The Mech Touch Chapter 970
968 Camden Tovar
The three most honored Vandals remained in the guest area for three, boring days. The immense wealth and luxury on display in this section of BuSecA's headquarters formed an immensely stark contrast against the bare, utilitarian interior of the Shield of Hispania.
Some of them simply couldn't get used to decadence and pampering on offer. Many other citizens and foreign officials resided in the guest area as well. Some gathered in the bars and lounges in the common section to socialize.
Ves attempted to pass the time by lounging at a courtyard balcony, but the medals and ribbons pinned to his chest immediately attracted a lot of stares.
Due to the regulations of the Mech Corps, Ves was obligated to wear his dress uniform in this context. His dress uniform was a slightly more impressive version of his standard dark green mech designer uniform.
Normally, that wouldn't have drew much attention from the other guests. Even a couple of ribbons didn't seem so special.
Yet the regulations stated that three big awards he earned needed to be in full display.
The Darkness Eater and the Torchbearer medals drew immediate attention from the citizens of the Bright Republic. They all recognized the medals and knew how rare it was to be awarded with them. The main reason why they stared so long at Ves was because he earned those awards as a mech designer!
How could a noncombatant win two of some of the most coveted decorations of the Mech Corps?! It didn't make any sense! Mech designers generally never fought on the battlefield, but both the Darkness Eater and the Torchbearer could only be earned by earning supreme merit in battle circumstances!
In the history of the Bright Republic, the military awarded most of those two awards to mech pilots. Sometimes, members of the auxiliary regiments such as infantrymen or tank operators received these honors as well.
Yet a mech designer? Absurd!
It was like some field surgeon suddenly went berserk, picked up a machine gun and stormed into an enemy Vesian base and wiped out all of the hostiles by himself!
The addition of the Golden Mech proved to be the clincher. The addition of the Golden Mech reinforced the fact that Ves was a mech designer and contributed enormously to the state with his expertise.
Yet to someone like Ves who already carried the Darkness Eater and the Torchbearer, the addition of a supreme award that was almost never seen because of how rare they popped up reinforced the fact that he was a genuine mech designer and not some supersoldier in disguise!
The Golden Mech was an award designed by mech designers of the Republic to be bestowed under extremely stringent conditions relevant in their field of expertise. This was also the reason why the Golden Mech looked so ostentatious and thereby attract so much attention.
When these curious people walked up to Ves and asked how he earned those medals, Ves of course couldn't reveal any classified information.
"I'm not allowed to say." He responded, and that usually ended their questions in that direction.
Yet the lack of information continued to fuel their curiosity regarding him. When they asked who he was, Ves couldn't very well refuse.
"I'm Ves Larkinson, a mech designer in the service of the Mech Corps."
The people he talked to would instantly light up in recognition and say something like, "Ah, a Larkinson!" or "No wonder, you're a Larkinson!" or "As expected of a Larkinson!"
Ves didn't know whether to laugh or cry that they could instantly accept that he earned these attention-grabbing awards because of his family name. Nonetheless, a lot of people continued to push onto him for one reason or another, causing him to flee back to his guest room.
"They're just like the rabid clones back at that lab!"
Despite that unpleasantness, Ves knew that earning these noteworthy medals would definitely benefit him in his later business ventures. He was pretty sure that he was the only mech designer of the Bright Republic to hold all three of these awards at once!
"This will play well with the veteran demographic of the mech market." He predicted.
Although it would be crass to show off these medals everywhere he went, their mere mention in his record already raised his profile head and shoulders above his fellow competitors.
The Bright Republic was a state suffused with war, and those who distinguished themselves in the Bright-Vesia Wars always received bright prospects after the war. After all, it wouldn't do for the state to belittle or stigmatize their war heroes. All of them served as examples for future generations, and many citizens in fact did look up to them as heroes or idols.
Ves could already think of several ways to take advantage of his honors to enhance the performance of his businesses. It wasn't every day you could purchase a mech designed by someone who simultaneously held the Darkness Eater, the Torchbearer and the Golden Mech!
"If I manage to advance to Journeyman Mech Designer quickly enough, then that would be perfect!"
The one regret he held was that while his awards attracted a lot of attention from fellow Brighters, many foreigners weren't familiar with them. Certainly, there was still some appeal to buying a mech designed by a war veteran and war hero, but they would rather pay attention to the specs rather than the personal story of the person who designed the mech.
Therefore, Ves reminded himself that he shouldn't go in over his head. While the Bright Republic would always form the main market of his business, the LMC's reach already extended to much of the Komodo Star Sector.
As his company continued to grow, the proportion of foreign sales would grow larger while its home market would continue to diminish in importance. The Bright Republic's market was only so large, after all.
Ves mostly spent his time hanging out with Major Verle and Captain Orfan, reminiscing about the Vandals and talking a bit about the future. While Major Verle definitely intended to stick with the Vandals both as a mech officer and an agent of the Firestarters, Captain Orfan seemed much more disillusioned about the mech regiment she fought for all this time.
