Ves woke up all of a sudden.
He ’d never been a heavy sleeper after he returned from Groening IV.
His physical body ’s need for sleep seemingly lessened, but to sleep was to be human, so Ves still adhered to a strictly human biorhythm.

”Why did I wake up? ” He scratched his dark hair while garbed in pajamas.

An unsettling sensation came over him.
Ves shrugged out of bed and wiped his hand towards the window, causing it to turn from solid black to fully transparent.

He blinked at the night scape and checked the time.
At three o ’clock local time, the city was doused in the depths of sleep.
Only the most hardcore partiers and revelers still roamed the streets.
Drunken tourists crawled from bar to bar while the nightclubs lit up their surroundings with light and noise.

Beyond the stretch of beaches, half-a-dozen yachts had congregated and formed a makeshift floating club where over a hundred privileged young men and women pretended to be nocturnal party beasts.

To all intents and purposes, the city appeared to be completely normal.
Yet Ves couldn ’t dismiss the nagging feeling of something wrong.

His instincts might not be as good as an oracle, but Ves had learned to trust his gut feeling.
Right now, Ves felt as apprehensive as standing in close proximity to a mech battle.

”There can ’t be any danger here, right? ”

He currently resided on Harkensen I, the tourist paradise of the Reinald Republic.
The Planetary Guard and the Honored Ones that kept the peace on this planet enjoyed a very good reputation here.
They foiled thousands of plots every year and never failed to squash instances of violence before they spilled over to innocent bystanders.

After several minutes of staring out of the window, Ves decided it was best to be safe than sorry.
He raised his comm which had never left his wrist and opened a channel to security.

His comm projected the bust of a bored-looking Vandal security officer.
Larkinson, what can I do for you? ”

Ves couldn ’t straight up tell the security officer that his gut warned him of an approaching threat.
Still, he could couch his words in a way that may bring the Vandals to a heightened level of alert.
”I have reason to believe that there may be security threats on the horizon.
Can you please scan my hotel room and double-check the perimeter and such? ”

The security officer narrowed his eyes.
Larkinson, what evidence can you provide to support your statement? ”

”I ’m sorry, officer, but I can ’t tell you that right now.
Just trust me.
If I ’m wrong, then no harm is done. ”

This argument appeared to be persuasive enough to buy over the security officer.
”Very well head designer.
We shall run a full check.
Please stay in your room and don ’t make any suspicious movements. ”

The channel closed, leaving Ves alone in his quiet room.
He decided he might as well skip the rest of his sleep.
He turned on the lights and walked over to the closet which held a number of outfits.

Ves touched a chute-like tube, causing it to beep before attracting his pajamas from his body.
The chute sucked the clothes through the tube that subsequently led to some laundry area.

He then touched a clothing rack which held a generic warm-weather outfit, causing the clothes to fly from the rack and surround his body, adjusting the fit for a few seconds.

He then rummaged through the closet but failed to find anything protective.
”What kind of stupid hotel is this? There ’s over a dozen racks of smart clothes but not a single emergency suit! ”

Emergency suits basically consisted of stripped-down hazard suits.
Cheaper and less bulkier than the latter, emergency suits nonetheless provided limited amount of protection against heat, explosions and toxins in the air.

”Why is my gut urging me to get in an airtight suit? ”

He sniffed the air, but didn ’t smell anything weird.
Nonetheless, his heart beat a little faster, as if he was nervous something was seriously wrong.

The front door to his hotel room beeped and slid open.
A pair of Vandal security officers outfitted with serious-looking combat armor stepped inside.
The sergeant at the lead gripped a handheld scanner.

Larkinson, we ’ve received your notification.
Please let us inspect your room. ”

”Go ahead, gentlemen. ”

The sergeant first scanned over his body with the scanner.
The machine threw out a bunch of warning noises, causing the sergeant to slam his palm at the device.
”Not again! Get to work, you buggy machine! ”

”Has the device been loaded with my unique physique? I ’m different than a baseline human.
Doctor Cuscar should have loaded my parameters to the database. ” Ves frowned.

Let me adjust the scanner then. ”

Ves worked with scanners himself, so he easily guessed why the sergeant ’s scanner tripped up.
He really missed the Vulcaneye he bought from the System.
With a scanner worth 100,000 DP, he would have already been able to detect any anomalies himself.

While the sergeant loaded in the right settings, the other security officer made a cursory inspection of the hotel suite.
He wasn ’t very diligent about it.
Ves figured the other guy thought they were wasting their time.

”Alright, the scanner is loaded with the right settings.
Let ’s see what ’s happening here. ”

The sergeant pointed the scanner at Ves.
This time, the device only released a single warning noise.

”What ’s wrong? ”

”That ’s strange.
According to the scanner, your body is doused with sedatives. ”

The two stared at each other in a single moment of belated realization.

Something suddenly exploded from the ceiling above, causing strong electromagnetic interfere to blast their heads with noise while at the same time frizzling the scanner into a smoking wreck.

A minute noise spewed out as invisible projectiles punctured the exposed face of the security officer nosing in the bathroom.
Just an instant later, another volley of projectiles headed towards the sergeant.

”Enemy attack! ” The sergeant screamed.

