The green lightning bolt from the storm struck right at Shrimp's still form. It crashed through the sea of upturned rocks from Seismic's attack, and any chunks of earth that the bolt came into contact with, it blasted apart with all the ease and force of a sledgehammer bearing down on glass.
When the bolt hit Shrimp, it exploded into a nova of bright green energy that lit up the night sky with a crackling roar. All the rock and debris that surrounded Shrimp was blasted away from the shockwave of the bolt.
"Tch." Aldrich looked down at Shrimp.
Shrimp still stood tall. Green arcs of electricity coursed across his body, and his body stuttered, his muscles affected temporarily by paralysis. The ground beneath shrimp had been reduced to a molten red puddle, casting an angry red shadow over Shrimp's iridescent rainbow shell.
Cracks and scorch marks lined Shrimp's body, but he had not taken nearly as much damage as Aldrich had wanted. Instead, his antennae were glowing brightly, and quickly, the green electricity arcing around Shrimp absorbed into his antennae, transferring into a faint blue aura around him.
"He has some level of energy absorption, too," said Seismic. "Explains why he could take a full force Quake."
"The absorption wasn't as effective against your Quakes," said Aldrich. "It looks to be more effective at absorbing heat energy. It looks like the best way to get through that thing is with physical force.
"Yes, master!" Valera stood atop a rock pillar, looking down at Shrimp with a wide, fanged smile and gleaming red and black eyes.
"Put your shield away. Go on offense. Go all out," declared Aldrich.
"It would be my pleasure." Valera licked her lips before dropping her greatshield. Before it fell to the ground, it faded away into a shower of black and white particles. She clenched her fists tight, and a bloody, rippling red aura surged around her.
Valera drove off from the rock pillar at intense speeds, shattering the stone she jumped from. She flew downwards like a speeding bullet, a punch cocked back.
Shrimp was still paralyzed, still processing the electrical energy running havoc throughout his body, and he took the hit straight to his face. A bloody shockwave erupted from Valera's punch, exploding like a bomb that slammed Shrimp straight towards the ground.
Shrimp gouged out a sizable crater from the impact as his head whipped back from the blow, the shell around his cheeks cracking and crumbling and leaking blue blood.
"Don't let up!" said Aldrich. "Keep the pressure on!"
Crow growled as he swung his huge dark wings forward one by one, and with each swipe, a rain of giant black, metallic feathers shot down like a volley of spears.
Shrimp saw the attack coming and leaped onto his feet and put his four arms over his face. The feathers smashed against him, scraping against his shell in a shower of sparks and a clang of metal as impossibly hard feathers struck by impossibly hard shell.
The feathers cut sizable scratches into Shrimp's shell but all skidded off, embedding deep into the shattered ground around Shrimp.
Shrimp peered up at Aldrich, gazing at him with narrowed rainbow-colored eyes.
"You…must kill you," said Shrimp as he slightly crouched down, putting power into his feet.
"No you don't!" Valera used an upgraded version of [Dash] called [Bloodmist Approach]. It was a powerful, higher level vampiric racial ability that abused the vampiric ability to turn their body into red mist.
Valera broke down into crimson mist, and in her mist state, sped forwards at incredibly high speeds akin to teleportation. She instantly manifested into her physical form above Shrimp and flipped before crashing down an axe kick onto Shrimp's head.
Shrimp blocked this attack with a guard.
Another booming shockwave echoed through the air as Valera's armored heel crashed into Shrimp's thick forearm shell. The ground beneath Shrimp cratered as he dug into the earth from the sheer downward force of Valera's strike, but Shrimp's guard did not break.
Instead, crackling arcs of green and blue energy surged around Shrimp's body before he faded away in an instant, appearing right behind Valera in a shower of rainbow colored sparks.
This was the same high speed movement that Shrimp used to dodge strikes from Mel Morales and Seismic beforehand.
Notably, Aldrich determined that Shrimp could only use the high speed movement for short distances, elsewise it would have used it to escape by now.
