Chapter 943: Colliding Waves pt 2 (1054)
Any conflict against demons within the third stratum is almost certain to end in failure. Not only are the native monsters resistant to, even empowered by, the conditions which are draining to almost all other life-forms, but the nature of the demon life cycle ensures that any long-term conflict will turn into a grind that cannot be won.
Over time, the larvae will mature and the demons will become the beneficiaries of a bottomless pool of fresh troops.
Even more difficult, is the disturbing nature of the third stratum in regards to warfare. This layer of Dungeon, more than any other, seems to thrive on chaos. The more fighting, the more carnage, the more it seethes. The mana thickens, the rate of larval spawn and development skyrockets. It's as if the third stratum itself were a living thing, a beast that became invigorated by death.
Madness begets madness in the third. Leave the demons to their battles, it never pays to get involved.
- Excerpt from "Demonology" by Xinci.
Vibrant's fighting style hadn't so much evolved over time, as accelerated. As her Skills improved, primarily her "Dash", "Charge", "Lunge" and "Quick Chomp", she'd been able to perfect her hit and run tactics to the point most enemies never got the chance to hit her back.
She ran forward, flickering over the landscape, mandibles flashing out to bite into the enemy, and then be gone, dozens of metres away by the time they recovered. A particular evolution in the approach that she loved was the latest leg mutation. Rather than simply increasing her speed, which had been her go-to approach so far, she'd decided to take an option that made the muscles and tendons inside the leg more durable to tension, effectively increasing her turn speed.
Now she could zip and zag to her heart's content, moving so quickly that no enemy could possibly hope to track her through the battlefield. It was an incredibly fun way to fight, and she loved it.
"Hi-hi!" she called to her family as she raced forward, antennae waggling with joy.
The situation didn't look great for the ants, they were being heavily pressured by the demons who continued to emerge from the tunnels below in a steady stream of flame, blades and teeth.
It didn't rattle her confidence, though. As far as Vibrant was concerned, the Colony was invincible; a fight they were yet to win was simply a fight that needed more ants to turn up.
And now she was here, so this battle was basically over.
Her body thrummed with energy and she snapped her mandibles happily as she kicked things into high gear. To the observers, she simply vanished, one moment rushing toward the mob of demons that surrounded the ant formation, the next, she was gone.
The sound came first, a mighty snap that resounded like a thunderclap. A split-second later Vibrant reappeared, already a dozen metres away and turning back for another pass, her claws kicking up dirt and larval demons as she shifted her momentum.
Only then did the demons seem to realise what had happened. A powerful-looking blade demon reared back, bellowing with rage as a leg collapsed under his weight. Others reacted, turning back, faces twisted in anger, only to see the large soldier was already upon them.
She reappeared, antennae blown back against her carapace by the force of the wind. Another demon fell. Vibrant laughed.
Several demons rushed out after her and she felt a thrill in her heart.
"You want to chase-chase? With me?! Come along!" she chortled.
She slowed down a little, just to draw them a little further from the pack. The moment they were close enough to try and strike….
She accelerated, blasting back to full speed in an instant, leaving the enemy choking in her dust. They roared in anger, but it was a waste of precious time. Before they realised what had happened, she'd turned and was upon them again.
Mandibles flashed, too quick to see. A streak of light blasted by them, so fast they may have imagined it. But then came the sound.
Some of the demons were smart enough to appreciate what had happened, what would continue to happen if they tried to chase down this creature. Those unfortunates felt a chill. The ant was simply too fast, they would never touch her. If they remained in the open field, nothing awaited them but death.
So they turned and rushed back towards the pack, dragging their less intelligent comrades along. Fear, powerful enough to cut through their bloodlust, took root in them, the vision of being struck down by a blow that they couldn't see loomed large in their minds.
Vibrant saw them turn, saw them run. She sighed. Nobody ever wanted to chase her for long. Such a shame. Then she regained her energy.
If they didn't want to chase her, then she was able to chase them! That was almost as fun.
Legs dug hard into the stone plains, shards of rock flew in a wide spray, then she was off.
Almost instantly, she fell upon her prey. With their backs to her, they had no chance of avoiding her, no hope of ever seeing her approach.
Those piercing, reverberating snaps sounded out in rapid succession and the demons fell one after another. Soon enough, Vibrant stood alone in the plain as she turned this way and that, looking for someone else to chase. Seeing none, she returned her attention to the pack around the Queen. There were plenty more there to play with, surely a few of them at least would be interested in running after her.
Time to find out!