For this chapter, please keep in mind that an Armored Nut is an acorn...
I continued my exploration of the metallic, underground tunnels with the probe. At this point, it had reached a pool a water, and in the center were the submerged remains of a pipe. The pipe's "roof" was partially missing, so I could see what appeared to be a lump on the inside. There was very little natural light in the "room", so, presuming it to be an animal, I steered the probe in closer to get a better look.
What I thought was one specimen broke apart into about a dozen of them, each one scurrying out of one of the pipe's exits.
I'm not using the word "scurrying" for lack of a better term. They literally scurried through the water like space rats on a delivery ship. The little shrimp-creatures made a rapid scuttling motion with their thin legs to propel themselves out of the pipe. However, one of them emerged more slowly...
Scuttlers are crustaceous, colonial organisms that inhabit wet caves. They are capable of surviving on land, but prefer to dwell in a body of water. While most eusocial organisms can be described as sterile workers defending and caring for a queen, Scuttlers are an inversion of this. While the bluish-green, semi-transulecent workers do clean the queen, raise the offspring and maintain the nest, they otherwise live as frantic prey creatures, feeding on microorganisms and absconding from danger at a moment's notice. The opaque queen, however, is an aggressive predator. Studies show that most of the queen's victims are known predators of the workers, meaning the workers are born to be nothing more than glorified bait. The workers themselves are slightly smaller than Wogpoles, while the queen can grow to be as large as a Wollywog. A notable difference between the two castes is that the workers have two small pincers and four short antennae, whilst the queen lacks pincers and has only two long antennae.
The workers continued to swim about in a frenzy as the queen boldly hauled her way into plain sight, antennae flailing and forked tail pointed upwards. Even though they had eyes, I couldn't help but wonder if their antennae helped them perceive their surroundings in the dimly lit environment.
Speculation aside, the queen's antennae in particular served a very sinister purpose. An Ambiguous Slimeworm- named so because it's impossible to tell which end is which until it attacks- inched its way into the pool. Much more graceful in water than on land, it pursued a worker Scuttler with flowing, almost streamer-like movements. It was so absorbed in its chase than it neglected to detect the incoming queen. In a swift movement, she lashed out her antennae and used them to bind the now-struggling Slimeworm. Contrary to its name, the Slimeworm couldn't slip out of the queen's grasp and the predator was reduced to prey. I couldn't bear to look as she devoured her meal like oversized spaghetti.
Ambiguous Slimeworms are leech or worm-like creatures that inhabit dark, moist places. They are pitch black with a purple stripe on either side of their bodies. The species has perfect symmetry, and since they can easily travel either forwards or backwards, it's extremely difficult to tell where the head is until its too late. They've been known to cling to the spacesuits of explorers, causing continuous damage with their teeth, and as an added insult, they're immune to the toxins of White Pikmin.
I decided to wait and see what else would come and take the bait. The workers commuted back and forth from the pond, feeding on the moss that lined the cave. They all retreated to the water when the hollow shell of an Armored Nut dragged itself into view with its green tentacles. Yes, you did read that last sentence correctly.
The nut immersed itself, at which point it used its six tentacles to walk. Once again, the queen closed in for the kill, but the tentacles were quick to withdraw beneath the nut. She grasped the thick shell and pulled, but it wouldn't budge. She nibbled on it afterwards, but it isn't called the Armored Nut for nothing; her little onslaught was entirely fruitless. Soon, she gave up and retired to her den. At that moment, the nut reared up slightly, then launched a tentacle to snag the closest worker. It dragged its prize underneath itself and assumed the same defensive position as before.
As you may have figured out, the Armored Nut wasn't the actual predator. The real culprit was a Hexapod, a slightly round creature that inhabits any natural armor it can find (compare to a hermit crab). They most frequently use nuts and animal shells.
The sun was setting, so I attached the pod to the ceiling of the cave and called it a day.
Gameplay wise, I imagine the Hexapod's shell would need to be destroyed by Rock Pikmin.