The Mech Touch Chapter 971

969 Gratitude

The senator basically insinuated that on his say so, he could get the Mech Corps to stop treating the Flagrant Vandals like an abandoned child.

Such an offer sounded like a heaven-sent gift to the Vandals! As they lost a substantial amount of forces, they needed lots of funding to replenish their ships, mechs and manpowers.

Yet Major Verle did not respond in the way Ves expected. "The 6th Flagrant Vandals answers to the 3rd Tarry Division of the Southern Mech Army. Any decisions regarding the allocation of resources and funding is best left to the chain of command."

"I can facilitate the decision making of the relevant offices." The senator continued, emphasizing his clout. "While I am not in any way directly involved with the military, a single reminder is enough to make them reconsider their past decisions."

"We appreciate your intentions, but the budget of the Mech Corps is already fixed. Much more deserving mech regiments who have arduously fought in the frontlines of the war are already in line to obtain their share of the funding. It is best not to disrupt the current allocation of resources in order to avoid affecting the progression of the war to our detriment."

The senator pursed his lips but nodded. "You make a good point, major. The Mech Corps has already made their own arrangements."

Even though the Vandals could truly benefit from the additional funding that Tovar could arrange for them, Major Verle resolutely rejected the generous offer.

Not only did he warn Ves not to get entangled with a powerful influence such as Senator Tovar and the Tovar Family, but he also followed his own advice despite the attractive enticement!

Of course, Major Verle didn't reject Senator Tovar's initiative due to his integrity. He merely wanted to keep the Vandals from being associated with the Tovar Family.

While doing so might give the Vandals a lot of help, it would also earn them a lot of new enemies! Anyone who despised the Tovars or competed with them for power and influence would start to play tricks on the hapless mech regiment.

The Vandals weren't ready to deal with those kinds of games. Not by a longshot.

Certainly, Senator Tovar got the hint and stopped hinting about giving the Vandals a boost.

Nonetheless, the old man couldn't help but insist on 'expressing his gratitude' throughout the private banquet.

Sometimes, he didn't leave any room for rejection.

"Major Verle, meeting you in person has reinforced my good impression of you. The Mech Corps needs steady officers like you that can keep the bigger picture in mind. I will be sure to put in a good word to your superiors."

"My thanks, senator, but I am already pleased with the recognition that I've received already." Verle replied, trying to keep the vexation out of his voice.

"Captain Orfan, I see you are not entirely comfortable in this formal setting. No, don't apologise. Expert candidates come in all shapes and sizes. I can see that you are a mech pilot who is born for battle. That's great, as there are many mech regiments that urgently need a future expert pilot to champion their forces. Just say the word, and the most elite mech regiments will open their doors for you. For now, the Flagrant Vandals are no longer capable of supporting a mech pilot of your quality."

"The Vandals are family to me, sir." Orfan replied, likewise keeping her anger restrained. Ves figured she was hugely insulted by the senator's casual disregard for her mech regiment. "I intend to stick with them and help them rebuild their forces."

"Anyone can rebuild a battered mech regiment." Senator Tovar shook his head. "Ordinarily, I would agree with you, but this is a time of war. Talent such as you are best utilized in the frontlines holding back the Vesians. As a loyal citizen of the Republic, I'm sure you wish to do your part in the war, correct? I will ask around to see which elite mech regiment best fits your battle style and see if they have room for another exemplary mech pilot."

The casual way in which Senator Tovar rolled over them in his insistence on expressing his gratitude really opened up Ves' eyes. To a man at the top of the Bright Republic's power structure, nothing was impossible!

Even if the senator's authority didn't stretch that far in the military, his soft power in the form of his clout, reputation, and family influence could make many things happen! In the face of his power and stature, other decision makers would find it difficult to accede to his requests!

"As for you, Ves, you do your family proud. Even if you have not been given the opportunity to join your many brothers and sisters in fighting against the Vesians directly, your current career choice is no less impressive."

"Thank you, sir." Ves responded politely.

"I see you are wearing your awards with pride. There was a considerable amount of controversy regarding their bestowal to you. While no one doubts your contribution to the mission and the Bright Republic, to award a mech designer with not one, but two distinguished medals that relate to merit earned in combat actions is unprecedented. I hope you do not mind that I leaned on the handful of generals responsible for this decision on your behalf, although I do admit your Larkinson name helped smooth matters over."

Ves twitched another smile. At least he now knew that he didn't receive these extravagant awards easily. It seemed that Senator Tovar already did him a huge 'favor', likely irritating some generals in the process!

"Thank you, sir, but I am merely a mech designer temporarily in the service of the Mech Corps. Unlike my relatives, I do not envision a career in the military."

"Ah, your record stated that you started your own business and did quite well in a short amount of time. The Living Mech Corporation, yes? What a curious moniker for a mech manufacturing company."

"The name reflects our aspiration to sell mechs that come to life in the hands of our customers, sir." Ves replied, automatically going through his marketing spiel. "We aren't selling a product. We are selling enduring partners to mech pilots who have a need for dependable mechs of impeccable quality."

