The Mech Touch Chapter 618
617 Ultimate Prize
The Starlight Megalodon represented more than just a tool for war. Though classified as capital ships, their majesty and power outshined all other capital ship classes.
The fleet carriers utilized by the militaries of human states paled in comparison to even a single warship. Whether it came to size, technology, materials, firepower, toughness, the combat prowess of a battleship surpassed the combined combat power of a fleet carrier and her full complement of mechs.
A single fleet carrier possessed enough strength to conquer an average medium-populated planet. A battleship possessed enough firepower to destroy the same planet.
Naturally, Ves also came in touch with rumors of even greater weapons of war. The Common Fleet Alliance supposedly developed dreadnoughts capable of snuffing out stars. Even wilder rumors hinted at the existence of gigantic planet-sized constructions capable of wiping out black holes.
That last bit sounded far too mindblowing to Ves. In any case, battleships already formed the culmination of humanity's peak strength. Their dreadful firepower had amply been proven during the Age of Conquest, having broken through countless alien fleets and paving the way for total conquest.
The legacy of that glorious age lived on until today. Much of the traces of alien occupation had been wiped out. Star systems that used to be marked by millennia of alien occupation had been utterly paved over by human terraforming in order to make the planets more favorable for human habitation.
Billions and trillions of planets that used to host diverse ecosystems and marvels of nature lost their unique brands under the vigorous efforts of human expansion. The ceaseless hunger for human-compatible living space turned the ecosystems of these diverse once-alien planets into carbon copies of Old Earth's ancient environment.
All of this was only possible due to humanity's ceaseless development of battleships. Even at the onset of the Age of Mechs, the constant evolution of battleships and other terrible warship classes had never ceased. The CFA had only put them out of sight of human society. Keeping to themselves, they continued to nurture their strength in the shadows in order to safeguard humanity's accomplishments over the aliens that survived until today.
The conquest of the galaxy by the human race had never ceased. It only entered an intermission period. Once the drums of war began to rumble, the power of battleships would definitely make a return to the battlefield.
Even if the Starlight Megalodon had fallen several hundred years ago, a battleship as large as a city would never degrade so easily. Much of her assets would have likely retained their value, even under the crushing influence of five times standard gravity.
"I've got one more question." Ves said. "The Starlight Megalodon is a treasure trove of advanced technology and high-grade exotics. However, she's so large that it's impossible for any single faction to swallow her whole. The CFA would definitely recognize the signs. What is it about the Megalodon that is driving all of you to such extremes that you're even willing to activate your hidden forces on Harkensen I?"
Ves vaguely guessed that the True Sons of Vesia and the other terrorist groups had taken an awful long time to plant on Harkensen I. It must have taken years or decades to accumulate such strength. The investment involved in building up this strength must have been imaginable, but for the potential wealth of the Megalodon, the hidden power responsible for planting these seeds decisively activated them prematurely.
This decision didn't make any sense if the gains from the Megalodon only amount to a few scraps of advanced technology!
"Hm, since you know this much, it won't do any harm of telling you the next part." Calabast amiably said. Now that Ves had agreed to cooperate with her organization, he became a little more pleasing to her eyes. "It's true that we don't dare to plunder the Megalodon wantonly on account of her former owner. No, the true prize we are after is something very different, and won't touch the bottom line of CFA. Can you guess what it is?"
What could those hidden players be after if not for advanced technology or high-grade exotics? Ves furrowed his brows. He couldn't figure out anything someone could gain from the Megalodon that wouldn't touch the nerves of the CFA somehow.
It was like a bunch of robbers invading the summer of a wealthy individual. Even if the robbers only stole something as trivial as a couple of spoons, the mere fact that the home had been intruded upon would definitely enrage the owner.
A few seconds passed as Ves flitted through countless possibilities.
"Let me save you the trouble. What we are truly after is life-prolonging treatment medicine. And not the basic kind, either. These ones will allow someone to extend their lifespan to three-hundred or four-hundred years!"
All of it made sense now! Ves became fully enlightened why the players didn't hesitate to expend all of their accumulation on obtaining the route to the Starlight Megalodon!
It was all about extending their lives!
In the galactic rim, prolonging a human's natural lifespan by a hundred years was expensive and out of reach to most people. Even by borrowing the power of a state, perhaps only a dozen people might benefit from this at most.
However, more advanced treatments had been developed as well. Extending a human's lives by two-hundred, three-hundred or four-hundred years was very much possible.
The only problem was that the cost was too ruinous to contemplate.
Even the Friday Coalition might not be able to bear the cost of prolonging the lives of all of its leaders.
As for Master Mech Designers, not everyone among their ranks earned enough wealth to fund an extension of their lives. Each gradation of life-prolonging treatments demanded an exponentially greater price!
This was why mech designers worked so hard to conquer the mech market. From their first mech design when they became a Novice, they had stepped in an unimaginably competitive race for income and market share. The winners earned enough wealth to extend their lives, while the losers eventually expired under the passing of years.
