In my quest to domesticate the aphid, there are a few options available. I could try and tame them as they are, not changing them in anyway, though I’m not sure exactly how that would go. Aren’t monsters supposed to be brutal, ruthless and cold-hearted killing machines? The very idea of a monster that seems this peaceful doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Although, when you think about it, the life of insects on Earth are just as bloody and merciless as what goes on here in the Dungeon. Ants, spiders, mantis and others battle constantly and without pity, ants themselves kill more insects than any creature on the face of my old planet, seizing the protein of their fellow insects to feed to their larvae to fuel their growth. Even in that ultra-competitive environment, aphids exist. Harmless creatures who curry favour with other, stronger insects by offering them food.
So I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising that such a monster exists here in the Dungeon, prepared to offer its predators an offering of Biomass in order to continue to exist. I can’t help but be curious about them. A quick core inspection should help me work out exactly what the situation is.
Approaching the little bugs who continue their placid existence, latched onto the slender branches and fleshy leaves of the large trees, I can tell that several of them have detected my approach as they turn their little bodies to allow themselves to continue feeding yet keep an eye on me at the same time. A few of the larger specimens are what I’m after. Thanks to my mana sense I can detect that they contain cores.
How on earth they amass any experience at all, I’ve no idea, but apparently they must, there are at least three of the little blighters on this tree alone with cores.
Tentatively, I approach one of the large specimens and the creature quickly turns to present its food court and offers me a glistening globule of Biomass that it excretes. I’ll be ok for the moment thanks friend, let me take a quick look at your core.
Looming over the creature I extend my antennae to tap it on its green carapace and activate Core Surgery. My mind is suddenly flooded with information and the inner secrets of the Aphid Monsters are laid bare before my all seeing eyes.
It takes a few minutes for me to piece together the information into a more cohesive picture. What I see is frankly a little surprising. Offering Biomass for free? Innocent little bugs, living a life of non-violence that would make Ghandi proud?
I was naïve!
These little buggers are poisoners! Tainted Biomass! A betrayal of the highest order. Within the core all of their secrets are laid bare and plain as day I can see the process by which the offered Biomass is produced.
The creatures essentially extract nutrition from the trees, which are themselves high in concentrated mana, due to their position here in this expanse, drawing water from the mana infused pools that about in this expanse. Most of the sap that they extract is used as simple food, fueling their growth and sustaining their lives, but part of it is drained off into a separate process. A ‘Biomass infusion organ’ for want of a better name, uses mana and a chemical process to ‘encode’ the sap into Biomass, which the aphid can then use on itself. Not a whole lot of Biomass is produced this way but it’s better than they would get from fighting, that’s for sure.
But there is a further process beyond this, another organ that instils the Biomass with a subtle venom, something that won’t take effect immediately, but should a creature frequently make use of the Biomass from these critters, the toxins would build up in their bodies until they died.
As I stare down at the seemingly harmless aphid, continuing to offer me its tainted gift, acting for all the world as if it were as innocent and harmless as a baby. I see through you! I have seen your evil black heart!
Well this is a little disappointing. My hopes of providing a herd of aphids to the colony are still very much alive, I’m just going to have to alter the way I go about it. No easy options now.
I could manipulate the core of this one aphid, making it safe to consume and loyal to its new ant overlords, but that doesn’t help that much. I’d have to change every aphid individually, which isn’t really feasible since most of them don’t have a core.
Something different is required here. I need to solve the problem of the poisonous Biomass a large number of aphids at once, whilst maintaining their relatively low intelligence and weak physiques. There is a wonderful example I can draw from within my own personal experience.
I shall create a new species of Aphid! A benign, loyal, harmless team of Biomass producing livestock for the colony. How will I do it? I will craft a new organism that the Dungeon has never see before: the Aphid Queen. The Queen will produce as many members of the new species of aphid as the colony needs, thus bypassing the need to manage or change this existing species.
Which is lucky, because in order to create this new Queen, I’m going to need quite a few aphid cores…
Sometime later, there are far fewer aphids on the nearby trees but I have managed to collect quite a few cores, six to be exact. The issue I’m going to have is that each individual Aphid has the basic shape of the aphids I want to create, but they do not have sufficient meat in their cores to allow me to create the Aphid Queen I am envisioning.
What I’m going to have to do is fuse these six cores, whilst maintaining the structure of the Biological information encoded within. Every other time I’ve fused cores the contents have become a complete mangled mess. That hasn’t mattered since I was only fusing them to increase the energy contained inside and produce special cores which were rapidly absorbed, but this time it’ll be different. The more edits I have to make to a core, the harder it becomes. If I fuse the cores and the information contained within gets completely jumbled, there is no way I’ll be able to get it back into a functional form before the sheer number of changes required makes the Core manipulation impossible.
I will need to bring all of my willpower to bear and try to perform this new feat. For the sake of the herd!