The Mech Touch Chapter 1011
Ves exited Senator Tovar's magnificent stateroom in confusion. The conversation took a strange direction at the end, and he couldn't quite figure out the old man's intentions.
He did figure out one thing, though. The senator's interest in him had increased, and Ves did not know whether that was good or bad. As much as he benefited from having a powerful backer within the government, he had no illusion that the senator truly valued him more than a useful tool.
As a mech designer, Ves worked with various tools. "A good tool is hard to find, but I won't cry if it breaks. I'll just get a replacement."
He witnessed various instances of leaders sacrificing others for their own purposes. From Calabast using up the lives of her operatives to Senator Tovar treating the 6th Flagrant Vandals as a gambling stake to win the jackpot of his life, powerful people did not shy away from sacrificing the lives of their subordinates to get what they wanted.
Even so, the people working under them did not get a raw deal. They remained in service for a reason. Often, they received rich rewards and their families would get taken care of. Loyal service to a powerful individual or organization allowed someone to elevate their own station and build up a path towards a better future.
Having witnessed what really went on among the various rivalling government institutions such as Flashlight and the Ministry of Economic Development, Ves began to think it was unavoidable for him to remain uninvolved in politics.
For now, Ves managed to obtain Flashlight's recognition and backing. Yet Flashlight possessed a substantial if ambiguous connection to Senator Tovar. This basically meant that Ves might have inadvertently joined the camp of the Tovar Family without even realizing it before he actually met with the old man again!
This might have been one reason why Senator Tovar diverted some of his valuable time to meet with Ves in person. The senator thought he was welcoming someone who aligned with the Tovar Family!
Ves shook his head. "Well, it's not as if the senator is skimpy on his rewards."
He patted his chest where two extra ribbons joined his previous collection. It was almost inconceivable for a mech designer to earn these awards. Carrying them certainly impressed the citizens of the Bright Republic, yet would the Vesian delegation feel the same?
He still didn't even receive a clear picture on how he was supposed to act during the peace talks. Obviously, he wouldn't be allowed inside the confidential conference room where Senator Tovar and his equivalent from the royal house conducted their high-stakes horse trading.
Instead, Tovar told him to hang around outside and try to befriend the other Vesians in the same position as him. Apparently, bringing along interesting fellows like Ves to meet with other interesting fellows from the other party happened all the time in these kinds of gatherings.
Shortly after the arrival of Ves and some other key personnel, the Tovar Peace Delegation finally set off to a surprising destination. When Ves asked a crew member where they would be heading, he received a surprising answer.
"The Reinald Republic agreed to host the peace talks. They've set aside a place for the talks at Harksenen II."
Ves blinked. "The Harkensen System? Isn't it extremely busy?"
"The brass seem to think that they can hide themselves the best if they're in a crowd. All kinds of shady types visit the Harkensen System on a daily basis, so our disguised fleet won't catch any attention."
Hearing that they would be visiting the Harkensen System again made Ves feel as if he was revisiting the past. He did not enjoy the best time there, and the chaos on Harkensen I severely damaged the star system's standing as a safe destination to relax and partake in the underground markets.
Even so, the Tovar Peace Delegation would not be cutting straight through hostile territory in order to reach the Reinald Republic. Instead, the fleet would take a very wide detour around the Vesia Kingdom and reach the Reinald Republic from the other side.
The fleet centered around the Felicitous Remembrance intended to expedite their travel by travelling through various port systems. This allowed the fleet to traverse a much greater distance with much greater time savings.
Even so, the extent of their detour still meant that the fleet would only be able to reach the Reinald Republic in one-and-a-half months. That didn't sound very bad as they would mostly be safe by sticking to the major shipping lines, but it left Ves with very little to do except to get to know the crew a bit better.
Due to the high degree of confidentiality surrounding the peace talks, almost no one except Senator Tovar and some other key personnel retained access to the galactic net. Everyone else got their access cut off, leaving them isolated from the greater galaxy!
Fortunately, Ves hadn't been stranded on the Felicitous Remembrance without guidance. Preston Lowe found him again as he whiled away his time in his luxurious cabin aboard the passenger ship.
"Secretary Lowe, is it?"
"Ah, you remember me, Mr. Larkinson." The diplomatic aide bowed. "I've been assigned to meet the needs of our various attachés, which includes you. I understand that someone as young as you might be lacking some direction right now. If you have any questions, now would be the time to ask."
Ves truly wanted to obtain some answers to his questions.
"Alright. Who are the people in charge of conducting the negotiations?"
"Senator Camden Tovar is the principal representative of our government." Preston smoothly replied. "However, aside from setting overall policy, the senator will likely leave most of the daily talks to Lieutenant Colonel Xelven from the Bureau of Sector Affairs."
Ves frowned at that. "Why a military officer?"
"Forging a peace between the Republic and the Kingdom requires the cessation of military conflict. The thorniest issues and the biggest headaches we expect to encounter all relate to the contradictions that have developed during the war. Therefore, since the bulk of the peace talks will involve military concessions, it is best if we can rely on Colonel Xelven to stay on top of these topics."
