The Mech Touch Chapter 296
Chapter 296: Preemptive Strike
Raella Larkinson strode among the vanguard of the Blood Claws horde. Over two hundred mechs spent days trying to traverse the rugged and uneven terrain of the Glowing Planet.Since she didn't bring her own mech along, the Blood Claws lent her a mech that fit her well. The Sliverath wasn't like her Vectrix at all.Her previous duelling-oriented mech excelled at quick bursts of performance, offering a lot of power at the cost of poor efficiency.That didn't mean the Sliverath turned those parameters around, but it offered a much flatter performance curve in order to extend its uptime. At their current power-saving pace of marching, the Sliverath could easily last a couple of days without replenishing its energy cells.The Blood Claws still did so after each day in case they met an ambush. A couple of low hovering transports followed far behind them to supply the mechs. Everyone kept an extremely lengthy distance from the transport vessels, since they carried so many energy cells that the explosion could mimic a weapon of mass destruction if they all set off.The overcharge phenomenon manifested more changes than that. Each mech kept a healthy distance from each other as well in order to avoid a chain reaction.They even knew precisely how far they had to disperse. Some of the scientists from the Mech Corps came up with a formula that determined the volatility of each mech from how many energy cells they carried and how much overcharge they held.The results would be indexed from a number from 0 to 10. The number 0 represented no risk while the number 10 meant that a kilometer wide area would be scoured from end to end.The Sliverath only received a score of 3, as the light skirmisher didn't offer much space to store a lot of energy cells. It also didn't drain as much as energy as a laser rifleman, so the smaller capacity didn't hinder the mech."Hey Dietrich." She called over her private channel with her boyfriend. "How's it going? Do you miss the feeling of flying in the air?""Not really. It's way too dangerous to pilot an aerial mech on this cursed planet. I'd rather hide behind some solid cover this time."The Glowing Planet's abundant exotic minerals emitted constant interference fields that made flying a bad choice. Besides having to deal with unstable flight, any aerial mech would only need to be hit once before they popped like firework due to their light armor and heightened energy consumption.Thus, Dietrich borrowed an average rifleman mech model instead of a mech identical to his Harrier. Even if he disliked being bound to the land, he didn't want to leave his girlfriend alone when she was about to embark on her first actual battle.The attack force reached the pirate base a couple of hours later. A scout mech that had been watching over their activities met with Kanaan, the head of the force."Report.""It's just like the boss predicted. The rats have just found out about the overcharge stuff and are scrambling to get their mechs back online. They even stopped their digging activities because of that. Most of their mechs and assets are still above ground.The scout passed a detailed topographic map of the base to everyone in the attack force. Raella studied it with her own eyes and saw that the pirates circled their grounded carriers as makeshift walls."Are these carriers vulnerable?""No. The ship crews dismantled and hauled away their energy cells. They're solely running on ship-grade fuel now.""A shame, but to be expected. The pirates aren't that stupid." Kanaan flatly remarked. "Have you identified the leaders?""Yeah. There's a squad of mechs that look fancier than the rest. They're probably part of the Dragons of the Void."A number of dragon-themed mechs appeared over the projection. The command squad featured a high proportion of swordsman mechs and only included a couple of rifleman mechs for posterity."Damn, these swordsman mechs look slippery. It will be hard to pin them down, let alone blow up their energy cells."After projecting the elite mechs, the scout also showed off some of the regular pirate mechs. "The rest of the pirate models are typical low-tier mechs. They're very diverse, but they're all crappy to an extent.""What about fixed defenses? Do we have to worry about turrets and such?""Oh, they erected a couple of turrets, but as far as I'm aware of, they still run on their own energy cells. Focus at the base of the turrets if you want to pop those cells.""Noted. Anything else we should know?""Yeah. Those ship-grade energy cells I just mentioned? The pirates chucked them to the other side of that mountain over there. I got a marksman stationed far away but with a direct line of sight of that pile.""You're not thinking of""Oh yeah, let's say we blow it up."Everyone grinned at that suggestion. Pirates had never been very smart, and these ones seem dimmer than usual for dumping all of their excess energy cells in the same place. Even if the cells had been dumped a couple of kilometers away, the magnitude of the explosion should be unlike anything they had ever seen before.Kanaan formed a quick adjustment to the plan. "Alright men, let's do it like this. Instead of surrounding the base from all sides, we'll be waiting behind those low hills on the opposite side of the big bang. That should shelter our mechs enough from the blast."Once the massive explosion ran its course, the Blood Claws and their subordinate forces would rise up from the hills and shoot at the disoriented pirates. However, Kanaan didn't want to let the melee mechs like Raella's Sliverath go forth."It's too easy for mechs to clump up this way. It only takes one suicidal pirate to decide he wants to take his opponent with him to the grave. Stay with the ranged mechs and guard them against any incoming pirates."With the plan set, the attack force moved to their new coordinates. Even though they tried to hide their maneuvers, somehow the pirates got wind of their presence. Alarms sounded out in their comm channels, alerted them of an imminent attack."No time! Everyone, hug the ground! Scouts, blow up the energy cells!"A fair distance away, a single high-intensity laser beam struck the