The seriousness in which the MTA and CFA enforced the laws on taboo weapons frightened all of human space. Practically no one except the lawless dared to cross the two biggest organizations that collectively guarded over humanity.
It was for their own protection. During the Age of Conquest, the humans who conquered the galaxy star by star possessed no bottom line. With their awesome capital ships, they showed no remorse in bombing highly populated alien planets to glass.
Saturating a planet with thousands of nuclear missiles proved to be the quickest, easiest and dirtiest method to wipe out an entire planet's worth of aliens.
Over time, humanity began to be more creative as they sometimes wished to occupy a planet instead of turning it into a lifeless radioactive rock. They experimented with biological diseases and chemicals as well as radiation as a way to cleanse a planet without rendering it uninhabitable.
The results were decidedly mixed, but that didn't lessen humanity's enthusiasm for these destructive toys.
At the tail end of the Age of Conquest, humanity ceased to expand outwards and started to focus inwards. Internal contradictions constantly flared up and the stagnant Terrans faced a revolt among their own ranks, which ultimately led to the birth of the New Rubarth Empire.
These intense and highly destructive wars mainly happened in space. Warships ruled the void. Sending out ground forces to invade a planet proved to be a laborious operation. Seizing control of a foreign planet's population and assets often cost too much time and effort.
The invaders found it more convenient if they rained down mass destruction and wipe out a quarter to half the planet's population.
Humanity began to turn their weapons of mass destruction to their own race.
The tragedies that ensued could not be counted even to this day. Too many atrocities happened in this period to keep track of. Once a state began flinging weapons of mass destruction against another state, the enmity that emerged between the two became irreconcilable.
"You hit me, I hit you back!"
The victims lashed out twice as hard and wiped out every inhabited planet they could reach. Historians had projected that humanity spread out over half the galaxy lost more than ten percent of its total population in a span of fifty years!
Ten percent might not sound so much, but this amounted to many trillions of wasted lives. The sheer amount of death and destruction changed the course of history and threatened to become a man-made plague.
It was easy to start a fight. It was impossible to stop it once the cycle of revenge began to revolve.
The emergence of the first mech piloted by the legendary Mack Liu ended it all. His emergence along with some other factors led to the formation of the Mech Trade Association and the Common Fleet Alliance.
The two organizations heralded the Age of Mechs. Their strength awed the fractious states and suppressed the unruly parties that wanted to keep using their weapons of mass destruction. Human space quickly found out that it was not a good idea to incur their wrath.
Two important changes happened at the start of the Age of Mechs besides the ban on weapons of mass destruction. First, CFA assumed sole responsibility for defending human space against the alien empires that pressured it from every direction.
They straightforwardly confiscated every warship and formed their own defense fleet crewed by a variety of humans across the galaxy. States lost the right to wage their internal wars with ships armed to the teeth with colossal weaponry. It was too expensive to replace the fallen ships, especially since each of them cost a substantial fortune.
Capital ships took up an extravagant amount of manpower and resources to produce. The destruction and loss of each major warship weakened humanity's ability to withstand alien incursions. Therefore, the CFA had been tasked with preserving these assets as much as possible.
The second change revolved around promoting the use of mechs as the main mode for war. No longer would capital ships be allowed to orbit a planet and bombard it into oblivion with huge cannons or destructive lasers.
The transition to mechs turned out to be very bumpy. Besides the immature technology that underpinned workings, states also found the mech to be a lackluster weapon platform. Compared to the destructive power of a capital ship, a single mech was an ant.
The MTA overthrew a lot of states before humanity learned their lesson.
Ves recalled the last couple of hundred years and sighed. "Right now, we live in the Age of Mechs."
There was no place for a forbidden weapon like a gamma laser rifle in today's society. Only the most depraved and degenerate pirates used such a thing, and they never lasted very long.
In truth, the destructiveness of gamma lasers or grasers couldn't quite compare against the might of a nuclear bomb. The weapon type worked best in space where it could only threaten spaceships or space station.
For various reasons, the MTA and CFA added any laser weapon that weaponized some of the higher frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum to the list of taboo weapons.
Ves had to accept their stance without question. What could he do on his own? Should he visit the MTA's branch on Cloudy Curtain and ask for an exception to create a weapon of mass destruction because of a mission?
"They'll shoot me to pieces before I can even get another word in." Ves shook his head. "That is if they don't capture me and torture me to death."
This thorny upgrade mission compelled Ves to work alone. He absolutely could not trust a single person except for Lucky. Even his most trusted technicians such as Carlos or Chief Cyril would turn on him in a heartbeat if he showed any interest at all in producing a forbidden weapon.
The fear of the taboo had set in deep nowadays.
"Forget about designing such a weapon. Fabricating it without tipping anyone off is the biggest problem with this mission."
