[As you are an unknown species of plant, please choose your future path]
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"What the hell is this? Do I have a cheat? Are you system? It was about the damn time, now let's get some answers"
There was a moment of silence, then the robotic voice repeated the message in a cold manner:
[As you are an unknown species of plant, please choose your future path]
It seemed as if the announcer could not hear John or it simply did not care. The tone of broadcast reminded anyone of the GPS navigation system's announcements. This similarity gave an idea to John. "Could it be an AI? It seems this world is more complicated than I previously suspected. The best move now would be to ask general and simple questions."
"System, what are you?"
[I am a pre-recorded function of the core, responsible for managing section P-117]
"How can I communicate with you?"
[All life forms in the dungeon are marked by core, simply thinking will transmit your message]
"Where is section P-117?"
[A small garden, designed for small animals' consumption]
"What are my options, for evolving?"
[1. Carrot, consumable vegetables
2. Potatoes, consumable vegetables
3. Wheat, consumable plant]
"They are all food, are there any other options?"
[Negative, P-117 is designed for small animals' consumption]
John concluded many facts from this conversation; while speaking he tried locating the source of transmission within himself. This was the reason he kept with the façade of the questions; as the first question had given him a clear view. However, other questions served three purposes. First to make the transmission as long as it needed, to find its origin. Second to gather more information about surrounding circumstances. Third, understanding the authority and processing power of the AI. With all the goals achieved, John moved in a flash.
The core was a specific cell designed by Jonathan in his previous life, controlling the plant to produce needed nutrients. In his new life, John had taken control of the core and strengthened its function as if cultivating. This action had led to supreme control over the plant. If someone broke off a part of him, the part would immediately die. This maneuver had been done for multiple reasons. While complete oversight was needed to thrive, it would help against pests, chemicals and in the worst-case scenario: being used as a test subject. If taking him part by part was not an option, any scientist would be hindered in their research. There no possibility of using parts to multiply him. Giving him leverage, increasing his time and ultimately, survival rate.
Within the confines of John's core, a small mark was flashing, emitting mana waves. Suddenly a wall made of cells with hyperactive behavior was formed around the spot. They were reproducing at an extremely fast rate; soon the wall turned into a sphere, which was getting smaller by each passing second. These cells were emitting their own waves of mana, as if there was a jam on signals the system's voice was muffled, then lost. In order to control these cells, a cover was formed around them that would devour their energy if they were growing past the defined lines.
The mana that John had been used in the development of these cells, targeting the symbol. How could the creator of the seed, who was now living as the seed, not notice this shape?
Due to the need for more data, he had not made any action before.
It had to be mentioned this coordination of task required sharp mind, resolve, and viciousness. In order to contain the outside influence; he had made a time bomb, very close to his soul. If anything went wrong, it would be hard to predict the consequences.
While pondering the previous conversation with the said system, he concluded some points formulating plans for all scenarios.
"I seem to have been located in a small part of a vast dungeon with much-needed attention, so handling this section befalls a program with small processing power. If there was more important purpose than simple food for this garden, confining the mark would not have ended so fast. Meaning the initial assessment was correct. The garden had been prepared for small cattle, but they should be food for bigger monsters themselves. Since this amount of various regular plants can only be beneficial for increasing their size for more meat.
"As every life form carries the mana mark, I must be careful not to alert the full force of the AI; it cannot be provoked yet. However, this explains the increase in mana force once neighboring plants started to perish. There could also be mana sensors nearby. I must gather more energy, as only a stem with not an appealing appearance, I could be perceived as a sickly consumed plant."
John was not a simple plant! He knew that cheats were for stories, so how could he trust a voice projected in his head?
With many unknown factors involving this dungeon, the wise choice for a player in disadvantage was to throw the table! One may have been a pawn, but they could not be used if they were gone out of the board.
By jamming the imprints connection to himself, John had extended his time for improvement.
"If I use my calculations, the time needed for a seed to fully mature in this garden would be a week, this mana is a fascinating force" he thought.
By using this time as a reference, he spent 3 weeks expanding the branches as far as possible. Broadening his hold, while taking a small amount of energy from each plant; not to alert the system. This change was so negligible that would not burden the plants; as John was in no more rush. He needed to stabilize himself before more growth; much more energy was needed.
All the spoils were used to strengthen the root, increasing the intake of life energy. At the end of 3 weeks, John's clutches were passed dozens of meters, his damaged neighborhood had also been mended. If any onlookers were present, they would not believe their own eyes; as there was no sign of John's rampage. The only constant in this enhanced ecosystem was a sickly half-dead plant, but it was lost from sight within prosperous bushes.
This slow progressed for another 3 weeks. If a farmer tried to plant a seed, they would have a very good chance to see thick roots; following it for the source, they would arrive at an insignificant sickly stem. John had passed the 100-meter radius mark; since he had uncovered the system's duty, he knew no one was responsible to plant new seeds in the ground. Giving him the confidence that his branches would not be exposed; so, he had formed a network of ever-growing food supplies. Another 3 weeks past in a flash, after increasing the intake of energy by an insignificant amount; he had grown to 200-meters underground.
If a thief were to steal all the money in one bank; they would not be able to go undetected and being marked for a small sum would be quite troublesome. However, if they take 10 cents off every account, it would not cause any distress; and the thief would escape with more money, unnoticed. This was the principal behind John's actions.
A week ago, he had felt walls, then by navigating his roots, he found the shape of the garden to be a square with 200-meter sides. Now he had complete control over the garden,
Currently, John was working a new restrainer for the mana imprint, the sphere had been showing signs of instability for the past week. The new limiter had been made from the mix of dead and hyperactive cells to mislead the signals; root cells to control reproduction and life force as glue to keep them all in check.
Now was the time for the next step of the plan.
What followed would mark a tragedy.