What was spiritual energy?

Why did only a tiny proportion of humans develop significant amounts of spiritual energy?

To what extent did spiritual energy affect reality?

Could spiritual energy think for itself?

All of these questions and more plagued Ves for a while.
Without answering these questions and more, he really didn ’t have an answer to the question whether he could empower his mechs with the abilities of other spiritual entities.

Nonetheless, nothing intrinsically ruled out this radical possibility!

An entirely new branch from the path of life opened up in his eyes!

”What should I call this new branch? ”

After a bit of thinking, he decided to refer to it as spiritual replication.

”Replication because I can potentially replicate what everyone believes is impossible! ”

More ambitious terms came up, but Ves did not wish to get carried away by a new and unproven notion.
Despite his immense excitement towards this new direction, Ves deeply tried to restrain himself from getting carried away!

”This isn ’t the time to explore this direction! ”

Just as he swatted aside one attempt at feature creep, now he had to do it again! He could only test so many aspects at the same time.
Muddling his design project with additional objectives threatened its failure!

He decided not to develop this direction, for now.
He planned to delve into this direction at a later time on a project tailored to put these new range of possibilities to the test!

”Still, the potential of all of the new applications that I can think of is great! ”

One idea that continually lingered in his mind was the possibility of creating expert mechs that didn ’t have to be piloted by expert pilots.

When Ves thought about how expert mechs worked, he knew that the role of the expert pilot was pivotal.
Without a human in charge who broke through the extraordinary threshold, the full potential of an expert mech would never be reached.

The same applied in reverse.
An expert pilot would never be able to showcase their full strength without a corresponding expert mech.
Ves had witnessed this tragedy in person when the Flagrant Vandals initially kidnapped Venerable Foster at great cost.

Even though she successfully advanced to expert pilot during the battle, her training mechs simply couldn ’t keep up with her level of performance!

As a Journeyman, Ves was capable of designing an expert mech.
He knew the theory and even studied a few of them up close and in detail.
He knew that certain exotics and materials resonated with the force of will of mech pilots, thereby achieving many wondrous abilities that resembled magic!

The key ingredient here was what Ves called force of will! This strengthened and more cohesive form of spiritual energy appeared to be intrinsic to expert pilots and possibly the higher ranks.

No other source of force of will existed except for what resided in the minds of expert pilots!

It was for this crucial reason why the MTA ’s heavily slanted towards nurturing and protecting expert pilots.

Without their existence, expert mechs and other high-end mechs lost their meaning!

For a very long time, the paradigm that expert mechs had to be paired with expert pilots and vice versa became common sense.
Every attempt to replace the expert pilot with an AI or something different failed miserably.

Countless ambitious mech designers wasted their time and effort into achieving one of the holy grails in mech design, which was to make an expert mech work without a corresponding expert pilot!

His heart raced as he thought over the possible firestorm that would erupt in human space once Ves presented the mech industry with proof he ’d been able to make this premise into a reality.

The role of expert mechs would forever shift!

If Ves became capable of designing mechs that imitated some of the abilities of the original source of the design spirit, then the mech community ’s dependence on expert pilots would instantly decrease!

”Expert pilots may even become expendable! ”

Naturally, expert pilots still had to be nurtured.
Without a continuous influx of raw materials, how would Ves be able to continue empowering his expert mech designs?

In short, what this potential innovation made possible was for regular mech pilots to unleash the power of expert mechs! Ves knew that wealthy mech pilots everywhere in the galaxy would pay a fortune to pilot such a self-powered expert mech!

This was why he called it spiritual replication.
He was in effect replicating the power of an expert pilot without requiring the expert pilot ’s physical presence!

The potential implications frightened him.
Making this happen would lead to an even more frenzied demand for his mechs than if he merely bestowed them with life.

An uncountable amount of mech pilots desired to wield the power of an expert pilot! Some of them would doubtlessly do everything possible to secure that power for themselves!

”This is a hot potato of epic proportions! ”

He couldn ’t overstate the astonishment this potential innovation would provoke from the entirety of human space if they found out about this amazing possibility!

”There ’s more! ”

If it only worked for expert pilots and expert mechs, then that was already revolutionary enough.

However, what if spiritual replication wasn ’t confined to expert pilots? What if stronger spiritual entities such as ace pilots and perhaps even god pilots fell within the range of this technique?

”This… ”


Even now, when he had just theorized it in his mind, he could never leak a word of it to anyone! His hands instantly pressed to his mouth as if he was afraid that he ’d unconsciously slipped up as he always did whenever he entered a state of deep thinking!

”MMfmww! Mmwwmmw! ”

Nonetheless, he almost couldn ’t contain his excitement on this new idea! A strong temptation lured him deeper into the direction of the path of life!

Nonetheless, the mere suggestion of abandoning his current path of balance in favor of embracing the path of life attracted him like a siren call.

Ves shook his head again to rid himself of unreasonable thoughts.

