The Mech Touch Chapter 1181
Ves already made a preliminary judgement about the six young Kronon mech pilots. When they all entered their simulator pods in order to demonstrate their performance in simulated battle scenarios, his initial impression only grew stronger.
"These mech pilots are young elites." He remarked. "Their fundamentals are very strong."
The simulated battles showcased their strengths and superior training. All six of them piloted generic hero mechs with a moderate degree of skill.
While that didn't sound very impressive at first, it took a lot of effort to turn a hero mech into an asset rather than a liability on the battlefield! The skill floor of piloting such a complicated mech was so high that many mech pilots could outright forget about specializing in this mech type!
The key here was that all six mech pilots didn't look any older than Jannzi Larkinson. All of them must have been recent graduates from Protectorate mech academies. While they lacked actual battle experience, they still had lots more room to grow, which made them incredibly valuable!
The price to obtain these immature elites must be pretty high!
There must be a story behind their addition to Calabast's bodyguard roster.
"How did you get the Kronon Dynasty to relinquish these mech pilots under your care?" Ves asked. "Won't they regret the decision? What stops them from calling them back?"
"The Kronons won't do that." Madame Cecily mildly smiled. "The six elites are better off here than anywhere else. I'll make sure of that."
"What gives you all of that confidence, madame?"
"To understand that, you must understand the Kronon Dynasty. The Kronons are called the Protectors of the Faith. The state military is also called the Protectors of the Faith. Do you know what this means?"
"The entire Kronon Dynasty is the state military!"
"Your Bright Republic is very different in this regard. Your professional military accepts recruits from every family regardless of their background. Here in the Protectorate, each mech pilot in active service is a Kronon. In essence, the Protectors of the Faith is what happens when a notable military family like your Larkinsons has grown to such an immense size that it is capable of performing the role of your Mech Corps!"
What a frightening thought! The Mech Corps would look very different if every active mech pilot was a Larkinson!
"What about mech pilots who aren't Kronons?"
"Those who emerge from the other Dynasties are usually trained and retained by their own. Potentates who emerge from common roots are given the opportunity to become branch members of the Kronon Dynasty as long as they do their duties. This is a very powerful incentive because the Kronon name bestows a lot of privileges to the mech pilots and their immediate family members!"
""What are the backgrounds of the six elites?"
"They don't come from common stock, if that's what you're wondering. In fact, they are all offspring from the genuine line of Kronons. Their heritage afforded them much stricter training. Each of them has managed to keep up with the highest standard of training the Kronon Dynasty offers to its mech cadets. All of them graduated from their mech academy with distinction."
Ves knew that this was high praise. In the Bright Republic, even many Larkinson mech pilots struggled to graduate from the mech academies with distinction. The extra training they received from the Larkinson Family wasn't entirely enough to turn them all into elites.
"So what's the problem?" Ves wondered. "The Protectors of the Faith must have their own elite mech regiments, right? Why haven't they jumped at these promising seeds?"
"Their skills are more than enough to turn them valuable mech pilots. The problem is that the Protectors of the Faith imposes more demands than competence. To be a true Protector of the Faith, a Kronon must uphold the right beliefs!"
Ah. So this was the reason. "Is it a big deal?"
"Not to you, maybe. There are different interpretations of the Ylvainan Faith. The Attendants of Ylvaine has done their best to propagate one standard interpretation, but differences of opinion always take place. There are some Ylvainans who emphasize different aspects of the faith over others. The six mech pilots assigned to me are guilty of adhering to the Mortal Ascension Doctrine."
"What does that entail?"
"In short, the Ascensionists believe that the Time of Ascension is not the only way to ascend to godhood and join Prophet Ylvaine's side. They believe that it is possible for them to evolve step-by-step and ascend to Prophet Ylvaine's height through their own efforts! This belief is particularly appealing to some Ylvainan mech pilots because they are convinced that advancing in rank is a surefire way to ascend!"
Both Ves and Ketis blinked at that.
"How far do they need to go until they reach Prophet Ylvaine's level?" Ves asked.
"Impossible!" Ketis burst out. "Even I know that only a hundred or so god pilots exist out of every mech pilot in existence! The chance of advancing all the way up to god pilot is a pipedream!"
"Ah, just because it's nearly impossible doesn't mean the path is cut off entirely, young lady." Madame Cecily smiled at her. "In truth, Prophet Ylvaine's predictions and sayings aren't always very precise or specific on many matters. This has left some room open for a specific interpretation that literally sees god pilots as gods in human form. When you hear of the awe-inspiring powers they are able to wield, it is not a very outlandish comparison."
Now that he thought about it, it did seem convenient when the best mech pilots in the galaxy were regarded as gods in human form!
"How do existing god pilots fit into this belief? None of them has said anything about meeting any transcended prophets."
"The Ascensionists state that god pilots who aren't converted to the Ylvainan Faith aren't worthy to receive a visit from the prophet. While their achievements are admirable and serve as an example to every human mech pilot, they are ignorant of the meaning behind their ascension. They are full of power but blind to the actual truth, at least if you ask an Ascensionist."
