Chapter 1920 Incompetence
Several days went by as Rion Aaden followed a very boring routine.
Desala X was a mining planet. Nothing more. Hardly any amenities existed in any of the poor and bedraggled outposts that served as the hubs of all of the mining operations on the planet.
Though accurate information was hard to get, Ves managed to pin down a rough estimate of how far he traveled back into the past.
From the mining equipment, the gear worn by the tall folk, the simulator pod and other clues, he estimated that he travelled at least seventy years in the past.
This was a fairly short time disparity. Was the System growing lazy or something?
Just like Axelar, an opportunity existed for Ves to reunite with Rion when he returned to the present time. Assuming that Rion still resided in the Smiling Samuel Star Sector, it was very much possible for Ves to be able to be able to meet his Mastery host within their lifetimes!
Of course, Ves had no intentions to meet with any of his former hosts, especially an inept mech pilot like Rion!
Over the course of several practice sessions, Ves witnessed failure and incompetence to a degree that he had never seen from any of his mech pilots!
He's not a qualified mech pilot at all! He's too ignorant!
To be fair, it wasn't Rion's fault that the rebel movement foolishly tried to train the potentate they discovered among the planet's dwarf population without knowing anything about mechs.
It was clear to Ves that the Desala Resistance Movement was not comparable to the more formidable rebel organizations he knew of. The Bentheim Liberation Movement and the Vesian Revolutionary Front were at least a thousand times stronger!
The main reason why Ves looked down on the DRM was because it consisted entirely of the indigenous population of dwarves.
Without the support of a single outsider or tall folk who actually knew a thing about how mechs actually worked and how they fought against other mechs, the DRM stood no chance against the guard forces keeping the dwarves in line!
If there was one detail that tilted the odds in the DRM's favor, it was that House Kantis invested very little in their operations on Desala X.
The decadent nobles could have easily run a proper mining planet that was fully compliant with all of the standards of human space if they were willing to treat the dwarves like regular salaried humans.
But no, House Kantis insisted on saving as much money as possible, and this included treating the main workforce like slaves!
The lack of willingness to invest in their operations on the mining planet extended to other aspects. Most of the mining gear was several decades old and extremely worn-out. Their frequent malfunctions and breakdowns probably cost the House more than replacing with cheap but brand-new equipment!
The guards consisted entirely of thugs and former mercenaries that didn't even properly meet the standard of household troops. They were nothing more than prison guards in all but name.
Their equipment was fairly light and was oriented more towards detecting contraband and illicit goods than resisting a properly-armed and properly-trained raiding force.
House Kantis is too cheap. Ves mentally shook his head. Admittedly, there is no need to invest any further to keep the dwarves in line.
Against the captive dwarves who could employ nothing more than mining equipment to threaten the guards, this was enough!
Of course, all of the mining equipment and mining vehicles were under the complete control of the overseers. Even the dwarves knew how futile it was to rely on this gear as each of them incorporated many safeguards that forestalled any possible abuse!
As for mechs, he had seen a couple in the distance through Rion's eyes.
Ves surmised that House Kantis only stationed the mechs at the outposts as a form of deterrence rather than a precaution.
The chance that any of the dwarves could override all of the safeguards built into the formidable mining vehicles was low. Yet if that ever happened, the handful of mechs patrolling the outposts could easily wipe the civilian vehicles out with just a few attacks!
The handful of mechs he had seen so far at Outpost 35 didn't impress him at all. House Kantis tried to be as cheap as possible, which wasn't easy as mechs were considerably more expensive to operate on heavy gravity planets.
Most of the mechs consisted of frontline mechs. Due to the heavy disadvantages that ballistic weapons enjoyed in heavy gravity environments, the cheap and simple mechs were solely armed with laser weapons.
Ves begrudgingly approved of the frontline mech models that House Kantis chose. Weak and low performance they might be, they fared quite decently under heavy gravity and wouldn't be falling apart anytime soon.
A handful of other mech types made the rounds as well. Each dwarf cowered and scrambled out of the way of the domineering machines as they passed through the outpost.
The mechs deliberately ignored the dwarves in their path. Sometimes, their degenerate mech pilots even entertained themselves by landing their feet just a few breaths away from a miner!
There was no way for the dwarves to outrun a mech. The heavy gravity slowed everyone down, and dwarves didn't exactly boast the longest legs.
Fortunately, the mech pilots only restricted themselves to terrorizing the local population of miners. Killing them off cost money to their bosses, so the sadistic mech pilots had to abide by the regulations that ensured the workforce remained as productive as possible.
Though Ves hadn't been able to observe the patrolling mechs long enough to judge the overall skill level of their mech pilots, he guessed it didn't amount to much.
Hardly any incident has happened on this planet that requires the intervention of mechs. He mentally surmised. There is no glory or honor to be found here. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Only the dregs of the piloting profession can be found here. All of those guards could easily fit in with pirates and other scum.
