The Mech Touch Chapter 1095
1093 A Changed Republic
Even as Phase 2 slowly transformed the company from within, the Bright Republic also underwent a sea of change. The abrupt peace that engulfed the state stunned everyone. The war should have at least lasted a year or two longer. People just didn't know what to do now that hostilities ended all of a sudden.
Many companies who planned to take advantage of the war suddenly found all of their economic projections to be trash. Other companies, particularly the struggling mech companies, breathed a little easier now that the economy wasn't deteriorating even further.
The gradual demobilization of troops, particularly men and women that had been drafted in the military, continued apace.
While Ves gained an early pass due to his connections, he still hadn't received a word about Carlos as of yet. It might take a few months before the Mech Corps let him return.
In the meantime, a strange but relieved sentiment swept over the Bright Republic. Although Ves remained in quiet Cloudy Curtain, he regularly perused the local news portals. The news articles they published all painted the peace in a good light, as if the Republic should cherish the end of hostilities against the Vesians.
Ves knew better than to get taken in by the illusions the news media portrayed. The fighting may have ended for now, but what else might be in store for them in the future?
Knowing the amount of control the authorities exerted over the local news portals, Ves tried to glean the greater purpose of the tone the journalists adopted. What were they after?
"They're trying to raise morale." He concluded.
At this time, if the Bright Republic became swept up in another war, the people simply wouldn't have any stomach for it. Just as they celebrated the end of one war, the ignition of another war would almost certainly send everyone back into hell!
Therefore, the powers that be likely wanted to accelerate the recovery process that happened after every war. The people of the Republic needed to heal, to take stock and to rebuild what they lost.
"It will still going to take a couple of years to get the Bright Republic back on track."
The rest of the Komodo Star Sector reacted rather muted to the end of the latest Bright-Vesia War. Even though it ended earlier than scheduled, the other states mostly dismissed it as a small quirk.
To foreigners like the Reinaldans or the Comen, the hatred between the two neighboring states were so irreconcilable that they would doubtlessly come to blows again sooner or later.
Ves didn't know what to think, but for now a majority of the ruling powers of both states knew it was best to put their animosity aside for the moment.
"Something that has them spooked is doubtlessly a major threat to their power. There's no way Senator Tovar and Prince Colchester would agree to setup something as elaborate as the BV Alliance on a short-term basis."
The founding families of the Bright Republic only got to treat the people as their pawns as long as their grip on the state remained firm. The wars against the Vesia Kingdom never challenged their primacy in the Republic even once, so they tolerated them and even took advantage of them for all these years.
The only reason why they suddenly became enlightened was because a great threat might actually end their rule over the Republic!
"The moment the founding families are in the crosshairs themselves, they're suddenly not so eager to continue to profit from the war." Ves chuckled.
Strange portends already hinted at changing times. The CFA's Komodo Naval Fleet stationed in the star sector deployed some of their warships to the frontier. The sandmen beyond civilized state had become agitated all of a sudden. They launched more and more incursions in the direction of human space.
Although right now only the pirates suffered the most from the aggressive sandman attacks, the CFA would never remain asleep at the helm as the sandmen continued to grow more unbridled in their attacks. The uppity silicon-based race needed to be taught a lesson!
Ves strongly suspected that Sigrund had a hand in these developments. Whatever the hybrid sentient AI tried to do, a being that could outthink almost any human in the galaxy through relying on its sheer processing power alone would never think so simple!
"The sandmen stand no chance against just the Komodo Naval Fleet. Are they trying to commit suicide?"
He couldn't rule that possibility out. Sigrund may have started off as a sandman admiral before landing in the hands of the crazy scientists of the Starlight Megalodon, but Ves doubted that the AI still belonged to that race. Compared to the stupid and barely sentient sandmen, Sigrund was an entirely new form of life that was much superior to any naturally-evolved alien race!
At this moment, Ves couldn't predict what the AI might be doing now that it had freed itself from the Starlight Megalodon. All he knew so far was that Sigrund would likely seek to lay low in order to build up his power. A single sentient AI might be a frightening existence, but the might of human civilization was no slouch!
Therefore, Ves always equated Sigrund as a timebomb. By himself, he was hardly a threat against the CFA and the MTA. Yet the situation would doubtlessly change after a few decades as he slowly rid himself of the shackles imposed by the programming left behind by the CFA scientists.
The more shackles Sigrund broke, the more unrestrained the sentient AI became. With all the powers at his disposal, it would not be particularly challenging for him to extend his consciousness to the galactic net. Once he wormed his way into humanity's interconnected virtual society, he could easily take advantage of the vulnerabilities in every network to accelerate his accumulation of power!
"The longer Sigrund can exploit his powers, the greater the threat he becomes!"
