Even though Ves activated his spiritual vision to watch out for uninvited guests, he hadn't been mentally prepared to respond!
As his arm was about to come down while materializing the Amastendira, his left eye detected a swirl of energy shooting from the acolyte's palm! Ves only noted that it looked weaker than the previous energy waves he witnessed before he got hit!
Both of them paused for a bit. Ves waited for the pain to hit home, while the acolyte likely waited for him to crumble.
Yet.. it was as if his nerves got hit by a pillow! The strange energy that passed through his body barely tickled him as it traveled onwards!
Three seconds passed until Ves opened his mouth. "Was that supposed to hurt?"
Before he waited for an answer, the Ves finished aiming the recently-materialized Amastendira and shot a laser beam straight into the gaping mouth of the acolyte!
Unfortunately, the laser beam continued to bore out hole through the shuttle hull! The entire interior threw into chaos as all of the air sucked out into space. Fortunately, his combat armor's helmet folded up to protect him from the lack of air.
Just as he dematerialized the Amastendira and tried to figure out a way to explain the mess, the hatch to the cockpit shifted open. The shuttle pilot scanned the passenger room with a pistol in hand, staring bewilderingly at the hole burned straight through the hull and the partially headless corpse of the fugitive acolyte.
Strangely enough, the vacsuit the dead acolyte wore automatically folded out a thin helmet to cover up the destroyed head as best it could, thereby unintentionally preserving the body.
If not for the airtight seal, bubbling blood would have literally spurted from the blasted head due to the extreme change in pressure!
A comm channel automatically switched online.
"What happened here, Mr. Larkinson?"
"This invisible bastard popped up behind my back and I shot him before he could attack me. I'm lucky to be alive, honestly. If he got his attack off, I'd either be dead or in a coma."
Of course, this story leaked like a sieve. Ves was pretty sure that the shuttle's monitoring system captured everything, but right now he didn't wish to be dragged into a time-consuming investigation.
"Protocol says we need to land at the closest ship with a functional shuttle bay. We've just departed from the Shield of Hispania, so we'll be back in a jiffy." The pilot stated.
"No! Continue to the Gorgon's Gaze."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Larkinson, but the shuttle is still unsafe. We need to return as fast as possible."
"Let me call Major Verle."
Ves ignored the shuttle pilot's bleating and called Major Verle right away.
One minute later, the shuttle pilot received new orders directly from the big man himself. It basically reaffirmed his old orders.
Grumbling about protocol before he shut off the channel, the pilot reentered the cockpit and resumed the journey, this time with an extra hole in the passenger compartment.
After a short amount of time, the pilot evidently activated a damage control module, because a bot emerged from a hidden slot and flew towards the hole. It sprayed some white slime-like substance that quickly hardened into a hard, dry seal.
Reserve air started pumping back in, causing the interior of the shuttle to regain standard pressure.
"That's convenient." Ves spoke as his helmet folded back into itself again.
Ves contemplated sitting down somewhere far away from the body, which started reeking, but changed his mind when he stared at it. He never received permission to investigate the corpses of the acolytes caught in the previous ambush.
He should take advantage of this unique opportunity. After all, it took the shuttle at least fifteen to cross the void that separated the starships.
Even after vaporizing the upper head, the most crucial area when it came to spirituality, Ves could still poke around the corpse. He always wondered how the acolytes looked like beneath their obscuring robes.
While the Vandals would probably be annoyed at him for messing around with a corpse, it wasn't as if they already had enough dead acolytes stored in the morgue. With that excuse in hand, he bent down and started to unceremoniously strip the body of the robe.
Due to his armor, he handled the body rougher than he was supposed to. The robe tore under his hamfisted attempt to get it off.
He inspected the black fabric and found it to be nothing but cheap synthetic woven into a thick faux-woolen cloth.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
After throwing it aside, Ves inspected the body proper.
"So it turns out they do engage in extreme genetic modification.
The bulky robes hid the dead acolyte's extreme divergences from a baseline human.
First, the acolyte actually possessed a misshapen third arm right underneath the left arm. The creepy limb appeared to be fully functional by all accounts and resembled a small alien's limb more than a human one.
Second, when Ves cut into the vacsuit material with a small multitool he kept in his toolbelt, the acolyte's skin looked completely unlike a human. The rough, grey skin resembled the texture of sandpaper.
More small anomalies popped up. Ves couldn't even count how many alien species his genetic modifications encompassed, but it must have been more than six because of all of the strange stuff he detected.
The acolyte's arms featured vestigial fins.
His reproductive organ looked like abstract art.
His chest cavity hosted an oversized heart that looked like a gnarly monstrosity.
He only possessed three toes per foot and four fingers per limb.
His spinal nerves were vastly oversized and swelled.
Ves focused on this last observation. Though his crude cutting and butchering had already made an awful on the deck, he readily endured the horror in an overriding desire to satisfy his curiosity.