sturdy energy cells stacked up in a mound. The laser bore through the strengthened shell of the ship-grade energy cell and proceeded to excite the overcharged energy within.BOOOOOOOOM!The chain reaction happened almost instantly after the first energy cell blew up. All of the explosions melded into a single overwhelming discharge that vaporized the nearby terrain and caused a hefty localized earthquake.The pirates lost their footing due to the enormous blast. Lots of mechs fell over due to the instability. Only the Blood Claws remained stable as they already huddled their mechs on all fours."Attack!" Kanaan ordered.The rifleman and cannoneer mechs crested behind the hills and began to chew through the ships in their way. They made quick progress as they each focused on a couple of points. The combination of lasers, explosive shells and kinetic projectiles made quick work of the vulnerable hulls."The pirates are recovering!" A scout reported. "The enemy command squad are kicking the pirate mechs back to their feet!"By the time the Blood Claws chewed through a single carrier, the command squad gathered over fifty mechs, with more enemies joining in at any moment."Hold position and continue firing!"The Blood Claws faced more obstacles as the pirates erected a lot of mobile cover blocks. They consisted of cheap, bulky alloys that provided enough cover to protect a pair of mechs.Neither side gained the advantage at the start, though the mechs fighting for the Blood Claws succeeded in killing a couple of pirate mechs that had been slow to recover. The incidental explosions from those mechs set back any attempts by the pirates to organize into a cohesive defense.While they destroyed over twenty pirate mechs, the base held a lot more mechs than that. Even if some of them didn't function due to their safeguards, the pirates could still muster more than two-hundred-and-fifty mechs.One of the dragon mechs organized a loose formation of a little less than a hundred melee mechs. Once they gathered up, they stormed out of the base in an oversized wave that stretches for several kilometers."Melee mechs, get ready! Remember, whatever you do, don't focus on their energy cells and keep your ejection trigger at hand. Don't hesitate to eject if you think your energy cells will be breached!"Both sides met just over the hills in an awkward collision. As if agreed beforehand, neither the pirates nor the Blood Claws clumped up too much. The clash turned into a series of duels as each mech only faced a single opponent at a time."This is more like it." Raella grinned as her Sliverath unsheathed a pair of straight knives. Her mech danced forward, carrying with it her eagerness to gut her first pirate mech. "Come on! Let's see if you have what it takes!"The pirate mech in front of her wielded a spear in one hand and a pistol in the other. While the pistol shot some miniature shells that scratched the Sliverath's coating, it hardly achieved anything else.Raella outright ignored the pistol and deflected the incoming thrust of the swear by crossing the Sliverath's knives."Too weak!"The spearman mech looked old and rusty. Its performance simply couldn't match a modern advanced mech like the Sliverath. She deftly curved her mech around her opponent and stabbed her knives into the upper back.The knives peeled away the rear armor. Raella wanted to take out her opponent in one move, but her mech lacked the strength to dig in deeper."Damn, I forgot this isn't the Vectrix!"Her Vectrix would have crippled her opponent's mech in a single strike. Raella hastily recovered from her blunder by moving away before darting back in again. She easily deflected the next one-armed spear stab before she slunk a knife into the rear internals of the pirate mech.This time, the mech collapsed, having lost all of its power. Raella didn't stick around and moved her Sliverath away. She didn't want to stick around in case the pilot decided to self-destruct his disabled mech.She aided an allied mech that looked to be in bad shape. The swordsman mech it faced possessed actual skill. Yet Raella made short work of the threat by outmaneuvering the slower mech. Again, she disabled the mech by stabbing it from the stab."These pirates are worse than amateur duelists!"His cousins always warned her not to underestimate an actual battlefield. Raella had to admit they had a point when it came to the Vesia Kingdom's Mech Legion, but these pirates fought like trash.Once she found her rhythm, Raella easily disabled the pirate mechs left and right. She achieved most of her results by teaming up with a fellow Blood Claw mech. Skirmishers like the Sliverath achieved the best results if their opponents had already been locked into combat with their opponents.To the side, Raella absently noted that another mech copied the same strategy as hers. She recognized the distinctive black look of her cousin's Blackbeak mech. She sneered at the sight."I don't need a babysitter. You shouldn't have come here, Ves."She ignored the black mech that followed in her Sliverath's footsteps and brought her mech to her next victim.Over time, the hundred pirate mechs lost a third of their numbers. The difference in quality and he lack of preparation pressed the pirate mechs further away from the vulnerable ranged mechs.Up to this point, none of the mechs had exploded as of yet. That changed when a rifleman mech bearing the emblem of the Dragons of the Void shot at an immobilized pirate mech.It blew up, shaking the nearby mechs away from the center of the blast. Both the pirates and the Blood Claws scratched their head at the action. Didn't they worry about friendly fire?Evidently, the rifleman mech thew common sense out of the window and continued to shoot at the downed mechs, all of which presented easy targets to an experienced rifleman mech pilot. Explosion after explosion erupted on the hills.At least the Blood Claws already prepared for such a spiteful act. They always fought a healthy distance from the inner radius of any downed mech. This diminished the effectiveness of this tactic.The Dragons of the Void changed tack. They issued a command that drove the surviving pirates mad. Somehow, they all went berserk.