The Mech Touch - Chapter 2548: Consumable Starships
The Purplefeather was but one of many stars.h.i.+ps arriving from the Hegemony. Batches of second-cla.s.s combat carriers and auxiliary s.h.i.+ps kept pouring into the Cinach System at regular intervals.
The Avatars of Myth, Living Sentinels and other mech forces embraced the presents and eagerly unpacked them. Though the Hexer-built vessels were far more advanced than anything the Larkinsons had ever touched, they had made plenty of preparations.
Aside from pre-training the s.h.i.+p crews, the clan also solicited the help of the Glory Seekers and the Penitent Sisters. Both Hexer forces graciously loaned their engineers and specialists to help the underqualified crews make sense of the new systems.
Together with the trainers supplied by the Hegemony, the Military Bureau believed it wouldn’t take more than a year before the Larkinsons no longer required any external aid.
It wasn’t necessary for the Larkinson s.p.a.cers to master their new vessels from top to bottom. They only needed to achieve enough proficiency to control the s.h.i.+ps under normal operation and be able to react to the most common emergencies. They could slowly learn the ins and outs of the new s.h.i.+ps later on through gradual study and practice.
Fleet Coordinator Ophelia Kronon became incredibly busy as of late. As the most senior naval officer in the clan, she needed to sort out the incoming vessels and juggle the demands of every mech force.
The Living Sentinels developed a preference for st.u.r.dy and well-armored combat carriers.
The Flagrant Vandals desired vessels with better FTL travel characteristics and superior sub-light propulsion.
The Avatars of Myth wanted to obtain both fast and resilient combat carriers and did not want to settle for less.
There was no way for Ophelia to please everyone. When Ves paid a visit to her office, he immediately sensed a lot of stress from the former Ylvainan officer.
“We’re getting some fine s.h.i.+ps, but they’re not good enough for the Avatars.” She complained.
A small turtle emerged from an aquarium placed on her desk. The clever little reptile climbed out of the top and pa.s.sed through a gate that blasted all of the water from his body. The turtle vigorously waddled up to his owner’s hand and tried to offer some comfort.
Sadly, her new pet couldn’t wave all of her problems away.
“Tell me honestly.” Ves began as he crossed his arms. “What do you think of the vessels we are receiving from the Hegemony.”
“As I have said, they are fine second-cla.s.s vessels. While these used goods are not up to par against their state-of-the-art equivalent, to be honest the differences are not that concerning. In the field of naval development, real generational differences are measured in centuries instead of decades. A stars.h.i.+p commissioned over a hundred years ago is still compet.i.tive. What truly matters is the value of the vessel. More expensive s.h.i.+ps not only feature better tech, but also better materials.”
An old but expensive stars.h.i.+p could easily crush a new but cheaper vessel. Ves was already familiar with this premise as the same largely applied to mechs as well. It was just that mechs never lasted that long.
“In terms of price, where do our combat carriers lie?” Ves curiously asked.
“The price we paid for our combat carriers range from 2 billion to 5 billion hex credits. There are a couple of outliers such as the Purplefeather, but the bulk of our vessels fall into this serviceable category.” She explained. “From my understanding of the Yeina Star Cl.u.s.ter’s stars.h.i.+p market, this price range is below average.”
“So our combat carriers are rather flimsy compared to the vessels of other second-cla.s.s outfits?” Ves frowned.
“Not exactly, sir. The quality of our vessels are quite satisfactory if we bought them new, but we didn’t. They have all been used for decades. While the Hegemony has been nice enough to service the mothballed stars.h.i.+ps, there are still many areas left which exhibit a considerable amount of wear-and-tear. Repairing these parts is too difficult without putting the vessels in drydocks.”
“So essentially, the performance of our vessels is good, but their longevity is questionable.”
That sounded similar to what the Penitent Sisters used to deal with before they sacrificed all of their combat carriers.
Ophelia nodded, pleased that Ves understood her point. “As a mech designer and an engineer, I believe you are aware of what this means for our clan. The vessels are older and more temperamental. Parts will break down at higher frequencies and emergencies will happen more often. These incidents can ramp up quite quickly the longer the s.h.i.+ps operate without undergoing deep maintenance.”
Stars.h.i.+ps were no different from giant machines. Just like other machines, their conditions degraded over time. While it was a lot more troublesome to fix their various issues, the better-built vessels were usually capable of operating without receiving any serious maintenance for decades.
Yet this couldn’t go on forever. While stars.h.i.+ps came with a huge amount of redundancy, some s.h.i.+p components such as FTL drives still represented single points of failures. As long as any of these s.h.i.+p components broke down, the s.h.i.+p in question would end up in a lot of trouble!
“How is the outlook of our vessels in a span of five years?” Ves inquired. “Will we have to take this problem seriously in the immediate future?”
Ophelia paused for a moment. “Only the Great Prophet can say for sure, sir. According to my judgement, we will certainly have several major breakdowns and failures in the coming years. This can’t be avoided considering we have procured hundreds of vessels. What I can tell you is that these isolated incidents are manageable provided we are not in hostile s.p.a.ce or being pursued.”
If a s.h.i.+p just happened to suffer a crippling breakdown, then the Larkinson Clan had several options.
Repairing the vessel took too much time and effort. It might take months to restore the damage.