"What an interesting and thoughtful philosophy." Tovar chuckled at Ves. "That is a very sophisticated standpoint to take regarding machines built for war. Is it not the purpose of mechs to be expended in battle?"

"Respectfully, sir, I believe there is a difference between treating a mech as a commodity and treating a mech as an investment. Mech pilots with the former mindset may be content with cheaper products built to serve a specific purpose and nothing more, but there are also mech pilots who expect something more out of their machines. This is where the LMC comes in. Our mechs are premium products that are built to last. It is my hope that like living persons, my mechs will one day be able to grow stronger over time rather than grow weaker like every other mech in the market today."

The senator's eyes lit up in enthusiasm. "How bold! How daring! What a marvelous ideal! I absolutely agree with you! These days, the high volume of sales of mechs has encouraged a pattern of reckless use among mech pilots. Too often they change their mechs as if they change their coats. It is inordinately wasteful and while many of your colleagues and competitors are glad with the extra sales, it nonetheless lowers the efficiency of our forces."

For some reason, Ves and the senator both got pulled into a philosophical discussion on the use of mechs. While Ves could never match the depth and wisdom of Senator Tovar, his unique thoughts regarding this topic was like a breath of fresh air to the old lawmaker.

"At first, I presumed a Larkinson such as you who has managed to thrive under very arduous circumstances would be a consummate soldier or a battle fanatic like your relatives. Now, I have learned that your family is capable of spawning more than talented and dedicated mech pilots. How they managed to raise an insightful and successful mech designer such as you is a mystery for the ages."

"I have good parents." Ves replied simply. He was starting to feel a bit uncomfortable at the praises the senator piled up on him. While he felt flattered by the attention, he always kept Major Verle's warning in mind. "The Bright Republic has raised many talented mech designers. I am but one among many."

"Ah, but you do yourself a disservice to speak so lightly of your accomplishments. It is unfortunate to hear that the Mech Corps will not be able to enjoy your services for long. I can see you are easily able to thrive no matter if you work in the military or in the private sector. I read that your company sells two very notable mech models. They are obviously worth more attention if they are designed by a mech designer of your talents."

Damn, did Tovar intend to invest in his company or something?!

"My company is barely out of its startup phase. We are still very inadequate in many ways, and I have been absent from the company for about two years now due to my obligations to the Mech Corps. I would hate to embarrass you with our meager mech catalog. Right now, it would benefit my company more if we can keep growing organically without any undue haste or pressure. I believe it is too easy to disrupt a young company by taking too many risks."

Senator Tovar appeared to be weighing his words. "Hm, that is a very mature perspective for someone so young as you. I commend your patience, but I do not entirely agree. A company cannot do without risks. The Bright Republic's mech market is very competitive, and for every ten company that holds back, there is always one that doesn't hesitate to gamble."

"Many of those companies who gamble fail and go bankrupt."

"Only the inept!" Tovar emphasized. "Mech manufacturers founded by listless and incompetent mech designers deserve everything they get when they inevitably flounder. You are very different from the useless rabble of mech designers, Ves. Your exploits during the mission alone amply proves that you have the survival instincts that are necessary to thrive on and off the battlefield."

"Even so, the mech industry is very complex. It is too precarious for me to gamble on the success of my company, especially when it is dealing in assets worth billions of credits and is responsible for employing thousands of people."

"I have no doubt you will find a way should you choose to chart a bolder course." Camden Tovar shook his head. "Trust me, the Republic places very high expectations on young mech designers such as you who have distinguished themselves during war. Why do you think we draft so many mech designers every generation? It is not only to supplement our mech forces with desperately-needed technical expertise. Instead, the primary reason is to separate the wheat from the chaff!"

"The Republic… wants to know which mech designers are worth investing in by tracking our performance during the war, sir?" He asked.

At some level, Ves already suspected as much, but to hear this from the mouth of a former bright president of the Republic himself was very abrupt!

Tovar threw a friendly smile at Ves. "If we leave our mech designers be, their numbers will balloon and our economy will be dragged down by stubborn cockroaches who somehow manage to cling to their marginal existences. It is much better to pack them off to the war to see whether they have what it takes to survive! Only those who are brave and smart enough to survive the rigors of war are deserving of our support."

"That is… remarkably efficient of the Republic." He commented a bit flatly.

"I admit, our policy regarding mech designers sounds rather harsh, but it is only through hardship that we can raise strong mech pilots and strong mech designers. It is no coincidence that many mech designers are placed far closer to the battlefield than they ought to! Without some way of reducing their numbers, our economy would be flooded again with a deluge of useless mech designers after the war. The Mech Corps actually has to meet a secret quota in this regard, which is a policy I helped pioneer. We are really doing you mech designers favor by allowing the capable among you a chance to distinguish yourselves, of which you are the best exemplar in this generation."

"I am honored that you feel so, sir."

What the hell?! Ves wanted this banquet to end as soon as possible!