The Mech Touch Chapter 1155
1153 Gatekeeper Benny
As 'Master Axelar' began to make decisions that fell firmly outside the mold of the real Master Axelar, Benny naturally grew a bit suspicious.
While Axelar often flirted with dubious pursuits, that was when he was in the middle of a drug-fueled haze.
This time was different! Axelar went by for hours without asking Benny for an injection, which was practically a galactic record!
Ves, who momentarily hijacked Axelar's body, knew he was arousing more and more suspicions from Axelar's erstwhile bodyguard, minder and personal attendant. Even the rest of his staff felt there was something amiss about their uncharacteristically sober master!
The relationship between Axelar and Benny resembled the one between Ves and Gavin.
There was a very major difference, however.
In his capacity as the boss of the LMC, Ves firmly held on to his power and authority. Gavin only executed the decisions that Ves had made. At best, Gavin only provided some advice and selected a range of options to influence the decision-making process.
After more than a week of riding in Axelar's mind, Ves gradually realized that Benny acted beyond those constraints.
In his role as Axelar's gatekeeper, Benny exercised a lot of power in seeing which decisions went through and which ones were conveniently thrown away and forgotten.
There wasn't anything malicious about Benny's conduct. To the old Axelar, a sane and sober gatekeeper who second-guessed anything his drug-addled charge came up with was a very necessary presence!
Who knew how much money Axelar would waste or how far he'd drag down the reputation of the Streon Clan without a human sanity check in place!
The big issue that Ves faced was that now that Axelar's body had been taken over by a saner person, Benny still decided whether Axelar's orders should be obeyed!
Ves could not get rid of this perpetually present attendant. The only times when Benny left Axelar alone was when his charge visited the bathroom or went to sleep!
Even then, Ves could forget about sneaking any commands past his bodyguard!
"Do you ever sleep, Benny?" Axelar's body idly asked.
"My gene treatments removed my dependence on sleep. Haven't I told you this before? You ordered me to undergo these procedures yourself so you would always have me on hand to inject more stimulants in your body!"
Ves mentally puked. What the hell?! Axelar turned his own gatekeeper into a perpetually active golem who stood ready to interpret every decision whether it was day or night!
Any hopes Ves held towards getting rid of Benny disappeared. After several attempts at giving Benny a day off or a vacation, it became clear that Axelar wasn't even in control of his own household.
Instead, it was Benny who held the final say!
Ves also realized that Benny didn't truly serve Axelar. Instead, he and the rest of Axelar's staff were loyal retainers of the Streon Clan. They acted on the interests of the ancient clan and had probably been sent to Axelar to keep a leash on the wastrel of the clan.
Now that Ves took over Axelar's body, he took over the Streon Clan's leash as well!
He developed a bunch of ideas on how he could take advantage of his control over the body of a Terran clansman. The sheer amount of wealth at Axelar's disposal tempted Ves enormously. If he set up some sort of development fund oriented towards the galactic rim and tweaked the conditions so that it fit the LMC, then Ves could become insanely rich after he got back from this abnormal Mastery experience.
Yet such an un-Axelar decision would never pass through Benny's inspection! For his entire life, Axelar had never been generous enough to set up a charity or an investment fund meant to benefit the galactic rim.
To Terrans like Axelar, the galactic rim was a complete backwater! They did not even waste a single second of thought in the vast but poor and sparsely-populated expanse.
If Ves set up anything that benefited a company or individual in the galactic rim, then alarms would immediately ring in Benny's head!
Even now, Ves already drew plenty of suspicion. His decision to sell the pharmaceutical company and get rid of all their existing formulas put Benny on high alert.
The jerky movements of Axelar's body didn't help either. Ves' consciousness simply hadn't been wired to puppet a vastly different body. All the sensations he received were distorted and his reaction speed was abysmally slow.
The lack of control was so bad in fact that Ves had to order Benny to seat himself on a souped-up hover chair!
To cover up for his invalid state, Ves offered the best excuse he came up with to his increasingly-concerned attendant.
"I've never spent this long without a fix." Axelar's body jerkily gritted its teeth. "I'm stronger than this! I won't give in! If I can't get past this hurdle, I can forget about experiencing the ultimate high!"
Fortunately, Benny seemed to buy the act. "Master Axelar, one does not simply quit taking stimulants. Your physiological parameters are highly unstable."
"Don't think about offering me another fix! It's not the same anymore! In fact, it should be your job to stop me from taking any drugs from now on! No matter how much I moan or cry, I will never go back to the same stale old highs!"
Everything the old Axelar did was to pursue extreme highs. Ves had no choice but to work around this obsession. It would be far too suspicious for Benny to hear that his charge quit taking stimulants entirely.
This was why Ves wanted Axelar to sign up for the Trail of Tears. The Terrans set up the elite training program for mech pilots who wanted to unearth all of their potential. Every mech pilot who participated in the Trail of Tears dreamed to advancing to expert pilot!
Yet out of the thousands that join each batch, only one lucky mech pilot came out as a winner at most!
