Chapter 2219: The Battle of Xiphard Base
A projection of Ves sat on a prominent chair inside a command center aboard the Redfeather.
The Scarlet Rose was already cramped for space and could not accommodate all of the people and equipment needed to exert adequate control over the Larkinson Clan's combat forces.
Therefore, Major Verle decided to transfer to the Redfeather and command the battle from there.
Since Ves did not play a major role in the upcoming attack, it was better for him to remain in the Scarlet Rose which was a lot more secure.
The projection of Ves observed the large map of the Xiphard Base. Various elements in and around the base were marked with red to signify sabotage.
It actually took several days for Lucky to visit so many sites, but as far as the Larkinson Clan was concerned, the wait was worth it. With so many important sections marked in red, the Crona Lords were in for a very nasty surprise.
Major Verle glanced at the projected timer. "So far, the stealth shuttle hasn't transmitted any covert transmissions, which means that the sabotage is still happening on schedule. There are only fifteen minutes left before the Omega Laser is compromised."
A long time had already passed since Lucky left the Scarlet Rose. Those who were aware of the sabotage operation continually worried for its success.
Lucky had to visit many different sites and sabotage hundreds of different key components! Anything could go wrong in the meantime.
If the sabotage operation hit a setback, the shuttle should have transmitted a very weak but specific signal. If the pirates found out that something was wrong, they would have triggered an alarm.
So far, neither of these two options happened. The pirates remained as clueless as ever while the shuttle remained completely silent in order to minimize the chances of detection.
The lack of reactions and the inability for the Larkinsons to determine what was actually taking place generated a lot of worries in their minds.
Only Ves exuded a bit more confidence. His projection silently made the Larkinsons in the command center feel as if everything was in control.
Unlike them, Ves possessed an extra means of checking up on Lucky's condition. Though the turbulence and space warping in the Nyxian Gap added some difficulties, Ves was nonetheless able to track Lucky's overall presence in the Larkinson Network.
He had placed the Larkinson Mandate on his lap, allowing him to maintain direct contact with the Golden Cat.
Through her active bond with Lucky, she was able to track what the gem cat was doing and convey what she learned to her creator.
Nyaaa. Nyaa. Nyaa.
Ves smiled. "Major Verle, are our troops prepared to initiate the assault?"
"Every mech we intended to deploy has already been launched in space, sir." The commander of the upcoming battle replied. "We can commence our attack at any moment."
Twenty-five percent of the mechs of Task Force Predator would be held back in reserve in order to defend the fleet and be ready to respond to any emergencies.
That meant that the Larkinson Clan committed 1400 mechs to the assault!
Even though the attackers slightly outnumbered the pirate mechs, none of the Larkinsons dared to take this battle lightly.
Sabotage or not, there were plenty of other defenses that Lucky didn't have the time to tamper with, so the Crona Lords still enjoyed at least some defensive advantages.
Their mechs weren't as shabby as the machines fielded by nomadic pirate groups. With a foundation stretching more than 70 years, the Crona Lords had the time, resources and patience to build up a strong core of mechs and mech pilots.
The pilots received an abundant amount of training and rewards from the Crona Lords. The mechs they piloted incorporated higher-quality Kavenit alloys as their core means of protection.
The officer mechs and elite mechs were even clad with compressed armor plating!
Therefore, the quality disparity between the mechs of the Larkinson Clan and the mechs of the Crona Lord was substantially reduced.
Ves idly realized that it wasn't strictly correct to equate the Crona Lords with the pirates he was familiar with. The Crona Lords did not really engage in actual piracy. Instead, it was better to describe them as colonists who settled down in a mineral-rich area in order to earn a living by mining and selling valuable materials.
"Do you think the Crona Lords are pirates?" He suddenly asked. "It seems to me that they are just minding their own business. There are far more notorious pirate groups in the Nyxian Gap that we could target instead."
"It's a bit too late to ask this question." Major Verle responded. "Besides, the Crona Lords may not engage in pirate raids themselves, but they are facilitating the ones that do. Ending their mining and trading activities will inflict a small but measurable blow to the Nyxian pirates. Less pirate raids will occur in civilized space. Besides, we have already confirmed that the Crona Lords have egregiously broken several important taboos. The Big Two will be happy to get rid of this stain."
That reminded Ves to get in touch with the MTA in order to report all of the taboo weapons the Crona Lords had accumulated. With so many Alpha Mines and the egregiously powerful Omega Laser, the offenses they committed were a lot more severe than the offenses committed by the Rust Grinders and the Mountain Kings!
This meant that Ves might be able to earn more than 100,000 MTA merits this time. If he was merely aiming for merits, then launching an attack against such a powerful pirate base still wasn't worth it due to the risks he incurred.
Fortunately, there would be other gains.
As the timer slowly ticked down, the forward scouts finally reported some activity at Xiphard Base.
"Heightened activity detected! Ships are moving into more defensible positions while additional Crona Lord mechs are being launched into space! The amount of signal transmissions in and around the base has skyrocketed!"
Major Verle turned to the projection of Ves. "Sir, permission to commence the assault?"
Ves nodded as he gripped the Larkinson Mandate tighter. "Go for it.
"Commence the assault!"
The spaceborn mechs that had already deployed in space began to emerge from behind the asteroids they huddled behind and advanced boldly in the direction of Xiphard Base!
In order to remain undetected, the combat forces had to traverse a lot of distance before they entered the pirate base's security perimeter.
