The Mech Touch Chapter 956
954 Pain Of Loss
Before Davis even applied pressure to the trigger of his hand cannon, the Squalon already unfolded its helmet and encased the wearer's head.
A powerful round smacked against the visor of the Squalon shortly afterwards. It deflected and pinged off the incredibly resilient surface without leaving behind a single scratch!
To his credit, Davis continued to pull the trigger even after he fired the first round. The powerful hand cannon in his grip didn't possess a high rate of fire, but the mech technician-turned-traitor fired as fast as his sidearm allowed.
As the Squalon's helmet continued to ward off the incoming shots without fail, Ves even had the time to admire Davis' trained shooting posture and accuracy. By far most of the rounds his helmet!
Ves had the impulse of telling the foolish assassin that he would have better luck aiming at the joints of his armor. Even though the back of his elbow and knees likely wouldn't suffer any damage either, Davis should have known better if he was truly a mech technician.
"DIE DIE DIE! WHY WON'T YOU DIE!" Davis raged with sudden fury as his hand cannon clicked empty. Without much pause, Davis changed its magazine and continued to fire more rounds at the mech designer across the desk. "WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO SURVIVE WHILE MY WIFE DIED A WORTHLESS DEATH ON THE SURFACE!"
Ah. So it was personal. Ves sympathised with fellow all of a sudden. He knew that the Vandals tended to shack up together despite the regulations against fraternization. It was a natural tendency for them to do so after spending years and decades together.
Davis expended four whole magazines worth of ballistic rounds in less than a minute. After firing all of those rounds that could have killed an entire crowd of humans, Ves was no closer to dying and Davis was no closer to venting his grief!
"NO!" The unhinged mech technician despaired as his pistol ran dry. The useless weapon slipped from his grasp. His shaking eyes bore right through the Squalon's undamaged visor. "What gives you the right to live while my wife and friends are all dead?! All of you Vandals are complicit in their deaths! None of you deserve to live!"
Ves strangely retained his calm at the man's violent outburst. Perhaps the knowledge that there was nothing that Davis could do to threaten him in his Squalon gave him the leisure to treat this incident with patience.
"Mr. Sollerent, if that is your name? Ah, I just accessed the personnel files. It seems that much is true about you. Please indulge my curiosity for a moment. Why did you think it would be a good idea to shoot me?"
Davis collapsed to his knees and laughed. "Hahahaha! I didn't think! I didn't think you'd be so tough to kill! Damnit, if I only I brought a plasma cutter to shear my way through your armor! No. That wouldn't work. The chiefs would never allow me to bring out a plasma cutter without permission."
Ves pressed his lips into a thin line. At the beginning, he thought that this entire asssassination attempt was part of some grand scheme to sow chaos on the Shield of Hispania. Perhaps a band of traitors and mutineers plotted to destabilize the crew in order to turn them against the brass.
Since the Finmoth Regal mutinied, why wouldn't the Shield of Hispania be any less vulnerable? The entire combat carrier turned into bomb ever since her personnel rolls tripled or quadrupled with the amount of Vandals they absorbed from other ships now doomed to become sandman fodder.
To find out that his killer was just a grief-stricken widower who felt as if the few survivors of the ground expedition didn't deserve to live anymore disappointed Ves. Compared to a scheming, hyper-intelligent foe like Sigrund, this emotionally unstable mech technician far didn't even register in Ves' danger senses.
"Now that you've got all of that out of the system, I hope you can move past your grief. That is, if the Vandals don't execute you. Have a nice stay in the brig."
The hatch opened up quickly after that to allow a pair of security officers to storm inside. One of them immediately whacked Davis with an electrifier baton which put him out like a light.
The other officer checked the rest of the office for any threats and tried to see if Ves sustained any wounds.
"Mr. Larkinson! Are you injured?!"
"I'm fine, I'm fine." Ves waved away their concerns. "Davis here couldn't have hurt a single hair on my body."
"It's not secure here. Please allow us to escort you to the Security Department."
"Very well. Lead the way." Ves sighed and stood up. While he figured the likelihood of a repeat attack was very low, the security officers would rather that he be safe than sorry.
Half an hour later, Ves just finished recounting the assassination attempt and how pathetic it unfolded. Those involved all looked green with envy as Ves boasted about the quality of his Squalon.
That was genuine CFA armor! Despite the fact that it was merely one of their light combat armor models for field engineers, it nonetheless rendered a hefty hand cannon completely ineffective!
"I'm not even mad." He told the interrogators. "Davis is just someone who snapped. I'm more concerned about others like him. While I'm not that easy to kill, the same couldn't be said about the others like Captain Orfan or Major Verle."
"We will be adjusting their protective detail in light of this event." The security officer nodded as he typed something in his data pad. "Please answer us. Do you think that Davis Sollerent has an accomplice or is working together with a band of like-minded people?"
Ves sighed. "I already answered this question. No, I don't think he's working with someone. The monitoring system in my office must have recorded the entire event. You can go watch the footage."
"You know how it goes. I have to keep asking, Mr. Larkinson." The security officer said in a respectful manner.
No matter how much Ves understated himself among the Vandals, he couldn't help but become one of the most high-profile individuals on the fleet.
