The Mech Touch Chapter 1082
1080 Dark Sphere
The Angel's Wing Foundation!
Ves never expected to encounter them in this Mastery experience! Perhaps he could gain some insights on them before he made use of his bronze invitation card.
Upon the mercenary commander's introduction, a thin man entered the conference room and reached the front. The newcomer paused and gazed at the mech pilots present with oddly serpentine eyes.
"As mentioned my your leader, my name is Moren Drenad. I am here on behalf of the remnants of an outfit that has suffered a worse fate than your mercenary corps. Over the last ten years, many fleets have all stumbled upon the Dark Sphere and became trapped inside this pocket space. As one of the earlier victims, I admire your ability to persist and survive under these arduous circumstances."
Everyone straightened their backs in pride, including Ves' host. The Insurmountable Drakes prided themselves on their perseverance!
"Unfortunately, as all of us have learned in time, the Dark Sphere possesses a valuable resource that has sent the ruling powers of the nearby star sectors crazy. While the main forces of the war has dedicated most of their efforts on fighting against each other, neither side wishes independent outfits such as your Insurmountable Drakes to make it out alive where you are in a position to expose the existence of the Dark Sphere."
Everyone knew this very well. Both the Silent Nomad and the Pure Wheel Star Sectors did everything in their power to eliminate any forces not belonging to their own. They especially did not wish for any third parties to make it out with a stash of the unique resource that could be found in the Dark Sphere!
"The indigenous astral life forms found within the heart of the Dark Sphere are extraordinary in many ways. The tissue taken from defeated Alpha Starspawn has several remarkable properties that I don't need to mention to you. It is this vital resource that has encouraged both star sectors to maintain a stranglehold on the only known exits of the Dark Sphere."
Not only that, but the spaceborn forces of both star sectors also scoured the Dark Sphere for any inadvertent stragglers in order to hunt them down to extinction. It didn't even matter if the Insurmountable Drakes hailed from the Silent Nomad Star Sector themselves. Just due to the fact that they stumbled upon the Dark Sphere was enough of a reason to silence them permanently with extreme prejudice!
The Insurmountable Drakes used to number more than just a mech company worth of mechs. Years of battle, hiding, flight and scavenging left this once respectable mercenary corps into a beggar-like remnant fleet that only managed to field a full mech company because of the friendly stragglers they picked up along the way.
"How can we get out then if the star sector rulers don't want us to escape?" Eloise Pelican asked.
"Good question. Let me explain."
As Ves discreetly drew upon the memories of his host, he learned her name and some of the details about her life. Eliose Pelican served as a mech lieutenant of the Insurmountable Drakes. Before the mercenary corps became trapped within the Dark Sphere, she was just a regular mech pilot.
Yet years of trying to survive in the Dark Sphere had constantly gotten other mech officers killed. Eloise Pelican matured rapidly during the conflict and became increasingly more proficient in piloting her old and battered space knight!
As the briefing went on, Moren Drenad began to outline their escape opportunity. They would be joining forces with several remnant outfits that were also trapped within the Dark Sphere and make a concerted effort to assault one of the only known exits of this bizarre pocket space!
"This exit is guarded by strong garrison from the Silent Nomad Star Sector. After months of analysis and preparation. We believe we stand the best chance of breaking out of the Dark Sphere by assaulting this guarded exit!" Moren said.
Eloise frowned. "There are thousands of mechs and hundreds of turrets on guard at that fortified exit. We know because we scouted it out before. How many mechs do we have on our side?"
"Merely a couple of hundred, the Insurmountable Drakes included." The odd man readily admitted. "While it is not possible for us to break through the space fortifications the Silent Nomad Star Sector has built around the exit through brute force, we are prepared to employ a stratagem to even the odds."
"What are you planning to do?"
"We are keeping that under wraps. Only your commander is allowed to know some of the details."
The commander of the Insurmountable Drakes intervened at this moment. "It's fine, Eloise. Mr. Drenad has come up with a workable plan."
The man from the Angel's Wing Foundation smiled. "Aside from our main stratagem, we also intend to provide you with some aid in order to tip the balance in our favor. We are prepared to issue each mech pilot with a special performance-enhancement stimulant that can substantially raise your performance for a short time."
"What are the side effects of your stimulant?" Another mech pilot asked.
"Oh, you will be out of it for at least a day, but the crash won't happen until a couple of hours has passed. Hopefully that should be enough time for us to fight our way through the Silent Nomad defenses and slip out of the Dark Sphere!"
More questions poured in, and Moren patiently answered them all, though whether he gave a complete answer or not was up for grabs.
Ves eyed the proceedings critically. This was by far the strangest Mastery experience so far. The previous two times he engaged in a Mastery, his consciousness entered the mind of a mech pilots involved in a conventional war.
This time was very different. It echoed his mission from the frontier because the Dark Sphere seemed to have isolated the forces trapped inside from the rest of the galaxy.
