Chapter 2277 Grey Phantom
Ves finally reached the vault. After passing through several mandatory security checks, Ves, Lucky and Nitaa finally entered the space which held some of his more valuable objects and treasures.
Curiously, his spiritual senses did not perceive anything inherently threatening.
Back at Compartment G-13, Ves felt vaguely ill at ease. He couldn't really explain why he felt unsettled. It was as if Cassandra Breyer had become a bit more dangerous, but everytime he studied her and her escape pod, he perceived no changes from his previous observations.
Here in the vault, Ves felt as if everything was still fine. He turned towards a certain section of the vault which held the Ancient Sarcophagus.
As he approached it, Ves did not feel any of the signs of creeping fear that usually settled over him as he came close to the red coffin.
Before he entered the Nyxian Gap, Ves always had to guard his mind carefully, lest he succumb to the terror that made the Doom Guard so effective at scaring away people.
Yet after he raided a number of pirate groups, he managed to get his hands on a number of B-stones. While their exact sizes varied, Ves obtained six times the amount of his original B-stone.
This was an incredible gain! After living through the incredibly threatening anomalous hazard, Ves became more determined than ever to collect more B-stones. He believed that if he wore a suit of combat armor that was made out of this remarkably exotic, he might have been able to resist the strange temporal effect!
This was why he did not want to give up on raiding Ulimo Citadel. He was very confident that he might be able to expand his collection with at least a couple more rocks.
While Ves didn't have enough B-stones to build a solid suit of combat armor, he had enough to form a vague net around the Ancient Sarcophagus.
Ves cautiously exposed the Ancient Sarcophagus and drew back some the B-stones. Once he was able to perceive the red coffin with his spiritual senses, he performed his inspections carefully without getting too close.
"Phew. Nothing has changed."
Nyxie, the ancient alien spiritual entity that was trapped in the crystalline coffin, was as trapped as ever. The ancient barriers that contained the alien spirit still looked serviceable, though Ves didn't understand anything about how they worked and why they held for so long.
Though Nyxie posed a great threat to him, Ves did not believe the danger was imminent. As far as he was concerned, the anomaly didn't affect the hostile alien spirit.
Was this strange or something to be expected? He wasn't sure.
He knew that some treasure hunters originally excavated the Ancient Sarcophagus from some alien ruins in the Nyxian Gap. The discoverers eventually brought the coffin back to civilized space and put it up for auction, where ultimately obtained this valuable relic.
Now that Ves brought the Ancient Sarcophagus back to its natural habitat, he had always been a bit suspicious whether something might happen to it. He wondered whether Nyxie was connected to the Nyxian Gap's strange state or the huge vortex that spun in the imaginary realm.
Sadly, after several months, Ves was no closer to learning more about Nyxie and his prison than before. The Ancient Sarcophagus and its prisoner did not react any differently to the change in environment.
"You're still a mystery to me." Ves sighed and gave up his investigations.
He put the red coffin back into its place. With several B-stones placed around it, Ves no longer felt any creeping fear overtaking his mind.
"B-stones are so handy." Ves grinned.
If he truly wanted to protect himself against the likes of Nyxie and Cassandra Breyer, then obtaining enough B-stone to build a suit of armor was not enough. He needed to plunder several tons of the material in order to isolate the two powerful spiritual entities completely!
Until that happened, Ves always had to remain on guard against any spiritual attacks from their direction.
Hopefully, the rumor that the Dry Snakes had access to an entire B-stone mine was true. It would be great for him to obtain enough B-stone to build an entire ship with the material, though Ves knew better than to entertain this delusion.
After inspecting all of the other goods in the vault, he finally arrived at his only gain from the incident.
Back when he was trapped in the temporal effect, he managed to nab a grey phantom for lack of a better word.
Once he carefully opened the B-stone lockbox and retrieved the P-stone that kept the spiritual entity in place, he took the time to inspect the state of the unknown spiritual entity.
The entity appeared like a vague, grey and misty humanoid in his vision. The entity constantly moaned in agony while trying its best to pull itself away from some kind of restraint.
The restraint appeared to be an unknown collection of spiritual energy with very incomprehensible properties. Both the trapped entity and its restraint possessed a large amount of alien spiritual attributes that Ves failed to interpret.
As for the attributes he did manage to recognize, many of them were negative. Ves detected attributes that reminded him of torture, fear, death erosion and more unpleasantries.
He frowned. The abundance of these spiritual attributes in his latest spiritual catch meant that there might not be a way for him to communicate with the grey phantom.
He tried anyway.
"Hello. I am Ves Larkinson, a human and a mech designer. Who might you be, Mr. ghost?"
Of course, Ves did not say that out loud, but conveyed it to the grey phantom through a spiritual communication method.
The grey phantom continued to behave as if it was in pain.
"Hello? Can you understand me? I'm talking to you, you know!"
