The Mech Touch Chapter 1337


1335 Determinism


After making his choice to design a conditional mech that made use of pirated licenses, Ves began to perform a lot of research.

Not only did he need to find the most appropriate licenses to borrow without paying, he also had to find an appropriate environment to design towards.

A lot of weird planets, moons, asteroids and other crazy satellites and land masses existed in the galaxy. Within the Komodo Star Sector, the Nyxian Gap stood out as a hotbed of anomalous satellites!

Most of them did not offer any opportunities for a smart metal mech to showcase their capabilities.

Nonetheless, after days of searching and reading through scattered reports with questionable accuracy, he narrowed down his choices.

Of the selection, he made a careful consideration and kept ruling out more and more environments until one was left.

Within the Nyxian Gap, a rogue planet existed in complete darkness.

The Nyxian Gap partially received its name due to its absence of stars to provide warmth, heat and a solid gravitic anchor to ease FTL navigation.

The rogue planet that Ves had settled upon should have been a cold, lifeless freezing ball floating randomly in space.

Yet due to its very active internal geological processes as well as the presence of strange exotics, it managed to be significantly warmer than the absolute freezing point!

The planet called Mournshell was still cold enough to freeze water, though, but colonies could potentially settle on the planet if not for one major caveat.

Its upper surface shifted frequently. Sometimes violently. Sometimes gently. Yet the terrain never remained the same after the passing of another day.

If that wasn't enough, the rogue planet was also a heavy gravity planet! Although its gravity was only a bit more than three times standard gravity, these conditions already imposed significant penalties on conventional mechs trying to operate within its gravity well.

In many other cases, planets without an atmosphere tentatively made it possible for spaceborn mechs to operate in their airless skies.

Yet the heavy gravity of Mournshell threw a significant wrench in those plans! Most spaceborn mechs performed very poorly when subjected to standard gravity, let heavy gravity!

A couple of other conditions complicated the planet's already problematic environment. The omnipresent asteroids floating in the Nyxian Gap led to a lot of collisions that not only threw the surrounding lands in disarray, but also sometimes introduced new exotics that came with their own strange effects.

"This also makes Mournshell attractive."

One of the defining properties of Mournshell was that all of the exotics interacting with the planet and each other resulted in detectable interactions. Value medium and high-grade exotics that were usually inert and extremely hard to detect would suddenly broadcast their presence upon dropping onto Mournshell!


This was very exceptional because the odds of digging into a random asteroid in order to uncover valuable exotics was very small and not economic!

As a result, Mournshell turned into a small hotbed of activity as a number of outfits vigorously competed to retrieve these valuable exotics!

The planet's hazardous, unpredictable and ever-changing environment meant that flexible mechs were in much more demand there. The only reason why none of the outfits made use of smart metal mechs was because they were too expensive and high maintenance to make them fully viable.

"There should be at least one customer among them who is stupid enough to buy my mech." He muttered.

Having set Mournshell as his target environment, Ves now possessed a solid direction for his design project. While he still needed to refine a suitable mech concept to base his vision around, it would only be a matter of time before he produced a workable draft design.

"That's enough for now."

He decided to pause his work at this time in order to mull over the configuration of his upcoming mech. He closed down his terminal, stood up from his chair and stretched his body.

While he could continue to wrack his brains over his mech concept, he didn't feel very inspired at the moment. He also didn't feel like forcing the creative process at the moment.

"It's best to stew on it for a couple of days. I might come up with something fantastic in the meantime."

He idly sauntered over to his bed and picked up Lucky, who was peacefully lounging on its surface.

"Meow?"

"You big baby. Are you suffering from constipation or something? It's been months since you crapped out a gem!"

"Meow."

"Maybe I should feed you something that works as a laxative in your systems. Should I feed you another nutrient pack wrapper?"

"Meow!"

Lucky angrily squirmed out of his hands and turned intangible before sinking beneath the deck. The thought of eating another nutrient pack wrapper still gave him nightmares!

Shaking his head, Ves left his stateroom in order to stretch his legs. Just as he exited the hatch, he encountered Fe Nitaa standing guard in the corridor.

"I thought I already told you that it's redundant for you to stand here while our fleet is in FTL."

"I'm sorry, sir. I've been taught to take my duty seriously. There is always the possibility that a stowaway might be lurking on this ship for many days."

"That's unlikely. Lucky would have sniffed the intruders out by now. His senses are much more formidable than you think."

"I doubt an animated machine can smell what I can sense." Nitaa stoically replied. She never saw Lucky in action so she still regarded him as a luxurious toy. "Even if your confidence is not misplaced, some redundancy never hurts."

He couldn't argue with that. "Very well. I suppose you can perform your duties as you see fit as long as it doesn't slow down your training. How is that going by the way?"

