"Calidia!" I shouted rushing to her side.
"She will be fine." Mary's voice told me as I and the other girls leaned over Calidia worriedly.
I looked up expecting to see Mary only to see a pod from the massive plant had moved closer to us. It opened to reveal a grotesque version of Mary's face inside the pod. Instead of the beautiful appearance I was used to her face looked spread out, her nose eyes and mouth were farther apart than normal and the whole left eye was twice the size of her right and both looked void of any life, while the left side of her mouth was twisted making her look like she had a permanent grimace.
"What is that!?" Megan asked scared.
"I apologize for my appearance. It is difficult to match my human form as a plant." Pod Mary told us.
I frowned but I could feel my bond was connected to the enormous plant in front of me meaning it had to be Mary, and yet the Mary I was familiar with was not with us, she was at the other end of the space tunnel that remained open. Closing my eyes I examined my bond I could see that the portion of my Plant Emperor ability that showed Mary had changed, it still showed a bond to the Mary I was familiar with but through it also showed an image of the enormous plant in front of me. Unlike the beast bond where I was connected to the wolves and other birds through Nala and Trill, the two images of Mary and the giant plant were connected like two bubbles stuck together. "Seems you really do have a lot you need to tell us." I commented dryly.
"Yes." Pod Mary admitted sadness evident in her voice.
"What do you need to be able to create another version like her?" I asked.
"What are you talking about?" Megan asked.
"What is going on?" Grace asked.
"This is Mary, the real Mary." I replied. "The Mary we know is…" I paused as I searched for the best way to describe what I was feeling through our bond. "A part of her, like an offshoot." I answered.
"That is close enough. It would be difficult to understand it in any other way. Just know that she and I are one, she is a part of me and I am a part of her. One mind in multiple bodies." Pod Mary explained.
"So why aren't you in your human form instead of that…?" Megan asked trying to find a word to describe Mary's grotesque appearance and failing.
"When I create an offshoot like her they are technically independent from me. They can gain skills and abilities that I do not have and can not access until she returns to me. The bond with Master is different than anything I have encountered before so I fear reintegrating her into our main body." Pod Mary explained. "Maybe Master can do something to help using his bond with us." Pod Mary added in a hopeful tone.
I frowned, I wasn't really to happy with this turn of events, I had expected there to be something I wouldn't like but given Calidia's reaction I had a feeling it was worse than I had thought. I was permanently bonded to her and continuing to deal with Pod Mary was making me uncomfortable. I was uncertain what I could do with my bond until I remembered something Nala had told me a while ago. Cursing myself for being too busy to explore all of my abilities I closed my eyes and focused on my bond to Mary. Not the marital bond, but the servant bond connected to my plant emperor ability. I was supposed to be able to have some effect on the beast and plant girls development. Using the servant bond to Mary I gained access to what I thought were her abilities. As soon as I saw them I wished I had found the time sooner. There were so many different abilities that I knew just seeing them would have made me question Mary sooner. Then I stopped and questioned that. If I had checked earlier would I see what I did now, or would I just see the abilities of the offshoot Mary I was familiar with? Especially since my abilities seemed to change depending on what I understood. The current look of my bond to Mary proved that, then again it could be because I had never been close to this version of Mary for our bond to register? Before I had actually went to find Grace and Tracy I had no idea who I was bonded to, was it something similar? It was an odd thought and one I had no idea the answer too. Hopefully this would be the last time I had to deal with this.
Searching through the many abilities that I had no idea what they were. I was stumped to know if there was anything I could do to help and how to find it. Yet I kept looking around hoping to find something I could recognize. As I search I contemplated what Pod Mary had said, she was one being with multiple offshoots whose abilities she couldn't use without reintegrating the offshoot into her main body.
Deciding to try something I concentrated on my ability and ordered it to organize the abilities based on main body versus offshoot. To my joy the abilities reorganized into separate piles. Pulling my view back I could see one enormous pile of abilities that must be for the main body, and seven smaller piles that had to be the offshoots, did that mean there were six other Marys I had yet to meet? Am I bonded to them as well? The abilities of the seven smaller piles were different colors, one was really bright while all the others were dim, one in particular was almost black and difficult to see. The main body abilities were a few shades lighter than the single bright set of offshoot abilities, which was still much brighter than any of the other offshoots. Focusing on the bright offshoot abilities I was able to recognize an ability that was Mary's human form. I considered shifting it to the main body but stopped myself, that would cause the Mary on the other side of the space tunnel to revert back to her plant form and be unable to change back. Instead I had to copy the ability and create a duplicate inside the main body, but I had no idea how to do that.
