Senator Tovar ’s personal shuttle might look good, but it also came with a raft of defensive features! How could the shuttle of a high dignitary be so simple?

”Deploy anti-targeting countermeasures! ”

While the shuttle pilot juked the shuttle in a random pattern, the co-pilot activated a raft of features, the most dramatic of which was to unleash a canister ’s worth of sensor-blocking particles!

The immediate space around Senator Tovar ’s personal shuttle became obscured in reflective fog.
The tiny particles immediately denied most sensors and targeting systems the ability to peer into the cloud and fixate the shuttle ’s current position!

Ves knew that the sensor-blocking particle cloud wouldn ’t shield the shuttle for long.
It constantly dispersed and the more it did, the less dense the fog became over time.

However, a minute after its flight, the shuttle released another canister of particles, denying the enemy pirate mechs from targeting the shuttle!

Oh, they tried.
However, the Spiral Shockers piloting their disguised commercial mechs did their best to hinder the pirates from taking potshots at the shuttle.
The elite mech pilots used teamwork, coordination and timing to hinder the melee pirate mechs from going forward and harassed the ranged pirate mechs with strafing fire in order to interrupt their aim.

The defenders wouldn ’t be able to defeat the pirates very quickly at all due to the burden of having to shield a shuttle in open space from destruction.
However, as long as Senator Tovar and his ride remained intact, they didn ’t fail their mission!

The pirates were not resigned to being hindered like this, so they kept firing lasers and projectiles into the expanding clouds in the hopes of striking it lucky.

Yet the large clouds quickly spread over kilometers, making it incredibly chancy for them to hit anywhere close to the shuttle.
The huge distance between the pirate mechs and the escaping shuttle didn ’t help much at all! They had a better chance winning the lottery or finding a needle in a haystack than to land a hit on the shuttle in such a huge area of uncertainty!

Even so, Ves and the rest spent a nerve-wracking moment hoping that the shuttle possessed more canisters and if the Spiral Shockers would be able to keep the enemy pirate mechs busy.

”We ’re running out of canisters! ” The co-pilot reported.

”Friendly mechs are on the way! ” Colonel Xelven exclaimed as he intermittently exchanged messages with the Lormant Carnival, the flagship of the escort force.
”They ’ll be with us in a moment! For now, hang on as long as you can! The pirate mechs are slowly being pushed back! ”

Ves glanced at Senator Tovar ’s projection and saw that Xelven may be exaggerating a little.
The pirates, leveraging their advantage in numbers, concentrated more of their mechs at the flanks, lessening the pressure at the front but forcing the Spiral Shockers to spread their defenses thin.
This gave their ranged mechs a lot more opportunities to target the fleeing shuttle!

In the meantime, a huge explosion just wracked the Felicitous Remembrance ’s engineering bay.
Half the ship instantly ruptured from the blast, though her unusually resilient structure left her bow section largely intact.

Even so, the luxurious passenger ship met an ignoble end without even reaching her destination! The unimaginable amount of waste pained Ves deeply, though he felt thankful enough that he made it out in time.

A lot of shuttles and escape pods departed from the starship beforehand, so not as many crew and passengers lost their lives.
However, the supplies, gifts, databases and more all got lost, hurting the peace delegation ’s ability to negotiate with their Vesian counterparts even further.

Though Ves felt very nervous, this wasn ’t his first rodeo so he maintained his composure.
Colonel Xelven and Senator Tovar likewise kept up a steely appearance.

Professor Ventag on the other hand nervously shifted around his seat, aware that his custom vacsuit offered no protection at all should a laser or a huge ballistic round strike right into the shuttle!

His lack of combat experience among the VIPs appeared exceptionally eye-catching.
Even though he was a Senior Mech Designer, his actual combat experience was actually close to zero! Even Camden Tovar experienced a few close calls throughout his long life, but Professor Ventag seemed to have too little experience in this regard?

Ves didn ’t mean to be rude, but the professor ’s behavior started to discomfort the others.
”Didn ’t you serve during a previous war? ”

”I did.
But that was two generations ago in another time and place.
However, the DCTI ensured I served well away from the frontlines. ” Ventag plainly admitted his lack of exposure to direct combat.
”I apologise for my lack of composure.
I am constantly running the numbers on the probability of our shuttle getting hit.
I am not getting any encouraging results once it runs out of canisters. ”

”Sometimes, professor, it ’s better to leave what might happen in the future up to fate. ”

”We are mech designers.
We do not leave things to chance. ”

”When it comes to designing mechs or other engineering-related tasks, that ’s the most appropriate approach.
Yet there are so many variables involved in battles that you have to pick and choose where you put your mind into.
Calculating the probability of getting hit won ’t do us any good. ”

”You may have a point, Mr.
I will try my best to keep my mind on more productive trains of thoughts. ”

Ves found it rather peculiar that while leaders such as Senator Tovar adhered to the Societal Vitality Theory, they never applied its tenets quite completely among themselves.

The lower classes needed to experience struggle.
Leaders did their best to bloody them and make them grow stronger through hardship.

Yet the offspring of those highly-placed leaders as well as elite mech designers who graduated from the AUMD or the DCTI all received a free pass by virtue of their higher starting point and the support given by their parents or backers.

