The Mech Touch Chapter 768
766 Out Of Phase
Nobody knew where the shimmering yellow-orange particles came from and how they managed to scramble their communications and sensors. Some of the geeky science officers posited that the particles consisted of a form of higher-dimensional energy that somehow spilled over into realspace.
While the particles blocked their sight and interrupted their transmissions, they didn't do any further damage. They actually looped around solid objects as if they followed some kind of astral wind.
One good consequence of holding all of those meetings to discuss all kinds of contingency plans was that they already formed a plan for this sort of eventuality.
Each Vandal ship should be deploying all of their spaceborn mechs. They kept their heavier mechs on perimeter guard should any threats emergence from the astral winds. More importantly, they should be deploying their lighter mechs into expanding circles and spheres in order to reconnect with the rest of the fleet, should they be near.
Half an hour went by as the expanding chain of light mechs encountered their counterparts from a random selection of Vandal and Swordmaiden combat carriers and supply ships. It quickly became evident that the Flagrant Swordmaidens emerged out of FTL in a muddled soup that bore no resemblance to their previous formation.
What they feared the most right now was missing out on a couple of ships because they fell just outside the detection envelope of their search parties.
Right now, the Vandals prioritized the search for the Gorgon's Gaze, the Beggar's Bounty and the Linnever Swan.
It would hurt if they lost their other ships, but they couldn't lose their expert pilot and their logistics ships!
Fortunately, it didn't appear they landed in the vicinity of an enemy force that had arrived beforehand. The engineers and science officers slowly figured out what happened as the Flagrant Swordmaidens slowly converged together after coming across a friendly patrol.
"As best as we can tell, sir, is that we should have arrived in the Aeon Corona System sooner, but due to entering a field of distorted gravity, time and space appeared to have stretched out for a few days. This caused us to experience more time inside the region of affected than outside, essentially speeding up our perspective. This stretch in spacetime suddenly sprang back to normal, causing us to be gently thrown forward and into the Aeon Corona System ahead of schedule."
"What are the consequences?"
"Our transition coordinates may deviate depending on the strength of the push. Heavier ships are less affected than lighter vessels, so our lighter transports should be the farthest flung away while the heaviest logistics ships shouldn't be too far away from our original formation. Once we find the logistics ships, we should be able to figure out the center of our spread-out emergency pattern, sir."
Major Verle furrowed his brows. He understood the implications. Find the logistics ships and they had the potential to gather everyone back together again. The problem was that half an hour had gone by and they still hadn't found the big and lumbering vessels. It meant that their spread was wide enough that they stood a real chance of getting cut off from the rest.
"What can you tell about our emergence zone."
The science officer consulted a data pad. "According to Chief Avanaeon, we have emerged at a different angle than anticipated. The spacetime storm has flung us minutely off-course, but not to the extent of missing the Aeon Corona System entirely. He did state that any other fleet who jumped to the Aeon Corona System from the same dwarf system we departed earlier will likely be flung in an entirely different angle relative to the trinary stars. Chances are low that we will encounter ships that have jumped to the same System due to the constantly changing ripple effects of the spacetime storm."
"So in short, our own fleet may be scrambled across tens of thousands of kilometers while enemy fleets may have been flung several light-hours away, is that right?"
"Correct, but there's more, sir. We have modeled the streams of particles and have discovered that they are being funneled into space from a central location in the star system. The source is situated at a large terrestrial planet that we have tentatively identified as Aeon Corona VII."
Aeon Corona VII! The source of all of these astral winds came from a single planet instead of one of the stars! What's more, the science officer mentioned that the seventh planet from the trinary stars consisted of a terrestrial, rock-like planet!
"Does Aeon Corona VII match our expected parameters?"
"We are still unsure, sir. Several terrestrial planets that are distinguishable on our gravitic sensors may also be the Super Earth we are looking for. Due to the pervasive astral winds, every observation we make is distorted."
Their priorities were clear. Before they moved to investigate Aeon Corona VII, they first needed to gather their forces and regroup into a cohesive force. "Please send a coded message the Jaded Sword via our quantum entanglement node. Tell them we have reached the system and seek to rendez-vous."
"Uhm, sir, that won't be possible." The communications officer replied.
"Our quantum entanglement node is permanently rendered inoperative. The entangled particles have lost their entanglement! All of them are decoupled!"
"Are you joking?!"
Upon further questioning, the communications officer and the specialists in charge of the quantum entanglement node concluded that the spacetime storm essentially isolated them from the rest of the galaxy at some fundamental level.
After a brief consultation with the science officer, they developed a theory. The head geek explained the situation to Major Verle in simple terms.
"Sir, imagine that before we jumped into the Aeon Corona System, our ships were located anchored in space and time. When we transitioned into FTL, our ships were lifted up in the higher dimensions where the laws of nature operate among slightly different principles. When we emerged into this star system, we haven't actually returned to the familiar confines of realspace. Instead, this entire star system is enveloped in a bubble of spacetime that is neither realspace or higher dimensional space."
