880 Depths of Despair
Security officers surrounded the entire section of the camp, cordoning it off from curious Vandal onlookers.
Something serious happened here. Something so serious, it forced Captain Byrd and a handful of mech officers and senior staff to visit the site of the incident in question.
The Pale Dancer stood in the middle of an extremely well-equipped workshop. Miss Lisbeth Eta-Denmersken bawled out her eyes on Chief Keys' shoulder. The other mech technicians assigned under their leadership looked distraught as well.
A security officer specialised in investigation exited the cockpit of the dormant Pale Dancer with a serious expression. He put away his forensic tools and shook his head towards Captain Byrd.
"What did you find?" Captain Byrd asked with a stony face.
"Nothing, ma'am. The perpetrator left no trace behind. The logs of the mech are wiped clean so we don't know how they managed to enter the Pale Dancer in the first place."
"Venerable Xie died instantly from a sneak attack. A laser beam bore through his skull from behind at close range. There is no way for anyone to miss such a shot. The only question is how the infiltrator managed to get into that position in the first place. Further investigation is required."
Captain Byrd sighed in resignation. "Someone as professional as this won't leave any traces behind for us to find. Prioritize your men on guarding our officers and deterring further assassinations. As for Venerable Xie… the man died an unworthy death."
The gravity of the situation fell on everyone's shoulders. Ves stood absolutely frozen as he stared up to the open cockpit of the expert mech.
An expert pilot fell so easily.
This was someone who became an absolute terror on the battlefield once they piloted an expert mech. The general rule of thumb stated that expert mechs could easily defeat a hundred mechs by themselves.
Venerable Xie easily exceeded that standard despite his low resonance strength and unfocused training. His unparalleled accuracy combined with his powerful laser rifle could have annihilated the Meandering Monkeys no matter how well they dodged and weaved around.
Not only that, he could easily entangle an enemy expert pilot and protect the rank-and-file.
Yet he died so easily. Ves couldn't even fathom how the assassin managed to enter the Pale Dancer's cockpit. Even if the mech remained inactive during the assassination, it still should have been impossible to sneak inside of it without alarming its occupant.
Whoever killed Venerable Xie could easily assassinate every other person in the camp!
"Those sneaky Vesians!"
"The Vesians killed the one person who matters the most!"
The value of Venerable Xie exceeded the value of Captain Byrd. Everyone present believed the Vesians did the deed. While everyone expressed varying amounts of anger, despair and helplessness, Ves pretended to be grim as well.
"It's a shame." Ves lamented in a stilted manner, though no one paid much attention to his awkward demeanor. "The Vesians… they robbed us of our only hope. Venerable Xie didn't deserve to die a dog's death."
Now that they lost this crucial figure, the Flagrant Swordmaidens became completely vulnerable to the deprivations of an expert pilot!
When Ves took posed the request to Miss Calabast earlier, she didn't accept immediately. In fact, she looked like she adamantly wanted to refuse the request.
"Assassinating an expert pilot is no joke." She responded, even dropping her smirk. "They're highly trained soldiers and possess superhuman reflexes. Their danger sense is off the charts. Do you think it's easy to assassinate an expert pilot? Even if the MTA prohibited the practice, we still won't do it. One slip-up and the one who kills won't be us, but him. An expert pilot is a monster in battle even without a mech."Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
This was the first time that Calabast revealed that she came with accomplices. Ves figured that they were probably covering the entire perimeter right now in order to guard against any attacks against Calabast.
Ves did not accept her refusal. "This is non-negotiable, I'm afraid. Due to reasons that are none of your business, I've built up a bit of a beef with Venerable Xie. If he is truly set out to betray the Vandals, then I'm the first person on his kill list. I'm sure of it. So if you still want me alive to help you out at the Starlight Megalodon, then you better address this threat."
If Venerable Xie really set up his mind to stab the Flagrant Vandals in the back, then Ves expected the first action the Pale Dancer would perform was to shoot his mech-sized laser rifle straight at Ves!
With the expert pilot's impeccable accuracy and marksmanship, Ves wouldn't even have time to scream before the immense power behind the laser rifle vaporized his body and everything he carried. Even his Earth Ant light combat armor wouldn't last a millisecond against the awesome power meant to pierce through mech armor.
"And why should we do your dirty work?" Miss Calabast crossed her arms. "Right now, I'm reconsidering if it's less troublesome to kidnap you outright and whisk you away from this camp."
Ves paused a bit before he came up with another argument. "No matter if Venerable Xie is colluding with the Vesians, there's a chance he's merely pretending. Killing him will weaken the Flagrant Vandals and impact their morale. It could be said that our defeat is pretty much set in stone if he dies. Won't our quick defeat benefit you more?"
Calabast smirked again. "You make a good point, though you are basically condemning one of the only potential hopes of your mech regiments to death. How callous of you. Do the lives of the Flagrant Vandals and Lydia's Swordmaidens truly mean nothing to you?"
"I'm pretty confident that this is the best course of action for us. Better take an unstable factor off the board than to hope it plays out for us."
Miss Calabast eventually acquiesced to his request and left shortly after. It didn't take more than an hour after the initial alarm sounded out throughout the camp.