To third-rate states like the Bright Republic and the Vesia Kingdom, the most basic life-prolonging treatment was all they could afford. Extending a powerful person's life by more had always been a pipedream to these old coots.
Yet now they gained some hope! The discovery of the Starlight Megalodon shone a light at the end of their paths. As long as they worked hard enough, they would eventually be able to live a hundred or two-hundred years longer!
Of course, such a good thing would never be in much supply. Even the CFA themselves couldn't afford to expend the lives of their officers.
"Do you know how much of those medicines are left? Haven't they expired already over the years or due to the crash?" Ves frowned as more questions popped up in his mind. "Maybe the original crew has already used them up."
"That's impossible." Calabast shook her head. "The vault which stores the key medicines is locked even tighter than those encrypted data chips that we are hunting for. Even if the Starlight Megalodon is torn apart, the vault will definitely survive. This, we know. The CFA is never stingy when it comes to storing the containers of the medicines. You can be certain that the crew haven't been able to access it either. After all, these treatments are reserved for senior admirals and great statesman. None of the crew possesses the original access rights."
"If the vault is so hard to get into, how are you planning to break into it? Even if you borrow the power of a taboo weapon, you still won't be able to make a dent on such a formidable vault."
Calabast smirked at him. "I've been generous so far, but I'm afraid this question and answer session is over. Be careful with the information you've received. There are several influences in this star sector who can be very jealous about knowing these secrets. After all, the Megalodon only carries so many doses."
Ves understood what she meant. The pie was very small. It could only be sliced a couple of times, so the number of winners would certainly be no more than a handful.
"Are you aiming to claim a dose for yourself?" Ves probed.
She sighed at that. "That's impossible. Small fry like us will never be able to benefit from this privilege. Even if I get my hands on a treasured dose, it's useless if it isn't processed in the right way. The thing about life-prolonging treatments is that it is more involved than injecting or ingesting the dose. Your body needs to undergo an elaborate series of steps before the medicine comes into play. Only the most eminent doctors of a state are qualified to perform these treatments."
This was why people generally referred to this process as a treatment. The transformation of someone's life directly went against the natural limits of a human body. Perhaps the process was just as dramatic as breaking through the attribute limit.
All of this talk revealed that only a tiny portion of people would eventually benefit from this grand struggle. Underlings such as Ves or Calabast could only lament their powerlessness as the magnates and statesmen at the top worked them to the bone.
Ves tried to offer a consolation prize. "Miss Calabast, even if we leave out the life-prolonging medicines, there should still be lots of goodies for the taking. Those bosses of ours won't mind if we take some liberties, I guess. Compared to obtaining the chance to extend their lives, everything else is irrelevant."
"True. That is something to be considered for the future. For now, we should focus on our immediate concerns. It won't be easy to escape the Reinaldans. While the vast majority of them aren't aware of the existence of Starlight Megalodon, there's definitely a higher up that does."
"Earlier you mentioned that The Big Breakout is doomed to fail. Can you finally tell me why that is so?"
"It's very simple, Ves." She said. "While the masterminds behind this plot were very thorough in their planning, their understanding of what they face is incomplete."
"Did the Reinaldans got wind of our intentions?"
"Surprisingly, no. Naturally, if we hadn't smashed Tecev City's infrastructure so thoroughly, they might have been able to pick up the clues. For now, our agents among the Planetary Guard and the Honored Ones have detected no reactions against your plot."
"Then what else have we overlooked?"
"It's not very complicated. While the Reinaldans haven't thought to bring the vessels parked at the spaceport away, they didn't leave them lying around as they were. In secret, the Reinaldans drained all of their fuel supply. All of them are completely dry!"
"This!" Ves was shocked yet again.
"Hahaha!" Calabast laughed. "Can you imagine the sight! All of you have worked so hard to overcome the defenses of the spaceport. After accomplishing all of your checkpoints, once you Vandals step inside your ships, your ship officers suddenly realize that they're completely incapable of lifting off!"
Ves cursed the Reinaldans. They certainly had devious intentions in mind when they surreptitiously drained all of those fuel tanks. Just this single detail was enough to ruin their entire breakout attempt.
"Since you know about it but still want to be apart of this escape attempt, the problem doesn't seem to be insurmountable. Do you have a solution at hand?"
"Of course we do. We're on the same ship, after all. With all the things that are going on, the Reinaldans don't have the time to transfer the collected fuel. All of the fuels are stored right at the warehouses next to the spaceport." Calabast put her hands inside a pocket of her high-tech suit and removed a simple data chip. She tossed it over to Ves, who hastily caught it before it incurred any damage. "Take this chip to the Vandals. They'll know what to do once they've read what's inside."
The critical time soon came upon them. Ves had very little time to uphold his end of the deal to Calabast and introduce this new variable to the Vandals. He immediately started to move.