The Mech Touch Chapter 317
Chapter 317: Last Stand
The evacuation began in earnest the next day. The Mech Corps had already shuttered its mining equipment and loaded their transports with exotics the days before, but now they started to dismantle and pack in their high-value assets.Most of the objects that took up a lot of space but wasn't actually valuable would be left behind. This consisted of things such as prefab structures and walls. Though they incorporated a fair amount of exotics, they relied more on their thickness than their material quality to withstand enemy attacks.Compared to low value bulk goods, the Mech Corps would rather load up their transports with more exotics. Even filling up their remaining cargo space with junk exotics made more sense than to retrieve their walls.The other outfits followed suit. They placed a high priority on shipping out their haul. Bringing back their mechs came at a close seconds. A fair amount of landbound mechs entered the carriers and strapped themselves down.Due to the recent battles, many of the berths had become free. Their owners cleverly filled up the remaining space with additional containers of exotics.Still, they couldn't put away every combat-ready mech. The massive movement attracted the attention of the surrounding pirates.Their prey planned to make a run!The pirate alliances pounced on the base without any explicit attempts to coordinate their attacks. They merely followed their instincts and acted on any signs of weakness.The sudden but expected attack necessitated a strong defense. Many landbound mechs remained stuck on the planet and had to fight back the pirates that constantly swarmed their lines.At a certain field of rocks and cliffs, the Stanislaw huddled forward with its rifle radiating a fair amount of heat. The rifleman mech looked like it had seen better days. Significant amounts of armor had peeled away from all of the lasers and explosive shells that had glanced off the frame."Incoming squad of pirate mechs!" Melkor reported, though his mech had already sent the telemetry of his sightings to the Blood Claws. "One light, six mediums, one heavy!""Say again, did you just mention a heavy?""It's a salvaged artillery mech! They'll likely deploy it on the high ground up ahead and bombard the walls from a distance!"The Blood Claw operator on the other end of the channel cursed. "We've already depleted our stock of missiles and we don't have anything that can outrange a heavy artillery mech. We'll be sending out an oversized squad to take care of the threat. Hold your position and guide the squad to the artillery mech when they arrive. Can you do that?""Got it. My mech still has some fight left into it. I have to pay them back for scratching up my Stanislaw."On a more open side of the battlefield, the pirates deployed their mechs in significant numbers. A swarm of mechs raced forward to overwhelm the defensive lines.Raella, Fadah and Walter stood before the walls along with the rest of the Blood Claws and their affiliated groups. They had been tasked with keeping this patch of wall steady, and for the sake of their massive haul, they promised to defend this wall to their deaths.Whether the Mech Corps believed the vow or not was another question.In any case, the Blood Claws made their stand, and the pirates came running to challenge their conviction."Careful, lads. Not all of the pirate mechs are carrying undercharged energy cells. Aim for the upper torso or the legs if possible. Avoid the waist and lower back as much as you can. Ranged mechs, aim high and focus on knocking off their heads if possible. They're much easier to disable once they lose their main sensors."As the commander of the Blood Claws instructed their men, Raella sighed and opened a channel to Fadah. "I bet I can take out more mechs than you. I'm not the Raella you've seen before.""Fat chance!" The light mech specialist laughed. "Even with your fancy new mech, it still pales in comparison to what your cousin designed. There's no contest which mech is better!"Ever since her Sliverath bought the farm, the Blood Claws prepared another mech for her to use. Though someone else had originally reserved the mech, the brass decided to hand it to her on account of her skill. Many of the mech pilots in the employ of the Blood Claws never enjoyed the amount of systematic training that any Larkinson potentate had gone through."Here they come!"A wave of pirate mechs braved the base with fanaticism driven by greed and brainwashing. By now, everyone had heard of how the Dragons of the Void messed with the heads of the pirates and made them pliable to their orders. If the Dragons of the Void wanted to throw away a thousand mechs, they could easily do so without any consequences.It took a lot of courage to assault the Mech Corps directly. Many of the smarter pirate outfits had shown up on the battlefield but cleverly hung behind the first wave of idiots that had stormed ahead. Nobody sober wanted to lead the charge."Watch out for their energy cells! Take them out at a distance if you can!"The defending side brought more ranged mechs than melee mechs this time. Once the pirates came within a certain range, all of the rifles and cannons spat out beams and projectiles at the incoming mechs.Their fire focused first and foremost on the light mechs. The downside to charging forth in a massive uncoordinated swarm was that the light mechs didn't have much room for maneuver. They risked a collision if they juked too much and bumped into another mech.Even then, it took a fair amount of firepower to score the first kills. Half of the mechs collapsed in a lifeless heap, but the other half exploded violently.Some of those explosions affected the mechs next to them. A portion of the mechs that suffered the most substantial damage exploded as well as their overcharged energy cells discharged all at once.The subsequent chain reaction disrupted the charge and plunged the formation into momentary confusion."This is our chance! Charge!"The