Last chapter recap: Lin woke up from his deep sleep, goes exploring and finds something in crystal armor.
Chapter Forty – The Era of Monsters
This was Lin’s “army.” Each of them was only ten centimeters long, and mostly shaped like a warhead. They could move by using the last pair of segmented limbs to spout water. Their second pair of limbs were used to aid movement while the first pair of segmented limbs were used to attack. Most of them had forelimbs shaped like blades, but some had openings to shoot exploding bombs.
There were thousands within this “army.” Lin had dug a cavern in the big crystals and started to create them before its hibernation. However, once it had created a certain number, it stopped. The soldiers’s purpose were to explore this new world, to hunt and deconstruct anything interesting they found.
They swam quickly in one direction as the warhead shape meant they could swim quickly through the water. The water surface above the crystal land had been constantly covered in ice and never changed during the years. In the dark and cold water, the lanterns of the warheads found large numbers of strange organisms floating in the water.
These organisms with round shells and tentacles at the head were called “ammonites ” and extremely similar to the thunderstone except they had coiled their pointed cones [^1]. They were about half a meter or so and extremely hard outer shells. Lin did not feel the warheads would be a suitable attack on the ammonites. Also, Lin felt there was nothing worthy to learn from the ammonites … … However, interestingly, Lin did not know what the ammonites had evolved from. Maybe a kind of shell organism? The eyeballs had no information in their memories regarding this.
The ammonites were numerous and spread out through the water. The warheads swam along the enormous swarm of ammonites. They quickly left behind the darkness and came to an area illuminated by daylight.
This had originally been the sand beach of the giant trap worm. However, this strange and giant arthropod, which used its own body as a trap, had disappeared a long time ago. While Lin had not covered their “trap” when spreading the green carpet, the bodies of those monsters were not suited to this place. From the memories of the eyeballs, the last giant trap worm seemed to have frozen to death on the frozen pillar. Lin still could not explain how these pillars of ice, with their powerful ability to freeze, would appear randomly.
Right now, everything was covered in green, but not Lin’s green carpet … …
This patch of green danced along the seabed like tentacles. They had evolved from the green cells. The root parts were stuck on Lin’s green carpet, and they reproduced in high numbers to completely cover this area that originally were covered by the green carpet.
Lin’s green carpet had a certain setting. If it did not obtain light for a long time, it would digest itself. Consequently, this area was completely taken over by these evolved green cells called “algae”.
Lin did not feel this was a problem. It was more effective to obtain nutrients by eating algae rather than through slow photosynthesis using the green carpet. When the time came, Lin could just eat this patch of algae which the warheads were not responsible for. Lin was interested in some of the organisms living in the algae.
The warheads swam above this enormous patch of algae. It found some enormous organisms swimming through the algae. They were about two meters in size, and twisted their streamlined bodies as they chased smaller organisms through the water.
“Shark”. One of Lin’s new terms could describe this organism, which evolved from the flat fish. Once, the flat fishes had been similar to each other and small in size, but they had evolved into many different organisms.
This was a peculiar thing. Lin had thought that organisms who were similar but were separated by long distances could evolve differently. But this did not seem to be the case. Organisms that lived in one area could grow up looking different.
Why was this? Lin did not care so much.
One shark was hunting another kind of fish in the algae patch. This other fish was half a meter long, and had a thick pair of lobe-fins on the sides so Lin called it a “lobe-finned fish.” This lobe-finned fish, that the shark was chasing, charged out of the algae and swam in the direction of the surface.
Sharks had evolved to hunt. This shark had a large mouth filled with teeth, and its flatter fins were more suited to swimming at fast speeds. It quickly caught up to the lobe-finned fish, and its powerful mouth immediately tore off a large piece of flesh.
The other sharks detected their fellow’s success and came over in order to share. Through evolution, the senses of these organisms grew stronger. Even though there were no vibrations in the water, some organisms would know the precise location of their target without even needing their eyes. Lin knew that this was an ability called “smell” but what was smell? Lin did not know. This had to be studied.
The the sharks had good vision but Lin learned from the memories of the observation eyeballs the smell of the sharks should be the best of all organisms.
