No, we didn't ride into the sunset. Or, at least, not straight. The land train kept going at its morose pace while I went and recreated the city. Not the Dungeon.
The aliens running this circus gave me the specifications for the world tree. It needed four miles of open ground on all sides around its trunk and no Dungeon underground for at least twenty miles away to let its roots grow all the way to the planet's core.
How long would it take? Don't hold your breath. I wasn't holding mine. Hehe.
Marshall, his advisors, and I spent a week preparing. I shared the Quest with him and we selected the 1,000 people who would benefit from a free level each year. We also placed a contract on all the 999 people who joined us, that they would defend the World Tree with their lives in exchange for a ton of benefits. First, they would receive the same food as Marshall ate at his table for free. A mansion each. The best publicly-available equipment I could make. Some jokers asked for giant robots and it took all our restraint to not dump them into a pit. And some immunity from the laws. No, not immunity. They could be judged only by Lord Marshall and me.
The selection process was tough. We had psychological tests, and prowess tests, and even then it was guesswork. They could quit anytime with a two-month notice period but the seed of doubt remained. Would they really fight to the bitter end? The fate of the world was hanging on the ash tree seed.
We designed the city. The spot we chose to build it on was a hundred miles to the west of where Jabberwock fell. We found a nice spot with rolling hills and a few dried rivers (because the world didn't suffer climate change, it suffered a climate upheaval).
It would have a park with fifty square miles in the center, occupied with only grass and small trees so they wouldn't compete with the growing World Tree, then a ring of walls defending the park, then a donut city with the mansions and rich folk dwellings including the defenders covering four miles of ground, another set of walls, another four miles of empty space, and the third set of walls. We would add more city and walls but right now the city was covering 264 square miles. That was almost eight times the area of Manhattan.
The people who rode in on the steel train settled in the first ring, on high middle-class buildings. The first ring had 150 square miles, more than enough room for everyone with proper planning The population density would be around a thousand people per square mile. Each family of five could have an acre to work with. Marshall's architect designed some nice three-story buildings with a rooftop patio that doubled as a garden. With the addition of a small animal pen at the back, people could grow their own food. Scarred by the wasteland life, most survivors placed food safety way high on their list of priorities. Finally, the ground floor would be a shop front, with the people living comfortably on the upper two floors.
Sanitation, the water supply, public illumination, electricity, and vegetation were all supplied by me. We added lots of green to the city, from front flower gardens (not the sterile lawns of the fifties, please), bushes, topiaries (these were managed by the residents), and trees. The streets had large trees arching way above, giving the passersby some shade and moisture.
The second ring had about 30% of our population, people who would like more space. This ring covered 251 square miles and it was mostly being converted into grasslands and light woods. As more people flocked to our cause, this could become more city. And we could always add another ring further away.
I parked the now-abandoned train convoy inside the outer wall. I intended to add more wagons until we had a veritable Conestoga cart ring defending our camp but that would take almost 800 wagons. The third set of walls, 12 miles away from the tree site, was still 8 miles into the underground exclusion zone.
With everything planned, we erected the first set of walls marking the park and planted the tree. I tried to use my Plant Growth spell on it but I got an error message.
> Action not possible. The world tree must grow naturally.
Because of course, it did. Why make it easier for us?
I was setting up the traps in the outer walls when the System came to bother me. My consciousness faded and I found myself in a completely dark space, with the Gray alien floating in front of me.
"Greetings, Skip May Neming!" The alien failed horribly at appearing friendly.
"What is happening?" I heard my mental voice.
"You are safe. This is a mental conversation that happens in mere seconds. You'll be back to your body when we are finished, unharmed. First, congratulations on defeating two World Bosses. We didn't expect you to."
"Cut the crap," I scowled. "What is going on? Can we go straight to the part where you say you'll screw me up?"
"I am sorry. I will do that. We need to talk about your Status. It is my fault but I've been playing favorites. The other side had cheated by awakening the one you call 'Jabberwock' before its time, and I reacted by breaking a few rules regarding you."
