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 Before Ves attended the Circle of Mota's auction, he only discovered two spiritually-reactive exotics.

He dubbed them P-stones and F-stones. He deliberately named them in this boring and undescriptive fashion in order to obscure their true purpose.

Even if a cultist of the Five Scrolls Compact heard mention of a P-stone, the crazy fellow would probably dismiss it as a stupid name for a random exotic.

Naturally, adopting these bland names also made it difficult for Ves to communicate their value and applications to others, but that wasn't a problem to Ves.

So far, only Lucky knew the most outside of Ves himself, but that was slowly changing.

He'd been dipping his toes into expanding his circle of trust by letting Nitaa watch over him as he worked. Even if he didn't speak out and explain about spirituality, she probably picked up some clues about the remarkable nature of the materials he prized so highly.

Now that Ves finished some of his tasks, he eagerly directed his attention to the two unusual items he and Finlay won from the auction.

"I better start with something easy." He muttered as he decided to leave Item #1255 aside for later. "Besides, the equipment I have on hand in this lab is too small to accommodate an object of this size."

The Ancient Sarcophagus was clearly the most powerful and impressive object he obtained from the Cinach System. However, Ves harbored a heavy amount of caution over this seemingly dormant object.

A crystal coffin that imprisoned an unknown humanoid alien being ought to be an artificial product rather than a product of nature!

"Whatever alien produced this crystal growth might have slipped all kinds of traps and safeguards into its structure. I can't treat it carelessly lest I break it or something!"

Another reason why Ves wanted to leave it for later was because of the unsettling amount of spiritual activity he sensed from within.

Could it be the remnant spirituality of the dead alien being?

A cosmic spiritual hitchhiker who randomly latched on to the coffin?

A formless collection of wild spiritual energy that sprouted from the environment where the Ancient Sarcophagus used to rest?

Ves had no clue, and that scared him. Sometimes, he even entertained fears that he might have unwittingly invited a powerful spiritual predator aboard his ship!

Fortunately, nothing unusual had happened while Item #1255 had been brought aboard the Barracuda. None of the crew or his staff acquired a different personality and no one suffered any nightmares.

Ves even occasionally swept his spiritual senses over every individual he came across. He detected no spiritual contamination or anything of that nature.

That still didn't make him feel relieved, though. The more he observed Item #1255, the more he feared its presence.

"This is a good thing." Ves tried to convince himself. "If it isn't so powerful, it's not worth 20 billion bright credits."

Rather than keep reinforcing his fears, Ves decided to ignore the Ancient Sarcophagus entirely in favor of something smaller and more manageable.

Item #613 consisted of an unknown exotic that reacted to his spiritual probes in a different fashion from his existing P-stones and F-stones.

"This means it's likely to be a third type of spiritually-reactive exotics!"

This was good news, if it turned out to be true! Ves eagerly grabbed the container holding Item #613 and practically ran from the vault and returned to his lab.

There, he began to subject the exotic through a whole host of scans and probes.

While his Vulcaneye and his miniaturized lab equipment didn't yield as much data as he wanted, he still managed to record a decent amount of energetic activity that confirmed that it was a powerful exotic.

"Interesting." Ves mulled over the readings he interpreted. "The P-stones I obtained barely contain any activity, though I've never studied them when they are filled with spiritual energy. The F-stone I've acquired is decently energetic to begin with, but it also starts off with a full charge."

In comparison, Item #613 exhibited moderate activity, which suggested that it was a completely new medium-grade exotic.

No wonder the Circle of Nitaa decided to put it up for auction! If not for its completely unknown applications, a lot more wealthy material researchers would have loved to uncover its secrets!

"Well, it's all mine now."

Though Ves subjected Item #613 to various scans, he had merely been studying the strange exotic with technological means.

He withheld employing his spiritual senses until after he covered the basics. If his spiritual probes ever elicited some kind of reaction or transformation, then he wanted to make sure he possessed the original parameters to compare the changes.

"Well, it's finally time." He smiled.

He made sure to take numerous precautions. He placed Item #613 in a protective chamber and made sure to wear protective lab equipment. While he didn't suspect that the rose-gold exotic was some kind of bomb, it was better to be safe than sorry.

Once he finished triple-checking all of the sensors and safeguards, he began to concentrate his mind and rouse his spiritual senses.

He maintained his distance at first. He switched on his spiritual vision and began to observe Item #613 without disturbing it in any fashion.

He spotted no sign that the exotic contained any spiritual energy. It didn't glow in his spiritual vision or throw up any unusual phenomena that signified the presence of a spiritual entity.

That did not mean that he was wrong about Item #613. The P-stones didn't appear unusual either in his spiritual vision because they didn't normally contain anything.

"Looks like I have to take a risk and probe it deeper."

Just looking at it from afar didn't cut it. He needed to touch it and pry it open in order to figure out its spiritually-reactive properties, and from there, its applications.

He extended his spiritual senses, which took on a faint real form due to the infusion of his spiritual energy, and began to extend it towards the exotic.

Enough time had passed since his mother's visit for his spiritual energy reserves to return to its peak. Ves had already begun to siphon bits of his excess spiritual energy into one of his five P-stones.