"Having a member of the armed forces lead the talks will also placate all the serviceman back home when the peace treaty is finally revealed." Ves guessed.
"True. Even if we managed to survive the arduous talks and sign a successful agreement with our Vesian counterparts, it is still a tall order to convince the rest of the Bright Republic of its necessity. It is essential for us to get the military on our side. Therefore, Senator Tovar has given Colonel Xelven wide discretion on the direction of the talks."
That sounded like a very major concession at first, but Ves figured that the Bureau of Sector Affairs might possess some connections to the Tovar Family. After all, for Senator Tovar to trust Colonel Xelven to this extent would be unthinkable unless the military officer threw his lot with the Tovars.
Everyone aboard the ship possessed some connections to the Tovar Family, Ves belatedly realized. There wouldn't be any independents accompanying the peace delegation to the Harkensen System.
"How many attachés has Senator Tovar brought along?" He asked.
"Around thirty, all told."
"Do you think that's much? That's fairly small considering the monumental nature of the peace talks." Secretary Lowe shook his head. "All the prior formal peace talks between the Republic and the Kingdom involved hundreds of attachés at a time. Each of them lent their expertise to to hammer out the specific details of some of the terms of the peace treaty."
According to Lowe, Senator Tovar invited various experts from almost every part of Brighter society to take part. The various attachés consisted of an eclectic mix of military officers, government officials, academics, bankers, industrialists and so on. Each of them held some weight in their circles.
In fact, Ves stood out as an attaché because he wasn't at least fifty years old and familiar in the upper echelons of power in the Republic!
"You're kind of the odd man out, Mr. Larkinson." Secretary Lowe warned him. "While your recent achievements garnered you a lot of respect from the republic, the people that have joined this delegation are all great men and women who have accomplished much more in their lives. As a junior, you must pay great attention to your conduct. Be respectful and be mindful of your place."
"I get it." Ves smiled sardonically. "I'm just a little fish in a pond of big fish. I should keep my head down lest I get eaten."
"I am glad to see you recognize the overall situation. In truth, I believe much of the Vesian delegation will also consist of senior military officers, government officials and business magnates. As a younger member of our delegation, you will have a hard time mixing in with them. Let us hope they have also brought a number of young people along."
Ves did not think himself any lesser than any of the other business owners that accepted Senator Tovar's invitation. Due to his younger age and shorter career, he hadn't managed to transform his business success into clout.
Without clout, he held no influence among the upper society of the Republic. Not even his Larkinson name allowed him access to this exclusive circle.
Something like clout could only be accumulated over time. It took more than a successful business and a notable reputation to impress the old hands who had been running the various core aspects of the Bright Republic for decades if not longer.
"What can you tell me about the other mech designer of the delegation?"
"Ah. You must be talking about Professor Corus Ventag. As a mech designer, you must have heard of him, right?"
He did. Ves memorized the identities of almost every Senior Mech Designer based in the Bright Republic. This wasn't very hard as most of them either led their own mech companies or became tenured professors at various universities and institutions.
Even most of the Senior Mech Designers who partnered up with the Mech Corps or Flashlight also held publicly-known positions.
Ves tried to recall what he knew of Professor Ventag. One detail immediately stood out. "He teaches at Dorum Center of Technology and Innovation, right?"
"The DCTI is the professor's alma mater as well. He is one of the few Senior Mech Designers of the Republic who isn't related to the Ansel University of Mech Design."
This must be the main reason why Senator Tovar associated with Professor Ventag. With the senator and Flashlight's seeming preoccupation against the AUMD, Professor Ventag offered him a powerful connection to the mech industry that wasn't involved with Ansel's incestuous alumni netwrok.
He also recalled another major fact. "Professor Ventag is also the founder and CEO of NORA Consolidated!"
NORA Consolidated was a big name in the Bright Republic's mech industry. While it wasn't the largest mech company, it could absolutely rank among the top due to the incredible diversity of their products.
Professor Ventag's specialty was rather vague in that he focused his efforts on revolutionizing damage control in mechs. This did not restrict him in the type of mechs he designed, so NORA Consolidated offered a very expansive mech catalog which sold almost every type of mechs aside from heavy mechs!
In fact, Professor Ventag gained something of a reputation for being an all-rounder within the mech industry. He didn't design any flashy or extreme mechs. Instead, he designed simple, functional and efficient mechs that did their jobs in the most expedient fashion possible.
NORA Consolidated became known as the biggest players in the midrange mech market. They gained a reputation for great quality control and offering reasonable prices for very reliable mechs.
While the lack of flashiness and extremes prevented the company to stand out in the market, it nonetheless managed to gain a large amount of loyal followers who came to trust the company's brand.
Ves respected Professor Ventag for achieving this much! Best of all, unlike Professor Velten, Professor Ventag was merely around eighty years old, which meant he had plenty of years ahead of him before he needed to retire!