The Mech Touch
After giving up the chase, the Echo Spears no longer had any chance of completing their primary objective.
The distance to their mission target constantly increased until it was far too late for the mechs to catch up no matter how much power they dumped into their flight systems!
The fleeing ship ’s FTL drive calmly continued its cycling process as if nothing special happened.
Without any engineers to optimize this process, Ves had no way to hurry up this highly-regulated process.
After a total of five agonizing hours had passed, the FTL drive finally became available.
Ves instantly instructed the ship to punch in the coordinates of his next step.
The ship ’s navigation system took care of the rest, automatically calculating and forming the right configuration to reach his intended destination!
As soon as the Scarlet Rose transitioned into FTL, Ves could finally relax.
He looked up at the four slightly-marred battle bots that had saved his skin a few hours ago.
Despite confronting an entire mercenary corps, the four former mechs exhibited no major battle damage!
Even their more vulnerable weapons made it through the battle largely unscathed!
”This is the might of true second-class mechs! ”
Each of the mechs designed and built by Aisling Curver fell in the premier price category of the Coalition mech market.
Ves did not even dare to guess the exact market price of these mechs! He feared he would faint at the amount of cols it took to build or buy one of these custom mechs!
At the very least, Ves would have to fork over billions of coalition credits to obtain mechs of comparable quality and performance!
It felt nice having all of this might at his disposal.
Though the lack of mech pilots meant that most of their potential remained dormant, what little he could bring to bear was already enough for him to fend off opportunistic outfits like the Echo Spears!
Now that he gained some self-preservation against weaker opponents, Ves believed his journey through the Great Zona Republic would not be as fraught with peril as he initially expected.
The performance of his battle bots exceeded his expectations!
”These are some really good machines! ”
If possible, Ves wanted to retain them and bring them back to his new base and take the time to study them from top to bottom.
There was much that Ves could learn about the characteristics of second-class mechs.
Each of the four machines incorporated many interesting design principles and standards.
Each of the mechs carried the character of Clarion University, a top mech design institution of the Gauge Dynasty.
Lady Curver also inherited many design principles from Master Huron, a very distinguished mech designer who enjoyed a high position in the Friday Coalition.
Though studying the machines along with all of the related files risked contamination, Ves believed he was strong enough to endure any undesirable changes.
”If nothing else, I can just drain my spirit and temporarily turn myself into a rational mech designer. ” He muttered.
In the past week, Ves personally experienced some of the benefits that Patricia had alluded to.
In his low period, his emotions might be muted, but they also became much less susceptible to outside influence!
It was as if his mind and Spirituality became out of phase with the rest of reality.
Whenever Ves delved into the design of Aisling ’s mechs while he was converting them into battle bots, he noticed that his design philosophy didn ’t even come close to being threatened!
Ves realized the implications of this reaction.
As long as his design seed and design philosophy no longer became affected by outside impulses, he could study or explore all kinds of knowledge regardless if they clashed with his original ideals!
”It ’s like working with fire and ice at the same time! ”
Ordinarily, fire and ice always clashed.
Neither could survive while the other was there! Yet upon forcing himself into a low period, the fire in his body suddenly became shielded from reality.
Even if he placed a clump ice next to the fire, only a faint reaction would occur depending on his spiritual energy depletion rate!
Ves fully understood the value of rational mech designers at this point.
No wonder the MTA valued them so much!
Rational mech designers might not necessarily be good innovators, but they excelled at integrating all manner of existing inventions no matter how obtuse they were! As long as they obtained enough theory, they could definitely assimilate them in their own body of work to a certain extent!
Did Ves want to go this far? Not necessarily.
He did not feel any desire to do what Aisling could do.
Messing with neural interconnectivity sounded like a good way to piss off the MTA.
Since Ves sought to earn a lot of merits and redeem a beyonder ticket from the powerful organization, he could not afford to get caught with breaking one of their major rules!
”That doesn ’t mean there is nothing for me to learn. ”
Aside from learning the characteristics of second-class mechs, Ves also wanted to gain inspiration from Aisling ’s design philosophy.
Just like with exchanges between mech designers, careful exploration of another mech designer ’s work might yield new ideas and perspective that enriched his application of his own design philosophy.
In recent times, Ves became somewhat intrigued by the possibility of replicating the effects of a neural network on a spiritual level.
From his limited understanding of spirituality, Ves believed it was possible to facilitate a spiritual connection between two different mech pilots.
After all, his design spirits were already capable of maintaining connections with many different mechs.
Yet a human was different from a powerful spiritual entity.
How could any human mech pilot, particularly those who lacked spiritual potential, be capable of forming a spiritual connection with a fellow comrade-in-arms?
Ves lacked the answer to this question, hence why he became so interested in exploring Aisling ’s works in depth.
He hoped he might gain some inspiration that pointed him towards a possible solution.
”What would it be like to form a network between mech pilots that transcends the man-machine connection? ”
He could scarcely imagine the results.
