Chapter 1938 Vindictive
TR-3851 belonged to a bog-standard transport ship class. Ves had even seen similar ships flying in his native star sector, which showed how much value the class provided to its customers.
For a ship built to last for a century, their robustness and ease of maintenance was paramount. This was not easy to achieve if the starship manufacturer wanted to minimize the cost of construction, but somehow this specific transport ship class managed to achieve an appropriate balance.
The TR-3851 wasn't the fastest, safest or most secure transport, but she was definitely one of the more reliable vessels he had seen.
Even in dummy mode, the ship exhibited very few problems despite lacking a crew. House Kantis also exerted a bit more effort into maintaining the TR-3851, but this was likely due to the ship's frequent trips to Desala V, the jewel of House Kantis.
Regardless, aside from her sturdy construction and resilient components, the TR-3851 was still a ship characterized by the demands of the market. Aside from the need to make her last as long as possible, the ship designers cheaped out in many different aspects.
One of the areas she obviously lacked in was the low upper limit of her artificial gravity system.
Even confined in the manned compartments, the ship was unable to replicate the gravity of Desala X.
This gave the dwarves a lot of discomfort. Many dwarves had already grown nauseous to the point of vomiting. Ves had to raid the very limited infirmary and issue sedatives to the most severely-affected dwarves.
In the long-term, the dwarves risked growing weaker. Human bodies constantly adapted to the environment, and just like transport ships, they always sought to minimize their costs and increase their efficiency.
Why maintain a body that was strong enough to withstand 4.6 g when it only needed to adapt to 1.5 g?
Usually, dwarves venturing outside their optimal habitats tended to wear gravity belts that constantly amplified their weight.
It was too bad the former miners of Outpost 35 lacked such luxuries. The rebels possessed much higher priorities when they planned their escape. They never seriously considered their next steps after gaining their freedom. They were seriously lacking in information of the rest the galaxy.
While most dwarves became sick or lethargic due to the change in circumstances, a group of armored dwarves were quietly gathering in front of the entrance of the cabin that used to belong to the captain.
Eight of the most loyal and committed rebels that Gion Greybeard could command had answered his call.
He left behind the Banner of Vulcan in his own cabin down the corridor.
Are you ready? Gion quietly asked.
The armored dwarves softly stamped the deck with their armored feet. They were fully helmeted and they were all carrying fully-replenished plasma projectors, handheld mining lasers and even a sledgehammer!
The dwarves were geared for combat.
As soon as we breach this hatch, don't slow down no matter what. Remember what we are fighting for. For the sake of our fellow dwarves, we need to do everything possible to better their lives, even if it means condemning our souls to eternal torment!
The notion of attacking a god, especially one that had aided their people so much, was almost unthinkable to the rebels!
This was why Gion only invited the dwarves who were most likely to obey his intentions.
Don't show any mercy. Just kill whoever is inside regardless if you are facing Rion or Vulcan. Both of their lives are tied. Even if Vulcan has left, he can always return so long as our comrade stays alive. For the good of our people, we need to sacrifice Rion so that we can stave off Vulcan's wrath!
At this point, no one pleaded for Rion's life!
Even though he was their only mech pilot, even if he single-handedly defeated a dozen guard mechs, even if he was the chosen vessel of a god, Rion needed to die to retain possession of the wonder ore!
As long as the dwarves were able to offer Timpala Steel to the mighty MTA, the humans would never ignore their demands!
Once Gion made peace with his choice, he chopped his hand forward.
Breach the hatch.
A couple of armored dwarves stepped forward. They held some old-fashioned plasma cutters and loudly began to cut a rectangular section through the hatch!
The ship's cheap interior design meant that the dwarves only encountered some hindrances in their attempt to breach the captain's cabin.
Eventually, the dwarves shut off their plasma cutters and pushed the cut-off section forward.
Once the block of metal had been pushed aside, the dwarves stepped into the cabin as quickly as they could under the unusually-light gravity.
As Gion carefully stepped over the heated portions with his short legs, he halted in surprise.
Their target was awake. Even in the middle of the night shift, Rion sat on top of the bed with his simple miner uniform as if he had never gone to bed!
What was even stranger was that the dwarf was crying despite his calm expression!
The incongruent sight briefly weirded out the rebel leader, but that did not deter him from his goal!
What are you waiting for? Gion puzzlingly frowned. This is not the time to second-guess our choice! Shoot him before it's too late!
Our weapons aren't working!
The dwarves hadn't withheld their fire because they were caught off-guard. Their armored fingers were constantly pulling the triggers or buttons of their improvised weapons, to no avail!
The crying dwarf stared calmly at the befuddled rebel dwarves as their weapons all ceased to function without exception!
Vulcan is too powerful!
It was a mistake to attack a god!
How could our weapons fail?
Ves observed their confusion with grim amusement. Turning your weapons against your god? Foolish dwarves! I crafted those weapons myself! Each of them are extensions of my own will!
Gion slowly looked at the possessed body with horror. You knew.
I've been betrayed too many times to count to let down my guard. I have become accustomed to accounting for betrayal, especially when others possess very compelling reasons to stab me in the back. I really hoped you dwarves turn out to be better than the tall folk, but in the end you are just as human as your taller cousins! Besides, did you really think your infantile plot was hidden from my eyes? I am the master of this ship. Her monitoring system is under my complete control. I may not be here in my full guise, but I am as good as omnipotent on this ship!
