The Mech Touch Chapter 611
610 Waterbound Shipyard
The beam raked over the top of the wall where the defenders shot down at the Vandals. Their commanding position along with the thick slab of cover enabled them to hold back the disadvantaged Vandals without too much pressure.
In fact, the fight so far progressed fairly relaxed in their perspective. Both sides tried to preserve their lives first and foremost, so casualties among both sides piled up slowly. Still, the Vandals lost more than the defenders, so time was definitely against the attackers.
All of this consideration changed once the thick beam of energy lanced through the wall and vaporized the bodies of those who had been struck. All of this took just an instant of time! By the time the laser fired from a distance ended its fury, over fifty gang members had lost their lives!
This instantly weakened the defensive position where they had been stationed. The remnants of the gang all lost heart in the battle.
"Why are we fighting against this mob? There's no point in holding onto the shipyard!"
"Screw this, I'm going home! This place isn't worth dying for!"
When another fifty men abandoned their defensive positions at once, a critical gap had emerged. The coalition of gang members and mercenaries roiled with fear and uncertainty. The rank and file expressed an increasing amount of discontent.
Why were they defending this shipyard in the first place?
Outside of the leaders of the various outfits, nobody could answer this question. To them, there was no need to fight to the death when the Reinaldans would eventually get a grip and organize a proper rescue. They just needed to be patient and hunker down for some days. There was no reason to battle over the shipyard!
More and more defenders became swayed by this argument. The will of the coalition unceasingly weakened.
It came to no surprise that a second gang changed their minds. They quickly stopped fighting and turned around to exit the shipyard!
Once the third outfit gave in to their cowardice, the battle was set. The defenders could no longer cover every direction, and they still had to deal with the Vandals that had snuck inside the base from the water!
Ves found to his satisfaction that he didn't need to fire his weapon yet again. Its awesome power had been seared into the minds of both sides of the battle. As Ves fearlessly stepped forward, many Vandals of all stripes voluntarily made way for him. The stupendously powerful laser beam that erupted from his weapon had definitely surpassed the firepower of an infantry-sized laser cannon!
"What in tarnation was that?!" Captain Orfan yelled as she rose out of cover to take some potshots at the remnants who hadn't fled. "If we knew you had this laser gun from the start, we would have ordered you to carve the defensive perimeter apart!"
"Don't ask questions, please. It's something that's meant to safeguard my life."
Let the listeners make up their own stories about Ves in their minds. He didn't care what conclusions they arrived at, as long as they didn't ask him to relinquish his weapon.
Ves was pretty sure it wouldn't come to that. The Amastendira helped the Vandals out several times. The only reason why the Vandals would attempt to take it away from him was if they possessed hostile intentions against him. Considering the many secrets floating about the mech regiment, keeping one more secret to himself didn't hurt.
The most mystical thing about Ves' weapon was that it disappeared after firing once. Many Vandals that paid attention to Ves suspected that he was carrying a cloaked weapon that couldn't be detected until actually used.
Such weapons existed, but only assassins used them prominently. They could never in a million years imagine that Ves could still call upon his weapon if he was ever stripped and searched for hidden weapons.
"They're running! We won!"
"Advance! Don't let them linger inside the complex! Secure the production machines as fast as possible! Don't let them bring anything away!"
The Vandals breached the unguarded entrance and poured into the expansive complex. Though the shipyard could only be considered on the smaller end, due to the size of the craft it routinely serviced, there was more than enough space to accommodate an entire mech company's worth of mechs.
Hardly anyone had stuck around after the Vandals had made it through. The coalition had pretty much disintegrated after the first couple of gangs had abandoned their posts. Compared to the distant benefit of occupying the shipyard, they rather treasured their lives.
The Vandals refrained from attacking anyone who fled. Though it might have been satisfying to shoot the bastards in the back, the Vandals did not wish to push them into a corner. They already won, and that was what mattered the most.
As Ves stepped inside the complex along with the mech designers and mech technicians, they already started scrutinizing the state of the shipyard.
The previous occupants hadn't been in control long enough to mess too many things around. Some of the less disciplined gang members had vandalized some of the equipment while taking away the more valuable-looking stuff, but there was no way they could haul away the heavy machinery.
"Most of the bots are still intact. They're almost fully accounted for!"
"There are heavy cranes positioned over the drydocks. We can use them to lift up the frames of the mechs."
"This facility doesn't make use of an assembly system. This complex is more of a repair and servicing facility. I don't think it has ever fabricated a new ship from scratch."
"There's nothing good in the warehouses! The only thing we can find are standard composites and alloys. They're no good when it comes to taking damage!"
Ves took in the news as he walked over to the 3D printer. He met the original commandos who snuck inside the base through the water. "Mr. Larkinson, we've guarded the machine as best we could! Please inspect!"
