The Mech Touch

Chapter 2214 The Scientific Method

The moment he conceived of the possibility of using lawless pirates as test subjects, Ves eagerly wanted to get his hands on them. The more test subjects he had access to, the more progress he could make towards his study in artificially cultivating high-ranking mech pilots and mech designers.

As long as he developed a method and confirmed it was safe, he could apply it to anyone with untapped spiritual potential. Even if they did not break through on the spot, Ves at least paved the way for them to advance smoothly!

As for those who already developed themselves to an extent such as Jannzi, Joshua, Tusa, Commander Dise and Commander Orfan, Ves might be able to purify their will and spirit even further so that their chances of breaking through their respective bottlenecks increased!

If he completed his experiments quickly enough, he didn't have to wait until he returned to civilized space to foster the first expert pilots of the Larkinson Clan. 

He could encourage the formation of one of them while he was still in the Nyxian Gap!

The thought of adding bona-fide expert pilots to his force makeup almost turned him drunk.

Of course, an expert pilot without an expert mech was like an emperor without clothes. The true might and majesty of a high-ranking mech pilot could never be expressed with a mundane mech that did not incorporate any resonating materials.

However, the emergence of just a single expert pilot would have a very effect on the morale and confidence of all of his combat personnel!

His fellow Larkinsons would fight a lot harder if they knew that an expert pilot was in their midst. Their admiration and worship to those who underwent apotheosis was so high that the expert pilot did not even have to enter battle in order to enhance the battle performance of other mech pilots by 20 percent!

Still, it was a bit of a stretch to expect that he could raise an expert pilot in a matter of weeks. He was far from reaching this point. Though the method he conceived sounded nice, it was based on a lot of unproven assumptions and shaky homemade theories.

While Ves was very confident in the theoretical framework on spirituality that he built up step by step, a good scientist should never peddle untested solutions.

"I'm a bit of a bad scientist." He shrugged and admitted to himself.

Many times, he became so excited by his innovations that he immediately implemented them into his work without properly testing them. Even if it worked out most of the time didn't mean he was vindicated.

If Ves wanted to become a more effective and respectable researcher, he needed to respect scientific method and follow it earnestly.

The scientific method could be framed in many different ways, but Ves preferred to split it up in five stages: observation, question, hypothesis, results and conclusion.

For example, in this case, his initial observation was that forming spiritual constructs in his mind altered the distribution of spiritual attributes in his mind.

This led to various questions. One of them went as followed: was it possible to induce individuals with spiritual potential to advance to a higher rank?

After forming a question he wanted to answer, it was helpful to gain some direction by forming some guesses.

Usually, this was the stage where he was supposed to hit the books and read up on the research performed by others.

However, since Ves did not have access to a single textbook on spirituality, he could only resort to his own theoretical framework as a basis.

By applying his knowledge on spirituality, he could easily form a hypothesis that could be used as the core of an experiment.

In this case, his current hypothesis went something like this: The key to inducing people to advance to a higher rank was to alter their spiritual attribute makeup.

Now that he made this statement, he needed to back it up with proof. In this case, he needed to conduct a range of experiments.

Since his experiment involved changing people, he needed to get his hands on people.

Usually, scientists who wanted to experiment on people had to go through a lot of trouble. Conducting simulations could only do so much because no model perfectly replicated the functioning of human physiology and mentality.

Even cloning humans was problematic because these human-shaped meat bags exhibited various deviations from normal human functioning due to their lack of sentience. This was especially problematic when it came to matters of the mind.

Normal biotech experts still preferred to experiment with cloned bodies if there was nothing better at hand, but Ves already ruled out this option.

Clones possessed no spirit. This was something that Ves had already ascertained.

That left him with the ethically dubious option of performing his experiments on actual, living humans.

This was a little bit problematic in human space. Every scientist and researcher had to abide by lots of laws that served to enforce a standardized code of ethics and customs onto them. Even if these laws weren't always enforced didn't mean it was okay to treat random space peasants as lab rats!

The only exception to this rule was pirates, but even then many research institutions openly refused to experiment on them. Civilized humans should never lower themselves to the standard of scum. If Ves was still in civilized space, he would have to be a lot more circumspect about his intentions if he wanted to preserve his reputation.

He had no concerns in the Nyxian Gap. Not only was it sufficiently isolated to prevent any news from proliferation, it was also filled with an abundant amount of viable test subjects!

Frankly, Ves couldn't have traveled to a better location in the Nyxian Gap to perform human experiments!

He rubbed his smooth-shaven chin in thought. "Perhaps this explains why some Peacekeeper outfits venture into the Nyxian Gap while bringing along some research teams. It's very risky for those researchers to conduct their experiments in a lawless region, but as long as they gain their desired results, it is worth the risk!"

Results! This was what Ves was after! Performing experiments was not an end in itself, but merely a means to an end.