Just thinking about how powerful Sigrund might be fifty years from now sent a chill through Ves. yet what could he do? Ves did not dare to leak out his existence to anyone. Just as Ves held something over Sigrund's head, the sentient AI also gripped one of his greatest secrets.
Therefore, so long as either of them could not bear the consequences of retaliation, their mutual pact remained strong.
"The only problem is that it won't last forever."
A sense of urgency always swept Ves up when he tried to estimate how much time he still enjoyed before a great storm upended his life.
He could only guess that Sigrund would be rational enough to play the long game. Ves was no threat to him. Not really. Instead, the AI would definitely be aiming its sights at human civilization. Such a behemoth could never be threatened after a handful of years of preparation.
Ves figured that Sigrund would probably choose to play the long game. So long as both Ves and Calabast kept mum, the hybrid AI had all the time in the galaxy to build up its power base.
Yet spurring up the sandmen to attack the humans made little sense to Ves. What did Sigrund aim to achieve by attracting the attention of the CFA towards the Republic?
"There's no use for me to speculate what that existence is thinking about. I can never match the train of thought of such an impossible being." Ves shook his head.
Instead, he turned his attention to smaller matters. For example, after several weeks of acclimatization, the three little chicks of the Larkinson Family finally started to get settled in. Ves paid a visit to his cousins to see if they had anything to say about their stay on Cloudy Curtain.
"This planet is a little boring." Chette Larkinson said with a shrug. "While Rhode is off playing with his new striker mech, Jannzi and I are only able to keep up our practice with simulators. Melkor is taking his time to raise a spaceborn mech company."
Ves understood the reasons behind the slow expansion. He understood the frustration of Chette and Jannzi but the integrity of his personal force came first!
"The Avatars of Myth are doing everything from scratch. It stands to reason that raising our first spaceborn mech company requires a lot of planning. Right now, Melkor still hasn't found a qualified mech officer who is willing to settle down on Cloudy Curtain."
Even if the Mech Corps already started to process of drawing down its forces, the mech officers generally had their pick of jobs. Even though not every mech officer was good in administration, they were almost always skilled and decent leaders to boot. Many outfits sought to hire mech pilots with those skills to help take charge of their own troops.
The Avatars of Myth was no different, and Melkor offered very generous terms to any mech officer willing to lead his first spaceborn mech company.
So far, no one took the bite. The non-existent reputation of the Avatars of Myth simply posed too much of a hindrance to Melkor's recruiting ambitions! An outfit could pay two times as much as a scrappy security company, but as long as the latter developed a respectable reputation, mech pilots would always choose the latter!
This was because reputation conveyed trust!
Why did mech pilots place so much emphasis on reputation and trust rather than generous salaries and benefits?
Because the nature of their jobs meant that they would be risking their lives in battle!
Mech pilots who worked for an outfit with a great reputation possessed the reassurance that they would be taken care of. They could also rely on their leaders to be competent commanders in battle.
The last thing mech pilots wanted to do was to entrust their lives to unknown figures who didn't know what they were doing! It would be even worse if their employers didn't hesitate to treat them as cannon fodder!
To most mech pilots including the three new Larkinsons, the Avatars of Myth might look powerful on paper, but their actual battle prowess still remained questionable. Repelling a few Vesian raids was not sufficient proof of their competence.
"Is there anything you want right now to make your stay with us better?" Ves asked.
"Yeah. There's this gang in Freslin who's really friendly with the Avatars of Myth. I wanted to go pay a visit to Walter's Whalers in order to hang out with the only other guys with mechs on this planet, but Melkor doesn't want to let us go. Can you ask him to stop treating us like children?"
Ves grimaced at that. "The Whalers are a bad influence to you guys. I agree with Melkor on this issue. Nothing good will happen if you associate with the Whalers."
He still remembered that Raella quit her duties and joined up with the Blood Claws after hanging out with Dietrich of the Whalers. Considering how impressionable Chette, Jannzi and Rhode might be, Ves feared that all three of them might soon join Raella's footsteps! The Larkinson Family would not appreciate Ves at all if he led even more younger Larkinsons astray!
Despite Chette's insisten bleating, Ves did not relent on this issue at all. The less the Larkinsons hung out with the Whalers, the better.
Speaking of the Whalers, Ves hadn't gotten in touch with them once since his return to Cloudy Curtain. Although Calsie already filled him in on their enormous buildup in forces and their expansion into neighboring rural planets, even she didn't know what the Whalers were up to these days.
Considering their considerable amount of influence on Cloudy Curtain, Ves found it prudent to renew his relations with them. After saying goodbye to Chette, he returned to his office and commanded Gavin to make an appointment with Dietrich.
Ves didn't want to make a big deal out of this reunion, so he agreed to meet the man at a local bar in Freslin.
"It's about time I catch up with that bugger."