A note from MDW

Bonus nerd points if you know where the title comes from. Please explain in the comments below.

November 29th, 2087

Using a star chart, I finally set aside the time to calculate the date using the position of the planets and the moon. The Apocalypse happened almost seventy years ago. We were approaching what remained of this once great nation's capital city.

I asked Marshall what to expect since he had lived here in the past. What I heard from him shaped my approach.

I sent small drones with missives to the ruins of the major government buildings. If they shot down these drones, It was no big loss. I could make another in less than a second. Beacon scans showed a lot of people living in the ruins of Washington, DC. I did a detailed count. Sixty thousand people. My heart (no such thing) was beating fast in excitement. Perhaps I could shelf the eugenics program designed to get humans to breed faster.

What eugenics program? I have no idea what you're talking about.

The city was relatively clear of Infernali. They made walls of upturned cars and trucks blocking the major streets and isolating the former District of Columbia from the rest of the world. Everything outside was blasted to kingdom come. I wonder how it got to this point. On the walls of twisted metal, guards paid very close attention to the wilderness beyond. On second thought, it was obvious people had cleared the area around the walls for better visibility over the decades.

It wasn't entirely clear because the humans kept some warrens to use as monster breeders and Experience farms. Their security forces were well-organized. I also found the auction house where I was once put up for sale. One demerit for the people running this place.

Some guards at the steps of the Capitol shot down the drones with javelins and arrows. I could've dodged but who cared about cheap 35 DM plastic toys? Not me, I was a billionaire. They inspected the drones and then picked up the letter. Hours later, the letter was read by a bearded guy in his fifties, sitting in the white house's oval office? The President? Of course not. No elections were held in the last six decades, at least. He was just some random high-level guy who decided to become the despot of his tiny little world.

I mean, just like me. But my world wasn't tiny. 1,200 square miles couldn't be considered tiny. I sent more drones to the white house. I Replicated them outside the city and then sent them flying. I could make the drone right in front of the oval office guy but I didn't want to show my hand.

Another scan of the city revealed two of my electrical APCs (the future WAS green) in a garage. Some guards watched over the doors and I suspected they were confiscated from unlucky traders. Connecting to their computers via the DAN, I downloaded the telemetry, pictures, and video footage. The traders weren't just unlucky, they were downright mugged. That's grand theft auto. I transmitted the APC's computers the override code, putting them under my control.

Inexorable (good luck stopping those fat-ass wagons), the land train approached the city. I Replicated more scout blimps with an active LCD camouflage. It was a new contraption that would scan behind the LCD panel with cameras, then calculate some brightness, color, and contrast approximation on the LCD panel to make it look like the background. It worked better when the sky was brightly illuminated but it was less conspicuous than shiny polished steel anyway.

Floating twelve thousand feet above the ground, these blimps gave me a line of sight to the entire city. I saw the living conditions of the people there, overheard conversations, and estimated the level of the warriors based on their magical auras. The estimate was better than nothing but not that much better. A hybrid fighter who didn't display obvious signs of having magic would register as a mundane warrior with a much higher level. But since this system ended up overestimating the threat of the enemy, it wasn't as bad as underestimating.

We had a dogma in my faith. There was no kill like overkill. Make sure your enemy is dead, then kill them again. The System might even credit you twice for the kill.

The bearded guy sent some runners to contact key personnel. Guards arrived with more downed drones. They complained these metal Infernali didn't give any Experience. The bearded guy just sent them out to hunt more, promising a shard for each downed metal bird. He kept the drones and examined some of them, then returned to his office.

I knew all I needed to do about this guy from Marshall. But regardless of my first second-hand impression, I would give him a chance.

I repaired one drone that was outside his aura.

"Greetings, Mr. Lehto," the drone spoke.

The man turned around and fired a magical spell without any utterance. The drone melted under the heat generated by the magic. It wasn't a firebolt, it was more like concentrated microwaves. Oh! Did he have Starfire's powers? Was he a super mega geek that took one of the coolest Marvel mutant powers?

I brought another drone online. "I hope you have a lot of Mana. We can do this all day long." Another drone turned to plastic slag. Next. "Or we can talk like civilized people." Slag. Drone flew. "Do you really think you can—" slag. "...survive me if I decide—" slag. "... to retaliate your—" slag. "...obvious host—" slag. "...hostile approach to—" slag. "...diplomacy?"—" slag.

"You won't devour my people, monster!" He threatened, defiant.

"Who told you—" slag. "...I am devouring people?—" slag. "...I have three hundred—" slag. "... and fifty-seven—" slag. "...thousand people—" slag. " happily—" slag. "...and well-fed.—" slag.

The smell of burnt plastic was overwhelming now. I could probably kill him by saturating the place with the noxious aroma.

"I am the President of the United States!"

"Nobody elected you," I said from a drone outside of his field of view. "How many votes did you get? Did anyone count the ballots?"

"You won't prevail here, Dungeon. The only way you'll get away with stealing my people is over my dead b—" slag.

