Chapter 1997 Vault Inspection
After Ves received the fragment of the Idol of the Superior Mother, he summoned a lifter bot to transport it to the vault.
Though he hadn't taken a close look at it, Ves already noticed that the fragment was constantly leaking out its spiritual accumulation. Though the spillage wasn't severe, the piece of debris probably lost a lot of spiritual energy when it lay forgotten in some kind of warehouse!
Therefore, he was very eager to process the relic and turn its spiritual accumulation into something he could use to empower his forthcoming Hexer mech.
"Is it too much to ask for another relic?" Ves asked again.
"Forget it, kid. DIVA may be eager to try out unconventional solutions to break the stalemate at the frontlines, but it isn't desperate enough to resort to something more extreme."
"Does that mean I have a chance if the Fridaymen gain the upper hand?"
Calabast rapidly reached out and flicked her finger against his head!
"Don't try anything funny, Ves! Look, Hexers are very proud about their cultural heritage. If word gets out that you managed to obtain a damaged portion of a destroyed statue, you can easily shrug off the criticism with the help of your allies. If it turns out you've obtained something more important, then the Wodin Dynasty's support won't save you from the wrath of the matriarchs!"
Ves scowled a bit. "If I had something better, I could have easily produced something greater! The Hegemony is missing out on a valuable opportunity!"
"Prove yourself first. If you manage to exceed DIVA's expectations, then it might prioritize your requests higher. For now, no one wants to commit too much to you. It still remains to be seen whether your success and accomplishments represents a flash in the pan."
"It never ends."
"Let's assume I managed to succeed in designing a Hexer mech. How extensively will it be used?"
"It depends. As you can imagine, the performance and the impact it achieves on the battle is the most critical factor. What complicates its evaluation is the gender of its lead designer. Your work will have to climb an uphill battle in order to gain acceptance."
"I'm sure the Hex Army will come around as long as my mech is able to make a significant difference on the battlefield."
She nodded. "I think so as well. As much as my fellow Hexers like to stick to principles, when the outcome of the war and the future of the Hegemony is at stake, I'm confident that they will become a lot more open-minded towards unconventional solutions."
Great. That meant the only way to humble the Hexers was to make them lose the war. Success only fueled their preconceived notions of female supremacy!
Regardless, it wasn't as if Ves had a very big stake in the Komodo War. He just wanted the Friday Coalition to lose, and was very willing to give the Hexers a helping hand to accomplish this dream!
"Look, there are some Hexers who believe you can make a difference." Calabast reassured him. "Gloriana's mother is very hopeful about you, as do some other prominent Hexers. While you may not be aware of it, they spent a considerable amount of political capital to vouch on your behalf. Without their support, you wouldn't have obtained anything."
"Don't paint every Hexer with the same brush. Some are more practical than others, and even the most dogmatic Hexer is capable of making smart decisions. The Komodo War is one of the biggest gambles the Hegemony has made in its existence."
"It sounds like you still care a lot about the Hegemony." Ves pointedly remarked. "Are you sure you're independent from your former home?"
The spy reached out and ruffled his hair. "Don't think so much. I am still your supporter. That's all that matters. Right there, there are many reasons for us to cooperate with the Hegemony. My old ties and Gloriana's ties to the state are powerful channels that we can use to exchange various benefits with each other. I think this will become a lot less prominent once we leave the Komodo Star Sector."
That was true.
Once she said those words, she quietly turned around and departed from his side.
Ves continued on to the vault. After undergoing an extensive security check, he entered one of the most close-ly-guarded compartments of the Scarlet Rose.
Only Compartment G-13 was better protected than the vault!
Before Ves directed his attention to the latest addition to his collection, he made his usual rounds and inspected all of his older valuables.
His vibrant P-stones thrummed with energy. His lone F-stone still contained a lot of sharpness. His B-stone lockbox was as solid and impenetrable as ever.
He briefly paused when he encountered the mysterious vial he obtained when he took over the Scarlet Rose.
Dr. Ranya had already researched it and managed to identify its contents. His guess turned out to be right. The vial actually contained a second phase priming agent. Those looking to expand their physical body's capacity for genetic modification needed to take successively priming agents.
The first phase priming agents were relatively easy to obtain, but the second phase priming agents were a lot more difficult to find! They were rare enough to be treated as strategic goods by the Friday Coalition. Lady Aisling Curver probably carried one as a valuable bargaining chip in negotiations.
Now, it fell into his hands.
"I don't need it. I already received my dose."
He already expanded the limit of his genes a second time when he infiltrated the Starlight Megalodon and pretended to be a mech designer in the employ of the CFA.
He wasn't sure whether Gloriana needed it. Dr. Ranya didn't seem to find the vial important enough to insist on keeping hold of it, so Ves probably figured that the Wodins already enjoyed something similar.
For now, Ves just planned to keep it locked up until he needed it. Perhaps he could use it to reward a loyal subordinate for their excellent performance.
"Should I reserve it for Benny? Nah. I should keep it ready for someone like Joshua King or Jannzi Larkinson. They are much more deserving."
