After Ves finished his business at the armory, he returned to the Research Department.
He didn ’t have to wait long until Calabast succeeded in granting him access to two core research projects.

When he studied the paperwork, he found that everything was in order.
There shouldn ’t be anything stopping him from entering the highly-guarded labs of the Exobiology and Human Genetics Research Sub-Departments.

”Let ’s get this over with. ” He sighed.

He first decided to enter the lab of Project Void Calamity at the Exobiology Research Sub-Department.
Such a project name made Ves imagine that the CFA tried to develop some powerful superbomb so calamitous that it shattered the surrounding space!

Yet for some reason, this top-secret research project fell under exobiology.
As Ves slowly went through security checkpoint after security checkpoint, he finally entered the long-dormant lab of this strange and potentially ruinous research project.

The lights of the main compartment lit up, illuminating a giant stasis cage.
A creature just as large as Qilanxo rested within, locked in time.

”Is that..
a void beast? ”

Interstellar life existed, and they were all terribly powerful in some way.
With asteroids, lethal radiation, extreme resource scarcity and many other harmful factors at work, it was nearly impossible for life in space to evolve into being.

Yet interstellar space was unimaginably vast.
No matter how small the odds, as long as even the tiniest chance existence, nature somehow found a way.
Void beasts represented the ultimate adaptability of life.
Against the extremely harsh environment of space, the creatures that managed to cling to life in space all turned into extremely formidable beings!

No regular outfit would even consider capturing a void beast alive.
Even many state militaries would probably decline the opportunity because the losses simply didn ’t match the gains.

It was a different story for the CFA, however.
If anyone could catch them alive, it was the Big Two.

Ves stepped softly towards the semi-transparent, glowing stasis cage and admired the vaguely whale-like form.
Its pitted black skin seemed flexible, but Ves knew that it could withstand an incredible amount of radiation and kinetic energy.
Ordinary laser beams and kinetic rounds would bounce right off the surface without inflicting any major damage.

”So this is the heart of Project Void Calamity? ”

As Ves wondered what the CFA wanted to do with this void beast, he turned to the bank of terminals and logged in with the credentials that Calabast provided to him.
The terminal read all the authorizations from his CFA comm and beeped in approval.

Numerous encrypted files became accessible to him.
He was tempted to dive in immediately but remembered his task.
He retrieved the secure data chip from his Squalon and inserted it into the terminal ’s slot.

The chip glowed orange as its hacking software went to work in trying to override the copy restrictions of the research project ’s core data files.

According to Calabast, Ves didn ’t need to do anything except to wait until the chip glowed green, signifying that it succeeded in copying over the essential research data.

”I might as well dive in to see why this is worth the effort for her to retrieve. ”

He dove into the approved research proposal to read the initial motivations for starting this secret project.

Just a few minutes in, Ves almost sputtered.
”How can this even be possible?! ”

Project Void Calamity truly deserved to be kept top secret.
The story went that a renowned exobiologist specialized in the study of void beasts discovered a new species which he named void breakers that possessed a peculiar defense mechanism.

As their species name suggested, they possessed the ability to ’break ’ space.
Technically, they somehow broke the relation between the dimensions in a very limited fashion.
This basically meant that anyone falling under its field of effect would be torn apart as the matter that made up their bodies would be spread across a very wide distance!

Naturally, the CFA wasn ’t interested in harnessing the void breakers as blunt objects to whack enemy ships.
They already possessed more than enough weapons to inflict mass destruction.

Instead, they became interested in the void breakers because this dimensional decoupling took place in many dimensions at the same time.
It wasn ’t just the material dimensions being affected, but also the higher dimensions that FTL drives depended upon to traverse!

”I get it now.
The CFA wants to build a giant higher-dimensional space net! ”

It took a lot of energy for a void breaker to ’break ’ the material dimensions because they were relatively barren in energy.
However, the creatures found it much easier to decouple the higher dimensions from each other because they somehow managed to draw upon the energy-rich environments to fuel their own separation from each other!

What this did mean? As long as the researchers of Project Void Calamity managed to decipher the mechanics behind the special ability of the void breakers and replicate them artificially, they could potentially build a series of interdiction machines that essentially blocked many methods of FTL travel!

”The main point of this project is economy of scale. ” Ves understood from the justifications to embark on this research project.
”A typical star system encompasses many light-hours.
It ’s not feasible to block every approach with an interdiction machine if they are too costly to produce. ”

Yet the void breaker didn ’t have a particularly special physique and doesn ’t have a demanding diet in terms of exotics.
This meant that it was highly possible to mass produce thousands of interdiction machines without bankrupting a state!

Best of all, not only did these interdiction machines block space, they also served as lethal traps.
Any ships that crashed into their field of effect would tear themselves apart like noodles, eliminating every hope of entering the star system alive!

A couple of hundred interdiction machines set up at a predicted FTL emergence zone would definitely be able to annihilate a major fleet without firing a single shot!

