Many Worlds Chapter 44
Nobody was prepared for such a massive mantis to be able to jump as high as it could. It couldn’t actually fly, because of its size and weight, but its wings had allowed it to pass over the energy wall. There was a moment of stunned silence, before everyone sprung into action, the soldiers firing their weapons at the mantis. Although they couldn’t really damage it, they might eventually wear through its carapace. At least, that was their thought.
Robert turned back to the group and held up the vial. “Listen, it’s not important now what this is, but if we can get this inside that thing… it might do something.”
Jules nodded. “Its mouth is open… but it’s moving its head to erratically to get it in easily.”
It only took a few moments to formulate a simple strategy. Isaac and Douglas would attempt to limit the movements of the mantis, however much they could, or at least try to make it less erratic. Jules took the vial. Robert had little he could do but fire at it, hoping to do some damage, though he had still provided the mysterious vial.
The shaking ground almost made Jules trip. He was worried about breaking the vial, so he made it float in the air with telekinesis. There, the shaking of the ground wouldn’t affect it, but he didn’t put it far from himself because that would leave it vulnerable to anything flying around, such as rubble or stray bullets.
The mantis advanced forward, slowly. Fortunately it wasn’t fast, or perhaps it didn’t need to be fast. Though, its slow gait took it in steps of five or ten meters, so it also was not slow. As it advanced on the center of the next level of fortifications, Isaac and Douglas moved in from the side, with Jules following close behind.
The situation was already turning grim. The mantis swung its claws like scythes. Jules supposed that made it less like a mantis, since it wasn’t grabbing with them, but he didn’t think the buildings nearby and the soldiers would appreciate that distinction. It wasn’t actually accurate enough to attack any individuals, but many were hit by the flying rubble, or were just in the wrong place to be able to dodge. Jules would have looked away, but he needed to find an opening.
As they approached closer, Douglas opened up fire. He was targeting a leg with his laser pistol and the black lasers he could, specifically aiming at a joint of the leg. Perhaps it would still not be enough, but it might slow it down slightly. Meanwhile, Isaac ran up almost beneath it, and was shooting it with his assault rifle. However, even with this, the mantis ignored them, like they were the ones who were insects that it didn’t’ have to bother with. However, that changed when Isaac barreled into its leg, which was the size of a tree trunk. All it caused was a slight moment of instability, but it looked down toward him.
Jules grew worried for his larger friend. Isaac was equipped with armor, but Jules doubted it could do anything against something of that size. He didn’t have long to think, and he telekinetically hurled the vial toward the mantis, bringing it closer for whatever opportunity appeared. The mantis actually moved its giant triangular head, with mandibles almost the size of Isaac, attempting to bite him. Isaac dashed underneath the body of the mantis, where it couldn’t reach him. All it would take, however, was for it to stop supporting itself, and he would be crushed. It didn’t seem to have thoughts on that level, however, and decided it didn’t care about the bug underneath it. As it turned its head away, the vial arrived in front of it. It certainly couldn’t be bothered with it, if could even register something so small in its vision. It turned its head away as the vial neared its mouth. The vial shattered, but Jules thought the contents had managed to get inside. However, he couldn’t sense anything at this distance, and could only go off of what he had seen. “Get out of there, Isaac!”
Isaac retreated back along the length of the mantis, coming out behind it, and moved to meet up with the rest. Douglas couldn’t stand on his own anymore, and his eyes were almost glazed over. Obviously, he had overused his abilities. Isaac asked, “So, did you get it? Did it work?”
Jules shook his head. “I don’t know. I think I got it, but it doesn’t look like it’s working.”
Robert looked at the mantis, which was still moving and seemed perfectly healthy. “You got it, I’m pretty sure. It… it might take a bit, but it should work. It should.” He said that, but his voice lacked confidence somewhat.
There wasn’t much that could be done except move with the new retreat that the battle had turned, though they stayed away from the main group, since there was no need to have more targets in one place. “I really hope it works, but what was it?” Isaac asked. “Poison?”
Douglas shook his head. “I doubt there’s any poison powerful enough to kill it, at least not at that dosage. Where would I even get that? No, it’s… nanobots.”
“And the nanobots are going to do what? Eat it?” Jules asked. Then, he nodded to himself. “They’re going to eat it.”
Robert nodded. “It’s working.”
“How can you tell?”
Robert stared at the mantis, a slight smile on his face. “There are… a lot of nanobots now.”
“How many?” Jules looked nervous. The mantis was still continuing forward and causing destruction, and there was nothing more they could do if it didn’t work.
“Do you know the prefix exa?”
Jules nodded. “That’s… 10 to the eighteenth power? That is a lot of nanobots.”
Robert smiled. “That’s how many it started with…” Robert took a few moments to breathe, since a half-retreat wasn’t a good pace to have a conversation at. “Now it’s more than one hundred times that many.”
Jules looked at him. “That’s… still a lot, but also not that much compared to how big that thing is.” He paused for a few moments. “It’s only been a few minutes, hasn’t it?”
Robert grinned even more, and the group trudged along tiredly, they were approaching the center of the city, where the final defenses were. Jules thought he saw them preparing weaponry to attack the mantis with them.
“Are you sure that it’s working, Robert?”
At that point, the mantis started swaying, then crying out. Robert spoke loudly to be heard over the screams, “By my calculations, there should be approximately a human sized mass of nanobots eating that bug from the inside. Maybe a bit less.”
Then, within the next minute the mantis had stopped making any noise at all, and fallen to the ground. Jules looked at Robert. “Remind me to never make you angry.”