The evolution of the eye also occurred to some organisms. Lin had previously found some simple unicellular organisms that could detect light but could not analyze complex images. Even when multicellular organisms appeared, that had been the case. Only now did organisms that were able to decipher complex images appear.
Based on this, Lin should not have any vision in the past, but it obtained vision when the observer ate that crystal-like item. After that, the cells had copied the structure of that crystal in order to create eyes.
What was that crystal? This was still a riddle. Up until now, all the crystals Lin found were different from that crystal … …
Lin would consider this in the future. It would find this “vision crystal” sooner or later.
The shark swarm quickly finished dividing the lobe-finned fish before they scattered apart. Unlike the flat fish which liked to stay together, these sharks become organisms that distanced themselves from their counterparts over their evolution … …
After the sharks scattered, the warheads swam towards the nearest shark. This shark originally did not put much importance on the warheads who were just ten centimeters in length but they were wrong.
When this shark found it was surrounded, it was too late. The warheads charged and used their sharp forelimbs to cut apart the shark’s skin. Some of the warheads attacked the shark’s relatively soft underside.
The shark did not think to fight back, and twisted its body, desiring to flee away. It quickly swam out of the algae and fled towards the water surface.
The warheads followed closely. A large volume of cells continued to spill out of the wounds of the shark. This attracted its peers. Its peers did not come to help the shark, but wanted to consume the shark.
These organisms had become so individualized they would even eat their peers. Lin could not understand why sharks would evolve such a weird method of living … …
Lin had a portion of the warheads drive away the chasing sharks. The remaining hundreds continued to chase the escapee until it was forced next to a floating piece of ice at the surface with nowhere else to go.
However, before the warheads could act, the enormous piece of ice next to the shark suddenly split. A sickle covered in curved hooks grabbed the shark.
This was … …
At this moment, the large ice floe slowly split open. Through the fragments of ice, a figure with shining crystal armor appeared.
This organism was longer than five meters. Lin was very familiar with this organism because it was the evolved form of the ice crystal monster … ..
Lin had not understood the habits of the ice crystal monster back at the start. Through years of observation, Lin discovered that mature ice crystal monsters would return to the land of crystal to reproduce. The young ice crystal monsters would grow to a certain degree and then leave.
The changes in the outer appearance of the ice crystal monster were minor but it had grown larger. It was still covered in crystal armor. Its forelimbs had evolved into long curved sickles. It had two enormous eyeballs on its head. This organism undoubtedly had the ability to kill a shark instantly.
In this era of hunts, Lin felt that its previous idle way of living was not suitable. Just now, it should have completely surrounded the shark. That way, no one would have been able to steal Lin’s food.
Right now, the warheads could not injure the ice crystal monster. This meant that Lin had to also activate the “trump card” that had hibernated with Lin … …
The ice crystal monster’s mouth was a crack filled with blades and denticles. It could easily tear apart the shark. But even when covered in crystal armor, the enormous ice crystal monster had enemies. An enormous organism slowly swam over. It appeared this organism was also attracted by the corpse of the shark … …
Its ancestor was the flat fish, but it had evolved from the helmet fish which had evolved from the flat fish first. It was the biggest organism Lin had known up until now.
Ten meters long, this enormous fish’s head was covered in armor. Unlike the obtrusive head armor of the helmet fish, its head armor had enormous blade-like teeth. At the same time, the head armor was divided into an upper and low part which could open and close to chew on prey.
It charged directly at the ice crystal monster, biting tightly on the ice crystal monster’s armor. If it turned its head, it could easily tear off large pieces of the crystal armor.
This organism had the power to crush the armor of the ice crystal monster. The ice crystal monster abandoned the shark and used its powerful propulsion system to quickly flee.
The enormous fish was powerful, but it was slow. It could only give up on the ice crystal monster and eat the smaller shark.
Such an interesting environment … …
Lin felt as though it was watching a play from beginning to end. It had learned many things. Now, it should be serious, and come out to capture everything interesting!
[^1] The Chinese term for ammonite is weirdly Chrysanthemum – stone. I guess it came from the wrinkled and coiling shell. Ammonite comes from “horn of Ammon”.
Translator Ramblings: Sharks practice cannibalism, even in infancy when they are eggs. They would absorb the unfertilized eggs around them. Embryo tiger sharks would even eat the surrounding embryos.
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