>Ves had no idea how a pushover like William Urbesh emerged from such a militaristic state.

In fact, he knew almost nothing about the fellow at all.
If Ves wanted to tackle his latest assignment seriously, then he should really study up on William ’s background and circumstances.

For now, Ves got what he wanted from the mech pilot.
He no longer felt as small and weak as he did when he faced Gloriana.

”Alright, for now I ’ll pack you off to my cousin Melkor Larkinson so he can see what you ’re made of.
Let me call him so that he can send a shuttle to pick you up. ”

He had no desire to hold William ’s hand all the time.
The way Ves saw it, the Rim Guardians only cared about helping him become an expert candidate.
The exact method didn ’t matter as long as the result was there.

Though William was in no way expert pilot material, nothing was impossible.
With all the knowledge that Ves accrued, he knew exactly what was needed to push a mech pilot through the extraordinary threshold.

In fact, now that he thought about it, wasn ’t William the ideal guinea pig that he asked for? While the Urbesh clansman wasn ’t as good as a dwarf because Ves still needed to care for his life, at least he could try all sorts of experiments without risking the wellbeing of anyone he truly about!

An ominous glint shone in his eyes, causing William to shudder.
Why did he feel like he was a mech about to be disassembled by an enthusiastic mech designer?

”Don ’t you worry, William.
Us Larkinsons will take very good care of you, hehe. ” Ves grinned.

He sent a few messages to arrange the transfer.
The Greenfeather reacted quickly, dispatching a shuttle to the Barracuda.
Once Ves escorted William off the corvette, he turned back to his stateroom and called for Gavin.

”You called, boss? ”

”I ’m sure you looked up our new guest, Benny.
What did you find? ”

”Well, it ’s a doozy.
I had to read up on the Garlen Empire and how the different tribes and clans are run before I figured out the context of William ’s circumstances.
The first thing you should know is that the tribes of the Empire are similar to the partners of the Friday Coalition.
They rule over vast swathes of space and possess a lot of autonomy. ”

Ves nodded in understanding.
”I kind of figured that out already. ”

”Each tribe gets to be run by a patriarch who emerged from the strongest clan within their ranks.
They are almost always ace pilots, but expert pilots will do if no aces have emerged.
Sometimes, experts and aces come into prominence from tribesmen that don ’t belong to one of the premier clans, but they frequently ally themselves to one in order to climb higher. ”

Ace pilots were extremely rare.
So much so that the Bright Republic only had a handful of them while the Friday Coalition was only marginally better off!

”Vicious Mountain is known as a brutal star sector.
Its name is certainly apt. ” Gavin noted.
”Part of why the star sector is embroiled in so much conflict is due to the existence of the Garlen Empire.
Its martial culture has bled over into other states.
It didn ’t help that states that focused more on peace over war tended to get overrun by their more warlike neighbors.
Vicious Mountain is one of the most savage star sectors in our star region! ”

”The star sector may be savage, but that does not mean they are primitive. ” Ves cautioned.
”I know it ’s easy to look down on them because they act no differently from ancient tribes, but there is more to the Garlen Empire and the other states than their martial-oriented society. ”

Gavin shrugged.
There are plenty of civilians in the Empire who never experienced the cruelty of war.
But the tribes make sure to indoctrinate them into volunteering for every new conflict they provoke. ”

”So everyone just goes along with the whims of their warmongering leaders. ” Ves commented.

He knew the power of indoctrination.
Anyone could believe in anything as long as their surroundings reinforced the values they were meant to absorb.

”The Urbesh Clan is not in a very good state right now. ” Gavin continued.
”A few generations ago, they lost most of their high-ranking mech pilots after a disastrous campaign.
The ones that are left were barely able to keep the clan in existence.
The Urbeshes had to concede most of their territory and their assets because they couldn ’t fend off the challenges from the rival clans within the tribe. ”

”Since the Urbeshes are so weak, why haven ’t they been eliminated? ”

”The Garlen Empire isn ’t as bad as the Vesia Kingdom in that regard, boss.
There are tons of rules and traditions the Garleners have to abide by.
The restrictions they ’re subjected to make sure that the infighting doesn ’t devolve into outright slaughter.
That would only weaken the tribes and the Empire in the long run, making them vulnerable to outside invasion. ”

”That makes a lot of sense.
So the Urbesh Clan doesn ’t have any expert pilots, right? ”

The ones that remained after the disastrous campaign were already past their prime, and the last one died fairly recently.
Currently, the Urbesh Clan is able to field only a hundred or so mech pilots and is one step away from dissolution.
No matter how many regular mech pilots they ’ve raised, a clan doesn ’t have the right to exist if they aren ’t capable of producing an expert pilot. ”

It was a sad decline to a once-illustrious clan.
Ves found it a little odd that despite being able to field so many mech pilots, none of them had ever succeeded in breaking through to expert candidate or expert pilot.

For a clan with such a glorious history, wasn ’t that a bit too unnatural? From what he learned so far, the Urbeshes should be just as martial-focused as the Larkinsons!

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