Chapter 1913 Picking up the Pieces
Almost a thousand different mechs had fallen on the surface of Kesseling VIII. The amount of value destroyed during this engagement was enough to make anyone bleed!
Ves and the Larkinson Clan invested heavily in expanding the Avatars and Sentinels in recent times. Now, all of their efforts were almost entirely undone as the landbound contingent of the two mech forces lost a lot of mechs after they were taken out with contemptuous ease by the Coalition Reserve Corps or the flood of mercenaries.
The Battle Criers suffered substantially as well. Though not as numerous or attention-grabbing as the other forces, their unflinching Kinner loyalty compelled them to brave every possible danger directed at them. They would rather die than allow their owner to fall victim to his enemy!
The Kronon defectors lost a huge amount of mechs as they had been the most valiant in confronting the attackers. Their fanatical devotion towards Prophet Ylvaine all compelled them to throw themselves into battle against vastly-superior mechs without enjoying the protection of the Glory Battalion!
Though the glows of their LMC mechs had returned, the Kronon mech pilots all turned numb as they had no idea what they should do now. Many of them had families that tied them down to the Protectorate. Would they have to abandon everything they worked for in order to avoid punishment from the Friday Coalition or their own superiors?
Fortunately, the Living Prophet was ready to lead the flock of lost sheep. His Transcendent Messenger along with the Zeal approached the scattered formation of military mechs and began to envelop them in a warm glow that was unmistakably pure and sacred.
If you truly believe, then you should not have any doubt. James softly said as his mech seemed to fade a bit as its glow seemed to have run out of steam. The Protectorate as you knew it is gone. The Curins, Poxcos and Kronons have turned their back on the true faith. The beliefs they upheld are corrupted by their self-serving distortions. It is not without reason that I retracted by my blessings from the rest of the Protectorate!
While James worked to convert the confused and listless Kronons to his side, the other combatants started to pick up the pieces.
Various ships belonging to the Larkinson Clan emerged from various locations, including the Avatar base.
Though a fair number of functional aerial mechs had been assigned to escort them to the battlefield, the CRC did not attempt to take them down, which was a huge relief.
Once the ships landed on the cleared locations of the battlefield, various mechs, bots and people started to go to work.
The highest priority was to rescue the trapped mech pilots who survived the fall of their mechs but were unable to eject to safety.
The next priority was to ensure that the mechs belonging to the hostels were properly neutralized.
Many of the surviving friendly mechs cautiously swept through each downed mech and made sure they wouldn't be waking up anytime soon.
The third priority was to recover any salvage that could allow the damaged forces to regain some of their strength!
Though the crew on scavenger duty prioritized the recovery of LMC mechs, they also showed no hesitation in stealing the remains of second-class CRC mechs!
Even if it was not that easy to restore them to functionality, if the mech technicians could accomplish this task at all, at the very least their materials could be recycled to yield all kinds of valuables.
Though the mechs they lost could be replaced with time, effort and money, the lives who perished in this battle could never be regained!
Some of the Larkinsons already started crying or mourning for the loss of their family, friends or comrades!
This battle was much more brutal than a typical engagement against the Vesians! Not only was the attack too sudden, but the CRC mechs were also extraordinarily lethal against third-class mechs.
A small but considerable portion of fallen consisted of Larkinsons. Notable people who left a part of their blood and spirit in the Larkinson Mandate had become the very first Larkinsons who died to preserve the future of their clan!
Skilled mech pilots like Rhode Larkinson could have enjoyed a bright future as a skilled second-class mech pilot if not for getting speared by a spear attack that punched straight through the thick chest armor of his striker mech like it was cheese!
Though resentment and recriminations welled in the bitter survivors, they were professional enough to keep their complaints to themselves.
As long as they remained under threat, they needed to focus on their immediate survival! Casting blame at this point would only invalidate the sacrifices of the fallen! They did not die only for the survivors to squabble amongst themselves and make themselves vulnerable for another attack!
Commander Magdalena frowned and pressed her forehead with her fingers after she issued the latest raft of orders.
���We won, but we can't fight this kind battle again! We lost too many mechs and mech pilots!
The strength of the defenders had fallen to a new low. Even the Glory Battalion was smarting as the CRC mech pilots directed most of their attacks towards those they considered their equal in battle!
Fortunately, the Glory Warriors boasted a much higher survival rate. Even if their mechs succumbed in battle, they offered enough defenses for the Glory Warriors to eject in time and reach safety.
This meant that as long as the Glory Battalion received enough time to repair their fallen mechs, it could quickly exhibit eighty to ninety percent of its original strength!
As the hasty evacuation proceeded with haste, the underground facility finally exhibited a change.
A number of armored plating shifted apart as some underground rooms began to shuffle in order to make way for a floating and detached chamber.
This was the operation room built according to Ves' design! Inside this precious chamber, Ranya and the Ylvainan surgeons were still focusing on facilitating the connection and integration of the Archimedes Rubal implant with the patient's brain!
