The arrival of Raymond Billlingsley-Larkinson improved the mood at the LMC.
Whatever Ves thought about the elder, he prepared well.
Not only did Raymond right the ship, he also set a new course that entailed a greater emphasis on expanding the LMC\'s foreign presence.
He also allocated more resources to promoting the Prideful Soldier model, which severely lagged behind the Desolate Soldier in awareness and sales.
With all of the publicity surrounding the Desolate Soldier, we don\'t have to lift a finger to promote them anymore. Raymond reported to Ves a few days after assuming his role as COO.
Our resources should instead be spent on the Prideful Soldier.
There are a lot of outfits that are in the market for a cheaper and more aggressive alternative of the base model.
From what Ves had heard from Raymond so far, the old Larkinson was fully up to date with the internal and external circumstances of the LMC.
After keeping a close eye on the new COO for a few days, Ves felt relieved that his new hire was not about to run the LMC to ground.
While the LMC fared better than ever before, the same could not be said for the Bright Republic and the other states in the third line of defense.
So far, the Bright Republic achieved plenty of positive results.
However, the defenders only had to fail a single time to leave an entire star system exposed.
Several minor border systems had already fallen, giving the sandmen more opportunities to penetrate past the border and invade the relatively less-defended interior.
As for the major border systems, the pressure on the defenders mounted at a worrying rate.
The sandmen fleets that invaded the systems increasingly pooled their strengths together while adopting very tricky configurations.
In addition, they sometimes split up and attempted to approach the inner system from multiple directions.
This forced the reserves stationed at the fortified systems to deploy and fight without sufficient reprieve.
While the disciplined mech pilots of the Mech Corps easily coped with the pressure, the same could not be said for starfighter pilots.
Their mental and physical resilience was not up to par to trained warriors and soldiers.
When they were forced to fight three or more separate waves of sandmen within the span of a few days, the cracks already started to show.
The Bright Republic simply asked too much of a military branch that was only a few months old.
Now that the halo has worn off, everyone has become aware of the true purpose of the Starfighter Corps, sir. Commander Magdalena Larkinson remarked.
It is nothing more than a disposable shield for the Mech Corps.
The Starfighter Corps enjoys a fraction of the budget but is already on its way to field at least double the number of mechs in the Mech Corps. Ves shrugged.
It\'s hard to put them to any other use if the government isn\'t willing to budge from its strategy of churning out cheap starfighters and cheap starfighter pilots.
The Sentinel Commander nodded gravely.
It takes at least eight years to train a basic mech pilot, sir.
More years are needed if you want to train an advanced mech pilot.
To train a starfighter pilot that is on the same level of competence will require at least five or more years.
It\'s not worth it, especially since they are norms who are incapable of interfacing with their spacecraft.
A mech will always outfight a starfighter if everything else is equal.
It\'s not just the starfighter pilots that pose a problem.
On the production side, our state\'s industrial capacity is completely geared towards producing mechs.
While it\'s possible to retool our factories towards producing cheap and simple starfighters, it\'s another story if they surpass a certain level of complexity.
Both of them knew that the Bright Republic had no other choice but to treat the Starfighter Corps as a sacrifice to ensure its survival.
In terms of cost, Ves estimated that the prevailing starfighter models he had seen so far cost less than 2 million credits a piece.
This was because they incorporated hardly any exotics at all.
While the supply of exotics was always scarce, the same could not be said for more mundane materials such as titanium and uranium!
Within the bountiful amount of star systems, planets and asteroid belts, prospectors could easily stumble upon deposits of these materials and mine them in rapid tempo.
Even the most prevalent low-grade exotics were much harder to find than mundane metals!
In fact, Ves expected the price of starfighters to drop over time as savvy industrialists optimized the supply chain further.
It was absolutely no problem for the Bright Republic to produce hundreds of thousands of starfighters even if they printed money like no tomorrow.
In fact, the frantic production of starfighters likely accounted for most of the inflation wrecking the economy.
The question is, will the Bright Republic be able to keep up Will we be able to keep up
Both of them looked at each other with uncertainty.
The situation was already precarious, and this was just the starting phase of the Bright Republic\'s tribulations.
If something went wrong, their home state might not be able to hold anymore.
Ves used to think that the Bright Republic was overreacting a little when they engaged in desperate stunts such as granting amnesty to the BLM and fulfilling nearly all of its wishes.
Now that thousands or more starfighter pilots sacrificed their lives in battle every day, he fully understood why the state compromised so many of its existing principles and traditions.
He wasn\'t even upset anymore about the commission to design a custom mech for Vincent Ricklin!
This was no time to let his private grudges get in the way of any initiative that could help his home state cope with the sandmen.
Not only was the BLM a force to be reckoned with, its vast influence in the Bentheim region could also be leveraged in many useful ways.
Securing this alliance was a pivotal accomplishment of Senator Tovar and his negotiators.
As Ves and Magdalena discussed the war situation further, the topic inevitably turned towards their circumstances.
How will Cloudy Curtain fare against a possible sandman incursion He asked.