By forming a spiritual web of connection between mech pilots, they would become capable of exchanging all manner of thoughts and information.
If the mech pilots took advantage of this exceptional state, they would be able fight and move as a single entity! Even better, the mech pilots might be able to achieve resonance between each other that amplified their effective piloting performance!
Of course, Ves did not believe that such a strong result would emerge on the first attempt.
Without the physical bond of a neural interface, the spiritual network would likely be weak.
Perhaps only a trickle of data could be exchanged between mech pilots.
Yet that was already enough to make a difference in battle!
Ves shook his head.
”Every unknown innovation is a double-edged sword.
Leaving aside the question whether it is even possible for me to form such a network, the potential risks are exceptionally great! ”
Just like how reckless experimentation with neural interface technology often led to fatal outcomes, messing with spirituality was also fraught with peril!
The crude form of spiritual surgery he performed on William Urbesh was already proof of how bad things it could get if he played with forces beyond his understanding!
”I ’ll have to limit my experimentation to test subjects rather than my customers. ”
Despite the risks, Ves seriously wanted to explore this avenue.
Not only would he be able to add another application of his design philosophy to his arsenal, he also wanted to achieve something greater.
He already formed a tentative but ambitious plan to strengthen his fighting forces and grant them a unique edge!
While a spiritual network wasn ’t necessary, if he managed to pull it off, he could definitely achieve a lot of synergy by combining it with his next idea!
Just thinking about the mechs that incorporated these innovations practically sent him over the moon! As a mech designer, he loved nothing more than to turn the impossible into the possible!
”These will be my next research directions! ”
He indulged himself for a few minutes longer before returning to reality.
He could leave them for later once he passed the immediate crisis.
Now that his ship transitioned into FTL, he was safe for a couple.
”Before my Scarlet Rose emerges back to realspace, I have to make sure my assets are ready for battle. ”
Ves proceeded to inspect the battle bots and tally the damage they incurred.
He also ran a diagnostic of the ship in order to find out if any of her systems sustained any damage.
Fortunately, the Scarlet Rose only suffered minor damage.
Aside from some surface components such as sensor modules and other fragile devices, the mobile supply frigate managed to make it out of the battle unscathed.
Though she endured a lot of enemy firepower, her exterior armor was largely intact.
Part of that was because the ship ’s constant rotations spread out the damage across her entire hull, thereby preventing any single exterior section from accumulating too much damage.
Even so, the minor cracks and chips represented a permanent reduction in armor integrity.
As long as the Scarlet Rose kept bumping into enemies, the damage would continue to accumulate until a breach finally occurred!
Given time, Ves might be able to patch up the holes.
Yet Ves did not possess the expensive exotics required to fabricate replacement armor that was up to standard.
He could only settle for the materials he had on hand to fabricate inferior replacements.
The same went for the mechs.
Each of them only suffered light damage, but the dearth in materials made it difficult to repair any damage.
Lucky was partially to blame for his poor logistical circumstances!
The moment he stepped in the exotics storeroom, he found a near-insensate gem cat lying in a pile of half-eating minerals as if he was sleeping on a bed of money!
”Wake up, you thieving cat! ”
Ves kicked the sleeping cat, causing Lucky to yelp and bounce against the bulkhead of the storeroom!
Lucky hissed indignantly at his owner!
”Oh don ’t be so dramatic! With all that you ’ve managed to devour, a kick against your bottomless stomach is the least you deserve! ”
When Ves gave permission for Lucky to eat the Scarlet Rose ’s exotics stash, he expected his cat to take a while to digest his food.
Yet as he approached some of the locked drawers and pulled them out, he encountered nothing but an empty cavity!
Every sample of a critical material was gone!
Ves inspected multiple drawers and found that some other valued materials had disappeared entirely!
As for the lower-grade exotics, Lucky only sampled occasionally.
” Ves gnashed his teeth.
”While I didn ’t set any limits on what you could eat, I thought you ’d be sensible enough to leave some to repair my stuff! If the Scarlet Rose goes down because you ate all of my repair materials, then you have only yourself to blame! ”
”Meow meow meow! ”
Lucky did not look contrite at all! As far as he was concerned, Ves would have never been able to capture the Scarlet Rose without his help! It was all him! Ves only contributed 5 percent to the capture of the ship at most!
Since Ves claimed the Scarlet Rose and her complement of mechs, then Lucky could only settle for the high and medium-grade exotics stored on the ship!
After a lot of arguing, Ves finally managed to convince Lucky to slow down his consumption!
”I don ’t care whether you ’ve leveled up or grew stronger! A single cat won ’t get me back to friendly space! Only a ship can do that, so it is in both of our interests to keep the Scarlet Rose intact! ”
”Meoow! ” Lucky suggested while suggestively swishing his tail.
”That ’s ridiculous! I don ’t want to get stranded on a ship without an FTL drive! ”
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