Ves struck when Axelar was asleep. While his resting mind still reveled in the cocktail of chemicals that continuously entered his blood stream, the drugs he tended to take during his sleep were fairly mellow.
With Axelar asleep and sedated with his sleep-inducing stimulants, Ves stopped hiding his presence.
After a lengthy pause, he stopped hesitating on what he was about to do. Whether it worked or not, there was no harm in trying. The only way that Axelar would stop partaking in drugs and do something productive in his life was if Ves intervened directly!
To that end, Ves decided to see if he could take over Axelar's body.
"I'm a Journeyman now. My Spirituality and consciousness is much stronger than before!"
While Axelar was a very talented mech pilot, his mind was constantly in a mush. Even if he was sober, he could never contend against Ves on a spiritual level.
While normally Ves would never think that something like this would work on other people, it was different when he directly shared the same space as Axelar's consciousness.
"I'm already within the fortress of his mind."
Taking over a castle from within! Many of the constraints that made it impossible for Ves to affect the minds of other people no longer applied in this case.
"Let's see if my guess is right."
Ves concentrated his consciousness and exerted his considerable Spirituality. He extended his spiritual energy and formed them into numerous tentacles.
He then spread them outwards from his consciousness and attached them to various points in Axelar's largely empty mind.
"Let me take over your body!" Ves mentally cried.
His method was very rough and unrefined. As soon as his tentacles connected to Axelar's mind and body, an overwhelming amount of unconscious stimuli and impulses overwhelmed Ves' consciousness!
"Damnit! It's too much!"
Even if Ves drew back on the connections he formed with Axelar's mind, he still couldn't cope with the intense flood of irrelevant data! It was as if every single cell in Axelar's body cried out for his personal attention!
"Damnit, this isn't working!"
Ves didn't give up, though. He refined the connections and filtered more and more useless data from entering his consciousness.
The goal of his efforts was to establish something akin to the man-machine connection between a mech pilot and a mech!
Yet the man-man connection that Ves sloppily tried to form did not take shape.
"Is it because my brain isn't wired right?" He wondered.
Perhaps if Ves was a mech pilot, then he would have been able to succeed in this method. As it was, no matter how much Ves restricted the data, he couldn't filter out nearly enough to exert any control on Axelar.
The first method failed.
"I guess it'll never work as long as I'm not a mech pilot."
He tried the second method next. Instead of forming a connection with Axelar's mind and body in an attempt to 'pilot' him like a mech, Ves instead decided to take a more dangerous course of action.
He bunched up his consciousness and concentrated his thoughts. He tried to emulate Venerable Foster's domineering force of will.
It was a bit more difficult than Ves expected. His advancement to Journeyman transformed much of his spiritual energy from a malleable gaseous state into a fixed crystalline design seed.
Even if his total spiritual strength had increased, the proportion that he could mold in other shapes was limited!
"It's as if my spiritual development is fixed ever since I advanced to Journeyman!"
That was an unwelcome piece of news to him. His dreams of imitating the full range of abilities of high-ranking mech pilots had been dashed.
A human can only be a mech pilot or a mech designer, but not both.
Perhaps this rule was not as rigid in the lower ranks, but once someone advanced to expert pilot or Journeyman Mech Designer, their development trajectory no longer deviated!
"Nothing is impossible in the galaxy, though." Ves cautioned himself. "There's probably at least one exception to the rule, though I've never heard about it before."
In any case, Ves did not fall under these rare exceptions, so his ability to emulate Venerable Foster's force of will was a bit weaker than before.
"Even if it's weaker, it should still be strong enough for my purposes."
Ves doubted his chances if he was up against a genuine expert pilot, but Axelar was far from matching the mental fortitude of a demigod.
In fact, Axelar's mind couldn't be anymore weaker! All the recreational stimulants and decadence that the scion of the Streon clan partook him wore away any semblance of discipline. The only strong belief that this wastrel possessed was his desire to perpetually try out more and more formulas!
"A consciousness as weak as yours is begging to be taken advantage of! You can't blame anyone but yourself for what I'm about to do!"
Ves surrounded his consciousness with his emulated force of will. It kind of resembled an expert that surrounded itself with a resonating energy field.
He then slowly moved his consciousness closer to the depths of Axelar's mind. He did so until his consciousness brushed up against the core consciousness of his host.
What Ves was about to do at this point was very dangerous!
"Let's see if this works!"
With a violent mental heave, Ves' consciousness dove against Axelar's core consciousness and tried to bump it aside!
It didn't budge!
"Damnit, it's anchored somehow."
While the violent collision didn't result in the desired effect, Axelar's core consciousness did seem to get close to shaking loose.
"Maybe I need to exert more force."
Ves pulled back his protected consciousness and tried again!
His progress became more evident this time!
After more than a dozen collisions, Ves finally achieved the result he wanted to see! Axelar's core consciousness lost its anchor and went flying off into the corner of his empty mind!
The displacement left a gaping hole behind which Ves's consciousness quickly occupied!
