The Mech Touch Chapter 946 Information Advantage
"If a battle starts in two days, we can rush five or so additional mechs back into the field. If we have double the amount of time, then it's not impossible to get ten or more additional mechs ready to deploy!"
Even if the condition of these hastily-repaired and jury-rigged mechs would likely be awful, every mech frame counted in a battle against a tricky opponent.
The Dragons of the Void deserved their reputation as the most skilled and organized pirates in the frontier. Paired with the deserters from the Finmoth Regal who knew every trick in the Vandal playbook, the Vandal and Swordmaiden survivors did not possess an overwhelming advantage in the upcoming battle.
Therefore, Ves long thought about a means to tilt the advantage to his own side in an unconventional manner.
"It's not about courage. It's about survival."
Certainly, the Vandal mech pilots aboard the Shield of Hispania all wanted the whoop the butts of the deserters. Mech Captain Bonnet and her ilk not only forsook their oaths, but more importantly turned their daggers against their former comrades!
A stab in the back was a lot more painful than a stab in the front!
When Ves thought about what delaying actions the Flagrant Swordmaidens could employ, he honed in on the Finmoth Regal. Didn't he scan the battered combat carrier thoroughly to the point of mapping out all of her exterior damage as well as the structural integrity of at least half the ship with his CFA shuttle?
Not only that, he also obtained detailed scans about the condition of all of their spaceborn mechs!
"We have an information advantage!"
While Ves did not know enough about starships to pinpoint their weaknesses, he knew at least one person aboard the Shield of Hispania who could easily school him in this field.
After bidding farewell to a frazzled Chief Haine, Ves zipped out of the mech workshops and navigated the congested corridors all the way to the engineering bay where an abundance of engineers and technicians milled about core ship components. He sought out Chief Engineer Avanaeon among the crowd and drew him to his office.
"What's this about, Ves?" He asked. "I'm busy supervising this rabble of stubborn engineers! Everyone of them wants to do things the way they did back on their old ships!"
"I need your help with a plan to deal with the Finmoth Regal. As long as we can hinder or disable that ship, we might not have to fight an arduous battle against the Dragons of the Void."
This caused Chief Avanaeon to look up. "What do you have in mind?"
"We have detailed files and schematics as well as status updates on the deserter vessel, right?"
"Yeah, but that won't help as much as you think. A combat carrier is military-grade starship built for surviving the rigors of war. Combat carriers are next thing to a fleet carriers in taking a beating!"
Ves activated his Squalon's built-in comm and projected the detailed scan results of the Finmoth Regal.
Chief Avanaeon widened his eyes. He immediately recognized the Finmoth Regal. "This resolution. This scan penetration! Where did you get all of this?! The quality and quantity of all of this scan data is extremely luxurious! In fact, it's even better than standing right next to ship!"
"CFA tech has its perks." Ves grinned. "I think the shuttle I lifted off the Starlight Megalodon probably did double duty as a vehicle for customs inspections and peacekeeping. Its scanners are remarkably good at scanning ships, mechs and other vehicles of every kind."
"Makes sense. Damn, the CFA has some really good stuff!"
After Chief Avanaeon went over his tech envy, he demanded Ves to transfer all of the files over to his terminal. Once he obtained the files, the chief engineer performed some quick data aggregation and analysis on the scan data.
The older man became so engulfed in his work that Ves practically didn't exist anymore in his eyes!
Knowing the importance of a focused state of mind, Ves stood quietly and let the engineer engross himself in the sheer quantity of high-quality scanning data.
After half an hour, the chief engineer finally closed his eyes and leaned back against his chair. His hazard suit creaked as he did so.
"If you told me to come up with a plan to exploit the weaknesses of the Finmoth Regal with archival data, I would have packed you off. Yet now that you brought me all of these up-to-date scan data, there's no way I can miss out on an easy opportunity to cripple their ship!"
"What a confident boast!" Ves raised his eyebrow. "That sounds ambitious. Are you certain you can cripple the Finmoth Regal?"
"Ves, to a seasoned engineer like me, the Finmoth Regal is a ramshackle combat carrier which depleted most of their supplies. Look at the scans of their cargo bay and material stockpiles to see what I mean. While her crew patched up the most egregious holes, their repairs aren't very thorough and with the right application of force we can easily punch through them and damage the delicate components and compartments underneath!"
"Even so, most of the surface components and compartments aren't very vital to the functioning of a combat carrier. Their core systems are always buried in the center with loads of compartments, hull structure and redundant armor layers in between."
"That's generally the case." Chief Avanaeon nodded, but then spun around the projection so that it showed the Finmoth Regal's stern. "However, the engineering bay is always placed close to the rear of the vessel and so isn't as well-protected. The sublight propulsion system is especially exposed. This is where we should strike!"
In the next couple of hours, Ves and Avanaeon hammered out of a plan of approach to cripple the Finmoth Regal's sublight propulsion system. This encompassed trying to find ways to deal with its various subsystems, from the main thrusters to the engines to the fuel supply.
Under the detailed scans obtained by Ves, they found several ways to affect these subsystems through expedient means!
