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It is a dark time for the

Dungeon Core. Although one Damnablo

has been destroyed,

A demon whale have driven

its fat butt from their resting

place and pursued it across

the wasteland.

 

Evading the dreaded World

Bosses, a group of freedom

fighters led by Garfield Babbage

has established a very open

base on the remote wasteland

of mid-west America.

 

The evil whale Wobby Dick,

obsessed with ...

(whatever demon whales obssess over), was dispatched

with a batallion of demon giraffes and some Damnablos

to dispatch the annoying Spider Mecha....

 

*


*

 

Now, I didn't do Wobby Dick any flattery. Heh, flattery. The whales at first looked like normal whales, you know, except for the whole chilling on the ground and not in the water thing but when it took off, I could see what it had of demonic. Its skin cracked and it seemed to be venting a lot of steam out of those cracks. And underneath it, I saw some... dangly things. Now, I know whales are mammals and mammals usually have... mammal stuff going on, especially the females. I wouldn't call these dangly things underneath the Wobby Dicks mammal stuff that female mammals usually have, especially when they were shriveled and very, very dangly, but dang. Don't these damned dangly things look like mammal-exclusive things? So, enough nightmare fuel. Perhaps I was too on the money calling them Wobby Dick. And now I couldn't un-see them.

Anyway, where was I? Dangly bits? What dangly bits. Oh, yes. Overpower those shields. Let's do it.

Hugging Momma fired three dozen 60kW lasers at the whale from above. The dirigible Dungeon splinter only had energy weapons, which was a mistake. I could Replicate stuff up there anytime I wanted. I just couldn't recharge the DCSC but it had more than two years of juice still. Disconnecting due to interference was a much bigger risk than running out of upkeep. I started Replicating some railguns inside the dirigible's basket with whatever free Materialization bandwidth I had.

The cannons on the walls also fired. Hundreds of Gauss cannons and lasers shot at the whale when they had a line of fire. Bricks Windows dashed over the landscape, firing its weapons from below as well.

Their formation stopped. The Damniablos were using all of their concentration to shield the whale. A stray railgun shot scraped the whale and struck one of the Cannoraffes.

 

> For killing level 134 Spitraffe, you gained 2 Experience Points. You gained 55 Dungeon Mana.

 

I re-read the notification. So, someone had killed and named the monster already. The Wobby Dick cried the death of one of its wards. No, I don't care. The formation stopped. Fire for Effect made all the weapons striking the whale shoot 35% faster. The Damniablos were straining themselves to keep the shields going. The hexagonal panels appeared and broke. Spent shells rained down the sides of the whale, crashing on the wasteland ground. Lasers danced on the whale, and a sequence of shields appearing like angels were bracing a dancing ballerina fairy from below as she soared in the sky.

The DM expenditure reached above the break-even point. I was depleting reserves now. Residents took notice of the fight and stared at the silver railguns popping the sound barrier like fireworks of doom.

I moved the animated main Gauss Cannon into position and fired straight at the giraffes below the whale. The shot reaped through the ranks unchallenged, then exploded and shoved the secondary projectile into another dozen, nailing two Damniablos at the back.

 

[...] 28 kill notifications suppressed. You gained 182 Experience Points. You gained 754 Dungeon Mana.

 

I kept shooting. The Spitraffes died row by row. Their formation hunkered down under the absurd barrage. It was obvious to me that they were working with established tactics, with outdated intel on my capabilities. My lasers, after two years of R&D, shot tighter beams. My railguns were less wasteful and more accurate. Feeling confident, I moved Bricks Windows closer and started to fire the lesser demons with the arm lasers. Meanwhile, the PD weapons kept a circle around the spider Mecha free of lesser Demons. I kept splitting my focus between absorbing the bodies and collecting the stones.

 

[...] 98 kill notifications suppressed. You gained 666 Experience Points. You gained 5,461 Dungeon Mana.

