Harkensen I, long known as a bastion of pleasure and relaxation, became anything other than a paradise.
Several regions across the globe erupted in violence and war.
Unknown assailants emerged from the air, water or beneath the ground and attacked inexplicable targets while dealing massive damage to the defensive infrastructure of the cities.

The Flagrant Vandals weren ’t the only ones targeted by the terrorists.
Those with greater perspectives smelled a definite plot! One which involved multiple players and progressed at a level far above their heads.

In fact, the attackers may not even comprise of a single group, considering that every different unit utilized vastly different mechs and mech doctrines!

The deepest layer of the Harkensen System violently rose to the surface, to the horror of every vacationer on the unprepared paradise planet!

The strange thing about each of the attacking elements was that they all declared to fight under different flags! Each of their strange and never-seen-before mechs bore disturbingly familiar insignias that corresponded to the national symbols of several nearby states in the Komodo Star Sector!

”We are the Brightest Minds! You insufferable imbeciles have wallowed in ignorance for far too long! Let us liberate your minds and bring you into the fold of the Bright Republic! ”

”Surrender to the Coman Vanguard and accept the inevitable! Leave behind your weak and pathetic forms and embrace the virtue of evolution! ”

”Weak! You are too weak! Die in the name of Roppo! In this cruel galaxy of war and bloodshed, paradise planets such as Harkensen I should be razed to the ground! Kill them all! ”

”The strength of the Reinald Republic is laid bare before all of yours eyes! Against our Kingdom, none of you can withstand our might! Pledge yourselves to the True Sons of Vesia, and ready your pathetic state for total subjugation! ”

Ves grimaced as those words thundered from above.
The volume of those broadcasts faintly penetrated the underground floor complex beneath the hotel.

Standing amidst a carpet of unconscious Vandal servicemen, Ves did not dare to make any sudden movements.
The team of fifteen-or-so infiltrators all pointed their out of the tunnel gate.
They left no angle uncovered.

As his hands remained above the air, he may have stated his surrender, but a significant amount of calculations and deliberations went on in his mind.
Hundreds of thoughts flitted through his mind while only a single second passed.

He wasn ’t resigned to surrender to these ruthless murderers!

Whatever game they played, they undoubtedly didn ’t have his interests at heart.
Separating himself from the protective embrace of the Vandals to accompany these merciless terrorists was the worst idea he could think of! With how professional they operated, Ves might never have the chance to escape from their clutches even with his secret weapon!

His eyes glinted in his light as he contemplated the best use of his most reliable weapon to date.

The reason why he still held some hope of turning this situation around was that he could summon his Amastendira from his Inventory at any time!

The only decision he agonized about was whether to summon it right now or wait until they took him into custody.

Ves figured the latter enabled him to spring his surprise on the infiltrators who let their guard down by then.
Right now, fifteen infiltrators would immediately be able to point their weapons at him and shoot him into a sieve.

The downside to such a decision was that he had to make a leap of faith that they wouldn ’t restrain him in any way.
If they tied his hands behind his back with some thick alloy cuffs or some other sophisticated restraints, it wouldn ’t matter if he could summon the Amastendira! He had no way to utilize his weapon effectively!

Choosing to spring his surprise right now was the better choice in his eyes.
Not only was the situation simpler and wholly within his view, he also believed he could down the infiltrators with a single high-powered attack!

His eyes beheld the infiltrators as they stood at the mouth of the tunnel gate.
None of them appeared to have stepped out as of yet, though Ves couldn ’t rule out any invisible enemies creeping around at other angles.

Still, the fifteen infiltrators currently stood rather close to each other due to the confines of the tunnel, which was wide enough to traverse for two or three wide aircars.

Ves made a decision in his mind and started acting on it.
”Uhhhh.. ”

He pretended to be affected by the invisible intoxicating substance that had been released into the air.
His body wobbled a bit and fell to its knees.
The infiltrators tightened their grip on their weapons, but Ves had become somewhat accustomed to acting, so his performance wasn ’t too shabby.

As his upper body wobbled a bit, his eyes estimated the distance and the angle between him and his opponents.
After a few seconds of pretending to be woozy, Ves finally stepped on the road to no return.

His hands slowly fell from above his head, with one hand blocking the view of the materialing Amastendira as much as possible.
That didn ’t help much because the Amastendira was larger than a regular laser pistol and much more ornate besides.
The master-crafted weapon was made to attract attention!

Therefore, Ves had to move quickly before the infiltrators recognized what was going on.
For now, the only reason why they hadn ’t pulled the trigger was that they couldn ’t believe that someone in this remote part of the galaxy was able to materialize a weapon from out of nowhere!

He also whispered some words as quietly as possible.
”Set power setting to ten.
Switch firing mode to wide angle scatter mode.
Set scatter angle to ten degrees.
Switch laser frequency to ultraviolet. ”

Master gunsmith Pierre Femento ’s weapon could be controlled through various methods as long as the Amastendira was keyed to the user.
Ves normally found it more efficient to change the settings by adjusting a couple of knobs through a control interface projected from the rear of the pistol, but the infiltrators wouldn ’t let him do that.
The only way for him to configure the right settings at the moment was to issue verbal commands.

