The expeditionary fleet quietly traveled along the major space lanes.
It was already on the way out of Winged Serenade and would soon cross over into the next star sector.
After that, the Larkinsons, Glory Seekers and Crossers would enter a different star cluster for the first time in their lives.
The vast majority of humans never traveled so far.
The cost was great, the travel time was long and there were already many destinations to explore close at home.
Those who had the wealth, power and opportunity to leave their star cluster only consisted of a fraction of the total population of humanity.
Anyone who fell in this category of people were not necessarily better off.
While there were plenty of galactic travelers who went on to achieve success, many more stumbled and fell along the way.
The Golden Skull Alliance was just the latest group of hopefuls who sought to escape the limitations of their home regions and bloom in a different environment.
During this quiet and uneventful time, the entire fleet experienced a great amount of changes.
The Glory Seekers were quietly bolstering their numbers.
They cautiously began to recruit ambitious female mech pilots and other personnel now that they gained a kinship network.
Their previous concerns about loyalty and lack of belief in Hexer ideology no longer mattered as much.
By offering attractive options such as good pay, a new future and an opportunity to join a powerful sisterhood, the Glory Seekers gradually began to expand their effective strength.
The Cross Clan did not fall behind.
Their lack of distinction between genders allowed them to attract both men and women.
Compared to the radical ideas of the Hexers, the militaristic principles of the Cross Clan possessed broader appeal.
What particularly attracted skilled mech pilots was the prospect of fighting alongside the Crosser expert pilots.
Patriarch Reginald Cross was an undeniably strong expert pilot! His battle record listed a lot of large-scale battles where he and his Bolvos Rage performed magnificently.
Not only was he a powerful expert pilot in his own right, but his father had also achieved the mythical rank of ace pilot.
Even if Saint Hemmington Cross had already died, his legacy should still be intact!
As a result of all of the renewed activity within the Glory Seekers and the Cross Clan, they both entered a period of rapid growth and accumulation.
The Larkinson Clan was much calmer.
Except for receiving ordinary shipments, the central partner of the Golden Skull Alliance did not really expend that much effort on recruitment or expansion.
They had already absorbed more than enough personnel to keep them busy.
The integration of all of the new recruits was not a trivial matter.
The Larkinsons did not simply leave all of the work to the kinship network because many lessons had to be learned through experience rather than conveyed through a vague and abstract method.
Though the nominal size and combat strength of the Larkinson Clan hadn\'t grown by much, the clansmen, both new and old, had become a lot more happy and cohesive.
The clan became their new home and shipboard life didn\'t seem so bad anymore now that they were surrounded by those they considered family.
The relative lack of outsiders in the Larkinson fleet may have made the clansmen more insular, but also allowed them to let down their guard.
A notable group of outsiders were quietly observing the changes around them.
The MTA mech pilots that had all gotten used to living and training alongside the eccentric Larkinsons were able to see more due to possessing an outsider\'s perspective.
The confidence of these Larkinsons are getting more and more inflated. Peter-Jan Mavelon remarked.
It\'s kind of cute to see how they think they can compete against better second-class forces.
They have no idea how wide the gap is between them and their equivalents from the galactic center.
The difference in tech and resource endowment are not the only factors that matter.
You can\'t blame them, Mavelon.
If anything, we should blame ourselves for having the awful luck of being assigned to this remote region of space.
Those who came from the galactic heartland or the galactic center possessed an undeniable advantage in areas that were more difficult to define.
Their backing, their mindset, their adaptability towards advanced technology and most importantly their connections to other powerful human organizations gave the pioneers from the core regions of human civilization an undeniable edge!
In short, the Larkinsons were no different from space peasants in their eyes.
Notable clansmen such as Ves and the expert pilots were slightly fancier space peasants.
Even if the MTA elevated them to galactic citizens, everyone in the Association knew that low-tier galactic citizenship was mostly symbolic.
It was unfortunate that the real galactic citizens in the Larkinson fleet weren\'t allowed to show off their true status.
Mavelon frequently chafed at his instructions.
Many of the training methods of the Larkinson Clan were too primitive!
Mavelon shifted from his seat and stared at the bare bulkheads of the ready room.
We\'ve been training for many weeks now but haven\'t made any progress. He complained.
I don\'t think I have taken a single step closer to becoming an expert candidate.
In fact, I have a hunch my piloting skill has actually deteriorated since we are forced to abide by the limitations of our assigned mechs.
These second-class mechs are too basic and unresponsive and don\'t even get me started on their small and restrictive loadouts.
Milly Petrov frowned at Mavelon.
You\'ve been complaining about our circumstances every day from the moment we transferred to the Larkinson Clan.
Don\'t get me wrong.
I don\'t necessarily disagree with your points, but are you here to whine or are you here to seek an opportunity to improve yourself
Mavelon glared at the female mech pilot.
Do you know what kind of training we\'ve been through! We\'re being put through pointless physical exercises that don\'t do anything to strengthen our optimized physiques any further.
We are tasked with sparring against a variety of opponents in awful simulations with an abysmal degree of realism.
We are able to outfight so badly that the instructors have started to pit a large number of mech pilots or individual expert candidates against us.
