The Mech Touch Chapter 1182
1180 Monotonous Lives
Ves spent some time to talk to the six Kronon mech pilots after they displayed their prowess in the simulation battles.
Overall, they didn't have much to talk about. The elite mech pilots devoted much of their lives to piloting mechs and the Ylvainan Faith.
While Ves became impressed by their quiet intensity and their religious fervor, he found them to be rather bland aside from their narrow interests. Describing them as warrior monks seemed apt. They didn't really have a life outside of their devotion to serving in the Protectors of the Faith.
Even if they had become the black sheep of the Kronon Dynasty, they still had faith in their mission!
One of them was slightly different. While the other five Kronons showed evident dislike at interacting with a foreigner who didn't share their beliefs, one young man looked at Ves with a disturbing amount of intensity.
"What's your name?" Ves asked.
"Taon Melin, sir." The Kronon said with respect.
"You don't appear to be as reticent as the others. Why so?"
"I've seen copies of your mechs before during my prior assignment." Taon said. "The.. Blackbeak, was it? The moment I laid eyes on them, the desire to pilot them sparked within me. Despite not looking anything like an Ylvainan mech, I wanted to pilot it more than any other machine!"
That caused his other five colleagues to look askance at Taon. Obviously, his lack of xenophobia didn't entirely sit well with the rest.
Ves gestured to himself. "You're not disturbed that I'm a foreigner?"
"What's there to be afraid of? We are all destined to transcend in the end. Whether you're an Ylvainan or not, we will all become brothers and sisters in the end!"
One of the other mech pilots looked irked. "Taon, I think your interpretation of Ylvaine's predictions is a little too generous."
Taon didn't pay any mind to the criticism. Mild arguments over their beliefs happened all the time.
"Regardless of whether Mr. Larkinson is a foreigner or not, his mechs are something else. Haven't you heard about what happened during the introduction of his Aurora Titan model?"
All of them fell silent for a bit. While the Ylvaine Protectorate generally didn't pay too much attention to affairs in other states, the advancement of both Ves and Jannzi Larkinson was too explosive! News of this remarkable event spread to neighboring states, arousing the interests of many mech insiders!
"Think of what he can do for us now that he's designing a mech for us." Taon continued. "Mr. Larkinson has proven he can design a mech that can help someone advance. Piloting his mechs is our greatest chance to take a step forward on the road to ascension!"
During this interaction, Ves glanced at Calabast in her Ylvainan persona.
She met his gaze and nodded. "My mech pilots wouldn't have worked with you at all if not for your recent stunt. They'll grumble a bit, but they can set aside their aversion to foreigners if they can pilot a mech that is just as good as the Aurora Titan."
"Do you think it's easy to design a mech like the Aurora Titan, madame?" Ves quickly replied. "I collaborated with an esteemed Senior on that design. While I've advanced to Journeyman now, the conditions that allow me to design a machine as good as the Aurora Titan aren't present."
"Just do the best you can. These mech pilots all believe you can recreate the magic of your previous design."
It seemed that ever since the Aurora Titan made a splash in the news, Ves became known as the mech designer who could help mech pilots enter the realm of expert pilots.
He quietly scoffed. How could it be so easy to advance? So many mech pilots struggled all their lives to shed their mundane existences, but only a tiny fraction ever succeeded. Having a good mech might help a bit, but it mostly depended on the mech pilots themselves to break through their mortal shackles.
Curious, Ves employed his spiritual vision to take a quick peek at the six mech pilots.
As expected, none of them possessed any significant amount of spiritual energy. While their minds were a lot more disciplined and focused than other mech pilots, there really wasn't a lot of diversity in thought and emotion.
Ves observed this kind of condition in many elite mech pilots. Even the Swordmaidens suffered from this problem.
Despite their harsh training and discipline that should have been conducive to forming a coherent force of will, the spiritual energy simply wasn't there to fuel the process.
In contrast, the Larkinson Family didn't train their mech pilots nearly as harshly, yet still managed to produce a couple of expert pilots in every generation.
He developed a hypothesis behind this difference. To form a force of will, a strong and disciplined mind wasn't enough.
What was the meaning of life if your entire life revolved around service? All these elite mech pilots completely devoted their lives to their jobs, to the detriment of everything else. They didn't make any friends outside of their own circle and they neglected their families in their pursuit of advancement. They had no hobbies to speak of and their existence was completely negligible aside from their profession.
Their monotonous living pattern made them no different from bots in human form. While Ves still had no explanation of what spiritual energy actually consisted of, he began to develop an inkling that it possessed an intricate relationship to life!
Ves sensed many people with his spiritual senses. Very few possessed spiritual energy in significant quantities. Therefore, he wasn't sure about the strength of his hypothesis. There might be a possibility that an elite mech pilot who did nothing else still managed to advance.
In any case, while Ves did not sense any significant spiritual energy from Taon and the other mech pilots right now, it might be different in the future. They also didn't necessarily have to rely on spiritual energy generated from themselves to form a force of will, as Eloise Pelican's case had already proved!
