A note from MDW

Errata: In "The Little Artillery that could, the third Threshold now restricts Perk acquisition even further.

> You reached the third Threshold. You gained 20% Attribute Efficiency to allocate.

> From now on, you gain Main Class Perks every 5 levels. Sub Classes above level 120 grant one Perk every 20 levels.



In "SPAWN MORE OVERLORDS!", the amount of Perk notifications suppressed was changed.


Last chapter remains unchanged. ^.^




In other news, I finally made a spreadsheet that will calculate the Status automatically for me! Can you believe I was doing everything by hand this far?

Me neither, to prove how lazy I am.

Why the hell did I gain a Perk at a level ending in two when I now gained them every five levels?


> An obsolete Perk has been removed. You gained 5% Attribute efficiency.

> You should stop and spend your unallocated points.


And there it was. Gone. Someone was doing some shenanigans with the System.

I did just that. I opened my Status and was blown back at how much it had grown. I was baffled. Stunned. I had so many points to spread around that I just divided them everywhere. The points of Efficiency were split between Willpower and Hardness.


Name: Skip May Neming Species: Dungeon Core / Plant (Apple)
Level:  162 Exp/ Level: 674 / 14,000
Main Class: Electronic Apple Orchard (L) Effective Level (temporary): ---
Sub-Classes: Architect of Destruction (V) Computer Engineer (E) Plains Master (V)
Mecha Pilot (E) Wayfaring Dungeon (E) Dimensional Porter (V)
Artillery General (E) Arcane Librarian (V)
Attributes Base Score   Efficiency Modified Score
Intelligence (In) 2308 200% 4616
Wisdom (Ws) 2316 200% 4632
Willpower (Wp) 2778 280% 7778
Clarity (Cl) 2436 220% 5359
Hardness (Hd) 2524 260% 6562
Resources Base Current   Maximum
MP (Cl) - regen (Wp) 862 ---- 47056 ( 67908 / day)
DM (Cl) 1882+280 ---- 102305
SP (Wp) 1882 ---- 148263
Stats Base Modifiers Current
Materialization (Ws) 820 ---- 38802
Armor sqrt(Hd):  81 ---- ( 66 / 75% )
Control (Wp) 172 ---- 13550

I was glad Blackjack Six didn't move according to my emotional state. But as if overcharged by my realization, Dungeon Automation started to work that much faster. With my new Materialization speed, the cannons started firing faster. The bottleneck to reload them was gone. I waved a hand and created another six laser cannons on each side.

A Domain Beacon appeared on each side, allowing the lasers to fire at targets almost three miles away. I pulled the beacons' origin point inward, to make sure I didn't have those stupid blind spots between the sphere and the cone, reducing this range to two and a half miles. But still, that was a mind-boggling range.

My secret project underneath the west side of the city also gained a boost. It would be finished in two weeks now.

I extended the underground Dungeon to fifteen floors. All of the new floors were lakes to farm Exp by forcing fish to breed and get eaten. Let's see if I can't get to level 300 with that.

Well, not if the Jabberwock had anything to say. And as the next volley of cannons struck him, he did.




A primal and deep scream caused the whole FOB and the world around us to shake. The sound was infused with wicked sticky magic.


> You heard the call of Jabberwock. You lost a Willpower contest. The efficiency of all Attributes is lowered by 50% for 1 hour.


I had the FFVII lucky sevens plus one. And I still lost. All my Attribute values dropped more than a thousand points. That was freaking unfair. Why can't I have the Veteran Skill?

"Could you let the smoke clear? Unless those cannons of yours are more destructive than the lasers, I doubt you are doing more damage than he can regenerate. And if he keeps eating the Infernali he is spawning right after the fact, you won't have enough monsters to get Experience for the raid group downstairs."

Marshall was right. I stopped the cannons. I needed to see what was going on with the area that stayed under bombardment for a whole day. I could see the first three miles. As I expected the precise artillery bombing created long and deep trenches. It was full of dead creatures and I absorbed it to replenish my stores of Substance. I even added a few steel ingots to my storeroom back in the main Dungeon, to consume later for more Substance. I swept the beacon up and down left and right in a search pattern and cleared the smoke, soot, and dust cloud for almost three miles. around the FOB. I also identified some dying Infernali in the crevices and used one of the new Perks. I filled the bottom of the crevice with napalm and ignited it. A barbecue from hell. I also captured the smoke before it could leave the crevice.


