesive whole will be done in the fires of battle. We have been deployed to the Plains of Lang, directly beneath old Liria. During the last wave, the local kingdoms were annihilated by a monster uprising, though there are several Dungeon communities that still stand."

Morrelia felt her stomach twist when she realised where they were. The ruins of Liria, the horrific army of the beast Garralosh. These were not pleasant memories for her.

"It appears as though the Dungeon hasn't done enough damage here. We've been called in by allies in the Empire of Stone to deal with a local infestation. A colony of ants has taken hold of the area, several months old and from what understand, has evolved in a fairly unique way. We will reach the engagement zone in three days, at which time we will launch a cooperative assault with our allies. Our goal is the complete and total extermination of the colony. Not a single insect is to survive the purge. Understood?"

A thousand fists crashed into a thousand chest plates. Morrelia followed suit, but felt numb on the inside. The Colony? She was here to kill the Colony?! Anthony?

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