Ves thought about the issue for a couple of minutes.
"If I constructed the base model and totem animal in a way that matches the spiritual fragment, then there's a good chance they'll merge."
The spiritual fragment didn't need any strengthening. Rather, it needed the traits that the other two images brought to the table. Otherwise, his X-Factor wouldn't be able to bring out a comprehensive enhancement.
While his idea sounded like it could work, it wouldn't help him out in his current situation. He already constructed the other two images and they shared little in common with the spiritual fragment that Ves wanted to employ as the human myth.
The key to the Triple Division technique was to put together three distinctly different images. If he made them too similar, then that would defeat the point of the technique.
"This won't be the first time I'll handle a spiritual fragment. I can't keep making compromises if I encounter a recalcitrant fragment."
He needed to find a different solution. When he turned his attention back to the spiritual fragment, he recalled its bot-like behavior.
Another idea sprung to mind. The fragment couldn't think for itself. After all, it was only a small portion of a formerly complete entity. What if he issued a more elaborate command? Would the fragment behave according to his will?
He needed to approach this in the right way. He didn't want the fragment to assimilate the other two images in a seamless fashion, and neither did he want the fragment to obliterate them either. Whatever the final product may look like, it had to be greater than the sum of its parts.
"It has to be akin to a complete form of life."
Every other product of his Triple Division technique resulted in living images. His recent ones also incorporated a growth element in order to make them more formidable as they experienced multiple battles.
Ves knew how to approach this problem.
He sent out a couple of mental directives to the fragment. He laid out some of the fragment's inadequacies, prompting it to strengthen its desire to become whole again.
"It's impossible for you to merge with the other fragments from the crystal leader that are left adrift."
He wanted the fragment to be a little less discerning in its demands. It didn't need to seek out its original companions. Ves could introduce it to two new friends.
Even though the fragment proved obstinate, Ves managed to lower its guard by experimenting and figuring out the right kind of logic that would pass muster.
"It's like a puzzle."
After several hours of continuous probing, Ves managed to soften the fragment up to the point where it would comply with his intentions.
This was the point where he put all of his conjectures to the test. Failure would set him back a lot, and in the worst case the spiritual fragment might sustain irreparable harm.
He coaxed the image to inhabit his mindspace. After a moment, the fragment got sucked inside his head.
Right now, Ves felt as if his brain became a little stuffy. His thoughts flowed a little bit less fluidly as the fragment occupied a significant portion of his mindscape.
He also sensed that the fragment didn't remain inert. It interacted with the errant thoughts floating in his mind and exerted an unknown influence on his mind. He imaged drastic changes to his thinking pattern if he let the fragment occupy his mind for an extended amount of time.
"Best get to it then. I can't let it stay like this for too long."
Ves proceeded to carefully introduce the other two images to the new presence. If the fragment appeared almost solid, the other images looked as if they would break like eggs if they smashed against its surface.
The disparity was too big.
The safest approach would be to encourage the spiritual fragment to assimilate the images. Yet he didn't do so because he thought it would lead to an imperfect merger.
"There needs to be some struggle. It can't blindly incorporate the good and bad parts of the other images."
Therefore, Ves conditioned the dimwitted fragment to treat the other images as supplements that could enhance its strength and make it become whole.
In order to exert some control over the process, Ves focused his concentration and gifted the other two images with a considerable portion of his mental power. They needed to last long enough for the fragment to consume them over time.
After a bit more encouragement, the spiritual fragment went to work. It flew towards the other two images and clashed against them. Although the base model and the totem animal were much weaker than the fragment, they had the advantage of independent thought.
As living images, they possessed enough self-awareness to understand their dire situation. If they didn't band together and push back against the domineering spiritual image, they'd be swallowed whole and disappear from existence.
"Come on. Put up a fight!"
Ves continued to pump more mental power into the underdogs, yet it hardly availed them as the fragment's imposing strength overwhelmed their defenses with ease. The pushback only allowed the images to delay their foreordained deaths.
He became a little distracted by the gruesome massacre being carried out in his mind. He felt as if he corrupted an innocent child into becoming a mass murderer.
Worse, he offered his own children as its first victims. He did create the base model and totem animal out of his own imagination. As his creations, they deserved better than be fated to die.
"Cattle are born to the slaughter every day." He shook his head. "I can't be too soft-hearted about what's happening."
As long as he achieved his desired outcome, he wouldn't let any doubts get in the way.
Ves kept his full attention on the struggle for dominance. Both the base model and the totem animal fought to the bitter end. As for the spiritual fragment, it ceaselessly broke up the portions that it managed to dislodge from the other two images and incorporated into its own existence.
The sheer disparity in strength meant the spiritual fragment hadn't grown any stronger. Instead, the additions prompted the fragment to lend some of its strength and fill them with life.
