Read The Mech Touch Chapter 2547: Purplefeather

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Chapter 2547: Purplefeather

Soon after the s.h.i.+pments of mechs arrived, the Larkinsons received another delivery.

Dozens of combat carriers and logistics s.h.i.+ps transitioned out of FTL. The emergence of so many second-cla.s.s s.h.i.+ps initially alarmed the local authorities, but soon they relaxed once it became clear the vessels were Hexer-built.

The Larkinson Clan already expected their arrival. Their Hexer architecture did not dampen the enthusiasm of the clansmen.

It didn’t matter whether these vessels used to be owned and operated by Hexers. After some thorough refurbishment and applying some brand-new coating, the incoming second-cla.s.s stars.h.i.+ps ought to be just as serviceable in the hands of the Larkinsons!

As the Hexer crews of the arriving s.h.i.+ps handed over command to the Larkinson Clan, they didn’t leave immediately. The Larkinson s.p.a.cers that entered the vessels and touched the elaborate controls quickly became overwhelmed by all of the advanced functions.

It took time for the mariners to become accustomed to operating these advanced vessels. Second-hand or not, Ves already knew from s.h.i.+ps such as the Barracuda and the Scarlet Rose that it was at least five times more difficult to control them! Certain s.h.i.+p components such as the FTL drives were so much more complex that the Larkinson Clan had to contract some Hexer chief engineers on a long-term basis.

The thought of having Hexers in charge of the most critical parts of the stars.h.i.+ps made many Larkinsons nervous. While the chance of anything going wrong was small, it was best if the Larkinson Clan’s own chief engineers got up to speed as soon as possible!

As Ves was more preoccupied with working on his new mech design projects, he only spared some time to inspect a couple of new s.h.i.+ps.

He first headed over to the newly-christened Purplefeather. As his shuttle landed in the busy hangar bay, Ves and Lucky stepped out and took in the frenetic activity taking place inside.

The Hexers may have delivered their stars.h.i.+ps with complete loadouts, but the Larkinsons still had to bring their own supplies and other equipment. Various shuttles and small transports continually delivered different goods.

“What a busy s.h.i.+p.” Ves remarked to Commander Melkor.

“Breaking in a s.h.i.+p is a momentous effort. It will take months before we’re comfortable with running our new flags.h.i.+p. I’m just happy that we’re finally obtaining second-cla.s.s s.h.i.+ps of our own. Do you know how much I envied the Penitent Sisters during our journey through the Nyxian Gap? The s.h.i.+ps we had before hardly provided us with any sense of security!”

Ves smiled as he reminisced about the past. “It hasn’t been a lot of years since we initially procured the Redfeather and the Greenfeather. Do you know how much it pained me to spend a few billion bright credits back then? All we could afford was a pair of light carriers.”

“Yeah, I remember. You were too much of a cheapskate to supply my Avatars with a proper combat carrier.” Melkor grumbled.

“Hahaha! Don’t kid me. You wouldn’t have been in favor of buying a combat carrier either. They were just too d.a.m.ned expensive. Back then, we only guarded ourselves against pirates, gangs and Vesians. We never thought we would get pulled into a conflict against the Friday Coalition and a powerful Nyxian pirate alliance. We have come so far to get to this point. Be proud of that, Melkor.”

“I don’t feel very proud. Too many of our brothers and sisters have lost their lives to secure all of this prosperity. We all feel a little guilty for being among the survivors.”

Ves frowned. That sounded rather troubling. “Hey, that is what counseling is for. It is absolutely not your fault.”

“I know, I know. I have been talking to a counselor from the Larkinson Veteran Foundation as of late. It has helped, but.. it’s harder to set aside responsibility when you are a commander. How do you cope with the guilt of leading some of your men to their deaths?”

“By not feeling guilty at all.” Ves answered.

“…Are you serious?”

“Ahem, I know that sounds rather insensitive, but really, don’t get too hung up over the past.” Ves quickly coughed. “While the dead deserve your regards, don’t let your obligations towards the slain override your obligations towards the living. If your guilt negatively affects your judgement and performance, then it is best to relinquish your command. The Avatars of Myth pursue excellence in all forms. You’ll only hold your own men back if you let them get affected by your moping.”

Melkor’s body shook a bit. Ves had given him quite a shock. Not even his counselors dared to be so direct!

“I.. can’t do that yet, Ves. It’s too callous. While I agree with your logic, the dead must be remembered. Didn’t you say that in one of your speeches?”

“Well yes, but.. that is mostly meant to keep everyone moving forward. Don’t take it too literally. It’s much more important to keep your productivity high. You need to stop any behavior that goes against that goal. The Avatars who are still alive are all counting on you to lead them with a sober mind.”

This was not something that Melkor could easily accept. To him, what Ves was asking of him was tantamount to forgetting the sacrifices of the dead. This did not conform with his sense of honor!

It was too bad that Ves was unsympathetic towards Melkor’s att.i.tude towards the dead. He was chiefly responsible for all of the recent losses. While he felt a bit regretful about the thousands who died, he did not allow himself to go any further.

As long as he felt any guilt, his efficiency in designing mechs would definitely drop! This was self-defeating behavior in his eyes.

The simplest solution to this problem was to wipe away all of his guilt. He did so. Problem solved.

