The door of the commission center opened. Everyone looked up, and immediately perked up. The mech pilots loitering about the main lobby of the commission center may not be on the same level as the Sang tribe members in terms of strength, but they had a much sharper eye for customers. They knew from the behaviour and clothing of the three people entering the lobby that they were rich.
Business time! The slacking mech pilots immediately picked themselves up and rushed forward, offering multitudes of flattery. Only Old Chief Guo, Sang Fan and company did not move. Old Chief Guo took a glance at the three and immediately ignored them. As for the rest, they did not even open their eyes.
Of the three who came, one was a beautiful and genial lady. She was surrounded by the most prospectors.
The three were Mi Qi, Mu Si and Uncle Yun. While they were unhappy with the way the Papatte mech squad treated them, they did not have much of a choice. Hence, they came to have a look anyway.
Mi Qi frowned in distaste; Mi Su wore her usual thin smile; Uncle Yun adopted a flat expression. He took a step forward and tactfully pushed outwards. The gathering crowd immediately felt huge pressure, and quickly stepped back.
Old Chief Guo whistled softly at the performance. He could see that the middle-aged man’s move was smart and powerful. While he did not know how it worked, it was undeniably an ingenious way of controlling one’s strength.
Sang Fan and others opened their eyes simultaneously and took a quick glance at the middle-aged man, but quickly shut their eyes again. To them, the technique was ingenious, but not very particularly useful.
The other mech pilots might not be the cream of the crop, but they were seasoned enough. By the looks of the middle-aged man standing in front of the young man and lady, they knew that all hope was lost, and retreated with resignation.
Mi Qi looked around the lobby, and began to approach Old Chief Guo. Old Chief Guo and his company were standing out too much, being the only ones who did not act on their arrival. Besides, the three people with silver masks on would be conspicuous anyway in this small lobby.
Uncle Yun’s eyes gleamed the moment they landed with Sang Fan and the other two. He quickly went to Mi Qi and whispered to his ear, "Careful, my lord, the three masked people are strong!"
Mi Qi paused in his advance, startled. He was familiar with Uncle Yun’s strength. The man rarely described people as strong, not since Mi Qi was young. As such, he was surprised that Uncle Yun would call all three of the masked people as strong! However, he quickly recovered himself. Wasn’t this exactly what they needed? A mech squad that could enlist three capable combat experts must be good.
Compared to mech pilots, combat experts were less helpful. Hence, in any mech squad, hiring combat experts would not be their top priority. They were often hired only when the mech squad could afford extra manpower.
Old Chief Guo stood up. Sang Fan and the others immediately opened their eyes and took a few seemingly casual steps that brought them around Old Chief Guo, surrounding him in the center. Ye Chong’s orders were for them to protect Guo Ren.
"Is this the Papatte Mech Squad?" Mi Qi asked. The group was too easy to recognize. Their silver masks were exactly as Sister Qing had told him.
Old Chief Guo replied with a laugh, "Yes, it is. And who might you be,
sirs and lady?"
Mi Qi smiled softly in his soothing aristocratic demeanor. "We are the client who contacted you this morning."
"Oh," Old Chief Guo was surprised, but quickly gathered himself. "Haha, so it’s a customer, please forgive me."
Mi Qi decided then and there to hire the Papatte Mech Squad. From the man’s behaviour, he was certain that the mech squad was worth more than half a star.
The trio in masks stood steadfast, their eyes still as cold as before.
Two Collisions escorted three full-skeleton transport vessels to the docking station. 30 Sang tribe members came out of the vessel. These were the people Ye Chong sent to Archipelago earlier. They brought with them plenty of mildstones, necessary for the Collisions. Mildstones could be used for a long time, but they were a one-time energy source, unlike the rechargeable energy cells. While the mildstones they had now were not exhausted yet, it was never too early to prepare for the eventuality.
The leading villager reported to Ye Chong, "Village Head asked to relay to you, sir, to not worry about the village. The steelbats showed no signs of returning. The village is doing well. Three goods transport vessels were built, and we’ve brought them all here. We brought 30 thousand mildstones, a thousand Collision parts of all sorts, and some lavagold pieces."
"I see, good job, please have some rest."
"Yes sir!" The 30 men answered respectfully and left.
The 30 thousand mildstones were quickly dispersed amongst the battalion members. The Collision mech parts and lavagold pieces were stored in the underground depository. The fact that all those lavagold could be sold for alot brought a faint smile to Ye Chong’s grim face.
Just then, the comms device beeped. Old Chief Guo came on the holographic screen.
In the end, Ye Chong accepted the request to escort three clients safely to planet of Ling Yuan. The sky high remuneration offered had made Ye Chong, desperate for money, accept the job without thinking too much.
10 million credits! That was enough to buy basic equipment for a thousand Collisions! Ye Chong even considered capturing the three clients and see if he could make them offer more! Of course, that was only an impulsive thought. He was still reasonable. If they offered such a large reward, they must come from some influential background. This was not the time to make enemies with a powerful organization, unless he wanted to return to Archipelago straight away.
A thousand mechs escorted the small starship. The three clients were in this starship, and Old Chief Guo, as leader of Papatte, naturally accompanied them. Ye Chong was on the ship as well, while Sang Tie was left in charge of the 1,000 Collision mechs outside. Sang Pu was left at their base in case of emergencies.
Aside from the 20 piloting crew members on the starship, everyone else was a member of the Papatte Mech Squad. All of them wore silver masks, except for Old Chief Guo.
