Not human. The discomfort Ves and the others felt from the figure that emerged from the pool of blood came from the fact that it looked human, but acted anything but like one.
"Witness the glory of Tektak, the Ordained Eyes of Haatumak!" The Seventh Altar shrieked with his horse voice baring at his heavily modified throat. "Bare your soul to him so that he may judge your worthiness in our savior and god!"
Ves had a small hunch. The strange manifestation of Tektak's glowing eyes portended a possible threat to him, yet he didn't know why he felt this way!
What was the purpose of those glowing eyes? He mulled the question in his mind at an accelerated rate, which had the illusion of slowing down his perception of time. The eerie red glowing eyes grew brighter and brighter, but at a pace that gave him a small measure of time to think!
He recalled the recent sights and tried to pin down the reason for the discomfort he had felt ever since he stepped inside the Temple of Haatumak. Why did the ship and her people emanate a faint sense of threat to him, to the point of stimulating his fight or flight response?
The disorientation he suffered from the Temple's various visual, auditory and olfactory cues confused his judgement and made it hard for him to think clearly. The Church of Haatumak deliberately messed with his senses!
He concluded that he couldn't rely on his normal senses at all.
During times like these, he trusted his sixth sense the most. As much as others wanted to deceive his perceptions and mislead him by transmitting confusing signals tailor-made to instill specific detrimental effects, they shouldn't be omnipotent.
These cultists may have been seasoned masters in deceiving his five regular senses, but what did they know about spirituality? Ves tentatively considered himself as an adept of this ethereal, metaphysical field.
He closed his eyes and tried to ignore the stimuli that constantly brushed against his hearing, smell and taste. He disregarded the pool of blood, the reeking smell of copper or the tangy moist taste in the air and focused his attention on his sixth sense.
One critical observation stood out.
He felt it, stronger and closer than ever. The all-encompassing presence locked within the bones thrummed throughout the entire two-kilometer length of the Temple of Haatumak.
The remnant presence only had a vague presence left, minute in the larger scheme of things. Yet it reminded him of another chimera creation, one that left a profound impression in his memories and still impressed him to this day!
The Kaius, the massive mech made out of the carcass of a hexapod king and salvaged parts of wrecked mechs. The deadly chimera mech had been fashioned by a rather unskilled mech designer, but over the years the mad Dr. Jutland constantly tweaked and refined its biological parts until it became a near-unbeatable machine on Groening IV!
If not for his sabotage, perhaps Captain Kaine's Hunting Platoon would have never been able to contend against this beast!
"Why am I recalling the Kaius of all things?"
He churned his mind as fast as possible, hoping to reach an answer before this clone called Tektak unleashed whatever metaphysical mumbo jumbo it had in store.
"Wait a minute.. They're similar!"
The Kaius and the Temple of Haatumak didn't resemble each other at all at first glance. One was a mech made out of dead, rotting but not quite decayed tissue. The other was a massive ship that consisted largely of salvaged ships and alloy junk. The leviathan skeleton enveloping it only appeared to be cosmetic and symbolic in function than anything else.
Yet.. even though back then, his sixth sense hadn't developed up to its current strength, he swore the Kaius carried a similar air to the leviathan remnant. The dignity of the king among their species, the supreme confidence of an apex predator, the lamentation of their fall, all of these feelings were remarkably faint, but present when many other remnants retained no emotions at all.
What tied Dr. Jutland and these weird cultists together? Why did they share the same propensity for working with exobeast remains?
His eyes widened in realization.
The Five Scrolls Compact!
Dr. Jutland may have been an exiled member of that dangerous cult, but certainly he might not be the only one! The Compact, known to be obsessed with tinkering with genetics in the pursuit of longevity, were probably the most formidable researchers in the field of genetic modification!
The other possibility was that the Church of Haatumak may not be exiles at all, but a legitimate off-shoot of the Compact! As a huge underground organization that could rival the MTA in power and technology, their presence was everywhere. For the Church to be one of their hidden arms allowed the Compact to maintain ties with every independent pirate outfit that sought out their services.
Other clues strengthened his conviction.
The worshippers of Haatumak all wore earthen-colored robes that obscured their bodies. The religious symbols and alien script that ran over their surface and sprang in the air in a miniature light show distracted guests from noticing the inhuman proportions and protrusions from some of the figures underneath the robes. Ves bet their actual appearance diverged enormously from the baseline human form!
If the MTA excelled in understanding machines, then the Five Scrolls Compact were the masters of human biology. Everything Ves witnessed so far about the Church of Haatumak gave him the notion that they were certainly up to weird activities.
While that did not necessarily establish a solid connection between the Church and the Compact, it made a certain amount of sense, and it wasn't as if he figured out a better theory.
What mattered was that the Compact, and by extension the Church, liked to mess with biology and their own bodies. It was one thing to strengthen their bodies in order to increase their ability to fight and survive, which the Swordmaidens had done.
It was another thing entirely to experiment on themselves because they worshipped an alien entity and liked to experiment on themselves and others to further their research or something.
Even though Ves still doubted that the connection between the two organizations actually existed, time was running out. He needed to act on this information now before it was too late!
