The negotiation that followed heavily favored Ves.
In exchange for relinquishing most of his gear to be upgraded using Mr. Longhorn's old gear, he granted Virtual Chief Levitt the right to claim full credit for any findings he made when studying them. It was up to him and his subordinates to maximize the amount of merits they could earn from submitting their findings.
Due to his strong bargaining power, Ves reversed the question of payment. Instead of him paying the armory some merits to perform a service, he actually browbeat the armory into paying him merits in advance for the 'privilege' of studying his personal gear!
"Think of it as an investment." Ves grinned as he crossed his arms. "I'm sure that if I offered up my gear for study to the armories, they'll certainly bid a lot of merits for the opportunity. If you don't want this chance to slip through your virtual fingers, you better
At some points in the negotiation, Ves felt as if he was taking candy from a virtual baby. It wasn't as if the virtual chief armorer lacked processing power. The problem lay in his programming. His core function was to assist the human armorers in performing their duties. Virtual Chief Levitt excelled in performing maintenance and doing simple repairs on various pieces of gears.
Horse trading didn't appear to be the virtual individual's strong suit. His programming didn't avail him much in this area.
To Ves, hoodwinking an AI never felt better. While he didn't consider himself to be an excellent negotiator, he at least possessed more experience in this area than an AI that languished in the same armory for three-thousand years without the ability to do or learn anything productive.
Halfway into the negotiation, Ves learned a very crucial fact.
Levitt couldn't lie. The virtual chief armorer tried hard to present the facts in his favor, but Ves easily saw through the spin.
Ves believed he observed a critical clue. No matter how much the virtual officers attempted to imitate their human counterparts, their programming and personality matrices couldn't possibly comprehend the illogical nature of humanity.
The CFA originally programmed these AIs to be the best assistants to the people who crewed the ship. They needed to be as reliable and helpful as possible to the officers or spacers who received the right to call upon their aid.
Deception and misdirection had never been a function of their digital makeup. In fact, their programmers must have tried to go the other way and made them as clear and truthful as possible to better assist the human crew of the Starlight Megalodon and other battleships!
Therefore, Ves suspected that aside from highly-developed AIs and the virtual officers from the Intelligence Department, every other AI completely lacked the capacity to lie! At best, they could lie by omission or simply refuse to say something, but as long as Ves asked the right question, he could still force out the right answer to make Levitt admit that he held back information.
Ves figured out another observation from this rule. Besides being unable to lie, they didn't handle being lied to as well. Unless they possessed solid proof of his lies, Ves could easily get away with exaggerations, misrepresentations and misdirections.
He believed these advantages only grew stronger the stupider the AIs became. While Ves might have some scruples in front of someone with a decent chunk of processing power such as Virtual Commander Cosit, Virtual Chief Levitt ranked much lower in the totem pole and never achieved anything exceptional.
Ves basically scammed Levitt out of providing much more benefits than normal. Not only did Ves obtain everything from his wish list and more, he also convinced Levitt to pay him merits rather than the other way around!
"A pleasure doing business with you, Chief Levitt!" Ves shook the virtual officer's hand. Amazingly, the physical projection accurately imitated the physical feedback of a handshake through his gauntlet. "As agreed, I'll swing by a week to pick up my newly-refurbished gear."
Levitt smiled ruefully to the human who didn't ever let go of the smallest benefits in the previous negotiation. Humans were so surprisingly dogged!
[Why do I feel I got the shorter end of the bargain?]
"Don't worry too much about it, chief." Ves reassured the virtual baby. "The agreement we've made will surely earn you a tremendous amount of profit. The merits you've paid me is an investment which will practically double or triple your gains! You just have to work and be patient for a time. It's not every day you're able to get your hands on some stuff from the future!"
Like a used mech salesman, Ves practically bewitched the virtual chief. There was a big reason why AIs never engaged in negations. They were far too awful at it. Even if they'd been programmed for the job, an experienced human negotiator could easily pick out the flaws.
Ves left behind almost every piece of gear. He relinquished his C22 Earth Ant light combat armor, his supercharged signal jammer, his supercharged stealth detector, his spare ultracompact battery, his military-issued multiscanner, his spare laser pistol, the Cadisis, his other hidden backup knives, his Vandal officer-grade comm, his homebrew secure comm, his multitool and other small precision tools.
After wearing his C22 Earth Ant for months on end, Ves felt incredibly naked and vulnerable without its protective shell. The lack of gadgets and equipment he accumulated over time further increased his sense of vulnerability.
Still, Ves knew that at their current state and technology level, all of his fancy gear didn't mean anything in the face of the Starlight Megalodon's awesome might. Even a single anti-boarding turret installed in each and every corridor and compartment could blast a hole through his Earth Ant in a matter of milliseconds.
If the entire battleship ever turned hostile to him, he had no chance of survival no matter how much equipment he carried.
This was why he risked separating with his current gear and chose to leave them all in Levitt's hands. He forced a promise from the virtual chief to upgrade or replace all of his existing gear.
While this still didn't elevate him to a point where he could resist the Starlight Megalodon as a whole, it should be more than sufficient to repel any tricks the Vesians might want to pull on him. They remained his real enemy, and it was not out of the question for them to attempt to kill Ves.