The dwarves hardly doubted his words. Every time they met Vulcan, the god had performed one miracle after another. His power was far more encompassing than any of the rebels anticipated!
Something suddenly snapped inside Gion's mind. It's an act! Vulcan wants to scare us into submission! Don't buy into his words! Even if our weapons can't fire, we can still beat him up with our hammers!
The armored dwarves immediately did as instructed. They threw aside their inert plasma projectors, handheld mining lasers and other weapons blessed by Vulcan.
Afterwards, they held their sledgehammers, pickaxes, knives and other implements. Their low-tech nature provided Ves with no opportunity to hack their systems!
Even though Rion's body never stopped crying, his expression still remained calm and in control.
Just as the armored dwarves stepped forward, they all began to float in the air.
The thick soles of their improvised combat armor failed to find any purchase on the deck!
Vulcan has eaten our gravity!
Forgive us, Vulcan!
Ves released his finger from a small projected interface from the comm he commandeered from the former captain of the ship.
He openly shook his head in disappointment at the sight of the floating dwarves. They truly knew nothing about ships. Even if Ves was alone, his command privileges allowed him to manipulate every system of the ship without limits!
The dwarves attempted to throw their melee weapons at Vulcan in desperation, but the heavy objects merely stopped in place before travelling too far.
Though the dwarves couldn't see it, Ves had already turned half the cabin into an invisible gravity trap!
If the dwarves wore proper combat armor, then their magboots would have been able to anchor bodies onto the deck.
If the dwarves were actually knowledgeable about ships, then Gion would have chosen to betray Ves earlier.
If the dwarves hadn't been so greedy about retaining the wonder ore for themselves, then they wouldn't have attracted the ire of a god!
Both Ves and Rion knew these truths. The reason why the dwarf pilot's body was constantly leaking tears was because its original owner knew that a tragedy was about to ensue!
As the dwarves impotently flailed around in the air, Ves no longer felt the need to give them any further chances. His possessed body slid off the bed and calmly stepped forward until he reached a discarded plasma projector.
Ves still remembered cobbling this specific weapon together. He casually fiddled with its frame in order to trigger a hidden backdoor.
Several indicator lights on the weapon began to glow as the plasma projector came to life. A low whine sounded as the weapon's chambers started to heat up the cooling plasma.
It's truly a shame. Ves muttered without guilt. Your people need your leadership. Without you all, the remaining dwarves on this ship will have to navigate this heartless galaxy without your guidance.
Spare us, then!
Ves chuckled. You should have thought of that before launching this ill-conceived betrayal. Even if I am the God of Dwarves, I will never allow my subjects to tarnish my dignity! The punishment for attempting to break a divine contract and slaughtering my avatar is death!
He fired a plasma bolt at the first armored dwarf. Searing heat and light instantly engulfed the cabin before a cloud of ashes and an ugly collection of scorched flesh and metal parts took his place!
Ves fired a second time. He fired a third time. He fired a fourth time.
Dwarf after dwarf met their end regardless of their pleas and cries for mercy. Ves completely closed his ears to their remorseful begging.
Since they made the choice to attack a god, they should suffer the consequences of their blasphemous betrayal!
Even after the plasma projector ran out of plasma, Ves simply dropped the weapon and picked up another one to finish the job!
In the end, only two dwarves in the cabin remained alive.
Gion Greybeard watched on with a grim and lifeless expression as his god slaughtered his fellow conspirators without any mercy!
Ves dropped the half-spent plasma projector and activated his comm again. Soon enough, a port in the ceiling opened up which sucked away all of the floating ashes, debris and body remains!
Some fresh air pumped through the ventilation system, allowing Ves to get rid of the nasty smell of death.
You're not a god. Gion suddenly said.
Pardon? Rion's body raised its eyebrow.
You are not a god. Gion repeated. Even if you have us in your grasp, you are just like the tall folk. They always throw their weight around when they think they have all the power. Yesterday showed that they are far weaker than we thought. I think the same applies to you. Am I right, Vulcan?
A sly smile appeared on Rion's face. I like your spirit. More dwarves should think this way. However, just because you think the gods are fallible, it is a grave mistake to turn your back on our deal. This wasn't needed, Gion. I would have found a way to save your people without using up the Timpala Steel.
Gion bent his head in regret. You're right, but..
It's too late.
The bearded dwarf nodded.
I have one last request, my lord.
Ask. You deserve at least that much, Gion.
Will you continue to guide our dwarves to safety? Please don't hold our actions against the hundreds of dwarves who are huddling in the cargo hold. I've never involved them in our betrayal because they are too devoted to you to go along with our plan. They are good, honest dwarves who will continue to worship you as long as they are alive!
The tear-streaked face of Rion gradually nodded. I will ensure that the dwarves on this ship and the dwarves left behind on Desala X are saved. I won't punish them for your transgressions. I am a just god, not a vindictive one. Any last words?
Death to the tall folk!
The rebel leader died after Ves stabbed his neck with a knife picked up from the deck.
The tears on Rion's face doubled as his body collapsed after his god surrendered control of his body.