The Vesians and the Flagrant Swordmaidens generally kept to themselves inside the safe zone. Anytime they bumped into each other, they couldn't help but sling insults and punch each other in the face. This forced the Starlight Megalodon to put the quarrelling people into stasis and drag them apart.
With the Starlight Megalodon looming over them like an attentive nanny, the two sides agreed to keep to themselves. They claimed separate districts of the abandoned settlement built around the Starlight Megalodon and pretended the others didn't exist.
So far, the Vandals and Swordmaidens never paid too much attention to the Vesian presence inside the safe zone. They knew that the Vesians faced the impossible recruitment tests. There was no way they'd be able to pass the tests!Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
Yet an expert pilot couldn't be equated to mortals. Her mech piloting skills broke the human limit and allowed her to perform much more splendidly than most human beings.
There was a non-zero chance that Venerable Foster might be able to pass the recruitment test!
The appearance of the Belisarius caused every Vandal and Swordmaiden to gather together at the park. They speculated on the reason for her appearance in the safe zone.
"Are the Vesians so confident that there aren't any threats that require Venerable Foster's help in defeating?" Someone wondered.
"We used to be their greatest threats." Captain Orfan responded. "Now that they cleaned up our main forces, they have the red zone to themselves. Even without an expert pilot at the helm, the Hostland Warriors and Meandering Monkeys are more than capable enough to defeat three times their number of pirate mechs. I hate to say it, but from the battle footage that Ves brought back, the Vesian mech regiments that showed up are seasoned veterans."
Long-established mech regiments such as the Hostland Warriors and Meandering Monkeys relied on centuries of accumulation to shape their martial tradition. Their training, mech doctrine, logistics and other matters all reached a mature level. A random force of pirates stood no chance against a true military force.
"How do you figure her chances of success if she undergoes the recruitment test for mech pilots?" Ves asked. "Will she be able to succeed in a single try?"
The possibility frightened every mech pilot present in the gathering. It was as if he described their worst nightmare!
"The recruitment tests aren't so easy to pass." Lieutenant Dise surmised. For a Swordmaiden mech officer, she was a lot more thoughtful than her jumpier sisters. Perhaps her bond with Qilanxo tempered some of her personality as well. "We all know the CFA has a love-hate relationship with mechs. They absolutely won't let any mech pilot join their ranks."
Someone else pointed out an important fact. "Even so, back then expert pilot are as rare as a phoenix's feather. Mechs were still new and people still explored what mech pilots can really do. Everyone with highly abnormal piloting ability became highly desirable goods. Maybe the recruitment test for mech pilots set the bar so high in order to obtain expert pilots."
"That's true. The CFA really hates the MTA and will do everything they can to weaken this upstart organization." Ves confirmed. He knew his history when it came to the CFA and MTA. "Back when expert pilots are even rarer than today and poorly understood, the CFA offered extremely high incentives to recruit them. They don't actually value expert pilots that much, but they just wanted to spite the MTA and take away their toys."
"We're in deep trouble if the recruitment test for non-CFA personnel is really passable for expert pilots!" Someone already despaired.
Ves did not see the reason to panic right away. "The only consolation is that Venerable Foster has only recently advanced to her rank. From what I know of expert pilots, it still takes at least a decade for them to polish their piloting skills to an elevated level. However, we also know that she's a genuine prodigy in piloting mechs. With her A-grade genetic aptitude, her learning speed is through the roof!"
"There's also the fact that the recruitment tests are performed with outdated mechs." Captain Orfan added. "All the mechs we are forced to pilot are mech models that aren't so different from the mechs we used to train with during our mech academy days. These mechs are slower, simpler, easier to pilot and faster to master."
A highly talented mech pilot like Venerable Foster faced much fewer variables and complications when piloting an outdated mech. As Captain Orfan said, it would be just as if she took a routine examination at a mech academy!
Ves asked an important question. "If Venerable Foster passes the recruitment test and becomes a warrant officer of the CFA, what will she able to do?"
Everyone fell silent for a moment.
"She'll be recognized by the Starlight Megalodon. She can go inside the battleship and access any sections open to mech pilots."
"I don't think she'll be able to pilot a CFA mech, if the battleship still maintains any. She'll have to receive permission from an authorized officer if she wants to deploy a mech."
"It might not stop her from piloting the Belisarius and taking it inside!"
"More importantly than that, once Venerable Foster becomes an active CFA serviceman in the eyes of the Starlight Megalodon, will the battleship still put her in stasis if she turns the Belisarius against us?"
This outcome frightened them out of their wits. This might very well be possible! If Venerable Foster truly received the Starlight Megalodon's recognition, then she would undoubtedly benefit from the ingrained bias of the virtual officers!
A new sense of urgency overcame the survivors. They became a lot less nonchalant about their miniscule chances of passing the recruitment tests. No matter what, they needed to pass them and obtain the automated battleship's recognition. Only then would they be able to protect themselves as CFA regulations strictly prohibited violence without cause!
