Pirate Empires lied to him! He thought the virtual board game accurately reflected the woes of becoming a mercenary commander or a pirate commander, but in fact it missed such a huge hole!
In hindsight, Ves recognized that their depiction of how to run a pirate gang was overly romantic and glossed over many essential facts. The biggest one being that pirates relied on slavery to fulfill their shortage in technical and support personnel!
Ves already knew that the Dragons of the Void thumbed their noses against the taboo against brainwashing humans. Enslaving them was a logical follow-up to their loathsome behavior.
Yet commercializing their brainwashing facilities and opening them up to other pirates with too many prisoners on their hands sounded absurd. They basically empowered the independent pirate outfits this way.
The suspicion that this was all a trap grew strongly in Ves. With thousands of brainwashed men working on behalf of the Swordmaidens aboard their precious starships, it only took one single mental trigger to turn them against their erstwhile owners!
The paranoia always brewing within his mind rang countless alarm bells right now! Were the Vandals even aware of the hidden danger the Swordmaidens brought onto themselves?
The Vandals shouldn't be that stupid, and neither were the Republic's intelligence services. This practice of enslaving mech technicians and ship crew should have been common among the frontier.
It still sounded idiotic for becoming too dependent on slave labor to perform vital jobs such as servicing their mechs and keeping their ships from falling apart!
Still, now that his shock had subsided, he began to see that Ketis had no involvement in the matter. Lydia's Swordmaidens embodied both the good and the bad of frontier culture and customs evolved over hundreds of years of surviving among the untamed stars.
"I'm sorry for my overreaction, Ketis." He eventually uttered, looking her in the eyes. "You're not responsible for this matter. However, you have to be aware that my reaction to how you treat your technicians is rather mild. There will be many who will express their disgust at you. Can you at least understand why people like me react this way?"
She was at least smart enough to understand that much. "I get it. Slavery is bad. The big bad MTA and CFA doesn't like it when the weak and stupid are owned by their betters. That's despite the fact that you bunch of hypocrites are doing the same thing in civilized space, only you don't call it by that word! From what I heard what goes on in your side of the border, she life of a regular person isn't necessarily better than being a slave."
"It differs from state to state. The Bright Republic and the Reinald Republic are some of the better ones around. You've visited the Reinald Republic before, haven't you? Didn't you notice the people there are free and happy?"
"All I saw were sheep that have deluded themselves that they are kings." She sneered. "They were so weak that they died by the millions once a bunch of terrorists mechs laid waste to Harkensen I. In my eyes, that incident alone proves that you're nothing if you don't have any way to fight back. The Honored Ones enforced their no-mech policy on Harkensen I so much that they stripped you all from the chance to defend yourselves. Didn't we salvage our own mechs down there? That's the only reason why we succeeded in pushing through the spaceport."
She had a point, if only just. Frankly, the Reinaldans had themselves to blame for getting caught with their pants down. Not only did they scale back the readiness of their garrisons to an atrocious degree due to their lack of engaging in major conflicts, they also deprived others from bringing them the means to defend their lives if the authorities dropped the ball.
Which they did. On their on feet. Which hurt them a lot.
He sighed. "Okay, I don't want to argue about this point. I'm not hopeful that you'll ever change your beliefs, but you should at least be discreet about it while you are a guest aboard our ships. We do not run our ships as pirates, so I will appreciate it if you don't treat our mech technicians like you treat yours."
"Why should I? I don't really like them. I'm not going to approach them on my own accord." Ketis huffed.
"Look, despite your feelings about them, interacting, instructing and leading mech technicians is a vital skill to mech designers. If you don't know what they do or what their limits are, how will you be able to take over from Mayra in the future? Perhaps you'll be able to learn how to respect them after you work alongside the Vandal mech technicians. They're not the dummies you think they are. Mostly."
"...Can I still kick their butts if they annoy me?"
Ves chuckled a bit. "Sure. I've done so a few times myself if they need some motivating. Just don't go overboard with it, okay? Kick them enough to bruise or sting, but not enough to break their bones or bring them close to death. And definitely don't employ your sword either! If mech technicians die from your hand for any reason, I'll shove you out of the airlock and kick you back to the Jaded Sword through a spacewalk!"
"Whatever you say, teacher. I'll kick you out into space before you can do that to me. I'm stronger than you!"
After Ves defused the tension, he briefly instructed her on the do's and don'ts when they returned to the workshop compartment. As long as she didn't do anything egregious such as disparaging the mech technicians in public again or mentioning about how they would be treated like slaves back at the Swordmaiden fleet, then the situation could still be salvaged.
They exited the office in a more subdued mood. Ves still mulled over the implications of what he learned about pirate society while Ketis pretended to be contrite.
The little devil. Ves bet she had nothing but contempt when she looked at the Vandal mech technicians.
For their part, the techs returned to their professionalism to keep an even expression around the two mech designers. It looked way too forced to be natural, though. If they had their way, they might have cornered Ketis and confronted her about her slanderous words.
"Morning, Ves." Chief Haine called as she pushed herself forward from her leaning position against the bulkhead. "I just heard an incident happened here. Something about some ugly words being thrown around."
