Twenty-four hours passed. We were only two miles further away from where we started. I flew above the land train and back toward the hole. Once above it, I cast a beacon straight down, From there, I cast my sight down onto the hole. The mass of debris writhed and pulsed as Jabberwock tried to get out of the hole. It would happen any time now. The portal pulsed with a flash of light and then space ruptured once again. The demiplane exploded and a mass of rock and biomass and water burst out of the collapsing portal back into reality. A shockwave spread out.
I consumed it all. More than forty thousand points of Dungeon Mana and Substance per minute were reclaimed by me and I started building the ninth wagon at the edge of the hole. Jabberwock must've sensed the energy in the ejected matter because it started to climb and snake up frantically. I lowered my altitude to consume even more matter from the bottom up.
Then I had the idea to plug the hole with a Dungeon Wall. Just a thin sheet that would be kept in place by the weight of almost a thousand cubic miles of stone. Ten minutes later, I moved to wagon ten. Eleven. I pulled the Mana out and even thought of using some into making the wall thicker. Though if Jabberwock broke past the armor, the matter itself would be irrelevant. Half an hour since the return of the matter, I was starting production of wagon twelve.
On Wagon thirteen, I created another Ranger Ork chassis and a dock for the mech. That's it. One hour, two and a half million Dungeon Mana reclaimed. All the biomass that could be used by Jabberwock, including the corpses of the creatures inside the Dungeon when it collapsed and the Infernale's own bottom vanished. Jabberwock would need to find another source of biomass to replenish its body.
I flew back to the new convoy of vehicles and used "Get in the Fucking Robot, Shinji" to startup Ranger Ork ß. Once safely ensconced in the Mecha, I sent the new composition to catch up with the original one.
Jabberwock was furious. He had sensed and understood what I did. He'd lost a head and 15% of its biomass (at least, that bitch was ass-heavy) to this little rotten apple. I was counting on it. An angry creature lost reason. It was easier to deal with a bestial World Boss than a conniving scheming one.
This convoy was lighter than the original one because it didn't have anything inside the wagons, only the superstructure, controls, batteries, and engines. At top speed, I quickly caught up with the original convoy. Then I intercalated the two so I had alternating new and old wagons.
With my old Dungeon gone, I turned the convoy into my new Dungeon. I infused the wagon walls with my Mana and claimed it as my Domain. Nothing in the rules said a Dungeon cannot move. It was just something implied that everyone assumed.
I was now "wandering" and in the hospitality business, medieval-style. Guess that makes me a... you know what. Don't make me say it.
Jabberwock took two weeks to dig itself out of the crater. It was way smaller and leaner now, only six hundred feet tall. I would guess all the biomass it lost hadn't been recuperated or regrown. And it couldn't summon Infernali to eat. The monster's remaining two heads glared at the trophy attached to the front of our shining steel convoy. With thirteen wagons, our composition was more than a mile and a half long.
Now, one might ask. If we were traveling two miles per hour, and Jabberwock took two weeks to climb out of that shithole, then we should be about thirty miles away by now, right?
Why would I move away from Jabberwock if I had it exactly where I wanted. The wagons spent all this time going in a circle around the crater. I also expanded the living spaces into the new wagons and now everyone had 50% more room to stretch their legs. I used most of this extra space to give people individual rooms. We had some fights among bunk-mates.
I went and said Hi to our favorite World Boss. Greeting letters written with 60kW lasers in its hideous flesh. It started to burn but then it cast its cloak of shadows. Then wagon 9, one of the only two without a jungle cover opened its roof. Smoke poured out the sides of the wagon as the missiles were launched.
With the NASA files, I learned a lot of new technologies. NASA had a hand in a lot of pies, including military equipment. Most of the space research eventually seeped into civilian and military applications. After I spent most of these two weeks reading these documents, I learned how to make missiles. Correction, I learned how to make decent missiles. I could strike targets a hundred miles away now. Each missile cost a fortune in DM and Substance and that expenditure was irrecoverable.
But seeing the streaks of exhaust rise up in the sky one after the other (firing them all at once would be a waste) and curve in a trajectory to strike Jabberwock from above was pure poetry. It was worth the thousands of DM points invested in them. And if the cheers from the guests were any indication, they liked the spectacle. Good, because it was their energy that created these things. The barrage of missiles didn't go unnoticed. Jabberwock hunkered down and erected that hexagon barrier around itself. That was fine by me. The missiles were non-refundable, gotta use them before the expiration date.
The computers on board detected the barrier on the radar and primed the warheads. Conventional payload strictly. Nukes didn't work in this world because of a pesky property of magic. I'll let Daydream-Sama explain.
Magic is the sixth force of the Universe. It has a profound effect on matter as it is a form of energy that permeates more than the usual four baryonic dimensions. Matter infused by magic is at the same time more stable and mutable, which are two observations stemming from the same effect. This is known as the First Paradox of Transmutation. As magic infuses into matter, nuclei that would usually be unstable are stabilized. The relation between magic and neutrons isn't well-understood.
Unstable atomic nuclei are stabilized. That's a fancy term for radioactive isotopes. You couldn't detonate a nuke in a magical world even if you wanted to.
