The Mech Touch - Chapter 1992
Chapter 1994 Aggrieved Women
The Penitent Sisters ships consisted largely of combat carriers with a handful of transport ships trailing behind.
The quality of their vessels clearly upstaged anything in Ves’ fleet aside from the ships of the Glory Battalion!
If that wasn’t enough, the Peninent Sisters weren’t shy about showing off their might! Almost the entire spaceborn complement of the Sisters emerged from their carriers and formed a huge and imposing formation that silenced everyone in his fleet!
“Almost three-hundred mechs.” He viewed the projection of their approach. “All second-class mechs.”
Gloriana smiled as she stood by his left. She didn’t look nearly as nervous as Ves! “Look closer at the individual machines. While their formation looks impressive at first, the quality of their mechs leave a lot to be desired.”
He zoomed in the projection and immediately spotted the telltale marks of frequent repairs and extensive wear and tear.
“These are lastgen mechs, and not just that. They’re also rather getting on in years!”
“The Penitent Sisters are meant to pilot designed by boys. Since you decided to stall on the commission, they have to make do with the Hegemony’s castoffs instead.” Calabast remarked as she stood by his right.
Being flanked by two Hexers made Ves a little nervous. Rather than project an image that he was in charge, he felt as if he was letting his girlfriend and his strategic partner be in charge instead!
“Meow?” Lucky crawled onto his shoulder.
“No, Lucky. You don’t get to eat their mechs. Even if they are a bit outdated, they are still competitive machines. For now, we need the strength of these mechs to guard ourselves against Fridaymen aggression.”
His cat didn’t like that answer. Lucky soon jumped away from his shoulder and floated down to frolick with Clixie.
Ves felt he needed a boost of confidence. He turned around and stretched his hand. “Give me the Larkinson Mandate.”
His silent bodyguard obediently passed over the book that was in her care.
The hefty tome landed in his grasp, directly exposing him to the life contained within the intangible space of the ancestral relic.
The Golden Cat looked up at Ves in the spiritual realm.
“Keep an eye on the newcomers we’re about to meet. If they present an acute danger to me, please warn me. I trust in your judgement.”
Ves looked a lot more steady now that he held the book. Goldie’s presence and the symbolism of the book infused his spine with a very needed boost of confidence!
Hexers always frustrated him, but he was determined to make sure he ended this meeting on a strong note! He was not about to let these women walk all over him! He was a man, and he wanted to be sure the incoming commander of the Penitent Sisters knew who was in charge!
“What are the conditions for their use?” Ves asked. “Can I organize them however I want?”
“Not exactly. There are a number of strings attached. None of them are too onerous, I assure you.” Calabast reassured him. “Let me list them out. First, you have to keep them as a separate entity. That means you can’t invite them into the Larkinson Clan.”
That point was obviously moot! There was no way Ves would be crazy enough to invite the Penitent Sisters into his clan!
“Second, you will have to replace their mechs with ones designed by you. There’s no time limit attached to this condition, but you shouldn’t delay this matter for too long. The Temple of Hexism outfitted the Penitent Sisters with outdated mechs for more reasons than to be frugal. They won’t last very long.”
Great. The advanced state of wear and tear of the Penitent Sister mechs served as an invisible deadline. If Ves hadn’t supplied the Sisters with new mechs of his own designs, they wouldn’t have any intact mechs to pilot in a couple of years!
“Third, you are responsible for all of their equipment and expenses. While the Hegemony has already covered the cost of acquiring all of the ships, mechs and other equipment, the state will not subsidize the outfit on your behalf.”
“That’s not a problem. I think I can handle the increased upkeep. If not, I’ll just work harder and publish some new designs.”
Calabast nodded and raised a fourth finger. “Fourth, treat them with at least some respect. While the Penitent Sisters are regarded as sinners and criminals by the Hegemony, they are still loyal Hexer citizens. Don’t mistreat them or deprive them from what they need to sustain themselves and perform their duties. Keep your hands to yourself and be professional! I’ll be sure to observe your conduct with them on behalf of the Hegemony to make sure you comply with this directive.”
“I’m not that kind of person!” Ves protested.
“You don’t have to worry about that, Calabast.” His girlfriend spoke from his left side. “With me around, Ves doesn’t need another woman, isn’t that right? Hihi!”
“Good, because I’ll be keeping an eye on you anyway. Don’t touch anything you aren’t supposed to and I won’t chop them off, okay?”
“I was just joking, hihi!” She giggled.
Ves wasn’t sure about that, but whatever.
Once the Penitent Sister fleet came within range of his own fleet, a shuttle departed from the flagship, a combat carrier called the Surly Cockatrice.
“You Hexers sure have a wicked sense of humor.”
“We try.” Calabast smiled. “Hexers aren’t as stiff as you imagine. It’s not as if Gloriana spends all of her time to think how she can repress boys like you. Mostly.”
Gloriana’s eyes dreamingly blinked at Ves. “I can spend hours thinking about your smooth and soft face.”
“Please be serious. I don’t want to give the wrong impression to our latest guest. Since I’m expected to have a working relationship with the Penitent Sisters, we shouldn’t joke around too much.” Ves coughed.