A group of Vesians walked into view. Their piloting suits and combat armor immediately marked them out as members of the Hostland Warriors and Meandering Monkeys.
As for the stately brunette figure that radiated a formless pressure by her presence alone, she could be none other than Venerable Relia Foster!
The expert pilot glanced contemptuously at the worried Vandals and Swordmaidens. "What's this about? Have you given up your pirating ways and turned to farming?"
"You call us murderers?" Ketis blew up, never one to take an insult lying down. "What about you! How many of our comrades did you kill?!"
"We executed thousands of your ilk after our victory." Venerable Foster sneered at her foes. "To be honest, some of my fellow mech officers hesitated in whether you Flagrant Vandals deserved the death penalty, but colluding with known pirates is an instant death sentence in itself. These so-called Lydia's Swordmaidens are scum of the highest order. The slaves we found at your camp says enough!"
"Did you kill them all?"
"We didn't let off any pirate." The expert pilot smirked. The fire in her eyes proved that she delighted over their deaths. She only spared a solemn expression for the slaves. "As for the brainwashed slaves you Swordmaidens left behind, we had no choice but to euthanize them. It's too much of an effort to support them all and distinguish hidden pirates among their ranks."
The steel in the expert pilot's voice left no room for ambiguity. Her words implied that not a single Swordmaiden was left off. To Ketis, this meant that Mayra joined her fellow Swordmaidens in death!
Tears already streamed from her eyes as Ketis hesitated to ask what happened to the Journeyman Mech Designer they found among the Swordmaidens. The possibility that Ves threw out a while ago might still be in effect. As long as the Vesians possessed a little bit of sense, they wouldn't get rid of Mayra without a reason. As long as they hid her from Venerable Foster, she might very well be still alive!
Ves knew that the worst possible case would be to cast a light on Mayra's existence, so he quickly stepped in before Ketis could blurt out something sensitive. "Why are you here? If you haven't heard already, the Starlight Megalodon won't allow us to fight."
"No reason. I just wanted to see your faces and count how many pirates slipped our grasp." Venerable Foster shrugged nonchalantly. "We squashed a lot of bugs in the last few days. It's rather annoying to dig you all out from the nooks and crannies of this terrain. Our mechs stepped on so many fleeing bugs that we have to rinse their soles from all the flesh and bone sticking to the surface."
Many Vandals and Swordmaidens became enraged. The Swordmaidens especially wanted to unsheathe their greatswords and chop the taunting expert pilot in half!
Nonetheless, nothing could come from a confrontation so long as the safe zone stayed in effect. This expert pilot with an obsessive hatred against pirates of all stripes merely laughed at the impotent foes and turned around.
"Let's go!" She commanded the Vesians that followed her with a gesture. "There's no point in talking to these dead pirates walking. As soon as I pass this silly test, I'll ask the virtual officers for permission to clean up the insects dirtying up the place."
Everyone knew that her threat may not be so impossible to realize. If the Vandals and Swordmaidens could figure out the CFA's intentions, so could they. This was the downside with facing a capable, intelligent enemy force.
Everyone missed the days they fought against stupid, incompetent pirates!
The Vandals and Swordmaidens all lost the mood to tend to their farms. They headed straight towards the Starlight Megalodon and urgently tried to pass the test for every possible easy profession they could come up with. All of them applied for jobs such as journalist, life coach, comedian, manicurist and other outlandish positions.
All of them got kicked out of the physical projection at five minutes without exception! The immense amount of knowledge and mastery required to fulfill those positions set the bar far too high for any normal human to pass.
Forget about lasting for two-hours, they couldn't get past the first task!
Even Ves tried to take the mech designer tests at two-hour intervals. Each time, he faced the same situation. He needed to design a specific mech while adhering to unique design requests within five minutes.
Even if Ves had five hours to complete his design, he still wouldn't be able to meet the overly stringent performance targets!
Repeating the tests over and over and facing the exact same challenge depressed him to no end. Virtual Lieutenant Baskanson never accepted his demands to start with a different or easier task. To him, a nobody mech designer like Ves didn't deserve any leniency!
"There's truly no point in repeating this damned test!"
By the time the alloted twenty-four hours went by, Ves found Ketis and discreetly separated from the Flagrant Swordmaidens.
Different from him, the others didn't stick to a single profession and stubbornly took a variety of recruitment tests as often as they could. Even the mech pilots among them gave up trying to pass the test for their primary profession as they could simply forget about passing them unless they were expert pilots!
"It's too bad Captain Orfan and Lieutenant Dise are only expert candidates. They have a long way to go before they advance to become proper expert pilots." Ves shook his head in regret.
"We'll beat them sooner or later!" Ketis confidently boasted.
At her heart, she still clung to hope. It was the only thing she had left in this desolate settlement. As for Ves, he could only turn his hopes to the enigmatic intelligence operative who sought him out.
While he knew that Miss Calabast didn't care about the Flagrant Swordmaidens, Ves nonetheless hoped he could take advantage of her power to lend his comrades a hand.