The Mech Touch

 
 

The Mech Touch Chapter 756 Candle in the Dark


When Iris stayed with the Vandals as a guest for the Vesian Revolutionary Front, she inducted Ves into the barebones essence of how neural interfaces worked.

It served one of the most important roles in a mech because they enabled human thought and machine processing to blend in seamlessly in a combined entity with an extraordinary capacity for information processing and decision making.

Humans by themselves made do with their brains and spine as the central nervous system that operated their bodies and gave them thought.

A mech can include all the raw processing power as its mech designer can manage to stuff inside, but without a good mind to operate the machine, most of its raw power would be wasted.

These days, AIs did a good job at serving as the basic brains of a mech, but skilled pilots were always able to leverage their creativity and intense practice to outsmart these dimwitted bot-like mechs.

Therefore, putting the human mind in the center of a mech's control mechanism proved to be the winning combination. Yet the strain they experienced when they blended their mind with the cold processors of a machine prompted neural interface developers to refine this component with advanced instructions and algorithms meant to filter and process the input and output of data in a more efficient fashion.

The Church of Haatumak's Redemption Duel taught Ves what would happen if this went wrong. Working with and experiencing the consequences of an improperly configured neural interface hit home how easy it would be to destroy a mech pilot.

Each time a mech pilot interfaced with a mech, they put the integrity of their mind in the hands of the mech designer who developed the mech and the mech technicians who fabricated and serviced the machine.

In essence, it was as if Ves held a gun and the mech pilot voluntarily pressed their head against its muzzle, trusting that Ves wouldn't pull the trigger.

The MTA made sure that mech designers were too afraid of the consequences if they pulled the trigger.

Yet this time, Ves struck a deal with Major Verle that forced him to go against every ethical boundary and pull the trigger.

Even working on Acolyte Gien's Evaporating Spear wasn't this egregious! At least then someone else already pulled the trigger. Ves merely acted as an accessory to the crime. This time he'd be the principal murderer, and bloody his hands with the blood of an authentic expert mech!

Any lesser mech designer would collapse and break at this implacable conundrum.

To Ves, it depended on whether he could bend his principles far enough without breaking them. It posed a severe challenge to him because manipulating the neural interface of a mech in his care went directly against his fundamental principles.

He did not feel entirely comfortable with engaging in this practice.

"Maybe the three-hour time limit is a blessing. If I dive in any further, I'd be liable to break my design philosophy."


Limiting the time spent on this unsavory project could enable Ves to get away with it, if only barely. He still couldn't believe that Major Verle talked him into this insane plan.

Worse yet, Ves actually agreed with the necessity of it all. Venerable Xie regularly talked with the Fourth Prince over the comm whenever they fell out of FTL, and his current absence at this moment must surely be of concern to the former bodyguard.

Right now, the Vandals managed to stall the expert pilot by putting an AI simulation of the prince over the comm channel.

That wouldn't last forever. The expert pilot may even be growing suspicious right at this moment if the pair layered their conversations with hidden codes that the AI may or may not have figured out.

"Time is of the essence. The sooner I get this done, the faster this risk goes away."

He first patrolled the entire mech workshop, inspecting every possible nook and cranny where someone might be hiding. He employed his stealth detector in a high-powered mode and his spiritual vision to be absolutely certain nobody would be able to witness his actions.

Once he reassured himself that the workshop hosted no one else but Ves, he picked out an area stacked with a number of crates and commanded a couple of bots to build a makeshift hut around him that blocked direct vision.

After that, he employed his signal jammer in a fairly high setting to make sure that even the most discerning sensors would capture nothing but static if pointed in his direction.

"This should be enough precautions."

He arrived at the moment he anticipated the most. He retrieved the encrypted data chip from its case and slotted it into his newly-fabricated secure comm. After a few seconds of interfacing and decryption with the supplied codes, the comm gained a new app that temporarily granted him access to two different sets of documents.

One of them granted him a three-hour of access to a limited selection of textbooks, blueprints and even research papers related to neural interface technology. The selection of reading material disappointed him a bit. Evidently, the local database did not store that much books on neural interfaces by default.

"Well, I'll have to make due I guess."

The second set of documents consisted of a haphazard sampling of engineering textbooks related to FTL drives!

Yes, Ves deliberately requested access to high-quality textbooks related to the design and construction of FTL drives, something which a mech designer should ordinarily leave to people like Chief Engineer Avanaeon!

However, all the mishaps the Flagrant Vandals suffered with FTL drives these past few months made Ves concerned about their reliance on very senior engineers to fix any problems relating to their principal means of traversing the stars.

What if the Vandals lost every FTL drive? What then? Ves was unwilling to leave his chance to survive and escape the deep frontier to others. Also, unlike other mech designers, Ves possessed a deep understanding in Physics, and though he only possessed knowledge related to mechs, he was certain he could leverage his transhuman level of Intelligence to learn enough about FTL technology to fix up a slightly-damaged FTL drive at the very least.

