Chapter 3958 Compound Choices
The expeditionary fleet finally arrived in high orbit of Davute VII!
This time, their arrival attracted a lot more attention. Though the details of the Purgatory Campaign hadn't leaked to the public, rumors had already spread that the Golden Skull Alliance had returned with a massive haul of phasewater!
Though there were plenty of parties who did not find these stories credible, there were enough grifters and opportunists who eagerly tried to make contact with the Larkinson Clan and its allies.
Naturally, the overwhelming majority of strangers never managed to get past the automated AIs that initially took their calls.
Only a tiny proportion of spokespersons and representatives managed to get through and talk to actual humans.
Ves did not have to spend any attention on this matter. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs already made adequate preparations to handle the wave of popularity that arose whenever pioneering organizations returned with enormous hauls of phasewater in their reserves.
There were already plenty of anecdotes circulating around the galactic net of lucky pioneers obtaining stashes of phasewater only to lose it all due to various mistakes.
There was no way the Larkinson Clan would be gullible enough to fall for these scams.
Right now, Ves wasn't in a hurry to go on an immediate spending spree. Though it was easy to start spending lots of money right away, his clan was not short on time at the moment.
The Larkinsons chose to maintain a lower profile and only initiated routine resupply operations.
Shuttles and transports moved in and out of the expeditionary fleet as they off-loaded various minerals mined from the Garimel System.
Though the revenue earned from selling these ordinary exotics was miniscule, the Larkinsons did not become profligate just because they had hundreds of kilograms of phasewater in their vault.
The demand of phasewater was too high compared to its supply!
It was a lot harder to regain this substance when they got rid of it. As a strategic material with many wondrous properties, the clan needed to make sure they obtained an even greater benefit from trading phasewater.
Using phasewater to pay for ordinary supplies was a hugely wasteful transaction!
Therefore, the clan did not despise the revenue generated from selling the mineral excavated from one of the moons of the Garimel System.
The Purgatory Campaign may have stolen all of the limelight of the last expedition, but the Andrenidae had quietly fulfilled her mining duties and filled up a lot of cargo holds with valuable exotics.
The Larkinson Clan had no problem finding suitable buyers for all of the excavated ores. The Resource shortage on the market was so great that growing colonies were desperate to buy any useful building material even if there was a lot of variety.
The sales of these random materials generated enough money to help the clan make up for its material losses.
The biggest priority was to make up for the shortages in energy cells, fuel cells, ammunition and other consumables. The Larkinson Army hadn't fought a lot but already expended a lot of combat supplies in numerous battles against the fish-whales.
It couldn't be helped as the natives of the phase whale enclave were big and meaty creatures that had a lot of numbers on their side. The Swarmer fish-whales were especially costly to fight against because it took a lot of firepower to neutralize all of their cannon fodder.
The next priority of the Larkinson Clan should be to restore the strength of its mech legions.
This was a more complicated issue as the Larkinsons had to decide whether to prioritize rebuilding older mechs or settle for producing the newer models.
Although the Larkinson Clan was able to restore a lot of damaged mechs, it still needed to fill a hole of around 500 or so mechs.
"Don't build anymore Bright Warriors, Ferocious Piranhas, Valkyrie Redeemers and so on." Ves told Chief Minister Raymond Billingsley-Larkinson, who was usually in charge of the production side of the clan. "All of these mech models are good, but they are showing their age. Aside from the latest variant of the Ferocious Piranha, all of our older models are rim-level products based on old-galaxy materials and old-galaxy component designs. It's only a matter of time before they will be phased out and replaced by newer models."
Raymond nodded in agreement. "Good choice. Some of our mech pilots will miss the opportunity to pilot these older but reliable mechs, but what comes next is a time of renewal. Our demand for immediate combat solutions will not be as high in the coming years."
Ves already decided not to go on another expedition for a time, so there was no great urgency in bringing the Larkinson Army back to full capacity.
The Larkinsons could take it slowly and slowly reform the mech legions so that they adopted the most modern and effective mix of mech models.
That didn't mean that Ves intended for the Spirit of Bentheim to remain idle all of this time.
"You can start producing a bunch of the new Larkinson-exclusive models such as the Stingripper, the Redaxe, the Rigid Wall, the Rigid Spine, the Transcendent Charger and those auxiliary mechs." He told the chief minister. "We have plenty of time so don't rush them off our production lines. Tell the production crews to take it slow and focus on quality. If nothing goes wrong, our mech pilots will depend on these new machines for many years."
"Understood, Ves. The Production Department will focus on quality over efficiency. Do you wish for us to bring our plans to overhaul the Spirit of Bentheim's production facilities forward? If we invest in newer and more modern production lines right away, our crews will get a head start in learning how to operate the new machines. Better equipment will also allow us to produce mechs at faster speeds while reaching higher qualities."