Can't cure stupid. As the extremely precise ultraviolet laser burned a hole through his pituitary gland and then cut all the way down to the base of his spine, the man's threats became null and void. He stated his terms and I accepted them. With a beacon shining over the room, I removed all evidence the man had ever been in the room, much less assassinated. The corpse became Mana and Substance, the hole in the window was fixed, the air was purified, and the molten drones all vanished as well.

It was time for phase B.





Massive LED billboards appeared out of nowhere all over the city. Exciting music played as scenes of the people of Speranza happy as they could be in their daily lives appeared. Ladies chatting and sipping tea at a Paris-inspired Café. Children playing among the trees. Fields of wheat, orchards full of fruit. Old ladies with their skirts raised, stepping on Saskatoon berries to make wine. Bread, butter, jam, cheese. Marshall sipping coffee like he wanted to sell you some inside aluminum capsules.

The next generation of speech synthesizers could convey a bit of emotion and sound more human-like. "People of Washington, DC. I am Garfield Babbage, slayer of Jabberwock. We bring to you the bounty of nature and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Do you live in fear of the Infernali? Of the world bosses and roving marauders? Tired of rationing your food, of fearing what future your children will have?"

The music rose to a crescendo as the screens showed the Rangers studying in their classrooms, and then working out at the gym. Small kids in uniform walking to school with cute leather backpacks and yellow hats. Our recent thanksgiving feast, with hundreds of people at each table in the central garden. Massive barbecue spits with meat. Said meat being sliced into large bits. Roasted turkeys as far as the eye could see. Bowls of poutine drowning in gravy, for some reason.

"Regardless of your choice, your days of hardship are over," the synthesized voice continued. As a welcome gift, I offer you the fruit of my trees. Savor it for yourselves, and make your own conclusions." As the voice spoke, I showed a video of the average Speranza house, with lots of sentimental and homely decorations.

The video went on replay. People watched and started talking about that. Most were skeptical. I didn't blame them. At the end of the second playthrough, I switched the video. Now, I showed them footage of my fight against Jabberwock and the other World Bosses. Especially of how my Battalion of Bricks Windows turned one into minced meat.

Then the fight against the Boboyote. I had a camera bot recording it from ground level, to let people appreciate how big our robots were.

Without their leader, the guards were running around, trying to get instructions from the lieutenants. But Mr. Lehto ruled with an iron fist. As the lieutenants realized the boss was no longer around, they immediately fell on one another. I just watched them put plans in motion to backstab and attempt to grab power while secretly filming them.





Two hours later, the land train rolled into town. And when I mean that, I mean we trampled over anything that was on the west side of what once was the I-95 and then straight into Arlington. Thankfully, the military didn't let people build tall buildings. We passed north of the demolished Pentagon and then rolled over the rather dry Potomac and into D.C. proper.

I parked the land train between the White House and the Capitol. The rear wagon was still outside the city proper.

It was chaos. Guards had deserted their post and the lieutenants rethink their approach. Gigantic doors opened on the sides of the next six wagons and the new Bickering Widows came to life, sliding out of their hangar and standing up. I also sent some Raindrops out to patrol around and show the people that what they saw on the video was real.

Then I delivered the coup-de-grace. Drones filled with the liquid essence of baked bread (perfume, basically) flew around the inhabited blocks, enticing people to come out. Food distribution here in Washington followed this order of priorities. Everything the ruling class could shove into their pie holes, then double rations for the guards, then whatever they needed to trade for what the ruling class wanted, and what was left was split between the civilians.

The reason I killed Mr. Lehto so quickly was that I already knew what kind of government he established here. One based on oppression. While all systems of government in this fucked-up wasteland relied on power and control, at least some treated those on the bottom of the totem pole like people. Would either Marshall or I allow people to vote and chose who would govern them? No fucking way. Perhaps I would, later in the future. I didn't care if the one managing the people was either Marshall or someone else.

All I cared about was that my humans were safe and happy. Safe and happy humans made more babies. Since I wasn't going to enact my Eugenics plan... which totally doesn't exist, I needed people to feel comfortable with having lots of children.

Meanwhile, the ruling class was more concerned about packing up and running away. Or attempting to seize power but most decided they wouldn't fight 200 feet robots, which was a sensible decision. A group went for the APCs with chests of Mana stones. I let them board the vehicles, start them up, and drive away. Then I took over the electronic controls and brought them straight to a wagon, where they became trapped in a garage after it locked up. Those who mistreated servants or outright killed them got the UV laser treatment whenever nobody was looking at them.

I didn't want this kind of people messing around in Speranza. They would be very welcome to live on the land train as... guests who couldn't leave on their own, so they would count against my Quest tally. Only the nastier among them were quietly removed.

More drones flew toward the guards preparing to put up some resistance, demanding their surrender. They also stated that if they attempted to attack these drones, they would be killed. A few punks felt lucky but weren't. The others surrendered.

I sensed some people flying away on hang gliders, using a very familiar spell. Hugging Mommas cut their escape short with well-placed Railgun shells. Even though these people were level seventy, give or take a handful, they still fell down with giant holes in their stomachs.

Finally, with the troublesome people under control, it was time to have a chat with the people of Washington, DC.


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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