The Mech Touch


The Mech Touch Chapter 465 Lugnuts


"Boss! Are we doing it? Are we gonna smash the Salamanders?"

"We're doing nothing of the sorts!" The brutish man barked back. His response surprised everyone who gathered here. "You dolts! I didn't train my Lugnuts to go crazy at the first sign of panic! I feel ashamed you even suggest such a thing!"

"Yeah, but-but-but the rest of Dettie has gone crazy! Why shouldn't we celebrate as well?"

"They're only crazy because those damned rebels are riling everyone up. I don't tolerate any of their people in my territory, and I'm glad I did because it's as quiet as a mouse out here."

Most of the crowd still couldn't accept such an outcome. So far, they helplessly watched on as the news portals broadcasted complete anarchy from the interior of Neron City. They badly wanted to join the fun as the destructive revel spilled out to several districts, except for theirs which was too remote.

"Think about it." Boss Nyerson said and stretched his arms around the workshops lining the streets. "How much sovvies do you think we earn for protecting these bunch of nerds? It's a lot, especially added over time."

"But if we can loot their workshops, we can make off with millions worth of sovvies in fancy gear!"

"Stupid! How would we get rid of them? Do we even have the space to hide all of our loot before can sell them off to the black market? How will we be able to get rid of the tracking devices that they'll surely be hiding?"

The Lugnuts kept trying to weasel Boss Nyerson into letting them go wild, but the strongest of them all remained staunch in the face of temptation.

"Lemme ask you this, how long do you think the rebels and the Brighters will stay?"

That shut everyone up.

"Days. Weeks, maybe, but not months, and there's no chance they'll be here to stay. Once they finally leave, what will happen to the rest? I can tell you now that the Immies will come down with their mechs and investigators and scoop out any troublemaker who helped them out."

"We aren't helping the enemy! We just want to enjoy some of our dues, that's all."

"Don't try to fast talk me! I know what you're up to, and I say you're not getting any of that as long as I'm around!"

Ves listened from the outskirts of the loose crowd as Boss Nyerson blabbed on about his forty years of living on the streets and staying alive while all of his buddies overreached and met their ends. At the heart of it, Ves approved of his clear-headed approach.

Sadly, caution and calm wasn't very conductive for his purposes.

"I don't want to hear any trouble from you boys! We're going to patrol our turf and kick anyone out that even hints at trouble. It's boring work, but mark my words, the Immies will reward us well when they come to save us from the rebels and Brighters."

That sounded very bad for Ves. While he didn't know how far their territory spanned, chances were high the Lugnuts would notice his presence and approach him. Once they had him under their sights, it would be very difficult to stay unnoticed.


As Boss Nyerson started issuing out specific orders, Ves slowly shuffled backwards while he readied the Amastendira. The fancy laser pistol gleamed obnoxiously from the streetlights out in the dark. The weapon had been designed for a noble, not an infiltrator.

Despite the risks, Ves nevertheless took his time to aim the weapon. He might have a bit of practice firing the weapon, but his aim would still be wobbly this far back from his target.

Just as Boss Nyerson spotted the gleam of the pistol aimed at him, Ves fired his weapon. A bright golden beam slashed out and tore past the ear of the big guy.

"Damn! I missed!"

Nyerson's quick reflexes caused him to jump and roll to the side, but Ves wasn't finished yet. He kept his finger on the trigger and raked his laser beam across the street until it hit the fleeing gang leader, instantly boiling his flesh and ended his life.

"Boss!"

"Kill him!"

"Run!"

Everything happened so fast that the Lugnuts could hardly process the blatant murder. Some of the men with quicker wits pulled out their guns and started to pepper Ves with badly-aimed shots, but he already dove into an alleyway between two workshops, thereby cutting everyone's line of sight.

"After him!"

"No wait! It's too dangerous!"

Around a third of the men looked like they wanted to take revenge, but inwardly the golden laser beam astonished them all. The Lugnuts generally used the cheapest laser weapons they could get their hands on, and the beams on those rifles and pistols only lasted a couple milliseconds or so.

A laser beam that kept burning at so much power that they could still feel the heat from their skin was worth a lot more than what they collectively earned in years.

"Who killed the boss?"

"No idea, but I'm out of here!"

Some panicked, some stood paralyzed while some scratched their heads, trying to figure out what to do next.

"The assassin's probably a rebel. He probably didn't like Boss Nyerson's plan of staying put on our turf."

"So you say that the rebels kill the boss because he isn't dancing to their tune?"

"Yeah."

A lot of Lugnuts still stuck around. As much as they feared the laser, the assassin already made a getaway.

"Hey, should we do what the rebels want?"

"Whadda ya mean?"

"You know, since Boss Nyerson got killed for doing nothing, shouldn't we do the opposite instead?"

A brain lit up in their minds as they contemplated the idea. "The Boss thought it was a bad idea. It'll attract attention from the Immies when they finally come and lay down the law."

