The infirmaries of both the Vandals and the Swordmaidens filled up with their injured. The bodies of scores of servicemen, pirates and slaves temporarily piled up in a freezing container.
Throughout the chaotic, dust-laden camp, heavy transports conveyed several scarred and deformed mechs to the prefab workshops.
Life must go on!
The mission stayed the same. No matter how awful the events of yesterday impacted the ground forces, the survivors had to clench their teeth and do their best to pick up their duties.
Not much news arrived from the fleet after the initial status update. The Flagrant Swordmaidens in orbit remained as ignorant as those on the ground.
Except for figuring out that the Starlight Megalodon likely launched the torpedo as a reaction against the indiscriminate orbital bombardment, they couldn't figure out much else. The dense concentration of astral winds made observation from orbit impossible.
Ves suspended his experiments in order to supervise the repair process in person. None of the other mech designers but him could draft up a repair plan for each damaged mech that wasted the least amount of resources.
Having done this many times before, he only needed to spend a half hour at most to go over the state of each damaged mech and point out which parts needed to be replaced and which parts could be restored.
With the limited stockpile of resources at hand, the Vandals couldn't afford to replace every broken part that could still be restored.
Most of the damage actually consisted of dented armor plating and deformed parts. Many of the mechs lost their antigrav field when they became affected by their proximity to a meteorite impact. This exacerbated their fall damage and gave the mech technicians a lot of headaches.
"It's too wasteful to replace these armor plating with new ones. Just pound them back into shape!"
Mech armor plating was made up of highly advanced alloys that couldn't easily be recycled with field equipment. Only their logistics ships up in orbit possessed the capacity to recycle damaged armor plating down to their base materials. After that, it might take several hours to fabricate a completely new plate from those recovered materials.
If the Vandals made use of the formidable capabilities of the logistics ships, then the damaged mechs would easily be able to regain their peak strength.
It took way too much time and effort to do so, though. The damaged mechs didn't need to be restored to a near-perfect state. Ves was fine with straightening out the dents and deformities. Even though the bending and unbending weakened the structure of the armor plating, the Vandals really couldn't afford to spend too much time in one place.
They still needed to move!
Therefore, Ves prioritized the repair of the internal components over the armor plating because restoring the former directly restored the battle capabilities of the mech while the latter only increased its level of protection.
"Hopefully the Ancient City of Samar won't do anything crazy during this time."
The disaster destroyed half the city walls and even knocked down some of the resilient metal structures in the outer districts of the city. Thousands of blessed people lost their lives, and tens of thousands sustained various injuries.
The Flagrant Swordmaidens saw an opportunity in this. They possessed vastly superior medical technology. When they began to offer to help out with treating the injured, the tech-crazy fanatics finally showed some clarity.
Collecting technological baubles may be fine and dandy, but saving the lives of their citizens mattered more!
However, a new threat began to emerge from the city.
"The more aggressive sacred gods of Samar are angry." Ketis told him as he finalized the repair plan of the last damaged mech under his purview. "The exobeasts aren't as sympathetic to their injured subjects. The blessed people are servants to them. If a bunch of them die, they only need to wait a couple of decades for them to replenish their numbers."
"What are they angry about, then?" Ves asked.
"They're angry about the orbital bombardment. The sacred gods don't believe it's a coincidence that they became the victim of it shortly after we've arrived to attempt to trade with their city. Both our arrivals happened to coincide together that they can't help but draw a connection between us and the rocks that almost pulverized their domain."
Ves grimaced. "We didn't do it. Even our camp suffered under the same bombardment!"
"You know that, I know that, every Vandal and Swordmaiden knows that. Yet to the natives, everything that's foreign and comes from beyond the vault of the gods are connected."
"So what are they plotting at this moment?"
"There's a split between the sacred gods. The aggressive faction is trying to drum up support for an attack. They want to take the offensive and attack our camp!"
That caused Ves to pause. An attack would be really bad for them for several reasons! "How many sacred gods does Samar have?"
"Twelve! That's not all. Their sacred gods are older and better fed. The area around Samar isn't as barren as the wastelands around Mulak. If one of the sacred gods want to enjoy a feast, they could easily lumber out of the city and slowly catch up to one of the animal herds. That's also why the sacred gods are pissed. The meteorites probably wiped out a lot of the beast herds in the wild!"
Ves began to imagine the result of twelve sacred gods assaulting the camp at the same time. The distance between the camp and the city wasn't very far. Depending on how fast the sacred gods moved, they could reach the camp within half a day or less.
That wasn't enough time to evacuate the camp, especially when around eighty damaged mechs weighed down the Vandals and Swordmaidens!
Unless the ground forces decisively abandoned all eighty mechs as well as at least half of their supplies, they had no choice but to make a stand and repel the sacred gods.
If the leader of the sacred god possessed as much power as Hokaz, then sustaining further losses became a certainty!
