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A note from MDW
 

What if a thought could get you cancelled? 

What if a thought could get you killed? 

What if everyone could peer inside your mind and judge you? 

Welcome to the Torth Empire. Are you a thought leader? Or are you a slave?

The Torth Majority own everything and everyone. They are shepherded by super-geniuses, the greatest of whom is crushing hard on Thomas. There is no way to refuse the Torth, no way to escape, no way to help his enslaved friends… unless Thomas can trick thirty trillion mind readers. 

And so Thomas’s galactic conquest begins. 

Jabberwock started bashing the walls with its tentacles, and on a critical hit, it actually broke through the ridiculous 100/90% armor.

The miscreants left on the surface scattered and ran through the open gates. They were busy looting the city and now abandoned their ill-gotten loot in their haste to flee. Anyone under level 50 suffered a debuff just from being less than a mile or closer to the Kaiju.

Meanwhile, the people on the underground were getting used to their new homes. To most, the accommodations were an upgrade to what they had upstairs. But the vocal minority, those who were used to a level of comfort and luxury, chafed under the new management.

I had made a road train. To explain it to you, dear reader, let me use a metaphor. Imagine if a kid took a cruise ship model, glued toy tank threads that were way out of scale compared to the small boat to the sides, smoothed the front and the bottom, then attached several such models to one another. Seven wagons, to be precise. Though only six had commoner passengers.

The wagons exterior walls and some interior walls were reinforced to be Dungeon walls. A perk from Wayfaring Dungeon allowed me to make mobile walls, so why not use it.

A quarter of the first wagon was taken by Marshall and his retinue. If each of the other wagons housed 27,500 people, his couple hundred were using up the same living spaces as almost seven thousand civilians. The remainder of the wagon was the bridge, half of the 7th floor, a viewing deck below the forest floor, and my workshops.

Also, the first wagon had Jabberwock's preserved dragon head installed on the bow. The Alchemists and Taxidermists were kind enough to do the job basically for free.

Each civilian wagon was two hundred feet wide. Five hundred feet long. Ten living floors, with five windowless utility floors below, towering a hundred and fifty feet tall. The rooftop was a tropical forest, crowded with trees. Heck, I had trees growing on the sides of the upper half of the decks. Potted trees in the living spaces.

I had 15,000 rooms with eight beds. Then 7,500 rooms with only six beds and a small play area for families with children. Including the corridors and bathrooms, which accounted for 65% of the space in the living decks. The remainder was used up with lounges, game rooms, gyms, mess halls, kitchens, and even a small shopping mall. That might make it seem like it was a cruise ship but no. Living conditions were rather crowded. Each of the 165,000 people we had on board had 218 square feet of living space, including the long corridors and the common areas. None of it was truly private. Corridor jams were as usual as in a train.

But each person had a z80 PC complete with network access. I coded a web browser and HTML renderer with some basic tags (no CSS nor JavaScript at the moment) and a video-sharing site. I called it "iTube". Each PC came equipped with NetHack, multiplayer Pong, solitaire, and minesweeper. People could also make video calls (audio only too if they were weirdos) and text each other. As I waited for the last of the guests to find their places, I finished designing an arcade machine. It would have Galaga and a 2D isometric barbarian-amazon-dwarf beat-em-all called "Siver Axe". More games would soon come, now that I had a basic framework.

On the lower decks, I had a double floor on each wagon replicating one of the training grounds for levels zero to ten and eleven to twenty, alternating in each wagon. . Then a third and fourth floor of hydroponic farms. To save space. On the fifth floor in three of the wagons were animal pens where people could come and kill dinner. Then the other two wagons had artificial lakes for pisciculture.

I established a credit system. Each person earned thirty credits every day. A cow cost 900 credits but yielded 450 pounds of flesh. The actual cost to spawn a cow was 40 DM. The spread, as economists like to say, was to maintain the systems. I needed DM to move the machinery, Replicate stuff, and more. Also to power the 30kW point-defense lasers that would cut down marauding Infernali and raiders alike.

I also needed to save some DM to eventually Replicate an eighth wagon. We would surely pick up people along the way. One such wagon cost about 400,000 DM to replicate. And all of them counted as Mechas, to grant the vehicles my Class bonuses.