He put the vial back into its protective case and put it away.
The next object he inspected was the plain, unadorned wedding rings gifted by his mother. He never really looked at them beforehand because he didn't think it was time to bring his relationship with Gloriana a step further.
Even now, Ves still wasn't sure whether their relationship had advanced far enough. Before, he refrained from taking out the rings because he still needed to prove himself to Gloriana's mother.
Now that he succeeded in this objective, he had one less reason to tie the knot with his girlfriend.
He hesitated for a dozen seconds before impulsively deciding to stuff the tiny boxes containing the rings into his suit pocket.
Whether he was ready or not, a part of him wanted to be sure he carried the rings if he ever felt the need to profess his eternal devotion to his girlfriend.
"It will probably take a few years, though. Our relationship has slowed down a bit in recent times."
So far, Ves only got as far as sleeping in the same bed as Gloriana. That did not sound very impressive, and the masculine part of him felt very ashamed he hadn't made any further progress!
"No thanks to you."
Lucky was floating around his pocket trying to sniff the wedding rings.
Ves pushed his cat away.
"Bad Lucky! These rings are not for you to eat!"
"I don't care if you can produce the greatest gems in the galaxy!"
After admonishing his gluttonous pet, he turned his attention to the most dangerous object in his vault.
The Ancient Sarcophagus radiated a low but ominous presence that slowly built up the longer Ves remained in the vault. Even now, Ves never figured out a way to isolate its pervasive influence field aside from carving out some spiritual fragments from its prisoners.
Even then, the undying spiritual entity that emerged from the body of the ancient alien tyrant was still a very big threat!
To make sure it wouldn't be up to any shenanigans, Ves inspected the red coffin at least once every few weeks. He also checked up on his spiritual products to make sure that none of the ones who were created with the help of Nyxie's spiritual fragments provided any spiritual feedback to the hostile entity.
Though his spiritual products had remained obedient so far, Nyxie nonetheless made up for its losses and grew in strength at a slow but worrisome rate.
It was as if the prisoner locked inside the sarcophagus was slowly waking up. Each time the spiritual entity woke up a bit more, a greater proportion of his power leaked out of the sarcophagus!
As effective as the red crystal kept its prisoner contained, it was probably getting on in years. Ves didn't know how many eons it existed, but like any creation, some of its structure and functions had probably decayed.
One day, the prisoner might break out of his prison, thereby unleashing a great terror to the galaxy!
The only reason why Ves wasn't worried was because he was confident that the sarcophagus wouldn't be breaking anytime soon. Machines had a tendency to break down gradually rather than suddenly. Its original builders made sure to make the red coffin as solid and enduring as possible, and their craftsmanship succeeded in keeping the alien tyrant contained long after the fall of their civilization!
"Sleep well, Nyxie. Keep on the good work."
He stashed the Ancient Sarcophagus away, lessening its intimidating presence a tiny bit.
Now that he completed his customary inspection, he finally turned towards his latest resource. He whipped out his Vulcaneye and meticulously scanned the blackened debris.
The results didn't yield anything important. The object wasn't radioactive and it didn't carry any poisons or toxins. The torn piece was exactly as it appeared.
"Some kind of huge blast must have destroyed the original Idol of the Superior Mother. After that, the Hexers must have picked up the pieces and stored them somewhere."
Nothing else had happened with the relic. No one tried to reconstruct the Idol of the Superior Mother with the remains of the first statue. Maybe the temple already built a replacement using new materials.
Whatever the case, Ves felt reassured that no one tried to mess with the object. After confirming that it was safe to handle it, he stretched out with his hand and touched the damaged piece with his hand.
The metal was cool to the touch and its surface was very rough due to all of the damage markings.
He didn't care about that. What mattered more to him was making a connection with the damaged and slowly-decaying spiritual residue locked inside its spiritual space.
A handful of decades ago, a huge amount of female Hexers paid tribute to this statue. The Idol of the Superior Mother attracted a lot of pregnant women in order to pray their hopes and dreams to a symbol that represented the Hexer version of motherhood in its purest form!
As could be imagined in a female-dominated society, mothers enjoyed a very high status in the Hegemony!
The Hexers associated mothers with wisdom, nurture, leadership and generosity.
This was why his first contact with the spiritual residue was very encouraging. Ves felt as if he encountered a spiritual remnant that gladly welcomed his company!
Its loneliness and lack of interaction had not done the spiritual remnant any good. Its constant leakage and its worsening integrity was slowly breaking it down. It had a lot of spiritual energy, making it weaker and weaker as more and more years passed. The decay also affected its spiritual attributes, causing it to become less sophisticated as it lost a lot of weaker aspects!
Though this sounded bad at first, Ves pleasantly discovered that the spiritual residue was also purer than he thought! Only the strongest spiritual attributes managed to survive up to this point, which meant that it truly captured the essence of Hexer motherhood!
Even though the relic did not fully represent all of the facets and dimensions of the six phases of existence, Ves was confident he could make good use of its attributes!