When Ves, Madame Cecily and the rest bid goodbye to the mech pilots and moved away, he couldn't help but make a remark.
"You should give the young mech pilots a break every now and then?"
Calabast raised an eyebrow. "Hmm?"
"It's not good for mech pilots to spend all of their waking moments in a cockpit, simulator pod or training hall."
"They already go out frequently. Like any devout Ylvainan, they regularly attend the services at the nearest church."
"That's not good enough." Ves shook his head. "Take it as an advice from a Larkinson. A well-rounded mech pilot needs to have more in their lives than their jobs and their faith."
"It's not in my purview to manage the lives of the Protectors of the Faith. They have their own chain of command. Even if they are assigned to protect me, they are not obliged to follow my orders." Calabast sighed.
Although she wielded a considerable amount of authority in her cover identity, her ability to act directly was no longer as strong as before.
Ves still cared a bit about this issue, though. "Then take up the suggestion to their commanders. Elite mech pilots or not, you are doing your bodyguards a disservice by letting them keep to themselves."
"Is this the wisdom of the Larkinsons?"
Walking alongside Ves, Ketis couldn't help but say her own peace. "If their jobs and their faith is all they live for, what happens if both are taken away from them one day?"
"There would be nothing left." Ves said.
This gave them all a lot of food for thought. Eventually, they reached the ground floor of the headquarters.
"The mech designers we've invited will arrive in two days." Calabast said. "I hope you find at least one of them acceptable enough to work with. While none of them are exceptional mech designers, their willingness to cooperate is very high."
"Well see." Ves said without commitment. He had his own bottom line. "Is there anything else to do for me in the next two days while we wait for their arrival?"
Calabast thought for a moment. "I will dispatch Leon to you to take you to a service at the grand church tomorrow. Our faith is central to our identity. You need to develop a good understanding of our faith if you want to design mechs that appeal to our people."
"I appreciate the opportunity." Ves replied.
He couldn't reconcile the Calabast he knew with the mild and pious image of Madame Cecily.
Ves and the rest took a guarded shuttle ride back to their temporary compound. Once there, Leland awaited his arrival with a grim face.
"Someone has run through our luggage while we were gone." He said the moment Ves arrived.
That cause Ves to look up in alarm. "What? But there are guards!"
"Well, someone managed to sneak past them anyway. The intruder managed to bypass the security systems as well, and not through simple jamming. Whoever infiltrated the compound either made use of a backdoor or a very advanced hacking system."
This meant that whoever snuck inside the compound and inspected their personal belongings must have been dispatched by a powerful organization!
A question quickly popped into mind. "How did you find out? If the intruder is so sophisticated, then they wouldn't have left any tracks behind."
"You're correct. The precautions I left behind have all been subverted." Leland shook his head in disappointed. "The only reason why the guards noticed something amiss was when a scuffle of sorts seemed to break out in one of our rooms. As best as we can tell, our intruder bumped into another intruder and erupted into hostilities!"
Ves blinked in astonishment. "So there's another? And they aren't friendly to each other?"
"There are many different powers in the Ylvaine Protectorate who don't like us." Leland stated. "Some of them don't get along with each other either. The only problem for us is that the intruders quickly left after exchanging some blows. They didn't leave any clues behind that could help us figure out their allegiances."
It could have been the Poxcos. It could have been the True Believers. It could have been the traditionalist mech designers. Any manner of interest groups could have infiltrated their compound.
This unexpected development made Ves believe that further trouble was afoot. The nature of the threat was so serious that Ves held a private meeting with Melkor.
After Ves explained some of the dangerous undercurrents he learned these past few days, Melkor didn't seem pleased.
"Why can't you be normal for once, Ves? I thought this business trip to the Ylvaine Protectorate was supposed to be a working vacation."
Ves tiredly rubbed his face. "I underestimated the extent of political tension in the Protectorate. I thought that since everyone here shares the same faith, that they would all get along with each other. The truth is much less optimistic than I thought."
The political conflicts in the Ylvaine Protectorate wasn't any different from the Bright Republic. In fact, the insertion of faith polarized the differences even more!
Melkor patted his cousin's back. "It's not that bad. You're surrounded by a considerable amount of Protectors of the Faith. The Curin Dynasty seems to be sincere in wanting to cooperate with you. With that many mechs and troops following you around, nobody should have any ideas about attacking you directly."
That was true. Even if someone ran through their luggage, what could they do? It was just a bunch of clothes and other misccellanieus possessions. The most important gear such as the custom suits of armor bought from Renny's Outfitters were stowed on Melkor's personal Crystal Lord so that they would always be within reach to their owners.
They continued to discuss some matters about their security arrangements, but there was very little they could do. Melkor already brought all the Avatars of Myth that he could spare.
Aside from hiring mercenaries, there was little they could do to bolster their protection.