 

*


*

 

Jabberwock gave up on pounding the walls and just walked over it. Or crawled. Slithered. Crept. Pick your verb. He then went for the strongest source of life in the surroundings. Then he caught some movement. Some high-level looters were still in the city and at the sight of the monstrosity blocking the sun, they ran for the safest spot. Straight into my pit. Poor fools.

Jabberwock gave chase. Pitsmouth was a huge city by today's standards. inside its 314 square miles, we lived with about 168,000 people, giving us a population density greater than Atlanta before the Apocalypse. See? I remember the useless stuff just fine. Anyway. The raiders dashed for the pit and started climbing down. No problem with that. Jabberwock lazily strolled toward the pit and it would take a few days to reach it.

No problem, right? Well, not for us. Drawing Jabberwock into the pit was what I wanted anyway. They just expedited the process. The raiders, however... The rooms 200 feet down were closed off. They lost the opportunity to join us and we don't want them anyway. Criminals and opportunists.

So we spent a few days getting everybody used to their new reality while I farmed the Dungeon for what it was worth. I had a whole deck filled with magic crystals, which were the most compact form to store Mana though the exchange rate was heinous. I lost 50% of the Mana invested when I reclaimed them.

The raiders became desperate. They ate the berries left behind along with what food they gathered. When that ended, they ate the berry bushes, the herbs, and the grass. Then Jabberwock was a day away from reaching the pit. It was time to make our escape. I opened the ramp leading west and put the convoy to move. The wagons groaned and their engines struggled to surpass the first hurdle. Which was granting some kinetic energy to the hulls and breaks out of static friction. Physics-Chan clapped her hands.

But move they did. Each wagon was self-propelled and independent. So long they had enough electricity in the batteries, they would move. And right now, they were at 100% charge. Yet they didn't move.

I stopped forcing the engines and went into design mode. The issue was starting up, the electrical motors' potency should be enough to keep it moving. What I needed were strong motors and capacitors for the startup process. I added a motor with a very low gear ratio, lower than even first gear for normal engines. Next to it, I put a capacitor bank to jump-start the beast. When I powered it up and put the engines on forward, the whole composition lurched. I needed to weight balance and calibrate the speed throttle in cars 3 and 5. I mentally typed on the computers and we were off.

The composition climbed the ramp that had a lazy angle of 2.5 degrees. Forty minutes later, it had almost crossed the two miles of ramp and I opened the bay doors. We emerged eight miles away from the walls, eighteen miles from the pit. The people all ran to the windows to cheer. They praised their freedom, their hope, and the sunlight.

I saw Jabberwock shoving its tentacles down the pit. He could get them to half the normal width if he stretched them. Good. Get tangled in there, buddy. I have a special surprise for you. Other tentacles were grabbing anything that could remotely count as biomass and shoving it into their mouths. Now, the city had very few wooden items. Wood was still considered a precious commodity. But he was eating the clay tiles, the furs, and the bones of the animals.

It was still my Dungeon so I fixed that little mistake by absorbing everything outside the monster's aura.

I adjusted the throttle to a lazy speed of five hundred feet per hour. We were barely moving. But the thing we were running away from crawled at one and a half miles per day. Also, this composition couldn't stop. It cost too much energy to get it moving and while my electrical engines were more than capable of reversing and becoming generators to convert the kinetic energy back to electricity, I didn't see a need to stop.

Ahead of us, a few miles away, we saw a tent camp. It seems that some of our former guests had stopped to watch a city get destroyed. Again, running away from Jabberwock wasn't a problem of speed. It was a matter of how many years would you keep running until you died. The tent camp wasn't in our immediate path so we ignored them. They would probably eat a good chunk of dust as the threads kicked up a lot of it regardless of the speed. I didn't fear an attack. Should they throw anything bigger than a pebble at us, they would get fried by the lasers.

Speaking of frying stuff with lasers...

<Marshall, for how long can you keep a raid active?>

"I need a target and to actively work toward killing that target. Before you ask, no. I cannot make a raid just for the sake of sharing roadkill Experience."

