The Mech Touch Chapter 385 Defense Plans
Melkor already used the budget provided by Ves to good use. The mech stables looked like a bunker that could withstand a lot more punishment than the one he visited before. It had also been built on top of a collapsible tunnel that led to an underground network.
"Ves." Melkor greeted him as he arrived. "I believe you have met the Oodis Mudriders?"
"They look like they have something to prove."
"You can't trust what you see. They purposely put their best foot forward." Melkor admonished him as he led him past the mechs of his own personal force.
They all looked decent, but the two gold label Blackbeaks took the crown. The two offensive knights radiated a subtle flavor that spoke of bloodthirst and anticipation. Ves mentally nodded in satisfaction. Their X-Factor should enhance the two mechs by a small but noticeable margin.
After finishing the small tour, Melkor led Ves to an underground command center of some sorts. A dozen or so new hires staffed the various workstations in the highly secure chamber. Ves recognized them as part of his own personal force due to the temporary uniforms they wore that matched Melkor's own.
His cousin seemed to have opted for a sober black uniform of stiff high-quality fabric along with touches of blue. The uniform gave those who wore them a lot of stature, and Ves approved of the look. Perhaps he would instruct Melkor to turn permanent.
"This is our first command center. Here, we will coordinate our surface defense. There are other command centers underground, but it's not necessary to use them yet. The chances that the Vesians are bringing tunneling machines are very low."
In the middle of the command center hovered a projection of the star system and the Mech Nursery's vicinity.
"From our latest observations, the Vesian combat carriers are making swift progress to the inner system. They'll arrive in orbit in about eleven hours. That's very short, and we don't have enough time to bolster our defenses."
Ves studied the space plot and traced the trajectory of the Vesian ships. "Is there any way to threaten their ships?"
"No. I've already made some inquiries and it's impossible for us to damage them. They're very well-guarded by an entire company of spaceborn mechs. As you know, the Mech Corps isn't maintaining any garrisons in this star system. Instead, the job of defending the system and planet is left to Walter's Whalers."
Even with their recent windfalls, it took time for the Whalers to train competent mech pilots anc acquire new mechs. This raid happened way too soon for the Whalers to put a strong resistance. Ves did not forget that they lost a lot of mech pilots in the Glowing Planet campaign.
Ves also had a first-hand look at how they operated back then. Typical for gangs, battles in space was not their strong suit. They much preferred to operate on land, as that was more intuitive and required less brain power to understand.
In order to excel in space like a true spaceborn fighting force, the Whalers would need to hire a lot of ship captains and mech officers who understood orbital mechanics and other highly technical knowledge.
Let alone orbital mechanics, Ves doubted that the average gang member learned how to count past ten.
"Okay, it's hopeless to contest the Vesians in space, but the Whalers are much better off on the ground, right?"
Melkor nodded. "That's one thing that's gone right. Dietrich has been in touch with us and they've promised to defend Freslin and the Mech Nursery, depending on where the Vesians planned to strike. However, he did warn us that while the mechs are much better than what they used to have, the mech pilots are mostly green and untested. They won't be able to stand their ground in a pitched battle."
That meant instead of relying on the Whalers to be the main force that blunted the Vesian spearhead, they could only be employed to perform less critical roles.
Ves let out a grunt in frustration. "Seems like everyone is doing their best to shirk responsibility for the most arduous task. Will Sanyal-Ablin do their jobs at least?"
"They've informed me that they are committed to fulfill their contracts, and for once, I believe them. The credibility of SASS as a whole is on the line here."
That meant that the Mech Nursery could at least depend on a core of twenty-four very capable mechs to hold the line. At least the LMC got their money's worth in that regard.
The defense picture started to become clear to Ves. He looked at the map that showed the Mech Nursery and its surroundings. Ves chose to plant the highly defensible manufacturing complex in a complex forest environment tens of kilometers away from Freslin.
This was near enough for his employees to live in the second-largest city of Cloudy Curtain and commute to the Mech Nursery every day. It was also far enough away from the city that attack on the Mech Nursery would not pull in innocent bystanders.
Melkor swiped his finger at the star-shaped walls of the Mech Nursery. "The Vesians have come to raid our location, so they won't be wasting time on whittling us down. Standard Vesian doctrine calls for concentrating their force and breaching our defense line in a single powerful push. This strategy works well enough against most company-own premises."
Inside the complex, Sanyal-Ablin's mechs and weapon emplacements formed a stiff defense, especially against missiles and aerial threats.
"We've got a lot of turrets."
"Don't depend on them to repel two entire companies of Vesian mechs. They're mostly employed for anti-air duty. If the Vesians are stupid enough to fly a mech over our heads, every turret will be able to draw a bead on such an exposed target."
It was a little more problematic for the turrets to target landbound mechs. In addition, they made for very obvious targets. Their complete lack of mobility easily turned them into punching bags for agile mechs that could dodge the incoming turret fire.
