The Mech Touch - Chapter 3335: X Marks The Spot
Chapter 3335: X Marks The Spot
When Ves chose to bury his stash of Timpala Steel inside an asteroid, he did not record any precise coordinates or anything. Neither did he plant any beacons or leave any surface clues.
He was too afraid that others might sniff out these clues and unearth his buried treasure ahead of time!
The only details he recorded in his mind was the general orbital map of the Trion Enze System and the appearance of the key asteroid.
By accounting for the passage of time, Ves was roughly able to calculate which slice of the asteroid belt he needed to start his search.
This was a crucial time-saving step! If Ves really didn't have any clue where his desired rock could be found, he would have to order his men to scan the complete ring!
However, since he was able to narrow down the search area, the operation became a lot more manageable. The fleet did not have to disperse too many assets in order to develop a good overview of the asteroids in the current zone.
"Even so, I still have to sift through a lot of rocks." Ves muttered.
He was a mech designer though. Faced with a static problem like this, he could easily engineer ways to simplify and automate his search.
He put his programming skills to use and developed a sorting mechanism that filtered the asteroids by mass, dimensions and other factors that he could still recall about the place where he buried his treasure.
He briefly had the illusion that he was an old-fashioned treasure hunter looking for a buried treasure by tracing back the X on a primitive paper map.
Just like all of those stories, it was always a challenge to figure out the definite coordinates of where the promised treasure was hidden.
"I really hope the asteroid I'm looking for hasn't collided into anything." He muttered.
Although it looked as if the asteroids in the belt were obediently orbiting around the star at the same velocity, Ves knew that a lot of collisions took place on a regular basis over time.
If the hook-shaped asteroid that he was looking for happened to smash into another large obstacle, it could have broken apart or received a jolt that catapulted it out of its regular orbit!
Although the odds of that happening to this particular rock was small, Ves was still worried that such a complication might have taken place.
If he wasn't able to rely on the details he remembered to complete his objective, then his simple search would truly turn into the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack!
"C'mon! It has to be here somewhere!"
If he had more time and resources back then, he would have been able to arrange a more convenient hiding space. Yet because Ves was reaching the end of his Mastery trip, he could only make due with burying most of the Timpala Steel that the dwarves managed to bring out of Desala X in a seemingly random space rock.
It was the most secure choice he could make at the time. No one was bored enough to deep scan every single asteroid with powerful and expensive scanners in a star system, especially one centered around a worthless red dwarf.
Ves found it rather ironic that an immensely valuable exotic such as Timpala Steel could be find in the places that the most powerful players such as the Big Two routinely dismissed. Whether it was the Desala System or the Trion Enze System, only yokels bothered to rummage around these places.
A silent beep sounded in his mind.
His self-created sorting program found a probable match after running through the scans of thousands of asteroids.
When Ves mentally called up the scanning data of the rock in question, he froze for a few seconds.
"It's… the exact same rock."
Now that he was able to look at the precise image, he no longer held any doubts.
It was the same rock!
Even after decades of tumbling around in this silent belt, the large rock only suffered a bunch of minor collisions. Perhaps its mass had been reduced by a bit and perhaps its edges looked a little differently from what he remembered, but he could still recognize enough unique craters and other distinctive marks to be 99.99 percent certain that he had stumbled upon his X!
His body shook with excitement. He came close to boarding a shuttle straight away, but he quickly suppressed his impulse.
He needed to keep his head cool. Just because he was close to his objective didn't mean it was already in the bag. He was most afraid of others fishing his prize just as he was about to take it into his possession!
In order to obscure his goal and prevent any potential sneaky bastards from swooping in at the last second, Ves began to formulate a plan.
He needed to retrieve the package in person. He trusted no one else for this job. He wanted to submit it to the System on the spot in order to minimize any problems that might occur after the Timpala Steel was brought back to the Spirit of Bentheim.
"Hmmm, I need to move quickly, though."
Eventually, he decided on a fairly simple but time-consuming plan. He instructed his subordinates to prepare a large shuttle and load it up with mining and drilling equipment.
Ves then boarded it with a small entourage consisting of himself, Lucky and his honor guard.
"Head over to this asteroid." He instructed the honor guard who sat behind the helm today. "We're going to dig a hole."
The well-trained Kinners didn't ask why Ves randomly wanted to go out to dig a hole in a worthless space rock in person. It wasn't their business to know these kinds of secrets.
Their job was to protect him and bring him to safety if necessary.
Lucky slapped his articulated tail against Ves' helmet. The cat was pretty annoyed at being pulled out of his cozy rest.
"Don't complain, Lucky. I need you by my side to guard against any eventualities that might happen."
The shuttle ride proceeded slowly as if Ves wasn't in a hurry. When it finally reached an asteroid he designed earlier, the hatch opened up. Several guards brought out a heavy drilling machine and anchored the device on the surface of the space rock.
The drilling machine was relatively simple so the guards were easily able to set it up. Soon, it began to drill a hole through the surface. The diameter of the cavity was wide enough to fit a single soldier in heavy combat armor but not much more.
Ves, who was wearing his Unending Regalia, stood patiently at the side while Lucky was randomly zipping around.
