Bitter 494

Last time she had encountered the guardvark, she had expressed little interest in being a mother. The babies weren’t hers and she didn’t want them to cramp her style. In fact, she had tried to get Britta to take care of them in her place. Not exactly the act of a loving mum.

Her maternal instincts appeared to have developed since then. She rolled into the cavern in a fury, her rage emanating from her in waves. Britta was familiar with the feeling now entering the room, her own mother often expressed it, sometimes even more forcefully that the guardvark — you’re in trouble.

Gabba had turned and taken a few steps back. Britta couldn’t see her face, but she assumed the smile wasn’t sitting quite so smugly on her face. The guardvark was huge, shaking the ground as it rolled towards Gabba, sparks of electricity flying off the armoured plates. She hadn’t even unfurled her huge claws yet.

Britta realised she would get caught up in the fight if she didn’t move and quickly backed away from the target of Big Momma’s anger.

Gabba was moving quite slowly, positioning herself so she was lined up with the attack bearing down on her. She wasn’t panicking in the least. Britta couldn’t help but feel a little impressed at how composed Gabba was in the face of certain death.

Maybe it wasn’t composure, maybe she was frozen with fear. There was a rock wall behind her and no way she could outrun the guardvark. Even if she dived out of the way, the arcs of electricity firing from the guardvark’s body would hit her.

Then Gabba was running, directly towards the guardvark.

Players at this stage of the game were all low level, including Britta. Even the tanky classes didn’t have many hit points this early in the game, but at least they had armour and shields to help. Gabba was not a tanky class. She wore very light cloth armour, but tanking hits was not the only way to fight a monster. You could always try to dodge.

The guardvark was big, which meant it hit hard, but also that it had poor mobility, especially when it came to sharp turns. Gabba waited until the last possible moment and then skipped sideways.

She didn’t dive out of the way or throw herself, it was a very simple move to the right, almost a dance step.

The guardvark shot past, firing off streaks of white lightning. Gabba simply hopped out of the way like she knew exactly where they would hit. She didn’t do cartwheels or flips, nothing so elaborate, but it was mesmerising how accurate she was in hitting the exact right move to avoid getting struck.

Watching her was an undeniably thrilling experience. Even though she was the one Britta wanted to see lose this fight, the way she moved and responded to the guardvark’s attacks made you want to see her do well. Skill was always an entertaining thing to observe.

What exactly were Gabba’s abilities? High agility, clearly, but she hadn’t used any special powers as far as Britta could see, it had all been basic moves you might use in a real-life fight, if you were Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee.

Then again, Britta didn’t have any detection spells like Gabba had, so she couldn’t see what other abilities of buffs Gabba had. There were lots of ways to get temporarily OP.

Now that she had levelled up, Britta still had to choose her own skills. Perhaps detection spells were worth getting. Being able to see what your opponent was capable of would help prepare you for the battle, assuming you got involved in battles. Britta hadn’t planned to, but the game seemed to have other ideas. It was tempting to want what other people had when they showed the possibilities off so well, but that didn’t mean the same skills would suit Britta’s way of playing. Still, it would be nice to know what other people were hiding.

Gabba was running around the guardvark in a circle, forcing it to make a tight turn. She threw a couple of daggers which bounced off the armoured plating without causing any damage. All they did was make the guardvark madder.

The circling enabled Gabb to get some distance from the guardvark, but then she stopped moving and the enraged monster rolled directly at her. Gabba ran towards the attack, dodging at the last moment. Neither side was causing the other any damage.

Was Gabba trying to exhaust the guardvark? She seemed to be waiting for something.

There were tunnels leading away from the cavern, most of them too small for the guardvark to fit through. Gabba changed tactics and ran towards one, with the guardvark in pursuit.

When faced with a large adversary, a smaller space limited the amount of damage it could do. If you were difficult to reach, there was less chance of getting hit. But Britta had seen what the guardark’s claws could do to earth and stone. She could carve through both without much effort. A small tunnel would become a big tunnel with a couple of swipes.

Maybe Gabba was trying to run away. That would suit Britta just fine, but the guardvark was less willing to allow Gabba to flee. She speeded up to prevent any chance of escape.

Gabba stopped in the entrance to the tunnel and turned to face the armoured wheel of doom bearing down on her. There was still no indication of Gabba being worried about this situation. It was almost like she was fully prepared for it. Had she fought guardvarks before? She seemed to know what to expect. She reached into her bag and took out a bottle.

If you didn’t have the health or attack to deal with a giant monster, you could always use a little magical assistance. Spells, scrolls, potions…

Gabba threw the bottle, but not at the oncoming guardvark, at the ground. It smashed and liquid covered the ground between them.

The guardvark skidded out of control. She slammed into the wall next to Gabba, who hadn’t even bothered to move, so confident was she in where the guardvark would end up.

The guardvark bounced off the wall, shaking the entire cavern and sending dirt and rocks falling from the ceiling. She fell flat on her back, uncurled and exposed.

Gabba leapt forward, her chain spinning over her head. She struck the unarmoured underside of the dazed monster, red numbers flying off the body.

It looked like Gabba had this in hand, striking without pause or mercy. If she killed the guardvark, then what? As impressive as it was to watch this display of an expert at work, Britta was rooting for the other team. Once the guardvark was defeated, Gabba would take all three babies for her potions. And Britta would have led her to them.

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