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Oww. Owwie. It hurt! I didn't know that crystallized rotten fruit could feel pain but life was full of surprises.

 

> You were hit. Your armor mitigated 70% of the damage.

> You were hit. Your armor mitigated 70% of the damage.

> You were hit. Your armor mitigated 70% of the damage.

> You were hit. Your armor mitigated 70% of the damage.

> You were hit. Your armor mitigated 70% of the damage.

> You are severely injured. Dungeon Automation is repairing the damage.

 

I would've probably shattered were it not for my cushioning wrapper. My Core was cracked and chipped, and I did not dare spend any Mana beyond what was needed for the repairs. A hundred-something points of DM left my Core and then started to fix it.

Still, I cast my Domain around and checked. I'd crashed through four floors of the building. And boy, this hole was huge... No. That was not me. Something else dug a hole through ten floors of the building and I fell through four of these holes, skittering along the floor before catching the fifth. Four above, six below. Wouldn't that make it eleven? Anyway.

It still hurt.

The external rubber wrapper was torn, and the copper sphere was dented. Some of the air bubbles of the inner cushion had popped. I was in an office building. A devastated office building.

I wanted to go back to the landfill and dig myself deeper. A few kilometers, at least.

Oh, wait.

I think I was forgetting something. Forgive me, I was in deep pain.

Who was I?

I was a mugger.

And what did muggers do?

No, not that.

Deep breaths. Focus. Put those points of Will to work. Exercise that Wisdom. Stats were a percentile bonus on your natural abilities. Yeah, what a boon. Increase the intellect of a dumb critter by 200% and you will have a slightly less dumb critter.

I was in an office building. An XXI century office building. That was demolished by the demons, or Infernali, and left to rust for a few decades.

How long did I spend in that landfill again?

Stop. Focus. Office buildings in the XXI century were full of...

Domain, domain, show me if some phat loot indeed remains.

And the verdict was... FUCKING YES!

I would squeal like the poor kid in the Chocolate Factory. Like that blonde kid in the movie alone in his home with the dumb robbers. If only I had a way to vocalize.

Computers. A lot of computers. All of them rusted and old enough to be your momma's grandpa. But I still could study their make and try to learn something.

GIMME!

Fuck the landfill. I started absorbing the computers like crazy, one after the other. The System told me I needed a higher intelligence or more samples so I fed it every MOSFET and RAM and BIOS chip I could find. Soon every single electronic component in a 68 feet radius around me was gone. That included about a hundred computers and about sixty smartphones that were laying around in some skeleton's dead bony hands.

I still hadn't unlocked any new components but reclaiming these highly complex components gave me a surge of Experience. The System clearly classified them as high-level stuff.

 

> You learned how to create NE555. Cost: 4 SP and 8 DM per unit. You gained 2152 Experience Points.

> You learned how to create Variable Color LED. Cost: 3 SP and 4 DM per 100. You gained 378 Experience Points.

[...] 34 similar messages were suppressed.

 

More components into the list. It was all a blur now and I focused on the good part.

 

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You learned the Sturdy Domain Perk. When resisting interference in your domain, increase your Will score for this contest only by 3*(Intelligence- [Distance in feet]).

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You learned the Extra Crystallization Perk. Once per day, by using an amount of Dungeon Mana equal to 20% of your maximum, increase your base DM by 1 point.

> You learned the Chink in Armor Perk: When using weapons you crafted, a critical hit allows you to ignore 25% of the target's armor.

> You reached your limit of 5 active Perks. Your class allows you to have 5 reserve Perks.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

 

> Your armor reached level 16. The maximum mitigation possible is 75%. Every point of armor above 15 reduces damage by 1 HP, after mitigation.

 

Oh, boy, oh, boy. I immediately used all of my free points on Wisdom, and the new Perk to improve my DM maximum.

This, coupled with the bonuses from leveling up catapulted my Domain's range by another 140 feet, basically tripling the sphere I could sense. But now I could sense nine floors down, and nine floors above.

All your electronics are belong to us.

 

*

 

*

 

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained the Tough Capacitor Perk. Your capacitors now melt their soldering and disconnect from the circuit instead of exploding. This effect only works if this Perk was active when creating a contraption.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained the Hardened Device Casing Perk. Your devices have half your Armor rating at the moment of creation. This effect only works if this Perk was active when creating a contraption.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You learned the Wind-Gliding Bullet Perk: Projectiles you craft suffer 20% less wind resistance.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained the Speak Binary Perk. You are fluent in binary languages. More complex languages require an Intelligence check.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

 

Once again, all points went into Wisdom. Having a bigger Domain was a must. I missed my Dungeon and the thousands of feet of range I had. This was probably a waste but I had dozens of ruined buildings to loot. Gaining more levels would be harder now but I had a plan.