”I can ’t let go of what I am! I can ’t let go of the goal I want to pursue! ”

The System described his design philosophy as spiritual man-machine symbiosis for a very good reason!

He believed the full potential of a mech could only be realized by combining man and machine! This was the core premise of mechs as a weapon system!

What did it mean if he fully embraced this direction and tried to make it into fruition?

Mech pilots might prove redundant!

”The existence of high-ranking mech pilots is the pivotal condition which justifies the existence of mechs! ”

What if one day Ves became capable of designing mechs that inherently exhibited the powers of an expert mech, ace mech or even god mech?

The machines may not even require a mech pilot at all! Forget putting a regular mech pilot in the control seat, why not get rid of cockpits entirely and convert the mechs into giant autonomous robot fighting machines?

It would be the end of the Age of Mechs and the start of the Age of Bots!

Of course, Ves still had some questions about the supply of expert pilots, ace pilots and god pilots, but even then he could think up some alternatives.

For example, the existence of a spiritually powerful exobeast like Qilanxo proved that spirituality was not the exclusive domain of the human race.

Aside from farming high-ranking mech pilots, the newly arisen Bot Trade Association or whatever would probably start breeding remarkable aliens and exobeasts with spiritual potential.

The supply of this critical material acted as a huge bottleneck.

It wasn ’t so easy to develop an entity with the power of an expert pilot, let alone that of a vaunted god pilot! The MTA had to pull out all the stops over the entirety of human space just to nurture a hundred god pilots!

Supply problems aside, the real reason why Ves felt ambivalent about this direction was because he did not wish to divert from his core ambition.

It was counterproductive to develop a new method that might possibly make mechs extinct!

”Humans should always maintain direct control over their war machines! ”

The moment humanity started delegating their security and defense to bots, AIs and other autonomous weapon systems was the moment of their race ’s decline!

This was the original reason why Ves rejected embracing the path of determinism and the path of life.
Both led to outcomes where the role of the human mech pilot was made redundant in different ways.

As someone who proudly considered himself a mech designer, Ves simply couldn ’t bring the potential deathknell of mechs to life!

Aside from these galactic implications, spiritual replication would also conflict with his design philosophy.
The symbiosis aspect would be completely out of whack by empowering mechs at the expense of mech pilots.

Ves knew that if he continued to dedicate himself to designing mechs that spiritually replicated the abilities of high-ranking mech pilots, his design philosophy would gradually warp and mutate away from its current emphasis on symbiosis.

He deeply feared what he might lose in the process.

”Will I even be able to recognize myself? ” He asked himself.

Since young, he was a boy who grew up around mechs.
He loved mechs and adored them for all his life.
He also admired mech pilots of many stripes.
From his parents to the rest of the Larkinsons, Ves deeply respected mech pilots.

He even wanted to become one himself when he was young!

That ’s the key word. ”

Right now, Ves pursued his design philosophy in the belief that the mech community didn ’t show enough respect to mechs.
By infusing them with life, he hoped that one day he might be able to steer the perception of mechs in a positive direction.

Yet if Ves went overboard with improving mechs to the detriment of the role of mech pilots, then he ’d simply be reversing the current problematic imbalance with another form of imbalance!

”Balance! What I seek is balance! ”

The path of balance that he had always pursued since the start favored both mechs and mech pilots in equal proportion.

Ves already pursued one impossible ambition.
Opting to chase after another impossibility would completely consume him and lead him astray from his original goals.

When Ves compared his original ambition with this new possibility, he did not feel as moved when he thought of the latter.

”If I don ’t have as much passion for it, my chances of turning it into reality is much lower! ”

In the worst case, he might end up like Old Man Terrence and the innumerable amount of Journeymen and Seniors who failed to realize their design philosophies over their lifetimes.

Even if Ves believed he was different, it was still unwise to make his advancement even harder to achieve!

Lately, he often thought about Gloriana whenever he faced a situation like this.
Should he really be chasing after shinier toys when he was already perfectly content with lesser but serviceable toys?

”I ’m not like her. ” Ves reiterated.
”I don ’t need everything to be perfect.
I just need something that works. ”

With great reluctance, Ves decided that he would merely explore this potential direction.
He did not plan to invest serious time, effort and resources into exploiting spiritual replication to the fullest.

For example, with regards to his current design project, Ves would have to see whether it was possible for his Devil Tiger to inherit some of the Dragon Cat ’s emotion manipulation powers.

”However, if it can ’t be done, then whatever.
My mech design doesn ’t revolve around these esoteric abilities! ”

He suspected that spiritual replication required more than just a fragment from a formidable spiritual entity.
He might have to harvest the complete spiritual consciousness of the Dragon Cat in order to imbue his Devil Tiger with her abilities!

”Doing that will kill the exobeast. ” He murmured.

After all, if Ves robbed a living being of all of their spirituality, their body no longer held the spark of life! They ’d be as useless as clones!

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