I asked Róta to join the Rangers and power armor... I needed a name for them. I remembered a game about giant robots I played in my youth. In it, you could use units of power armor worn by genetically people. Elementals, they were called. But that didn't encompass their real job. They would go into mid-range or even melee with kaiju. Which was kind of a suicide mission. The investment in these kids was too big to just throw them away. And every person I got killed needlessly would be one less person for my evolution.
Thus, I decided that the power armor teens wouldn't just ride their power armor into battle. That was stupid. Steel was cheaper than life by several orders of magnitude. But wait. I went on a tangent. Róta entered the Demiplane I was still towing after me to join my special forces in their training. I wanted her to unlock good sub-Classes that would work with my technology for her last three slots. So she was ordered (she was adamant on this master-servant relationship. I was the Odin to her Valkyrie, now. Still PG-13) to go and learn from them, until she unlocked the Classes I needed. I Replicated a larger version of Grilled Tex-Mex for her to pilot.
Okay. Design time. I had the teens train while wearing their power armor and they were already getting used to them as a second skin. Yet, I needed them to go into battle with better protection. Ranger Ork ß was the most obvious choice. Perhaps I should... Yes. Upgrade the Ranger Ork chassis to the next generation. My Attributes were already big enough that the old model just didn't have the same buffs from me that it could have.
I fired up my CAD computer cluster and checked the telemetry data from Ranger Ork ß. I fed it to my analysis and calibration software and watched the results. Then in Engineering's design mode, I started making the changes. My improved Intelligence and experience kicked in and I saw many places where I could improve things. The keyboards in front of me started to be punched telekinetically at a frantic pace as I started coding better software drivers, changing the specifications on the servo motors and actuators, changing the angle of some armor plates to better deflect blows, improvements to the cable reels, and so on.
I ended up needing to make changes to the telemetry and calibration software after finding some rounding errors. I needed 64 bit processors to mitigate those.
> Your knowledge and training improved your Computer Sciences Skill to rank VIII - Algorithms that analyze big data run (5*Rank)% faster and with (3*Rank)% fewer errors.
Also, I needed to have an armor-to-armor interface. The new Ranger Ork wouldn't be piloted by a Core or a person. It would be piloted by a power armor which was in turn piloted by a person. So I could capitalize on the familiarity the pilot had with their power armor and upscale it to a 200 feet humanoid robot. Without the bullshit of having two people sync their minds just for the sake of having pilot-on-pilot drama.
For that to happen the haptic feedback needed to be the same. The proportional strength and speed of movement also needed to be the same. The square-cube law reared its ugly face and threatened to ruin my project. To give a 200-foot-tall robot the same reaction speed and movements as a ten-foot power armor was... hard. The distances were longer, the mass being moved and the sheer inertia and momentum involved...
Not to mention the tradeoffs I would need to add. It just wasn't possible. The giant robot would move slower than the power armor. But the Kaiju also suffered from the same issue. If the same reaction speed wasn't possible, then the pilot would need to adapt to the slower movement rate. That might even give them some time to strategize and better plan their moves. Their fighting style needed to have that incorporated. Some martial arts bullshit about the inexorability of the mountain or the relentlessness of the storm.
Yeah, that might work. Let's phrase that as a challenge and let human ingenuity come up with a solution. But we were already desperate, so any shitty plan was better than no plan. The Godzilla Threshold was not one lightly crossed.
I finished my design and named it "Ranger Ork Ψ."
> You created Giant All-purpose Modular Enhancements Mecha "GAME-Raindrops". Experience awards deferred.
> Your experience and knowledge improved your Engineering Skill to rank IX — Your machines have a boost of (3*Rank)% to up to 4 systems.
> Due to your new Skill rank, your new creation has 27% improved Health, Armor, Speed, and Sensors. This bonus will not change even if your Skill gains or loses ranks.
This was more than 20% cooler. Take that, blue horse. I made a version of GAME-Raindrops that could be piloted by me and started the retrofit of all current Ranger Ork ß units to the new model. They would come with two shoulder-mounted massive Railguns to make them count as artillery vehicles. That was important to extract the best synergy from my Skills.
I had a problem. While I had a mountain and a farm to install in my Inner Demiplane, I didn't have a demiplane to call an inner domain. The Demiplane with Speranza was not it. I also knew that my Inner Domain wouldn't ever be allowed to be discharged or dismissed. Given the investment I had in Speranza already, I decided to use Matryoshka and Infinity Fractal Demiplanes to split the place. I carved out the ring of dirt where the seed was planted into its own Demiplane, with enough trees to pay for its upkeep in the four-mile radius circle of land. That became its own Demiplane, whose Portal I pulled to the surface by using Demiplane Control. That gave me a Skill rank. I read the notification under the light shed by two portals.
> Your experience and knowledge improved your Demiplane Control to rank VI — You can affix a portal to a large vehicle or to yourself. Doing so lowers the cost to move the portal around by (8*Rank)%.
That allowed me to ditch the massive chunk of the ground underneath Speranza (which was just blocking my Domain volume allotment) and make it my Inner Realm. One of the portals vanished. The new Traits came to life and a mountain appeared next to Speranza, viewable only from the top floor, hosting a golden hall. Also, a massive farm appeared outside the walls by the foot of the mountain. Valhalla and Fólkvangr.
The downside was that Speranza would never again return to the face of the earth. Also, all the DCSC servers I installed to pay for the upkeep if I ever got separated from the portal became obsolete. Win some, lose some.