The pistol gently vibrated in his grip, indicating that it had read all of the instructions.

Ten was the highest power setting the Amastendira could reach.
At this mode, Ves could fire only ten times before the weapon forcibly entered a lengthy cooldown cycle.
This should be more than sufficient to penetrate the stealth suits of the infiltrators.
Ves knew that their suits had to compromise a lot in terms of protection in order to retain their stealth capabilities.

Changing the firing mode from a standard straight beam to a wide angle scatter projection was like turning a precision weapon into a shotgun.
Ten degrees was enough to cover the entire tunnel gate with plenty of margin to spare in case they jumped out all of a sudden.

As for the issue of frequency, Ves bounced around between infrared and ultraviolet, before deciding on the latter.
Infrared lasers penetrated stronger armor better, but came with a massive wash of heat which might result in an enormous amount of collateral damage.
With plenty of friendly bodies lying unconscious between him and his targets, Ves did not dare spill over any excess heat.

Laser weapon users considered ultraviolet lasers to be the more surgical option, though they still packed a lot of punch if pumped with sufficient power.

With time running out, Ves did not hesitate any longer.
His body erupted into action, alarming the infiltrators.

The first thing he did was to reach down his free hand and grab the body of Trian Earls, who collapsed right in front of him.
Ves mentally apologised to the Vandal mech pilot, but between choosing him or Ensign Tiss, the latter ’s body was too petite.

His arm hauled Trian ’s body from the ground and lifted it in front of his kneeling form.
At the same time, he revealed the gleaming Amastendira in his hands and aimed it at the middle of the open tunnel entrance as best he could.

”Amastendira! ”

Ves closed his eyes as a strong cone of largely invisible energy erupted from the barrel of his weapon at the speed of light! The silent glass-like projectiles shot from the guns of the infiltrators barely left their barrels before the dreadfully powerful ultraviolet wave crashed against the infiltrators and vaporized the front of their suits!

Screams escaped from all stricken infiltrators as their molten and vaporized suits blended into their scorched, vaporized and melted flesh in a single symphony of horror! Their screams quickly faded away as their lungs turned to ash and dust.

Those further away became exposed to much less energy, so even if they suffered a severe amount of damage, they still managed to cling to life! Their horrendous forms barely distinguished these men and women from undead ghouls!

Throughout it all, Ves still kept his eyes closed.
A high-powered laser beam was no joke, especially when fired in scatter mode where reflections could bounce back the light back into his own eyes! 

Though blindness from laser damage could easily be fixed in any clinic, Ves could not afford to go blind right now even if his Endurance was sky-high.

”Set power setting to seven.
Set scatter angle to eight degrees. ”

As soon as the pistol vibrated in his grip yet again, Ves immediately pulled the trigger.

The second blast caused the distant groans of pains to cease!

Ves opened his eyes at that moment.
He took a careful glance at the half-melted corpses smoldering quietly at the tunnel exit.
The pile of burning synthetics and human flesh released a foul odor that Ves would rather do without.
He counted eighteen corpses, which meant that three of them had remained invisible.

He looked down on Trian ’s body, and saw that it had been riddled with various projectiles.
The mech pilot ’s back had been facing the enemy, and now became awash with blood pouring from the holes.

He was definitely dead.

”Sorry mate. ”

A couple more powerful kinetic projectiles managed to pierce through the makeshift meat shield and impacted against his body.
Ves cursed a bit, but the holes in his body was much less severe.
His inhuman level of endurance already worked to stall the bleeding.

Ves remained on guard against other infiltrators that might have already sneaked inside the underground hall.
He had no good answer against them, though.
The only thing he could do was to haul his bloody shield with him as he carefully stepped towards the exit that led back up to the ground floor of the hotel.
Right now, he needed the help of the security officers!

”Set power mode to five.
Switch firing mode to cutting beam, continuous.
Set laser frequency to standard-infrared. ”

He pointed towards the locked gate that barred his way upstairs and began to hold down the trigger of the Amastendira.
The laser beam that erupted began to cut away at the surface of the smooth alloy gate, burning its way through the thick material.

Ves worked neither too fast nor too slow, and he barely paid attention to his progress.
Instead, his eyes kept raking over the entire hall.
The moment an infiltrator made a move, Ves would immediately rake their position with his continuous beam.

Fortunately, it hadn ’t come to that.
When Ves cut out a vague man-sized rectangle out of the gate, Ves released the trigger of his weapon and let it dematerialize back into his Inventory.
He also hastily threw away Trian ’s corpse, which landed in a messy splat that undoubtedly looked suspicious, but Ves quietly shrugged at that.

As Ves was bending down trying to clean the blood from his hand, the Vandals on the other side finally kicked down the rectangle that Ves had made.
Two squads of security officers entered the room in a tactical fashion, with half of them pointing their heavy assault rifles at Ves!

Unlike the light and stealthy needle guns of the infiltrators, these assault rifles would definitely be able to cut his body to ribbons despite his partially alien physique!

”Freeze! ”

”Hands in the air! ”

”Don ’t move! ”

Ves threw his hands in the air for the second time this day.
”It ’s about time you arrived! ”

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