Ah, fishing. It's a peaceful, pleasurable and altogether gentlemanly pursuit. A meaningful hobby for those who enjoy quiet and rest. The sun dappling on the gentle waves. The quiet hum of insects and the chirp of birds in the trees. Serenity. Tranquillity. These are the words I associate with this noble activity.

[Master! I really don't think we can handle any more!]

[That can't be, it's only been two minutes. What's Tiny's opinion?]

[Master! You know he gets happier the more danger he's in!]

[Oh, come now Crinis. I'm sure Tiny has a reasonable and measured opinion on how things are going.]

[I really must disagree!]

[How's it going down there, Tiny? Do you think you can handle some more?]

[HOOOOAAAAAAAR!!]

[That's what I thought!]

I manipulate the fireball to extend it further away from my position, nestling on the upper reaches of the reef and flare it once again. This draws the ire of the monsters swimming above, some of whom can no longer bear for this source of hated heat and light to exist, and charge down to massacre the being responsible for it. Which of course leads them into the trap we have prepared for them. Crinis has extended a maze of tentacles, all she can handle, which is more than even I thought she could, to block up the path the monsters need to take to get to me. Just in front of her position, Tiny meets the oncoming rush head on, his fur alight with electrical energy, his fists moving swiftly, snapping out with jabs and straights that pick monsters right out of the air.

He makes for an impressive figure when he actually tries to focus. Up on the balls of his feet he shifts his position with speed and grace, he keeps the enemy in front of him as he dances, his hands reaping a dreadful toll. For her part, Crinis maintains her maze of limbs out, the active tentacles mixed inside with the stationary ones, snatching unsuspecting monsters out of the air, coiling around them and rending them with her barbs.

All according to the plan, of course. The only problem we really have is that we've drawn in more monsters than we expected. Fish, leeches, some sort of eel thing and big shark creature that stinks of death. So a good catch, to be sure, but Crinis is starting to get overwhelmed. The majority of the tentacles she's extended aren't being actively controlled by her, so when the monsters who are too large to slip between the gaps get frustrated, they just start ripping and tearing into the limbs. Due to her mutations, Crinis' shadow flesh is much tougher than it was, but it still isn't as difficult to penetrate as my carapace, not even close. The shark in particular is able to tear through it with ease, forcing Crinis to regenerate her flesh and extend fresh tentacles to fill in the gaps.

[Master, your assistance would be most welcome!]


[Are you sure, Crinis? This is all for your levels you know!? Aren't you going to show me how powerful, you've become?]

[I-I will! I can do this! I won't let you down, Master!]

[That's the spirit, Crinis! By overcoming your limits you will ascend to a new height and greater power! Become the Sphere of Unending Decapitation that you always yearned to be!]

[Okay!]

With this motivational speech, Crinis redoubles her efforts and in a few short minutes the air fills with wails of terror as monsters learn what fear really is. After Crinis' plea, I do bring the light inside our little hiding place, no longer flaring it to draw in victims. The battle is fierce and vicious, pushing Tiny and Crinis to the edge of their abilities. The two of them are battered by the time it finishes. Tiny has wounds all over his body and I move fast to heal him, don't want his ongoing affliction to finish him off while we eat. I also perform a poison extraction on him, since I assume he was infected by one of his assailants. For her part, Crinis has shrunk, a good chunk of her shadow flesh has been lost in the battle and it will take her some time to regenerate it all. Her central body took little damage though, so her HP isn't much affected. This appears to be another quirk of her shadow flesh physiology.

[Good job team! Hopefully you managed to harvest some levels out of all that?]

[I did!]

Tiny nods in such a way that conveys to me he did indeed gain a few levels and he enjoyed the fight immensely, furthermore, would it be possible to send more enemies next time?

[I think that was about as much as you can handle, Tiny. You did nearly die after all.]

He seems to shrug in a way that indicates he doesn't agree with me, but he's stronger now so it should be fine.

[Stop being dumb and eat. We have a ton of Biomass we need to clean up.]

The unfortunate part of fighting up here is that a lot of Biomass fell through the gaps in the Corals and has been lost below us, but we've managed to hold onto more than half the total. I've grown accustomed to the taste of shadow monsters over the weeks but it really is terrible. Not that anything I've had to eat since I was reborn in this world is delicious. Perhaps I should have eaten some human food back at the village? They have a temple to me now right? I could get them to leave offerings of delicious meals! But, it wouldn't have any Biomass, so it seems like a waste. Could I get them to cook monster parts for me?

As I ruminate on the possibilities of Biomass cuisine, the three of us munch our fill and then rest. More Biomass points have been harvested and my total has reached one hundred and fifty one. A good opportunity for a cheeky upgrade. I think I know just what I want to improve as well. I could do a lot of things with this Biomass, but I've really been having a lot of fun, and getting a lot of use out of, my instant twitch musculature and my Wide Gated Sub-Neural network. The musculature allows greater strength to be exerted in smaller bursts, perfect for snapping mandibles or quick dodges, and my neural network helps me react to the barrage of information my eyes and antennae provide in the midst of a fight.
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These two combined have improved my offense, but more dramatically, taken my defence to a whole new level! In fact, they've truly allowed my defensive skill, Exo-Skeleton Defence, to shine brighter than before and I'm levelling that Skill much faster than previously. It's all coming together!

So naturally I want to take these two body parts to +15!

[Do you wish to improve Instant Twitch Musculature +10 and Wide Gated Sub-Neural Network +10 to +15? This will cost 130 Biomass.]

I do!

[At this level you may choose to combine your mutations, or emphasise one. Which will you select?]

For both of these body parts I chose to go deeper down one aspect rather than generalise, so reinforcing the effect is the only choice that makes sense! Bring it!

CHANGALANGATANG!

STUPID ITCH!

When it finally fades away, I look in satisfaction at the entries in my status.

Blink Musculature +15 and Transmission Sub-Neural Network +15.

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