The Mech Touch Chapter 1164
1162 Waltz Nexbern
The much-anticipated mech duel between Axelar Streon and Waltz Nexbern, the team leader of the Haspel Asps, was about to begin.
Nexbern previously piloted the heavy cannoneer, but that was not all he was capable of. Every professional in the Terran mech games circuit tended to be allrounders.
Adaptability was a requirement in order to pilot hundreds of different mechs a year. They also needed to learn how to cope against a thousand different mech configurations as their adversaries.
Whereas the mech duelists in the Bright Republic like Jarl Brenthill and Raella Larkinson often stuck to a single mech which gained fame alongside of them, the Terrans played a very different game!
"In the Bright Republic, both the mech and mech pilots are the stars." Ves mentally noted as Axelar was about to enter his new mech. "In the Terran Confederation, the mech games are only stages for mech pilots to show off their versatility and their ability to outplay the endless amount of confounding challenges in their way."
In the Terran dueling circuit, It was rare for a specific mech configuration to last more than a single match, much less use it in another match. Once a dueling mech entered the arena, its strengths and weaknesses all became public knowledge. An opponent could easily tailor their mechs to counter a specific configuration as long as they received advance warning!
In the Bright Republic, the mech athletes adopted different customs. Everyone's specialty was known and it was extremely rare for a mech athlete to pilot a different mech type. In addition, they usually stuck to a single specific mech model in all of their matches in order to develop a deep familiarity with their fighting machines.
"Each side knows everything there is to know about their opponent. That often leads to interesting dynamics and mind games."
That said, while the mech athletes were loath to switch to a different mech model, they accepted the need for modification. Mech designers who specialized in modifying and customizing dueling mechs knew the mech models intimately and could implement preplanned modifications within an hour as long as the team stockpiled the necessary spare parts.
When Ves designed the Ouroboros, he knew it would be useless to predict what Waltz would bring to the next fight.
Rather than obsessing over Waltz's next mech configuration, Ves instead turned his focus towards making the Ouroboros as strong as possible while relying on only two weapon systems.
Right now, Axelar beheld his mech with stumped amazement as he entered its cockpit and booted it up. He couldn't believe Benny's claim that he designed such an abnormal mech!
"I already know I'm insane when I'm sober, but I've gone completely off my rockers this time! How can I design something as stupid as an antiquated hero mech! Two weapons! Just two weapons! That's five times less than what I normally put into my mechs!"
Anyone who designed a hero mech these days in the Terran Confederation was mad enough to be put into a psychiatric treatment facility! Axelar ought to be visiting one right now instead of using a hero mech to fight against a mech athlete!
"Waltz is going to kick my butt!"
Although he may act like he was hot stuff, Axelar was very cognizant about his fighting ability. His high genetic aptitude carried him far, but he hadn't been keeping up with his training lately.
He also possessed very little combat experience, which stood in stark contrast to Waltz who survived through thousands of matches over his long and illustrious career!
When comparing mech pilots, Axelar was clearly inferior to Waltz. As for comparing their mechs, it was an utter disaster to Axelar! A mech with just two weapons was about to step into battle against a mech with at least a dozen different solutions!
"There's no way I can win!" Axelar despaired!
Yet when he finally interfaced with the Ouroboros, his panic suddenly became more muted. A sense of intimacy and connection welled from his mech. It felt as if he reconnected to a piece of himself!
None of the mechs he ever designed made him feel this way!
From the corner of Axelar's mind, Ves' consciousness observed the interaction closely. Although the materialization process significantly weakened the presence of the X-Factor in the Ouroboros, it had not disappeared entirely.
Somehow, the design spirit of the Ouroboros managed to power through the obstacles and make its presence known in the only existing copy of the mech!
That wasn't all. As Axelar began to deepen his connection with his mech, Ves inadvertently felt a pull on his Spirituality.
The X-Factor of the Ouroboros reacted to his presence in Axelar's mind!
"The Ouroboros carries my spiritual imprint as well! It's not surprising for the mech to recognize its maker!"
This was the first time that Ves charged the X-Factor of his mech with his spiritual energy. It was also the first time he rode in someone's mind as they interfaced with a mech he designed himself.
All of these changes led to several new interactions that Ves had never witnessed before!
For now, Ves couldn't quite figure out the purpose of his connection to the Ouroboros. He wasn't the mech pilot, nor did he interface directly with his mech like Axelar. The connection was rather weak as well so he doubted he could influence the mech's performance in his current state.
"There's something else going on as well."
His design seed had always been radiating spiritual waves without rhyme or reason. Ves was getting rather concerned about it because it seemed as if it was signalling its presence to dangerous predators like a lantern in the dark.
Now, he found out that the Ouroboros was actually absorbing the spiritual waves! Despite the very close proximity, the mech didn't absorb all of the waves put out by his design seed, but it was nonetheless eating up a considerable amount!
"What is the purpose of this interaction?" Ves questioned. "Is this something unique to my design philosophy or does every Journeyman's design seed interact with their mechs in this fashion?"
For now, Ves believed that this phenomenon along with all the other novel interactions would lead to some pleasant surprises.
As Ves mused about the possible effects, Axelar tentatively flew out of the gates and into the three-dimensional arena battlefield.
