Chapter 4123 Damage Control
Truth and lies tangled together in a web that pushed Professor Anton Mendoza into an untenable position.
When his former mentor and superior tore out the veil that had been clouding Anton\'s vision for the entire time, the latter did not know what to believe anymore.
Did the Gauge Dynasty truly set up an elaborate scheme to entrap him and ruin his career for the sole purpose of tarnishing the Vermeer Group
Was the MTA truly not involved in this entire sordid affair, or had it actually used its considerable resources to fool the Fridaymen into blaming themselves
Was Director Trinsael actually a real mecher who was tasked with conducting secret research, or was he a fictional personality who did not show up in any records
Professor Anton simply couldn\'t judge what was going on anymore.
He realized that he never knew the truth in the first place.
Hahaha… I was so stupid and naive… hahahaha…
A normal Senior Mech Designer was incredibly smart and observant.
It shouldn\'t have been so easy to fool a person who made a living by spotting and solving countless complex engineering problems.
However, every mech designer was only proficient in a number of fields of engineering.
A rather sheltered mech designer who had only ever accrued experience by working in one design institution after another without interacting too much with outsiders was not that proficient in social engineering.
What compounded Professor Anton\'s naivety was that he had recently become obsessed with his radical design methods and solutions.
He became so tunnel-visioned on finding a means to revolutionize his design philosophy and bring it one step closer to realization that he did not bother to question his assumptions anymore!
I became just as single-minded as expert pilots. he reflected on himself.
I made so many mistakes and oversights that I deserved to get hoodwinked.
He did not question the shady location and providence of the secret base.
He did not question the identity or the many dubious claims made by Director Trinsael.
He did not bother to gain a second opinion or share his burden with anyone who was equipped to verify the truth.
He did not bother to think why the MTA would want to support his research in particular instead of leaving it up to their own people.
He did not question why the MTA was completely fine with his proposal to kill an expert pilot just to use the old soldier\'s bones as a raw material for an expert mech.
There were so many doubtful instances that alarm bells should have rung in Anton\'s mind a long time ago.
It was a pity that his insistence on finding a breakthrough had blinded him to the point where he only saw the roses and not the decaying bodies that fertilized the beautiful flowers.
The power of obsession could turn even the smartest mech designer into a gullible fool!
It is over, Anton. The large projection of Master Rexen said.
The agents of the Gauge Dynasty did not only leak your attempt to murder an expert pilot in order to conduct an insane experiment related to an expert mech, but they also blamed you for the deaths of thousands of other people.
What! Anton briefly shook himself out of his spiral of descent.
That is not true! I admit that I have compelled Venerable Zoman to sacrifice his life for the greater good of the Blue Cavalry, but I would never have been so depraved to slaughter thousands in order to further my own research.
The mech industry would have never tolerated my actions if that was the case!
Master Rexen stared at the suited Senior who was kneeling in despair at the moment.
For what it is worth, I believe you.
I know you well enough that you do not have the heart to go that far.
However, it is difficult to refute the lies espoused by the Gaugers.
Look at this, Anton.
A new projection appeared that displayed a literal mountain of bones and rotting flesh!
Skulls piled up like pyramids while other bones were strewn about as if they were dumped into the place without any thought.
The piles of shredded and decomposing flesh looked even worse.
It was as if hundreds if not thousands of people had literally been torn apart in order to pick out the choicest pieces of meat.
What shocked Professor Anton as well as Venerable Stixson so much was the lack of humanity depicted in the projected view.
The way that the perpetrator callously killed and used the bodily remains of innocent victims stood in stark contrast to how Professor Anton displayed utter respect towards Venerable Zoman\'s own biological remains!
That… is not mine… I am not responsible for these murders…
I believe you, Anton, but do you know where we found these bodies
700 meters away from your current position. Master Rexen answered.
For many months, you were working and conducting your research in the same asteroid base that also served as a human abattoir.
