The Mech Touch Chapter 1188
The audacious terrorist attack on Kesseling VIII shocked the Ylvaine Protectorate. The news spread through the entire state in an instant, becoming the most talked about topic in the next few days.
The Grand Church of the Grey Martyr hosted many Ylvainans during the terrorist attack. Many more lived or worked in the city district affected by the battle between mechs. As the second-biggest church on Krent, the area around the grand church was one of the most desirable places to live and work! A lot of affluent and influential Ylvainans counted among the casualties!
Right now, casualty estimates exceeded 200,000 Ylvainans, and this figure climbed upwards every hour! At least a third of them had died while the rest sustained moderate to severe injuries.
It became clear that the True Believers deliberately aimed to inflict as many casualties as possible! Not only did they deploy a lot of fanatics who fired their weapons indiscriminately inside the church, but the cheap mechs they deployed all fired their weapons with wild abandon!
The True Believers could have never overwhelmed the defenses of the grand church. Even if the mechs of the Protectors of the Faith struggled against traitors in their ranks, the quality of their mechs and mech pilots exceeded that of the attackers by a large margin.
The Avatars of Myth distinguished themselves in this battle as well. Their contribution hastened the collapse of the opposing mechs and preventing them from sowing more death and destruction.
The New Ylvaine Dynasty must have known the cheap mechs they deployed wouldn't be able to win. It was already a tall order to defeat the Protectors of the Faith defending the church, but they could never hold their ground against the reinforcements sent from other strongholds in the city!
Therefore, Ves quickly figured out that the goal of this horrendous attack. Killing him was just an excuse. It would further the agenda of his opponents if he died, but even if he managed to survive, the purpose of the attack had already been fulfilled!
"The true reason for launching this attack is to malign the reform agenda!"
A war of public opinion ensued shortly after hostilities ended. News portals aligned with the traditionalists not only exaggerated the awful attack, they also cast the blame of the event on Ves and the reformers.
The way the traditionalists saw it, the reformers could have prevented this tragedy if they hadn't provoked the True Believers into attacking the foreign mech designer they invited to Kesseling VIII!
The momentum the reform agenda built up over the past few years grinded to a sudden halt due to this event!
The traditionalists, who always lost ground, suddenly regained their fire! They ardently stood up and defended the need to stick to their own customs! The Protectorate didn't need the help of foreigners to remain strong!
Currently, Ves looked out the window from the top floor of the guest compound. Hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the courtyard walls and jeered at the foreigners hiding inside.
"Go away, foreigners!"
"Ylvaine needs no help from you!"
"Drive out this evil blasphemer!"
The insults hardly affected his mood. As an increasingly public figure, Ves already became used to attracting hate.
Only two other people resided in the room right now.
Gavin looked like he had gone through hell. As a civilian, he had never faced a threat to his life before. Getting caught up in the middle of a major terrorist attack deeply affecting his psyche.
"Ves.." He said with a gulp. "It might be time to cut our losses. We aren't welcome here. All the propaganda published over the last few days has turned many Ylvainans against foreign influence and you specifically. With so much xenophobia directed against us, the LMC will never be able to get its feet off the ground in the local mech market. We've been kneecapped!"
Crossing his arms, Ves didn't reply, but his straight and unyielding posture already made his stance clear on the matter.
"The situation is getting increasingly more dangerous to us, Ves." Leland said. He hadn't been present at the grand church during the attack. "There are a lot of forces converging on Kesseling VIII. My sources tell me that the hostile mechs used in the attack had all been shipped in piecemeal in the last couple months. That tells me that this action was both deliberate and premeditated."
"Do you believe that the True Believers are responsible?" Ves asked. "Madame Cecily believes that another faction is responsible."
Leland shrugged. "It's difficult to say. The True Believers quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, but that doesn't mean much. They've been put into a difficult position if they aren't responsible. If they denied responsibility, then that would have painted them as weak and indecisive. That's not the style of their fake prophet."
Everyone here knew too little to make a solid judgement. So many interests were competing against each other that none of them knew where to go in order to seek revenge.
However, Ves already made a judgement on his own. "I think Madame Cecily has a point. Even if the motives of the attack aligns with the beliefs of the New Ylvaine Dynasty, they'd be stupid to alienate their popular support. Out of all the Ylvainan factions affected by this tragedy, only the traditionalists have come out as clear winners!"
"I would caution you not to come to a premature conclusion." Leland warned with a sharp gaze. "Sometimes, the most obvious answer is just a trap. Whoever launched this attack may have wanted to deepen the contradictions between reformers and traditionalists."
That caused Ves to raise an eyebrow. "Who would want that to happen?"