Ketis ignored the burly woman and turned to Ves. "Who is this?"
"This is Carletta Haine, the Chief Technician of the Shield of Hispania. She's responsible for the mech technicians and makes sure that they do a good job."
The guest designer regarded Chief Haine with a mild amount of respect. "It can't be easy keeping your.. people in line."
"It's a skill I've honed over decades of service." The Chief replied simply. Though they only exchanged a couple of words, Haine's dislike of the girl already deepened. "I don't think it is something that you'll ever be able to master. You don't fulfill the requirements to do so. Perhaps you should spend your time elsewhere."
The two women, one as young as as a fresh graduate, another in her older and more wizened years, glared at each other as if they were cats competing for the same mouse.
Ves stood by awkwardly as the women decided to have an impromptu staring contest. Eventually, he stretched out a hand between their eyes, breaking their stupid dominance ritual of forcing the other to avert their eyes first. He didn't have time for this nonsense.
"Chief, please, I've got this in hand. I already set the matter straight to Ketis. This is a delicate situation that requires a diplomatic approach." He begged.
The chief glanced at him with an unreadable expression before turning back to Ketis. "Fine. As long as this missy here give my men an apology, I'm willing to forget the matter."
"You want an apology from me?! Then you have to fight for it!" Ketis growled and placed her hand behind her back until she gripped her greatsword. Apologising without a fight was unthinkable to her! "You. Me. The practice ring. If you can beat me flat, I'll give you your apology. If you can't, then you better stay out of my way!"
Ves audibly groaned and palmed his face. What was wrong with these people!? Perhaps he should have expected a stunt like this from Ketis, but Chief Haine as well?
He quickly spread his gaze across the entire compartment and saw that pretty much every mech technician who wasn't performing any sensitive work had slowed down to listen. Over half of their expression showed approval at their chief's attempt at backing them up.
He understood now. Chief Haine had a responsibility to defend the honor of her mech technicians. Failure to do so meant that the mech technicians would lose faith in her leadership and their morale would plummet.
Both of them remained implacable due to the expectations placed upon them by others! They literally couldn't back down in any circumstances or lose all their respect!
As someone with no stake in the matter, Ves took unilateral action. He approached Ketis, grabbed her arm and dragged her away. "Sorry, chief, but Ketis has some work to attend to! See you later!"
It might not have been an elegant way to resolve the standoff, but it did break the spell between them. The Chief stared wordlessly at their backs before heading towards the exit. Perhaps she already found out that there was nothing to be gained from pressing the matter. Not with Ves around.
As for Ves, he had been ready to employ his considerable physical strength to haul the genetically modified vixen away from her staring contest. Surprisingly, Ketis felt as soft as a pillow. She didn't resist at all, which was completely contrary to his expectations.
Perhaps Ketis became aware of how bad of a situation she was in, and latched onto his move as a way to escape the standoff without repercussions.
"Your chief technician is a formidable woman." She praised. "She can give a lot of Swordmaidens a run for her money."
"Lydia's Swordmaidens don't have the monopoly on strong women, you know. The Bright Republic's Mech Corps employs far more women than the Swordmaidens."
Ves led them over to an inactive 3D printer that he reserved beforehand. "In any case, we need to get back to your lesson. Do you know how to operate one of these?"
"A 3D printer? Sure, though operating them is the job of the sl.. I mean the mech technicians."
"If you have any ambition about mech design, you need to readjust that attitude. Fabricating a mech in person instead of shoving the job to your mech technicians will bring you much closer to your design, or any designs you work with. Part of the errors I see many mech designers make is that they detach themselves too much from the workshop."
"Isn't that supposed to be how we work?" She asked, genuinely confused at his words. "We use our genius to draft up a good design. Then we dump them to the mech technicians and order them to churn out mechs. Nothing in this chain suggests we have to perform manual labor."
Ves really wanted to fix her contempt of mech technicians. He supposed his next assignment for her might fix some of her attitude problems.
"I suppose I won't be able to convince you with words. Fine. I'll just let you have a taste of it yourself." He raised his comm and transferred some files to her comm.
"It's a design schematic of the Marc Antony Mark I. It's a cheaper variant of Caesar Augustus that you recently struggled with. It's a shame you hadn't been able to finish your variant, so I've transferred the design schematics of my own."
"Oookay. So what am I supposed to do with it?"
"You're going to fabricate a working copy of the Mark I with this 3D printer and assemble it by hand yourself."
"What?!" Ketis shrieked, attracting every mech technician's attention on her again. "Are you daft?! I can't possibly do that! I've never fabricated more than a couple of spare parts! Also, are you allowed to fabricate an extra mech out of the blue just like that?"
Ves grinned at her. "If you're unused to fabricating your own mechs, then this is a good opportunity to get you up to speed. Besides, I'm not telling you to build a full-scale model. Instead, I want you to fabricate a miniature about the length of a human head. I'm also assigning you an imaginary budget. You have to 'pay' for the materials you bring out of the stores. You fail if you run out of money!"Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
"What happens then?"
"I'll pass you over to Chief Haine and let you work as a mech technician for a few weeks."
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