Whether you were responsible for these atrocities or not, it is a fact that local citizens from this star system and neighboring star systems have been kidnapped before subsequently slain on this site.
Due to the agitation of the agents of the Gauge Dynasty, the public and the relatives of the deceased will not be able to accept any other explanation than what is already spread in public.
And what explanation is that, Master
The prevailing story is that the victims, your victims, have lost their lives due to an unhinged Senior\'s irrational quest to empower mechs through the power of human sacrifice.
Professor Anton lowered his head.
He could deny all he wanted, but with how extensively \'Director Trinsael\' or the actual mastermind pushed him into this pit, there was probably no way for him to profess his innocence.
Not that it mattered!
The fact that he had guilt-tripped an expert pilot into voluntary death was true and undeniable!
This crime alone was enough to push him into eternal damnation!
The Blue Cavalry could never tolerate such a heinous event even if Anton\'s research succeeded in bearing fruit.
This was because its expert pilots and their many adherents in the service would revolt if they were ever expected to sacrifice their lives just to make an expert mech a little more powerful.
Although the expert pilots in the service of the Blue Cavalry were quite loyal to the Vermeer Group, there were some lines that simply shouldn\'t be crossed.
Professor Anton should have realized this as well, and he would have if he was in a more sober mood during the past few years.
It was a pity that his obsession had clouded even that bit of common sense!
Whether this is a trap or not is immaterial at this point. Master Rexen spoke.
At this point, we must satisfy the victims and provide an acceptable explanation to the public.
As the chief culprit of this tragedy, your head must serve as that explanation.
Professor Anton Mendoza, will you surrender into the Blue Cavalry\'s custody and cooperate with our investigators While we cannot undo the damage, we can make sure we learn as much from this incident as we can.
The more you can assist in our inquiry, the more you can prevent future mech designers from falling into the same trap.
Anton\'s heart had sunk until it had almost turned black.
However, there was enough duty and loyalty left inside of him that he was willing to do this much to help the Vermeer Group.
He knew it wasn\'t nearly enough to atone for his crimes and acts of negligence, but it was the only way he could still go forward while retaining the last remaining shreds of his honor.
As he began to raise his head and speak up, another party suddenly stopped him from giving his answer.
NO! STOP! The modified expert mech suddenly moved to put its frame between the observation room and the Blue Cavalry mechs! Professor Anton is innocent! He doesn\'t deserve to be treated like this.
All he ever wanted to do was help!
Master Rexen\'s projection shook a bit.
General Abershen-Blake has already ordered you to stand down and await detention, Venerable Stixson.
I will not stand by and let a good friend and an innocent mech designer bear the blame for someone else\'s crimes! The expert pilot insisted! Venerable Zoman did not give his life to us in vain.
Professor Anton\'s work truly succeeded! I can feel it! He is innocent!
The air suddenly grew tense as the skull mech began to resonate at an increasing intensity.
Professor Anton looked up in alarm.
I know you\'re right, Anton! Maybe your attempt hasn\'t worked out as well as we hoped this time, but I am sure you can vindicate Venerable Zoman\'s trust in your work! We just have to keep working in order to complete your current project!
This did not sit well with Master Rexen and the Blue Cavalry.
As the Master was about to issue a sterner warning, l Venerable Stixson was no longer willing to wait for the opposition to call in further reinforcements.
Expert pilots were decisive people.
Once they made a decision, they often acted upon it without entertaining any second thoughts.
They were also quite good at reading other people\'s intentions.
When Venerable Stixson saw that Master Rexen was determined to put a total end to this entire affair in one way or another, the young and impulsive expert pilot could not hold himself back any longer!
Follow me, professor! I will carve a way out for you! He roared even as his expert mech exploded into action!
The skull mech raised its rifle and began to fire a rapid sequence of resonance-empowered positron beams at the Blue Cavalry mechs within its line of sight!
Mech after mech collapsed onto the floor as the powerful positron beams seared straight through their armor and inflicted crippling damage onto their internals!
