"C-mon! Chop-chop, Kiddos! Yer house won't build 'emselves!" Sandy yelled at his newest employees.
He wiped the sweat from his brow before he picked up two massive wooden pillars and slung one over each shoulder. Sandy then walked from his warehouse - which Daz's clones were constantly resupplying - over to Fort Skip's residential area.
He and several of the more physically capable construction workers - including forty-seven of the new arrivals - made this journey at least twenty times until suddenly, in the distance, a massive floating island appeared with a red bubble around it and a massive purple shining crystal seemingly staked right through the middle of it.
Sandy lowered the pillars he was carrying and then held his hips as he stared up at Fort Sky along with his volunteers. Many whispers spread between the workers, most of which were filled with worry or shock.
Sandy calmly shifted his gaze from the distant floating island over to Alpha - Daz's sentient clone. The death energy creation wasn't reacting at all to the flying city's sudden appearance, so Sandy scratched his head and sighed. "Some forewarnin' wouldn't have killed ya, would it have, Kiddo?" he mumbled under his breath.
He then picked up the pillars once more and cracked his neck. "Anyway, everyone! 'At's enough gawkin'! It's clearly something that the lord's up to! Ye all saw the notification for him becoming a king, didn't ye's? That must be his new city, so stop oglin' it and get back to work! Like I've already said a million times, yer houses won't build 'emselves!" Sandy ordered.
As instructed, after a few more words of wonder, everyone returned to doing their jobs.
Rose was laying on her bed lazily while she played a game that seemed to be some sort of empire simulator as Vanessa sat beside her and peacefully watched.
Suddenly, Rose looked out of her room's window and laughed cynically. "Well, I was half expecting a city full of gods, but that Grid Cross thingy is equally absurd. Really, for such an ignorant person, how can he be so creative? Is the system helping him out?"
"Rose?" Vanessa asked in confusion.
"Look outside," the ten-year-old replied.
"Huh?" Vanessa swivelled her head around and her eyes opened wide. "Wow! Is that an upside-down mountain?! What's that big purple thing in it?! Is that a shield?!"
Rose smiled softly. "Hey, help me into my chair. Bring me to Crusher, would you? She's with Dorian and Edward in the barracks' training ground."
"Hmm?" Vanessa returned her attention to Rose. "How'd you know where they are? But, uh, sure. Just tell me about that floating thingy on the way! Daz made that appear, didn't he?"
"So you got nothing special either?" Samantha - one of the five cosplayer teens - asked her boyfriend, Ben - a fellow cosplayer.
Ben shook his head sadly. "I did get a better healing staff, but it's only better by a little bit."
Trisha - the group's only other vanguard attacker along with Samantha - sighed. "We're all so useless. Even Xing didn't get anything. I was half expecting him to get an offer from an evil god or something to become his disciple."
"Hey!" the Asian teen yelled back in response. "I don't like Daz, sure, but I'm not evil!"
Ronny who was stood by the window smiled wryly. "Ignore her, Xing."
Samantha cocked her head to one side. "You still don't like the lord? Or the king, I guess I should say now."
Xing had a conflicted look on his face. "I don't know."
"What do you mean 'you don't know'?" Trisha asked with a short laugh as she punched the boy's shoulder lightly.
"I don't hate him anymore, but I don't know... I guess I don't mind if we live under him, but yeah, I just don't know," Xing admitted as he scratched his cheek and blushed a bit lightly.
"Hahaha! How cute! I almost wanna kiss you just to embarrass you even more!" Trisha claimed as she held her gut and rolled around on Xing's bed which she was sitting on.
Everyone chuckled a bit as Xing's face only turned even redder.
While the kids were getting along, if Daz was here to witness this, he would no doubt simply comment internally that it was good to see the thought seed which he'd planted in passing a few days ago had successfully started to bear some fruit.
After all, as objectively useless as the teens were when it came to fighting, Ben was a valuable healer, while each of them also provided Fort Skip with some base points every non-resting cycle day, which was, in Daz's opinion, invaluable.
If a simple thought seed stopped their group from fracturing or leaving, then all the better for Daz and Fort Skip.
