Levels were strange, Randidly decided during one of his breaks in the labor of preparing these drones for launch. As he worked, he would get slowly better at something. That was simply the accumulation of experience. Accumulating experience also meant that he would receive Skill Levels.
Individually, these Skill Levels were small things, but when Randidly received two or three in both Spriggit’s Tinkering and Engineering Savvy there was a noticeable difference. The System sped up the process of learning by a great deal. Which was convenient, but disturbing.
Ultimately, Randidly shook his head and put the thought aside. After all, there was much work to be done. But he couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that he was very quickly reaching a point where his advantages were accumulating far beyond what was possible for normal people to equal. After all, without his high Intelligence, this task would be far more difficult.
Because he had higher Stats, he could Level Skills more quickly. Because he had a Soul Skill and a lot of Skills Leveling, he could quickly earn more Stats. There was a hard limit on Skills he would reach eventually, but until then he was accelerating towards something. A flaw in the System.
An event horizon where his growth grew self propagating.
Well, in theory. At the moment, Randidly was nowhere near there. But it was strange that the System should function that way. Perhaps that was what the Calamity was in practice, Randidly reflected as he began adjusting a runic engraving. An entity that had gathered so much power that it ceased to function by the normal rules that bound the rest of them.
Randidly recalled the dream state where he had followed Shal’s father through the battlefield and fought against enemies there. He remembered the final opponent, one who was so physically superior it seemed hopeless to fight against. Although now Randidly knew that the monster at the time was only a Level 70 caliber creature, Randidly knew that there would be further monsters beyond that.
That was what he faced. That was what his goal was. To grow to become strong enough to wound that.
Randidly looked down at the engraving pen and the warm metal he was working with. To grow, he needed to push boundaries. Making these blueprints and then struggling to create working prototypes from them had done a lot to fuel his growth. He had earned 43 Skill Levels in the past week that he had spent locked up slaving away over his babies.
Time and time again he had reached a snag in the design. In retrospect, his original plans were breathtakingly optimistic. Even with Randidly’s runes, there were numerous heat problems. The energy conversion runes were powerful, but couldn’t be in the same spot as other runes. So the layout of each of his original three needed to be altered.
But not by much.
Spriggit’s Tinkering and Engineering Savvy had been the engine for that growth, and as they grew more pronounced slowly Mana Engraving began to tick upwards as his plans grew more sophisticated. Even Clockwork Mastery grew a bit, likely due to the intricate pieces. How long would it take another to reach the requisite Level of Skill to be able to construct similar drones? Perhaps a year?
Perhaps less. The ambient Aether in the air was thickening. Part of it was himself, slowly leaking the excess that flowed through his body. But that was a gradual process. No, this was happening quickly. Aether was pouring with increasing density out of the Danger Zones. Which meant that the monsters within Danger Zones were being enriched.
That made Randidly frown. So many plates to juggle. The growth he had achieved here was great for pushing his PP upwards and moving down different Paths, but it hadn’t ultimately achieved the goal of finishing his Skill. That was stuck at a little above 90%, Randidly could sense. But it was no use rushing.
Still, Randidly had spent a lot of time over the past two months doing activities other than training. He didn’t regret it, but now he felt the pressure building. After all, Randidly had no doubt that the System was willing to push the strength of its Danger Zones up to the point that people couldn’t overcome them. No doubt the monsters would begin coming out in waves, then.
Randidly sighed as his thinking caused another board to overheat and melt. He tossed the metal aside casually. At the level he was hoping the drones would be operated, he could not make the runic boards thick. As such, mistakes were common even as his Mana Engraving Skill reached Level 119. It was by far his highest non-combat Skill. Well, the Yggdrasil Skills were close, but he didn’t count those.
Those were more like a part of himself than a Skill he actually used.
Choices. Broadly, Randidly had the choice to do anything he wanted. He also had enemies. The flood of Raid Bosses, the Creature, the Calamity, Danger Zones, likely the Unity Church. But he could only deal with one at a time, and the solutions to facing these varied threats weren’t clear. Becoming more powerful would help, but he needed more than that. He needed to prepare.
For that, he needed information.
Ah, that party that Henrik talked about was tonight. That was… one way to gather information, Randidly supposed. Good thing he had spent the last week without talking to anyone. That would help him stomach so much socialization. Also, he should see if he could find some more presentable clothes.
But before all that, Randidly had a decision. As it was the easiest opponent, Randidly had built these drones to deal with the flood of Raid Bosses. Perhaps they too were a result of the rising thickness of Aether, but that felt wrong to Randidly. They weren’t more powerful, there were just… more of them. Specifically, Raid Bosses were concentrated very strongly in populated areas.
These would solve that. They would rip through most Raid Bosses like a hot knife through butter. But…
These were powerful things. They bore the workings of Randidly Ghosthound, and were likely quite a few years ahead of what other humans could accomplish. Sure, with the technology and methods of production people would catch up more rapidly, but that almost made it worse. Ghost would figure out how to make lesser things based upon his methods.
That was the real catch. Randidly didn’t trust Ghost. But people were dying. He couldn’t be everywhere. Although Ghost might use these weapons for evil… Randidly sensed it likely that Raid Bosses would be the victims in the short term.
Randidly reached out a hand and pet one of his Reaver-Crushers. He had based the frame on the physique of a gorilla. If a gorilla was double its normal size, could have shoulder spikes and plasma knives for fingers. Randidly looked over at his other two creations.
All had been built without projectiles. But they were constructed with some of his highest quality mid-tier steel that he made. They would suffice.
The Hunter-Seeker model was built with the Death Cultists from the Raid Dungeon in mind. Their destructive power wasn’t high, but they were mobile and durable. However, if they were able to work on a target, the high-frequency drills in their arms would rip through most physical barriers.
Meanwhile, the Stalker-Reapers took the most work. They were built a little like spiders, but they had four short legs and four long ones. The longer legs were thick and powerful, enabling them to leap easily. Or at least Randidly hoped. There was a body at the meeting point of those four legs, but the real valuable bits were underneath that torso. There, hanging dangerously, were the four smaller limbs that were basically just butcher knives. Those knives were the most difficult part. They were filled with technology to make them vibrate until even a dulled edge would rip through metal and flesh.
There was another reason why Randidly chose to push the technology in the direction of durable, close-range drones. If Zone 1 ever went to war with Zone 32, he wanted no part in creating a weapon that would be difficult to defend against. To the people of Zone 32, these were simply another form of monster.
Even with that reassurance, he looked at the 15 drones for a long time before he called Henrik. He had made five of each. He would present them all to the man, then head to this party with him. Hopefully, he would downplay them at the time, and not deal with anymore weeping.
Was this too fast? Would he stand out? Undoubtedly. But people were dying. He had to throw a bit of the caution to the wind. Besides, Neveah was solidly in place as his old identity. Even if Ghost suspected something was off, it would likely be a local political thing due to his interactions with Tatiana.
As Randidly considered his gleaming inventions, what ultimately decided whether to give the people of Zone 1 these tools was a selfish reason. Randidly had spent almost two months now working on the foundations for these drones. And the whole time, he had a blast. For a drone that was so much fun to make…
It would be a shame if no one saw it in action.
Randidly flexed his hand. If someone believed they could wield the knives he had created better than he could… Let them try. It would be a nice diversion from all of the actual threats he was facing.