A lot of aircars had landed on the streets, but not enough to satisfy everyone ’s needs.
The fighting for the remaining aircars became increasingly more intense.
Though the combatants rarely risked their lives to obtain a vehicle, deaths became unavoidable, especially since the Planetary Guard made slow progress in pacifying the city.

The Vandals moved their men and supplies to the shipyard situated in the outskirts of the city.
They hadn ’t manage to secure enough aircars to transport all of them in a single go, so they made several round trips to bring everyone over.

A couple of people on the streets fired potshots at the aircars.
Whenever that happened, a number of Vandals opened up the window of their aircars and peppered the location with lasers and projectiles.

That quickly shut up most people looking to find trouble with the Vandals.

When the second fleet of aircars touched down, Ves stepped out of his vehicle and saw that the Vandals hadn ’t actually made their way inside the shipyard complex.
They landed on a parking field just outside its walls.

”Why aren ’t we inside yet? ” He frowned.

”Because it ’s occupied.
Dunno who ’s inside, but they ’re not yielding the place to us. ” A waiting Vandal said as he carefully polished his hand cannon.
”Captain Orfan wants to storm the place, but the other higher ups don ’t want collateral damage to ruin the shipyard. ”

Ves grimaced at that.
”Everything else is expendable, but the shipyard ’s 3D printer can ’t receive a single scratch! In fact, it ’s fairly sensitive to concussive shocks, so even proximity to fighting can damage the more vulnerable components within. ”

Having assembled the Dortmund printer by hand, Ves had become very familiar with the internal makeup of this production machine.
In one way, they possessed a fair amount of resilience, as they often had to handle multiton components.
If the printer malfunctioned each time a heavy component dropped all of a sudden, then no one would buy its model.

However, having witnessed the destruction of half the city, Ves became especially paranoid when it came to collateral damage.
Even if the Vandals possessed no mechs as of yet, several thousand of them could easily affect the integrity of the 3D printer.

Ves walked over to the command group where all the officers heatedly discussed options to take over the shipyard.

He ignored the mech and ship officers for now and tried to find his own crowd.
The mech designers and mech technicians stood a little off from the rest.
Nobody was interested in their input unless their expertise was required.

Everyone wore off-duty summer clothes right now, but he recognized Mercator and Vedette from the Finmoth Regal among the circle of mech designers.
From the gathering of chief technicians, he recognized Chief Leo Keys, also from the Finmoth Regal, and Chief Keon Vasar, the most senior chief aboard the Linever Swan.

With this much mech designers and chief technicians, Ves felt very hopeful about what they could accomplish.
Though borrowing the facilities of a shipyard to restore broken mechs wasn ’t very ideal, as long as they possessed enough enginuity, they could manage.

”Mercator, fill me in. ” Ves said.

The high-ranking mech designer eyes Ves with a gloomy expression.
If Ves hadn ’t been present here, then Mercator would have been the mech designer with the most say.

”It ’s just a bunch of warmongers arguing the best way to slaughter they way in the shipyard.
Right now, the shipyard is occupied by a coalition of gang members and mercenaries.
None of them are armed with anything fancier than a pistol or a submachine gun, but they number more than a thousand among them.
Combined with their defensive advantage, it won ’t be easy for the Vandals to overrun their position. ”

Ves closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
”Have there been any attempts at negotiating? ”

The stupid gang members just shoot at everyone who approaches.
They ’re irreconcilable low lives, all of them.
I don ’t think there ’s a single person among them who ’s in charge, really.
You can see how they all group up by outfit. ”

He looked at the shipyard and did indeed observe different clumps of defenders.
The gang members often appeared sloppier and didn ’t particularly seem diligent.
The mercenaries on the other hand all walked with their back straight and eyed the growing congregation of Vandals with growing vigilance.

Once he understood the situation, Ves patted Mercator ’s back.
”Keep the rest of our crowd at the rear.
Mech designers and mech technicians have no place on the battlefield. ”

Each of them possessed valuable skills that had to be preserved at all costs, not just today but in the future as well.
The scarcity of competent mech technicians and mech designers almost matched the scarcity of trained mech pilots.
Losing a huge chunk of both of them couldn ’t easily be replenished on a whim.

When Ves approached the arguing officers, he found out that a decision had already been made.

”We ’re going to storm the place and get this done with! ” Captain Orfan argued.
”We ’ll concentrate our forces on the weaker members of the coalition and leave the tough customers for last.
If they ’re smart enough, they ’ll take the escape route we ’ve left out for them and squirrel away. ”

Ves became a little alarmed at this haphazard plan.
”I don ’t think it ’s a good idea to make a frontal assault.
We only have a small number of armored security officers, and unlike mech armor their combat suits can be overwhelmed.
More importantly, if we push the defenders too hard, they might decide to destroy the 3D printer out of spite. ”

”Tough luck, then. ” Captain Orfan crossed her arms.
”We need to make a move.
I don ’t want to wait around until the rest of you summon up your courage. ”

He really didn ’t want to leave the safety of the 3D printer to fate.
He swiveled his head at the shipyard and tried to come up with an idea that might help.

