The Mech Touch Chapter 619
618 Unwitting Pawns
It took a bit of effort, but Ves finished his chores in time. He first introduced the data chip to the Vandals in charge. While Ves couldn't explain where he got the chip, its explosive contents practically frightened the ghost out of Captain Orfan and the rest. They didn't dare to dismiss this revelation, and quickly informed the other participants.
The Big Breakout had to go through no matter the cost. Their window of escape grew smaller and smaller. With continuous Reinaldan reinforcements arriving at Harkensen I, the blockade became increasingly more perfect. Soon enough, it didn't matter what everyone did. They could never resist against the power of an entire state.
Naturally, not everyone forgot about the question why Ves came into possession of this bombshell. Captain Orfan sneaked a heated glance at Ves, but he ignored every probe sent in his way.
To the Vandals, Ves became increasingly inscrutable as they got to know him. As a head designer, he performed his duties as good as any Journeyman Mech Designer. Among the other mech designers, his competence stood out among the other mech designers like a crane among chickens. Even the revelation that he possessed a monstrously powerful hidden weapon added to his perceived strength.
In other words, Ves had developed his own form of prestige. Even though it was purely intangible, prestige basically allowed him to get away with stunts that ordinarily invited opposition.
"This is like the case with Vesian nobles who always get away when they do something awful."
Part of that was because they held the reigns of power. Another part was because getting away with stuff became something normal to their identities.
Ves simply turned away after that. He couldn't waste any time. In the next hour, he pretended to inspect the cargo containers the Vandals intended to bring along. He even insisted on making a visual inspection, forcing the guards to physically open them up.
Though Ves did not detect the presence of any invisible spooks, he was pretty sure the infiltrators had sneaked into some of the containers.
In any case, Calabast would call him up if anything went wrong.
Despite their initial agreement, Ves did not believe she suddenly became a friend of the Flagrant Vandals. Ultimately, the Vandals and her organization answered to a different player in the know. There was only so much life-prolonging medicines to go around. Each of their bosses aimed to monopolize the spoils for themselves.
"I wonder how many players are taking part in this elaborate game."
Ves guessed it shouldn't be more than ten. Any more, and the risk of exposure became unacceptably large. None of the people in the know wanted to leak the secret. However, the current competition for the Megalodon's encrypted data chips would eventually come to an end.
Once a faction became a winner, the incentive to keep the Megalodon a secret disappeared. If nobody took any precautions, the entire star sector might learn the truth!
He shook his head. "It probably won't come to that. Something explosive as this news is just too impactful to be revealed to the public. I don't believe those powerhouses at the top forgot to take precautions."
The annoying aspect about this situation was that people like Ves became unwitting pawns in this game. If Calabast hadn't approached him for a favor, he might have never gotten an opportunity to become aware of the stakes. The Vandals likely would have kept the secret to themselves until they physically arrived at the Super Earth where the Starlight Megalodon crashed all those years ago.
"I don't even know who I'm working for, really. Is it the president of the Bright Republic? Some marshal of the Mech Corps? A patriarch of an influential family?"
Those rich and powerful fellows hogged most of the meat to themselves without lifting a single finger. Sitting in their mansions at Rittersberg or Bentheim, the only thing they had to do is laze away while the Vandals sustained increasingly more losses.
The most awful fact of all was that this game wasn't even relevant to the ongoing Bright-Vesia War. The cyclical conflict between the two rivaling states was always fought with mechs and mech pilots. Extending the life of a single bigwig hardly impacted the trend of the war.
"It's like the war doesn't matter to them. In the face of extending a new lease on life, it doesn't matter how many Vesians or Brighters get killed."
Ves remained gloomy all the way until dawn soon broke in Tecev City.
Moments earlier, every sleeping Vandal woke up and entered their designated vehicles. As one, the vehicles discreetly lifted off and headed in the direction of the spaceport.
Ves sat inside a transport shuttle. Strapped into his seat, he held a data pad which contained some of the details of The Big Breakout.
The contents surprised him a bit. "This is going a bit too far. The casualties won't be light!"
Even so, nobody flinched from this plan. Compelled by the competition for the Megalodon's data chip, those stuck on Harkensen I needed to break free as soon as they could. Being left behind meant they might never get the opportunity to catch up!
"Are you scared?" Captain Orfan asked. Her expression revealed that she was looking forward to the upcoming battle. "We're going to show those Reinaldans how the rest of the star sector fights!"
"I don't doubt you'll prove yourselves to be the better warriors, captain." Ves quickly replied. "However, this proposal is too cruel. How can we sacrifice so many lives?"
The grin on the mech captain's face faltered a bit. "I won't admit we're saints, but this is something that the other groups have agreed upon. No matter what we think about it, this move is already set in stone."
Ves was relieved that Captain Orfan possessed a conscience, though she easily absolved herself of any guilt by pushing the responsibility to the other groups.
The aircars didn't have to travel very far to reach the meeting site. Once the Vandal aircar fleet arrived at a park, the vehicles halted in the air.
Their fleet wasn't alone. Five other fleets had already arrived. Once the Vandals joined up with them, all of the principal groups had finally been gathered.
