The Mech Touch Chapter 774
772 Aeon Corona Vii
After twenty minutes of exchanging half-baked theories, unsupported arguments and baseless speculation, they came no closer to explaining what went on with Venerable Xie and his cavalier behavior in the last battle.
"Enough!" Major Verle let out an outburst. "It is obvious that neither of us lack the expertise to judge the actual outcome of your work. I will have my men keep an eye on the subordinate and make an attempt to read his thoughts from his actions. For what is worth, I believe you when you state your changes has achieved at least something. Venerable Xie has not made a single attempt to contact the Fourth Prince, thereby continuing the ruse where he's still alive."
The death of Prince Hixt-Klaaster was a very regrettable matter to them both. If that Acolyte in the service of the Church of Haatumak hadn't been shrewd enough to target the prince, then Ves wouldn't have been compelled to break a great taboo and tamper the neural interfaces of an expert pilot.
"There is a chance that Venerable Xie is merely pretending that he has lost interest in catching up to the Fourth Prince." Ves couldn't help but add.
"There you go again." Major Verle shook his head in a tired manner. "You are full of guesses, but what is the point of answering so many questions? Without proof, none of your assertions can be taken as the truth. Still, I'll assign more men as a precaution."
After discussing a few other matters, Ves left the stateroom and went to his office to take care of paperwork that piled up after every major battle. The fleet stood down from red alert but maintained yellow alert in case the sandmen fleet brought friends.
Sand and sand-like particles drifted into the astral winds as soon as the battle had ended. Nothing remained of their enemies and the handful of mechs they managed to engulfed. Any mech that ended in their clutches would have been broken down as the sand pressed down on their frames from all sides until they finally broke into fragments.
Unless a mech was rescued in the first couple of seconds, they never came back intact. Despite the somewhat primitive way the sandmen fought, they utilized their unique properties to great advantage.
Ves looked at the final tally and saw that the Flagrant Vandals lost another ten mechs due to the initial ambush and various mishaps during the spontaneous battle. Most of their mech pilots ejected in time and survived, fortunately, but the fleet didn't carry enough spare mechs to put them to use.
For now, the mech pilots who lost their own mechs had to be benched and put on reserve.
He contemplated whether to request the logistics ships to fabricate a bunch of cheap mechs to put these pilots back into action, but he rejected this option in the end.
"It's going to take way too many resources to fabricate completely new mechs. We need those resources for repairs and other purposes."
He processed other matters that came to his desk. Some of the combat carriers almost emptied out their ammunition reserves, prompting Ves to place an order to replenish them. The logistics ships already had their hands full for the next week as they accessed their store of bulk materials to fabricate cheap, low-quality rounds and shells to replenish their ammunition stockpile.
The low-quality rounds wouldn't be as damaging or reliable than the commercially-manufactured ammunition, but Vse would rather have an abundance of low-quality rounds than a limited selection of higher-quality ammunition.
"At this rate, our stores of bulk materials will be consumed. We really have to seek out some asteroid or moons to mine or else our guns don't have anything to fire anymore after winning a couple of skirmishes against the sandmen."
The presence of the sandmen hung over everyone's head like the Sword of Damocles. No one knew another sword took the place of the old one and threatened to hack off their heads.
Such a nightmare scenario frightened Ves quite badly because he was more aware of the state of the fleet than the average Vandal.
Even though the Flagrant Vandals dragged a considerable supply train long, most of them consisted of transports and cargo haulers that carried a large but finite amount of resources. Once they tapped out their stockpile, their supply situation would really start to crater.
Naturally, this only applied to the Vandals. Lydia's Swordmaidens may have brought their own supply train, but their depth and breath of resources couldn't match the preparations of their allies.
While Ves did not have exact figures in possession, his casual interrogation of Ketis revealed that they would likely run out of bulk resources when the Vandals only expended a third of their own bulk stockpiles.
In short, if the Vandals really needed to find an asteroid field or a moon to stabilize their increasingly precarious supply situation.
"Fortunately, physical ammunition is only useful for our spaceborn situation."
The Vandals did not plan on deploying any mechs that relied solely on ballistic weapons on the ground. Even Venerable Xie's Pale Dancer would have to exchange its trusty ballistic rifle with a customized laser rifle that Miss Lisbeth and Chief Keys originally fabricated for the Parallax Star. The weapon had collected dust for years, and would finally see some use after undergoing modifications to make it more compatible to the Pale Dancer.
A few hours went by as the Flagrant Swordmaidens finally recovered from their previous ordeal. After a brief round of servicing, the mechs assigned to patrol the fleet launched into space and began to form a single chain of mechs that extended outwards in each direction.
The detection envelope reached as much as eight-hundred kilometers from each direction! Such a distance granted the fleet a lot more minutes of vital preparation time.
The daisy-chain of mechs also allowed them to transmit targeting data for the artillery mechs safely ensconced in the bunkers along the hulls of the combat carriers they rode with. The Akkaras possessed the heaviest weight of fire and therefore played a principal role in the defence against any other sandmen fleet that might emerge.