 

666 Exp? Seriously? Did anyone do the math on that?

With each Damniablo death, the shielding faltered. Strained to the limit, the remaining humanoid demons didn't defend themselves and were reaped by high-potency laser sweeps. The Wobby Dick bled from hundreds of wounds. Dark plumes of smoke rose from its armored skin as lasers from above turned it into cetacean barbecue.

 

[...] 245 kill notifications suppressed. You gained 1,433 Experience Points. You gained 28,547 Dungeon Mana.

You gained a level! +13 Intelligence (In), +13 Wisdom (Ws), +14 Willpower (Wp), +13 Clarity (Cl), and +13 Hardness (Hd). You have 10 Attribute Points.

 

Straight into Willpower, these free points went. Hey, who would've imagined? After building some epic Mecha and killing what... four hundred boss-level demons? I leveled up!

No demons but the swarm still rushing past remained underneath the whale. The weapons were doing full damage to it now. I focused fire on the head, wishing I could destroy a brain or something. I contacted Marshall and told him to set up a Raid with the Guardians. More to increase my awards to three levels instead of two but also to help the Guardians grow stronger. We were going to reap some levels now.

Finally, the barrage of lasers from the steel dirigible punctured holes in the monster's head and struck the charred ground below. Wobby Dick moaned its last but didn't fall to the ground.

 

> For killing Level 500 Wobby Dick, you gained 3 levels. You defeated a World Boss in a raid. As the MVP, you received 50 free Attribute Points.

> You gained 3 levels! +39 Intelligence (In), +39 Wisdom (Ws), +42 Willpower (Wp), +39 Clarity (Cl), and +39 Hardness (Hd). You have 30 Attribute Points.

> You gained a Sub-Class slot. Do not ignore this message.

> Your knowledge and training improved your Command and Conquer Skill to rank V — Enemies under fire advance upon your defensive positions (4*Rank)% slower.

 

I finally broke through 10k Willpower. 10,326 to be precise.

I guess the Gray alien couldn't fudge the rewards my way anymore. The points went into Willpower, as always. With the kill confirmation, I stopped wasting DM and SP on a corpse. I approached to collect the demons' Mana stones. When my Domain entered contact with the still-floating corpse, I sensed a Mana reaction going on inside it.

A terrible premonition filled my Core with dread. I could sense millions of life forces budding inside the Wobby Dick. What the? What was the purpose of this monster? It did jack shit and the Damniablos' priority was to defend it instead of self-survival. The demons on the ground weren't being protected by the whale, they were escorting it.

What did it do? Why I had this bad feeling? I dissolved the magic stones, unwilling to get under that thing. That stupid whale had tens, hundreds of millions of things budding inside it. And my Domain couldn't see inside of it unless I forced. I equipped the Perk to pierce through interference and wished I hadn't looked. The inside of the Whale was full of eggs. I put Bricks Windows in full reverse and resumed firing on the whale corpse. The weapons popped the eggs but instead of leaking yolk, matter just vanished into a micro black hole or the magical equivalent of it.

Fuck. As I moved away from it, I lost "sight". The weapons kept firing, burning the whale's corpse and popping eggs. More holes in reality sucked light and even the railgun shells into the void.

Some eggs hatched. Black Flies the size of a person's head zipped out of the Wobby Dick's corpse, disintegrating everything in its path. The lasers did very little damage as the flies' bodies sucked in the light. When they died, a mini vortex about a yard in diameter opened up and sucked in a huge gulp of air. Bricks Windows PD weapons started shooting at the flies.

More of them hatched and flew out of the whale's corpse. I fired a dozen shrapnel anti-bird missiles. Then Replicated more in the silos and fired those too. The flies went toward the city as a swarm. I alerted Marshall. Running in reverse (the spider shape had the same speed in whatever direction I went), Bricks Windows fired all the guns at the fly swarm but the damn buggers were tough. Their void aura just nullified the attacks until it was overwhelmed. The micro-rift explosions didn't do shit to other flies. They just flew past the spherical vortices as if they didn't exist.

