Chapter 1830 Sandman Calamity

The sandmen altered their pattern yet again.

The aliens were slow to change their approach, but once they did, it always resulted in significant changes!

After getting beat up by Deliverers over and over again, the sandmen reacted outside of expectation.

Most analysts predicted that the sandmen would have abandoned the swarm configuration that made their sandman admirals so vulnerable against sniping.

Yet it seemed the sandman leaders still in charge had opted to skip a couple of steps and went straight for the final resort!

It was difficult to estimate how many sandman fleets were left.
The sandmen drew out nearly their entire population from their territories in the deep frontier and committed them to the invasion.

Even though the human states managed to defeat an incredible amount of fleets, more were still intact and on their way to invade human space!

If the sandmen kept flinging their fleets at human space without strategy, then the states possessed ample confidence in repelling the onslaught.

It was a different story if they smarted up.
By taking advantage of their numerical advantage by gathering them up to form a single massive force, almost no state could withstand their might!

A sense of helplessness spread throughout the troubled states.
The might of a sandman planet like the one that struck a blow against the CFA warfleet was irresistible by any third-rate state involved in the Sand War!

Perhaps they might stand a chance if they all joined forces and pooled their military strength into a unified mech army, but what were the chances of that happening?

More information quickly poured in from scouts and observers.
They managed to infer the star system chosen as the convergence point, and it was right in the heart of the former Coman Federation!

This was bad news for the Bright Republic!

The state just happened to stand in their way if the sandmen kept heading coreward!

Though it was not out of the question for the sandman planet or armada to alter their course and steer around the Bright Republic, the odds of that was not very high.

The sandmen weren ’t known for employing tricks.
Their leaders set a simple directive, and the lower-caste sandmen obeyed those orders in the most direct fashion possible!

Therefore, if the sandmen were still trying to invade human space, they would certainly take the path of least resistance, which meant they would be proceeding straight ahead!

The mood in the Ylvaine Protectorate grew tense and uncertain.
It only took a slight change in direction for the suspected sandman planet to steer the sandman planet towards the Protectorate.

Not even the recent announcement from the MTA allayed everyone ’s worries.

In the face of such a clear and present threat, the Mech Trade Association could no longer remain impassive.
Failing to act against such an overpowering alien threat would certainly impact their reputation to an extent!

Perhaps they were too lazy to deploy their forces throughout the entire front in the earlier stages of the Sand War.

Now that the sandmen were eagerly converging their forces in a single location, the MTA only had to dispatch a single powerful strike force to put an end to their invasion!

The only question was how long it would take for the MTA ’s Compliance Department to muster up their troops and intercept the sandman planet.

No one knew what the future held.
While many people believed that their state would no longer be subject to the ravages of the sandmen, other people suspected that their enemy wasn ’t so simple!

Time and time again, the sandmen slaughtered so many citizens with the MTA standing by as if the culling was a natural cycle of nature.

Public confidence and trust in the MTA had fallen into a pit! Combined with their obvious preoccupation with the Red Ocean, many humans affected by the Sand War no longer looked up the MTA to save their lives!

The changes affected the Bright Republic the worst.
Even though the relentless assault against the Bentheim System had finally ceased, hardly any Brighter celebrated the reprieve.

The Mech Corps and Starfighter Corps rapidly began to reorganize their regiments in preparation for a large-scale action.
Whether it was to resume their prior defensive actions or to concentrate their forces to repel a planet-sized sandman behemoth, the Bright Republic needed to make the most out of the temporary lull in battle.

The conditions were slightly better in the other states.
The Ylvaine Protectorate and Vesia Kingdom which bordered the Bright Republic were both adopting similar postures.

As for the states situated further away, the mood grew cautiously optimistic.
Some even believed that the sandmen would no longer bother them! As far as they were concerned, the sandman invasion wasn ’t their problem anymore! Let the Brighters and the MTA take care of the sandmen ’s final gambit.
There was no need to intervene any further!

With several distant states declared an end to the fighting and the start of reconstruction, it became clear to the Bright Republic that few states were willing to reinforce its precarious defense lines.

The selfishness of state governments became fully evident when the Bright Republic ’s pleas were help fell onto deaf ears.

Not even the Ylvaine Protectorate issued a commitment!

”The Ylvainans don ’t owe the Brighters anything.
In fact, the opposite is true. ” Gavin reported to Ves in his office.
”The ties between the Protectorate and the Republic are too shallow to foster a mutual defense pact.
There are too many differences between the two states, and the Ylvainans don ’t believe the sandmen will change course and attack the Protectorate after they smashed the Republic. ”

Ves grimaced a bit.
”This also means that the Bright Republic won ’t come to the Ylvaine Protectorate ’s aid if it turns out the sandman planet attacks the latter instead. ”

”Everyone is gambling like they are taking turns to ride a starship with a malfunctioning FTL drive.
Each passenger hopes that disaster will pass them by and that the FTL drive will still hold up. ”

Considering that the Bright Republic bore the most risk, no amount of diplomatic entreaties could convince the other states to send aid!