What a bold thing to say about god pilots! Both Ves and Ketis looked shocked that the Ascensionists dared to describe the great god pilots of the human race as blind and ignorant!
"So why does the Kronon Dynasty opposes this doctrine? Is it because it disrespects existing god pilots?"
"We Ylvainans don't care about that." Madame Cecily shook her head. "It's merely that most of us can't stomach the thought of being able to ascend to godhood before the arrival of the Time of Ascension. The most accepted interpretation of Prophet Ylvaine's prediction is that every human, alien, plant and other living entity will join his side at the appointed time. Ylvainans who are eager to take a shortcut and ascend ahead of this fateful time are considered presumptuous."
"So they aren't heretics?"
"As I've mentioned, Ves, There are many interpretations of the Ylvainan Faith. The Attendants of Ylvaine has done their best to stamp out the most radical ones, but the more harmless and inconsequential ones like the Mortal Ascension Doctrine are allowed to exist."
All these religious off-shoots were already giving Ves a headache. First, he learned about the existence of the extremist New Ylvaine Dynasty. Now, he learnt that the mech pilots he needed to supply with his hero mechs were also radicals.
While the Mortal Ascension Doctrine sounded harmless, they were nonetheless too weird to be accepted by the Kronon Dynasty! While they were still Protectors of the Faith, to be assigned as a bodyguard of the Curins was effectively a form of exile.
With the proficiency these young elites displayed, they should have been shoo-ins for prestigious elite mech regiments! Instead, they had been assigned to dead-end postings as mere bodyguards. In this capacity, there were few opportunities to promote up the hierarchy of the Protectors of the Faith.
"Is there anything else that I need to know about the Ascensionists? It's important for me to get a good understanding of who they are if I want to design the right mechs."
A short silence ensued as Calabast studied the simulated battle footage. "The Ascensionists is a fringe belief among the Protectors of the Faith. Those who believe in the doctrine are all devout, but a bit more open to change than usual. What's important to them is that they don't want to pilot a mech that is completely designed by non-believers. That's why I insist that you collaborate with at least one local mech designer. You will never get these six to pilot your mechs if they don't perceive any sincerity towards the Ylvainan Faith in your mech designs."
Ves nodded in understanding. "I have already taken that into consideration. Please be assured that the hero mechs I design for them will meet their practical as well as their spiritual needs."
His remark earned a peculiar glance from Ketis, but she declined to say anything. Instead, she went back to stroking Lucky's body who was resting in her comfortable grasp.
Unlike his fellow mech designer, Calabast missed the double meaning in his latest remark. "I expect you to do your utmost in pleasing these six young Ascensionists. Their standards are higher and they are not shy about their willingness to refuse a good mech if they believe it will not help them in their path to ascension. Remember, this commission partially serves as a test run to see if you are capable of meeting the needs of the Ylvainan mech market."
That meant that as long as Ves could prove he could please these discerning customers, his other mechs should be more than acceptable to the Ylvainan mech market.
The intention of Calabast was clear. The commission she issued to the LMC was both a test and a training opportunity to him. Not only would he be able to see whether he possessed the ability to meet the needs of Ylvainan mech pilots, but he could also work with some of them closely during the design process.
"Don't worry, Madame Cecily. I appreciate the opportunity to prove myself. Even if I am not an Ylvainan, I think I can make a lot of contributions to the local mech market."
Half of what Ves and Calabast said to each other was pure theater. Madame Cecily's staff and bodyguards all appeared to be genuine retainers of the Curin Dynasty rather than her own plants. They owed their loyalty to the Curin Dynasty and Madame Cecily Curin rather than a shady foreign spy.
Ketis couldn't help but comment on the six mech pilots. "You know, the way they fight reminds me a little of the Swordmaidens who earned the right to pilot the Silver Valencias. They aren't just good, but they also fight like they are driven by a mission."
Now that she mentioned it, Ves noted this detail as well.
Many mech pilots had the unfortunate tendency to pull back the throttle during simulation battles. They weren't piloting real mechs and their lives were never at risk. Even those who wanted to show off would always hold back to some extent.
Not these mech pilots. The Ascensionists fought as hard as the most motivated and passionate mech pilots he had witnessed among the Vandals and Swordmaidens! It was as if they treated the simulation battles as genuine life-and-death struggles!
"Those who convert to the Mortal Ascensionist Doctrine are all high performers among the Protectors of the Faith." Calabast added. "It takes a lot of confidence for mech pilots to believe they have a chance to advance to god pilot. This is why the Ascensionists have always numbered very little. The Kronons are only annoyed at them because this small but persistent belief has corrupted several promising mech pilots over the years."
The fervor exhibited by the Ascensionist mech pilots prompted Ves to recall another force besides the Vandals and Swordmaidens.
The Ascensionists reminded him of the Worshippers of Haatumak.