In his last Mastery experience, Ves spent a week inside Eloise Pelican's mind.
Venerable Pelican was a respectable mech pilot even before she became an expert pilot.
While Ves did not relish his stay inside the mind of a woman and especially a mother who missed her son, he had nothing to complain about when it came to her deployments or her battle performance.
A decade of harsh living and dealing with constant shortages turned Eloise and the rest of the mercenary corps she was a part of into stoic, disciplined warriors. Their conduct was exemplary for remaining stuck in the horrible Dark Sphere for so long.
This was very different. For some reason that Ves couldn't fathom, the System had the bright idea of inserting his consciousness into the mind of a drugged-out wastrel!
In the six hours that passed since Ves entered Axelar's mind, he spent most of that time trying to anchor his consciousness in place against the violent waves of pleasure and euphoria induced my frequent injections of recreational stimulants!
Benny Smit, Axelar's tough and sturdy-looking bodyguard, obediently brought out a seemingly endless amount of high-tech syringes from his uniform!
"Oh, hell no, not another injection! This is your fifteenth already! How can an utterly degenerate person like you still remain alive with all of the drugs running through your body?!" Ves mentally wailed, not that Axelar was even coherent enough to detect the intrusion in his mind!
As the waves of chemical pleasure grew into yet another tsunami of euphoria, Ves endured the tides as best he could while he tried to dig out the details of where he landed this time.
Axelar's constant highs made it very difficult for Ves to dig up details from the mind of his host. If Ves hadn't broke through to Journeyman, he would have faced a steeper challenge.
Fortunately, his vastly-improved Spirituality allowed him to resist the tides and employ his abilities with more finesse. Even under adverse conditions, Ves slowly managed to glean some details about the current time and place.
As soon as Ves found out in which state he landed in, his consciousness practically jumped out of Axelar's mind!
"What! I'm in the Greater Terran United Confederation!"
This was a massive surprise! This was so far beyond his previous Mastery experiences that Ves turned speechless.
The System deposited him deep inside the galactic center!
Not only that, but Ves also entered the mind of a highborn scion of the Streon Clan, which ruled over several hundred star systems in the extremely prosperous Radiant Pulsar Star Sector!
The Radiant Pulsar Star Sector wasn't anything like the Komodo Star Sector. Comparing the two was like comparing a plain nutrient pack to a twenty-one course meal prepared by the best human chef in the galaxy!
No third-rate states existed in the Radiant Pulsar Star Sector. In fact, no second-rate state existed either. The entire star sector was just one of many ludicrously prosperous star sectors in the Greater Terran United Confederation.
Still, just because Radiant Pulsar was only ruled by a single state didn't mean that everything was peaceful.
Just like how the noble houses of the New Rubarth Empire struggled for power, wealth and influence, the Terrans were little different.
Various ancient clans with pedigrees spanning for thousands of years constantly competed against each other.
The only difference was that the Rubarthan houses frequently rose and fell. Hardly any noble house could rest on their laurels and rely on their past achievements to enjoy their positions of power.
As the originator of the Societal Vitality Theory, the Rubarthan houses were constantly compelled to fight in order to maintain or expand their current positions in their huge superstate.
While the Terrans snobbishly regarded themselves better than the Rubarthans, the competition between its ancient clans was just as serious, if not as frequent or violent.
Any conflict or competition that played out between the various rivalling clans only played out in extremely restricted battlefields determined in advance. Ves already knew that clans could only send out a restricted number of mechs to another star system and engage in battle in a very narrow region in order to determine whether the conquest succeeded.
This pattern of fighting led to a very peculiar mech culture in the Greater Terran United Confederation.
While clans still spent huge amounts of resources to maintain large standing mech armies, they nonetheless put most of their attention to training a smaller number of elite mech forces.
With every conflict between the clans restricted to a relatively modest number of mechs, it was vitally important that each clan raised at least one elite mech corps!
The amount of mechs the Terrans allowed to fight at any one time for the ownership of a star system differed from star sector to star sector. In the Radiant Star Sector, the maximum amount of mechs a clan could bring to a restricted battle was 50,000 mechs, which amounted to a full mech corps.
This sounded like a lot, but it was actually very small compared to the sheer number of mechs that ancient clans had at their disposal!
"It's the equivalent of determining a battle by sending out champions." Ves mentally concluded.
The ancient clans could easily field millions or even billions of mechs at a time! However, a battle involving so many mechs was extremely destructive! Not only would most of those mechs become trashed, but the sheer amount of collateral damage that ensued with the use of highly advanced and destructive weapons could wipe out all life on every habitable planet!
The fear of squandering so many assets and resources led the Terrans to adopt this custom of limiting the amount of mechs involved in a battle.
The strength of a clan and the amount of star systems they ruled no longer depended on their total military might. Instead, it depended on how well they are able to train and equip their elite mech corps!
One of the unintended consequences of turning every internal battle in the Confederation into a fair competition was that it turned into public spectacle!
