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As soon as the Everchanger showed up, the viewership numbers spiked.
It was one thing to test an expert mech in a typical testing session.
It was another thing to pit the same machine against another expert mech!
Spars like these were rare spectacles because most organizations did not take the initiative to broadcast the performance of their high-ranking mechs.
Information was power. Publicizing even a portion of the performance and the battle tactics of an expert mech might grant enemies a decisive advantage in a future battle!
However, it was not unheard of for the public to be able to witness the prowess of expert mechs.
Conflicts such as the Komodo War often produced a lot of battle footage that got leaked on the galactic net.
While the owners and users of the expert mechs did not wish to publicize the performance of their machines, the same did not hold true to their opponents.
There were also other organizations that might possess similar considerations to that of the Larkinson Clan.
In regions where reputation and demonstrations of power were essential for groups to remain in power, it was not uncommon for them to selectively show off their expert mechs in choreographed shows.
However, ever since people started to pour into the Red Ocean and settle in the newly conquered territories, none of the groups from Davute had taken the initiative to show off an expert mech.
Today, the Larkinson Clan not only took the initiative to present the C-Man, but it also showcased the power of the Everchanger!
Naturally, the Larkinsons did not intend to show off every single feature of the two expert mechs.
While Ves was more willing to reveal the secrets of the C-Man than the Everchanger, he still wanted the two machines to retain a few surprises.
As such, neither expert pilots were allowed to go all out in their effort to defeat their sparring opponent.
Right now, Venerable Joshua felt a little bad because the clan patriarch had prohibited him from making use of the interesting new resonating abilities that he had developed as of late.
For example, he could add a bit of extra punch to his ranged attacks by working together with the Illustrious One.
He could also boost the speed of his expert mech by borrowing the power of another design spirit.
However, these prime abilities were all quite new and had yet to be exposed on the galactic net. The Larkinsons wanted Joshua to keep his versatile bag of tricks under wraps so that anyone who thought they had the Everchanger figured out would be met with a nasty surprise if they ever launched an attack!
It was unfortunate that this also left Venerable Joshua without as many options to fend off his pursuer.
"How am I supposed to beat the C-Man if I have to fight with one of my arms tied behind my back?"
He knew that the fight would be a lot more even as a result.
To be fair, Venerable Vincent did not have the time to develop his own distinct techniques as of yet. The differences between the two expert pilots became a lot less pronounced as a result!
While Venerable Joshua still possessed numerous advantages as an expert pilot, Vincent did not feel as if he had no hopes of overpowering his sparring partner.
He was confident that his expert mech was superior to that of Joshua's!
The C-Man might not be as old as the Everchanger, but the former clearly displayed its superiority on a technical level.
"You can't run!" Vincent roared as his expert mech continually closed the distance to the Everchanger!
Still, the C-Man was having a harder and harder time of coping against the constant barrage of incoming attacks.
The power of a resonance shield was highly related to the resonance strength of the expert mech.
Not only that, but the damage inflicted by resonance-empowered attacks were also proportionate to the resonance strength of the expert pilot who launched them in the first place.
Joshua was significantly far ahead from Vincent in this regard! It couldn't be helped as the former had advanced considerably earlier and grown quite a bit with the help of a masterwork expert mech.
This advantage would have become a lot more pronounced if the Everchanger switched to firing light beams with its Vitalus rifle.
Sadly, Joshua wasn't allowed to demonstrate this rare but extremely effective firing mode, so he could only make do with positron beams at most!
While the C-Man's first layer of protection had grown awfully ragged as time went by, Venerable Vincent did not show any distress.
In any duel between expert mechs, the state of their resonance shields was an important indicator of their relative states.
The C-Man was already at a disadvantage due to its inability to retaliate from a distance!
Even so, Vincent did not pay attention to this at all. The only fact he cared about was that his expert mech was about to enter into striking range of the Everchanger!
"Your mech is pretty great, Joshua. I admit that I looked up to you and your machine for several years, but that is in the past. Now that I have caught up to you, I will show you who deserves to be the real golden boy of the Larkinson Clan!"
Even though there was still quite a few meters of distance between the two machines, the C-Man struck out with an arm that spontaneously elongated into an increasingly more narrow lance!
Empowered by true resonance, the remarkably sharp and deadly lance failed to penetrate the Everchanger's fresh and potent resonance shield.
The blow still managed to inflict a lot of damage, however!
The Everchanger and the C-Man continued to exchange blows against each other. Their resonance shields continued to flare and drain in cohesion as they endured repeated attacks.
It did not matter too much whether they were struck by energy beams or physical impacts. Damage was damage and there were limits to how much these reality-distorting fields could endure.
Predictably, the C-Man's resonance shield popped first!
Though the golden corona surrounding the newer expert faded first, the C-Man fearlessly withstood the follow-up attacks.
It was at this point where the new smart armor system showed its strength!
"You can do it, C-Man." Vincent grinned even as his mech got struck again and again. "We're invincible as long as we have our TESMAS!"
At this time, the C-Man only energized its TESMAS to a modest degree. This already granted the expert mech a notable amount of resistance against the incoming attacks at the cost of depleting its energy reserves faster.
The expert mech effortlessly withstood damage that should have at least left a mark onto other expert mechs!
"Fight me like a real man, Joshua!" Vincent called as his blood pumped hotter. "There's only one way for us to prove who is the better man on this field!"
"Fine, then! If you want a brawl, then come get it. Just don't cry if I kick your butt!"
The Everchanger decisively retracted and holstered its Vitalus rifle behind its back. The mech held its Heartsword in a two-handed grip so that it could add extra strength to its swing!
