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Chapter 1972 Spiritual Beacon

The Mech Touch
     Chapter 1972 Spiritual Beacon

    When Ves logged out of the Rim Exchange, a considerable amount of time had passed. The design teams had already left the lab at the end of the shift. Even Gloriana had left.

    Meow.

    Lucky immediately noticed that Ves had pulled himself out of the virtual immersion.

    Haha, I wasn't gone for long.

    Meow meow.

    Ves stroked Lucky's back. Yes, yes, I'll be sure to feed you a batch of Breyer alloy. That reminds me of something. I should check up on our resident mummy.

    After Lucky got his fill of petting, he jumped from Ves' lap and floated in the air. Ves stood up and stretched his body before looking around.

    Not a lot of people were left in the design lab. Only Nitaa and a handful of nameless Avatar bodyguards still remained on duty.

    Nitaa, you can continue to accompany me. As for the rest, you can wait for my return. I'll only be gone for a little while.

    While his Avatar bodyguards didn't like his orders, it wasn't as if there were any acute threats on his own ship.

    After shaking off the bulk of his bodyguards, Ves took Lucky and Nitaa to a secretive passage nearby that led straight to a reinforced checkpoint.

    The guards that manned the defensive position didn't consist of Avatars. While Ves trusted his Avatars, they were not infallible.

    For this reason, Ves decided to assign Kinners to man this checkpoint! Various Kinners also manned some of the other critical sections of the Scarlet Rose.

    While Ves still considered their unflinching loyalty to be rather fishy, he didn't have many other options.

    Mr. Larkinson. They greeted him in a filtered voice behind their closed helmets. Please stand still and allow us to scan you and your guests.

    Please proceed.

    The Kinner guards received strict orders to inspect anyone who wished to enter Compartment G-13. No one was excepted from this rule, not even Ves himself!

    The search was both thorough and invasive. The guards politely but very firmly demanded Ves and Nitaa to strip and enter a sophisticated scanning booth.

    In fact, the scanning booth was more than capable enough of scanning through most of Ves' body through his clothes, but his Synthra Umbra underwear and pockets were obvious exceptions!

    If Ves could fool the scanners with Synthra Umbra, then anyone else could do so as well! To be absolutely sure, Ves instituted the rule that everyone had to strip in order to pass the security inspection.

    Just as Ves anticipated, the initial scans missed the implant in his head. However, finer scans focused specifically on his head finally detected the space occupied by his Archimedes Rubal implant.

    The security guards didn't suspect him at all. They already carried a scan of the exact shape and position of his implant in his brain.

    Of course, Lucky presented a bit of a problem as well, but because his cat was so unique, the guards easily verified his identity.

    Meow!

    Hey, don't complain! I have to strip naked in order to verify my identity, while you are already naked to begin with! It's good to be a cat.

    It took fifty minutes for the Kinner guards to complete the entire procedure. While this was very troublesome, the security measures were more than warranted considering the incredible amount of value locked within the compartment behind the armored blast doors.

    Once the blast doors opened, Ves, Lucky and Nitaa entered a compartment that used to house the Scarlet Rose's escape pods.

    There weren't any escape pods in the compartment anymore. All of the launch tubes that used to hold the cylindrical pods had long been shut and filled with a lot of Breyer alloy.

    In fact, the entire compartment was lined with a very thick layer of Breyer alloy along with some other advanced alloys meant to block or interfere with as many scanning measures as possible!

    Optical scanning, temperature scanning, vibration scanning, gravitic scanning and countless more scanning measures would never be able to figure out what went on inside this compartment!

    Though Ves wasn't sure if all of the measures were enough to defeat a deep scan from an MTA or CFA vessel, as long as the Scarlet Rose didn't attract suspicion, it shouldn't attract any deep scans.

    I still have to find a better solution, though. He whispered to himself.

    There was very little free space in the compartment. Most of the volume was taken up by the specialized forging machine and various add-ons.

    Right now, the chamber of the forging machine was just reaching its hottest level!

    At this temperature, the mummified body of Cassandra Breyer should have already turned to ashes by now. Shortly afterwards, the escape pod itself should be melting down.

    Ves spent some time to inspect the process while Lucky cheekily floated to a pallet of metal bars and began to chew into one of them as if he was a kid in a candy store!

    Though he hadn't been able to visit Compartment G-13 when the Scarlet Rose was still in refit, he designed its entire layout. So far, Ves was very pleased with the continuous Breyer alloy harvesting operation. The forging machine and everything else operated autonomously without the need for human operators.

    As Ves continued to inspect every single element of the production loop, an escape pod suddenly appeared in the only available launch tube. Antigrav projectors immediately grabbed hold of it and lifted it inside the chute of the still-hot forging machine.

    The entire process didn't last more than a couple of seconds. The escape pod practically flung into the port of the forging machine like it was a missile!

    Ves didn't want to take any chances. The Longer the escape pod remained whole, the greater the chance that Cassandra managed to regain her wits and get up to mischief!

    He specifically engaged his spiritual senses and began to see whether there was any spiritual activity outside of Cassandra's escape pod.

    Nothing.

    So far, Cassandra remained obedient. Ves chalked it up to the minimal amount of time the production loop kept her escape pod intact.

    As Ves kept scanning with his spiritual senses, he finally noticed an anomaly.