I was stumped for a moment then a new idea came to me, the main body could gain the abilities from the offshoots she reintegrated so she had to have an ability that let her transfer their abilities. If I could find that maybe I could change it to let her gain the abilities from the offshoots without having to reintegrate the offshoots.
I tried to reorganize the abilities again, the integration abilities and those that weren't. A small pile appeared out of the mass of abilities.
Looking at the handful of abilities I found that they were all part of the same ability like sub abilities of the main ability. Gaining the abilities of the offshoot was only one of the benefits of reintegrating the offshoot. Searching through the abilities I found one that strengthened her by taking the energy off the offshoot, sensory transfer, a memory transfer which seemed odd if they were one mind, physical characteristic transfer, then there was the ability transfer. I concentrated on it and a new set of options appeared in my mind; strengthen, remove, disable, and upgrade. Remove and disable were what they sounded like. Strengthen was to allow her to use the ability faster and more efficiently, where as upgrade would allow me to change the ability.
I chose to upgrade then kept searching through the various options, most of which didn't make any sense to me; light signals, chemical, sap, until I came across an option to allow the main body to telepathically copy abilities from the offshoots to the main body and vice versa. I chose this one. Then ran into another issue. The main body of Mary seemed to be an high level creature, I didn't have enough mana to make a visible difference to the skill. Yet as if she had senses what I was trying to do, her own Mana poured into the ability changing it to what I wanted. When it was done I retracted my mind from her abilities then opened my eyes.
As soon as I did I was greeted by Mary's familiar face, except it was a bit different, it was her hair, instead of being the familiar green I was used to, it was a dark green more like emerald.
"Thank you master that helps a lot." she told me with a relieved smile.
Looking past emerald haired Mary I saw that the enormous plant had disappeared. The Mary in front of me really was that enormous plant.
"What happened?" Calidia groaned as she regained consciousness and shook her head then winced.
"You passed out." Grace replied dryly.
Calidia frowned at her then looked around noticing where we were. "I remember seeing the Green Death then everything went dark." she told us.
"Green Death?" I asked looking at the emerald haired Mary.
Emerald haired Mary seemed uncomfortable for a moment. "That is the name humans from the havens have given me." she told me. "As I said the bond between us changed many things about me. Before the bond I was a plant emperor that killed and absorbed anything I could reach whether they were awakened, twisted, beast, or other plants." emerald haired Mary admitted.
"How?" I asked but realized that wasn't my actual question. "How did you get to earth? How did we end up bonded?"
Everyone including Calidia watched emerald haired Mary for an answer.
Emerald haired Mary seemed to think about it for a while before she began explaining. "Before our bond I had a technique I had grown incredibly fond of and am very proficient at. I use my space tunnels to send out roots all over the Great Realm looking for communities that I can absorb. I have these roots all over the outer rim of the Great Realm. The spatial tear appeared near one of my roots that was tracking a pack of bone heart wolves. I immediately used the ability to release a large amount of tiny spores through the rift into your world. The spores are an improved version over the spores of your world. They have the ability to guide themselves to some degree letting them spread all over the area without detection. Each spore had a mission to infect a plant and send me information about the area. One of those spores infected one of the plants in the room you found me in. When your bond came into effect it bonded with the plant that was infected with my spore and therefore me. It was a very unusual feeling to suddenly be bonded to a human through one of my spores, yet I haven't regretted it. Once we were bonded I decided to learn more about you so I sent an offshoot through which absorbed the plants that were present and became the Mary you are familiar with. Naming the offshoot made the bond change the primary recipient of the bond to the offshoot instead of my main body which is why our main body never received any of the abilities that came with our bond."
That explained some of it, and also made me realize that I might have inadvertently saved Phoenix from being absorbed by the Green Death. As Phoenix was hit with a nuke it is a mute and irrelevant point but one to note regardless.
"How many spores are we talking about here?" Karen asked curiously, "because there is a lot of distance between the stadium and the apartment we found you in.
"A few billion." Emerald haired Mary replied.
That was a lot. "So should we just call you Mary?" Megan asked.
"No, we will call her Emy." I told them.
"Why?" Megan asked me.
"It just makes it easier to distinguish them. While I believe they are connected to each other, it isn't at the same level as a hive mind, is it?" I asked Emy.
"That is true, I am close to Mary, and we share many thoughts, but we are still separate." Emy admitted.
"So now we have two plant empresses?" Grace asked.
"No." Emy replied. "It is probably closer to multiple personalities. We have different bodies, but all of Mary's power comes from me. If we were to be completely cut off from each other Mary would shrivel up into a husk."
"That is fine and all, but why Emy?" Megan asked me.
"My other option was Mother Mary, and while I am not religious I just couldn't go there." I replied.
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