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After reaching the end of the gigantic corridor that into the depths of the pinnacle lab, Ves finally saw hope of fulfilling his goal.
Pulling all of the valuable research data from the local databases was never his original goal.
Sure, Ves became pleasantly surprised when he found out that the Supreme Sage worked on a method to produce a specific formula of high-grade life-prolonging serum.
As a mech designer and owner of a powerful factory ship, he knew the power of being the producer of a good that was in high demand.
The prices of his mechs were more expensive than other products that shared a similar production cost. This was because the overall value they provided to his customers was greater.
While it sounded nice for a customer to own an LMC mech, the downside to that was that the person in question had to fork over considerably more money to fulfill this need!
The same dynamic applied to high-grade life-prolonging treatment serum, but at least a million times worse.
Demand was incredibly high. How could it not? Even if the potential customer base was limited to those who already enjoyed two rounds of life-prolonging treatment, that still amounted to billions of humans across the galaxy!
Human space was unimaginably big and encompassed a lot of star systems. Though the amount of elites who were wealthy and capable enough to secure life-prolonging treatment was only a fraction of the whole, added together they formed a huge customer base.
The Big Two, who ostensibly possessed a stranglehold on the market for high-grade serum, could never meet the huge demand for its key product!
In fact, if Ves was in their shoes, he wouldn't try his best to ramp up production either. Increasing supply only led to falling prices, which meant that the Big Two would have to work a lot harder while earning less money per vial. No self-serving organization would do such a thankless job unless they had a greater benefit in mind.
This was why anyone who wanted to live longer in this day and age had to stay in the good graces of the MTA and CFA. The two dominant human organizations might not be the current rulers of human civilization, but no one doubted their crown.
The vast support they received was undeniable! By offering a way to extend people's lives as well as other incentives such as granting plenty of autonomy, the Big Two forged an unbreakable network of states and powerful players that unquestionably supported the current order.
If not for the irresistible attraction of life-prolonging treatment serum, many rulers who presided over powerful states would never tolerate the hegemony of the Big Two so much!
With such a good arrangement, the Big Two shouldn't be in a hurry to expand the production of life-prolonging treatment serum. There was no great incentive to find an alternative production method that possibly made use of more abundant ingredients.
This was why Ves persistently questioned whether Special Project 'V' was the exception rather than the rule. Could the formula used to produce the batch of serum on the other side of massive gates be closely related to the standard one that was currently in use by the Big Two?
Ves didn't know, and that bothered him. The reason why he doubted this possibility was because there were many other possible reasons why the MTA wanted the Supreme Sage to succeed.
Perhaps the Big Two's traditional production method began to run its course due to exhausting its original supply of raw ingredients.
Perhaps the MTA and CFA changed their strategy and wanted to make life-prolonging treatments more accessible.
Perhaps the upper hierarchy of the powerful organizations wanted to shower more benefits to their descendants.
Whatever the reason, there was always a good use for additional batches of serum. If the Big Two wasn't afraid of losing their monopoly, then Ves could easily imagine that they were willing to offer casual support to the Supreme Sage.
After all, as a researcher who was not officially a part of the MTA, if any of his misdeeds such as the defilement of expert pilots came to light, he would bear all of the blame!
In the meantime, the mechers and fleeters would just whistle innocently as they joined the crowd of people who condemned the heinous experiments.
Ves shook his head. "I'm obsessing way too much over this issue."
The fact that the truth continued to elude him frustrated him beyond belief. He was so close to discovering a profound secret, yet the lack of solid information prevented him from solving his doubts on this massive conspiracy!
He slowly placed his palm on the surface of the massive bone metal gates. Taller, heavier and thicker than anything he had seen on this planet, he estimated that not even an expert mech could breach through it without risking total destruction!
"How can I pass through this barrier?"
He briefly glanced at Lucky. The cat had practically dozed off by now. His brief phasing attempt had already drained his spirituality for the day.
Ves would have to wait at least a couple of days before his gem cat regained enough energy to phase through another thick barrier.
That took way too much time!
He did not forget that the conservative faction and the opposition factions had both intruded on this pinnacle lab for quite some time. The cyclopes may have slaughtered all of the soldiers on this floor, but Ves was sure that more troops would be pouring in sooner or later.
"We can't afford to linger too long in this place!"
That reminded him of the massive open gates behind him. The way into the core section of the pinnacle lab was open to everyone now that his living gem had opened the way inside.
Ves was tempted to ask his living gem to close the entrance, but he held back from doing so. He was afraid he might lock himself inside the core area if he did so. With the firepower at his disposal, he didn't fear getting assailed by a squad of reinforcing soldiers. Even if more troops arrived, the maneating giants would not stand by and allow unauthorized intruders to barge into areas where they didn't belong.
"We need to solve this problem quickly. As long as we can get in and out quickly, it won't matter if the entrance behind us is still open."
