His realization concerning Venerable Xie's questionable loyalties spoiled his good mood. While the rest of the Flagrant Swordmaidens got caught up in a festive mood after killing the wild god, Ves lacked the interest to join the festive mood.
He instead spent his time on reviewing the Pale Dancer's performance logs. Unfortunately, his knowledge regarding neural interfaces and their effects on their pilots was too shallow for him to make any definite conclusions. Only a true specialist would be able to make sense of all the incomprehensible data.
"What a fine situation we're in." He sighed.
Right now, Ves started to think that accepting Major Verle's request may have been a huge mistake. The Fourth Prince died through no fault of their own, so if they fessed up to Venerable Xie, the expert pilot might have forgiven the Vandals for failing to protect the expert pilot's former employer.
Yet instead of opting for honesty, Major Verle instead insisted on deceiving the expert pilot with an AI that took the place of the deceased foreign prince. Such a solution would only work for a couple of days, therefore Ves had to implement a more permanent solution by tampering with the neural interfaces.
Recently, Ves contemplated the nature of the neural interface and its importance to mechs throughout the galaxy. Neural interface technology wasn't anything new, and existed long before the advent of the Age of Mechs.
The tech's implementation had been a lot more cruder back then, and researchers didn't understand too much about them. Only through the popularization of mechs did the study of neural interfaces advance past its rudimentary, neglected stage and matured into a safe and reliable product as long as they didn't go off the rails.
Ves had very much deliberately steered Venerable Xie's neural interfaces off the rails with his tampering. He had always thought that he succeeded, but now he wondered if the expert pilot kept his mind firmly on the rails through his sheer force of will.
He really shouldn't underestimate the metaphysical strength of an expert pilot's mind! Warriors beyond compare, expert pilots exhibited so much mental strength that their minds could process multiple times more input from a mech than an advanced pilot!
If someone like Venerable O'Callahan or Venerable Xie fought in the Redemption Duel held by the Church of Haatumak, then their nervous systems would have easily been capable of bearing the load of all of the raw input of data. Their nerves would definitely strain a little, but their minds had already taken on some of the traits of artificial processors, so they possessed the capability to filter and discard junk data before they flooded their minds.
This capability to withstand and resist harmful data applied to every kind of input. If the expert pilot suspected what went on, then it wasn't out of the blue for him to resist active brainwashing!
It wasn't as if expert pilots had never been brainwashed before, but the difficulties involved in making sure the new directives had set in required a lot of effort.
The tampering that Ves had rushed through mainly consisted of pirating old programming from the Farund Affair from a textbook. While he was pretty sure the code was authentic, the mechs sold by Farund Inc. back then all consisted of mass-market products.
None of the tampered neural interfaces the infamous mech manufacturer had included in their products ever aimed at expert pilots.
Expert pilots deserved special treatment. This applied to every aspect. Employers needed to spend lavishly on them. Enemies needed to sacrifice hundreds of mechs or send out their own trump card to stop them in battle. Mech designers had to tailor their expert mechs to their heightened capabilities.
It was that last point where Ves made a critical oversight. He applied a standard, mass-market solution to a problem that actually demanded the VIP treatment.
This was like serving the contents of a nutrient pack to a diner in a high-class restaurant!
"Damnit! I made a big mistake!"
Though he lacked definite proof, his dread only increased as his certainty became stronger. Perhaps Venerable Xie had maintained his clarity throughout this entire time, but acted dumb because he had no other choice!
"That's right." He calmed himself a bit. "No matter what grudge he has with us, for the time being we're both on the same boat."
If Venerable Xie possessed any survival instincts at all, then he wouldn't deliberately sabotage the mission.
If he raised a stink right now, he'd only be able to devastate the Flagrant Swordmaidens. What then? Remain stranded on the surface? Who would service his Pale Dancer and supply it with new energy cells? Even expert pilots didn't enjoy spending the rest of their lives under the influence of heavy gravity!
Perhaps he might be able to seek asylum with the natives, but what did they know about mechs? The thought of devolving into a savage whose mech quickly broke down from lack of maintenance probably didn't appeal to the expert pilot who spent most of his life in civilized space.
Only by completing the mission would the Flagrant Vandals pick him up from the surface and bring him out of the Aeon Corona System.
Once the fleet returned to the near frontier or crossed back into civilized space would the expert pilot be able to exact his revenge and make it out alive!
"Still, that's something I would do if faced with the same choice. That doesn't mean someone else will follow the same steps."
Ves had experienced many stupid and crazy decision-making in his career so far. The incident which struck him the most was the time he visited Mancroft Station and encountered lots of trouble because many pirate crewmembers squandered all of their life savings by betting on the wrong champion in a hyped-up arena duel!
Humans were emotional creatures who made decisions based on other factors besides their rational self-interests. Ves wasn't exempt from this human condition either.
He developed a second scenario in his mind. If Venerable Xie wanted to screw the Flagrant Vandals at the most inopportune time, then the moment to do so would be when they reached the Starlight Megalodon!
