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Ves smiled as he leaned back on his observer's seat on the bridge of his flagship.
He even had time to pet Lucky's back, though the experience wasn't all that pleasant for the cat.
Ves was still wearing his full Unending Regalia while Lucky was clad in his Misfortune Harness.
"Hey, it's just a habit."
That wasn't an acceptable answer to Lucky. The cat slipped out of Ves' lap and began to fly around instead.
Ves shrugged and turned his attention back to the unfolding battle.
The two pincers of the enemy fleet had been fully contained.
Neither the Fridaymen nor the Praetors and Planats were able to get any closer to the expeditionary fleet.
Of course, the cost of doing so was considerable. Mechs blew up, cut apart, fell silent or melted into slag at a very worrying rate. All of the mechs that the Larkinson Clan had produced or procured were being reduced at rapid tempo.
The loss in value was already enormous, and would become even greater over time!
It would cost the Larkinson Clan at least hundreds of billions to replenish all of the battle losses after today.
What worried Ves and the clan even more was the loss in life. Not all of the crews of the various downed warships had managed to evacuate successfully. Mech pilots were dying at a steady rate as powerful attacks were easily capable of penetrating through their cockpits. Sometimes, the vindictive enemies purposefully shot down the cockpits ejected from fallen mechs.
The hatred boiling within their enemies ran deep! It became even more severe as the losses among the attackers mounted as well.
The right flank was fairly calm at the moment. The regular mech units of the two sides grinded against each other as if they were trying to mill wheat. The boring stalemate that had formed between the expeditionary forces and the traitor clan forces stood in stark contrast to the exciting spectacle that took place above their heads.
Three powerful expert mechs combined forces to fight against other three powerful expert mechs!
Ves had learned so many new insights about expert mechs and expert pilots. The duel between high-tier expert mechs taught him so much about their capabilities and how difficult it was to oppose them without a machine that could match them in single combat.
What Ves found very intriguing was that the expensive expert mechs were anything but one-dimensional. Even though they abided by a clear specialty, the more effective mechs seemed to incorporate a wealth of additional modules that granted additional options to the expert pilot.
The relative superiority of versatile mechs was exemplified by the limited effectiveness of the Imperial Verdict.
The trident-wielding melee mech was almost just as good as the Erin Tear in melee combat despite being of a lower tier. It possessed high mobility that allowed it to catch up with any mech that attempted to avoid getting locked in a close-ranged exchange of blows.
Yet for all of its melee prowess, the knowing Crosser expert pilots all toyed with the Imperial Verdict by keeping it at bay.
The Bolvos Rage was able to output considerable damage onto the melee mech. The Amphis was able to block and stall its attacks. The Conavis Mer was able to stay outside of the reach of the trident mech.
While Ves was sure the Imperial Verdict was able to excel against other opponents, this time the poor mech happened to be constrained by all three of its opposing expert mechs!
Personally, he favored the design of the Erin Tear more. Even if it was piloted by an opponent, the mech designer in Ves couldn't help but admire its logical design.
The Erin Tear piloted by Venerable Damira Planat excelled in melee combat, but possessed plenty of tricks that allowed her to threaten enemies out of reach. The Erin Tear's astonishing transforming weapon could be thrown and retrieved without problem. It could also form a bow and fire a powerful resonance-empowered arrow at more distant targets.
These implementations opened his eyes to how he could expand the functionality and versatility of narrowly-specialized mechs. While it was not possible to add these options in cheaper and more limited mechs, he definitely intended to try when it was time for him to design his own expert mechs!
As the battle between the six expert mechs raged on, they began to inflict serious damage to each other. Ves knew that the three-on-three death match was not going to last forever.
Regardless of what happened on the right side, Ves was more hopeful about the left side.
The various advantages brought by the Larkinson Clan confounded the Friday Coalition. While they made some on-the-fly adaptations to prevent the prime mechs from running roughshod over their forces, it was undeniable that the Bright Spear Prime, the Piranha Prime and now the Valkyrie Prime each altered the course of the battle in a significant way!
Their influence was comparable to expert mechs, if only a lot more subdued.
"I have to say that your prime mechs are wondrous mechs." Major Verle's projection remarked to Ves. "Don't get me wrong. They are not as strong as I wish to be. If Venerable Tusa piloted a real expert mech, he would have been able to break the Corundian Giants apart by now. Still, the result he has currently achieved is already good enough."
The Corundian Giants truly weren't easy to take down. Whether their merchs formed into combination mechs or merely adopted a different defensive formation, their tough space knights and powerful cannoneer mechs were always able to hang on and retaliate in some way.
Ves briefly considered whether the Living Sentinels should adopt this model. The Corundian Giants weren't mobile, but that wasn't really needed for a defensive mech troop.
At this time, Venerable Joshua and the Penitent Sisters had finished chewing through the reinforcements that attempted to relieve the Corundian Giants.
Venerable Joshua briefly hesitated whether he should bring his Valkyrie unit to assault them, but Major Verle quickly issued a different instruction.
"Your Valkyrie mechs don't have the power to punch through the defenses of the Corundian Giant space knights. You are much more useful attacking the main body of the Fridaymen forces. You need to defeat the Bloody Herons as soon as possible. They have gained the upper hand and are tearing through depleting lines."
