The Mech Touch Chapter 969
967 Founding Families
Overall, Ves was in line to receive six significant awards. Aside from the three he received from General Clesse in person today, he also received three more, either immediately or later.
The War Saint was an award to every active participant of the Bright-Vesia Wars. Even though a huge number of Brighters received them every generation, receiving them at all was a great mark on their record.
The Mech Corps additionally bestowed Ves the Frontier Service Medal just like the rest of the Verle Task Force. This signified that he served on behalf of the Mech Corps while deployed to the perilous frontier.
The third significant award he received was the Mech Corps Commendation awarded to every member of the 6th Flagrant Vandals. This was a unit award that gave supreme honor to the mech regiment as a whole, but every Vandal that served during the time of the commendation's given reason for bestowal received the right to wear this ribbon.
All of these awards and honors bestowed to Ves and the surviving Vandals seemed impressive at first glance. Yet some couldn't help but feel they served as an inadequate band-aid to the dangers and predilections they all suffered during their arduous mission.
Many Vandals never lived to make it home. Only two ships out of dozens made it back. The most galling fact was that many of those who died at the hands of the pirates, Vesians or sandmen never found out what they fought for all the way out in the frontier. Why did the Bright Republic send them all the way out to an isolated star system deep in the frontier?
What was so important enough that the sacrifice of hundreds of mech pilots and thousands of support personnel made the people awarding the medals to the handful of survivors so pleased?
Oh, Major General Clesse had the decency to recognize their sacrifices and appear solemn. Yet some of those bureaucratic official types standing at the side seemed inordinately pleased for what should have been a serious occasion.
This was because after General Clesse finished going over the Vandal survivors, he began to posthumously award the confirmed dead and missing-but-very-presumably-dead.
This put Ves and the Vandals into a somber mood.
People like Chief Dakkon and Dr. Tillman all contributed enormously to the ground expedition, but aside from the honors bestowed to them, their existence no longer mattered to the Republic.
The classified nature of this award ceremony basically meant their family members would never find out where and why they died. They would forever hear that their deceased relatives died as heroes, but that would be the extent of what they were allowed to know!
Perhaps Ves should follow up on the family members of those he'd been close with at the Vandals. Not now, of course, but after the war.
As Ves looked at his fellow comrades, he saw that he wasn't the only one who thought that way.
After the end of the award ceremony, one of the civilian officials gathered Ves, Major Verle and Captain Orfan to the side. "Our patron, the primary benefactor of your mission, cordially invites you to attend a private banquet with him on this planet in three days time. We have already arranged your schedule to accommodate this appointment."
Major Verle's lips twitched. Though the official's invitation was worded as a request, it really left no option for refusal. "Mr. Cordwraith, we would be delighted to accept your patron's invitation."
"Good." The slick-haired middle-aged man replied perfunctory. "The Bureau of Sector Affairs will prepare all matters on your end."
After that, Cordwraith rejoined his fellow officials and left through the side door.
As everyone returned to the guest area of BuSecA's headquarters, Ves asked a question. "Who is Mr. Cordwraith? Who is he working for? And is that person…"
"Mr. Cordwraith is the executive assistant of Senator for Life Camden Tovar of the Bright Senate. As for Mr. Tovar, I doubt you require a history lesson on the Tovars."
The mention of Camden Tovar came with such a shock to Ves that he temporary stuttered in his steps.
In the chaotic founding of the Bright Republic at the opening of the Komodo Star Sector shortly after the start of the Age of Mechs, a few leaders came to prominence.
During this time where all sorts of exiles, misfits and hopeful colonists flocked to the Komodo Star Sector to carve out a place of their own, one colonization fleet from the New Rubarth Empire set forth with hope.
They hoped to live a life away from the stifled, stratified and war-obsessed Rubarthans. Several somewhat well-to-do Rubarthan families pooled their resources together to fund the colonization fleet and set forth to the edge of the galaxy as fast as possible.
In total, seventeen families funded the colonization fleet and owned shares in it with the hope of founding a prosperous new state. If not for the clash between their idealism and the rampant fighting in the Komodo Star Sector, they would have occupied a much better territory than the stars the Bright Republic occupied today!
In truth, their colonization fleet suffered a humiliating defeat at the center of the sector where the fighting was most heated. After being kicked out of the area where the Friday Coalition now made its home, the much-diminished colonists dejectedly founded their homes elsewhere, immediately butting heads with the founders of the Vesia Kingdom who carved out those stars for themselves!
"Seventeen families funded the colonization fleet, but only five exist today." Ves recalled. "As one of the five remaining surviving founder families, the Tovar Family is one of the most influential family lines in the government!"
The Larkinson Ancestor may have fought on behalf of the newly-founded Republic as well, but he was merely an extremely talented mercenary. The founder families consisted of the true behemoths of the Bright Republic and still shaped much of its policies to this day.
Much of the public cynically considered the founder families to be noble houses in all but name. Ves tended to agree with their sentiment, but at least they pretended to be the first among equals rather than outright superior as with the case of the nobility in the Vesia Kingdom.
Founding a colony required an immense amount of funding to gather all of the manpower and assets required to set up a colonization fleet and all of the supplies necessary to accelerate the development of settlements.