No matter what he said, the grey phantom continued to ignore his attempts at talking to it! The more he observed the spiritual entity, the more Ves realized that it was old. Very old. Unimaginably old.
"You're not human, that's for sure."
Aside from the agelessness that emanated from the grey phantom, Ves also had a feeling that it may have existed in this tortured state for eons!
Spending tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of years in this undead, painful state while floating in the middle of a spiritual vortex in the imaginary realm did not sound fun!
Ves found it difficult to imagine what caused this grey phantom to endure such endless torment. How did the spiritual vortex come into existence? Who was the grey phantom and who condemned it to eternal torture?
He shuddered a bit. After studying the grey phantom's restraint, he suspected that it wasn't natural. Someone put those restraints on the grey phantom!
The restraints had at least three effects as far as Ves was aware of. First, it induced constant pain. Second, it kept the grey phantom alive. Third, it trapped the grey phantom and stripped it of all of its strength.
These were some very scary shackles!
Ves warily eyed the restraints. He didn't know whether he was capable of freeing himself from them if they happened to snap onto his Spirituality. There was no way he would test its power in person! In fact, he didn't even know whether he could remove the restraint!
"Maybe I can alleviate your suffering."
He concentrated his mind and carefully tried to probe the restraint. Even when Ves applied some force, the restraints still held together.
"Damn. You're quite strong!"
None of his rough handling affected the integrity of the restraint, but the phantom was another story. Each time Ves touched it, the phantom seemed to bear an unimaginable amount of pain!
Afraid of damaging or killing the grey phantom, Ves stopped probing it. He didn't want to break something of value, especially when he gained some interesting ideas.
Even though he felt disappointed that he wasn't able to get anything useful from the grey phantom in its current state, there might be other ways for him to extract value from its existence.
"This ghost is truly a shell of its former self."
The state of the grey phantom reminded him of the spiritual fragment that his mother had gifted him. Back then, the spiritual shard that she managed to dig up from somewhere had undergone an incredible amount of erosion.
Though Ves found it astounding that the spiritual remnant of the luminar race leader managed to remain in existence for so long, the constant environmental attacks caused it to lose a lot of weaker elements.
Only portions of its strongest obsessions and spiritual attributes remained!
When Ves studied the grey phantom, he gained a similar impression. Though the phantom bore much more weaknesses, it also showed some signs of erosion.
However, due to the protection offered by the restraint, the grey phantom hadn't been purified as much.
Since it didn't appear that he would get much out of the grey phantom out of studying it, Ves wanted to make it useful in other ways.
He first thought of using it as a design spirit, only to scrap the idea immediately afterwards.
This was no Qilanxo who possessed a calm, sentient mind. This was no Zeigra who hated his guts but was at least normal enough to predict its behavior.
The grey phantom was one of the most damaged spiritual entities that Ves had ever seen! He doubted that it could still be reasoned with. Ves would never turn it into a design spirit for a mech design in its current state because the chance of harming the mech pilot was too high.
"Besides, its current spiritual attributes are very detrimental!"
This was why Ves favored the second option. If using it in its raw form was unwise, then Ves just had to process it into something different!
By using the grey phantom as an ingredient, Ves would be able to combine it with other ingredients to form a completely new spiritual product that inherited some of its traits!
Ves lit up his eyes. "I just happen to miss a design spirit for one of my upcoming mechs!"
Of the six projects he was working on, the Sanctuary was the only mech design that wouldn't be hosting one of his existing design spirits.
He decided early on that he would be providing his Sanctuary with a new design spirit.
However, creating a suitable design spirit to a mech that was supposed to block and restrain glows wasn't easy!
At the very least, he needed to find the right spiritual attributes, and this was very difficult.
This time was different!
Though the grey phantom was polluted with an abundance of negative and incomprehensibly alien spiritual attributes, it contained a modest amount of attributes that Ves found helpful.
A portion of the grey phantom yearned for safety, liberty, relief, forgiveness, mercy and so on. Surprisingly, despite spending eternity in agony, the grey phantom clung very strongly to these attributes as if nothing else mattered!
If Ves could isolate the best traits of the grey phantom and use what he had gathered as a spiritual ingredient, then he might be able to birth a fitting design spirit for the Sanctuary mech!
Of course, this was not the time to do so. Ves still wanted to perform a lot of studies on the grey phantom in order to make sure he hadn't missed anything vital.
"Well, stay safe. I'll visit you again." He put the P-stone back into the B-stone lockbox before putting it all away.
As long as the grey phantom didn't pose a threat, Ves wasn't in a hurry to study it or use it as an ingredient for the creation of a new spiritual product.
Right now, the anomalous incident reminded him of the great danger of remaining in the Nyxian Gap. His main priority was to attack Ulimo Citadel and earn 10 million MTA merits in one fell swoop! As long as he accomplished this feat, he would order his task force to leave right away!