Major Verle's expression grew difficult. As a mech officer who rose up from the ranks through excelling in combat, administration and command, his literacy in the sciences fell far behind. "How does that impact our quantum entanglement node."
"Well, it shouldn't, really." The science officer expressed his doubts. "The particles at the heart of our nodes should have remained entangled with their counterparts at the Comm Consortium. However, we hypothesize the Aeon Corona System is situated in an anomalous phase of existence that is anchored at the edge of realspace and some of the higher dimensional spaces. You can consider it to be in an alternate phase of existence where distances and the passage of time may be warped. This distortion is strong enough that the entanglement of our particles can't endure the deviances. Simply put, they got angry and quit their jobs."
The lengthy explanation implied more than just a snapped communication line with the outside galaxy. It implied that the star system and everyone inside of it may be experiencing vastly accelerated or decelerated time! Perhaps a single day inside the Aeon Corona System corresponded to ten days outside!
Nobody knew, because they were all trapped in the bubble. Trying to observe the condition of the rest of the galaxy was impossible because of all the astral winds blocking their long-ranged sensors.
Right now, the complicated explanation hammered home the fact that they couldn't come crying for mommy in this screwed up star system. Not that anyone would send help anyway, but it was the thought that counted.
In the end, they needed to wait. A tense couple of hours went by as the newly formed fleet centered around the Shield of Hispania gathered an increasing amount of stray vessels.
Four hours after entering the Aeon Corona System, they finally met up with their missing logistics ships. The Jaded Sword found them first and took charge of their own growing fleet.
Once the two collections of ships found each other, they immediately converged and merged into a single whole.
After twelve hours since their unexpected emergence, almost every vessel had been accounted for. They even tracked down the Gorgon's Gaze after homing in on the faint resonance emissions transmitted by the Parallax Star.
The return of their expert pilot led to a small celebration among the Vandals and even the Swordmaidens. Venerable Xie's prestige had only grown in his brief absence as the Vandals and Swordmaidens lacked an anchor that could put them at ease.
Just as they accounted for every ship, including the smallest and most far-flung transports, they failed to discover the whereabouts of two different vessels.
"Where is the Finmoth Regal?" Major Verle asked with an increasingly dour face.
After twenty hours of reconstituting their combined fleet, both the Vandals and the Swordmaidens still missed one ship each. The Vandals sent out mechs on increasingly wider spiral orbits in an attempt to track down their errant combat carrier, while the Swordmaidens did the same for the Goombal Chelsea, one of their recently-captured light carriers!
Both ships carried a considerable amount of mechs, and losing them at this juncture weakened their forces considerably!
As best their engineers and science officers could tell, the spacetime undulations that threw them into the Aeon Corona System ahead of schedule affected the missing ships a little more different!
"They can be anywhere, sir." The science officer explained after an exhausting period of performing calculations and making educated guesses. "There is a small probability that the Finmoth Regal and the Goombal Chelsea have missed the Aeon Corona System entirely. A more likely possibility is that they are flung to a different emergence zone that is up to several light-hours away from our position."Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
At some point, their chances of finding their missing ships became increasingly less likely. Their light mechs ranged so far ahead of the reorganized fleet that they risked straying off course.
Apparently, space didn't exactly remain stable.
The ripples in the astral winds induced a small but fairly noticeable amount of distortion that made it far too risky to split up. A mech that flew straight ahead for a while and then turned a hundred-and-eighty degrees and went back might miss the fleet by several hundred kilometers!
These oddities forced Major Verle to implement a policy stating that mechs on patrols should never stray fifty kilometers away from each other. This severely shrank their scouting and patrol range. If they bumped into something dangerous, they only had a brief period of time to come up with a response!
"It's been thirty hours. Stop the search and set course to Aeon Corona VII." Major Verle finally ordered after consultation with Commander Lydia. Neither of them could afford to be delayed while other pirates might have already reached the seventh planet and perhaps the source of the spacetime anomaly.
The fleet moved in unison, falling into an altered formation that left them closer and tighter than they were comfortable with. Their condensed formation flew against the currents of the astral winds blasting the entire star system.
The bright and blinding particles that changed from yellow to orange in a random pattern parted neatly in front of their ships and mechs, only to converge again after their passing.
Besides their visibility, the Flagrant Swordmaidens failed to figure out the nature of the moving particles. The most predominant theory they came up with was that it consisted of matter or energy native to the higher dimensions.
Such particles had been observed before, but most of the research had been conducted in the galactic heartland and the galactic center. A backwater state like the Bright Republic shouldn't even be messing with these kind of exotic particles in the first place. Therefore, every science-minded Vandal in the fleet were basically starting from scratch.
One thing was for sure, though. Something extremely drastic must have happened on Aeon Corona VII to flood the surrounding space with so much astral wind!
The only way the Flagrant Swordmaidens could obtain answers was to travel to the eye of the storm.
Hopefully, they might meet the missing Finmoth Regal and the Goombal Chelsea along the way. In the event a ship became isolated from the fleet, they received orders to converge at the mission site.