ing Gavin dragging in a skinny mech pilot.

”Here you go, boss! ”

”Unhand me, you servant! I never gave you permission to touch me! You have no right to treat me as a prisoner on this rickety boat! ”

Ves beheld the complaining mech pilot.
Although the mech pilot ’s body appeared lean and fit, he bet that most of the man ’s fitness came from augmentations and specialized treatments.

The slight hunch in the newcomer ’s back and his whiny voice as he expressed his dissatisfaction firmly reinforced the notion of a pushover.

”You can go now, Benny. ” Ves waved his hand in dismissal.

Once Gavin left the lounge, the mech pilot stared at Ves with a frail sneer.
”You must be the illustrious owner of this tiny, cramped prison.
Ves Larkinson, right? That ’s what your lackey called you when I asked. ”

”That ’s my name, yes. ”

”As a third-rater, you should stand up and pay your respects towards me.
I am an esteemed scion of the Slicer Tribe! I ’m fully aware that your tiny Bright Republic is too remote to know what that means, so let me explain! The Slicer Tribe is one of the foremost tribes of the Garlen Empire, a long-established second-rate state that has dominated the Vicious Mountain Star Sector for centuries! ”

That caused Ves to raise his eyebrows in mild surprise.
This fellow possessed a big background.

Unlike what the Garlener on the ship believed, Ves did know a thing or two about Vicious Mountain.
The Garlen Empire was similar to the Friday Coalition in that it wasn ’t very unified for an empire.
The different tribes that held sway over much of the territory of the empire frequently called the shots.

Though that sounded similar to the Vesia Kingdom, there were many differences between the two aside from their scale.

Sadly, Ves did not familiarize himself too much with the history and present attitudes of each individual tribe of the Garlen Empire.
He hardly knew anything about the Slicer Tribe aside from its crude name.

”What ’s your name? ” Ves calmly asked.

”You have the great fortune of meeting the great William Urbesh, future patriarch of the Slicer Tribe! ”

”Uh huh.
That sounds very impressive. ”

After interacting with the MTA and Gloriana, Ves no longer became impressed with citizens of second-rate states.
Aside from their wealth and pomp, they were hardly different from third-raters like himself.

How could this skinny William ever succeed in intimidating Ves with his background?

Besides, this William sounded more like a blowhard than a true heir to a great power within a second-rate state.
The Garlener exhibited none of the inherent class and ingrained superiority that Ves had encountered from the likes of Lord Javier or Senator Tovar!

Ves decided to burst William ’s bubble.
”If you ’re so great, why did the Rim Guardians tossed you aside like discarded trash? ”

That caused William to look awkward all of a sudden.
The intensifying stare from Ves didn ’t help his composure any bit!

”Well, you see, my parents sent me to the Rim Guardians in exchange for a heavy favor and some future concessions. ”

”Why? ”

”That ’s none of your business! ”

”Really now? ” Ves grinned in a dangerous manner.
He performed some cheap spiritual tricks to make himself appear more menacing.
”What if I say it is? Tell me.
Here? ”

William squirmed in his place.
The Garlener really did not say anything, but the pressure piling up on him eventually caused him to crack.

”Alright! My Urbesh Clan isn ’t exactly in a great position within our greater tribe! My forefathers used to lead the Slicer Tribe for several generations, but now we ’ve weakened to the point where my clan is on the cusp of being driven away! ”

”Why is that? ”

”Because I can ’t step up! Each clan within the tribe only holds power so long as there is at least one expert pilot or higher in charge! ”

Ves recalled now that the Garlen Empire revered high-ranking mech pilots.
They admired them so much that they even got to rule the entire state!

In general, a state led by mech pilots usually turned into a disaster.
It was very similar to states ruled by military leaders.

The biggest difference was that states ruled by generals or admirals at least had the benefit of being ruled by highly-educated leaders.
Such states at least maintained some measure of civility.

Not so for states like the Garlen Empire.
Mech pilots were required to devote so much time to piloting training that they hardly ever received a rounded education.
They were warriors and soldiers to the core even if they advanced to experts.

No matter if expert pilots had transcended the limits of humanity, they still retained everything they were before.
Expert pilots might make for fantastic combatants on the battlefield, but putting them in charge of the economy of a state made no sense at all!

Still, the Garlen Empire wasn ’t blind to these faults.
In practice, while high-ranking mech pilots made all of the top-level decisions, the technocrats in the service of their clans and tribes handled all of the actual work.

In this way, the Garlen Empire managed to achieve some semblance of stability.

As Ves mused over these implications, William no longer experienced any pressure.

The mech pilot immediately took advantage of that fact.

”Are you impressed, Larkinson? I am a future leader of the great Garlen Empire! You should kneel in my presence! As long as you snivel before my feet, I might be considerate enough to invite you to serve the Urbesh Clan! ”

Ves did not look amused.
Now that he recalled the importance of expert pilots to the Garlen Empire, he knew that William would never be able to back up his boasts.


Because he wasn ’t an expert pilot! As long as William remained a mortal, he had no say in his clan, his tribe and his empire! He was a nobody!

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