Also, I now could move objects and people to and fro regardless of portal size. I also got a lot of my Domain volume back because inner worlds were treated differently. That allowed me to reclaim the empty space in the middle and make a new park for the people. One without the constraint of the world tree seed.
Somewhere during the next month, my Domain Beacons picked up signs of human habitation. They now extended my detection range by 3.5 miles (and then I could use normal sight starting from the furthermost point).
They were besieged by Infernali, what a surprise. And it seems the creature design department came up with some new critters. I saw a deer wreathed in flames that pranced around, spreading patches of fiery goop. It didn't seem to go toward the people or anything. It just pranced toward places that weren't yet burnt, and it so happened that the only spot the damn prancing Arsohlebambis (because these monsters were a portmanteau of arson, asshole, and deer) – where was I? – Oh. the only spot that wasn't burnt yet was the settlement.
I set the course for the settlement, turning
The dirigibles took aim based on my Domain Beacon and showed these bleating pyromaniacs how to really light up a party. When the 60kW military lasers did fuck all to the obviously impervious heat demon deer, I used the railguns. I also blasted the hell out of the other monsters. going around the village palisade probing for a weak spot.
> For killing level 60 Inferno Deer, you gained no Experience. You gained 5 Dungeon Mana.
[...] 38 similar notifications were suppressed.
Meh. I prefer Arsohlebambi better. Anyway. I drove my composition toward the settlement, relishing the sign I placed at the end of the rearmost wagon. It read, "Warning: Long Vehicle – Length 12 miles." Physics teachers would go nuts making simple mechanics problems. "A train 12 miles crosses a tunnel 20 miles long, what's the required time for it to entirely cross the tunnel? If this bitch travels on the east-west axis, there are different sunset and sunrise times on each end.
The barbarians (because let's be honest, everyone on this planet had devolved into savagery save for a few who still clung to a somewhat medieval mad-max type of lifestyle) gasped at the wagons with the forests they carried on top of them. People on the walls pointed at the dirigibles who set up a perimeter and started slowly spinning around the place, using Beacons as searchlights, occasionally firing at some Infernali I detected from above.
As I scanned the village with my beacon, I noticed it had exactly 3,456 people living in it. Judging by their auras and the levels of the Infernali attacking them, the strongest ones were level seventy. As the land train approached, they started shooting arrows at the dragon head decoration in front. I absorbed these arrows before they could move ten yards inside my Domain.
"Stop that. Any further hostilities will be met with deadly force!" I shouted from the front wagon's loudspeakers.
Silence. Did they think I was some sort of giant Infernali with trees on my back, balloons on top, and... Oh. Most of them were staring at the set of six giant Mana stones crowning the first wagon. Someone aimed a bow at me and I seared a hole in their hands with a shot from a precise, low-potency laser.
I sensed something. Presences around the village, voices clamoring for justice. It was Deathsight and Chooser of the dead telling me some dead Einherjar were waiting for pickup. I chose which ones would join the halls of Valhalla (which was a pleonasm because Valhalla already includes "hall" in its name. It was like calling the DCSC, "DCSC servers/clusters/cloud". The acronym was already all that) very carefully.
Which meant I choose to play Pokemon and catch them all. The non-combatants could to Fólkvangr so they could start their unlife as farmers.
The stray souls rose from the place they died and started walking toward me. The people on the walls didn't seem to notice it. I started to slow down the composition. When your train was 12 miles long, you no longer complied with rigid body physics. You needed to treat your train somewhat like a fluid and I had to start braking from the rear and send a wave of brake commands up the line. The connecting clamps had about four yards of give each and some were strained to arrest the momentum of the gigaton (mass, not explosives) land train.
I contacted Róta in the two habitation/training wagons I left behind. "Róta!"
"My Lord talks to me!" She brightened up. "I've been training hard!"
"It's just the PA system," one of the female teens rolled her eyes at the Valkyrie.
"Róta, I found a settlement with some dead people. I am thinking of getting them to either Valhalla or Fólkvangr but I want your opinion."
"I'll be there immediately, my Lord."
I whisked her out. She popped next to me. I pointed (with BJ6's hand) at the souls coming my way. "These are the ones."
"My lord, why would you sully Valhalla with such dross?" She gasped.
"Are they that bad?"
"Some of them might earn the sympathy of my sisters, but they would be sent to Fólkvangr instead. The treaty was that half the warriors would go to Freija but we kept the best for our lord," the Ice Queen smirked whimsically.
"Put them to farm Fólkvangr, then. But see if there's any who would meet the lowest standards for Valhalla."
"As you command."
She flew toward the dead. Someone on the wall attempted to shoot at her. He too got holes in his hands. Those wounds would not heal. That was one archer who would never again shoot an arrow in his life. Though his life expectancy had just doubled.
"Róta, try to find the three mightiest warriors among these. Keep them around," I had an idea of how to convince these people to join me.
Already halfway there, the Valkyrie only nodded back. She opened a portal and ushered most of the ghosts to the Fólkvangr fields. Only three remained. Two strong men and one woman. Róta could materialize Einherjar around her, using her magic to give them physical bodies and equipment.
I gave Blackjack Six a good polish and then used my new flight power. My equipment flew with me regardless of any weight limit. That included my humanoid Mecha but not the giant Mecha, unfortunately. The limit was about one short ton. Too little to be of any worth against the Kaiju Infernali. But maybe enough to shock and awe small-scale creatures such as these humans.
I should design one such Mecha.
Anyway. Róta prepared her three chosen Einherjar, our first ones, and I flew to meet the leaders of this settlement. By now, the land train was almost making a wagon circle around the palisade, which would keep the Infernali I could sense coming our way from bothering us or them.
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.