> Congratulations. You are now integrated into the System. Fight the Infernali, save your planet. Or don't, and become a soul slave for all eternity. The choice is yours.


What the hell? I knew all Apocalypse stories must have asshole aliens, but this... I had mixed feelings.

Sightless for who knew how long, I finally "saw" some light. It was all in my mind's eye, but the blue screens were the only thing in a sea of blackness. I'll spare my dear readers from the actual blue rectangles. Just imagine them, as I was imagining... or perhaps hallucinating at the time. Also, please try not to hallucinate. It is not salutary.


> You are a Dungeon Core (Apple Electronics). What is your name?


Naming myself. What was my name when I was alive? I'd forgotten. Look, let me say it for the last time. I spent a lot of time as a half-eaten, rotting apple core. In a landfill. I had the brainpower of an apple seed pod. So... I'll leave you guys to decide my name in the comments section. Highest-voted suggestion by tomorrow wins the prize.

And now let me fix the fourth wall, just a moment.

"Skip my naming."


> You are now known as "Skip May Neming." (Closest match).

> Please stand by while we forward you to your helpful assistant.


A helpful Grey alien appeared in my mind's eye. It smiled, didn't blink its humongous (as compared to its body) eyes, and waved with a hand that had three fingers ending in suckers.

"Skip, may I call you Skip? Greetings, I'm the Class selection assistant. Let's pick your Class, shall we?"

"Oh, God, please kill me." My thoughts were projected out loud.

"We understand your distress. Your world has been invaded by the Infernali and almost everyone you knew and loved is dead. It is okay to despair but you need to be strong and kill lots of Infernali, or they will annex your planet and you'll be, in the words of your own kind, 'thoroughly fucked'."

It tapped a sucker against its sallow cheek. "Though I must say, the Infernali doesn't like to eat fruit, so your brethren is mostly safe. You must be very lucky to be an apple and not a human!"

Then I died of cringe. Not really.

"What is a Class? Is it like our RPG games?"

"Exactly. Our emissary, Gygax, did a wonderful job of preparing you for the Infernali invasion. Now, I see you only have half the Attributes and a very special classification. Dungeon Core... Dungeon Core, Dungeon Core, Dungeon Core, ah, here."

It snapped its fingers.

"Okay, you can do it," the Grey mumbled to itself. "My first custom Class. Yeah, no need to be nervous. Files on Dungeons... Search the internet. Oh, here. Lots of Dungeon Core books. Divine Dungeon series, Dungeon World series, Lewd... no, not that one. Must keep it PG-13 or the boss will kill me. Man, this guy Jonathan Brooks did a lot of them. Bunker Core... High rated. I think I'll need to read all of these. Traveling Dungeon, Dungeon Heart... This is going to take a while."

I bet those were all good books to read. Too bad I no longer had an Amazon subscription. If I had, I could read those and support nice authors.

"There's nothing on electronics dungeons. Okay, what can we do? Let me get some books on electronics, and here it is. I think I found the right thing for you."


> You gained the Puzzle Dungeon Trait.

> As a puzzle Dungeon, you do not spawn monsters. Instead, you have improved abilities to create traps and contraptions with moving parts, to challenge your delvers. 50% discount on all traps and puzzles. Lose the Spawn Monster trait.


> You gained the Dungeon Domain Trait.

> You can sense everything not blocked by magical barriers in a range of Wisdom feet around your Core. Claiming Territory for your Dungeon extends this Domain.


> You gained the Dungeon Automation Trait.

> You may automate one task for every 100 points of Intelligence you have, plus one. The following tasks are always automated for free: Core Sustenance, Maintenance, and Repair. Dungeon Maintenance and Repair. Control monsters... ERROR. You do not spawn monsters.


> You gained the Replicate Electronics Trait.

> You can use your Replicate power to create electronic components that work in high mana density environments. 50% discount on all Replicated electronics.


> You gained the Sanctuary Orchard Trait.

> Your Dungeon shall be a safe haven for your brethren. You can use your Replicate power to create seeds.



You gained the Class "Electronic Apple Orchard (Legendary)".


A Dungeon unlike any other, a spark of hope for a doomed planet. The Electronic Apple Orchard mixes farming, gardening, and heavy industry in one neat package.


As a Legendary Class, you gain +4 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +4 Will, +4 Clarity, and +4 Hardness per level.

You gain 10 free Attribute Points per level.

You have the Dungeon Mana Resource. An energy source to spawn monsters and Dungeon features. You gain 10 base Dungeon Mana per level.

You have the Substance Resource. A store of undifferentiated matter to create physical entities. You gain 10 base Substance per level.

You gained the Engineering Skill.

* Rank I benefits: You can visualize a blueprint. Doing so reduces the chances of mishap by 5% per rank.

Your next Class Skill is at level 30.

You have a sub-Class slot. Your next sub-Class slot is at level 25.

You have the Materialization Stat, a measure of how much Dungeon Mana you may spend per minute.

You have the Control Stat, a measure of how many monsters you may have under your direct control. ERROR: You cannot spawn monsters. Control Stat removed. Points in Control added to Materialization.

You are born under the Gemini Constellation. You gain +2 Intelligence per level. You can use the Daydreaming power once per day. Gain great insight into the mysteries of the universe.

You are classified as a generic plant creature. As a plant creature, you gain +1 Will and +1 Hardness per level. The effectiveness of Will and Hardness is increased by 20%.

You are a Dungeon Core. As a crystalline magical entity, you gain +1 Clarity and +1 Hardness per level. The effectiveness of Clarity is increased by 20%.

You gained the Rock-hard Trait. The square root of your modified Hardness score is treated as armor.

