Chapter 3224: Ferril Province
As Ves reluctantly drank his glass of Ambrosia, Olivier began to regale his audience with how the ambrosia industry began to bloom in the Vulcan Empire.
“Every dwarf loved ambrosia at first.” He said.
“The earliest rebels all swear by it and many of the dwarves they freed from other slave planets also became devotees to the one true recipe.
There is just something about the specific ingredient composition of nutrient packs and the effect that Xantur iron has on the aging process that produces a unique tasting drink in a quick amount of time.
The original ambrosia was an exact fit for the dwarves back then.
It was cheap, easy to produce and made us feel fearless before battle.”
“So what changed” Ves asked as he finished his glass of ambrosia.
He pointedly did not refill his glass.
“The outsider dwarves came in.
These brothers of ours were different from people like me who were born in these star sectors.
The reinforcements were all made up of wealthier and more successful dwarves who never knew what it was like to be a slave.
If these pompous outsiders didnt come with crucial resources such as money, manpower, resources, mechs and other stuff, then we would have kicked them out long ago!”
The foreign dwarves who answered the rallying call of the original dwarven rebels were crucial in making the rebellion succeed.
The former was a lot more capable and prepared to launch an actual takeover attempt.
They just lacked a strong unifying purpose that could bring the scattered dwarves together in a single region until the initial Vulcanites entered the scene.
“I guess the outsider dwarves were used to drinking finer liquor, then.” Ves guessed.
“Aye, that they do.
Back then, they were slow to recognize Vulcan as their god, and didnt think much of his recipe.
Still, even the outsiders realized that they couldnt keep drinking their human-produced swill.”
“So the outsider dwarves began to brew their own versions of ambrosias, is that right”
“Yeah, and it all went downhill from there.
I dont mind variation of our original Vulcan-blessed recipe, but the snobby outsider dwarves werent happy with that.
They began to use organic fruits and employ more elaborate methods based on human tradition.
These days, the most popular ambrosias on the market are little different from traditional human beers, wines and other spirits.
There is absolutely nothing left that has anything to do with Vulcans gift to us.
The only reason they are still allowed to be called ambrosia is because they were brewed by dwarves.
As far as Im concerned, theyre only ambrosia in name.”
Director Olivier held quite a lot of resentment over this issue.
After several days of talking, Ves learned that he was a traditionalist at heart.
He held true to the original values of the early Vulcanites and despised the way that other dwarves sought to diminish the dwarven society envisioned by the original band of rebels.
This contradiction ironically caused Olivier to become more friendly towards foreign human traders.
Unlike his fellow dwarves who often looked down on hisoutdated views and lower class, human businessmen who were willing to trade with the Vulcanites only cared about business matters.
Overtime and over repeated transactions, the Pershams began to grow more comfortable with human traders than many of their fellow Vulcanites.
In Oliviers opinion, too many dwarves who lived outside the Paramount Province were letting go of their traditions.
The rising popularity of the Dwarven God Cult was the clearest indication that the Vulcan Empire of tomorrow was becoming even further removed from what Vulcan and the earliest rebels envisioned.
The Larkinsons were able to witness the contradiction between the Pershams and other dwarven factions when their fleet had just entered the Ferril Province.
A patrol ship dispatched by the provincial authorities was already waiting in the star system.
The captain of the vessel immediately hailed the Larkinson Clan and issued a rude demand.
“Human oppressors!” A tanned dwarf with a messy red beard and a high-peaked hat roared from his captains chair.
“Do not go further! According to the new anti-crown terrorist legislation enacted by our province, you are ordered to shut down your engines and stay put while we personally inspect each and every one of your ships.
Please be warned that we do not give you permission to travel anywhere deeper unless we have completed our inspection.”
Ves frowned at this rude-sounding request.
He turned to the projection of Minister Shederin.
“Isnt our MTA pass supposed to give us immunity from the Vulcan Empires crappy laws”
“They are.” The projection replied.
“I am in the process of reminding the good patrol captain of this fact, but our message doesnt appear to be coming across.”
Several minutes passed by as Shederin personally tried to reason with the bossy dwarf captain.
Even though the vessel he commanded was nothing more than an ordinary second-class frigate, no one dared to despise her.
The ship and her crew represented the Ferril Province which was equivalent to a second-rate state in the Vulcan Empire.
Ves tapped his fingers against his armrest while Lucky rested on his shoulder.
The cat lazily yawned as if this little incident was nothing special.
“Hey, I doubt that bribing will work.
This is a real Vulcanite.”
Though Ves developed a closer friendship with the Pershams due to their frequent exchanges, he never forgot about what he learned about the Vulcanites.
The vast majority of them hated the tall folk and blamed them for all of their troubles.
Now that the Larkinsons finally encountered locals who were different from the Pershams, it was already guaranteed that they would come face-to-face with one of the uglier aspects of the Vulcan Empire.
“…I dont care about this stinking pass!” The angry dwarven captain roared so loud that crumbs shook out of his beard.
“Ever since you humans began to terrorize the galaxy, we suffered several terrorist attacks from you deceitful tall folk.
Well, we wont put up with your false promises and useless assurances any longer.
An MTA pass doesnt say whether there are any crown terrorists hiding among you, so we have to search for them ourselves!”
