Ves pushed off his table and coasted over in the direction of the battered bar counter where the two elite Spiral Shocker guards and Lord Javier huddled behind.
"Don't shoot! It's me!" He said as he floated to their cover position.
Lord Javier gaped at Ves as soon as he came into sight. His guards probably paused in astonishment as well, though their heavy helmets obscured their expressions.
"Did you do all that?" Javier asked with a tremble in his voice.
"No, a unicorn did it." Ves flippantly said. "Are you okay?"
"That's good to hear."
"Say, can you give me your weapon? I'm a good shot."
"You'll have to ask the unicorn, not me. I'm unarmed."
Lord Javier threw a skeptical eye at Ves. "Yeah right."
Ves would never admit he fired the powerful lasers despite being more than obvious that he was the one who could have done so. The good thing about the total shutdown was that the Felicitous Remembrance's pervasive monitoring system stopped recording everything that happened inside the ship.
Even if some secret record already stated that he possessed a power laser weapon as his trump card by now, the less details it mentioned, the better.
He already used the Amastendira so often that he no longer feared its exposure. If nothing else, he could always chalk it up to a present from Master Olson or an amazing treasure find from the Frontier.
The best way for Ves to brush aside the speculation on his weapon was to forge onwards and leave what just happened behind. It was a lesson that Lord Javier imparted to him just some time ago when he explained how to deal with public embarrassment.
In other words, just be shameless and boldly change the topic, leaving your questioners no time to go back!
"Those 'pirates' aren't pirates." Ves declared. "They're infiltrators, commandos, whatever. They look like pirates and their gear fits their roles. Yet the training they exhibited and the tactics they used are too sophisticated."
One of the elite security guards snorted. "We're aware. We have fought these sorts of disguised pirates before. They did a good job masking their actual origins. We aren't able to determine if they're Brighters or Vesians."
"They might even be dark mercenaries from the frontier or the Nyxian Gap." Ves idly guessed. "Whatever the case, these pirates came here for a very specific purpose. I think they intended to rescue you, Javier."
The attackers didn't put their full effort into fighting back against the two guards. If they truly wanted to kill the guards, they could have been a lot more aggressive and decisive in their attacks. Yet they took a lot of care in their aim in order to avoid hitting the defenseless hostage.
Another clue that backed up Ves' assertion was that all the grenades they threw turned out to be stun or EMP grenades instead of deadlier variants. He studied their fragments scattered on the deck and knew enough about them to recognize they held no lethal payloads.
The Vesian noble wasn't stupid. Neither were the guards.
The only thing they couldn't figure out if rescuing Lord Javier was a priority or a side goal to the attackers.
"We need to get to safety." Ves said. "What are your protocols?"
"The main security department is close by." One of the guards stated. "We can bunker down there. There is also a small armory further ahead that is much more secure against hostile intruders."
"Our orders in this event are to take the prisoner back to the security department." The other guard stated.
While Ves would have preferred to go to the armory in order to equip himself with a good set of armor or something, he shrugged. "Let me come along."
The two guards didn't refuse. Even if Ves was a mech designer who appeared to be completely unarmed, they didn't forget the powerful laser attacks that wiped out the attackers just a few minutes earlier.
This mech designer deserved his combat awards!
The ribbons adorning his service dress uniform took on an entirely different meaning now to Lord Javier and his guards. The latter especially no longer dared to dismiss Ves' presence.
Before they left the room, the two guards sought out an emergency locker that held various tools, medkits and most importantly a set of hazard suits!
Ves and Lord Javier both adorned the bulky hazard suits which to the former's regret also consisted of a basic model. Its semi-flexible synthetic surface didn't offer that much more protection against enemy fire than a thin vacsuit.
Even so, the added protection against heat, fire, corrosion, radiation and other environmental hazards at least protected them if the Felicitous Remembrance began to fall apart or something.
Wearing this basic hazard suit over his ornamental uniform and basic underlayer vacsuit made Ves miss his old CFA gear. He would have been able to walk up to the supposed pirates and wrestle their own ballistic rifles from their grasp without any hindrance!
His XV-99 Squalon armor would have been able to bounce away all of the rounds and grenades thrown in his direction without suffering a single scratch!
Of course, this was only a dream for now. His current assignment left him with no opportunity to bring his own gear so he had to make do with this basic model hazard suit instead.
"Let's move to the security department."
They hustled out of the dining room, leaving the charred and smoking remains of the so-called pirates behind.
This time, the guards shut off their suit lights and switched to the alternative viewing modes offered by their helmet visors. Although the hazard suits worn by Ves and Lord Javier also came with infrared vision and other vision modes, Ves felt as if he was looking through a thin noisy fog that slightly blurred what he saw.
As they moved out into the corridors, they walked slowly and with care. The two guards kept their weapons peeled in case any more pirates popped out. All of the sensors built into their combat armor also tried their best to detect any threats, whether visible or invisible.