Ves and Melkor exited the hangar bay and inspected some of the compartments. They toured the engineering bay, the mech stables, the mech workshop before ending up at the bridge.

An engineer was already affixing a large plate that proudly declared the name and serial number of the combat carrier.

“The Purplefeather, huh? Your naming sense is as bad as ever.”

Commander Melkor chuckled. “It gets the job done. I’m saving up the Goldfeather for when our Avatars finally receive our fleet carrier. Speaking about capital s.h.i.+ps, how long will it take to receive a proper vessel?”

“Don’t be too impatient. The Purplefeather is already impressive enough to tide your men over.”

The Purplefeather was a large-capacity combat carrier that was able to hold up to 60 mechs. She featured moderate armor, moderate mobility and terrestrial landing capabilities. She also contained a dedicated command center that was suitable for coordinating large amounts of mechs.

The combat carrier once served as the flags.h.i.+p of a Hexer mercenary corps a few decades ago. He didn’t go through a lot of combat back when she sailed the stars under a different name. This meant that her condition was still excellent for a s.h.i.+p that was over half-a-century old!

What Ves especially valued about the Purplefeather was that she boasted 12 highly-reinforced bunkers. The combat carrier’s former owners upgraded their plating so that they did an even better job of protecting mechs hunkering inside!

The Purplefeather was actually quite an impressive vessel even among modern Hexer combat carriers!

Ves hadn’t skimped too much when it came to investing in his sub-capital s.h.i.+ps. He fully recognized the value of strong and defensive s.h.i.+ps after seeing how well the Penitent Sisters fared with them. Without their tough and resilient combat carriers, his task force would have never been able to damage the Gravada Knarlax!

“You don’t understand, Ves. It’s one thing to wait for a fleet carrier. It’s another thing to wait for a fleet carrier while we have a good view of the Antonio Cross and the Hemmington Cross!”

“Ah. I see.”

Even Ves envied the fleet carriers of the Cross Clan sometimes. Though both of them were quite flawed in his eyes, that did not stop him from desiring them for himself!

Luckily, his factory s.h.i.+p would soon be on the way. Ves didn’t have to wait long before he obtained his biggest toy.

“When?” Melkor asked in a more insistent tone.

“I really can’t say. There are too many variables at play.”

“Can you at least tell me if my Avatars are at the top of the list?”

“I can’t tell you that either. It depends on the fleet carrier we are able to procure and the needs of our clan. Don’t worry too much. Even if your Avatars don’t get the first turn, your troops will definitely obtain something soon.”

Ves was actually thinking about granting the first fleet carrier to the Living Sentinels. They fielded the most mechs and possessed a higher demand for a large and solidly-armored capital s.h.i.+p.

The Avatars of Myth were already doing well enough without a capital s.h.i.+p. Ves did not expect their confidence and fighting spirit to rise once they received their own fleet carrier.

Of course, Ves didn’t tell any of this to Melkor. It was enough to give his cousin some hope.

As they continued to chat, Melkor eventually brought up something personal.

“So, Ves. I hate to sound impatient, but when are you prepared to design a custom rifleman mech for me? Will it be after you’ve completed your current projects?”

Ugh. Not this again. The pressure on Ves didn’t abate after half a year. He already promised Master Willix to begin with the development of some expert mechs and he also had to design at least 3 more Hexer mechs to close out his current commission.

Aside from that, Ves didn’t have an existing base to design Melkor’s ideal custom mech. He had to design a dedicated rifleman mech first.

“Your custom mech will come in time.” He perfunctory replied. “The longer you wait, the better it will be. I promise you the end product will absolutely blow your mind.”

“I’m getting older, Ves. We’re not as young as we used to be. We’re both over thirty years old. I’m afraid I’ll be nearing forty when I finally receive this promised custom mech of yours. Do you know how much of a difference that makes to mech pilots? We age faster than you mech designers.”

Designing mechs was a purely intellectual occupation. As long as a mech designer’s mind remained sharp, it didn’t matter if his body grew wrinkled and his hair turned white.

It was different for mech pilots. While the use of neural interfaces allowed soldiers to pilot mechs with their minds, a strong body was still essential for certain reasons.

Not only that, but piloting mechs inherently stressed the brains of their pilots. Ves once learned a dark secret about mechs. Mech pilots gradually acc.u.mulated brain damage as they interfaced with their mechs. In most cases, this damage was irreversible. It could only be slowed, but never stopped.

This was one of the reasons why it was a lot more troublesome to extend the lives of mech pilots. Without any biological augmentations or treatments, a mech pilot’s peak gradually declined over time.

Though Melkor and many other mech pilots didn’t know that much, they were still aware of the gradual decline in performance. They just chalked it up to the loss of youthful vigor or something.

Ves placed his hand on Melkor’s shoulder. “You don’t have to wait until you’re a grandpa before you get your custom mech. I promise you that. Just be patient. The demand for other mechs are too great to address your needs. You don’t want to leave our expert pilots hanging, do you?”

Commander Melkor bent his head. “You’re right. I’m being too selfish. It would be bad if the completion of one of our expert mechs is set back just so that I can obtain my dream mech.”

Despite saying that, he still yearned to pilot a mech as impressive as the Quint. He sacrificed so much to lead the Avatars of Myth to this point. When would he ever be able to reap his cherished reward?

———-

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