"I lost again! Why're you so good at chess, Barbarossa?" Crusher asked as she stretched her neck.
Dorian got to work resetting the board for them as Edward replied, "I played a lot of board games during my time on the force. It was either that or cards. I was a violent officer, so I spent a lot of time at the station doing admin work which I honestly hated, so yeah, I played the games installed on the system instead."
"Hahaha! How'd you not got sacked for that kinda shit?" Crusher asked as she moved her first piece the second Dorian was finished resetting the hand-made board.
The one-armed man quickly returned to tinkering with the new umbrella that he'd acquired during the Grand System Auction - a tool made of some sort of strange glowing fabric which was attached to a thin yellow metal that appeared to be alien.
Edward shrugged. "No one cared, I guess? The force was corrupt as all hell. Kinda like Boston in the movies, y'know? Just less backdoor killings. Letting me go equalled bad rep for the station. I got fired eventually for almost killing a child-rapist, so yeah, bribes and my anger made sure I ended up unemployed after that."
"A good reason to get the can, I suppose," Crusher replied as she held her chiselled jaw and focused on the game of chess.
A few minutes later, Rose and Vanessa approached them. They were all currently in the new and still rough central square of Fort Skip which was the home of only the law sign and several benches - one in particular that Crusher, Edward and Dorian were occupying.
"Chess? Really? I didn't take you for the type to play board games, Crusher," Rose commented.
Crusher laughed. "All brawn and no brains? I'm smarter than I look, you know."
"Oh, I know. I know a lot about you," Rose replied as she smirked.
"I'm sure you do, Hotwheels." Crusher moved her queen then turned to look at the two girls. "Anyhoo, whatcha need? I'm smart enough to know that you didn't come over here to say 'hi' or just to mock my looks, huh?"
Vanessa's eyes were wide open and she was covering her mouth with her dainty hand. "Crusher's this tall and muscular... and... handsome?" she said under her breath as she stared at the Titan who only smirked at the German teen.
Rose shrugged. "Right. I came here to give you a job if you wanna do it."
"I'm busy. Ask someone else, Hotwheels," Crusher immediately rejected her then moved her focus back to the game.
"It involves murder and flexing your muscles. Besides, Edward's already won. Five more moves and he'll have you in a constant state of check, six or seven after that, and it'll be checkmate," Rose claimed with an arrogant flare to her tone.
Crusher held her chin and her elbow. "Huh. Fine. If it ain't fun though, then I'll break your arms. Uriel can bitch at me all he wants later, but you need to know that I ain't a dog you can just order around."
Rose forced a smile onto her face as a bit of sweat dripped down her forehead. "I-I promise, it'll be fun."
"So? Who do you want me to kill, exactly?" Crusher asked as she stared at the ten-year-old with a very sharp gaze in her eyes.
'This woman's just as dangerous as Mu is...' Rose privately thought before she explained, "Ahem, well, Daz just got a token that lets him reclaim an abandoned city, the problem is, there aren't any abandoned cities near us. Like, nowhere near us. I'm gonna give you a list of places full of scummy people, then you go and make their cities abandoned. Simple. That'll give Daz plenty of options."
Crusher stroked her chin. "You were right, that does sound fun. 'Kay, Ahab, go grab some grub. Barbarossa, wanna come with?"
Edward shook his head. "I plan to clear dungeons today. There're still hundreds of them littering the state. If you don't mind me wandering off on my own, then sure, I'll come with you two."
"Sounds good." Crusher stood up then stretched her back. Looking into the distance, she could see something strange. "Is that a flying rock with a fuckin' bubble around it? When'd that get there?"
Rose sighed. "Oh, I dunno, only ten minutes ago," she replied sarcastically.
"Yes, confirm the purchase," Daz said as he stood at the edge of Waterford's now-empty core.
There used to be a downtown area here, but Daz's clones had perfectly cleared it out. There was still at least eighty-percent of the city left to properly destroy, but for now, he could work with the twenty-percent that they'd given him.
|Confirmed. The total merit balance of the host is now: 161,588,244 [-7,500,000].|
|Confirmed. The total city balance of [Waterford] is now 0 [-500,000].|
The next second, a massive building that took up the entire twenty-percent of free space that the clones had cleared out sprouted forth from the ground, creating a mini-earthquake.