Much of the ship fell into complete and utter silence. The lack of working systems and the strange absence of much of the crew unnerved Ves.
"Where is everyone?" Javier wondered.
"They're either at their stations or huddling down in cover." Ves explained. He noticed that Lord Javier didn't seem to have much experience with space travel. "Right now, you'd be stupid to run off in the corridors like a headless chicken."
"Even so, shouldn't someone come and fix the broken power?"
"I'm sure that people are on their way to the engineering bay to see what is up. I don't know exactly what's going on either. There should at least be backup power sources that can power individual sections of the ship, but they didn't seem to have kicked in for some reason."
Lord Javier grimaced under his hazard suit. "Senator Tovar should have checked his own ship more thoroughly before he set out."
It was very hard to explain the multiple failings that they witnessed so far. How could the Felicitous Remembrance be so vulnerable to sabotage and attacks? All the money that the Tovars put into her construction seemed to be almost completely useless at this moment as their assailants circumvented most of her defensive measures.
Fortunately, they didn't encounter any assailants on their way to the security department.
The problem was that the security department didn't exist anymore.
Through the broken blast doors, Ves and the others found nothing but dead bodies, broken armor, impact marks, fragments of machines and more, much of which floated in the air due to lack of gravity.
For a moment, the elite guards paused as they struggled to comprehend the mystifying sight before them. The security department should have been able to hold out!
Ves looked down at the ash and debris and pointed his finger at the errant footsteps. "The attackers already left I think."
"What happened here? How could this compartment fall so quickly?" Lord Javier voiced everyone's concerns.
"I think... the security department was attacked from both within and without! Look at how the debris is strewn and what marks the explosions have left behind. I think some of the machinery within this department have been planted with explosive charges beforehand! When the attack on the ship commenced, they simultaneously blew up, taking out any security officer and crew member in the vicinity!"
Even the blast doors failed for some reason, succumbing to plasma charges from all the melted slag left behind.
As Ves read the battle damage, he saw more and more signs of prior sabotage. How could the security department completely fail to detect the dangerous payloads planted right in the center of their own stronghold aboard the Remembrance!
They were either epically incompetent, or all of their scanning gear meant to sniff these kinds of dangers out all held blind spots against those explosive charges!
Whatever the case, the implications were extremely frightening!
"First, half of the interior of this compartment suffered from the effects of the explosions. Shortly after that, hostiles forced their way through the blast doors and swept over the surviving security officers."
The two guards both kept their silence for a long time. Ves guessed that they were probably deliberating among themselves through a private point-to-point comm channel.
"This entire attack is premeditated." Ves stated the obvious after a few minutes of studying the remains. "Maybe months or weeks before the Tovar Peace Delegation set off, Senator Tovar's enemies already tampered with the Felicitous Remembrance as she was being prepared for this journey."
"How come they didn't plant a massive bomb inside the ship and have it take her out in one go?" Lord Javier wondered.
"Maybe our opponents aren't confident that they could hide their sabotage if they sneaked in something big or tampered with something critical that's inspected every few hours. Maybe their true goal isn't to kill us all, but to take some people captive."
They did divert some men to retrieve Lord Javier, having pinned down his location at the dining room. However, only sending a single squad of badly-equipped pirates did not impress Ves very much. Retrieving the Vesian noble probably wasn't the main objective of this attack.
He thought for a moment and tried to figure out who was important enough for their attackers to even bother with boarding the Remembrance.
Even though the peace delegation invited a lot of important people worth many billions of credits by virtue of their identity and capabilities, only one person stood out among everyone else.
His eyes widened as he made a bold guess. "I think the attackers are after Senator Tovar! He's by far the most valuable person aboard this ship!"
The value of this great statesman couldn't be overstated. If someone unscrupulous ever kidnapped the son of one of the great founders of the Bright Republic, they could sell the senator to the Vesia Kingdom in exchange for hundreds of billions of nova sovereigns!
And this monetary sum heavily discounted the actual worth of Senator Tovar!
As a leader of the powerful Tovar Family, a sitting member of the Bright Senate and a former bright president who led the state for a number of years a long time ago, Tovar possessed a wealth of knowledge about the Bright Republic. Letting them fall into the hands of the Vesians would be a disaster of epic proportions!
Perhaps it might even be enough to tip the balance of the war!
Ves cursed. Whatever the origins and motives of their current assailants, he knew that they all held an obligation to prevent Senator Tovar from falling into their hands!
If need be, they should at least ensure the senator died and his brains got completely destroyed in case he fell into enemy hands!
Naturally, nobody even voiced such a possibility. Even if it was for the good of Bright Republic, hardly anyone dared to go through with such an extreme action. They could kiss the Bright Republic goodbye if they ever had the blood of a Tovar on their hands!