The Mech Touch - Chapter 3041 - Purnesse Family

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As Ves and Calabast spoke about serious matters, Lucky leisurely sniffed around as he moved across the office. He smelled plenty of interesting devices in the office. 

"The Grand Loxic Republic is a prosperous state, but one that has not seen much war as Winged Serenade does not see much open warfare." Calabast patiently explained. "That has caused a lot of contradictions to accumulate over time. The unexpected outbreak of the Crown Uprising has inflamed the existing tensions and frayed the nerves of every faction. Just recently, the crown terrorists managed to blow up the official estate of the Loxic President, killing both him, his family, his closest staff and many other officials who controlled the affairs of the state. The sudden beheading has left a large power vacuum at the top and prompted many organizations and factions to vie for power. If you want to understand the roots of this conflict, you will need to learn about the three main factions."

Ves yawned. "Let's just skip that. I don't need to know the details of their petty localized squabbles when we are just flying past this state. I'm just interested in this diplomat that you are serious about.. Is he willing to join us wholeheartedly and can we pick him up without getting entangled in a massive power struggle?"

"Survival trumps all interests." Calabast said as she idly pampered Arnold by stroking his back. The furry creature arched his back in pleasure. "The chaos at the top has caused every individual and organization who staked their bets on the former head of the Grand Loxic Republic to lose their greatest assurance. The rival factions have all taken advantage of the momentary chaos to assail the greatest supporters and pillars of the former ruling faction."

Ves grew ugly. "So it's a repeat of what happened in the Life Research Association?"

He did not have good memories of his time at the previous state he visited! Even though he came away with an enormous harvest, that didn't mean he was ready to dive right into a similar situation!

"It's not as bad as you think. The power players of the Grand Loxic Republic aren't that stupid. They are much more prudent and don't want to set off too many waves. At the very least, the fighting hasn't spread to the cities or affected the lives of civilians all that much. The battles are all constrained to a narrow degree in order to determine which faction gets ahead."

One of the main faults of the Life Research Association was that much of the decision-making power rested with scientists who mainly specialized in biosciences rather than governance.

The Grand Loxic Republic was a much more normal state in comparison. The Winged Serenade Star Sector was always seen as an administrative and economic center of the Yeina Star Cluster. Every powerful second-rate state here was highly developed, and this prestigious state was no exception to that rule.

As the provincial snobs of this corner of space, there was no way the Loxians wanted to tear their own castle down just so they could plant their flag atop the rubble!

"I don't understand." Ves frowned as he tried to understand the situation. "If a civil war hasn't broken out, large-scale fighting shouldn't be possible. The moment anyone breaks out the big guns, all hell will soon break loose. No one rational enough would want their state to descend into the same chaos as we have seen in the Life Research Association."

"That is why the actual fighting has so far been limited to small-scale skirmishes and lots of secret operations." The spymaster let out a bloodthirsty grin. "Assassination and sabotage are rife within the state. Fathers wake up to find their sons killed. Wives fear their husband will never return home. Entire organizations are being disrupted as their trade secrets and financial dealings get spilled in public. Though the damage being done is not as bloody as we have witnessed in the past, don't underestimate the ferocity of this kind of war! Mechs and mech pilots aren't the only ones who can wage war, you know."

The conflict unfolding in the Grand Loxic Republic obviously made her excited. It was rare for her profession to show off its might during any conflict. Usually, the work of intelligence operatives always gets overshadowed by mech pilots. The latter was the ultimate protagonist of the Age of Mechs while spies like her were invisible at best and despised at worst.

While the current situation in the Grand Loxic Republic didn't change this equation, Calabast nevertheless directed a lot of professional interest in the conflicts taking place out of the sight of most civilians.

"Meow~"

Lucky landed next to Arnold and rudely pushed the eight-legged exobeast aside. With the gem cat's strength, the poor alien creature didn't stand a single chance. He dropped from the desk and fell onto the deck with a meaty plop!

"SQUEAK!"

Nobody seemed to notice Arnold's distress. Lucky squirmed his body onto the warm spot on the desk with a satisfied glint in his artificial eyes. Calabast's thin but strong fingers soon began to scratch his metallic plates at a comfortable rhythm.

"Meow!"

If Ves was the most powerful human in the Larkinson Clan, then Lucky was definitely the strongest pet! No cat, dog or any other creature could stop him from enjoying the pleasures he sought.

As for Arnold, he quickly adjusted himself and squirreled over to Calabast's boot and began to rub his face across its shiny black surface.

He felt more at home when he was below Calabast!

"Squeak~"

After she briefly outlined the current unrest in the Grand Loxic Republic, she activated a projection that showed a family emblem.

The emblem resembled a traditional heraldic shield with yellow and red stripes on one side and an orange fox on the other side.

"What am I looking at?" Ves asked as he observed the pretentious symbol.

This was the Age of Mechs. Heraldic shields went out of style millennia ago. The only organizations that used them to represent themselves were usually pretentious people who clung way too much to the glory of the past.

"This is the symbol of the Purnesse Family. Its descendants trace its roots to an aristocratic clan from the Greater Terran United Confederation. In fact, if all of their claims are to be believed, they even have a faint connection to Old Earth."

"Every human has a connection to Old Earth. If you go back far enough, our earlier ancestors all came from the birthplace of humanity." Ves flatly stated.

Calabast shrugged. "Regardless of whether the Purnesse Family is tied to the Terrans or not, it has been doing quite well for itself. The apparent pedigree of the Purnesses has given them a substantial advantage in their orientation towards public service. While the Purnesse Family is not one of the ruling powers of the Grand Loxic Republic, many of its descendants occupy influential middle-level positions in the state's expansive administration."

