The Mech Touch Chapter 366

Chapter 366: New Development
The departure of the ghost that pretended to be his mother left Ves in a morose mood. His ambivalence towards her identity deepened with each subsequent meeting.Even with his superhuman Intelligence, he still couldn't determine whether the ghost spoke the truth. She moved exactly like he remembered from his childhood, but her attitude had turned ten times worse. Even though she helped him out, she wrapped up her benevolence with thorns.Her unilateral appropriation of the crystal leader's corpse particularly set back his future plans. Without a live sample to of crystals to study, Ves wouldn't be able to delve into its secrets and progress his understanding of the alien technology. Even though he took plenty of scans, they only offered a finite amount of data."Scans won't be able to substitute for the real thing."More disturbing than his mother's lack of sensitivity regarding the ownership of his property, she also showed competence in areas which she shouldn't know."It's like she's some sort of highly-trained soldier or mech pilot."As far as Ves was aware of, his mother lived a completely normal life. Ves inherited a small portion of his artistic sense from her. In her spare time, she enthusiastically played with recorders and snapped a lot of images of their family. She made a small business out of recorded some of the weddings in Freslin.Even though a couple of recorder bots and some automated software could do the job, they would never be able to convey the emotional impact if a human stood at the helm. His mother truly stood out in that area."My mother spent her lifetime developing those skills. It's impossible for her to be good at fighting."Ves came up with three different answers to this discrepancy. Either she gained a lot of new skills after her death, or she was never the person she pretended to be when she still lived.As for the final answer, the ghost used to be someone else, but for some reason or another assumed his mother's identity."This is far too complicated."He could speculate all day, but from the evidence at hand, he failed to make up his mind. If the ghost assumed any other identity, then he may have been able to look at this conundrum in an objective manner.Yet when it came to his mother, his judgement became clouded with emotion. He was not a bot who could strictly look at a situation and spit out a yes or no. Bots had the luxury of ignoring everything that fell out of their consideration.Ves enjoyed no such luxury."At least she didn't suck out the life of me this time."He faintly sensed that she became more formidable each time she paid a visit to him. Previously, she seemed more primal and ephemeral, as if she was one step away from oblivion. Now, she behaved much like a living human being, as if she had truly been resurrected from the grave.Obviously, the ghost constantly sought to strengthen herself. Otherwise she wouldn't go through the trouble of stealing his high-grade Rorach's Bone and his crystal artifact."Even if we're related, that's no reason for taking away my stuff!"Sadly, the ghost was nowhere to be found. She came and went according to her own whims. Even if she hovered right next to him, as long as she exerted her utmost in hiding her presence, Ves wouldn't know he was being spied upon.His glowering mood turned even gloomier at that realization. The only reason why he didn't panic was because his mother wouldn't expose his secrets to anyone else.She was just like his father, who offended a dangerous trans-galactic secret society in order to deliver the Mech Designer System to him. "If she's truly my mother, she only wants the best for me."He turned his attention to the fragment that hovered before him. Ves carefully treated the flickering silvery spirit with care. He slowly drew it from the mess hall and brought it back to the labs."Let's see what makes you tick."Ves proceeded to subject the fragment to all manner of tests and scans. Unfortunately, most of the machines failed to make sense of the fragment. It was as if it didn't exist. Similar to Lucky in his intangible state, the fragment could only be seen, not touched. He could forget about trying to manipulate it with the help of any tools.Even the Vulcaneye had to admit defeat in front of the fragment. While the multiscanner spat out a few more observations, it hardly told him anything he didn't know."In the end, a spiritual fragment only responds to spiritual stimuli."He gently manipulated the fragment between his hands. He became more proficient in tugging it back and forth. He found that he didn't need to employ his full focus to direct the fragment. As long as Ves revealed a hint of emotion, the spiritual fragment eventually reacted.It had to be the right set of emotions and thought in order to work, however. The fragment yearned to be big. So long as Ves intimated that he would put the fragment into a mech, the silvery flame became as docile as a pet.Ves couldn't experiment too much with the fragment. As fascinating as its existence implied, he still had a lot of work to do. His research on finding a more economic composition of crystal was almost done. He only needed to solve the problem of producing larger crystals without flaws."Let's finish up the images."He sat down and relaxed while keeping the fragment in his view. The Triple Division technique called for superimposing three different images, but they didn't need to be of equal strength.Yet Ves had never worked with an existing spiritual fragment. Even though it looked like anyone could snuff it out with a pinch of his fingers, it held a surprising amount of spiritual power.Over millions of years of drifting about in the imaginary realms, the fragment lost everything redundant, leaving only the purest thoughts and emotions.Whenever Ves brushed his senses close to the fragment, he countered unyielding will. It lacked much