The fragment transformed inside his mind. It ceaselessly filled up the portions it lacked and ballooned into an entity that looked more complete.
Naturally, the fragment didn't restore itself to what it looked like before it was whole. That was gone, and could never be recovered.
Instead, the newly incorporated additions contained the essence of the other two images. The spiritual amalgamation slowly shook off the identity of a fragment and grew into a newly birthed spiritual entity.
When the two sacrificial images finally disappeared into the belly of the spiritual entity, Ves finally beheld the results. After a few more minutes of transformation, the spiritual entity showed off its new form.
It looked like a crystal golem. The entity's physical appearance no longer looked like a flame. Now, it turned into an imaginary crystalline life form that clearly derived its form from the appearances of the other two images.
The humanoid crystal golem released a formless pressure onto his mind. It was no longer a naive bot-like remnant that could be fooled by a couple of thoughts from Ves. It possessed its own capacity to think and decide.
It looked around his mindscape and kept up a vigilant stance. Every other image unconsciously accepted his presence. This was not so for the crystal golem.
"Hey, I didn't fool you. I made you whole, and I'm about to fulfill my other promise to you in a couple of months."
Ves got the sense that the crystal golem's patience would quickly wear thin. He had to work fast and complete his second original design fairly soon before the crystal golem did something drastic within his mind.
He sighed and leaned back in his chair. The process had taken a lot out of him. He used up almost every portion of strength in his mind.
"I could use a break."
Ves decided to take a nap and let his mental strength recover while he slept. He left the labs and entered the bedroom area on the private workshop floor. Upon reaching his private bedroom, he came across a dozing Lucky.
"So there you are, you lazy backstabbing cat."
Lucky softly purred in his slumber. The gem cat didn't even had the decency to do his bathroom business in his litter box. Ves picked up the shiny blue gem the cat deposited on his bedsheets and inspected it with his System-augmented vision.
[Zhilvenas of Swiftness]
Increases acceleration by 8% when installed on a mech.
Lately, Lucky's waste products started to come in the form of junk exotic gems. Sometimes, they even shone. This gave the gems a lot of class. Besides looking pretty, their effects also started to become more noticeable. A boost of eight percent in any parameter could not be underestimated.
"This is one of the good ones." Ves smiled and put it inside a small bag where he collected a number of other gems. "At least you're good for something, Lucky."
The cat softly purred again. Ves shook his head and picked him up and shoved him a bit further down the bed to make room for his body. He laid down on his bed and went to sleep.
The next day, Ves went through his morning ritual and resumed his work. Even though he built up the crystal golem, he still had to finalize his work on the gimmick.
He entered the labs and looked at his half-finished project. Just as he tried to figure out how to scale up the crystals without introducing cracks or other flaws, the crystal golem in his mind started to stir.
"What's going on?"
The crystal golem started conveying thoughts to Ves. Initially, he failed to interpret the stream of thoughts sent in his direction. It was only when he looked at the crystals he attempted to synthesize that the thoughts started to make sense.
"Are you telling me... I'm doing it wrong?"
The crystal golem didn't actually convey a lot of data to Ves. What it did decided to tell him only amounted to a couple of key concepts that Ves had a lot of difficulty trying to understand. The crystal builders adopted a completely different perspective on their technology, and Ves had to employ his entire upgraded Intelligence in trying to parse the alien thoughts.
Still, the things he figured out proved to be very relevant to the situation at hand. "I get it now! So that's why the crystals break! I've got to treat it as if I'm cultivating them! They're like organic growths!"
Just this lesson along with some other interpreted insights saved him a lot time. Ves immediately put his new notions to the test and synthesized a crystal the size of his head. He had to use another lab machine to do so, and he also used up several critical raw materials that he stored up.
The crystal golem hadn't let him astray. While the new solutions didn't guarantee that Ves would be able to synthesize a full-sized crystal that could be embedded in the chest of his mech, it already proved sufficient to be integrated in a laser rifle.
Even if he encountered some problems trying to produce a larger crystal, Ves could figure out the rest on his own.
"Thanks, crystal golem!"
The image didn't respond. It had only been a remnant instinct for it to lend a hand to Ves.
Now that he achieved enough progress with regards to the crystals, Ves was ready to move on to the next phase of his design project.
"I'll have to spend some time drafting up my new mech. It helps that I'm mostly going to reuse my existing component licenses."
From the Trailblazer engine to the Veltrex armor system, Ves intended to recycle as much component licenses as possible. Naturally, he wouldn't be able to incorporate every single license, but the ones he already possessed provided a solid framework to work around.
"I've got to finish this quickly. I've already wasted too much time on other diversions."