"I can name a few parties. The Star Faith Collective for example. The Star Worshippers will want to do everything possible to weaken the Ylvaine Protectorate. The more the Protectorate is wracked by internal division, the weaker they'll be when the inevitable war breaks out between the two states."
The idea sounded plausible, but Ves didn't want to go that far. "Let's leave the guessing to the authorities. It's not our job to hunt down the culprits."
"So you intend to press on?"
"Why?" Gavin nervously asked. "It's dangerous here! Just look at what has happened! If the attackers can launch one attack, they can launch another!"
"I acknowledge the risks, but it's not my intention to back down from this threat. The moment they aimed at our lives, it's no longer just about making money."
"What other reason is there that is worth braving all of this danger?" Gavin frowned.
They initially traveled to the Ylvaine Protectorate for business and profit reasons. Greed and the desire to expand the reach of his products drove Ves to participate in this venture.
Those reasons still applied. The only difference was they took a backseat to a greater priority.
Ves refused to take the easy road. Abandoning the commission and leaving the Protectorate with his tail tucked between his legs only furthered the interests of his opponents.
Perhaps he spent too much time on the frontier, but he simply didn't want to back down and show weakness!
Logic dictated that he should cut his losses. The Ylvaine Protectorate was just one of many states in the Komodo Star Sector. Why should he divert so much time and effort into expanding the presence of his mech company in a state that didn't welcome him? He didn't owe anything to the Ylvainans!
Yet on an emotional level, Ves wanted to spite his enemies. Retaliating directly by attacking those responsible of the attack was impossible. Therefore, the next best thing that he could do to spoil the plans of his enemies was to dazzle the Protectorate mech market with a fantastic mech design!
His pride as a mech designer demanded that he accept this challenge. Not only was it a good way to retaliate against the masterminds behind the attack, the pressure also motivated him to work at his best.
His principled stance also happened to resonate with his design seed.
This was important, because he suspected that his design seed played an intricate role in his future advancement. He called it a design seed because he felt that it was only the initial shape of things to come. There was so much raw potential locked inside the design seed, but hardly any of it had been revealed since its formation.
Anything he did that roused the activity of his design seed was worth contemplating.
"It's decided. I intend to stay." Ves declared. "However, that doesn't mean that everyone has to stay. Benny, if you don't feel safe anymore, I can send you back to the Bright Republic."
The suggestion did not sit well with Gavin. "I don't know, Ves. It feels like I'm turning my back on you when you need me the most. You still need someone by your side to manage your affairs."
"I can manage, I think. It's not as if you can't do most of your job by remote. I won't hold it against you if you want to return to safety."
While Gavin felt awfully tempted, he eventually shook his head. "None of the others are leaving. What would that make me if I'm the only one in your staff to depart? I don't want you to think less of me. I love my job. I'm very lucky to work for you in this capacity, even though you never call me by my actual name anymore for some reason. If an advisor like Leland has the guts to stay, then I should stick around as well!"
Oh, if he only knew the truth. Leland was anything but a civilian.
Regardless, Ves was pleased with Gavin's commitment. Only during times of difficulty would he be able to distinguish between true friends and fair-weather friends. He recognized that it took a lot of courage for Gavin to stay.
"I appreciate the support, Benny." Ves smiled sincerely at his assistant. "I'll be sure to compensate you with a generous bonus. Consider it hazard pay."
Gavin ruefully shook his head. "It's never been about the money for me. If you really want to reward me, then please call me by my real name."
"Sure thing, Benny."
Later on, Ves met with Ketis at a lounge in the compound. When she heard about his decision to stay and continue to work on the commission, she nodded as if she already knew he would make that choice.
"I knew you'd never back down!" Ketis chuckled. "We should teach the bastards who attacked us a very good lesson! By the time you're done with them, they'll regret waking the dragon!"
Ves tiredly sighed as he sat down on a coach next to Ketis. "It's easier said than done, though. Many Ylvainans are already predisposed against me and my products. If I want to shift public opinion, then I need to design a really fantastic mech. It has to be at least as great as the Aurora Titan!"
A lesser mech design wouldn't cut it anymore. Ves initially thought he could get away with a perfunctory design that was just as good as the Crystal Lord, but no more. He needed to impress the Ylvainans just like how he impressed the Brighters with his Aurora Titan!
Compared to last time, his ability to design a mech should have improved. As his latest Mastery experienced showed him, a Journeyman was a lot more capable in designing a mech than an Apprentice!
Yet all of these advantages couldn't make up for the fact that Ves didn't have access to the most critical ingredient!
If Ves wanted to match the grandeur of his Aurora Titan design, he needed to obtain a strong spiritual fragment that could empower his images and serve as the core of the design spirit of his upcoming design!
In order to obtain such a valued asset, he had no choice but to seek them out!
An audacious idea started to form in his mind. Which individual did the Ylvainans value the most?