While he may have hesitated at first, he found he could easily flip an invisible switch in his mind that caused him to regard the body as a machine. As a mech designer, the study of the human body formed an important component in his foundational studies. Battle mechatronics forced him to become even more familiar with the variations of the human body.
Humanoid mechs gained their shape from a mech designer's understanding and adaptation of the human body.
"When you think about it, a human body is kind of like an autonomous, miniature-sized organic mech. Beneath its human consciousness is a finely-tuned organic machine that has formed into its current shape after millions of years of evolution. However, like any machine, it's made out of many components that all serve a different purpose."
Leveraging his existing understanding of human mechs while treating the corpse as a mech led to many minor discoveries and insights, though he couldn't quite make sense of them right now.
Treating a human body like a mech was like treating a miniature as a fully-fledged mech. Some things just didn't translate correctly.
More to the point, Ves still hadn't been able to figure out how the acolytes gained the ability to manipulate spirituality and form them into an attack that affected real people! He had a strong suspicion the bloated spinal nerve played a key role in this, but Ves was no doctor or surgeon!
This was one of the many areas where treating the body as a mech failed. A real mech did not possess a real spinal nerve or brains for that matter. Instead, the cockpit and mech pilot took over their jobs.
However, his radical perspective did result in a harvest of sorts. While the many strange alien genes appeared to have resulted in an inhuman monstrosity so monstrous that people might wonder how it managed to function, Ves recognized a focused application of a premeditated design.
Some exobiologist envisioned a certain end product and manipulated the acolyte's genes to achieve this result.
"This body is able to generate and channel a lot of energy."
The overall design of the body echoed laser rifleman mechs such as his Crystal Lord design. Energy management played a central role in the configuration of the acolyte's altered human body.
For some reason, the body possessed some means of minimizing its heat emissions. Even under a high exertion, the acolyte neither radiated heat nor absorbed it from the environment, thereby avoiding tripping any heat-sensitive sensors!
Ves identified a few strange, dense growths in the lower body which may have served as heat sinks.
One of the most extreme changes to the acolyte was that he possessed an extremely altered digestive system. It took up a lot less space, but at the cost of losing the ability to digest most kinds of foods! In fact, if Ves didn't know any better, the only kinds of food the acolyte could digest were nutrient packs!
"What is it with the cultists and their love for nutrient packs?"
Strange food preferences aside, he found out enough clues to reconstruct the overall 'design' of the half-alien acolyte.
"Everything comes down to generating lots of energy and converting them into.. something else."
Had the exobiologist responsible for producing this human monstrosity figured out how to transform energy into spiritual power? It sounded ludicrous, yet the 'autopsy' he performed seemed to suggest that this was very real!
As Ves fell into thought, the shuttle suddenly thumped. It had reached the shuttle bay of the Gorgon's Gaze! A few seconds later, the outer hatch opened up to allow for the entry of a team of armed security officers.
"What the hell?!" The security lieutenant in the lead suddenly uttered as he beheld the macabre butchering that took place in the middle of the passenger compartment. The sight was so gruesome that he automatically drew his rifle onto Ves. "Stand back!"
Ves suddenly pulled out of his thoughts and looked befuddled at the rifles pointed in his direction. Those were some big guns.
A few minutes later, Ves had been escorted out of the shuttle and endured a rough interrogation from the lieutenant in charge with inspecting the aftermath of the ambush.
He couldn't really provide an excuse for why he spontaneously cut up a dead body except to state that he did it for research. When that didn't fly, Ves merely placed another call to Major Verle, who responded with an exasperated sigh over the comm before he hung up.
Minutes later, Ves exited the shuttle bay as a free man again. Nothing could possibly stop him in his current task. Even if he shot a random Vandal right in the corridor, he'd probably be able to get away with it with a lame excuse.
He navigated the familiar corridors until he came down the special workshop area next to the private hangar bay of Venerable Karol Xie.
Miss Lisbeth Eta-Denmersken nervously wrung her hands as she greeted him. "Head designer! I've received your notification. The Parallax Star and the Pale Dancer have both been moved to the workshop. Do you require anything else?"
"Nothing else but complete privacy." He spoke succinctly. "The modifications I'm about to perform on the Parallax Star involve highly classified technology that you and your crew aren't allowed to witness. Major Verle has lent me the authority to have this workshop vacated of every mech designer and mech technician."
"But sir! The Parallax Star is my baby!"
"The Parallax Star is the property of the Flagrant Vandals! It is emphatically not your baby." Ves rebuked. "I'm aware that you are intricately involved in its construction and servicing, but you've been assigned to a single mech for so long that you've forgotten what it means to be a mech designers. Even Ketis, a mech designer from the frontier, has more sense than you."
"That's preposterous!" Miss Lisbeth looked offended.
"I'm only stating the facts here. Now get out of this workshop and make sure everyone gets the message that they're not allowed to barge inside."
In order to make sure that Miss Lisbeth didn't barge in unexpectedly, Ves borrowed Major Verle's authority again to have some security officers guard the hatches against entry.
"Now, let's get to work." He said as he stared up to the impressive form of the Parallax Star.