A few moments later, a grand structure that looked incredibly magical in both design and structure could be seen from far and wide in the heart of Waterford. It had runes all over it and ten-foot-tall doors lined every direction.
"Wow. I never expected it to be so big, but I guess it is the teleportation station, not just a relay," Daz muttered as he opened one of the building's many doors and entered it.
Immediately, he was greeted by what looked to be a human in a tuxedo. After a long conversation with this man, Daz came to learn that the teleportation relays and stations were managed by a very powerful and exclusive player group known as The Source. This group was made up solely of a magically-inclined human subrace called Archons.
Daz accepted this information as well as anything else that the man was willing to tell him about the greater multiverse before he set about choosing the teleportation rules for this station.
Naturally, he had bought a variation of the building that came with a taxation feature, so he set the tax-rate to be two-thousand merit points per teleportation. He would later alter this amount if it seemed appropriate, but for now, that seemed like a good starting point.
Daz then specified that only hosts which he ruled over were allowed to use or link up to his teleportation station and any relays that connected to it in the future.
As for relay connections, naturally, there was a system sheet for applicable ones. Currently, there were two hits for relays he could connect Waterford's teleportation station with.
|Available Teleportation Connections|
|Gem Kingdom Teleportation Relay. Establish connection: Y/N.|
|Guishan Island Teleportation Relay. Establish Connection: Y/N.|
"Right, there's Han. Hmm... System, establish both connections but limit the Guishan Island one so that only I can go through it and no one else," Daz requested.
|Confirmed. Establishing connections. Connections successfully established.|
In the central chamber that Daz was in, a jewel hanging over two of the several hundred massive archways lit up splendidly, revealing a swirling blue portal in either one.
"I'm guessing those are the teleporters, huh?" Daz asked himself rhetorically.
"Smart. How long'd it take you to figure that one out?" a familiar high-pitched voice asked Daz.
Sighing and turning around, Daz replied to Rose, "Oh, I dunno. Maybe a second or two? It was a challenge for me since I'm so lacking in intelligence." He gave Vanessa who was stood behind Rose a friendly smile before he asked, "Maddy isn't with you? I was kinda hoping for some relief while I do all of this ruler shit."
Vanessa returned his smile with a warm one of her own as Rose snorted in response. "She's sleeping. She upgraded a bunch of her skills, trained them, then wanted to go find you, but didn't want to disturb you while you were busy, so chose to sleep instead."
"If only you were so considerate," Daz teased and he walked up to the girls and roughly patted his little sister's head. "Anyway, what's up? You have a reason for coming here to see me, right?"
"Yup, two, actually, both information related," Rose answered as she tried her best to disregard her brother's affection.
The best way to get someone to stop doing something that you disliked when it was obvious that they were doing it - or at least partially doing it - just to get on your nerves, was to ignore the action entirely. At least, that's what Rose now confidently believed.
"First, I sent Crusher, Edward and Dorian off to find a good uninhabited city for you to c- Ow! Why the hell did you just flick my forehead?!" Rose shouted as she put her palms over her throbbing temple.
"You lied. Don't. What did you actually send them to do?" Daz asked in a very 'tell me the right answer, or I will flick your forehead again' fashion as he crossed his arms over his chest.
"Tch. Damned Archreaper's Gaze. Fine. I sent them to go wipe out several groups of vagrants occupying a bunch of cities. My thinking was that you can use your token on the most expensive one, then just buy the rest," Rose admitted as she puffed up her cheeks and scowled.
"Y-You lied to Crusher?" Vanessa seemed very shocked at how devious this little ten-year-old could be.
"It was a white lie, not like she cares," Rose spat out.
"Of course you know about my new token..." Daz sighed once again. "Okay, and the other piece of information that you came here to tell me? Surely it can't be worse than that?"
"I know who the people were that approached Madison before the general auction," Rose announced.
Daz's eyes narrowed. "Oh really? Details, now. Tell me everything."
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