"Look, all I'm saying is that I know a lot of flower pilots who can kick butt and chew bubble gum. Piloting a flower mech isn't as hard as you may think. It's probably easier than a shuttle with minimal automation, actually. You can get pretty far in our trade by just overpowering everything and everyone you meet. When I say that Eshe is one of the finest pilots out there I'm not talking about her capacity to win battles. I'm talking about her style. She's not fighting, she's acting. I met her three times on the battlefield. Every single time it was exhilarating. Not because she's just good with a mech, but because she knows how to put up a show. When you're fighting her, you feel like you're important. You feel like you're a protagonist of the story. You know it's going to be tight, spectacular and meaningful. On the battlefield, she's a storyteller. There might be five people in the galaxy who understand the spirit of Flower Wars the way she does and they've all retired."
--Anonymous Phalanx pilot, quoted by AI Symanda in "Of Banners And Mechs: A History of Flower Wars."
[Yeah, I don't know a lot of things about her. I think she was born on Earth? Hard to get detailed records on that planet without access to USRE archives. But yeah, Earthborn is always a safe bet when you can't find clear references in Eloran records. What I do know is that she doesn't have the usual profile you'd find among regular flower pilots. She has degrees in art, creative writing and political studies. Quite the intellectual. It's not rare to find flower pilots with degrees but not really in human sciences. I'd wager that is where her very particular style comes from.]
[What do you mean exactly? I'm a bit behind Flower War news these days.]
[Ok, so, well, Eshe Kollontai is the person who pioneered what I would call the "Narrative Style" in Flower Mech piloting. Her idea is that what matters in Flower Wars, in the long run, is not the direct result of a battle. What matters is the overall narrative you can create and imprint in people's minds. She's not really there to win. She's there to create a character. To frame a story. She's using Flower Wars to create a narrative where she is the main protagonist and she's putting this narrative to the service of her employers.]
[I think she's on to something. Using Flower Wars as a canvas for her own personal story...that's relatively clever for a mercenary, I think.]
[You're selling her short. She's got a political plan, I'm sure of it.]
--Recorded exchange between two AIs on the Elora orbital network [Total elapsed time 6.7 milliseconds].
Eshe's two-legged Raven mech lunged forwards while she deployed the spearlink that was stored in the starboard weapons port. The close-contact railgun unfolded and immediately fired a gleaming projectile in the darkness of the forest. One of the heavy USRE mechs stumbled and collapsed within a few seconds of the impact, one of its legs shattered by the quasi-point-blank impact. The other mechs of the phalanx turned around, raising shields and spears but Eshe's Raven had already repositioned and was laying down colourful bursts of suppressive fire in their direction while tearing off its own USRE emblems. The audience held their collective breath. Traitor! titled a bunch of news networks in the following minutes, but they were drowned by the sheer enthusiasm lightning up the live audiences following the battle. They knew that Eshe wasn't a traitor. She was just bringing her old character back to life - the rebel, the wanderer, the lone swordsman facing the entire world.
And they loved it.
--Extract from "On A Molecule's Edge", a novelization of the Pyrénées Flower War.
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