"Let me show you what my wife has taught me over the years!"
The hero mech's sword became surrounded by an ominous black corona as Venerable Joshua utilized the sword developed by Ketis to arouse the power of the Annihilator Sword Style!
Practically anything solid that got struck by such a deadly resonance manifestation would definitely suffer a grievous cut!
However, the C-Man fearlessly met the incoming attack by crossing its arms and pumping more energy to its frontal limbs.
As the nanomachines located in the limbs received more energy than ever before, the tiny but sophisticated devices stimulated the minute drops of phasewater that was present in some of them and produced a powerful spatial effect in front of the C-Man!
Black and golden sparks spread from the impact site as an invisible spatial field that appeared just before the crossed arms.
The Everchanger did not give up and launched additional attacks in order to overcome the phasic defenses produced by the C-Man's expensive TESMAS.
Vincent became more and more ecstatic at how much damage his new expert mech could withstand!
"Hahaha! Don't you see? My resonance stuff might not be as good as yours, but my mech is all about the tech! Who cares about your Unending alloy when I have phasewater at my disposal? Let me show you what else I can do with my TESMAS!"
After staying on the defense for a time, the C-Man suddenly went on the offensive and started to launch punches despite getting struck by the Heartsword.
The C-Man showed no visible reaction to getting hit by the empowered sword because its energized smart armor easily blocked any incoming damage.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
The Everchanger was not as relaxed as the C-Man's energized fists continually pounded on its resonance shield.
The blows were not only fast, but also surprisingly powerful! Even though the energized TESMAS did not work on the same principles as true resonance, its power was not that weak in many aspects.
Phasewater was not a coveted material for nothing and the C-Man showed that the spatial effects produced by the TESMAS had caught up to the power of true resonance!
Many clever and knowledgeable observers developed a much greater interest in the new expert mech's smart armor system.
"This TESMAS is considerably more powerful than the other smart metal systems I came in touch with. I thought that the claims that it was capable of resisting attacks from expert mechs was exaggerated, but now I see that there may be merit to these claims."
"Can a mech piloted by low-ranking mech pilot finally put up a fair fight against an expert mech with this smart armor system?"
"Don't dream about it! Have you seen the price of this new armor system? You can commission an entire fleet carrier with how much phasewater it takes to equip a single mech!"
The realization that the C-Man essentially relied on an immense budget advantage to compete against the Everchanger dampened people's evaluation of Venerable Vincent a bit, but that did not mean that Vincent was irrelevant.
His fearlessness and courage rose to a new peak! He fully entrusted the defense of his mech to its TESMAS and completely focused on overpowering the Everchanger through brute force!
Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!
The C-Man's fists kept pounding against the Everchanger until the latter's resonance shield finally succumbed!
Though both expert mechs also possessed technological shield generators, neither of them bothered with activating these systems. They were much weaker and only delayed the inevitable as far as both mech pilots were concerned.
Instead, both Vincent and Joshua concentrated on applying as much damage to their targets!
The Everchanger no longer ran away but proactively dodged and weaved around as it sought to strike the slightly less agile C-Man from different angles.
For its own part, the C-Man did not let the Everchanger's movements stop it from landing its attacks.
The C-Man fully took advantage of its energized TESMAS by continually stretching out its limbs to strike at the Everchanger when the latter was supposed to be out of range.
Although the C-Man landed considerably heavy blows, the problem was that the Everchanger's defenses were absurdly strong even in the Red Ocean!
Only a rare number of expert mechs possessed stronger armor systems than the expert hero mech. The Unending alloy that Ves had lavished on most of his early expert mechs offered unparalleled defense, all without needing to be fed with electrical energy in order to sustain its properties!
Vincent grimaced though he wasn't particularly surprised at this outcome. It was hard to deal a heavy blow to the Everchanger as long as it kept moving around.
"If this is the case, then let me show you why my C-Man is the nemesis of melee mechs!"
Vincent completely abandoned his previous approach and switched over to a new combat strategy.
The C-Man's limbs suddenly lost shape as they became fluid and malleable. After Vincent issued another command, the stringy limbs shot forward and left no room for the Everchanger to escape the incoming nanomachines!
"The green mech got caught!"
There was no escape from the C-Man's capturing limbs at this distance!
Only one of the four tendrils of nanomachines had to latch on to the Everchanger's frame for the other three tendrils to quickly follow suit.
Now that the C-Man had caught hold of the Everchanger, it was extremely difficult for the latter to rid itself of these bonds.
Already, the energized TESMAS solidified and maintained a firm grip of its target.
Though the Everchanger attempted to remove the nanomachines by striking sections of them with its Heartsword, the outcome of these attacks were just as ineffectual as before.
"Damnit! What does it take for me to get rid of these nanomachines?! They're unkillable!"
As Joshua tried several different methods to free his expert mech from its new smart metal shackles, the C-Man slowly reeled its torso closer by shrinking its elongated limbs.
Venerable Vincent had only one problem, though.
The C-Man's limbs were all preoccupied. While the expert mech could take a risk and release one of its arms in order to launch repeated punches, why bother doing so when the C-Man still retained a free and unused limb?
Venerable Joshua's intuition suddenly alerted him to a terrible threat. As he checked his expert mech's rear sensors, he gradually noticed that the C-Man was in the process of 'arming' its 'third leg'.
"Oh hell no, Vincent. Don't do it, man."
"Hahaha! Why not? Your Everchanger is completely trapped and exposed. This is the perfect attack vector for this situation! I suggest you get ready, Joshua, because I'm about to launch my thrust attack!"
"OH HELL NO!"
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