Our field trip lasts for four more days before we finally complete our shortcut tunnel and return to the surface. I was able to utilise my Tunnel Map to avoid crossing over any existing tunnels, though we did draw close a few times. With accurate planning and tunnel engineering we were able to break through only a few kilometres from the site of the anthill. Now the journey that took us several hours through twisting and turning passages has been reduced to a twenty minute jaunt.
I mean, we'll have to fight our way through anything that begins to spawn in there but we would have to do that no matter which way we went.
I am pleased! Very pleased with this result!
After eating my fill over and over again an unprecedented amount Biomass has been stored! I may have developed some kind of permanent stomach pain but it was worth it! I haven't got nearly enough to upgrade every single part of my body to +10 but that'll take ages. I'm just not sure I can wait that long…. Evolution is beckoning to me! Like the song of the Siren it tugs at my soul every moment I'm awake!
The Mind Ant has been a fantastic species but I feel as if I'm pushing at the boundaries of what I can do, I need to take the next step! Push my stats to a higher limit! Then I'll really be able to flex my magical skills to the maximum!
Although my ultimate goal is be an all-rounder, with powerful physical skills as well as magical prowess, I feel as if I'm right on the edge of being able to use magic the way I want to. With a boost to my Cunning and Willpower, some extra juice in my sub-brain, the currently daunting and impractical task of transforming mana could be shifted within reach. With some practice, I might be able to master a few transformations and then I could cast fire or water spells to round out my complement of offensive magic.
Then I could double back and pour my resources into physical strength on the subsequent evolutions. It shouldn't take too long for my body to catch up with my mind. After all, if the pattern holds true then the next evolution will require me to reach level 40 and buff my core to 200 mp.
My crew track our way back to the seemingly even larger anthill and its contingent of defender ants. The colony is getting back into a regular groove it seems, with trails leading off into the surrounding territory and workers scurrying back with food in their mandibles. I'm not too worried the workers will be challenged by the surface level monsters, unless there are some very old beasts lying about unseen I haven't noticed anything capable of tackling a swarm of workers up here.
Descending into the colony I find the Queen is happily recuperated, resting in the warm glow of the Dungeon light. As monsters spawn in her chamber they are instantly covered in a pack of manic workers, protecting their Queen as well as supplying the much needed Biomass.
Curiously I don't notice too much new brood in the nest. Those that we had before have mostly hatched, bringing our numbers back to over a thousand but it seems that since then there haven't been many new ants born. Perhaps the Queen was on break whilst she was healing up?
Never mind, I'm sure it'll kick into high gear again after we settle in. Once I've trained my skills I might even be able to finally activate my long held plans for ant supremacy!
Taking the gang back into our own little chamber we add the cores we were able to harvest on our field trip to the established hoard. Compared to what we stole from the Queen it's a drop in the ocean but another fifteen cores is always welcome!
As Tiny retrieves that sack of cores from the wall my eyes light up with the precious gleam and glitter of the small spherical gems. Wealth! Precious wealth! If I'm a dragon then this is my hoard!
"Senior, why are you drooling?" Vibrant asks.
Gah! I hastily wipe my mouth on a foreleg and attempt to regain my dignity as the senior ant. Did Tiny see that?
The ape is standing in front of me with a curiously blank look on his face as he holds the sack open. Pretending he noticed nothing eh…. Good work Tiny! Now you won't have to be smacked in the head with cores!
Quickly estimating I think we have around four hundred cores on hand. With these I'll have to make sure my pets and Vibrant get the perfect evolutions they deserve as well as train my Core Engineering skill to the peak.
Before that though, time to consider what to spend all of my Biomass on!
Through repeated cycles of eating, digging and resting I have amassed 72 Biomass!
It sounds like a lot but when I consider how much is needed to get every organ to +10 it isn't nearly enough.
My mandibles are at +8 already, so they'll be the first thing upgraded. I still don't know exactly what will happen once an organ reaches +10 but I'm hoping for another mutation advancement. Perhaps I'll have the same menu as before, or perhaps new more potent options?
Time to find out!
Excitedly I ring up Gandalf and get this show on the road.
[Would you like to upgrade Mandibles to +10? This will cost 19 Biomass]
[At this level you can choose a mutation advancement. Please select from the menu]
The now familiar long list of options appears in my mind and I instantly start scrolling through looking at the available choices.
Yes, I see.
It seems as if the list of options is basically what I though. There are the same options I had before, a few new ones and several related to the Infused Mandibles I chose before. A familiar headache starts to develop, just what to chooooose?!?!
To start with I try and pick out a few choices that I like.
The Vampiric mandibles are still here, draining life from my foes and healing myself as I bite sounds awesome. Except I already have the healing gland, what worries me more than not having enough healing is not being able to break through the defence.
Berserk Mandibles which increase the damage the more I bite the target also seems good but I'm worried about spending that much time chomping on one monster, this doesn't seem useful in a swarm situation.
Let's check on some of the Infused mandibles upgrades.
Potent Infused Mandibles, increases the speed of mana flow into the mandibles? I guess this will help me wind up for a big chomp faster but I'm not sure that is really needed badly right now.
Efficient Infused mandibles. Provides a greater effect for less mana, increasing efficiency in mana consumption. This is ok but it doesn't really excite me. Since I will have more uses for my mana shortly, an increase in efficiency sounds great, but I want something a little more offensive…
Frustrated I continue to scroll through the options, looking for something that meets my needs. My focus for my mandibles is to simply to have the most powerful bite that I can. It's my bottom line, when all the fancy skills and magic are stripped away, what I want is the most damage I can get with my face hands.
So in the end I come back to the most basic of all of the upgrades.
Savage Mandibles. Increases the size and density of the mandibles to directly increase penetrating power and compression force.
Bigger, badder mandibles. Nothing more, nothing less. Combined with infusion, my offensive bite will receive a huge boost.
[Do you wish to confirm your choice?]
MY BEAUTIFUL FACE!!!!!