Ves already spent several days at the Peacekeeper branch on Cinach XII. While its trading halls sold a large variety of exotics and other spoils, he hadn't bought anything aside from snacks for Lucky.
He didn't consider any of the goods he'd seen so far to be must-buys.
While some exotics possessed interesting properties, they were usually expensive for him to bother.
The second-hand mechs, ships and other equipment for sale were not in good condition and of dubious construction. If Ves wanted to buy some new equipment, then he might as well buy them from the legitimate markets!
Amidst all of the junk, the yellow rock covered with mysterious red dots stood out from the junk due to its intriguing reaction to spirituality!
Even now when Ves had already retracted his spiritual senses, he still felt some lingering charge running through his spiritual energy. It was as if his Spirituality had been injected by a stimulant that turned it hyperactive!
\"What's it called?\" Ves asked the intimidated salesman.
\"It's official name is a bunch of serial numbers as we haven't found anything like it before. Personally, I like to call it the fruit rock. Don't you think it kind of looks like a passion fruit but with its seeds strewn all over?\"
The name sounded undignified for a rare exotic that reacted to spirituality, but it wasn't as if his own naming sense was any better!
\"What does this so-called fruit rock do?\"
The vendor shrugged. \"In truth, we don't know. While we've subjected it to lots of scans that confirms that it is an exotic due to its activity levels, we haven't found any effects or applications so far. It's just another weird space rock that might be capable of achieving something great in the right hands.\"
Ves smirked. \"If this rock is really great, then it would have been sold by now. You said it was recovered a year ago? How much time did it spend in this display cabinet? It looks like you have a hard time getting rid of it. I don't blame you since it doesn't look like it does anything.\"
\"That's just because its full potential hasn't been uncovered yet, customer!\"
A messy negotiation ensued. Despite the intimidation that the vendor experienced from Ves and his coat, his salesman instincts were too strong to be suppressed!
Even so, Ves firmly held the upper hand during the bargaining. With the tantalizing fruit rock within such close reach, he no longer wanted to play the long game and pressed for a quick transaction!
While Ves eventually paid more than what he would have if he expressed less interest, he still found the cost to be bearable. All in all, he managed to get away with a valuable exotic that promised something new to him by forking over the equivalent of around 78 million bright credits.
That was still a lot of money, but easily bearable to a Journeyman like him! In fact, Ves secured an absolute steal at this insanely-low price!
As the salesman carefully transferred the rock into a container and passed it over, Ves thanked the man and eagerly stepped out of the store.
Lucky jumped down to the top of the container in Ves' grasp and directed his cute eyes towards the contents.
\"No, Lucky! This isn't your food, so stop begging!\"
\"Look, just like the P-stone, if I find more samples of this exotic, I'll feed you some, okay?!\"
Lucky only stayed long enough to secure this concession from Ves. The cat jumped back to his shoulder and settled down constantly.
As soon as Ves secured his prize, he quickly led his group out of the Peacekeeper branch and back to their hotel on Cinach XII.
There, he immediately jammed his hotel room while inspecting his new find with great interest.
\"What's with all of the excitement, boss? Is this exotic really that good?\"
\"I'm about to find out, hehe.\" Ves eagerly rubbed his hands before whipping out his Vulcaneye.
Along with his purchase, he also received a lot of files containing scanning data, but Ves wanted to make sure they were accurate.
So far, the scans his Vulcaneye returned concurred with the data he received.
Only a single discrepancy occurred. The activity level of the exotic he dubbed the F-stone had dropped by a tiny but measurable degree. Had the exotic degraded over time or did his recent actions drain it of some of its energy?
Ves began to investigate by extending his spiritual energy in the form of a detached spiritual projection while keeping his Vulcaneye active.
Upon contact, his spiritual projection reacted as if it gained a very energetic charge all of a sudden! The effect was even more pronounced this time as the charge concentrated solely on the projection rather than the rest of his Spirituality!
In truth, his probe was very reckless. If not for his haste and eagerness to uncover the secrets of his new F-stone, he would have never sent out a chunk of his spiritual energy as a lab rat!
Nonetheless, as Ves became fascinated at the strange charge infused in his spiritual projection, he hardly cared about the potential dangers it posed. His intuition hinted to him that he was observing something good!
However, when Ves directed his gaze towards his multiscanner, he found that the activity level of his F-stone experienced another drop during the moment his spiritual projection came into contact!
Evidently, the F-stone acted as a container for a finite amount of unknown energy! The more he charged his Spirituality with this strange energy, the more he depleted the F-stone's reserves!
\"Damnit! Is it a finite source?\"
As Ves continued to monitor the activity level of the F-stone, it didn't look like it was starting to recover what it lost. Though he would have to keep an eye on the F-stone for a longer period of time to be sure, he suspected that nothing would change no matter how long he waited!
This meant that Vse had no way to recharge the F-stone once it expended its entire reserve!
