It takes a while for the vicious itch to fade. The coordination cortex is like an octopus that sits between my sub brains and the main mind so as it mutates and changes my entire brain zone lights up with itching. It's intolerable!
But finally gone!
The process finishes and I find my pet monsters looking at me funny. Look! Just because you lot can take the sensation of mutating like its nothing doesn't mean I can! I'm sensitive!
At any rate, keep digging!
It takes only a few hours of vigorous work to finally connect the new section of the shortcut to the old, meaning the travel time from the surface down to the marsh will be as short as an hour if there aren't monsters spawning in there or an hour and half if there are. It's a crude tunnel that zig-zags back and forth on a fairly steep grade, barely large enough to squeeze Tiny through. When he evolves again we are going to have to put in a lot of work expanding all of these passages for the big lug. To celebrate this momentous achievement, I've decided that we'll all pitch in and collect a feast for ourselves and then another feast that we can take up to the Queen.
I place Crinis on defence duty at the shortcut entrance to make sure nothing sneaks out of the expanse and then Tiny, Vibrant and myself start roaming the tunnels looking for Biomass. Crinis isn't really built to be an offensive hunter, at least not yet, so placing her in position where she can deploy her tentacles thinly like a spiders web to detect intruders and snatch them up is the best use of her talents. Tiny and I are more than capable of dealing with the monsters that spawn out of the walls here.
Sadly we don't find many. Since the monsters are drawn by that mysterious pressure to run into the marsh expanse upon spawning they can't build their numbers and get caught up fighting each other in the tunnels. Asides from a few stragglers and slow moving plant types the pickins' are pretty darn slim.
[Master! Return to my location I think something is happening] Crinis suddenly speaks in my mind.
[We are on the way Crinis. What's going on?] I mean… something could be happening but how the heck would she know? If a fireworks display was going on around her she'd have no idea.
[I can feel vibrations in the tunnel floor, and they keep getting stronger. I think something is approaching] she explains.
Ohhhhh. Makes a lot of sense really. She does have quite a responsive sense of touch, she kind of has to since it's the only sense that she has… She'll have to wait until evolution before she'll be able to take advantage to some of the changes I made to her core.
With Vibrant resting on my head and Tiny lumbering behind we make our way back at full speed to the entrance of our shortcut tunnel where Crinis had been posted on guard duty. Just in time too.
Although Crinis was unable to tell what was causing the vibrations I could see perfectly well what was happening. Another horde of monsters was piling out of the marsh expanse and into the tunnel, hurtling in our direction as quickly as their beastly limbs could carry them!
["It's another mob of monsters guys! Action stations! Prepare to dive! Crinis, engage feast mode!"] I holler frantically at my group.
The horde is nearly upon us, only a few metres away at this point but Crinis wastes no time! Immediately she retracts the thin sensing tendrils she had laid out and reforms her tentacles into the thick, monster crushing engines of destruction we need them to be. Her main body swells up to its full beach ball size, splitting open to reveal her hungering maw.
Tiny is no slower to prepare for action. In his case he simply pushes past me and flings himself at the crowd of monsters, howling with glee! He doesn't say much but I get the feeling the big guy has not enjoyed feeling so subdued by the pressure emanating from the center of the expanse, he's not the kind of monster who wants to shy away from a fight, he wants to get in there and punch faces, especially with strong enemies.
The feeling of being reluctant to run forward and challenge something has been a strange new sensation for this normally suicidal ape. I'd welcomed the change, personally I think not wanting to fling yourself at some mysterious boss monster is just downright sensible but Tiny isn't built that way.
Now he has a chance to work his frustrations out on a massive horde of foes and he is going to take it!
Before the charging mass of monsters has even reached Crinis, Tiny bowls into them with his formidable mass, sending monsters flying, slamming into the walls and ceiling.
[Crinis! Move towards the expanse and engage! Tiny ran past you to fight so you need to shift up the tunnel!]
[Oh!.. Uh.. Understood master!]
Hearing my orders Crinis uses her tentacles to propel herself forward and soon those grasping limbs come into contact with the edges of the horde that are already starting to wrap around Tiny and attack his vulnerable back. Those monsters rather suddenly find themselves wrapped up themselves as their bodies are rent by Crinis' and then tossed into the limitless darkness of her maw.
[… just a reminder not to eat them all Crinis… we need enough for all of us and the Queen] I decide to say.
[S.. Sorry master! I forgot myself!] she stammers.
[I mean it's fine to eat, just don't go nuts] I relent.
It shouldn't need to be said but boy can she eat a lot… I wish I had that stomach. I kind of dismissed all stomach upgrades in the evolution menu out of hand but I'm really starting to see the value in them. If I can hold more food or process it more efficiently then my Biomass deficiency should be taken care of, or at least alleviated somewhat. Something to consider for next time…
Right now I need to deal with these monsters!
With Tiny smashing his way through fists first, lightning sparking off him in increasingly intense waves and Crinis starting to wind up her threshing machine I decide to hang back and offer support.
I still have my water mana transformation construct active so I start feeding it double time and weaving together a spell.
The water cannon!
With my potent main mind on the job it doesn't take long to get it up and running and suddenly a massive torrent of water blasts out from just above my head, cannoning into the monsters on Tiny's left and knocking them off their feet.
Haha! Time for some crowd control!
I scuttle up the wall and move closer to unleash the full fury of my water cannon on the densely packed monsters. The sheer pressure of the water smacking into the monsters doesn't do a whole lot of damage but it sure knocks them around a lot! From up here I can fire upon the monsters just in front of Tiny without hitting the big lug so I sweep the spell across the crowd, sending monsters flying into their neighbours from the impact.
With my assistance keeping the enemies from swarming him Tiny is able to unleash his strength to the fullest, lashing out with massive sweeps of his gigantic fists and pulverising monsters with every swing. At one point he unleashes a furious uppercut that slams a monster straight into the roof! Holy heck!
Not willing to be outdone I flip control of my hose over to a sub brain and task the other with maintaining and feeding the construct so I can concentrate on more spells. First thing I do is form a few gravity spears and throw them into the pack at various points to further destabilise the monsters, making life easier for my two pets. I also realise something rather nasty about that particular technique as several monsters are caught in the overlap between spear effects and find themselves being pulled hard in opposite directions…
It wasn't pretty.
I mean, the force wasn't enough to pull the monsters directly in half or anything but they sure didn't look like they enjoyed the experience.
I could probably form a Gravity Bomb and lob it into the thick of the pack, the monsters are still streaming out of the expanse and packing the tunnel, I'll be shocked if there isn't another thousand of them, but I want to keep as much Biomass as possible. This is a gift racing straight into our stomachs and I refuse to let it go!
At this point another curious synergy is becoming apparent. Tiny's fists are completely sparking with electricity by this point and his body is starting to zap nearby monsters, such is the charge he's built up. Due to my excellent deployment of my super soaker the monsters around him are also drenched in water….
ZAP! ZAP! ZAP!
Electricity begins to arc and crackle throughout the saturated monsters with every swing of Tiny's fists! The electricity discharging into the monsters bodies and then leaping to the next. With every swing of his fists Tiny is damaging five or six monsters and he starts to cut them down even faster than before!
Nice! Maintain that hose! I'd like to say I planned this but I really didn't! If anyone asks me though…. I'll smile mysteriously and act smug….. Gweheheheh.
My feet are continuing to soak up mana from the floor at a furious rate, feeding my core which in turn continues to feed the water mana. Finally this upgrade is able to show its true might!