Some time later, Ves sat with his arms crossed against his chest. The security officers worked to neutralize the chemicals that robbed the Vandals downstairs from their consciousness.
The infiltrators hadn't used anything lethal or sophisticated in order to circumvent detectors. The security officers sealed into airtight combat suits were easily able to inject the Vandals with a standard cure that woke them up over a couple of minutes.
Many of them reacted with horror and uncertainty after hearing what had happened. Looking at the aftermath of what Ves had unleashed, they all knew that they had brushed dangerously close to death. Who knew what the infiltrators had in store once they took Ves into custody.
As the hero of the hour, Ves stubbornly declined to explain how he repelled the attackers. With most systems down in the hotel, the security officers hadn't been able to retrieve any footage. This worked to his advantage. Ves simply stated that he possessed a secret weapon and that the higher-ups knew about it. This was probably close to the truth.
"You're not making my job more convenient." Nolsen said as he stood opposite to Ves. Like every other security officer, Nolsen wore a menacing-looking black-and-burgundy combat armor that was only inferior to a full-fledged exo-skeleton suit. "We've calculated the output of the directed energy weapon that is needed to vaporize eighteen enemy operatives at once, and it rivals the energy released by a mech-sized laser pistol! That kind of weapon in the hands of a mech designer untrained for combat is incredibly reckless!"
"If you want more answers, take it up with Major Verle or Professor Velten." Ves grunted. "I'm not the enemy here. Frankly, you should turn your attention to the enemy who dispatched those infiltrators and those amphibian mechs that are rampaging outside."
Ves was right and the lieutenant knew it. After a few more minutes of fruitless questioning, Nolsen walked away without any answers.
The main reason why Nolsen didn't push Ves any further was because in his eyes, he was a part of the higher ups. As the head designer of the task force, Ves possessed an unsurpassed amount of prestige among the Flagrant Vandals.
It should have come to no surprise that he possessed a couple of tricks to insure his safety.
A doctor had already come to remove the remains of the projectiles that passed into his body, so Ves was currently trying to recover.
"What a mess."
The noise outside had died down a bit. From what he gathered, the Planetary Guard and the Honored Ones finally got their act together and pushed the enemy amphibian mechs away from the city. Yet despite fighting on their homeground, the Reinaldan forces responded poorly to the crisis! All the sabotage that crippled their fixed defense installations hadn't helped their situation either!
The so-called True Sons of Vesia appeared to be outnumbered by the defenders, but their mechs possessed better armament and came prepared to fight a war!
This difference in preparation had been enough to turn the tables against the numerically superior defenders!
"The Reinaldans never fought a major war after they founded their state. They never faced an invasion by a major military force. They could plan for contingencies all they want, but without experiencing true hell, how can they know how important it is to be ready to fight at any time?"
The overall level of readiness among the Reinaldans was abysmal. Their membership in the Frozen Leaf Alliance gave them false confidence that no one dared to mess with them. Ordinarily, that would be true, but what if the Reinaldans couldn't figure out the identity of their attackers?
The complacency exhibited by the Reinaldans would never fly in the Bright Republic. Though their poorest planets couldn't muster much of a defense, their more strategic planets would definitely be able to respond promptly against any threats. The attacks from the Vesia Kingdom and the Bentheim Liberation Movement had honed their defense to a razor edge.
The only questionable point about this wave of attacks was how the attackers managed to smuggle so many mechs onto Harkensen I. Had they bribed the inspectors checking the cargo of each transport that descended from orbit? Or did they smuggle bits and pieces onto the surface and assemble them into complete mechs in their hidden bases?
"Both options are possible, and both are equally terrifying."
Whatever the case, the Reinaldans had been at sleep at the helm for far too long!
Ves believed that the attackers weren't targeting specific people like the Vandals. The damage was way too exaggerated. Considering the amount of resources and manpower invested into the attacks, their primary objective definitely concerned the Reinaldans!
"This is an attack against the interests of the Reinald Republic. The mass casualties inflicted by outsiders has broken the unspoken promises made to visitors of the Harkensen System. How can the Reinaldans retain their credibility after this destructive crisis?"
The entire Komodo Star Sector had already underwent a wave of unrest last year, but the Reinald Republic had largely escaped those repercussions. Their unique status as a friendly partner to shady outfits caused most bad actors to restrain themselves against one of the rare states that was sympathetic to their presence.
It was too bad that not everyone found the Reinald Republic to their liking. Making enemies was inevitable. No matter how much Reinald wished to maintain friendly or cordial relations with everyone, plenty of enemies still wished to tear them down!
The murky identities of the attackers only complicated the repercussions of the attacks. Even now, Ves could still hear the piercing broadcasts from the True Sons of Vesia. Even though every Reinaldan leader would probably scoff at this obvious false flag, their citizens and the tourists might not be so imaginative.
The troublesome part about these ear-wailing announcements was that plenty of people probably bought into these claims. Not everyone was capable of reading in between the lines, and regular people didn't normally think beyond their immediate status.