<Well, I had to ask.>

We knew people on board would experience no trouble leveling up to level 20. That was still too low, regardless of how you saw it. Perhaps I would need to add more hunting floors for higher levels on the next wagon I would spawn once we picked up more passengers. Out of the 660,000 Dungeon Mana...

I was a dumbass. I still had a connection to the abandoned Dungeon. It was essential to the next step of my plan. I started absorbing stuff, removing the Mana infused in some of the non-structural walls, and relinquishing stuff I didn't need anymore such as the subway tunnel going east or the observation tower. That gave me enough DM to Replicate a new wagon. The eighth wagon appeared ahead of the first wagon and it stayed behind as it slowly materialized with just the bare-bones frame. I started it up remotely and had it adjust speed and vector to dock with the last wagon.

The procedure was much smoother because of my "Let's Gekiga In" Perk. I wonder why it wasn't called Voltron something. These aliens must've watched some very obscure anime.

 

*


*

 

A day passed on the road. The people on the camp hailed and shouted at us to let them get on but we wouldn't take those detractors on principle. They had their bison and steel wagons.

I slowed down even more during the night, unwilling to lose contact with the main Dungeon. That would be catastrophic. Jabberwock was entirely committed now. It was even feeling around, forcing a tentacle down the corridors where it sensed the looters. I started consuming some more stuff in the Dungeon and reinforcing the ground underneath us by packing the gaps and cracks in the substrate with more stone. We needed to have a solid base for the next step.

I selected my whole Dungeon. All the fifteen floors, all the trees, fishes, and animals inside. I was really sorry for letting them down. They would be sacrifices for the greater good.

Here goes nothing.

 

"Demiplane Collapse."

 

My entire Dungeon minus the wagons were selected. The walls started glowing with power and suddenly, space folded upon itself. I committed everything to the demiplane. Three miles deep and ten miles of radius. The Dungeon and the rock around it folded down upon itself and vanished from reality. A shimmering portal was left at the access point, the mouth of the tunnel at ground level.

The world rumbled. Dirt and rocks that now had no support were pushed inward by gravity and internal pressures and an avalanche rushed into the massive hole.

I wished I could catch Jabberwock and send him into the demiplane. That was impossible, he was so big he wasn't fully inside my Dungeon. Instead, Jabberwock was bisected. Hundreds of tentacles fell down as sixty feet of the monster were cut off. Almost ten percent of its height. The remainder plummeted down into the hole. We heard a squelch from this far away and then the avalanche rushed in to cover the hole. The ground cracked and chunks slid one after the other. The hole seemed to be sucking all this land inward. It was terrifying to see. More terrifying than the wall of smoke rising up into the heavens. More terrifying than the crystal Boboyote exploding.

Jabberwock was buried three miles below the surface. Thousands of tons of earth fell over the beast.

Yet I saw no kill notification. I hoped it was the degrees of separation but...

 

"ARROUCHROOWOAHWOAHWOAHGEEWOOOGAAAAAURGHSQUEE!"

 

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

 

> You heard the horrendous whining of a wounded Jabberwock. You lost a Willpower contest. The efficiency of all Attributes is lowered by 75% for 1 day. You are frightened. You suffer an 80% combat efficiency penalty for 1 day.

 

People on the train fell down on the ground, weakened. The low-level ones were the least affected. Almost everyone was reduced to the closest baseline human they ever were since their Awakening into the System. But I could keep them safe. The problem was another.

It was still alive. Wounded but alive. I typed the command to increase our throttle to three hundred feet per hour. Two miles per day. Then the System chimed in.

 

> The Core is no longer inside the Dungeon. Unless the Core returns inside the Dungeon, the demiplane will collapse in 24 hours.

 

Damn. The Dungeon could not pay the Demiplane's upkeep by itself. That was... I stared at the shimmering portal floating above the massive pit, through the dust cloud that kicked up. What happens when a collapsed demiplane un-collapsed itself again?

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A note from MDW

Let's hope the engines won't jam.


WILL THE ENGINES JAM?
yes, they will.
no, they won't.
Jam pure Jazz.

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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