The Mech Touch Chapter 1008
1006 Lieutenant Colonel Xelven
The New Foundation System bustled with traffic. Just like the last time Ves visited this strategic defensive bulwark, large amounts of carriers, transports, cargo haulers and more vessels traveled in and out of the system.
"As if it is a single part in a giant machine called the Bright Republic's war effort."
With an impending attack on the Bentheim System looming over the horizon, the Mech Corps scrambled as much mechs and resources they could spare to reinforce their critical port system and the ultimate goal the Vesians claimed to fight for. Once the Bright Republic lost the Bentheim System, their fates would be doomed!
The Vesians already possessed two port systems, so if they received the third and most strategically-placed one, they would hold absolute dominance over all the trade that flowed through their region of space!
The economic prosperity of both states would see such a marked divergence that the Bright Republic would definitely succumb in the next war!
Therefore, even if the Brighters believed the threat might be a ruse to lure the Mech Corps away from defending other strategic star systems, they simply couldn't afford to neglect Bentheim's defense.
If Ves studied the troop disposition in the New Foundation System a bit deeper, he might discover the absence of a few elite mech regiments that ordinarily guarded several important facilities of the Mech Corps.
The military supply ship separated from the convoy after arrival. The vessel travelled to the inner system and went through a number of checks before being allowed to dock at a space station orbiting New Foundation V.
Once Ves disembarked from the ship, his guards guided him through the clean but upscale interior of the Spindle Station. Instead of sending him to a shuttle heading down the surface, they instead guided him towards an office compartment aboard the station.
They deposited him outside the hatch leading into the office of a high-ranking officer.
"Please wait here, Mr. Larkinson." One of the guards said. "Lieutenant Colonel Xelven will see you soon."
An unfamiliar name. Ves never heard of this figure before, but his high rank made Ves rather apprehensive. Why was he taken here? What did the Mech Corps want from him this time?
Though he figured the Mech Corps wanted to station him away from Bentheim due to his high profile, why did bring him all the way back to New Foundation V?
Ves waited quietly outside the office for over half an hour. Twenty minutes into his wait, someone else arrived and sat on the row of chairs placed in the corridor to accommodate waiting visitors.
The newcomer appeared garbed in a typical outfit for government officials. The man glanced at Ves and immediately took in his mech designer service uniform and his ribbons, both of which replaced his older, destroyed ones.
"Ves Larkinson! What a pleasure to meet you!"
This wasn't the first time Ves got that kind of greeting. With his face plastered over the news throughout the entire Republic, Ves had somehow joined the ranks of famous Larkinsons that many people recognized by sight.
Though he became kind of irritated by these kinds of encounters, Ves still returned a polite smile. "In the flesh. And you are?"
"Preston Lowe. I serve as a secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
That caught Ves' attention. Did Preston Lowe's presence have anything to do with his next assignment?
"Oh? What does a secretary do at MinFA?"
"I assist ambassadors and head of missions in performing their diplomatic functions." Preston said proudly. "The Bright Republic has exerted much effort over the years to keep the neighboring states placated. The Coman Federation and the Independent State of Pillis are especially vexing to communicate with. Reaching a common understanding with people who possess a vastly different viewpoint than us is very challenging, but necessary towards our survival."
As Preston bragged on a bit further, Ves realized that Preston merely served as an assistant to a real diplomat. Even so, his job often saw him arranging meetings, drafting important documents and tending to the needs of visiting high officials.
In other words, he must have seen a lot during his work.
"I must say, Mr. Larkinson, I'm still surprised to see you here. You have made quite a splash at Bentheim. Although considering what is in the works, perhaps your presence here does make sense. You are certainly more eye-catching than other mech designers."
"Do you know what this is all about?"
"I have some clues, but it is not my place to tell." Preston smiled coyly.
Ves did not have to wait for long because the hatch to Xelven's office slid open. After another official type walked out, a voice called for Ves to enter.
"After you." Preston said with a smile.
Once he entered the office, Ves saw that the desk on the other side was empty. Instead, he encountered two people sitting at some comfortable seats next to a coffee table.
One man appeared to be Lieutenant Colonel Xelven. The man sat next to a vaguely familiar official.
"We meet again, Mr. Larkinson. Please sit over here."
He finally recalled where he saw the man. This was Alistair Cordwraith, one of Senator Tovar's execute assistants!
"It's nice to meet you as well, Mr. Cordwraith."
Ves sat down on the opposite side of the coffee table. A cup of specialty tea had already been prepared for him, and for the sake of politeness, he grabbed the cup and took a sip.
Bland. While Ves vaguely tasted a complex blend of tastes, he would have rather added some sweetener to make it taste less like plain water.
"Are you enjoying your tea?" Colonel Xelven asked. "Don't answer that, I can tell you have no idea of the value of what you are drinking."
That reassured Ves a bit. Xelven seemed to be a straight shooter. "I would prefer it if we could move on to business, sir."
"Ah yes. We've recalled you from Bentheim rather hastily I'm told. It's a bit serendipitous but your recovery period has given us a good excuse to employ you in a lighter capacity than the job you held before."
