The Mech Touch Chapter 793
791 Blessed And Cursed
The ancient city of Mulak presented a contrast between permanence and adaptation. From his own observations and from Pirisa's narration of her spotty understanding of its history, Ves gathered that the city had been erected a long time ago.
Mulak used to look different. Tall structures covered in gleaming silver-like alloy, with every function supported by a bevy of electronics and machinery. The city used to be settled in this arid, mineral-rich region to extract valuable exotics before shipping them to other cities set up as industrial centers.
That happened a long time ago, when contact between the cities used to be frequent. The breakdown of transportation vehicles over the centuries made contact with other cities less and less viable, until each of the cities eventually wallowed in isolation amid rusting structures and decaying technology.
In fact, Pirisa showed a distinct measure of surprise when the Vandals idly mentioned that they knew the location of over fifty cities like Mulak! Most of the inhabitants today didn't even know the existence of other cities, while the cadre working directly for the chosen of the sacred gods only heard of a couple of other settlements ruled by other sacred gods.
"Are the other settlements that you know of ruled by their own sacred gods as well?" Captain Clarissa asked.
The Swordmaiden officer had been content to let the Vandal eggheads ask most of the questions, and only occasionally plied the exobeast rider with critical questions.
Pirisa scowled as she continued to ride on top of Naeduvis. "As far as I am aware of, every city is ruled by a pantheon of sacred gods. There is no way for a city to survive in these challenging times without the protection of a sacred god that has generously offered its protection to the population."
"What threatens the cities?"
"What else but other gods? The lands outside the walls of our hallowed cities are the domains of wild gods and their aberrant godlings cast out in the thousands. They hunger for flesh, and consider humans such as us as delicacies."
The fleet hadn't spotted any of such beasts from orbit, but then again the astral winds made it exceptionally difficult to identify any details smaller than a big city that spanned for at least a kilometer.
"Are these wild gods of the same kind as your sacred gods?"
"Absolutely not!" Pirisa thundered back with an indignant expression, and Naeduvis released a low roar as if the beast took offense as well. "The wild gods are degenerated spawn, squandering their godly gifts to satisfy their base urges. They are a menace that prowls the lands away from the cities, preying upon every traveler or people who attempt to found new cities. Only through the blessing of our sacred gods are we able to defend against the mindless aggression of the wild gods."
The Vandals and the Swordmaidens both looked horrified. If the rest of the surface of the planet had been claimed by exobeasts similar to the sacred gods but with no restraint, then it was no wonder that the descendants of the original crew hadn't been able to gain dominion over Aeon Ccorona VII.
"Do wild gods 'choose' humans as representatives?" Ves asked.
"Most do not. They are ignorant spawn, and prefer to eat our kind first. However, there are some wild gods who are older and more cunning than the average of its kind. They choose a representative among the wildlings that stalks the lands. They are twice as ferocious in combat, but are still no match for elder sacred gods such as Hokaz and Naeduvis."
Naeduvis roared her approval at her rider's statement.
"They are like us, but not. They are cursed people, deformed by the gods and left to fend for themselves in the lands. Most end up in the bellies of the wild gods, but some have succeeded in tricking these brutes into becoming their lackeys. That is when the wildlings are at their most dangerous. When the wild gods band together with the cursed people, they cast their greedy eyes at the cities. The wild gods would love nothing but to gorge on the blessed people who possesses the purest blood, while the wildlings eagerly wish to take a city for themselves."
The amount of history and information that Pirisa had revealed stunned them all, so much in fact that they hardly took in the sights as they continued to walk along the broadest boulevard. The tall structures grew even taller, and some of the buildings appeared to have taken the place of other ones as their architecture looked distinctly different.
Most of the structures consisted of housing but not too many shops and workplaces. A city with a population of well over a 100,000 people all needed to do something, but the districts they passed looked a bit too small. They hadn't spotted any farms, but the existence of grocery stores and market stalls selling various Earth-derived foods proved that this city definitely got their food from somewhere.
One implication about the wildlings stood out to some of the Vandals. Dr. Tillman followed up with a question of her own.
"These wildlings.. are they human? How can they survive outside of the cities and their antigrav fields without getting crushed by this planet's heavy gravity?"
"Antigrav fields? Gravity? What are these words you speak of?"
"It's the effect that pulls your flesh, bones and blood down to the ground once you step outside the city." Chief Dakkon supplied a simple explanation.
"Ah! The pull of the soil!" Pirisa lit up in recognition. "The blessed people of Mulak and the other ancient cities are protected from this curse. On the other hand, the cursed revel in the curse, embracing its foul pain as the source of their strength. The curse has turned them into a parody of blessed people such as us, turning them short and squat but also making them broad and strong. They are slow to move but relentless in their cruelty against the blessed people. They hate us for our blessings and beauty. I pray the wildlings never capture you alive, because you will not enjoy what they have in store for you."
