The Mech Touch Chapter 329

Chapter 329: Booty
Ves half-expected some kind of surprise to spring in front of his face. Maybe a fleet of pirates would transition out of FTL nearby, or maybe the Vesians wanted to go for a second round.Only until the entire fleet flew beyond the edge of the Glowing Zone and transitioned into FTL did he relax."It's really over now."The motley Republican fleet had split up into smaller detachments that each flew in a different direction.Most of the ships of the Mech Corps navigated towards Bentheim, including all of their transports that had been stuffed with high-value ores.The Happy Jelly received the same navigational data and jumped with the diminished fleet along with many of the other outfits that chose to join in. Right now, none of them looked to be in a shape to fight.Everyone was bone-tired and they used up too much of their mechs and supplies to defend their own valuable cargo.After half a day of travel, Ves finally left the engineering bay and sought out Walter. He found him on the bridge, wearing a pensive face."Hi, Walter.""Larkinson. What are you here for?""I wanted to ask how we are dealing with the cargo. We made it out with a lot of exotics."Before they went on this expedition, Ves had negotiated a ten percent cut on the earnings. Naturally, as he offered his services as an individual, the money would flow in his personal accounts instead of his company accounts.Walter nodded in response. "I just got off the line with the Mech Corps. They want me to sell my haul to them once we reach Bentheim.""What kind of prices are they offering?""I had someone check the market prices. They're lower than the official prices and the black market prices. We'll be forced to sell the goods at a thirty percent discount if we take this deal."Ves frowned at that. "That sounds scummy. What are they offering in return?""Nothing. Well, there's one thing. We can get rid of our hot potatoes. Don't forget that everyone already knows we've made it off with billions of credits worth of exotics. What do you think will happen if we want to wait for a better price and store it in some kind of warehouse in Bentheim or Cloudy Curtain? A whole bunch of untraceable mechs will descend on it and steal all our hard-earned valuables away!"Too much wealth wasn't always a good thing if you didn't have the strength to protect your assets. With how prolific the campaign had been, a large number of vultures must have already gathered in and around Bentheim.Any outfit that showed any carelessness would instantly be robbed of their possessions.Walter's Whalers had never been anything more than a gang that ruled over a single rural planet. They lost a large portion of their men and mechs so their strength was at an all-time low just when they made it off with an enormous harvest.Such a combination easily bred disaster."Isn't there any other party who will offer a better price for our goods?""They all shut me down when I called." Walter admitted with furrowed brows. "Even the black market is refusing to listen to my offers."There was only one reason why no one else dared to engage in the trade. They'd been warned off by the Mech Corps.Ves understood what went on as he listened to Walter. "The exotics we've harvested from the Glowing Planet are strategic materials. Even if the Mech Corps won't incorporate them into their own mechs, they can still make a handsome profit by selling them to the Friday Coalition or some cross-star sector trading company.""The Mech Corps doesn't want us to sell our exotics to the Vesians or the pirates. It will strengthen their enemies even further if we trade with someone outside of the Republic."They really had no choice but to accept the unfair conditions proposed by the Mech Corps. Ves actually admired them for pulling off this stunt. They extorted them out of their exotics, but at least they didn't offer too much of a discount.As Walter put it, "Thirty percent is not worth falling out with the Mech Corps."The Mech Corps offered different rates on different types and qualities of exotics. While it had been easy for the Whalers to tally the amount and variety of exotics, it was a lot more difficult to judge their quality. They'd need a professional to nail down their exact value.Even if Ves knew a thing or two about exotics, he wouldn't claim to be a specialist in raw exotic ores.Due to the differences in quality, Ves and Walter found it hard to estimate a final price on their harvest."Depending on how much higher grade stuff is mixed in with the junk exotics, we can earn around seventeen to thirty-five billion credits."This was a massive profit, and it could have been more if the Whalers hadn't lost a ship. The Whalers instantly turned into billionaires while Ves could look forward to a decent payday as well, not that he needed it. He already received the most important rewards from the System.Still, the euphoria of earning all of those credits quickly made way for skepticism. "Your gang is one of the smaller outfits that profited from the Glowing Planet. The Blood Claws must have earned at least ten times as much, and the Mech Corps themselves at least a thousand times this sum.""What's your point?" Walter scratched his greying head."A lot of people and a lot of organizations are getting rich overnight. They also happened to have lost a lot of mechs and men. As you just mentioned, getting into possession of a lot of wealth but not enough means to defend it all will only invite calamity. The first thing everyone will do is spend all of their money on strengthening their forces."Now he understood the point that Ves was trying to make. "Everyone will jack up their prices. Hah! That's bad for us, but good for you!"Now that they were on their way back to civilized space, Ves began to think like a businessman again. He knew that the aftermath