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Chapter 1953 Spirit and Body

The Mech Touch
     Chapter 1953 Spirit and Body

    A few days went by as Ves continued to meet with different people.

    He discussed the sprawling disposition of vessels with Fleet Coordinator Ophelia Kronon.

    We have accumulated a lot of carriers and other vessels, but by and large they are quite vulnerable against enemy attacks. She told him through a projection. While we have an adequate amount of mechs to protect our fleet, there are various problems related to coordination. Some vessels belong to the Larkinson Clan, some vessels follow the lead of the Avatars of Myth while many other vessels follow the direction of the Living Sentinels.

    This isn't necessarily a problem. Ves responded as he scratched Lucky's chin. Our combat vessels have to cover for our civilian vessels.

    That's true, but our biggest problem is that we lack fully-fledged combat vessels. Compared to the Mech Corps or the Kronon Dynasty, we are sorely lacking in armored vessels that can withstand a blow and possibly withstand incoming fire. In many naval battles in space, combat carriers and other armored ships are often needed to cover our most vulnerable vessels.

    Ves grimaced. We tried to obtain combat carriers, but with the huge demand for starships, we still haven't been able to secure an order.

    Both of them knew that obtaining combat vessels just wasn't in the cards right now. The declining financial situation of the LMC also didn't help any matters. Even if Ves offered three times as much money, the shipyards still wouldn't supply him with a combat vessel!

    Even though the Sand War was already nearing its end, the Komodo War continued to grow hotter. The fighting at the border between the second-rate states continued to spread like wildfire while the rest of the star sector increasingly began to feel the heat!

    We will have to intercept any enemies before they are in range to threaten our ships. Ophelia declared. While we tentatively have the mechs to fulfill this function, our reserves are distressingly low.

    How many spaceborn mechs do we have in total?

    After repairing our damaged mechs, restoring some of the salvaged machines and transferring some landbound mech pilots to spaceborn mechs, we can muster up around 500 mechs. Manpower is a great bottleneck, but we have picked up a lot of Kronon defectors during our flight from the Ylvaine Protectorate. As we work them into our hierarchy, we can probably expand our numbers even further.

    While the amount of mechs didn't sound so bad, the haphazard fleet centered around the Larkinson Clan amounted to a lot of ships, all of which were vulnerable to attacks.

    We don't have many options available. Ves murmured as he rubbed his smooth-shaven chin. Hardly any of the states along our route are great recruitment sites. States such as the Reinald Republic and the Council Stars of Lisv are either devastated by the sandmen or already strained for manpower.

    As for mechs, that was a bit easier. While their fleet didn't possess any strong fabrication capabilities due to the absence of a factory ship, they did pick up a considerable amount of salvage.

    The CRC mechs they managed to defeat at Kesseling VIII were all worth a considerable amount of money!

    While it was too difficult to restore them to functionality considering the vast tech disparity, they could still be traded for mechs or recycled in order to utilize their excellent materials elsewhere.

    After discussing all of these issues, the fleet coordinator bid goodbye while Ves met with various other people.

    He cautiously sounded out James. The Living Prophet seemed as obnoxiously friendly as ever, but Ves didn't believe he was as simple as he appeared.

    I heard from Calabast that you wanted to join the Larkinson Clan. Do you even know what you are asking? While we respect your faith, My relatives and I are highly opposed to religion.

    James smiled as if there wasn't any problem. I am sure that you and your fellow Larkinsons are able to tolerate us. We have never compelled others to accept our beliefs. Besides, your Larkinsons and my True Believers share a lot more in common than you think. We too cherish fellowship, duty and bravery, especially when it comes to our Kronons.

    While he was technically right, their fellowship and duty mainly applied to their fellow Ylvainans!

    If your True Believers ever have to choose between obeying you or me, who will they listen to? Can you guarantee that the Ylvainans working for me will recognize my leadership?

    That is all the more reason to merge my followers with your clan. James smiled wider. As long as a separation exists between your Larkinsons and the rest of us, tension will always exist. In contrast, absorbing us into your Larkinson Clan will truly unite us all. There will never be an instance where divided loyalties will pose a problem because both believers and non-believers are aligned! As long as your Larkinsons accept my followers in earnest, our differences will diminish.

    It was impressive how James managed to turn his argument around. Ves had a feeling that there was no point in debating the Living Prophet because he was so good at it! As the clone of the original prophet, James inherited his gene donator's skilled oratory and exceptional persuasiveness!

    Along with the illusion that he was able to see the future, Ves constantly felt as if James already foresaw this conversation!

    Ves felt frustrated the longer he talked to James. As the Living Prophet provided a lot of reassurances that his believers would earnestly try to integrate with the Larkinsons, he eventually waved his hand.

    Enough! I'm not the main decision maker. Before you try to obtain my approval, you'll have to convince my secularist relatives why they should embrace your fanatics into the clan.

    They will come around to our viewpoint. The religious leader immediately declared. While you and your Larkinsons are focusing too much on our differences, in time you will come to appreciate what we share in common.

    WHatever you say, prophet.

    Ves ended the conversation as fast as possible. There was just something unsettling about talking to the clone.

