The Mech Touch Chapter 487 Impromptu Duel
The consequences of failure was unimaginable. In the strong hierarchical culture of the Vesians, mech pilots under the service of a House carried a lot of responsibility. Failure to safeguard the lives of their charges often led to imprisonment or execution to those who failed to do their duties.
Yet as much as they tried to reinforce their liege, the battles they fought in the previous days had sapped much of their strength. Even now, many Vandal mechs spread out in Neron City tried to drag on their heels and force them to stop.
"Rescue the Lord!"
"Rescue the Lord!"
Many of the Vesian mechs that survived up to now consisted of second-line and law enforcement units. They weren't equipped for a full-scale war and their mech pilots found it hard to match the skill of the Vandal mechs that harried their footsteps.
Aerial mechs also started to emerge in the skies. With the exposure of most anti-air turrets in Neron City, the Vandal forces made good progress into clearing them all out. Much of the hidden turrets that remained belonged to mercenaries and other private forces. They would never dare to fire them at the Vandals for fear of attracting their wrath.
This basically led to a wild battle in the skies where the Vandal Aerial forces continued to harass the Vesian forces spread out in the city. Sometimes, aerial mechs from both sides clashed high up in the air, though the Vandals slowly managed to gain an edge due to their better skill.
As for the underground rebel base, a lot of rebels stayed behind to support their comrades. The Detemen League held numerous strategic positions in Neron City and assisted the Vandals in slowing down the enemy from reinforcing Lord Javier.
"It's getting increasingly harder to stop the household troops." Addy said. "They are too persistent in trying to reach their Lord. Our auxiliary troops aren't meant to battle mechs head-on, and your Vandals are too spread out to slow down larger concentrations of mechs."
"Do the best you can." Ves replied. "The battle at the former recycling plant won't end so soon."
"Can't you do anything to help?"
"I've already relayed my analyses on the mechs piloted by Lord Javier and his honor guard. I can't determine much more than that because these are very polished mechs."
Ves felt a bit useless at this stage. He only managed to figure out the basic specs and some tentative weak points for each mech model. None of them were easy to deal with, and only the rifleman mechs could be taken out quickly if they became exposed to concentrated fire.
The real threat came from the tiger mechs and the Loquacious Raphael. The former proved to be an adept prowler in the ruins. They took full advantage of their ability to navigate the ruinous terrain in order to flank the Vandals.
As for the Raphael, the hero mech proved its valiance with each mech or hovertank it managed to fell. However, this time it met its match when Captain Orfan tried to run interference on its rampage.
"The righteous won't be stopped! Twin Star Slash!"
The Vandal spearman mech deftly blocked the predictable sequence of slashes with its spear and sent out a counter-attack right after. The Raphael quickly brandished its rifle and fired another shell to force Captain Orfan back.
"Why don't you look into the mirror to find a villain!" She yelled out as she went back on the offensive. Her spearman mech stabbed forth in a flurry of blows that forced the Raphael to back off. "A monster to his own people doesn't deserve to take on the mantle of a hero!"
Lord Javier wordlessly growled back. His eloquence deteriorated over the course of their impromptu duel. The captain was twice as hard to deal with compared to his previous opponents. Despite not carrying a shield, Captain Orfan abused the reach of her spear to interrupt his powerful combo attacks.
"You won't take me down that easily! Twin Star Helix!" He yelled as his mech unleashed one of its signature attacks.
Its rotating sword clanged against the shaft of the spear and got pushed to the side. The Raphael had to fire another shell in order to stop the spearman mech from following through.
On and on the two mechs tried to gain the advantage. While Captain Orfan possessed just as much skill, she also benefited from a much richer battle experience than her opponent. She employed her rich bag of tricks to unsettle Javier and throw him off balance.
Sadly, none of her attacks managed to deal more than a scratch on the Raphael. While it was clearly geared towards offense, its excellent armor system enabled Lord Javier to take risks he ordinarily couldn't afford to take. It withstood many blows that would have crippled many other mechs.
Ves studied the performance of the armor system in detail. The more he witnessed its incredible resilience, the more he felt he was out of his depth. "I'm not familiar with this type of armor. It's too effective!"
"Is the Raphael invincible?" Addy asked in a worried tone.
"No mech is invincible. Not even the machines piloted by god pilots can make this kind of claim. There's definitely a way to dismantle its armor. We just have to figure it out."
Ves always kept an eye on the Raphael since the start of the battle. Ves studied its armor carefully and noted that it did particularly well against all types of damage, fom lasers to bladed weapons. The armor system appeared capable of resisting all conventional damage types without compromising anything.
Yet Ves still clung to the belief that its amazing performance hinged on a secret or two. Once he figured it out, Lord Javier wouldn't be so cocky anymore.
"It's too difficult." He whispered. He stared hard at the Raphael and attempted to connect to it in the imaginary realm. He never attempted such an act before, but he was grasping at straws at this point.