Even though Professor Ventag might be a great mech designer, his relative lack of hardening made him an odd choice for Senator Tovar to associate himself with.
Then again, leaders mainly applied the Societal Vitality Theory to a society as a whole.
They probably figured that exempting their own class wouldn ’t hurt the state very much.

Maybe Lord Javier had a point.
The Bright Republic ’s hypocrisy made it weaker than the Vesia Kingdom, whose rulers struggled just as much if not more than their commoners.
While it might not be the best way for a state to determine their leaders, it at least made sure that those who took charge knew the hardships of battle.

Ves may not enjoy combat but he survived so many battles that it left an indelible mark on his mech design style.
He was familiar with its intricacies as well as the features that mech pilots appreciated but never drew much attention.

How could a mech designer even design a good mech if they only witnessed combat from a distance?

This was the supposed rationale for drafting the Bright Republic ’s mech designers during the wars.
Bloody them and reduce their numbers until the survivors shaped up from their experiences.

While Ves did not entirely agree with such a wasteful method of drawing out the potential of an entire generation ’s worth of mech designers, it did have some good effects.

Yet the nepotism at work in the Bright Republic exempted the most promising, privileged and talented mech designers from this risky process.

Ves shook his head as a new development happened.
The shuttle ran out of canisters, but mechs dispatched from the flagship arrived in time to shield it from further damage!

A pair of space knights surrounded the shuttle and held out their shields to absorb any incoming fire targeting the vehicle and the occupants within.
Other mechs covered the other angles.
Even if they got hit head-on, their armor plating could take it! If need be, they would continue to shield the shuttle until their mechs broke apart!

Because that was their mission! The lives of Senator Tovar, Professor Ventag and Colonel Xelven was worth much more than their mechs!

Through this sacrificial method, the Spiral Shockers managed to shepherd the vulnerable shuttle all the way to the Lormant Carnival, a well-equipped light carrier camouflaged as the flagship of Special Security Limited.

Perhaps they shouldn ’t have bothered with the pretence and brought their military ships and mechs from the start.
Obviously, the Tovar Peace Delegation failed to maintain secrecy.

”We ’ve arrived! ” The shuttle pilot announced as the vehicle touched down onto the shuttle bay deck with a hasty clang.

As soon as the hatch slid open, Captain Hoskie led her men outside to secure the immediate surroundings.
Another squad of the Spiral Shocker soldiers greeted them with wariness, and it wasn ’t until Senator Tovar and the others verified their identities that they let down their guard.

”The shuttle bay is too open and vulnerable to attacks! ” Colonel Xelven stated as he stepped onto the deck.
”Captain Hoskie, bring Senator Tovar to safety! The Lomrant Carnival has a highly-reinforced citadel compartment for just this purpose! ”

”Yes, sir! ” Captain Hoskie saluted before ordering her men to surround and usher Senator Tovar deeper into the light carrier.

Colonel Xelven then turned to Professor Ventag.
”The Spiral Shockers may have need of your insights.
Some men will take you to the command center where you can assist in our defense. ”

The professor nodded without taking up any airs.
I will put my full effort into helping the Spiral Shockers repel the attackers. ”

The military official finally turned to Ves and Lord Javier.
Larkinson, though I would like for you to accompany and assist Professor Ventag, the Spiral Shockers are very particular about who is allowed to enter the Lormant Carnival ’s command center.
I hope you understand. ”

In other words, the Spiral Shockers didn ’t trust him enough to allow him inside the heart of their command.
Ves did not blame them as unlike the Vandals the Shockers followed protocol a lot more strictly.
He wouldn ’t be able to casually enter into any sensitive areas unless he received the requisite permissions.

In the middle of an ongoing battle, the Shockers had better things to do than to pay attention to a lowly mech designer like him! Even though he proved pivotal in saving Senator Tovar from captivity, word hadn ’t spread yet either.

Ves did not quibble on this issue.
Professor Ventag may be no good in a combat situation, but in the safety of the command center, he should be able to put his mech design abilities to good use.

”Where will you have me, colonel? ” He asked, expressing his willingness to help in any way he could.

The man thought for a moment.
”For now, please keep an eye on Lord Javier.
As we have not prepared any adequate quarters for a man of his station, he ’ll have to spend some time in the brig. ”

”Hey! I ’m not some lowly criminal or drunkard rating to be put behind bars! ” The noble immediately protested.

However, Colonel Xelven took little notice of his protestations.
He turned around and left for else, issuing orders as he marched.

Four guards arrived to usher Lord Javier to the brig.
Perhaps the only reason why the noble didn ’t complain about his treatment was because Ves walked alongside him as if he was a fellow prisoner.

”Are you glad you ’re still with us? ” Ves asked idly for lack of a better topic to talk about.

”No. ”

”No? ”

Lord Javier sneered in the open.
Now that they have returned to a ship with working power and life support, everyone ’s helmets folded back into their collars.

”Unlike what you might think, I ’m not short-sighted.
I believe Senator Tovar is right about the reason why we need to cut our war short.
Whoever he ’s afraid of, they ’re likely to offer a much better fight for us than your punching bag of a state! ”

Ves resisted the urge to smack Lord Javier ’s face.
Who was the punching bag here?!

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