    His apprehension increased when he realized that James was channeling Ylvaine's spiritual fragment!

    The two are in cahoots!

    This was an incredibly disturbing conclusion! In his perspective, the two shouldn't be intersecting with each other.

    Ves originally created Ylvaine's spiritual fragment out of a miniscule spiritual remnant he lifted from a nutrient pack wrapper.

    The spiritual fragment was never meant to be a complete spiritual entity. Yet as it assumed its position as design spirit, it connected with an increasing number of Ylvainan mech pilots, each of whom developed their own impression of the Great Prophet!

    The design spirit began to turn more human. All of those devout Ylvainan mech pilots inadvertently filled the holes in the design spirit's personality, essentially recreating a version of the Great Prophet in spiritual form!

    That wasn't necessarily bad. Ves never wanted to restrict his design spirits. He treated them like living beings, and always benefited when they grew stronger and more sophisticated.

    The problem was that the spiritual fragment was somehow colluding with the clone of the prophet!

    A clone who only spewed nonsense wasn't very scary. A clone who somehow gained the assistance of a highly-compatible design spirit was something else!

    He shook his head. As much as he wanted to prevent Ylvaine's spiritual fragment from getting influenced by the clone, he wasn't sure if it was possible to undo their alliance.

    One of them was derived from the spirit of Prophet Ylvaine, while the other was derived from his body!

    A very frightening realization suddenly struck him like a lightning bolt.

    Did I inadvertently resurrect the Great Prophet?

    The implications of these words were simply too much for Ves to cope!

    He didn't believe he brought the original prophet back to life. At most, the design spirit and the clone were merely derivations of a common source. These pale and incomplete copies could never match the original.

    However, that didn't mean that these incomplete copies would be able to turn into something greater than the original prophet, especially when they pooled their strengths!

    What Ves didn't understand was why James wanted to become a part of the Larkinson Clan. Even if he was just half as capable as the original prophet, then he was definitely capable of branching out on his own!

    Ves didn't want to devote any more processing power to this issue.

    Regardless what he thought, the Ylvainans comprised at least half of his workforce, if not more. They crewed his ships, piloted his mechs and and more.

    If Ves or the Larkinson Clan had a falling out with the True Ylvaine Dynasty, their fleet would instantly become a shadow of its former self!

    This was not a time to provoke a schism! As long as his fleet was still travelling through Coalition-aligned space, there was always a chance the CRC would strike them again!

    For better or worse, Ves needed the True Believers. Tolerating James' nonsense was a small price to pay in exchange for the protection of his loyal followers.

    As for adopting them into the Larkinson Clan, Ves did not believe that the future was set in stone. Even prophets were wrong sometimes!

    After conducting various meetings, Ves finally cleared up his agenda. While many issues still needed to be addressed, he merely had to provide direction to his deputies. After Ophelia, Raymond, Melkor and other senior leaders understood his priorities, they dutifully followed his intentions.

    This finally freed up time for Ves to contemplate his next design projects.

    Ves gathered with Gloriana at the Stellar Chaser's mech workshop.

    While their cats were nuzzling their noses at each other, both of them sat in front of a terminal.

    His girlfriend clapped her hand and grinned with excitement!

    Hihihi! We're finally designing a mech again! I missed this so much!

    Their Bright Warrior was their last project. So far, the design proved to be a massive success. Not only did their Bright Warrior model single-handedly beat the CRC in space, it also enabled them to create their first officially-recognized masterwork mech!

    It was very difficult to top that kind of success.

    Ves was still determined to try. Now that he activated Archimedes Rubal implant, he looked forward to testing how much it boosted his design work!

    I'm not sure what mech concept we should tackle next. He admitted. I'm a bit short on ideas right now.

    Well, you already stated that you wanted to design a commercial mech model in order to invigorate the LMC. I take it that you want to present a third-class mech, correct?

    He nodded. While I'm confident that I'm ready to design a second-class mech, there isn't a viable market in this star sector. The Friday Coalition obviously won't accept my mechs, and the Hexadric Hegemony is too hung up on my gender to do the same.

    His girlfriend grinned wider. I wouldn't be so sure about the last one. While Calabast is still finalizing the details with DIVA, there may be a possibility for you to design a mech for the Hegemony. It'll be fairly special, though.

    How so?

    After hearing Calabast and I out, DIVA is interested in your glows. The agency is curious whether your design philosophy can be leveraged at the main front of the Komodo War. We made a very persuasive case that we can tilt the balance of all of those pitched battles in our favor due to the proven effects that your glows can affect the morale of thousands of mech pilots.

    Ves looked surprised. Even if that is so, aren't you Hexers biased against male mech designers like me? I won't agree to working under another Hexer mech designer. I also don't want anyone else to steal my credit for my work. This is non-negotiable, Gloriana.

    Now that he gained a lot of recognition, he felt more confident about putting down his foot. Even if the Hexers were a bunch of female supremacists, it was impossible for them to ignore his value!

    That won't be a problem, Ves. Gloriana reassured him. There is a very elegant solution to your concerns. DIVA wants to test the water by allowing you to design a mech. The only condition is that it should exclusively be targeted towards males rather than females!

    What?!