Ves smiled as the fleet emerged on the outer edge of the Cinach System.
Just as he expected, the star system hosted a boisterous amount of traffic as thousands of trade vessels and passenger ships.
One of the strengths of the Cinach System was that it held a large number of planets and moons.
All of this real estate enriched the ruling noble houses and attracted even greater amounts of trade.
The Cinach System hosted three notable planets.
Cinach VI under the control of House Evenson hosted a large number of mech companies.
While the other planets in the system produced mechs as well, Cinach VI worked hard to become the premier destination to anything related to mechs.
Cinach VIII under the rule of House Gin Tefa excelled in education and research.
It hosted a large number of universities and research institutions that produced and employed a large number of highly-educated people.
Many of these universities ranked in the top of their respective fields in the Sentinel Kingdom!
Cinach XII may be the most distant planet from the local star, but it hosted lots of non-mech related industries.
Most raw materials entering the Cinach System arrived at Cinach XI in order to go through extensive processing before they were being passed to the hungry industries elsewhere on the planet and in the system!
The latter planet also happened to feature an extensive orbital industry geared towards producing, repairing and modifying all kinds of starships!
The first priority that Ves wanted to address was to bring the Barracuda to one of the drydocks they booked.
While the ships of the Battle Criers parked in the orbit of a moon, the Barracuda flew ahead and entered one of the massive structures orbiting Cinach XII.
As the corvette settled into the drydock, Ves called up Crindon and Captain Silvestra for a brief meeting.
Has the shipwright company agreed to perform the planned overhauls
The captain nodded.
Nothing has changed despite the slight delay in our arrival.
Aside from paying an additional fee, the work can still proceed.
After this, my vessel will be a lot more secure, right
Relatively. Crindon noted with care.
Jammers will still be necessary if you want to enjoy a moment of privacy.
We\'re essentially exchanging Fridayman ship components with Hexer ship components.
You can bet that the Hexers will keep a very close eye on you through the backdoors they\'ve implemented in their own parts.
In addition, the CFA and MTA will always have access to the systems of your ship.
Ves groaned in exasperation.
How do the pirates manage this problem, then!
They\'re smart enough to produce their own homegrown communication systems, sir.
While not every pirate is as diligent, the more established and powerful pirate gangs all tear out the existing communication systems and replace them with versions developed by their own kind.
Of course, it\'s very probable that those communication systems come with backdoors as well.
This is why belonging to a pirate alliance is so highly prized by their ilk.
If they are to be subject to monitoring, then they would be watched by their own side!
That made sense.
The Dragon Alliance and the Ravienne Alliance were the two premier pirate blocs in the Faris Star Region.
A lot of pirates that Ves encountered in the frontier dreamed of becoming a part of those alliances.
The backing they provided massively increased the chances of survival for the pirates who were lucky enough to shelter under a large umbrella!
I\'m getting really tired of dealing with all of these backdoors all the time. Ves groaned again.
When we get back to the Bright Republic, I think I\'ll start developing and producing my own communication systems from the ground up.
Do you think that\'s viable
Crindon immediately expressed some doubts.
It\'s a lot more complicated than you think.
While it is easy enough to create a decent communication system, it\'s the security issues that require the most attention.
I can help on this front, but I\'m not trained to program security suites from scratch.
You have a point.
I guess I\'ll have to consider this option further.
I think you\'re heading in the right direction.
Every large and wealthy organization develops their own communication systems.
While this does not make them immune to hacking, they will at least be able to minimize their vulnerabilities against their own rivals.
However, Captain Silvestra added another caveat.
You can\'t replicate every communication system.
Instantaneous communication across all of human space is an essential capability, but the Comm Consortium maintains a tight grip on the development and production of quantum entanglement nodes.
This is one communication system that you can never reproduce!
That was also true.
It was unthinkable for Ves to rip out the quantum entanglement node residing on the Barracuda.
The best the upcoming overhaul could accomplish was replacing some of the external subcomponents produced by companies they trusted more.
Ves left Crindon and Captain Silvestra and the rest of the crew of the Barracuda to assist and supervise the extensive overhaul in the works.
All of the work being done required about two to three weeks to complete, which meant that Ves had plenty of time to fulfill his other goals in the meantime.
A week went by as Ves visited numerous Journeyman on Cinach VI.
He got to see his new reputation at work as every mech designer he exchanged offered at least something substantial.
While none of these meetings prompted Ves to learn anything drastic that shifted his paradigms, he still picked up a few useful insights.
Every mech designer viewed mechs in a different light.
Though Ves started to encounter a lot of overlap in the opinions expressed by the local mech designers, he nonetheless felt he gained something by broadening his perspective.
As he wrapped up his schedule of exchanges, Ves also briefly met with a Shadow Courier to obtain some of his long-awaited cargo in a seemingly-abandoned warehouse on Cinach VI.
Your package, Mr.
Larkinson. The dark-robed woman spoke as she passed a secure box to Ves.
Please inspect its contents.
Ves did so.
As he opened up the box, he whipped up his Vulcaneye and scanned all of the key materials held within.
