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A note from MDW

Hey, if you know any novel on RR that could use a shout, let me know in a DM. Spread the love and all that jazz.

The subway train sped toward the city. I (Blackjack Six) was sitting on a bench, watching the Kaiju advance through the telescope on the surface. Though it seemed to be nimble, the crystal Boboyote seemed to have been summoned to be a bodyguard to Jabberwock. It was pawing its way forward slowly, keeping the distance to the tentacle boss. But I was under no illusion it would speed up and destroy my FOB once it was sure its boss wouldn't become toast.

Scanning around, I noticed the area around Jabberwock was clear of Infernali. I hoped summoning the Boboyote had put his ability on a long cooldown that would take years to wear off. From what Marshall said, Jabberwock's horde was an issue on itself. Few people could kill hundreds of thousands of monsters. Heh, look at me, thinking I am people. Perhaps I was.

"We will need to evacuate Pitsmouth, won't we?" Marshall asked. He was sitting on the bench across the aisle from me.

<I need to see how that monster reacts to my weapons. Come morning, it will be in range of my cannons and the lasers.> I had run out of space in the LCD display. <I will test its defenses and abilities. Then we decide what to do from there.>

"How fast can you build one of these subway trains going west?"

I had a better solution. The subway couldn't carry two hundred thousand people.

<Do you think people would be safe underground?>

"No. Not at all. Jabberwock proved to be intelligent and able to summon specialized Infernali. If we hunker down and let it dominate the surface, it will find the right Infernali for the job and then we are screwed. Like that... Boboyote, you called him? That crystal monster. I bet he is immune to Light magic."

My lasers weren't magic but I gave up on explaining.

"What's the deal with Mr. Garfield Babbage? Is that your real name?"

I explained to him what it meant. Marshall laughed at me the rest of the ride.

 

*


*

 

I started a new business. Selling wagons and beasts of burden. I kid you not. People were desperate and Marshall suggested we did this to alleviate the pressure. If we gave people an out, the most vocal dissenters would take the chance and go out into the wilderness.

We were also selling the steel wagons pulled by two bison bulls for very cheap. A tenth of what it would sell for in a normal market. The demand skyrocketed.

You might ask, what of the Boboyote. I really don't want to talk about it. The two World Bosses are out there if that's enough.

No? Oh, well.

I tested the Boboyote's defenses with a salvo of cannon shells. It did fuck all. After the smoke passed, the Boboyote was not even chipped. Then the lasers. The Boboyote lit up like a blue Christmas tree, causing an aurora around it. Its crystal was too hard, its body was impervious to lasers.

Another FOB was coming live, thirty miles from the pit. In fifteen days, with the Kaiju in range, I wanted to test how it would react to Gauss cannons. The railgun project was about to become reality.

Meanwhile, I was spawning bison carts to sell and coding. Porting the Z80 to the 486 chipset took me a few days of work. I dismissed the chimpanzees, sending them to the savanna floor to live in peace. Or get eaten by lions. With my new Perks, I could code faster if I entered the programming trance.

From there I used the Norton book to implement the DOS and GUI OS. An application launcher and manager, and we were back to the nineties. And speaking of computers, I gave Marshall his Z80 machines.

My next project was the text-to-speech AI. I parsed thousands of audio files from both the people underground and the surface, footage from the surveillance cameras. The analysis software extracted the phonemes our language used. The AI didn't need to recognize the sounds, that would be a speech-to-text application. What I wanted was to mix the timbre and pitch and gain the ability to generate voices that belonged to nobody. Like that Japanese software that created the holographic singer, Hatsune Miku.

That should've taken years. But I was cheating. I was forty-seven times smarter (whichever that meant) than before I got the System. My Skill, Computer Sciences, gave me the insight into the discipline equivalent to a PhD student. Though my knowledge base was lacking, I had the books to guide me. I even wrote a Python interpreter to allow me to follow the examples in the book more closely.

Finally, I created the network adapters the 486 computers needed to talk to one another through the Domain Area Network (DAN). That opened a new can of worms but after I had some synchronization protocols ready (Thanks Professor Knuth) including a load balancer, I could split the AI training job between the machines. I had no GPUs to do the heavy lifting and this step would take a while.

