The Mech Touch Chapter 883
881 Fiery Hearts
A fatalistic mood overtook the Flagrant Vandals and Lydia's Swordmaidens. Both of them knew that the Vesians wouldn't spare any of them even if they laid down their weapons and surrendered. The only way they could survive was to eke out a victory.
Therefore, even if everyone's morale was awful, they burned with the willingness to battle. They wanted to chop as much Vesian mechs as possible to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat!
Lydia's Swordmaidens possessed firm wills that would never be shaken so easily. They faced worse odds and managed to overturn the situation around. As long as they fought to their heart's content, what was there for them to regret?!
At the very least, the Swordmaidens would still live on without Commander Lydia and the landbound forces. While Lydia's Swordmaidens may no longer be called by that name upon the death of their founder, their sisters would still be able to rise up from the ashes.
Therefore, the Swordmaidens trapped on the surface needed to fight as hard as they could so they would not dishonor their names!
"Victory in battle! Glory in defeat!"
"The Swordmaidens shall live forever!"
"Death is not the end! Death is nothing to be afraid of! If death comes for us, then let us laugh in its face!"
The war cries thundering throughout the Swordmaiden side of the camp practically bowled over the Vandals. They could feel the grit and determination of the female warriors and couldn't help but be inspired by their unity and determination.
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The Vandals didn't want to let themselves be shown up by a bunch of frontier pirates. While fear still wracked their minds, they tried their best to push it back. If they must die, then they wanted to go kicking and screaming!
It was only when their backs were pressed against the wall that the Vandals truly acted with the demeanor of soldiers. The Vesians might have thought they managed to sap their wills, but instead they stoked them into a raging wildfire!
Even if the Vesians won in the end, they must absolutely suffer every step of the way!
Ves met with Captain Byrd, Chief Dakkon and Dr. Tillman to discuss the disposition of some of their most sensitive assets.
When they entered Captain Byrd's office, the mech officer prepared three high-capacity secure data chips for them. These data chips not only stored much more data than the cheaper varieties, they also possessed much stronger encryption as well. Regular hackers needed decades to crack the encryption through brute force.
Byrd gestured towards the data chips. "Please take the data chips and store them well. Each of them contains full logs of what has transpired in our expedition. The data chips also has plenty of room for you to fill up with any pertinent research data that you may feel the need to add."
"Why are you giving us these data chips?" Dakkon asked.
"In the event of a defeat, I want you to make a run for the Starlight Megalodon. The Vesians are cutting us off from entering the red zone right now, but in the event of a battle and defeat, they may lose too many mechs for them to be on guard against some small fry running away on foot. That is the best opportunity for some fish to slip through the net."
Everyone became depressed at the thought. What Captain Byrd actually suggested stood almost no chance of succeeding. Even if they ran past the encirclement of the Vesians, they still needed to traverse more than a hundred kilometers before they reached the safe zone around the Starlight Megalodon. The Vesians could easily track their footsteps and catch up to them before they made it far.
Therefore, what Captain Byrd suggested was extremely unlikely to come to pass. No one called her out for it because even a sliver of chance of success sustained this attempt.
As long as someone managed to slip away against overwhelming odds, the Flagrant Vandals and the Mech Corps gained valuable intelligence on what transpired on the ground. The authenticity of the logs wouldn't be called into question despite all the outlandish discoveries they made as long as no one tampered with the records.
Ves picked up the data chip first. Unlike the others, Miss Calabast already arranged his escape route. Therefore, he felt more assured that he could complete Captain Byrd's final request.
"I'll make sure this data chip falls in the right hand if I manage to survive and make it out of this planet." He pledged solemnly.
This was one promise he was determined to meet. The sacrifice of the Vandal ground forces shouldn't be in vain. Having witnessed how the Vandals climbed out of the pit of despair with fiery hearts, Ves couldn't help but get caught up in their fervor!
They were Vandals! They were servicemen! They were Brighters!
Rolling over to die was not in their blood!
Even when the Vandals faced imminent defeat, they still wanted to do what was best for the Bright Republic!
How could Ves not respect such patriotic determination? He felt helpless and powerless at his inability to turn the tide. He hated how little a mech designer's influence reached when it came to situations like this! If he possessed the battle prowess of an expert pilot, then at least he'd be able to fight on their behalf!
Yet his awful genetic aptitude precluded him from ever entering the cockpit as a mech pilot! Ves felt extraordinarily frustrated at his lack of combat capabilities. Even if he possessed the powerful Amastendira, the most he could do was shoot ten high-powered laser beams that might or might not be able to pierce through the armor of a light mech.
What then? He'd die as quick as that when a single mech retaliated against him. He'd either die from getting stepped upon by a melee mech or being vaporized out of existence when a ranged mech fired a laser at his position.
The boiling blood running through his veins urged him to fight back anyway. His pride and heritage as a Larkinson insisted upon it! How could a Larkinson hole themselves up in the rear and cower in the face of an enemy attack? How could a Larkinson think about abandoning their comrades and scurrying away from danger?
As Ves left Captain Byrd's office and returned to his office in order to load up the data chip with a bunch of research data from all of the research projects the Vandals conducted, he tried to reconcile his conflicting urges.
