671 Alternative Solution
Mancroft Independent Harbor had never been a popular tourist destination like Harkensen for a reason. The Bosey Clan had a much worse track record of safeguarding the lives of their visitors than the Reinaldans. The latter dealt extremely well with minor incidents, and only broke when an attack beyond their wildest expectations occurred on one of their strictest paradise planets.
With angry gamblers looking to force the Boseys to reverse their losses, the last thing Ves wanted to see was someone else trying to stir the pot. Unfortunately, the Castle Breakers didn't get the memo!
"Uhm, Mr. Larkinson?" Ketis stammered all of a sudden from their internal comm channel.
"What is it now?"
"I just got a message from Mayra. She told me that the Omen of Misfortune is asking us for help. Commander Lydia is negotiating with their Misfortune Seer right now!"
"Damnit!" Ves erupted. "I hope to hell that Commander Lydia informs the Seer that they are already preoccupied with other matters!"
"That's not going to pass muster, teacher. We aren't known for abandoning our allies in the lurch. If the Omen of Misfortune are our pals, or if we owe them a favor or something, then we have to lend a hand! Otherwise, our other friends won't come and lend a hand when we call for help!"
Ves was glad that Ketis finally called him teacher, but their current circumstances left him with no time to celebrate. This station might descent into a bloodbath at any moment!
"Well, it's their fault they're being targeted by the Castle Breakers. Didn't you just say they're bigger and stronger than the Omen of Misfortune? Serves them right for provoking a bigger bastard than themselves."
Ketis stubbornly took the other side. "Even if they're too blame, the Castle Breakers are going too far! There's no way they can justify attacking the Omen of Misfortune after losing a public duel! The Hellvoice won the match fair and square?"
"Are you sure about that? Because half of the monkeys screaming out there are yelling that the match was rigged in her favor!"
"Doesn't matter. The Swordmaidens have always backup up our allies in a fight and they have always returned the favor. The only times when we didn't lend a hand was because our friends provoked someone they shouldn't have. That was their own fault and had nothing to do with us."
"And the Castle Breakers? You just told me they're fairly strong."
"Oh, they are, but they shouldn't be able to deploy more than two-hundred spaceborn mechs. If our Swordmaidens combine forces with the Omen of Misfortune, then we'll outnumber the Castle Breakers for sure! And that doesn't count in you guys as well."
"What makes you think the Vandals will participate in this foolish escapade."
"You guys have no choice." Ketis chuckled through the comm channel. "If you don't help us back up our friends, why should we trust you to cover our backs when we travel deeper into the frontier? I know pirates like us get a bad rap when it comes to trust, but it's important to us! Pirates who act like fair-weather friends don't survive very long in the frontier. Besides, what's the risk? As long as we combine our forces, we can beat the Castle Breakers black and blue!"
"If the Swordmaidens can call for backup, then the Castle Breakers call in their own friends as well!" Ves retorted.
"I doubt so. They're acting like sore losers now. There's no way anyone wants to risk their lives to take revenge of the Deathless. He was great when he was still alive, but all that's left of him is a broken body and his broken mech. He's completely useless now."
Backup or not, the Castle Breakers sounded formidable enough to be a handful by themselves. The last thing the Vandals wanted to do was to fight a completely unnecessary battle!
His mind inadvertently cast back to the moment where his group had just arrived at the crossroads one deck down. Back then, Ketis felt compelled to act because her dignity and the burden of reputation of the Swordmaidens expected her to do so.
The situation out in space played out in almost the exact same way!
"Both these stupid fights are about reputation and posturing!" He complained. "Why can't you pirates learn how to swallow your pride and let bygones be bygones?"
"Are you kidding?" She responded in a befuddled manner. "If you don't stand your ground and fight back, everyone is going to walk all over you. We've lost many sisters over the years, but they died gladly to keep the rest of us safe! The rep we built from then still protects us up to today!"
Ves accepted that argument, but he couldn't really fathom it even now. This way of dealing with others sounded intrinsically foreign to someone who grew up in the comforts of a civilized society.
He had no choice but to drop the matter, as it didn't concern him anyway. Let Major Verle and his officers decide whether they should join this circus. All Ves wanted to do was to bring back his purchases to the ship.
"Nolsen, how far away are we from the shuttle bay?"
"Three kilometers. With all the people and debris in the way, it might take an hour or two for us to get through!"
"That's way too long! We need to find a way to hurry up!"
Despite the unruliness of the pirates and other people who lost all their money, Ves harbored no doubt the Boseys had the situation in hand. While they weren't the first owners of the Independent Harbor, they did manage to hold on to it for a few decades, so they should have prepared an appropriate response.
The only problem was that the chances were high that the response involved a gratuitous amount of violence! After all, the simplest solution to a problem in the frontier was to shoot it into pieces!
The shenanigans about to unfold within and outside the space station left Ves with little patience.
"Hey brothers! Wait a moment! We need your help!"
A random gaggle of wasted thugs stumbled into view. They looked as pathetic and ill-composed as the last batch of pirates who Ketis sliced into bloody pieces. Ves already groaned. He was too tired to deal with this nonsense.
