The Mech Touch Chapter 1022
1020 A Nobody
As a civilian passenger ship, the Felicitous Remembrance had not been built to participate in battle. While the Tovars made sure to spruce up her defenses and add some other hidden surprises, Ves knew that she possessed no offensive power against a hostile force of spaceborn mechs.
The elite Spiral Shockers would be in charge of defending the Remembrance and the other ships of the disguised convoy. They would also be leading the battle on one of their Special Security Limited-branded light carriers.
Even so, Ves did not feel content at being left out of the fighting. How could he feel reassured when his comm connection and all of the terminals on the ship completely locked down due to the emergency? It wasn't as if he could look through a porthole and track the progress of the battle as the distances involved was too huge to be seen with the naked eye!
"I have to get into the bridge somehow." He decided to himself.
While Lord Javier would definitely be kept locked in his cabin, Ves enjoyed no such restrictions. Perhaps the security officers expected that he would have the sense to return to his cabin on his own accord.
That didn't cut it to Ves.
Thus, when the alarms continued to ring throughout the interior of the Remembrance, he ignored the warning from his comm to return to his cabin and raced towards the bridge at the upper decks.
He passed by a flurry of alert but composed ship ratings securing the ship or moving towards their assigned stations in the event of a battle.
It concerned Ves a bit that the Remembrance immediately entered a state of red alert as opposed to yellow alert.
Normally, the detection of a hostile force present within the star system always merited a yellow alert condition. This signified to the crew that battle could break out at any time, but it was highly likely that it would take a few hours or even days before the enemy came within range to fight.
A red alert on the other hand warned that the enemy force was very close or outright within range to force a fight!
"This isn't a coincidence." Ves concluded.
This implied that the Tovar Peace Delegation's mission, route, timing or whatever else had been leaked! Someone directed a substantial pirate force to arrive just after Senator Tovar's fleet arrived in this quaint star system and began to cycle their FTL drives!
Ves didn't bother speculating on who might have leaked such precise navigation details that could cause a pirate to catch the fleet flat-footed. "That's something for Senator Tovar and the Spiral Shockers to figure out with their smart heads."
He just wanted to be able to witness the battle and be prepared if anything went amiss. If there was anything his long experience with the Vandals had taught him, it was that anything could go wrong!
Even the famed combat prowess of the Spiral Shockers didn't reassure him that he'd be safe in this instance, especially since none of their five mech companies piloted their military mechs. In order to make their disguise convincing, they were forced to use actual commercial-grade mechs, most of which fell into the budget and midrange price range!
"Damnit. Mechs like those can't keep up with the demands of elite military mech pilots!"
It depended partially to what extent the mech regiment's mech designers modified the commercial mechs. Even so, commercial mechs of a certain price range could only tolerate so much adjustments.
As Ves finally arrived in front of the blast doors leading to the bridge, a security checkpoint staffed by a squad of formidable exoskeleton soldiers rudely stopped him in place.
A security lieutenant stomped up to Ves in his exoskeleton armor. "You're not supposed to be here, Mr. Larkinson. Even if you are an attach from the Mech Corps, you are a passenger aboard this ship. Return to your cabin now or I'll order my men to take you there."
"Please ask Senator Tovar or Lieutenant Colonel Xelven if they have need of my services." Ves requested. "I have relevant combat experience! I've witnessed countless battles against the most vicious pirate gangs of the frontier! I can provide insights that no one else can offer!"
The lieutenant sneered at Ves. "Professor Corus Ventag has already volunteered to officer his services to the defense of our fleet. We have all the mech designer expertise we require, and the Spiral Shockers are more than capable of thrashing a bunch of pirates."
The security officers stationed assigned to the Remembrance all originated from the Spiral Shockers and hence put their complete faith on the strength of their mech pilots. Even if Ves acknowledged that they deserved their reputation, it was still rather reckless of them to dismiss a pirate threat!
Some of them were much trickier in battle than their unsophisticated appearances suggested! No ordinary pirate force would be stupid enough to attack a fleet protected by five spaceborn mech companies!
Usually, Ves would adopt a weaseling tone and try to beg the lieutenant to throw him a bone. However, he figured that such an approach wouldn't soften the obstinate Shocker officer's conviction.
What Ves needed right now was not to placate the lieutenant, but to earn his acknowledgement that he was serious business!
He straightened his back and adopted a more imperious demeanor. "While Professor Ventag is a respected Senior Mech Designer, as far as I'm aware he has not been involved in any combat actions for decades. No mech designer is omniscient. I'm not demanding entry into the bridge. I'm just stating that Senator Tovar and the officers manning the bridge might find it useful to hear some insights from a different perspective."
"My orders state that we do not allow entry of unauthorized personnel. The list of guests that are allowed to enter the bridge is very small, and your name is definitely not among them, Mr. Larkinson. Darkness Eater or not, your place in battle is not at the bridge."
