[su_accordion] Chapter 166: The Black Spot[/su_accordion]
Author’s Corner: Wow, I can honestly say I never thought that the two books would start selling this well. And, I know I have all of you to thank for that, so thank you very much! Thanks to the support with those two books, I have dodged the hunt for painful jobs, and can instead consider my job writing more stories for you guys! This means that, hopefully, there will not be the dreaded decrease in chapters! Now, with that out of the way, enjoy tonight’s chapter!
The trip to Chimera was… well… honestly? It was boring. I had already finished updating the last of my equipment, the Burst Amulet, and the Deus Ex ships were truly powerful. Although we had come across a space monster a few days after leaving their world, the battle only took a few seconds. This monster was only about half as big as the previous space dragon, and did not seem to have many special tricks, so it had been torn apart by blasts of light as soon as we dropped out of subspace.
I had wanted to do battle simulations, but that was also impossible. Not because people didn’t agree to it or anything, but because we had no information on the New Human Empire ships and tactics. Without the information, it was impossible for us to create a simulation to fight them. In the end, all I could do was to spend my time with the other crew members of the ship that possessed groves.
This was because, I still needed to transfer over the valuable plants I had collected and created. There were some that I really couldn’t bear to watch become extinct because of the black hole. One, my particular favorite, was modelled after a particular enemy that I had originally encountered on Chimera, one that I had never truly been able to kill. My lesser Nature Wyrm, only about 60% the size of the original, had as many of the original powers that I could transplant into it.
First, it had the body type and flight ability of the space dragon, which I felt was the most important part. Next, I gave it a powerful breath weapon with the plant element. Finally, and I felt that this ability resembled what the creature originally had a bit too closely… I gave it the instant regeneration power I acquired from the boss monster on Chimera. The body part I linked it to was a root near the center of the plant dragon, which would serve as a form of heart.
Actually, creating this plant monster had been easier than I had expected. Combining my Animal and Plant Manipulation abilities, I was able to merge the auras of plants and beasts together. From there, I just had to select an appropriate monster to use as the base, and begin altering the aura. Unfortunately, I was limited by the level of the base creature, which resulted in the plant dragon having less power than the original. Otherwise, though, I felt it was a good recreation. The system even named it ‘Immature Nature Wyrm’, which I took to mean that I had gotten pretty close.
Anyways, I wanted to move the Nature Wyrm, as well as the other plants I had gathered and created, over to other groves so that they would not be lost in the black hole. No matter how great my abilities would rise after I entered the final stage, I imagined that it would still take considerable work to recreate those plants. As for the animals, I had long since distributed a few of them among the groves from the crew.
Now, with that out of the way, we arrived at Chimera with few problems. Naturally, we continued scanning for any New Human Empire signals, but like before they were simply decreasing in number. We could only use the locations we had previously triangulated with Ackbar’s help.
As for Chimera itself… well, that part surprised me when we arrived in orbit. The world had changed, in a visible way. The oceans and mountains were masked by a layer of green that swept across the entire planet, with the only exception being a single location. That one spot was pitch black, as if it was a giant green eye. Okay, maybe that was a bad comparison, because it sent shivers down my spine to think about.
“What’s going on here? Run a scan on the planet.” I said, with mild worry. I was really hoping that black spot was not the location of my previous lab.
“Understood, sir!” The scanning officer nodded to me, turning to his console and hitting a few commands. A short while later, he brought up two maps of the planet, one looking like how I remembered it and the other as it was now. “Notable locations have been highlighted on the maps.”
As he spoke, the two maps overlapped, and we could clearly see the changes. “The majority of the planet seems to have been covered in dense jungle. However, the area immediately surrounding the demon dungeon has undergone a different change. Aside from the demon and plant dungeons, all other dungeon mana signatures have disappeared.”
Okay… I’m not sure if that is better or worse… “Which territory is my previous lab in?” When I asked that, he hit a few more buttons, and the map highlighted one of the icons, which was deeply within the plant territory.
“Location found. Multiple monster signatures detected within. Your orders, captain?” He turned to look at me, curiously.
We couldn’t stay here for too long, so there was only one thing that could be done. “I’ll head on down and clean the area. Can’t leave it alone any longer than it has been.” As I spoke, I got up and moved towards the medbay, in order to retrieve a clone. No matter how strong I was, I didn’t want to take a chance with this planet, it had left too deep of an impression on me.
“Captain Hulett.” A monotone voice entered my ear from the comms as I walked. “Would it not be easier to simply bombard the planet to eliminate any potential threats? Scanners indicate no sentient lifeforms outside of the ‘dungeon monsters’ on the planet.”
I thought about that for a brief second, before shaking my head. “No, let’s not do that. The situation should be remedied fairly easily, and does not require an orbital strike.” Honestly, all I would have to do is destroy the monster spawning formation, and retrieve the elemental seeds. With that out of the way, there will be nothing to perpetually feed the monsters.
“…Understood. We shall leave this situation to your discretion, then.” The voice entered my ear one more time before I arrived in the medbay, and put on the clone controller headset. Once inside my clone body, I stood up and looked around.
