Yeah, I know Lucky.
It\'s really busy here!
Ves had barely stepped outside Zin Alpha III\'s spaceport and already found himself caught in the hustle and bustle of traffic.
An ocean of commuters and tourists all headed for the jumbo-sized aircars that constantly went in and out with a full load of passengers.
He held on to Lucky with one hand while adjusting his shawl over his neck.
The capital city happened to be situated in a temperate region that was entering into a winter period.
The jostling of people rushing to the exits did not help him in this regard.
Hey, watch it! Didn\'t your mother tell you not to bump into strangers!
As a Journeyman and a galactic citizen, Ves had access to a special service that would see him deposited at a much calmer VIP terminal where he could ride a personal shuttle to any destination he wanted.
On a whim, he declined to do so.
How could he study what life was like in the Kamon Republic if he did not immerse himself among the locals
While there were some legitimate security concerns about mingling in with the crowd without any guard escort, Ves dismissed those worries.
Public security is quite high here.
Guards and automated security were present everywhere.
A lot of investments had been made to make the planet safe.
This was because the Zin Alpha System frequently entertained visitors from the neighboring Friday Coalition.
How could the Kamoners ever allow their esteemed guests to come to any harm
As Ves looked this way and that, he spotted several accommodations for VIPs.
A very stark divide existed between second-class and third-class citizens.
Those who spent lavishly according to local standards enjoyed much greater privileges.
To Ves, it seemed that a significant part of Zin Alpha\'s economy ran on entertaining wealthy tourists.
Even an average Coalition citizen can be treated like a king in Zin Alpha!
Ves quickly realized that perhaps that was one of the main points of attraction.
The lower classes of the Friday Coalition might not be a big deal in their home state, but once they moved out and descended upon a third-rate state, they could momentarily enjoy the illusion of being a person of means who everyone else wanted to fawn upon.
This became very obvious to him when he gazed his eyes upwards.
A network of transparent tunnels hung above the main floors of the spaceport.
Various guests confidently walked above the masses while being surrounded by attendants acting servilely in their presence.
They are like gods floating high amidst the clouds.
As Ves boarded a crowded high-capacity airship, he looked out the porthole as the vehicle flew to the center of the capital city.
He spotted numerous floating palaces, office buildings, plazas and other fantastic structures.
Suchs sights may be common in a second-rate state, but not in a third-rate state.
The influence of the Friday Coalition was quite pervasive at first glance.
Once the airship finally touched down at a transit center, Ves disembarked and entered the main avenue that led to numerous grand shopping centers.
Familiar brands plastered his eyes as he raked in the shops and establishments.
Zin Alpha III seemed no different from Bentheim aside from the addition of floating structures above every citizen\'s head.
Different from Bentheim was the distinct lack of mechs on the streets.
Back there, the sight of Planetary Guard mechs was very common.
Mech ownership was quite pervasive there, as even criminal gangs could obtain them without too much effort.
Other people and organizations applied for permission to field their own mechs in response, and mostly got them if they were wealthy or important enough.
Not so on Zin Alpha.
Although Ves detected a lot of robust security measures along with quite a few law enforcers in plains clothes, the city showed a very distinct lack of mechs available to respond quickly to possible crises.
The sight reminded him of his abortive shore leave on Harkensen I.
The Reinaldan paradise planet wanted to offer its guests and tourists a scenery devoid of any notion of war, and what did that get them War came to them anyway.
Zin Alpha is different.
Unlike the Reinald Republic, the Kamon Republic is too close to the Friday Coalition.
No troublemakers are sane enough to start anything under the Coalition\'s noses.
Ves flipped his shawl over his neck once again as he began to walk aimlessly through the streets.
Fancy shopping streets and entertainment venues attracted many Kamoners and other visitors, yet Ves remained fully unmoved.
Instead of indulging himself in pointless shopping, he instead studied the people that frequented the stores.
All of them seemed happy if constantly moving.
Hardly anyone took a rest.
All of this seemed normal.
Yet compared to the crowd in Bentheim, Ves observed a crucial difference.
Most of them don\'t seem to be engaged in mechs at all.
Stores that sold complete mechs or toys and props based around mechs were in short supply.
Their frequency was very low for a reason, as hardly any visitors entered these places.
Such a sight would never have taken place in Bentheim! A huge amount of Brighters and foreign visitors were enthused about mechs.
Children wanted to buy action figures of the latest mech models.
Adults bought merchandise of their favorite mech athletes.
Mech insiders bought actual mechs.
Those who wanted absolutely no involvement with mechs consisted of the minority in Bentheim!
The same pattern existed almost everywhere he visited.
Even the deprived from a piss-poor region like the frontier worshipped mechs to an almost religious degree!
Yet all of this open enthusiasm towards mechs appeared to be largely absent in some of the most premier shopping avenues in the capital city of Zin Alpha III.
Is it just this city specifically or is it the same everywhere else He wondered.
After a bit more exploration where he strayed into the less frequented areas, he noticed that hardly anyone ever had mechs on their minds.