Ves felt a bit bummed at the finding. His enthusiasm for the new F-stone diminished now that realized that he realized that it was essentially a single-charge battery!
\"What a waste! Rechargeable batteries are always better than single-charge batteries!\"
Nonetheless, he should be happy that he uncovered something pertinent to his interests at all. Exotics that reacted to spirituality was way too rare, so finding the F-stone still represented a major coup.
Now, he just had to figure out what the hell this strange charge did to the spiritual energy it touched.
He began to inspect his charged spiritual projection. The detached tentacle floated before his eyes as he engaged his spiritual vision. As he delved deeper into the altered concentration of spirituality, he inspected its attributes.
This was where he suddenly found a difference!
\"It's changed! No, it's still the same, but there's something extra in the mix!\"
Ves knew his own Spirituality the best. He long memorized every spiritual attribute that could be found in his spiritual energy along with their relative proportions. The most dominant attributes pertained to mechs in some way, but there were also plenty of other attributes related to his personality that he couldn't quite identify for the moment.
Regardless, in the years since he gained awareness of his own Spirituality, he never experienced any drastic changes in the mix.
Yet now, his charged spiritual projection suddenly gained an additional attribute! And in large quantities as well!
It was as if he drank coffee without sweetener for his entire life, but one day accidentally dropped some sugar in his drink!
Ves compared his main Spirituality and his detached projection and saw that the latter contained much more of the extra attribute. This meant that the charge that he previously gained was in such low quantities that it didn't really result in a noticeable shift. Only when he charged a portion of his spiritual energy did it become easier for him to spot the addition.
Now that he found out that his spiritual energy gained an extra attribute, he quickly started to investigate its nature.
It was very difficult for Ves to uncover the exact nature of an attribute, especially since he did not possess a frame of reference. He wasn't even sure about the natures of his own attributes!
Nevertheless, Ves did not encounter a lot of ambiguity when he inspected the nature of the extra attribute that the F-stone infused in his spiritual projection.
For some reason, he got the sense that the attribute was related to might and offensive power. He began to regard his spiritual projection as a sharp knife that could inflict a lot more damage than before!
Ves spontaneously decided to test it out. The only other spiritual entity on hand was Zeigra's spiritual fragment that he locked within his overcoat. He immediately turned his attention to the garment, which he hung up at a nearby coat rack, and mentally sent out his charged spiritual projection.
His overcoat pulsed in pain! The changes in the aura were so acute that Nitaa and Gavin unconsciously flinched!
Ves quickly retracted his spiritual projection, which seemed to have lost some of its charge.
The experiment confirmed his suspicion! Whatever charge his F-stone held, transferring it to his spiritual energy before using it to attack another spiritual energy resulted in a lot more damage than before!
\"This exotic is a treasure!\"
After performing several other, less drastic experiments, he found out that he could empower his entire Spirituality if he wished so, but he needed to absorb a lot more charge if he wanted to empower it to a drastic degree.
Since the F-stone's charge did not regenerate or recover on its own, Ves was loath to perform such a wasteful experiment. As long as he only possessed a single specimen, he couldn't afford to expend its charge too quickly!
Ves happily ended his observation and experiments and stowed away the F-stone into its container. He'd carry it around for now until he returned to the Barracuda, where he could safely stow it away in the ship's vault.
\"What's this exotic all about?\" Gavin frowned. \"You've been slobbering all over your new purchase as if it was a giant piece of candy. Is it really that valuable to you?\"
\"Oh, it's very valuable, Benny. Perhaps others might not know what to do with it, but it's different for me. From now on, we should add F-stones to the list of must-buy exotics. I can never have too few of them! As for what they do... let's just say that they're valuable. Not just to me, but also others.\"
Ves pointedly turned towards Nitaa. \"Did you sense anything strange about the F-stone?\"
She shook her head. \"No. My nose didn't pick up anything different.\"
Nitaa happened to be one of the few people around who possessed a small but noticeable quantity of spiritual energy.
An idea came to mind. What if instead of charging his own Spirituality, he made use of the F-stone to charge someone else's spiritual energy?
He had no idea what might result from such an interaction. Though Ves felt tempted to whip out his F-stone again and see what happened if it charged Nitaa's spirituality, that was way too reckless.
It was too irresponsible for him to treat his own bodyguard as his test subject!
If only he had one of the Cursed People's beast riders around! Ves had no qualms about subjecting them to this potentially dangerous experiment!
Ves sighed and shoved his complaints aside.
\"I'm very happy with my purchase today. Our visit to the Peacekeepers has been more than worth it in my regard. Since we've already scoured their trading halls, there's nothing for us to find. I'm not interested in socializing with the Peacekeepers or partaking in their services.\"
\"So.. does that mean we'll visit the Circle of Mota next?\"
\"Not yet.\" Ves shook his head. \"First, I want to rent a secure workshop. It's time for me to fabricate a very special mech!\"