If possible I'd wanted to wait a little longer before reconstituting my second pet. With higher levels of core engineering I'd be able to customise the creature to better fit the intended role I had in mind.
Sadly events are pressing me a little faster than I would have liked and mining the cores in the farm has proven to be a little slow. If I had a month then I could afford to wait but I feel that things always accelerate faster than I want in this world. I mustn't forget that I still have to raise a reconstituted monster from an infant form up to the mature, combat ready form it had when it was killed. That process will take a fair amount of time and has to accounted for in my planning.
If I'd had time I would have been able to grind out a few more levels and then, with my skills raised I had hoped to embark on the kind of mastery that Formo had displayed to me. The Sophos have carved out a life for themselves within the Dungeon using their hyper modified and specially raised pets, showing just how strong this technique can be.
I want to supplement my own strength with a few select pets also. I can't be in every place at once and defending the colony whilst also hunting to raise my own strength is proving difficult. Eventually the colony will be strong enough to look after itself, with a number of more highly evolved workers and sheer numbers to overwhelm more powerful monsters. Until then I want to be able to leave the colony for a stretch of time and be assured that it is well protected.
The Jellymaw is an incredible defensive creature. Within the confines of the Dungeon, inside a narrow space, even without the power of sight there is nowhere to hide from its fearsome tentacles and incredible strength.
Imagining an enemy attempting to assault the ant hill, sending soldiers down the main shaft to hunt the Queen and ants huddling within, only to meet a wall of brutal tentacles that rip the flesh from their bones and devouring them whole.
…. Yuck. Effective, but yuck.
Ok! Bringing my antennae forward I throw my mind into the dark gem resting on the soil before me. Immediately a flood of information invades my mind, all of the details of the JellyMaw as a creature, its body type, organs, limbs, musculature, stats and evolutionary pathway are laid bare in my eyes, ready for manipulation.
The first thing that strikes me is the stats. I'm kind of surprised at how intelligent the monster is. I hadn't thought the creature would need much of a mind and had prepared myself for another all brawn no brain associate like Tiny. As I investigate deeper it starts to make a bit of sense.
By not included sensory organs, no eyes, sense of taste, smell or hearing, a tremendous amount of … space … was left available within the brain. It's a little hard to explain but when I explore more deeply all of the things that contribute towards the final 'stat' value the intricacy and complexity of the system starts to become more apparent.
So if there was only ten 'points' worth of energy available to devote to a monsters brain, then you would need to spend that developing all of the aspects of a brain for a rounded mind. Some of the energy would go to unconscious body management, like how a person doesn't have to think about making their heart beat, a good chunk of it would go on memory, more on increasing the speed and efficacy of the brains connections, that is to say, intelligence. Since sensory organs are quite complex the parts of the brain that deal with those are also quite complex requiring a heap of energy to properly form them. By not including any of these, large amounts of energy was instead devoted towards pure intelligence and memory, gaining a relatively high Cunning stat fairly cheaply.
Similarly the JellyMaw has no bones, much like a regular jellyfish. Without having to spend energy on a skeletal system, more was devoted to the powerful musculature. I'm still not exactly sure how the monster manages to function out of water without bones though, I'll need to dig a little deeper.
The more I look the more impressed I am with the way this creature is constructed. That incredible power has come about as a result of a series of trade-offs that have been made everywhere. Limited senses, no bones, reduced nervous system, very simple selection of organs, all cut back to produce that fearsome strength I'd been able to witness.
However, this is still room for changes. Since the JellyMaw already has greater than expected intelligence, I want to push that advantage a bit further. Intelligence will ultimately trump strength, the human race rising to supremacy on Earth is living proof!
Besides, the JellyMaw is already crazy strong, any power I shave off now can be made up for in future evolutions by ensuring that the core is maxed out.
I begin to put my mind to the changes, forcing and shaping them with my will and then holding them down until the new form holds steady within the core. Reducing the strength of the tentacles a little here and there, adjusting the musculature of the face to pour more energy into the brain. All of the extra energy is devoted to pure intelligence, raising the cunning little by little.
I manage to squeeze another four points of intelligence before I stop. I don't want to take away the creatures strength too much.
My mind is already aching by this point, the adjustments are becoming harder and harder to accomplish. I'm not sure how much more I'll be able to do. Girding myself I dive deeper into the core, probing the limits of the information accessible to me at my current skill level.
Aha! More answers are forthcoming here.
It seems the creatures body manages without bones since its flesh is formed from of bizarre, rubbery substance that is partly infused with mana. If I'm reading this right then the JellyMaw won't be able to survive without a constant injection of mana since it will absorb it directly into its body! Crazy!
I'll need to keep this in mind for future and make sure the little thing manages to get enough mana at all times. This may prove slightly tricky on the surface but won't be an issue in the Dungeon.
I can also see the future evolution paths of the JellyMaw. There are a few selections but most them are focused on providing various physical buffs and organs that directly increase overall combat proficiency. There is something else I want for my JellyMaw. By scrapping most of the existing options I create my own custom evolution and in doing so I get to set the bonuses granted by choosing that evolution.
Modifying a creature at this level is a first for me and the change is excruciatingly hard to make. I feel as if I'm about to burst a vessel or completely pass out by the time it is finally done.
I'm out, Gandalf! No more of this torture!
I think that is all I can do.
After taking a few minutes to recover I reach forward to tap the core once more.
[Compatible monster core detected. Would you like to reinforce your core or reconstitute the monster?]
With my command the core begins to glow emitting brighter and brighter light with each passing moment. As it grows more intense, the form of the core itself becomes more elastic, changing and shaping itself into the new monster.
Eventually I have to turn my eyes away as the light has grown too radiant, casting shadows across the walls of our cosy chamber within the nest. Some eyelids would really come in handy right about now…
Soon the light has faded and I turn back to behold my new creation and friend!
Its.... A ball….
Sitting on the ground in front of me in the space that the gem previously occupied is now a small dark sphere the size of a tennis ball.
As I watch, tiny tentacles start to tentatively poke out of the ball, wiggling their way out to poke and stretch across the ground as the completely blind JellyMaw tries to find something in its environment.
Internally I sigh. I knew it was going to be like this but somehow I hadn't quite mentally prepared myself for just how small and unthreatening the newly formed JellyMaw would be. Don't be discouraged, me! Feed it up and it'll become the brutal killing machine you remember in no time!
[I'm over here] I tell the new monster and reach across with one my legs to place it touching one of the seeking tentacles.
The creature wobbles happily in response and reaching across with more tentacles to grasp my leg. It takes a few moments but eventually it manages to scale up onto my back, taking the position that Tiny once occupied when he was still small.
Sheesh. I feel like I spend half my time giving rides to small creatures in this life, what am I, a pony?
The dazzling display created by the core reconstitution has managed to awaken the little worker as well and she rushes to take her place of pride on my noggin before we set out.
I feel pleased but also exasperated.
Fine. You can ride on my back for now but you'll work hard once get large enough!