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Chapter 1930 Tunnelers

The Mech Touch
     Chapter 1930 Tunnelers

    The rebel movement split up into two.

    The main element consisted of the bulk of the dwarves. They were further divided into battle wagon crews and foot soldiers.

    Though lightly-armored and lightly-equipped, the foot soldiers played an essential background role in the plan. The dwarves on foot were needed to stall their tall folk counterparts and prevent them from effectively supporting their mechs.

    In contrast, the battle wagons were supposed to occupy the enemy mechs as much as possible. After several weeks of overhauls, their armor coverage was much more cohesive and resistant against damage.

    Not only that, but Ves also reimagined their weapon systems. Their improvised mining lasers were capable of outputting much more damage, and their huge and bulky chassis also hosted a few other surprises.

    Even so, Ves did not expect any of the battle wagons to defeat any mechs on their own without heavily stacking the deck in their favor.

    Their armor might look thick and formidable, but the underlying materials all consisted of low-quality scrap. There was nothing praiseworthy about their armor systems aside from their thickness, which also meant that the giant vehicles possessed no mobility advantage!

    The battle wagons also possessed no effective means of defense against melee mechs.

    Fortunately, the guard force predominantly fielded frontline mechs, but they did boast a number of knight mechs that could resist any firepower the vehicles could throw at them before they drew close!

    For all of these reasons, it was impossible for the dwarves to stall the mech force for long!

    The true purpose of the battle wagons was never about defeating the mechs. They were merely supposed to distract the enemy mechs and buy enough time for the other group of rebels to complete their mission!

    Right now, Rion, clad in a piloting suit, moved forward while surrounded by a squad of better-armed dwarves.

    The group snuck forward like a band of tipsy commandos. What they lacked in precision, they made up for it with better equipment and greater courage.

    Gion Greybeard specifically selected these dwarves to perform the most critical part of the plan.

    The dwarven 'commandos' were tasked with sneaking Rion into the central outpost and escorting their only mech pilot all the way to the mech stable where the Genie Pearl was stashed!

    The rebels needed the premium light skirmisher in order to defeat the enemy mechs. Without this high-quality machine, it was only a matter of time before the tall folk regained the initiative!

    After a bit of sneaking, the group finally reached a tall but corroded prefab alloy wall.

    Though the wall section looked like it had endured at least three decades of environmental exposure, it was still sufficient enough to keep the dwarves outside the central district.

    Ves already made sure to compromise the monitoring system of this section. With his modern modern knowledge of hacking and security exploits, Ves could easily tamper with the functioning of the monitoring system.

    Let's go under.

    Instead of trying to drill through the wall, the dwarves instead opened a hidden entrance and squeezed into a tunnel.

    The smell of corrosive chemicals suffused the narrow tunnel. The dwarves already started to prepare this tunnel days ago when the dwarves embraced his revised plan.

    While the soil of Desala X was extraordinarily hard, it was easy for Ves to soften it up by synthesizing some chemicals. The dwarves utilized the chemicals to weaken the soil and dig a tunnel that bypassed the wall by circling underneath its foundation!

    Ordinarily, a proper base should have boasted underground defenses. Tunneling was a real concern and many seemingly impregnable fortifications had fallen due to underground shenanigans.

    Unfortunately for the tall folk, House Kantis refused to invest more in the security of their outposts.

    Due to the nature of their mining model, the outposts only occupied a single location for a couple of years to a decade. After the local ore veins were exhausted, the tall folk disassembled the prefab structures and moved them to a fresh new location.

    All of this assembly and disassembly meant that no outpost resided in a single location long enough to warrant any further investment.

    Since the guard force all believed the dwarves were incapable of mounting any significant resistance against their might, they never adopted any thorough precautions against tunneling!

    This was a big mistake. The dwarves may not be good in many things, but they happened to possess a wealth of experience in tunneling and mining!

    The only complication was that the tunnel had to be established quickly. The guard force wasn't completely derelict in their duties and regularly patrolled the perimeter. They also deployed various technical gizmos to detect any irregularities in their surroundings.

    Careful. Keep an eye on your sensors and make sure your ECM systems are active.

    Though Ves hadn't been able to outfit the dwarves with infiltrator suits, he did incorporate various rudimentary ECM systems into their combat armor that worked particularly well in reducing their signatures against long-ranged sweeps.

    This was vital in their attempt to sneak in the central district. Ves could only trust in the superiority of his future knowledge to carry them deep into the central district.

    Eventually, they emerged aboveground in a yard where a number of storage containers were stored.

    They emerged in the grounds of one of the warehouses that stored all of the ore excavated by the miners.

    While the warehouse was tightly-monitored, it was light on guards. The technology bestowed by 'Vulcan' managed to fool the former, while the sparse number of the latter meant the dwarves were easily able to circumvent their lazy patrols.

    Due to the importance of the warehouse, the mech stables just happened to be situated next door.

    Rion observed the shiny, spotless exterior of the prefab structures of the central district.

    Unlike the outer districts, the tall folk regularly cleaned and maintained their own living environment. The dwarves all exuded jealousy as they observed the cleanliness of their environment.