of the context that he wanted to know. He knew nothing about the crystal leader's history. This made it difficult for him to construct a backstory around the fragment."Maybe it doesn't need anything more."Anything he added to the spiritual fragment wouldn't stick. Its unyielding will worked against Ves whenever he wanted to alter its makeup. Unlike most of his other images, the fragment had already endured for eons.He set the fragment aside and focused his mind on constructing the other two images. Ves already put a lot of thought to them, so he easily constructed the images in his mind.The base model consisted of a fast and nimble rifleman mech. It possessed the same defining traits as the mech in his vision, although in a more idealized way. The rifleman mech took up a starring role no matter if it fought alongside other rifleman mechs or operated at the head of a squad.Ves even added a little flamboyance to its performance. This would be a mech meant to be piloted by the skilled. It catered to mech pilots who demanded a high amount of mobility while simultaneously wanted enough armor to triumph against enemy marksmen."My mech has to be fast, accurate, enduring and tough."That was a very tall order, but Ves possessed enough confidence that he could deliver the goods.The base model required little else. Ves only strengthened its core traits as much as possible in order to put up a decent fight against the spiritual fragment. He also imagined its performance becoming better over time. Age didn't degrade its performance, but rather strengthened it to a higher level."Now for the totem animal."The totem animal had to fit the archetype. He needed to construct a mythical animal that fought with speed and finesse.Rather than scouring the galactic net over an existing example, Ves conjured up an animal from scratch.After several weeks of thought, he came up with a skinny fire ape. Unlike most primate species which relied on their brute strength to fight, this animal relied on his supernatural ability to shoot out concentrated fire from its eyes.The fire ape began as a small and weak member of its tribe. Its differences and lack of physical prowess quickly forced it out of its tribe. As a young ape, it survived in the jungle by itself. It barely kept itself fed.All of that changed once it manifested its power of fire. Its eyes grew red and the fury it became capable of releasing constantly became more formidable.With increased strength came increased food. The more it ate, the stronger it grew. This cycle fueled the fire ape's growth, enabling it to range into the depths of the forest and contend with the kings that ruled over the animal kingdom.Up to the very end, the fire ape had become the sovereign of the forest. It commanded the allegiance of all the other apes, allowing its species to become the first species under heaven.Even then, the fire ape looked up at the skies and dreamt of breaking through the barrier that constrained it to its world.Just like the base image, Ves made sure to incorporate a growth element in their story. His second original design shared a lot of traits with the Blackbeak design. Ves intended both of them to be enduring and resilient. They would definitely last long enough for their X-Factor to experience a lot of growth.He already looked forward to how his mechs performed a couple of years from now.Ves spent a lot of time on the fire ape's back story because he wanted to bestow a lot of strength to the image. If the fire ape buckled too easily against the spiritual fragment, then there wasn't any point in employing the Triple Division technique."I'm going to have to come up with another technique soon."His studies into the X-Factor had only scratched the surface. He came up with the Triple Division technique after recognizing that images could be superimposed together. A lot of time had passed between now and then. He gained a lot of new knowledge, from learning that the images and X-Factor could grow, to the true nature of spirituality, to realizing he might be able to incorporate other sources of spirituality.To make full use of these new insights, Ves required a new way of working with images. He wanted them to be strong and useful. The biggest downside to the Triple Division technique was that mutual cannibalism among the images resulted in a lot of waste.Even if the eventual victor consumed the essence of its defeated rivals, it was a stretch if they could repurpose all of their strengths."It's a way of turning three weak images into a stronger one."However, what would be the result of using two weak images and one incredibly strong one? Ves guessed that the stronger image might outright reject or annihilate the weaker images without attempting to absorb their strong points.That was not the outcome he wanted.When Ves looked at the fragment, he sensed an impenetrable wall. This spiritual remnant brooked no intrusion.He wondered whether he could soften it up before he performed the final phase of the Triple Division technique. If he left it like this, then the technique would certainly result in failure."This image spent too much time in limbo. It has gone through hell and back and survived where many other spiritual fragments have disappeared."However, Ves called it a fragment because it was an incomplete portion of a whole. Despite its all-encompassing defenses, it longed to be reunited with its fellow fragments.Ves figured out a loophole. "If I can fool this fragment into recognizing the other two images as one of its own, what will happen?"This notion went beyond the confines of the Triple Division technique. While it wasn't an entirely new technique, it deserved to be distinguished from the standard method.Still, all of his ideas might come to nothing if he failed to fool the spiritual fragment. His brows began to furrow as he tried to figure out how he could open up a chink in the fragment's armor.