”What if we can sneak into the shipyard from the water? All of their attention is certainly pointed in our direction.
Why not make use of that and try to slip in some men via water? Even if they posted some guards at the waterfront, it shouldn ’t be too much. ”

The shipyard complex encompassed a stretch of water as well that was connected to the ocean.

Some of the Vandals looked intrigued at the idea.
”The idea has merit, but we don ’t have any specialized troops to send.
Our armored security officers won ’t be able to function underwater, and our regular Vandals are armed with nothing but some flimsy clothes and a pistol.
Even if we sneak in a hundred men through the water, they won ’t be able to accomplish much. ”

Ves shook his head.
”It ’s not their role to defeat the coalition.
The only objective they need to accomplish is to locate the 3D printer and set up a perimeter defense around it.
As long as the defenders are too preoccupied with the attack from the outside, they won ’t easily divert their attention to the machine. ”

Such a move couldn ’t be performed so casually, especially for the Vandals.
Without any special forces among their ranks, the Vandals had to ask for volunteers among the bravest and most water-adept Vandals.
Most of them who stepped forward consisted of security officers that hadn ’t been lucky enough to receive a set of combat armor.

The Vandals quickly made their preparations.
They raided a nearby diving store and robbed any equipment that seemed useful for humans diving under the water.
Ves had made his way over to them as well in order to caution them how to recognize and how to handle the 3D printer.

Once the impromptu commandos finished their preparations, they lifted the commercial oxygen masks to their faces and pulled down the watertight visors over their eyes before jumping into the water.

”You know, if the coalition is scanning the water diligently, those men we just sent out will be shot into pieces before they can emerge from the water. ” Mercator said, as if Ves had made a grievous mistake in suggestion this course of action in the first place.

Ves pressed his lips into a line.
”Successful or not, their presence will certainly alarm the coalition.
When the defenders find out that the water is no safe having at all, the added pressure will tip over their courage. ”

They all waited until the commandos had given the signal.
With their military issue comms, Ves put a lot of trust in the device.
”We should be able to receive their signal from here without alarming our opponents. ”

Half an hour went by as the shipyard complex stayed quiet.
The Vandals all hid behind the nearby structures, ready to charge forward as long as the signal was given.

Suddenly, their comms beeped.
It signaled that the commandos had bypassed the underwater barriers and made it into the base through the water, but not without some noise! They had been discovered!

”Attack! ”

The attack plan immediately went into motion.
Security officers in combat armor took the lead and boldly advanced into range of the defenders.
Regular Vandals garbed with shirts and other outlandishly bright clothes followed them at a distance.

Ves watched on from a distance as the armored security officers got bogged down by a multitude of fire erupting from the defensive positions of the coalition.
Scores of lasers hit each armored individual, forcing them to dive behind the nearest piece of solid cover.
Though the small arms fire hadn ’t managed to pierce through the suits of combat armor, it wouldn ’t take too long for them to be able to do so!

”Their firepower is higher than we thought. ”

The Vandals that followed from behind had to be very careful about their positioning.
Just a single hit from a weapon could take them out.
They remained at a distance and aimed vaguely at the sections pointed out to them by the planners.

Perhaps being shot at by a single pistol wasn ’t very intimidating, but when thousands of them struck the same spots, it turned into a terrifying storm.
This instantly suppressed the gang members that had been targeted and gave the armored Vandals some breathing room.

Still, it was a bit too precarious for them to advance.
The defenders made full use of their defensive position.
Those that had been spared of the storm began to help their comrades from the sides.

Minutes past as the battle devolve into an unsteady stalemate.
The defenders turned their firepower against the unarmored Vandals firing at them from a distance.
They found out they had a much easier time trying to score a lucky hit on an unarmored opponent than to wear down the hunkering armored Vandals.

Ves stood behind a wall at the very rear of the Vandal position.
As he feared, despite being outnumbered by at least four-to-one, the defenders possessed enough advantages to negate the disparity in numbers.
The commandos who snuck inside didn ’t appear to be strong enough change tide.

”Do I have to show off once again? ”

He really didn ’t like to intervene in person, but the stalemate might go on for an hour at this rate.
The more time went past, the higher the chance something awful might happen to the 3D printer.

The Vandals needed to obtain a working shipyard, not a stretch of ruins with hardly a single machine left intact.

”I guess the cat is already out of the bag, pretty much. ”

Nobody paid much attention to him at the very rear, but he had no doubt that plenty of recorders were active at this moment.
A trump card played too often ceased to be a trump card.
Those with ill intentions would certainly catch wind of his weapon and plan around it next time.

”Well, it ’s not like there ’s no point in using it once it becomes known. ”

The Amastendira remained a powerful weapon whether nobody had heard of it or everyone had heard of it.
Ves was confident that he could obtain more trump cards over time that could replace its position as a weapon of last resort.

Ves stretched out his arm and summoned the gracefully elegant weapon into being.
With deft familiarity, he inputted the right settings before aiming the weapon at a stretch of walls.

As he pulled the trigger, a thick beam emerged from the muzzle of his weapon.
The entire situation changed at that moment.

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