No matter what arguments Ves provided, the lieutenant was like a rock against the tide of words. To a security lieutenant in charge of the vital duty to defend the bridge against any known and unknown threats that approached the blast doors, he stuck to his orders like a barnacle to a seafaring ship.
Ves realized that the Spiral Shockers adopted a much more rigid and traditional attitude towards orders. This was in line with the overall standard of the Mech Corps.
Back when he served with the Vandals, Ves could have just manipulated the Vandals or made use of his prestige to force them into complying with his demands. The Vandals not only grew familiar to Ves over the years, he also proved his capabilities many times.
Sadly, he enjoyed no such standing among the Spiral Shockers. His rich awards might have blinded any other serviceman, but the Spiral Shockers were one of the premier fighting units of the Mech Corps. The elite mech regiment enjoyed a long and storied history and the Darkness Eater medal wasn't even that special to them! They fought and won so many battles that it made Ves' experiences in the frontier seem like an average commute to work!
The pride exuded by the lieutenant and his subordinates made it clear that the Spiral Shockers looked down on Ves. They weren't even unjustified for adopting such an attitude. What help could Ves really give that Colonel Xelven and Professor Ventag hadn't already covered with their respective expertises?
After five minutes of arguing, the security lieutenant finally tired of the distraction and was about to signal some security officers to bring Ves to his cabin.
Ves quickly made his way out of the corridor to the bridge before some goons could drag him back. "Okay, I got the message. I'll be going back myself, no need to draw your guards out of their posts!"
As Ves left the upper decks, he cursed to himself. Even as he suspected that the battle already commenced, he had no idea what kind of threat the Felicitous Remembrance has her Spiral Shocker escorts faced.
It could have been a small pirate force fooled into thinking they stood a chance against the Tovar fleet. It could also be a major pirate armada with enough mechs to outnumber the Spiral Shockers five to one!
Yet without access to the local plot or any of the other ship systems that could tell him about the impending battle in space, Ves felt as if he was cast into the unknown yet again.
He decided to walk to a particular lounge room instead of a cabin on a hunch. To no surprise, Ves found Lord Javier calmly gulping down a glass of beer.
"Why am I not surprised to find you here?"
"You Brighters could hardly put me into the cockpit of a mech to help defend the ship, right?" Lord Javier smirked and gestured at an empty seat next to him. "Come sit. I could use the company."
Ves sat down but didn't order any drink except tea. The last thing he wanted to do was inebriate himself during a battle. "So. Here we are."
"Here we are." Javier nodded. "Nerve-wracking, isn't it? I felt like this all the time when I was locked aboard the Shield of Hispania while you Vandals picked fights with everyone you encountered in space."
"We didn't fight that many battles in space." Ves chuckled.
"Well, the ship entered into red alert enough times for me to get used to the feeling of knowing nothing while a battle is going outside. You'll get used to it after a few times."
"Still, it's a strange feeling, you know? I used to be one of the people in charge. I was by far the best mech designer among all of the mech designers attached to the of the Flagrant Vandals taking part in that mission. I was their head designer! Now, though, Senator Tovar or whoever else is in charge on the bridge can draw upon the knowledge of a Senior Mech Designer. In comparison, a small fry like has no value."
Lord Javier looked at Ves with a critical eye that belied his tipsy state. "You're kind of a control freak, aren't you? You like being in control. You hate it if you have no way to make your own decisions and you hate it even more if you're completely left out of the loop."
Ves reflected on himself for a bit. "I guess you're right. I think it's because I've experienced too many troubles that happened completely outside of my control. I've always been forced to ride one crashing ship after another. Even if I kind of brought this on myself for accepting Senator Tovar's invitation to be part of his peace delegation, it still frustrates me to no end."
"Why do you think people are so power hungry? News flash Ves, almost every human is a slave to their circumstances. Some don't have any ambitions and are content with their lot. Others are more like you who want to take control over their lives. Well, the hardest thing about taking control is that you won't ever obtain it if you just sit on your butt and go with the flow. Taking control means taking charge. Taking charge means you have to assert yourself."
"I tried that with the guards blocking the way to the bridge. They stuck to their orders."
"That's the Bright Republic for you." Lord Javier said flippantly. "In the Mech Legion, any noble could have passed through that hurdle."
Ves shrugged. "It's probably better this way. Now that I think about it, it's rather inappropriate for me to attempt to barge into the Remembrance's bridge. I'm sure the Spiral Shockers and the professionals employed by Senator Tovar have the situation well in hand."
Suddenly, the Felicitous Remembrance lost power. The entire ship became engulfed in darkness and silence as the lights, the air filtration system, the temperature regulators and everything else abruptly shut down!
Even the artificial gravity stopped working, causing Lord Javier's empty mug of beer to float from his grasp in the dark!
"You were saying?"