Unlike his partner, he had been much more alert, so his combat armor instantly went active.
His half-open helmet quickly slid shut, causing the transparent needles to shatter against the armored mask portion of the helmet.

The needles worked wonders against open skin, but wasn ’t any good against any form of armor!

We go loud. ” An electronic voice sounded out.

The room became instantly bright with the flash of a high-powered laser beam that tore through the sergeant ’s armor like it was made out of cloth! The Vandal ’s body slowly tumbled onto its back, as if the man couldn ’t fathom why he was killed so quickly.

The hot laser beam instantly set off alarms in the hotel.
The noise practically forced every Vandal awake.
Just as Ves thought the assailants would be scared away, he glimpsed something alarming through the window at the other end of the suite.

Out of the waters, a couple of mech-like shapes emerged from the depths.
The nearby party fortress lit up the contours of the mechs that had hidden themselves underwater.
Some of the mechs pointed their arms in the direction of the hotel.

Twin booms sounded out as a salvo of kinetic projectiles thundered towards the tall hotel.
Just as the projectiles hit the building, an energy screen came to life.
The projectiles managed to punch through the energy screen, but lost a lot of their force in the process.
By the time they hit the hotel, the structure only shook lightly as a couple of hotel suites became flattened.

This caused the entire city to erupt in alarms.
Warning noises penetrated everywhere, causing even the heaviest sleepers to shake off their dreams.

A few seconds later, massive EMP detonations wracked the area around the hotel, causing most of the nearby alarms to sputter out! Nightclubs went silent while bars went dark.
Every electronic device with insufficient shielding became completely inert!

Worse, more explosions detonated underground and elsewhere, causing the camouflaged turrets and other security measures to freeze!

Ves couldn ’t pay attention to those matters though, because a trio of dark-suited infiltrators dropped from the ceiling.
He noticed that their suits possessed active camouflage capabilities that allowed them to blend into the background.

They might have been staring at him at sleep for hours!

”Who are you guys?! Vesians? Reinaldans? ” Ves barked, but he didn ’t wait for their reply.
He quickly turned around and dove towards the exit, only to skid to a halt when another infiltrator barred his way.

All of the infiltrators wore the same high-tech getup.
Their suits stuck close to their bodies and seemed to be layered in thin but flexible armor.
The suits allowed them to walk on the ceiling or walls as if they walked on the ground.
The helmets showed off a faceless visage, save for two tiny crystals that served as the main sensors of the infiltration suit.

”You ’re coming with us. ” The electronic voice commanded to Ves.

He held up his arms while keeping his senses alert.
He felt vibrations approaching him from the rear.
Just as they closed in on him, Ves suddenly erupted into action! He kicked out to the rear, bumping the infiltrator behind him like a ball soaring through the air! The unfortunate enemy crashed against the unbreakable window and slid down in a crumple.

The rest of the infiltrators acted quickly.
The rear two remaining infiltrators fired at his back with invisible glass-like projectiles.
While they hurt a lot, the force behind them hadn ’t been sufficient to pierce deep into his flesh!

Ves endured the pain and ran forward like a bull with red in his eyes! These infiltrators hadn ’t expected his strength to be so formidable and his endurance to be so high!

Why would they? He was a mech designer, not a special forces operative!

The infiltrator in front blasted Ves with a wrist-mounted electric weapon.
The current running through his body exacerbated his pain, but his sense of urgency propelled him forward despite his desire to cry out.

He slammed his forearm forward in a sloppy attack.
The infiltrator hadn ’t expected Ves to remain functioning after enduring such a massive electric attack and slammed against the corridor wall with a painful slam!

Ves didn ’t waste his time on making sure the attacker was down and ran into the hallway.
Red emergency lights illuminated the hall in an ominous light, which only deepened his sense of crisis.

The entire planet had gone crazy!

Muffled sounds of fighting could be heard from outside.
After the mechs emerged from the waters, their approach to land caused the party boats to become unsettled.
One of the mechs pointed its barrel at their direction and fired an explosive shell that obliterated all of the boats and party goers.

They showed no mercy to civilians!

Once the mechs approached the beach, their feet stepped out of the water.
The machines turned out to be amphibian mechs! A cross between landbound mechs and aquatic mechs, they were capable of operating in both environments, though not as effectively as mechs dedicated to a single environment.

The amphibian mechs of unknown origin started to fight back against the defense installations that remained functioning after the initial round of sabotage.
The collateral damage being thrown about by the merciless assailants hit a lot of nearby beachfront hotels and establishments, killing scores of innocent people by the second!

Meanwhile the alarms had thoroughly shaken the other Vandals awake.
Some of the more alert ones emerged from the corridors with backup pistols in their hands.

”There are infiltrators inside the hotels! Be careful! ” Ves screamed as loud as he could as he attempted to widen the distance between him and his hotel room.

”We need to evacuate! ” A Vandal officer yelled while only clad in his underwear.
”Cover each other ’s backs! Don ’t panic and don ’t wander off alone! We ’ll take the emergency exit! ”

Though the sudden eruption of violence befuddled the Vandals, the officers quickly organized them into action! With mechs wreaking havoc from the beach, the Vandals were caught with their pants down!

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