Naeduvis and Pirisa slowly led the delegation to a massive palace constructed out of salvaged metal situated in the center of the city.
It looked obvious to Ves and the others that the palace emerged much later than the original city.

Irregular plates of metal had been welded together with the crudest of techniques.
The irregular pieces likely came from the structures that used to occupy this expansive space.
The architecture of the palace accommodated the size of the sacred gods by incorporating a huge hall in the very center where two or three of the beasts might fit in with room to spare for their human subjects.

The hosts held a banquet in the hall.
Naeduvis took up the most space in the hall by far, and her proximity to the dining table exacted a lot of pressure on the delegation and the officials invited to attend the gathering.

Servants garbed in basic liveried uniforms served up simple dishes of Earth-derived foodstuffs.
Pirisa and the city officials treated the bread, beans, rice along with simple vegetables such as lettuce and broccoli as sumptuous luxuries, and they became extremely delighted when the servants brought in tiny cuts of meats.

Pirisa enjoyed the biggest cut of meat of all, as hers was the size of a hand.
The delegation along with the officials only got to enjoy a thumb-sized piece of what appeared to be chicken meat.

Naeduvis on the other hand enjoyed a wildly different treatment.
The sacred god lounged in the center of the hall surrounded by tribalistic idols and decorations.
Supplicants carted in whole roasted pigs by carts, and the exobeast crunched on them enthusiastically as they came in a fast and practiced pace.

It seemed as if most of the cooks in the employ of the palace were solely there to serve the sacred gods! Providing food for the other humans in the hall obviously became an afterthought.
After all, serving food to a god was infinitely more prestigious than serving some mortals!

Despite the plainness of the dishes and the lack of seasoning except for a dash of salt, Dr.
Tillman enthusiastically poked and prodded her food.
When the hosts weren ’t looking at her, she quietly took minute samples and stored them in the storage compartments of her suit.

”What did you learn about the food? ” Ves asked.
”Are they of normal human stock? ”

The exobiologist shook her head.
”I ’m very certain that they are not.
While the CFA possesses a genetic database of almost every baseline earth species, most of them won ’t grow at all under heavy gravity.
Even if the plants and animals are reared within the city somewhere, the environmental conditions are so different that they won ’t be able to yield as much without some genetic tailoring.
I ’ll have to get back to the lab to be sure, but I ’m already certain that the food we are being served with come from fast-growing, nutrient-enhanced stock. ”

Foodstuffs with added nutritional value became the favored crops of poor and struggling colonies that couldn ’t import or cultivate anything better.
They often tasted bland and paler than the real thing, but at the very least they were a step up from nutrient packs.

They also demanded a lot less capital to produce.
Even the simplest subsistence farms could easily cultivate these kinds of easy-to-deal-with crops.
Nutrient packs on the other hand could only be economically produced in massive production complexes that employed a host of advanced machines.

The disparity in the food enjoyed by the sacred god and the humans hit home the status disparity between the two of them.
Perhaps half or more of the city ’s total food production had been dedicated to feeding these voracious beasts!

During the banquet, the locals cautiously began to engage the delegation in conversation.
Pirisa herself invited Captain Byrd and Captain Clarissa at the highest table and began to chat amiably about various matters.

The visitors did not dare to discuss too much serious topics, and neither did they wish to introduce too many strange concepts to the locals.
They knew that they were dealing with ignorant people who bore little resemblance to their grand ancestors who once crewed a CFA battleship.

The disparity between their origins and their current existence couldn ’t be more stark.

The city officials mostly directed their questioning to the Swordmaidens.
In comparison to the Vandals who looked rather plain, the Swordmaidens all looked impressive in their pirate getups.
Each of their suits of armor incorporated beast bone trophies, and regaling the natives of their hunts earned them instant kudos.

Still, not every city official neglected the Vandals.
Compared to the basic clothes worn by the locals, suits of armor was a distinct rarity to them.
The fact that the visitors all wore some form of armor already impressed them a lot.

”How are you able to move under all of that weight? We once attempted to adorn our chosen with metal plates, but they were simply too heavy for them to bear! ” A city guard commander asked.

Ves and Chief Dakkon looked at each other before the latter decided to answer.
”Our studies into metallurgy is very advanced.
We don ’t utilize the heavy metal plates that are used in the construction of the ancient city.
We blend lighter metals into strong alloys that weighs several times less than the material that you used.
In addition, the heavier suits incorporate small servos that act like extra muscles.
These servos help us lift most of the weight. ”

The way the locals within earshot stared at the chief engineer was as if he was a wizard describing the profoundness of one of his magic spells.
These yokels truly didn ’t know anything!

”What kind of a master craftsman is able to create such a magnificent equipment? This is truly a marvel of craftsmanship! ”

The more the guard commander looked at the suits of armor, the more he became enamoured by their bulk and protective ability.
Not even Pirisa refrained from throwing an admiring glance or two at their gear.

