As Aldrich fell through the air, the winds whistling past him, he clasped his hands together with a metallic clang. Coils of ghostly green energy formed between them, and when he separated his hands, twin [Death Bolts] were formed and ready to go, swirling in spherical orbs in his palms.
About halfway before Aldrich hit the ground, high up enough in the air where Shrimp looked like he could hit in Aldrich's palm, he fired off his two [Death Bolts] one after the other.
Twin helical bolts of green death energy spiraled out from Aldrich like cannonballs, rapidly descending down to smash into Shrimp's back before the Locus could punch down and destroy the Antlion with a shockwave.
An explosion of green energy erupted around Shrimp, and Shrimp staggered forwards before whirling around to face Aldrich, his antennae twitching as he glared at Aldrich with his two radiant, iridescent rainbow eyes.
As expected, [Death Bolt] was little more than a spammable projectile attack against strong units like Shrimp, especially considering his enormous durability counted as vitality that made the instant death effect of [Death Bolt] useless.
Still, the concussive force that the explosive [Death Bolts] possessed was easily on par with artillery shots.
But artillery shots were not going to cut it here. If Valera's punches, blows that could match Aldrich's [Death Bolt] at their weakest, had difficulty smashing through Shrimp's shell, then Aldrich's [Death Bolts] had no hope of landing a decisive final blow, especially if Shrimp could spontaneously heal again.
What they were useful for, however, was keeping Shrimp busy.
Shrimp saw Aldrich and instantly began to charge towards him with pure hatred seething in his eyes. "You-must kill you!"
Aldrich immediately noted that Shrimp's bloodlust against Aldrich was incredibly targeted, far moreso than it had been against anyone else, indicating that for some reason, Aldrich drew Shrimp's aggro much better than anyone else.
Any ordinary person seeing Shrimp, the Locus of an entire variant army, a monster capable of leveling an entire city if left alone, charging towards them in sheer hatred, shrugging off a barrage of explosions like they were just a rough breeze, would have cowered in fear.
But all Aldrich could think about was how good this situation was. This aggro meant that Shrimp would not think about escaping so long as Aldrich was here as bait.
And that meant Aldrich did not have to worry as much about having to weave in Chiros, Ace, and other units with his attacks.
Very simply put - Aldrich had free reign to go all out for once. He smiled under his helmet, feeling a thrill rush through him as he anticipated using all the new powers he had under him.
Though, of course, he made sure his units would still stay in position to prevent Shrimp's escape if it ever came down to it.
Aldrich used a free hand to fire [Death Bolts] at Shrimp one by one while moving backwards. He paced his bolts so that they hit one after the other, maximizing the time Shrimp needed to take to deal with them.
On top of this, every single one of Aldrich's attacks were deliberately aimed.
Every time a [Death Bolt] hit Shrimp, the Locus had to pause briefly to raise up his shelled forearms over his eyes or block against an exposed chunk of already broken shell.
This was kiting.
A game mechanic in which a character, often a ranged one, danced around the edge of a shorter enemy's range chasing them, leading them on like a kite on a string. All the while, projectiles rained down on the chaser.
This was a mechanic Aldrich was intimately familiar with, for Legion Necromancers, unlike Shattered Bone Necromancers, had no strong means to secure themselves in close combat.
Keeping distance was key.
Aldrich bought himself time with his kiting, during which, he had his Zombie Giant begin throwing key units Aldrich's way. He also used [Create Greater Undead (1st Ring)] to summon a Skeleton Assassin.
Aldrich put a hand on the purple hooded skeleton's skull and said simply, "Go."
The Skeleton Assassin nodded at Aldrich before fading away into shadows that quickly turned invisible.
"You keep running…," Shrimp shrugged off one more [Death Bolt] before its entire body covered in a bright green aura of crackling arcs. "I catch you now!"
Shrimp was about to use Burst to instantly close the distance to Aldrich.
Aldrich was prepared for this. He stomped his foot into the ground just as Shrimp appeared right in front of him in a flash of green energy arcs and sparks.
Shrimp's fist was cocked back, ready to punch right into Aldrich's stomach, but at that moment, the ground shuddered.
Huge stakes of bone erupted all around Aldrich, breaking apart the ground in loud cracks.
Several bone stakes slammed into Shrimp's body from below. The impaling bone stakes mostly scraped by Shrimp's shell, scratching out sparks and shallow cuts, but the intention was never to skewer through the Locus.
The sudden force from which the bone stakes had emerged sent Shrimp flying upwards, generating even more distance.
Aldrich did not know where exactly Shrimp would Burst dash to, whether it would be in front of Aldrich or behind him or to the side, so he eliminated all these possibilities by just casting [Call of the Impaler] which worked in an omni-directional area of effect.
Now that Aldrich had used [Call of the Impaler], he waved his hand and casted [Bone Missile Array]. The huge bone stakes broke apart into shards that formed a large rotating circle, almost like a halo, above Aldrich's head.
Shrimp would have broken the bone stakes apart with brute force anyway or simply charged through them. Like this, though, Aldrich could make use of the bones far better.
Shrimp fell back down on the ground, but his Burst aura had not faded yet. With the last remnants of it, the Locus rushed towards Aldrich with teleportation level speeds.
'Change stitching to giant muscles' commanded Aldrich.
'Your will is mine,' said Volantis.
It was time to test out whether Aldrich could fight in melee range at a high level.
Aldrich's Stonedrake Scales faded away, replacing instead with coils of grooved muscles covering his limbs and stretches of his chest. On top of this, he boosted himself with [Negative Surge], hopping up his stats as much as possible.
Hexagonal green patterns appeared around his body, reinforcing his stats.
Shrimp appeared behind Aldrich, and he registered this immediately with Volantis providing him a full range of vision around himself. The Locus began to cock back his fist, activating a half charge of its devastating energy punch.
Even though the half charge blow was much faster than its full attack, it still had a delay, and Shrimp probably thought it had free reign to charge the attack from Aldrich's blindside.
Aldrich immediately countered this by swiveling around and throwing out a powerful kick to Shrimp's side.
Shrimp's eyes widened in surprise as Aldrich's muscle padded, armored leg cracked shell before sending Shrimp flying to the side like a pinball.
However, Shrimp did not get completely knocked down, pancaked to the ground like what a full force hit from Valera could do. The Locus managed to break his fall by falling to a knee and skidded to a halt some distance away from Aldrich.
Aldrich immediately followed up by sprinting towards Shrimp, not giving the creature a single moment to rest.
Shards of bone around Aldrich's huge skeletal halo fired out like bullets, crashing and shattering against Shrimp's head. The Locus closed his eyes and hunkered his head down to try and prevent his eyes from getting skewered out.
'Fast…and strong!?' was all Shrimp managed to think in utter surprise before Aldrich planted a solid punch into Shrimp's jaw.