718 Naive Colonists
To hail a vessel more than a light-hour away from the Flagrant Swordmaidens required the use of their quantum entanglement node. Among their entire combined fleet, only the Jaded Sword and the Shield of Hispania still possessed an intact node.
Contacting a stranger you met in a desolate star system in the middle of nowhere posed a risk. The transmission attempt alone exposed the combined fleet's whereabouts. However, emerging in the same system already exposed them considering the light of their arrival would arrive at the occupants more than an hour later anyway.
The Ermeghast System centered around an orange dwarf star, and a fairly small one at that.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
An Orange dwarf was like the middle child between the bright and promising yellow dwarf and the total good-for-nothing waste of space of a red dwarf. Like all dwarf stars, they lived a long time, but they had the benefit of being a lot less volatile in pumping out masses of radiation in its own star system.
This made them prime spots for developing life-bearing planets. Human colonists favored them because they could easily convert an untamed planet to an ecosystem more favorable to humankind.
The sandmen favored them as well because the relatively gentle nature of an orange dwarf allowed them to absorb its energy without severely damaging their unique biology.
It was too bad that the Shining Stars Colonization Fleet hadn't respected the threat of sandmen and pirates. They were fools to begin with to believe they could colonize a star system outside the protective umbrella of the MTA and CFA.
Whoever conceived of this idea was a massive idiot who took the stewardship of the Big Two for granted. Ves had browsed the location of the Dark Plasma Star Sector a minute ago and saw that it was situated well within the coreward section of the galactic rim.
In other words, they were closer to the galactic heartland than the frontier! It didn't surprise anyone that someone who grew up in such a cozy little star sector to underestimate the naked threat that could come from every direction once they entered the frontier.
Still, only a couple of Vandals called them idiots out loud. Most people from the Komodo Star Sector descended from brave but foolhardy colonists themselves. The only difference was that they got into the colonization rush when the MTA and CFA officially opened up a new star sector for them to build their new homes.
"Obviously, these exiles haven't gotten the message." He muttered.
Ketis looked confused at him. "Hey, don't call them idiots. Without all those colonists pouring into the frontier, how are we able to obtain some easy salvage? Picking up treasures from fallen and destroyed colonization fleets is one of the most lucrative finds you can score!"
Looking at the sprawling debris field displayed on the local plot, Ves knew that the sandmen would be benefiting the most this time.
Some time passed until the communications officer managed to find the right hailing address for the lead ship of the colonization fleet from the galactic net. The Shield of Hispania sent a transmission request to the flagship and hoped whether she wasn't one of the broken wrecks that littered the Ermeghast System.
"Our hailing attempt is successful, major! We have established a channel with the Rovista Splendor, the flagship of the Shining Stars."
A bald man in his early thirties appeared in the main projector. Immediately, Ves got struck by how pretentiously highborn the man appeared. With his rich light green military-esque uniform encrusted with silver-white filigree, the man screamed attention in an even more obnoxious way than how pirates puffed themselves up.
"I am Major Quinlist Verle, commander of the Verle Task Force detached from the 6th Flagrant Vandals, 3rd Tarry Division, Southern Mech Army of the Bright Republic Mech Corps. On behalf of the Flagrant Vandals and Lydia's Swordmaidens, our local allies, we'd like to know who you are and what you are doing in this neck of the galactic woods. Our combined fleet has recently arrived at the outer star system and we've noticed your fleet's.. distress."
"Finally! I've finally met someone other than the uncouth yokels that litter this backwater!" The aristocratic figure cried out in relief. The man practically bent forward in and pressed his face closer to the projector, causing his head to balloon in an exaggerated manner. "I don't know who you Flagrant Vandals are, but if you are part of a formal military, then in the name of common civility, SAVE US!"
Major Verle tried hard not to frown. His face automatically jerked away from the projection of the man's amplified head. "Please answer the question, good sir."
"Ah, yes.. weeks and months of crawling around like a beggar on the streets has made me forget my manner. Ahum, you have the august privilege of greeting Hix-Klaaster. I am the Fourth Prince of the Royal House of Talk, which reigns over the Palast Kingdom in the Dark Plasma Star Sector."
"For a Prince of a Royal House, you are far away from home."
To his credit, Prince Hix-Klaaster pushed through his embarrassment and plainly admitted the facts which the Vandals could easily find out on the galactic net.
"A dynastic struggle broke out between my siblings and I. The Palast Kingdom required a new heir and I threw my hat into the ring. In the end, my siblings have proved the better of me, and they strongly urged me to take my ambitions elsewhere. I decided to raise a colonization fleet with my remaining resources and brought my closest supporters and loyalists out to the great beyond to start anew, as they say. The results.. is as you can see."
The Prince looked tired with his bloodshot eyes and his wrinkling skin. His uniform on the other hand remained gleaming and spotless, likely due to the sophisticated cleaning tech integrated within the smart clothing.
