The Mech Touch - Chapter 2549: Catching Up
“If we follow this route, it is challenging to estimate how long it will take to reach the beyonder gate at the end.” Major Verle. “The more stops we make along the way, the more time it will take to traverse our route. Our fleet composition also affects our speed. The larger our fleet, the more unwieldy it becomes.”
“A group of s.h.i.+ps is only as fast as the slowest among the bunch.” Ves commented.
Ves smiled. “It’s good that we’re getting rid of all of our third-cla.s.s vessels. Keeping them will only drag our feet.”
Third-cla.s.s s.h.i.+ps with cheaper FTL drives couldn’t even pa.s.s through the gravitic barriers separating star sectors from each other.
Even if they could, their FTL drives possessed shorter ranges, thereby forcing any fleet that included these vessels to undergo more downtime.
In contrast, second-cla.s.s s.h.i.+ps with decent FTL drives could aim for more distant star systems. At a minimum, the range was doubled. Their speed in FTL travel was higher as well, which meant that they reached their destinations in half or a third of the time.
Faster vessels were vitally important to reaching a beyonder gate in a timely manner. The Red Ocean developed rapidly as the pioneers who arrived early were picking up treasures left and right.
While Ves might have cheaped out a bit when it came to procuring the stars.h.i.+ps of the Larkinson Clan, he did not cut too many corners when it came to their FTL drives!
“What are the FTL characteristics of our fleet once we set off?” Ves asked. “I need to know the minimum and maximum cycling times.”
Major Verle activated another projection. It listed out all of the stars.h.i.+ps that the Larkinson Clan ordered. Some of them had already arrived while others were still on their way.
“The list is ranked by tonnage. As you can see, a small vessel such as the Barracuda can cycle her FTL drive as fast as 3 hours, while our largest logistical s.h.i.+ps need at least 6 hours. In fact, the FTL drives of our upcoming factory s.h.i.+p actually require 18 hours to cycle a heavy-duty FTL drive, and that is only when it operates at peak condition!”
That was way too long! Fortunately, the situation wasn’t as bad as it sounded.
“My factory s.h.i.+p comes with three FTL drives.” Ves smirked. “It doesn’t matter if it takes an entire day to get a spent FTL drive up and running again. We can just switch over to another one in an instant.”
This actually resulted in the strange situation where a gigantic capital s.h.i.+p was able to traverse more distance than a swift corvette!
While the range of the Barracuda was better than that of his upcoming factory s.h.i.+p, the differences weren’t decisive. The quality of FTL drives mattered a lot more.
In that aspect, none of the second-cla.s.s s.h.i.+ps of his fleet came up short. Insisting on this demand was actually one of the reasons why it took so much time for the Hegemony to prepare the used stars.h.i.+ps. Some of their FTL drives had to be replaced because their condition was too poor or their quality did not meet his standards.
“Don’t confine your vision to our own vessels.” Verle warned. “We also have to account for the Crossers. Their s.h.i.+ps will also factor in how fast we can reach the beyonder gate in the Antilla Star Sector.”
“Oh. You’re right. What do you know about their fleet?”
“The Black Cats have sniffed out quite a lot of details by tracking the flight of the remnant fleet. What I can tell you with certainty is that their current fleet almost entirely consists of their faster vessels. Any s.h.i.+p that couldn’t keep up would have fallen into enemy hands. You don’t have to worry about any of their s.h.i.+ps dragging us down, at least in the short term. Many of their vessels acc.u.mulated significant damage and their engineers may have overstressed their FTL drives by cutting short their cycling times.”
Ves dismissively waved his hand. “This is not important. Just like us, the Crossers can just throw aside their sub-capital s.h.i.+ps if they ever become impaired. I care more about their capital s.h.i.+ps. They should have at least two FTL drives each, right?”
“Correct, sir. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to outrun their pursuers. Their characteristics are fairly interesting. While the Cross Clan doesn’t publicize any specs, it is easy enough to make some estimates based on the historical movements of the two fleet carriers. There is enough data on the galactic net to tease out the approximate FTL travel characteristics of the Antonio Cross and the Hemmington Cross.”
The major activated yet another list of specifications. Though there were many question marks and vague estimates, the doc.u.ment nonetheless gave Ves a better understanding of his future allies.
The Hemmington Cross was a big and fat fleet carrier. Her FTL drives had to exert a lot of effort to move the metal giant across the stars.
The cycling time of her FTL drives likely lasted around 32 hours!
Ves felt like vomiting when he spotted this detail. “This is way too long!”
“It’s not that much of a problem if both of her FTL drives are functional. We will only start to feel the consequences if one the two FTL drives of the Hemmington Cross gets knocked out. While we cannot tell if the large fleet carrier possesses a third FTL drive, the possibility is very slim. Her existing FTL drives already cost a fortune for being able to act on a s.h.i.+p that is more than 3 kilometers.”
This meant that the Hemmington Cross was only a single point of failure away from crippling the traversal speed of their combined fleet.
This was not a big deal if the critical breakdown took place in a safer region.
However, if the two clans attracted a powerful enemy or ended in the middle of a warzone, then the Hemmington Cross’ excessively long timeout would certainly pose a serious threat!