The sulomnium, beta-otricine and Flesha\'s Tears he asked for were all present in the right quantities.
Their quality also passed muster.
Everything is in order. He smiled as he stowed away his multiscanner and passed the box to Nitaa.
Before you go, can I pass my own package through your network
We are at your service, Mr.
Larkinson. The robed woman bowed with perhaps a bit more deference than usual due to the Pride of Dusk.
We guarantee that every message or parcel you entrust to us will be delivered without fail, or your money back.
Good, because I have a small package that I want to deliver to someone in the Ylvaine Protectorate.
Ves and the Shadow Courier quickly concluded a deal.
He had to pay a considerable sum in the tune of tens of millions of bright credits for what amounted to the delivery of an encrypted data chip, but he had no other choice.
The contents of the data chip contained his request for Calabast to scour the resource markets for more possible P-stones.
Ves included all of the scanning data on the two P-stones so that Calabast and her underlings would know how to identify them based on their distinct emission footprints.
Once he concluded his meeting with the Shadow Courier, Ves felt ready to proceed to the next phase of his stay in the Cinach System.
Let\'s visit the local branch of the Sentinel Peacekeeper Association. He announced.
He and his escorts had to move all the way to Cinach XII where the Peacekeepers set up their branch.
Since Cinach was a port system, the Peacekeepers established a very large and extensive branch on the surface of Cinach XII.
Many mercenaries and treasure hunters travel back and forth between the Cinach System and the Nyxian Gap. Gavin explained.
The Peacekeeper branch on Cinach XII attracts a lot of mech pilots, mech commanders, mech designers, traders and representatives of major companies.
A lot of goods and services change hands here as Nyxian spoils are highly prized.
Some of the most lucrative transactions in the system take place in their exclusive trading halls!
The key word here was exclusive.
The Peacekeepers existed to organize every private outfit that was willing to undertake missions in the Nyxian Gap under a united banner.
Because some of their spoils were in high demand, the Peacekeepers limited the possible business partners that were allowed to take part.
In general, the Peacekeepers mainly catered to the nobility of the Sentinel Kingdom.
In rare instances, people like Ves who received the backing of a noble were also permitted to do business under certain circumstances.
The pass that Ves received from Lady Miralix only allowed Ves to participate for a couple of days.
It was much harder for her to arrange a permanent pass to a foreign guest like him.
At its heart, the Sentinel Peacekeeper Association existed to advance the interests of Sentinels, not foreigners!
Do any organizations like the Peacekeepers exist in the Bright Republic Ves asked as he leisurely stroked Lucky\'s back.
Not as far as I know, boss.
While the Bright Republic is fairly close to the frontier, most of our private outfits are more engaged with jobs closer to home.
The frequent wars against the Vesia Kingdom makes it difficult for us to turn our attention to the wealth that we can extract from the frontier.
That makes sense, Benny.
Right now, Ves and his usual followers were traveling aboard an armored shuttle that slowly brought them to the expansive grounds of the Peacekeepers.
A small squad of Battle Crier mechs discharged their usual task of escorting the shuttle as well.
Commander Cinnabar accompanied him as well this time.
What do you think about the mission of the Peacekeepers, commander
I don\'t think the Peacekeepers are as honorable and upright as they claim.
The Nyxian Gap is one of the roughest regions in our star sector.
Communication is difficult if not outright impossible, so anything can take place inside.
I\'m sure the Peacekeeper outfits have all been driven to desperation at some point as they performed their missions.
That\'s very cynical of you to say that, commander.
The Nyxian Gap is a region that operates without rules.
Those who try to abide by them will always face a disadvantage against those who possess no scruples.
Ves glowered a bit when he heard this.
As far as he knew, his missing father still hid somewhere in the Nyxian Gap.
The investigators hired by his grandfather hadn\'t managed to discover anything else.
This illustrated the immense difficulty in obtaining any useful intel from this dreaded region!
What do you think, Nitaa
I\'m not too familiar with the Peacekeepers, but I know that some of the outfits have hired fellow Kinners.
Some tasks are so sensitive that employers demand absolute trust from the mech pilots they send into the Nyxian Gap.
And these Kinners are okay with being deployed to the Nyxian Gap
Both Nitaa and Commander Cinnabar shared a look with each other.
That\'s the life of a Kinner, sir.
To be fair, we\'re only willing to perform these dangerous tasks if we signed a good contract.
We\'re expensive for a reason.
Ves knew very well considering that he paid a lot of money to permanently secure the services of two Kinner bondsmen.
After some time had passed the shuttle finally landed at a landing zone within the campus-like grounds of the Peacekeepers.
The branch of the Peacekeepers occupied as much space as a city district.
Interspersed between plazas, parks and broad avenues, Ves spotted many different trading halls, employment centers, warehouses, mech workshops and other facilities.
As soon as Ves went through a brief inspection where the security guards verified the validity of his temporary pass, he quickly led his followers to one of the trading halls.
Let\'s go! We don\'t have a lot of time, so I plan to make the most of this visit!
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