’s surprise, the overwhelming majority of new recruits consisted of elite Kronon mech pilots!

Their strength and competences as well as their prior battle experience easily earned them the respect of the original members of the Avatars.
Though cultural and religious differences still plagued their interactions to an extent, both groups didn ’t hesitate to find common ground!

Though the professionalism and discipline exuded by the elite Kronon mech pilots made them rather stiff to be around, they also fit in well for that reason.
Their military bearing masked some of the intense religious beliefs they held.
This reminded many veterans in the Avatars of the elite mech pilots of the Mech Corps!

Ves observed something else that brought him a lot of hope.

The days where the Avatars were forced to restrain their expansion was largely gone now.
After several years of investment, training and indoctrination, a large and solid cadre had formed.

These vital and loyal Avatars served as the skeleton of a larger, greater mech force! According to Commander Melkor ’s plans, he would continue to recruit more Ylvainans until their numbers were bolstered by 200 new recruits!

Combined with the Larkinsons and other Brighters that had also signed up with the Avatars, Ves hoped to grow the Avatars into a mixed mech force comprising up to 500 mechs!

Seventy percent of them would consist of spaceborn mechs and mech pilots.
The remainder revolved fully around landbound mechs.

Of course, this seventy-to-thirty split was not set in stone.
In the future, when his mech pilots became more skilled and his mechs became more versatile, he hoped his mechs and mech pilots could operate in multiple environments.

In fact, many second-class spaceborn mechs in use in the Friday Coalition and the Hexadric Hegemony also functioned as aerial mechs in a pinch.
This was something that Ves definitely wanted the Avatars to work towards.

Though expanding the Avatars to five hundred mechs sounded a lot, it was even more exaggerated for the Living Sentinels!

His lesser mech force was slated to field double the amount of Avatars! At 1,000 mechs and mech pilots on its roster, the Living Sentinels would soon possess the strength to contend against military units!

In fact, both Ves and Commander Magdalena wanted to expand the Sentinels even further and turn it into the equivalent of a mech regiment.
They cut those plans short when they came across several problems.

First, their funding would become rather strained.
Procuring so many mechs and hiring so many mech pilots and support personnel wasn ’t cheap!

Second, procuring all of the carriers necessary to transport so many mechs simply couldn ’t be done during this awful climate! Ever since the Sand War broke out, the demand for starships had gone through the roof!

The Sentinels had long tried to order starships in the Bright Republic without any luck.

Fortunately, the Ylvaine Protectorate wasn ’t as impassive towards Ves and his organizations.
Due to his popularity among the Ylvainans and the support provided by the Curins, a number of Ylvainan shipyards were willing to take his orders.

Of course, there were limits.
He could only order light carriers which could be built quickly and cheaply as the Protectorate ’s economy was still in shambles.
He also had to pay full market price for his ships, which basically meant they were inflated by at least three times compared to pre-war price levels!

All of this meant that in the short term, the strained supply of starships was the primary bottleneck that limited the expansion of his forces.
They could only get away with expanding the Avatars to 500 mechs and the Sentinels to 1000 mechs because of the various accommodations made by the Ylvainans.

Ves tried not to impose too much on their generosity.
Not only did he wish to avoid owing any favors to them, his forces also had a lot of difficulty in finding spacers to crew all of those ships!

”We ’re already leaning heavily on our host state as it is. ” He muttered.
”Over half of our ships will primarily be crewed by Ylvainans! ”

That made him feel rather uncomfortable.
He had no problem when his organizations mainly consisted of Brighters.
Yet the introduction of so many Ylvainans would inevitably make their faith take root in his expeditionary fleet!

He snorted.
”Well, if I had a choice between hexism and the Ylvainan Faith, I would definitely choose the latter! ”

As Ves continued to spot more signs of Ylvainan influence due to the influx of so many local mech pilots and support personnel, he began to feel more restless for change.

Staying in the Protectorate was supposed to be temporary.
He just wanted to take refuge in the friendly state until he and his organizations were ready to move on.
The moment they received all of their starships and put them in working order, Ves contemplated leaving for greener pastures.

He contemplated several possible destinations as he finished his casual tour.
He waved at the mech pilots gathered around the four second-class practice mechs and nodded briefly at Venerable Brutus before he left the base.

”What do you think of the Avatars, Nitaa? ” He asked his bodyguard as he settled into the shuttle with Lucky using his head as a nest.

”They ’re impressive. ” She said.
”They are formidable, much more so than most Kinner mercenary corps.
I believe they will do a fine job in protecting you against hostile mechs and other larger threats. ”

”I hear a ’but ’ coming. ”

She smiled grimly at him.
”But the enemies you attract these days are often vastly more formidable.
It doesn ’t matter if you invest in your own mech division.
The Friday Coalition can easily smash your Avatars and Sentinels if it gets serious about defeating you.
As we have learned at Cloudy Curtain, the power and authority of a state transcend personal strength! ”

She was right.
Being able to field 1,500 mechs might make Ves invincible against most pirate and mercenary outfits, but it was still incapable of deterring the actions of states or incredibly powerful organizations!

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