"Those troops from Imodris won't bother with small fry like us. They'll have to butcher half the planet if they want to punish all the rioters. C'mon, this is our chance! There's no guarantee the Immies will reward us if we do nothing, but if we can make a quick score today, we'll be living like kings for the rest of our lives!"

This argument rapidly gained a lot of momentum. After a little bit of back-and-forth, the remnants of the Lugnuts quickly came to an agreement.

"LET'S SMASH THIS PLACE UP!"

It was as if they turned into barbarians. The Lugnuts might have acted meek in front of Boss Nyerson, but with nothing restraining them anymore, they didn't hesitate to let their inner beasts wild.

Laughter, screams and threats hung in the air as the occupants of the workshops tried and failed to resist the deluge of gang members. Word of their antics began to spread and all kinds of lowlives crawled out of the woodwork to join in the fun.

The sight of so many people throwing the workshops into chaos emboldened the cowards and the weak. They gained enough courage to join in on the looting, thereby throwing the entire territory of the Lugnuts into chaos.

Ves shook his head as he kept to the shadows. He stared emotionlessly as he saw the businesses being looted, set on fire or smashed in various conditions. As everyone busied themselves into taking what they wanted from the workshops that built all of those big mechs, Ves quietly snuck to Boss Nyerson's corpse, grabbed hold of the remnants and dragged it to the abandoned aircar.

None of the Lugnuts had attempted to loot their former boss, whether it was out of fear or respect, Ves didn't know. As Ves entered the aircar and slammed the door shut, he rifled through Nyerson's burned remains but found very little of value.

"A pistol, some data chips, a comm."

Ves had set his laser beam at a moderate power setting, but that was almost enough to burn most of Nyerson's possessions to a crisp. Ves didn't get anything he hoped for, causing him to sigh and throw the remains in the back seat of the aircar.

"Can I activate this car?"

Ves quickly explored the control panel of the car. He even bent down and detached a plate, allowing him to look at the insides of the car.

"Nothing."

Ves spotted nothing that he could use to take control. The aircar might look cheap and old, but Ves couldn't even bypass its antiquated security systems.

He needed to find another ride. "Time for plan B, I suppose."

Ves exited the useless aircar and ran along the streets, heading slowly but surely towards the center of the city. None of the rioting Lugnuts or lowlives spared a glance at him. For one, he was dressed as shabbily as them. Secondly, Ves didn't look like a person who held a lot of valuables.

This allowed him to reach what he suspected to be the edge of the Lugnuts territory. Beyond the intersection up ahead was another district of mech workshops that clearly looked like it had entered the advance state of rioting. A handful of wreckage formed a crude barrier that separated the two areas.

As ugly and awful as it looked, it formed an effective wall against rioters on foot. This insulated the Lugnuts from much of the trouble ahead.

Not a lot of Lugnuts had reached this area yet, but a handful of clever hooligans opted to start breaking down doors from here, far away from where most the Lugnuts let loose.

"The Lugnuts have finally done it."

"It was about time they did something. We've been waiting on the streets for half a day now."

They neared the door of a workshop and banged at it with their fists. "Open up! We're the tax collectors, and your taxes are due!"

A crackling speaker came to life. "Bugger off! I got nothing worth your time! Go loot the workshop down the street! He recently upgraded his assembly system, that's gotta be worth a lot!"

The troublemakers looked at each other and nodded. One of them held out a scuffed laser rifle and aimed it at the door before proceeding to pepper it with bursts of laser beams.

To its credit, the door held out against the heat. It would take a decent amount of time for the lasers to burn through.

"I'm telling you, open up, or you won't like it when we finally pry it open."

"You can go to hell! Don't come inside, I'm armed!"

The men laughed. "A nerd like you can hardly hurt a fly!"

As the men already started dreaming about how much loot they could make off from emptying out this workshop, Ves sneaked up behind the men and unceremoniously unleashed a nearly full-powered laser beam from his Amastendira. He raked the beam from left and right, which vaporized the abdomens of every looter gathered together.

Ves walked over the corpses with his pistol held out before reaching the door. He knocked at it once and spoke out calmly. "Open up this door, or I'm turning this gun on you."

"Hyiii!! Please don't shoot! I'll open it, I'll open it!"

A tone rang and locks disengaged. The door slid open, allowing Ves to enter the dingy interior of one of the shabbiest workshops that he had ever seen.

Ves realized midway throughout his journey that he wouldn't be able to access any of the machines in the workshops without the right credentials. His lack of equipment and means seriously limited his options. He urgently needed to gear up, and that meant he couldn't walk past the workshops without doing something.

Thus, he came up with a plan on the spot. Killing Boss Nyerson was a spur of the moment decision, but it succeeded in throwing his turf into chaos. With everyone thinking about scoring a lot of riches, an outsider like Ves would have much more room for maneuver.

It also put a lot of fear in the mech designers and workers that still occupied these workshops.

Ves looked around with care, wary for an unexpected ambush. The man on the other end of the line sounded frightened, but Ves couldn't help but shake the feeling that it might have been an act.

"Where are you? Come out!"



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