891 Chasing a Bone
The Belisarius didn't linger for long. For all of its amazing capabilities, the mech designers who developed this extravagantly expensive mech focused their full efforts on enhancing its direct battle capabilities.
While Ves guessed that it possessed some stealth detection capabilities, the mech likely didn't excel in this area. It was also a question whether Venerable Foster activated those systems in the first place, as they drained a considerable amount of energy.
The scavenger-like Flagrant Vandals shouldn't have access to stealth vehicles anyway.
Twenty tense minutes went by as the Belisarius slowly drifted out of sight. Even then, the occupants waited for two full hours until Miss Calabast finally lifted the lockdown. The stealth crawler climbed back up its legs and its antigrav modules began to emit an antigrav field that covered the entire vehicle.
After cautiously emerging from their hiding spot and scanning their surroundings, Miss Calabast finally felt relieved enough to resume their journey to the Starlight Megalodon.
Over the next couple of days, the stealth crawler occasionally bumped into Vesian search parties. They never encountered the Belisarius again, but they did stumble upon the Hostland Warrior version of a breakdown mech.Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
"Seems they have the same idea as Mayra back then." Ves noted as they uncomfortably hunkered inside the unmoving stealth crawler. Calabast always deactivated the antigrav modules during these instances. Nonetheless, that didn't stop Ves from dissecting the breakdown-proof mech the Hostland Warriors cobbled up. "Seems to be a tiger mech. While it consumes a bit more power, it's also capable of pouncing with greater strength than Mayra's Asteria design. What do you think, Ketis?"
Mentioning Mayra briefly caused Ketis to flicker with pain, but she bravely suppressed her sorrow.
Ves did not wish for Ketis to get bogged down by her regrets. He deliberately pushed her to use her mech design ability to use in order to keep her from wallowing in her darker thoughts.
"The tiger mech they designed shows that the Vesians aren't too worried about power consumption. Did they manage to reverse engineer the Vandal attempts at developing a god crystal generator?"
That would be extremely bad news if the Vesians cracked the secret. Didn't Chief Dakkon insure all of the god crystal generators would be dismantled. The Vandals also arranged their god crystals to be rendered useless by infecting them with the polluting energies of their murky crystal.
By all rights, the Vesians shouldn't have been able to reconstruct a god crystal generator.
"The Vesians brought a lot more power generators along than your expedition." Miss Calabast threw out. "While it doesn't match the output of your god crystals, it still leaves them with a sufficient amount of energy to empower their specially-designed tiger mechs."
The Vesians came better prepared, in other words. They didn't possess the same urgency to develop an alternative source of power as the Flagrant Swordmaidens.
Ves pointed out another pertinent fact. "We also have to take into account that the earlier battle downed a lot of mechs on both sides. Even if the Vesians are able to salvage and restore a hundred of so mechs, they'll still be left with fewer mechs than they started with. The damage our mechs had dealt on their mechs but especially mech pilots is extremely considerable. This means their total energy expenditure is also lower than before."
Now that the Vesians defeated their strongest rivals, anyone else that reached the edge of the red zone stood no chance against their martial prowess. The presence of the Belisarius alone provided them with an absolute advantage against the ramshackle pirate and private sector outfit mechs that managed to make it this far. They essentially didn't have to worry about the competition threatening their absolute hold over the edge of the red zone.
This problem quietly concerned Ves over the days. He couldn't figure out how he'd be able to escape this planet without relying on Calabast's assistance. Though Ves found her to be an amiable woman so far, there was no telling when she'd stab him in the back.
If there was anything he learned these days, it was that he should always prepare an escape route if things went sour. Right now, Ves felt immensely stifled by the fact that he only had her promises to go on when it came to evacuating from this planet.
It was impossible for him to cross tens of thousands of kilometers on this heavy gravity planet! Even if he devolved into a savage like a wildling and lived off the land, he would still take ten years or more to cross this vast distance.
For better or worse, his only hope lay in Calabast keeping her word. Ves hated relying verbal promises, especially since he was the disadvantaged party in this exchange, but what could he do?
Fortunately, Miss Calabast seemed to need his services for some reason so he still possessed some leverage. The problem for Ves was what would occur after she got what she wanted.
Even with the unfathomable immunity that Ves exerted against the breakdown effect, the stealth crawler finally gave up the ghost on the fourth day. Due to all the delays, they still needed to traverse thirty more kilometers to reach the safe zone.
It sounded like a day or two of walking away, but the craggy and hazardous terrain meant the final stretch was an arduous journey.
"Without the stealth crawler's maneuvering capabilities, we'll be lucky to cross this distance in four days." Miss Calabast sighed as she slipped her own pack over her shoulder. She brought a lot more supplies than Ves or Ketis. "What are you waiting for? Let's move!"
Ves still stared at the broken down vehicle and itched to take it apart. If he could study some of its stealth mechanisms, his understanding of this field might make a small leap.
"Going on foot is rather dangerous with all of the hazards in our way." He said. "Just the residual radiation alone can partially penetrate our suits. Isn't it better to have this vehicle shielding us? Let me try and repair it. I think I can get it up and running in two hours."