Blackjack Six got an upgrade, switching from Z80 to the more powerful 486. That gave it a slight boost in reaction speed. Part of this boost was because I also added some vines to the inside of the chassis. Superconductive Vegetation was faster than copper cables to transmit impulses. With the telemetry data, I also calibrated the sensors and movement commands to be more reactive and eliminate imperfections.

 

*


*

 

The FOB didn't have a chance. I dissolved it before Boboyote destroyed everything. The crystal monster had a breath weapon that shot a hail of crystal darts at the target with a sonic boom. Yeah, because the eject velocity of these shards was supersonic. They laid waste to the few weapons I left behind and didn't reclaim. Not only this attack had a huge AOE, but it also had a range of about two miles too.

Days later, it was time to test a new type of weapon. I had a few variants of the railgun Gauss cannon but they all used the same principle. Coils of wires went around a long rail. When it was time to fire, a mechanism put a projectile on the rail. The machine sent an electrical current to the coils, which generated a powerful electromagnetic field around the coils. Due to the way magnetic fields were always perpendicular to the current, that created a strong force pushing the projectile toward the end of the rail. With a little push from a coil, the projectile was seized by the magnetic field and accelerated down the rail, flinging it out on the other side.

But the projectile was not just a metal dart. It was a cylinder of metal, housing the real payload. Once cleared of the railgun, small explosive charges jettisoned the cylinder of metal, revealing the aerodynamic payload. It was a dart with a heavy head and four flanges at the back to keep it on target. On the final approach, the booster charge at the back of the dart would ignite and give it some extra propulsion.

Finally, upon contact, the explosives on the head would detonate. A shaped charge would create a vortex of pressure bending inward, causing the metal in the middle to explode out and forward, sending an armor-piercing penetrator round into the target. It was inspired on the Russian RPG-7 antitank projectile.

Boboyote came into sight. I had tested some of these railguns to measure their range and got about twenty miles if I went ballistic and shot over the planet's curvature. Accuracy took a huge hit and I would need a lot of data to fix that. I didn't have time to perfect the weapon like I did with the cannons.

Ten different models of railguns started firing into the sky. My target's back had ten thousand square feet of area but I wasn't too sure the railguns would fall on-target. Twenty miles was a long way to go and many things could go wrong.

When the first salvo landed, I had another four in the air. I counted the hits from the observation tower. Two guns struck home and the charges went off as expected. The warhead let out a ring of smoke and fire, then the impactor sped up. And it penetrated!

Boboyote howled in pain, with a superheated metal rod lodged nine feet inside its crystalline body. Which meant it was just a flesh wound. I had no idea if this monster had any innards.

The second volley came. Boboyote sensed the projectiles but it couldn't or didn't want to move away from Jabberwock. Did the tentacle Kaiju controlled this summon? I had no idea. More hits. This time, three warheads delivered their payload.

I noticed the ones that fell short, the ones that went off-target and discarded these models. Of the few that delivered consistent strikes, I made some variants and Replicated these. The genetic algorithm for AI development I read in the Python book was helping a lot here.

Hours passed. Dozens of charges had struck home but Boboyote seemed only annoyed. I enlarged the railguns to allow for bigger bullets. I made models with longer barrels. But struck diminishing returns. It was hard to accelerate the projectile faster than it was already going. Not to mention some of these longer railguns heated the metal enough to get it red-hot as it left the railgun, causing minor warping that over twenty miles put the charge way off-target. Adding more coils also struck diminishing returns.

Not to mention all this electricity and the projectile were expensive. Each shot cost me about 20 to 30 DM.

 

*


*

 

Two days later, I had perfected this generation of railguns. With people leaving the City and my Dungeon (both were the same), my DM regeneration could take a hit. Perhaps I should've made more forest floors instead of being a greedy bastard and making lakes to farm Experience.

Boboyote could regenerate wounds, though it was slowed down by one of my Perks which I remembered to use. Lingering Wounds, from Architect of Demise. This whole system of equipping and removing Perks was a bitch. I could only have six of them active at any time.

I watched as the impactors were slowly pushed out of his crystalline skin and dumped out, leaving spotless crystal behind. This meant that if I had any chance of defeating this Kaiju, I needed to deliver a Kaiju-sized amount of damage.

