Ves always treated his DP like treasures. After a spate of troubles early in his career, Ves developed the habit of retaining a reserve of DP.
Points meant power. He could immediately spend his DP on a variety of benefits, from extra Skills to life-saving objects.
Ever since he'd been whisked away by an unknown alien gadget, Ves unconsciously treated his DP as a final failsafe. If he couldn't find a way to get back home, he'd spend his way out of this fix.
The more DP he saved up, the higher the odds of escaping this perilous situation. Many objects became available once he saved up more than 100,000 DP.
Right now, he temporarily shut that door by buying the Vulcaneye. While he could still come up with a couple of solutions with the 30,000 DP he had left, his options became a lot more limited.
"If nothing else, I can still wait until my points climb back up."
The LMC, EME and Vaun constantly sold a substantial number of mechs each day. Each sale generated a little bit of DP, so as long as the Blackbeak design stood strong, he didn't have to worry about his income stream.
"If I don't spend anything now, I'll regret it later on."
What was the use of holding back his spending at this point? He constantly saved it up in order to respond to any threats beyond his capability to solve.
Yet at his current state, Ves feared very few threats. His shield generator and intangible state neutralized most attacks while Lucky and the Amastendira could kill anything that posed a threat to him. Did he truly require an additional safeguard?
"Let's take this opportunity while I can. It's never unjust for me to invest in my Skills."
His Skills broadened his knowledge and remained useful throughout his entire lifetime. The Skills and Sub-Skills he planned to acquire not only helped him understand the crystal city, but also came into use when he moved back to his design projects.
As Ves worked to scan and understand the readers, he bought a number of different Skills from the store.
[Materials Science - Incompetent]: 200 DP
[Materials Science - Novice]: 500 DP
[Materials Science - Apprentice]: 1000 DP
[Materials Science - Journeyman]: 2000 DP
[Crystallography I]: 2000 DP
[Crystallography II]: 4000 DP
Ves acquired another major Skill by acquiring Materials Science and upgrading it directly to Journeyman. At his level of Intelligence, the enormous influx of knowledge and data hardly strained his mind at this point.
He needed this Skill in order to understand the readings of the crystals in their inactive states. He also threw in Crystallography I and II in his shopping list because he realized that he was dealing with a complicated composite crystal made out of several exotic and mundane materials.
"It's not a monolithic block of crystal. It's actually something of an array. I just can't see it with the naked eye because it's all transparent."
The discoveries continued to fascinate him as he peeled back layer after layer of their inner workings. He suspected that the highly complex patterns and arrays acted as circuits that acted according to the intentions of the designers of this creation.
"Deciphering these circuits is beyond me." He shook his head. He had to take a step back and focus on the materials and they way they interacted with energy. "I'll be satisfied if I can figure out how it's able to manipulate light."
Ves suspected that the circuits formed part of a massive system responsible for generating portals. They likely carried out a lot of other functions as well, but Ves knew his limits.
Once he stopped gaining any harvests from scanning the crystals, he considered scanning them when they entered an excited state.
"Lucky! Get out of the city!"
His cat appeared to have fallen asleep. Ves had to float to the center of the tiny city and haul his cat out of the danger spot. Lucky instantly woke up and yowled at being drawn away from his comfortable perch.
"Just stay put over here, will you?"
After Ves dumped his cranky pet well outside the city, he began to perform his first experiment. He shot a random rune monument at the edge with his Amastendira, causing it to light up without affecting any of the other crystal structures.
He then proceeded to point his Vulcaneye at it. The rune monument's active state provided his multiscanner with a lot more data, most of which muddled his mind. Since he still had some DP left over, he might as well solve his confusion with more lavish spending!
[Optics I]: 200 DP
[Optics II]: 1000 DP
[Optics III]: 4000 DP
[Crystal Laser Propagation I]: 2000 DP
[Crystal Laser Propagation II]: 5000 DP
The cost of the Optics Sub-Skills ramped up hard, but Ves urgently needed the knowledge to make sense of the way the crystals treated electromagnetic radiation.
While it helped a lot in finding out how the crystals focused their output, it didn't explain how the crystals converted other sources of energy and turned them into potentially deadly light. After a brief rundown of his Skill Tree, he settled on Crystal Laser Propagation and immediately upgraded the expensive Sub-Skill to the second tier.
Ves discovered that the crystals could even convert pure electricity to light, so they were definitely able to propagate lasers.
"This is what I'm looking for? I have to understand this process!"
Crystal Laser Propagation II provided him with enough knowledge to crack the mystery! The veil in his mind had finally been parted!
The workings of the crystal was exceedingly complicated, and Ves only brushed the surface of how it worked. Still, what he gained up to this point more than made up for his extravagant spending!
"I understand now! It works like this! Hahahaha!"
He always enjoyed it when he learned something new. Now that he grasped something exclusive to most of his peers in the mech industry, how could he be reserved?
