The Mech Touch Chapter 724
722 Preparing To Receive
The embers of a previous struggle smouldered in the Ermeghast System. Normally empty and desolate save for an orange dwarf and a couple of anemic planets, it currently hosted five different forces!
The Shining Stars Colonization Fleet from the Dark Plasma Star Sector arrived in the greatest number of ships. Searching for hope and a new beginning, they fell victim to the twin threats of the frontier.
The Fire Treaders, wild beasts and dogs in human form, preyed upon the colonists and exiles with contemptuous ease. The defending mechs of the colonists, which mostly consisted of the former household guards loyal to the Fourth Prince of a far-away kingdom, fell by weight of sheer numbers from the pirates.
The Fire Treaders pillaged what they could and burned what they couldn't, revelling in the pleasure of spreading more chaos and anarchy with their short-sighted actions! They have incurred many enemies with their destructive habits, but they always found their way back into the territory of the Ravienne Alliance when targeted by a larger force.
The mid-sized sandmen fleet that popped up in the Ermeghast System had taken both by surprise. While the alien force failed to catch up to the two human fleets, they did manage to lay claim to the immobile debris field composed of the broken mechs and ships of the former colonization fleet.
Whatever valuable energy or materials they contained became the spoils of war from this scavenging alien fleet. Even the aggressive Fire Treaders lacked the courage to provoke the sandmen fleet. It was not because they thought they would lose, but because the 'ships' composed of sand-like material simply couldn't burn!
What was the fun of bullying such a boring race of aliens that largely resembled bots rather than true sentients? That aside, the Fire Treaders didn't possess an overwhelming advantage, so they would certainly become crippled after fighting a mutually destructive battle.
The Flagrant Swordmaiden fleet arrived late to the party. If they emerged out of FTL only a single day sooner, they might have been able to rescue the exiles from the Palast Kingdom for a hefty price.
Nonetheless, the Fourth Prince and his ragged band of survivors were still able to offer up their most valuable asset in the fleet. Even their colonization ship including their 'cargo' of two-hundred thousand colonists frozen in cryosleep paled in comparison to the most valuable asset of this fallen royal.
His expert pilot!
Any expert pilot was a treasure to an outfit. In fact, many pirate gangs, mercenary corps and other private sector outfits generally couldn't afford to employ an expert pilot! Merely funding the development and fabrication of a fully-customized cost as much as an entire combat carrier!
Though an expert pilot added to an outfit's strength, they also formed an enormous drain on their finances. The only way an outfit would be able to sustain the employment of an expert was to enter into lucrative but exceedingly risky contracts. Such jobs often turn out to be extremely lethal to the rank-and-file, with only the expert pilot able to guarantee their own life.
Therefore, to most self-sustained outfits, it made no financial sense to hire an expert pilot.
Only outfits sponsored by states or large organizations were able to carry the financial burden of doing so. The Flagrant Vandals may have acquired a foul taste when they paid a literal fortune to lure Venerable O'Callahan in their clutches, but the old man had reached the end of his expiration date.
The Vandals needed a new replacement if they wanted to stay in the exclusive club of military mech regiments that boasted at least one expert pilot among their ranks. Getting kicked out of this enviable club meant that the Vandals risked annihilation each time they engaged elements of an enemy mech regiment in battle.
In fact, the Vandals already tasted such a calamity when they captured Venerable Relia Foster in Vesian space!
Despite the facts that the young female expert pilot advanced in the middle of the battle and piloted bog-standard training mechs, she still managed to massacre scores of skilled Vandal mech pilots!
The Flagrant Vandals never quite recovered from the trauma they acquired from that pyrrhic victory.
Therefore, even if Venerable Xie was a second-hand bargain bin product among mech pilots, the desperate Flagrant Vandals still wanted to welcome him with open arms!
As for Lydia's Swordmaidens? As a pirate gang, they simply didn't have the money to support him in the first place. The fact that Xie was very obviously a man also repelled the Swordmaidens who only fielded female mech pilots as an ironclad rule.
That said, rescuing the Fourth Prince and his final retainers still benefited the Swordmaidens. While the Vandals got the expert pilot, the Swordmaidens received almost all of Prince Hixt-Klaaster's remaining liquid assets. The ponce hadn't been completely unprepared and stored a large amount of K-coins, K-bars and even K-slates in the Rovista Splendor's vault to fund a vigorous colonization effort.
The Prince promised to hand over nearly the entire contents of his vault to the Swordmaidens if they saved him! The Swordmaidens stood to gain enough Kavenite to double their effective strength if they spent it all!
The tragic flight of the Rovista Splendor illustrated the dire straits in which the once-great Shining Stars Colonization Fleet ended up in. The expensive combat carrier bore the scars and hull breaches that spoke of intensive combat, and currently attempted to burn its entire propulsion to accelerate a little bit faster.
The two cargo haulers that carried vital supplies for kick starting a new colony simply couldn't keep up. The relentless mechs of the Fire Treaders easily overtook the sluggish vessels and forced them to a stop. Their crews and their cargo both became the pirate gang's spoils of war.
Yet even after securing such precious cargo, the Fire Treaders still hungered for more. Light mechs nipped at the heels of the Rovista Splendor. Those armed with rifles harassed the desperately fleeing flagship with a constant barrage of long-ranged potshots.
