It didn't take long for the commander to change his orders. Breskin issued a new set of orders that forced over half of the analysts to abandon their current investigations and begin to tackle a new one based on detecting one of many different resonance profiles.
The workload seemed daunting. With only a score of people, it would be impossible for them to manually match every signal gathered by millions of sensors scattered over Neron City with the twenty-plus resonance profiles.
The Detemen League sprinkled a lot of different sensors over the city in preparation for this operation. Once it begun, the sensors came online and gathered an enormous amount of raw observation data. It was frankly too much to work with, so the rebels mostly stored them in their databanks to be used selectively when they needed it most.
This was one of those times. They subjected almost four days worth of raw data to a signal matching program that rapidly tried to detect signals similar to the resonance profiles.
The computational load from all of this work put a huge strain on the rebel base's processors. While the rebels gathered a substantial amount of processing power, that simply emphasized how monumental their newest search had become.
"How long will this take?" Addy frowned as she stood next to Ves.
"Could be hours. Could be days." Ves replied. "It depends on how soon we find a match. We're currently searching from the first day of the operation when Lord Javier presumably fled with his Raphael. If there was any a time to activate his mech, that would be the moment to look for. It shouldn't take too long to obtain a definite answer."
While others fretted and tried to contribute their own efforts into searching for a match, Ves really didn't have anything else to do. The processors did all the grunt work, and the only thing the analysts needed to do was to make a judgement on every edge case the simulations presented to them. They rejected quite a bit of false leads this way.
Not everyone believed this investigation would bear fruit. A Vandal who sat a few seats away from Ves snorted contemptuously.
"That Javier fellow put all of his attention on evacuating from the palace. By all accounts, he fled before the rebels moved their forces to that location, so the noble never needed to fight."
"What's your point?" Ves asked.
"His mech never pulled out all the stops. There's no reason for us to be searching for signals that have never been transmitted!"
Ves smirked in response. "You're wrong in that. You're right in that the Loquacious Raphael is hard to detect if Lord Javier kept a low profile, but both the mech pilot and his mech are attention seekers. Do you really believe that Lord Javier ran his mech at the lowest settings possible?"
The man couldn't answer that because he never analyzed Lord Javier and the Loquacious Raphael like Ves had done.
Hero mechs always made a scene wherever they went. Their ability to intimidate and inspire awe was baked into their feature set.
In the vast spectrum of mech types, hero mechs pretty much sat in the opposite dimension of stealth mechs and assassin mechs. The former sought to make a statement, while the latter sought to come and go without a whisper.
Certainly, if Lord Javier possessed some common sense, then he might have done his utmost to suppress every possible signal emanating from his mech. It was what a professional would do.
A spoiled brat on the other hand... even if Javier was a mech prodigy, some habits died hard.
Ves therefore faced the skeptic with confidence. "I've studied the Loquacious Raphael in detail. Did you know that when put under a small level of resonance, the rifle arm will begin to glow like a rainbow? It's meant to distinguish the mech and force others to pay attention to it. I would bet all of my wealth on the chance that he activated this effect by default."
Resonance couldn't be sustained forever. Besides exacting a mental toll on the mech pilot, it also wore out the resonating exotics. The level of deterioration was directly proportional to the energy level of the resonance.
As fake resonance was weaker than true resonance, the Loquacious Raphael shouldn't be under too much strain. For a rich man like Lord Javier, the added cost of maintenance shouldn't even register on his mind.
Thus, Ves remained confident even if others believed nothing could come out of this search.
Ves did not relax for long though. While he initially planned to take it easy and rest, he suddenly slapped himself out of his complacency. "This is the final day of the operation. As long as Lord Javier isn't in our hands, we can still botch this up."
He needed to be more proactive and prepare for every eventuality.
Thus, Ves prepared for the event that the Loquacious Raphael would be detected. What would happen next?
"The rebels and the Vandals will send as much of their forces as they can to apprehend him. If it's true that he's hiding in the neighboring districts, then not a lot of mechs will arrive in time."
The major deficiency of the Detemen League was that they mostly consisted of lower-class commoners. Some of the rebel cadre came from slightly more privileged backgrounds like Commander Breskin, but most of their combat personnel belonged to the underclass.
Still, Ves found it strange that the local rebels hadn't managed to retain a single mech pilot. He turned to Addy. "Hey, can I ask you something? Why doesn't your group have any mechs?"
"Mech pilots have no reason to join forces with us." Addy replied simply. "House Eneqqin's administration may appear incompetent, but when it comes to nurturing mech pilots, they are surprisingly diligent about it. Potentates are wooed from their tenth birthday, and constantly receive many benefits as they go through the academies. Once they become mech pilots, the best of them will join House Eneqqin while the worst of them will still believe that they are the best."
"You haven't found any exception?"
