Chapter 996 – Approach the Precipice

It’s hard to turn my thoughts away from Jim and his eventual fate, but I force my mind to shift onto other priorities. If anything, it’s a relief to have him finally caught and dealt with. It wasn’t enough for him to betray us the once, he had to run around… slither around, and continue to try and bring down the Colony. This situation with the ka’armodo would likely have happened no matter what, but it wasn’t helped by Jim spitting his poison into their ears.

As the Colony grew and expanded, having someone ringing alarm bells wherever we went would have been absolutely disastrous. In some ways, I can understand it, even if it infuriates me. Unable to accept he was wrong to betray the Colony, he had no choice but to double and triple down. He could never admit to himself that what he’d done was a horrible crime, that he had become a killer, he had instead run away from that realisation. In his mind, the Colony was bad, evil even, and with that ‘fact’ locked into his head, he had no choice but to act as he did.

But understanding and sympathising are far apart.

Good riddance to bad worms! We are moving on with the numerous challenges that face us. The greatest and most urgent issue of all, disposing of the literal tons of termite Biomass left over after the battle.

For once, the damn beetles stuck around to fight rather than retreating. The number of termites destroyed in the fighting runs up into tens of thousands, easily. Perhaps even more. I incinerated a good chunk of those, but there are plenty left to deal with the old fashioned way.

It’s time for a good old fashioned, post battle feast!

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[Let’s dig in, everyone!] I announce to my pets.

The four of us merrily dive into the food, Tiny quite literally so, swan diving into a nearby mound of Biomass. What are you, a billionaire duck in a money bin? Have some damn class, man! I begin to shovel in the food myself. It isn’t great quality, as Biomass goes. The termites aren’t highly evolved or heavily mutated by monster standards, rarely even reaching tier five even, but we are still able to extract some value as we pack our stomachs fit to bursting, which takes a bit of work.

I can remember hoovering in food with Tiny, back when it was just the two of us. It felt like we could eat a mountain of Biomass back then, eating until we couldn’t move and sleeping it off afterwards. With Crinis and Invidia added to the mix, in addition to our vastly increased size, we could just about pack away a literal mountain now. Crinis has three mouths and an almost bottomless appetite, only stopping when her reserves of shadow flesh are completely stocked. Invidia keeps his stomach in a pocket dimension and he has an inordinate amount of space in there. When his creepy mouth appears in thin air and chomps down with those vicious teeth, the food just vanishes, never to be seen again as his green eye glows with wicked satisfaction.

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I can practically hear the ‘yesssssssss‘ he purrs out with every bite.

Once both of my stomachs are full, I collapse onto the ground, my six legs splayed out in all directions. My gaster has swollen to an absurd size, so big I’d have to drag it behind me if I wanted to walk anywhere. Tiny has finally emerged from the pile, his belly so round it looks like he inflated a beach ball in his guts. Even Crinis is reduced to a floppy pile of dark goop on the ground as she struggles to digest everything she’s taken in.

We worked hard for the Colony. Good job, team.

[Alright,] I groan at everyone. [We should have some Biomass stored up now. Everyone should spend and upgrade, check for Skills that need to be moved along as well. I know it’ll take longer for you guys, but the final sprint for tier seven is getting close, we want to be as far along as possible so we don’t trip along the way.]

I couldn’t stand it if one of my pets were to die full stop, but dying as you close in on the next evolution seems even more cruel. After striving for so long to reach the next step, and relative safety, falling at the final hurdle would be the worst.

Mind you, evolving probably doesn’t mean further safety for me. I can still feel the claws of the Ancients in my guts, Calling me deeper. When I evolve, that feeling is only going to get worse. Still, if I can help protect the Colony, I’ll do it.

Bah! This is no time to get depressed about the Call. I’m about to complete my perfect evolution! Achieve my final (for now) form! That sweet, sweet bonus energy will be mine, and for an evolution of this size, that bonus will not be small! I can hardly wait.

Checking my mutations, I can see that the only thing left is the entire business district. My commercial empire has four major components, each of which needs to be taken from +25 to +30.

I’m so eager to get the process done, I almost can’t be bothered to check the options all that much. What do I want to emphasise, how do I want to proceed? Does it matter?! We are talking tier seven evolution! But of course it matters, and I force myself to slow down and consider my choices.

This is a big spend of Biomass, after all. Five hundred and sixty. I have more than enough in the tank, with a good chunk left over. With a little luck, I’ll be able to amass a nice stockpile so I can mutate any reset parts of my body to a good standard straight away. For my Concentration Gland, I want to emphasise the ‘thickening’ aspect that I’ve taken on, and the weakening aspect of my Stimulation Gland. Making the acid more dense and potent is never a bad choice, especially since doing so increases the potency of the other effects that have been added to the mix, such as the binding and mana-eating parts.

For the Nozzle, I want to increase its ability to aim, since that is the primary function, after all. Pressurising the shots to give me more range is nice, but I’m no sniper, I have tough defences and can afford to get in close.

For the Acid Gland itself, I want to emphasise the propagating aspect that I mutated recently. Having my acid be able to replicate itself to a degree is nice, keeping the damage going for a longer time after a single hit. With the acid binding and sticking to the target, then multiplying itself once it’s on there, the potential for big damage from each shot is high.

When it’s all said and done, this is what I have:

Propagating Mana-Feasting Bind Acid Gland +25 -> Spreading Binding Mana-Feasting Acid Gland + 30

Guided Hyper Pressurised Scattershot Acid Nozzle +25 -> Flexi Hyper-Pressure Scattershot Acid Nozzle +30

Thickened Draining Acid Concentration gland +25 -> Enriching Draining Acid Concentration Gland +30

Exhausting Thickener Acid Stimulation Gland +25 -> Viscous Enfeebling Acid Stimulation Gland +30

Nice.

And here we go!

CHALLAPABAPPLE! MY DAMN FINANCIAL EMPIRE!


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