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«The Mech Touch (Web Novel) - Chapter 5799 Internal Rifts

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Chapter 5799 Internal Rifts

This chapter is updated by Novels.pl

Jovy arranged a secure meeting place as promised.

Located deep underground a private resort, the luxuriously furnished meeting room had been a place where the movers and shakers of Ector V negotiated and concluded many business deals.

Ves would have preferred to meet with Sigrund in a location that was more secure, but that was not possible.

They needed to meet in a location that was not under the direct control of the Red Association or the Red Fleet.

There were factions and powerful personalities within both organizations that really did not like Ves at the moment! It was best not to give them easy opportunities to gain an advantage over him. Once more he lamented that he had outpaced the growth of the Larkinson Clan.

Fortunately, that would change in a few years. The Red Ocean would look a lot differently once the clansmen who had undergone EdNet training finally returned en masse, but their newly gained competence would instantly elevate his power base!

At the very least, he no longer wanted to depend entirely on the Bluejay Fleet for his security needs.

The hatch slid open shortly after Ves entered. A familiar fleeter captain stepped inside.

Both Ves and Captain Reze deployed their respective jammers and security devices.

Lucky flew around and phased through the reinforced walls to sniff out any buried listening devices.

Though the routine was time-consuming, Ves and Sigrund did not mind the delay. The peace of mind they gained was much more important.

Once the place was reasonably secure, Ves immediately started to ask questions.

"How is the Red Fleet doing?"

"It is not doing particularly well at the moment." Captain Reze responded. "If not for the fact that I am currently your designated contact person, I would have gotten dragged into the debate about the continued existence of ARCHIE. There are many fleeters who are not pleased that the improved evaluation and monitoring system that has been responsible for increasing their productivity has actually mutated into a sentient AI with god-like powers. Fears that everyone will get taken over by this inhuman monstrosity has provoked a lot of knee jerk reactions."

Ves furrowed his brows. "I can understand how that can be creepy for people. Surely there are fleeters among you that see enough reason to recognize the value in keeping ARCHIE."

The captain briefly smiled. "There are. Many fleeters, particularly the lower and middle ranks, adore ARCHIE. Ever since it took the place of the more limited IES, many spacers and officers have received the promotions that they have always deserved. The gratitude they owe to the fair and impartial system that is devoid of any bias and nepotism is massive."

"What about the other side? I am sure the fleeters who are in charge don't share this sentiment. I am surprised they allowed ARCHIE to come online in the first place."

"You would be surprised how many fleeters are in favor of employing more effective AIs, though only within reason. In any case, the higher-ranking fleeters have not benefited nearly as much from ARCHIE, so they regard it in a much more negative light. Those high-ranking officers also tend to be much more preoccupied with philosophical and societal problems. Fleet Admiral Amelie Jameson is a good example of that. She is only 254 years old, but she has inherited so much responsibility that she is just as paranoid about AIs as the survivors of the Age of Conquest."

Ves immediately frowned. "What is she up to now that her massive gambit yesterday failed?"

"She is still fighting." Sigrund replied. "She may have lost the battle against you, but there are plenty of other battles that she can fight. She and her compatriots regard the massive encroachment of cultivation and everything related to it as a war. They are not too concerned about losing individual battles. What matters to them is that they make meaningful progress. As long as they can stop or delay the onset of cultivation within the Red Fleet and beyond, they have fulfilled their mission. They are not going to stop being a thorn on our sides."

"Ugh. I guess I shouldn't have expected our opponents to have a change of heart. Given that these spoilsports are so adamantly opposed to ARCHIE, is there are a possibility that the Red Fleet will experience a schism and split in half?"

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" The fleeter smiled without emotion.

"I do get a sense of vindictive satisfaction at the thought of the fleeters causing their own downfall."

"Then I am afraid I have to disappoint you, Ves. We are not as stupid and short-sighted as you think. A furious debate is raging within our organization, but we are well-aware that the Terrans and the Rubarthans would like nothing more for us to disintegrate. I think that even the mechers do not want us to fracture. One way or another, Fleet Admiral Argile and Fleet Admiral Jameson will find a resolution that will end the ongoing ideological struggle."

This sounded similar to the prior division within the Survivalist Faction. There was plenty of room for different opinions, but once the Survivalists had voted on a plan, they expected everyone to fall in line and unite behind the winning proposal.

It was an effective way to resolve differences between opposing factions, but it required enough maturity from the losers to achieve the desired results.

Ves was not sure whether the Fifth Fleet was willing to play along if too many fleeters ended up favoring ARCHIE.

"Does this ongoing fight affect our earlier deal, captain?" He questioned. "I hope you haven't forgotten about exchanging EE-343F-00334R for my services."

