"So where are we going?" Ves asked Chief Dakkon as they both entered a mobile lab that conducted research on the god crystals.
They made some minor breakthroughs lately after performing some invasive experiments on the large dwarf tribe's wild gods. There was hope that the engineers and researchers could crack the secret to exciting the god crystals in order to generate power.
"You're not going to like it, Ves." Chief Dakkon sighed. "The two ladies decided that they don't want to deal with the headaches of trying to negotiate or fight with the sacred gods of the nearest ancient city. They also think a visit will waste an enormous amount of time. We've already suffered several weeks-long interruptions in our journey."
Ves did look disappointed. He really wanted to obtain a good look at how the ancient cities managed to maintain their antigrav fields for several millennia without relying on vulnerable technology.
"Don't they know that the breakdown effect is only increasing the closer we get to the Starlight Megalodon? While it's true the ancient cities are rather troublesome to approach, we can gain substantial benefits from finding out how they are able to accomplish certain matters. It would be great if we capture more sacred gods and turn them to our side like we did with Qilanxo."
"Whoa, there, slow down Ves! In truth, Captain Byrd isn't very eager for us to become too distracted by how the natives do things. The more we become enamored by the natives and the sacred gods, the more we lose the essence of what makes us Vandals. We're a mech regiment, not a beast rider regiment!"
That pulled Ves back from his obsession. He shook his head to clear his mind. "Is this why Captain Byrd refuses to visit an ancient city?"
"Exactly." Dakkon said. "She prefers we focus on developing a solution against the breakdown effect through our own efforts rather than attempt to replace our mechs with exobeasts. Besides, she's also convinced we've delayed long enough. She wants us to march straight through the storm lands and reach the Starlight Megalodon before any of our rivals get their first."
"Then what about the breakdown effect? You know as well as I do that we can't solve this problem by snapping our fingers."
"We'll find a way. We're the Vandals. Resourcefulness is rooted in our genes."
"Do you really believe that, or is that just expressing your support for Captain Byrd's decision?"
The chief engineer grinned. "In fact, I think I'm onto something here. I've come up with several theories related to the god crystals that might help. They are derived from the astral winds and share much of the same properties. I think if we can employ them correctly, we might be able to mitigate the spacetime distortion that occurs when the astral winds experience turbulence."
That actually sounded like it might actually work!
"How far are you into looking into this solution?"
"We haven't even activated the god crystals yet." Chief Dakkon shook his head. "Do you think we've made any headway into applications? We have to learn how to walk before we can learn how to run. Solving the power generation issue the highest priority of our research team. While there may be a chance that the breakdown effect won't be as serious as we thought, but we'll definitely run out of energy before we even make it to the battleship."
The Flagrant Swordmaidens needed to get their priorities straight. While the energy budget deficit and the breakdown effect appeared to be equally as crippling to their combat effectiveness, they really couldn't do without the energy necessary to move forward and fight.
As for the breakdown effect, Ves suspected that the brass didn't actually hold out much hope for a solution. Yet that shouldn't be enough of a reason to avoid the ancient cities.
"In truth, there's more than that." The chief engineer hesitated. "When Captain Orfan underwent an inspection at the infirmary, she passed on a message imparted into her mind by Qilanxo."
Ves became surprised. A message? Why didn't she mention anything to him in their earlier interaction?
"What did Qilanxo want to say?"
"Qilanxo addressed her message directly to Captain Byrd. I haven't heard the message, but from what I heard of the people around her, Qilanxo evidently didn't want us to march up to another ancient city and ruin their old way of life."
"And Captain Byrd acquiesced?"
"She did once she heard that Qilanxo promised to cooperate fully with us. That includes allowing us to study her god crystals and perform detailed tests of their operation! She even claims she can show us how she can direct her god crystals to generate an antigrav field!"
This was absolutely big! Up until now, Qilanxo always gave the impression that she only reluctantly played along with the Flagrant Swordmaidens. If she changed her mind and voluntarily showed them all of her tricks, was there any need to barge into an ancient city anymore?
Ves smiled ruefully at the chief. "Qilanxo must care a lot about the ancient cities and the people and sacred gods that dwell inside them. For her to offer this concession must have weighed on her a lot."
"Captain Byrd must have been convinced by Qilanxo's sincerity, because she contacted Commander Lydia right after and came to a consensus."
They both ruminated in silence while they watched on as the researchers conducted yet another test related to the god crystals.
"It's true that we've disturbed the lives of the natives everywhere we went." Ves said after he reflected over the actions the ground forces took so far. "We're walking disasters to the degenerated savages. Nothing good happens to those we encounter. Still, I didn't think that Qilanxo has it in herself to sacrifice her freedom and wellbeing for the good of her own kind. Maybe the sacred gods are more human than we think."