The locals didn\'t even discuss the latest mech games matches or crowed over a popular mech release!
The Kamoners essentially lived as if they were in a very different age!
It didn\'t take much thought for Ves to figure out the underlying reasons behind their lackadaisical attitude towards mechs.
Hardly anyone here has seen conflict.
Kamon resembled Reinald in that both states never entered into a full-blown war for centuries.
Their favorable geographic circumstances meant that war was unlikely to erupt in their state.
That has inevitably led to the development of other priorities over mechs.
Still, at least the Reinald Republic is still engaged with mechs, if mostly for trade and piracy.
The same can\'t be said for the Kamon Republic.
It was as if Kamon had decided that it was pointless to build up a robust military mech branch.
The information he found through a quick search on the galactic net revealed that Kamon\'s mech military was woefully underfunded, undersized and highly neglected.
It could never defend the state against an invasion against its neighboring third-rate states.
Yet such invasions will never happen. Ves summed up the collective assumption of the Kamoners.
Who would dare affront a potency of the Friday Coalition
Mechs were very expensive to procure and to maintain.
What was the point of wasting all of that money on numerous military mechs that never saw any action Only so many mechs were needed to patrol the space lanes and ensure public order in the event of disaster.
The Kamon Republic gave up all pretense of being able to defend itself against outside threats.
Instead, the state seemed content to trust the Coalition to cover its defensive needs.
For now, the deterrent seemed to work.
Kamon truly hadn\'t seen war since it approached the Coalition.
It felt a bit unreal to him, though.
As a Brighter, he found the attitude of the Kamoners to be too optimistic.
What if the Coalition retreated one day Defense should never be farmed out to another entity that would never have their best interests at heart.
I thought the Reinald Republic was already pathetic, but it turns out that the Kamon Republic is even softer!
Such a state would fall in a matter of weeks if it lost the protection of the Coalition!
Ves had rather mixed feelings about Zin Alpha III.
On one hand, the citizens here appeared to be more content and less concerned.
In Bentheim, hardly anyone truly relaxed, because the Bentheim Liberation Movement might pop up at any time and any place in order to sow chaos.
On the other hand, the Age of Mechs was still a violent time.
Conflict and war happened in every corner of the galaxy.
If humans weren\'t fighting against humans, then they were likely fighting against aliens.
The Komodo Star Sector itself bordered the frontier where occasional news about berserk sandmen entering into human space spread rapidly in the region.
Yet to the Kamoners, the problems at the frontier border were someone else\'s concern.
Their sheer disconnect to any of the conflicts raging elsewhere in the star sector made Ves feel profoundly helpless as a mech designer.
There\'s hardly any demand for mechs in this state.
Ves hailed an aircar and traveled directly to the capital city\'s mech district.
While Kamon featured its own mech industry, Ves found that its scale and activity was far behind when compared to the mech industry back home.
There are a lot less native mech designers and mech companies here.
Demand is too low to sustain more businesses.
The worst thing about it was that Kamon\'s open borders and permissive trade policies allowed foreign mech companies to dominate, thereby further depressing native mech designers.
A substantial amount of foreign mech designers operating in the Kamon Republic happened to consist of Fridaymen who hadn\'t been able to achieve success in Coalition space.
Although not all of them managed to adjust to the lower technological standard, it wasn\'t all that hard to design mechs that were simpler than they were used to in their home state.
Although the Friday Coalition probably didn\'t pursue a deliberate strategy to neuter the Kamon Republic, their close ties inevitably resulted in this depressing outcome.
Ves shook his head in disappointment.
When times are good, everything is fine.
Yet the moment chaos strikes, everyone here will regret their complacency.
Though he privately admitted that such a calamity likely wouldn\'t come to the Kamon Republic, should its leaders be betting on that outcome
If the leaders adhered to the Societal Vitality Theory, then they would have at least done something to remedy this situation. He grumbled.
While Ves did not like the Rubarthan theory, seeing the state of the Kamon Republic made him feel as if it actually had a good point.
Conflict or at least the threat of one might kick these complacent Kamoners into shape and force them to invest more in their armed forces.
How can poor, struggling mech designers like me do business in such a peaceful state It\'s a travesty! Ves shook his head.
Oh come on, Lucky.
It\'s not that I\'m wishing ill on the Kamoners.
It\'s for their own good! If all of humanity was like the Kamoners, our race would have been extinct by now!
After seeing first-hand how Kamon\'s native mech industry had been pushed to the fringes, Ves no longer held any interest in exploring Zin Alpha any further.
Mech designers thrive off conflict, war and uncertainty. He whispered.
A peaceful state citizens live out their entire lives in peace for centuries is no place for me.
Perhaps one day there will come a age where all of humanity no longer has to fear any threats.
That age is unfathomably far away.
Right now, the Age of Mechs was at its height.
A mech designer like Ves need not fear running out of customers anytime soon.
The peace that reigns in this state should be the exception rather than rule.
I hope my other destinations on my tour will be more exciting.
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