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Spinning a Domain beacon around the outer wall, I could reach 1.81 miles out in the distance. The mass of Infernali coming at us was not as thick as the one surrounding Jabberwock but still significant. Though, for me, I had no incentive to go and fight them. They posed no threat to my Dungeon or the tree. They also gave me no Experience points.

In this last year, I didn't have many opportunities to farm Exp. Not many activities granted a level 167 creature Exp, not many things to kill either. The few ones who did weren't worthy of notice. I had been spoiled by the Gray alien. Though I was picking up 2 or 3 Exp points every day. But unless I went out of my way to hunt more Kaiju, I was stuck at that level. Suddenly, the five levels per year made sense. Hunker down for two hundred years, and reach level 1,000. Easy peasy.

A group of warriors went out of the gates to fight Infernali. I watched and aimed some lasers at the flanks of the horde. If it seemed they were about to be overwhelmed, I would intercede. But no. if it was half a century ago, I would say these guys had gone out to play LARP or some other nerd shit.

Since they didn't need help, I fired up my latest PC model. It beeped, and the boot sequence went as expected. A stylized penguin appeared on the screen, and then a logo of three people holding hands, forming a circle. They finally gave me the LINUX kernel. And the GCC. And the open JDK project along with tons of Java projects. Writing the rest of the Java packages from the JavaDoc was a matter of a few months. Also, the Chromium and Mozilla family of browsers.

This computer had everything a modern PC should. Except for a version of the Windows OS higher than 3.02. That's what you get for closing your code, Microsoft. Oblivion. I even had some forks of the Android OS. Which was my current project. I moved the mouse pointer (which for me was a D-pad with eight directional buttons and the normal mouse buttons. But the wheel was still not there) and double-clicked on Eclipse.

I was beginning to get the first bonuses of Coding Trance when I noticed a laser firing. The rule I set was the Infernali moving to flank the warriors outside. I shifted my focus there and watched. The laser had startled them (it shouldn't) but they saw the line of cooked demons and cheered. Before I returned to my software, I left a notice with Marhsall to send people to the other gates to fight off the horde. I wouldn't intervene unless the demons somehow managed to climb our 100-foot-tall walls. That's the height of a 9-floor building, for comparison.

The chimpanzees were not a thing anymore. As I was now, I could work better on my own, pushing buttons with my mind, than by controlling their hands. Unless I scaled the monkey teams to three hundred chimpanzees. Yeah, no.

I coded for a good six-hour session without interruptions. That was good. Even with the hundreds of lesser Infernali rushing toward us. The warriors killed a lot of them and it seemed an archery competition was happening on the southern wall.

A ping from Dungeon automation made me scan the city to find the thing demanding my attention. That's what I got for trying to save some rules by being too generic. I found nothing. Security forces nowadays worked both on physical patrols and monitoring the CCTV surveillance cameras recording video of the streets. Wait. There it was. A new baby was born.

People in Speranza developed an odd custom. They presented every baby to me and I gifted the mother and child a Healberry. Some in a critical state were taken to the meadow next to the hospital, to make use of my healing Perks. A thought sent a drone flying out of the nearby warehouse, carrying a gift-wrapped box with the two berries. I checked to see if the color of the baby's berry matched the baby's gender.

Red for boys, green for girls. Bet you were expecting blue and pink. But no. Red was the color of warriors. Green was the color of hope. The berries the drone carried were green. I wished this girl would never need to pick up a sword.

The quad-rotor drone, another jewel I found buried in the NASA files, entered the hospital through a window. A Nurse told it the room number and I guided it there. The father was impressed at how fast the berries arrived and thanked me profusely.

That made me feel nice. I even had a songbird land on the bedroom window and sing a merry tune. I could go full Disney Princess with the staggering amount of animal species I could create now. Only the ones living exclusively in the arctic or some other stupid biome such as deep in the Amazon rainforest were beyond my grasp. But even most Amazonian species set foot on some sort of plains. The Brazilian savanna or the semi-arid of the northeast region were both counted as plains. Even the vast swamplands south of the Amazon.

I was Speranza's guardian spirit. People looked up to Blackjack Six like the Mecha was an angel. Storytellers and Bards told the tale of my war against Jabberwock almost every day, somewhere in the city. I was the sole source of technology too. And the city's economy depended on technology.

We phased out the magic stone economy and expanded the credit system used briefly on the land train. People used their computers to make payments over WiFi. To reduce the dependence on the Dungeon, I didn't let them use the DAN. We were trying to get enchanters and craftsmen trained to build and program their own computers. I was eager to see the day the black hat hackers would reappear in this world. The credit system was revamped using open-source banking software and asymmetric key encryption. Seriously, whatever I needed, I got along with the GitHub repository.

Baby steps. We already had people with Classes like "Computer Operator" and even a few "Computer Programmers". Give Speranza a few decades and the child born today might even clear the requirements to become a Computer Engineer like me.

 

bird sings lullaby

born in the city of hope

obsolete Dungeon

 

I really wished for that.