Hundreds of thousands of flies hatched every second. The whale's corpse was now pockmarked with huge holes like the terrain after a good multiplayer game of Worms. The guns on the second wall started firing. The missiles reached the front of the swarm and exploded, sending a shower of shrapnel. all around. Very few flies died. The vortices created by those in front protected the ones at the back.

Once a vortex bloomed, it was useless to keep firing at that location. That meant the death of the wave of the head shielded the flies coming from behind until they were past the wall of vortices and then exploded themselves. But the cloud kept moving inexorably.

At least Bricks Windows was faster. I would reach the outer walls several minutes before the swarm. The second salvo of missiles was launched. I primed them to detonate above the head of the swarm.

Also... Why wasn't I getting kill notifications from the dead flies? I understood not gaining Experience, but why not the kills?

On a whim, I used Daydream. I had been fighting outside the walls for more than a day.

 

Summons are considered part of the summoner's abilities and don't count as individual kills regarding Experience awards. Spawned creatures are not summons.

 

Ah. So that's why this Daydream thing was set up the way it was. Smart move, Gray alien.

Fuck. So the whale summons these flies upon death. That's what it did and why they had to escort the whale closer to the city.

 

*


*

 

I notice that impactor projectiles worked better than the energy weapons. Railgun shells were too expensive. I selected my library of weapon schematics. Yes, that would do. I didn't need range, accuracy, or penetrating power.

I absorbed the Gauss cannons on top of Bricks Windows and Replicated dozens of GE Vulcan Gatling Autocannons. The back of Bricks Windows looked like a hairy spider, with that many barrels pointing up. They moved in tandem, taking aim at the swarm but with some deviation, each spreading out a few degrees out.

Then I opened fire, each gun spitting 8,000 bullets per minute. The same happened on the outer walls. A forest of autocannons spread out like grass on the top of the walls, preparing to fire on the flies once they entered weapons range.

The damn flies, which I named Beelzevoid Bugs, exploded into black vortices just like those 80's space opera animes. Hundreds, thousands of them at the flank of the cloud burst into spheres of blackness. The collective vacuum was already sucking up dust from the ground and kicking up a hell of a wind. Heh. Hell of a wind.

But whenever they burst, I needed to wait for the vortices to disappear, which took a few seconds. I kept firing trying to get the bugs in transit but the damn void killed the bullets.

Even slowed by 16% by my latest Skill Rank, the swarm kept moving forward, inexorable. Mile by mile, the cloud approached the city. I had to do something. Finally, I decided to do the impossibly thin giant sword of Dungeon Wall. Perhaps the magical armor they had could resist the void. I Replicated the weapon and sent it to the swarm from above, to keep it from blocking the autocannons.

The sword descended on the flies and something odd happened. They all swarmed the blade from the sides even as their brethren exploded into void portals. They sucked the Mana from the Dungeon Wall sword and then exploded. Strips of metal resembling six-pack beer wrappers fell to the ground, completely spent of their protective Mana.

Damn. It seems the flies are attracted to Dungeon walls. Or Dungeon Mana. As a test, I went ahead of their path. There, I created and grew a tree, infusing it with a point of DM. A bunch of flies detached from the main horde and buzzed toward the plant. I peppered them with autocannons, forming a sleeve of vortices.

Sorry, buddy. It's for a greater cause.

When the flies were about to reach the tree, I cast Tree Explosion on it. The ensuing explosion killed dozens of flies and even knocked some on the ground where they exploded but also created a barrier of close-packed vortices that protected the rest of the flies. It wasn't worth it. I had spent a thousand MP and one DM to take about a hundred flies. Multiply that by a thousand and I wouldn't get even a tenth of the swarm.

The answer, as the space mushrooms in a certain grimdark future would say, was "More Dakka".

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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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