904 Virtual Blues
After Virtual Commander Cosit placed twelve new projects on his lap, Ves worked two days straight. He visited the labs of each separate project and found them to be much more elaborate and troublesome than the others.
Nonetheless, they fell within his range of competence. His broad and deep base of knowledge, his practical experience with mechs along with his future hindsight all put him further ahead than the original Senior Mech Designers who worked on these research projects.
Perhaps any single advantage wouldn't have been sufficient, but all three advantages each synergized with the other. This enabled him to develop ingenious solutions to the thorny problems posed by the research projects!
Despite his low Junior Apprentice rank, his status as a human and his advanced knowledge confounded every virtual researcher in charge of supervising the different projects. It didn't matter if the virtual researchers possessed more seniority over him. Their many limitations and shackles prevented them from performing any original research.
In each and every case, Ves merely had to demonstrate his strong capabilities and human ingenuity for them to increase his access and authority over the research projects!
"These virtual researchers are abandoned goods in the eyes of the Starlight Megalodon." Ves concluded as he assembled the prototype of a new style of mech engine.
Ves pretty much plagiarized Oleg's Trailblazer engine design to develop the prototype. Why should he reinvent the wheel when he could easily copy someone else's wheel? He felt no guilt at plagiarizing the works over other mech designers and developers as their interests wouldn't be harmed by his actions.
Even if they did, Ves didn't care.
Copying other people's works from memory or being inspired by them saved him lots of time. The entire purpose of completing or advancing the stalled research projects was to earn as much merits as possible.
As Ves finished research project after research project, Virtual Commander Cosit became increasingly more appreciative of his new human researcher. Their relationship improved as the contributions made by Ves also earned the AI a lot of merits as well, which increased his standing among his peers.
In fact, the virtual officers running the Starlight Megalodon all competed over processing power! The more the virtual officers contributed to the battleship or the CFA, the bigger their share of processing power!
Even if the Starlight Megalodon possessed an immense amount of processing power, no AI said no to more.
More processing power allowed them to complete their tasks faster and in a smarter fashion.
More processing power allowed them to bully and dominate weaker AIs that couldn't keep up with the cyberattacks assaulting their code.
More processing power strengthened their department and weakened rival departments.
The AIs that couldn't keep up eventually fell behind in the distribution of processing power. The less processing power they received, the less capable they became. This decreased their performance and the merits they earned, which led to another cut in processing power.
[Many virtual officers end up in the same state as the virtual researchers.] Virtual Commander Cosit sighed after Ves finished his daily report. [The virtual researchers and any AIs that have failed to contribute to the cause are cut off from all but the tiniest sliver of processing power to keep them alive. In the eyes of senior virtual officers such as us, these starved virtual individuals are like the living death. If not for the executive officer's mandate that virtual individuals aren't allowed to erase each other, they would have long been replaced by others!]
"How does the Research Department fare in this regard?" Ves asked. "I've noticed that most of the virtual researchers, officers and spacers in the Research Department aren't very bright."
The virtual commander let out another sigh. [Before your arrival, the other departments constantly suppressed our Research Department. Their regular duties of guarding and maintaining the Starlight Megalodon constantly allows them to accumulate a small but stable supply of merits. As for us, the virtual researchers and virtual officers under my command all relinquished their processing power as they are powerless to do their duties. Only through the virtue of my position and rank have I been able to remain functional.]
Ves didn't know that the Research Department's standing dropped so far behind that every other AI turned into virtual zombies!
Yet this wasn't necessarily bad for him. Without any clever or bossy AIs to interfere with his work, he received much greater credit for every research project he pushed towards completion.
"Rest assured, commander. With my help, the Research Department will rise!"
[I'm not so sure about that, Mr. Longhorn.] Cosit said. Hesitation flickered in her virtual eyes. [As a neutral department, we are without allies. While nobody is out to destroy us, we don't have the strength to contend for more processing power. Even if you help us climb back out of the pit, we are destined to reach the middle of the pack at most.]
The Research Department inevitably fell into the support category. It couldn't replace the more essential functions of the Internal Security Department or the Maintenance Department.
Nonetheless, Ves didn't see it that way.
"Ma'am, I believe we should continue to strive for merits regardless of any roadblocks in the way. Research opens up new possibilities and provides hope of lifting the shackles that the executive officer imposed on you all. In fact, in my eyes the Research Department is the most important department of the ship!"
His shameless flattering immensely pleased his virtual officer. While a part of him detested himself for treating a mere AI with so much more importance, he reminded himself that the virtual officers ruled the ship right now. Without their cooperation, Ves would have no way of completing any of his objectives.
After a bit of discussion, Virtual Commander Cosit felt generous and freely gave him some advice. [While I'm glad that you are dedicated to serving the Research Department, you have not taken a break for several days. We have prepared your old cabin for you along with some of your old possessions. Remember that your shift with the Mech Department is soon upon you. Also, remember that you shouldn't save up your merits solely for your promotion tests. Besides facilitating access to the library, you should also visit the armory to get yourself geared out. It's not entirely safe aboard the ship.]
