The Mech Touch Chapter 741
739 Outward Prey
The autopsy of Captain Murtadon revealed fairly little of importance. The man carried an extensive amount of organic implants capable of many different functions in his body. A special alloy shell surrounded the implants, hiding them from regular scans and making it appear that only normal organs took their place.
Ves wanted the alloy material. He had a strong suspicion that they were another application of stealth technology, one that worked with almost minimal power consumption. Despite his begging, the Vandals removed the alloy shells and chucked them into the vault. Ves felt like a little kid whose parents just locked his favorite toy in the closet!
He wanted to cry!
In any case, the doctors found out that Murtadon made use of several clever implants. Some boosted his physical performance. Others enhanced his piloting ability, if only slightly. The implants on his arms consisted of guns which utilized projectiles metabolized from the mech captain's own body!
However, by far the most important implant consisted of the biocomputer integrated within Murtadon's mind. It was like a comm, processor, hacking device, transceiver and scanner all rolled up in a dense piece of flesh the size of a chicken egg. What impressed everyone even more was that the doctors found that its growth had been induced from outside manipulation.
In other words, Murtadon's body grew the biocomputer like a tumor inside his brains! This was by far the most effective way of installing an implant in one's body because it minimized the risk of rejection and complications.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
It took a while for the implant to grow to its current size and capabilities. Captain Murtadon constantly had to ingest or be injected with trace amounts of exotics that eventually made up the core components of the biocomputer.
Once the biocomputer grew to its mature state, Murtadon underwent an operation that covered up the biocomputer in the alloy shell that hid it from every means of detection.
"This is an expensive procedure." Ves remarked as he picked up a data pad and read through its contents. "I'm no expert in implants, but even I know how risky it is to hook up your brains to a processor. No matter if its biological, electronic or mechanical in nature, any processor or computer and be hacked. Their programming can easily be subverted once you know it's there."
This was also one of the major reasons why hooking people up with processors, biocomputers, AI chips and the like fell out of vogue.
At some points during the Age of Space and Age of Conquest, implants rose into popularity as their functions substantially augmented a baseline human's capability.
Implanted weapons integrated in an assassin's body allowed them to take out their targets despite being searched for weapons.
A cyborg body thrown out into space due to an accident could survive in hard vacuum for hours as their entire body subsided on energy cells instead of oxygen.
AI chips integrated in the brains of children enabled them to learn faster and store the entire contents of a library for their perusal. Their processing power grew monstrous enough to the point where they could mentally plot an FTL transition by themselves!
Yet as quickly as these products rose, they quickly crashed and burned in a matter of years or months. No matter how ingenious their security measures safeguarded the integrity of the programming of the implants, hackers always manage to circumvent these means and gain malicious control over the integrated systems.
That assassin with implanted weapons? His body tore itself apart when its weapons discharged without prompting from the user itself!
The cyborg taking a casual spacewalk out in space? His artificial body's energy cells abruptly discharged itself at once, frying the entire body and its protected organic organs!
The children implanted with AI chips? Their AIs experienced a gradual change in personality and guided the children into immoral psychopaths who utilized their substantial advantages over their unaugmented peers to attain positions of leadership before abusing them sow death and destruction on a sector-wide scale!
These days, everyone knew that installing an implant in someone's body was like building a door into a stone wall. Made from wood, stone or metal, no matter how sturdy the door turned out to be, someone with the right key or lockpicking ability would eventually be able to open it and enter into the area behind the wall.
"That's why the late captain's implants are coated with this stealth alloy." The security captain pointed out. "I doubt he's aware of the vulnerabilities they pose to his implants and his own mind, so the stealth shielding is necessary to prevent hackers from making their intrusion attempts in the first place."
This was like covering up the door with a fake layer of stone in order to camouflage it against the rest of the wall. It didn't close the vulnerability, but it prevented others from detecting it through regular observations and scans.
"Are the implants retrievable? Can we pull out data from its organic data banks?"
The security captain shook his head. "Sadly not, major. The suicide trigger melted and burned the implants from top to bottom. The implants were designed from the start with the capability to wipe out every piece of data."
"Then what does that mean?" Ves grew confused."Is Captain Murtadon some kind of spy working for the Coman Federation?"
"Unlikely. Even the Coman know better than to dabble with biocomputers and implants. If they dare to utilize it to a wide degree, their entire society becomes vulnerable to an organized hacking effort. They'd be conquered without being able to fire a single shot."
"Then who else might do this?"
"It doesn't appear to be the style of any of the states and influences from the Komodo Star Sector." Major Verle declared. "I'm much more inclined to believe that Captain Murtadon may have been employed by an influence foreign to the Komodo Star Sector."
That left them with a dead end. Without a way to retrieve any data from the fried biocomputer, the Vandals were left with nothing but reasonable guesses and an open-ended suspicion towards foreign interference.
