Chapter 21 Eye for an eye
Phew, that was a furiously busy day. They have said in the past that great risk bring great reward and of course that is true.
It isn't like I didn't know that already, but I'd hoped to minimise as much risk as possible, circumstances have forced me into being aggressive and thankfully it has paid off!
I check my status to behold my incredible bounty!
Skills: Digging level 4; Acid Shot Level 5; Grip Level 4; Bite Level 4; Advanced Stealth Level 1; Tunnel Sense Level 3
Mutations: Eyes +3, Antennae +2, Acid +2
Species: Hatchling Ant Worker (Formica)
Skill points: 1
After consuming the Thorn Lizard and remains of my Coral Slug I had two Biomass, I held onto those and found another isolated Coral Slug to battle. By repeating my trick from earlier I was able to deal critical damage by landing a shot inside its mouth, however I wasn't quite as quick and didn't manage to avoid the acidic mucus the slug managed to project at me.
Having that sticky goop fired on me was bad enough but oh boy did it burn. I had a partially melted section of carapace on the back of my thorax and lost 10 HP before it stopped melting into me. Even just that small bit of acid was a third of my health! I'm severely tempted to upgrade my carapace in the hopes it provides better protection but there are so many priorities!
Thankfully after consuming the slug (which took a good while) I was able to regenerate eight HP and mostly restore myself to a picture of ant perfection.
After using so much acid in combat the rewards have finally shown in the form of Acid Shot level 5! Ready to be improved.
There are still a few basic skills I'd love to purchase but I cannot pass up the chance to improve my most effective offensive weapon!
[Acid Shot -> Improved Acid Shot. cost 1 sp: The upgraded Acid Shot skill, continues to improve accuracy with ranged acid attacks whilst giving additional improvement to attacks from increased range]
Immediately the warm trickling sensation of skill learning melts through my brain. So nice!
With this additional range boost I'll be able to make more reliable shots from greater range, improving my safety as well as my ability to reliably output damage. It's a win-win!
If only I had access to more skill points! I'll have to level up again as quickly as possible, so many skills are converging to level four! I want to upgrade all of them if possible, leaving them behind and losing out on XP would be a crime…
Now for the tricky bit.
I really want to upgrade my eyesight to +4. Having superior vision to other monsters has been critical so far in allowing me to locate isolated prey and prevent others from sneaking up on me, the advantage in senses must never be lost!
However if I want to battle and gain more Biomass then directly improving my combat effectiveness would mean improving my acid, this would then leave one extra Biomass that I could spend on legs, carapace or mandibles, all of which would increase my capabilities.
Let's work with a process of elimination, carapace upgrade would probably be pointless, +1 won't make much of a difference to anything, my defence is terrible, I'd rather work on speed first.
Which means that +1 legs is tempting, I'd become a bit more mobile which would help for scouting, retreating and fighting all together, cost effective indeed. +1 Mandibles doesn't tempt me much, larger, stronger mandibles would help me dig a bit and sharper mandibles would help fight a little but not much, the only creature I've managed to bite much at all is the Thorn Lizard and they seem quite rare.
This leaves me with really only two viable paths, +4 eyes or +3 acid with +1 legs. Do I continue to place my senses at the top of my priority list? My instinct is to be more defensive. Moving into another unknown environment down below I want to have every possible advantage I can get. That means being able to see the enemy before they see me.
It's settled then.
[Would you like to purchase +4 eyes? This will cost 4 Biomass]
I can't describe the itch that overcame me in that moment. I could feel my eyeballs growing, stretching and my carapace shifting to make way for them.
Please Gandalf… this torture…. Make it stop!
I hate mutating. Mutations are amazing! But mutating itself….
Eventually it settles down and my vision is one again improved.
I can tell that now since my eyes bulge further out from my head, my field of vision has improved quite a bit, I can even see my own gaster waggling behind me when I'm facing straight ahead! Impressive.
My vision still isn't what I'd like it to be but it certainly is massively improved from when I was first reborn here in Pangera.
Sniff…. You've come a long way Anthony, and soon, soon you will be home with the colony.
No time to hang about being misty eyed! I have to continue to harvest XP and Biomass as fast as I can! Those humans will come roaring down into this cavern blasting everything they see before long.
Back into the main tunnel I go, scurrying onto the roof and once more going on the hunt. If possible I want to take advantage of the bonus Biomass for new targets… Since I'm fully rested, now it may be time to try and take on one of the blade tailed rats…
The trick is finding one of them alone. They tend to move around in groups of two or three and they certainly can move fast. There is also the possibility that their thick fur, which covers most of their body will be able to nullify my acid to some extent. The only exposed targets I could aim for are their faces, feet and tails.
I'll just have to wait and see if an opportunity presents itself.
Ooo what's this? I'm sensing vibrations from a disturbance up ahead, must be another fight between monsters. I'll make my way over there. Considering how often the monsters are battling each other in these tunnels it's kind of surprising that there are any left… where are all the replacements coming from?
Are they just popping out of the walls? Are they born, as I presume I was? I wouldn't put anything past this place, it certainly baffles me with its mysteries constantly.
For example, isn't it brighter in here yet again?
The light from the tunnel walls seems to become more intense with every passing hour. I'm sure of it now. The light is definitely growing stronger. Why? I haven't a single clue.
Since I don't know, I just have to keep moving forward.
Creeping up I can see that once again a group of four Claw Centipedes has gone into battle, this time against three of the wolf like creatures with the long, almost draconic tails.
It's a fierce one this… the centipedes are outnumbering their opponents (as usual), they really are the schoolyard bully of this place, but the hounds are flashing their huge fangs and swinging their powerful tails to fend off the assault.
Time for a young ant to make an intervention…
First I make sure to stealthily move into a good position, slightly further away that I would have previously been. I want to take advantage of my new skills to stay as safe as possible.
With careful aim I wait for the perfect moment. The melee ebbs and flows, with moments of sharp speed interspersed with lulls of posing and threatening. The moment the two sides break apart a little I take my shot.
A lightning fast stream of acid erupts from my rear field, splashing over a Claw Centipede who had just raised its claws to clack threateningly at its foes. The creature reacts immediately by retreating and flipping its many legged body over, trying to throw off the horribly burning liquid.
The hounds take advantage of the break in the enemy formation, pouncing forward to attack. Whilst two of the hounds keep three of the healthy bugs occupied the remaining hound charges at the Centipede to the left of the wounded one, cutting it off from its allies and shaping up for the 1v1.
This should be interesting, my money is on the hound.
The centipede seems to agree, backing itself away whilst rearing up its back section, threatening to stab forward if the hound approaches. This hound gives absolutely no fricks to the threat and leaps forward immediately!
Pressure by the aggression the centipede immediately lunges forward with lightning speed, striking like scorpion, but showing incredible agility the hound is able to twist itself the side, causing the venom spike at the end of the tail to strike stone.
Not willing to wait for the opponent to recover the hound immediately positions to the side, not lunging in to bite, putting itself at risk of the claws, but swings its thick, muscular tail with tremendous force!