That puzzled Ves. A mech designer working as a liaison for the Mech Corps already held one of the least demanding positions imaginable.
For some reason, he thought this might have something to do with Senator Tovar.
Mr. Cordwraith smiled and put down his tea cup on the saucer. "Colonel Xelven exaggerates somewhat. Let me start at the beginning. Do you recall the outcome of your last mission? The help you have given us has significantly strengthened Senator Camden Tovar's stature within the diplomatic community of the Komodo Star Sector. So much so that Tovar has hatched an ambitious plan that will change the very fate of the Bright Republic!"
This sounded rather preposterous to Ves. Senator Tovar hadn't even enjoyed his new lease of life for long and already he was throwing around his weight like he was a four-hundred year old relic?
Then again, what did Ves knew of high society.
"The Bureau of Sector Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked closely with Senator Tovar to see if his plan is feasible." Cordwraith continued. "Surprisingly, some of our foreign counterparts are quite receptive to the possibilities, so we have agreed to meet and hold clandestine talks at a neutral state. Ah, that is all I can reveal to you at this time. You will have to sign some non-disclosure agreements before we can discuss any further."
Ves looked confused. "Could you please enlighten me why I am involved? I do not have a background in diplomacy so I fail to see why I'm being told of such a development."
"Senator Tovar personally asked for you to be part of his diplomatic mission for the upcoming talks." Xelven said plainly. "While Senator Tovar is appointed by the Republic to represent the interests of our state, it would be rather undignified to send him out alone. He will need secretaries and aides to take care of the details and provide expert opinion. As a distinguished mech designer with several notable accomplishments under your belt, you are uniquely suited to represent the interests of the Mech Corps and the Republic as one of our technical attachés."
This sounded rather fishy. Ves frowned deeply. "To be frank, sir, I am not entirely certain that my presence will benefit the diplomatic mission. I do not have the knowledge or experience required to be of any use for high-level diplomatic talks."
"Your presence alone is enough of a boon." Cordwraith said. "Another Senior Mech Designer has already agreed to be the principal technical attaché of the delegation, so you are not expected to shoulder any onerous duties."
Cordwraith and Xelven left most unmentioned, but Ves could read a bit between the lines. Hearing that another Senior Mech Designer would already be present to do the actual work, Ves figured his presence served a completely different role.
Likely, Senator Tovar caught mention of Ves in the news in recent times and figured that he'd be a great addition to the mission.
His goal in the delegation wasn't to extend his technical expertise. Instead, they wanted Ves to show up in full dress and wear his eye-catching medals to impress the other party!
It galled Ves a bit when he figured this out. Senator Tovar was far too meddlesome for his own good. Who wanted to be used as a parade horse?
However, Ves had to admit he also grew a bit curious at what the reinvigorated senator planned to accomplish with these secret talks. He felt as if this invitation was an opportunity to witness something that could result in a drastic change of the war situation!
From the looks of it, Mr. Cordwraith and Colonel Xelven did not expect no for an answer. When someone as important as Senator Tovar called, nobody in their right mind would slight him and refuse.
While Ves did not want to be involved with the Tovar Family at all, this mission sounded as if it involved the entire Republic instead of just a single founding family.
Although the risks did not sound very small, the curiosity and the desire to experience something new and exciting pushed him to accept his new mission.
Ves closed his eyes for a moment. "I accept. What do I have to sign?"
"Great!" Colonel Xelven dug out a data pad and placed it on the coffee table. "Please sign the documents on the pad."
As Ves picked up the pad, he skimmed over the documents before signing each of them. All of them contained the usual thick legalese that spoke of dire punishment should Ves ever spill out secrets and so on. Everything looked standard and nothing gave out any details on his next assignment.
Once Ves finished signing the paperwork, Colonel Xelven took the data pad back and handed over a small box.
"This is for you."
Ves opened the box to see that it held two brand new medals.
"For your meritorious service on Bentheim, the Mech Corps has seen fit to bestow you with the Mech Corps Distinguished Service Medal. In addition, for the injuries you've suffered while in the line of duty, you are also awarded with the Vermillion Heart."
While Colonel Xelven made it sound as if the Mech Corps already intended to bestow the medals to him, Ves couldn't help but be suspicious at the timing. Did he only receive these rewards after agreeing to get on board the mission because they wanted to pad him up with extra awards?
He refrained from shrugging. Whatever. He wouldn't say no to more medals even if it played into Senator Tovar's political interests.
"Am I finally allowed to know what this diplomatic mission is all about, colonel?" He asked.
Colonel Xelven adopted a severe tone. "What I'm about to tell you is highly classified. The documents you've just signed aren't just a courtesy. They are vitally necessary to maintain the confidentiality of Senator Tovar's aim. The controversy alone if word of his plan leaks out might be enough to topple the current administration!"
This sounded incredibly serious! Ves gulped. "Who are we negotiating with?"
"We intend to hold peace talks with a royal delegation from the Vesia Kingdom. We want to bring the war to an early end!"
The news utterly stunned Ves. Tovar wanted to negotiate an end to the war two years early from the end of the previous wars! This was a huge bombshell that came with huge implications to both sides!