Last chapter: Lin arrives at a rock and starts to eat ruffled cells before being attacked by something unknown.
Chapter Eleven Mutualism
Lin had the observer swim higher in an attempt to find what had attacked the acid ejector. Lin thought of the direction that the acid ejector’s pain had come from. The attack had definitely come from below.
Lin found that there were many protruding black pebbles on the surface of the rock. They did not seem very eye-catching in this pebbled area. The acid ejectors were swimming close to them. Lin felt that the attack came from these pebbles.
Disguise … … a certain organism would disguise themselves as something commonly seen in the environment and use this to attack their prey.
Even though Lin had never seen this before, Lin’s thoughts contained this concept.
So Lin decided to directly retaliate. The acid ejectors immediately aimed at the pebbles below them. Large volumes of dissolving fluid were sprayed onto these pebbles. As expected, these organisms started to move when they were damaged by the dissolving fluid. However, it was not just one pebble moving, but the pebbles in this entire area shaking violently. The ground that was covered in pebbles slowly rose.
Lin had not predicted such a situation. It immediately had the acid ejectors scatter. When they were far away, this being that had hid under the ground showed its body.
It was a mix of black and grey colors just like the surrounding rock. Also, there were many protruding pebbles on its surface that were slightly like the denticles of the diggers. The underside was covered in flagella. It was fifty times the size of the diggers. After it floated up, a large gap appeared in the rock below.
Lin gave this enormous being that was skilled in disguise a name and then decided to kill it.
Lin had an acid ejector go up again. Because Lin did not know the attacking methods of the rock insect, Lin did not dare to have all the acid ejectors attack.
When this acid ejector neared the rock insect, it reacted. Lin clearly saw a small pebble on the rock insect shake minutely. A tiny, almost invisible sharp object shot out and this sharp object immediately stabbed into the acid ejector.
Then Lin felt the same pain before there was no more response from the cell.
It was a very scary way of attack but Lin still managed to see it. The pebble-like things on the rock insects seemed to hide certain sharp objects. There was also fluid contained in those sharp objects that could quickly destroy the cell nucleus inside the acid ejectors.
Even though it was a new term, Lin felt that the meaning it had was about the same as the dissolving fluid of the acid ejectors. They were both liquids with a strong power to destroy.
The rock insect moved its enormous body and slowly turned to swim towards the corpse of the acid ejector.
When the rock insect moved, Lin saw there was a strange black protrusion growing above its mouth. It was not the same as the pebbles. This protrusion was extremely large, and it flashed with a light like that of ice.
Eyes … …
Even though Lin had not seen it before, Lin realized what this was. It was the first time it saw an organism other than its own observer who had the ability to see.
Lin started to feel curious about this rock insect. Not just its eyes, but its unique attack. If Lin could also possess this ability, it would be very interesting.
So Lin did not plan on giving up on the rock insect.
At this time, the rock insect had swam next to the corpse of the acid injector. It opened its cavernous mouth and slowly swallowed it. However, it did not completely consume the corpse but tore a part off with its flagella. Then it threw the piece of the corpse towards the pebbles that grew on its body.
Did the pebbles also need to feed?
Even though Lin was curious, Lin did not stop moving. Almost at the same time, Lin had the acid ejectors attack again.
The rock insect might have a powerful attack, but Lin noticed that there were not a large number of pebbles, about twenty or so. They could not compare to the number of acid ejectors that Lin had.
And as long as Lin had basic cells, it could produce new acid ejectors without any limit. So Lin did not worry about any losses during attack.
The acid ejectors charged up. Facing the enormous opponent, it sprayed out large volumes of dissolving fluid and the water in the surroundings was dyed green.
The rock insect wasn’t just like a rock in terms of color, it was also very hardy. When it came into contact with the acid ejectors, only the surface showed signs of corrosion.
The rock insect started to counter-attack. The pebbles on its body shot out large numbers of stingers and several acid ejectors were killed in one blow.
The acid ejectors evolved from the cone-shaped cells, but because it had been very long since they used their body to directly dig, their hard shell had degenerated. They were unable to withstand this kind of attack.
However, Lin had to attack with the acid ejectors. Because other than this kind of cell, Lin thought that the other cells would be unable to tear apart the outer member of the rock insect.
The rock insect twisted its body. It seemed to feel great pain from the dissolving fluid. It started to move its flagella and appeared to intend to run away.
But the rock insect was not fast. It was about the same speed as LIn’s cachers that were filled with fat.
Because of its enormous body, it seemed to be used to hiding and disguise. Its ability to move seemed to have started to degenerate.
At this time, Lin had the cone-shaped cells go forward and participate in the attack. MOre than a hundred of the cone-shaped cells immediately surrounded the rock insect. Lin had them use their sharp corners to stab into the wound marks left by the dissolving fluid on the rock insect.
This time, the rock insect had no energy to fight back. The stingers on its body seemed to be used up.
