Like any other day, Ves returned to his quarters after breakfast.

Ever since he stepped aboard the Scarlet Rose, he never visited any other part of the ship aside from his quarters, the dining room, the lounge and the corridors in between.

These compartments only constituted a small portion of the mobile supply frigate!

If he tried to launch his impending plan without scouting the other sections of the ship in advance, he was liable to encounter a lot of nasty surprises!

This wasn ’t that big of a problem if he tried to attack a cheap, third-class vessel.

Third-class ships tended to be very economical.
As long as they could travel the stars and fulfill their primary functions, everything else was secondary!

It was different for more expensive ships.
The CRC was not short on money and resources at all, and the Scarlet Rose cut no corners when it came to repelling hostile intruders.

Ves did not dare to underestimate the ship ’s security measures.
Even when he gained an enormous advantage in information, initiative and preparation, he still believed that something might go out of control today!

”I ’ve already made my preparations. ” He sighed.
”There is nothing more I can do. ”

He tried his best to calm himself and continue to go over his steps again and again.
He had to be as efficient as possible when he started to make his moves.

Even a single second of delay might give his opponents the opportunity to counterattack!

The key to succeeding in the first step was to launch his first attacks simultaneously.
He needed to hit the bridge, security section and engineering section simultaneously with as little delay in between as possible!

It was very difficult to time his moves so precisely.
He could only be in one place at a time, so he had no control over the timing of the attacks on the other two sections.

His stateroom was situated on the upper decks of the Scarlet Rose.
The closest target was the bridge, which was located a bit below and towards the bow of the ship.

Ves had to break out of his quarters, cross the distance and barge into the bridge before someone closed the blast doors!

As long as the captain on the bridge received advanced warning and shut the blast doors, Ves would not be able to penetrate the bridge right away!

The bridge served as the nucleus of the Scarlet Rose.
It contained some of the highest authority over the systems running the ship, and often held the most important passengers and crew in event of an emergency.

Perhaps the best way to look at the bridge was to equate it with the cockpit of a mech! The bridge was a self-contained compartment surrounded by extremely thick armor plating!

Some ships were even capable of ejecting this compartment in the event of a catastrophic event!

Fortunately, the Scarlet Rose was not as extravagant.
Ves didn ’t have to worry about the bridge running away from the rest of the ship!

However, this also meant that he couldn ’t scare off the occupants of the bridge into running away.
Ves had to take care of them right away, and time his approach as best as possible!

This was one of the riskiest steps of his plan.
As long as anything went wrong at the start, the situation would rapidly spin out of control!

Ves nervously grabbed a book from the library and sat down behind his desk.
He tried his best to pretend that he was immersed in his studies.

In truth, his eyes weren ’t even focused on the printed words and diagrams of the book.

Silently, Ves counted down the minutes.
According to the information retrieved by Lucky, the ship would emerge out of FTL very soon, though Ves couldn ’t pin down the exact timing.

Due to the influence of gravitic tides and the inherent instability of FTL travel, a ship might arrive at a destination a day before or a day later than estimated!

However, Ves did not expect the Scarlet Rose to exhibit so much variance.
Right now, she was travelling through low-energic space.
The barren star systems were largely devoid of highly energetic exotics that increased the gravitic turbulence in the surrounding light-years.

Since the Scarlet Rose was designed to travel through Coalition space, her FTL drive was much more stable and solid than cheaper ones!

This was why Ves expected the Scarlet Rose to arrive at the next star system on time!

After several hours of waiting, the time had finally come.

Ves experienced the strange sensation of transitioning out of FTL.
A bit of nausea crept up to him, but he was so used to it that he effortlessly suppressed this impulse.

He was on a time limit right now!

Ves raced towards the bathroom as if he desperately needed to use the toilet!

As soon as the bathroom door slid shut, he nodded towards an intangible form that had been standing by for a while.

Ves did not dare to speak out loud.
Aside from the optical sensors, the monitoring was still intact!

After making sure that Lucky was still onboard with the plan, he raced towards a cupboard and retrieved the beauty bot that was responsible for grooming his hair and applying makeup on his face.

He pressed the emergency shutoff button and turned its spherical shape around until he faced the backplate.

Using a stripped-down sonic toothbrush, he applied a considerable amount of force to pry open the plate.
Once he did so, he yanked out some of the useless internal components until he created enough space.

This should be enough!

Next, Ves slipped his hands under his pants and retrieved the bulge he ’d been hiding underneath his Synthra Umbra underwear all this time.

The moment he took it out, his pants felt oddly loose to him.
He wasn ’t used to this loose sensation!

He shook his head.
This was not the time to think about stuffing his pants again!

He tried to make as little sound as possible while carefully slipping in the jamming device between the internals of the bot.

Once he stuffed it in, he restored the backplate so that the beauty bot looked as normal as possible!

