hey ship materials to Cloudy Curtain or ship finished products back to Bentheim.
While the military is doing its best to keep the shipping lanes free from the sandmen, that is not a perfect guarantee. ”

Ves hesitated for a moment.
He really did not like to halt production at the Mech Nursery.
It was the principal production facility of his mech company and a temporary shutdown would have severe consequences.

Ves did not care too much about the disruption to the production plans or the delay in fulfilling orders.

What he really cared about was keeping his mech technicians and factory workers sharp.

Giving them a few days off didn ’t affect their readiness.
However, if they began to sit idle for several months, they wouldn ’t be as productive if they returned to work.

Yet keeping up production when he lost more money than he earned per sale was not a good outcome either.

He had to make a choice between two unpalatable options.

To be honest, Ves did not mind paying a modest price to keep his best and most loyal workers sharp.
However, the economy was just starting to deteriorate.
With the sandmen far from running out of steam, the situation would definitely grow worse over time.

”Instruct Raymond to shut down production if necessary. ” Ves eventually spoke.
”Even if we have to keep our manufacturing personnel idle for the remainder of the Sand War, it won ’t take too much effort to regain what we ’ve lost after the crisis has passed. ”

Gavin made a note on his data pad.
”Will do.
I have a suggestion.
Why not offer to transport our workers and their families to Bentheim? We ’ve recently invested in a handful of manufacturing complexes there to put our windfall to good use, remember? While we are already in the process of hiring workers, it ’s a lot better if we can reassign experienced and dedicated personnel from the Mech Nursery. ”

sounded like a good idea to Ves.
He didn ’t make an immediate decision, though.

”Pass this suggestion up to Raymond and the senior management.
This is a very major move and I don ’t want the LMC to make any haphazard moves.
I ’m not sure how many workers are willing to relocate to Bentheim in the first place. ”

”There ’s something else that is related to this issue.
We ’ve recently received some official notices from the government. ”

While Gavin passed on the notices to Ves, he briefly summarized their contents.

”All of the messages are pretty much saying the same thing.
The government is concerned at your continued stay in Cloudy Curtain.
The Ministry of Defense is the most fervent branch in requesting you to leave this star system. ”

”Because they think the sandmen are targeting me specifically? ” Ves frowned.

”I don ’t know why you ’re so nonchalant about this threat! If the sandmen are truly aware of your significance, then you ’re in big trouble! Holing up at Bentheim or Rittersberg is much better since the Mech Corps maintains a heavy presence in those star systems! ”

”Cloudy Curtain is my home. ”

”If you truly care about your home planet, you should have left months ago.
Your presence here is endangering everyone else if the sandmen are really out to get you.
Besides, even if you don ’t believe that, the government surely does. ”

Ves narrowed his eyes.
”Will the government force me to evacuate to a better defended star system? ”

”Yes. ” Gavin bluntly replied.
”The people in charge have only sent some politely-worded requests so far because they don ’t want to offend you.
However, they ’ll definitely push you harder if you remain stubborn. ”

This was not what Ves wanted to hear.
His mood darkened as he agreed with his assistant.

There was no evidence that the sandmen weren ’t out to get him.
Aside from Calabast, practically everyone else who was aware of the situation probably believed that Ves was under threat.

However, that did not mean that Ves was ready to surrender to the government ’s demands.

One of the biggest reasons why he was determined to remain at Cloudy Curtain was that it was easy for him to run away.

If for some reason the sandmen really launched a surprise attack or the government turned against him, Ves wanted to have a clear path of escape.

The defense forces stationed at Cloudy Curtain weren ’t numerous enough to envelop the entire planet.
It was not that hard for the swift and nimble Barracuda to avoid pursuit and circumvent blockades.

It was an entirely different matter if Ves moved to Bentheim.
There was so much shipping and traffic there that every vessel had to abide by the instructions of traffic control.

Patrols and enforcement were much more strict at Bentheim.
There was no way a single ship could slip through the thick defensive net around the planet!

Ves always harbored some paranoia towards his home state.
Even though he currently maintained friendly relations with the Tovars and the government, who knew they wanted to stab his back one day.

Though he knew it was unreasonable to suspect the government to turn on a prominent and decorated citizen, Ves was no normal Brighter.

For this reason, Ves did not prepare to evacuate to Bentheim under any circumstances.

Because of Cloudy Curtain ’s relatively low strategic importance, there was no way the Mech Corps could station a large force here on a continuous basis.

As long as Sigrund stopped pranking Ves by sending more abnormal sandman fleets to Cloudy Curtain, the Light Hounds should eventually return to the Bentheim System.

The fighting there had become very intense, after all! Bentheim needed all the help it could get to prevent the arriving sandmen from reaching critical mass!

Gavin looked disappointed, though.
”I don ’t know if the government will allow you to have your way.
If I were you, I would start buying some accommodations on Bentheim.
A lot of rich people have departed over the last months.
The real value of mansions and other extravagant real estate has plummeted! ”

Too bad Ves wasn ’t interested.

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