This was not a trivial accomplishment. Second-rate states were large, powerful and wealthy. Even if the second-rate states of Winged Serenade were not as large as the ones from the Komodo Star Sector, the higher degree of development meant that the military and economic might of each of the former was not inferior!

Under these circumstances, it was quite impressive that the Purnesse Family managed to hold on to so much power for such a long time.

"So the Purnesse Family is in trouble at the moment?"

The woman gave him a humorless smile. "The Purnesses lost their greatest backing. The ruling faction is in disarray due to the critical assassination and some forces have quietly stood up in order to prevent the Purnesse Family from surviving this small storm. As long as the Purnesses are eliminated from the stage, the influential positions they used to occupy will inevitably fall into the hands of their rivals."

In other words, this was just a bog-standard power struggle. Ves had witnessed plenty of them. He got caught in a few as well, much to his displeasure.

Humans were the same everywhere. As long as a group showed weakness, the hyenas would definitely enjoy another feast!

"What makes the Purnesse Family special is their professional focus. While it has over 2000 trueblood members who serve in many different government institutions, their emphasis leans towards foreign relations. Their family head along with many of their most prominent members are all diplomats or experts in foreign relations. Many Purnesses are actually serving in foreign missions abroad."

"Ah, so they are those kinds of diplomats."

Ves wasn't sure whether he should be interested in the Purnesse Family. These guys sounded like career diplomats who dedicated themselves to serving the state. They were much like the Larkinson Family in the past, and that made Ves wary. He knew it wouldn't be easy to shake their old loyalties. Credibility was one of the most valuable assets of a diplomat. None of them would be able to do their job effectively if they generated too much distrust.

"While Many Purnesses may be serving elsewhere, the family head and many important family members still reside on Trieden II, their traditional home planet. Many families live there as well, which makes it very important to keep them all alive."

"If they're in trouble, why don't they leave?"

"They can't. They tried. Everytime the Purnesses attempt to escape from the planet, the shuttles or other vehicles they are traveling on somehow crashes or gets shot down by unknown assailants."

"Unknown assailants?"

"Black mechs that don't bear any identifiable marks." Calabast switched the projection to a shaky image of the mechs in question. "These mechs have been showing up every now and then to disrupt any actions initiated by the Purnesse Family that are too big to be stopped by a couple of operatives."

Ves carefully studied the designs of the black-coated mechs. He could already tell that their designers did their best not to leave any identifiable marks behind.

As someone who once tried his best to obscure his own personal touches in a design, he knew that it was extremely unlikely for Ves or anyone else to determine the true origin of the black machines.

"So what is the current state of the Purnesse Family?"

The family members who live and work outside of Trieden II have all evacuated from their original locations in order to reach a safe location in a different state. However, the core of the Purnesse Family still remains stuck on their home planet with no effective way out. The unknown enemies have effectively formed a blockade. This is also why the Purnesse Family can't pay a visit to us even if they have become desperate for help. They can only contact us by remote, but I'm not sure how long we'll be able to. The dark hand behind the scenes has already started to sabotage the planet's communications infrastructure."

"That… sounds pretty serious." Ves furrowed his brows. "We can't fight against a force that is powerful enough to dominate an entire planet. It's not worth it to provoke such a powerful enemy just so we can pick up a single useful family. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. We don't need to insist on grabbing one out of the jaws of a shark!"

His words did not make Calabast happy. She stopped stroking Lucky's back and leaned forward over her desk.

"Look, our clan is desperately lacking a diplomat. You always complained to me that we have been taking way too long to find one. We have now identified a golden opportunity to pick up not just an excellent career diplomat that has served for decades on behalf of a prestigious second-rate state, but we also have the rare opportunity of gaining the complete loyalty of a large collection of highly-trained foreign relations workers, middle-level bureaucrats and administrators, commerce managers and more! These are exactly the kind of professionals our clan is lacking at the moment."

Ves was aware of the strain the clan administration was facing. It was not so easy to foster the kind of managers and officials that were needed to control the middle and lower levels of the clan.

He understood why Calabast found the Purnesse Family so attractive. As long as the expeditionary fleet dropped by the Trieden System, the trapped Purnesses would finally be able to get out alive while the Larkinson Clan was able to fill some of its critical shortages!

It was a win-win arrangement that sounded quite attractive to both sides.

Ves became more intrigued. "Can we beat the aggressors at Trieden II?"

"Trieden II is a relatively modest paradise planet. While the standard of living over there is high, it isn't large or developed enough to host powerful outfits. With our strength, we have the capital to smash aside the opposition. Since we are just performing a quick evacuation operation, we can be gone by the time the hidden enemies can muster reinforcements, if they are even willing to fight us in the first place."

There were always risks to any operation on foreign soil. Calabast's intelligence might be wrong and she might be underestimating the opposition the clan might face. Yet the reward was sufficiently attractive for Ves to take this matter seriously.

"Get in touch with General Verle and start making plans. If I think they are good enough, I approve them. The risks have to be controlled though and we need to minimize the negative impact as much as possible."

"It is not that difficult to accomplish this. We merely have to leave the sphere of influence of the Grand Loxic Republic and the Winged Serenade Star Sector to avoid all of the repercussions of rescuing the Purnesse Family." Calabast confidently stated.

He nodded. She made a good point.

"I guess it's time our mech forces go on another exercise. We have absorbed a lot of new mech pilots but none of them have been baptized in combat as a Larkinson as of yet. Those MTA mech pilots also need to be thrown into active combat in order to witness our power and stimulate their potential."

Since those mechers wanted to become expert pilots so badly, then subjecting them to battle was the best way to spark a change!

Hopefully these superior mech pilots knew how to pilot second-class mechs…

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