The Mech Touch


The Mech Touch Chapter 773 Contentious Briefing

How could human life develop on a Super Earth?

The exobiologists present in the meeting provided two of the simplest answers.

"The most prevalent case among humanity is through the use of technology." One of them explained. "Artificial gravity and antigrav is well-understood by our race. The Common Fleet Alliance utilize this branch of technology widely in their warships, from providing a constant source of artificial gravity to incorporating inertial dampeners to prevent every spacer from splattering against the bulkheads if the battleship accelerates or decelerates. While I am not an expert in this field, I understand that many engineers are highly proficient in this area."

Chief Avanaeon nodded. "That is true. Mastering grav tech is one of the basic achievements along with understanding FTL drive tech that enabled our race to thrive among the stars. The basics of grav tech isn't very complicated, and any seasoned engineer can build an antigrav module that's strong enough to resist a few g's of force. I can imagine that the CFA's galaxy-class engineers aboard one of their prestigious battleships can do more with grav tech than every engineer in the Mech Corps combined."

This likely explained the invisible field that emanated around the cities vaguely visible from orbit. If the descendants of the survivors of the Starlight Megalodon inherited anything from the original crew, learning how to deal with the crushing gravity was probably on the top of their list!

Another exobiologist took over. "The other, more permanent possibility is through genetic modification. Humans optimized to live on planets exhibiting different gravity conditions aren't anything new. While terraforming may allow us to transform a planet's air and ecosystem to be more compatible to our race, there are no easy solutions when it comes to compensating for the gravity. Spreading antigrav modules is a costly and uneconomic solution. Rather than sustain an extensive network of antigrav fields, why not modify a baseline human into a variant that is capable of surviving crushing gravity without any further maintenance?"

"Would the Starlight Megalodon be capable of genetically modifying their existing crew into high-g humans?" Someone asked.

"Absolutely. A CFA battleship is one of our most mightiest weapons. They are built like cities and offer almost every range of service. Gene labs will certainly be present. The question is whether they have survived intact upon the crash and whether the genetically modified humans are limited in some other ways. High-g variant humans gain an enormous amount of strength, but their appetite for calories has increased in the same proportion. If the survivors and descendants aren't able to obtain enough food, I doubt they can sustain more than a small community at a time."

These days, a wealthy human could find a grey or black market gene lab and undergo cheap procedures to increase their attributes. They could choose to become stronger, faster, more intelligent and more, all by undergoing simple gene treatments.

Of course, these accessible, largely unregulated gene treatments often led to drastic changes in appearance in addition to other severe side effects. The price always surpassed the benefits.

The gene patterns for high-g variant humans had been developed and popularized long ago, making them fairly well-understood and accepted. While they did in fact produce physically strong variant humans, they always turned out to eat at least five to ten times more than baseline humans!

If every baseline human in the galaxy changed into variant species, humanity would starve!

"Which of the two cases apply?" Major Verle asked.

"Certainly the first one, sir. The cities may not be numerous and are separated from each other by thousands of kilometers, but their size and apparent development show that they are permanent and well-established fixtures, each of them large enough to host a self-sustaining population that won't lose out to a large city in the Bright Republic."

The other exobiologist added a caveat. "That does not rule out the other case as well. While we have detected no smaller settlements that aren't covered by an antigrav field, it may be possible that their settlements are camouflaged or hidden underground. There are limits to what we can observe in orbit, especially through the spacetime distortion that only grows worse at lower altitudes."

"Aeon Corona VII exists in a different phase of existence than our fleet in orbit, practically speaking." Chief Avanaeon explained. "The turbulent astral winds are not quite constant, which means that not only is our means of observation above here limited to identifying large cities and major landmarks, we also can't provide much orbital support or provide reinforcements quickly."

"What does that mean for us on the ground?" The projection of a mech captain asked.

The chief engineer loaded in a data chip which contained a presentation of a model of the hugely complex astral winds surrounding a wireframe model of Aeon Corona VII. The suspected crash site of the Starlight Megalodon played host to a huge volcano-like pattern. Most of the winds flew out into space, but a significant portion curled back and spread across the rest of the planet, suffusing its entire atmosphere with its distortive properties.

"The implications are numerous. First, it means that we won't be able to launch artificial meteorites with any degree of accuracy. It's like playing golf during a hurricane. The golf ball you're launching can end up anywhere and it's virtually impossible to calculate an accurate trajectory. By the time you've finished your calculations, the winds have already changed, rendering those calculations useless."

The chief engineer gazed at the unsettled expressions of the mech pilots expected to be deployed on the ground. "Second, it is extremely difficult to land our shuttles and transports on the ground, and even harder to get them to lift off. We have prepared modified shuttles and transports that can tentatively load troops, mechs, machinery and supplies from orbit to land, but it will be slow-going because we only have a few of them. In addition, it isn't safe to land our transports close to the epicenter of the anomaly. We have to land on the far side of the planet, close to some of the regions settled by the descendants of the original crew."

That caused an explosion of conversation to occur. The planet was massive! Trying to traverse thousands of kilometers on a planet with six times the gravity of Old Earth would strain their logistics!