Those who funded it often demanded a say in the running of the colony and a share in its profits. The states that emerged from these colonies often retained a vestige of their previous ownership. Some leaders or descendants of leaders held onto power outright by adopting a feudal system of some sorts.
Most of the duchies of the Vesia Kingdom actually shared such origins. The Royal House that nominally reigned over the state contributed the most.
In the Bright Republic, their emphasis on a more enlightened and forward-thinking society prompted the founding families to avoid going to such extremes.
However, some critics claimed that the founding families never relinquished the throne. They merely stepped back in the shadows to avoid drawing too much attention to themselves.
Ves knew that many ministers and other government officials shared the same five last names in the hundred years since the founding of the Republic. Their names also popped up from time to time in military or business-related news.
"Camden Tovar is one of the heads of the Tovar Family, right?" Captain Orfan asked with a little bit of confusion.
"Correct." Verle nodded. "Camdon Tovar is the oldest surviving son of Amtusa Tovar, one of the Bright Founders of our great state."
"How old is Mr. Camden?"
"Over two-hundred-and-eighty years old I think. It's really surprising how much longer he's managed to live. Hardly anyone from the Republic has become this old."
Orfan sneered. "I see. He's really getting on in years."
Ves nodded as well. No wonder Camden Tovar was so desperate for another round of life-prolonging treatment. That man was an institution of the Republic by himself! Not only was he directly descended from one of the legendary Bright Founders, he also held the office of Bright President for four terms of five years each.
Nowadays, he retired to become a lifelong senator in the Bright Senate, still very much involved in the highest level of policymaking.
From what Ves learned from the news and from the idle gossip of the Larkinsons, Camden Tovar was a diplomatic powerhouse. His distinguished age, background and stature allowed him to forge friendships with powerful individuals of the other states in the Komodo Star Sector and to maintain them for centuries or longer!
At the highest levels of power and influence, age mattered a lot. It was proof that someone made sufficient achievements to be able to prolong their lifespan. Someone who was five-hundred years old was definitely an immensely powerful and wealthy individual, and such a person wouldn't easily associate himself with hundred-year old upstarts.
Even though average people considered a hundred-year old person and a five-hundred year old person to be the same, in truth in their circles there was a vast gulf in status between the two!
Therefore, the extension of the lifespan of someone like Camden Tovar, who worked tirelessly to maintain the Republic's relationships with other states, not only benefited the senator, but also the Republic as a whole!
With Senator Camden Tovar being able to continue and even advance his friendships with other powerful influences, the Flagrant Vandals substantially changed the course of history of the entire Republic!
Ves softened up his stance regarding the meaning of the mission. Major Verle noticed his change of expression and nodded in confirmation of his silent conclusion.
Of the three, only Captain Orfan still hadn't thought that far yet. To her, the high-grade life-prolonging treatment serum or whatever was just a goodie that allowed this decrepit old Tovar fellow to cling to life a hundred years longer or more.
The three retreated to one of their guest rooms in the upper levels of the BuSecA building to talk more freely among themselves. Ves had a feeling these guest rooms were ordinarily reserved for dignitaries, as their size and splendor surpassed the average five-star hotel room.
Major Verle looked at Captain Orfan, who pretty much almost immediately went for the minibar to pour herself a strong drink, and shook his head. He instead drew Ves to a set of luxurious couches set before a panoramic one-way window that looked out of the high rise district of one of New Foundation V's main cities.
"Now that you know who our benefactor is, what do you feel?"
"I feel… conflicted." Ves responded.
"How so, Ves?"
"I can see how our mission benefits the bigger picture. Tovar is a bigshot in the Republic and he's also one of the most important diplomatic figures of the state. With him around for at least a hundred more years, we won't have to worry about any of the other nearby states ganging up on us. Our sacrifices have not been in vain."
"Yet you do not seem entirely pleased."
"No, sir." Ves sighed and glanced at Orfan who was already knocking back her third shot from the guest room's expensive liquor. "I feel I understand what Captain Orfan is going through right now as well. It's rather galling to think that the deaths of tens of thousands of Vandal servicemen is a cheap price to pay to extend a new lease on life for a single individual. Sure, we've definitely contributed to the Republic, but only vaguely in a long-term sense. Our main accomplishment is actually doing Mr. Tovar a massive favor that I'm not quite sure he even deserves."
"You best keep those thoughts to yourself, Ves." Major Verle clapped his back. "We are all servants of the Republic in one way or another. Also, the benefit we've brought to Mr. Tovar doesn't just benefit Mr. Tovar himself or the entire state, but also the Tovar Family as well. It makes a really huge difference if their patriarch gets to live four-hundred years or more. None of the other founding families has anyone close to that. The Tovar Family will definitely sprint ahead of the other four founding families as a consequence."
Ves knew that Major Verle implied more than what he mentioned. "In other words, we directly boosted the fortunes of the Tovar Family, disrupting the balance of powers between the founding families. The other four families won't be very pleased with what we've done."
"For better or worse, you and I and all the other Vandals have nudged towards the camp of the Tovar Family." Verle stated with a hint of helplessness. "For most of us, that's not good news."