I Extended this FOB and Replicated a thousand railguns. Then I sank into my DM and SP reserves, burning 25,000 DM with each salvo. I had calculated the trajectories (using a computer!) to make sure the damn magnetic bullets wouldn't hit each other. I staggered the railguns to fire in groups, just like the cannon. Dozens, then hundreds of shots struck the Boboyote. Chunks of crystal cracked and fell off of his body. It howled in pain but didn't cause any special effect. I recalibrated the railguns to improve the precision of the shots. The crystal Kaiju dutifully kept its place as Jabberwock's meat shield. Crystal shield.

I didn't ask Marshall to make a raid group. I didn't want to give them false hope. Two lucky bullets struck the base of Boboyote's left ear. They punched through and a huge crack formed between the two holes. Boboyote shook its head and the ear broke off and fell three hundred feet down. The Kaiju spat a shower of shards into the air, taking the next salvo out. But then the next struck home. The cracks were more than his stunted regeneration could deal with. Chunks of its hindquarters crashed down.

Boboyote chafed and shook like a dog trying to get out of its leash. It scowled, showing his building-sized fangs, and glared forward with hatred in its eyes, which shone red. But I gave him zero respite and kept the railgun punishment. This fucker would go down, then its boss.

The damage to its hindquarters increased. Half of a leg cracked and crashed. Boboyote shifted its weight to compensate. Yes. Yes.

Jabberwock slapped a tentacle on the crystal Kaiju. Boboyote snapped and then it ran. Jabberwock stopped moving forward and suddenly the spot I had aimed all my rounds was empty. Freed by its master, the massive crystal monster started to run at about two hundred miles per hour. He would be upon the railguns in six minutes. I wasted one aiming them straight ahead.

Then I shot. Two hundred projectiles. Another salvo five seconds later. And another. Most grazed the dashing monster but a few struck its snout. It howled and slowed down to breathe more crystals and knock some bullets out of its way. But that allowed me to squeeze another salvo. Its right shoulder broke. And finally...

YES! YES!

One lucky shot struck its damaged hind leg right on the knee. The leg broke and the million-ton monster faltered. It limped and shifted its weight into its other legs. But it could no longer run. Now it was a sitting duck. A siting lame duck. Boboyote used to be a bad boss, but then it took... a railgun shell... to its knee.

The railguns sang their chorus of destruction. Whoomph, whoop, and the Boboyote went crash, smash, whimper. It crumbled into a pile of giant-sized crystal. As a last act of defiance, it howled. A red crystal in the center of its chest, now exposed, started to glow ominously. Even Jabberwock changed gears and backpedaled. Mana pulsed out with every beat of its crystalline heart. I felt a shiver ran up my spine (don't have one).

I think I should go. I jumped down from the tower and ran into the subway station. I dissolved the railguns on the surface, recouping some of the spent resources. I closed the surface access with Dungeon walls, knowing the station ahead satisfied the stupid requirement of having a path to my Core.

Boboyote went all Akira on us. A predator that carried a magical nuke with it. Pow.

The shockwave washed over the FOB even though it was eight miles away from the monster. It struck Pitsmouth walls and even tossed a few lazy wall guards who couldn't get a clue into buildings.

My observation tower was fine but the telescopes on top were yanked out of its supports and thrown away. A massive dust storm followed. The mushroom cloud rose.

Two hours later, it all settled down. No radioactive fallout. Jabberwock had covered itself with a shell made out of glowing hexagons but was otherwise fine. Shards and chunks of crystal dotted the land everywhere. A forest of crystals.

 

> For killing level 600 Boboyote, you gained 26,000 Experience points.

> You achieved a great feat! Your team killed a World Boss! You aren't in a team, raid, or party! You killed a world boss by yourself! Name your reward.

 

"I want all of NASA technical manuals, source code, and publications." I shouted right away at the system (no throat).

 

Should I have asked for Google's search cache? Damn. Now I feel bad. What about Wikipedia? Nah, too biased and whitewashed. I know, I should've asked for the library of Congress. Stanford's library. Maybe asking for NASA's data was stupid.

 

> You added 334,954 volumes to your library.

 

Meh, I'll take it.

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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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