Chrysalis Chapter 567 | rinoz
The captain of the Rylleh guard knew, deep in his gut, that he was dead, that everyone around him was dead. He felt as if his blood had slowed to a crawl in his veins as he stared at the projection, more red lights blooming to life each second. There were thousands of them, because of course there were. He knew what was coming. In that moment, he felt as if two divergent paths lay before him. He could surrender to the inevitable death that awaited him and every person living in the city, lay down and give in, or he could fight and take as many of the filthy monsters down with him as he could.
It didn't seem like much of a choice at all to Wallace.
"Yasmine! YAS! Get over here!"
His second in command, a quaver of panic running just beneath the surface, rushed back to his side and he stepped in front of the display before he turned to speak to her.
"What's been happening?" he asked.
He could hear the rumbling and clatter of more guardsmen piling into the headquarters, responding to the emergency summons that was automatically sent out once the alarms were tripped.
"Well," Yasmine steadied herself, "I've done as you asked. All of the outer guardsmen are retreating to the gates, which are being closed and reinforced. The reserves have been summoned and the city has been notified of an attack."
"Right, I want everyone to abandon the gates and fall back to the city centre. Issue an evacuation order to the populace. Everyone into the city centre, collapse the buildings in a hundred metre radius beyond the square. Then I want -"
"Have you gone mad?" Yasmine demanded, aghast. "Are you abandoning the city?! You'll kill us all!"
"They're tunnelling through the rock! The walls are useless, they're just going to go around them. They're tunnelling up from underneath us as we speak!"
"That's impossible! What about the enchantments? The reinforced rock? It's absurdly hard to break through the stone!"
"It would be if they were human," he ground out, "but they bloody well aren't. Now listen close and keep your bloody mouth shut, alright?"
He reached out and grabbed her by the shoulder, his old calloused hand digging painfully into her flesh. She looked at him and noticed for the first time the faint glint of something mad in his eyes, something other.
"Are you alright, captain?" she whispered.
"I will be soon," he chuckled, "now shut up and listen. I'm going to tell you something and it's very important that you don't spread this around. The last thing we want is a panic, alright? Do you understand?"
"I-I think so, captain."
"Good. We are under attack by ants. This is an ant horde."
He muttered the words low, forcing her to lean closer to hear him. He could see the moment she comprehended him as her face drained of blood and she began to shake. He gripped her tighter and tried to give her the strength to hold on.
"There's thousands of them, alright? Thousands. Not a single one below tier three. I know, shut up," he held her eyes as she tried to break in but he refused to allow her to panic. "The gates are going to be useless, they'll tunnel around and come at our people from behind. The only way we have a chance is if we gather in the square and use those walls to hold them off. Alright? Breathe, Yas. Just breathe. We can make it, but we have to act fast! I need you to hold it together and help get the orders out, otherwise we're finished."
Used to dealing with bar scuffles and the rare monster wave, she wasn't equipped to handle this, but she gathered her courage and nodded. She would do her best for the city of her birth. They wouldn't die today!
Seeing the firming determination in her face, Wallace nodded and released her to her duty. He'd had to lie to her, to keep her steady. Even when they gathered in the square, the ants would tunnel under the walls and come at them from beneath, but hopefully they'd be able to swat a few of the filthy bugs as they approached. It was the best they could hope for.
Not even aware of the smile that twisted his face, Wallace rushed out to give his orders.
Not far away.
"They want us to WHAT?!"
"Abandon the gate! Orders came straight from Wallace!"
"Like hell we are!" Ernes yelled back through the communication crystal, "has that old fool turned traitor?!"
The voice on the other side of the enchanted gem grew frustrated at his intransigence.
"If you think the captain has betrayed the city, your're drunk. Get your men to the square and follow orders! This is an attack, not a Sunday dance!"
Ernes Bally slammed his fist onto the expensive array, cracking it right down the middle. He'd be damned if he was going to abandon his post during an invasion, regardless what his orders were! When it was all said and done, he'd be commended for holding his ground whilst Wallace was dragged through the mud for his cowardice.
"What are our orders, Ernes?" one of his men called.
"We hold the line! Whoever is stupid enough to take this city on is going to get a taste of our steel!"
Confidence surging, he rushed out of the guard house attached to the west gate and helped to finish closing and sealing the gate. A massive construction of enchanted metal and stone, the gates had held off hordes of monsters during the recent wave and Ernes doubted there was any chance they would fail now.
"Prepare the firing ports! Mages at the ready, archers behind! Shields up!" he roared.
There were more than fifty guards manning the gate by now and they leapt to their tasks like a well-oiled machine. As their major, his heart swelled with pride as he rushed to join them. A full fifteen metres high, the back of the gate was lined with three tiers of viewing ports accessed by ramps that joined across the centre. At his command, the guards flew up the ladders and took their positions, ready to throw open the hatches built into the gate and annihilate on whatever they saw on the other side.
"Steady, men!" Ernes urged them, "when I give the command, unleash hell fire!"
Heart pounding in his chest, he took a deep breath to calm himself. His reputation would be made by what he did here today. This was going to be the defining moment of his life. He was ready. It was time.
He needed to see what was happening, so he threw open his own hatch and courageously lent over to look, exposing his head to enemy fire. For a brief second, he gained vision of the tunnel approach to the gate before he flicked his head back out of the way and slammed the hatch shut.
"Well, how is it, sir?" the guard next to him asked.
Ernes frowned. He wasn't sure exactly what he'd just seen. He'd expected onrushing soldiers, siege weapons, or something.
"I need another look," he muttered and performed the action again.
Open, peek, slam!
Did that person have antennae on his head?
Then a voice called out from beyond the gate.
"Please surrender to the Colony, and you'll be spared! Weapons down, uh, would be very appreciated! There isn't much time, so, I'd do it fast"
A murmur of confusion arose from the guards on the gate as they tried to unpack exactly what that meant.
"Major? What the heck is that?"
Ernes shook his head, still confused.
"I think it was a person? Asking for our surrender?" Anger built inside him once more. "Mages! Prepare to fire the tunnel on my mark!"
Asking for him to surrender? Idiocy! He refused to bend to Wallace, he wasn't about to lie down for a single invader. They'd roast this fool to send a message. Regardless of what happened at every other gate, the west gate would stand firm!
"Three, two, one, m-"
Before he could say the final word, the stone exploded outward on both sides of the gate. A shower of rock and dust flew into the air but even that couldn't obscure the two gigantic ants that had burst out of the wall.
Jagged and barbed mandibles opened and shut with tremendous force, unleashing an ear splitting crack into the air. Ernes could only stare in horror as the two titans turned toward the guardsmen and woman clinging to the back of the gate preparing to fire on the person outside. Before they could even begin to process what was happening, a flood of insects poured through the tunnel openings, climbing up the walls and throwing themselves onto the guards in seconds. Ernes couldn't even scream before an ant was upon him, throwing itself forward and latching its mandibles around his neck.