Mi Qi and the rest felt that they had made the right choice. The Papatte Mech Squad was quite something!
With their aristocratic upbringing, Mi Qi and Mi Su were more sensitive to these matters. The Papatte Mech Squad had surprised them with its competence. It even occurred to them briefly that the Papatte Mech Squad could be a trap set by the Three Aristocratic Families.
The strict discipline and obedience demonstrated by its squad members were similar to that of experienced soldiers. They also noticed that the Papatte Mech Squad’s members did not lower their guard at any time of day. Even when off duty, they walked with a militaristic gait.
As the Mi family’s eldest son, Mi Qi had seen the family’s secret troops. However, they were superior only in terms of their equipment, and would not stand a chance against the Papatte Mech Squad. While he had never seen the squad’s members fight, he could tell from their behavior and movements that they were all veteran combat experts. This was collaborated by Uncle Yun’s judgment. When Uncle Yun spoke of the squad members, his face twitched nervously. The fact that even the calm Uncle Yun would be so perturbed was disquieting to Mi Qi and Mi Su.
They never saw the 1,000 mechs escorting them, so naturally, they could not tell the quality of those mech pilots. However, just the 100 combat experts in the ship were formidable enough. Even the Douglas Mech Squad, with its numerous elite members, did not have so many skilled combat experts.
Just how could someone produce such an elite squad? The three of them wondered nervously.
However, in sharp contrast to the Papatte Mech Squad’s competence, their equipment was horrible. They were less than junk! Mi Qi remembered when he first saw a thousand rainbow-colored mechs, his first thought was, "Are they getting homeless people to make up the numbers?"
"What a pity!" Mi Qi had sighed then. He felt a deep sense of humiliation. It was like seeing a group of Jie experts wearing only loincloths, while remembering that the so-called elites at home were dressed in the best tapestries. It was not a good feeling.
Mi Su spoke mildly, "It’s hard to say, these mechs … Er … Maybe they can fly!" She was unsure as well, but her kind nature demanded her to defend the squad members. "Maybe they’re a kind of secret weapon!" Seeing Mi Qi’s unconvinced face, however, she quickly quieted down. The truth was, she did not quite believe it herself too.
Uncle Yun commented unexpectedly in his musing. "Young Miss here might be right. Perhaps it’s a kind of secret weapon. The color patches might just be a cover."
Mi Qi curled his lips. "Perhaps." His fine features expressed his disbelief.
Just then, Old Chief Guo brought a masked man with him and approached them. Smiling, he said, "Having a good time? Or is something amiss on our part?"
Mi Qi quickly replied, "Your service is excellent, we are very grateful." For safety reasons, they had all adopted fake names - Fan Qi, Fan Su and Fan Yun. Ye Chong and Old Chief Guo did not suspect a thing. As someone introduced by Fan Qing, it was only natural that they were from the Fan family.
The three of them turned their attention to the masked men beside Old Chief Guo. The masked man was tall and slender, standing out amongt the rest of the squad members, who were mostly short. They noticed during their flight that the other squad members seemed very respectful towards this masked man. The three of them were sharp, and could see that the respect was sincere. Even Squad Captain Guo would treat him with respect.
However, with his slender looks, he did not look like a combat expert. This appealed to them more. If a person who could not fight was treated with respect by so many combat experts, he must be capable in his own ways.
Ye Chong had learned long ago how to fake the appearance of an average person. He was not too shabby either, considering he had fooled even Uncle Yun. The Sang family villagers lacked this skill, their strengths entirely exposed like an unsheathed blade. It had never even occurred to them that they should keep their real potential hidden.
"Who’s this?" Mi Qi asked, as the three of them looked to the masked man beside Old Chief Guo.
"This is our squad’s tactician, Yang Ming," Old Chief Guo made that up on the spot. While he only just knew the man, he knew his character quite well. The boss would never be offended by this, and might even thank him for saving him the trouble of coming up with a fake name.
As expected, Ye Chong showed no annoyance, but merely nodded in greeting to the three clients.
The three of them were instantly impressed. It seemed that Papatte Mech Squad’s admirable performance originated from this man. No wonder he was well respected despite his weak physique.
Mi Qi’s first thought was to hire the man. Just what improvements would he bring to the Mi family’s combat capacity? The thought appealed to him, but he was not foolish enough to bring it up before the squad captain.
Mi Su studied the man with slender masked man before her. The mask covered his face entirely, but she could sense something strange from his eyes. It was an overwhelming sense of apathy, as though nothing in the world could touch his heart.
She immediately imagined a most handsome young man with a calm appearance. However, the face was a blur, like it was shrouded by a mist.
Huh? For a moment, she felt the man’s eyes studying her. It felt like an almost undetectable jolt. Her mind was curious, but her cheeks were already blushing.
Just what would she do if she knew what Ye Chong was thinking now?
"Another beauty! If Shang is here, he must be pretty excited!" Ye Chong suddenly thought of the playboy, Shang.
She stole a look at him, and her heart jolted again almost imperceptibly. The calm eyes suddenly showed a rich mix of emotions. She could see his reminiscences through his eyes.
"Beautiful ladies … " Ye Chong thought of the many times Shang tried to teach him about beauties without relent. The lips behind the mask arched slightly. He was swept by a whirlwind of memories, and one particular lady in white training garb appeared as quickly as she vanished again.