The amount of energy Doctor Jutland released surpassed anything Ves had ever witnessed. His body even glowed red from the sheer amount of heat leaking from his pores. He definitely pulled out all the stops this time.
“I shall destroy you all!”
He went after the biggest target, the Olympian. By now, the venerable heavy mech endured a lot of abuse. Not only did it engage the Kaius in multiple engagements, it also had to deal with the consequences of runnings its systems at full tilt. Its overall performance already began to slide.
Jutland clearly didn’t care. He just wanted to pound the biggest mech to pieces. While he obviously couldn’t fly, his ability to run and leap reached superhuman levels.
Bang! He became so terrifying that when he slammed against the huge building-sized Olympian, the heavy knight actually stumbled back! A loud crunching sound accompanied the impact. Jutland actually wrenched away a couple of layers of armor!
“Is he challenging a mech with his body?” Ves wondered as he kept running away now that his body became unburdened. “This is impossible!”
Ves had never thought that he’d witness a phenomenon many people dreamed about. A human actually challenged a mech upfront! More than that, he actually held the advantage!
With his powerful body and his endless supply of energy, the crazy doctor exhibited both strength and speed. Jutland challenged everyone’s perception on the primacy of mechs by boldly treating the Ajax Olympian as his punching bag.
After slamming his body against the shield for the sixth time, Jutland finally broke through all of its layers, causing the heavy object to splinter apart!
The AI that controlled the heavy knight reacted poorly to this, having never been programmed to fight against a human-sized monstrosity. It treated the loss of its shield as a prompt to go on the offensive, and proceeded to foolishly attempt to kick Jutland with its agonizingly slow foot.
“Insignificant worm! Get out of my way!” Jutland contemptuously growled with a deep, inhuman timbre. He drew his body inward before jumping straight at the center of the Olympian’s chest!
Bang! The high-powered collision dented the Olympian’s incredibly durable armor. Even the Kaius would be hard-pressed to do the same! Everyone present genuinely feared for their lives. A man with the power to challenge mechs represented certain doom. If they didn’t want to die, they had to do something about him!
“Stop it!” Captain Kaine yelled as her Cathrec ceased to cripple the largely immobilized Kaius and turned around to aid her beleagered subordinate.
Her entry changed the dynamic of the battle. As an agile spear wielder, the Cathrec possessed just enough speed to keep up with Jutland’s rapid movements. It helped that he merely possessed a lot of straight-line speed and couldn’t easily change directions.
Whenever Jutland charged forward, the Cathrec brandished its powered spear in his path. Even maddened as he was now, he personally witnessed the weapon’s power against the Kaius. The glowing white speartip tore straight through the chimera mech’s scales! Thus, the doctor always veered away.
“Volmars! Constrain Doctor Jutland!”
Four of the Volmars ceased their assault on the Kaius and moved to reinforce the Cathrec. The remaining two Volmars along with the heavily damaged Olympian took over the duty of suppressing the extremely hardy Kaius.
Despite suffering a myriad of crippling blows, it still hadn’t gone down. As long as the chimera mech kept its artificial brain alive, it continued to put pressure on everyone’s mind.
Fortunately enough, the AIs controlling the Volmars observed the Olympian’s reaction towards Jutland and learned plenty of lessons. Like the Cathrec, they refused to block with their frames, instead preferring to dodge Jutland’s charges.
One of Jutland’s major flaws was that he never tried to feint or take advantage of his incredibly speed and flexibility. The rage suffusing his mind had turned him into a half-coherent animal that only knew how to employ brute force.
In this case, the AIs used their superior processing speeds to analyse Jutland’s movements and predict his vector before his legs completed their steps. The Volmars all avoided his attacks without fail!
Captain Kaine ordered all of the Volmars to surround and constrain the doctor.
While he didn’t feel threatened by their maces and staffs, they still delivered quite a bit of damage if he got hit. His impregnable body didn’t suffer a lot of damage, but the attacks were never meant to finish him off. Instead, they interrupted his rhythm and halted his high-speed movements.
Once Jutland bounced away from a solid staff strike, he didn’t get the opportunity to recover. A massive white spear struck him from behind and tore through his spine! Its powered enhancement sheared through the doctor’s body like a hot knife through butter and brutally dissected his torso from the stomach!
Time seemed to slow as Jutland fell in two pieces. As mighty as he appeared, even he couldn’t survive without half his body.
When his upper body slammed against the cave floor, he gasped and vomited streams of blood. He gaped at the Cathrec, which slowly drew back its spotless white spear. His blood never even stained its tip.
His hand stretched forward, as if he wished to grasp the mech-sized spear in his hands, but eventually fell down as Jutland completely lost his strength.
Ves let out a sigh of relief. A man chose to challenge a mech this day. He failed.
Captain Kaine still had her scruples, however. Jutland spent so much effort on his body that he might be pretending. The Captain impulsively decided to finish the job, forgoing the possibility of capturing him alive and milking out his incredible wealth of knowledge and secrets.
The butt end of the Cathrec’s spear landed upon his upper body several times, pounding his brain and all of his unique organs to mush. Once the madman’s highly developed heat organ got hit, it instantly exploded. A huge wash of heat escaped the site of the impact, disintegrating Jutland’s entire body as well as burning his lower body which had landed nearby.
Fortunately, not all of the energy released from the Jutland organ at once. It leaked out an unstable current of heat and other energies over several minutes like a deflating balloon.
The battle truly came at an end this time.
The Cathrec returned to the pitiful Kaius and efficiently pounded its limbs before cutting through its chest. After pricking the strange magnified brain, the psychic attack finally ended, allowing everyone to regain control over their bodies and mechs.
