Ves had no idea what was going on!
In one moment, Taon was blaming himself for his failures, and in the next, Ylvaine's spiritual fragment suddenly jumped into his mindscape!
The Protectors of the Faith instantly moved into the room after their monitoring system detected something amiss. They immediately took Taon away to the infirmary when they realized that he had fainted for some reason.
"What happened here, Mr. Larkinson?" One of the Protectors asked.
"I don't know. I was just talking with Taon when he suddenly went out cold. I didn't do anything. Maybe his exhaustion and his depression got the better of him. He wasn't in the best shape when he arrived."
While Ves talked to Taon in private, he hadn't activated any signal jammers or ECM this time. The Protectors should have assigned some men to monitor their conversation, so the Protectors already knew that Ves told the truth.
The Protectors quickly dismissed their suspicions towards him. As they studied Taon's condition, it became clear that he hadn't slept for a couple of days and didn't eat right.
Even though his body was in excellent condition and shouldn't have fainted so suddenly, perhaps his psychological conditions aggravated his neglect.
As Ves stopped by the infirmary, he resident doctor frowned at the readings scrolling through his console.
"What's the matter, doctor? Is there anything amiss?"
"Mr. Melin is showing some unusual brain activity for someone who has fainted. It's as if he is still conscious in a way." The man in Protector uniform said. "I can't make any solid conclusions on what is afflicting this young man. The database hasn't found a match either. It's rather fascinating to see something new taking place."
"So you don't know what's happening?"
The doctor hesitated a bit. "It shouldn't be harmful, I think. None of the signs have exceeded their safety margins. It could be that Taon is experiencing an unusual vivid dream. I'll continue to monitor his state, and if it appears the situation is growing dire, I'll request that he be brought to a military hospital."
Although the doctor didn't know what was happening, the fluctuations in his brain activity weren't extreme enough to elicit serious concern.
As the doctor continued to puzzle over the data, Ves discreetly employed his spiritual vision.
He perceived something very different from Taon when he switched over his senses. The mech pilot's head appeared to be surrounded by a radiant glow!
That was the aura that belonged to Ylvaine's spiritual fragment! While Ves was able to contain the aura in his mind, Taon lacked the strength to do so. The spiritual fragment freely radiated its aura beyond the boundaries of the mech pilot's mind!
As Ves projected his spirituality and attempted to brush against Taon's mind, he encountered a wall.
Ylvaine's spiritual fragment was blocking his senses from extending into Taon's mind!
What was it doing in Taon's head? Why did it prevent Ves from taking a look?
Although Ves could probably chip a hole in the wall if he attacked it with his Spirituality, he refrained from doing so. He needed to maintain a friendly relation with the spiritual fragment and it didn't appear that it was doing something bad to Taon.
To many Ylvainans, it was a blessing if they could get in touch with the great prophet!
Though Taon Melin joined the Ascensionists, he was still a devout believer of the Ylvainan Faith. For Ylvaine's spiritual fragment to bestow its attention on the elite mech pilot should be good.
After thirty minutes had passed, the glow around Taon's mind ceased. Ylvaine's spiritual fragment shuttled out of the unconscious mech pilot's mind and zipped back into Ves' mind as if it returned home after a good day of work!
Upon the fragment's return, Ves hesitated whether he should allow it to come back. If he wanted to, he could put up his defenses and bar the fragment from entering unless it launched an attack.
He quickly shook his head and voluntarily widened up a gap for the fragment to slip back into his mind.
Although he grew more and more unsettled with the fragment, he still wanted to maintain control over it. While the fragment had already shown that it could break out whenever it wanted to, Ves still preferred to keep it within his reach.
It would be devastating to Ves if the spiritual fragment disappeared!
"What did you do in Taon's mind?" He mentally asked.
The spiritual fragment didn't even deign to answer his question. Instead, it reduced its activity level and entered into a dormant state again.
Seeing that he couldn't prod the fragment into providing answers, he gave up on it and directed his attention to Taon instead.
Had the fragment done something to him? Ves curiously extended his spiritual senses to the mech pilot's mind.
This time, he encountered no hindrance. However, he hadn't encountered anything remarkable either. Most of Taon's mind was still formless and insubstantial, which made it difficult for Ves to perceive and interact with. It was like they existed in different dimensions that barely overlapped.
The limitations didn't stop him from judging the overall state of Taon's mind and spirit. What his probes had found was that neither of them drastically changed. Perhaps the only difference from before that much of the unrest in the mech pilot's mind had disappeared.
Instead, Ves perceived that Taon's mind was currently at peace with itself. This was a very substantial divergence from before! Back when Taon first lamented over his failures, his distress and his self-loathing was so strong that Ves could feel the emotion behind his words.
Yet now, none of that was present. A single visit from Ylvaine's spiritual fragment washed away the mech pilots doubts.
Was this all the spiritual fragment had done?
Ves hadn't found anything else. Taon still retained his single-minded focus and faith, but his spiritual energy was too weak for him to develop his own force of will.
Taon hadn't turned into an expert candidate all of a sudden. This relieved Ves a bit because it would have been too inexplicable for the young elite to advance after suffering such a huge blow recently.