Though they could have caught up with the combat carrier, the vanguard of the Fire Treaders restrained themselves from crossing an invisible line. Any light mech approached too close to the Rovista Splendor would be struck by unerringly accurate fire from the mech piloted by Venerable Xie.
If nothing else, Xie's unerring accuracy alone was worth his weight in monoexurite!
As the Rovista Splendor's desperate flight kept her out of the clutches of the Fire Treaders long enough to enter the protective envelope of the Flagrant Swordmaidens, the looming threat diminished.
The Fire Treaders may be daring, but they weren't suicidal. The vanguard mechs of the pirates stood no chance against the combined patrols of the Swordmaidens and the Vandals. The latter force especially possessed enough mechs and firepower to stomp their main fleet!
Therefore, at some point, the Fire Treaders meekly cancelled their pursuit and pulled their forces back.
With the sandmen fleet in the distance appropriating the spoils that should have been theirs, the sullen Fire Treaders began to navigate towards the nearest exit. Squeezed between the Flagrant Swordmaidens on one side and the sandmen fleet on the other side, a modest pirate gang like theirs wouldn't be able to obtain any profits in the Ermeghast System!
"The trash knows where it belongs." Ves muttered as he waited on the flight deck of an exclusive hangar bay formerly reserved for Venerable O'Callahan's use.
Standing next to him, Ketis fidgeted in her boots. Her attention span was never very long, and she longed to grab the floating scabbard hovering behind her back to perform some impromptu sword practice.
To the other side stood the dastardly duo that used to drove Ves mad to the point of tearing out his raven hair.
Ves had little to say about Chief Leo Keys. While a chief technician was supposed to defer to the mech designer in charge, his lack of initiative in the face of Lisbeth's force of will was straight up cowardice. Chief Haine would never let Lisbeth go so far into developing redundant spare parts that served no purpose but to stroke O'Callahan's sense of delusional self-worth.
Though the chief needed a good kick in the butt, it was his mech designer who bore the brunt of the blame for their department's dysfunction.
The bright and peppy appearance of Lisbeth Eta-Denmerksen betrayed her unbearably happy mood at welcoming the arrival of a new expert pilot.
Ever since O'Callahan sealed himself back into semi-perpetual sleep, the specialist Apprentice became half an orphan of sorts. Would she still be useful if the vaunted Parallax Star could no longer call upon an expert pilot to ride it into battle?Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
Now that a new expert pilot was about to arrive to replace O'Callahan's role, Lisbeth regained all of her drive. Not only would she be able to excuse her department's extravagant budget as Venerable Xie was rumored to be capable of piloting lancer mechs, but she would also have the privilege of caring for yet another expensive expert mech!
She couldn't wait to grope her hands all over this new landbound rifleman mech!
Perhaps the only presence that declined to attend this greeting party was Acolyte Villis! The uninvited guest assigned to tail Ves had bewilderingly made herself scarce at this moment.
He knew that she was still holing up somewhere aboard the Gorgon's Gaze. Ves explicitly confirmed her presence on the shuttle bringing Ketis and him to this ship.
Therefore, her abrupt absence said a lot about the method used to obscure the worshippers of Haatumak from detection.
Evidently, the enhanced senses of an expert pilot posed a considerable risk to them despite being able to fool everyone else!
Ves took a mental note of this observation. If nothing else, he knew he could perform some tasks without being snooped by the creepy old invisible lady as long as he stood next to the expert pilot.
He hoped that Venerable Xie wouldn't be as stuck up and inaccessible as Venerable O'Callahan.
That reminded him that he should take care of some other business while he was here.
"Yes, Mr. Larkinson?" She responded with a smile.
"Our task force is currently cut off from civilization and safe harbor alike. Now that we are nearing the supposed location of the Starlight Megalodon, it is even more important to conserve our current resources. Now that we are phasing out our dependence on Venerable O'Callahan and phasing a brand-new expert pilot, it is time to implement some necessary reforms to your department."
The smile on Lisbeth's face grew a little stiff, as if she already possessed an inkling of what might come. "Come again, sir?"
Ves turned to match Lisbeth's sunny smile with a shark-like grin of his own. "Whatever demands Venerable O'Callahan may have imposed upon your department, that has ended the moment he dragged his exhausted body back into his long-term resting place. The extravagances that your department currently enjoys ends now."
Perhaps Lisbeth would have kicked up a fuss if Venerable O'Callahan was still around to back her up, but he could no longer do so. Maybe the woman intended to win over Venerable Xie quickly in order to use him to fend off Ves, but that was why he chose to rebuke Lisbeth now instead of later.
This window of opportunity where she lacked a powerful backer was the best time to put her into place!
"What changes do you wish to implement?" She shakily asked, though she still managed to maintain her smile.
"I'm cutting your budget and allocation of resources by fifty percent, effective immediately." He brutally announced. He might as well chop her face with an axe seeing how shocked she responded to his words. "I originally wanted to cut your budget by seventy-five percent, but then I remembered that your department will be responsible for servicing the Pale Dancer as well."
"Mr. Larkinson!" She cried! "You can't do that! Cutting our budget in half will ruin our precious expert mechs! You're asking us two maintain twice as many expert mechs with just half of our old share of funds and resources! Effectively, you're telling us to make due with a fourth of the budget for each expert mech! That's impossible!"