Only after Ves saw the aggrieved and hopeless expressions of the other Vandals did Ves realize the immense amount of harm his request had wrought.
His actions led to the death of one of the biggest pillars of the Flagrant Vandals!
The news leaked out to the rest of the Flagrant Swordmaidens just minutes later. A news as explosive as this couldn't be hidden for long, and Captain Byrd figured it was better to release the news right away rather than to have it explode at a more inopportune time.
All the mech officers went out in force to rally the men and prevent them from acting out, but there was no question that their morale plummeted like a rock sinking into an ocean!
Surprisingly enough, hatred against the Vesians intensified. The assassination of an expert pilot crossed all the lines, and the Vandal mech pilots each vowed to take revenge for their fallen champion.
They would not rest until they killed as much Vesians as they could on the battlefield!
In the meantime, Ves suggested he do something about the Pale Dancer to Captain Byrd.
"Captain, none of our mech pilots can pilot the Pale Dancer anymore. Even an expert candidate like Captain Orfan is unable to do anything with it. I suggest we process the expert mech and render it useless."
Captain Orfan looked incredibly haggard as she tried to prevent the collapse of the Flagrant Vandals. "You want to spoil the Pale Dancer before the Vesians get their hands on it? Is there truly no way of making use of the mech?"
Ves shook his head. "You know as well as I do that it takes an exceptional mech pilot to be able to pilot an expert mech. Advanced pilots can just forget about it. The strain will fry their nerves before they can even make the Pale Dancer take a single step."
The mech captain paused in indecision. The Pale Dancer was Venerable Xie's personal expert mech, and originated from the Dark Plasma Star Sector. Its presence served as a symbol, even with the death of its original owner and mech pilot. To dismantle it meant that the Vandals admitted that they didn't believe themselves to be capable enough to protect Venerable Xie's legacy.
The expert mech of any fallen expert pilot would never be discarded like a piece of trash! The highest honor an orphaned expert mech could enjoy was to assign it to another compatible expert pilot so that its mission upon inception continued.
This was the respect that expert mechs deserved!
While Ves respected mechs like any other, he prioritized his safety even more. Even if Ves wrecked the neural interface or replaced it with a fresh dummy, a good mech designer would still be able to notice the discrepancies. Expert mechs came with so many advanced systems that Ves couldn't insure that any one of them left some clues behind that hinted at his misdeeds.
Therefore, Ves wanted to be extra certain and destroy the mech, just in case.
As for Captain Byrd, seeing as defeat loomed over their heads, she eventually nodded. "Do it. Don't leave any useful scraps behind for the Vesians."
With her permission, Ves brought over a couple of mech technicians and depressingly began to dismantle it piece by piece. Using other mechs and heavy tools, they practically vandalized the Pale Dancer. Delicate parts got smashed or stepped upon, hardy armor plating became deformed or melted into a puddle of slag under the application of extreme heat.
Such a crude way of destroying the components of an expert mech partially ruined the special traits of the highly valuable exotics laced in their structure. Exotics with their myriad of effects and remarkable properties served as the core of the functioning of any expert mech, and all of them possessed some energetic activity.
Due to their active states, exotics needed to be handled carefully. The moment their energetic activity leaked or ran out of control, the exotics degraded into mundane minerals.
What Ves directed over the course of three hours was the systematic spoiling of tens billions of credits worth of exotics. Each second that passed, millions of credits worth of exotics got ruined due to their incredibly rough treatment. This was pouring money down the drain!
At the end of the spoiling process, nothing remained of the pristine white mech. The fast, accurate and agile rifleman mech suffered an ignoble death off the battlefield, just like its former master. Neither Venerable Xie or the Pale Dancer deserved to meet their ends behind enemy lines.
Yet they both fell at the hands of Ves because they posed a threat to his freedom and safety.
"I'm not sorry." He whispered to himself as he watched the pile of slag and crushed components being carted onto a fast transport to be scattered over a wide area.
Why should he feel sorry? He was merely defending his interests. Even the prestige of an expert pilot didn't stop him from requesting Miss Calabast from arranging an expert pilot's death.
Ves was merely surprised she acted so decisively and with such overwhelming success. She even managed to leave no trace behind, allowing the dastardly Vesians to take the blame instead.
He admired her capable and elegant handling of this problem. Ves could learn a thing or two about her methods.
"Still, she's extremely well-equipped and has a lot of capable subordinates under the wing. I'll have to build up my own capabilities before I can replicate such a feat."
His fear and apprehension towards the inscrutable Miss Calabast increased, but his admiration rose as well. If Ves possessed the same capabilities, he would have a lot more options available to him. At the very least, he wouldn't be forced into a helpless state when confronted with the hostility of an expert pilot.
The thrashing of the Pale Dancer inspired the rest of the Vandals and Swordmaidens. Though they didn't wish to contemplate defeat, they began to make arrangements in the event the Vesians overrun the camp.
The engineers rigged the power reactors to overload on command, while Chief Dakkon prepared to spoil the god crystal generators by infecting them with a murky crystal. Others began to tidy up the databanks and rigged them up to blow.
If the enemy managed to obtain a victory, then they could forget about taking over their valuables!