Though the furious battle that happened on the surface didn't do the operation any good, the underground facility was so well designed that even the largest impacts only resulted in a minor tremble by the time the ripples reached the center.
Now that it was clear that the Larkinsons needed to evacuate the planet, Gloriana activated one of the contingency functions that allowed the operation chamber to separate and float in the air.
Soon, Gloriana's Stellar Chaser arrived to take the operation chamber in her cargo hold before ascending into orbit while being escorted by the remaining operational Glory mechs.
Since it was clear that the Coalition Reserve Corps was targeting Ves, bringing him away would directly decrease the danger directed at the remaining assets and people on the surface!
The Larkinson Clan still required a few more hours to complete their evacuation. Though the victims of the attack wanted to flee the Kesseling System as fast as possible, they couldn't afford to leave too many assets behind.
If the Friday Coalition were determined to pursue them, then they needed to be prepared for battle as best as possible!
Due to the Ylvaine Protectorate's unfortunate position in the Komodo Star Sector, it would take at least several months to flee to a Hexer-aligned region of space!
With Ves still out of the picture, the leaders of his respective organizations tried to keep everything together as best as possible.
Even though the CRC and their mercenaries were beaten black and blue, Kesseling VIII simply wasn't safe anymore.
Not only were the Larkinsons afraid of the arrival of enemy reinforcements, they were also concerned by the growing anarchy in the Kesseling System!
As ground zero of the battle that led to the disappearance of the glows throughout the Ylvaine Protectorate, the local Ylvainans had all become hysterical!
The destructive battle that led to the defeat of the CRC had ruined half the city of Krent!
Countless shops, office buildings and residential apartments had fallen from the collateral damage that both sides inflicted without any restraint!
Though the casualties among the civilians no longer rose as much when they reached the nearest underground shelters, over a hundred-thousand Ylvainans still lost their lives in the span of half an hour!
The death, chaos, destruction and outrage all caused the services and existing order on the industrial planet to break down!
In order to avoid getting swept by the protesting and rioting Ylvainans, the Larkinsons tried to hurry up their evacuation as expediently as possible!
Within Gloriana's stateroom aboard the Stellar Chaser, two Hexers were having a very important conversation.
You failed! Again! How many times has it been, Calabast?
I deserved that. The former intelligence operative said flatly. I won't allow you to lay a hand on me again. You are welcome to try if you want to lose your hand.
Gloriana scowled and pressed her fists against her hips. Don't act all superior against me. We all trusted you to foresee these kinds of attacks in advance! How could you have missed so many suspicious movements?!
I have told Ves time and time again that intelligence gathering is not precise. In addition, this time I faced an entire team of Fridayman intelligence agents who were proficient in counterintelligence. They successfully negated much of the work I put in the Protectorate.
Excuses! You Vrakens are always so easy to weasel your way out of blame whenever you fail! I don't even know why Ves continues to see you as an equal partner! If it was up to me, I would have already booted you from your partnership!
Calabast sneered at the younger woman. I may have dropped the ball this time, but you can't imagine how many times I saved Ves' hide. It's the nature of my profession that most of my successes go unsung while some of my failures become painfully clear. If you don't appreciate what I bring to the table, then I don't care! Once Ves wakes up, he'll back me up. He's a sensible boy.
He won't be waking anytime soon due to your intelligence failure! Gloriana shouted. According to Ranya, the complications that arose disturbed the integration process between the bioimplant and my boyfriend's brain tissue. While she has managed to fix most of the damage, Ves will certainly need to be out for at least a month before it is safe enough for him to wake!
A month without Ves. I feel tempted to celebrate.
Don't joke around! With all of the losses the Larkinson Clan and our other mech pilots have suffered, some of the survivors are already furious at our leadership! If Ves didn't provoke the Friday Coalition or led their people to a state that was in their crosshairs, so many mech pilots would have never died!
This is a good test of leadership for the people that Ves put in charge in his absence. Will they rise to the challenge? As long as they pass this challenge, Ves will definitely be able to entrust them with greater responsibility.
Don't treat this like a mere test, you heartless spy! Everything that Ves has built is at risk!
I know. Calabast calmly replied. Am I concerned? Yes. Am I afraid? No. Don't underestimate how much influence Ves has built up. Even if he's incapacitated, people like Melkor Larkinson and Raymond Billingsley-Larkinson are too invested in Ves to let this incident tear down everything they have been working towards. I believe as long as the Larkinson Clan can get past this crisis, it will emerge stronger and more cohesive than ever before! It is only in the direst of situations that people's true nature becomes clear.
Nothing Calabast said so far reassured Gloriana. Though she wasn't a Larkinson, she was bound by the clan by the Larkinson Mandate resting on her deck!
Ves had invested so much in the Larkinson Clan that she felt compelled to protect his interests.
She would never be able to forgive herself if Ves woke up only to find out that his clan voted to disband itself!