Bitter 496

Gabba jumped back, confused. She could see the damage being done to the guardvark, and she knew it wasn’t her doing it. Then she looked over at Britta.

You could look at it as a genius move on Britta’s part. She hadn’t wanted Gabba to know she was going to help the guardvark, and what better way than to help kill her? Mission accomplished?

The spell description really should have been more detailed. Perhaps she was supposed to ask the system, that sometimes worked. Britta was tempted to ask it now, but it would give away that it was her spell.

“What did you do?” shouted Gabba.

“Me? Nothing.”

The baby guardvark looked confused, too.

There were red numbers coming off the guardvark’s body, but only ones and twos, and spread out. Damage worked better when it was high numbers focused on a single area. This mild and wide approach was more like a good massage, Britta hoped.

“I saw your mana drop, you did this.” Gabba’s ability to see other people’s stats was irritating.

Using the spell had caused Britta’s mana to fall by half. It was no small matter summoning a hundred invisible whatever they were. In fact, her mana was still falling. Would the attack last until she ran out?

“It’s a new spell, I don’t know how it works, or how to stop it.” If Gabba had the ability to detect lies, Britta was confident she would pass with flying colours.

“You have to stop it,” said Gabba, standing to one side, out of danger but still looking worried. “If she loses half her health when she isn’t stun-locked, she’ll go into berserker mode, and then there’ll be no stopping her.”

She sounded really worried, which gave Britta some hope. It was a common mechanic for some big monsters, especially bosses, to do special attacks when they reached certain thresholds. Call in adds, fire off an AoE, or just go crazy. If Britta could trigger the guardvark, perhaps Gabba wouldn’t be able to keep her pinned down.

It was an even better plan — rather than trying to help the guardvark, help Gabba very poorly. So poorly that it actually benefitted their mutual enemy. It wouldn’t be hard to believe Britta was trying to slay the beast, but just happened to be massively incompetent. People had been treating her like her best wasn’t worth their time her whole life, here was a chance to prove them right.

Britta grabbed the baby guardvark and pulled it out of the nest. The other two came out in a chain. They wrapped themselves around Britta like Gabba’s chain, only less deadly, but more clingy.

As soon as she had them in contact with her, the mana bar on her screen started to go up. It rose a bit, then fell a bit. As long as she had mana, her army continued to damage the guardvark.

Wasn’t this like a bug? As long as she had the babies attached to her, she could do infinite damage. It was only a slight amount over a large area, but it was still pretty broken. Even without the baby guardvarks, couldn’t she use mana potions to keep the spell going? Something seemed very wrong with how easy it was to maintain uptime on such a powerful spell.

She was also beginning to doubt if there really was an army of hundred here, invisible or otherwise. Wasn’t it just a simple conversion of mana to damage, spread out like it was coming from a hundred different sources?

“What are you doing?” shouted Gabba as the guardvark got up and arched its back, roaring. Sparks flew off and the armoured plating began to glow.

“I was going to take the babies,” said Britta.

“Are you crazy? She’s going to kill you.”

The guardvark did seem to be moving its attention onto Britta rather than Gabba. It was hard to tell exactly where she was looking with her eyes glowing neon blue.

“Do you want them?” said Britta, holding the babies away from her. She was trying to stop the mana regeneration. No need to keep attacking now that the guardvark was in this state. She was also hoping the babies would discourage the guardvark from attacking.

She wasn’t using them as a shield, it was more of a plea to the guardvark’s maternal instincts, assuming she had any. These weren’t her actual offspring, they were adopted. But people who adopted were supposed to love the kids they picked out as much as the ones forced onto them, weren’t they? Time to put it to the test.

There was a loud crack and a wave of pressure spread out from the guardvark. Gabba was knocked back, not even her skills could dodge a shockwave. She slammed into the wall and instantly died.

Britta was unaffected. The babies let out a delighted “Aha!” in unison and raised their tiny claws to welcome the charged wind blowing towards them. They appeared to absorb it with no ill effects. Britta felt no more than a gentle breeze that prickled a little.

The guardvark was still glowing, though. She was stalking towards Britta now. Perhaps she didn’t understand how Britta attacking her had actually been a tactical masterstroke. She definitely didn’t look very appreciative.

“Look, I kept them safe.” She was holding the babies up, showing off their unharmed condition. The pressure from the adopted mother was hard to bear. “C-c-calm down. That girl, she was the one who wanted t-t-to take them from you. She’s going to respawn and come back in a minute. We have to get you somewhere safe.

The saving totem wasn’t very far. Gabba would be able to get back into the game and return here very quickly. But the guardvark knew how to move quickly, too, and in any direction. She just had to take her babies and go. All Britta had to do was make her understand.

The guardvark paused, the light in her eyes fading. And then she pounced.

It was always a risk. Why let Britta go? Just kill her, too.

Britta cast Teleport. Seemed like the ideal time to use it.

Nothing happened.

Unable to activate. Only one transportee allowed.

Britta wasn’t sure that was a real word, but she recalled her ability allowed her to teleport one other person with her. She currently had three passengers, all clinging tightly to her body.

The guardvark landed on her like an avalanche.

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