"I may be a Larkinson, but I'm not a warrior." He muttered. "I have no place on the battlefield. My presence makes no difference."
Ves inadvertently reminded himself of Eric Kichiro, the mech designer of Chopra Security Services and one of the few surviving Choprans the fleet picked up from a debris field in space.
The mech designer survived by being one of the first Choprans to abandon ship and eject from his escape pod.
He still remembered the phrase uttered by Eric.
"Cowardice is a virtue!"
Of course, Eric subsequently died a coward's death. A Chopran mech captain sneaked into his holding cell and executed the mech designer.
Did Eric deserve his death?
"He definitely had it coming. His early flight set off a premature evacuation and practically ruined the Chopran's chances of winning against the NIN that stabbed them in the back."
Yet if Ves fled the Vandals, would he be committing the same sin as Eric?
Ves didn't think so. First, the situation on the ground was a lot different than in space. A few people on foot trying to flee wasn't as conspicuous as a bunch of escape pods emerging from a ship.
Second, Captain Byrd already tacitly consented to such behavior when she passed over the high-capacity data chips. In fact, she even hoped that some of them might successfully flee. The Vandals on the ground must not be forgotten. All of their deeds and actions needed to be returned to the Bright Republic so that their sacrifice could be honored.
Third, Ves did not plan to flee too early in the battle. Captain Byrd spoke correctly when she said that nothing could sneak past the Vesian blockade at their full strength. Perhaps the means arranged by Miss Calabast might be an exception, but even then their chances of success became much greater if they fled at a time the Vesians incurred the maximum amount of losses possible.
"Cowardice is not a virtue." Ves concluded as he finished stuffing the data chip with all the research data he found valuable enough to carry away. "Cowardice is a sin."
To flee from battle was a natural tendency. To fear death and value your own life was as human as it got. Yet Eric's actions accelerated the downfall of the Choprans.
Ves decided not to flee before the battle became decided.
After Ves finished stowing away the high-capacity data chip in a secure slot in his Earth Ant, he spent some time to prepare some supplies. Aware that he couldn't bring too much, he mostly limited himself to carrying nutrient packs, water, a medical kit, batteries and some extra tools.
The nutrient packs contained enough calories to keep him alive for a very long time. As the ultimate survival food the galaxy, they were jam-packed with nutrition and Ves could easily stretch out his supply for quite a long time if he went on a starvation diet.
On the other hand, he carried much less water, but his Earth Ant already contained an integrated water purifier. As long as it remained working, it could easily recycle his urine as well as filter any water source he found in the wild.
Even though the astral winds covered the entire horizon, the ecosystem still supported rain, and plenty of rivers and lakes dotted the lands. The only difference from a typical terrestrial planet was that Seven predominantly consisted of land.
After Ves finished preparing his pack of gear, Ves decided to pay a visit to Mayra. He walked over the the Swordmaiden side of the camp and became inspired by the way the Swordmaidens pumped themselves up for battle.
Even if the Vandals resolved to fight to the death, they couldn't help but exhibit some fear.
It was different for the Swordmaidens. Their warriors and mech pilots underwent an extensive amount of brutal training. All of their cowards already died or left the sisterhood. The only ones who remained successfully hunted an exobeast in the wild with nothing but their own bodies and a sword.
Swordmaidens capable of succeeding in their graduation ceremony no longer showed fear. They even thought the Vandals might have exaggerated the threat posed by the Vesians. They still believed they stood a good chance of winning.
Ves entered a familiar workshop and met with Mayra. "I have something important to say. Please call up Ketis."
Shortly afterwards, they entered a small office. Once Ves activated his signal jammer, he began to broach the topic of escape.
"I've come into contact with a third party." He revealed. "I've made a private arrangement with that person. In the event of a defeat, the third party is willing to sneak me to the safe zone around the Starlight Megalodon and save me from Vesian pursuit. I managed to negotiate the right to bring along an extra."
The pirate designers frowned. Ketis still remained a little confused, but Mayra's eyes grew sharp. The news that a third party might be staring at the Flagrant Swordmaidens and Vesians particularly caught her attention!
"Is this supposed third-party trustworthy in anyway?"
"No." Ves admitted. "I don't even know who she really is or who she works for. However, I think she's sincere enough because she needs my cooperation with certain matters. The point is that I may have a way of giving Ketis a way out."
"Hey!" Ketis growled. "If anyone's getting away, it should be Mayra! The Swordmaidens in the fleet still need her! I know my worth! I'm a nobody right now."
Mayra immediately cut in, causing Ketis to halt. "Absolutely not. In no way will I allow this opportunity to fall on anyone else but you. Although the offer from Ves sounds dubious, if anyone among us deserves an out, it should be you!"
"Because I'm old, and you're young!"
Ves stood by the side, not wanting to intervene. He felt touched by their selflessness and willingness to sacrifice themselves.
Ketis thought of the good Mayra could still do. As a Journeyman Mech Designer, she could absolutely reinvigorate the surviving Swordmaidens.
As for Mayra, she considered Ketis to be her own adoptive daughter. A parent should never put their own lives over their children. Her sense of motherhood towards her protege compelled her to give Ketis the opportunity to escape and start a new life.
Because for Mayra, she loved Ketis more than she loved the Swordmaidens.