“It’s better to abandon any s.h.i.+ps that break down along the way.” Ves decided after contemplating his options. “None of our sub-capital stars.h.i.+ps are worth retaining. We are only making use of them so we can reach a beyonder gate safely. We can also train our clansmen in the use of second-cla.s.s hardware. The core of our fleet consists of our capital s.h.i.+ps. They’re the only vessels that are worth bringing to the Red Ocean.”
The fleet coordinator agreed with his sentiment. “Treating our sub-light vessels as transient, consumable a.s.sets is the right choice to make. However, the premise is that we are able to bear the cost of doing so. Every major breakdown means we will be losing a lot of value. At best, we are able to find a buyer who will take the crippled vessel off our hands at a hefty discount. At worst, we might have to write off our losses entirely.”
Ves had already made his choice. Despite reserving more and more money on various priorities, the profitability of the LMC was able to bear the burden.
The Crystal Lord Mark II and the Ferocious Piranha were already building up momentum.
The latter especially began to catch on due to its incredibly useful glow. Sales of the Doom Guard had actually cratered as many mech buyers preferred to obtain the more user-friendly alternative!
The discussion continued for some time. Ves gained a better insight on the state of his fleet upon the moment of departure. While the stars.h.i.+ps the Larkinson Clan obtained wouldn’t impress any second-cla.s.s power, their performance was not weak.
That was enough.
It didn’t matter if they became more troublesome a decade later. By the time the Larkinson Clan reached a beyonder gate, Ves intended to sell every sub-capital s.h.i.+p without exception.
The Barracuda, the Scarlet Rose, the Stellar Chaser, the Purplefeather and so on would no longer be a part of the Larkinson Clan’s story. Despite memories that Ves and his clansmen formed with the stars.h.i.+ps, they had to go. The clan would either find new owners for them or have them sc.r.a.pped to recoup some of their value.
The future of his clan no longer lay in these smaller vessels. While his clan would definitely acquire a lot of new sub-capital s.h.i.+ps on the other side of the inter-galactic beyonder gate, there was no way that any of the new purchases would resemble the older ones in price, quality, features or looks.
The Red Ocean was a hodgepodge of many different human cultures and customs. s.h.i.+p and mech builders from every corner of human s.p.a.ce in the old galaxy had converged in a very tiny area in the new dwarf galaxy.
This resulted in continuous collisions between different design philosophies and product styles!
The combat carriers put for sale in the Red Ocean were very different from the combat carriers sold in the Yeina Star Cl.u.s.ter. The latter were simply too shabby and basic to perform well in the new frontier.
This was why Ves was not sorry to say goodbye to s.h.i.+ps like the Scarlet Rose. They simply couldn’t keep up with his demands.
Once Ves finished his fruitful discussion with Ophelia, he left her office and paid a visit to Major Verle.
“h.e.l.lo. How is it going, major?”
“You’re giving me a lot of headaches.”
Ves chuckled. “I’ve been hearing that a lot.”
“Don’t misunderstand me, sir. It’s great that our clan is finally building up our strength again. Once we are able to take control over our new a.s.sets, we will gain enough strength to protect ourselves as we travel from star sector to star sector.”
“That sounds good, because we’ll have quite a journey ahead of us. Have you and your staff already charted some routes to the nearest beyonder gates?”
“We did. Let me show them to you.” The major answered.
Some projections came to life. They showed off several star charts centered around the Komodo Star Sector.
Ves could easily observe the colorful translucent borders that delineated different star sectors and star cl.u.s.ters.
Animated dotted lines extended from Komodo and began to follow several different curving paths.
The galactic rim was a spa.r.s.e and underdeveloped region. The Gate Consortium couldn’t justify building a lesser beyonder gate in every single star cl.u.s.ter. This meant that the Larkinson Clan had to cross through at least several different star cl.u.s.ters in order to reach any gate.
“This one.” Ves pointed towards a specific chart. The projection grew larger while the others shrunk in size. “We’ll take this route.”
Verle was alarmed!
“Let’s not be too hasty, sir. We still need to discuss the merits of each route with the Larkinson a.s.sembly and some other relevant leaders. We also need to consult with the Cross Clan to find out whether they have any objections to our choice. This is not something that we can decide in a short amount of time.”
“Then make it happen.” Ves crossed his arms. “I’m not asking you. I’m telling you. I won’t accept any other route.”
“Can you at least tell me why?”
“I’m not choosing this route on a whim. I’m familiar with some of the star sectors along the way. They’re all worth paying a visit. I don’t want to spend the next months and years cooped up in my factory s.h.i.+p.”
“Very well, then. We will explore this route further and check whether there are any hazards along the way. Total safety can’t be guaranteed in s.p.a.ce, but we can minimize the risks by avoiding unstable regions.”
The route that Ves prematurely settled upon threaded through four different star cl.u.s.ters. It started from the Yeina Star Cl.u.s.ter and pa.s.sed through the Bardo and Fermi Star Cl.u.s.ters until it finally reached the center of the Antilla Star Cl.u.s.ter.
The latter hosted one of the new-fangled beyonder gates developed by the Big Two and managed by the Gate Consortium.
The mysterious Temple Protector might have pa.s.sed through this very gate!
To be honest, this wasn’t the shortest or fastest route. Yet Ves did not want to travel in any other direction for one important reason.
The Smiling Samuel Star Sector was part of the Fermi Star Cl.u.s.ter!