Surprisingly, distance mattered surprisingly little when it came to such probes. It was enough to look at the Raphael from a projection. The powerful and vivid depiction of its duel against Captain Orfan's mech allowed Ves to pinpoint its location with perfect accuracy. Just as his mental probe brushed against the Raphael, something happened.
Ves jerked back and held his head in pain. Something powerful and foreign rejected his mental probe.
"What happened?!" Addy asked as she placed a hand on his head.
"I'm fine, I'm fine! It's just an accident."
He nursed his head as his mentality tried to recover back to normal. The probe had utterly and completely failed to make a dent. Why did the mech reject his mental approach?
Ves tried to parse the flavors he tasted at the moment of contact. Between pride, confidence and belief, Ves thought he touched upon something more than the simple concepts that Mr. Reeve unconsciously bestowed on his custom work. It felt… greater, and inviolable.
"It's like I touched upon the mind of a human being!"
No, that didn't sound accurate to him. Perhaps he brushed against something more than a single mech or human being. A suspicion began to grow within his mind.
"Is this the strength of a human mind and mech working in unison?"
The mental construct from their combination felt surprisingly powerful. It contained the purity and rigidity of a mech, and combined it with the spark of life and intelligence of a human being.
From the Raphael's continued struggles against the spearman mech, Lord Javier probably hadn't felt a thing from his attempted intrusion.
"Okay, esoteric mind voodoo doesn't work either."
A mech designer couldn't work miracles. Ves guessed that someone like Alloc or the other Journeymen attached to the Vandals wouldn't have much luck either. The Loquacious Raphael was really something else.
Captain Orfan's spearman mech started to become increasingly more ragged in its defense. The mech she appropriated from the Dastardly Handsome Bastards might be one of their better mechs, but she felt regretful about the fact that it wasn't a military-grade mech. It came with several shortcomings and differences in configuration that made it hard for her to draw out its full strength.
"Is your mech getting tired? Do you want to take a break?" Lord Javier asked with mock sincerity. His mech was still going strong.
"I will keep you here until the end of time if possible!"
Not a lot of mech pilots among the Vandals could match Captain Orfan's skill. She knew that if she pulled away from this duel, the Loquacious Raphael would go back to slaughtering the weaker Vandal mechs and hovertanks.
"Haha! Don't lie to me! You're at the end of your rope! Finishing move! Twin Star Extinction Comet!"
Captain Orfan hadn't witnessed this move before. Expecting a heavy blow, her mech pulled back its spear and gripped it tightly in anticipation for a block.
Instead, the Raphael's rifle arm glowed extremely bright. Just as Captain Orfan's eyes widened and commanded her mech to dodge, the Raphael fired a spread of five radiant shells. Just before they reached her spearman mech, they exploded, buffeting her mech with multiple shockwaves.
Through the fading blasts of the explosions, the Raphael emerged from behind and stabbed its sword downwards while firing off the final shell in the magazine of its rifle.
The shell exploded against the spearman mech's chest armor, which lost most of its layers already from suffering multiple blasts. Captain Orfan couldn't afford to think about that though as her mech hastily parried the plunging attack.
Unfortunately, the force behind the Raphael's attack and the previous shelling had destabilized the spearman mech's footing. No matter her skill in piloting mechs, Captain Orfan couldn't go against the laws of physics. Her mech helplessly fell onto its back, exposing it to the Raphael's finishing move.
"Get away from the captain!"
The Vandals had rearranged their formation in the choke point and brought a couple of rifleman mechs forward. They fired at the Raphael in front of them with no regard to trigger discipline. Nonetheless, their accuracy and familiarity with their weapons allowed them to concentrate their fore on the Raphael's weapon arms.
Javier scowled as he urged his Raphael to retreat back to cover. "I may have let you off today, but I'll finish you myself after I deal with these insects!"
The Raphael might appear impervious to ranged damage, but Lord Javier always acted prudently and sought for cover before his mech could take much of a beating. He also needed to reload his rifle.
The Vandals took no notice of his words. Instead, a pair of melee mechs surged forth and dragged the downed spearman mech with their powerful arms. They couldn't afford to lose Captain Orfan or her mech, as she was the only Vandal so far to last against the Raphael's offensive.
"This is getting nowhere!" Addy slammed her fist against a console in frustration. The lack of progress in capturing or killing Lord Javier gnawed at everyone. "Neither their ranged mechs nor their tiger mechs are downed! What is this? We outnumber them!"
"We're losing our numbers advantage." Ves noted from his seat. "Don't forget how many mechs and hovertanks they've taken out. Our Vandal mechs and your hovertanks aren't equipped to take out an elite force of mechs, especially in bad terrain like this."
Though the hovertanks managed to pepper the honor guard mechs from a distance, their relative fragility allowed the Vesian ranged mechs to take them out rather easily. It only took a handful of hits to destroy them. Therefore, Commander Breskin ordered most hovertanks to retreat after suffering one or two direct hits.
"I think we have to make some sacrifices." Addy concluded. She flickered through various ideas in her mind.