expert pilots rather frequently, though that shouldn ’t arouse any suspicions from the monitoring system that was doubtlessly built into this house.

Seeing as the expert pilot was giving him the silent treatment, Ves paused his chat to look up her record through her comm.

[Davia Stark

Former military mech pilot.

Former mercenary mech pilot.

Citizen of a fallen state.
Participated in the Sand War.
Member of a mercenary corps which suffered defeat and annihilation in a battle against the sandman race.

Suffers from depression.

Deteriorating physical condition due to lack of training and nutrition.
Body suffers from chronic pain as a result of lingering battle injuries.

In queue for physical treatment and therapy.
Estimated wait time: 633 days.

Unresponsive to AI-driven psychiatric treatments.
Unresponsive to local group counselling sessions.

In queue for in-person psychiatric treatment.
Estimated wait time: 1253 days. 

Declared unfit for combat.]

Davia Stark needed help.
That had become clear to Ves.

Sadly, due to the immense flood of refugees, the government ’s resources were far too strained.
Providing intensive care and treatment to refugees was a luxury the government could not afford at this stage.

Ves tried to refrain from grinning.

The Bright Republic completely neglected the opportunity to approach Davia Stark and convert her into fighting on its behalf!

How could he miss such an exceptional opportunity? He had to fill in the void right away before the government got wise!

”Madame Stark. ” He shifted his tone.
”As a brave and heroic veteran in the ongoing Sand War, I cannot allow you to languish in this boring refugee settlement.
Why not come with me and allow me to arrange treatment and rehabilitation for you? The Bright Republic needs your strength.
Humanity needs your strength. ”

Though Davia Stark remained unmoved by his offer, he noticed a couple of minute reactions from her listless force of will.

Calling her a brave and heroic veteran evoked a negative response.
Mentioning that humanity needed her evoked a positive response.

Though her fluctuations were faint, it was enough for him to get a read on her.
Through the conversation, he already spent a lot of time to figure out the properties of her force of will.

Its final response was the most telling.
For just a single instant, her force of will showed signs of coming alive.

Then, her despair quickly reasserted itself, crushing her hopes and dreams before they even had time to develop.

His frown grew deeper as he witnessed what had happened.
He could tell it wouldn ’t be easy to solve this problem.

Stark ’s condition reminded him much of William Urbesh ’s cowardice.

The latter ’s fear of fighting actual opponents was so deeply rooted that it made him unfit for combat.

Now that Davia Stark suffered from something similar, it wouldn ’t be easy to restore her to her prime.

From what Ves heard about expert pilots who lost their heart, it was very hard for them to regain their strength.
They needed to undergo a long period of counselling and rehabilitation.

No medicine or treatment guaranteed success.
They had to rediscover their reasons to live and fight.

That might take years.
The worst part about this was that success wasn ’t guaranteed.

Expert pilots tended to be the strongest-willed humans in the galaxy.
They were very clearly a notch above in this aspect.
For them to suffer such a severe setback that caused their will to collapse was often enough to drive regular mech pilots to suicide!

Did he have to resort to spiritual surgery in order to mend her crippled force of will?

Ves minutely shook his head.
That was too risky.
The unusual condition of William Urbesh after he underwent his treatment was enough for Ves to know that messing with people ’s minds and spiritualities was exceedingly dangerous.

He could not afford to ruin an expert pilot beyond redemption due to performing hasty, untested spiritual treatments.

He decided to figure out a solution later.
For now, he wanted to secure this buried gem and prevent anyone else from picking up this immense bargain.

”Have you considered it, Madame Stark? ”

”Get out. ” She whispered.

Ves shrugged and turned to Gavin.

Motioning him to step forward, he whispered some instructions in his assistant ’s ear.

”Go set up a charity organization in my name.
Let ’s call it something pleasant such as the ’Ves Larkinson Foundation for Wounded Veterans ’ or something.
I don ’t care how many bureaucrats you bribe, but get it up and running as fast as possible.
Once you ’ve set it up, announce that we will be taking ten random veterans of the Sand War among the refugee population and invest in their treatment. ”

”A charity? You? Have you gone insane? ” Gavin puzzlingly whispered back.

”Just do what I say, Benny! Make sure that Davia Stark is among the first beneficiaries of my charity.
Set aside a budget of 1 billion bright credits to show that I ’m committed to this venture. ”

I don ’t think Davia Stark looks willing to accept your generosity. ”

Ves chuckled under his breath.
”She doesn ’t have any say in the matter. ”

They proceeded to set up the so-called Ves Larkinson Foundation for Wounded Veterans within an hour.
With the LMC ’s immense influence in Cloudy Curtain, it hardly took any effort to turn it into a real, certified charity organization.

Now that the Foundation became a recognized entity, Ves began to apply his influence to the mayor of the settlement and elsewhere.

He quickly explored the settlement and picked out nine random mech pilots that desperately needed treatment.
He even gave up ten slots in his recruitment quota to gain permission to take them away.

He ordered a shuttle to pick them all up and bring them back to the Mech Nursery.

Though the veterans he selected were more than willing to receive free treatment and rehabilitation, Davia Stark was a different story.

This was where his Foundation came in.
If Ves wanted to take Davia away by force, then he wouldn ’t be able to do so.
Yet now that he founded a charity, he could easily use it as an excuse to bring this unwilling mech pilot away for the greater good!

Though everything sounded a bit dubious, the mayor of the settlement and the officials in charge of managing the refugees didn ’t care.
They were so overworked that they could hardly spare any thought to the wishes of a single refugee!

Davia Stark had fallen into his hands!

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