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A note from puddles4263

5/7

Well, it’s not that I don’t know of what Great Paths are… Lucretia said slowly. But… I must admit that I haven’t gained one myself. They are written of in my world, but only in legends. Also, they are generally unavailable to people before they reached Level 50 and condense their fate. I suppose since your own images were never separated it is possible the Level 50 distinction has no meaning.

“So what is it?” Randidly said aloud. He was sitting in the dimly lit room, alone with Kenneth. He performed several scans of the boy, and he was still baffled as to how the Creature’s Aether was so strongly attached to him. It was somewhat baffling. As the resident physician was out, Randidly could only wait for her to return and give him a more thorough examination. So he turned his attention to other matters.

...I can only suspect based on the rumors. But it is something you should not do now. Everything I have heard agrees that a person can only have one Great Path in their lifetime. Those who take it, of course, gain great power. They are hard to unlock and contain rewards commiserate with that difficulty If I’m being frank… Lucretia paused. I believe it is what the maker of the System is looking for. Our philosophers noted that once a Great Path appears, others occasionally appear with the same path, with the same benefits. Only it is no longer a great path. To create one is to have a truly unique blend of images and strengths within the System.

Randidly closed his eyes. “According to your theory then, choosing a Great Path… is to confirm my submission in terms of power to the System’s judgment?”

Likely. The Creature’s memories touch on it, but only indirectly. It always thought of Great Paths in terms of how well they would be received. About whether they were sufficient.

“Any guesses how mine would fare?” Randidly asked.

...not well. Lucretia responded with quite a bit of amusement in her thought.

Randidly didn’t take the judgment personally. After all, according to these hypotheses, Great Paths were usually done by people who had survived for a much longer time in the Sytem, and achieved Level 50. Although Randidly was powerful, he didn’t believe that he was so powerful that he could defeat everyone on Shal’s planet, for instance. THere were people there that had spent their whole lives training under the System.

It was clear that their Aether was much staler than the ambient Aether currently on Earth, which would lead to slower growth. But those people had the benefit of time.

“Lucretia,” Randidly said abruptly, changing the topic. “Do people’s lifespans change with the System?”

Lucretia thought about this for a while. ...it is hard to say. Mostly, it has been too long since the System arrived in my world to tell. But I will say that it is not uncommon to live to be 500 in my world. Certain powerful individuals have been rumored to reach 1000 years.

Randidly considered that then shivered. If he had 1000 years, how high could he raise his Skill Levels? They become more difficult to raise, and also less effective, but still… a Level 500 Skill Level would be a terrifying thing. What sort of Paths would one receive at Level?

Randidly’s thoughts were interrupted by a chirp from his watch. Henrik was calling him. Grimacing, Randidly got up and prepared to return to the compound. He had relied on his new citizenship in order to avoid trouble, so Randidly felt like he should repay the alacrity with which the man had reported his new drone.

Within 10 minutes, Randidly stood before a red-eyed Henrik.

“This…” The man’s breathing was heavy. The Porpoise was a disassembled mess on the ground in front of them. “What are these?”

Henrik pointed. Specifically, he pointed at two instances of the same rune that Randidly had created to dodge most of the problems he was encountering. The inspiration was simple: if the spear could transform Aether into meaning and vice versa, how hard would it be to make a similar transition between two other forces?

In this case, Randidly made the transfer between heat and electricity. The runes were in areas of high-density runic activity, and when the metal would heat due to the energy flowing through the metal, these runes would turn that heat into electricity. This electricity would flow through a sister rune that was created to expend the electricity. In this case, it created an ionized shield to add additional protection to the Porpoises armor.

Now, this was by no means a simple task mechanically, to transform heat into energy. In fact, it was near impossible in a compact series of machinery. But the ability of the System to simplify processes was a godsend, in this case. It took quite a bit of studying and experimentation, but Randidly was able to intuit the inner process of the transition on the spear and bastardize it to work with much simpler inputs and outputs.

It was almost less work than it sounded; most of the runes on the spear were associated with carefully encapsulating Aether and Meaning. Heat and electricity was child’s play, in comparison.

“Runes. I had to do a lot of work to make the details work, and they are honestly pretty inefficient.” Randidly said, downplaying the research and resources he had relied upon to create such a tiny thin. “But they function well as a heat sink, even now. With some more time and funding-”

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, anything.” For the first time since he had met the other fastidious man, Randidly heard Henrik laugh. It was honestly slightly off-putting. It sounded strangely like goat burps. “Bababababa…. With this…. The scale of the drones we can make… Ah! If you don’t mind would you allow me to watch the process of engraving? You’ll be compensated for the process, of course…”

Shrugging, Randidly acquiesced. His technique in Mana Engraving was not something that someone could casually copy. In addition to his high Control and Focus, and the stability that his large Mana pool provided, Randidly’s Mana Engraving Skill had reached 115 in the past few days; if Henrik could watch and replicate it Randidly would eat his non-existent shoe.

Much to Randidly’s chagrin, he failed the first time he attempted it. Gritting his teeth, he did it again, this time successfully. All the while, Henrik was scribbling notes furiously. Afterward, he thanked Randidly and gave him access to several higher tiered plans, for free. Unfortunately, most of these Randidly had obtained by destroying the drones in the attack on the organ harvesting plant. But Randidly could say that, so he could only smile and accept.

Besides, these plans weren’t warped by heat like the real metal copies he had obtained were. There weren’t any areas of difference that Randidly could notice, but having the full plans at his disposal was a good thing.

Afterward, Randidly immediately began work on a flying combat drone. Because he was able to basically ignore the heat problem that had plagued him previously, Randidly designed a whole new model based on combining the Skylark with a ground-based upgrade on the Porpoise, called the Armored Turtle. The Armored Turtles selling point was two low bore railguns mounted on a swivel on its back.

With the heat dissipation, Randidly could double the size of these guns without many problems. Increased propulsion was necessary, but also easily within his abilities without the problem of heat. After he created it, the real question for Randidly was actually whether to give this over to Ghost’s control.

To ascertain the deadliness of the larger rail guns, he tested the shot on himself. The shot left him with small burns in the area of impact, but also with a bleeding would. This made Randidly’s expression grim. The drone he created would likely have suspect accuracy, as it was a flying railgun, and it also possessed a limited ammunition cache. But its long range and high penetrative power would still make it dangerous.

Besides, Randidly didn’t doubt that they would try and slap the larger rail gun on ground mounted drones to increase the accuracy…

There was one bright spot: the railgun was good against armor, but not against energy-based shields. Even Randidly’s positively anemic Mana Shield stopped the projectile dead. That was likely a function of his Intelligence stat, but it also meant that most people from Zone 32 would be safe.

As for the people here…

Well. Randidly felt it very powerfully at that moment, the lives of all of the people who would possibly be affected by his decision here. But without these tools he could provide, people couldn’t stand up against the wave of Raid Bosses that were rapidly popping up. They needed these weapons. And for the short term, anyway, every drone would need to be handmade by Randidly. No one else had the Mana Engraving to equal him.

And so it was that Baloo Erickson invented the Pterodactyl drone, with two swiveling railguns and enough mobility to escape most flying monsters below Level 40. He provided Henrik with the blueprints and the prototype. The man was too busy drooling to respond, but Randidly figured he would get paid for his trouble eventually.

Leaving, Randidly shook his head. How quickly this recalcitrant man had shifted his opinion was somewhat amusing.

Once he was away from the drone manufacturing zone, Randidly gathered Tykes and Dinesh and headed South. It was time to do a little pest control in Lake Apollo.

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