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Chapter 2007 Unrecognized

The discussion with the three Larkinson elders hardly resolved his doubts and uncertainty surrounding the imminent adoption of outsiders into the clan.

On one hand, Ves gladly welcomed the expansion of the clan as long as the original Larkinsons remained in control.

On the other hand, Ves did not want the clan to become too stratified and locked in cla.s.s tension.

He knew from observing other family organizations that dividing family members into a group of core members and outer members happened very frequently.

Many families, clans, n.o.ble houses, dynasties and etcetera often faced a similar situation as the Larkinson Clan. Expanding their group often had to be done for one reason or another, but the persistent question remained. How much power did they need to give up to accept the outsiders into the clan?

When it came to these kinds of matters, self-interest often trumped fairness. Even if the outsiders had contributed far more to the group than the so-called insiders, they were still deprived of the rewards and recognition they deserved in order to preserve the interests of the latter!

This could become a very major fault line later on. A lot of families and clans went down because of the infighting and intrigue such divisions provoked.

Ves did not want to turn his clan into a group where one Larkinson wasn’t able to trust another Larkinson. This kind of future was something unthinkable for the old Larkinson Family and he wasn’t about to let his clan descend so easily!

After a lengthy and illuminating discussion with elders, Raymond said one last piece before departing from the Scarlet Rose.

“Whatever road we take, we best make our decision after considering all of the angles. The outcome of this serious question will determine what it truly means to be a Larkinson. Think carefully before you make your own choice, young Ves. Are Larkinsons only confined to those who possess the blood? Or is it possible that there are already a lot more Larkinsons among us, just waiting to be recognized?”

Obviously, Raymond still preferred to take the riskier but more rewarding choice of treating outsiders as equal.

When the three old fogeys left, Ves lingered in his office. He tapped his fingers against his desk as Lucky playfully swiped them with his paw.

“Meow.”

“Are you feeling lonely?”

“Meow!”

“Is Clixie not enough for you?”

“Meow meow!”

“You want to become in charge of an entire posse? I don’t know about that. I don’t want to turn the Scarlet Rose into a cat zoo!”

“Meeeeooow.”

“Hmm, maybe you have a point. There’s not enough life on this s.h.i.+p.”

As the former mobile supply frigate of the CRC, the s.h.i.+p wasn’t all that big to begin with. Due to his paranoia, he only stationed his most loyal Avatars and Battle Criers as her crew. While they were very dedicated to their jobs, they were always serious on duty and off duty.

The design teams and Larkinson seeds residing on his s.h.i.+p possessed a lot more personality, but as current and future mech designers, they always recognized the vast gap between their employer and themselves.

“I’m a bit too isolated here.” He muttered. “I’m cut-off from the rest of my fleet. I don’t even know how others are doing.”

He supposed he could patch into the monitoring system feeds to observe what was happening on the other s.h.i.+ps, but that sounded a bit too lazy and detached for him. Since the fleet required half a day to cycle the FTL drives of its slower s.h.i.+ps, why not take advantage of this window of opportunity to tour his sprawling organization.

After he made his decision, he broke the news to Gavin, who blinked at the sudden initiative.

“That’s rather unexpected of you, boss.” He replied, though he made sure to tap into his data pad to ready a shuttle and accompanying escorts. “You have two big mech design projects in the pipeline. Is this really the time to go on a tour?”

“It’ll only be half a day. I’ve never really taken stock of my people after we fled Kesseling VIII. We’ve been running from the Fridaymen for so long that it was as if they were right on our heels. Now that we have the Penitent Sisters to guard us, the crisis isn’t so severe anymore.”

His personnel quickly readied an armored shuttle for departure. After sending a note to Gloriana that he wouldn’t be attending today’s design session, he took Lucky and Nitaa and started his short tour.

Surprisingly, Ves didn’t opt to drop by the Redfeather or any other s.h.i.+p in his possession.

Instead, his first stop was the Serendipity. Venerable Brutus Wodin perplexingly welcomed his arrival at the hangar bay of light frigate.

“Welcome to my personal s.h.i.+p, Mr. Larkinson.” The expert pilot said with reserve. “I have some very nice bottles of authentic Hexer vintages waiting to be opened up. Would you like to peruse my collection?”

Ves waved his hand. “No thanks. I’d like to take a look at your Star Dancer instead. I’ve never seen a second-cla.s.s expert mech up close.”

“My mech is right ahead. Please be mindful that we can’t allow you to peek too much. The mech is built using some of the best technology the Hegemony has mastered. While Gloriana is permitted to know the technical details, you are not on the list.”

“Understandable. I just want to take a look to appreciate the craftsmans.h.i.+p of your mech.”

They walked a few bays over until they reached the Star Dancer. Just as he expected, the expert mech was fully ready to deploy if needed.

“Impressive.” Ves sighed in admiration. “This is perhaps the most powerful ranged mech that I have ever personally laid eyes upon. Its craftsmans.h.i.+p is exquisite.”

The expert mech was everything he expected and more. Though he had reviewed the battle footage of the Star Dancer in action against the CRC’s Screaming Blade, seeing the mech up close was an entirely different experience.

Though dormant, the mech carried the spiritual flavor of its mech pilot. Even now, Brutus’ strange protective field merged seamlessly with the mech, making it appear as if they were connected despite the latter’s dormancy.

The blue-and-black mech looked a bit different from the last time he had seen it. Ves noted keenly that it exhibited a bit less armor and a few more modules that looked like boosters and other mobility-related enhancements.