"I don't think I can design and fabricate something as complex as an FTL drive from scratch. You have to be the equivalent of a Journeyman Mech Designer to be able to cobble up the most primitive form that's outdated by a couple of thousands of years."

He may lack a foundation in starship engineering, but Ves did not shy away from the challenge of trying to understand FTL technology. He only held complete trust in the machines he built himself. Having already crafted devices unrelated to mechs such as his gadgets and his new comm, he became more confident in his ability to build up an entire arsenal reserved for his own use!

Even though he could have asked for textbooks on easier topics, Ves remained committed to his choice, especially considering how deep inside sandmen space they intruded.

Still, trying to gain a rudimentary understanding of FTL technology was easier said than done. Many engineers tried and failed. Ves came from a different discipline of engineering, so he couldn't leverage his existing base of knowledge to facilitate his learning.

"Well, let's leave that issue for later. For now, I have a job to do."

He turned back to the folder containing the documents related to neural interface technology. A quick look inside their pages caused Ves to immediately grow cross-eyed.

"Too complex!"

It didn't help that the documents presumed an extremely deep familiarity with human biology and neurology as well. The texts contained numerous references to mechanical aspects as well as biological aspects, sometimes in the same sentence!

"It's impossible for me to understand the underlying theories at this rate!"

Neural interfaces worked with both man and machine, and while Ves had the latter covered, he lacked a sufficiently detailed understanding of the former.

It was like trying to participate in a footrace with one of his legs sawed off. He may be able to hop forward for a few steps, but eventually he'd fall flat on the ground while barely passing over the starting line!Find authorized novels in Webnovel´╝îfaster updates, better experience´╝îPlease click www.webnovel.com for visiting.

Of course, with only three hours at his disposal, he wouldn't have been able to achieve an elementary mastery of this field to the same degree he gained a foundation in ultracompact energy storage systems.

He didn't need to be so thorough for this project.

"Thank the heavens that I've received some blueprints and design schematics."

Ves quickly spotted one set of files stored in a separate folder that served as the lynchpin to his project. Major Verle somehow managed to access and copy over the complete design specifications for the Parallax Star's custom neural interface!

"This.. this is annotated! Everything is complete!"

The design specifications not only listed out the properties of the neural interface, but it also broke down its inner workings! Not only did Ves receive a guide towards how its hardware had been designed, but he also had access to detailed commentary to the billions of lines of code that made up the customized programming that effectively altered and manipulated the pilot of the Parallax Star!

"This makes this project a lot easier!"

Instead of groping blind in the dark trying to mess things around in the hopes of reaching a distant destination, Ves now held a small candle that allowed him to navigate the dark and complex maze without getting stuck.

He immediately took a deeper dive into the commentary and annotations of the programming of the neural interface. Due to the sheer abundance of code, many of which pertained to trivial operations, Ves had to make a careful selection of portions that offered him the best hope of manipulating a mech pilot's mentality.

He narrowed down his selection to the sections that dealt with pairing a mental trigger word to activating a specific resonance sequence in the mech.

For example, if an expert pilot wanted to summon up a protective energy field, they would usually convey the word 'shield' or something to their mechs. The neural interface picked up this trigger word and automatically activated a set of instructions that facilitated the activation of the energy field.

The configuration of these settings needed to be tailored to the individual mech pilot to insure a smooth activation of resonance.

The complexity of the code astounded Ves. He could spend months trying to understand their workings and only master twenty percent of it before he bumped against a hard wall that required extreme familiarity with resonatic exotics and their neurological triggers.

Ves did not need to understand that much. In fact, he didn't even need to understand a single percent of what went on. He only needed to change a few parameters and add a few lines of code to distort an innocent function into something more nefarious.

It was like how Ves could take a power reactor and change a dozen little things to transform it into a bomb powerful enough to disintegrate the entire mech. It actually took a lot less effort than anyone thought to perform such sabotage!

"This is the nature of interconnectedness. One change will ripple into a huge wave that can affect millions of variables."

Of course, this interconnectedness also turned the entire programming structure into a house of cards. If Ves messed something up and inadvertently pulled out a card, the entire neural interface could easily turn into a dangerous disaster akin to the tampered neural interfaces used in the Redemption Duel.

It reinforced the notion that mech pilots entrusted their very lives to the soundness of the neural interfaces each time they deployed.

Ves understood the true value of a neural interface specialist. They weren't just responsible for the smooth functioning of a small cog in the machine. It wouldn't be exaggerated to say that they held the power over the lives and deaths of every mech pilot that made use of their neural interfaces.

A single moment of negligence could lead to a permanent distortion in a mech pilot's personality!

 
 


Report broken chapters