"I thought the Flagrant Vandals are scrappy fighters who depend on themselves and who don't take crap from anyone." She stated in one of her drunken rants. "Yet despite being neglected by the Mech Corps, we can't help but come running once they want something from us! This is complete and utter nonsense!"
To someone like her who held a lot of affection for the Vandals despite their many flaws, Captain Orfan couldn't get her mind around the purpose of the mission. She didn't know their true role as a hidden hand of the Firestarters, and even if she did she'd probably give them the middle finger.
After spending their time in an overly comfortable limbo, the time of the private banquet finally arrived. A number of bots entered their guest rooms and meticulously cleaned and brushed up their appearances. They needed to look as neat and impeccable as possible in the presence of Senator Tovar!
The three gathered back together in their neatly-pressed dress uniforms with all of their medals, ribbons, badges and insignia on prominent display.
The Darkness Eaters pinned on Ves and Captain Orfan's uniforms were the biggest attention grabbers. Major Verle had to make do with the Plasma Spark, which was merely the third-highest award of the Mech Corps.
Fortunately, they'd been spared from parading through the common section of the guest area by entering a nearby restricted elevator. They went all the way upwards until they arrived at second-highest floor!
A grand restaurant and dining room made up this floor, and was usually used to host various parties with foreign dignitaries. Such an extravagant occasion wasn't on the agenda today, and the three guests went through a quiet side entrance before entering a smaller but still very opulent private dining hall.
Aside from a row of attendants that did their best to stand against the wall and make their presence unobtrusive, the tall and luxurious dining hall hosted nobody else except for two notable figures.
One of them was Mr. Cordwraith, who fawned at the old and extremely distinguished gentleman slowly rising to his feet to greet the guests.
"Come." His rich and deep voice boomed, somehow encompassing the entire hall in a voice trained for public speaking since the moment he was born. "Let me greet my saviors in person."
The three crossed the distance until they arrived a few steps away from the simple but exquisitely-dressed senator who smiled at them. "Mech Major Quinlist Verle. Mech Captain Rosa Orfan. Mr. Ves Larkinson. It is an honor to meet you all. Let me start by expressing my profound gratitude at your heroic efforts to secure a new lease of life for me so that I can serve the Republic for a significant time longer. The entire Bright Republic owes the 6th Flagrant Vandals a monumental debt."
"We serve at the pleasure of the Republic, Senator Tovar." Major Verle shook hands with the senator. "The Flagrant Vandals always stand ready to do our part for the Mech Corps and the state."
"Good man." Senator Tovar nodded before turning to the next guest. "Captain Orfan, I hear you have undergone a peculiar transformation during your mission. Some of our researchers have expressed a lot of interest in the phenomenon. I hope you won't mind the monitoring team that will accompany you with the Vandals from now on. I will assure you that you will be adequately compensated for your cooperation."
Captain Orfan gave the senator a strained smile. "No problem, senator. I'm a loyal mech officer of the Mech Corps."
If Senator Tovar picked up on her sarcastic undertone, he didn't show it. Instead, he shook her hands with a surprisingly firm grip for someone so old and finally turned to the final guest.
"Mr. Larkinson. May I call you Ves? I have met so many Larkinsons throughout the years that it is easier on my mind if I call you by your first names."
The senator was a man who was already old by the time his grandfather Benjamin was still in diapers! Ves twitched back a polite smile. "I don't mind. You may call me whatever you wish, senator."
As they shook hands, Ves experienced the senator's powerful grip in person. Senator Tovar exhibited a lot of strength and vitality in that single handshake!
Compared to his past appearances in the news, Senator Tovar obviously appeared a lot more livelier now! His frame seemed more powerful, some black started to color in his grey hair and his skin shed its worn and leathery appearance.
The effects of life-prolonging treatments came into effect remarkably quickly!
When they finished their greeting, they sat down at a firm square table. The human attendants started to bring in various dishes that Ves recognized as regional and planetary specialties from various parts of the Bright Republic.
The senator carried the conversation over the table while they ate. Between the empty platitudes, the powerful man frequently thanked them for their services.
It didn't surprise Ves to see Senator Tovar so open with his gratitude. Anyone would if they heard they could literally live a century longer. That was a lot of extra years that they could use to experience the galaxy, see their descendants grow and leave behind an unforgettable legacy.
The senator also gave out hints on other matters.
"The 6th Flagrant Vandals have outdone themselves during this war. While many other mech regiments are content with doing the same thing over and over, only you dared to plunge all the way through the territory of the Vesia Kingdom and deal them a blow that they would never forget."
"We have only taken the first step to bloodying the nose of the Vesians." Major Verle modestly replied. "The mech regiments fighting at the frontlines are the real heroes for halting the invaders from ravaging our stars."
Senator Tovar gently shook his head. "Even so, the Flagrant Vandals has not shied away from going to even further extremes. The mission that has brought you all the way to the frontier is one that is hard to fulfill by even the most elite mech regiments, but the Vandals have proven themselves to be uniquely suited to fulfill it. Given your successful track record during this war, I think the Mech Corps needs to consider their stance regarding the allocation of resources to their mech regiments."