The Mech Touch Chapter 1229
1227 Three Judges
Sacrifice seemed to be an alien word for Ves, but in fact he had seen plenty of examples of this virtue.
"Remember the decisive battle against the Vesians back then?" Ves commented solemnly.
He referred to the battle between the Flagrant Vandals and Lydia's Swordmaidens against the Hostland Warriors and the Meandering Monkeys.
Ketis nodded. "Almost every mech pilot sacrificed themselves. The Silver Valencia pilots blew themselves up to give the rest of us a chance."
They failed. If not for the presence of Venerable Foster and her indestructible Belisarius expert mech, the Vandals and Swordmaidens might have stood a chance of winning. Unfortunately, the sacrifice of so many mech pilots only bought a handful of surviving support personnel some time to escape to the Starlight Megalodon.
"Even if those brave men and women died in vain, their intentions were noble." Ves noted. "They completely gave up all sense of self-preservation to give us and everyone else at the rear a chance to live and retain their freedom. Even if they are bastards and scoundrels against everyone else, they are completely willing to sacrifice themselves to save their brothers and sisters. I think that proves that even the most black-hearted pirate can exhibit altruism in the right circumstances."
"The Swordmaidens were family." She said. "We developed a sisterhood. No matter where we used to come from, once we became Swordmaidens, we all regarded each other as family."
Family. This was the pivotal word. Many people would hesitate if they were asked to sacrifice themselves to save a stranger, acquaintance or friend. Yet once it concerned family, the equation changed.
To Ves, sacrifice was intermingled with his family. The Larkinson Family as a whole sacrificed many of their mech pilots in order to uphold their duty to the Bright Republic. Several young Larkinsons had already fallen during the recent war, and several more would have died if the war hadn't ended prematurely.
Yet to him, the sacrifices of the Larkinson Family paled in comparison to that of his father.
In order to grant Ves the best opportunity of his life, his father went into exile and cut himself off from the rest of the family. The trail of his father already went cold in the vast and inscrutable Nyxian Gap, which was considered to be just as dangerous as the frontier!
A parent's love for their child was one of the strongest forces in existence. Each time Ves enjoyed success in his mech design career, he had his father and perhaps his mother to thank for giving him this incredible opportunity in life.
Even if the gift they bestowed him came with its own issues, Ves could not deny that he wouldn't have come so far without it. While he was living a fantastic life as an exceptional mech designer, his father must be fighting for his life in the cold and unforgiving Nyxian Gap.
Thinking about his father's sacrifice reminded Ves of one of his goals in life. The reason why he worked hard to advance his career and become more prominent was because he wanted to save his father.
Without becoming powerful enough to protect himself against the threat of the insidious Five Scrolls Compact, Ves could forget about saving his father!
If he moved prematurely, he would just put himself in the crosshairs of this extremely powerful cult instead!
It frustrated him that even after five years of hard work, Ves still had a long way to go before he could save his father.
Each day that went by was another day in which his father might suffer a mishap in lawless space. The pirates and dark mercenaries of the Nyxian Gap were all known for their cutthroat ruthlessness. How could a straight-laced Larkinson like his father survive among the most ruthless degenerates in the star sector?
"If you had kids someday, you would sacrifice everything for them I think." Ketis remarked while eying him with an odd expression.
"Any parent would do so. Humanity wouldn't have reached this point if we didn't want our offspring to live a better life."
Still, having children and raising them was a distant prospect for him right now. Still, if he ever had children, he would probably shower them with as much love as his parents once did to him. Would he sacrifice himself for their wellbeing?
"Let's turn our attention back to sacrifice the way the Ylvainans understand this virtue. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for more than just their family. They're willing to die for their beliefs."
Much of the early history of the Ylvainan Faith was suffused with sacrifice. Again, the First Calamity and the Great Flight offered many examples of this virtue.
Entire starships filled with refugees stayed behind to stall their hostile pursuers in order to buy time for the rest of the refugee fleet to transition into FTL!
The Great Flight was basically one huge saga that was littered with both tragedy and sacrifice!
Billions of Ylvainan worshippers died over the years as they fled to the outer reaches of the galaxy. Many of them died unwillingly, but they could have escaped this fate if they renounced their faith.
Whether they were misguided or not, Ves acknowledged their determination to hold on to their beliefs.
He possessed his own principles and beliefs, but whether he was willing to die for them was still in question.
It was better if he could avoid this choice entirely!
"I think we've developed a good understanding of sacrifice. Let's get to work."
They proceeded to fabricate the fifth copy of the Transcendent Messenger. Ves constructed the image without donning a mask because it wasn't very hard for him to imagine himself dying for his principles.
Whether he would actually do so if pushed into a corner, Ves didn't know. As long as it remained a theoretical possibility, it was easy for him to act tough in his imagination.
In any case, Ves was proud of Sacrifice when he completed the mech and infused it with the abstract image of the Ylvainan concept of Sacrifice. It took on a solemn holiness as if it had made peace with itself.
The Sacrifice was the most grave and serious mech of the series.
Whereas the other five copies of the Transcendent Messenger pursued victory, Sacrifice focused mainly on staving off total defeat.
"It's really different from the rest." Ketis remarked as the five finished mechs stood side by side. "The other mechs offer a ray of sunshine while Sacrifice looks like it has already brought an umbrella to block the rain."
"Each mech represents a different aspect of the Ylvainan Faith. Despite its despondent nature, Sacrifice is the most noble of the six."