Ves was curious how much excess spiritual energy a P-stone could store. He wondered whether their capacity differed in relation to their mass, volume, density, material composition or other variables.

This reminded him that he should come up with a measurement for spiritual energy. For now, he already apportioned his spiritual energy by how much he replenished in a standard day.

In any case, he turned his attention back to Item #613. Before, he only briefly brushed his senses towards the object. Now, he was about to perform a deeper examination.

"Here goes!"

He extended a small spiritual probe and attempted to push it through the surface of the rose-gold exotic.

He failed!

"So my initial probe back then was right! Item #613 is capable of acting as a barrier!"

One common attribute about spiritual energy was that it passed through nearly any material as if it didn't exist. It was as if spirituality occupied a different physical phase from every other material object. Just like how many types of signals and other forms of radiation effortlessly passed through solid walls or human bodies, spirituality seemed to be able to go wherever it wanted!

"It can probably sink in the center of a planet if it can last that long!"

Though Ves always observed this kind of behavior, he never assumed it was universally true. Exceptions always existed, but he never imagined encountering one in the flesh today!

His interest towards Item #613 increased as Ves employed more and more of his spirituality against the solid rock. He wanted to see if he could break the barrier and sink his spiritual projections beneath the surface!

He became more and more reckless as he continually empowered his spiritual projections. He pumped them so full of energy that his reserves in his mind started to decrease at an alarming rate!

Even then, he never managed to budge the defenses erected by Item #613!

Though he hadn't conducted a full range of tests yet, he tentatively formulated a couple of preliminary assumptions.

First, he guessed that the entire composition of Item #613 possessed this spiritual blocking effect. If he cut the rock in two, both halves would still exhibit the same behavior, even along the surface of the cut.

Second, the strength of this blocking effect is proportional to the mass or volume of the object. The larger the exotic, the more strength he needed to exert to break through the barrier.

In order to test these assumptions, he needed to get physical, because what he was doing now yielded no new information. Even when he deployed nearly all of his free-floating spiritual energy, he hadn't managed to make a single dent in Item #613's defenses!

"It's strong! At least in this quantity, it's more than enough to block intrusions at my level of strength!"

Ves wondered whether a more powerful entity such as Qilanxo was able to smash it through using sheer brute force.

"I should focus on the tests that I can perform."

He began to activate some lab equipment and attempted to cut a sliver of rock from the surface of Item #613.

While the exotic was exceptionally resilient against spiritual energy, its material resilience was relatively mundane.

"It's toughness is no different from that of an average space rock." Ves mused as he didn't encounter any difficulties in obtaining his slice.

If the exotic was as tough as compressed alloy, then Ves would have a lot more trouble trying to cut a precise piece out of the exotic.

The portion he sliced off resembled a very tiny rectangular tile. One side was uneven as it bore the natural texture of Item #613's exterior. The other side was as smooth and straight as the cutting implement had sheared it off the main body.

"It's exactly ten grams!"

He didn't dare cut off a greater piece for fear of damaging Item #613's integrity. In order to reassure himself, he began to repeat his earlier experiments and attempted to push his spiritual projections through the surface of the exotic, paying special attention to the abnormally smooth surface of the cut.

"It's the same!"

Practically nothing changed! Slicing ten grams off an object that weighed many kilograms did not affect the exotic's ability to block spiritual energy in any significant way!

This increased his interest towards the rectangular sample he cut off. Was it as strong as the main body, or was it as weak as it diminutive size suggested?

"Let's see."

Ves began to probe it carefully with his spiritual energy.

It managed to block his weak attempts at punching through.

"So it still works even when cut out of the main body!"

That was a relief to him. He didn't relish trying to make use of Item #613 in its natural space rock form. In order to make best use of this material, he wanted to process and mold it into a more fitting form.

Emboldened by his initial attempts, Ves employed more and more of his spiritual strength.

However, just as he was about to ramp up, his spirituality finally pushed through the resistance and began to sink into the object!

In fact, after employing a tiny bit more strength, his spirituality began to pass through the rectangular sample with only a minor amount of resistance!

"It's like pushing my finger through a surface of water!"

As long as he employed enough strength, he no longer felt the resistance!

This result disappointed him a bit, though he already expected that something like this would happen. His hopes of creating a micrometer thick wall to form a barrier that blocked any spiritual intrusions were dashed.

"Well, at least this exotic behaves according to logic and common sense."

Ves performed some additional experiments. He cut additional specimens from the surface of Item #613. They differed from the first piece by either volume or mass.

Once he performed a raft of probes on all of the pieces, he confidently concluded that the strength of the spiritual blocking effect was proportional to its mass!

"The heavier, the stronger!"

Ves knew for sure now that he discovered a third type of spiritually-reactive exotics!

"I'm not sure if it's only my energy it's capable of blocking, but for now I've ascertained enough to bestow it a name!"

Seeing that its main effect was to block spiritual energy, he decided to stick to his current naming scheme and dubbed it the B-stone!

"Welcome to my collection, B-stone!"

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