> A dweller died in your Dungeon. You gained no Exp. You gained 20 Dungeon Mana.


I waved to get Marshall's attention. <Someone died in the city.>

"In that bar fight?"

<I forgot about that. Jabberwock screamed right after.>

"Well, then. Beat some sense into the people there. Break a few legs and arms, it's nothing we cannot heal later."

<I'll do exactly that.>

I focused on the BlackJack Six chassis I had near the fight and Replicated a giant steel baseball bat near him. Using Floating Armaments, I moved the ginormous metal club along with the humanoid Mecha and started breaking the legs of the people brawling.

3,600 Agility and Dexterity were frighteningly impressive. The bat swished through the air as it moved fast enough to create a vacuum. With 6,000 points of Strength, even a little tap turned bones to dust. I Replicated air raid sirens on top of the buildings and rang them at full volume.

The people fighting quickly stopped. I had Blackjack Six Beta swivel its head slowly, taking in the scene. Then I dropped a massive sign from the sky and hammered it in front of the tavern where it all started.

<By orders of Lord Marshall and the Dungeon, anyone committing acts of violence will be brutally maimed.>

A guy with a glowing sword came from behind and slashed at the head of BJ6b. I let him and didn't make the Mecha dodge. With my accelerated perception, it seemed like he was a feature dancer doing a slow choreography. The sword connected to BJ6b's helmet and left a dent two millimeters deep.

The club blurred and a wind current blew toward that man. In the next moment, both of his feet were smashed into a bloody pulp. Then I had BJ6b punch him in the solar plexus. The man keeled ass over the teakettle and fainted. Oh, right. BJ6b was getting 15% of my Attributes. Almost 500 points. across the board.

The people brawling had long vanished. I fixed the damage on BJ6b and noted which cameras were recording the street. I had a Chimpanzee take the computer with the footage and tried my Domain Area Network.

Though the network was there, the computers weren't able to connect to each other, they lacked the hardware to link with the network. The Perk told me what I needed to do. Or better the protocols the Perk's network required. I just had to implement them. It would need a specific adapter and the software.

I had the chimpanzees start coding the drivers and the utility programs to communicate through the DAN. The design for the adapters was quickly drafted using Engineering's design mode.

<The brawl is over. I have video footage of who was the murderer.>

"Is this due to those weird glass orbs you put everywhere?"

<Yes. They are video cameras. I didn't put any in non-public spaces.>

"It's fine."

I had BJ6b jump down the pit. Then I reclaimed it.





The second day at the FOB ended. The people downstairs were now all level forty-six in their new Classes. I asked Marshall to give them some leveling advice and watched in secret to see if I had screwed up something. He said something about stunted growth and lack of planning but the people hadn't used their Sub-Class slots yet nor earned a third slot, which would force them to convert the slot into 50% efficiency.

Marshall also said that high-level people sometimes burn new sub-Class slots for the Efficiency bonus, when their builds were too focused on a single Attribute. The math was simple. If you were level 300, a sub-Class you didn't need would give you 1,500 points. If you had a single attribute with a base value greater than 3,000, you would get more points with the 50% efficiency boost. The hassle of leveling up a new sub-Class was too much for them. Their effective level wouldn't drop enough for them to gather Exp from killing random stuff, and they would still need 300,000 Exp to remove the leveling restrictions.

If I understood correctly, alternate methods of earning Exp were hard to come by. Even crafters suffered from that. For example, if I made a level 60 item, I wouldn't earn anything from it. Though I had crafting classes, I needed to make things closer to my level.

Also, my Skills were lagging behind.

I sensed movement. Looking to the east, I saw Jabberwock's tentacles writhing behind the dissipating smoke cloud.

On a whim, I fired all lasers at the same spot in the center mass of the World Boss. An eruption of steam and gore pushed back against the lasers and Jabberwock screamed louder than before.




A primal and deep scream caused the whole FOB and the world around us to shake. The sound was infused with wicked sticky magic.


> You heard the challenge of Jabberwock. You lost a Willpower contest. The efficiency of all Attributes is lowered by 50% for 1 hour. You are frightened. You suffer a 50% combat efficiency penalty for 1 hour.


Illea, help!

