The Mech Touch Chapter 1050
1048 Convenient Shield
When Ves rigged the energy cells he pried off the paralyzed exoskeleton armors to explode, he underestimated their explosive yield.
How could he know that the elite guards of the Honored Ones made use of high-capacity infantry-grade energy cells? Although not as exaggeratingly stuffed with energy as ultracompact batteries, these high-capacity energy cells stored at least fifty percent more energy in the same volume compared to a regular one?
Of course, their price was a lot more expensive as well. Normally, an infantry troop would ordinarily carry spares or resupply themselves when they ran out rather than use these high-capacity energy cells.
The enormous blast that broke the gates into the formal conference chamber did more than breach an opening. It also cracked the floor, flung debris everywhere, heated the surroundings to a dangerous degree and unleashed a concussive blast that would have walloped anyone standing in the reception hall or the conference chamber!
The lingering heat and toxins from the site of the blast made it rather dangerous to cross through the smoke obscuring the conference chamber. Ves needed to at least wait for some time before the safer parts of the ground looked cool enough to walk over. Just to be safe, Ves momentarily diverted to place a low bench over the affected ground to walk over.
"Do you hear that? What is that sound?" Venerable Foster puzzlingly asked. The weakness in her body still didn't allow her to walk by herself, forcing her to either sit on the ground or lean against Ves. She did not enjoy her moment of weakness. "If only the poison hasn't affected me so much!"
"You should be lucky you can stay awake and talk." Ves retorted as he peered his ears into the other side.
The obscuring toxic smoke blocked most of his vision and dampened most of the sounds from the conference chamber.
Ves didn't know whether he should wait outside for the smoke to fade or storm in and confront whatever went on inside.
"We should go in." Venerable Foster whispered as he leaned her against his body again. "If there are only friendlies inside, we should see if your improvised explosive injured them. If there are hostiles inside, this might be the time to take them out quickly."
"We don't have any weapons."
"The detonation was your weapon. Are you so weak that you can't finish off a human with your hands?"
Ves shrugged. Secretly, he held out his free hand behind his back and discreetly summoned the Amastendira. Whatever stuff was going on inside, he wouldn't go inside unarmed.
With his decision made, they climbed up the low bench and walked over it, sparing their expensive shoes and their feet from getting scorched from the cracked and irregular surface of heated stone and glowing gunk.
As they entered the massive vault-like chamber, the huge window from above illuminated the massive ring-shaped table in the center.
Right now, most of the delegates sitting at two distinct sides of the table were unconscious. Just like the people outside the chamber, they too had been affected by the poison slipped into their bodies.
Yet different from everywhere else, two people managed to retain their consciousness. Not only that, they spent their time awake fruitfully.
"Major Deborah Sanawn!" Ves uttered in shock.
"Lord Brennan of House Novien!" Foster exclaimed as well.
Major Deborah Sanawn served alongside Lieutenant Colonel Xelven as his second-in-command during this assignment. While Ves hadn't interacted with her much, he knew that Xelven considered her to be his protege within the Bureau of Sector Affairs.
As for Lord Brennan of House Novien, he was a cousin of Count Reginald of the same house. Count Reginald also served in the Mech Legion and acted as Colonel Xelven's counterpart during the negotiations. The count held Prince Colchester's direct trust, so in turn Lord Brennan should have been loyal to the prince in turn.
Yet what Ves and Venerable Foster encountered put the loyalties of the other pair into question. That was because they were sprawled close to the bodies of Colonel Xelven and Count Reginald!
"What have you done!?" Ves asked with horror.
The huge blast took Major Sanawn and Lord Brennan by surprise. Whatever they had been up to, they'd been rudely interrupted by the concussive wave that swept over their bodies and flung them a distance away from the two headless corpses.
"Look over there!" Foster weakly pointed with her chin. "They cut off the heads of our lead negotiators to smuggle them away!"
Flung into a different direction, a pair of transparent cages held two macabre heads locked in artificial sleep.
They were the heads of Colonel Xelven and Count Reginald!
The only reason why they looked asleep and not dead was the machinery hooked up in the neck portion. As long as oxygen and blood circulated through their heads, their brains and the valuable information contained within would still be retrievable!
The plot immediately became apparent to Ves. The true threat did not solely come from the outside. Regardless of how much Senator Tovar and Prince Colchester vetted the members of their delegation, they completely missed the treachery brewing within their third-in-commands!
"Don't move, Ves!" Major Sanawn yelled as she popped off the hand from her wrist to reveal an organic ballistic gun barrel within the exposed flesh! "I've read the reports! I know you are always armed! If you move that arm from your back, I'll shoot!"
Ves inwardly cursed to himself. He finally paid the price of showing off the Amastendira. How many people had access to those reports?!
The concussive blast that bowled over the traitors affected their coordination. The organic weapon implanted within Sanawn's forearm wavered in its aim, though not to the extent of missing the mark.
Lord Brennan apparently stood closer to the site of the blast because it took more time for him to regain his wits. Even so, soon he would be drawing out his own holdout weapon, doubling the danger Ves needed to face!