He had heard quite a bit about the Penitent Sisters, and nothing about their story suggested that they consisted of Hexers who could take a joke!
Ves and his entourage headed down to the Scarlet Rose’s hangar bay to greet the new arrival.
Soon enough, an advanced-looking shuttle landed on the designated zone.
The shuttle was coated in a pattern of black and orange, just like all of the mechs and ships of the Penitent Sisters.
The outfit’s colors also extended to their uniforms as a number of tall and athletic-looking women emerged from the vehicle!
Ves immediately recognized that these women had undergone the same type of physical and genetic augmentation as Nitaa, but to a much more sophisticated degree!
Whereas his personal bodyguard grew tall and muscled, the approaching Hexers all looked a bit more compact and feminine but by no means weaker!
The women initially marched forward with confidence, but as they recognized Ves and came closer, their steps slowed as if they were unwilling to enter his presence.
The obvious scowls on their faces made it very clear that they did not like him at all!
Ves felt a bit discouraged by the fact that the Penitent Sisters weren’t even able to maintain a professional demeanor in front of their new employer.
He understood their predicament a bit, though. Not only were these man-haters forced to repent their radical views, they were also forced to obey his orders! Any Hexer would be mad at these circumstances, let alone the ones who thought that boys weren’t worthy enough to be kept alive!
The emblem imposed upon the Penitent Sisters clearly showcased their lack of choice in the matter. The symbol consisted of the classic symbol of Mars in orange adorning a black circle!
The Temple of Hexism might as well have drawn the ♂ symbol directly on their faces!
To bear this mark as the representation of their outfit must feel like a supreme indignity to these Hexers! If he was in their place, he would be angry all the time as well!
In fact, Ves found it surprising that these Penitent Sisters hadn’t chafed at their punishment and tried to go rogue. Ves didn’t see any obvious signs of enforcers or other means of insuring their compliance.
The small group of women finally stopped before their new employer. They looked at Ves in obvious distaste, but that did not stop them all from bending down to their knees, pressing their fists against their chests and lowering their heads!
“We are the Penitent Sisters. We have accepted exile from the Hexadric Hegemony in order to serve our fellow Hexers in another capacity! We have all taken an oath to serve the boy known as Ves Larkinson! For as long as our pure and unsullied female bodies still draw breath, we shall do our best to atone for our mistakes!”
A pregnant silence stretched after this solemn declaration.
Ves sensed no duplicity in their words. They gave off a similar vibe to Ylvainans crossed with Hexers. The Penitent Sisters were absolutely serious about abiding to the strictures and tenets they believed in. Right now, their strong religious and cultural beliefs strongly discouraged them from evading their punishment!
Rather than feel disturbed at their slavish devotion to their made-up beliefs, Ves instead relaxed a little.
As sad as it sounded, Ves was quite experienced in interacting with religious nuts. He could already tell that the Penitent Sisters largely fell in this category.
“Rise.” He spoke with a tone that attempted to convey as much authority as possible. “Please introduce yourselves.”
The lead woman with the most impressive-looking epaulets on the shoulder of her uniform rose up first. The woman had shaved the left side of her hair and dyed the other half in stripes of orange and black.
Together with her uniform, it made her look like a giant warning sign.
“I am Commander Valerie Chancy. I lead the Penitent Sisters.”
Commander Chancy looked like she was in her fifties, though it was hard for Ves to know for sure due to all of the physical augmentations she went through.
Though she hadn’t spoken a lot of words, Ves immediately got a sense he was facing a veteran combat and a person who embodied discipline. She immediately reminded him of the veterans in his own family.
It was too bad the obvious disgust in her eyes and expression betrayed her true thoughts. Even though the commander of the Penitent Sisters was resolved to follow her instructions to the letters, her true thoughts on boys likely remained unchanged!
The other two women looked just as pissed as they introduced themselves.
“Juliet Stameros.” A younger woman with the same hairstyle spoke up next. “I am the head designer of the Penitent Sisters. I am in charge of managing the condition of our mechs.”
That sounded familiar. Ves would have felt a bit of kinship with Juliet if not for her fire radiating from her eyes!
Another middle-aged woman spoke up after that. “Commodore Abigail Evern. I command the fleet of the Penitent Sisters.”
Ves and Gloriana immediately jerked as they heard her name!
“Are you a part of the Evern Matriarchal Dynasty?” Gloriana asked cautiously.
She had a lot of cause for worry! Officially, the Wodins were subordinate to the Everns! The two dynasties essentially shared a vassal-liege relationship!
As if expecting this question, Commodore Evern shook her head. “I have been cast out of the Evern Matriachal Dynasty due to my.. transgressions. Though I have retained the right to carry the Evern name, I am no longer an extension of my old dynasty.”
In other words, her status was similar to that of Calabast, but not as pleasant. She obviously sounded aggrieved of this fact. Almost anyone who used to be a part of a very elite family group would feel that way after getting disowned.
All in all, Ves did not have a very good impression of the Penitent Hexers. Even though he only met three of them so far, he doubted that the thousands that made up the entire outfit were any different!
What was Ves supposed to do with these Hexers?