However, when Ye Chong examined the huge schematics, even his strong mental fortitude gave way. This was not modification and restoration, this was rebuilding the warship from ground up. The last time Ye Chong installed the electromagnetic cannons and the laser guns, he was thoroughly exhausted. This new project would take Ye Chong at least a few years to complete.
Shang seemed to be able to read Ye Chong’s mind, and laughed as he explained, "Ye, no need for you to do the work yourself this time, hehe, we have all the labour we need."
Starships were necessary for the space pirates for transport. Almost all pirate bases would have at least a few shipyards, with plenty of capable technicians. Besides, with Lian Yue hanging around the place for so long, he knew exactly who could be "convinced" to help.
Hai De’s base was well equipped with relevant facilities. Since they were only a small pirate crew, they could not afford to continuously buy advanced mechs from smugglers. Besides, the loots they acquired varied - sometimes it would be something like ores, worthless to their buyers, but a waste to be thrown away. Hai De chose to spend some money on metal forging equipment to make some of their own tools. Nevertheless, they lacked the necessary talent, and rarely needed the metal goods anyway, so the ore were mostly kept in their stowage area, accumulating over time. Fortunately, their base was spacious enough, and Hai De need not worry about it.
Now, though, all these equipment were taken by Shang; even the ores were all removed. Hai De was extremely cautious of the one-armed mech. Moreover, the ores were worthless to him, being kept for long at their base and taking up space. Hence, he agreed to hand them over without hesitation.
Shang also had a list of names given by Lian Yue to him, all of them pirates who would serve as good labour. The list was a problem to Hai De, since many of the people mentioned were bad tempered. He feared that some of them would kick up a fuss and raise havoc.
Just then, two mechs flew out of the dilapidated warship.
Hai De flicked his gaze towards them. This was his first time seeing mechs other than the one-armed mech from the warship. At the sight of the two mechs, Hai De’s eyes widened in horror. His face contorted, blood draining from his cheeks, and his legs trembled.
When the one-armed mech was finally done talking, Hai De quickly took the list with him and vanished out of sight.
Noticing Hai De’s shock, Shang touched where his one arm ended abruptly and after a long moment, finally spoke bitterly, "I may be one-armed, but I’m not really one-armed!" Once, there was a movie called One-armed Soldier that was so captivating it became an instant classic, marking the beginning of an era of movies featuring gay characters. As a movie fan, Shang did his research in these subjects.
Hai De’s mind was now completely occupied by a single thought - the clown mech! It was the clown mech! That funny looking colourful clown-like mech was a symbol of death and despair. The one the space pirates called Clown of Darkness that walked between the shadows, was the mech that killed the pirate leader and escaped unscathed despite all the security measures - a super assassin.
The clown mech was a hot topic amongst the space pirates.
"Heavens, why am I so unlucky, to meet this legendary dangerous character?" Hai De groaned to himself.
He also finally knew what the warship was called - Coxcomb. To think that Coxcomb was actually a warship. Hai De suddenly remembered that since the Clown of Darkness and Coxcomb were here, then that Blue Ray of Death super sniper mech pilot should also be here. He did not recall seeing the mech though. On the other hand, the mech with the strange wings beside the clown mech did not match the legend - wasn’t the Blue Ray of Death armed with a huge sniper energy rifle?
"Wait a moment, energy gun?" Hai De recalled that the one-armed mech had a huge energy gun slung on its back. He shuddered and nearly tripped himself.
Blue Ray of Death … Could that guy be the Blue Ray of Death? Hai De felt like he was living a dream - not a good one, but the mother of nightmares. Hai De swallowed heavily. These two characters were not known to be merciful. He should tread with care, or else … He felt around his throat with his fingers, as though he could feel a chill cutting across.
Ye Chong and Zhu Ling exited Coxcomb because the modification works were too extensive, and it was getting very uncomfortable inside. Lian Yue still holed up in the metals laboratory, enduring the loud noise around him as he worked non-stop everyday for some unknown project. Ye Chong grew a little respectful of his determination, even though he was not interested in whatever project he was up to.
For safety reasons, Ye Chong and Zhu Ling exited the warship in their mechs. Han Jia was a touchy subject, so Ye Chong decided to use Puppet in the end. He was not aware that the word of the clown mech and the Blue Ray of Death had already spread out far and wide even though it was only recent news.
As Puppet appeared, Ye Chong noticed curiously that the people busily working around suddenly stopped and looked at him with terrified eyes. Clangclangclang! Heavy objects fell to the ground, and the men quickly picked up what they had dropped and scattered away, like they were running for their lives.
Ye Chong looked at their reactions curiously, unable to understand.
In just one day, the clown mech and the Blue Ray of Death became the dominating topic of conversation for Hai De’s pirate crew. No one dared to step within 100 meters of Ye Chong. As for Shang, his constant movement around the base made all the pirates extra nervous. The days went by with nerve crushing intensity. Shang quickly noticed the fact - nasty as he was, he realised this was actually quite fun. Hence, for the time being, the pirates spent the followings days in absolute fear.
This had the unexpected result of greater labour efficiency. The pirates worked so hard that Ye Chong thought they looked like they were building their own warship.
Shang had divided the warship modification works into many tiny compartments, such that the pirates would ever only know what they did themselves, and not what their comrades were doing.
Ye Chong and Zhu Ling had already made themselves familiar with the pirate base. The base was well concealed from unwanted attention. The main entrance was hidden within a large valley. If the pirates had not led the way, Ye Chong believed that he might not be able to find it.
"This base is not bad," the thought came unbidden to Ye Chong’s mind. If he installed some firepower here, then it would be a very good defensive position. A well-concealed and well-defended base was hard to find. Besides, while the space pirate here were not so strong, they obviously had a long history in this place. This was apparent from the construction of the base. The base was a large hole dug out of the ground. While it was not as magnificent as Nine Gates of Daylight, it was still quite impressive. It took a lot of work to build this place. Ye Chong estimated it to be the combination of effort from at least a few generations of space pirates.
Ye Chong was always on the move - from galaxy to galaxy, or from planet to planet. At some level, Ye Chong, Mu and Shang were just like the space pirates.
"If only I have my own base," Ye Chong suddenly had this thought.
Ye Chong may not realise it, but this thought was a step forward in his mindset. He was finally starting to be more proactive in facing this chaotic world.
Unfortunately, Ye Chong did not pursue that thought. It was only a sudden thought, one that he quickly abandoned. "Best to leave this kind of vexing problems to Shang," thought Ye Chong. He scanned the area, assuring himself that there was no danger nearby.
Zhu Ling flew in Overwing, following the clown mech from behind. Its light green wings made it look like a green bird. The mech danced easily in the sky, moving in the hands of an expert pilot as it trailed behind the clown mech, looking all too comfortable with itself.
Ye Chong could only feel jealous of her. The clown mech was worlds away from Overwing’s standards. Seeing Zhu Ling flying Overwing made him feel threatened. Ye Chong dared not imagine how Overwing would be like with Mu Fei in the pilot cabin. He felt lucky that Mu Fei was not in Overwing when he tried to kill him.
It was obvious then that no matter how capable a mech pilot was, he or she would still be vulnerable without a mech. The best way to kill a mech pilot was to do it before he or she slipped into a mech.
Finished with their survey of the area, Ye Chong and Zhu Ling prepared to return. Just then, Ye Chong suddenly heard Shang speaking, "Ye, come back quick, hehe …" Shang sounded overjoyed.
Ye Chong did not hesitate. The clown mech made a graceful turn in the sky and headed straight for the pirate base, with Overwing close behind.