To their credit, the shocked guards quickly regained their composure. As members of the elite Spiral Shockers, they wouldn't let themselves remain vulnerable and directionless for long.
"We should scavenge for gear and fall back to the armory." One of them stated for the benefit of Ves. The guards no longer disregarded him as a burden now. "Mr. Larkinson, rightly speaking, you should return to your cabin or head to the nearest escape pods. What are your intentions?"
"I can't very well sit out this conflict, right? If you'll have me, I'd like to stick with you." Ves smiled sardonically. If anything happened to Senator Tovar while he was a passenger aboard the ship, all his combat awards wouldn't save him from the Tovar Family's reprisal. "That said, I'd prefer it if I can wear something sturdier than this flimsy hazard suit."
They dug around the floating fragments and ruined bodies and ignored the macabre sight as best they could in their search for intact gear.
A few of the equipment lockers survived the carnage. While they contained miscellaneous gear that Ves lacked the training to use, they did scrounge up a decent suit of light combat armor as well as some generic firearms.
"It's better than nothing." Ves shrugged as he quickly shed his hazard suit in favor of more protection.
"Hey! What about me! Give me one as well! I'm much more useful alive than dead!" Lord Javier demanded.
One of the guards instantly denied the request. "No. You'll be staying right as you are, Lord Javier."
As Lord Javier grumbled about his inadequate protection, Ves activated the systems of his commercial-grade light armor. The SSL insignia on the chest made it clear that the gear was only as good as those used by security companies.
It was better than nothing, and certainly better than a hazard suit.
"Alright, I think I'm good to go." Ves stated once he finished syncing up to the systems of his new weapons and armor with the help of the guards. They possessed the authority to unlock the gear for his use.
After that, they moved out of the wrecked security department and moved towards the armory situated not too far away.
Surprisingly, the armory still stood strong, though the large amount of 'pirates' gathered in front of the heavy blast doors made it clear that it was only a matter of time before it fell.
The same time the foursome discovered the milling pirates, the enemy discovered their presence as well.
The pirates didn't shout or chaotically fired a barrage in their direction. Instead, they detached a squad of men to go after the intruders.
Ves and the other three quickly ran around the corner as fast as they could with their magboots and increased the distance.
"Ves?" Lord Javier spoke up.
"What do you want?"
"This would be a good time to whip up that killer laser weapon of yours!"
"Who do you think I am, a unicorn wrangler?! Shut up and keep moving!"
At this time, Ves did not feel he needed to resort to the Amastendira. The two guards wielded heavier weapons this time.
Even as they turned another corner, they ran a short distance ahead before the two guards halted.
One of them deactivated his magboots and flipped over in the air so that he stood on the ceiling. He then deployed a mobile weapon emplacement on the surface, which automatically folded out into a heavy caliber machine gun wield protective alloy plating partially shielding the front. Small mag modules built at the base of the contraption kept it fixed onto the ceiling.
The sight momentarily confused Ves. It looked extremely strange, but after a moment's thought he saw the cleverness behind the act!
Their pursuers wouldn't expect a weapon emplacement deployed on the ceiling. The guard manning the machine gun had in effect turned his position into a miniature machine gun turret that held a commanding view over the corridor from above.
The other guard positioned himself at a different angle so that they could catch the incoming pirates in a crossfire.
Meanwhile, Ves covered the rear behind another corner and made sure that Lord Javier didn't run off somewhere.
There was a very real possibility that Lord Javier would run off to the attackers on his own accord!
"Can you please not point your rifle at me?" Lord Javier whined. "Do you even know how to shoot a rifle? Your stance is awful and even a raw recruit has better handling than you. Why don't you pass on that rifle to me. I'm a much better shot than you'll ever be in a hundred years."
Ves sneered at Lord Javier. Even though they had become somewhat friendlier over the past week, it didn't change the fact that they belonged to hostile states. Ves would always be a Brighter and Lord Javier never hid the fact that he considered himself to be a bona fide Vesian.
During calmer times, Ves had no qualms against attempting to befriend the noble. Yet now that they came under attack, Lord Javier's status as a prisoner and a hostage reasserted itself. It would be highly irresponsible for Ves to hand over a weapon to the Vesian.
Besides, Ves lacked the authority to unlock weapons for Javier's use. The internal security systems wouldn't allow the weapons to fire in the hands of a stranger.
Six of them rounded the corner first, upon which the weapon emplacement on the ceiling immediately rattled out a huge volume of kinetic rounds!
The large torrent of firepower angled downwards on the pirates quickly overwhelmed their substandard combat armor and riddled them with holes!
They didn't even have the time to fire back at the weapon emplacement!
"That's only six of them! There's six more!"
"I think they're falling back!"
The other security guard moved up towards the site where the corpses still stood in a macabre fashion due to their magboots keeping them standing. He held a large electrorod weapon which instantly discharged as soon as he rounded the corner.
