The Mech Touch Chapter 594
593 Treasure Trove
The Harkensen System in the Reinald Republic welcomed many visitors every year. From tourists looking for excitement to outfits dropping by to conduct business, the lively star system was one of the most popular destinations in the region.
Many outsiders who weren't fans of mechs or the shady transactions, they regarded the Harkensen System with contempt. "That den of thieves and greedy merchants is a hollow place. There's no honest work to be found there! If the sun went supernova one day, nothing of value in the Komodo Star Sector is lost!"
Obviously, the Harkensen System seemed like a place where only thugs and thrill seekers gathered. There was hardly a sense of class to be found, and what luxuries Harkensen I offered appealed more to the nouveau riche than the true power brokers.
This was the Harkensen System on the surface. To the vast majority of the Komodo Star Sector, this was all there was to it. Such a shallow destination required little consideration.
However, all of this was a facade.
To be more precise, the Harkensen System operated on several different levels. What everyone saw could only be considered as the shallow layers. What was observable from the surface meant nothing to the secrets hidden below.
To those who operated on the highest level, the Harkensen System was not as pleasant and tourist-friendly as everyone had thought.
"Did you hear? The honor duel between a captain from the Flagrant Vandals against some Vesian deserter has just started!"
"If I hadn't blown my entire budget at the casino earlier, I would have been able to afford a ticket!"
"Those blood-sucking Reinaldans! Who is crazy enough to pay 20,000 credits for a single seat?!"
Right now, a significant part of the Harkensen System became enthralled with the duel that happened in the arena underneath Black Belle City.
In other words, the duel diverted a lot of people's attention, leaving others free to move in the dark.
On the other side of Harkensen III, a group of fit men and women walked through the streets of a medium-sized city. Their path led them from a commercial district to a decayed industrial district. This area of the city used to be a prime location for smaller mech manufacturers, but all of them folded one by one in the last couple of decades.
Many old factories looked shuttered and emaciated. The decay and blight attracted many lowlives who hung out in these streets due the lack of monitoring. The sensor network in this area hadn't been updated and had long been tampered with long ago. Each gang that took up residence in the factories installed interference devices that blocked most small devices from making recordings or patch into local communication network.
This basically turned this blighted district into a lawless place.
Some thugs noticed the newcomers and approached them while holding their hands over their guns. They were about to bark the group of strangers away, but halted when one of them held up a token.
The lead thug huffed at that. "Hmph. The boss is at the end of the street."
Not a single gang member looked for trouble with the outsiders as they walked by. Nobody made any rash movements. Any group in possession of a token was allowed to enter their territory. That was the rule.
Ten minutes later, the group reached a fallen factory that looked no different from the others. Nonetheless, the newcomers shoved aside the rusted gate and entered the main structure.
The darkness inside made it difficult to navigate the factory floor. However, none of them activated any lights. Instead, they each took measured steps in the dark, relying on nothing but memorized instructions to get through the invisible maze. Not once did they bump into anything.
Once they reached the entrance to another hall, they went through a door on the left, which finally led them into a bare metal room with not a single piece of furniture inside.
The only sight that greeted them was a dozen men in heavy combat armor standing guard from the opposite side of the room. Two men in business attire greeted the newcomers.
"Welcome, welcome. I am glad to see you've made it here in time, Major Verle."
Impressively, the man in the center of the group in plainclothes turned out to be the commanding officer of the Verle Task Force! This man who led over ten-thousand Vandals had declined to attend the duel with the honor of his mech regiment at stake!
"The situation has changed." Major Verle grimaced at the person on the opposite side. "Too much attention is being cast on the Flagrant Vandals. Though the attention-grabbing duel has disrupted many of our plans, it has given us a good opportunity to sneak to this meeting."
"Were you followed?"
"Do you doubt our professionalism?"
The room fell into a brief silence.
"Let's move on." The man on the other side said. "Our next step required us to bundle all of our strengths. After all, the Starlight Megalodon rests for no one. If we don't hurry up, others will reach the derelict first."
Everyone present in the room pumped up once they heard that name. The Starlight Megalodon was not a casual phrase to be uttered whenever someone felt like it! Even now, the name remained a legend in the frontier.
"The Starlight Megalodon…" Major Verle uttered. "I really can't believe we're on the trail to that legendary battleship. A partially-intact derelict of the Common Fleet Alliance. Even if she's a few hundred years old, the treasures we can recover is enough to overturn the entire star sector!"
"It all depends on whether we can get our hands on the keys." The other man said and turned to the person standing next to Major Verle. "Isn't that right, Lord Javier?"
The Vesian noble had surprisingly accompanied Major Verle without any restraints or restrictions. "Relax, I know where to find the Things you are looking for. I know for sure that one of them is on this planet."
"Good, good. As long as we can gather all the keys, we can reconstruct the final route of the Starlight Megalodon!"
