n fact, we ’re about to accelerate as stopping this sandman fleet has become a lot more urgent! We have to intercept this sandman fleet before it reaches the asteroid belt! ”

Ves quickly realized the implications of this development.
His eyes widened.

”Since the bodies of sandmen consist of sand and minerals, they ’re very difficult to distinguish from ordinary rocks! As long as they blend into a rocky asteroid belt, our sensors will lose track of them! Finding the sandmen will be as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack! ”

”This is especially the case if the sandman admirals split up.
High command is already worried about the possibility of a strategy adopted by the sandmen.
Before, the sandmen used to be manageable despite their overwhelming numbers because their fleets always travel straight to the nearest occupied planet as if it was their only mission.
This allows us to defeat the fleets one by one because they aren ’t waiting to pool their strengths with other incoming fleets. ”

Horror began to suffuse his face.
He could very well imagine once the sandmen smarted up and waited to group up with many different fleets before launching their invasion!

As long as the sandmen managed to hide in the middle of an asteroid belt, they could escape destruction and consume the attention of many mechs and starfighters!

The sandmen might even be able to build up their numbers in a star system to the point where they finally possessed the capital to overrun every opposition!

The Bright Republic would never be able to hold out against the sandmen if the aliens actually adopted this alarmingly clever strategy!

”Is it possible that this is the newest evolution of sandmen? ”

The Sentinel Commander nodded gravely.
”That possibility is on everyone ’s minds.
While nobody is sure that the fleet in this star system is the only one that has adopted a different strategy, high command doesn ’t want to risk the chance that the sandman admirals leading this fleet might pass on their strategy to other high-caste sandmen! ”

”What is their response, then? ”

”They ’ve already dispatched some reinforcements from the Bentheim System to assist in the pursuit.
If the sandman admirals split up once they reach the asteroid belt, our current troop disposition isn ’t enough to scour the hiding sandmen. ”

Splitting up the defense force meant that they became a lot more vulnerable in case the sandmen decided to prepare an ambush.

”There is something else, sir. ” Magdalena said.
”Captain Monlin has ordered you to cease accompanying us.
You have to return to planetside immediately! ”

”Why? ”

”Because it ’s too dangerous for you! Some of the higher ups speculate that the reason that the sandmen sent this abnormal fleet to Cloudy Curtain is because of you! Your Soldier mechs have made a huge impact on the Sand War to the detriment of our opponents. ”

”What?! I ’m just a mech designer! The sandmen don ’t care about humans at all! They ’ve never shown any desire to go after high-value targets! ”

”I thought so as well, but apparently we ’ve sold the sandmen short. ” Commander Magdalena darkly responded.
”We should discuss your future security arrangements after this incident has passed.
For now, you should immediately reverse course. ”

Technically, Commander Magdalena worked for the LMC, which by extension meant she worked for him.
This meant that it was inappropriate for her to issue orders to him as if they were still in the Mech Corps.

He didn ’t intend to object and throw a tantrum, though.
He recognized the urgency of the situation and knew that his continued presence behind the defense force would only pose further problems.

The last thing he should do was act like a spoiled brat and stick his nose into matters that didn ’t concern him anymore!

The Avatars and Sentinels under Commander Magdalena ’s command were more than competent enough to address the current threat.
That was what he paid for, after all.
Leaving this matter to the professionals was the best decision he could make at this point.

”I ’ll leave the sandman hunting to you, then.
Take care, commander. ”

Once the call ended, Ves sat back and frowned even deeper.

”What are the sandmen up to? Why is this sandman fleet so weird? ”

If he was just like any other Brighter, he would have been clueless why the sandmen in the Cloudy Curtain System acted so strange.

Not Ves.

He immediately smelled a plot involving one of his old acquaintances.

It was no coincidence that the sandmen had been stirred into a frenzy a few short years after Ves returned from the frontier.

The sandman race had always maintained their distance to human space out of a healthy respect for humanity ’s strength.
For this centuries-long status quo to change all of a sudden was very odd.

Even now, many analysts in the Komodo Star Sector were scratching their heads why the sandmen decided to commit collective suicide all of a sudden.

Not Ves.

Unlike everyone else, Ves and Calabast were perhaps the only two humans in the galaxy who guessed the truth behind the sandman invasion.

”Damn Sigrund! Can ’t you leave me alone?! ”

This was definitely the hybrid sandman processor pulling tricks on him! Only Sigrund appeared to be able to make the entire sandman race go mad and attack human space without any regard for their own survival!

If the sentient AI could make the sandmen do something as drastic as that, he could definitely pull off another prank by ordering the sandmen to disturb Cloudy Curtain!

After so many years without contact with Sigrund, Ves finally came into direct contact with a shadow of his immense power and influence.

Now that several years had passed since Ves inadvertently released Sigrund into the galaxy, how far had the sentient AI progressed?

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