Sometimes, the Trail of Tears failed to produce a single a single expert candidate. Instead, the majority of participants either died or became so broken by their hellish experiences that they stopped piloting mechs entirely!
It was very unlike Axelar to express a desire to take part in one of the harshest training programs for elites. However, only a radical decision like this paved the way for Ves to take further actions related to piloting mechs.
"Let's visit a mech arena." Axelar's body commanded. "I'm feeling rather itchy for some mech-on-mech action. What's the biggest event going on right now?"
"A grand group match between the Tyon Terminators and the Haspel Asps is about to take place at the Cube Arena."
"Great! Reserve a VIP seat for me! I want to have the best seat in the arena!"
Benny saw nothing wrong with this decision. Even if Axelar wasn't always enthusiastic about piloting mechs, he still liked to see other mechs in action.
Several hours later, Axelar, Benny and a host of other bodyguards arrived at the floating Cube Arena.
The Cube Arena was the biggest floating mech venue in the Tyon System. Situated in high orbit of Tyon IV, it was as large as a space fort as it hosted enough room for multiple three-dimensional arenas!
The Cube Arena's sophisticated internal structure could adjust its arena spaces if needed. During regular days, it partitioned its internal space into several smaller arenas that constantly hosted various mundane mech duels.
This time was different. The match between the Tyon Terminators and the Haspel Asps was a highly anticipated event! Both teams represented the best professional mech athletes from their respective star systems, so the pride of hundreds of billions of people were at stake right now!
While the Cube Arena offered enough seats to host tens of millions of spectators, the sheer amount of fans that decided to attend stuffed the venue to capacity!
Naturally, a clansman like Axelar did not have to wait in line like a common Terran. As soon as his personal starship docked at the Cube Arena's exclusive hangar bay, the arena staff personally guided Axelar's hover chair and his bodyguards to an exclusive floating VIP booth that looked over the grand arena space.
The procession arrived just in time as the main match was about to commence. As the announcers fervently introduced each illustrious mech athlete, both teams sent out five mechs each.
The Cube Arena had been configured in a large, kilometers-long empty void this time. There were few obstacles to speak of besides the extremely powerful shields that protected the audience from all of the firepower about to be unleashed. Patches of rocks floated here and there, but the vacuum and the standard gravity being exerted over the entire dueling space resulted in a very confusing mix of environmental conditions.
This was a battle that would test a mech pilot's ability to operate both in a landbound, aerial and spaceborn environment at the same time!
The five-on-five match started. Since Ves wasn't really familiar with both teams, he didn't pay too much attention to the spectacle taking place below the floating VIP booth.
Certainly, the match was extremely exciting. Even if Ves' consciousness traveled ninety years into the past, the technology in use today was extremely impressive!
For example, one multipurpose mech from the Tyon Terminators possessed a fluid shape. It consisted entirely of smart metals and could endlessly transform its shape according to the mech pilot's will! This fluidly-shaped mech was a terror to fight in close combat for that very reason, but it could also unleash energy projectiles or even pieces of itself to fend off distant threats!
Ves figured that mech pilots wouldn't know what to do with the sheer amount of possibilities this feature offered, but the mech athlete who piloted made good use of its traits! The Terminator pilot only employed a modest number of predetermined shapes and varied their exact forms based on necessity.
"Who needs mech designers when you have a mech that can take on any shape you want?" Axelar's body idly commented.
Still, a mech like this came with a lot of downsides as well. The transforming smart metal couldn't match the offensive or defensive power of dedicated parts. It was the ultimate jack-of-all-trades that could perform every role, but only to a mediocre level at most.
The Haspel Asps obviously knew this since they sent a single teammate who excelled in close combat to sandbag the transforming mech.
After getting over the novelty of a mech that consisted entirely of smart metals, Ves turned his attention elsewhere.
Another mech that impressed him was the heavy mech fielded by the Haspel Asps. They employed a heavy multipurpose cannoneer that was tough, fast and hard-hitting at the same time!
Not only did its designers pad the cannoneer with a lot of armor, but they also paired it with a very powerful set of flight modules!
While the mech expended an extreme amount of energy while trying to propel its frame in different directions, it still posed a huge threat by using ammunition-based weaponry!
The mech's mounted cannons spat out various exotically-enriched rounds accelerated to fractions of the speed of light, causing them to slam against the various shields projected by the Terminator mechs!
Although Ves referred to it as a cannoneer, in truth it possessed other capabilities as well. Any mech that got close enough to render its cannons ineffective would have to contend with its collapsable halberd and other nasty surprises!
The strategy of the Haspel Asps seemed clear to Ves. The heavy cannoneer not only possessed enough firepower to wipe out the entire lineup of the Tyon Terminators, but it could also dodge and outrun most of its opposition!
The rest of the Haspel Asps tried to hinder as many Terminators as possible in order to let the heavy cannoneer do its job. Even if one or two Terminators occasionally slipped the net, the heavy cannoneer defied its weight class by flying just as fast as a first-class light mech!
"A mech like this is a massive cheat!"