"Don't be silly, Ves. The sacred gods may carry a fancy name, but they're intelligent exobeasts at best. They're fascinating sentients but they're completely alien from us. You've been working too much on Qilanxo. Don't forget whose side you are on. If it's a choice between us and Qilanxo, I hope you don't make the wrong decision."
"I know what is best for me." Ves quickly replied. "Qilanxo may be a fascinating individual, but she's as alien as the dwarves to me. I still want to get back to the Bright Republic, you know, and I can't do that if I don't have a ride home. I'm not the kind of short-sighted fool who's gone native and fights against my former comrades like a bad adventure drama."
Those kinds of stories were a staple of entertainment for several thousand years. Ever since humanity rose into space from the Age of Stars, they dreamt of encountering alien cultures locked to a single isolated planet.
Some of these stories even possessed a true basis. Humans stranded on untamed planets often forgot that they were part of a starfaring civilization when they no longer had access to the greater galaxy.
Ves already spent a few months on Seven and realized he may have already gone native in some aspects of his thinking.
"Have you got your head on straight again, Ves?"
"I do. Thank you for the reminder."
"Heh, for all your smarts, you still have a lot to learn from old men like me. I've already been around for a while, so I know how easy it is for young fellows like you to get caught up in your passion."
Ves left the lab and took a breath of the local air. Seven perpetually smelled like virgin lands. If not for the heavy gravity and the breakdown effect, this would have been a fantastic place to start up a colony.
Now that the beast rider project pretty much completed most of its objectives, he decided to convene the experts and disband the team.
While they still had a lot of follow-up assignments to complete, they didn't need to follow his direction anymore.
"Some of you will be assigned to the new beast rider support staff, while the rest will resume your regular duties. No matter where you go, I hope you take the lessons we learned to heart."
Over the following days, Ves wound down the beast rider project and handed over the data and their research to the new permanent support staff for the beast riders. Now that the beast rider interface worked as advertised, Ves no longer needed to be involved.
He became eager to wind down the beast rider project because he recognized that he became too involved in this matter. While he still enjoyed interacting with Qilanxo and finding out the meaning behind the grand design her species was apart of, he didn't want to lose himself.
Ves was a mech designer!
Best to leave the puzzles related to Qilanxo and the natives to the exobiologists!
Once he surrendered his responsibilities as project head, he felt liberated. No longer did he felt driven by the urge to continue his research. There was something wonderfully addicting about performing research into something new and learning something new in this way.
"It's a lot harder to learn something by finding it out by yourself than to read established theories from a textbook."
In any case, there was no longer a need to develop a neural interface, so Ves really couldn't justify his continued involvement regarding the beast riders. Although he often equated riding an exobeast to piloting a mech, in truth Ves forced that perspective onto himself.
"I should get back at what I'm best and work with mechs again."
He transferred over to a mobile workshop and met up with Ketis again.
"Hey Ves! What are you here for?"
"I'm finally done with heading the beast rider project. My job is done, so I'm back to resume my old duties."
"FINALLY!" Ketis shouted. "You can't believe the kind of silly crap I have to deal with every day! The mechs keep getting worse and the mech technicians keep getting dumber!"
"Oh? I didn't think it's gotten so bad."
Ketis went to a console and displayed a chart to him. It depicted the amount of breakdowns and malfunctions over a span of a month.
The frequency of technical incidents steadily rose as if it climbed up a hill!
"Damn." He cursed. "The rate of increase is steeper than I thought. Tell me about the problems you're encountering. I want to have an idea on which parts break down faster."
"Well, it's mostly the legs that give up the ghost first. There's a large amount of moving parts there and they're all interdependent on each other. The legs also have to support the entire weight of the mechs, so if all of that force presses down on a misaligned component, it might snap and cause the mech to trip."
"What about the microcomponents? The processors and such? Have they been breaking down as well?"
"Surprisingly, no. There's not much moving around except for energy. However, we've been keeping a close watch on our 3D printers, and some of its internal parts have already become skewed a few times."Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
"We should check the 3D printers more often." Ves judged. "There's a lot of moving parts inside a 3D printer, but the problem is that they are small and delicate and therefore easier to break. A mech is still a war machine, so many of its components can still take a beating. That doesn't apply to 3D printers. It only takes a moderate bump for them to stop functioning."
Ves really worried about the 3D printers and a couple of other vitally-important production equipment.
If a mech broke down, then fine. They could always fix it up again somehow.
If all of their 3D printers and their tools broke down, then they didn't have any means to fix up their mechs. What then? The Flagrant Swordmaidens would no longer be any different from the savages if they lost all of their mechs and equipment!
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