Even though they spent a significant amount of their limited time on this harebrained scheme to sabotage the Finmoth Regal, at the end of the session they both smiled at each other for a job well done.
"Let's bring it up to Major Verle. Even if the plan is a little risky, it's better than facing our opponents upfront!"
When the both of them requested an urgent meeting with their commanding officer, Major Verle regarded as if they were a pair of boys trying to show off something cool to their parents.
"This must be important if it involves my best engineer and mech designer. Spit it out. What did the two of you cook up?"
"It's like this, sir." Avanaeon began. "Ves brought over a large amount of recent, high-quality scans of the Finmoth Regal. After pouring over the combat carrier's actual state, we've found several ways in which we can impair her mobility for weeks with minimal effort, essentially taking her out of action for the foreseeable time."
"Oh? How does this minimal effort look like?"
Avanaeon activated a projector that showed the Finmoth Regal's actual, damaged and partially-repaired state and highlighted several sections of her stern.
"The battle damage that the Finmoth Regal incurred against the sandman can't be fixed in a short time in the field, sir. What her crew has done is to patch over the holes and more vulnerable areas with easily-workable but inferior armor plating. The repair job is very hasty and patchy as well. Look at this section of plating that covers a major fuel line. As long as we can affect these stress points along the fused areas, we can blow this entire patched section into pieces and wreck the fuel line!"
The chief engineer proceeded to highlight several more vulnerable areas. Ves actually did most of the work in identifying these weak points as he possessed a lot more familiarity with working with armor plating, though some of the intricacies of ship-grade armor plating still escaped him. Nonetheless, his broad foundation in the relevant fields pulled him through.
"I see." Major Verle nodded thoughtfully. "Yet even if we know exactly where to apply force on the Finmoth Regal, getting in a position to strike these vulnerabilities is easier said than done."
"Ah, but this is where an invention of ours comes in, sir." Ves stepped in and progressed the projection to a depiction of a small stealth shuttle passing between the Finmoth Regal's mech patrols only to come up right next to the desert ship's stern! "If you may recall, the chief engineer and I developed a small stealth shuttle some time ago. Although there are many deficiencies about the shuttle, its stealth systems are just as good as the ones employed by the Venidsans so long ago!"
Ves and Avanaeon may have developed the Six-Sided Dice as a potential escape vehicle, but the main use of stealth shuttles had always been to sneak up to an enemy and hit them where it hurt!
That was also how the Venidsans initially dealt a near-fatal blow against the Flagrant Vandals back when they confronted the Frosty Meteors!
It took some time for Major Verle to recall the strange-looking shuttle collecting dust in a forgotten corner of the shuttle bay.
"That little thing? That's the smallest and shabbiest shuttle that I've ever seen. Is it truly capable of sneaking all the way inside the Finmoth Regal's security envelope?"
Ves grinned with confidence. "If we're talking about any other enemy, we wouldn't be so certain, sir. Right now, however, we are talking about the Finmoth Regal, a ship that used to be ours. We know exactly how their sensors and scanners are configured. With some additional tweaks, our stealth shuttle wouldn't even be a blip on their most sensitive sensors!"
"I recall that some of the Inheritor mechs are upgraded with stealth detector arrays. This is an addition which you yourself advocated to be put to use."
"It's exactly because I helped develop it that I'm most aware of its shortcomings and blind spots. Stealth and anti-stealth systems are constantly in competition with each other. It's not that difficult for me to modify the stealth shuttle to counter the characteristics of our own stealth detectors."
"Is there a risk that the Finmoth Regal's crew have adjusted their sensors to guard against this situation?"
"I don't think they're aware that we possess a stealth shuttle, sir." Ves replied. "Besides, it takes a very high foundation in sensor and signals tech to be able to know what you're doing. I am not aware that there are any notable experts in this field aboard the Finmoth Regal. The typical sensor officer may be adept in using all of the capabilities of a sensor system, but they can forget about tinkering on them. It takes an actual expert to do something so advanced!"
Overall, while Ves couldn't rule out that the Dragons of the Void stationed some experts on the Finmoth Regal to do something like that, nobody thought they would do such a thing.
As Major Verle weighed the various risks, he concluded that this scheme was actually very plausible!
"I like it, but time is short. If we want to affect the Finmoth Regal in time, we'll have to deploy your stealth shuttle very soon. I'll take care of the staffing and the planning. Besides deploying the stealth shuttle, I also want you to go out and observe the proceedings from a distance with your CFA shuttle."
"In order to provide up-to-date support. Are you up for it, Mr. Larkinson?"
The way the commanding officer stared at Ves subjected the latter to a peculiar kind of pressure. It wasn't the spiritual pressure that Ves once felt from attracting Venerable Foster's ire, but it was the kind of pressure that only existed within his imagination.
This was the kind of pressure every leader was capable of subjecting to their subordinates!
It didn't seem as if Major Verle took no for an answer, so Ves graciously 'volunteered' for the duty.
"I will do my part for the Bright Republic, sir!"
"Knock off that facetious display. You're far too sketchy to come across as authentic. Now get out of my office and prepare the two shuttles for deployment!"