The Mech Touch Chapter 723
721 Undue Deference
The Gorgon's Gaze. The combat carrier of the Flagrant Vandals possessed the unique distinction of hosting an expert pilot and his exclusive custom mech. Even now, Venerable Rixt O'Callahan rested in peaceful stasis in a highly-secured compartment next to the Parallax Star's exclusive mech stables.
The Parallax Star itself laid dormant ever since its latest deployment against the Frosty Meteors. Miss Lisbeth and her ilk performed the necessary repairs, but hadn't worked on it since, which was a rarity for her crew.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
In fact, if Ves was reading the status reports correctly, her entire department practically idled about these days. They achieved nothing productive and basically polished the same old pile of spare parts that would likely never see any use now that Venerable O'Callahan was lying in his deathbed.
As much as Ves wanted to exert his authority as head designer and allocate Miss Lisbeth and the mech technicians under her charge to servicing the other mechs of the Gorgon's Gaze, they were specialists who only excelled in servicing high-quality mechs. Putting them in charge of cheap, mass-produced mechs like the Inheritor or all the other random mech models the Vandals collected over the years would only lead to a disaster.
Still, despite his dislike for Miss Lisbeth and Chief Keys, no other mech designer or chief technician could match their capabilities when it came to servicing expert mechs. Anyone else who tried would probably botch something up or become affected by mental contamination.
Once he received his new assignment, Ves led Ketis out of the command center and ordered her to pack some of her luggage. With the arrival of Venerable Xie and the Pale Dancer, his presence would be sorely needed at the Gorgon's Gaze. He did not feel reassured at all if he left the expert mech alone in the hands of Miss Lisbeth.
"You really don't like this Lisbeth, do you, teacher?" Ketis asked as they boarded a shuttle reserved for their use.
The Flagrant Swordmaiden Fleet accelerated hard in order to reach the fleeing Rovista Splendor, but that did not prevent them from exchanging supplies and personnel between their ships.
The shuttle soon lifted off after they strapped themselves in. The vehicle exited the hangar bay and swiftly engaged its sublight propulsion.
"Miss Eta-Denmersken is a mech designer who bends too eagerly to the demands of our old expert pilot. If Venerable O'Callahan told her to graft eighteen arms on his mech, she would faithfully carry out his instructions even if it sounds completely ridiculous. I don't know whether she's incapable of standing up for herself or if she's crazy from the start. If the latter is the case, then I have to be there to sort her out."
Ketis turned to Ves, though their thick suits of armor hindered that motion somewhat. Because the Flagrant Swordmaidens were still on high alert, none of them dared to shed their armor. Even the shuttle pilot and the handful of security officers adorned themselves in combat armor as well.
In fact, the only person on the shuttle who didn't wear any visible suits of armor was the uninvited guest. The invisible and completely unnoticeable shape of Acolyte Villis stood quietly behind the crash seat that enveloped Ves.
"Didn't you emphasize over and over again that mech designers ought to serve mech pilots?" She asked. "Why is that suddenly such a bad thing?"
"Just because the mech designer's creed is phrased that way doesn't mean you need to interpret it as an absolute." He explained. "It expresses an ideal, and is not meant to be taken as a literal command. In a mech regiment like the Flagrant Vandals, an existing hierarchy already exists which describes the appropriate roles for every mech designer and every mech pilot. Even though we are part of a separate hierarchy and only loosely attached to the Vandals, we still obey our orders from the people upstairs."
Ves puffed out a tired breath. "Okay, let me put it in a simple way. Miss Lisbeth is supposed to report to me. I am supposed to report to Professor Velten. The professor in turn reports to Colonel Lowenfield. However, because we are detached from the main element of the Flagrant Vandals, our resident Senior is many light-years away from this fleet, so I am instead reporting to the nearest applicable authority figure, which happens to be Major Verle."
"Major Verle is your boss, then."
"He's also a mech officer, so he ticks the box as far as the mech designer's creed is concerned. If a head designer like me follows the orders of some rank-and-file mech pilot, then that is simply upside-down. Yet that is exactly what took place on board the Gorgon's Gaze. Miss Lisbeth acted improper by deferring to Venerable O'Callahan instead of me. Venerable O'Callahan didn't defer to anyone at all and instead acted like the sovereign of his own little fief that he carved out aboard the Gorgon's Gaze. The end result is that neither I or Major Verle exerted effective control over their unit."
"That sounds screwed up." She frowned, unable to reconcile the resolute and authoritative Ves to a wimp who let the dysfunctional situation aboard the Gorgon's Gaze fester under his watch. "Why didn't you do anything?"
"Because Venerable O'Callahan is a bastard of an expert pilot. He had us by the balls." Ves declared with some vehemence.
Ketis visibly leaned away from Ves when he uttered that statement. "Aren't expert pilots compared to demigods? Everyone treats them like they are made out of exotics!"
"Just because they are part of a rare club doesn't mean they have shed their inherent humanity. Demigods. Haven't you heard of the old pre-space tales about demigods? They are as fallable as any human, maybe even more so as their strength and authority allows them to get away with nearly any misdeeds!"
In fact, the gods related to them behaved even worse.
