Eventually, the horrific itching fades, and I scramble back to my feet and cast my eyes about to see who was witnessing my fervent rolling. Thankfully it appears that mother retreated once she was sure all of the noise wasn't related to some threat or danger of any kind, and my pets are too busy with their own mutations to have time checking on me.
Since that is the case, I can relax. I really need to make sure that I'm on my own or somewhere that I can't be seen when doing significant mutations like that. I don't know what it is, but the sensation of my own body shifting and changing as the surging Biomass roils through my body is just….. ITCHY.
What even is Biomass anyway? It can't be the raw material since that gets dissolved down in some way within me. It isn't as if my stomach continually feels full until I spend my points, as time passes I feel the food getting digested, and then I start to feel hungry again. Perhaps monsters extract something from the food they eat? Some sort of… concentrated…. Stuff? The higher the evolution of the monster the more… stuff … they have in them?
I don't know! I just eat things!
Considering that nothing comes out my business end barring acid and magic consuming justice all of that food must be going somewhere…
I've already resolved to investigate all things stomach upgrade during my next evolution, but internally I double down on that resolution. The mysteries of the Biomass need to be unlocked!
Quickly cleaning my antennae and running a keen eye over myself I double check my status before spending some time adjusting to my new vision. I wouldn't say I can see as well as a human can in all directions, but it indeed is significantly better than before. My forward eyesight has somewhat improved, but all other angles are dramatically better. I'll need to wait until I get somewhere a little more open before I can thoroughly test my eyes' ability to focus at a distance.
I start practising my water transformation and compression skills as I wait for my fellow team members to finish their work. Vibrant appears to have completed her work with the menu and has settled down to evolve. If she doesn't finish by the time the others are ready, we may have to carry her down with us. I wouldn't want to leave her behind, mostly because she would just run down the tunnels on her own and probably end up dead.
Still, I'm interested to see what she can evolve into, considering she was a superior hatchling up to now. From a superior hatchling into a … superior worker? That wouldn't be too exciting…
Maybe she'll go straight into being a juvenile Queen? For some reason, when I think of Vibrant's personality, I just can't see it happening. Sitting around the nest being motherly all the time? Vibrant?! Not a chance.
Time passes, and Crinis is the first to complete the process. She takes a long time to fiddle through the menus since she has such anxiety about making incorrect choices. Tiny takes longer, but I think that has more to do with his comprehension speed…..
[How'd it all go Crinis?] I ask cheerfully.
The little ball freezes momentarily before slithering over to me on a few tentacles.
[I hope I made the right choices Master…] she says somewhat miserably.
I sigh internally. [Just pick whatever you think is right! You know more about how you want to grow and fight than I do! You're the best one to make these decisions!]
[But you are the best person to decide what it is that YOU want Master!]
Gah! Getting her to be more independent is going to be a long project.
[Just … come over here, and I'll have a look at where you're at. I want to see how everyone is going before we set out] I say resignedly.
[Of course Master!] she bubbles.
Bringing my antennae forward I activate the core surgery skill and gradually piece together her general status.
Level: 14 (core)
Skills: Advanced Shadow Flesh Manipulation Level 1; Grappling Level 3; Expert Shredding Level 4; Tremor Sensing Level 3; Dismembering Level 2; Fear Inspiration Level 3; Mana Manipulation Level 1; Tentacle Walking Level 1;
Mutations: Shadow flesh+3; Void Maw +3; Bottomless Dimensional Stomach +5; Dividing Tentacles +5; Ripping Spines + 5; Macabre Teeth + 5;
Species: Blind Shadow Hunter
Skill points: 5
Why is that all her skills and upgrades sound so intimidating? How the heck did she even get Fear Inspiration?! From what I can see the skill educates the user in ways to act more intimidating or cause fear in foes…
I'm not sure that's going to be a problem if she keeps levelling up Dismembering…
[Ah! I see you picked up Mana Manipulation] I say.
[Yes Master…. Is that ok!?] she sounds mildly panicked.
[Of course! You have a reasonable Cunning and Will stat. With practice, you'll be able to start slinging some spells like me! I think that was an excellent choice]
Instead of replying the little ball holding itself up on a few slender tentacles just becomes exceptionally still. Wait. That's not quite right. With my improved vision, I can make out that she's not still but actually vibrating slightly in place.
That happy to be praised, eh?
I can only shake my head internally and leave Crinis in her own little world as I move over to Tiny. The big guy is gradually opening his eyes and shaking himself awake. I want to check his status as well before we get moving.
[How'd it all go Tiny? Finished?]
[Hmmm. Finish] he manages to grunt his reply even when speaking mind to mind.
[Let me have a look big fella]
He amblers over in my direction and I once again activate the core surgery skill. I'm determined to ignore the quivering tennis ball behind me.
Level: 12 (core)
Skills: Expert Ape Boxing level 3; Brutal Uppercut level 2; Enhanced Leap level 3; Smash level 5; Advanced Athletics level 1; Grappling level 5; Potent Crushing Blows level 4; Fancy Feet level 4; Advanced Dash Level 2;
Mutations: Overwhelming Explosive Enhanced musculature +10, Iron Bones +5; Springy Impact Legs +10; Piercing Heightened Sonic Enhancer +5; Compressing Lightning Mana Affinity Gland +5, Compressing Lightning Mana Affinity Gland +5, Energy Conversion Gland +4;
Species: Dire Lightning Storm Kong
Skill points: 15
Things are looking good! He's way stronger than he was before he started spending his points properly, just look at some of these powerful sounding upgrades! Overwhelming Explosive Enhanced musculature? That sounds destructive!
Actually just looking at him he seems more built than before. Not in a rippling muscle sort of way but more in a …. Solid… sheer size sort of way. His shoulders and arms are definitely a size larger than they were before. I'm guessing he had to upgrade his bones just to stop them snapping like twigs when he throws a punch.
Overall I'm pleased with his choices. I'm especially impressed he followed my advice and took the same upgrade for both Lightning Mana glands. Naturally, it may have been more optimal to take different upgrades for each to increase versatility, but I figured Tiny would just get confused. Better to find one that works well and use it for both. I think he mainly took that advice, so he didn't have to think so much.
I like the compressing mutation as a choice as well. Tinkering around I worked out that it applies a mild compression to the mana inside the gland, increasing the potency of the mana but slowing its recovery speed. Since he has the conversion gland already, he doesn't have to worry about that so much and can enjoy more potent lightning for free.
Vibrant is still sleeping for the moment. I'll head topside to alert people as to our absence, and then we'll be off!