A mass of strange and confusing sensations overcame Ves' consciousness as he suddenly felt as if he was partially taking over Axelar's body. While his integration was far from perfect, the connection was deep and stable enough to effect some real change!
Perhaps the only problem was that Axelar's core consciousness flew back to the place that it belonged and bumped against the intruder that took its place.
It was as if it was whining to Ves that it took over its rightful place.
"Shut up and sit down, you dolt! You've been doing nothing with your body for all this time. It's high time for you to straighten up your life!"
Axelar's core consciousness was like a cleaning bot that kept bumping into the same obstacle over and over again. It wasn't really in a conscious state, but it possessed a very strong instinct that it needed to return to its place!
This caused Axelar's core consciousness to continuously bump against Ves' spiritually-active consciousness. While the weak collisions didn't do much damage, Ves felt as if his spiritual strength was slowly being expended.
"It seems I'm on a time limit. I'll exhaust myself if I keep this up for more than a couple of days."
That meant that Ves needed to hurry up with his plans.
He moved on with the first step, which was taking over Axelar's body.
Ves needed to exert a sufficient amount of control over it. If his control wasn't high enough, then Benny or the other staff might sense something amiss!
"I can't arouse too much suspicion from Benny."
Even if Axelar acted a little differently, Benny probably wouldn't take too much notice. Axelar often changed his mood depending on the cocktail of stimulants currently in effect.
A full half hour after Ves took over, he began to get the hang of puppeting a foreign body. Ves tentatively managed to take control of Axelar's body, but the problem was that his fine control was anything but ideal!
As Axelar's body opened its eyes in the early morning, a very different gaze looked out. The numb and cloudy consciousness that previously controlled the body was nowhere present now!
The first thing Ves did was to reach out a hand and press a button on his comm.
"You called, Master Axelar?" Benny's voice sounded out from the comm channel.
"Yeah. Please flush my body. I'm in the mood for something different."
"Pardon me, Master Axelar, but it isn't time for your scheduled flushing yet."
"Just do what I say, Benny!" Ves yelled back in Axelar's voice. "I'm tired of experiencing the same old highs!"
Although the order that Ves had given was a departure from the norm, Benny still did as ordered.
After moving Axelar's body to his villa's treatment center, the doctors on staff began to flush it of most intoxicating chemicals. After that, they put the body into a submerged tank and activated some processes that repaired most of the damage the stimulants had wrought.
From a purely physical perspective, Axelar's body had been reverted into a state to before he became addicted to stimulants!
Normally, Axelar would immediately inject himself with a host of drugs in order to experience the same highs over again.
Ves was different. When Benny walked up to Axelar with a syringe in hand, Axelar's body raised its palm.
"Stop. No more for now."
Benny frowned. This command was extremely odd and completely unlike the old Axelar! "Pardon, Master Axelar?"
"Tell me, which high is better? The rush of experiencing the thirty-seventh formula's high, or the adrenaline rush of putting my life on the line on the battlefield?"
"I can't say, Master Axelar."
"There's no comparison between the two! All the formulas have gone stale. There's nothing new for me to enjoy anymore now that I've taken every possible stimulant that exists. I think I have a better idea where I can get my dose of excitement! I should go into battle!"
Benny appeared speechless for a moment. "That is.. a very bold sentiment."
"The first step is to sell my pharmaceutical company. I no longer need my formulas. Please get rid of all of my stash."
"Are you certain, Master Axelar?"
"How else am I going to be able to push myself into battle when there are easier solutions within reach! From now on, I don't want you to get rid of all of my stimulants, but prevent me from taking a single dose! Even if I beg and scream for a hit, don't give in no matter what, alright?!"
"...Understood, Master Axelar. We will carry out your orders to the best of our ability."
Whether Benny would actually abide by the orders or not did not matter too much. Ves just wanted to sell the excuse that Axelar was pursuing a different kind of high now. That Axelar might possibly be prevented from injecting a stimulant into his body from now on was a vindictive form of revenge from Ves.
As Ves mentally snickered at the thought of Axelar crawling on his knees for another hit, he returned to his instructions.
"Secondly, please prepare my application to the Trail of Tears elite training program."
This time, Benny looked at his charge with alarm. "Master Axelar! I urge you to think through. The Trail of Tears is one of the Terran Confederation's toughest training programs for mech pilots! Last year, only a single mech pilot out of a cohort of thousands managed to break through to expert candidate! One in four participants died while half of the survivors returned broken and traumatized!"
"I've already made my decision!" Ves yelled in Axelar's voice. "I don't fear the Trail of Tears at all! I'm too good to fail this training program! Prepare an application for me immediately!"
"Very well, Master Axelar. I shall make the arrangements."
Ves recognized the pliant tone that Benny used whenever he faced an order he did not intend to fulfill. It was going to be difficult to register Axelar to the infamous Trail of Tears, but Ves had his ways.
A devious grin appeared on Axelar's hijacked face.