I knew that look. Admin guilty. The guy was middle management at best. I remember when WoW admins gave players tons of freebies. Good times but then the abuse started.
"You gave me something I shouldn't have and now you fear my feats will expose that."
"Exactly," the alien smiled a creepy 'it's time for the anal probe' smile. "An audit will happen shortly, and I need to make sure your Status is ironclad. I set your growth to ignore a few constraints and slipped in a few feats you shouldn't have."
"Which ones? Let me guess, the Experience ones?"
"Yes. They were meant for... special events... as means for rapid growth... exclusive use on... bad guys. Which you are not," The alien hedged around the subject and fidgeted a lot.
"Also, you have more Perks than you should. We need to trim down a little. Just a little. Fortunately, that is easy to fix. You can discard Perks for 20 Attribute points after you reach level 120; It is a little-known feature. So we will remove these Perks and grant you 20 Attribute points for each one. That should be fair. I'll later change the logs and make it seem like the points were a quest reward."
"Do I have a choice?"
"Of course you have," he smiled like he was about to merge my DNA with some abducted cattle. "I cannot change your Status without your consent. We do nothing, the audit happens, and we both get killed. Removed from the world and the System."
"This is an imaginary space. If you want intercourse..."
"Eww. Just eww, dude. This is a PG-13 novel."
"Please, do not break the fourth wall."
"Can I at least get Attribute Efficiency?"
"Sorry, no. Points are fine. Efficiency scales."
I stared at the alien (maybe I had eyes in that imagined space). "You know what? I might want to let us be deleted just to spite you." I bluffed.
"Wait!" He bit my feint. "There's one thing I can do to sweeten the deal. I can make sure they won't remove you in the future."
"Oh, really? What about you?"
He fidgeted with his suckered fingers. "I won't be in trouble if I stick to the rules from now on. And you are already strong. I'll give you a Personal System Core instead of five levels in the first year. Your Status will be ensconced in it. It is allowed for world champions. Yes, we can do this. You'll be safe from deletion, and me too."
"Okay, let's do this shit. Wait, I have a single question. How long will it take for that tree to grow?"
"Two hundred years," the alien smiled as if he was about to plug my eyes open and force me to watch thousands of slides of horrific things all at once. "But Dungeon Cores have no maximum age by default. Unless your core breaks, you are immortal!"
Oh, great. So everyone defending the tree would die before it reached maturity. Which meant I needed to worry about training generations of defenders. Or do the whole job myself.
We reviewed my Perk list. I discarded nineteen Perks and the Experience Traits but negotiated the reward up to 500 Attribute Points for these Perks and Traits. A shitty trade, all in all. Especially Mass Murderer. I would miss that one. Everything I gained went straight into Willpower. 
Before the alien vanished, he smiled as if he would sew my head into an abducted cow, "Oh, there's another thing. Your Dungeon Domain entry was incomplete."
> Dungeon Domain has been modified. The following sentence has been added: "You may only control a maximum of 100 x Intelligence x sqrt (Intelligence * Wisdom) cubic yards of volume."
A wild Time skip appeared! Lowercase skip! No, it wasn't a me from the future! And it is a shiny rare! Everyone's favorite!
A year passed. The damn tree hadn't even sprouted yet. I knew it was alive, I could sense its aura.
> For defending the World Tree for a whole year, you gained a personal System Core. It was recorded in your traits section.
> Personal System Core: Your Status Sheet no longer depends on connection to the main System core to work. Your Classes, Skills, Traits, and Perks cannot be modified without your willing consent.
Well, peace of mind is worth almost any price.
The one thousand chosen defenders cheered and caroused for days as they gained a free level for doing nothing. Or for standing guard. A guard wasn't doing anything for manning their station. It was their presence that counted. This year, I just worked. Building the city, growing trees to adulthood in seconds, and crafting computers for everyone.
The city was named Speranza. Why Italian? Fuck me if I know. It was growing and a lot of people came live here, including the assholes who bought wagons and fled Jabberwock. Marshall taxed the shit out of them.
