The Mech Touch Chapter 354

Chapter 354: Purpose
Before Ves could finish the design on his reimagined graser rifle, the Barracuda arrived at his asteroid. Captain Silvestra came as scheduled, but this time she brought a disconcerting message to Ves."Did something happen here?" She asked as soon as she established a communication channel with Ves.Ves knew that the initial teleportation process had been too conspicuous to hide. "An accident happened with some alien relics that had been laying around here.""I see." Silvestra sounded like she wanted to know more, but her employer had been acting secretly all this while. She refrained from questioning him more. "There's a problem. Whatever happened here has pinged all of our sensors, and if we can pick it up, so can the monitoring equipment scattered all over this star system.""Has anyone arrived yet?""As far as we know, no one has transitioned into the system as of yet, but that might change in the next couple of days. The only reason why a ship hasn't arrived yet is because the Joe System is based around a red dwarf."The smaller and more pathetic the star, the harder it was to navigate towards it in FTL. Only a couple of exceptions like port systems disregarded this rule.Ves mentally calculated how much work he had to do before he finished his errand. "I won't be staying here for long. Return the Barracuda to her hideout and come back in seventy-two hours. I'll be ready to pack up and go home by then."Although Captain Silvestra revealed some misgivings, Ves did not wish to go through the trouble of delaying the completion of his mission. It would be a hassle to find some other desolated star system for him to resume his work in piece.Once his corvette turned around and left Ves alone on his rock, he thought about his timetable for the next three days."It's going to be tight." His face pinched up. "Yet I'm going to have to wrap up this design."In truth, he set a hard deadline for himself so he wouldn't keep adding more features on his graser rifle. It had already evolved from a rudimentary proof of concept into a formidable weapon of radioactive destruction.In designing the weapon, he had become much more proficient and familiar with working around laser weapons. The difference between before he embarked to the Joe System and after he returned from the crystal city couldn't be more stark.His proficiency with regards to light, lasers and crystals had reached an unprecedented level to him. His gains regarding these fields almost rivaled his recent gains in the field of spirituality."It's like learning to run before learning to walk. It's the wrong order, but it makes learning how to walk a trivial problem."After finishing this side trip, Ves gained a lot of confidence in being able to design a workable laser rifle. He also planned to apply some of his preliminary research gains from his studies of the alien remains. This would certainly push the quality of his laser rifle closer to those wielded by mainstream mechs.In the next two days, he raced to finalize his design. He stopped adding any major features but instead optimized the graser rifle's existing configuration. Ves caught several major flaws that could have led to a bad outcome this way. He also slightly increased the graser rifle's efficiency by a minor step.Once he finished his final design work, he stood back and sighed. "For a taboo weapon, it sure doesn't look like it now."He cut down on the bulk considerably. With his increased proficiency in lasers, he found he didn't have to compensate for his inadequacies with the use of buffers."Buffers are a sign of inefficiency. An excessive amount of moderating components only add to the bulk while taking up space for more essential components." Ves remembered from his classes back when he studied at Rittersberg. "Buffers also encourage more sloppiness because there is a higher tolerance for errors."In short, only those who lacked the confidence to design a good weapon added a lot of buffers. Bigger wasn't always better. This rule especially applied to laser rifles. Their mean appeal to mech pilots was that they were light, slim, accurate and low maintenance.While his graser rifle design hadn't met all of those criteria, it still functioned as a practical weapon that wouldn't fall apart after receiving a few bumps. Ves possessed a lot of skill in increasing the robustness of everything he designed, so he had spent some extra effort into toughening up the rifle's frame.Once he beheld the entire design, Ves thought that it deserved a weapon even if he hadn't put his full efforts into designing the rifle. He refused to infuse his Spirituality into the design, but that did not mean it deserved to be nameless."Let's call you the Tainted Sun."The Tainted Sun sounded a bit more poetic than he meant to, but Ves cared little of the opinions of others. He wouldn't publish the weapon to anyone to comment on his naming choice, after all.After wrapping up his design, he proceeded to his 3D printer and began to fabricate the components. Ves brought a handful of old bots to assist him with the work. The lack of gravity on the asteroid helped a lot with handling some of the heavier materials. He processed them all and churned out rifle part after rifle part.Despite fabricating the graser rifle for the first time, Ves did not encounter any challenge in this phase. He already completed the hardest portion of this mission. With his ample fabrication abilities, he ensured that each and every part came out well within the tolerances necessary to ensure a tight assembly.Once he finished fabricating all of the parts, he didn't immediately move to assemble them into a rifle. Instead, he inserted an extra step in his fabrication process by scanning the parts with his Vulcaneye."This thing's more useful than scanning alien components."Now that he bought an expensive gadget, he might as make the best of it. The multiscanner possessed far more power than the hulking scanning machines back at his workshop. It was able to detect if his parts had come out crooked or if some of their structure contained cracks or faults.His prudence paid off as his multiscanner