The missiles detonated. The shields flared as more Mana went to keep their integrity. The explosions kept going on for a while. Some missiles struck the ground and caused an eruption of dirt. The area around Jabberwock was unstable, to say the least. The hits on the shield were massive. I couldn't see shit or even sense it because we were too far away. but I knew It should be costing in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of MP. I would even flash the lasers at the mass of darkness every now and then. Actually, the shield was outside the darkness.
Light'em up, Perry. Who's Perry? Shush.
The convoy kept rolling in its lazy circle around the crater. I wrote a haiku.
Light shines eternal
fire rains from way above
staccato of war
Jabberwock was a dead monster walking. Crawling. Writhing. Slithering. I think we already did that before. The Deja Vu felt eerie and sublime. Missiles pounded. Mana came in, and a missile spawned. Hidden inside its launcher, it had a 50% discount because it was a trap. it had a... ba-dum-tss. Trap door.
I had lost all respect for Jabberwock. I had lost my second house for Jabberwock. My tens of thousands of beautiful fish. My ever-hungry cichlids, who ate tens of thousands of fish every day. All that Exp farming was gone. I had killed its minions. I had shorn its big tentacular butt. Look, it was a hundred feet smaller now. Weaker due to the nature of the System. Attributes were a multiplier upon one's natural body capabilities. But did Infernali even use the System? I suspected not. The reason was simple.
Imagine, for the sake of argument, that a monster slapped you with a tentacle fifteen feet thick and two hundred feet long. It must have some weight to it, right? Some strength into the blow. After all, the tentacle was all muscle. Now, let's assume Jabberwock had indeed ten thousand points of Strength. How much stronger would the tentacle slap be if it was a hundred and one times stronger than the baseline we established above? Would it cause a hundred and one times the damage?
Was the System a lie?
No. Marshall showed me the results of experimentation done on people at various Attribute scores. The results were consistent.
Jabberwock didn't have a System. The System actively opposed the Infernali. The System, as proven by the contract between Marshall and me, could take away people's power. Ergo, if the System wanted the Infernali gone, it would dump their level to zero or even in the negatives, and let them writhe. Perhaps the System wasn't as benevolent or neutral as we believed. But I doubted it.
Occam's razor demanded us to assume the Infernali, enemies of the System, didn't use it.
Hours passed. Jabberwock no longer existed for we could not perceive it. Only the fact its magic lingered in the same place as it tried to keep its rubbery flesh from being torn apart by the explosions or cooked alive by the lasers made us assume there was still a Jabberwock. But even the word was losing its meaning. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Jabberwock. Repeat it too many times and the syllables became blurred the sounds lost meaning, and our minds are desensitized to the word.
Just as the people became desensitized to the missiles or the spears of light piercing the smoke and dust clouds. They adapted and now the destruction and horrors of these weapons of war became just background noise.
So long as people remained on board, I would have the Mana to keep this composition moving. So long as this composition moved and nothing else changed, Jabberwock would never reach us. We were safe. Generations could live and die inside these metal walls, safe from harm. I would stand here, in the command center, an eternal guardian.
But no. People deserved the Earth. It was time to put an end to this. It was time to dance the ballet of metal and blood again.
Blackjack Six dashed over the land, carrying me inside its torso. I laid down a ring of Dungeon tunnels, going all the way around the crater, fifteen miles away from it. The tunnels had grass on the floor and light on the ceiling. Superconductive Vegetation shortened the 93 miles of it into nothing. It was done in less than an hour. Blackjack Six was also superhuman. That allowed me to stay connected to the train no matter where in the circle I was. I summoned Ranger Ork ß. Just like any decent Tokusatsu hero, Blackjack Six jumped and entered the giant robot.
A robot sat on the cockpit of a giant robot. I needed to find the planet-sized one to get inside that one too. I digress. Piloting Ranger Ork ß, I dashed toward the middle, extending the tunnel that way too.
The last missile launched. It would hit the shield before I got there. I could go faster but why would I? It exploded on the shield. This close and with Ranger Ork ß's camera lenses, I could see cracks in the shield. Perhaps I could end it all with just a few more rockets. But I was running low on DM.
So I switched to the railguns. How would anti-tank ordnance fare against a magical shield? The impacts from the shells on the shield kept the pressure. The secondary RPG explosions forced the shield twofold. One to repeal the shaped charge blast, another to stop the penetrator from piercing through.
The animated blade flew. A hundred and fifty feet of metal, powered by a Strength score of seven thousand and something. It slammed and slashed at the shield. I could hear the dull noise it made with each blow. Wielded with an Agility of four thousand and six hundred points, the sound of the metal pounding into the shield became tinnitus. It became a percussion song played by a deranged drummer using railgun grenades and the most metal of all drumsticks.
I watched. Ranger Ork ß was an improvement over the previous model. When it exploded, the telemetry data was already safely stored in my data center, courtesy of the Domain Area Network. I might start charging for network access. I was sure it was all processed through my Core. Just like Dungeon Automation was actually my subconscious taking the wheel.
Then the shield faltered and broke. The sound now was another as both blade and shells found their way to flesh.
Warrior of justice
Metal falls like autumn leaves
Devourer learns fear
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.