Right then. For the time being, my skills had been dealt with. Now for the juicy bit.
When she received my mental communication the little ball shrinks in on herself, withdrawing her stalk until she's almost touching the ground.
[Um… Y… yes? Master?] she stammers.
[Is there something you want to tell me? Has some sort of milestone been achieved?] I enquire.
[N, no? I can't think of anything like that, Master]
[You wouldn't be worried about having to make choices for yourself again, would you Crinis? Panicked that you might make a selection that I didn't approve of? If that were the case, I'd be quite disappointed] my voice drops to a sinister low by the end.
[Hiiiiii!] she squeaks.
I can only sigh. Why are pets so weird? This should be a joyous occasion, the individual should be jumping for joy and as the master I would bathe in that reflected happiness, smiling deeply, feeling smug and satisfied that all things were travelling on the path that I ordained.
Instead, I have to bully my own pet into evolving, or watch my pet evolve into an imbecilic lump of muscle meat. Crinis is just paranoid about having to make her own choices, not wishing to do something 'wrong'.
[Look, Crinis, I'm very happy that you are ready to evolve. It's a great thing! So as soon as we are finished speaking we will finalize your core and you will evolve. Okay?]
[I want to remind you of something. When I recreated you from your core, I made sure to make adjustments so that you'd be perfect, the best little murder ball of boundless horror and death in all of Pangera. I also created a special evolutionary path for you. You understand?]
The little ball seems struck dumb, growing incredibly still.
[You did that Master? For me?]
[Of course I did. We are connected by bonds of friendship, not just those of Master and servant. Whatever I can do to help you, I will. Do you understand that me creating your evolution means I'm meeting you halfway on this right? I've already made a good chunk of the decisions for you. The rest you need to look inside yourself to find the answers that best fit the kind of monster that you want to be."
Swinging an antenna around in a vicious arc I whack the little tennis ball right in the middle, sending her flying to the corner in which I keep my core stockpile.
[Let's do this!]
Ignoring her attempted excuses and protests, I fuse together a special core and whack her on the head with it until she finally absorbs it.
[Now go evolve, dammit!]
Sniffling quietly to herself, Crinis retreats to one side of the chamber and begins the process of her evolution. This is only her second evolution but it's going to be exciting to see exactly how she changes. I know the broad strokes of it of course, but exactly what she will decide to change for herself will be interesting to see.
I know I'm being harsh on her, after all, the only thing she wants is to be as helpful as possible, but she has to develop some independence, become her own Crinis!
With that dealt with I poke Tiny until he wakes and put him on guard duty. We are still in the Dungeon after all and if anything spawns in here I need it smashed ASAP. I'm going to be busy mutating and don't want to be disturbed.
It's just me and three hundred and sixty six Biomass.
It won't go as far as I want it to go, I get that. I need to get all of my mutations to +15 before I evolve and I still haven't completed the +10 set yet. I'm determined this time though, no evolution until it's done!
To go from +10 to +15 is going to cost me… Sixty five Biomass.
Ugh. I hate being reminded of this. From five to ten is only forty by comparison. I remember when that amount seemed outrageous.
Well, nothing I can do about it but eat, I suppose.
For now I want to test something that Beyn mentioned during our discussions. Apparently a big part of the System is focused on consolidation and reinforcement. Fusing is one part of this, where classes and skills can become combined to create a new and more powerful skill. The other side of the coin is when the System doubles down on one thing, making it a stronger and better version of itself.
According to Beyn, this typically occurs in either threes or twos. Three skills combine to make a new skill, or two classes combine to create a new class. It isn't a hard and fast rule by any means, he said he knew of one class which required ten levels in five(!) separate classes before fusion occurred, but it is usually the case.
How this applies to monsters he wasn't sure, but I have a feeling that the +15 upgrade won't be just choosing another mutation. I'm determined to find now before progressing any further on my other mutations.
[Would you like to upgrade Mandibles to +15? This will cost sixty five Biomass.]
[At this level you may choose to combine your mutations, or emphasise one. Which will you select?]
We were right!
At this stage the System will either allow you combine your current mutations to create a new variant, or emphasise one of your mutations, enhancing it over the other. Interesting! The more I learn about the system the more depth it seems to have.
Well, with my mandibles I have the infused mutation, which allows me to channel raw mana from my core into them in order to improve their cutting power, and the savage mutation, which increased their size, density and strength, making them the beastly tools of biting they are today.
Is there one that I prefer over the other? Infused is probably the more powerful boost, but it costs mana, placing another drain on my mental resources, whereas savage is just a straight up passive boost, affecting the structure of the mandibles themselves.
To be honest, they are a great combo together. Savage improves my baseline biting power and Infused gives me a higher peak. There isn't any reason to take one over the other.
I'll fuse them!
Whoa, but first…
[Do you wish to improve Hardened Diamond Carapace to +15, this will cost sixty five Biomass]
May as well take care of this one at the same time.
[At this level your mutations will be reinforced. Do you wish to proceed?]
Hmm! So, since I chose to enhance the original mutation the second time around, I don't have a fusion option now, only a reinforcement one. It's not a problem though, I've grown super fond of my Diamond Carapace.
Confirm both of those mutations!
Wait a sec. I feel something building.
As if from a great distance.
Is it the ocean? The rising tide?
... nope. It's the itch.