”This is a weapon that needs planning and prediction to make the best use of it.
How frightening! ”

Even though the Starlight Megalodon encountered a mishap before finishing Project Void Calamity, Ves was sure that the CFA repeated same research elsewhere.

The data chip soon glowed green, alerting Ves that it finished its job.
He quickly removed the chip from the slot and put it back in his Squalon in case the security arrangements of this lab detected something problematic, although Calabast promised they shouldn ’t even notice his actions.

”I better get out of here. ”

Not only was he afraid of getting caught by the lab ’s security measures, he also wanted to get away from the void breaker captured in stasis!

After departing Project Void Calamity ’s lab, he quickly went over to the Human Genetics Research Sub-Department and made his way to the lab that housed Project Pandemonium Descent.

This lab was a lot more modest and didn ’t host any organisms locked in stasis.
As Ves repeated his actions at the other lab, he quickly read over the introductory files of this strangely-named project.

Project Pandemonium Descent possessed a much more insidious goal.
The secret project aimed to discover and exploit special frequencies that when broadcasted to a crowd of humans would slowly agitate them and make them more aggressive and impulsive.

Ves didn ’t understand even an iota of the theories described in the documents, but the summaries and abstract painted an extremely potent weapon aimed squarely at large populations of humans.

”The emitters that broadcast these extremely subtle frequencies can be spread all over a city or even encompass an entire planet! If they aren ’t discovered fast enough, a planet can easily descent into absolute pandemonium! Even the most cohesive and prosperous of planets can ignite into a madhouse over the course of a couple of months! ”

The CFA approved of Project Pandemonium Descent with the express intent of reserving them for use against the first-rate superstates.

”So even the CFA is apprehensive against the two most powerful human states. ”

Generally speaking, the power and reach of the Big Two transcended the might that could be mustered by the Terrans and the Rubarthans, yet the disparity wasn ’t that large.
If a full-scale conflict really broke out for some reason or another, the Big Two would probably end up with a pyrrhic victory!

Ves really had to hand it to the researchers who proposed Project Pandemonium Descent.
The main strength and weakness of the Greater Terran United Confederation and the New Rubarth Empire was their massive territory and the enormous amount of rich and highly-populated planets under their control.

No matter how well the first-rate superstates defended their core planets, it was all too easy for the Big Two to insert their spies among their populations.
The best part about the pandemonium emitters was that it worked in a very wide range, so the spies could hide them nearly anywhere in a city and still affect the more heavily-guarded city districts.

As long as enough emitters did their magic, these prosperous and productive core planets that formed the backbone of the first-rate superstates would break without external intervention!

”The panic, riots and chaos that will happen on an affected planet will make what happened on Harkensen I or in the Detemen System look like a picnic! ”

While the secure data chip quickly worked its circuits to circumvent the encryption and security measures, Ves began to connect the common thread between these two research projects.

”They are both extreme projects expressly devised to break an entire state! ”

Project Void Calamity tried to devise a means to destroy an incoming war fleet by laying a trap in their FTL emergence zone.

Project Pandemonium Descent attempted to discreetly plunge a highly-populated city or planet into absolute anarchy.

Both projects didn ’t have much application in smaller battles and skirmishes.
Instead, they found their best use during major wars between states such as the Bright-Vesia Wars.

”If the Vesia Kingdom manages to obtain the results of these two perverse secret projects, the Bright Republic will probably come to an end! ”

Ves did not believe that insidious snake Calabast worked for the Vesians, though.
Still, her true employers should be a state or a state-like entity with aggressive ambitions.
They were probably plotting an incredibly destructive war against an equally powerful state.
Calabast ’s employers wouldn ’t be so greedy for these secret projects if they aimed their sights onto weaker states.

The implications of the two secret projects and his own role in facilitating their handoff to Miss Calabast and her employers gnawed at his conscience, or at least what little of it still remained.

”If the results of these research projects will be put to use in a future war, will I be culpable for all of the death and destruction that will ensue? ”

”Will I be responsible for the fall of an entire state in the future? ”

Strangely enough, Ves didn ’t fuss over these questions.
If something awful happened in the future as a direct result of his actions, then so be it.
Why should he feel guilty for the potential collapse of an entire state? States fell and rose all the time throughout human space.

”It ’s kind of like selling mechs.
I should be held responsible for the potential crimes my customers might commit with my products. ”

That would be silly.
Mechs didn ’t kill people.
People killed people.

An innocent mech designer who ran a modest mech manufacturing company that sold war machines to anyone who paid for them shouldn ’t bear the guilt if some of these deadly machines ended up being used to commit atrocities.

Ves chuckled.
”If not me, then someone else would have been her patsy. ”

Thus, the enormous implications of handing over this sensitive CFA research to Calabast didn ’t bother him anymore.
Ves considered himself merely as a chain in the link.

While Miss Calabast was extremely vexing, Ves had to admit that so far he benefited substantially from her assistance.

Besides, she also knew his ultimate secret.
There was no way for him to refuse her request anyway.
He had no choice of facilitating this theft.

”If I can ’t stop it, I might as well enjoy it. ” He remarked to himself in a depreciating tone.

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