1

Two days after they left Klux, Max was in the gym, working on consolidating his strength after the changes in his System Compatibility, when a message that every human hoped for but never expected to see appeared in his vision.

[Safety threshold reached, Increase Canceled. Maximum Modifier Achieved.]

Max quickly checked his status to see what level he had reached that would be as good as his physical body could handle.

Keres Max

[Compatibility Determined] Rank s

[Primary Attribute] STR 2.5x modifier

[Secondary Bonuses] DEX 2x, SPD 2x, 0 Diminishing Returns

[STR] 3+200% CAP

[DEX] 3+104%

[SPD] 3+106%

[Innate Talent] Active Telepathy

[Additional Function Unit Optimization]

[Additional Function Multi Point Targeting]

[Additional Function Split Fire]

[Additional Function Perception 3]

[Additional Function Unified Force]

With a base strength of three points, plus a two hundred percent bonus, he would be at nine times the human standard, which seemed to be the maximum that his body could handle without risking damage to his own bones and muscles, which had reached the limit of what they could be modified to accomplish with his System.

Nine times the standard for a full-grown man was no laughing matter. Max could bench press nearly two tonnes and easily jump on the roof of a Crusader Class Mecha. By the logic of most species and any unaugmented human, he was practically a superhero, but it seemed that this was as far as the System would take his strength.

"I guess I need to work on agility and speed, then." Max sighed to himself as he saw the data. If he couldn't increase strength, he could still work on the other aspects.

He briefly wondered how many people in history had actually managed to Cap out an S Ranked System, but it didn't seem to be any different than the cap for Rank A since he was only a few points away even before he gained Active Telepathy.

That meant that the limit was most likely based on his bone and muscle structure being incompatible with any more upgrades since he gained an upgraded Innate Talent with the last upgrade and not a durability rework of his entire body.

[Nico, I don't suppose you have a way to increase the body's durability without replacing anything, do you? I have hit my strength Cap.] Max asked Telepathically.

[There is a Max in my head? Oh, this is going to be fun. When did you upgrade your skill?] Nico responded.

[Just a few days ago. Now, do you know a way to improve my durability, or am I stuck at this level for a while?] Max tried again.

[I have an idea, but we haven't started human trials yet. The Valkia are incredibly durable, and I think we can convince that their bone structure is an acceptable upgrade for human beings. We are somewhat limited by the sensibilities of the System, as it won't accept modifications that it deems inhuman, as they are incompatible with its goals of improving humanity.

A slight change in bone composition should be enough to let you gain a bit more strength, but why do you need it? Seriously, I'm not that heavy.] Nico's thoughts were interspersed with scenes of combat, grappling, and "Grappling" in a more intimate sense.

She had a point, he didn't actually need to keep increasing his strength, but he wanted to. It was the principle of it. He was still a young man. Reaching his limits so soon would be a real shame.

[Alright, we can start on that later. What else has your team come up with?] Max asked.

[We improved the suits a little bit. We now have a version two Pilot Suit, which still has half the augmentic increase, but no added armor plating. Some of the testers had expressed concerns about the fact that it is so form-fitting, so we added a standby mode, where it would hang loosely like a standard suit unless extreme gravitational forces were applied or the pilot chose to activate it.]

[You could have just added a bit of bulge to the design at the groin, and they would have stopped complaining.] Max pointed out.

[False advertising. We don't pad the chests for the ladies.]

[Alright, get back to work. I am still waiting to see what you were trying to do with your own modifications.] Max told her, then focused on his workout again, heading to the agility trainers.

He didn't spend much time on them, only making them an incidental part of his workout, but today he split his time evenly between agility and speed training, which shocked the others in the Gym.

"Commander, are you preparing for a marathon or something? Where are the weights?" One of the Pilots, a fellow Gym Rat that was affectionately known as Beefcake by his Battalion, asked with great confusion.

"I capped out my strength. The system says I can't go over the equivalent of 9 basis points without risk of physical damage that exceeds safety thresholds." Max told him, not holding back on taunting the man who had put immense effort into increasing his strength.

"How is that even possible? I have a hundred and fifty bonus points and a two-point strength base. Nine points total is a monster, not a human." Beefcake complained, flexing his biceps with a rueful look.

Five times the human standard was already impressive. Compared to those without a System, Beefcake was a walking disaster, and it hadn't occurred to him that anyone could be so far ahead of him.

"A lucky upgrade brought me to a three-point base," Max explained, and the big man nodded in understanding.

"Fate truly favors you, Commander. Not only are you strong, but I have seen that you're also pretty fast since you can pretty much keep up with Major Nico. It's like the two of you stole all the bonuses for an entire planet." Beefcake chuckled.

"You aren't wrong. Most planets in old Kepler couldn't keep up the Systems of those who were born on Kepler Terminus, to begin with, and we both lucked out with great innate talents." Max agreed.

"What is her Innate Talent anyhow? Something to do with Combat Perception, right?" One of the other Pilots in the Gym asked.

"No, she can innately control technology."

Max's response made everyone look at him with shock. "I thought she was just smart and loved to hack computers. You're saying that is her Innate Talent, and the combat ability is just her own skill? Or does she have combat System Functions?"

"Her System Skills are Mecha Repair related. Originally, Central Command wanted to put her in charge of the Regiment's maintenance corps. It was only because the Thunder Pattern Super Heavy units got to have a Technician that she wasn't your Maintenance Chief." Max told them.

Beefcake frowned, with a hint of terror in his mind. "Can you imagine getting reamed out by her as maintenance chief? Not only is she scary in person, she knows everything. Like, everything. Even the things you don't know about your own performance."

He wasn't wrong. The amount of performance data that she could compile from a combat record was terrifying.

"See, I'm not the only one with good luck. You all got lucky as well." Max told them, then returned to his workout.