Lin’s acid ejectors would also use up their dissolving fluid but Lin could easily use numbers to make up for this weakness. But the rock insect could not do that. Under the teamwork of the acid ejectors and the cone-shaped cells, the enormous body of the rock insect finally stopped moving. The rock-like outer member of the rock insect was torn by the cone-shaped cells into pieces that floated into the water … …
This time, Lin lost fifteen acid ejectors. Many of the stingers that shot out of the rock insect landed on the same acid ejectors so the losses were smaller than Lin had imagined. If Lin ate the rock insect, Lin could immediately perform division and produce hundreds.
Lin finally got to inspect the parts that it was interested in. First was the eye. Lin had paid special care for the acid ejectors not to damage the eye of the rock insect.
The eye was especially big, and about two times the size of Lin’s cells. Lin had a cone-shaped cell dig it out of the rock insect’s body. Because it was too large, normal cells could not consume it so Lin had the cachers come try.
The cachers slowly swam over. This enormous fat cell had become extremely soft in order to store more food. Its body was also five times the size of normal cells. It was more than big enough to engulf the eye of the rock insect.
After the cacher swallowed the rock insect’s eye, Lin immediately sent a message with its thoughts.
This message was the exact same one when Lin had desired to have vision the first time. Lin tried to have this cell use this eye to obtain the power of vision.
But it failed. The cacher did not react at all. That eye was like the other food that had been consumed and was slowly digested. It was turned to fat and stored away.
Was there really not a way?
Fine … …
Lin changed the next goal to the little pebbles that shot out those deadly stingers.
If Lin looked closely, it found that these pebbels had a little hole in them. The stingers that contained the strong poison came from this hole.
According to Lin’s previous experiences, if a cell was damaged by poison and managed to survive and divide, they could have immunity against the toxin. Then, when the cells with immunity to the poison ate the toxin, it could possibly obtain the ability to produce the toxin. Even though Lin did not understand the mechanism, the acid ejectors had come about this way.
It was a pity that none of Lin’s cells managed to survive after being shot with the toxic stingers.
If Lin had the cells ate the stingers like this, it was likely that a few more cells would die. Lin felt slightly depressed.
At this time, Lin suddenly saw a pebble break open and a little round organisms come out from it.
This organism was constructed on the surface like a cap. From its transparent body, it could be seen from under the cap that there was a tubule that was coiled up. AT the end of the tentacle, there was a tiny stinger.
Was this what had shot out the toxic needle?
Lin looked curiously at this organize. It clearly was not the same as the rock insect, but another type of cell.
What was its connection to the rock insect? Was it like Lin? Having different kinds of cells within one cell group?
If it was that, then these cells near LIn would attack but they did not react.
Lin thought and then had a cone-shaped cell prod this stinger cell – this cnidocyte. The cnidocyte seemed to be scared and immediately opened the cap on its body. The tubule inside immediately straightened and the sharp stinger at the corner shot out.
Even though it did not hit anything, it frightened Lin.
However, Lin immediately had a new idea.
This cnidocyte might be of use to Lin … …
After a period of observation, Lin found that these little cnidocytes were just a tenth of the size of Lins’s cells. They seemed to be able to gather the scraps of the rock, and use these pieces to wrap around themselves. Then they would stick to the surface and disguise themselves as pebbles. They would then open a little hole at the top, clearly for shooting out the stingers.
These cells seemed to be cells that would disguise as rock and ambush other cells. But why would they have a relationship with the rock insect? Also, their attacks seemed to be directed by the rock insect.
No matter what, Lin could use them just like the rock insect did.
Lin tried to put these pebbles that hid the cnidocyte on a digger. The digger could use the denticles on the surface to hold these little pebbles. This way, these diggers had the ability to shoot poisonous stingers.
Maybe these cells had coincidentally landed on the rock insect. They had formed an agreement after communicating so they helped … …
Lin had never attempted to communicate with other organisms before. This seemed to form a special relationship … … mutualism.
Even though Lin had not tried it, Lin knew the concept.
Lin started to feel puzzled. Why would it know so much innately? Should these things be slowly learned?
Lin started to feel puzzled about this but it still did what it always did, not think about it when it couldn’t solve the problem.
Therefore, Lin moved its mind back to the original topic.
Since it obtained the cnidocytes, Lin decided to treat them like the rock insect did. Lin would give them food and then use them as a method of attack.
However, Lin did not know how to feed them. It copied the rock insect and put pieces of food at the small opening of the cnidocyte pebble.
There was a response. The cnidocytes would suck in the food pieces at the opening.
However, Lin did not know how to direct these cnidocytes to attack. Right now, Lin could only carry them on the diggers.
Following this, Lin had the cells consume the rock insect completely. This increased the size of the cell group. Right after, Lin turned its gaze to the organisms in this area.
There were many cells gathered on this rock area. Most of them were in enormous numbers and of types that Lin had never seen before. Lin did not rashly attack. Cells had such wondrous ways to attack, it would be better to be careful.
