The Mech Touch - Chapter 3051
Faint ripples began to spread across a patch of space.
Those ripples soon grew into waves.
The waves grew even further to the point where space almost folded in half!
The nearby listening beacons that were close enough to monitor the obvious gravitic fluctuations with minimal delay quickly parsed the readings and calculated that an extremely sizable fleet was transitioning into the star system.
Those tiny beacons immediately transmitted their alarming data and preliminary conclusions to a larger automated listening post.
Unlike those tiny beacons floating in space, the listening post was a more robust facility that had a lot more processing power at its disposal. Most of that was being used to double-check and confirm the preliminary conclusions.
Once its automated systems became assured that the incoming readings weren't the result of a glitch, it transmitted an alarming message through its quantum entanglement node.
Word soon spread across the Trieden System that a huge fleet was about to drop into the local neighborhood!
Just as the local authorities as well as every major stakeholder tried to figure out the motives of the arriving people, a swarm of hundreds of ships poured in like rain!
What frightened the local observers a lot was that more than half of the ships consisted of combat vessels. The remainder all served to support them in some way.
There were very few civilian vessels among the large and rather eclectic fleet. The only noteworthy element that did not fit in was the capital research ship which was emphatically not designed to venture into battle.
Regardless, any local resident who looked at all of the combat carriers and even larger fleet carriers would have no choice but to shudder in fear.
Had the crown terrorists managed to swarm together in order to form a destructive fleet? This was not an unheard of phenomenon. In some rare cases, the crown terrorists secretly converged together in order to form a large force that could directly raid unsuspecting planets that possessed relatively few defenses!
Fortunately, the identity of the fleet soon became known. The expeditionary fleet belonged to a relatively unknown group called the Golden Skull Alliance.
In order to assure the locals that the new arrivals meant no harm, the Alliance took the initiative to contact the local authorities in order to smooth everything over.
"How is it going?" Ves asked Calabast as he sat in his designated chair on the enormous bridge of the Spirit of Bentheim. "Do the locals suspect our true purpose?"
The intelligence leader pressed her lips. "That's difficult to say. We have secretly coordinated a story with the help of the Purnesse Family. Ostensibly, we are merely travelers who are on our way to a different star sector. Due to the stresses that we have suffered in the past, we thought it would be good if all of our personnel get to enjoy some shore leave. Since we don't feel safe in large and crowded star systems, we decided to go off the beaten path a bit and allow our crew to enjoy a vacation at a more quiet and less crowded vacation destination."
Ves tilted his head. "It sounds plausible. I mean we did go through a lot of stuff. Even I feel like I need a vacation after I barely managed to crawl away from Prosperous Hill VI. Surely the Triedeners are accustomed to receiving big customers, right?"
"They are, but that was then and this is now. We live in a time where the Crown Uprising has already made its mark on society. People tend to get very spooked when large fleets filled with enough mechs to raze an entire planet gets close. In fact, I have just received word that the local traffic authority is requesting us to leave most of our vessels in the outer system."
"Heck no!" Ves instantly responded. "We've learned our lesson. We will not agree to any restrictions on our freedom of movement. We're bringing our entire fleet close to Trieden II and that's it. They can fine us if they want. We'll pay it if the amount is not too excessive."
"I doubt that settling a fine will assuage their concerns. Right now, our communication officers are trying their best to stall and confuse the traffic agents, but we don't know whether this will lead to a more drastic response."
"What is your estimate?"
Calabast grinned. "The Triedeners are powerless to stop us. Compared to the rest of the Grand Loxic Republic, this star system is just a rural location. The military garrison here is too weak to force us to comply with any rules. The only way the local government officials can pose any threat to us is if they call in backup from another star system."
Even Ves knew how ridiculous that sounded. "It will take days for reinforcements stationed at a nearby star system to reach the Trieden System. Besides, in order to threaten a fleet of our size, the Loxians must mobilize at least one-and-a-half mech divisions in order to put sufficient force behind their commands. Who the hell is willing enough to lower the defense of a major star system with a lot of residents and critical industries in this day and age?"
The Crown Uprising had led to a lot of worsening circumstances, but the changing times also made some actions more convenient. Ves would have been a lot more hesitant about throwing his weight around in the past.
Though the Larkinsons and the Triedener officials never stopped talking, the fleet continued to soar closer to the inner system without slowing.
Many people could feel the tension rising in the star system as the hours went by. The Larkinsons and their allies did their best to reassure the spooked Triedeners that this was just a casual tourism-related visitation. They even went as far as spending lots of money to book a large swathe of resorts and other luxurious venues.
It seemed that the foreign visitors were already planning out their holidays. From snorkeling to riding old-fashioned sailing boats, the Larkinsons were spending serious money in order to receive the best possible treatment!
As soon as the money started flowing into the pockets of the local businesses, the local authorities soon started to lower their posture.
Defending Trieden II from crown terrorists and foreign raiders was important, but supporting the local economy was even more vital, especially when the Crown Uprising caused a lot of tourists and regular visitors to cancel their scheduled holidays.