The regular mechs had no chance against a genuine expert mech! Not under these circumstances and with so few numbers
Stop, Venerable Stixson! You are committing treason! Master Rexen yelled just before his projection cut away.
It was a pity that Venerable Stixson remained unmoved to these pleas.
I will not allow any further injustice to take place under my nose!
The expert pilot followed his own heart and conviction and proceeded to fight for a way out of the secret base.
Under Stixson frantic urging, Anton bewilderingly entered the skull mech\'s cockpit.
There, he watched on as the rogue expert mech proceeded to shoot down any opposing mech and scare away any groups of infantry that sought to stop the escape of the chief suspect.
Stixson tried his best not to kill any Fridaymen in his escape attempt.
All of the damage he inflicted onto the opposing mechs merely disabled their systems without ever placing their cockpits at risk.
Without any expert mechs or overwhelming numbers on their side, the Blue Cavalry units simply found it impossible to stop Venerable Stixson from doing what he wanted.
Eventually, the rogue expert pilot and the fugitive Senior managed to make their escape.
That journey was one of the most chaotic periods of Anton\'s life.
He could not even explain how he was able to outrun his pursuers and evade capture for so long.
All he knew was that he could never return to the Friday Coalition for the rest of his life.
Anton spoke to Master Rexen one last time over the comm.
It was when he had just crossed the border of civilized space and became secure in the fact that his pursuers were unlikely to catch up at this point.
You shouldn\'t have called me, Anton. Rexen sighed.
Now I will be put under another round of investigation.
Do you know how much your escape has exacerbated this debacle
I am sorry, Master.
Don\'t apologize anymore.
You have made your way into lawless space.
The rules of survival are much different over there.
If you want to stay alive, then you must adapt to a more brutal game.
Never show weakness.
Project strength in any way you can.
The infamy that you have built up will serve you well in that.
Play into the madness that has led the public to believe you have ruthlessly cut down thousands of people in your quest to design a better mech.
Let the pirates of the frontier know that Reno Jimenez, otherwise known as the Skull Architect, is the most murderous mech designer in their midst.
What Anton looked astonished.
My name is not—
It is now. Master Rexen insisted.
The spooks of the Gauge Dynasty may have successfully provoked a scandal that has inflicted significant damage to our Vermeer Group social cohesion, but we have done our best to limit the damage.
We could not afford to drag in the Blue Cavalry and our expert pilots into this cesspit.
We especially could not afford to tarnish the reputation of your alma mater.
No matter what, the dignity of Marten Hildebrand and its backers must remain spotless.
Hence the reason why the culprit of the brutal murders is Professor Reno Jimenez, a failing mech designer who originated from an average mech design university, have I made myself clear
For what it is worth, I wish I would have intervened sooner.
I should not have denied you so often.
I at least needed to keep a closer eye on you when you started showing deviating behavior.
If I did, I could have guided you to a healthier course of action.
The fugitive mech designer became emotional to the point where he began to tear up.
I would have liked that as well…
This was the last time that the Skull Architect used his original name.
Professor Anton Mendoza became a forgotten person in the Vermeer Group.
Though not all of his traces could be scrubbed, the government did its best to minimize any mention of him.
The name disappeared on many databases and many people who knew him personally received strict orders to never talk about Anton Mendoza again.
Since the condemned mech designer largely spent his time in a closed circle and had very few interactions with other parties, it was easy for the Vermeer Group to make the alumni from Marten Hildebrand disappear.
In time, the scandal itself became forgotten as time and other events began to dominate people\'s attention.
The few people that were still obsessed over the incident finally let go once the Komodo War commenced in earnest.
Compared to a tragedy that affected a couple of thousands lives at most, a war that directly affected the lives of trillions of Fridaymen and Hexers and decided the future of even more people was much more significant!
The Skull Architect never forgot, though.
The traumas he experienced from this life-changing sequence of events haunted him up until this day.
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