This wasn't actually the first time Ves or the Vandals saw hints of foreign interference in the affairs of the Komodo Star Sector. A strange undercurrent ran under their local area of space for several years now.
Ves couldn't figure out Captain Murtadon's role. His position as a captain of a large mercenary corps afforded him considerable power, but not enough to penetrate the true annals of power within the Bright Republic. So obviously the mech captain likely served some sort of other purpose than spying on their state.
With no further leads to follow up, the matter came to an end. The security officers would continue their digging, but nobody expected to find any clues.
As Ves exited the brig along with Major Verle, he spoke up to ask a question.
"What will happen to the rest of the Chopran survivors, sir?"
"They're clean, but there's no telling if they are involved with Captain Murtadon's secrets. We'll have to interrogate them more thoroughly and try to find out the reason why Kichiro had to die. It may be that your guess is right and Murtadon killed the mech designer out of an emotional need for revenge. Yet this decision sounds too impulsive. The fact that we managed to uncover the mech captain's implants only underlines how poor of a decision it was to take action."
As Ves walked back to the workshop, he felt considerably less secure. He didn't feel safe aboard the Shield of Hispania. Not only did he have to worry about his stalker and the uninvited guests, he also had to take into account that anyone, including the Vandals, might be sleeper agents working for a foreign influence.
This style of operating vaguely reminded him of Calabast. Ostensibly, she posed as an agent of the Vesian intelligence agency. Yet Ves never believed that. The tragedies that happened on Harkensen I may have seemed like an attack intended to weaken the Reinald Republic, but Ves developed an alternate motivation.
The attack and all the other shenanigans may have been designed to destabilize the entire Komodo Star Sector!
Could the neighboring star sectors be staring at the Komodo Star Sector? The Vicious Mountain and Majestic Teal Star Sectors directly neighbored them and controlled their flow of shipping and access.
At first glance, it looked as if the two neighboring star sectors enjoyed a good position. However, the Komodo Star Sector in fact blocked their states and influences from expanding their tentacles to the frontier.
If the established states of the older star sectors possessed any ambitions of external expansion, they couldn't turn their firepower towards the center of the galaxy. Each star sector away from the rim and closer to the center became older and more powerful. They were bones that Vicious Mountain and Majestic Teal couldn't chew through.
So instead of eyeing the older star sectors as their prey, it made more sense to turn their gaze outwards. The Komodo Star Sector came into being during the last CFA and MTA-mandated colonial expansion wave, and so were considered backwards in nearly every criteria, from institutional age to military strength.
The old bullied the young. This adage applied throughout the entire galaxy. When humanity initially rose to the stars during the Age of Space, much older and powerful alien races bullied the humans relentlessly, treating them like uplifted insects intruding upon a playground that they had long carved out for themselves.
Still, through luck, grit and ingenuity, humanity eventually managed to outwit and overpower all of those stuffy alien races in the latter half of the Age of Space and the first half of the Age of Conquest.
Still, as great as this lurking threat may be, what could a small mech designer like Ves even do? He should be focusing on doing his job and trying to stay alive. The geopolitical ambitions of foreign star sectors hardly mattered to a true mech designer, because they regarded them as markets instead of political entities.
Ves still had a way to go in that regard.
"What happened?" Chief Avanaeon grunted as Ves returned to the workshop area where their Six-Sided Cube currently rested at. The shuttle's surface shimmered as Avanaeon tested out its optical camouflage abilities.
Ves knew that Avanaeon possessed a higher security clearance than Ves, so he'd be hearing about the incident soon enough. He figured the details would leak to the rest of the Vandals anyway since it didn't do much harm like the last leaks.
"The mech designer employed by Chopra got his head blown up by a mech captain from the same outfit."
"How did the mech captain managed to do that?"
"He possessed hidden implants in his body. His biocomputer was good enough to fool our monitoring system and the lock to his cell, while a gun made out of flesh and bone hid inside his forearm. We never detected any of them because some special stealth coating blocked all of our regular scans."
"..Impressive. People still make use of implants? How stupid can they be?"
Ves shrugged. "The mech captain is probably a patsy for another influence. We don't know who he works for, but he's been made in a sacrificial pawn from the start."
That was the extent of their conversation about what happened at the brig. The chief engineer showed a complete lack of interest in the background of the mech captain or the story behind the killing. Instead, they both turned their attention back to finishing the configuration of their cube-shaped shuttle.
"It doesn't matter how many hidden agents or shady allies are walking among us." Avanaeon said. "As long as we have this baby here, we can get out any time we want."
"Yeah. You're right. But if we decide to make it out, we better wait until others have gone first. We don't want to lead the pack."
The chief engineer paused his work and turned to Ves. "How would anyone know we got out first if we put our shuttle under stealth before we split?"
"..That's a good question."