"That might take months!" Another mech officer exclaimed. "The war will long be over by the time we complete the trek!"

"Do not forget the time distortion that is taking place on the surface of the planet." A science officer remarked. "With time running faster by at least ten times the galactic standard, your experience of the passage of time won't change, but to those outside of this star system we are running at superspeed."

This caused a lot of the mech officers to feel discomfited. Just getting their minds wrapped around the effects of the anomaly already made their heads hurt. They weren't cut out for this science stuff.

Major Verle decided to refocus the briefing. "Make no mistake, Vandals. We are in it for the long haul. This will be a lengthy campaign of which most of your time will be spent on long days of travel. Those on the ground will largely have to fend for ourselves. While those of us who remain in orbit will attempt to provide you with as much support as possible, you've already heard how difficult it is to drop additional supplies on you, especially once you are getting close to the Starlight Megalodon."

Chief Avanaeon proceeded to summarize the many limitations they faced in transporting goods and mechs from orbit to land and vica versa.

Combat carriers obviously couldn't land on a Super Earth. They would fall with so much force that most of them may not be able to arrest their fall in time. Launching themselves back to orbit even with completely empty hangar bays and cargo holds required several times more power which they plainly didn't have.

As for the shuttles and transports, the limited number that had been modified could not handle the increasingly turbulent astral winds blowing near the epicenter of the anomaly. They could only land at the far side of the planet.

As for takeoff, most of the transports could only do so with a half or a third of their usual capacity. Trying to launch into orbit from a planet with six times the gravity required at least six times the force, and loading their cargo holds to the brim simply weighed them down too much.

"This means that evacuating our assets on the ground will be excruciatingly slow." Chief Avanaeon concluded. "If we ever need to extract our forces on the ground with haste, we will need to be prepared to discard all of our mechs and supplies and load up our transports with as many of our men and women as possible."

It would mean abandoning pricey landbound mechs collectively worth billions of credits along with other valuables. Still, as much as the Vandals valued their assets, they valued their lives more.

As long as they completed the mission, abandoning all of their landbound assets in a hurry could easily be justified.

"You know your limitations now." Major Verle took over again. "No matter how many complications we have met, the mission remains the same. Head to the Starlight Megalodon as fast as possible and loot the things we want before getting out as fast as possible. Since it is unsafe to land and lift off our transports in the same hemisphere as the anomaly, you will just have to march in and out on land. The only question is whether it is even possible and safe for you to approach the Starlight Megalodon on land."

"The astral winds and the distortion they cause grow incredibly strong in the vicinity of the source of the anomaly." The science officer cautioned. "To be frank, it is likely that a mech or person will be shredded or folded across space and time if they come within visual range of the battleship. We are working on a potential solution as fast as possible, but to be frank our research capabilities are limited."

"So what?" Captain Orfan asked. "If we want to loot the battleship, we have to sacrifice our lives and mechs?"

"Nothing so drastic." Major Verle quickly replied. "We are newcomers here. We have barely been in orbit for a day, and we know nothing about how to cope with the distortion. The descendants on the other hand have lived through several thousands of years. Even if they appear as if they have regressed in many ways, they have lived so long under these conditions that they may have developed some ingenious tricks to mitigate the negative effects of the astral winds."

"What? We have to make nice with the savages, sir?"

Their commanding officer nodded. "If possible. The natives are the successors of the Common Fleet Alliance. Please do not regard them as savages. Treat them with the utmost respect, because sooner or later, the CFA will catch wind of this and come to rescue these trapped descendants. If they hear that we treated them like dirt or killed them unjustly, the entire Bright Republic will suffer!"

That caused every Vandal including Captain Orfan to lose their contempt for the inhabitants of Aeon Corona VII. No matter how far they strayed from the CFA, they still carried the blood of genuine spacers.

"Who's in charge on the ground?" Captain Orfan asked.

Her eager eyes betrayed her expectation. As one of their best landbound mech pilots, she earned the respect of every Vandal.

To the relief of Ves and some of the other mech officers, Major Verle instead turned towards another mech captain who had always been rather quiet and unremarkable. 

"Captain Casey Byrd will be the ranking officer of our groundside forces. Captain Byrd is a steady leader who has taken classes in diplomacy and managing relations in the past. Her abilities will be essential in maintaining friendly ties to both the Swordmaidens and descendants."

The projection of Captain Orfan immediately stood up. "Sir, that's the wrong choice! Captain Byrd is a slowpoke, a cautious turtle! If she's in charge, we'll practically be crawling towards the Starlight Megalodon! Aren't we competing against pirates and the Vesians to reach the battleship first? Speed is of the essence here!"

Major Verle looked undeterred. "My choice is final, captain. Not only are Captain Byrd's talents more suited to these circumstances, she also enjoys seniority over you. Make no mistake. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon."

Captain Byrd smiled provocatively at Captain Orfan, causing the brash mech officer to hold out her anger. Steam practically flew from her ears!Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click for visiting.

Evidently, the two mech captains weren't the best of friends!


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