That affected the lasers for some reason. I believe that I lost the mental focus to operate Dungeon Automation. The lasers drifted, drawing black gashes in the monster's flesh. I tried to focus them but I found that I was shaking. Really shaking, bouncing inside my receptacle inside Blackjack Six's hips, I could fly so I could shake myself. Involuntarily. At least I didn't Replicate pee and dumped it down Blackjack Six's leg plates.

But the lasers stayed on target (hard to miss a monster 400 feet wide) and kept pumping sixteen times sixty kilowatts of luminous energy. That's almost a gigawatt.

The heads flailed wildly as the tentacles tried to protect the necks. I kept the lasers as focused as possible. Gore and blood showered through the holes. Plumes of steam wafted up from the monster.

Burn, bitch.

Jabberwock started to bite the wounded tentacles and slurp them like they were Godzilla's Ramen noodles. Or Godzilla's calamari barbecue. Then new tentacles grew back, pristine flesh. This went back and forth for a while. I had to replace the lasers to eliminate the built-up heat and restore the spent batteries. But it was an exercise in futility. I knew the heads were weak points. Marshall said it used to have four, but now only three. Perhaps that was the key to defeating the World Boss. Cut the heads.

Perhaps I needed more lasers. Or something more destructive. Like a massive railgun or even just more dakka. Could I make missiles? Jet fuel surely counted as something incendiary. Could I deliver a Macross Missile Massacre on Jabberwock?

Should I use anti-tank ordnance? Something designed to pierce armor and deliver a secondary impactor could pierce through the tentacle and then strike the neck or the head.

I doubled the number of laser beams from twenty-four to forty-eight. Jabberwock started to lose tentacles faster than he could eat. Ninety-six lasers then. It was about my limit if I didn't prepare beforehand. The monster screamed loudly, renewing the duration of the debuffs.

I sensed Marshall climbing the stairs. I Replicated a welding mask for him.

"What is this?"

<A mask. If you come up now without it, you'll become blind. Also, hope you are fire-resistant. It is quite hot up here.>

"I have some fire resistance."

I adjusted the cannons that wouldn't fire straight into a laser's path for maximum range and fired them in batteries, two seconds intervals.

"Patriarch's mercy!" Marshall cursed from behind the welding mask. "It's falling apart!"

Indeed. Jabberwock would bite a tentacle, and slurp it to regrow a new one, but in the meanwhile, another two tentacles would be burnt off by the lasers and fall down. And those were the ones it was using to protect the necks and heads. The giant tentacles it didn't eat kept wriggling and slamming themselves on the ground, kicking up some dust.

Then the unthinkable helped. The inexorable monster, Marshall's nightmare, Jabberwock turned tail and fled. The monster started crawling away. It lowered its heads and put all its tentacles behind and moved away from the lasers. Screaming all the way.

The cannon shells landed, exploding at the foot of the monster. Jabberwock bounced from the barrage but the shells also created a convenient smoke cloud to block the lasers. Ducking low, it used the curvature of the planet as a shield against the lasers that needed a direct line of sight. Doing that gave me another piece of information regarding Jabberwock.

That bastard was intelligent.





I cut off the lasers. Jabberwock had spread itself flat across several acres of terrain and was slowly moving out of cannon range too.

Marshall let the welding mask drop on the floor. "You made it run away." He mumbled.

<Apparently, yes. I did.>

I scanned around. The blasted battlegrounds had no surviving Infernali that I could find. We prepared to board the train back to Pitsmouth. With Superconductive Vegetation, my perception of this place was the same whether I was there or not. The difference was my Domain bubble. But the subway took half an hour to cross.

As we climbed down, I sensed a massive wave of Mana. I focused on the telescopes at the top of the three-mile tower.

Jabberwock was using so much Mana I could sense him from fifteen miles away. It was dreary and ominous.

A gash in reality opened, impossibly tall. Five hundred feet from the ground, a hole into another dimension opened. through it, a four-legged monster dropped. It was crystalline and shone with its own light. Three hundred feet tall by two hundred wide and five hundred feet long, it was a mix between a coyote and a bobcat. The newcomer's light allowed me to see Jabbberwock regrow its lost tentacles.

Then they started moving toward us again, the crystal coyote-bobcat in front of Jabberwock. Two World Bosses instead of one. Maim one, get one free.


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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