"This is going to take a while."
Half an hour passed. They didn't just drill one hole, but several ones, each at different points on the surface of the asteroid.
There was no rule or pattern to the digging. Ves had drawn random spots on the diagram and told his lackeys to drill the holes to a certain depth.
Each time they completed the job, Ves floated through the narrow hole and poked around for fifteen minutes while he activated all of his interference devices. He accomplished nothing of note and reached the surface without showing anything special.
He then repeated this routine half-a-dozen more times before he was done with the asteroid.
"Pack up our gear. We're heading to the next asteroid."
They continued to perform this monotonous operation on other random asteroids. Ves was sure that anyone who was paying attention to him was probably able to figure out that he was looking for something.
Yet his behavior showed that he wasn't sure where his objective could be found. He could only perform a manual search by picking out the most likely candidates. So far, his search did not seem easy.
He was slowly closing in on the right asteroid, though. The hook-shaped rock that was floating around peacefully amidst lots of other rocks continued to lure him closer.
After mindlessly exploring seven empty asteroids, a lot of time had already passed. Lucky yawned as Ves and his crew boarded the shuttle once again.
"I know it's a long day, but this is just a small ordeal. Please bear with it a while longer."
Even Ves yawned after spending so long to keep up the charade. He still stuck with his plan, though.
Once the shuttle pressed down on another asteroid, the honor guard brought out the drilling machine without any delay and began to drill at the first point that Ves had selected.
When Ves stepped onto the surface of the hook-shaped asteroid, he did not show any excitement. He had deliberately suppressed all of his excitement by adopting a calm and more emotional mental mask.
On the surface, he exhibited the same boredom and lack of confidence as before. Even Lucky was fooled by his subdued demeanor.
Ves yawned again as he mindlessly watched his guards drill a hole at the wrong place.
It was only when they were about to drill their fifth hole that Ves secretly became more alert.
This time, the guards were drilling hole in the deepest pit of the asteroid.
Several decades ago, a possessed dwarven body had tunneled at this approximate location.
The coordinates and the angle of the current drilling operation did not exactly coincide with the drilling operation of the past.
Ves deliberately fudged the details a bit so that the drilling machine did not exactly bore through the hole made in the past.
If that happened, the machine would encounter a lot less resistance than before. Though the chance was small, such an anomaly might get picked up by someone.
"Let's go down again, Lucky." He said as the drilling machine had reached the specified depth.
Ves and his cat floated down the freshly-made hole.
Once they reached the bottom, Ves activated his interference countermeasures. He not only made use of a couple of jammers, but also went as far as to call up his System comm in order to activate its Privacy Shield!
This was the strongest form of signal blocking that he had at his disposal. He was confident that not even the MTA could penetrate through it unless one of its agents was really close!
Lucky finally noticed that Ves was acting differently this time. Now that he was certain that no one could see through him, he finally dropped his act and grinned.
"We're almost at the finish line, buddy. Just wait a while longer. I just need to dig a bit more."
During his previous tunnel jaunts, he already developed a habit of digging in random directions with the help of a powerful handheld mining tool.
Therefore, his current pattern did not deviate from the one he set before.
Ves leveraged his implant to calculate the coordinates of his original stash so that he could figure out the direction of where he needed to dig.
He angled the mining tool at a downwards angle and steadily began to create a new hole.
He was quite wary of accidentally damaging the container that may have degraded over time, so he did not dare to dig too fast.
Eventually, he stumbled upon an empty pocket. He immediately halted his forward progress and instead worked to widen the hole and the area around his find.
When a light shone through the newly-made tunnel, a very familiar reinforced metal box rested on the other end. Its crude construction, low-quality materials looked so familiar that Ves had a feeling he had the illusion that he had just made it yesterday!
To think that he had left this treasure box behind in a time before his birth.
Lucky looked befuddled.
"Be careful. Let me handle what's inside. Its value is beyond measure."
Right now, Ves was afraid that Lucky's hunger would get the better of him. A material such as Timpala Steel should probably be an irresistible meal to the gluttonous gem cat!
Ves was already prepared to launch Blinky in case Lucky wanted to take a bite.
Seeing nothing drastic had happened, he moved through the tunnel and slowly reached the reinforced box.
Before doing anything else, Ves deployed additional safeguards by unpacking a collection of sheets that was mounted to the rear of his Unending Regalia. He quickly built a simple metal hut around the tunnel that further helped with dampening and blocking signals.
After making several cautious sweeps, which included throwing a pile of luminescent dust particles in the cavity to detect possible infiltrators, Ves finally felt secure enough to retrieve his prize.
"Let's open this box."
He drew out a multitool from his toolbelt and began to cut through the reinforced container. Since it was made out of cheap third-class materials, it didn't take long for Ves to open his box.
His eyes widened as he keenly looked through his helmet.
The chunky material was neatly preserved inside the box. Even without scanning it, he recognized that it was the genuine article. It's appearance was an exact match to his memories and the passage of time had not affected it in the slightest!
A huge weight lifted off his shoulders! He was afraid that the MTA or someone else managed to trace his route back then and dug up his stash ahead of time. It turned out that he had worried in vain!
"It's finally within my reach!"
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