Below, an eclectic collection of mechs stood by. Amphibian mechs, landbound mechs and aerial mechs of many shapes and sizes formed up into ranks. In just a couple of hours, the mechs of every participating group had been integrated in a unified chain of command.
All of this looked very impressive to Ves. He quickly counted the number of mechs. "Over seventy mechs… that's a lot, but is it enough to conquer the spaceport?"
As a strategic location and an important channel in and out of the planet, the Reinaldans stationed a fair amount of mechs from the Planetary Guard and the Honored Ones. Since Tecev City was the capital of Harksensen I, the Reinaldans never decreased the strength of its garrison.
"According to the intelligence we've obtained, the spaceport is guarded by at least three mech companies." Captain Orfan informed him. "One landbound regiment of the Planetary Guard and another landbound regiment of the Honored Ones are manning the walls and patrolling the interior. They're backed up by an aerial mech regiment of the Honored Ones that has always been stationed there."
"That's at least a hundred-and-twenty mechs!" Ves exclaimed. "Two-thirds of those will certainly be military-grade mechs, and all of those machines are likely to be in prime condition. There's no way our combined force of scavenged and salvaged mechs can beat those Reinaldan mechs."
The Reinaldan defenders didn't even need to take any risks. As long as they nailed themselves down and withstood the assault, they could easily buy time for reinforcements to arrive.
"It's even worse. The spaceport also hides a deep array of anti-air batteries. They're virtually impossible to reach in their retracted state. With how sneaky the Reinaldans have already showed themselves to be, they'll certainly pop them out once most of the ships are in the air."
The amount of obstacles they had to deal with almost overwhelmed him. Luckily, others have already thought about these issues.
Their transport shuttle departed from the hovering aircar fleet. Once they landed, Captain Orfan and a number of other Vandals exited the shuttle and walked over the grass towards a circle of people. Ves tagged along as well.
"Ah, Captain Orfan, how good of you Vandals to arrive." A friendly-looking mech officer said. "We were just about to finalize the details."
As Captain Orfan hobnobbed with the other commanders, Ves briefly glanced at the other groups.
The Masters of Combat, a mercenary corps from the Vesia Kingdom. Specifically, they hailed from Venidse.
Lydia's Swordmaidens, a pirate gang from the Reinald Republic.
Glorious Space Knights, a mercenary corps from the Council Stars of Lisv.
The Caged, a criminal gang from the Roppo Principality.
Bloodriven Sky, a mercenary corps from the Star Faith Collective of all places.
Along with the Flagrant Vandals, each of them represented a different state. This had been a deliberate choice, the necessity of which became evident soon enough.
Each of the outfits mentioned were strong and numerous. While their combat strength could never match a military mech regiment under regular circumstances, none of them had access to their own mechs right now.
"It doesn't matter how strong everyone is outside this planet."
Right now, the only strength that mattered was the mechs they possessed right now. In this, the disparity between the Vandals and the other groups became lopsided.
The city where the Vandals stayed hadn't been attacked by too many mechs. In contrast, the other outfits that had gathered here obtained their spoils in the major cities. The fighting had been much more intense there, so the outfits succeeded in scavenging much more wrecks.
This meant that despite their formidable outside strength, the Flagrant Vandals had to settle for being the junior partner in this venture.
That said, a mech was a mech. Four extra mechs increased the odds of success.
"Alright, now that we've come to an agreement, let's set off!"
The commanders of the different outfits returned to their shuttles and aircars. Meanwhile, their mechs began to move in the direction of the spaceport.
The mechs slowed down once they reached the other side of the park. Hidden in the trees, a large mob of tourists had gathered at this location. Ordinarily, they hid across the partially ruined city. However, they somehow managed to obtain news that they would be saved if they managed to gather at this point.
Once the strange mix of mechs came into view, the crowd of foreigners grew scared.
"That's not the Planetary Guard! The terrorist mechs have returned!"
"No wait, those mechs look strange! Each of them are different! They all looked patched up!"
A couple of mechs from each outfit stepped forward. "CALM DOWN! We are not terrorists, nor are we related to the Reinaldans. We're foreigners who are stuck on this planet just like you. Now, we haven't lied to you all. We indeed found a way to leave this planet immediately."
Each of the spokespersons engaged the citizens from their own country.
"Citizens of the Bright Republic, please gather in front of my mech!" A Vandal mech announced.
"Citizens of the Vesia Kingdom, step closer please!"
It took some time for the mob to segregate into separate crowds. Perhaps Reinaldans or citizens from other states had mixed in the crowds as well, but the outfits didn't care. The most important fact was that each outfit effectively gained control over thousands of civilians.
The difference between an uncontrolled mob and a partially controlled group of civilians was extremely vital for the next step of the plan.
"If you want to get home, you have to take the opportunity yourselves! Are you resigned to remain stuck on Harkensen I? The Reinaldans have no right to keep us detained! We have families to get home to and work to return to! Don't you wish you can go back to your normal lives?!"
The spokespersons all engaged their own crowd of people. After several minutes of inciting the crowds, they finally got to the crux of their speech.
"Let's head to the spaceport and storm the premises! Our ships are waiting for us to get out of here! Go! The Reinaldans will never kill us all! They won't dare to provoke our states!"
The truth of the matter had finally come to light. The conspirators intended to drive these crowds to storm the spaceport and put the defenders on the spot!