Nolsen stepped out with his intimidating exoskeleton armor and brought his huge rifle to bear on the stupid pirates.
"MOVE. OR. DIE." He broadcasted through the amplified speakers in his helmet.
An awkward pause ensued. The drugged-up minds of these lowlives couldn't process the script going awry from the start. Most of them cowered, but there were a couple of pirates who looked so intoxicated that they couldn't even recognize the massive threat posed by four exoskeleton soldiers with enough firepower to lay waste to this entire section!Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click for visiting.
"YOU DON'T WANT TO MESS WITH US. LEAVE!"
When the thugs dithered because their thoughts moved at the speed of a snail, Ketis growled and started to step forward while brandishing her sword.
This time, Ves latched his gauntlets on to her waist armor, halting her from escalating the standoff.
"What do you think you are doing, teacher?" She hissed through the channel.
"If another fight breaks out here, it can easily escalate to a point where the Boseys are forced to step in. I doubt they'll hold back their trigger fingers when they see us in sight. Don't intervene. Nolsen and his men are professionals."
After a few seconds of trying and failing to persuade the dimwitted thugs to stop blocking the street, the Vandal security officers resorted to action instead. A hidden module in their exoskeleton armor suddenly came to life.
"ENGAGING SONIC ATTACK."
Four ear-squealing screams erupted from the speaker grills of the exoskeleton suits. They thundered in a cone in front of them and blasted the unsuspecting pirates with enough noise to deafen a man twice over! All of their eardrums instantly erupted, and they all collapsed to the deck, in pain and insensate to the outside world!
The Hellvoice wasn't the only one who possessed sonic weapons!
In actual fact, sonic weapons had been primarily developed as a way to subdue rioting crowds of humans. The Bright Republic's Planetary Guard heavily favored sonic weapons as an alternative when their fluid projectors ran empty.
The limitations of this weapons were many, though. A modern suit of enclosed armor insulated wearers from painful and deafening noise, and obviously it only worked in atmospheric conditions. In space, sonic weapons turned into nothing but ornaments, because there wasn't any air for sound to travel through!
Fortunately, Ves and the others didn't face such an extreme situation right now. He gestured for the group to resume moving.
Ketis grumbled under her breath for leaving the scum alive, but she hardly cared about them in the first place.
Similar incidents happened three times more along the way. Every hundred meters or so, a different gaggle of lowlives approached the deathly-looking Vandals and asked for their help in storming the Bosey-owned gambling establishment next to the mech arena.
Ves didn't even have to lift a finger for Nolsen and his security guards to move into action. Like a caped prince letting his royal guard clean up the riff raff, the exoskeleton-suited security officers utilized the diverse arsenal of their weapon platform to full effect. From sonic weapons to resorting to blasting the ringleaders with a wrist-mounted laser cannon, the operation of the exoskeleton suits reminded him of multipurpose mechs.
"The scale is different, but the shape is roughly similar. The only difference is that suits of exoskeleton armor are employed as main infantry combatants, while multipurpose mechs are considered jack-of-all-trades that are replete with compromises."
Multipurpose mechs didn't have a good reputation in the galactic rim, but it was a different story in the galactic heartland and the galactic center. Better funding, better wealth and smaller parts with higher performance made it popular to blend many different weapon systems into a single mech.
There, every mech possessed some sort of flight capability. The galactic center even declared landbound mechs extinct!
Every mech designed in those prosperous regions of the galaxy came with at least three different weapons, and some might even carry dozens of small-scale weapon systems!
The mech landscape there was different, and required a different breed of mech designer to navigate the complexity of designing mechs with such a diverse arsenal of weapons.
That didn't mean that the purer, simpler way of designing mechs in the galactic rim was inferior. If there was one thing rim designers were good at, it was pursuing the highest efficiency and squeezing the maximum amount of performance out of a limited set of materials.
In this perspective, what the Skull Architect's design philosophy pursued was the embodiment of every rim designer's hope! He carried the torch of the most cherished dreams of every mech designer who needed to turn trash into treasure!
Ves found it ironic that exoskeleton armor had obvious succeeded in reaching the sweet spot in terms of performance and cost, while multipurpose mechs still had a long way to go in the galactic rim.
Of course, everyone could see that multipurpose mechs would eventually become more practical and ubiquitous as technology levels continued to advance. The days of designing a pure swordsman mech or a pure knight mech would soon become an exception rather than the rule.
These pure mech types still existed in regions where multipurpose mechs became the dominant form of mechs, but only weirdos and eccentrics still stuck to them. Ves found that to be a shame, because mechs specializing in a single weapon system corresponded closer to human limitations.
The birth of multipurpose mechs represented a shift away from the concept of mechs as war machines in human form.
Ves shook his head, returning his mind back to the chaotic streets of Mancroft. The issue of multipurpose mechs would only come to a head at least a hundred years from today. Right now, he needed to worry about making it out of this space station with his life and his cargo intact!