The Insurmountable Drakes had been stuck in the Dark Sphere for a decade and they never came close to escaping this peculiar space until now!
After answering a bunch of questions with vague non-answers, Moren Drenad departed from the conference room. The mercenary commander addressed a few more topics before ending the briefing.
Lieutenant Eloise Pelican sighed. While most of the other mech pilots wearily stepped out of the conference room in order to prepare for their daily patrols or to remain on standby, she approached the commander for a personal talk.
"Commander Pritchard." She said. "Are you sure this Mr. Drenad can be trusted?"
"Whether he's trustworthy or not, Mr. Drenad wants to get out of here as much as we do." The commander replied with a gruff voice. "I reckon that we can rely on that at the very least. Would you rather decline this opportunity to band together and make a concerted effort in breaking through?"
Pritchard led the Insurmountable Drakes during all this time without ever buckling completely. Even so, the pain of losing so many subordinates left their mark on the commander's psyche.
"Commander.. we all went to get out of the Dark Sphere." Eloise said softly. A strong emotional pain emanated from the depths of her heart, almost flooding Ves with sympathy. Eloise was a mother who left a young son behind! "As long as you say so, we'll go along with the plan and fight to get out. We trust in your leadership."
"Thank you, lieutenant." The man nonetheless sighed. "Sometimes, I feel unworthy of all of the faith you've put into me. The Insurmountable Drakes still lives, but we no longer have the numbers we have before. Half of our ranks weren't even part of us before we entered the Dark Sphere. Too many old friends have died and too many strangers have taken up their places."
"We do what we must to survive."
"That is why I have decided to go along with Mr. Drenad's plan. I've heard whispers about the Angel's Wing Foundation. They're a very powerful black market influence. While it's always dangerous to get involved with the black market, the people who make a living there value their credibility. That should mean something here."
Perhaps unconsciously influenced by Ves' own skeptical attitude, Eloise remained doubtful that the plan would pan out the way the Insurmountable Drakes wanted to. Yet she also knew that they were at the end of their ropes. With the abominable lack of supplies and the deteriorating state of their carriers and mechs, it was doubtful whether the Drakes could persist for another year!
After a terse discussion, Eloise finally separated from Commander Pritchard and returned to her own quarters on the Stained Salamander. The old ship was one of the only two mech carriers that the Drakes still managed to retain after these harrowing years.
"My son." Eloise sighed as she conjured up a projection of a smiling baby from her comm. "I will return to you someday. No matter if the entire Silent Nomad Star Sector stands in my way, I will break the entire star sector if that is what it takes for me to reunite with you!"
The strong, roiling emotions inside Eloise's mind made Ves feel as if he was riding a shuttle that decided to take a joyride through space while deactivating its inertial dampeners!
The strong maternal love that Ves became exposed to practically sent him into a tizzy! It took all of his concentration to avoid getting swept in Eloise's strong desire to reunite with her son!
Above all else, Ves needed to remain calm and remain in control of his own emotions! Only by maintaining a clear mind would he be able to influence Eloise without alerting the mech pilot of his presence in her mind!
Mentally, he cursed the System for dragging his consciousness to the mind of such a sentimental female mech pilot. Couldn't it have paid more attention to his gender and put him into the mind of a simple, male mech pilot?
In any case, after pining over her son for a time, Eloise shut the projection and left her quarters. She took the elevator down the lower decks of the Stained Salamander.
Grime, burn marks and inconsistently-repaired deck and bulkhead plating showed that the Salamander suffered heavy damage over the years. While the ramshackle jury-rigged repairs appeared sloppy, Ves admired the way the crew of the ship managed to keep the Salander afloat with a dire lack of supplies!
Once Eloise entered one of the mech hangar bays, she approached one of the imposing mechs being readied for deployment.
She piloted a space knight. Ves already knew that. Seeing it through Eloise's eyes, he couldn't help but be taken in a little by her affection for her mech.
This was the mech she fought with for all those years! No matter how bad a battle had gotten, the incredible resilience of her space knight always saw her through even as several of her colleagues had fallen!
As Eloise began to climb into the cockpit of her mech while Ves studied it in greater detail.
It started off as a rather generic medium space knight of the Valiant Warden model. However, its role as a defensive mech forced it to take frequent heavy beatings. Somehow, Eloise managed to survive the battles while bringing most of her mech back intact, but not entirely.
Practically none of the Valiant Warden's original armor plating remained. The mech's left arm and leg looked out of place from the rest of the model because they had been salvaged off the battlefield from another wreck and been grafted onto the Valiant Warden to replace the original limbs!
Ves felt for this mech. Whoever was in charge of repairing the mechs around here really knew their business. Even though the current incarnation of the Valiant Warden was pretty much a frankenstein mech, it nonetheless retained its ability to perform its main function!
This was a mech that naturally embodied some of the traits that Ves worked so hard to instill in his own mech designs!