The Mech Touch Chapter 388 Self-Harm
One peculiar nature about Cloudy Curtain was its ever-present cloud cover. The clouds not only blocked vision, but various other signals as well, so the Vesians wouldn't be able to coordinate between their space and ground forces very well.
However, this did not hinder their operations too much, as Cloudy Curtain itself hosted numerous quantum entanglement nodes that maintained contact with the wider galaxy, which could all be hacked in many ways. The Vesians also deployed floating comm buoys to maintain secure lines of communication.
Most of the transports predictably flew towards Freslin. However, two transports deviated from the rest and headed towards Orinoco.
"How many mechs do these transports carry?" Ves asked as he stood besides Melkor in the command center.
His cousin carefully studied the models and also looked up the details on the galactic net. "This particular model normally carries six mechs. The Vesians apparently don't think much of us if they feel confident enough to hit two targets at the same time."
Both of them found the Vesian decision to be an unexpected gift. Their odds of withstanding the Vesian push drastically increased with the absence of those twelve-or-so enemy mechs.
"Will the Vesians wait for those mechs to finish up in Orinoco before attacking the Mech Nursery?"
"They shouldn't be." Melkor mused. "You have to be aware that the Vesian raiding force has already entered this system for more than half a day. The Mech Corps already knows about them and will free up a response force sooner or later. The Vesians don't want to stick around for too long. I predict they will only stay for two or three days at most."
Raiding forces only came equipped to attack rear echelon facilities. Neither their mechs or pilots could compare to the best of what the 3rd Imodris Legion had to offer. Furthermore, they also lacked the supplies to fight an extended drawn-out engagement.
Their plan was to get in and out as fast as possible, doing as much damage along the way as they could.
As a detachment of the Vesian raiders flew towards Orinoco, the citizens of the capital city panicked. Walter's Whalers practically left the city undefended, and only a handful of influential organizations maintained a loose collection of mechs.
These mechs would not be able to pose a threat at all. The strong pacifist tradition among the old elite discouraged any meaningful investment into forming a proper standing force of mechs. Some mechs even looked severely outdated to the point where only grandfathers and grandmothers could identify their exact model on sight.
The impending arrival of the Vesians at Orinoco led to a fierce discussion among the upper echelon. Representatives of the ruling coalition, the local businesses and the farming consortiums all gathered together to discuss potential countermeasures.
"I don't see why the two biggest consortiums are content to look on from afar! I know you guys have built up a secret force of mechs! This should be the best time to make use of them!"
"Those are slanderous rumors! We are peaceful farming consortiums. The war has nothing to do with us! It is categorically impossible for us to send out any mechs, because we don't have any in the first place!"
"Why are we arguing among ourselves when we don't even have any mechs to send out? Why do we not meet with the Whalers and attempt a reconciliation?"
"Are you kidding? They'll rob us blind if we attempt to negotiate with those thugs and brutes! Let us announce a widespread evacuation and hide out in the wilderness. The Vesians may be able to do an enormous amount of material damage, but we can always rebuild after they leave."
"My businesses will be ruined if the Vesians have free reign in Orinoco!"
As the different interest groups in Orinoco tried and failed to come to a consensus, a series of thunderous explosions happened outside. The force of the explosions shook the floor and even unsettled the footing of the people in the conference room.
A door slammed open as a security officer hastily entered the gathering. "Sirs! Massive explosions have destroyed the spaceport, the planetary assembly building, various storage yards and the headquarters of the five biggest companies in Orinoco. An anonymous message has only given the occupants two minutes of time to evacuate before the bombs set off!"
Several people looked at each other with a stricken expression. "Awful!"
The sudden chaos plunged the capital city in a full-blown pandemonium. People panicked and ran in every direction.
The Vesians spotted the destruction as well. Seeing that most of their strategic targets blew up on their own accord, the two transport ships that previously headed to Orinoco changed course and joined the main raiding force to Freslin instead.
Just this act alone revealed the motives of the explosions. By destroying the most valuable structures in and around the capital city ahead of time, the Vesians had no more reason to stop by.
"Who is responsible for those bombs!? Don't they know what they've done! This is naked treason!"
"Whoever destroyed my headquarters will pay!"
The consequences of such an act was very severe, but whoever bombed those places managed to accomplish their goal of diverting the Vesians away from their city. After all, if they didn't persuade the enemy transports to change course, the Imodris mechs may have decided to destroy a lot of other infrastructure as well.
While certain people in Orinoco sighed in relief, others in Freslin looked furious. In the command center, Ves looked grim.
"I knew it was too good to be true. It looks like we'll be facing the full force of the Vesians after all."
Unlike Ves, Melkor couldn't accept what had happened. As a bona fide Larkinson and a former cadet of the Mech Corps, he found the self-sabotaging actions of the bombers to be a profound betrayal of what it meant to be a citizen of the Bright Republic.
"The Mech Corps won't take this lying down! They'll certainly investigate the bombings after this is over!"
"I know you're angry, Melkor, but this isn't the time to focus your attention on those bastards hiding in Orinoco. We have to get ready to meet the Vesians."