The Swordmaidens especially drew a lot of attention due to their greatswords.
The big weapons made for an imposing sight, and Lieutenant Dise even showed off the considerable technological advancements incorporated in their forging by chopping down a thick metal chair in half with an effortless swing!

”This is not a weapon crafted by mortal means! ” A priest-like figure uttered with shaking eyes.
”I know what gods these visitors worship now! It all makes sense! Their giant metal golems and their magical weapons and armor are blessed by gods different from ours! These strangers from beyond must be worshipping gods related to craftsmanship! ”

”Ah, I see! No wonder their ability to shape metal into form is so impressive! ”

”We should petition Hokaz to invite one of these gods of craftsmanship to our pantheon! ”

”That is not proper! We worship the sacred gods of the wastes for many cycles now.
Inviting a foreign god from different lands will throw our people into turmoil! ”

As the locals discussed the implications of their ’discovery ’, the Vandals and Swordmaidens all shared an awkward glance.

A discreet message whispered in their ears over their short-ranged comms.
Captain Clarissa ’s clipped voice told them what to do.
”Just roll with it.
Let the natives believe we worship a god of craftsmanship if that is what it takes for them to accept our presence.
Try not to lie or make something up about our supposed god.
Defer to Captain Byrd and I if the locals persist. ”

The rest of the conversation took an awkward turn as the locals tried to prod the Vandals and Swordmaidens of their gods.
To the locals, they couldn ’t imagine these visitors who resembled blessed people like them to be any different from them.
Every person who resembled a baseline human must be blessed by one god or another! They simply couldn ’t fathom the idea that an entire galaxy of humans existed that didn ’t believe in any supreme supernatural being!

Ves found it tiring to interact with the locals without tripping on their sensibilities or revealing more than they ought to know right now.
Their ignorance benefited the visitors because their lack of knowledge made them gullible.
Their ignorance also made things difficult because the locals plainly couldn ’t handle some essential truths.

For instance, Captain Byrd and Captain Clarissa had an extremely hard time trying to close a trade deal.
Pirisa constantly pushed off the decision, stating that it was something for the gods to decide.
As a chosen of Naeduvis, she acted as the sacred god ’s voice, and did not have the right to decide on major matters by herself.

Pirisa claimed that the exobeasts called all the shots, and the two captains had no choice but to believe in that statement.
It would take a significant amount of time for the exobeasts to come to a consensus on how to engage with the visitors who claimed to have come from beyond the vault of the gods.

”Hokaz and Naeduvis will call for a council of the gods in due time. ” Pirisa stated with mild regret.
”Naeduvis has heard all of your offers and demands, and will present them to the council for our sacred gods to deliberate.
Hokaz will make a final judgement on the matter, and his word is law in Mulak.
The consideration of the gods is very different from mortals. ”

Pirisa couldn ’t even say when the sacred gods held their council of the gods.
Time was a very imprecise concept among the locals.
Timekeeping devices became another victim of the native society ’s technological decay.

It didn ’t help that Seven didn ’t exhibit a true day and night cycle, so the methods the locals used to count the time was based on ridiculous intervals such as the span of time a sacred god demanded to be fed!

At the end of the banquet, Pirisa ordered some city guards and officials to escort the visitors out.
Mulak abided by the basic principles of hospitality, but obviously didn ’t appreciate their house guests to stay for what passed for a night among the locals.

Naeduvis herself snorted at the strangers after she finished gorging tons of meat, and lazily flicked her tail at them before falling asleep in the middle of the hall.

The city of Mulak was her domain! Her mate granted her complete discretion in how to handle the visitors.
Right now, she wanted to do nothing more than to take a nap after exerting herself in battle earlier, so she succumbed to basic desires without paying too much attention to anything else.

A few hours later, the ten Vandals and Swordmaidens returned to their mechs and fast transports without much of a resolution.
Despite the lack of progress in closing some kind of deal, the delegation already learned more than enough to make the visit worth it.
Pirisa herself had been a font of information as she finally described the principal threats of the lands.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click for visiting.

”Return to camp! ”

Almost eighty mechs and two fast transports proceeded to march back to their camp.
Before the sacred gods came to a decision, nothing could be gained from waiting outside the city walls.

A handful of Swordmaiden mechs carried Lieutenant Dise ’s Devil Razor.
The mech lost all functionality when the lightning storm called down by the Tyrant of the Wastes fried most of its processors and delicate systems.
When Ves inspected the mech, he immediately declared it a wreck.
It required an extensive overhaul of its internal systems before it could be brought to life again!

Ves and the other experts quietly sat behind their consoles and processed some of the data that they gathered.

Tillman wrote preliminary reports on the exobeasts and the so-called blessed people that looked like baseline humans but exhibited minor physiological differences.

Chief Dakkon wrote about the city and primitive technology utilized by the descendants of this generation.
He had much to say about the complete lack of technological progress!

As for Ves, he continued to think about the strange interaction between the sacred gods and their chosen.
Who truly ruled the city? Were the sacred gods truly sentient beings?

What about the wild gods that had never partnered with a human before? Would they be as wild as animals, or were they born with inborn intelligence?

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