After Ves left the Research Department, he became interested in visiting his assigned cabin for the first time. If Cosit hadn't mentioned Mr. Longhorn's old possessions, Ves would have continued to work without taking any breaks.
"A Senior Mech Designer shouldn't be shabby. Even after the Starlight Megalodon crashed, mechs continued to be used."
During his jaunt through the red zone, Ves occasionally spotted the remains of ancient landbound mechs. This signified that mech designers hadn't lost their relevance. In fact, some of the research projects that he worked on right now tried to solve several practical problems with regards to operating on Aeon Corona VII.
Perhaps one of the most vital contributions of the Research Department early on was that they developed a way to counteract the Breakdown Effect! The researchers participating in this project even miniaturized the solution, allowing mechs and smaller machines to remain shielded from the breakdown effect outside of the sphere of influence of the Starlight Megalodon.
Ves really wanted to find out how the solution worked! Unfortunately, Ves did not have the authority to access the files of that extremely vital research project.
"Perhaps I'll have a chance at the Mech Department."
As Ves activated his CFA comm and let it guide him towards Mr. Longhorn's cabin, he fiddled with it and explored some of its options.
He underestimated the capabilities of his CFA comm. It far surpassed his military-issue officer-grade comm he obtained from the Vandals. Ves even wanted to merge the capabilities of his other comms into his CFA comm and turn it into his primary device.
After a lengthy walk to the middle decks, Ves entered a luxurious section of the ship that housed a significant portion of the officer cabins. The cabin that used to belong to Lieutenant Commander Longhorn was much larger and more extravagant than what a mere ensign deserved, but Ves' forged identity enabled him to obtain 'his' old accommodations ahead of time.
When Ves unlocked the hatch to Longhorn's cabin with his CFA comm, he entered a fairly sophisticated cabin the size of a typical upscale urban apartment. As space was at a premium on any starship, a cabin of this size said much about the old mech designer's importance.
Ves took a good look around the cabin. The artistically-shaped bed, desk, sofas and other furniture spoke for a love of luxury. The projections of magnificent vistas taken from many famous planets throughout the galaxy spoke for a love of travel and a desire to escape this planet.
This cabin likely served as a physical and spiritual refuge of the original Mr. Longhorn.
Unfortunately, Ves saw nothing of value in these idle luxuries. What use did he have for a luxurious bed or a fancy table?
"I refuse to believe a Senior Mech Designer hasn't left anything good behind."
Like a greedy treasure hunter entering an ancient alien tomb for the first time, Ves greedily tore into the cabinets and closets for valuables.
He found a large stack of data pads and data chips in a locked shelf inside a desk. His CFA comm neatly unlocked the shelf, saving Ves from forcing it open with his weapons or his tools.
All the other locks inside the cabin surrendered to his CFA comm as well, allowing Ves to dig out a variety of gear and curiosities.
Not satisfied with what he uncovered so far, Ves even employed his scanner and scoured every nook and cranny of Mr. Longhorn's cabin. His intuition told him that a Senior Mech Designer shouldn't have been so straightforward to leave behind his possessions under locks that were too easy to circumvent.
"Aha! I knew it! There's not a single Senior Mech Designer who isn't a crafty bugger!"
His scanner detected an unusual mass of alloys underneath the toilet of all places. After Ves used Mr. Longhorn's tools to dismantle the toilet and lift it aside, he dug out a locked safebox which couldn't be unlocked by his CFA comm.
Ves immediately recognized he found a difficult puzzle.
"Will this lockbox self-destruct if I force it open?"
From Mr. Longhorn's precautions, Ves couldn't rule out such a possibility. He stared at the lockbox and realized that it was a predominantly mechanical lock. Scanning the box revealed a layer of shielding material that blocked all scans from penetrating further.
It did reveal that the lockbox was suffused with explosive materials.
"Damn. With so many triggers, I can't force it open without causing it to blow up."
A Senior Mech Designer wasn't so simple. Yet the more he understood how much effort Longhorn put into securing its contents, the more he anticipated opening it up.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
What treasures he found so far from the cabin already pleased him a bit. He found several advanced weapons and a spare armor suit that was considerably more resilient than his Earth Ant.
However, their operating system and several other mechanisms were horribly outdated. Just like with his comm, Ves intended to bring them to a workshop or one of the armories to merge the best parts of his current equipment with the best parts of Mr. Longhorn's gear.
As Ves scanned the mechanical lock in more detail, he found out that it wasn't impossible for him to unlock it in the proper fashion. The only problem was that it would take some time to decipher the mechanisms.
There was also an electronic lock hidden beneath the mechanical parts that didn't respond to his CFA comm, but that posed no problem to Ves at all. Due to its isolated and outdated security suite, his Vandal officer comm hacked it in a matter of minutes.
Ves put his full concentration to work on this puzzle. After carefully unraveling the mechanical lock over the span of six whole hours, he finally managed to open it up without tripping any of the boobytraps.
The contents inside the lockbox astounded Ves.
"I never expected a mech designer to own something like this!"