Blood Claws surged forward, closing the short distance that remained, and hammered into the confused huddle of pirates.One thing the Mech Corps learned about these brainwashed pirates was that they lost their edge. In practice, they became more dim-witted and couldn't really think for themselves.It was as if they had turned into human-form bots. Once you forced them into a loop of errors, you could easily shut them down.Right now, the Raella sprung forth with her new mech. She piloted an advanced skirmisher mech called the Nimue, which notably featured a partial rainmant of compressed armor.The Nimue blitzed past the front ranks of the pirates and sliced away at their arms. Though the strikes hadn't penetrated deep, she did manage to cut through some of the thinner armor around the arms and inflict some internal damage, therefore weakening the limbs."Hey! You're going in too deep!" Fadah called as he brought his Blackbeak in front of a sluggish knight. "Come back here, Raella!"The enemy pilot in front of him recovered just in time to parry Fadah's sword with its shield. Still, he couldn't prevent Fadah from slipping to his flanks and sink the sharp edge of the Blackbeak's phoenix shield into its legs.The pirate knight buckled a bit, opening it up for a stab through its thinner back armor. The Blackbeak pushed its weight into the thrust until the sword had reached the cockpit."That's one down." He muttered as he carefully retracted his sword in order to avoid bumping into the energy cells.Many of the pirate mechs carried overcharged energy cells. Their wrecks remained a hazard even if they had been taken out safely. It only took one stray shot to set them off. This was why Fadah pulled his Blackbeak away as fast as possible. In recent times, every pilot acquired the habit of avoiding fallen wrecks. The risk of getting caught in a sudden blast was too much.The wave of defenders eventually pulled back after having thinned out the pirate riffraff. Constant movement and sudden changes in direction served to confuse the brainwashed pirates even further. They didn't even realize their enemies had pulled out. They needed at least ten seconds to get a grip on the new situation."Open fire!"The ranged mechs had cooler their laser rifles or changed the magazines of their ballistic weapons once the melee mechs went in. Now that they returned, the ranged mechs opened fire again.This time, more explosions sounded out, as many of the fire focused on damaged and immobilized mechs. The chain reactions that resulted from the second volley destroyed even more mechs than at the start.Once the ranged mechs reached their limits, they stopped their fire, prompting the melee mechs to set forth again.The clever see-saw tactic made short work out of the initial wave of pirates. The onlookers who wanted to profit at the expense of the first wave hadn't been able to summon up the courage to follow up. The defenders hardly suffered any losses.The mantises died to quickly for the orioles to pounce on the cicadas!"Pff. The cowards." Raella taunted as she brought her Nimue back in line. Her mech suffered a fair amount of scratches, but the vitals all held up with the help of its compressed armor. "Why did they think they stood a chance in the first place? Even if they overran our position, they still have to deal with the reserves from the 4th Division."Fadah tapped his finger against the armrest of his piloting chair. "You can't fault the pirates for making a last attempt. I got the sense that the Dragons of the Void never planned to take back these mechs in the first place. Just look at them. They're mostly junkers that are worth ten million credits at most. A single container filled with junk exotics is worth at least twice as much."That made a disturbing amount of sense. Even though the Mech Corps constantly thrashed the pirates, they kept coming back as if they literally held no value. By the time the Dragons gathered up these dregs, they only composed of a fraction of what they initially brought to the surface."Well, we should thank our fortunes that the Dragons of the Void have been so loose with their slaves. If they saved them all up, they could have overwhelmed our defenses with sheer numbers."As the remaining defenders stabilized the lines, Ves watched on at the roof of one of the prefab workshops. He didn't have any use at this moment, as the time for repairs had passed. Right now, every available hand helped out with loading up the spaceships.He looked out at the distance and imagined all the fighting that went on there. Ves had tapped into his Blackbeak's feed but lost connection on the way. Some of the communication lines had been cut for some reason or another."Maybe this is a good time to use up my lottery tickets."No one paid attention to Ves at the moment. With pirates at their doorstep and ships that needed filling, the Mech Corps spared no effort in monitoring a single if somewhat special mech designer.Ves carefully looked from side to side, and spotted nobody nearby. "Lucky, is anything monitoring us right now?""Meow!"Lucky had already swatted away a few bugs. Nothing else had drifted close since then. Ves took that as an affirmative and sat down in an enclosed corner. He brought up his comm and activated his Privacy Shield before he turned to the Lottery page.Ten glistening golden tickets awaited his perusal. As always, the System went the extra mile to dress up its features. The tickets looked life-like and floated in front of Ves like an attractive school of fish."I hope you turn up something better than an old lantern or something."Ves found the bronze and silver tickets to be a waste of time and DP. Even if he could buy them in bulk, he would rather use up his points in the Shop or Skill Tree. At least he'd get what he paid for in those cases.As for these lottery tickets, if his luck bode ill, he might end up with ten complete duds. The risk of scoring ten straight misses weighed heavily on Ves."I'm not that unlucky, am I?"