While each mech exhibited their unique points, the main feature of the hero mech design had always been its ability to inspire faith! A horrible accumulation of faith had gathered in the section of the workshop where they temporarily stored their mechs.
The five finished Transcendent Messengers each reinforced each other's auras.
Aside from reinforcing their common faith, Ves discovered to his surprise that the different virtues also resonated with each other!
This was a completely unexpected development!
Courage reinforced Sacrifice. Perseverance reinforced Justice. Justice reinforced Zeal!
This was just a handful of the web of connections between the five mechs! Each virtue mutually reinforced the other virtues!
Their common foundation based on their absolute faith in Ylvaine's beliefs paved the way for this intricate and fascinating interaction.
If five mechs already resulted in such a complicated web, then adding another one would surely be even better!
"Let's move on to Devotion."
Ves considered this to be the virtue that tied the Ylvainan Faith together. Prophet Ylvaine managed to convert many different people to his beliefs during his lifetime.
He possessed a quality that inspired devotion in everyone!
Devotion lay at the heart of every religion, and the Ylvainan Faith was no different. Despite its weird and eclectic beliefs, the faith had always managed to unite its worshippers under a single banner due to the enduring devotion it roused!
"Becoming devoted to a faith is more than paying lip service to its rituals and beliefs." He stated. "You need to be sincere and surrender yourself to something greater than yourself."
He witnessed many people dedicating their entire lives to their faith. The worshippers of Haatumak and the Cursed and Blessed People of Aeon Corona VII all devoted much if not all of their time in service to their gods.
It was something very alien to someone like Ves. Even if a higher existence akin to a god was truly out there, why should Ves devote his life to such a being?
If a god demanded his devotion, then Ves better get something in return!
Other people may be content with freely giving away their devotion, but that was wasteful to the extreme! Devotion was a scarce good, and that meant that it should come with a price!
"Devotion is just a nice way of describing blind fanaticism." Ketis critically remarked.
Ketis showed a lot of nonchalance towards devotion due to her experiences in the frontier. She recalled the depravities that many extreme cults got away with by indoctrinating their worshippers into mindless sheep.
"There are both good and bad connotations to devotion." Ves replied, not entirely agreeing with her stance. "Sure, in many cases it's taken advantage of, but devotion also helps many people find their meaning in life."
Humanity's enduring entanglement with religion even after they advanced to the stars showed that devotion was an intricate part of their civilization. In fact, many aliens also exhibited a varying propensity towards devotion, proving that devotion was something that transcended race!
Despite his mixed views towards devotion, the Ylvainans were relatively benign their devotion to their faith.
The Ylvainan Faith was not a closed-off entity that demanded their worship while giving only scraps in return.
The faith intertwined itself in the lives of every Ylvainan. It stayed relevant outside the church. As the state religion of the Protectorate, the Ylvainan Faith was present in every school, every store, every street and so on. Even the mech community wasn't exempt from this pervasiveness!
"The entire Ylvaine Protectorate is devoted to the faith!"
This was an example of devotion to the highest extent!
Ves ran with these concepts of devotion and embarked on fabricating the final Transcendent Messenger of the series. He repeated many of the same steps and finished the mech in less than three days.
Once infused with the image of the last virtue that remained, the mech called Devotion fully came into its own!
As loaders placed the newly-fabricated mechs next to its siblings, an awe-inspiring sight came into being.
Ves, Ketis, Lucky and all the Protectors of the Faith that stood guard in the mech workshop couldn't help but stop and stare at the collection of mechs.
"Courage. Justice. Perseverance. Zeal. Sacrifice. Devotion." Ves recited the names affixed on their tabards. "Six virtues. One mech model. All united for a single cause."
The insertion of Devotion resulted in a qualitative difference in his perception of the mechs. Although it only sparked a minor increase into the common foundation of their auras, the addition of this latest virtue amplified the interconnectedness of every virtue!
Ves couldn't help but describe what he saw. "Devotion is the glue that binds the virtues! None of the other virtues can exist without devotion!"
The auras of all six mechs constantly pulsed and shifted as the virtues constantly sparked against each other. Each of the mechs seemed so sacred and divine that a number of Protector guards spontaneously lost control and bent to their knees in prayer!
"I can feel it! These mechs are the works of Ylvaine!"
"Not even the grand cathedral is as majestic as this sight! These mechs are divinely touched!"
"We have witnessed a miracle in the making!"
The abnormal behavior of the normally-stoic Kronon guards proved that Ves had succeeded! All of the risks he took had been worth it if he could accomplish such an exceptional emotional response from the Ylvainans!
Just as Ves basked in the glory and satisfaction of producing a profoundly compelling series of hero mechs, the doors leading into the mech workshop slammed open!
Ves and some of the other Protectors instantly turned around and saw that a delegation of inquisitors had arrived without announcement!
High Inquisitor Xefin Lin Poxco strode forward with strong and determined steps despite his advanced age. He ignored the mechs entirely and focused his burning eyes solely on his target.
"Your Excellency, to what do we owe your visit?" Ves guardedly asked as he abruptly came off his high of completing his goal.
"You are under arrest, Mr. Larkinson! We have proof that you are involved with stealing the holy relic from the Grand Cathedral of Ylvaine's Mercy!"
What?! Ves widened his eyes! How did they find out!?
"In addition to that, your efforts in designing these deceptive mechs in order to corrupt our beliefs is blasphemy! This reason is enough to take you away!"
What kind of excuse was that?!