Only the latter can give us close to a satisfying challenge.
It couldn\'t be helped.
The performance of the MTA mech pilots was so good that the instructors looked a bit lost when they were assigned to train these difficult cases.
Though they tried many different training activities, few of them were worthwhile and none of them made the mechers feel happy about their assignments.
There is more to the Larkinson training methods than what is apparent on the surface. Petrov claimed.
Have you paid any attention to the stories told by the veterans The anecdotes shared by the trueblood Larkinsons are particularly worthy of consideration.
It\'s one thing to read about them, but it\'s another thing to hear them from those who grew up and fight alongside the expert pilots of the old Larkinson Family.
They\'re merely retired third-class mech pilots.
Their teaching is hardly relevant to us.
Compared to the battles we were trained to fight, the petty conflicts between weak and tiny third-rate states don\'t generate any interest in me.
A single first-class multipurpose mech could have easily wiped the floor against the enemies that pushed them to the brink!
Jessica Quentin frowned deeper.
I really don\'t know why we keep listening to you.
I think Petrov is onto something.
We\'ve already gone through several different training programs that are a thousand times more sophisticated than what the Larkinsons are putting us through.
However, the doctors all say that our prospects to become an expert candidate are still low.
Putting us through a similar program won\'t change anything.
Our only chance is to follow a different path and focus on developing our other traits.
Have you forgotten about the theories we have learnt
Mavelon receded a bit.
I know about the importance of sharpening our willpower.
However, the training programs the MTA put us through had pushed us a lot closer to the brink than what I have experienced during my stay here.
Well, whatever the Larkinsons are doing is somehow working out for them.
Have you counted the number of expert pilots and expert candidates they have The proportion is already relatively high and the current figure doesn\'t even factor in the rapid expansion of their pilot roster.
According to what I\'ve read, all of those mech pilots broke through in battle and not through systematic training.
The only conclusion that I can make from this observation is that the Larkinsons are lucky to have a decent number of talented mech pilots in their ranks.
It was only a matter of time before they broke through.
Though the MTA mech pilots desperately wanted to become expert candidates, they were not impressed by the existing ones in the Larkinson Clan.
Talent and extraordinary boosts weren\'t enough.
The Larkinson expert candidates still possessed limited skill sets and were not accustomed to fighting in higher-level battles.
Under certain circumstances, the MTA mech pilots actually beat the Larkinson expert candidates in a fair fight!
That may be true, but these expert candidates probably wouldn\'t have thrived so easily in any other organization.
There are numerous oddities about these Larkinsons that suggests they do possess a special advantage in nurturing expert pilots.
It\'s just that they\'re kind of a closed shop in our eyes.
The key has to be their glows. Kelly Petrov uttered her suspicion.
Certain mechs such as the Bright Warrior model seem to complement the Larkinsons in a new and unexplainable way.
Some of their machines with greater pressure than others are particularly favored among their mech pilots.
There has to be a secret behind those powerful machines.
If that\'s the case, why haven\'t the Larkinsons issued those special mechs to us Mavelon challengingly asked.
The others shrugged.
Maybe there aren\'t enough available.
Maybe we don\'t meet the requirement to pilot them.
You know how the Bright Warriors are like.
If the Larkinson patriarch didn\'t customize our own machines, we wouldn\'t have been able to pilot our mechs in peace.
They already tried to pilot some of the other Larkinson-exclusive mechs.
The clansmen watched on with great amusement as the MTA mech pilots who claimed to be able to pilot anything prove their assertions.
Suffice to say, the results weren\'t good.
While the mental fortitudes of Mavelon and the rest were more than sufficient enough to resist the pressure of an incompatible mech and design spirit, they did not enjoy the piloting experience!
Though they could have forced themselves to pilot odd and unusual mechs such as the Transcendent Punisher and the Eternal Redemption, the mechers ultimately went back to their basic Bright Warriors that had been especially tweaked to accept outsiders.
Maybe we need to pilot a mech that is specifically tailored for us. Carlton Detrivo finally broke his silence.
I\'ve heard that some of the mech designers in the Larkinson Clan are good at customization.
If they design a special mech for us, we might gain the opportunity we need.
That caused the other three MTA mech pilots to pause.
Maybe that\'s the key to the Larkinson Clan\'s strength all along. Quentin guessed.
It\'s not their paltry heritage or their primitive training approach that\'s the determining factor.
It is also doubtful that their martial traditions and their culture make a significant difference.
It\'s the mechs that are the key! Have you seen how a humble training mech aimed at cadets has revolutionized the mech academies of the clan
Are you referring to the Chiron
Yes! That\'s the true treasure of this fleet.
Even though the cadets that train with the Chirons are nothing impressive in our eyes, I can tell they will already surpass the current generation of Larkinson mech pilots once they graduate.
If we want to obtain the same opportunity, then we need our own training mechs!
The MTA mech pilots all came to the same conclusion.
The biggest reason why the Larkinson Clan nurtured so many expert pilots and expert candidates in a short amount of time was because the Larkinson Patriarch made all of the difference! Without his help, the clan would have never become renowned in this area!
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