The entire corridor became awash with crackling flashes as electric current went wild!
The electrorod weapon quickly fizzled out as it drained its entire battery with a single discharge. Although wasteful, the weapon served its purpose.
Once the other guard folded the machine gun emplacement back onto the rear of his armor like a bulky backpack module, they all turned around the corner and saw the aftermath of the electrical attack.
"What a way to go." Lord Javier whistled under his hazard suit as he admired the sight of pirates friend in their own armor. "I thought combat armor was insulated against electrical attacks."
"That only works up to an extent." Ves commented. "That electrorod weapon is meant to be fed into a generator or other power source. It's a crew-served weapon that's meant to defend a fixed position. How can it be so weak? It's too bad it ran out of juice so quickly though."
The two guards still had more surprises in store, but they definitely used up their most formidable weapons. That bode ill for their next steps.
"There are at least thirty or so pirates remaining outside the armory." One of the guards said. "In our current condition, we can't rescue the armory without getting overwhelmed. That is..."
The man trailed off, but Ves knew what he insinuated. He was asking if that wondrous laser weapon would make an appearance again.
Ves weight the benefits and drawbacks and made a judgement that it would not help his interests if he kept hiding his capabilities. He should never hold back against a very real threat, even if they seemed to be aiming at Senator Tovar rather than him. If something happened to the great statesman, Ves could say goodbye to the Bright Republic!
"Let me think." He said, stalling for a moment.
Lord Javier snorted. "We're waiting."
"What's it to you? I thought you'd be pleased if we suffered a mishap."
"Not at this time. I think I got our enemies figured out. This doesn't involve any Vesians I think. It's purely an internal conflict between you Brighters. All the sabotage and timing points that out. As for rescue from my state, that's unlikely. Even if my fellow Vesians did come to rescue me, I'm not sure if I'll be any better off in their care."
"How so?" Ves asked.
"These sneaky tactics are more to the Venidse Duchy's liking. They like to conduct commando raids from stealth. I think your Vandals got a taste of that already, right? The Imodris Duchy doesn't believe in sneaky nonsense. In fact, we hate it because Venidse always uses those tactics against our own forces!"
"Does Imodris really don't make use of stealth technology?"
"Oh, they probably do, but this doesn't seem like their style either."
"For what is worth, I concur." Ved nodded.
There was one other possibility, though. Conspirators from both the Bright Republic and the Vesia Kingdom banded together to organize this attack. That would be the worst-case scenario because that implied that warmongers from both states set aside their animosity to hinder Senator Tovar's quest to negotiate an early peace!
That would be absolutely unheard of in normal circumstances, but Ves could very well see that such an unholy alliance might be possible in this case!
The more Ves thought about this awful possibility, the more he felt the urgency to help resolve the crisis aboard this ship. While he could have run for the escape pods and wash his hands off this entire incident, where would that leave him? To abandon the ship at a time where Senator Tovar and most of the other high-ranking members of the peace delegation remained at threat would be a dereliction of his duty.
Ordinarily, the Bright Republic and the Mech Corps might forgive him for running like a frightened kitten if he was just an average cowardly mech designer.
Yet Ves gained a reputation for bravery in the face of danger! His prestigious combat awards demonstrated that he achieved a lot of merit in direct combat situations where his life and the lives of his comrades were at risk!
For someone with all of those awards to turn tail and run would negate everything he achieved and ruin his reputation at a time his career and the LMC could ill afford such a setback.
Who from the Bright Republic would ever continue to purchase mechs from a company led by a despicable hypocritical coward?
Ves experienced the full burden of his accumulated merit and reputation. Previously, he basked in the glory of his accomplishments. He even took advantage of his new status as a war hero among mech designers.
Now, he felt the weight of expectations pushing him into action.
"We should make sure that Senator Tovar remains out of the hands of these pirates." Ves finally declared. "I have a weapon that might be able to take care of a large number of pirates at once."
"You so-called 'unicorn'?" Lord Javier sneered. "About time you admitted it. So what are you going to do with that big gun? Where did you get it anyway?"
"It's an unexpected present." Ves claimed, saying no more and letting their imagination fill up the gaps. "It can fire powerful laser beams, but it doesn't have that much of a capacity. If we want to make the best use of it, I'll have to get into a position to catch the most pirates at once."
This required some planning and preparation since the pirates would ordinarily be able to detect their approach and form a response before Ves was ready to fire his Amastendira.
In no way did Ves ever entertain any notion of handing over the Amastendira to someone else such as the guards who were much better shots. They probably assumed that such a powerful weapon was locked to a single person anyway.
After a brief round of planning, they finally moved into action.
Just as they made it halfway, the ship suddenly rumbled violently.
A big whoosh sounded out while pressure buffeted all of their armored forms. A drastic change had occurred!
"We're in a vacuum now! All the air has gone out! Maybe the ship has been breached!"