However, the emissions from their activated flight systems stuck out like a sore thumb, especially when more than a thousand mechs approached from a single direction!
Even though the various mech companies and mech squads maintained some distance from each other in order to make them less susceptible to wide-area attacks, the huge wave of emissions quickly tripped the long-ranged sensors of the alarmed pirates!
After the Omega Laser detected something amiss, the entire apparatus sounded a huge alarm. The crew in charge of guarding and operating the Omega Laser became alarmed, but just as they were about to crack open the huge weapon in order to inspect the damage, a quick succession of black-clad claws swiped across the necks of every pirate!
Over two-dozen weapon operators and guards lost their lives in quick succession! Even if they detected an intangible dark shape zipping in the chamber, Lucky moved too quickly, and even if someone managed to land a hit on him, his intangible form allowed him to ignore all physical projectiles and most energy attacks!
"Meow!" Lucky domineeringly phased back into the material realm.
His Misfortune Harness was completely unaffected by the scuffle. Aside from the blood dripping from the tip of his front paws, there was no sign that the gem cat had just harvested a couple of lives!
The cat looked longingly at the Omega Laser before orienting his body in the direction of the main base.
The sabotage of the Omega Laser did not mark the end of his deployment. If everything went as planned, the general assault had just commenced, which meant that Lucky could still play a useful role!
Since the Crona Lords tried and failed all of their defensive systems, they would soon find out that there was a saboteur in their midst!
Lucky's mission was to take advantage of the turmoil and wreak even more havoc inside Xiphard Base!
He no longer needed to evade detection as much! As long as he kept himself safe, he was free to kill every important pirate he saw and tear apart any critical systems in his way!
As Lucky tormented the unfortunate pirates stationed at Xiphard Base, from the outside more and more pirate mechs hastily deployed into space.
The Crona Lords were under attack!
The aged but vigorous form Supreme Lord Roda had been inspecting one of the medium carriers when a large number alarms bombarded his ears.
He initially headed towards the hangar bay in order to return to Xiphard Base, but once the base defenders warned him that there were hostiles present, he changed his mind and entered the command center of the ship instead.
"Give me a status report! What is the state of our defenses!"
"Milord, our defensive bastions report numerous signs of damage! Eighty percent of our turrets are inoperable and ninety percent of our carrier vessels are immobilized!"
"What?!" The Supreme Lord panicked. "Why can't our ships move!?"
"Our engineers have just detected signs of selective sabotage on every ship! Their propulsion systems and several other systems are not working!"
Suddenly, the air in the command center and the rest of the medium carrier got sucked away!
Across the hull of the ship, several ports inexplicably opened up, causing them to vent all of the air and oxygen!
Many compartments automatically closed up to stop the leakage, but they moved too late!
This wasn't necessarily a disaster, though. Since each Crona Lord was supposed to wear at least an underlayer vacsuit, helmets formed over their heads.
Supreme Lord Roda just happened to wear a much higher-quality vacsuit, but even he became frightened out of his wits at the sudden disturbance!
"Milord, fifty-five crew members on this ship have lost consciousness! They weren't wearing their vacsuits!"
"Damnit! Those lazy gits!"
Pirates were pirates, after all. No matter how much Supreme Lord Roda tried to instill discipline in their men, they were still rulebreakers at heart. Many of them didn't like to sleep in them so they just removed them before going to bed!
While several comrades managed to supply air to the unprotected crewmen in time, others weren't so lucky!
What was worse was that this phenomenon took place in several more ships! Hundreds of unsuspecting Crona Lords had already died or suffered from severe oxygen deprivation before the enemy even entered into battle range!
Suddenly, various explosions started to detonate inside the defensive asteroids and Xiphard Base. More emergency notifications started to flood the communication channels. Some of the explosions even caused some base sections to fling rock and debris into space!
"Tell me what just happened!"
"Our missile storage compartments have just detonated! Xiphard Base and the bastions have just suffered severe internal damage! Most of our missile launchers can only fire a small number of volleys before running dry. Wait, we just lost contact with the bastions. Their communications have just lost power!"
A litany of bad news poured into Supreme Lord Roda's ears. The sheer amount of harmful incidents taking place momentarily overwhelmed the normally seasoned and stable pirate commander.
His fists clenched as he felt as if an invisible hand cruelly stripped everything he had built away from him. How could the Crona Lords be so vulnerable to attacks from the insides? Their security protocols should have been thorough enough to thwart any intruder!
His experience quickly compelled him to pay attention to the assets he had left instead of the ones he lost.
There was no use obsessing over his crippled ships and defenses! At the very least, their mechs were still functional. In addition, the Supreme Lord still had some secret weapons in reserve!
The initial alert that Roda received came with a code that he immediately associated with the Omega Laser.
If the unknown attackers had been able to cripple his base defenses to such an extensive degree, then his secret weapons may have all been tampered with as well!
This single realization immediately caused him to contact a number of trusted pirate officers.
At this point, he threw all caution out of the wind!
"Arm the Alpha Mines and arm up the engines of the Beta Ships!"
The responses he received were anything but hopeful.
"The Alpha Mines aren't responding to our signals!"
"Forgive us, Supreme Lord, but the propulsion systems of our Beta Ships are wrecked!"
The Supreme Lord's heart sunk even further.
"Milord! We are detecting hundreds of incoming mechs! No, make that a thousand!"
The pirate leader's face turned fierce. "Alert our mech pilots. We are not going down without a fight! Xiphard Base shall not fall today!"
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