There was a reason why everyone looked fervent at the thought of tracking down the Starlight Megalodon. That was because she was a battleship packed with wondrous materials and technologies into the size of a small city! Over a dozen kilometers long and armed with massive planet-cracking weapons, the CFA predominantly utilized this ship class to wage decisive battles against tough alien civilizations.
Not long after the Komodo Star Sector came into being, the Starlight Megalodon was the flagship of a small CFA task force meant to press the sandmen back. Unfortunately, the task force encountered a freak accident during FTL travel, knocking most of the ships out of FTL. By the time the CFA ships converged with each other, they found to their surprise that the battleship that served as the nucleus of their force was gone!
Back then, the CFA tried hard to track down the Starlight Megalodon, but their search was in vain. They eventually concluded that the massive and expensive battleship was lost with all hands.
Nobody outside of the CFA really cared, and anyone that did took their word for it. Everyone soon threw the mystery of the Megalodon out of their minds until certain forces discovered the presence of descendents of the crew in the frontier!
Only a very small circle of people knew about the descendants, and immediately grasped them without alerting anyone else, including the CFA!
The secret movers learned many things from interrogating the descendants. However, tracing back their route to the Starlight Megalodon wasn't as straightforward.
This was an operation years in the making. By now, the group collectively gathered almost all of the keys. After acquiring the ones exposed by Lord Javier, they could finally make an attempt at looting the valuable battleship!
How could they not be excited?! As an organization that shouldered the defense of humanity's outer borders, their technology exceeded the lofty standard of the Terrans and the Rubarthans.
Almost nobody in the Harkensen System knew what was at stake. The Starlight Megalodon wasn't even a footnote in history to most people.
Right now, Ves hung on to his seat at the front row of the underground arena. Captain Orfan's New Sentinel charged at Avid Serpent's modified Rogue Breaker without any qualms!
"Come on, captain! I put on my money on you, so you better win!"
Once the two mechs came close, the New Sentinel thrust out its spear with considerable momentum.
A loud ringing noise reverberated in the arena as Avid Serpent deflected the initial stab with a flick of her mech's axe.
The two mechs separated. Neither pilot was in a hurry to press their advantages.
Inside her cockpit, Captain Orfan felt as if her entire mech urged her forward. Though she really wished to up the ante and unleash a flurry of blows at the Rogue Breaker, she couldn't afford to make any mistakes.
This wasn't like a regular deployment. In a real battle, she still possessed the leeway to retreat from battle and live another day. Right now, both of their mechs lost the ability to eject their cockpits. There was no way out after commencing the duel!
Either she lived, or she died! With her entire life at stake, Orfan couldn't treat this duel as a casual romp.
"Damnit, Mr. Larkinson wasn't kidding when he said my opponent's mech will be powerful."
What little the Rogue Breaker revealed already placed it on par with premium mechs. When it came to movement and attacks, the axeman mech certainly emphasized offense over defense!
"I'll have to take it slow and steady." The captain concluded and shifted her mech into a defensive posture.
True to her prediction, Avid Serpent took the initiative and lashed out. It ran close and chopped with its axe. The moment the New Sentinel lifted up its spear to block the attack, but one of the force boosters attached to the weapon arm of the axeman mech suddenly glowed! The limb gained a lot more power as usual and accelerated forth at a blazing pace!
However, Captain Orfan was an experienced mech pilot. She had never let down her guard after spotting the weird boosters attached to the mech. She managed to parry the axe chop in time!
"Don't think these little toys can give you the edge! Taste my spear!"
Captain Orfan realized the force boosters allowed Avid Serpent to unleash a devastating attack. The New Sentinel still suffered from the aftershock of the weapons collision.
Perhaps the New Sentinel wouldn't be able to last for the entire duel after blocking a handful of full-powered attacks!
This compelled the captain to go on the offensive. With the long reach of her spear, Captain Orfan quickly regained the initiative. She unleashed a flurry of stabs, leaving no openings for Avid Serpent to exploit.
For a minute, everyone thought that Avid Serpent would never be able to escape from those shackles. However, the axeman mech fought calmly while making sure that the spear never touched its armor.
"They're both keeping up with each other's movements!"
"Look at how different the two mechs move!"
Ves saw that Captain Orfan piloted the New Sentinel in an extremely aggressive manner, which was completely different from the game plan they set up!
"She's wasting too much energy!"
This duel wouldn't be decided within a short amount of time. Rationing the energy reserves of a mech was a basic priority for every mech pilot.
Worst of all, Avid Serpent maintained a sober mind throughout the assault. It always chose to jump out of reach, but when that wasn't possible the Rogue Breaker fended off the spear stabs with the minimum amount of exertion.
"The Vesians are playing the long game."
As long as the New Sentinel exhausted itself, Avid Serpent only needed to make a single push to achieve a win!