"We have not forgotten, Ves. The strife is problematic, but it will not cause any undue delays. We are still eager to discover whether you can improve the performance of our cherished warships. We will just have to bring you to a dreadnought where your contribution is more welcome than others. It would be ideal if we can take you to the Dominion of Man. The dreadnought already carries enough stock of this precious material to meet your needs."

Ves grew a little disappointed when he learned the Red Fleet's current distraction had made it unclear whether he could conduct his experiment on the Dominion of Man.

However, it ultimately made little difference if he worked on one of the other dreadnoughts. The fleeters would simply have to spend a bit of extra time to deliver several kilograms of EE-343F-00334R to his location.

What Ves prized the most was that he was finally making real progress. Completing the Supply Missions strengthened the Mech Designer System by a large extent, thereby unlocking powerful new capabilities that would bring it closer to the level of the complete Metal Scroll.

Ves briefly wondered whether it was possible to turn his fragment into a full Sacred Scroll again, but he quickly dismissed the possibilities. He did not think it could fix all of the missing parts just by mixing a few top-quality materials together.

"What will happen after the experiment is successful?" Ves asked.

"If you have succeeded in bestowing life to one of our dreadnoughts, then we will have to conduct thorough tests to determine the differences. This will take months if not years. Once we have verified that your method is useful to us, you can expect us to conclude a more comprehensive deal with you. It is likely that we will wait until the Red Collective has entered into operation. It will be much less problematic to embrace aspects of cultivation if a part of us has already joined the new cultivation-oriented organization."

"That makes sense. I hope I don't have to wait that long to get my hands on EE-343F-00334R, though."

"I do not believe you have to worry about that. The alloy is certainly valuable enough for the Dominion of Man to keep in stock, but the value of cooperation ultimately exceeds the value of this material."

That was reassuring to hear.

Now that Ves learned what he wanted from Sigrund, he relaxed and began to chat about less urgent matters.

"Will the fleeters participate in the upcoming grand auction?"

Captain Reze chuckled. "In fact, we will. None of us really cared about it previously, but it is different now. The auction house has rapidly expanded capacity. Not only is it accepting many more items to be auctioned the next day, but it is also expecting the arrival of many more guests. Many of them are primarily coming because of you. The grand auction is bound to become a lively event."

Ves had already received word that Estaban Leeds was capitalizing on his popularity, but this sounded like a much bigger deal than before.

"Will the fleeters put up anything good on auction?"

"Let's just say that we have put items up for bidding that even you will take interest in. That is all I can say. I am bound by confidentiality to not divulge any further information. I hope you bring enough capital."

"Don't worry about that. My latest arrangement with Isthmus Manufacturing has vastly increased my net worth. I can also spend the expected proceeds from auctioning LMC shares in advance."

Money was no longer an insurmountable problem to Ves at this point. Just as his wife and several advisors suggested, he could always go deep into debt in order to finance a massive investment. His earning ability was more than enough to pay it all back in time.

Ves asked another question after a while. "Since the Red Fleet is geared to become a participant in the Red Collective, which fleets are set to embrace cultivation?"

"None of that is clear at the moment." Sigrund shook his head. "Not enough time has passed to make this determination. I think that the Seventh Light Fleet that I am a part of may be a likely candidate. We are new and more open to change. We do not field any large warfleets, so any adverse consequences will not result in a rapid collapse of our defensive lines. Admiral Chelsea Mieli is also closely aligned to Fleet Admiral Stanley Argile, so the Seventh Light Fleet can be trusted to make an honest effort to integrate cultivation."

"So the Seventh Light Fleet will serve as a guinea pig for the Second Main Fleet?"

"Essentially, yes." Sigrund answered. "The Second Main Fleet is much older and more steeped in old traditions. It is crewed by veteran officers and spacers who have always known one way to fight. They are much more resistant towards radical changes than usual. They need convincing proof that cultivation can produce real performance gains before they are willing to adapt. As long as the Second Main Fleet has clearly become more powerful due to these changes, many of the other fleets will follow suit."

"I can't imagine the Fifth Enforcement Fleet doing this. It would be too embarrassing of a retreat.

"This is why Fleet Admiral Jameson is most certainly urging her R&D personnel to come up with viable alternatives that do not bear any direct relation to cultivation. There are still many die-hard fleeters out there that think that pure technology can still save them all. I do not necessarily disagree with this stance, but the opponents are fighting an uphill battle with this attitude."

"Speaking about the female fleet admiral, how is her descendant doing? Has Lieutenant-Commander Astrid Jameson already tucked her tail between her legs and left the port system?"

"I am afraid I have to disappoint you, Ves. She is still lingering, though neither of us have ever spoken to each other. From what I can surmise, she will most definitely participate in the upcoming grand auction on behalf of her ancestor. You can expect her to have access to deep pockets."

"Great."

"On the other hand, the Fifth Enforcement Fleet may have put items of their own up for auction. I do not know what they have entrusted to Estaban Leeds, but the Jamesons are eager to win back their lost prestige."

"Interesting."

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