Ves wondered how the dwarves were supposed to detect the crown terrorists.
As far as he was aware, no one except himself managed to find a working method to detect the hidden threats!
“Our detection methods are proprietary and developed at great cost by our great empire.
We wont let you steal our secrets, so stop asking! Now, shut down your engines and dont think about jumping away from this star system.
The rest of our inspection fleet is already on its way.
Failure to comply will lead us to conclude that you are all crown terrorists bent on harming our great dwarven state.
Do not run!”
The subsequent talks with the dwarven captain did not go well.
No matter how much Shederin tried to convince the stubborn dwarf that the Larkinsons did not have to subject themselves to any inspections, the patrol leader simply did not acknowledge this truth.
When the Larkinsons leaned on the Pershams to help them out of this unexpected situation, Director Olivier failed to change the situation.
“The Ferils have always been difficult.” His projection stated.
“Ferril a middling province compared to the bigger ones such as Uriburn.
That has always made them touchy.
They bark a lot in order to make themselves feel more powerful than they actually are and their patrol officers are some of the worst in this regard.”
“How do you usually handle these difficult officers” Shederin asked.
“Ah, our chamber of commerce is too small to resist, so we just let their inspectors rummage through our trade vessels.” Olivier helplessly replied.
“Theyre not gentle about it and sometimesconfiscate a portion of our high-value goods claiming that they need to be sent back to headquarters for detailed inspections.
We never hear anything about it again.
Over time, we just stopped shipping any portable goods like traditional ambrosia or jewelry when passing through the Ferril Province.”
So were dealing withthose kinds of inspectors.” Ves flatly said.
Shederin asked the most crucial question.
“How will they treat human traders, director”
“Im not sure, to be honest.
In the past, the Ferrils took MTA passes more seriously.
They know that anyone who is influential enough to obtain a rare pass is not someone who is easy to deal with.
The human traders usually managed to get through these hurdles by surrendering valuablecontraband to the inspection officers.”
If it were that easy this time.”
Ves could already guess that the dwarven inspectors werent trying to fish for a greater bribe.
From what the dwarf was saying about the Crown Uprising, the dwarves had become even more spooked towards the tall folk.
They no longer regarded the occasional human trading fleets as safe and harmless anymore.
Any vessel who came from outside the Smiling Samuel was a potential terrorist delivery vehicle in the eyes of the dwarves!
The Larkinsons and Pershams continued to negotiate with the captain of the patrol vessel.
An hour went by without much result.
Shederin and Olivier tried everything from offering enticing bribes to emphasizing that they were messing with tier 10 galactic citizens.
They even threatened to report this incident to the MTA!
Unfortunately, none of these arguments worked!
“The incompetent MTA has failed to defend dwarvenkind against the menace of the crown terrorists before.
A fleet of your size is bound to hide hundreds if not thousands of terrorists.
We shall not allow humans like you to kill anymore dwarves.
One more dwarven casualty is too much! As for this galactic citizen nonsense, this is a tall folk construct.
What does it have to do with us dwarves”
This degree of obstinacy was getting more and more exaggerated.
Though the angry dwarf may be justified in considering visiting human fleets as potential threats, going as far as ignoring the MTAs authority went too far!
Ves felt more and more uneasy at this sudden obstacle.
He began to suspect that this holdup was not as simple as it sounded.
One thing was for sure.
He was never going to allow these Ferril dwarves to rummage through all of his ships and take whatever caught their fancy!
Two hours after the patrol captain initially issued his demand, Ves suddenly received an emergency hail from Calabast.
When Ves accepted the call, the spymaster looked incredibly serious and on guard.
“Ves! The Ferril patrol captain isnt being honest!”
“Whats going on, Calabast”
“Its an ambush!”
Ves instantly straightened his back, causing Lucky to yowl as the motion shook him out of his nap.
“Tell me what this is all about!”
Calabast waved her hand, activating a projection that displayed a detailed schematic of the dwarven frigate.
“While our clan and the Persham Chamber of Commerce kept talking with thefriendly captain, my Black Cats and I secretly hacked into the systems of his ship.
The security suite is good enough that we had to take it slow in order to minimize our chances of exposure.
Once we managed to gain entry to their military communication systems, we found out the truth.
The dwarven captain told us the truth that he is waiting for reinforcement.
What he lied about was that the incoming fleet dispatched by the Ferril Province isnt just an inspection fleet.
Its a full-blown war fleet consisting of three fully-strength mech divisions.”
“WHAT! THREE MECH DIVISIONS!”
This time, Ves could no longer maintain his composure.
He immediately shifted to crisis mode as he tried to estimate the expeditionary fleets chances against this powerful dwarven fleet.
“Are they coming to inspect us or destroy us, Calabast!”
“The latter.” The spymaster grimly answered.
“Their internal communications make it abundantly clear that they never intended to let us go.
According to them, this is a punitive action.
The tall folk hurt their citizens, so the Ferrils think it is justified to hit us back.
Theyre coming for blood.”
The incoming dwarven forces outnumbered the Golden Skull Alliances forces by roughly three-to-two.
These were highly unfavorable odds.
The dwarves were not intent to fight an even battle!
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