Some people even wrote the entire state off! There was no way the Republic would be able to survive if the sandman planet invaded the Bentheim System, which many analysts predicted due to its attraction as a port system!

”How is the mood in my group? ”

”As you can imagine, many people are conflicted.
The employees of the LMC sympathize with their former people, but they are secretly glad to be out of the way.
The same applies to the Larkinson clan members to an extent, though there are plenty who want to fight on behalf of their home state one last time. ”

Ves held the Larkinson Mandate in his hands and idly flipped through its heavy, spiritually-empowered pages.

”I am aware.
Their reaction is rather..
troubling. ”

Though the Larkinsons who followed him to the Ylvaine Protectorate pledged their loyalty to the clan, it was too difficult to shake off their Brighter identity and indoctrination.
They were still Brighters at heart, and many of them strongly urged Ves and the clan leadership to return to their home state to fight what might be the most decisive battle of the Sand War!

Suffice to say, Ves was deeply to accede to this request.
Though it would be exceptionally valiant for them to come to the aid of the Bright Republic, Ves was not hungry to expand his glory and accumulate more honor.

The Larkinsons weren ’t short of reputation! Even the newly-founded Larkinson Clan already possessed quite a lot of renown due to the personal accomplishments of Ves and the legacy it inherited from the old family.

All of this meant that Ves had continually been inundated with requests to dispatch the Avatars and the Sentinels to the Benheim System!

It was driving him mad!

Fortunately, there were several reasons why they weren ’t heading to the Bright Republic in droves.

First, travel from the Ylvaine Protectorate and the Bright Republic was heavily curtailed.
Aside from state-backed trade convoys, hardly any ship was willing to travel to a state that was likely to become the punching bag of the sandman planet!

Ship owners weren ’t suicidal or stupid enough to accept any contract that would bring them to the Bright Republic!

Second, the Larkinsons possessed some attachment to their clan.
Each of them had signed the Larkinson Mandate, which meant they felt obliged to wait until Ves and the leadership made a decision before they acted.

Of course, this didn ’t prevent them from leaving the clan or acting against instructions.
This was actually a very realistic concern to Ves and the others.

The final and perhaps the main reason the clan members restrained themselves was the reaction from the old family.

The Larkinson Family as a whole instructed the Larkinson Clan to stay out of the way.

Benjamin Larkinson called Ves himself to explain their reasoning.

”Whatever happens, we don ’t want our Larkinson heritage and future hopes to die with us stubborn old bones.
In the coming weeks, we ’re transferring our family to your clan.
I hope you can shelter them from what is to come.
Please treat them well.
Whether they decide to join your clan or stick to their own ways, I hope you can respect their choice. ”

Ves readily agreed with this request.
”I have never forced anyone to join my clan.
Family is family.
I ’ll do my best to accommodate every Larkinson sent in our direction. ”

”It might be that we ’re being overcautious.
The MTA will likely make its move and solve the problem on its own.
What we are doing is merely a precaution.
It might be that this crisis will blow over in a month.
You can send our Larkinsons back if that ’s the case. ”

Ves and Benjamin hashed out the details and forged a small, informal agreement that the Larkinson Assembly quickly ratified in an emergency session.

Since the clan had accepted the responsibility of hosting the Larkinsons from the old family, it had a duty to protect their charges.

Sending lots of mechs and mech pilots to the Bright Republic would be a dereliction of their current duty! At least that was Ves hoped to use as an argument to convince his rowdy clan members to stay put.

”How big the exodus from the Bright Republic? ”

”Not that much, to be honest.
Aside from the lack of ships that can carry refugees away, most Brighters are actually determined to ride this crisis out.
The upside to the latest movements is that many star systems are no longer under attack.
Even if the sandman planet advances forward, it will only pass through the territories of the Bright Republic before entering the territory owned by the Independent State of Pillis. ”

”Still, the likelihood that the Bentheim System will be attacked is quite big.
Once Bentheim falls to the sandmen, our home still will lose its economic heart.
It will be difficult for the Bright Republic to remain strong.
Even if the state manages to recapture the Bentheim System, it has lost centuries of investment and accumulation.
It ’s too expensive to rebuild the local economy, especially since the government is certainly drowning in debt! ”

The geopolitical implications were considerable.
Unless the MTA stopped the sandman planet in time, it was likely that the Bright Republic would suffer an unprecedented period of weakness!

What might happen afterwards was bad news for the Republic, and by extension the Larkinson Family.

Ves really didn ’t want to deal with this headache right now.
He was just about to gear up to begin his Larkinson mech design project.
If he wanted to have a reasonable shot at fabricating another masterwork mech, then he couldn ’t afford to get distracted all the time!

”Are there any other movements I should be concerned about? ”

”Well, it ’s the Hexers.
The Wodins have been making some moves without coming across as man-hating bastards. ”

”What? ”

I know it sounds improbable, boss, but I think they ’re actually succeeding in making friends with our people! ”

”What is Gloriana up to? ” Ves frowned.

”I think..
the Wodins are engaged in a charm offensive! They ’re trying to ingratiate themselves in our group! ”

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