    Don't get distracted. Ves took control of Rion's body. You'll be able to live in much better homes once we manage to succeed. All of this can be yours as long as we can sneak into this stable!

    The mech stables adopted a modular layout just like the rest of the structures. Each tall structure accommodated at least four mechs.

    While the dwarves managed to determine that the Genie Pearl was stored in this specific stable, they weren't able to find out if there were any other mechs. The rebels could not allow the tall folk to activate any of the mechs!

    Security is low. Ves softly whispered as the dwarves halted before a side entrance.

    Just as he expected, the guards were understaffed and not at all alert against intrusions.

    In the history of the mining operations, hardly any dwarf had succeeded in breaking into the central districts! No dwarf had ever managed to intrude in one of the mech stables!

    Due to the latest carpet search, the guard force redirected many of their available manpower to scour the outer districts. This left the guards in the central district woefully undermanned.

    After making sure there wasn't any human presence at the side entrance, the dwarves crept forward. Rion's body held a device and brought it close to the entrance.

    Ves fiddled with the settings until the door slid open.

    Get in quick! I don't know how long it will take for the guards to discover this anomaly, but we don't have long!

    The dwarves hurried as fast as their short feet and the heavy gravity allowed.

    Their armored boots should have made a lot of noise as they clanked against the metal deck if not for the sound dampeners built into the combat armor.

    While the dwarves didn't make a lot of noise, there was nothing Ves could do to stop the slight vibrations and tremors from their movements.

    Contact! One of the dwarves hissed in the local communication channel.

    Ves observed a handful of off-duty mech technicians sitting next to a table and playing some kind of virtual card game out of boredom.

    Further in the distance, Ves heard the footsteps and echoing voices of other tall folk. Some of their steps were light, denoting mech technicians garbed in light suits and overalls.

    Other steps were noticeably heavier, which suggested the active presence of guards!

    This is it. Ves told the dwarves. On my mark, storm in and shoot everyone taller than you. Clean them up as fast as possible, because the alarm will soon attract a lot of other guards!

    After he made sure that everyone understood their instructions, Rion's body clutched the pistol in a determined grip.

    Three, two, one, MARK!

    For Vulcan!

    Death to the tall folk!

    The dwarves kept their battlecries in their communication channel. Aside from the increasing tremors, the unsuspecting tall folk had no idea that a bunch of murderous dwarves were sweeping forward!

    Once the dwarven rebels came close enough, they chaotically opened fire!

    Dwarves armed with plasma projectors instantly enveloped the card-playing mech technicians with superheated matter! Their thin work uniforms offered little protection against the plasma devouring their bodies into ash!

    Ves wanted to curse at the dwarves. They were meant to reserve this weapon against armored targets!

    Instead, the dwarves armed with laser cutters and other eclectic energy weapons began to pelt the other mech technicians and guards with rays, heat and other types of energy.

    Attack! We're under attack!

    AARRGH!

    Sound the alarm!

    The dwarves successfully caught the tall folk off-guard! Though the enthusiastic and tipsy dwarves missed the majority of their shots, the sheer volume of fire meant that hardly any normal human escaped the rain of fire for long!

    The only issue was that the pair of guards on patrol managed to resist the opening volleys long enough to dive into cover!

    Huddling behind a giant mech component, the guards were probably trying to sound the alarm and call for backup!

    Heh, it's not that easy to call for backup! Ves inwardly grinned.

    The ECM and jamming equipment he cobbled up for the dwarves successfully most remote forms of communication in the mech stable!

    Unless the guards were able to reach a console and rely on a hardwire connection to pass on their distress, there shouldn't be any way for them to call for help!

    Encircle the guards! Ves quickly commanded. You three, go left! As for you guys, circle to the right!

    Pinned down and with no way to pull back safely, the dwarves quickly managed to get a good firing angle on the outnumbered guards and melt through their combat armor after bombarding them with badly-aimed plasma bolts.

    Though the plasma projectors proved to be effective, they already lost two-thirds of their charge due to the lack of trigger discipline exhibited by their wielders!

    Ves was very much aware that while the dwarves managed to clear this facility, they didn't have much juice left to resist a counterattack!

    A very loud alarm rang throughout the entire outpost. They had been discovered!

    Damnit!

    Time was against their side. Ves needed to crack open the Genie Pearl as soon as possible in order to allow Rion to pilot this pivotal mech!

    You know what to do. He told the dwarves.

    We will stall the tall folk as long as possible to buy time for you to perform your miracle, my lord. Please bless our souls and reserve a place for us in your paradise!

    You will no longer have to fear any tall folk in the afterlife. Ves shamelessly lied. The suffering you have endured in this life will all be washed away once you have fulfilled your duty to the end.

    The fatalistic dwarves nodded. All of them knew the score. Separated from their comrades and armed with shabby weapons, the dwarves wouldn't be able to hold back the guards stationed in the central district for long!

    Rion's body saluted the dwarves for their sacrifice before turning to one of the two mechs in the stable.

    Ves ignored the large and ugly knight mech in favor of the beautiful white light skirmisher.

    The machine may be locked and secured against unauthorized intrusions, but Ves designed and built many mechs for a living! Intruding into one was not impossible for a mech designer!