“Looks like you’ve prepared your mech for a rematch against the Screaming Blade.”

The expert pilot crossed his arms as he stood next to Ves. “Dueling a light mech is not something that I enjoy. I fight best when I can take my enemies out before they reach my position, but that isn’t always possible. Mobility is one of my mech’s strong suits, but against the Screaming Blade, I was barely hanging on in the last battle. If that mech ever shows up again, My Star Dancer has to be even faster because my enemy will certainly have prepared for me as well.”

This sounded like an interesting dynamic to Ves. Instances where enemy expert pilots frequently clashed against each other happened all the time in the Bright-Vesia Wars. Just like the mech games, the mech pilots constantly tried to adjust their mechs and battle tactics to counter their enemy and avoid being countered in the next clash.

“Before you became an expert pilot, did you follow the trajectory of other male mech pilots in the Hegemony?”

Brutus shook his head. “I’m a Wodin. With my impeccable training and excellent results, my dynasty has always set higher expectations upon me. Don’t mistake me as the other boys who serve in our armed forces.”

“You’re a boy yourself, you know.” Ves pointed out.

“I am.”

“Doesn’t that bother you? I’ve seen how boys are treated in the Hex Army. The women who are in charge never allow boys like you explore their full potential.”

“Control is necessary, Ves.” Brutus replied without emotion. “There are good reasons to impose these conditions on boys.”

“They don’t seem to apply to you anymore.”

“That’s because I’m an expert pilot.”

“Does that make a difference? You’re still a boy.”

He shook his head. “Becoming an expert pilot in the Hegemony is a blessing, not a curse. To become a demiG.o.d as certain people call expert pilots is a blessing. My state has no cause to doubt that I am anything but a loyal Hexer! It is because of this trust that I am allowed to pilot the powerful and dangerous Star Dancer!”

The Hegemony would be fools if it didn’t thoroughly vet Brutus before allowing him to pilot an expert mech. His loyal outlook and his Wodin upbringing probably rea.s.sured the female Hexers that he wouldn’t abuse his power.

“What about the other boys who aren’t lucky to advance to expert pilot? Are you okay with how they are being treated?”

“We follow the natural order, Ves.” The expert pilot sternly replied. “Just because I haven’t said anything about how your Avatars of Myth and other mech forces treat boys the same as women doesn’t mean I think they are fine. They are not. Everytime I am confronted by such ignorance, I feel uncomfortable.”

“They haven’t exhibited any problems!”

“So far.”

“I think my Avatars, Sentinels and Battle Criers will surprise you. What you fear will not take place, because you know why? Just like every other mech force in the galaxy, the gender of their officers and commanders is not a factor!”

Neither of them were able to sway the other’s opinion. Ves felt frustrated by Brutus’ idiotic adherence to the fallacies of Hexer ideology, but the expert pilot had grown up with it for his entire life. It was a bit too much to ask a Hexer, an expert pilot no less, to alter his entire mindset!

After a bit of chatting, Ves finally broached the last subject.

“I don’t know if you haven’t heard, but it is possible that my Larkinson Clan will welcome a lot of new additions. Do you have any opinions you’d like to voice?”

“We Wodins won’t be a part of your clan.” He immediately said. “At the very least, Ranya and I will still hang on to our Wodin names. As for Gloriana…”

“She’s already a part of the clan. She’s in our member rolls.”

Brutus shook his head. “The Hegemony and the Wodin Dynasty doesn’t recognize your laws. As far as my mother is concerned, your clan’s laws and customs don’t have any weight.”

That sounded swell. Ves frowned at the obvious disregard to his clan.

“I hope that will change one day.” He responded in a diplomatic fas.h.i.+on. “Our Larkinson Clan may not seem like much to you Wodins, but I hope that Gloriana and I can work to change your impression.”

“I don’t mean to disparage your efforts, Ves. My sister is quite enthused about the future prospects of your clan. The point I’m trying to make is that your clan is not really significant on its own. The only reason to take note of it at all is because of you. Without your presence, your Larkinson Clan wouldn’t even register in my mother’s mind!”

That was very much true. Though Brutus didn’t mince any words, Ves recognized the implicit warning in his tone. Right now, the Larkinson Clan was hardly a player, let alone a recognized ent.i.ty!

Anyone could start a clan. However, it took genuine effort to earn everyone’s recognition. Right now, his Larkinson Clan lacked too many achievements. Its fame was virtually nil and even its victory against the CRC wasn’t enough to skyrocket its reputation.

Ves realized that the Larkinson Clan shouldn’t keep looking inwards. Just like himself, the clan needed to build up its reputation in order to earn society’s recognition! Only through becoming a known ent.i.ty would his clan gain true legitimacy!

“Thank you for your opinions. I’ve gained a lot from our talk.”

“You’re welcome, Ves.” Brutus nodded. “Don’t get me wrong. Your Larkinsons and your people are a fine bunch. I truly admire the soldier tradition of your old family. I hope you can perpetuate this focus on service. Discipline and control is the foundation of a well-run organization!”

Ves chuckled. “You’re only saying that because you want to steer my clan closer to how Hexers run their organizations.”

“It’s irresponsible to let boys run wild. If you don’t want to shackle them completely, then at least attach some cuffs to them. We Wodins will feel much more rea.s.sured if your clan is bound by rules.”

“We Larkinsons will run our clan in our own fas.h.i.+on, thank you very much.” Ves dryly replied.

Ves would never make a decision to alter his clan just to earn the approval of Hexers!

———-

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