"Let's not rush this important project." Ves shook his head. "Besides, upgrading the production lines will massively increase the energy consumption of our factory ship. We will have to upgrade the power reactors along with a bunch of other systems as well. This is a massive transformation that can't be done in piecemeal. Let us wait until we have formed more comprehensive plans. For now, just focus on filling up our available mech capacity with the newer mech models. We still need to bring our military strength back to par in order to guard against the unexpected."
Even though Ves intended to lay low for a few years, that didn't mean he wanted to get caught flat-footed if a crisis emerged at an unexpected time.
The Davute System was never completely safe. If a massive alien retribution fleet suddenly arrived, it would be too late for his clan to raise its combat strength!
After they decided on how to fill up the missing spots in the Larkinson Clan's carrier vessels, Chief Minister Raymond brought up another important topic.
"One of your plans calls for constructing a large planet-based compound, is that correct?"
Ves nodded. "We need to build a large and complete manufacturing complex in order to produce our own mechs. It's all well and good to license our mechs to external parties such as the Wild Fighter Association, but we will be forgoing a lot of profits if we continue to outsource our production."
A real mech company took charge of every step of its value chain. The costs were higher but the profits were even more so due to cutting out all of the middlemen.
What Ves valued even more than profits was control. He did not want the LMC to remain too dependent on the whims of business partners and vendors. The latter always prioritized their own interests over that of the Larkinson Clan, and that meant that they could never be relied upon in the long run.
There were no eternal allies in the business world. Ves had learned that lesson as soon as Marcella Bollinger, his first true business partner, stabbed him in the back.
Raymond had no objections to this expansion plan. Space was incredibly scarce in the expeditionary fleet, so the clan experienced a lot of difficulties in realizing some of its ambitions.
Now that the clan was about to buy a large plot of land, the lack of space would no longer be a pressing problem!
"We have numerous different options when it comes to buying land to construct our first terrestrial compound in the Red Ocean." Raymond explained as he activated a projection that showed a list of possible candidates. "First, you need to decide whether you want us to settle in Davute or another star system."
Ves rubbed his smooth-shaven chin as he studied the selected sites. He already considered this matter extensively, but he was not entirely certain of his choice.
"What do you think, Raymond?"
"This is not a straightforward choice. There are advantages and disadvantages to every plot of land. Some are cheaper while others are more expensive. Some are located near a lot of industrial infrastructure while others are located in rural areas. It is easier for us to gain permission to build more extensive facilities on rural planets, but we will have to solve a lot of problems by ourselves. In contrast, a port system such as Davute offers much greater access to industrial infrastructure and other services. However, the laws are much more restrictive here and we will also be under much more scrutiny than normal."
There was no wrong choice per se. No matter what the Larkinsons chose, they could always make it work as long as they put in enough effort.
"I can't make a decision by myself." Ves said. "This matter is too important to be decided on a whim. Let's schedule a meeting where we can discuss this among our advisors. We need more input from different people in order to make the best and most rational decision. Once we build the compound, we will remain attached to our chosen planet for a long time."
"By the way, you haven't told me your preference yet, Raymond. Do you prefer to settle in Davute or a rural planet?"
"Personally, I think we should consider a third option."
"And that is…?"
"Colonizing our own planet." Raymond replied. "It does not have to be a major investment. It can just be a private retreat where we can build up a modest community that is centered around producing mechs, performing research and other mundane activities. By opting to found our own colony rather than immigrating to an existing one, we can completely shape every aspect of its society, infrastructure and defense forces. I wouldn't have mentioned this option to you a few months ago, but our conditions have radically improved. With all of our newfound wealth, we can afford to invest in our colony without breaking the bank."
"...Let's not make any quick decisions." Ves eventually said.
He feared that Raymond was not the only Larkinson who developed the ambition to claim a star system and build a colony.
The windfall of phasewater and MTA merits had increased the appetite of his clansmen!
It was not unusual to encounter Larkinsons with delusions of grandeur these days. Their behavior and ideas disturbed Ves and caused him to be a lot more careful on his spending plans.
"If you don't want to found your own colony, then I suggest you settle for buying a rural plot of territory in Davute." Raymond said. "The port system's political environment may be a lot murkier than we would like, but gaining easy access to so many goods and services more than makes up for it. We can also provide a better living environment for the Larkinsons that temporarily or permanently reside on the planet. In fact, even if you decide to settle on a more remote planet, I suggest you invest in a more modest compound in Davute as well, just so you can address the living needs of our clansmen."
"Hm, that is actually a good idea."