"The real Ylvaine Dynasty has indeed been exterminated." Leland smirked. "I'm not talking about the historical dynasty. I'm actually referring to the current incarnation of the Ylvaine Dynasty. Don't you think a state like the Ylvaine Protectorate is a little too peaceful on the surface? Why do you think there is still an active mech market if everything is supposedly fine and dandy in the state?"
Ves frowned and thought about it for a moment. "You mean the Ylvaine Dynasty is not a legitimate entity in the Protectorate?"
"Correct! Guerilla fronts riddle the Vesia Kingdom. The Bentheim Liberation Movement has haunted the Bright Republic for centuries. The Ylvaine Protectorate is no exception. They're plagued by the existence of an organization that has unilaterally taken up the mantle of Ylvaine Dynasty. If you ask an Ylvainan official, they prefer to call them the New Ylvaine Dynasty in order to disassociate the current one to the original one."
"So what is this New Ylvaine Dynasty fighting for that pisses off the rest of the Protectorate so much?"
"It's a long story." Leland sighed and sat down. "I'll keep it short as best I can. Basically, the New Ylvaine Dynasty purportedly claims leadership over the Ylvaine Faith, which also includes the state by extension. The three leading dynasties that are currently in charge were never meant to lead the Ylvainan Faith. They originally rose to assist Prophet Ylvaine and his descendants in managing the growing religion."
"Then the Prophet and his entire family got killed by states who felt increasingly threatened by his cult." Ves quickly said. "I know this part of the story already."
"Well, you should know that while the old Ylvaine Dynasty has indeed become extinct, the Ylvainans managed to secure plenty of tissue samples of Prophet Ylvaine and his many descendants. The prophet was a very... active father when he was alive. Samples of his hair, skin and other biological material can be found all over the place. Combined with the tissue samples collected from his descendants, and you have a very complete and very extensive genetic data bank of the most pivotal figures in the Ylvainan Faith!"
Ves could see how that could become a very huge problem. "I see. Bringing the dead back to 'life' in this fashion is very controversial, to say the least."
"The Kronons, Poxcos and Curins all collected plenty of tissue samples of the prophet and much of his family line. They didn't do anything but store them in the vaults of their colony ships as they fled to the galactic rim. Once they settled down in the territory that would become their state, they finally had the time to consider what they should do with the genetic material. With the medical technology at hand, it's possible for them to birth a baby that possesses the exact same genes as the original founder. The question isn't whether they can, but whether they should. Is it right to revive their prophet?"
What a question. The elders of the three leading dynasties must have wracked their heads over this issue for years!
"I take it they refused. It would go against the predictions and beliefs of Prophet Ylvaine." Ves guessed.
"Correct. Everyone knows that a clone or a designer baby modeled after someone else would never grow up the same. Clones are defective from birth while designer babies always turn out to be completely different individuals. None of the Ylvainans would be able to stand it the clone of Prophet Ylvaine turns out to be a moron!"
"The Kronon, Poxco and Curin Dynasties are probably unwilling to relinquish the power they obtained." Ves added. "If the Ylvaine Dynasty ever returns to power, the other three dynasties are relegated to subordinates again. If I was an elder of those dynasties, I would probably hesitate to hand over power to a completely unknown entity."
Leland nodded in agreement. "That has played a role as well. There's one more reason why the survivors of the persecution haven't revived Ylvaine's bloodline. Their doctrine won't allow such a matter to occur. It goes against their core beliefs."
"Ah, I see." Ves immediately understood once the spy mentioned that reason. "The Ylvainans believe that those who die are reincarnated back into a different form of life. Some Ylvainans believe that Prophet Ylvaine has already been reborn in another part of the galaxy and is busy expanding the faith there. Other Ylvainans believe that the prophet has already ascended to godhood and is looking down on us all right now."
If the surviving Ylvainans attempted to bring back Prophet Ylvaine by crafting him a new body, then they would be profaning their very beliefs! Life after death was a very sacred matter and it was not the role of mortals to interfere with this natural process!
Leland sighed and crossed his arms. "Obviously, the existence of the New Ylvaine Dynasty means that not everyone agreed with leaving the prophet behind. There are.. extremists among the Ylvainans who worship the prophet to a very great degree. They broke into the vaults, stole some of the prophet's tissue samples, and cooked up a new 'Prophet Ylvaine' in their labs."
Both of them grimaced. Ves looked disgusted. "Is the new prophet even a functioning human being?"
"We don't know for sure, but probably not. In the early days, the New Ylvaine Dynasty kept producing new clones, but they never functioned very well. Eventually, they decided to conceive a designer baby that possesses the exact same genes as the prophet. The baby was born from a devout mother and grew up naturally. You can imagine his upbringing is anything but normal."
The baby would have grown up believing he was the second incarnation of Prophet Ylvaine! That would certainly warp his personality when he became an adult!
"Is the new 'prophet' being used as a figurehead by the actual masterminds?"