If such a calamity ever took place, the Cross Clan would have to make some very hard choices!
“What about the smaller fleet carrier.”
“Ah, the Antonio Cross. While her mech capacity is quite underwhelming, we know where most of her value lies. Some of her traversals are so far apart that only long-range FTL drives are able to accomplish such distant hops. These drives are not only powerful, they can cross considerably greater distances in the same amount of time. In fact, if you really care about reaching a beyonder gate as fast as possible, then you should travel aboard the Antonio Cross. No other s.h.i.+p can compare in this aspect.”
That was a surprising detail. Ves was very impressed by the FTL drive parameters of the smaller fleet carrier. Her existence fully made sense to him now. The Crossers would definitely be able to obtain a lot of advantages in the Red Ocean as long as they made clever use of the Antonio Cross.
Ves even felt a bit jealous. It would be great if the Larkinson Clan possessed a fast capital s.h.i.+p as well. Still, he knew that it was unlikely that his fellow Larkinsons would agree. They paid much more attention to the total mech capacity of a larger fleet carrier.
He began to discuss some other related matters with Major Verle. They discussed the state of their growing fleet as well as the potential stops they could make along the proposed route.
While there were many interesting states, star sectors and star cl.u.s.ters along the way, it was not worth it to linger too long in each of them. The Red Ocean was much more interesting than some local regions. Ves had to restrain his urges and keep his fleet moving forward as much as possible.
That said, they also needed to plan their stops so that their crews could get a breath of fresh air every once in a while.
After some quick investigations, Ves casually selected several random star sectors that he wished to experience.
The Smiling Samuel Star Sector happened to be one of them. Yet just as Ves brought up the name, Major Verle immediately frowned.
“Have you read up on Smiling Samuel?”
“Uhm, I’m doing that right now. It has an interesting name.”
To be honest, Ves had overlooked the star sector shortly after he completed his latest Mastery experience. Since it would take at least a couple of years to reach the Smiling Samuel Star Sector, there was no immediate hurry to get up to speed on the current state of the region.
After all, only a couple of decades since Ves entered the mind of Rion Aaden. The local situation shouldn’t have changed that much, right?
He began to have a bad feeling.
Just as Ves began to read some articles on the galactic net, Major Verle briefly summarized what he knew.
“The Smiling Samuel used to be a fairly unremarkable star sector. It was just that some sort of unknown incident took place that caused the native dwarf populations there to rise up and fight against the normal humans who used to call the shots in this region.”
Ves snorted. “What can a bunch of dwarves really do? They’re perennially repressed and their numbers can’t catch up to that of humans.”
While there were actually a fair amount of heavy gravity planets in the galaxy, it wasn’t cheap to exploit them. Any mining initiative had to invest a lot of funds to get started. Every exertion expended a lot more energy in heavy gravity environments. The minerals offered by these planets had to surpa.s.s a certain threshold to justify a mining operation.
For this reason, the population of humans heavily outnumbered the population of dwarves!
While it wasn’t unheard of for the latter to rebel or lash out against normal humans, they always ended in failure.
“The dwarves succeeded in toppling the human states of the star sector.”
“The story is quite remarkable actually. While the early history of the dwarven rebellion is mired in myth, rumors and disinformation, the dwarves somehow became unprecedentedly united. The so-called Dwarven Justice Movement somehow managed to rally many other dwarves across many nearby star sectors and star cl.u.s.ters. As long as any dwarf heard the call, they dropped everything and attempted to travel to Smiling Samuel as fast as possible.”
“Even so.. these migrations shouldn’t have been able to overwhelm the native humans.”
“You would think so, sir, but what happened is simply astonis.h.i.+ng.” Major Verle replied. There was genuine admiration in his tone! “The dwarves did not collide against the human states right away. Instead, they kept to a certain corner and steadily attracted more compatriots. Meanwhile they also stirred up discord between rivalling human states. As the normal humans became embroiled in destructive conflicts, the dwarven revolution finally erupted!”
The tale sounded incredibly outlandish to Ves. How could the dwarves possibly succeed in pulling off their schemes against their human enemies? Were the humans of the Smiling Samual Star Sector that ignorant?
“What is also interesting is the reason why the dwarves managed to unite under a single banner. They formed a new religion based around Vulcan, who is supposedly the G.o.d of Dwarves, Mechs and Craftsmans.h.i.+p.”
The major projected some historical footage.
Rows and rows of uniformed dwarves stood before a plaza. On a high podium, a robed priest-like figure ascended into the air and raised a very familiar-looking banner.
“Vulcan!” The bearded priest shouted.
“VULCAN!” The crowd roared back!
Ves could sense the energy and fanaticism from the crowd. His heart sank as he recognized how deeply the heavy gravity variant humans embraced their faith.
Each of them believed wholeheartedly in Vulcan!
“Vulcan has blessed dwarvenkind. The Paramount Kingdom lies in ruins. The tall folk are driven away. Now, their planets belong to us. More and more dwarves throughout the neighboring star cl.u.s.ters continue to arrive in order to fulfill our dream of creating a dwarven sanctuary. We are ascendant! We are blessed! We are the chosen people! From now on, these conquered territories will henceforth belong to our new dwarven state. Let us celebrate the founding of the Vulcan Empire!”