The two lagging transports that previously headed towards Orinoco caught up to the main formation that flew towards Freslin. A tense hour went by as the transports reached a flat and uninhabited plain well outside Freslin. The Vesians deployed jammers at that moment, making detailed observation impossible with the equipment at hand.
"They've set down around forty kilometers away from our base." Melkor noted as he changed the center projection to a plot of the local terrain. "After their mechs embark from the transports, there is a chance they will stop by Freslin first. However, it doesn't have anything in particular worth destroying, so it's likely they'll go for the Mech Nursery as soon as they are deployed."
It did not take long for the Vesians mechs to move. After a brief period of organization, over eighty-five mechs set off in the direction of the Mech Nursery. Long-ranged sensors hidden in the forests around the Mech Nursery caught the broad strokes of the Vesian movements, but lacked the power and sophistication to observe any detailed information such as the type and models of the individual mechs.
"Eighty-five mechs is more formidable than we thought." Ves frowned as all of the readings tentatively concluded there was definitely more than eighty mechs on the move.
"The numbers are never exact. The amount of mechs in a standard Vesian company always fluctuates for some reason or another. Forty mechs is just a guideline."
The addition of five additional mechs mattered a lot to the defenders. It meant that they might have to beat at least five mechs more in order to make the Vesian commander lose heart in his raid.
If some unknown organization hadn't decided to blow up Orinoco ahead of time, then the Mech Nursery wouldn't have faced more than seventy-five mechs. Melkor couldn't help but boil up inside at the thought.
Still, he finally managed to get a grip. He adjusted his visor on his head, which maintained a blue glow for now. He started to issue some commands, directing most of the mechs from Sanyal-Ablin and the Mudriders to man the section of walls that faced the incoming threat.
The projected plot showed several dots moving into place. Most of them congregated at or behind the walls in spread out patterns several lines deep. Other mechs stationed themselves in the center or on the other sides of the walls.
"What's going on right now?" Ves asked.
"Before the Vesians come into range, they'll definitely try to soften us up."
It didn't take too long for Melkor's prediction to arrive. A swarm of missiles approached the Mech Nursery from a great distance. The Vesians had staggered the launches of the missiles so they would all arrive at their target at roughly the same instant.
"How many missiles?" Melkor barked to a sensor operator working behind a nearby console.
"Five-thousand missiles sir! They are all of a light design!"
Both Ves and Melkor relaxed a little. Light missiles packed the least amount of punch. That was not to say that they didn't feel threatened by the swarm of missiles, but at least it did not match their worst fears.
"Inform Sanyal-Ablin and every rifleman mech to intercept the missiles."
"Done sir, though Sanyal-Ablin says they've already moved."
Even though Melkor acted like a base commander, the truth was that none of the forces defending the Mech Nursery answered to him. Except for the Avatars of Myth, every other outfit involved in the defense listened to their own commanders.
That was why Ves considered Melkor to be a coordinator instead of a commander in this battle. He could only make suggestions that others might not follow up upon if they thought they knew better or if it harmed their interests.
"The upcoming battle hinges on the Mudriders." Melkor explained. "The mech pilots of Sanyal-Ablin are professional enough to do their duty, but your friends from the Whalers need a lot of encouragement in order to convince them to attack the Vesians from their flank. If the Mudriders can't hold off the initial push, everything else will fall apart."
"I'm confident Commander Husaan knows what's best for his mercenary corps, but I'm not sure if all of his mech pilots follow suit. Last I heard, a big argument erupted at their mech stables."
They no longer had any time to do anything about it. With the Vesians about to arrive at their doorsteps, they needed to trust in the measures they already prepared.
At this time, the high-flying missiles finally arced into view of the Mech Nursery.
At this time, the manufacturing complex had retracted almost all of the non-essential structures underneath the ground. The only structures that remained above ground consisted of defense measures.
The turrets grabbed the most attention. Over a hundred different turrets installed and control by Sanyal-Ablin automatically swiveled towards the incoming swarm of missiles before unleashing a rain of lasers and projectiles.
The anti-air fire struck a lot of missiles, but plenty more made it past the initial volleys. Even as the missile swarm visibly decreased, too much had been sent their way. Less than a thousand made it through and began to impact the entire surface of the inner perimeter.
Ves didn't look to worried at the explosions happening above his head. Most of the missiles landed on empty soil or impacted the walls and reinforcement enclosures that sheltered the defending mechs.
"Sanyal-Ablin's ECM is top-notch." Melkor nodded in satisfaction. "Over ninety percent of the missiles have been led astray. As expected of a subsidiary of a faction from a second-rate state."
Perhaps the Vesians hadn't expected the missiles to end up damaging barriers and clumps of dirt, because the eighty-five Vesian mechs suddenly slowed down their pace.
"They're beginning to realize we might not be the pushovers they thought we were." Melkor guessed what went on in the enemy's minds. "After all, hardly any company invests so much of their resources into fortifying their manufacturing complexes."
The two Larkinsons waited with baited breath at what the Vesians would do next.