As someone who already assisted the Vandals many times and as one of the two survivors to the ill-fated ground expedition, Ves was bound to attract a lot of attention and respect.
It didn't surprise the crew all that much that a consummate mech officer like Captain Orfan managed to survive the events on the surface. Yet for a noncombatant like Ves to make it out alive when so many others failed to make their way out spoke much about his competence.
Or his cowardice, depending on who you asked.
Nonetheless, a survivor like Ves long left the ranks of average people.
Once the interrogation finally ended, Ves finally received permission to depart, although this time he gained a permanent escort.
Ves let out an exasperated breath at the goon in heavy combat armor stomping his heavy boots against the deck behind his back. "You know I don't need protection, right? My Squalon is more than capable of shrugging off anything a troublemaker can throw at me. You're better off protecting someone more vulnerable."
"You're a high-profile target, Mr. Larkinson. My presence will deter anyone who is thinking of starting an incident." The security officer responded politely but firmly as he gripped his menacing-looking assault rifle.
Ves looked at himself and his unchanged CFA armor. Even though it clearly bore CFA colors and CFA markings, the average Vandal probably didn't recognize the significance of it. If anyone looked at the Squalon, they would probably mistake it as an unnaturally streamlined suit of light combat armor with a rounded rectangular hump at its back.
Its size, stature and overall appearance looked far too small and modest for the amount of protection it actually offered. The heavy combat armor worn by his security escort looked far more capable and intimidating. This was a heavy, motor-assisted suit of armor with enough armor plating that an average person would strain enormously if they attempted to move in it under their own power.
Yet despite the combat armor's tough and bulky appearance, the security officer was far easier to kill than Ves due to the enormous quality difference in materials and protective technology!
He chuckled at the thought that he was tougher to kill than his guard. It should have been the other way around.
"Can you tell me about the state of unrest and dissatisfaction among the crew of this ship? How many more people like Davis Sollerent are aiming to take me down a notch?"
"Not much, sir." His guard grunted. "We Vandals are better than this. We're soldiers."
"I don't think telling that to yourselves will make that anymore believable. Underneath your discipline and soldierly exterior lies a vulnerable human being that is subject to your own emotions."
"I'm not trained to think about all of that psychological crap. I'm just assigned to guard your life and scare off any scum who think they can kill you under my watch." The guard replied simply.
Ves shrugged. What else could he expect from chatting with a goon?
Since he felt the need for more sophisticated conversation, he diverted from his route to the office and instead headed down to the workshops again. He sought out Chief Technician Haine and asked for another private meeting.
Before he entered her office, he turned to his guard. "Will you be following me in?"
"Orders, sir. I'm not allowed to leave you alone?"
"Even when I'm doing my business in the toilet?"
"I'll wipe your butt for you if I have to." The guard replied humorlessly.
Ves shook his head but allowed the guard to enter the office. In fact, he joined another security guard who had already been assigned to tail Chief Haine.
For some reason, Ves started to become a little more ambivalent to the presence of these guards, especially when they insisted on attending a private meeting between two loyal Vandals.
Did the security officers receive orders to monitor every cadre aboard the ship for reasons other than protection? Were they afraid that mid and hang-ranking Vandals would be plotting a mutiny behind everyone's backs?
His levity with regards to the new security arrangements soured at that realization. While he understood the necessity of taking precautions, he found their presence to be insulting as well.
It spoke of a certain lack of trust.
Still, Ves tried hard not to read too deeply into these measures. Besides, he didn't intend to talk about anything too sensitive with Chief Haine in the first place. Nothing that necessitated the activation of his signal jammer.
"Did you want to talk about miscreant Davis?" Chief Haine began with a minor scowl on her face. "That little bastard had always been a loyal Vandal. He wasn't very good at his job, though, but you can say that about half of our mech technicians. Davis is one of those veteran members of our mech regiment, and when he married one of our other mech technicians, none of us saw anything wrong."
"Do you Vandals regularly ignore the rules on fraternization?"
"Sure! Who cares, right?" Haine snorted her nose. "Headquarters is far away, and the Tarry region where we are nominally stationed at is one of the border backwaters of the Bright Republic. Our Vandals shack up, have one night stands, become friends with benefits, and if they're really lucky enough, they meet their soul mates and tie the knot."
"And the Mech Corps never even intervened?" Ves asked with mild amazement.
"What they don't know won't hurt them. It's not as if we file the paperwork. All the marriages between the Vandals are undocumented. You don't need a stinking marriage license to affirm your love to someone."
Ves didn't have any particular opinion about this issue. It seemed par for the course for the Vandals to ignore the expectations of the Mech Corps.
"How many of these 'marriages' have taken place?"
"Oh, quite a lot actually. At least a thousand. Maybe a few hundred more. They span across every position and rank."
Ves saw a problem there. "More than a thousand, you say? How many more examples like Sollerant do you think exist?"
Chief Haine grew grim at that question. "Accounting for all of the losses in our space and ground forces, I'd say there are at least several dozen widows and widowers in our midst."
If all of them lashed out at once, they could do some serious damage to the Shield of Hispania!