The Mech Touch Chapter 1002
The Nyxian Gap. Known as an endless area of sparse but incredibly spread out asteroids, nebulas, black holes, anomalies and other junk, it stretched across many light-years.
Situated in a corner of the Komodo Star Sector, it also happened to cross over into Majestic Teal and Vicious Mountain. The sheer amount of asteroids spread around this area was so large that many astrologists speculated whether a large amount of star systems all blew up at once in recent stellar history.
The sheer amount of oddities that took root in the Nyxian Gap certainly suggested deliberate intent! Perhaps a war between precursor alien races detonated an entire space region.
No matter what happened back then, the Nyxian Gap became a major headache to the nearby star sectors.
The slightly discordant spacetime and chaotic situation turned it into a major pirate haven. The rare incidences of highly desirable exotics also turned it into a major treasure hunting destination.
The Nyxian Gap was just as prosperous and chaotic as the Faris Star Region. The only difference was that different pirate gangs and alliances held sway here, taking root deep within the far-flung asteroid fields that took a huge amount of time to reach through regular FTL.
This made it extremely difficult to hunt anyone down. Any outlaw that wanted to hide from any pursuers could easily get lost in the countless asteroids floating in this expansive region of space!
At this time, a light carrier flickered in space. Her engineering bay sustained heavy damage and most of her systems ran on emergency backup power sources.
Mechs coated in black and luminescent purple colors shaped in barbaric patterns surrounded the hapless craft. More light carriers and converted carriers surrounded the stricken carrier as well.
A handful of mechs in the same colors had been turned into wrecks earlier. The most surprising aspect about this battle was that they'd been sneak attacked by the same side!
At the bridge of the surrounded ship, the Corroded Hand, the mercenary commander paced nervously across the deck.
The Corroded Relic was the flagship of the Oblivion Hand, a notorious dark mercenary corps based in the Nyxian Gap! Yet from leading more than a dozen ships, the Corroded Relic suddenly found herself alone as the rest of the fleet turned against the flagship and the loyalists of the leader of the Oblivion Hand!
"How could this happen?!" Commander Arnold Dafoe thundered, to the consternation of the bridge officers. "The Oblivion Hand is my outfit! I built it from my own hands! How can they betray me for that treacherous bastard! Dark Cleaver was my right-hand man! I treated him well!"
"S-Sir, our blast doors are being compromised!"
"SHUT UP!" Dafoe roared while he blasted the poor sod's face with his custom ballistic hand cannon! "This isn't over yet! Fetcher Paul is due to return at any moment! My right-hand man might have failed me, but my left-hand man has been with me forever! He'll surely bail us out!"
Unfortunately, the blast doors to the bridge abruptly slid open, having been overridden through some unknown means despite the dark mercenary commander's investment in its systems!
A number of heavily-armed and heavily armored exoskeleton soldiers in Oblivion Hand colors immediately stomped inside, gunning down the feeble resistance of the lightly-armored bridge officers.
The battle ended in seconds.
As blood, smoke, heat and suffering suffused the bridge compartment, the exoskeleton soldiers wordlessly turned around and stomped away.
Moments later, a single man garbed in a piloting suit entered the massacre-suffused bridge. The blast doors slowly slid shut again at a silent command from his comm. "Commander Arnold Dafoe. I've come to relieve your command."
"You dirty traitor!" Arnold yelled as his legs and arms had been apart. If not for the emergency measures of his combat armor, he would have already bled to death. "I took you in! I recognized your talents! How could you have become known as the Dark Cleaver in these parts without my nurturing?! You were nothing but a rat before I picked you up! Is this how you repay me?!"
"Let's not kid ourselves." The Dark Cleaver calmly shook his head. "You used me because you killed your old mech champion in a fit of rage. In fact, you killed hundreds of your own men whenever they disappointed you or when you woke up on a bad day."
"The Oblivion Hand is my property! I can do whatever I want with my possessions!"
"Your 'possessions' don't agree, commander. We've all collectively decided that the Oblivion Hand is due for a change in leadership."
"How did you do it?" Arnold Dafoe hissed. "How could you have taken control of my mechs and ships?! I made sure to wire them all up to my comm! No one except for me has ever touched my comm!"
The Dark Cleaver smirked. "This is a big galaxy. Nothing is impossible. You're so paranoid that it made it easy for us to use your backdoors against you once we've taken control over them. Thanks for allowing us to shutdown the mechs and ship systems that were under the control of your die-hard loyalists. It really saved us a lot of effort."
Before Commander Dafoe could utter another word, the Dark Cleaver simply extended out a laser pistol and shot the man in the head, making sure to vaporize his former boss' brains.
"It's done." The new commander of the Oblivion Hand announced.
"It's about time." A female voice commented as a small, miniature shape of a woman materialized besides him. She sent a dirty glance at the corpse lying in the center of the deck. "You schemed against Commander Dafoe for more than a year. Why didn't you just let me kill him in his sleep? You know what I'm capable of. Instead, you sent me to sabotage electronics, help you defeat other mech champions in duels and steal valuables from other outfits."
"I needed to take over the Oblivion Hand openly. Assassination would have thrown them into chaos and would have set Fetcher Paul against me. Now that I've turned the men here against Commander Dafoe in an open and aboveboard manner, he'll fall in line."
"And if he doesn't?"
"Then we'll hunt him down."
The two shared a companionable silence for a while. The tiny crystalline woman floating besides the Dark Cleaver suddenly raised her palm which held a miniature comm customized for her stature.