So Lin planned on increasing the numbers in the cell group. One of the main reasons that so many cells had been attracted to this place was that there would be food that occasionally came out of the cracks in the rock.
It was the white and soft food. Lin noticed the food seemed to appear from the cracks in the rock. Most of the food was in powder form. If Lin had the cells go near the cracks, Lin could feel a weak water current.
In other words, there was a lot of this food hidden in the rock. For some reason, a current of water carried them from the deep to the surface cracks which attracted large numbers of cells.
Lin started an attempt to dig at the rock.
However, Lin found that this was a very difficult task. Even with the acid ejectors dissolving first because the cone-shaped cells tried to drill, Lin could only scrape off some fragments.
Lin found that there were no other cells that were attempting to dig open the rock. There were some cells, however, that moved through the cracks.
Lin felt that it didn’t just need enormous cells that could store food, it also needed all kinds of small cells that could move into cracks
However, Lin did not understand how to become small.
In conclusion, Lin had a new goal now.
If Lin just continued to kill other cells, it was possible that LIn would encounter a strong opponent and be in danger. So Lin decided to slowly develop first.
As Lin’s cell group grew, its thoughts also advanced.
Lin would first take over all the cracks that had food spewed out. This way, it meant that Lin would have an endless supply of food.
Thinking like this, Lin had the cells spread out to take over the food racks in the surroundings as well as shoving away the little cell groups that had been guarding the cracks.
In a short while, Lin took over more than a hundred of the surroundings cracks. What was wondrous was that these cracks were about the same in length. Also, the amount of food that came out was about the same. There was no place that merited special protection so Lin divided the cells to take over each place.
Lin’s observer had been floating this entire time at a higher point. It had several cone-shaped cells and acid ejectors as protection as it searched for a new target.
Under the vision of the observer, Lin found something strange.
There was an enormous crack that was very wide. It was on the surface of an empty rock in the distance. It was so large that hundreds of Lin’s cells could fit in it.
This enormous crack would occasionally spray out large amounts of food but strangely, there weren’t any cells waiting to eat the food. There were only some grey-white cells that slowly floated at a distance from the enormous crack but they would never charge to eat the food that shot out.
It was very suspicious.
Lin had the diggers go forward to try. When they went near the enormous crack, Lin felt a familiar feeling.
Warmth … … no, burning heat. The temperature of water above this crack was very high.
Also, this crack did not have a constant and small current of water flowing through. Here, the water came in bursts. It would stop for a while after one burst, and then burst again!
When Lin thought of this, those diggers were immediately hit with the hot flow that shot out. Lin instantly lost the connection to those cells.
The temperature of the eruption was so high it could kill the diggers?
Even though the loss of a few diggers was nothing major while food was plentiful, Lin still felt it was a bit of a pity.
At this time, the grey-white cells that had been floating near the crack slowly floated over. They swam to the diggers that had been killed by the hot flow and started to feed.
So that was how it was.
Lin immediately understood. These cells were waiting to eat the cells that passed by and were killed by the hot flow.
… … Then, this hot flow belongs to me!
The grey-white cells might have been too used to eating free food and didn’t have any ability to fight. Lin’s acid ejectors easily killed them all and took over their enormous crack.
Then Lin gave this unusual crack a name, “Hydrothermal Vent.”
Lin felt that this “hydrothermal” would be very useful.
Then, let’s continue to develop.
Lin needed more intelligence to understand the questions it did not understand.
With a steady source of food, Lin’s cell group continuously grew. It needed to take over more food cracks. Usually, Lin had a dozen or so cells guard the crack. If there was a strong enemy, Lin would have the cells from other places as reinforcements. What was fortunate was that Lin didn’t seem to encounter any strong threats.
Lin had these cells dig at the rock in an attempt to evolve a type of cell that could dig apart this hard rock. But it seemed very difficult. The diggers and cone-shaped cells that dug for a long time were still unable to do any damage to the rock even though their denticles had gotten sharper.
The cnidocytes that were in mutualism would also divide after eating enough. When they first started to divide, they would swim towards the rock to make a nest. Lin could only have the diggers capture them again. After a few generations, they understood to swim to nearby diggers and establish themselves.
Now, Lin could be said to be formally in a mutualistic relationship with them. Yet Lin still didn’t understand how to order the cnidocytes to shoot poisonous stingers.
Just like this, Lin gradually took over this enormous rock that sprayed food everywhere. When it took over about 20% of the rock, Lin’s cell group was over ten thousand.
However, it was very hard to expand and take over other areas. Those were taken over by enormous cell groups. If Lin was to attack them, Lin had to gather the forces but then it would have to give up guarding large numbers of cracks.
Lin felt it was slightly troublesome. However, the large cell group allowed it to ponder more matters and Lin quickly found a solution.
Translator Ramblings: I could just call the cnidocytes stinger cells but that’s a mouthful and cnidocyte is a cool name that is essentially the same thing.
Also, video of jellyfish cnidocytes firing.