The dangerous games played among leaders of states and non-state powers was highly inscrutable among average folk. Ves definitely expected millions of survivors to develop an incurable animosity against the Vesia Kingdom after this attack.
With the true culprits in the shadow, where else could the aggrieved victims point their fingers at? "They're definitely going to demand compensation from the Vesians."
The attack by the True Sons of Vesia and all the other fake terrorist groups primarily served to sour the relations between the Reinald Republic and the other states. A diplomatic reputation in the toilet was a crippling blow to a state that depended heavily on tourism and trade!
After a short time had passed, Lieutenant Nolsen Feray returned to Ves. "Get up. We need you at our command center."
"So we're bunkering down after all?" Ves asked as he stood up and stretched his healing body.
They exited the small room and walked past the busy doctors, security officers and other Vandals assigned to various duties. Hundreds of Vandals piled up the whole foyer and front entrance with random furniture and anything they could grab. It wouldn't help against a determined attack from a mech, but it at least gave the trapped Vandals some sense of security.
"We've deliberated on the possibility to evacuate through the tunnels, but we eventually ruled it out." The lieutenant explained. "With all the widespread sabotage, we can't insure the tunnels won't collapse on our heads."
"Sounds logical." Ves nodded in approval. "Right now, the enemy appears to be in greater control over the city's emergency facilities than the Reinaldans."
"I don't have to explain why fleeing on open ground is a monumentally bad idea. With all the lasers, shells and missiles flying around, it only takes a single instance of bad luck to wipe half of us out. Besides, every vehicle trying to flee the city so far has been shot down."
"So the only choice that remains is to hunker down in the hotel. What's the condition of the energy screen generators?"
"Our engineers have managed to get them back online after they overloaded. They told us that the generators are outdated, so don't put too much stock in their defensive capabilities."
"As long as they work, we still have a chance to make it through the night with our lives intact. I doubt the attackers will stick long enough to local dawn."
The night made it easier for the attackers to come and go. Once night turned into day, the Reinaldans would have shrugged off their confusion by then and receive assistance from reinforcements sent from afar.
With most of the Vandals armed with nothing but pistols, it was a pipedream for them to involve themselves in a battle that involved scores of mechs on each side. Even if a thousand Vandals fired their pistols at a light mech at the same time, its armor would only some minor scratches at worst!
This was the tyranny of mechs! As kings of the battlefield, small arms posed no threat to them at all. If the Vandals had access to their mechs, they could have stomped their assailants in a head-on collision, but the distance between Harkensen I and Harkensen III spanned several light-hours!
Without access to any of their mechs, their battle strength was at its lowest point. Besides fighting off other infiltrators or infantrymen, they really couldn't defend against any other threats!
When Ves entered the makeshift command center, he quickly apprised himself of the situation. Since the Vandals possessed no mechs, the only assignment he received was to study the enemy mechs and figure out their motives and origins.
The live footage playing out in front of Ves didn't really give Ves a lot to go about. "Whoever the True Sons of Vesia are, they've definitely done their homework. The design of their amphibian mechs make use of Vesian design standards. They're likely designed by a genuine Vesian mech designer."
"What can you tell about the quality of their mechs, Mr. Larkinson?"
"Good. Very good. Quality work for a civilian standard. They're ideal for mercenary corps or other private outfits with money to spare. I don't think their performance reaches the level of military mech models. In short, when it comes to mechs, the defenders possess the advantage."
The quality of the amphibian mechs matched the quality of the mechs deployed by the Planetary Guard. The Honored Ones piloted better mechs, so in theory they should have gotten the upper hand.
The reality was that their readiness and training severely fell short against their hardened and prepared adversaries.
"The terrorist mechs are piloted by experienced mech pilots. Veterans, I should say, seeing how coordinated they act." A Vandal mech officer commented. "They're far better trained than my own boys."
Even though the Reinaldans possessed the advantage in both numbers and quality, they still gave ground again and against because their mech pilots fought like rusted bots!
This battle neatly showcased the importance of good training. Even if you threw a lot of money on acquiring lots of expensive mechs, without the right mech pilots in their cockpits, they could hardly deliver a performance commensurate to their cost!
The hotel rumbled once or twice as collateral damage spilled in their direction a couple of times. The only reason why the True Sons of Vesia hadn't destroyed their hotels was because incoming reinforcements kept their hands full. They couldn't spare a single second trying to overcome the energy barrier that protected the battered structure.
The Vandals kept their eye out for any other attackers, whether they came with mechs or just on foot. Security officers holding scanners kept scanning every corner of the hotel.
Fortunately, no other attack had come by the time dawn arrived. The sounds of fighting kept getting further away as the amphibian mechs slowly started to retreat into the waters. The landbound mechs of the Planetary Guard and the Honored Ones weren't able to follow suit.
Only their aquatic mechs were able to continue the hunt!
"We've survived." A Vandal sighed.
The rays of the local sun dawned upon a city of which half turned into ruins after a single battle!
The worst news was that the turmoil hadn't been confined to the surface. Up in orbit, an entirely separate battle had taken place!
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