fixing surface damage in the next couple of weeks. ”

Chief Haine nodded.
”The only mechs that need disassembling are the Inheritor mechs.
Those fragile light mechs sure break easily.
The upside is that fixing their internals is much easier than trying to fix a Hellcat that suffered a breach. ”

The internals of their hybrid space knight was at least an order of magnitude more complex than the elegant internal architecture of their light skirmisher.
The latter was devoid of complicated components with punishing material requirements.

They talked shop for a while.
Ves drew up the outline of a repair schedule, to which the chief had few objections.
”Major Verle wants us to prioritize the task of preparing our landbound mechs for high-g conditions.
It ’s extremely important we optimize all our landbound mechs for crushing gravities within two months. ”

”That ’s only doable if your mech technicians provide some guidance for my boys and girls.
We don ’t have a single clue on how to strengthen the internals of our landbound mechs. ”

”Don ’t worry, I ’ll take care of it.
You just focus on making sure that our work proceeds on schedule.
We can ’t afford to delay the plans our superiors have in mind. ”

At this moment, Chief Haine should not be aware of their true mission.
Ves couldn ’t say anything more on this topic.
He had a feeling that the time of disclosure would come by the time the Flagrant Swordmaidens crossed into the frontier.
The Vandals deserved to know why they were leaving the war behind in order to chase after a fairy tale in the frontier.

”I really don ’t know what we ’re supposed to do with high-g compensation gear in the first place. ” Chief Haine scratched her head.
”If the Mech Corps want to send us off to a Super Earth, then they could have sent out a mech regiment that ’s better prepared. ”

”Maybe the other mech regiments are already committed, and we ’re the only mech regiment around that ’s available. ”

”You mean we ’re the only ones around who the Mech Corps won ’t lose sleep over if they cut us off. ”

It also helped that the Flagrant Vandals were largely disposable.
It wouldn ’t affect the Bright Republic at all if they got ambushed and ceased to exist the next day.
Just like how the Masters of Combat was destined to disappear in the annals of history, so would the passing of the Vandals effect very little change.

”What is your perspective on this last battle? ” Ves abruptly asked.

Chief Haine pointed back to him with a meaty finger.
”You first. ”

”I thought ladies are supposed to go first. ”

”Hah! I ’m hardly a lady! And don ’t distract me, I really want to hear what your big head has to say about this battle. ”

Ves thought about his answer.
The truth was that he didn ’t really know what to think about it either, so he wanted to borrow the opinion of the chief to form the right perspective.

”Well, it ’s clear that the higher ups hadn ’t decided to annihilate the Masters of Combat just because they were conveniently close.
There ’s a definite intention to do more than inflict a military defeat.
I just hope our gains have paid off. ”

”Whatever the reason, I ’m glad we fought right out of the gate. ” Haine remarked.
”Ever since you folks returned from Harkensen I, you guys acted all stoic and depressed.
No offense, but you needed to be loosened up.
Now that everyone has returned to normal, I ’m ready to dive head-first into the frontier! ”

Everyone pretty much knew that their next destination was somewhere deep in the frontier.
The gravity compensation gear took up too much space and couldn ’t be hidden under the observant eyes of the mech technicians.

This first battle was just an appetizer to the challenges that lay ahead of the Flagrant Swordmaidens.
They would likely compete against other rivals along the way.
Not all of them were despicable or had too much blood on their hands.
Perhaps they might even bump into a mech outfit from their home state!

The thought of running down Brighter citizens just because they competed over the same prizes left a sour taste in his mouth.
Ves had fully figured out why he felt so discomforted by the recent battle.

”Something fishy is afoot.
If our opponents weren ’t Vesians, then there would have been a lot more discontent.
Can we even say that we are still involved in the war? ”

This issue had been bugging him ever since Miss Calabast shed open the veil of secrecy that shrouded this game from prying eyes.
The thought of working his butt off for some elderly official who should have left his job for the younger generation rankled his mind.
Was the hunt for the Starlight Megalodon really about the life-prolonging doses?

Ves blinked and shoved away those thoughts.
Thinking about these doubts only increased his discontent.
Right now, this did not fit with the celebratory mood of running through the entire fleet.
Perhaps the Vandals would mistake him for a Vesian who mourned for the loss of the Masters of Combat!

”Pirates are your favorite outfits in Pirate Empires, right? ”

”Uh huh.
Why did you bring that up? ”

”Oh, I figured you know how pirate outfits are run.
Do you know why Lydia ’s Swordmaidens ignored our battle plans? ”

Chief Haine smirked and crossed her arms.
”That ’s easy.
It ’s all about showing who ’s boss.
From what I know about pirates, they don ’t like to play second fiddle.
From what I ’ve gathered, Commander Lydia probably didn ’t expect us to be so powerful or field so many mechs.
We ’re the senior partner of this alliance.
That ’s got to do a lot of harm to their self-esteem. ”

”So the Swordmaidens threw out a completely sound plan that was almost guaranteed to minimize our losses just because we hurt their egos? ”

The reason sounded preposterous to Ves.
His logical mind simply couldn ’t parse this excuse.
Certainly, the deviation hadn ’t resulted into a cascade of failures, but if the Swordmaidens deviated once, they could certainly do it again.
Resolving this issue should be a top priority to the Vandals.

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