The Mech Touch Chapter 686
685 Cultural Differences
The Flagrant Swordmaiden fleet emerged out of FTL at the edge of a barren star system. Even before the sensors of their starships resolved their way out of the confusion that followed every transition process, squads of mechs emerged from the combat carriers. The formed into pre-arranged patrols and revolved around the combined fleet in a widening orbit in preparation to meet any threat.
No threats surfaced against the newcomers. The patrol mechs encountered no space mines, no old debris from past space battles, no ambush from a prepared pirate fleet, no storm of sand that served as the prelude of a massive sandmen assault.
By all accounts, the uninhabited star system was devoid of any threats. To be certain, the Inheritor mechs upgraded with the stealth detecting sensor array performed a grid search of the nearby space in the vicinity of the fleet.
"Stand down from action stations!"
Everyone sighed in relief. Safety was not guaranteed in the frontier like it was in civilized space.
Back when Ves served aboard the Ark Horizon for House Kaine, the massive expeditionary fleet practically brute-forced their way to the Groening System. Lord Jeremiah Kaine put so much faith in the strength of his extravagantly equipped fleet that no one could imagine its downfall!
Yet fall it did, and in the most dishonorable way at that. The expeditionary fleet strenuously beat off a major sandmen attack, only to be ambushed by the Dragons of the Void before they could recuperate and replenish their forces!
The pirates were genius for springing their ambush at the weakest point of the expeditionary fleet's mech forces. The proud second-class mechs from the Constance Grand Kingdom that outperformed any pirate trash couldn't put up much of a resistance with their tired mech pilots, their dented and damaged frames and empty energy cells.
A major spaceborn mech force fielding mechs worth the equivalent of at least 500 million bright credits met an ignoble end at that follow-up battle! All notions of fairness had been thrown out the window as Kaine's household troops as a fresh and numerically superior force of pirate mechs overwhelmed them in an instant!
Much of those pirate mechs didn't cost more than the equivalent of 20 to 30 million bright credits! A significant proportion of their thralls probably piloted absolute crap mechs worth only half as much or less.
Ves learned a valuable lesson from this experience. "The frontier never plays fair!"
The nature of combat afforded very little margin for error to those who commanded over mech forces. The stakes were raised in the frontier because there was practically no safe harbor for losers to run to when they lost a battle.
Therefore, both the Vandals and the Swordmaidens never let down their guard. No matter how quaint and quiet the star system appeared, they launched at least a third of their spaceborn mech contingent at all times in order to patrol the perimeter around their vulnerable starships as they cycled their FTL drives.
Ves understood where the serious intensity and violent tendencies of the Swordmaidens came from. Roaming the untamed stars like vagabonds, living in fear of bumping into anything that surpassed them in might, such a life never allowed them to rest and put down their worries.
"No wonder the people from the frontier act like they are one step away from lashing out in violence."
It was no way to live a stable life, yet it served as their means of survival.
A shift in mentality occurred when the two forces started to sort themselves out.
Now that they formally entered the space beyond the rule or protection of human authority, the Flagrant Vandals stopped taking the lead. Oh, they were still the more powerful of the two, but as the example with House Kaine's expeditionary fleet had shown, brute force rarely won out in the frontier.
In fact, the stronger the force, the more they radiated energy. If some dormant sandmen detected the ample amount of emissions escaping from their ships and mechs, they would surely send out a hunting fleet of sentient sand to suck away all of the juice.
This time, the Flagrant Vandals had to depend on Lydia's Swordmaidens to survive the many perils of the frontier.
All of this didn't concern Ves, however. He was still trying to manage the whole mess on correcting the flawed and uneven modifications to the mechs in the Vandal roster. There were over five-hundred mechs, and tackling all of their problems consumed a significant amount of his time even if he sped up his design work and cut some corners.
In his free time, he threw himself into studying both the poisonous research papers related to ultracompact batteries. He also spent some time down at the workshop to make sense of the stealth shuttle fragments with the Chief Engineer, though admittedly he hadn't been able to spend as much time as he ought to on this project.
It all came down to lack of time!
On top of spending his time on his core duties and his side projects, he also became preoccupied with shaping Ketis into the mold he made for her. Unlike a mech design, Ketis was a living being, so he needed to be very delicate with how he eased her into the mold.
"Teacher," Ketis spoke as she looked up with tired eyes from her latest textbook on business strategy. "I've had enough. There's no point for me to read all of these books on how to run a business! I'm never going to start my own mech company. Not every mech designer is like you, you know!"
Ves smirked and steepled his fingers together ass he leaned in over his desk. "That's where you are wrong. No matter what job you do, everything is connected to scarcity. A virtual simulator allows you to play with an unlimited amount of resources. You can play with any design you want, and your imagination is the limit. That's not the case in realspace. Funding constraints, manpower constraints, technology constraints, demand constraints and more all apply whether you are starting your own business or work for someone else. Don't you think the Swordmaidens are the same? If you are to be put in charge of their mechs one day, you need to run your department like you run a business, at least partially."