The hexapods also regained their faculties, but the mechs made quick work of the annoying beasts. Without Jutland’s directions, the creatures devolved into primitive creatures that cared only for their own needs. Half of them fled the cave and disappeared into the jungle.
None of them even glanced at Ves who rested halfway towards the exit. His stealth augment ran out of power, but even so he didn’t fear the beasts as Melkor stood guard over him. His Stanislaw shot any hexapod that neared their position.
Once the recovered mech pilots secured the perimeter, the Cathrec slowly approached Ves. Its cockpit opened, revealing Felicity Kaine in her piloting suit. She floated down with the help of an integrated antigrav module and landed right in front of Ves.
“You’re not looking so good, Mr. Larkinson.”
“I’ve had better days.”
The woman rested her arms on her hips while she regarded him through her helmeted head. “How is it you’re able to survive in the open without a suit?”
“Doctor Jutland found it inconvenient to accommodate my baseline human body. Whatever he did to his own body, he partially applied to my own. I’m not fully human anymore.”
Despite his gains, Ves genuinely sounded depressed. After all, the label of hybrid carried a certain stigma in human society. With so many alien species wishing to wipe out every human, no one dared to flaunt any obvious alien features.
“This is going to be trouble.” Captain Kaine predicted.
The aftermath of the rescue attempt proceeded quickly. Once Captain Kaine sent back a mech to convey their victory, a horde of transports along with workers descended upon the cave.
Chief Ramirez led a crowd of mech technicians that looked over the heavily damaged Olympian and the Kaius. The former pretty much turned into a crippled machine, while the latter represented a bounty of exotic development.
The scrapping of the Olympian pretty much turned into a sideshow compared the herculean effort of trying to haul the crippled Kaius back to base camp.
A couple of exobiologists also arrived at the cave. While Jutland hinted that it merely represented one of many outposts, the presence of the research labs proved otherwise. This must surely be his principal hideout. The exobiologists along with the help of other experts systematically dismantled and preserved Jutland’s labs.
House Kaine made plentiful gains, to the point where Captain Kaine behaved like a cat who got the canary. She frequently rubbed her palms as she stared at immobile Kaius.
They not only recovered a unique chimera mech of immense power. They also recovered Jutland’s damaged clones as well as reams of data, though Jutland encrypted all of it so it, so it would take years to decipher their contents.
As for Ves, his surprising transformation alarmed the exobiologists and the regular doctors. Doctor Mellow took charge of his health and urged the expedition members to send them back to base camp.
Thus, Ves got to return to a half-ruined base camp before the end of the day. The transport had to fight off several sporadic hexabat waves along the way, though their escorts expertly beat off the opportunistic wildlife.
“What happened here?” Ves asked from his floating medical bed.
Doctor Mellow insisted him to rest on the bed despite his protests that he was fine. She constantly studied the readings from the bed. She glanced at him with a distracted look.
“Once some of the mercenaries learned of the fleet’s defeat, they responded with irrational violence. Keller’s Blades instigated a violent mutiny that inflicted many casualties, especially when he tried to storm the communications center. Commander Tregis ordered the destruction of all of our quantum entanglement nodes.”
That sounded especially bad. The quantum entanglement nodes represented the only form of contact between base camp and the rest of the galaxy. Without it, they could never get in touch with Lord Kaine and the fleet, let alone anyone else.
Mellow guided his bed off the transport and into a treatment facility. Ves noticed that all of the rooms were occupied with wounded. To think that all of them suffered injuries from other humans instead of hexapods.
“Do you think it’s possible we might be stuck on Groening IV after our forty-day window subsides?”
The exobiologist shrugged. “It’s not my job to care about these matters. In my opinion, the mutineers acted prematurely and gave in to their despair in vain. As long as the storms hasn’t blocked our way out, there’s still a chance we can make it out.”
Put in that way, the mercenaries indeed lashed out without proper consideration. Perhaps Commander Keller secretly fanned the flames and incited the more impulse mercenaries to take action.
Luckily, they failed, though House Kaine paid a grievous price. Doctor Mellow estimated that not more than a hundred mechs remained functional. Half of the base camp’s defenses also got destroyed in the ensuing battle.
No one was in a mood to hunt for hexapods any longer. Commander Tregis allocated most of his core forces to guarding what remained of their base camp. As for the mercenaries that remained loyal, they had mostly been sent out in batches to guard over the extraction of the motherlode.
“How much wealth are we talking about here?”
Mellow pursed her lips. “It’s not much of a secret, so there’s no harm in telling you. The surveyors determined that the vein reaches about fifty meters below ground. The raw minerals contain lots of waste elements of little value, but the total amount of monoexurite you can expect after processing them should yield around seven kilograms.”
Ves adopted a dumbfounded expression when he heard the ludicrous figure. That should be enough monoexurite to supply several CFA battle fleets! “House Kaine has made it big!”
“That is only if they can recover it.” Doctor Mellow retorted gently. “Remember, all of that monoexurite will amount to nothing if we’re unable to leave the planet. While Commander Tregis has promised me that House Kaine is working on the problem, he hasn’t provided any details.”
She had a very good point. Thinking about earning a windfall distracted Ves from the despairing fact that they probably couldn’t expect to be picked up by the expeditionary fleet.
What transports and shuttles the base camp had at its disposal would only be able to bring a limited amount of men and cargo into orbit.
They were powerful, short-ranged craft meant to transfer cargo across planetary distances. They lacked the acceleration and fuel capacity to cross the star system so they couldn’t even take refuge in the Groening System’s other planets. More importantly, they didn’t come with an expensive FTL drive, so they couldn’t even limp back to civilized space.
“We’re truly stuck.” Ves concluded with a tone of finality.