Chapter 1865 Two Requests

The new high-capacity neural interface was powerful.
In the right hands, employed in the right mech, this single change could result in far-reaching effects!

The difference was as clear as day as the Deliverer zipped in space with much more gusto than before!

Though its performance parameters hadn ’t changed, its third eye glowed brighter than ever before! This signified that the bond between the mech, mech pilot and design spirit had reached a greater degree of integration than before!

Joshua, though not a believer, managed to take advantage of the new high-capacity neural interface to take his control to the next level!

”I thought he was already good.
It turns out he ’s even better! ” Commander Melkor uttered.

Ves grinned.
”A single component can make all the difference. ”

As Joshua was one of the most promising mech pilots of the Avatars, how could Melkor not be present?

After hearing what Ves was up to, Melkor demanded to accompany Ves to the space station in orbit.
He wanted to see the results for himself!

Though the Avatar Commander expected some changes, he never heard of a situation where switching out a neural interface led to such a drastic boost in performance!

King has already reached the upper limits of standard neural interfaces. ” Ves explained to his cousin.
”He sits in the awkward position of sitting between regular mech pilots and expert candidates.
While he ’s not as skilled as Jannzi and Tusa, Joshua is clearly a cut above the rest. ”

”So the old interface in his mech acted like a bottleneck that constrained any further improvement? ”

”Not exactly. ” Ves shook his head.
”I ’m sure that Joshua continued to improve as a mech pilot.
It was just that his mech remained stagnant.
With the same neural interface, Joshua eventually hit a ceiling where any further improvement could no longer be expressed through the neural interface. ”

”And you raised his ceiling with your fancy new gizmo, is that right? ”

”In a nutshell, yes.
It ’s a bit more complicated than that.
Swapping out neural interfaces is a delicate matter.
I could have screwed up.
This isn ’t necessary since most mech pilots are able to do fine with standard neural interfaces. ”

In other words, as long as the other mech pilots failed to approach the ceiling, the argument to swap out neural interfaces became weaker.

That said, even if the high-capacity models weren ’t particularly better, they still insured a stronger bond between the mech pilot and the design spirit.
Regardless of the skill of the mech pilot, everyone who interfaced with an LMC mech had a chance of developing a relationship with a design spirit!

Though the distance between the testing station and the testing ground was rather great, Ves could still perceive how vivid the man-machine connection between Joshua and the Deliverer had grown.

Relief, exhilaration and excitement suffused their bond as they continued to snipe target dummy after target dummy with the Executor rifle! Joshua wasn ’t even drawing on the support of Prophet Ylvaine to hit targets that his fellow Avatars would miss seven out of ten times!

”It ’s a shame Joshua hasn ’t managed to become an expert candidate yet. ” Melkor sighed.
As a rifleman mech specialist, he felt a bit ashamed that someone else managed to outperform him on his own turf! ”Joshua trains harder than everyone else.
His commitment to you and the Avatars is insane.
He ’s a good kid. ”

Ves chuckled.
”You say that like you have a couple of decades on him.
It seems you have adapted well to your role. ”

”I have to.
We continue to expand, and I have to keep up if I want to remain in charge.
I work just as hard as Joshua in the aspect of command and management. ”

”Well, you are a bit young and inexperienced for your position.
I didn ’t expect to expand my Avatars so quickly.
My ambitions have grown, and so have my intentions for my Avatars. ”

”Do you regret putting me in charge of the Avatars? ” Melkor asked.

Ves glanced at his visored cousin.
This was a rather loaded question.

”I don ’t regret it, at least for now.
From what I see and hear, the Avatars are doing well.
Discipline is good and cohesion is high.
There is no doubt that the Avatars will follow my orders to the letter.
If there is one issue that is of concern, it ’s your ability to lead so many men in a crisis. ”

”I ’ve survived the sandman.
I ’m confident I can handle the pressure.
I have a general staff and many experienced Larkinsons backing me up.
I ’m never alone. ”

Ves smiled.
”Confidence is good.
Just make sure you have the competence to back it up.
I hope to see you in charge for many decades to come. ”

There were times when Ves considered the idea of replacing Melkor with another, more qualified Larkinson.
There were several mech pilots with command experience in his clan.
Magdalena Larkinson was just one of the more notable ones.

Some of the reasons that caused Ves to elevate Melkor over other Larkinsons were moot now that he had reached this point.

He was not a young and junior Larkinson anymore.
He was a Journeyman, a galactic citizen and the effective leader of the Larkinson Clan! Many of the Larkinsons who joined his clan became his loyalists by default! With the Larkinson Mandate binding them to a spiritual accord, Ves obtained even greater guarantees of their commitment to him and the clan!

Yet… Ves did not do so in the end.
Some of the Larkinsons qualified to command the Avatars were geezers in the same generation as his grandfather.
They were too old and stuck in their ways to adapt to the rapidly-changing circumstances of his life.

More than that, all of their experience bore the strong imprint of the Mech Corps.
Ves had no doubt that if these veterans got to be in charge, they would shape the Avatars in the image of the Mech Corps!

Something like that had already happened to the Living Sentinels.
Under Commander Magdalena ’s leadership, the Sentinels developed into a more casual imitation of her former service!

Was that bad? Not necessarily.
The Mech Corps was a well-run mech military and Ves had few problems in how they set their rules.