Still, Ves possessed enough confidence that their remaining mechs possessed enough firepower to take out the sacred gods from a distance. The only issue that worried him was whether they could kill or frighten off the sacred gods long enough to spare their camp from the wrath of the gods.
All of this was out of his hands, though. He wasn't involved with the negotiations this time because the city didn't employ any mechs. In fact, none of the ruined factories that occupied much of the city's territory consisted of mech factories.
Just like Mulak, the inhabitants of Samar all depended on their sacred gods for protection.
"I wouldn't be too worried about the sacred gods, though." Ketis grinned at Ves. "Since we know they might be coming, we've prepared some traps for these beasts. None of the natives can match us when it comes to warfare."
"You're right." Ves calmed down a little. "The sacred gods are extremely formidable in combat, but it's too easy to circumvent their strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses."
For the time being, Ves threw himself back to work. After arranging all the repair jobs, he left the mech technicians to their devices and returned to his lab to finish his experiments.
Since combat against the sacred gods loomed over the horizon, it became more important than ever to shield their mechs from the mental influence of their beast riders!
Anything could happen in a battle. If the beast riders ever found out their mental powers could interfere with the functioning of a mech, then the Flagrant Swordmaidens wouldn't be able to employ their melee mechs!
Ever since the ground forces landed, the melee mech pilots generally had an awful time. Most of the time, the ranged mechs became the star of the show, leaving the melee mechs as their escorts.
Their awkward circumstances on this planet caused a lot of dissatisfaction. Many times, they grumbled about mixing up with the natives, Captain Orfan most of all.
As far as she was concerned, attempting to trade with the ancient cities was a giant distraction from their mission!Find authorized novels in Webnovel，faster updates, better experience，Please click www.webnovel.com for visiting.
They should have just continued onwards towards the Starlight Megalodon!
Of course, she conveniently neglected their energy budget deficit. Without enough juice to propel their mechs and transports, they wouldn't even make it through halfway.
A couple of days passed by as the Vandals and the Swordmaidens did their best to fix up their damaged mechs and restore their capabilities. Ves poured into the experiments, putting greater emphasis on speed at the cost of safety.
He even caught some flack from Captain Byrd because his reckless experiments sent more and more mech pilots to the infirmary with awful headaches.
He had a simply reply to her concerns. "Now that we're in the process of repairing all of those damaged mechs, many of our mech pilots are out of mechs. Since they have nothing to do right now, they might as well be useful in my lab."
She couldn't argue with his logic.
Though his breakneck pace of research caused a lot of mech pilots to curse him behind his back, his progress accelerated equally as fast. As mech pilots continued to be brought out of the testing facility on stretchers and clutching their heads, Ves became ever closer to developing an effective configuration for the neural interfaces.
Over the span of a few days, Ves managed to reduce the influence of foreign connections from fifty percent to eighty percent. However, his quick progressed stalled at that point. He already exhausted his bag of tricks at this time.
If Ves wanted to make further progress, he needed to incorporate more drastic changes to the neural interface.
That was risky. Ves didn't fully comprehend the construction of a neural interface. Making basic modifications was within his limit, but going further drastically increased the risk.
Ves had to make a judgement call here. Should he increase the danger of his experiments and try to come up with a more perfect solution, or should he call it a day and be satisfied with what he had?
Right now, an eighty percent reduction in the intensity of the foreign connection meant that mech pilots possessed the ability to fight back and repel any foreign influences. They retained enough strength to maintain control over their mechs and shield their minds from external attacks, though they couldn't keep up their guard for long.
It was a partial solution, but at least it gave the mech pilots a fighting chance.
Ves looked on as a captured dwarf chieftain extended his hand towards the test mech camouflaged as a godling mech. This time, Ves had disengaged all the safeties. The mech was a fully functional machine which moved as fast and heavy as a real godling.
It could even destroy the entire testing facility if it went out of control!
Of course, Ves also incorporated a killswitch inside the test mech. As this wasn't a real mech anyway, he didn't feel any burden about adding that feature to the test machine.
The dwarf chieftain began to work his magic. After hundreds of repetitions, Ves unintentionally trained the captured dwarves like Pavlov's dogs. Each time they exerted their remote interfacing abilities, they received a sumptuous nutrient pack!
For some reason, the dwarves absolutely loved to eat the contents of a nutrient pack! Fruit flavors happened to be their favorite.
Ves chuckled at how easy it was to manipulate these dwarves. It took a lot of beatings for them to become docile enough to cooperate with his experiments. He still hadn't managed to teach them to use the toilet, but he couldn't have everything.
"Ahh! It hurts! My head is pounding!" The test pilot yelled over the comm channel. "Why isn't the experiment stopping?! I pressed the button! I pressed the friggin' button!"
"Tough it up, pilot." Ves replied. "This experiment needs to go on for at least ten minutes straight, but you test pilots always shut it down within the first minute. That's why I disabled the emergency shutdown button! You've got nine minutes left to go, so don't be a pansy and endure!"
"AAAAHHH! You heartless bastard!"