Chapter 1984 In Our Hearts
The fall of Bentheim not only affected the Brighters living in the state, but also those who longer lived within its borders.
The Larkinson Clan, despite its attempts to form an independent spare-faring existence, still possessed a lot of roots to the Bright Republic.
The Larkinsons and many people hailing from the state couldn't help but mourn for the losses. The catastrophe dominated the conversation in the fleet to such an extent that the leadership simply couldn't let it remain unaddressed!
Even Ves couldn't take his mind off the fall of the planet that had once been the source of much of his prosperity!
Though the memories he held of the planet would forever be stored in his Archimedes Rubal implant, he would never be able to make any new memories. The Bentheim as he knew it existed no more.
Dorum, Haston, Ansel and many other iconic cities existed no longer. The famed sights such as the popular mech arenas on the campus of the Ansel University of Mech Design were forever lost.
Billions of people died. Even though the Bright Republic at least managed to evacuate all of the valuable mech designers and other skilled personnel, all of them had to start anew to an extent.
What was lost was lost. There was no way to restore Bentheim to its former glory any longer. Even if the Bright Republic received funding from every direction, the newer version of Bentheim would lack the heritage and accumulation of its earlier incarnation!
Many Brighters, especially those who lived on the planet or had their lives affected by its existence in some way, lamented the loss of such an important facet of their lives.
Due to all of these distractions, Ves decided to make the unprecedented decision to hold a full assembly of the entire clan.
As soon as his fleet dropped out of FTL, numerous shuttles flewe back and forth, bringing every member of the Larkinson Clan to the roomy mech hangar of the Redfeather.
In order to make room for the hundreds of Larkinsons, a large number of spaceborn mechs deployed into space in order to patrol the vicinity.
Still, Ves made sure to command the Avatars to leave enough Bright Warriors behind to surround the venue with the powerful glow derived from the Golden Cat!
Every Larkinson, no matter if they remained committed to the clan or planned to leave it at the first opportunity, showed any division at this gathering.
Despite the encouraging glows of the impressive Bright Warriors piloted by their fellow clansmen, no one was able to muster up any cheer today.
The footage of the Battle of Bentheim, the sand storm that had engulfed the planet and the destructive aftermath after the MTA battleships pounded the surface with ordnance was seared in every Larkinson's minds.
None of them would ever forget what happened!
More than a few Larkinsons even felt that they should have been there to resist the sandmen! The guilt at leaving the Bright Republic when it most needed their help gnawed at their conscience and haunted them at night!
As Ves stood at the side of a broad podium, he observed his clansmen carefully while caressing the solid surface of the Larkinson Mandate.
The mood among the members of your clan is very volatile, boss. Gavin told him. If you say the wrong things, you can easily rile them up or turn them against you. No matter how much you tried to pull your Larkinsons away from the Bright Republic, it still exists in their hearts. I highly suggest you refrain from bashing our home state.
Who do you think I am, Benny?
You're the Devil Tongue. Bashing others is what made you famous.
Ves directed an acid glare at his assistant.
Lucky lazily yawned as he floated besides his owner.
Oh, shut up you greedy cat! You're overdue on your next payment! I haven't seen anything coming out of your rear end for weeks!
Gloriana touched his arm. Hush now, Ves. Don't bully your own cat. You have more important business to take care of. The last Larkinsons are slowly taking their seats. It's almost time for you to address the clan.
You're right. Ves took a deep breath. I haven't even prepared a speech or anything really. I still don't know what to say.
You don't need to say that much, to be honest. In fact, as long as you articulate yourself clearly enough, it's better to go for the raw emotional angle. Gavin suggested. If you look at the faces of Larkinsons, they all look lost. The home they grew up in has changed forever, and not for the better. If you let these people wallow by themselves, there are bound to be problems down the line.
I know what is at stake. If I don't manage this correctly, our Larkinson Clan will never be able to make a smooth separation from the Bright Republic.
He was not just addressing his clansmen for today. His various organizations employed a lot of Brighters who also felt as depressed as the Larkinsons at the disaster that had befallen Bentheim.
In fact, many of the people he hired came from the planet! To them, the loss struck them very deeply, as not only did they lose their home planet, but also some of their friends and family!
Right now, those Bentheimers were still in the early stages of the mourning process. In order to prevent them from entering into an irrational spiral of rage and self-loathing, Ves had to step up and make sure that they were mourning the losses the right way!
No matter what awful events had happened that affected the lives of his men, the galaxy continued its inexorable spin. It was all well and good to stand still and reflect on the loss, but life had to go on eventually.
After Ves mentally prepared himself, he stepped up to the podium with the Larkinson Mandate featured prominently in his grip.