Ylvaine's spiritual fragment wasn't as powerful as Qilanxo's spiritual fragment.
If Ylvaine's spiritual fragment wanted to elevate Taon into an expert candidate for some reason, then it needed to donate a significant amount of its own spiritual energy.
It also needed to employ the right methods. Qilanxo might be familiar with it, but Ylvaine's spiritual fragment wouldn't know where to begin.
When the spiritual fragment left Taon's mind and returned, Ves didn't perceive any changes in its strength level. It still possessed the same strength as before, which meant that it was highly unlikely that it gave any of it away.
As Ves continued to puzzle over what the spiritual fragment had been up to, Taon finally woke up half an hour later.
Taon calmly opened his eyes and showed no confusion at all as he took in his surroundings. "It appears I'm in the infirmary."
"How are you feeling, Mr. Melin?" The doctor asked as he approached his bed. "You abruptly fainted while you were conversing with Mr. Larkinson."
"That's my fault. I didn't take care of myself due to my restlessness."
"It's good that you're aware."
The doctor proceeded to advise Taon to mind his health and pay attention to his needs. The advice was rather generic and Ves ignored it in favor of studying the mech pilot's condition.
The calm in his mind reflected the calm in his demeanor. The differences from before were very significant!
"I promise I'll pay attention, doctor." Taon nodded. "I'll be returning now."
As Taon left the infirmary, Ves walked alongside him on the way out.
"You scared us quite a bit. I'm glad to see that you're okay. You look a lot calmer now as well."
"I think I experienced a divine revelation!" He stated with sudden fervor. His eyes lit up and his mood grew more excited. "It's difficult for me to describe what I felt. It was as if the great prophet himself has descended to our realm and gifted with a vision!"
Ves almost tripped. What the hell? Did Ylvaine spiritual fragment really enter Taon's mind just to communicate a vision to the mech pilot?
"What did you see? It must have been very remarkable for you to be so relaxed right now."
Taon gazed upwards as he recalled what he saw. "It's difficult to describe. I felt like I was dreaming, but more. I can tell you that it's a vision of the future. The revelation showed me what I could become if I got my act together. It was a glorious vision of six of your amazing mechs standing together and fighting against a great threat! This vision is a warning of what is to come! It was exactly what I need to find my purpose again. My prayers have been answered!"
Ves wanted to puke out blood. What revelation? What vision of the future! Taon merely experienced a fantasy conjured up by Ylvaine's spiritual fragment! In fact, this vision of six Transcendent Messengers fighting in unison was something he frequently fantasized about himself!
With all that he knew, Ves didn't believe that Taon experienced anything divine. He had obviously been manipulated by Ylvaine's spiritual fragment. It was just that the mech pilot mistook it as a miracle due to his beliefs.
Although Ves wanted to douse Taon with the truth, he refrained from doing so. Not only would he have to reveal some very sensitive secrets, but he would likely face rejection as well.
Taon expressed a lot of confidence in what he experienced. Since the 'divine revelation' cleared away his doubts and stopped him from blaming himself, there wasn't any harm in letting him believe his prayers had been answered.
At the very least, Ves could probably count on him to pilot the Transcendent Messenger without any further drama.
As for what else Ylvaine's spiritual fragment had done in the mech pilot's mind, Ves didn't bother guessing any further.
Once the mech pilot boarded his shuttle and left the guest compound, Ves pushed the matter aside.
Instead of worrying about what Ylvaine's spiritual fragment had done to Taon, he rather preferred to think of a way to prevent it from leaving his mind again.
Unfortunately, Ves couldn't come up with a solution. The spiritual fragment was too strong for him to restrain. Much of the spiritual accumulation the holy relic used to contain had turned into its own strength.
This incident reminded Ves that spiritual fragments that belonged to other entities possessed a will of their own. It was great if they agreed with Ves, but that wasn't always the case.
The only consolation to Ves was that Ylvaine's spiritual fragment didn't exhibit any hostility to Ves. Despite his lack of belief, Ves managed to convince the spiritual fragment into empowering his mech designs by becoming their design spirit.
The cooperation between him and a spiritual fragment reminded him of his partnership with Calabast. In both cases, mutual interests ensured that both sides stuck together.
This sounded great when he dealt with a friendly or neutral spiritual fragment, but what if it was hostile?
Ves wasn't confident in his ability to control a rebellious spiritual fragment, especially if it exceeded the extraordinary threshold. His mind wasn't set up to be an effective prison for spiritual fragments.
"Maybe I need to place them somewhere else."
As a mech designer, he was used to solving problems by building something. Could he design a prison that could keep a hostile spiritual fragment in check?
"It won't work. Not unless I do more research."
Ves would have to find a material or exotic that possessed a strong restraining property against spirituality. Otherwise, he could forget about developing a spiritual prison that could operate independently.
Still, the idea had a lot of merit. With the huge variety of materials available in the galaxy, Ves strongly guessed that at least some of them restrained spirituality.
"Such a material can be put to other uses as well."
His eyes shone as he thought of the many possible applications. From shielding his mind from spiritual invasions to making himself invisible to spiritual detection methods, there was a lot he could do with such materials!
"I'll have to visit a materials wholesaler sometime!"