It turned out the power of money was still strong enough to trump suspicion. As the fleet leisurely began to approach the orbit of their destination, nothing unusual had occurred. The black mechs hadn't even increased their attack frequency considering that the incoming arrivals mostly intended to enjoy their shore leave on the opposite side of the planet.
There was no logical reason for the Golden Skull Alliance to get involved in local squabbles. The story might be different if the Larkinsons and so on intended to settle in the Grand Loxic Republic, but their desire to reach the Red Ocean was well known.
Unfortunately, even the best of excuses failed to hold up eventually. Two hours before the fleet reached high orbit of Trieden II, the situation on the surface changed abruptly.
"The black mechs are attacking the Violet Estates in force!"
"Damn!" Ves cursed as he was going over the latest battle plans in the command center. "I was afraid of that!"
The central projection soon switched to a live view of the site in question. A lot of thick and powerful shields overlapped across a relatively small location as hundreds of black mechs emerged from the water in order to assault the home ground of the Purnesse Family!
Ves made some rapid estimates based on the quantity and power of the mechs. When he compared them to the defensive power of the energy shields that the Purnessers had erected, he came to a rather pessimistic conclusion.
"Those shields won't hold long enough before we arrive!"
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He did not want to go through all of this trouble only to come away empty-handed due to circumstances outside of his control. He tried to wrack his brains for possible solutions. Many other Larkinsons were doing the same as well.
Yet the fact of the matter was that there was still a lot of distance between the fleet and the planet. Even if they sent out their fastest combat carriers first, it wouldn't make a lot of difference.
"I have an idea." General Verle's projection stated as it faced Ves. "It's a bold one and a dangerous one, but if done correctly it will get our mechs to Trieden II fast enough to prevent a complete collapse of all of those defenses."
"As you assuredly know, in-system space travel is not constant. Since there is no air resistance limiting the speeds of our vessels, they can continue to accelerate without limit. If we just push them forward all the time, we can easily reach our destination a lot faster than usual."
Ves widened his eyes. He immediately knew what General Verle was aiming at. "General space travel isn't about accelerating forward all the time. Doing so will just cause our ships to fly so fast that it will result in relativistic shenanigans relative to our target or destination. Also, once we reach a given coordinate, we'll shoot right past it with dazzling speed. It will take hours if not days for us to slow down and fly back in the other direction."
This was why ships stopped accelerating forward short of their destination. They instead turned around so their rears faced their destination and started to accelerate in the opposite direction, thereby slowing their forward advance so that they could come to a complete stop when they reached the right coordinate.
There were other ways to go about this problem. The ships could boost forward for a short amount of time before cutting their thrusters, thereby allowing them to coast forward endlessly with minimal fuel and energy consumption. It took a very long time to get anywhere with this approach, though.
This was why the fleet was actually taking the earlier, more standard approach. All of the ships had to slow down in order to enter the orbit of Trieden II without shooting past.
Yet what if they stopped bothering to do this? What would happen if a select number of ships cut their thrusters or even turned around to accelerate forward again?
"Wouldn't the combat carriers slingshot around the planet and shoot past anyway, just in a different exit trajectory?" Ves skeptically asked.
"That is certainly possible, but…"
General Verle called up a tactical interface and began to set up a quick model of the maneuver he had in mind. He picked out the toughest, more durable combat carriers of the Larkinson Clan and proceeded to command them to accelerate forward again.
The selected vessels quickly separated from the main fleet and approached Trieden II like incoming projectiles. They soon neared the planet, but instead of orbiting it or slingshotting past it like normal ships, the combat carriers instead cut through the atmosphere like a knife!
Suffice to say, this maneuver was very dangerous and did not do the longevity of the starships any favors! Due to their relatively high speeds as they rapidly descended from orbit, the humongous air resistance produced a lot of pressure and heat that battered the hulls of those vessels.
Though the combat carriers were quite tough and could take a beating, they were not designed to resist such all-encompassing forces at such considerable levels!
However… as long as the ships made it through the worst period, their surface systems would probably be crippled but the mechs and crew inside of them would probably be dizzy but okay!
"Carriers are designed to deliver mechs to the right destination." General Verle stated with a grim smile. "Combat carriers are especially noteworthy because they are designed with hostile conditions in mind. While the scenario I've painted is a bit more extreme than what the shipwrights have in mind, I believe they will hold up when it matters."
Ves remain doubtful. "You are putting a lot of faith in those vessels. Also, even if the combat carriers manage to survive entry, they will probably be trashed to the point that we are better off scrapping them. That is a lot of expensive hardware that we will be throwing away."
"Do you value our combat carriers or do you value the Purnesse Family more?" General Verle asked in a serious tone. "We can buy replacement vessels everywhere, but we won't find many opportunities to absorb valuable groups like the Purnessers."
Ves looked pensive. He had to make a difficult decision. Though he was inclined to greenlight the radical new plan, it didn't mean he liked it! The price of rescuing the Purnesse Family had just risen drastically!
"These stupid diplomats better be worth the sacrifices we are making!"
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