A few days went by as the situation in space became more tense.
The citizens of the Bright Republic did not hear the announcement they expected.
Everyone expected to hear that the defense fleet defeated the invading sandman fleet a few days after they sortied.
Instead, no news came at all.
The government and all of the media outlets kept mum, leaving every local in the dark.
No news wasn\'t necessarily good news.
Many Brighters began to grow worried that something might have gotten wrong.
If the government hadn\'t stated that the defense force was fully intact, the locals would have panicked and thought the end was near!
As it was, the locals became a little split.
Their daily lives continued without any interruption, prompting most people to push the matter in the back of their minds.
Naturally, many others still remained concerned, so much so that they preemptively tried to evacuate to Bentheim.
Because the government commandeered too many ships, it was too difficult to secure traditional transit.
The most they could do was to pay for passage aboard one of the many transport vessels shipping materials from Bentheim to Cloudy Curtain and back.
Though the ride was uncomfortable, it was better than nothing!
None of this impacted Ves too much.
He only made a brief company-wide announcement to cool the nerves of his employees.
Whether they believed him or not was not his concern.
Just as Ves expected, because nothing apparently happened, the acuteness of the emergency eventually faded.
However, he still monitored the situation in space through various channels.
While Commander Magdalena was not allowed to contact him directly, he had access to some reports.
The central government was alarmed.
The abnormal behavior of the sandman admirals that intruded Cloudy Curtain had become such a fearsome occurrence that the Mech Corps directly dispatched an entire mech regiment to suppress the fleet!
Over two-thousand spaceborn mechs and accompanying ships of the 4th Light Hounds of the 3rd Bentheim Division reached the Cloudy Curtain System in secret!
The mech companies of the Light Hounds immediately fanned out to scour the asteroid belt for the sandman elements that had shaken off detection by hiding in the middle of the asteroid belt!
If the deviant sandmen admirals put their full effort into hiding their presence, then the Light Hounds might be stuck here for a couple weeks.
Fortunately, the higher ups acted decisively and dispatched the Light Hounds with haste, so the sandmen couldn\'t have split up very far.
Though it was easy for the aliens to camouflage their presence in the asteroid belt, they couldn\'t move too fast without breaking their cover.
If the roving patrols neared the hiding positions of the sandmen, then the latter wouldn\'t be able to move at all without tripping some alarms!
In order to hasten the search, every mech that participated in the search effort received an emergency software update that optimized the scanners to detect the presence of sandmen.
Though the Mech Corps previously paid little attention to Cloudy Curtain, now that it became a focal point in the war, the resources they brought to bear was very considerable!
Is it true that the sandmen are targeting you in order to sabotage the glows of your mechs Gavin asked in a worried tone.
I won\'t go down so easily.
Even if the sandmen find some way to threaten this planet, we can instantly board the Barracuda to escape their clutches.
This was the privilege of owning a starship!
I don\'t believe that this is a coincidence! The sandmen are definitely after your life!
Ves grew exasperated at Gavin\'s worries.
Because of his gatekeeper role, Gavin had access to some of the intelligence that Ves received.
Reading all of the material made the assistant very scared of his own life.
Death by sandmen had become the biggest fright of every citizen exposed to the Sand War!
Just flee to Bentheim on a transport ship if you can\'t keep your composure.
His assistant looked sheepish.
I lost control.
It\'s just that there is such a big threat looming over our heads.
What if a second sandman fleet joins the first
We\'ll evacuate once Cloudy Curtain can\'t be defended anymore.
Besides, do you really think that Bentheim is any safer There are at least three or four sandman fleets invading the port system every day!
The sandmen managed to expand the breach from Sydney Superior and threaten much of the interior of the Bright Republic.
The Mech Corps and the Starfighter Corps were spreading their forces to their limit in order to prop up all of the vulnerable star systems.
Bentheim\'s attraction to the sandmen served as a mixed blessing under these circumstances.
On one hand, Bentheim attracted an unreasonable amount of sandman fleets.
The quantity of invaders had reached such a severe point that a considerable amount of traffic that flowed through Bentheim had dropped!
No one wanted to bump into the sandmen as soon as they transitioned into the port system!
Of course, this led to a severe disruption in the supply chains that Bentheim subsided upon to keep its vast economy running.
Trade dropped by a third and industrial production dropped by a lesser degree.
The entire state mobilized into action.
The military did its best to suppress the invading sandmen and to maintain secure shipping routes.
The other branches of the government provided more support to essential companies and did their best to keep trade flowing as much as possible.
Unfortunately, all of these actions and disruptions increased the monthly inflation rate even more.
Ves literally saw the LMC\'s cash pile diminishing in value with each passing day!
Gavin understood the deteriorating economic circumstances better than Ves.
It\'s really bad right now.
As of yesterday, it is no longer profitable for us to maintain production at the Mech Nursery.
The shipping rates have skyrocketed, making even short runs between Bentheim and Cloudy Curtain prohibitively expensive.