"There may be a handful of disgruntled mech pilots on Detemen IV that we could potentially recruit, but it isn't worth the effort. We'll have to expend a lot of resources and manpower to maintain a separate mech force."
"It doesn't take too much of both to run a mech force. That's one of the selling points of mechs." Ves pointed out. "Many mercenary corps are able to run their operations on a shoestring budget. Why shouldn't the Detemen League be able to do so as well?"
Addy sighed. "There are many other reasons. For example, the Vesia Kingdom classifies the rebel groups that are fighting against it according to their military strength. On a list, a dozen auxiliary regiments worth of assets simply isn't threatening enough compared to a single fully-equipped mech regiment."
"In other words, you can have enough strength in the form of infantry, tanks and aircraft to overrun this planet, but it won't look as alarming as a handful of mechs?"
"That's stupid." Ves stated. Even though he was a mech designer who absolutely loved mechs, he also knew what they were capable of. Mechs became the main mode of combat in human space due to their versatility and ease of transport and supply.
That didn't mean their strength overwhelmed older unit types. Combined arms still remained the most effective form of deployment in wars, especially because states were only able to field so many mechs before they ran out of mech pilots.
"Do you really think it's stupid?" Addy blinked. "Mechs are threatening in the hands of rebels like us because they're fast, easy to deploy, and easy to hide. What do you think will happen to the auxiliary regiments we've taken over at the start of this operation?"
Ves never thought about their fate. The auxiliary regiments that used to answer to House Eneqqin defected to the Detemen League, if in a much diminished capacity. Still, those regiments entailed tens or even hundreds of thousands of soldiers, most of them on foot, but plenty more in various vehicles.
All of that placed an enormous logistical burden on the rebels.
"Have you thought about evacuating them?" Ves suggested. "I know you are in the possession of a space fleet."
"A small fleet, just enough to trade with the VRF and smuggle in some goods. Room is limited aboard a ship, and we simply don't have the capacity to bring away all of the war materiel. The most we can do is to evacuate the soldiers without most of their equipment to escape House Eneqqin's wrath when they eventually retake control over our planet."
The aftermath of this rebellion would provoke a furious backlash, especially if they managed to do something to Lord Javier. Ves could already imagine the cleansing that would ensue. Though Count Loqer would be limited by the laws of the Duchy and Kingdom, Ves expected plenty of blood to be spilled in the coming weeks.
Thinking about the consequences reaffirmed the fermenting idea in his mind that this operation didn't pay off.
The more he spent time with the rebels, the more he began to question their motives. They all seem to love their home planet, so why didn't they feel remorse over plunging Detemen IV into chaos?
Even if Lord Javier turned out to be a tyrant, the amount of damage he could inflict on a planet wasn't even a tenth of the damage already being done by the rioting and pillaging happening on the surface.
Ves looked at Addy with a questioning eye and hesitated on bringing up his suspicions. Calling out the rebels in the middle of their base would not be wise. Besides, he might be wrong about them as well. If he said anything opportune, he would have ruined his relationship with them for nothing.
"WE'VE DETECTED A TRACE!"
Everyone in the data center stopped what they were doing and focused on the female analyst who called out her success.
"Show me!" Addy said and hurried over to the analyst's terminal. Others quickly gathered around them and looked at the results projected from the terminal with awe.
"Four days ago, our sensors in this area caught a very weak signature. I didn't expect much from them because the location of these sensors is rather far from the palace, but the matching program found a definite match for resonance profile 16!"
Ves turned to his own terminal and brought up the attributes of resonance profile 16. This profile put a little bit more emphasis on resonating one exotic over another. According to his judgment, this resonance profile would enable the Loquacious Raphael to amplify the effects of many types of explosive shells.
"From this point onwards, the sensors across this route only intermittently picked up the signals that closely resemble resonance profile 16. They signals ceased to be detected at the end of this projected route."
The projected map showed a broken line that started a decent distance away from the palace and began to meander towards a district that neighbored their current one. The signal took a lot of detours and loops, as if it tried to throw off its pursuers. After many hours of sidetracking, the signal finally stopped underneath a massive industrial recycling and salvaging plant.
"So that's where Lord Javier is hiding!"
Ves had to give it to the bastard. A industrial recycling plant was one of the best locations to hide out. It was an extremely unpleasant place where old machinery and broken wrecks got broken down into raw materials.
This process was very energy intensive, and involved a huge amount of heavy alloys and composites. This effectively threw the entire location in a perceptual fog that made it difficult for most kinds of sensors to detect anything unusual in the vicinity.
"You did it, Mr. Larkinson! We sniffed him out!" Addy beamed as she became convinced of the veracity of the finding. "Alright boys and girls, let's move out and hunt ourselves a noble!"
The entire base rang out in roars as every rebel pumped up their fists.