"It's wrecked." Calabast declared. "I may not be a technician, but it's quite clear that there's no way you can repair this crawler with handheld tools!"
"You won't know if I don't try. You may be an awesome superspy or something, but you don't know what a mech designer is capable of. We're not limited to tinkering around with mechs." He grinned.
Miss Calabast showed some discomfort at his argument. She said something similar a few days ago, and now Ves used that same argument against her. The only thing Ves didn't know was if she was pretending to be upset or if she was actually upset.
"Ves has a touch with machines." Ketis vouched for him. She even gave him a thumbs up. "C'mon, let's give it a try. I'm not looking forward to crossing this terrain on foot at all. Not only will it slow us down, but we'll be in huge trouble if our gravitic backpacks start failing."
The breakdown effect only grew stronger the closer they got. Merely staying in this spot for a week would probably wreck their gravitic backpacks for sure if the strange immunity field didn't play a role.
Calabast showed some actual doubt now. "One hour. No more. We can't linger here for long. The crawler is too exposed now that we can't engage its stealth systems."
That wasn't good enough for Ves. Even if he couldn't fix the stealth crawler, he still wanted to study its inner workings to deepen his understanding on how to apply stealth tech. It wasn't every day he came across a mostly-intact stealth vehicle!
"Two hours." He said firmly. "No less. I won't step away before that no matter what happens. You'll have to pry me from this stealth crawler if you want to leave too soon."
Ves and Miss Calabast stared at each other's eyes. He may not be able to fathom Calabast's depths, but when it came to mechs and machines, he firmly held his ground.
After half a minute of staring, Calabast acquiesced first. She let out a deep breath and shook her head. "Friggin' mech designers. You lot always slobber over shiny pieces of tech. You're worse than dogs chasing after bones in that regard. Fine! Two hours it is, but you better get this piece of junk back to work!"
He didn't bother thanking her for the opportunity and set down his pack. He pulled out some tools and placed them on the rocky soil in order to have them ready.
"Ketis, come and assist me. We don't have any bots at our disposal that can lift any stuff, so I'll have to ask you to do that in their stead."
"Are you equating me to a bot?!" She yelled.
"You can look at what I'm doing when you're not lifting anything. I'll even explain some things."
Her mood immediately swung around. "Oh, why didn't you say so? Can you teach me how this stealth stuff works?"
"That's not something you can pick up on a single day. Even I needed a month of study to decipher the basics. Still, I can teach you some principles. It's up to you whether you understand the gist."
He proceeded to lift his multitool from a slot in his Earth Ant in order to open up the engine compartment.
It took half an hour to partially disassemble the stealth crawler. This phase took quite long because the measly tools that Ves had at his disposal slowed down the process. He frequently needed to assist Ketis in lifting up some of the heavier components as well.
When Ves saw the guts of the stealth crawler for the first time, he sighed in admiration. While the vehicle was by no means a mech, the internal architecture looked like a highly-optimized piece of work.
"A team of experts must have designed this stealth crawler." Ves uttered in admiration. "There's little individuality left in its design, but all of its capabilities are brought to their most optimal state."
Miss Calabast crossed her arms. "What does that matter? Just get this crawler back to working condition!"
The stealth crawler didn't possess any X-Factor or any notable spirituality. Its design flavor leaned towards efficiency and reliability rather than power or performance. These traits reminded Ves of Master Olson, but he didn't recognize her in this work.
A team of highly capable vehicle designers should have designed this craft. Ves did not detect any principles associated with mechs. Unfortunately, the clean and efficient design left almost no unique design flairs that Ves could have used to trace down its origins.
No matter. Ves wasn't out to figure out where it came from and who designed this craft.
He slowly identified the major problems that prevented the stealth crawler from continuing to traverse the terrain. The highly compact engine was one of the major weaknesses of this vehicle. The power reactor also exhibited some problems.
None of those obvious problems hindered him in any way. Ves only worried about about the problems he might have missed.
Still, he didn't forget what he came for. Besides inspecting the components responsible for moving the stealth crawler, Ves also meticulously studied the parts related to its stealth capabilities.
"Look at this part! This is the good stuff!"
When he felt somewhat generous, he pointed at a specific component and explained to Ketis what they did and how they did it. When broken down this way, it was a lot easier to explain to her how stealth vehicles worked.
Miss Calabast on the other hand threw her hands up at all of the technical jargon being thrown around. She left the mech designers to their devices and opted to patrol the surrounding area. It would be disastrous if a Vesian mech snuck up to them while they were out in the open.
Two hours later, Ves and Ketis neatly assembled the stealth crawler back together. Despite their lack of heavy-duty tools, Ves easily managed to perform some patchwork repairs.
While it didn't restore the crawler to its peak condition by any means, it shouldn't be a problem to rely on it for another day or two.
"Here you go, Calabast. Two hours, no more, no less."
"It better work." She grumbled.
Surprisingly, the stealth crawler came online without any major hindrances. Ves successfully repaired the vehicle!