To make the long story short, Ves learned a number of new tricks. First, as long as he reproduced the basic makeup of the crystal, he'd be able to repurpose it into any kind of laser weapon no matter the scale.
The crystal functionally replaced at least half of the internal mechanisms of a laser weapon. While the expense would be considerable, it took up much less space than conventional solutions.
What did this mean?
He freed up a lot of space for additional features such as larger batteries and heat sinks! He'd be able to pile them up while avoiding any bloat!
Ves thought about how such a weapon looked like. His cheer disappeared somewhat when he realized that such laser rifles already existed in the Komodo Star Sector.
"I'm not the first one who came up with this."
In fact, some of the more expensive mainstream models wielded laser rifles that worked on the same principles. The crystals that formed the core of their weapon's performance might utilize vastly different materials and patterns, but the principles that governed their workings shouldn't be any different.
Ves cursed at the alien city. "Stupid aliens! Invent something original next time!"
It couldn't be helped. The fallen alien race wasn't to blame for this outcome. The human race advanced too much and worked out the principles behind too many pieces of alien technology.
"Even if I'm not the first one who discovered these principles, I still obtained enough of an advantage."
Knowledge about these special crystals should be hard to come by. Ves bet that not even the Clifford Society offered anything like this in their Moon Library. Leemar's club of talents didn't hesitate to offer basic knowledge, but it always kept the best for their inner circle.
After deciphering the special crystals, he also understood why it hadn't become ubiquitous in the Bright Republic.
"It's extremely hard to design these crystals. It's even harder to fabricate them, and expensive to boot."
Without understanding all of the theory behind it, anyone who tried to pirate it would likely end up wasting their time. Only true understanding opened the way towards employing the special crystals in their own products.
Ves was very glad with his harvest up to this point. He finally put away the Vulcaneye because he didn't think he could learn anything else. He already scanned the city from top to bottom, so he could always study the readings later.
Right now, Ves hungered for a different kind of harvest.
Through his extensive studies of the crystal city, Ves gained the idea that the rune monuments acted as a variable input mechanism.
"It's too extravagant to place hundreds of runes but only use a dozen of them or so. Even if it's some kind of lock or puzzle, it still doesn't justify the cost."
While he couldn't make any judgements on the rationality of the crystal builders, he thought they should not be wasteful to that extent. The crystal city appeared to be a marvel of efficiency. The crystal builders hardly devoted any space for leisure or other activities.
Thus, if they built extra runes, they definitely served a purpose. And Ves thought he grasped the secret.
"It's much like a keyboard. The runes present certain meanings, and by lighting them up one by one, I can form a complex meaning out of any number of simple ones."
The only problem was that Ves had no clue on how the rune language worked. He was a complete stranger with regards to this long-dead alien construction.
He decided to employ the dumbest method of testing them out. He'd shoot a random sequence of runes and see what the crystal city spat out.
"It's not like I can be harmed. I can keep activating the runes until my laser pistol runs out."
The Amastendira never ran out of charge as long as Ves rationed its power carefully.
Since he put down most of his worries, he enacted his makeshift plan.
Ves shot fifteen runes in succession, the same amount depicted by the key. He didn't choose any of the runes displayed by the recovered object, though. If it turned out this sequence brought him back home, then he didn't wish to trigger this procedure early.
After lighting up the fifteenth rune, the crystal spirals began to glow as well.
Sure enough, the crystal city accepted a fixed input of fifteen runes.
Light stretched out from the fifteen runes and hit a number of different spirals. Some spirals got hit by multiple beams of light. Once the rune monuments kept up their channeling for a couple of minutes, something majestic happened.
The spirals shot out several beams of light straight towards Ves and Lucky! The beams ran through both of them and scorched the ground underneath their feet!
Lucky panicked and jumped and Ves almost pissed his pants. If not for their intangibility, the lasers might have fried them to a crisp. That was close!
"These aliens sure didn't mess around."
Even after their death and descent into obscurity, these tiny aliens hadn't held back their hostility.
After Ves calmed down Lucky and his own heart, he began to try again. He shot out another random sequence of fifteen runes, making sure to record their shapes and the order in which he lighted them up.
This time, a different set of spirals lighted up. His hopes momentarily went up, but quickly fell back down when the spirals attempted to kill him again.
"That's a dud."
He proceeded to repeat this experiment again and again. He held a faint misconception that he was constantly buying lottery tickets that failed to deliver any prizes. The only reason why he kept on buying them was because he could buy them for free.
The only thing he really spent was time.
"As long as I have time, I don't see why I can't win!"
He tried out hundreds of sequences. It became such a chore that he stopped keeping track of which runes he hit and at what order he hit them. It hardly mattered as the chance of hitting the exact same runes was minimal.
The spirals shot at him so many times that the ground beneath him had become charred beyond recognition.
The crystal city finally displayed a different reaction at the 865th attempt. For once, the spirals didn't shoot at him. Instead, it opened up another portal in the sky above the temple. This time, it led to a different location.