However, Ves wanted to diverge from the Bright Republic.
If he adopted the laws and the customs of his home state to the letter, then his grand expedition might as well be a Brighter colonization fleet!

As the tests eventually wrapped up and the Deliverer flew back to its berth, Ves and Melkor stepped away from the control center.

The small Ylvainan space station they walked through was suffused with religious symbols and iconography.
Prophet Ylvaine ’s likeness in the form of statues, paintings and projections were practically everywhere!

The sight of so much religion made the both of them feel ill at ease.

”How long will we stay in the Ylvaine Protectorate? ” Melkor softly asked.
”Some of us have grown..
restless at our continued stay in this state. ”

”What ’s the matter? Are you in a hurry to leave? ”

”The Ylvainans aren ’t awful hosts by any means, but..
you know. ”

Ves ruefully smiled.
”I understand what you mean.
I already told you that our stay here isn ’t permanent.
I haven ’t set my next destination yet, but I ’ll let you know as soon as I ’m ready.
Right now, I still need to complete my current design project and wait for some other matters to come to a conclusion. ”

The refit of the Scarlet Rose and the long-awaited implantation surgery weighed heavily on his mind.

The two cousins continued to chat as they boarded a shuttle that brought them back to the Avatar base on the surface of the planet.

As they stepped out, they encountered a surprising sight.

Two mech pilots waited for Ves to come back.
While that wasn ’t necessarily noteworthy, it was their identities that caused him to pay attention!

”Venerable Brutus Wodin.
How lovely to see you this day. ” Ves composed his face into a polite expression.
”I see you have brought one of my..
guests with you as well. ”

Standing next to the resplendently uniformed Brutus was a mech pilot that Ves frankly forgot when he became consumed by his current design project.

Davia Stark stood next to the expert pilot with lifeless eyes and a demeanor that screamed that she wanted to be left alone!

How Brutus managed to convince such a depressed mech pilot to follow him to the Avatar base was a mystery!

Suspicious at their appearance, Ves subtly concentrated his mind and activated his spiritual vision.

A remarkable sight came into view.
Brutus ’ spiritual manifestation had always been abnormal.
Compared to other expert pilots, he was much more proactive in its use, preferring to wrap his force of will around his loved ones like a protective shell!

Right now, something else was going on.
Brutus attempted to wrap Davia Stark with his comforting and protective spiritual blanket, only to be rebuffed by the sheer nihility of the void in her mentality!

She rejected Brutus ’ kindness because she felt she was unworthy to receive his care!

Even though Brutus failed to get through Davia ’s despair, his force of will never gave up.
It continued its attempts without getting discouraged by its continuous failures!

Ves found this interaction to be endlessly fascinating.
Despite Davia ’s lack of active spirituality, her mindscape nonetheless turned into an impregnable fortress! Brutus had no way of breaching its walls!

”What do the two of you want? ”

Brutus coughed a bit.
”I ’ve been speaking to Miss Davia here.
Well, I ’ve attempted to, anyway.
It ’s clear that she ’s hurt, Ves.
She ’s broken into pieces, and she hasn ’t even begun to pick up the pieces. ”

”I know that.
I put her in the care of my clan members in order to slowly bring her back to life. ”

”It won ’t work. ” Brutus stated.
”Davia ’s trauma is much more serious than you can imagine.
As a warrior and a mech pilot, she experienced the greatest disaster that she could imagine.
You don ’t get over that, especially since she was in the position to save her Vindmars. ”

”I know that as well. ” Ves nodded impatiently.
”I need to be somewhere.
Could you please get to the point? ”

”Very well.
Davia is a wonderful woman who possessed a bright future.
We can still restore this all if we give her the opportunity to obtain closure and move on from her painful past. ”

”And how do we do that, Venerable Brutus? ”

”From what I ’ve figured out about Davia ’s past, she possesses an intense hatred against the sandmen and an enormous regret for the fall of her home state.
We can rectify these traumas by allowing her to confront them in person. ”

This caused Ves to pay more attention to this conversation.

”Do you mean…? ”

”My proposals are two-fold.
First, we should seek to give Davia an opportunity to strike a blow against the sandmen. ”

might be a problem.
The sandmen have retreated from their conquered holdings and are converging on a single location.
When they finally go on the offensive, their power is not something a single mech can contend against! ”

”She enjoys my protection. ” Brutus declared.
”This is my promise! ”

”Okay… Well, if things go according to plan, which isn ’t likely due to all of the uncertainties involved, what next? ”

”Then, we travel to the former capital of the Vindmar Republic.
I believe it will do Miss Davia a lot of good if we install a memorial on the scoured surface of the capital planet of her former state.
The Vindmars deserve to be remembered.
Regardless of which power or state will occupy this territory in the future, Davia can rest easy knowing that her people will still live on in memory! ”

For a moment, both Ves and Melkor looked gobsmacked.
Flying all the way to the border of civilized space in order to appease a single mech pilot sounded crazy! Who knew what kind of shenanigans went on in the star systems swept by the sandmen.
Even if the aliens themselves had abandoned their conquests, others would quickly fill in the void!

To go through all of that trouble wasn ’t worth it, but… Davia was an expert pilot.
A broken one, but a genuine one.
Would she really be able to recover if he performed these favors for her? Her lack of emotion and interest didn ’t inspire Ves with much confidence.

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