"Well, the Vesians won't drop down on top of us at the very least." Ves consoled himself. "So if I'm reading this map correctly, the SASS mechs will hold the wall while the Whaler reinforcements will wait at the outskirts of Freslin?"
"That's correct. The Whalers are obliged to defend their citizens first in case the Vesians split. If the raiding force doesn't decide to hit Freslin, then the Whaler mechs will be departing in our direction and hit the Vesians from the flanks."
That sounded identical to what the Oodis Mudriders requested. The difference was that Ves knew that the quality of the mech pilots from the Whalers precluded them from being employed in the most difficult position.
"I see. That's why you're so adamant that the Oodis Mudriders join the Sanyal-Ablin mechs on the walls. We don't have too many front-facing resistance otherwise."
Melkor nodded his head but let out a breath in concern. "Really Ves, you could have spent more time and resources on bolstering your defences. Rushing the construction of the Mech Nursery helped a lot, but the base builders haven't completely finished building all of the systems that makes this complex defensible."
"Well, I can't help the timing of the 3rd Imodris Legion. Who is leading that unit?"
"A descendant of the Duchess of Imodris named Lady Amalia. She's young and way down the line of suggestion, so she's certainly set out to make a name for herself."
That sounded really bad for Cloudy Curtain and the rest of the Bentheim region. Two types of leaders typically took charge of the Vesian legions. The most common type would be career officers, who mostly inherited the position from their parents. They were much like the Larkinsons in that they possessed a strong military heritage.
It was the other type of leader that posed a huge threat to the LMC. Mech legions led by ambitious heirs often did whatever it took to earn military merits. At the highest level of non-royal nobility, the fight to inherit a dukedom often led to lots of tears.
"Okay, if it's someone like Lady Amalia, then we can expect the Vesian raiding force won't be cowed by our defenses." Ves recalled the few instances where he witnessed the Vesians in battle.
One particular moment stood out. It was when the fleets of the Mech Legion and Mech Corps temporary banded together to escape the Glowing Planet. Once they shook off the pirates, their fleeting reticence quickly dissolved, and both sides started slinging punches at each other without any regard for caution.
Melkor laid down the most pressing issue. "Twenty-four mechs from Sanyal-Ablin will hold the walls. The squad of mechs under my command will stay back as a reserve. The thirty mechs sent by the Whalers will approach the Vesians from the direction of Freslin once they've committed to the assault."
That amounted to sixty-three mechs, which sounded deceptively impressive. In truth, Ves would be a fool to assume they would all be completely willing to commit to the fight.
The Whaler mechs especially formed the most unstable element. They could only be used as a distraction as best.
The Vesians definitely wouldn't expose any weaknesses for them to exploit. While their nobles often fought among themselves, their individual unit cohesion was extremely high.
Therefore, the lynchpin of the defense of the Mech Nursery rested on the role of the Oodis Mudriders.
"Will the Oodis Mudriders really be useful if they stand the line?"
"Definitely. Don't mistake them for being only good for skirmishing maneuvers. A mercenary corps of that caliber won't leave any gaps in the training of their mech pilots. Besides, the Mech Nursery's premises are large enough that they can still run around as much as they want to inside our defensive perimeter."
"Alright, so they'll definitely be useful if they defend the Mech Nursery from the inside. But won't they be more effective if we accept Commander Husaan's request to let them range outside the perimeter?"
Melkor conceded that point. "That's true, but this isn't a situation where everyone gets what they want. The Vesians are upon us in less than half a standard day, and we only have so many mechs to go around. You have to realize that the Vesians will attempt to breach the walls in a single go with all they got. It's vitally important we contain that initial push, and that requires a lot more than the twenty-four mechs than what Sanyal-Ablin is offering."
"Well, we've also got the Avatars of Myth."
"Ves, don't tell me what to do." Melkor curtly rebuked Ves. "Even though the Vesians are likely to employ the direct approach, there's always the chance they'll sneak around or pull of something else. A reserve is always needed to provide against contingencies, and they also need to be some of our best and most reliable people. No one else but my Avatars can fulfill this role."
This left a fairly bleak picture for the Mech Nursery's defense. Melkor truly convinced him of the necessity to leash the Mudriders to the walls. Commander Husaan and the rest of the mercenaries wouldn't be glad to hear that, but the mercenary contract they signed with the LMC didn't leave them many options for refusal.
"Seeing as you've failed to convince them, I guess I'll go ahead and talk to Commander Husaan myself." Ves replied and turned to leave the command center. "Do you have any suggestions on how to handle the Mudriders?"
"They're a disgraced mercenary corps. Those who remained care a lot about their own honor. As career mercenaries, the thing they hate the most is retiring in ignomy with a permanent black mark on their records. Maybe you can use their honor against them. I'm not the most silver-tongued person, so I haven't been able to do that myself. I hope you have better luck."
"Hah." Ves smirked. "As if I'm any better. It's more like my mouth is made of wood."