The Vandals and Swordmaidens looked at each other. They recognized the description of these so-called wildlings as the so-called dwarf strain of high gravity variants of the human race.
Though it wasn't polite to call them that in civilized space, dwarves underwent a rather extreme genetic treatment that tried to minimize their energy consumption. They possessed stronger muscles and exceptionally tough internal organs. However, they were also about half to two-thirds as tall as a baseline human as bigger bodies simply meant they required more energy to maintain.
Dwarves usually emerged when a state or faction wanted to colonize a heavy gravity planet on the cheap. After all, a full-sized heavy gravity variant of the human race required at least several times the calories per day to survive compared to a dwarf.
Though it cost quite a bit of money to modify the genes of an existing human into a dwarf, the biggest benefit to a colony owner was that the offspring of the dwarves carried the same genes. Therefore, over time the upfront costs paid for themselves as the population of dwarves continued to grow and expand.
"When the Starlight Megalodon crashed, the gene labs or the exobiologists who presided over them likely survived." Dr. Tillman whispered into the short-ranged comm built into their combat armor. "The legacy of their work is all around us. Perhaps every form of life on this planet carries their touch."
Though medium and long-ranged communications wouldn't be possible as the immense Naeduvis they walked next to emitted too much interference simply by existing, strong short-ranged comms could still pierce through the wall of noise.
"Aren't exobiologists supposed to show more restraint?" Ves asked. "Back when the Starlight Megalodon initially went missing, a different mood prevailed. The Age of Mechs was still young back then and the horrors of the Age of Conquest still scarred our race. The backlash against rampant genetic modification still ran its course."
The exobiologist tilted her head. "Baseline humans stand a very poor chance at survival on this planet, especially when it had just started to undergo terraforming that might not be completed in their lifetimes. It makes sense for them to tailor the genes of their crewman and survivors to adapt to the conditions of the planet. What I'm still uncertain of is whether the genes of the blessed people have been tampered as well. I'm discreetly attempting to take some DNA samples from the locals, but I'll have to return to the lab at our camp before I can analyse them thoroughly."
All in all, the exobiologists essentially split the crew or their descendants into two distinct subraces. This led to the predictable consequence of starting a life-long conflict between the related strains of humanity.
Ordinarily, the dwarves should have triumphed on this planet and proceeded to build a sprawling civilization of their own after thousands of years of isolated development. With all of their genetic enhancements, they should have become the favored masters of Aeon Corona VII.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
Yet if Pirisa spoke the truth, they were some of the most worse off tribes of humans on the planet!
"It's these exobeasts that are worshipped as gods that are to blame." Captain Clarissa explained. "If the technology level of the inhabitants of Mulak is the same as in the other cities, then humans have no way to defend against the predation of the gods. An essential condition to mastering an entire planet is to become strong enough to fight back against the apex predators that lord it over to the other species."
The Swordmaiden captain made sense. While they didn't know how many of these wild gods stalked the lands, it was undeniable that any settlement that wasn't surrounded by a thick alloy wall would probably be defenseless against even a single giant creature.
"Enough about my people!" Pirisa said. "Naeduvis has expressed her curiosity of your people. You look blessed like us, but your bodies carry the scent of metals instead of gods such as ours. Do you not worship any gods like us?"
Uh oh. This was a sensitive topic. Answering this question demanded a lot of care, because the wrong answer might affront their beliefs and lead to a religious clash where flaring tempers could easily descend into violence.
Religious disagreements had always been one of the main causes of internal human conflict throughout the history of their race!
Captain Byrd supplied an answer that alluded to the truth. "Our gods are different than yours. As we have stated earlier, we have come from beyond the vault of the gods. Our lands are different and our customs are different."
"Is that truly so?" Pirisa mused. "Naeduvis cannot imagine that any of the blessed people is able to come from the skies. Are their lands floating above the vault of the gods as stated in the legends? Why would you ever descend upon these cursed lands? It is no paradise here. The Age of Gods is in full sway and mortals such as you and I must fight hard to continue our existence."
It sounded as if the descendants inherited almost nothing of the knowledge that the survivors should have passed on. Ves and the other Vandals and Swordmaidens no longer believed the ignorance of the locals was due to natural regression. Even if the descendants lacked the technological aids of their CFA forefathers, they still should have retained a lot more knowledge.
If nothing else, their society should have at least produced innovations of their own. Instead, all they encountered was proof of a long and continuous decline in knowledge, technology and advancement.
Why hadn't they invented new machines? Why hadn't they explored the sciences? For what reason had they slid so far backwards that they didn't even know about the existence of mechs?
What happened to the original CFA officers and crewmen when they initially emerged from the Starlight Megalodon?