"I don't get it." She shook her horned little head. "Okay, the book on microeconomics and accounting will help me budget stuff. I can see how that's useful in keeping managing the money. But these other books are a chore to read through! They just blather on and on about this and that about decisions that only senior managers in a big company ever gets to deal with! What does this have to do with mech design?!"Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
"I already told you the answer, Ketis. I don't like to repeat myself. For now, you can put the book down and come with me. We're going down the workshop compartment."
Her eyes glistened a bit. Compared to being forced to sit behind her desk studying books that might as well have been greek to her, getting her hands dirty with mechs sounded a lot more fun! She hopped to her feet and didn't forget to order her floating scabbard to float behind her back.
She bounced around with an abundance of energy as they made their way down the lower decks of the combat carrier. "What are we gonna do today?"
They made their way down to the workshop compartment and walked past the busy mech technicians who perpetually needed to fix something. Ves nodded in approval at their diligence. Chief Haine ran a tight ship and she was definitely one of the better chief technicians he had met so far.
Ketis didn't take much notice of the mech technicians at all, despite their curious stares at her exotic form and her prominent exobeast pelt that she wore over her body. In fact, it was like they plainly didn't exist.
He stopped and turned. "What do you think about our mech technicians?"
"Huh? Uhm, they're fine."
"That statement has virtually no value to me. Describing something as 'fine' is meaningless. Let me ask you another question. What are the mech technicians in your outfit like?"
She sneered. "They're pathetic wastes of flesh. They're too weak to defend themselves or to fight on our behalf. We have to do everything for them, it seems. Lydia is too soft-hearted with the dregs she picks up. Sometimes those bumbling fools drop some vital component or makes a mistake when reassembling a mech, forcing Mayra to come down and fix the mess they made."
Ves couldn't believe what he just heard! The worst thing about it was that Ketis spoke her opinions on the Swordmaiden mech technicians in the middle of the workshop compartment with dozens of mech technicians manning the various machines or transferring parts and materials back and forth.
Work slowed down as the mech technicians collectively glowered at Ketis as if she just badmouthed their mothers.
"O-kay. The two of us need a talk, right now!"
He took a firm grip on her arm and insistently dragged her over to the nearest empty office compartment. He practically threw her inside before entering himself and locking the hatch. To make sure no mech technician was listening in, he activated his jamming device that was attached to his toolbelt. A low field that felt like static and mixed with rain enveloped the unused office.
"What was that about?" Ketis glared at him like he drowned his kitten or something. "I didn't do anything wrong! I just talked!"
"Don't you realize the gravity of what you just pulled off? With just a few sentences, you pissed off all of the mech technicians aboard our ship!"
"So what?" The defiance in her eyes never dimmed.
There was something very wrong about this whole matter. Ves couldn't believe she casually disregarded the mech technicians like that. It was as if their opinions didn't matter at all.
"Look, maybe it's a cultural difference between the two of us that's to blame." He surmised as he calmed down a little. "However, that hardly gives you leave to call the mech technicians weak, pathetic or incompetent."
"But that's what they are." She stared straight at his eyes as she spoke those words, looking like she spoke a self-evident truth. "I don't know why you're so caring about those leeches, but where I'm from, even bots are more useful than our mech technicians."
Ves sighed for the umpteenth time. How many times did Ketis confound him already? He had a feeling this wouldn't be the last time she would spring an unpleasant surprise in his face. The things he had to deal with at work.
"I would appreciate it if you keep your disparaging comments about mech technicians to yourself." He finally spoke. "Right now, you are a guest of the Flagrant Vandals, so you will need to become accustomed to our ways. One of them is that you don't piss off the workers who are responsible for doing most of the grunt work in servicing, repairing and maintaining our primary war machines."
"That.. sounds weird." She frowned. Though she was stubborn about a lot of things, she wasn't stupid. Not per se. Perhaps his own behavior finally managed to bore through her thick skull. "I really can't see how mech technicians deserve any respect. I just can't."
"Where does this come from? What is wrong with the mech technicians of the Swordmaidens, and why are you so contemptuous of them? You have to realize that in civilized space, the vast majority of outfits always take decent care of their mech technicians. Even if their importance ranks lower than mech technicians and mech designers, they are a valuable cog in the machine."
Ves couldn't recall any mech outfit that treated their mech technicians poorly. Something like that seemed self-evident.
"Huh. That does sound different from how we do things at the Swordmaidens." Like the uncouth frontier barbarian she was, Ketis dropped her bombshell without any fanfare. "When we're short on mech designers, we go raid some treasure hunters or something and take away their mech technicians. All of them are our slaves."
Slaves. And people said Lydia's Swordmaidens wasn't as bad as many of the other pirate gangs.