    A bit of spiritual energy radiated¬†from the forging machine.

    His face began to scowl. This didn't happen before!

    What are you doing?

    Was she transmitting a spiritual signal? Was she calling for help? Whatever she was doing, Ves doubted it was good.

    He attempted to stop the energy, but even though it was faint, Cassandra was far too strong for him to contend! Even a miniscule amount of her spiritual energy was enough to defeat his efforts at containing them! Ves didn't even stand a chance!

    Goddammit!

    No matter what Ves tried, he failed to stop this process. Ves was completely helpless and could only settle on letting Cassandra do her thing.

    What kind of consequences would her actions lead to? He felt a bit powerless as he wasn't able to do anything to halt her latest scheme.

    I haven't forgotten about your meddling while I was operating on Silent William. He said.

    That was another latent concern that worried Ves from time to time. He had no idea how much Silent William inherited from Cassandra. Hopefully, the influence was only marginal and Silent William didn't become her champion or something.

    Let's go, Lucky. I've seen enough.

    Meow!

    I said let's go! You can eat these bars any time you want aboard this ship! You don't have to chew through my entire stash!

    MEEEEOW!

    After manhandling Lucky out of Compartment G-13, Ves returned to the stateroom he shared with Gloriana. His girlfriend was already waiting for him inside. She had already changed into a more casual dress.

    You missed dinner.

    Sorry. The Rim Exchange was really interesting. One of their AI's forced me to go on a tour. I also met some interesting people there. I'm actually regretful that you aren't able to join me. There is a lot of interesting activities that we could do, not just for fun, but also to earn more merits.

    It's okay, Ves. Now, come sit over here. We need to talk.

    Ves approached the loveseat and sat down next to his girlfriend. Both of them smiled at each other as they began to cuddle up and share their body warmth.

    Have you found any good opportunities to earn merits?

    Not really. You can probably guess that mech designers like me have to work extremely hard or take a lot of risks to earn a sum that is greater than pocket money. Every associate is talented or capable. The Rim Guardians tailor their missions to the best of what the local star sectors are able to raise. It's very difficult to keep up with the competition.

    That sounds about right. Gloriana said while leaning her head against his shoulder. Let's not worry too much about merits right now. We don't have the time to fulfill a mission anyway. Designing the striker mech project and fulfilling DIVA's commission takes priority. In fact, I want to talk about the latter right now. Enough time has passed for us to come up with some ideas. Now, what mech do you want to design?

    Can we not talk about the commission?

    Gloriana scrunched her face. Absolutely not! I've given you enough time to grow comfortable with the commission. Remember, DIVA is just about to rescue your captured relatives. The least you can do is to repay the favor and contribute a mech to our war effort!

    I thought the rescue would have happened by now. Hasn't the CRC dispatched a ship to transfer them to Coalition space?

    The rescue will happen. DIVA won't renege on this deal. Just be patient. Don't change the subject, Ves. I want to hear a mech concept instead of an excuse!

    Jeez. Ves sighed. Okay, okay. So I've been thinking about the mechs that male Hexers are limited to piloting. After studying these so-called 'support mechs', I have a good idea on what I need to design. However, before I make any other choice, I needed to determine what objective I need to pursue.

    DIVA wants a mech that takes advantage of your glow to gain an advantage on the battlefield.

    I know. I've been thinking about this a lot and I've concluded that it's best to go for a supportive glow rather than a suppressive glow. The latter is what I've already used in most of my mech designs, while the latter is something that will be unveiled with my striker mech design.

    What glow do you envision using?

    That's the big question. If the mech is meant to be piloted for women, then the answer is obvious. However, since my mech is only reserved for 'boys', I had to be very thoughtful about my choice.

    Is the glow you've decided upon directed towards boys or women?

    One thing I've noticed is that the morale of both male and female Hexer mech pilots are high. All of the battle footage you've provided to me show that you Hexers are very willing to go all-in. Even so, there are slight differences between boys and women.

    Gloriana smiled in satisfaction. We Hexers take our duties and responsibilities very seriously. We are fighting for more than just our lives. We are fighting for our ideals and our state. The fate of all womenkind rests upon our shoulders! If the Fridaymen win the war, our cause will collapse!

    That didn't sound that bad to Ves, but he kept that to himself.

    The loyalty and conviction of your mech pilots are not quite right, though. From what I can gather, it's a bit different from the loyalty and courage exhibited by our Larkinson mech pilots. You Hexer pilots are just doing whatever your state has spoonfed to your minds without entirely thinking everything through.

    Are you calling us stupid or gullible?!

    No! Ves quickly raised his hands in innocence. Not at all! It's just.. there's something empty about how boys and women are thrown into battle without a healthy mindset. This shows when the mech pilots encounter difficult circumstances. They tend to break and go crazy. Casualties are incredibly high once this happens.

    That.. does happen from time to time, but it's not as bad as you claim!

    Look, once the Fridaymen face a difficult situation, they don't show any qualms about retreating in good order. In contrast, you Hexers seem upset at the prospect of defeat and continue to double down on a losing battle! I think the Fridaymen are even starting to exploit this character flaw!

    That.. that's outrageous! The Hex Army is the strongest military in this star sector! The scattered Fridaymen stand no chance in the long term!

    Ves wanted to palm his face. Gloriana suffered from the same problem afflicting the Hexer mech pilots!