Of course, the downside was that Ves temporarily gave up everything he carried and what he found in Mr. Longhorn's cabin. The only gear he held onto was his CFA comm, which he wasn't allowed to remove.
Ves obtained a spare vacsuit and CFA uniform from Levitt for free. He also received a substantially more sophisticated laser pistol on loan, to be returned next week.
Even though many aspects of the laser pistol relied on outdated technology, the sheer quality of materials put into it forcefully increased its performance to the point where it could almost harm a modern mech.
"What an amazingly powerful weapon!"
In fact, if not for the Amastendira, this was the most powerful handheld weapon he had ever laid hands on. Ves resisted the urge to grab some tools and disassemble the entire weapon.
[That little toy there should be enough to kill some of the local alien vermin. Just don't expect to harm anything aboard the Starlight Megalodon with that. Its firepower won't be able to destroy a single cleaning bot aboard our ship except if you burn the same section for at least ten seconds straight.]
Even so, this laser pistol was leaps ahead of what the galactic rim made use of to this day. It seemed as if each passing hour, the Starlight Megalodon unveiled yet another point of superiority over the galactic rim.
Even with the handicap of working with three-hundred years old technology, the CFA still overpowered the backwaters of the galaxy!
After Ves exited the armory, he wondered where he should go next. Should he visit the office of the Artificial Intelligence Corps and meet up with Virtual Rear Admiral Ordoth?
"Such a meeting is highly risky. I shouldn't visit his office before I receive my upgraded gear."
The mysterious virtual dwarf seemed to be related to the Five Scrolls Compact. No matter what, Ves did not have a good impression of these crazy lunatics. His relationship with them wasn't very harmonious either. If they knew what he knew and what he possessed, they wouldn't hesitate to butcher him and stuff his remains in nutrient packs to be eaten a couple of decades later by unsuspecting humans.
Hopefully, he didn't taste too awful.
Ves coughed. "Ahem. Where was I? Ah, where to go now."
He still had some free time left before he needed to report to the Mech Department. While he obtained some extra merits, he didn't accumulate enough to take the promotion test. Miss Calabast still needed to get back to him on that as well.
After some more consideration, he reluctantly decided to visit the infirmary. If nothing else, Ves needed to establish a relationship with them if he ever wanted them to install the biological implant he found in Longhorn's cabin.
His CFA comm led him to the nearest fully-fledged medway, which wasn't very far from the armory he just left. Placing them close together was quite a clever decision on the part of the designers.
As soon as Ves entered the medical bay, one of the virtual doctors stood up from his chair. [Ah, ah human! For the first time in ERROR amount of years, we finally have a patient again! Step in, step in! Let me check you up. According to your record, you are in dire need for a complete physical checkup.]
The enthusiastic virtual doctor appeared to be the only doctor remaining that still enjoyed access to a decent amount of processing power. The other doctors and nurses all transformed into virtual zombies as the medical bay and the entire Health Department no longer earned any merits for a very long time due to lack of human patients.
The appearance of Ves was like a shower of rain on a parched desert. Just a little bit of rain invigorated the barren lands and caused all kinds of marvelous flowers to bloom.
A few hours went by as he virtual doctor enthusiastically put him through an entire battery of scans and tests. Some of the medical equipment looked even more advanced than the gear the CFA science vessel Ramulus used to subject him to. The detached and elitist doctors didn't tell him much about his condition, though they did gave him an existential scare by showing him his own clone.
Back then, the CFA just rescued him off the surface of Groening IV. The crazy Dr. Jutland implanted his body with the Jutland organ and the regulator organ and who knew what. All of the involuntary operations turned him into a half-alien freak that shared some traits with the native hexapod kings.
The biotech that Dr. Jutland adapted and advanced over several decades in isolation on Groening IV was far too advanced for the doctors and exobiologists of the galactic rim to get a grip on. The madman was too crazy even for the Five Scrolls Compact, who claimed to be the uncrowned masters of biotech.
Still, over the months and years, Ves always had a nagging suspicion that the CFA hadn't been entirely forthcoming to him. While Ves was thankful that they stabilized his shambling physique to the point where he could live for fifty years instead of just ten, they always seemed to be more preoccupied with deciphering Dr. Jutland's secrets than treating his condition.
"Doctor, can I ask a question?" He asked during an examination.
[Go ahead, Mr. Longhorn.]
"When it comes to treating medical conditions like mine, is it better to receive treatment from a small CFA science vessel or from a battleship like the Starlight Megalodon?"
[If I was a human like you, I'd go for a battleship anytime.] The virtual doctor immediately replied. [A CFA science vessel is nothing more than a disposable scout meant to follow a scouting unit into highly hazardous areas in space. Unlike battleships, science vessels are designed to be disposable. The CFA will never install the best and most elaborate suite of medical equipment aboard such a tiny and unimportant starship.]
"So the medical equipment here is much better? Even when compared to a science vessel that's newer by three-hundred years?"Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
The virtual doctor chuckled. [While I'm sure that medical science has advanced in such a time period, this field has long plateaued, so there is little chance of radical innovations that change entire paradigms. I am very confident that our medical bay's gear is still eminent in comparison to the meager facilities of a science vessel. Do not worry. If there are any difficult conditions relating to your body, we will be sure to treat them all.]
Hope began to kindle in Ves.