detected a minor structural weakness in the casing of the battery. If the graser rifle fired a lot of gamma laser beams in quick succession, the battery might heat up and exacerbate this fault. It could have blown up the battery in the worst case."Phew. Good thing I caught this problem in time."Ves went back to his 3D printer and used some spare materials to fabricate a replacement casing for the battery. Once he finished that chore, he proceeded with the final step of his fabrication process.While he hadn't brought any assembly machines with him, the zero-G environment along with the bots allowed him to assemble the rifle manually. It likely wouldn't have been possible to do so with mechs as some of their components required a lot of force to budge into place, but the largest component of the rifle consisted of its barrel, which was still manageable for him and his bots to move.It took less than a day to complete the final assembly. Once the last part clicked into place, Ves felt as if he completed a mighty task.He created a true forbidden weapon.The thought that he outright flaunted the rules that kept humanity from destroying themselves from within had sunk in deep at that moment. His mentality experienced a subtle change. It was as if the Tainted Sun had marked his soul.The mark saddled him with an inescapable guilt. His fear of the MTA increased. He would always step on his toes in their presence for fear of being found out.Yet this ordeal also liberated him from the shackles imposed by human society. He had already stepped out of the box that the MTA had painstakingly constructed around him. From this point on, his perspective on mech design encompassed unconventional solutions.If Ves had to break a rule to achieve a goal, then he wouldn't hesitate as long as he could get away with it. The important part was the latter half. Everything could come crashing down as long as a single person found out and revealed his misdeeds to the public."I have to destroy the evidence."That included the graser rifle as well as the 3D printer, the terminal and the remaining spare parts. None of them should exist in this galaxy.Ves retrieved his Amastendira and was about to fire at them before reconsidering. "It's not safe to destroy them with my laser pistol. It also won't disintegrate the remains. Who knows if someone can reconstruct what I've just created from the slag that's left behind."In addition, he felt that melting the weapon down with his Amastendira was a disgraceful fate for a weapon that he personally brought into reality. He couldn't bring himself to shoot his own creation.He quickly came up with an alternative plan and proceeded to fabricate a composite fabric with sensor-blocking properties before wrapping it up around the only copy of the Tainted Sun. After that, he packed up his workplace and waited for the scheduled arrival of the Barracuda.In the meantime, he checked up on Lucky. Ves walked outside the cave and spotted Lucky floating around with a handful of rocks orbiting his form. Lucky resembled a sage as he expertly manipulated the rocks with his gravity manipulation. Sometimes, the rocks passed straight through his form, indicating that Lucky hadn't bothered to turn his body back to normal.Ves sighed at his pet. "Lucky, it's time to stop fooling around. Who knows if its safe for your to remain in that state!"Lucky briefly glanced at his owner before turning back to his rocks. Ever since Ves turned back to solid, Lucky acted like he shouldn't have to listen to Ves anymore. After all, what could he do?Ves looked at his gauntlets and willed them with spirituality. After five minutes of concentration, he activated his hazard suit's antigrav modules and flew towards Lucky. He swiped his gauntlets towards his cat, only for them to pass straight through his target and knock some rocks aside.The interruption pissed Lucky off. He yowled at Ves through the communication channel and darted off to the other side of the asteroid."Damn cat."Just like any other major Attribute, Spirituality could be applied in many different ways. His own Spirituality leaned towards observation and the creation of the imaginary. He possessed little experience in other areas such as manipulating semi-corporeality. Lucky was a lot stronger in this area.Both Lucky and the System benefited hugely from the Glowing Planet. Lucky gorged himself with a priceless amount of Rorach's Bone while the System absorbed the mysterious jewel hidden within the skull of a giant humanoid.While these fantastic exotics possessed remarkable effects, Ves believed their main value lay in their ability to strengthen the spirituality of an artificial life form like Lucky and the System.He had to remind himself that they started off as machines. Through accompanying him in his career, they slowly gained the opportunity to become more lifelike. What was the goal of the System? Where did Lucky originally came from, and who designed him in the first place?"Every machine has its creator. They are all meant to serve a purpose."The Amastendira came with a brief but informative back story. Its origin story made it clear that the System didn't invent its items out of nowhere. Almost every item that Ves could obtain from the Store or the Lottery already existed in this reality.Anyone in the galaxy could potentially gather all of these valuable items. Yet that would never happen. Every faction had their secrets. No one wished to expose their trump cards and the secrets to their success.The true value in the System lay in its ability to gather these wondrous inventions regardless of their ownership and offer them to its user. It directly converged the collective strength of humanity into a single interface."How scary."Some organization must have mastered the production of attribute candies, while another may have unlocked the secret to creating self-resonating gems.However, despite the System's all-encompassing nature, it very much explicitly lacked things related to Spirituality. This meant that a study into this field had never become systematic enough to be passed around from generation to generation.This should be his own unique strength.