Not great. Magdalena answered glumly.
Though we have hundreds of Living Sentinels stationed on this planet, not all of them are up to standard or adept at spaceborn combat.
Don\'t expect us to perform as well as the Avatars or the Mech Corps in combat.
I\'ve been drilling my people more frequently now in order to make them get used to the pressure of fighting back-to-back battles, but we simply don\'t have enough depth to sustain a prolonged campaign.
The Living Sentinels mainly existed to guard LMC assets.
Fighting off pirates, troublemakers and an occasional incursion was doable, but it would be too much to ask them to endure the same pressure at the front.
Beef up the Sentinels. Ves ordered.
Even if most of the Living Sentinels opted out of volunteering to fight at the front, the sandmen won\'t be stuck there forever.
If the frontlines are ever breached, then Bentheim and Cloudy Curtain will certainly come under assault.
This is our home.
I won\'t accept abandoning everything I\'ve built here to the aliens.
It will be difficult to increase the strength of the Living Sentinels any further, sir.
Every mech pilot that is available has already been snapped up.
Those who remain free have already fled the state.
The only way we can elevate our fighting strength is if we have better mechs than the Desolate Soldiers.
Although I understand why you\'ve designed them to be cheap and easy to produce, their lack of resilience has led to elevated losses against abnormal sandman fleet configurations.
He knew what she was referring to.
Having studied the footage and after-action reports of many battles in the front, Ves was aware that armor wasn\'t completely useless in the Sand War.
Whenever the sandmen employed a swarm configuration or any other configuration that encouraged massed laser fire, the better-armored mechs always fared better.
Unfortunately, Ves did not have a good response at this time.
I\'m sorry commander, I don\'t have a better alternative on hand.
While the Militant Soldier that I\'m working on is much better armored and equipped to face the sandmen, it\'s a model that\'s exclusive to the Mech Corps.
With all of the proprietary hardware and standards incorporated in its design…
As a veteran of the Mech Corps, Magdalena needed no further elaboration.
Am I allowed to procure better mech models sold by other mech companies
Ves casually waved his hand.
I\'ve never prohibited the Avatars and Sentinels from purchasing external models.
While I have great faith in my products, I\'m well aware that my mech catalog is far from complete.
If you need to fulfill a role in your mech roster, just base your decisions on what is best for the Living Sentinels.
Thank you, sir. Magdalena answered with a hint of relief.
I think we\'ll have to draw more money from the LMC to invest in a few mech companies of midrange or premium mechs.
Feel free to invest as much as you need to strengthen our combat strength.
Money is one thing we aren\'t short of, and it\'s rapidly growing more worthless anyway.
I\'d rather be sitting on a pile of mechs than several hundred billion bright credits.
They spent some time discussing how to expand the LMC\'s strength.
Aside from buying mechs, the Sentinel Commander also wanted to beef up the fixed defenses of the LMC.
A lot had to be done before Ves was happy.
At least we don\'t have to shoulder the responsibility of defending Cloudy Curtain alone.
The government will definitely station a garrison force here soon.
We\'re so close to Bentheim that it would be a disaster if the sandmen overrun our star system.
Even so, Ves would never place his life in the hands of others.
The periodic setbacks and defeats at the front already showed that the Bright Republic was not infallible.
Worse yet, the situation was worse in many other states.
The Reinald Republic for example had already lost a significant chunk of territory, while the Vesia Kingdom was hard-pressed to hold the line.
The Vesians aren\'t doing so well. Magdalena bitterly smirked.
The Mech Legion may be stronger than the Mech Corps, but they\'ve been a bit slower than us in deploying starfighters.
Their divided nature and lack of central direction has come back to haunt them.
By the time the royal house gained enough authority to command the state, the sandmen are already hitting the Vesians hard.
It doesn\'t help that the spatial geography is much more unfavorable for the Vesians. Ves remarked.
On a star map, the Bright Republic resembled an apple while the Vesians resembled a mango.
If the narrow side of the mango faced the direction of the sandman invasion, then the Vesians could easily defend this narrow front.
Sadly for the Vesians, their state was oriented on the side, which meant that the sandmen crashed against the entire length of this extended front!
The Mech Legion and its auxiliary forces had to stretch themselves thin to cover a huge territory! Breakthroughs already occurred in some places, and the Vesians had to expend a lot of effort to plug the gaps!
In fact, Ves even read in the news that the rebels in the state had all received similar deals to the Bentheim Liberation Movement.
Organizations such as the Vesian Liberation Front received full amnesty and many other concessions in return for lending their strength.
The value of strength trumped anything else!
In any case, the Vesian rebels who agitated against the nobles had no problems burying the hatchet this time.
This was because they fought on behalf of the commoners, all of whom were under grave threat!
Between getting oppressed by nobles and massacred by sandmen, the rebels did not hesitate to choose the lesser of two evils!
Recalling the Vesian rebels made Ves think on how a certain mech designer in their camp was doing.
I haven\'t been in touch with Iris Jupiter for so long.
I wonder how she\'s doing
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