Tektak's glowing eyes became so bright they resembled a binary pair of red suns. Whatever the clone activated should be activating soon, if it hadn't done so already.
Ves quickly tried to figure out what those glowing eyes were meant to observe, and whether Ves might be at risk. The problem was that he just didn't know too much about the Five Scrolls Compact!
So he turned the question around. What was it about Ves that they might be interested in the most?
The System! From his father's message, the System originally belonged to the Compact! Though Ves had no idea why such a wondrous program was related to a secret organization that largely dealt with biology rather than machines, he had no cause to doubt his father's words.
Ves breathed a tiny sigh of relief for leaving the comm which held the System behind on Cloudy Curtain. He possessed nothing on his body which tied him to the System which his father had snatched from their grasp.
Then his breath stuttered again because though he left the System behind, he couldn't leave his body behind!
Plenty of stuff might alarm these cultists if this TekTak picked up their presence. His enhanced Spirituality, his extremely weird Jutland organ, regulator organ that had half-merged with his nervous system and the unknown energy cycle undetectable by normal means might all be exposed by this biological scanner.
"No. Not quite."
The gifts he received from Dr. Jutland might still be explained. After all, the CFA had already taken plenty of scans and tissue samples. They even cloned his entire body! So if the Compact had a halfway decent spy network, then they might have already been aware of the hidden curiosities in his body.
The only secret that Ves truly couldn't leak was his Spirituality. Though he didn't know how he initially came to possess it, Ves knew undeniably that his mental strength received a substantial boost after consuming Dr. Jutland's heavenly flower.
So if TekTak possibly looked out for unnaturally strong mentalities, then Ves needed to figure out a way to obscure it as fast as possible.
His panic had reached a peak until he suddenly figured out a solution.
It was simple! Just think about nothing at all!
Everything he had seen so far had been designed to attract his attention! From the dirty corridors to the massive pool of blood and the weird clone with glowing eyes, they not only confused and disoriented their guests, but they also put them in a flighty condition where their minds became razor-focused on a couple of strong thoughts and urges.
The Church might have intended to prod him into concentrating his mind!
This might be because his Spirituality became a sharp and solid entity when Ves concentrated his mind on a single topic. However, the moment he became scatterbrained, all of that solid mass dispersed into intangible mist.
While this mist still carried a lot of energy compared to what laid inside the mind of a baseline human, it was essentially directionless. With particles of thought energy randomly flitting up and down, back and forth, left and right, the net effect was that his Spirituality didn't exert any pressure on anything.
In essence, his Spirituality became just as hard to detect as any other person's mental energy!
He closed his eyes, ostensibly to avoid the glow of TekTak's blindingly bright red eyes, and mentally jarred his mind into a confusing mess.
It sounded complicated, but Ves was actually extremely good at throwing his mind in a state of disarray. Sometimes, he even suspected that this might even be his natural state of mind.
A few more seconds passed as the brightness continued to increase in luminosity to the point of penetrating past his eyelids. That threatened to distract Ves into focusing his thoughts on the strange entity called TekTak, but he forcibly punched his mentality once again, causing it to break apart into formless mist.
He did it just in time, because an even brighter flash washed over the Vandals and the Swordmaidens! Along with the flash that pricked his eyes even after keeping his eyes pressed shut, his sixth sense also felt a faint wave of formless energy brushing through his body!
Ves worked harder than ever before to keep his mind in a mindless state, which sounder harder than it actually appeared to be. His chaotic mind hosted hundreds of thoughts at a time, tugging his spirituality in so many different directions that it didn't react or hinder the energy wave at all!
The energy wave also passed through his organs and energy cycle like they didn't exist, so Ves figured it was purely geared towards detecting entities that possessed unusual spiritualities.
Perhaps the Church didn't even employ an entity like TekTak to detect anomalies like Ves. The only other humans that might have possibly reacted to the energy wave were high-ranking mech pilots and mech designers.
That should have been TekTak's main purpose now that he thought about it! Someone like Ves may have never been the target at all! Yet if Ves hadn't scatterbrained his own mind, he might have been mistaken as one of them by the worshippers of Haatumak, which could have led to all kinds of awful consequences.
As the wave finally passed and light finally dimmed, everything turned back to normal. The crisis had passed, and neither the Seventeenth Altar or TekTak showed any signs of detecting something unusual among them. While that didn't rule out that they were merely hiding their reactions, Ves figured that this was probably not the case.
TekTak gazed in the direction of the Swordmaidens and Vandals with unblinking eyes as his upper body slowly began to submerge into the pool of water.
The process looked eerie, as the unmoving and unblinking TekTak resembled a lifeless statue that had been thrown into a lake.
The Seventeenth Altar stepped into view, his robe blocking the view of the sinking clone. "The Ordained Eyes of Haatumak is pleased with what they have seen. All of you are qualified to remain aboard our Temple if you are in need of asylum or enlightenment in our ways. If not, I shall bring you to our Coinlord with whom you may arrange a transaction."Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
"We'd like to pick the latter, please." Major Verle said, his voice not entirely stable. "Time is short, and we are expected elsewhere. We would appreciate it if we can expedite our meeting with the Coinlord."
"If that is what you wish, Brighter."