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Robin struggled to think. He was so tired. But… something was wrong. He shouldn’t be this sluggish. The stone floor seemed like the perfect place to take a nap, and Robin clung to the absurdity of that thought. There’s... something in the air. I … need to go…

 

Robin focused his will as deeply as he could, feeling himself teeter on the edge of a dark, dusty sleep.

 


“Delay Reaction!”

 

Robin felt the sluggishness drop from his mind like a stone in a well. He sat up, pulling his shirt over his face. He took a quick look around, hoping to find the source of the dust. He didn’t have to look long, as it was the only plant that had crept to the ceiling, and it was shaking the small orange flowers it carried on vines like bells. The pollen was drifting out of the flowers. Robin shook his head and ran over to the shelf.

 

I only have a moment to get out of here before it kicks back in, and I need to be somewhere safe. The elevator? Yeah, that should do. No time to examine this stuff, better just take it all.

 

Robin took off the satchel and put it on the ground in front of him, opening it. He reached out and snagged the two different watering cans, squeezing them both into the satchel. I have to go faster! He began scooping everything on the shelf into the satchel, grabbing as many objects as he could at a time. He quickly had the shelf cleared, and turned towards the aggressive aloes.

 

...yeah, I want one. Maybe two.

 

Robin reached out and grabbed the two in the biggest pots he thought could fit into the satchel and dropped them into the satchel, ignoring their protesting wiggles. He marveled at how angry they could appear without any kind of facial features or ability to make noise.

 

I might as well grab as many of these cuttings as I can… Robin picked up the satchel and began dropping jars with cuttings into it, hoping it wouldn’t come back to bite him. Robin had gathered over forty when he saw the red can of the fire extinguisher.

 

Why not? I better make that it, though.

 

Robin loaded it into the satchel. The plant was still clutching the broom, so he picked it up without much complaint from it and hurried out of the room, sprinting towards the elevator once he was in the hallway. He set the plant down outside the elevator, opened the door in a jerking motion.

 

“You stay out here and guard the door.”

 

Robin forced his body to stop moving when he remembered that Opal was molting inside. He thought I’m not going to hurt you! as hard as he could before slipping through the crack of the elevator door. Robin slipped the satchel off and laid down on his back; Delay Reaction’s effect would end any moment. He breathed slowly, trying to control his breathing.

 

Nothing happened.

 

Maybe my Venom Immunity skill-

Everything went black mid-thought, as if Robin himself was the stone dropped into a well.

 

*****

 

The still air was cold, still alarm, stiflingly carried warnings of death and old foes. It was not ideal for the long stretch and big stiffen molting carried with it. She could become twisted and helpless.

 

No, there is the false claw on the ground. It changes and burns. Perhaps it can change now.

 

Change! Change! Become a different claw! Yes, and burn!

 

No, that is too soon. Change! Become a shorter claw! Burn!

 

The claw requires touch to change… Maybe change just the claw and touch stump with back foot. Yes. Slowly. Do not bend.

 

Change! Change only claw, not stump! Longer claw!

 

Yes. Change back! Stiffen and grow ready!

 

Change! Shorter claw, same stump! Still soft, not stiff!

 

Change! … Change! … Change! … Hold the pose perfectly. The elegance of the form is defined by the patience of the moment.

 

Change! … Change! … Change! … Change! … Change!

 

Change is slow. Change is not slow enough.

 

Change! … Change! … Change!

 

 

Stiff. Ready! Dance on the floor. Don’t be seen. The Foes are dead. Ignore them.

 

Dance on the wall. Don’t be seen. Be ready.

 

Safe on the ceiling. Dance slowly. Be ready.

 

Change.

 

*****

 

Robin gasped, abruptly awake and uncomfortably aware of the dead spiders oozing slowly down the sides of the elevator cage. The massive pink mantis-skin on the ceiling didn’t help his state of mind, either, for that matter. Where’s Opal…?

 

The presence of his familiar did not remain unknown to him long. He could feel her much more distinctly than before. He looked up and behind him on the ceiling, just out of his normal field of view, and… yep, there she was.

 

“Hi, Opal. You look bigger. A lot bigger…”

 

She stared down at him from the ceiling, each of her two large pink eyes the size of a mango. She was almost a meter long, and far more intimidating.

 

Worse, Robin could feel her smugness. She stayed just out of his line of sight on purpose! Robin smiled up at her as she danced slowly, still radiating her pleasure at having startled him. She isn’t going to be able to climb on me anymore… I hope she knows that.

 

“Um… You know you’re too big to climb or jump on me now, right? Opal?”

 

She stared at the wall. He was getting nothing from her now whatsoever.

 

“Opal?”

 

Wait just a minute… I know that look. That’s a “I got into the garbage and ate all the delicious trash” look if I’ve ever seen one.

 

“...Opal, what did you do?” Robin looked around the room. Everything looked normal… A machete was on the ground. He frowned; no, it was definitely his anytool, it just had a different blade on it, a weird jagged ...mantis claw-like structure. Robin looked at Opal in amazement. Did you do this? He picked up his machete and tossed it up and down. The balance was weird, and the claw-spikes would definitely get caught on an enemy he hit with it. Better to change it back. The design of the machete hasn’t lasted forever for no reason, right?

 

Robin willed the anytool to change and then placed it on the ground in front of him.

 

Nothing happened.

 

He picked it up and tried again, but the tool refused to change.

 

Robin pulled up his menu and saw that he had several notifications. His joy faded slightly as he read further.

 

Your familiar has evolved! As you did not have enough motes to fuel the evolution directly, ambient motes have been collected from your skills and supplies. -1 Reinforce Bug, -1 Learning, -1 Delay Reaction, -1 Stealth, -1 Resist Fear, -2 Instinct Motes, -3 Web Motes

Your familiar has molted into a new form! As a result of the molt, it has grown into a Pink Moon Mantis. The Pink Moon Mantis is known for blending into patches of light and darkness to strike from where it is least visible or expected, as well as naturally gathering mana from moonlight, which it uses to fuel its supernal movement abilities.

 

All my motes!

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spacespeck

Bio: Just read my stories and make wild assumptions, it's more fun that way.

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