As Ves and Gloriana settled in the Cloud Estate, elsewhere in the Komodo Star Sector a massive mech fleet was about to transition out of FTL.

The Sundered Phalanx was the mech military of the Gauge Dynasty.
As the most powerful partner of the Friday Coalition, the Sundered Phalanx enjoyed a high reputation.

Right now, the Gauge Dynasty dispatched two powerful mech divisions to address an emergency that suddenly took place on one of their populated planets.

The enormous fleet consisted of many fleet carriers and combat carriers as well as numerous support ships.
The firepower it possessed was more than enough to terrorize a third-rate state!

”It ’s very strange, sir. ” A staff officer reported to the mech general placed in command.
”Every quantum entanglement node in the star system disconnected from the galactic net without any warning.
We haven ’t managed to get in touch with the Mindak System for two days. ”

”It ’s fishy. ” The mech general grimly nodded.
His brilliant uniform shifted as he studied the intelligence reports.
”We ’re almost certainly walking into a trap.
Regardless of what a disaster has befallen the Mindak System, we need to be as alert as possible. ”

”It hasn ’t helped that we ’ve been ordered to reinforce the Mindak System as fast as possible.
The haste in which we left gave us no time to obscure our route.
If the Hexers are responsible, then they ’ll know exactly where and when to lay an ambush. ”

”The Sundered Phalanx is not so easy to defeat.
Our fleet carriers carry some of the best defensive shielding our Gauge Dynasty has developed.
We shall see how well they fare. ”

Hours later, the formidable mech fleet was about to transition out of FTL.
Every mech pilot entered the cockpits of their mechs.
Spacers manned their stations with utmost seriousness, knowing that whatever was about to take place would certainly not be a drill.

As the time of transitioned neared, everyone entered their maximum state of alertness.
As one of the premier mech militaries in the star sector, the soldiers Sundered Phalanx possessed an immense amount of pride and confidence in themselves!

”It ’s time! ”

As soon as hundreds of ships transitioned out of FTL, the hundreds of thousands of Fridaymen that made up the mech fleet knew no more.

In a wide zone around their emergence point in the Mindak System, thousands of dark, floating pillars turned active just minutes before the arrival of the Sundered Phalanx fleet.

As soon as the huge and heavily-armored fleet carriers transitioned into realspace, they instantly tore apart as if they had been rammed through a gigantic cheese grater!

Dozens of capital ships that were tough enough to withstand many minutes of bombardment from enemy mechs instantly peeled apart without any opportunity to mount a defense!

The smaller but just as resilient combat carriers shared the same fate! Each and every vessel emerging out of FTL acted as if they were passing through an invisible net that was strong enough to cut an entire planet!

Since the fleet carriers and the combat carriers all succumbed in an instant, the logistics ships that followed afterwards fared no better.
Ships that were almost as large as factory ships easily split apart and turned into separating noodles of alloys!

Within minutes, the horror finally ceased.

A silent tragedy had taken place in the Mindak System.
Two complete mech divisions of the Sundered Phalanx had been completely annihilated without having enough time to mount a defense!

Worse yet, the Mindak System was not the only star system in trouble.

Half-a-dozen other star systems had fallen silent, prompting the partners of the Coalition to raise their vigilance.
However, they also dispatched some ships and fleets to investigate.

The headquarters of the Sundered Phalanx and other mech militaries had been in constant contact with the reinforcement fleets.
Upon the moment of their transition into the mysteriously silent star systems, something remarkable happened.

They lost contact.

No one managed to establish contact with the ships and fleets that had fallen out of communication!

Either their quantum entanglement nodes suddenly stopped working, or the ships had been destroyed!

Horror began to spread among the high command of the Friday Coalition.

”How many mech divisions have we lost? ”

”The entire Coalition has collectively lost contact with sixteen mech divisions! ”

Sixteen mech divisions! Though the Sundered Phalanx alone fielded many more mech divisions, this was still a painful loss!

The absence of 160,000 second-class mechs and the expert pilots, carriers and other ships to support them was enough to tip the balance between the Friday Coalition and the Hexadric Hegemony!

”This is bad! The Hexers have just declared war! ”

The Hexadric Hegemony bombastically made their declaration as soon as the Sundered Phalanx and the other mech militaries of the Friday Coalition stopped sending in more ships.

The Hexers immediately began to send their own mech fleets across the border.
They had long been preparing to launch an offensive!

As soon as the Friday Coalition learned of the offensive, even more bad news poured in! Several strategic and highly-populated star systems suddenly began to fall into chaos!

Billions of citizens started rioting for no apparent reason! Although not everyone had gone berserk, many mech pilots and armed guards counted among the ones that lost their minds.
As soon as they became affected by the chaos, they began to unload their weapons in every direction, including their fellow soldiers and innocent civilians!

Only nine critical planets had been affected, yet their military and industrial importance was incredibly paramount! Their loss hurt the Fridaymen severely in their rapidly-escalating war against the Hexers!

In fact, six more planets had almost befallen the same fate, but the local forces managed to discover the plots in time.
The hidden machines that caused the surrounding population to go crazy had been found and destroyed in rapid tempo, saving many billions of people from death and damnation!