"Then.. how should we treat expert pilots, if not with reverence?"
"Treat them according to their official rank. Just as there are bad expert pilots, there are also good ones. You may not have heard of my family, but my lineage has spawned quite a number of expert pilots in our past. Those who have been brought up with the right principles are worth your respect."
Ketis fell silent. She couldn't process his advice. It went too far against the grain that every human learned.
Even sa daughter of the frontier who grew up in a region of space that hosted very few expert pilots, she still worshipped the mech pilots who were capable of performing superhuman feats with their mechs. They were the ultimate expressions of strength that the sons and daughters of the frontier worshipped so much!
Ves understood that the frontier partially internalized some of the values and principles the MTA and CFA. The pirates may have broken some small rules, but they haven't brandished any weapons of mass destruction or developed any warships armed with large-caliber weapons powerful enough to obliterate a planet.
The pirates generally refrained from engaging in such forbidden development because they feared the CFA would send out a warfleet and stomp them out.
Even if certain pirate factions developed taboo technology, they'd do so in a clandestine fashion and would never show off their dangerous toys in public.
On the other hand, the MTA's reverence towards expert pilots fit neatly in the perspective that strength should be the ultimate arbiter of power. In fact, Ves heard rumors that the reason why the Ravienne Alliance and the Dragon Alliance reigned supreme in the Faris Star Region was because both of them elevated expert pilots as their highest leaders!
"I don't want to dictate what you are supposed to think." Ves lied. He decided that Ketis needed a firmer push in the right direction as she still struggled to make up her mind even now. "I just want you to avoid Miss Lisbeth's example. You'll see what I mean when we're about to meet her once we arrive at the Gorgon's Gaze."
A few minutes later, the shuttle finally arrived at its destination. Once the craft touched down on the flight deck of the combat carrier, the hatch slid open, allowing the armored forms of Ves, Ketis and a pair of floating coffers to depart. As soon as they stepped clear, the shuttle closed its hatch and lifted off a few moments later.
A mech pilot garbed in a piloting suit with officer bars on her shoulder walked up to the pair. "Mr. Larkinson? I am Lieutenant Sara Koltov. I've been assigned to arrange your temporary stay on board our lovely combat carrier."
"Please allow us to drop off our luggage. Do you know how when the Venerable Xie and the Pale Dancer arrives at this ship?"
The lieutenant who looked to be in her thirties shook her head, disturbing her cropped raven hair. "Command has informed me that the Rovista Splendor's dwindling mech reserves are fully engaged in repelling the Fire Treaders from overtaking the flagship. Venerable Xie is still engaged in battle."
"He lost his Meridian Echo against the Fire Treaders. He's not piloting an expert right now, is he?"
"No. He's currently risking his life in a standard-issue rifleman mech."
That sounded bad to Ves and the Vandals, because Venerable Xie would never be able to perform much better than an extremely skilled advanced pilot. Limited by his hardware, the expert pilot wouldn't be able to save himself if the Fire Treaders overpowered him again through sheer numbers!
As the three headed towards the upper decks, Ves asked for another update on what went on outside the ship. For some reason, Lieutenant Kotlov was awfully well-informed for her rank. "How is the Rovista Splendor holding up?"
"She's heavily-damaged and practically falling apart. On top of that, the Fourth Prince ordered his crew to overload her sublight propulsion. Her engines and thrusters are pretty much burning themselves out in order to stay out of the clutches of the Fire Treader pursuit force. It works, because any mech heavier than a light mech isn't able to keep up the chase. The only threat the Rovista Splendor has to worry about are the light mechs that Venerable Xie is extremely good at shooting down."
The Fourth Prince certainly acted decisively. By overloading the Splendor's propulsion, his survival as well as the survival of his crew would be assured. Yet the fateful order also consigned the Splendor to ruin.
This completely cut off the Fourth Prince's autonomy. Without a ship of his own, he became completely dependent on the goodwill of the Flagrant Swordmaidens who agreed to host the fallen royal and his remaining loyalists.
"Monarchies are pretty dumb." Ves couldn't help but express his enlightened Brighter heritage to his student. "Ketis, if you ever find yourself in a state that has adopted a feudal system of governance, don't come close to anyone that stinks of royalty or nobility. The games they play can set you on a path to doom even if you don't do anything wrong."
"They're loaded with money, though. I hear they throw bags of money at any decent mech designer!"
He laughed. "That's because any decent mech designer can earn a lot more money by running their own business. Working for others is easy money, but the moment you accept a salary, you give up your right to determine your life and your career. Your employer is in total control over your life. That's not such a bad thing to most people, but mech designers shouldn't let others run their lives."
That gave Ketis a lot of food for thought. Ves sneakily implied that she shouldn't be so slavishly devoted to Lydia's Swordmaidens. Certainly, the gang was a paradise to her, but most pirate gangs never tended to last very long.
The constant fighting and deprivation they endured eventually wore away the best of them. Even the Dragons of the Void and Ravienne's Ravagers came into power after their formerly dominant predecessors kicked the bucket.
Gangs and outfits prospered and died every day, but a mech designer's legacy lasted forever.