Despite their caution and their heightened vigilance, the Flagrant Swordmaidens encountered neither sandmen or pirates as they took an astonishing amount of time to reach the vicinity of Aeon Corona VII.
As the fleet arrived in high orbit above the massive Super Earth, more details emerged from their observations. Major Verle called for a conference meeting in order to discuss their findings.
Ves sat in the side alongside Chief Haine and Chief Avanaeon while the mech officers sat on the other side of the compartment. Projections of Vandals stationed on the other ships emerged and filled up the conference room to bursting.
Yet despite the potential hubbub that could have emerged from gathering so many Vandals together, no one spoke a word. Now that they finally came within reach of their mission, everyone wanted to get it over with. Everyone had already heard scattered snippets of disturbing information on Aeon Corona VII, so each of them desired clarity at this point!
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'll skip the pleasantries in order to tell you the facts. The longer we spend on discussions, the longer our potential rivals can implement their own plans. In the interest of time, please keep your questions short."
With that out of the way, Major Verle made a gesture in the air that caused the central projection to flare to life. A live, scaled-down projection of Aeon Corona VII spun in front of everyone attending the meeting.
"Aeon Corona VII. The preliminary information we have obtained largely checks out. This planet is a Super Earth that is several times the size and mass of Old Earth. However, it is also significantly less dense, so its average gravity on the ground amounts to six times the gravity of Old Earth."
That caused many of the mech officers and support staff assigned on the ground to become a little discomforted. The difference between five and six g's was fairly significant.
"Now, let us discuss the first major observation we have made on our most sensitive sensors." The major gestured to the massive globe. "Aeon Corona VII used to be a life-bearing exoplanet with its own fully-developed biodiversity that has adapted to its heavy gravity. However, the arrival of the Starlight Megalodon changed all of that. The signs of light terraforming is very evident to us. Not only has the planet's atmosphere been adjusted to allow humans to breathe the air without filters or air cyclers, much of the lush flora consists of Old Earth strains modified to withstand heavy gravity."
The projection zoomed in on a particular location on the planet. Through the heavy distortion and interference, those present spotted a definite pattern to the astral winds.
"The astral winds are spreading from those coordinates! Is that… the Starlight Megalodon?"
"We have a forty percent certainty that this is indeed the crash site of the Starlight Megalodon." Major Verle confirmed, causing a wave of awe and gasps to ripple throughout the Vandal officers. "However, the high concentration of astral winds make it impossible for our sensors to reach the ground level and confirm our suspicions. For now, we will presume that the Starlight Megalodon can be found at these coordinates unless proven wrong."
"Sir, what about the survivors?" Captain Orfan spoke up. Her projection dithered a tiny bit due to the astral wind flowing between their ships. "We heard there are human settlements on the planet! Are the rumors true?!"Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
The major threw an annoyed glance at the brash mech captain. Trust her to speak out of turn just to satisfy her curiosity.
"The rumors have some merit behind them for once." The Major coughed. The projection zoomed back out of the blinding volcano of yellow-orange particles and zoomed towards the other side of the planet. The astral winds and the interference wasn't nearly as bad here, enabling the Vandals to take snapshots of the surface. Interspersed between the lush green arboreal regions, deep blue oceans and arid desert terrain, a handful of points lit up. As the projection of the planet zoomed in, they identified a vague but distinctive shape of artificial construction!"
"That's… a city!"
It wasn't the only city. The projection panned from city to city, eventually putting the total count of identified settlements past twenty.
The projection then halted on the biggest city, which was coincidentally situated on the opposite side of the planet to the presumed crash site of the Starlight Megalodon.
"All of these cities are surrounded by an energy field that makes it hard to identify their properties. However, our specialists have derived a lot of conclusions from their studies. First, they are definitely of human construction. The technology and architecture that we have managed to glean from our observations has given us a high confidence that the inhabitants of the city are the descendents of the original crew of the Starlight Megalodon."
Due to earlier revelations, this didn't prompt a lot of shock from the Vandals. One of them raised his hand though.
"How are they able to live on Aeon Corona VII without getting crushed by the gravity, sir? I would think that most babies will get crushed before they finish developing!"
"That is why we believe the energy field that surrounds the cities is somehow able to mitigate the heavy gravity. Within the range of this field, the gravity experienced by those inside is likely to be close to standard gravity!" The major exclaimed.
That was a very significant technological achievement if that were true!
"Second, might I remind you that time passes faster on the surface of the planet than in the outside galaxy." He continued. "The humans stranded on Aeon Corona VII have lived through several thousand years of trying to eke out an existence on this unfriendly planet! That is more than enough time for them to undergo radical adjustments in their culture and society! For all we know, they have completely forgotten their roots and gone native!"
If that was true, then this represented a shocking outcome! After several thousands of years of isolation, would the survivors even be aware of the majesty of what their ancestors were once part of? Or had they devolved into a fractured, tribal society where the CFA had faded into myth and legend?