Ves never travelled alone nowadays. People constantly kept their eye on him, and while he could obfuscate their observation methods with his Privacy Shield, it did not block any naked eyeballs from seeing what he was up to.
Running his stealth augment was too costly to consider. His stealth only held up for five minutes before his comm ran out of power. Ves could hardly work in short, 5 minute intervals, especially when he began his fabrication.
The best solution for now would be to travel somewhere remote with a 3D printer. As long as he could do the dirty deed in the middle of nowhere, the System wouldn't quibble with him as long as he fabricated a successful copy.
Ves thought about his two production lines just then. The newer production line that centered around the Dortmund printer was absolutely essential to the LMC.
The older one however had been relegated to a backup line. The mech technicians mainly used the second-hand printer and assembly system to practice their skills, fabricate some replacement components or fulfill some odd jobs.
In other words, no one cared about it anymore.
A plan formed in his mind. In order to design and fabricate a graser rifle in peace, he planned to bring the second-hand printer along with a number of supplies and raw materials and move out to a remote planet, moon or asteroid and work alone from there.
Ves figured that he could fit everything he needed in the Barracuda, if only barely. The printer took up the most space by far, but the cargo bay should have enough space left over for a couple of smaller containers filled with supplies.
"Fabricating a rifle doesn't consume a lot of resources. I don't have to bring too much."
A complication emerged when Ves tried to formulate which resources he should bring. If he guessed wrong and ended up missing a vital resource to produce a graser rifle, then he had to halt the entire project and call for the Barracuda to ship the missing materials, which wasted valuable time and risked getting found out.
He estimated that the entire design and fabrication process shouldn't take too long. In ideal conditions, he might be able to manage it within a week. The need for secrecy ate up even more time than the actual process.
If Ves wanted to apply his upgraded Physics to his upcoming rifleman mech design, then he had no choice but to delay its design by several weeks.
He considered skipping this troublesome upgrade mission for now, but ultimately decided to take the extra time to go through with it. He needed every advantage possible to narrow the gap against his competition.
Hardly any Apprentice Mech Designer managed to find their footing in the oversaturated market for rifleman mechs. Even though many buyers jostled for mechs, even more sellers hawked their wares at them. The dizzying amount of choices meant that new designs hardly gained any attention unless they offered something compelling.
Ves knew his current Skills could only allow him to design a mech that underperformed compared to the mainstream model. Even Journeyman Mech Designers hadn't been able to compete head-on against these highly developed designs.
The only successful cases where they succeeded was when their designs happened to fill a niche through sheer strength.
Ves saw hope in this approach. The prerequisite of course was to upgrade a Skill to Senior-level.
Before he arrived at somewhere safe and isolated, Ves absolutely couldn't risk begin his design work on a graser weapon.
"I guess I better get the ball rolling." He muttered to himself and closed the page.
In the next hour, Ves called Captain Silvestra to drop whatever the Barracuda was doing and come back to Cloudy Curtain. He also arranged the transport of the old second-hand printer and a number of supplies and raw materials.
While his workers scratched their heads and puzzled over why the boss wanted to take the printer away, Ves informed his company of his brief absence.
As usual, his COO Jake disapproved of his random jaunt. "This is highly irresponsible. I thought we are clear about the consequences of any further adventures. I don't know what you are up to, but a chief designer who is constantly missing is not a good sign that the LMC is stable."
"Does stability even matter?" Ves retorted. He did not intend anyone to persuade him from his course. "This is not a public company. I don't have to answer to any shareholders except for myself. What I'm about to do is for the betterment of the LMC. Once I return, I'll be more than capable of designing a strong and commercially viable rifleman mech."
Jake had to take his word for it. The old man still looked at him with disapproval. "Try to keep in touch over the galactic net if you can. Even if you are heading to somewhere isolated, we'd still like to know you are physically safe and secure."
"That will likely be a problem. I'll be working well away from civilization. I can't afford anyone to stay close to me, including the Barracuda. I'll be out of range of her quantum entanglement node, so I won't be able to access the galactic net or call anyone with my comm during this period."
In his planning, the Barracuda would only check up on him once every few days in case he needed to order more raw materials. The rest of the time, his corvette should stay far away from his work site in order to prevent his activities from being leaked to any spies.
Ves never forgot who made the Barracuda in the first place. He won the ship after winning the finals at Leemar's Open Competition. The Leemar Institute of Technology could have stuffed all manner of bugs and listening devices on the ship. Even Lucky couldn't do anything about it as those features were integrated in the ship on a core level.
The best insurance would be to send the ship far away while he worked.
"Relax, Mr. Jake. I won't be going anywhere dangerous this time. I'll pick the most quiet, forgotten star system in the Republic and do my thing for a couple of weeks. Nothing will go wrong, I can guarantee you."
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