Beyond the man's huge head, Ves was faintly able to get an impression on the rest of the bridge or command center of the flagship.
The officers and operators manning the consoles all looked equally as tired, but unlike the bald prince they didn't benefit from self-cleaning clothes. Debris and broken sections indicated that the Rovista Splendor suffered serious battle damage.
"By all accounts, you've raised a sizable colonization fleet. One that would be sufficient to populate a decent terrestrial planet and accelerate its development by several decades." Major Verle praised, but then he hammered home the reality. "However, my analysts have poured over the light that has reached our location and informed me that you are left with only a single combat carrier, a heavily-damaged light carrier, two cargo haulers and one medium colony ship. That is only a fraction of what you started out with, is that right?"
"Your information is outdated." The prince sighed. "We have lost our light carrier and our colony ship to the Fire Treaders! Do you know how significant losing the latter means?! Two-hundred-thousand loyal men and women frozen in crysleep are fated to be their slaves!"
Some of the Vandals winced, including Ves. Strangely enough, Ketis merely rolled her eyes at the prince's melodramatic display.
"Look at the eyes of that ponce." She whispered to Ves. "He doesn't care a single bone about his own people. He just wants to save his own skin!"
Major Verle looked remorseful. "We are sorry for your loss. However, we can do nothing to save you from your predicament. We have our own mission to pursue. Once our FTL drives finish cycling, The Flagrant Vandals and Lydia's Swordmaidens will be departing this system post-haste."
"NO! YOU CAN'T GO! SAVE US! PLEASE SAVE US FROM THE PIRATES AND THE ALIENS!"
Verle coughed awkwardly into his fist. "Ahem, I sympathise with your plight, but as a loyal mech officer of the Mech Corps, I am bound to do my duties. I am sorry to inform you that I am compelled to leave you to your fate."
"NO NO NO!" The bald prince screamed as his eyes shook erratically. "I have money! I have ships! I have mech pilots! I have supplies! All of that can be yours!"
"Who do you think we are, your highness? We are not mercenaries to be bought off with coins and sheep. We are not lacking in any of the assets you've mentioned. I suggest you focus on getting the remainder of your forces out of this star system alive, though it seems that none of your ships are fast enough to outrun the Fire Treaders. In that case, I will light a candle for your inevitable passing or enslavement. I hear that pedigree royal princes are a favored type of slaves among the savages that make up the Ravienne Pirate Alliance. They love to strip princes naked, tie them up above a pit in a public space station, roast them over some flames and prepare some pointy rods to—"
"WAIT!" Hix-Klaaster shrieked. "I can still offer one more asset! I command the loyalty of an expert pilot! He is a good and loyal mech pilot that has served in my personal guard for decades! He is cross-trained in many different mech piloting disciplines and is specialized in piloting both landbound and spaceborn rifleman mechs!"
"—however, I have just been informed that we might still be able to come to your assistance if we move immediately." Verle smoothly changed his tack. "While we are glad to be of assistance to you, mind you that we are taking a considerable risk by deviating from our mission."
The Fourth Prince of some kingdom far away from the frontier looked defeated. "I.. understand. We shall be awaiting your timely rescue. I pledge to you now that I will recompense you more than generously should you ensure my continued survival. While my circumstances are dire, the Palast Kingdom has never revoked my royal title. I am still a legitimate prince of the Royal House of Talk. My word is gold and my promises are ironclad."
"That sounds good and all, but I am more interested in hearing the details of your talented personal guard. A dual-specialist in both landbound and spaceborn combat, you say? If you have such an expert at your disposal, how come your fleet is in such a poor condition?"
The prince hastily commanded one of his communications officers to send out an information packet on their expert pilot before turning back to the projector.
"Venerable Karol Xie is versatile and is trained to operate many types of ranged and melee mechs on land and in space. My elite personal guards are selected from the beginning to be versatile, as you never know when an emergency occurs. Venerable Xie has later specialized in piloting rifleman mechs. He excels with all forms of kinetic weaponry, particularly railguns."
A few moments later, Major Verle received the data packet, which he wordlessly shared with Ves. The shared files came with a note from the commanding officer calling him to evaluate the expert pilot.
He could do that.
As Ves dove into the brief and seemingly redacted record of Venerable Xie, he noted that the man appeared to be in his mid-50's, which left him with plenty of decades of active service, unlike the Vandals' own deadbeat expert pilot.
"Well, on age alone, he qualifies as a treasure."
Still, as Ves dove deeper into Karol Xie's profile, he encountered some disturbing details.
First, Xie's cross-training in so many different types of mechs had left the expert pilot without a strong focus! Even though he belatedly specialized in rifleman mechs armed with kinetic weapons, the man's radical versatility had done his overall piloting ability any favors. His resonance strength only measured eight laveres at most!
Reaching eight laveres at his age was pathetic! This meant that his growth in this area was virtually stagnant!
"The elite guard training pretty much ruined this expert pilot's future!"
It was such a waste!