“Alright, send me down as close to the lab as you can.” I spoke into the comms, running towards the teleport bay. From there, a warm light enveloped me, and I found myself in the middle of a dense jungle.
All around me were tightly packed trees, some with shifting vines while others remained motionless. I could feel the ground shaking lightly beneath my feet, and instinctively brought a hand up to my comm. “How far am I from the compound?”
“Sir, according to our scans, you should be directly on top of it.” Oh, well that is helpful. Taking another look around, I could see bits of broken stone hanging from tree branches, so there is a good chance that these trees grew up from beneath my lab. Well, that might mean that the diagrams were already broken…
With that thought in mind, I extended my mana sense, observing my surroundings. What I found… was a very familiar type of aura. Plant monsters, simply waiting to strike. When I had first been to this world, they were a constant danger. I had only hidden from them by cultivating the Plant Affinity, masking myself as one of their own. Currently, my affinity should be high enough to make that unnecessary.
Either way, I soon found what I was looking for, a supernova of mana beneath my feet. Tightly packed mana seeds, likely filling the entire basement until there was no room to spawn anymore. Well… I had a way to take care of that now.
Closing my eyes, I focused on my grove. This was an ability that I had never tested before, because of fear that it would damage my surroundings. But now, that was exactly what I wanted. I connected to the black hole at the very center of my grove, and pulled at it as I would pull at anything else I wanted to summon.
Around my body, the light seemed to warp and twist. Groans could be heard as the thinner branches snapped off of nearby trees and flew at me. Even the ground beneath my feet began cracking and shifting. This was the ability I had gained by advancing my grove to the Galactic stage, the ability to channel the black hole.
I wasn’t sure what the area of effect would be for this, but cleaning up the basement beneath me should be easy. My concern right now was not killing myself in the process. With the branches flying at me like spears, I could only raise my arms to shield myself, watching as they broke apart into nothing when they entered my vicinity. I could feel them changing into raw plant mana, spiraling around my body and entering it without my control.
The ground beneath my feet was likewise deteriorating, changing into earth mana that I unconsciously absorbed. But.. no matter how much plant mana I emit, there was no way for the tree monsters around me to think of this as anything other than a blatant attack. As such, I watched as three thick vines launched themselves at me, followed by thick roots with sharp points.
Each attack was broken apart and absorbed by the force I was emitting, and I could see the trees shaking, either from pain or fear. While they hesitated, I began sinking lower into the ground, the earth below me giving way. Sorry guys, but I’ll make this as quick as I can. I thought to myself, before the vortex of mana broke through to the basement below.
Beneath myself, I saw a prismatic array of tiny spheres, the collected seeds of elemental mana. However, upon my arrival, they seemed to explode into clouds of mist, which condensed into their various elements. Torrents of fire, water, darkness and light, all swirled around my body. When these elements collided with the plants around me, a pained shriek ran through the jungle.
There had to be thousands of elemental seeds stored here, each one a densely packed container for a single, pure element. At times, my body seemed to be shrouded in stone, lava, or powerful winds. All of it broke apart as it neared me, almost faster than I could absorb.
I felt something inside of me, from within my grove, seem to grow with this intake of mana. The pull around me became more powerful, the area expanding. Now, even the nearest trees began to buckle under the pressure. Splintered fragments shot everywhere, before eventually arcing and flying at my body.
Despite the damage caused to the surroundings, and the waves of mana crashing into me, I had yet to completely absorb even half of the seeds below. But, I had to hurry this up. If the pattern persisted like last time, this much attention would soon draw a boss monster to my location. And, I wasn’t entirely sure that this black hole field could defend against a true boss monster.
As such, I did the only thing I could think of. Leaning forward, I urged my aura to change, growing four large wings from my back. Next, I channeled my black hole through these as well, increasing the suction power and area I was influencing, but at a cost.
With the increase in power, I was no longer able to completely absorb everything before it came in contact with me. This meant that I felt my skin burning, freezing, ripping and tearing all at once. Damage prompts began appearing in front of me, though the numbers were fairly low. The problem was their speed, as I would receive over a dozen prompts a second.
In under a minute, I was forced to activate my instant regeneration for the first time, healing my accumulated wounds. Then, a few moments later, I activated it again. My flesh was destroyed as quickly as it could repair itself, pain wracking my body and making it hard to concentrate. By the time that I had absorbed the last seed, as well as everything within fifty meters of me former base, I had healed myself fully five times.
Once I was done, I quickly cut off the connection to the black hole. Panting heavily, I dropped down to my knees and tried to catch my breath, one hand clutching my chest. That… was definitely one of the most painful moments of my life so far. Then again, until that point, I can’t say I had suffered any serious pains normal people wouldn’t go through. It had felt like someone was carving away at me, only to slap it back on and start over.
“Take… take me… back.” I said between rough breaths, feeling the rumbling beneath my feet growing more intense. That same warm light enveloped me, calling me back to the ship as a window appeared in front of me.
Large quantities of mana absorbed. Black hole growth accelerated.
Time to completion updated. 04:01:23:40:12.28