One way or another, he needed to resolve this matter quickly!
Yet as he rapidly went through his options, he wondered why Major Sanawn hadn't shot him yet. Why was she holding him at gunpoint? Even if her aim was rather shaky, her organic weapon surely possessed more shots, right?
Realization struck him as Venerable Foster breathed loud enough to tickle his ears. He immediately adjusted his grip on Foster so that she pressed to the front of his body. His forceful movement elicited an angry squawk from the weakened expert pilot.
"What are you doing, you brute?!"
Yet despite the movements, Major Sanawn didn't shoot.
"You're afraid, aren't you?" Ves grinned as he felt he regained some control during this crisis. "As long as you kill Venerable Foster, you know the MTA will investigate the matter. Not only will your life be forfeit, but your entire ploy will be exposed as well. I doubt your masters will want to draw the MTA's attention!"
The extent to which the MTA enforced their own laws always struck fear in the hearts of humans. Although Ves witnessed plenty of times that their intervention had waned to an extent, as demonstrated by the Skull Architect's continued survival in exile to the frontier, just the threat of MTA intervention was enough to stop Major Sanawn!
However, what Ves didn't count on was that Venerable Foster did not take kindly to being used as a human shield. She immediately squirmed in his grasp and weakly bashed her elbows against her captor.
"Unhand me, you foul Brighter! I am not a shield for you to block incoming fire!"
Ves tightened his grip over the angry expert pilot and tried to keep her in his grasp. Her lack of strength and leverage prevented her from harming him, though her thrashing grew increasingly violent, making it difficult for him to position her body to cover his own against Major Sanawn's organic weapon.
If there was one benefit to Venerable Foster's thrashing, Major Sanawn seemed slightly distracted by the spectacle. Even as Ves tried to wrangle the expert pilot's body in his tight grip, he hadn't missed her momentary lack of focus.
Ves immediately wipped out his Amastendira from behind his back and fired a bright laser beam at medium power at Colonel Xelven's protege!
A bright flash of golden light engulfed the room as the laser barely missed Major Sanawn's form. Ves expected that his aim might be off, but the current configuration of the Amastendira burned for two seconds, enough for him to correct his aim. He flicked the muzzle of his laser pistol to the left, cutting through Major Sanawn's service dress uniform and the vulnerable body underneath!
The traitor instantly collapsed, half of her torso cut and burned.
Unlike Ves, Major Sanawn did not possess any convenient expert pilot to make him hesitate in firing!
"Shoot Lord Brennan as well!" Foster shouted, having calmed down in her grasp. She finally set her priorities straight. Though she still questioned where Ves whipped out such a big and powerful laser pistol, this was no time to ask questions. "He's going for a weapon as well I think!"
Ves calmly shot the Vesian third-in-command without any suspense. The man still hadn't recovered from the aftereffects of the explosion.
Only two people remained conscious in the conference chamber. A pair of laser-burned corpses joined the two headless corpses on the ground.
As blood, smoke and the smell of burnt flesh suffused the air, Ves still wondered what was going on here. The treachery of some of the most trusted people in Senator Tovar and Prince Colchester's delegation still stunned him to an extent.
"Do you hear that sound?" Foster called, turning his attention back to the increasingly growing noise suffusing the entire chamber. "It's accompanied by a vibration. It's coming from the ground. Something is tunneling below us!"
The hard tiles in the middle of the conference chamber already started to bulge from the tunneling machine about to breach the floor.
"This must be their escape route!"
"Ves! Take the two heads and bring us out! We have to go before the tunneling machine bores into the chamber!"
"There's not enough time." Ves quickly judged. "Besides, I can't bring you and two of those head boxes at the same time. I have a better idea."
Ves kept her within her grasp but also whispered a set of verbal commands to the Amastendira. He tweaked its power setting to maximum and turned its firing mode into a cutting beam.
He hoped that he made the direct decision.
Within seconds, the tiles in the center of the ring-shaped table bulged and broke. A narrow tunneling machine as wide as an aircar emerged from the opening.
It was one of the smallest tunneling machines Ves had ever encountered! Already, he could vaguely spot that its exterior consisted of sensor-dampening materials. Clearly, the narrow tunneling machine served a similar role as Calabast's stealth crawler.
The tunneling machine was meant to sneak into high security areas from below in order to extract a small number of agents or operatives in the field!
If there was one major weakness common to every vehicle focused on stealth or minimizing their sensor signature, it was that their exterior armor plating didn't hold up well against direct damage!
Even before the hatch of the tunneling machine opened up, Ves fired his Amastendira at full power! The cutting beam took only moments to sear through the armor of the machine damage whatever was inside!
Faint screams echoed from the opening as Venerable Foster witnessed the Amastendira's power at first hand through her squinting eyes!
"I knew there was more to you than a mech designer!" She yelled accusingly at Ves. "Who do you work for, really? Flashlight? Searchlight?"
She squirmed anew, and somehow managed to stumble out of his grip. As soon as Venerable Foster opened her mouth yet again, the half-crippled tunneling machine suddenly self-destructed!
Both of their bodies were flung away from the concussive shockwave released by the explosion!