"Understood, sir! We're on our way!"
Glows and prime mechs may have been able to frustrate the initial advances of the Fridayman elites, but that was only temporary. The adaptation speed of the excellently-trained mech pilots was very quick. They not only formed a bunch of responses against the surprises of the Larkinson Clan, but also became better at mowing down the backbone of the Glory Seeker and Cross Clan!
The military mechs of the latter were not doing so well! The grenades of the Holvein Grenadiers, the inhuman coordination between the Bloody Herons along with the powerful close-combat prowess of the Silent Swords all allowed them to defeat three mechs for every two they lost.
This was a very concerning ratio!
With the pace of the battle picking up, this meant that the Friday Coalition was rapidly gaining an advantage on this side of the battlefield!
Joshua and the Penitent Sisters couldn't afford to act conservatively anymore. Even the Valkyrie mechs piloted by the Glory Seekers charged forward and suffered continuous casualties after they impaled the prepared Fridayman mechs!
While the 200 Valkyrie Redeemers followed the Valkyrie Prime into action, a bit further ahead, the battle against the eight Fridayman expert mechs had reached its most intense moment!
The Glory Seekers and the Cross Clan not only committed to expert mechs, but more than 4000 mechs standard mechs.
Over 2000 of them had already fallen at this time!
The enemy expert mechs forcibly converged together and fought as a single unit in order to resist the flood. Even though the foreign expert pilots hardly shared anything together, the intense pressure forced all of them to develop their teamwork while under heavy fire.
Resonance shields broke. Armor plating wore down. Weapons became exhausted.
Yet despite needing to fight against thousands more standard mechs, the foreign expert pilots fighting on behalf of the Friday Coalition did not give in to the pressure!
"The Vesia Kingdom cannot survive under the heel of the Hegemony boot!" Venerable Foster snarled as her Jeanne D'Arc continued to absorb hits that were aimed at the Charlemagne. "Our mission must succeed!"
Her mech fought wilder and wilder as time went on. The mech began to wield a pair of swords and dove into the midst of the Glory Seeker and Crosser mechs in order to slice them apart without worrying about incurring any damage.
Even though the Jeanne D'Arc bore a lot of new scars, the mech steadily regenerated the damage as the Rorach's Bone integrated into it performed its function after being fed a lot of energy.
The Jeanne D'Arc was single-handedly disrupting the precise lineup of its opposition!
"Foster! Where the hell are you going?!" Venerable Ghanso questioned as his Charlemagne lost a bodyguard.
His expert mech and his diminishing number of Scarra struggled considerably against the Star Dancer.
Even though Ghanso managed to land numerous hits on the Hexer expert mech, causing it to lose its left arm as well as the legs below its knees, it still retained much of its mobility, allowing it to remain very elusive when met with Ghanso's array attacks.
Only 15 Scarra were left!
The rest had succumbed when the Star Dancer and the Leskin piloted by Banner Cross took potshots at the quasi-expert mechs whenever they had an opportunity.
The Jeanne D'Arc and the other 6 friendly expert mechs only managed to slow down the attrition. They were so busy with defending themselves that they couldn't spare enough attention to preserve the Scarra.
With each quasi-expert mech that fell, Venerable Ghanso felt as if another burden had been lifted.
His marksmanship grew sharper and his acuity in battle grew better. Even though the Star Dancer was a good expert mech piloted by a more skilled expert pilot, it had incurred too much damage!
Venerable Ghanso's grudge against Venerable Brutus and the Star Dancer continually accumulated as he concentrated most of his efforts on keeping his remaining Scarra alive.
At a certain moment of time, Ghanso's eyes shone as the Scarra mechs shone brighter than ever before.
"I've caught you!"
The powerful rifles wielded by the Scarra mech simultaneously fired a salvo enhanced positron beams that were more powerful and more accurate than ever before!
It turned out that Venerable Ghanso had been holding back his strength throughout the battle! He deliberately hid the capacity he gained after losing more and more of his accompanying quasi-expert mechs.
Only at this time did he employ all of his freed up will, concentration and skill against the Hexer expert mech he bore a grudge against.
At this time, there were too few spare Glory Seeker mechs to intercept the incoming attacks. Venerable Ghanso had already taken down hundreds of them. Sixteen powerful beams almost instantly reached the Star Dancer!
Just before Venerable Ghanso pulled the trigger, Venerable Brutus already sensed he was in the most intense crisis of his life.
Though he had dedicated his life to protecting his sister and those he loved dearly, he knew that his family would be sad if he died at this moment.
"Sometimes… I need to protect myself!"
Just before attacks landed, the Star Dancer rapidly maneuvered its frame so that its ruined legs faced the attacks head-on. This minimized its profile towards the attackers to the smallest extent possible.
Unfortunately, while fifteen of the powerful beams were destined to miss the expert rifleman mech, one of them was bound to hit right through the crotch of the Star Dancer!
An explosion of light and energy erupted from the mech as a searing white beam of antiparticles struck it from below!
"BRUTUS!" A wailing voice screamed on the bridge of the Spirit of Bentheim!
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