Is it because of insurance Ves asked.
The shipping companies are risking their assets every time they ship materials to Cloudy Curtain or ship finished products back to Bentheim.
While the military is doing its best to keep the shipping lanes free from the sandmen, that is not a perfect guarantee.
Ves hesitated for a moment.
He really did not like to halt production at the Mech Nursery.
It was the principal production facility of his mech company and a temporary shutdown would have severe consequences.
Ves did not care too much about the disruption to the production plans or the delay in fulfilling orders.
What he really cared about was keeping his mech technicians and factory workers sharp.
Giving them a few days off didn\'t affect their readiness.
However, if they began to sit idle for several months, they wouldn\'t be as productive if they returned to work.
Yet keeping up production when he lost more money than he earned per sale was not a good outcome either.
He had to make a choice between two unpalatable options.
To be honest, Ves did not mind paying a modest price to keep his best and most loyal workers sharp.
However, the economy was just starting to deteriorate.
With the sandmen far from running out of steam, the situation would definitely grow worse over time.
Instruct Raymond to shut down production if necessary. Ves eventually spoke.
Even if we have to keep our manufacturing personnel idle for the remainder of the Sand War, it won\'t take too much effort to regain what we\'ve lost after the crisis has passed.
Gavin made a note on his data pad.
I have a suggestion.
Why not offer to transport our workers and their families to Bentheim We\'ve recently invested in a handful of manufacturing complexes there to put our windfall to good use, remember While we are already in the process of hiring workers, it\'s a lot better if we can reassign experienced and dedicated personnel from the Mech Nursery.
sounded like a good idea to Ves.
He didn\'t make an immediate decision, though.
Pass this suggestion up to Raymond and the senior management.
This is a very major move and I don\'t want the LMC to make any haphazard moves.
I\'m not sure how many workers are willing to relocate to Bentheim in the first place.
There\'s something else that is related to this issue.
We\'ve recently received some official notices from the government.
While Gavin passed on the notices to Ves, he briefly summarized their contents.
All of the messages are pretty much saying the same thing.
The government is concerned at your continued stay in Cloudy Curtain.
The Ministry of Defense is the most fervent branch in requesting you to leave this star system.
Because they think the sandmen are targeting me specifically Ves frowned.
I don\'t know why you\'re so nonchalant about this threat! If the sandmen are truly aware of your significance, then you\'re in big trouble! Holing up at Bentheim or Rittersberg is much better since the Mech Corps maintains a heavy presence in those star systems!
Cloudy Curtain is my home.
If you truly care about your home planet, you should have left months ago.
Your presence here is endangering everyone else if the sandmen are really out to get you.
Besides, even if you don\'t believe that, the government surely does.
Ves narrowed his eyes.
Will the government force me to evacuate to a better defended star system
Yes. Gavin bluntly replied.
The people in charge have only sent some politely-worded requests so far because they don\'t want to offend you.
However, they\'ll definitely push you harder if you remain stubborn.
This was not what Ves wanted to hear.
His mood darkened as he agreed with his assistant.
There was no evidence that the sandmen weren\'t out to get him.
Aside from Calabast, practically everyone else who was aware of the situation probably believed that Ves was under threat.
However, that did not mean that Ves was ready to surrender to the government\'s demands.
One of the biggest reasons why he was determined to remain at Cloudy Curtain was that it was easy for him to run away.
If for some reason the sandmen really launched a surprise attack or the government turned against him, Ves wanted to have a clear path of escape.
The defense forces stationed at Cloudy Curtain weren\'t numerous enough to envelop the entire planet.
It was not that hard for the swift and nimble Barracuda to avoid pursuit and circumvent blockades.
It was an entirely different matter if Ves moved to Bentheim.
There was so much shipping and traffic there that every vessel had to abide by the instructions of traffic control.
Patrols and enforcement were much more strict at Bentheim.
There was no way a single ship could slip through the thick defensive net around the planet!
Ves always harbored some paranoia towards his home state.
Even though he currently maintained friendly relations with the Tovars and the government, who knew they wanted to stab his back one day.
Though he knew it was unreasonable to suspect the government to turn on a prominent and decorated citizen, Ves was no normal Brighter.
For this reason, Ves did not prepare to evacuate to Bentheim under any circumstances.
Because of Cloudy Curtain\'s relatively low strategic importance, there was no way the Mech Corps could station a large force here on a continuous basis.
As long as Sigrund stopped pranking Ves by sending more abnormal sandman fleets to Cloudy Curtain, the Light Hounds should eventually return to the Bentheim System.
The fighting there had become very intense, after all! Bentheim needed all the help it could get to prevent the arriving sandmen from reaching critical mass!
Gavin looked disappointed, though.
I don\'t know if the government will allow you to have your way.
If I were you, I would start buying some accommodations on Bentheim.
A lot of rich people have departed over the last months.
The real value of mansions and other extravagant real estate has plummeted!
Too bad Ves wasn\'t interested.
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