"What is it?"
"News from home- wait, WHAT?!"
"Our son! He's been shot in the middle of a military base on Bentheim!"
"What is the Bright Republic doing with Ves?! How incompetent can they be to let an assassin take his life in their own base?! I should go back to teach them all a lesson!"
"Don't!" The Dark Cleaver said. "Right now, we still need to hide you from our pursuers. Remember what is at stake!"
He willingly abandoned his son, his family, his career and even his very own name in order to escape the repercussions of what he and his wife had done. Their powerful enemies still sought their traces, and while he and his wife did their best to erase their traces, the abilities of their pursuers were too unfathomable for them to rest easy!
"I really want to go back." She glowered.
"Not yet. It's not time yet."
"How long must we hide and scurry in the Nyxian Gap like rats?! A decade? A century?!"
"However long it takes for our pursuers to call it a day."
"That's not going to be easy, seeing as they are able to track me somehow."
"Then we keep moving. Now that I'm in control of the Oblivion Hand, I'll be able to decide where to bring the fleet and throw off their tracking method. It's easier for you to stay by my side this way."
"It will have to do." The tiny crystalline form sighed.
Elsewhere, a gorgeous, dark-haired woman garbed in a dashing uniform entered a lavishly-decorated office. A tall window loomed behind a desk where a single old matronly woman glanced up at the new entrant.
"Calabast. You've earned great merit for us earlier." The old woman said. "Are you truly willing to call it quits, just when you are in consideration of being put on a fast track promotion?"
The younger woman set down a data pad on the desk that contained a file that served as her formal resignation papers. "Life as an operative here doesn't suit me. This phase in my life is over now. It's time to move on and enjoy my spoils while I'm on a steadier assignment."
"I've heard of your intention to settle down as a deep cover agent. Why choose the Ylvaine Protectorate? That's a dull state that's filled with insular heretics. There is hardly anything there that warrants our attention."
Calabast grinned. "It's not the Ylvaine Protectorate that interests me. My position there is merely a means to an end. I'm only there so that I can reunite with someone interesting in the next state over."
The old woman quickly lost interest. Even if she wanted to retain Calabast, her identity made her untouchable. If she wanted to leave, there was no one who could stop her. Especially after the contributions she made.
As Calabast prepared to end her role as a hotshot operative, elsewhere, on Cloudy Curtain a woman laid down on a sofa placed in the penthouse office of the headquarters of the biggest and only mech company on the planet.
Right now, she held a mechanical cat in her grasp and rubbed her face against his bone-like metal exterior.
"You're so adorable, Lucky! Who's a good boy?"
Aside from her casual clothing, she also wore a poofy beret that hid her horns though it didn't obscure her bright green hair.
Ever since she arrived at Cloudy Curtain half a year ago, she received a mixed welcome. None of the old fogies knew what to do with her, and she had very little opportunity to flex her mech design skills.
The first person who welcomed her to the company in earnest was Calsie. If not for her friendship and help, Ketis would have never been able to feel at home at the LMC.
These days, she mostly spent her time practicing her sword skills, studying the textbooks in the company library and playing with Lucky.
At this time, the woman sitting behind the desk in the expansive office suddenly stood up.
"Huh? What's up, Calsie?"
"We're leaving. Pack up some luggage. The Barracuda is waiting for us. Bring Lucky with you as well. The cat will be good company."
"Why? What's going on?"
"Ves got shot at Bentheim! It's plastered all over the galactic net!"
"WHAT?!" Ketis furiously shouted as she jumped to her feet. She inadvertently threw out Lucky from her grasp, but fortunately the mechanical cat instantly asserted himself in the air while meowing indignantly at Ketis for her rough handling. "Is he dead?!"
"Fortunately, no. A laser went through his chest, but he somehow managed to survive."
Ketis chuckled. "That's just like our boss. He's good at surviving. Still, he should be locked up somewhere safe, right? Will the military let us visit?"
"I'm not sure, but I'll call his grandpa Benjamin to pull some strings. I'm sure the Mech Corps will be understanding enough to let us visit."
"Good! I'm bored here and I never visited Bentheim before!"
As the two pivotal women arranged their visit to Ves at Bentheim, elsewhere more people related to Ves went through their own difficulties.
For example, Carlos gritted his teeth as he crawled his much-slimmed body out of the ruins of a bombarded mech workshop. The Vesians moved up their positions on this planet and managed to fire off a large volley of missiles at the base where Carlos worked at! As the defending mechs belatedly went into action to push the Vesians back, those left behind dealt with the aftermath.
"Mr. Shaw!" A couple of off-duty mech technicians ran to the workshop. "Your arm! It's been blown off!"
"I'll live." Carlos uttered. "Bring me to the infirmary! No wait. Don't help me. Try and dig out other survivors from the workshop first. There may be others that need your help more than I!"
"But Mr. Shaw! Your injuries look bad!"
"They won't kill me! My hazard suit already stabilized me! Go save the others first before you attend to me! This is just a flesh wound!"
As the mech technicians reluctantly left him outside the wrecked workshop to help out those that needed the help, Carlos looked up in the sky of this planet in contention and chuckled at someone who wasn't there.
"I hope you're having a better time than me, Ves! With your talent and ability, I'm sure you're comfy and safe in some kind of design base."
As Carlos dreamt of spending his time during the war at a luxurious hidden base placed far away from the fighting, the man he thought was living the life right now just finished grumbling at Leland.