The fighting hadn't been very intense here, but the 3D printer had definitely been exposed to some threats. He winced as he saw that the exterior of the massive machine had suffered a glancing blow from a ballistic pistol. Fortunately, its shell held up and the projectile hadn't punched into the delicate internals.
"Good job! I think it's in working condition!"
The praise flattered the commandos. Though Ves couldn't give them a ribbon or something, his words gave them one more story to brag about. Some mech designers and chief technicians approached the 3D printer.
Most of them probably didn't have a clue how the 3D printer worked. Many mech designers and mech technicians these days treated 3D printers as black boxes. They didn't need to know how it worked. They only needed to provide specific input and wait for the appropriate output to arrive.
"Something goes in, something else goes out."
Certainly, they also needed to be proficient at providing the right instructions to the machine. The more advanced operators possessed a good understanding of the limitations imposed by the 3D printer, and could get the most out of the production machine.
Ves turned to the only person besides him who probably understood 3D printers at a deeper level. "What do you think about this beast, Chief Vasar? Is it good enough to fabricate replacement parts for mechs?"
"It's an old model. Rather worn too. It's not suitable for jobs that require too much precision. The quality of processors and other microcomponents from this printer will be very questionable. I'd rather not put all my chips on this machine."
"Is it good enough to fabricate replacement armor plating?"
"Theoretically, there shouldn't be any issues with that. In practice, a printer as old as this won't work well with harder and tougher alloys. Not that we have access to those alloys anyhow. From what I've heard so far, this shipyard only stocks materials to patch up the hulls of waterbound boats and ships."
"I was afraid of that."
He listened to Chief Vasar as he enumerated a host of issues, some of which Ves had never considered. He respected the old chief's opinion because he possessed the most eminent qualifications among the chief technicians.
Vasar served as the senior chief aboard the Linever Swan. This massive logistics ship was a sister to the Beggar's Bounty, and contained a mix of industry. There was never a moment in time when all of its processing and production facilities had fallen idle. The variety of work that needed to be done was mind-boggling in itself. Only an experienced hand with rich knowledge would be able to maintain a grip on the industrious ship.
Ves had heard something about the man's background. Chief Vasar used to work his way up in the private sector. Back then, he didn't work with mechs. Instead, he became involved with heavy industry, and eventually made a detour into working with mechs.
Compared to the other chief technicians, Vasar's mastery of mechs was rather low. However, his competence in many complicated processes that did not directly involve mech components enabled him to command an undispotable position on the Linever Swan.
"Now that we are establishing control over this complex, what do we need to start fixing mechs?"
The chief scratched his cheek. "If we don't care about quality, we can get to work immediately. This shipyard is decently stocked for a site that isn't a mech workshop. The only problem is that we don't have access to the design specifications of the mechs that had gotten wrecked last night. Without any schematics or design specifications to go on, we'll have to do all the guesswork."
"There's no way we can obtain the right materials that matches those used in the wrecks." Ves responded with resignation in his eyes. "We'll have to resort to substitution to make do. This is the only option available to us that lets us get the most mechs up and running quickly."
By now, the fate of the trapped inhabitants, tourists and visitors became clear. The Reinaldans broadcasted that the terrorists would either launch another attack or escape from the planet as fast as possible.
If the former happened, the Vandals really needed mechs to establish a basic form of defense against the threat of hostile mechs. No matter how much small arms and other inconsequential weapons they made use of, a single mech could definitely squash thousands of them flat!
If the latter happened, the necessity of mechs became no less greater. The escape attempt might be the only time where people could leave Harkensen I. After the first attempt, the Reinaldan fleet assets in orbit would be bound to tighten their watch over the planet.
"Besides, I don't think the assailants will try to run the blockade alone. They are bound to solicit others."
The Reinaldans really didn't wish anyone to leave their ruined paradise planet without going through stringent inspections. This might last up to a month, which didn't sound very long.
For some reason, the higher-ups expressed some urgency in attempting to leave this star system. They couldn't afford to delay for an entire month!
Though nobody ever told Ves the reason for all of the hurry, he surmised it must have been related to the murkiness surrounding Lord Javier.
Ves threw those guesses to the back of his mind. Right now, he needed to fulfill his responsibilities as a head designer. The mech technicians already started to dawdle after they dumped all of their supplies in the complex.
"Alright, you folk! Break time is over! Let's start salvaging some mechs from the beaches!"
He flung some common-sense orders about. He divided the technical crew into separate portions. Some would find some vehicles capable of lifting mechs and use them to recover the fallen mechs from the battlefield. Others went on to prepare the bots, tools and production facilities to work with mechs instead of ships.
They only had a day or two at most to build up their war assets! Any longer than that, and they might miss the upcoming window of opportunity!