He shook his Supreme Comprehension gem again. "Hey, tell me how to get past this gate. I only need you to open one more barrier."
His gem shook side by side, which meant it answered with a rejection.
"What do you mean by that?" Ves growled.
He was so close to his goal now. His spiritual senses could literally perceive a strong and concentrated source of life energy on the other side of the gate in front of him. There had to be a way to get inside!
Yet as Ves continued to quiz the living gem, it continually rejected his request.
"Is it because you forgot how to get inside?"
The gem nodded, but Ves wasn't too sure about that answer. He narrowed his eyes.
"Are you withholding something?"
The gem shook for a moment before trying to lead him to another place. The gem encouraged him to move to the opposite side of the corridor. Ves and his team carefully walked past the rows of bloodstained cyclopes and stopped before another gate.
Ves didn't feel any strong concentrations of life energy behind this massive barrier. "What I want isn't behind this gate."
His gem moved a few times. Ves interpreted its meaning as best he could.
"I see. Your goal isn't the same as mine."
This was a problem. Ves wanted to harvest the fruits of Special Project 'V' while this intelligent gem sought to come back to life.
Ves made a guess. "Is your body behind this gate?"
The gem flew up and down so vigorously that it was clear that Ves hit the nail on the head!
The Supreme Sage never wanted to die. It was already a miracle that Lucky managed to capture a remnant of his spirituality into a gem, but this was no pleasant way to live for anyone. A figure as powerful as the leader of the LRA probably regarded his current form to be a shame!
If Ves was in the ancient man's shoes, he would have wanted to get back his human body as well. Perhaps this was why the cyclopes cleared the way to this core section. They were programmed to assist the Supreme Sage's restoration to the best of their abilities.
It was a pity that their might wasn't good enough to get past the final gate. They could punch the surface all they wanted, but the barrier was so thick that it would only get dented after hours of pummeling!
The enormous humanoids would likely run out of energy long before they could get all the way through!
"Sir?" Dr. Perris hesitantly asked as she eyed the moving gem. "Is it really possible for you to…"
He recalled he never gave her an explanation about this matter. "This isn't a regular gem. There are a lot of secrets involved with this, so please refrain from masking any further. Just be aware that anything can happen."
The woman had received so many shocking revelations today that one more impossibility hardly fazed her anymore. She turned numb as she got lost in her own thoughts.
Ves turned his attention back to his gem. "I think we have a problem here. If you get past this gate and manage to get what you want, what will I get in return? Will you help me open the other gate and allow me to take away the life-prolonging treatment serum that you have produced?"
The gem eagerly nodded, but Ves wasn't fooled!
"Don't you see the problem here? If I give you what you want, what guarantee do I have that I get what I want?"
They were at an impasse. Whomever went first had no obligation to return the favor. Ves did not believe that he could force the Supreme Sage to help him obtain the high-grade serum. At the same time, if Ves obtained his loot first, why should he bother bringing someone powerful back to life who happened to know some very important secrets?
Their interests no longer aligned at this time!
"Damnit, Lucky. Why are you so slow in recovering your strength?"
"Meowwww…" The cat blissfully dozed.
Then again, there was no guarantee that Lucky would be able to retrieve the serum if he was at full strength. The security measures had to be extremely high and life-prolonging treatment serum was so spiritually powerful and energetic that he wasn't sure whether his cat could even phase it through the vault door!
Ves began to develop a headache. There was no easy solution to this difficult impasse. The lack of trust on both sides prevented them from putting much faith in each other's promises.
The living gem had spent enough time around Ves to know what kind of person he was like. At the same time, Ves had explored enough about the pinnacle lab to know that the Supreme Sage was anything but a simple researcher.
As Ves continued to mull over the situation, the living gem in his grasp vibrated in a peculiar way.
Soon enough, the deck underneath his armored boots shook as numerous tall and heavy forms began to move.
A cyclops in front of him turned around and stepped close.
Another cyclops walked up from behind and blocked the way back.
Numerous other blood-stained giant humanoids flanked Ves and his team from different directions. Their dangerous posture signalled that they were no longer overlooking the presence of the Larkinsons anymore!
"Sir, the cyclopes! They're turning against us for some reason!" Dr. Perris exclaimed as her legs started to shake!
Ves glowered as he noted the changes. It was incredibly frightening to be at the center of attention of these murderous monsters!
His honor guard had already lifted up their rifles, but everyone knew that their weapons wouldn't be able to put any dent in these powerful humanoids.
Even so, Ves did not believe he lost all of leverage.
He materialized Amastendira for the first time in a very long time and pressed its muzzle straight onto the gem in his grasp!
"Do you think you can do what you want!? Once I break this crystallized shell of yours, there is no way you'll be able to make it back to your body! Only I can ensure that you will be able to transfer!"
The two had entered into yet another standoff! This time, neither side was under the illusion that they were on the same side anymore!
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