To fit the occasion, Ves decided to don a black attire with a sharp cut but not distinguishing elements other than the emblem of the Larkinson Clan on his upper right chest.
He looked as close to what a patriarch of the Larkinson Clan ought to look at this occasion.
The crowd automatically fell silent at his appearance. Regardless of whether they were young or old, every Larkinson acknowledged that Ves was the leader of the clan!
My fellow Larkinsons and Brighters who are watching this feed, today is a sad day. The recent news coming from our former state paint a very dire picture on the state of Bentheim. The battle that determined the survival of the planet and the people living on it has ended in disaster. Many of us have lived on the planet or possessed many memories of it. To realize that what we know and cherish in our memories is gone forever is a pain that cuts deeply in our hearts.
A lot of Larkinsons bent their heads. A few of the younger kids had tears in their eyes while the oldest generation began to look wistful.
The Bright Republic was our home. We cannot deny that. Even though we have chosen to forge a path that has led us away from the Republic, it is still an undeniable part of our identity. To see our own home state bleed and fall into decline due to Bentheim's razing is.. distressing. I know the pain you feel in your hearts. I feel it too. Every single beat, I bleed a little more for the planet that is no more!
Ves dramatically clenched his free hand into a fist and bumped it against his heart on top of his chest!
It is okay to mourn for the planet that is gone and the people who have died. It is not a crime to sympathize with your fellow Brighters who survived, who have to recover from the aftermath of two devastating wars. We could all use a moment to remember what we lost and what others have lost. This tragedy will forever serve as a dark chapter in our growing tapestry of memories. No matter how much we will distance ourselves from the Bright Republic in the coming years, what has happened in our home state will always resound in our minds.
His words resonated with the crowd, and not just because of his empathic speech. Through conscious effort, Ves concentrated his mind and tried to simulate a glow that resonated with his words!
His audience couldn't help but get sucked into his speech. The Bright Warriors standing neatly at the sides all projected a glow that not only reinforced their Larkinson identities, but also resonated with his narrative!
He gripped the Larkinson Mandate tighter to his side. The Golden Cat who resided in the book watched and listened with rapt attention, and so did the other Larkinsons!
However, this is not the end! The fall of Bentheim may have hurt all of us, but we are stronger than this! The Bentheim as we knew it may have died that day, but the Bentheim in our hearts and minds still lives on as long as we are there to carry them forward! We and many other survivors are just one of many people who can make sure that the legacy of this great planet will not be forgotten!
If all Ves talked about today revolved around mourning, then his Larkinson Clan would never get out of its slump! Ves could not afford his Larkinsons and Brighter employees to persist in their mourning too long! Productivity had already dropped and Ves did not wish to see this pattern persist for months!
For this reason, Ves tried to grasp a possible way to turn this speech into a positive direction. He had to make sure he finished this speech on a high note!
Ves thumped his chest yet again. Bentheim lives within us, and as long as we work hard enough, Bentheim will live again through us! As an enterprising clan, we Larkinsons can bring our Brighter values and the customs to the wider galaxy. Just imagine it. Perhaps a few decades from now, our fleet will look much more prosperous than this day. Our vast armada of tradeships and carrier vessels ply the stars in order to trade mechs and materials with local partners, hopefully within the Red Ocean Star Galaxy. Doesn't that sound familiar to you? This dream might very well come true as long as we look forward instead of backwards! The past may be set, but the future is still in our control!
A lot of Larkinsons started to look more hopeful and sad! Their moods were already beginning to turn around!
There is no point denying our connection to the Bright Republic. He said, trying to look at many Larkinsons in the eyes as possible. Our home state may be bleeding and it may turn into something unrecognizable to us in the next couple of generations, but as long as we exist, we shall never allow the Bright Republic in its prime to be lost! As a fellow Brighter who used to hail from this state, I say we should do our part in reviving Bentheim in our own way! What say you? Are you with me, Larkinsons?!
I'm with you, patriarch!
We will build our own Bentheim!
Though not everyone was caught up in his lofty fantasy, the enthusiasm exhibited by the ones who were was enough. Every Larkinson eventually joined this shared vision.
The original Bentheim may have fallen, but a new Bentheim would rise!
Ves finally began to smile as he finally managed to lift the austere atmosphere.
No matter where the future may take us, don't forget that we are able to make our own choices now. We are no longer bound by any state or superior. Cherish this opportunity and take advantage of it to realize your own visions! Don't linger on what you could have done, but instead focus on what you can do in the future! As long as our clan stands strong, we can accomplish anything we set our minds towards! For the clan!
For the clan!