"Light atmosphere. One solid meteorite landmass. No gravity." He silently muttered immediately after passing through the arena shield boundary.
Light atmosphere meant his positron rifle would waste some energy with each shot. His mech would be able to disperse some heat through the thin air, but not very much. The lack of gravity meant that the feet of his mech wouldn't see much use in the upcoming battle.
The large, floating rocky meteorite placed in the center of the arena space was the only environmental feature of this impending duel. It was large enough to serve as solid cover, but according to the scanners of his Ouroboros, it was a plain nickel-iron asteroid, so couldn't withstand against a lot of firepower that first-class Terran mechs regularly unleashed!
However, as Axelar came off his analysis, he suddenly realized that the audience paused for a moment before erupting in laughter, shock, and ridicule!
"Do you have a split personality or something, Axelar?!"
"He's joking, right?! Why else would he bring out a mech with a jester's color scheme?"
"Look at the lack of ports on the mech frame! Is my sight bad or does that mech not have any other modules?"
That last detail overtook the reactions of the hero mech's unusual visual design. The large and highly detailed projections zooming in on the mechs gave most of the audience members a very good view of the dueling mechs.
While Waltz Nexbern brought out a heavy mech that appeared to be stuffed with modules from all the retractable ports spread over its entire frame, the surface of Axelar's mech was as smooth as that of a baby!
The audience couldn't actually figure out whether Axelar's mech did an exceptionally good job at hiding its weapon ports or if it really didn't carry anymore weapon systems!
At this time, the announcer began to rouse the crowd. "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! Terrans of the Radiant Pulsar Star Sector, get ready for some action as two radically different mechs and mech pilots are about to prove whether Tyon or Haspel deserves to hold the crown!"
The crowd cheered for the mech pilot they rooted for! While a lot of people from different star systems made it to the Cuba Arena today, at least half of the audience were still locals from the Tyon System.
Yet despite having the home advantage, the stunned audience still hadn't gotten over Axelar's unusual mech! The enthusiasm coming from the Tyon citizens were noticeably lackluster!
"In one corner of the arena, we have Waltz Nexbern, the leader of the Haspel Asps! Right now, he is piloting a very big multipurpose mech called the War General! Just look at this huge mech! Unlike yesterday, Waltz isn't going to be relying on mobility to win his match!"
Most of the out-system visitors stood up from their seats and cheered for Waltz! Compared to an elite clansman like Axelar who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, they respected Waltz a lot more due to fighting his way to the top of the mech games!
"In the other corner of the arena, we have the esteemed Master Axelar of the Streon Clan! He has taken upon himself to defend the honor of the Tyon System yesterday, and has made the unusual step of bringing a hero mech into the fight! Yes, you heard me right, the Ouroboros he designed by himself is actually a hero mech!"
That led to a lot of surprised gasps and shouts from the locals. How could Axelar be stupid enough to bring an antiquated mech type into a modern mech duel?!
"It seems that Axelar is so confident in himself that he has metaphorically tied one of his hands behind his back! There's no doubt his choice of mechs is a clear, naked provocation to the Haspels!"
"No no no!" Axelar screamed from his cockpit. "I'm not trying to provoke anyone! I was just crazy when I designed this mech!"
"Let us see whether Axelar's can back up his boundless confidence! Will the clansman be able to prove his superiority or will Waltz be able to show that hard work trumps all? Let the mech duel BEGIN!"
With an explosion of light and sound, the duel formally commenced!
While Axelar immediately adopted a defensive posture with the Ouroboros, Waltz took the time to broadcast his voice through the public communication channels and in the air!
"Axelar, I don't know what you are thinking by bringing a hero mech into our duel, but don't think I'll go easy on you despite your clan affiliation! The mech games is a fair competition where only skill, preparation and sound judgement matters! If you think you can mock me by bringing only two pitiful weapons to the fight, then think again! I won't hold back just because of your high birth!"
The Haspel team leader's War General finally exploded into action! A dozen different detachable modules exploded from the abnormally heavy and bulging rear module of his mech and spread out rapidly in each corner of the arena!
"Go! Lock down my opponent, my soldiers!"
The modules anchored in place before discharging wide-area fields that immediately disturbed and weighed down Axelar's mech!
"Damnit, I can't move my mech!" Axelar panicked!
Six modules left the War General's frame and quickly surrounded the immobilized Ouroboros from each cardinal direction!
"Blind my opponent, my soldiers!"
Heavy interference fields bore down on the Ouroboros, disturbing all of its sensor systems and some of its more sensitive electronics!
Eight modules exploded from the War General soon after. They spread out in the corners of the arena, allowing them to cover every angle!
"Overwhelm my opponent, my soldiers!"
The deceptively-small modules turned out to be neutron beam turrets! They fired powerful, penetrating neutron beams at the immobilized mech!
They were extremely deadly as neutron beams accelerated to a fraction of the speed of light possessed a very high penetration power!
Their penetration power was so high that the turrets outright ignored the nickel-iron asteroid if it blocked their firing angles!
If Waltz wasn't careful enough and if the Ouroboros wasn't tough enough, a neutron beam could easily pass through the cockpit!
Axelar would instantly die before the safety shields of the Cube Arena would have time to kick in to block the neutron beams!