Think "Status" to see your full Status.


The Gray vanished, leaving me alone. I thought, "status".


Name: Skip May Neming Species: Dungeon Core / Plant
Main Class: Electronic Apple Orchard (Legendary) Level:  0
Attributes Base Score   Efficiency Modified Score


10 (200%) 20


10 (200%) 20


10 (220%) 22


10 (220%) 22


10 (220%) 22
Resources Base Current   Maximum

Dungeon Mana

100 0 122


100 0 122
Traits Puzzle Dungeon Dungeon Automation Replicate Electronics
Sanctuary Orchard Dungeon Domain
Skills Engineering I Materialization 19 Armor 4 (20%)


The effects of the Attributes were based on percentiles. I was now 20% smarter and wiser than your average apple core dungeon. With a sample size of one, it was hard to measure how smart I was. But thinking was easier. Remembering things was also easier though it did nothing to restore the memories of my past self.

But the greatest change was the Dungeon Domain. It cast my five senses in a sphere around me, reaching 20 feet in all directions.

Oh, the horror.

I would retch and throw up if half-eaten apple cores could. I was in a landfill that got swallowed up by an earthquake crevice. Rotten garbage was everywhere. Worms, maggots, mutated mice, I could see and feel everything. Smell and taste, too. Not to mention hear.

Along with my new senses, I also gained a sense of wanting. Especially a deep Hunger. I wished for everything to vanish. My Dungeon powers started to absorb the inert matter around me, starting with the foulest chemicals. My Dungeon Mana and Substance started to fill up, and my Hunger was abated.

Hours later, everything that tasted or smelled funny was gone. Then I realized the mistake I made. The landfill matter shifted and fell as objects literally disappeared. The rats scuttled, and the worms and maggots wriggled. Most of the creatures who couldn't escape were crushed as the castle of cards (actually garbage) crushed everything.

Myself included.


> You were crushed. Your armor trait mitigated 20% of the damage you suffered.

> You suffered a minor chipping. 20 Dungeon Mana and 30 Substance are required to repair.

> For killing level 0 maggot, you gained 100 Experience and 1 Dungeon Mana.

[...] 156 similar messages were suppressed.

> You gained a level! You gained +6 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +5 Will, +5 Clarity, and +6 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained a level! You gained +6 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +5 Will, +5 Clarity, and +6 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained the Minor Levitation Perk. You may hover 2 feet above the ground. Reduce all falling distances by 2 feet. You cannot move horizontally.

> A new entry called "Perks" was added to your Status.


Perhaps I was tackling this the wrong way. No, I was definitely going about this the wrong way. Think, Skip. Goddammit, that wasn't my name! My name is Skip! No, I mean, Mr. Neming! I give up.

Being hurt, as one could imagine, hurt. My Core was cracked and I was aching something monstrously. I dumped all my free points into Hardness.

Attributes Base Score   Efficiency Modified Score


22 (200%) 44


18 (200%) 36


20 (220%) 44


20 (220%) 44


42 (220%) 92


Armor went up to 9, which should give me a 45% damage reduction. Onward to become invulnerable. My Resources also improved.





I did nothing as I gave my predicament some thought. My mistake was to go straight for the prize without securing my location first. What I needed was to establish my Dungeon, then clear it up. With my Wisdom score of 36, I tried to find the walls of the crevice. No such luck. I could sense some rocks and stones, but not the walls.

Also, the disgusting smell and taste were back. Eww. Eww. I had no other choice but to endure it.

Slowly, I started removing the liquids. Maggot Juice, maggot innards. That gave me enough Substance points to start Replicating stone. I carefully replaced the garbage underneath me with a sheet of polished stone. It pressed down on the garbage below and I halted. Okay, still not the optimal approach.

Perhaps I should use my Skill? Oh, god, my brain was as dumb as a brainless rotten crystallized fruit.

I used Engineering. My mind went into hyper-focus and I could imagine shapes and spaces and geometric lines. It was like I had CAD software installed in my brain. I added the information from my Domain and then started to plan. I needed a floor, then walls, then a roof. My rationale was that if I was in a cube of... a sphere made out of stone, four feet in diameter, I would always be two feet away from the wall, making my fall that less serious. The sphere could fall and crack all it wanted. Dungeon Automation should repair it and I had a hunch that Dungeon walls were very tough. I mean, they used to be in the books, right?

Yeah, let's do this. Replicate stone, a thin layer around me. Start the sphere, add some prongs to support and distribute the weight, It started to look like one of those old undersea mines. I absorbed the garbage in the way and kept making a thin stone shell.

This time, the garbage just shifted and settled slightly. And... finished. The sphere was complete. The stone was only eight of an inch thick but now that it was complete, I would add more material to it. The first thing to go was the garbage inside the sphere. I cleaned it up really nicely, converting the matter into more stone and thickening my shell. Then I extended the prongs all the way, making them thicker too. It was now a four feet sphere with thirty-four long stone prongs in all directions.

All this weight pressed on the garbage and my sphere slowly sank to the bottom. The prongs helped and though some of them broke, I was tossed to and fro inside my sphere, noticing the first flaw in my plan. I had nothing to counter sideways movement.

I was still not putting my A-game forward. Time to improve.


About the author


Bio: The author would like to reinforce for the umpteenth time that the characters' opinions are their own, may be intentionally wrong, do not reflect my (MDW's) personal viewpoints neither are included in this work to further any political agenda (I don't even live in the same hemisphere or country as you, whichever those are. I'm writing from the Earth-Sun L3 point for all I care). My works serve no purpose other than to tell stories with conflicting viewpoints. Use of the reader's critical sense is highly advised.

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