In the first move of what would become known as the Komodo War, the Hexers succeeded in inflicting a severe blow against the Fridaymen!

The Friday Coalition and the Hexadric Hegemony were two of the most powerful states in the star sector.

They also hated each other with a passion.
The only reason why they hadn ’t gone to war in the hundreds of years of standoffs was because it was too risky to initiate.

As long as any war broke out between these bitter rivals, neither side would back down!

Considering how many mechs and how many preparations they ’ve made against each other, a war would certainly last until one side decisively beat the other side!

The conflict between the two sides represented a pivotal war for supremacy that decided which of the two would become the final ruler of the Komodo Star Sector! Neither the Coalition nor the Hegemony wanted to tolerate the existence of their rivals any longer!

As soon as the fighting between the two powerful states broke out, the rest of the star sector immediately reacted with shock!

”The sandmen are just about to overrun our states! Why have the Coalition and the Hegemony decided that this is a good time to solve their grudges? We need their firepower to save our lives! ”

”Crazy! Crazy! Crazy! ”

”This is bad! Those female supremacists have managed to gain an advantage! What if they win? I don ’t want to lick the shoes of every woman that I come across! ”

To the Bright Republic and the other states fighting against the sandmen, the incredibly destructive war between the second-rate states couldn ’t have come at a more inopportune time.

Many of them had been hoping for a change.
Perhaps the Coalition and Hegemony felt charitable enough to send some of their powerful mech forces to the beleaguered states.

Yet now that they became fully preoccupied in fighting with each other, there was no way they would ever dispatch any help!

Even worse, the outbreak of war disrupted the existing pattern of trade.
The amount of resources the second-rate states consumed was vastly more than all of the third-rate states put together!

While none of the third-rate states were expected to fight on behalf of one of the second-rate states, they were still expected to export valuable exotics and other materials!

There was no guarantee that third-rate states would be left out of the conflict.
Perhaps the Fridaymen and Hexers would force them to take sides and fight among themselves!

As the news reached the Bright Republic, Ves learned of it as soon as possible.

He had barely settled into his new office at the Cloud Estate when the news scared him out of his wits!

”Gloriana! What is the meaning of this?! ”

His girlfriend did not exhibit any surprise upon hearing the news.
She leaned against his imposing desk and idly twirled a lock of her hair with her finger.

”Operation K has succeeded.
The war that will decide the fate of this star sector has finally started. ”

”Did you know?! ”

”Yes. ” She grinned like a shark that had just smelled blood.
”In fact, I contributed by customizing some of the mechs that have gone to war.
I wonder how many Fridaymen they ’ll manage to kill.
The more, the better! ”

Seeing her girlfriend revel in this stupendously ruinous war as if it was her birthday practically floored Ves!

He had forgotten that she was an unrepentant Hexer!

As Ves read the articles about the opening moves of the Hexers, a powerful chill went through his spine.

He recognized the means the Hexers used to strike a painful blow against the Coalition.

”Project Void Calamity. ”

”Project Pandemonium Descent. ”

He immediately dredged up the details of these two projects from the depths of his mind.

A long time ago, Ves and Calabast snuck into the restricted sections of the Starlight Megalodon.
Calabast spent a lot of effort to retrieve the files relating to these two ancient CFA research projects.

Back then, Ves learned enough about the two projects to make a horrible realization.

Both projects were purely designed to break a state!

With all of the awful events unfolding right now, Ves felt as if his worst nightmares came true.
The classified project files that Ves helped retrieved had been used to an incredibly deadly effect.

If Ves hadn ’t helped Calabast at the time, then this war might have never happened!

Shortly after Ves connected Project Void Calamity and Project Pandemonium Descent to Operation K, he made another incredibly vital realization.

is a hexer! ”

”Correct. ” A familiar voice sounded out from the side.

”Who ’s there! ”

A hidden entrance built into the side of his home office opened up.
Calabast emerged and walked up to the desk with a confident stride.

Surprisingly, the Glory Battalion guards guarding the office did not make any attempts to halt the intruder!

Nitaa looked lost and questioned Ves whether she should intervene.

”Calabast! Aren ’t you supposed to be in the Ylvaine Protectorate?! ”

”I ’m no longer needed there. ” She grinned.
”Don ’t worry, Ves.
My absence from the Ylvaine Protectorate won ’t affect our arrangements there.
I ’ve trained another operative to take over my cover identity as Madame Cecily to act as a caretaker.
Right now, I ’m much more needed here, by your side. ”

Calabast returned to her old guise.
She no longer disguised herself as a mild-mannered scion of the Curin Dynasty.

The truth had finally come out.
Calabast was a Hexer.
Ves should have known.
He wished he never met her back at the Harkensen System! If not for that, how would he get so entangled with the Hegemony?!

It was already bad enough that his girlfriend was a Hexer, but now his strategic partner turned out to be one as well!


Both Calabast and Gloriana looked at each other and chuckled.

”He ’s such a boy. ” Gloriana smiled affectionately at her boyfriend as he was suffering a mental breakdown.
”What did you do to him? He looks like he ’s at his limit. ”

Calabast nonchalantly shrugged.
”I only used him for a bit, that ’s all.
It ’s not my fault he ’s allergic to our state. ”

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