I need to prepare. Granin's gone to check my draw for the next round and time is going to be short. I was up first for the first round, the second is likely to be the same. I've done what training I can to improve my elemental magic and there have been definite gains. The temptation to fuse them is real. I'd have a weapon in my hands that I could employ right away. The fact that the weapon would be so flawed is holding me back. It might be useful to me right now, might even help carry me through this tournament of death. After that? It'd fade in power quickly and become a waste of Skill points. I refuse to allow the effort I've put in go to waste! Instead, I'll use it as the foundation of even greater strength in the future.
All I have to do is survive.
To that end, I need to make use of the resources I have available to me right now, and the resource I have in greater abundance than any other is Biomass! It's itchy time! After the hunting that I did with Tiny and Crinis, the Biomass I secured from the Rhino, as well as the food Granin was able to secure for me here in my cell, I've piled up quite a little money bin of points. As I've already begun, I'm going to push my upgrades to +25 for the maximum effect I can get. With a little bit of time, hopefully, I can become accustomed to my new mutations before the fight begins.
Alright then, let's see what we need to upgrade. At one hundred and fifteen Biomass a pop, upgrading from +20 to +25 is so costly it makes by carapace hurt, but there's nothing for it. I want to get all my mutable organs up to +25 as soon as possible. I still have quite a few at +20 that need to be given that final push. My Carapace plating, my eyes, my antennae, my legs, mandibles GAH! So many! It's going to take thousands of Biomass to get all this done Luckily I'm getting some nice and dense food from this tournament I suppose.
I think the first thing I want to upgrade is my mandibles. My primary physical attack option and certainly a powerful one. I think the best choice will be to continue the emphasis of the mana channelling. The more types of mana that I become able to fuse into my mandibles the more variety I'll be able to introduce to my attacks. Being able to target the enemies weakness will certainly help me. When I eventually fuse the elemental Skills to create some powerful new Skill then I assume it'll propel my bites into a new realm along with the rest of my magic.
Alright. Just to be sure, I'd better take a look at the options.
As usual, taking a glance at the menu immediately creates a list that is far too long to manage. Scrolling through shows me so many options that are tempting, including a few new ones. Cursed mandibles, diamond mandibles(!), Paralyzing mandibles, extending mandibles and so much more. Making my mandibles as shiny as the rest of me is certainly tempting, I take a great deal of pride in my diamond exterior. The extending mandibles are pretty cool. A new part is added to my face that essentially allows the mandibles to extend outward from my head, increasing the range by almost fifty percent. I assume it would do the same for the energy projected by my Skills which would represent a powerful extension in my range. Alas, I can't allow myself to be distracted by these baubles. I have to knuckle down and get my mana infusion on.
[Do you wish to improve Bright Empowered Mandibles to Mana Flooded Mandibles? This will cost one hundred and fifteen Biomass.]
Put a pin in that one. Although this means I'll become more reliant on my mana infusion for damage as opposed to raw physical power, I think the versatility will make it a worthy trade-off. Onto the next!
I'm anticipating a lot of pain in this tournament, so I suppose I should prioritise working on my defences. I'm not as reliant on the healing gland now that I have healing mana, but it does give me a massive burst of healing without requiring me to form a mana structure in the middle of a fight, which is certainly more convenient. What I'm longing for is the day I can pass off my healing duties to my third pet, but I still haven't come across a creature that is suitable for the role. Hopefully, I'll find one soon. In the meantime, I'll look to upgrade both my Inner-Carapace Plating and my Regeneration gland.
First, time to dive into the Carapace plating. The list is always long, no matter how specific the body part and some of the options are just weird, whereas others are questionable at best. My focus with the plating has been to increase its capacity to absorb damage and tack on a little healing. The idea is to increase the physical defence of my carapace to an almost unbreakable point whilst giving it some in-built healing. The trick here is, do I want more damage absorption or more healing? Hmmm. Last time I went with healing, so this time I think it's time for hardening.
There are a few options that serve my purpose, the first being upgrades to my earlier defensive choice, distributive. These options give the plating more flex, which will help disperse more force and prevent the connected carapace from cracking when struck with direct force. After sorting through the options, I decide to take one of these. The idea behind the carapace plating was a good one. If the carapace is excellent against a blade, then it's weak against a hammer. The plating exists to help shore up that weakness.
I lock that choice in and then move onto the next organ, the regeneration gland.
So far my choices regarding the regeneration gland have been to allow it to regenerate faster and to increase the speed of limb regeneration. Trying to cover up the weakness of my legs wasn't the wrong choice. Although not as thin and spindly compared to the rest of me as normal Earth ants would be, they're still very weak and not nearly covered by the same level of protection as the rest of me. Right now the limb regeneration is pretty darn quick, but not quite enough for me to be able to pop out new legs in the middle of a fight. I have healing magic now to compensate for that, but perhaps it isn't enough
If I think about it though, my Collective Will Vestibule helps to recharge and refill the gland faster when more ants are around me. This might make me look at faster recharging mutations as a waste, but instead, it makes me think of what Granin spoke to me about. Synergy. If I can stack recharge effects on my healing gland, won't I be able to repeatedly heal myself throughout a single fight, thus transforming myself into some sort of unkillable juggernaut of death? If my defences continue to strengthen and my healing continues to pile up, isn't that a powerful example of synergy right there? I quite like it! Let's go down that direction!
[Do you wish to improve Supportive Healing Inner Carapace Plating to Braced Healing Inner Carapace Plating +25? Do you wish to improve Potent Regeneration Gland +20 to Frequent Potent Regeneration Gland +25? This will cost 230 Biomass.]
All up an expenditure of 345 Biomass. Ouch. That's going to leave me with fifteen. Yikes. Hopefully, my next opponent is; a: delicious and b: doesn't kill me.
Time to bring on the itch!
I confirm my choices and wait, tense.