of the campaign would have profound effects on the local economy.As he left the bridge to return to his bunk, Ves thought about who ultimately gained an advantage of the brief campaign.The biggest winners should be MTA who lent the dimensional smoothers to the Mech Corps and the Mech Legion. Ves suspected that the price of these things shouldn't be small.As the Glowing Planet became known when it drifted through the Republic's territory, the Mech Corps was able to mobilize more forces and more allies. In turn, this meant they made more profit than their Vesian counterparts."Losing a dimensional smoother should hurt a lot."Even if the Mech Legion was at fault for destroying the loaned device, the ultimate responsibility lay with the Republic who lent it in the first place. The MTA would demand a lot of compensation for their lost machine."No wonder they're so overbearing this time. They want to make up for their losses."Still, all these things happened in the background. Despite the pain, the Mech Corps and the Mech Legion would definitely begin to invest their earnings into improving their battle capabilities.The other gangs and mercenary corps would follow suit as well. What was the use of a padded bank account when then they only returned with half their mechs and ships?Still, Ves predicted that a lot of people would retire in the coming months. Why would these mercenaries and gang members continue to fight like beggars when they already received enough money to retire like kings?He expected many of them to apply for citizenship at the Friday Coalition. Some of the partners of the Coalition like the Carnegie Group and the Vermeer Group welcomed immigration from the poorer states as long as they brought enough benefits."That's going to be bad." Ves thought grimly as he walked down the corridors of the Happy Jelly. "Fewer mercenaries means less customers."Still, he didn't think that a lot of people would succeed in applying to the Coalition. All of that money had to be split up in the group. The larger the organisation, the more they earned, but the more they had to split up their booty as well. Only the upper ranks should earn enough to retire in the Coalition.Thinking about the ripple effects of all of this major influx in spending gave Ves a headache. Besides predicting a rise in inflation and a couple of other consequences, he didn't dare to make any further assumptions."That reminds me, the LMC should have setup a robust financial department by now." His CFO Mackarie should have already analyzed the upcoming shifts in the economy. "Now that there's no restriction to using the galactic net, I should check up on how my company is faring."Ves vaguely thought that his company should be making a brisk amount of sales. Even though he hadn't kept tabs on every Blackbeak that had been deployed on the Glowing Planet, if he took Fadah's Blackbeak as a measure, then the model line should have performed well.Even as the cheap and rickety mechs of the Whalers started to fall apart from all of the stress and fatigue, the Blackbeak still performed close to its prime. This should be a given, as Ves had explicitly designed the Blackbeak to excel in long, gruelling wars.Once he returned to his bunk, he checked up on Lucky's egg before jumping into his bed. He brought up his comm and searched the latest news on the LMC."LIVING MECH COMPANY RISING LIKE A ROCKET - REVENUE IS ESTIMATED TO SURPASS 4 BILLION CREDITS""IN BED WITH THE LMC - VAUN INDUSTRIAL SIGNS LICENSING CONTRACT TO PRODUCE THE INCREASINGLY PROMINENT BLACKBEAK DESIGN""WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? LET THIS MECH EXPERT TELL YOU THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BRONZE, SILVER AND GOLD LABEL MECHS OF THE LMC""WHAT A STEAL! PREVIOUS OWNER OF A LIMITED EDITION MARCUS AURELIUS MECH DESIGNED BY VES LARKINSON SOLD FOR 250 MILLION CREDITS!"In between the trivial bits of news, Ves came across an alarming piece of news."They signed an agreement with Vaun Industrial!"When the topic came up in the previous board meeting, Ves firmly rejected the option to allow Vaun to produce his bronze label Blackbeaks.The LMC eventually partnered up with Mr. Neverland's Elemental Mech Engineering instead. Although their first copies of the Blackbeak suffered from a couple of faults, they eventually straightened out their production and produced mechs worthy of his name, if only barely."At least the EME puts some heart in their products."What he saw at Vaun Industrial's massive manufacturing complex didn't disgust him, but they came close in doing so. Vaun pursued the limits in scale, precision and efficiency, and did everything in its power to eliminate the human factor out of their high-volume fabrication processes."That's not to say it's the wrong approach, but it doesn't fit with my design philosophy."Even if he designed a couple of cheaper frontline mechs, he would still try to fabricate them according to his preferred methods. Ves wanted the LMC to be known as a company that sold mechs that came to life. Producing lifeless lumps of alloys directly contradicted the vision he laid out for his company."What should I do about this?"He knew that such a decision must have been approved by an overwhelming majority of the board. His grandfather Benjamin alone should have been able to stop this decision in its tracks.Since the company went through with it anyway indicated that the Larkinson Estate at least tacitly assented to the move."They don't understand my intentions."It might have been his fault for not conveying his vision properly. The Larkinsons had never really been short on money, but they probably started seeing the benefits once they realized they could milk their twenty-five percent shares in his company.He didn't blame them for being greedy."I'm going to have to set some rules when I return."