Shrimp cocked back a fist, and the green and blue stripes running down his forearm started to glow brightly as he charged his incredibly powerful punch.
At this rate, Valera was going to get hit. Shrimp had taken her blindside in a single instant, and in the time it would take her to turn around, he would unleash his blow.
That is, if Aldrich had not been micromanaging his units this entire time.
The Deathwheel emerged from over a fallen rock chunk, using it as a ramp to soar into the air before ramming right into Shrimp's back. The Deathwheel ran Shrimp into the ground, causing the variant to faceplant into the earth with a heavy crash that split the already broken ground.
The column of fused spines that lined the Deathwheel's body rotated rapidly like a buzzsaw, screaming out sparks as they grinded against Shrimp's back shell. The skulls gathered around the sides of the Deathwheel all chattered in a skeletal war cry as it exerted its maximal strength and velocity against Shrimp.
"Gh…" Shrimp loosed a grunt of exertion as he lashed out his tail. It curled up flexibly and quickly, slamming against the Deathwheel and knocking it forwards, right into Valera.
Good positional awareness, Aldrich noted.
At first, he had thought that Shrimp fought like a complete amateur, taking unnecessary hits, not knowing how to use his powers effectively, and moving rather clumsily despite his incredible speed and strength, but it seemed that Shrimp was learning how to fight.
And learning fast, too.
Shrimp had seemed like a child in its curiosity, and that also showed in its experience with its powers. But it was learning more control over its strength and abilities by the second.
This fight needed to end sooner rather than later.
'We won't weaken it quickly enough' said Seismic, thinking the exact same thing as Aldrich as he stared down at Shrimp with crossed arms and a scowl. 'Not before it adapts to us. Especially not if we can't use our strongest attacks for fear of giving it cover.'
'Adapt? Trust me, adapting to my control and attack patterns is something that I'm confident almost nobody can do,' said Aldrich. 'You stay focused on landing a final blow. Signal me before you do.'
'Got it,' said Seismic.
The two of them watched the battle resume below.
Valera swatted the Deathwheel thrown her way to the side to prevent it from knocking her down, but in that moment of distraction, Shrimp had cocked back his fist again, ready to unleash a mighty energy wave to engulf both Valera and the Deathwheel.
Aldrich snapped his fingers.
The ground beneath Shrimp broke apart near instantly into sand, tumbling Shrimp back and causing him to lose focus on his punch. His forearm clicked back out of his upper arm, the piston system disengaging and the glowing blue and green energy strips fading in color.
That was another thing Aldrich had noticed. Shrimp needed complete concentration to unleash his devastating punch attacks. On top of that, they had a short windup time where he had to engage the piston structure of his arm.
All things Aldrich could easily abuse with his superior micro.
Against Aldrich, who was used to accurately and effectively manning multiple units to the absolute maximal effectiveness, any attack that needed a channel time like that energy punch was something that would never see the light of day.
Shrimp fell down into the quicksand pit, and very quickly, the sand covered over his shins. He tried to jump up, but the Antlion's anti-flight field was strong enough to keep even Shrimp grounded.
Instead, Shrimp used its energy fueled high speed movement to rush out of the range of the sand pit before it could grow large enough to make it impossible to effectively escape. On solid ground, away from Valera and the Deathwheel, Shrimp jumped in the air, trying to get out of range of all the units harassing him down below.
Shrimp aimed right towards Aldrich and jumped.
The moment Shrimp jumped, something slammed into Shrimp, sending him crashing back down into the sandpit.
It was Ace, Blackwater's rank 3 student. He flew in the air with a powerfully built body, his eyes glowing a bright white as he stared down at Shrimp.
"You're not getting out," said Ace. He cracked his neck as he gestured with his chin casually up to Aldrich, his expression stern. "And while I'm in the air, you're never going to get to him either."
Aldrich smiled beneath his metal helm.
Like this, Shrimp would face attack after attack after attack again and again, leaving him without a single moment to rest.