After finishing this step, he took the beauty bot out of the bathroom while Lucky followed along while remaining intangible.

When he reached his desk, Ves slipped his hand under his pants once again to retrieve his personal comm.

He activated it, knowing that the monitoring system of his quarters would probably pick up its presence.

He used his comm to attempt a connection to the galactic net and send help messages Gloriana, the Larkinson Family and the Bright Republic!

After making sure his comm would keep spamming the internal network of the ship with its requests, Ves placed it down on his desk before immediately heading to the exit with the bot in tow!

Lucky already flew ahead and phased through the bulkhead in order to reach a hidden mechanism.

After destroying a single, crucial component, the armored hatch automatically slid open!

Ves shared one urgent look with Lucky before letting go of the beauty bot!

The bot acted on its tampered programming and started to fly down the corridor.
The jamming device inside activated as well, causing an interference field to form around the bot!

If not for planning its route beforehand, the blinded bot would have crashed into the bulkhead or something by now!

In the meantime, Lucky already disappeared by phasing through the deck.
He had his own mission to fulfill!

While he was still in the range of the jamming field, Ves mentally flicked towards his intangible Inventory and materialized his System comm!

He quickly booted it up and instantly activated its Full Stealth augment!

”Finally! ” He sighed, knowing that the powerful field would block any sound!

At its current level, the Stealth Augment installed on his System comm would only make him invisible and undetectable for ten minutes.

”Ten minutes should be enough! ”

Right now, the security officers overseeing the monitor system should be quite confused!

According to the data, Ves should have disappeared from their sensors! Instead, two new abnormal signatures emerged in their sights.

First was his personal comm which lay on his desk and kept transmitting help requests!

Second was the tampered beauty bot which carried his active jamming device!

As long as the security officers took notice of these two abnormalities, they would definitely suspect that Ves was trying escape!

The route taken by the beauty bot just happened to be flying away from the bridge.
Ves had already programmed it to run towards the nearest escape pods!

While the guards presumably started to react to this strange occurrence, Ves turned towards the opposite direction and ran towards the bridge under the confidence that his true whereabouts were completely unknown!

”I have to run faster! ”

When he formulated his plan, he gambled that his earlier actions did not arouse too much vigilance in the crew.

After all, Ves should have been completely alone and without any gear! Even if he somehow snatched a comm and circumvented the exit of his quarters, he still wouldn ’t be able to do much damage while the internal security systems of the ship were completely active!

However, when the security officers tried to amplify the artificial gravity in the corridor where the beauty bot was passing through, nothing happened!

Ves had already hacked them, making them completely unresponsive to any external commands!

While the security officers started to become alarmed, Ves had finally reached the bridge!

Since his quarters and the bridge were both located on the upper decks, Ves hadn ’t spent much time reaching the latter.

He wanted to thank Aisling for treating him like an honored guest! His stateroom wasn ’t very far from Aisling ’s quarters.
The upper decks of a ship was where the captain and the most important passengers of a ship resided.

Usually, the distance between their quarters and the bridge had to be as short as possible!

After all, the captain shouldn ’t be forced to cross the entire length of a ship in the event of an emergency!

Aisling should have taken a page out of Ghanso ’s book and chuck him into the brig! As long as he was stuck in a cell, it would have been ten times for him to sneak away!

Only a brief amount of time had passed since the monitoring system picked up something abnormal.
Ves was sure that security just started to dispatch some teams to intercept his decoys.

Fortunately, Ves gambled correctly, and the blast doors still hadn ’t slammed shut and blocked his way to the bridge!

Right now, a more normal hatch hindered his entry.
Unless someone left or entered the bridge, it was unlikely that this hatch would open!

Ves looked around and did not see any crew running to the bridge.

That made sense.
It was customary for a full shift to be present on the bridge whenever a ship transitioned out of FTL.

Ves hadn ’t dared to tamper with the control system governing this hatch.
The bridge was one of the most sensitive compartments of a ship and its entry was probably very tightly monitored!

While he could have hacked its control system, he had already tampered enough with the bridge.
Every additional tampering attempt increased the risk of discovery!

Instead of hacking this hatch, Ves opted to enter through a much more convenient manner.

”As expected! ” He grinned as he heard some footsteps approaching!

He half-expected Aisling to approach.
Instead, her executive assistant emerged from the corner.
She looked concerned as her heels clacked against the surface of the deck.

Ves stood to the side of the hatch and watched the assistant go through a brief verification process.

The hatch slid open as soon as the ship recognized her identity!

As soon as she entered, Ves slipped behind her body as close as possible without touching her and neatly slipped into the bridge with no one else the wiser!

He couldn ’t help but form a grin on his face.
Now that he managed to enter the bridge, he overcame his first major hurdle!

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