"My progress is.. sufficient. There are only so many hours I can spend on studying and exercising. I dislike staying idle, and performing my duties gives me the peace I need to reflect on my gains. At my current rate of progress, I estimate I'll obtain my first new certifications in a couple of weeks."

"Do you have any hobbies or things you do for fun?"

"..."

"I see."

"Kinners such as me are simple people. We try to avoid extravagance. The ideal Kinner is one who takes pleasure in the vocations they have been trained to perform."

This was an excellent way to keep Kinners like Nitaa motivated, but it also had a more insidious element. By indoctrinating the Kinners to derive their main form of satisfaction from their work, they were much less likely to protest their slave-like circumstances.

Perhaps that was what always bothered Ves about Nitaa and the Kinners. They were so dedicated to their work and other Kinner values that they hardly had anything left to spare on other priorities.

To Ves, the Kinners were the results of humans trying to program other humans from birth in a very deliberate way.

He doubted that the Kinners who grew up in overcrowded camps actually possessed any real choices. Their lives were largely out of their own hands. Instead, the tribe decided everything.

The lack of agency was definitely one of the reasons why the Kinners easily submitted to orders and rarely questioned authority.

This turned Nitaa into a very strange entity to Ves. Many times, he mistook her for a bot with how little consideration she demanded out of him. The Kinners truly trained their own people well!

He harbored some hopes of opening her up a bit and reverse some of her bot-like traits. He knew it would be an uphill battle that might take years before achieving any results. It was never easy to get someone to unlearn something they'd been taught was right for their entire life.

After a quiet walk, Ves entered the small lab and workshop area of his ship. Placed on one of the work tables was a container that held one of his purchases from Centerpoint.

Over the last couple of months, he occasionally dropped by his lab in order to study the properties of the spiritually-reactive rock.

As he moved the rock out of its container, he studied its outward, grey meteorite exterior.

Its lack of reactivity in normal circumstances along with its deceptively boring appearance made it exceptionally difficult for Ves to find any noteworthy points about the exotic.

He also failed to find out why the rock interacted with spirituality in the first place. Its material composition was no different from that of a bog-standard metallic asteroid that consisted of regular elements such as iron and nickel.

Yet its one distinguishing feature was enough to set it apart from all the other asteroids!

"It's like how all humans look the same, but some of them are more remarkable because they can pilot mechs. Of this small group, only a handful of them are expert pilots or higher."

The important point was that despite this disparity, it was very hard to distinguish them from each other if they didn't make their identities clear!

Ves faced the same problem with the material he tentatively named the P-stone. The P stood for psionically reactive, because that was what the rock did. It reacted to his spirituality when the vast majority of other materials might as well be intangible!

He held the rock in his hands and tentatively injected a small mote of his spiritual energy in the rock. The mote joined a larger but still insignificant ball of spiritual energy he injected in previous times.

"Hmm. Seems like it's not full yet."

The donation of spiritual energy discomfited Ves a bit. His mind was already starting to churn faster in order to produce a new batch of spiritual energy to replace what it lost.

Right now, he only possessed a single sample of P-stone, so he was very reluctant to perform any damaging tests on it. After he put it through a host of scanners, Ves had stalled in his research because of the need to keep the P-stone intact.

In that light, he decided to make use of the P-stone as a storage container for his excess spiritual energy. He had experimented with donating and retrieving his spiritual energy several times.

So far, Ves did not experience any apparent problems with absorbing previously-donated spiritual energy. It appeared that it wasn't subject to any decay or degeneration within a timespan of a few months.

It remained to be seen if his spiritual energy would still stay 'fresh' after spending years locked inside the P-stone. So far, Ves had not perceived any measurable losses, but he could only judge by feeling as no instrument could measure the exact quantities of spiritual energy.

"I feel like I'm merely scratching the surface of what it is capable of." He muttered as he placed the P-stone back onto the work table.

So far, using it as an impromptu storage container for his excess spiritual energy was already a boon.

When his spiritual energy level reached its maximum capacity, his mind stopped producing more of it. This was a big waste in his eyes as it didn't seem it required anything but time and a bit of thought and emotion to produce new spiritual energy.

Due to his abnormally high mental attributes, Ves frequently suffered from an excess of thoughts as his creativity continued to bounce inane ideas in his mind.

Since his overactive thinking seemed to be doing more harm than good, why not put it to better use as fuel for his spiritual energy production?

Whether it actually worked or not, Ves could at least count on accumulating an emergency reserve of spiritual energy. If he ever ended up in an emergency where he would be forced to exert his Spirituality in a very consuming fashion, he might be able to top himself up again in a matter of hours with a charged P-stone!

That wasn't all. Aside from using the P-stone to store his own spiritual energy, what would happen if he stuffed someone or something else's spiritual energy into the mix?

The possibilities were endless, but only if he figured out a way to make them work!

"If only I had more samples!"