I also added another hundred wagons to the composition, complete with lasers and railguns and 1.2 million square feet of room to farm DM. Experience farming was out of the question. A few people lived in the wagons, my most trusted followers.
This glorified gardening job seemed to be easy as fuck if all we needed to do was to sit down and wait for the damn tree to grow.
And... I had just jinxed it.
Concentrations of life draw Infernali. We thought we were safe with Jabberwock dead but the Gray alien hinted at something above the system. Overseers. Or perhaps, competitors. The guy sounded scared of their bosses and scared of an audit like a corporate pencil-pusher. There might be some truth in my last sentence.
I detected hundreds of Infernali monsters approaching from all directions. I could probably fry them with my lasers but I needed to give the defenders some work to do. I fired an alert and sat back in my seat (using Blackjack Six's robotic butt) to watch them defend the city. The walls could resist a siege for years if no Kaiju appeared.
And... that's a second.
Meanwhile, I checked my Status for any new surprises. I reviewed the list of Perks I'd discarded, as well as the new ones I didn't have much opportunity to use.  The most recent sub-Classes only received eight Perks. I could see why Marshall said high-level people saw converting a sub-Class slot into 50% Attribute efficiency as a good trade-off. New sub-Classes were a huge bother to level up and didn't add much on top of your existing toolset.
Arcane Librarian (Epic, Spellcaster)
1 trait received in lieu of a Perk. I Perk discarded.
- Grimoire Focus: You may enchant a specific physical tome to be your focus. Doing so allows you to store up to 100*sqrt(Intelligence) MP in the tome. This MP can be used only when in physical contact with the tome. Your Focus is fireproof and has (10/50%) armor.
- Tome Warden: Books and documents in your Domain are fireproof and have (10 / 50%) extra points of armor. This doesn't include your Grimoire Focus.
- Incantation Vault: When you would replace a spell with another, you can copy the discarded spell to your grimoire. After spending 4 hours studying the discarded spell, you may add it to another spell slot. You can only keep sqrt(Intelligence) such spells in your grimoire.
- Grimoire Invictus: Unless intentionally used as a weapon or as a shield, your grimoire has 25 extra points of armor against all damage.
- Speed Reading: Your reading speed increases by 10+2*sqrt(Intelligence)%.
- Grimoire Sentry: Select a spell in your Grimoire tab. Your Grimoire may cast that spell when conditions you specify are met. The cost of the spell is taken from the MP stored or your own MP pool, if you are touching the grimoire at the moment of the automated casting.
Wayfaring Dungeon (Epic, Dungeon).
- Mobile Dungeon Walls: You can now create Dungeon Walls that can move. All other constraints remain. Moving Dungeon Walls that move out of your Domain lose any special properties stemming from being invested as Dungeon Walls.
- Ambient Mana Sweep: For every 500 feet traveled (going back and forth don't count) into new places you haven't visited in the last month, you gain 1 point of DM.
- Rapid Deployment: Recreating a Dungeon template is 100% faster.
- Enclosed volumes: Mobile Dungeon walls that enclose a walkable volume do not lose their property if outside your personal domain.
- Dweller Etiquette: The aura of friendly guests in your Domain for more than 24 hours are reduced by 80% for purposes of interfering with your Domain.
- Dweller Hospitality: Friendly guests in your Domain for more than 24 hours require 20% less nourishment and heal from wounds 20% faster.
- Herd Control: When controlling several animals of the same species, reduce the Control requirements of the group by 2*sqrt(# of animals)%, maximum of 75%.
- Dungeon Mana Cashback: When relinquishing control of an animal you spawned and allowed to move out of your Domain, you receive 75% of the resources used to spawn it back. This animal is no longer a spawned creature and is worth no resources to you if you kill or absorb its corpse.
Dimensional Porter (Very Rare, Worker)
1 trait received in lieu of a Perk.
- Non-Euclidean lock: Increase the difficulty to steal items from your Dimensional Storage by sqrt(Wisdom).
- Shipping Containers: Objects in closed containers do not count individually for volumetric concerns. Instead, the container is counted as a single item for all purposes.