However, not every research result was equal. They varied in accuracy, precision, relevance representation, quantity and so on. In general, the more thorough the experiment, the higher the quality of results.

When it came to developing a promising but risky method of facilitating the advancement of his talented personnel, Ves was not okay with performing a simple and rudimentary experiment.

"I need to abide by a higher standard this time!" Ves urged himself. "I'm a Journeyman Mech Designer. I will probably shame my university teachers if I perform a sloppy test."

This meant he couldn't settle on results of spiritually altering a couple of pirates. He needed to perform the same procedure at least a hundred times, and he should develop variations of the same method and apply it to their own separate batches of test subjects as well!

"How many test subjects does that take?"

Ves shuddered at the daunting figure required to obtain proper research results. He needed at least a thousand test subjects!

"It's not a problem to get my hands on a thousand pirates."

A typical established pirate group such as the Rust Grinders already numbered that much. Aside from the hundreds of mech pilots, they also employed a larger number of support personnel.

The problem was that not every pirate equated to a qualified test subject to him! He could only test his current hypothesis on pirates with spiritual potential.

The good news was that, as far as he knew, the proportion of humans with spiritual potential was unchanged in the pirate population.

What truly made high-ranking mech pilots and mech designers rare in regions like the Nyxian Gap was their poor discipline, training standard and other factors.

There was a lot of untapped potential in the pirate population.

The bad news was that the population density in the Nyxian Gap was very low. Ves estimated that it might take at least a year to obtain a thousand qualified test subjects!

He couldn't afford to waste that much time! He still had five months left before his wedding with Gloriana took place.

"Perhaps I should compromise a bit. Maybe obtaining a hundred qualified test subjects is sufficient."

Though the quality of his research results would definitely drop if he experimented on so little people, it was better than nothing.

"I'll have to direct my task force to actively hunt down some pirate groups. The more pirates we capture, the more my experiment can progress!"

Once he experimented on enough test subjects and gained some satisfactory results, he should have made enough gains to answer his hypothesis.

This was the final conclusion stage. Not only would he be able to answer his original question, he could also formulate new observations, each of which might spark follow-up experiments.

"Hmm.. I think I'm overlooking something along the way." He pressed his finger on his lips. "Oh well, it's not important."

Ves knew what he had to do now. His eyes sharpened as he hungered to conduct his experiments as soon as possible.

He impulsively activated his comm in order to call Major Verle.

"Ves? Why are you calling at this moment?"

"Stop avoiding the pirate groups along the way. If they're weak, pounce on them. If they're slightly stronger, pounce on them. If they're too strong, bring it up to me and we'll prepare a proper plan."

Major Verle's projection frowned. "You sound.. different, Ves. Why order this change?"

"I need to get my hands on a lot of living pirates." Ves truthfully answered. "This is important! Prioritize seeking out pirate groups that are weak but very numerous! The strength and wealth of the pirates are of no consequence. Only the amount of bodies matter!"

"This…"

"Just do as I say! Coordinate with Ophelia Kronon and Calabast. The sooner we capture some pirates, the better. You don't have to go through great lengths to avoid killing them if they pose a threat to us, but don't kill off anyone who surrenders. Just place them into custody before I have the chance to inspect the te-, I mean captives in person."

Major Verle frowned deeper, though he refrained from indulging in his curiosity. "Do you have any specific.. requirements.. for the captives you desire?"

"Preferably, try to preserve the lives of mech pilots and mech designers, but any pirate will do. Quantity matters more."

After passing some additional instructions, Ves ended his call with Major Verle. There was no need for him to pay close attention to this matter at this point. He trusted his subordinates to enact his orders faithfully.

Ves smiled and mentally patted himself on his back. Unlike with his previous experiments, he intended to hold himself to a much higher standard of scientific rigor. Only by trying out his methods on as many test subjects as possible would he be able to obtain reliable and accurate results.

He turned towards Lucky, who was lying on his deck with his belly facing the ceiling.

"How many test subjects do you think I need to experiment upon?"

"Meow."

"That sounds too few."

"Meow."

"Oh I would love to, but it's too difficult to get my hands on so many pirates."

"Meow meow."

"Ah, you have a point. Roaming pirate fleets usually don't have that many people, but it's a different story for pirate bases! The larger ones are especially notable for their larger populations! I can acquire loads of test subjects after capturing a base!"

The biggest problem was that no fixed pirate base was weak. Only pirates who were strong enough to defend themselves against Peacekeepers and rival pirates possessed the capital to plant their flag on a desirable location!

This meant that if he wanted to reach his goals quickly, he needed to imitate his father.

Even though Ves didn't have the help of his mother, he could at least rely on Lucky to take over her role!

His eyes gleamed brighter as he stared at Lucky with appreciation.

His cat nervously flicked his tail. "Meow?"

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