 

*


*

 

A new day dawned. Full of opportunities, full of... hope. Monsters clawed at my walls. They had no hope of ever breaking through. A flock of Infernali birds was spotted in the distance, four miles away. I launched a missile at it. The warhead exploded at the perfect distance, sending a shower of flechettes everywhere, a starburst of metal needles. The birds died not from the needles but from the fall.

"For slaughtering a bunch of noob birds, you gained fuck all Experience", the System would say if it deigned to give me the kill messages. It didn't. It was one thing I couldn't allow near the city. Flying enemies.

I cast a beacon straight up and looked around at the land around us. Our defenders would have a field day. More Infernali were coming our way. I noted the position and speed of the big clusters, then emailed the file to Marshall. Gone were the days of flinging fruit at his door to get his attention.

I crystallized another point of base DM. Then I used Daydream.

 

Just as magic stabilizes isotopes with a high neutron count, it also bridges the gap between the microscopic layers of semiconductors used in the XX and XXI-century Earth microprocessors. That's why the computers of old didn't work after magic washed over the earth during the Apocalypse.

 

I already suspected this one. The microprocessors I created were infused with an enchantment to keep the electricity from leapfrogging the transistors doped into the silicon wafer. They were also bigger than normal. The transistors mostly, not just the microprocessors. The amount of room occupied by the actual "computer" in a processor chip was smaller than most believed. Yet mine were about 20% larger to compensate. A lot of wiring went to make sure the pins would transmit the right signal. A lot of the work in designing a microprocessor came from wiring the damn thing right.

This time, the outriders went out to fight. I shone a low-power and low-quality laser to point them in the right way. At the hospital, the newborn girl was breastfeeding. I landed a trio of songbirds on the windowsill for a little concert. The mother smiled and closed her eyes, enjoying the magic of the moment. I was glad I could create such a thing. A Dungeon, of all things.

In the training fields, a bunch of kids got too greedy and pulled three wolf packs at once. That wasn't supposed to happen. I pulled the wolves back and sent their instructor an email with the link to the video footage. Then I replicated a Blackjack Six chassis near them. They were about to pounce on the wolves.

"STOP!" The mecha shouted. "You are violating the training grounds rules!" The teenagers scowled and complained but obeyed. "If the wolves back off from the fight, it means I am controlling them."

"We just wanted some levels!" One of them whined.

"And now you'll get mandatory time out and some extra safety training," Blackjack Six replied. I was typing on its TTS software. "If this was a fight against Infernale, you would all be dead."

"You can't do that!" Another of them protested. Two guys and the only girl in this sausage party moved away from the speaker, stealing guilty glances at the Mecha. My guess is that they didn't want to be involved with what would happen now.

Three Kodiak bears spawned behind Blackjack Six. "Here are your levels. Come and get it. The bears will fight back, though." I had the bears yawn for good measure, giving the teens a good view of their teeth. "As for you, let me show you what I can do. You are banned from the training grounds for two months. And unless you score an A on your ethics and survival exam, which you will have to take, you won't come back. I won't waste my resources on people who will just get themselves killed by the Infernali. And if you complain again, you'll sit out of this place for six months, at least. Any last words?"

He opened his mouth. The guy next to him elbowed the guy on the stomach.

"Sorry, Mr. Babbage. He understands. Let's go, Kayon."

I despawned the wounded wolves and respawned new ones. The Kodiak bears followed the teens all the way to the door leading out of the floor. Their instructor was already there waiting for them. He made eye contact with one of the bears and nodded. The bear waved a pawn and walked out of the veteran's aura. Then it vanished.

 

*


*

 

The defenders took turns fighting the Infernali and the cleanup went deep into the night. I had floodlights illuminate the area for them. The next morning, I repeated my routine. Crystallize another point of DM, and use Daydream.

 

People live in space. Though no humans from Earth.

 

The truths of the universe were veritable koans.

I scanned the skies. Infernali birds again. The missiles fired. I sent twice the amount I needed. There's no kill like overkill. No Exp. Do the usual scan. Gasp. Scan again. Fuck. Fuck.

I materialized an unmanned drone on the runway. Its jet engines facilitated the takeoff from impossible to trivial. I programmed it with its path. Radio stations spread around the outer wall allowing for triangulation and positioning. The drone was out of my Domain and on its own now. But it still transmitted telemetry and streamed video. Without interference, the 4G cell signal bandwidth was entirely ours. I linked the Livestream feed to our streaming website, iTube, and contacted Marshall.

I stared at my computer's screen as if my gaze could bore a hole in it. It could but I didn't damage the equipment. The drone flew and recorded video from its six cameras. The picture it painted was dire. Hundreds of thousands of Infernali were coming our way. Mostly the (Common), (Uncommon), and a few (Rare) species mixed in. That by itself wasn't a problem. My lasers, railguns, and mounted assault rifles could deal with it. What? Ballistae? Crossbows? Sorry, I was using an assault rifle I found in the NASA files, one designed for use in space. Never saw the light of the day until after the world went to shit.

The issue was what this horde meant. We were on the radar of the Infernali again. And this time, there was no running away. We were being Zurgh Rushed.

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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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