 

Name: Skip May Neming Species: Dungeon Core / Plant (Apple)
Main Class: Electronic Apple Orchard (L) Level:  17
Sub-Class: Architect of Destruction (V) Exp/ Level: 333 / 7,000
Attributes Base Score   Efficiency Modified Score

Intelligence

144 (200%) 288

Wisdom

188 (200%) 376

Will

129 (220%) 283

Clarity

115 (220%) 253

Hardness

169 (220%) 371
Resources Base Current   Maximum

DM

270+1 837 956

SP

270 1031 1034
Materialization 368 Armor:   19 (4 / 75%)
Traits Puzzle Dungeon Dungeon Automation Replicate Electronics
Sanctuary Orchard Dungeon Domain
Skills
Engineering III
  • You can visualize a blueprint. Doing so reduces the chances of mishap by 5% per rank.
  • Your contraptions are 5% sturdier per rank.
  • Discount 5% per rank to repair traps.
Implements of Demise I
  • When designing a new project meant to cause harm, it deals 5% more damage per rank.
Perks Minor Levitation (2ft) Telekinetic Button Pusher Domain Beacon
Sturdy Domain Extra Crystallization Tough Capacitor Hardened Device Casing
Speak Binary
Traps Bb.gum Shock (18) Shock (50)

 

With this much range, I could reach the nearby buildings. But by now I already knew all the components that went into a computer. Nonetheless, I needed materials and Mana to complete a very important project.

 

*


*

 

Turns out my most useful Perk was Telekinetic Button Pusher. I pressed the actuator buttons for the pinkie, ring, middle, and index fingers in order, then the thumb. The mechanical hand in front of me closed into a fist. I needed another set of actuators but this was enough for a proof-of-concept.

Making that hand took days of design and construction. Nobody came looking for me. I think the amount of Mana I was pushing around in the landfill was what gave me away. Right now? My Dungeon Mana regeneration was at zero and I was slowly consuming the building to fuel my experiments. It had already lost everything but the structure on the top two floors. Plumbing and wiring, along with the rotting and rusted furniture, were all gone.

 

> Your training and knowledge improved your Engineering skill to rank IV.

> Rank IV benefits: Moving parts experience 5% less friction, wear, and snags per rank.

 

The hand alone had ten actuators for the fingers and three for the wrist. I saved one by implementing the human limitations around the pinky and ring fingers. Two at the elbows, one for flexion the other for rotation, and four at the shoulders. Nineteen buttons and nineteen electromagnetic servos of varying sizes in each arm. Legs were easier. The same shoulder rig but inverted went on the hips, then two actuators for the knee, and three for the heels. Two strong rotators at the waist, coupled with two precision fast-acting ones for fine movement. Nine for each leg.

In place of the intestines, I had a large gyroscope installed. Four weights around the gyro could be adjusted to and fro to allow the torso to keep its balance when walking. Sixty-four controls so far.

 

> Your training and knowledge improved your Engineering skill to rank V.

> Rank V benefits: The deviation in your measurements are 5% smaller per rank.

 

The casing for my Core was right beneath the gyroscope, right where the bladder should be but armored to the max, to keep the center mass low. No way I would put it in the stomach, where people would aim for center mass, or in the chest. God forbid I put myself in the head either.

No, the torso space was where all the heavy-lifting actuators and pistons resided. The shoulder mount was an odd one. I needed to be able to emulate the raising of arms for shrugging, the swiveling of the pectoral and back muscles, and then the neck mount. Ten controls for the collarbone and pectoral portion of the torso alone. Along the spine I had four controls, two adjusting the lumbar and two for the chest movements. The actuators for the head were all inside the head itself. Rotate, up and down, and to the sides. Six buttons for the head.

I had a grand total of eighty buttons to push to make this body move. Unfortunately, I didn't learn any software from the old computers. All the data was either destroyed or beyond my ability to salvage. Perhaps later if I find stuff in a better state of conservation. The controls were all mechanical, with little automation aside from some current-controlling circuits that could be adjusted and calibrated.

My new body was based on a skeleton I found in the buildings around me, which I discovered was a female too late in my design process. At least it gave me more room in the hips for my Core.

I wrapped all the metal in latex faux skin. I had found a sample of it in the landfill, covering a discarded rod-shaped entertainment device that vibrated. It wouldn't pass inspection from up close but it was my best shot. South of getting actual human skin and grafting it over...

That was not going to happen, period. I'd rather go full robot and add a Terminator-style metallic skull.

The finishing touch was to design and build medieval full-plate armor for my robotic body. It would help hide the fake skin. Looking at it, I almost discarded the latex wrapper thing entirely. If I tried to make it too realistic, it would fall straight into the uncanny valley and might cause even more turmoil.

 

> You created a new contraption. Mark I mechanical body, "Ms. Josselyn".

 

Who the fuck was Josselyn? Oh, dear God. Was it the name of the woman whose skeleton I consumed to make this body? Please tell me it wasn't. Giving her a name makes it weird.

 

> For this (Epic) contraption, you gained 9,158 Experience points.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained the Green Thumb Perk. Seeds you plant are (2*Will)% more likely to germinate and the plants are (Wisdom)% healthier.

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

 

Damn, they really wanted to make me a gardener!

Now, the least I could do was to take Ms. Josselyn out to dance. I placed myself in the hip compartment... do not make it weird, do not make it weird... and welded the hatch shut. I reabsorbed the braces and took the first step. Josselyn wobbled and the gyro was unable to keep the balance. I fumbled the buttons for the weights, pushing the two on the sides forward too fast instead of back to compensate for the pull.

Poor Josselyn fell helmet-first on the floor. The faux latex skin broke open and ripped in several places.

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About the author

MDW

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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