- Liquid Damage Insurance: Fluids other than air stored in open-top containers never spill if they otherwise wouldn't when resting on a flat surface. In this case, do not count the volume of these liquids.
- Garden Crate: For double the cost to move but not store, you may keep living, non-sentient, non-monstrous plants in storage. Time doesn't pass for these plants. This Perk doesn't work on non-living plant matter.
- Dimensional Absorption: You may convert stored items directly into DM and SP without removing them from storage.
- Invisible Crane: You may store unattended (same rules as for Dungeon Domain) objects up to sqrt(Clarity) feet away if you have a direct unobstructed path to the object.
- Stasis Bio-Storage: For double the cost to both move and store, you may keep living, non-sentient animals in storage. The animal must be asleep or completely subdued. Time doesn't pass for these creatures.
Artillery General (Epic, Ruler)
1 Perk discarded.
- Arms Manufacturer: The cost to replicate artillery pieces is 50% lower if you Replicate two or more at the same time.
- Sentry Weapons: When setting Dungeon Automation orders to artillery weapons, every two commands count as only one.
- Certified Munitions: The odds of mishap affecting Ammunition and Explosives is reduced by 75%.
- Deadeye Spotters: Artillery pieces have 40% better accuracy when firing at targets more than a mile away if one of your units has line of sight to the target.
- Fire for Effect: After a confirmed hit on the target, Increase the rate of fire of all similar weapons firing on the same target by 34% for 5 minutes. Subsequent hits renew the duration.
- Improved Intel: The effect of visual obstructions and illusions is reduced by 40% if one of your units has line of sight of the real target.
- Commanding Aura: You exude a commanding aura. Units within 10*sqtr(Willpower) yards of you have a 15% combat bonus, 25% if they're Artillery.
My new Skills were also lagging behind.
Liber Magus: Cast spells directly from a written medium without damaging it.
- Spells cast from written medium are (5*Rank)% more potent.
Dungeon Architecture: You can better plan and design your Dungeon.
- You can set a piece of Dungeon (Rank) acres in size as a template. Recreating this template later costs (5*Rank)% fewer Resources. You can have one such template for every 100 points of Wisdom.
Dimensional Quartermaster: The ability to improve one's Dimensional Storage. This Skill levels slowly according to the amount of MP spent to put, take, and keep things in storage.
- Time passes (5*Rank)% slower in the storage.
- (Rank) times per day, when removing a non-(Unique) item from storage, you may pay its Replication cost instead to get a copy of the item. This has a discount of (5*Rank)% on its final cost. Items Replicated this way are worth at most 80% of the resources spent or the normal value, whichever is lower.
Command and Conquer: You can coordinate large numbers of military units.
- If you are actively issuing commands to your army, it operates with a (2*Rank)% bonus to combat efficiency. Artillery units increase this bonus to (5*Rank)%.
- Increase artillery damage by linear (5*Rank)% for every mile it traveled.
If the Infernali was going to make an appearance, I needed to brush up on my Status and stop lazying around. Resting on my laurels might be my doom.
: The list of discarded Perks is in the Annex, along with the full Status. https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/chapter/1084203
|Name:||Skip May Neming||Species:||Dungeon Core / Plant (Apple)|
|Main Class:||Electronic Apple Orchard (L)||Effective Level (temporary):||---|
|Sub-Classes:||Architect of Destruction (V)||Computer Engineer (E)||Plains Master (V)|
|Mecha Pilot (E)||Wayfaring Dungeon (E)||Dimensional Porter (V)|
|Artillery General (E)||Arcane Librarian (E)|
|Attributes||Base Score||Efficiency||Modified Score|
|MP (Cl) - regen (Wp)||892||----||49969 ( 85756 / day)|
|Armor sqrt(Hd):||82||----||( 67 / 75% )|
|Personal Storage||Volume: 537cu.ft||Cost: 26MP/(day * cu.ft). Max: 13962MP||Move: 26MP/cu.ft|
|Dungeon Domain:||Personal: 0.91mi||Beacon: 1.81mi||Max Volume: 80.94cu.mi|
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.