Not only would the betrayal make the Vandals vulnerable to their competitors, the expert would also be able to claim some of the spoils from the derelict battleship for himself. If he was lucky, he might also be able to defect to one of the other competitors that took part in the race to secure the Starlight Megalodon's bounty.
In any case, the longer this situation persisted, the greater the risk this might all blow up in their faces.
The main problem right now was that Ves couldn't confide in anyone about this problem! Major Verle should be the only person who knew what Ves had attempted to do, but the highest-ranking Vandal in the System was currently stuck with the fleet far above their heads.
Ves did not dare to relay a message to Major Verle. He couldn't confide in Captain Byrd either. Even if Ves believed she might be a part of the same Firestarters crew as Major Verle, some secrets shouldn't be spread around.
This was a problem that Ves had to address on his own. He started to contemplate certain alternatives.
Should he implement a killswitch on the mech? The more thought of it pained his design philosophy. Doing so directly contradicted his core principles regarding mech design. He already abused his design philosophy a short time before.
"I'll think of something. There is still some time."
As Ves turned his attention back to the Pale Dancer's design. An entire day passed while the exobiologists went to town on the wild god carcass. Nothing much happened during the intervening time, though the cooks impatiently waited for the exobiologists to declare the meat to be safe for consumption.
The clamoring for wild god barbecue grew ever wilder! If the exobiologists didn't make the pronouncement soon, the mech pilots would probably revolt and forcefully break into the cold chamber to appropriate the mountains of meat for themselves!
At some time, a Vandal security officer approached him and interrupted his work.
"Mr. Larkinson, Dr. Tillman has requested your presence in order to assist her with one of her findings. Please follow me to the cold chamber."
"Lead the way." Ves replied with an uncertain frown.
The exobiologist wouldn't involve a mech designer without a reason. Curious to why the exobiologist wanted him to be present, he eagerly followed after the security officer. Ketis silently followed along.
It wasn't as if their research on the wild god wouldn't be shared with the Swordmaidens anyway. The pirates exhibited just as much curiosity about the nature of the wild gods as everyone else.
Once the three passed through a rudimentary identity check, they entered the cold chamber and got hit by a blast of cold air. Their combat armor immediately unfolded their integrated helmets in order to protect their wearers from the chill.
"It's not that cold here." Ketis muttered and reversed the setting of her suit, causing her helmet to retract again. "It's only a couple of degrees below Celsius here."
Ves followed suit. He could take much more than a minor chill. "It just needs to be cold enough here to stall the decomposition of the carcass. Freezing this place any further will waste a lot of energy."
The carcass looked a lot more different than before. The Swordmaiden mech employed as an impromptu butcher had methodically cut through the carcass and retrieved many organs and other tissue samples to be loaded into frozen containers.
As the security officer led Ves and Ketis up to a ramp which maintained a commanding view over the increasingly diminishing carcass, Dr. Tillman immediately dragged them to a nearby console.
"So doc, have you figured out whether someone tampered with these exobeasts?"
"They're not natural." Dr. Tillman declared with a serious expression. "We've gathered fairly conclusive evidence that other exobiologists have engineered the wild god's genome. We've determined that it used to be a native species on this planet, but received so many genetic enhancements that it's clear to us that it's an engineered species."
"You mean someone designed these exobeast species to fulfill a specific role?"
"Exactly so. They are not a product of nature. Not only do these species lack any limiters on their body growth, they also contain many modifications that allow them to survive an Earth-like atmosphere while enhancing their metabolism so that they can digest Earth-derived foods. And these are only the basic tweaks."
The doctor opened up a research report that listed all of the changes she found so far. Practically every organ had been tampered with! In fact, their brains received the most extensive modifications by far!
"We have identified many new and unknown structures within the exobeast's brains that are definitely not the product of nature. The exobiologists have deliberately aimed to impose these changes on their brains. The problem is that we can't identify most of their functions."Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
"Do you know what the purpose is for all of these modifications? Why bother with modifying them? What makes a wild god different from its original species?"
If someone engineered this species, then they had to have a purpose in mind. It was the same as designing a mech. Nobody designed them out of a whim!
"We don't know for certain why they are engineered in this way, but there is one section of the brains that stands out to us. Please look at this protruding brain matter that is extending upwards.
The projector displayed a three-dimensional model of the exobeast's brains. Different from the brains of most other humans and beasts, a very distinct fork-like shape stood out. It was as if someone stuck a fork into someone's brains!
Of course, the shape only resembled a fork. In fact, its structure was a lot more complex than that once the projection zoomed in. Ves studied the model and flicked through the raw footage of this organ's appearance.
After three minutes of study, he came to a definite conclusion about this organ's purpose.
"It's different to see it in an organic form, but there's no doubt about it. This organ is a neural interface!"
An organic neural interface! Someone had actually managed to incorporate such a complex system into the genes of an exobeast. This meant that any mech pilot could potentially 'pilot' a wild god!
This only strengthened his impression that some exobiologists had designed these species to replace the role of mechs on this planet!