While the Terrans still held many versions of competitive mech games, the actual battles between the clans drew the attention of countless Terran and foreign citizens!
Axelar Streon was a legitimate highborn scion of the Streon Clan. While he wasn't the firstborn heir of a prominent figure in the clan, he nonetheless enjoyed a very privileged station in life!
At the moment of his conception, his genes had already been tailored to perfection! The Streon clan spared no expense in insuring the genes of their main clan members was as superior as possible!
The result was that Axelar was already exceptional as a human from the moment of his birth! He was smarter, faster and stronger than the average citizen of the Confederation.
Compared to baseline humans who lived outside the first-rate superstates, the disparity in capabilities grew even wider!
Axelar enjoyed a pampered upbringing. The high position of his parents ensured that he was constantly surrounded by luxuries.
Naturally, Axelar quickly turned into a spoiled brat.
His situation changed a bit when he turned ten. Axelar's parents found out that their son possessed the genetic aptitude to pilot mechs!
This was a great opportunity for Axelar. His parents instantly packed him off to one of the Streon Clan's many premier mech academies.
For the next fifteen years, Axelar endured a very rough time. While the mech academies he attended treated any Streon clan member very well, the mech instructors nonetheless forced every student to become good at piloting mechs!
No matter what background the Streon clan members possessed, the mech academies did not let up on them just because their parents were powerful!
For Axelar, his time at the academies was hell! There wasn't a single hardworking bone in his body. He often got in trouble with the mech instructors for doing less than his best to learn how to pilot mechs.
Despite these odds, Axelar managed to graduate from both the basic and advanced mech academy with respectable grades.
Two reasons allowed him to pull through.
First, his genetic aptitude was graded at A-, which was extremely good! This meant that Axelar needed to spend less time in practice to become proficient in a specific skill!
Second, the talented young mech pilot resorted to taking stimulants in order to get through the day!
Even after he graduated from the advanced mech academy, Axelar still continued to take recreational stimulants. Even though he visited a doctor in order to flush out his body and remove his physical dependence to stimulants, his mental addiction still remained as strong as ever!
"What a huge waste of a mech pilot!" Ves lamented.
Axelar Streon was only a little bit inferior to Venerable Foster when it came to piloting talent. In fact, his superior gene treatments and the other advantages he received should have turned him into an even better mech pilot than Relia Foster in her pre-expert days.
Yet Axelar did not spend his time on polishing his piloting skills. Although the Streon Clan transferred him to an elite mech corps upon graduation, the wastrel actively avoided serving with them and instead spend much of his time in an incoherent daze due to all of the stimulants he took!
"What a stupid pig!" Ves berated his host. "You've got all of these advantages! Trillions of people in the galactic rim would kill to enjoy even a fraction of your good fortune!"
Of course, Axelar was so insensate that Ves could be yelling for hours without ever arousing the junkie's attention.
To Ves, this was no way to live!
"Don't tell me that my entire Mastery experience consists of witnessing Axelar getting high all the time?"
What about piloting mechs? The entire reason why Ves went along with this trip to the past in the first place was to witness a mech pilot in action from their very minds! He did not sign up to get caught up in the constant euphorias of a useless druggie!
"Benny, please hit me up with the seventh formula. I'm in the mood for something more mellow this time."
"Master Axelar." Benny coughed. "You have a mech duel on the agenda. One of your friends have come to visit your home planet. You agreed to duel him tonight."
"Ah.. is that so? I don't remember. Well, a buzz won't hurt while I'm piloting my mech. Give me the seventh formula, please!"
"If that is what you wish."
Ves looked with amazement as Benny acquiesced to Axelar's demand. As a different wave of pleasure erupted in the mind of his host, Ves simply couldn't fathom how Axelar continued to partake in stimulants with a mech duel just hours away from commencing!
After Benny tucked away the syringe containing the seventh formula, he raised his voice yet again.
"Master Axelar, seeing as you are about to enter another duel, you should prepare your mech at this time."
"Okay.. please summon the interface."
Benny pressed a button on his comm which summoned a large projection of what appeared to be a very slick and simplified mech design interface.
To Ves' amazement, Axelar raised his shaky fingers and began to manipulate the interface. He selected various parts which the software automatically put together. Through picking and choosing all of the essential parts of a mech, the AIs working behind the scenes automatically put them together into a single, technically-sound design!
Not only that, but the AIs completed the design without the input of any human mech designer!
Axelar grinned like a bleary drunk. "What do you think about my latest creation, Benny? It's a work of art! Just look at its smooth lines and its cool posture! I'll definitely be victorious tonight!"
"It is an excellent, Master Axelar. No mech designer can ever equal your work!" Benny said with a smile. The attendant manipulated the interface before turned it off. "Your mech is being materialized right as we speak. It will be ready for your upcoming duel."
Ves practically looked on with horror with what had just occurred. The mech that Axelar designed in his highly intoxicated state was anything but a piece of art! It was a bona fide abomination that should have never existed in the first place!