"For a long time, there have been several incarnations of the prophet over the years, so this possibility is likely." Leland said. "None of the prophets receive any life-prolonging treatments, and they also have a tendency to die faster than normal. They must have done something to displease the real masters behind the New Ylvaine Dynasty. All of that changed one day."
An offshoot of the Ylvainan Faith that believed in the supremacy of Prophet Ylvaine would never allow his incarnations to suffer at the hands of others!
Ves could already guess the sequence of events. "The prophet was not content to serve as a puppet and rebelled against his masters?"
"Correct. By gathering a lot of support from the grassroots members of the cult, the latest incarnation of the prophet succeeded in dethroning the old rulers of the New Ylvaine Dynasty. He's in charge of it up until this day."
"So how does the New Ylvaine Dynasty ties back to me? It sounds like they are very much opposed to the three leading dynasties."
"It's.. more complex than that." Leland hesitated. "The trouble with extremist organizations like this is that they can find plenty of sympathisers from the local population. The real prophet is a revered figure. Some Ylvainans are susceptible to manipulation that causes them to believe that the actual prophet has come back to life to lead his flock once more."
"Just like the BLM back home."
This was the same kind of problem that the Bright Republic faced with the Bentheim Liberation Movement. As long as local Bentheimers detested the central government of the Bright Republic, the BLM would always be able to recruit new sympathizers from their midst!
"While all three leading dynasties are opposed to the heretical existence of the True Believers as they call themselves, there are some hardliners who are much less opposed to the return of Prophet Ylvaine. The hardliners among the traditionalists are most sympathetic to the forbidden dynasty. The line between radicals and extremists is razer thin."
All of this tied back into the threat Ves faced. "If some of the traditionalists are colluding with the True Believers, then they can probably ask the latter for a favor. Considering their stances, they both have many reasons to oppose the reform agenda. My existence poses a threat to both their causes."
"We should make sure our security arrangements are adequate." Leland advised.
"That's a good idea."
Ves always took danger into account, but he figured it was only a remote threat during this business trip. Now that Leland believed that the True Believers might make a move themselves, then he needed to be a lot more careful with his actions during his stay on Kesseling VIII!
The next morning, Ves was scheduled to meet with the Kronon mech pilots who he needed to serve. He first paid a visit to Miss Cecily's office. Once there, he immediately broached the matter about the threat he faced.
"Calabast, why didn't you tell me about the New Ylvaine Dynasty?"
A mild frown appeared on her face. "They are none of your concern. The Curin Dynasty is highly opposed to the True Believers. They're merely a fringe element in the Protectorate."
"Leland painted a slightly different story on them. Supposedly, they have a lot of hidden support."
"That's what insurgent organization wants you to believe. When you are weak, pretend to be strong. The True Believers have always puffed themselves up to make them seem bigger than they actually are. Their actual numbers are quite modest as they never managed to convey legitimacy to their fake prophet."
"I don't know." Ves pursed his lips. "It sounds dangerous to underestimate an enemy."
"If it makes you feel better, I can strengthen your guard detail. Are you happy now?"
He accepted this concession. Even if Calabast was right, he still wanted some assurances. Aside from enjoying the protection of the Avatars of Myth he brought along this trip, the Protectors of the Faith also assigned some mechs and men to keep him safe.
All of this was more than adequate enough to guard an average Journeyman, but even that wasn't enough for Ves!
"Alright, I'll hold you to your promise." He said. "I'm ready to meet with the six young mech pilots."
"Good. We'll be taking a trip underground. All of our mechs and mech pilots are stationed underneath the headquarters."
They exited Calabast's office where Ketis and Lucky both joined him again.
Right now, Gavin was back at the compound coordinating the effort to set up a joint venture. Leland begged off another visit in favor of diving into the city of Krent on his own again.
Surrounded by guards, they all rode an elevator downwards. Once there, they entered a very wide underground corridor with enough space for several mechs to walk alongside each other.
There, they passed through several human and mech-sized doors.
"Due to the contentious nature of our work, its necessary for the Protectors of the Faith to ensure our safety." Calabast explained in her identity as Madame Cecily. She looked and acted completely different from her actual persona! "The Kronons have dispatched sixty mechs and mech pilots so far, split between landbound, aerial and spaceborn mechs. Six more landbound mech pilots have joined recently after I made some agreements with the Kronons. They're different than others."
"They must be. Hero mechs can't be piloted by regular mech pilots." Ves remarked.
After crossing halfway through the huge underground corridors, they entered a training hall where a small number of mech pilots were exercising their bodies.
The mech pilots present immediately came to attention. Calabast waved at them to resume what they were doing and moved forward.
They entered a smaller chamber where six mech pilots already climbed out of their simulator pods.
"Here they are, Ves." Madame Cecily gestured her arm at the six. "These are the mech pilots who will be piloting the mechs I commissioned. Are they to your satisfaction?"
Ves scrutinized the six mech pilots. They consisted of a mix of men and women who had all shaved their hair to buzz cuts. That along with their austere Kronon piloting suits lent them a very disciplined air.
They reminded him of the young Larkinson mech pilots in their devotion to their training.
"They seem.. adequate. I will have to see them in action before I can say anything more."