Mech pilots who were willing to work as dwarf bullies desired easy pay and easy lives. Ves doubted whether any of the mech pilots even kept their rusted and untested skills up to standard by performing daily simulation drills and exercises.
Desala X is a trash can of a planet. Ves concluded. Nothing here is up to standard! The entire planet should be condemned as far as I'm concerned!
House Kantis only cared about the bottom line. Their short-sightedness and lack of moral fiber trickled down in the way the overseers and guards ran the outposts.
Cutting corners was rampant. Nothing was up to date. The incompetence of the guards and mech pilots under the employ of House Kantis was only viable because the Desala Resistance Movement was just a band of disgruntled dwarves rather than a proper rebel organization!
So far, Rion hadn't met with his fellow rebels. Their work and sleep schedule was very tight. If there was one thing that was good about the 'breed' of dwarf on Desala X, it was that people like Rion were hardy workers who didn't require much 'maintenance' in order to remain functional.
This meant that Rion had to work several shifts a day with hardly any breaks in between. Only when some unforeseen accident happened or some very infrequently-planned breaks occurred did the minors enjoy some precious reprieve.
Accidents happened all too frequently, sadly. When a nearby mining tunnel collapsed when the breaks of a mining vehicle no longer worked, ten of Rion's fellow miners had lost their lives!
Of course, the tall folk hardly cared about the dwarves that perished. Instead, the high-and-mighty humans wanted to excavate the tunnel and recover as many vehicles and other hardware as possible!
The brief interruption due to the shuffling of assets and personnel gave Rion a rare break.
As he and his fellow miners returned to the outpost, Rion did not follow his usual path to his hovel.
Instead, he turned to a different district within the outpost. After entering some alleyways and some other areas that were completely obscured by the unmaintained monitoring system, he passed through a secret entrance that was apparently built below the workshops without the knowledge of the owners of the outpost!
The sheer incompetence of the guards were galling to Ves! Though he wasn't as obsessed about perfection as Gloriana, as a mech designer he hated it when something wasn't working properly.
The guards aren't only incompetent, but also complacent!
Decades without any major trouble from the dwarves had worn down the readiness of the guard forces. The miners obviously weren't capable of resisting their mechs, so why should they be so tightly-guarded?
Perhaps in the beginning, the quality and quantity of guards may have been adequate enough to forestall any attempts at insurrection.
Yet over the span of several decades of milking the mining planet, House Kantis continually sought to make their operations more 'efficient'.
Funding and manpower slowly dried up, causing the guard forces to be understaffed. Combined with the laziness and general apathy displayed by the so-called tall folk, the dwarves were somehow able to get away with digging an entire underground base underneath Outpost 35!
After descending a long tunnel guarded by a sparse number of dwarves wearing bits and pieces of metal scrap welded onto discarded hazard suits, Rion passed one final tunnel before he entered into an open cavern that looked a lot more impressive than Ves initially thought!
They have mechs? Ves' consciousness shook in astonishment. Wait a minute.. those aren't mechs!
The vehicles he initially mistook as mechs turned out to be nothing more than scrapped and salvaged mining vehicles strapped with makeshift armor and weapons!
The craftsmanship of these improved 'tanks', for lack of a better word, was abhorrent!
It became apparent to Ves that the engineering knowledge mastered by the rebel technicians amounted to little more than welding random metal scrap onto machines!
How could they have even restored a simulator pod if their war machines look like they are liable to collapse at the first blow?
The tanks armed with mining lasers and other potentially-lethal mining implements as their armament might be impressive to the dwarves, but Ves knew that they were wholly incapable of defeating even a single frontline mech of the guards!
These rebellious minors had no idea how powerful a mech could be, especially against war machines that enjoyed none of the advantages of a super weapon platform!
Even if the heavy gravity handicaps the mobility and various other functions of a mech, they're still built for combat, which is a lot better than these repurposed mining vehicles!
Just like how a converted carrier was not on the same level as a combat carrier, the makeshift tanks were completely weak against any form of attack. All of the scrap attached to the exterior of the mining vehicles didn't do anything to strengthen their internal structure!
Like a fragile egg, once their fragile exteriors were broken, the soft internals would definitely collapse!
Of course, an ignorant dwarf like Rion didn't know any better. He gazed up at the six scrappy 'tanks' with the same amount of reverence he directed towards the mechs operated by the guard force.
Rion clenched his fist and raised it to the surface!
With these great battle wagons, we will fight our way to freedom!
Ves mentally rolled his eyes. The chance of victory should the dwarves deploy the six sad excuses for fighting vehicles was virtually nil!
That said, where are the mechs? Do the rebels even.. have any?
The cavern might be large, but it only held enough room to hold the six giant battle wagons. If this was their only base, and the base consisted of just a single hollow cavern, then the rebels were more foolish than he thought!
This is no rebel movement. This is a suicide pact!