The Mech Touch Chapter 438

Chapter 438: Barras
At the border regions, the war raged on. Occasionally, the Vesians pushed forth hard, leading to battles that engulfed thousands of mechs at once.The outcomes of those battles were decidedly mixed. Most of the times, even if the Brighters repelled the Vesians, they sustained just as much losses. Both sides would be economically ruined if they continued to lose so many mechs at once, so after the initial pushes, the Vesians slowed their pace by a little bit.Nonetheless, the Vesian aggression could not be contained. The need for the nobles to one-up each other and distinguish themselves in battle led to grueling back-to-back battles in some of the hotspots of the border regions. Planets like Citadel Havensworth became littered with so much wrecks that neither side could afford the time to salvage them all.It was said that during a war, the true facets of man would be revealed. Many mech pilots who thought themselves heroes turned out to be the first to eject. Others went through life without challenges, but measured up in the face of adversity, such as Ghanso Larkinson of the 1st Volari Starhawks.Most mech pilots didn't exhibit any differences. They knew their calling in life and signed up to pilot a mech knowing that they would face the Vesians in battle. Even someone who disdained the war such as Melinda Larkinson resolved to do their duty.Despite their noble striving, the war did not go in the Bright Republic's favor. The Vesians scored several important victories that brought strategic star systems into their fold. Each star system that fell paved the way for deeper incursions into Republic space.One remote star system close to the border faced a small but determined assault from a Vesian mech regiment known as the 3rd Kallas Carabiniers.The Carabiniers heavily favored medium rifleman mechs in their mech lineup. Versatile and deadly in great numbers, they trained extensively and came up with many advanced tactics to maximize the potential of their ranged mechs.Right now, the Herendal System which held a modest amount of mines suffered an invasion by this regiment. The Mech Corps only stationed a couple of mech companies on the planet, and none of them were line units capable of facing the Vesians in a head-on clash.The only way the defenders of the only inhabited planet of Herendal could keep their grip on the system was to employ a large amount of mercenaries.Several large-scale mercenary corps answered the call. Though the mission entailed a lot of risks, the they payoff was big so long as the Vesians didn't invade.With regards to missions, every mercenary corps hoped to spend some months in quiet, boring patrols. Though they earned their living from their battle capabilities, fighting the Mech Legion was a daunting prospect.In general, the Mech Legion did not often bother to invade small, unimportant star systems. Mercenary commanders relied on this fact to gamble on their missions. If they lucked out, they enjoyed a nice vacation while earning lots of pay to boot. If their luck fell short, then they'd be forced to back up their commitments and do their best to fight off the Vesians.Barras Swan happened to have chosen badly. As the commander of a medium-sized band of mechs called the Orange Liskers, he chose to gamble on a quiet posting to the Herendal System. Though the star system was a little closer to the frontlines than he liked, the Liskers needed the pay as it went deep into debt to replace its previous battle losses."I should have never bought this mech! Though if I did, I would have never experienced this beauty either!"The reason why Barras was so desperate to earn a large reward was because he impulsively ordered a copy of the Crystal Lord.Even though he only purchased the bronze label version of this line of mechs, the expenditure almost broke the Liskers, with many of the rank and file grumbling why Barras spent so much but only kept the best for himself.He was guilty in charge. The truth was that Barras felt tired about piloting another subpar rifleman mech that cost around 20-30 million credits. He thought about buying a new mech in the price segment above that figure, but when he heard about the amazing capabilities of the Crystal Lord, he settled his eyes on the ominous-looking model as soon as possible.Some days, he regretted his purchase, and on other days he felt thankful about it. For now, Barras felt both as his battered Crystal Lord continued to run through the brownish forest of this terraformed planet.Barras panted inside the cockpit of his Crystal Lord. "It's been two days already! How can they still be in pursuit?!"The swift and nimble mechs of the 3rd Kallas Carabiniers landed on Herendal with a splash. They immediately smashed apart the mech companies of the Mech Corps before turning their firepower to the mercenaries that tried to come to the aid of the defending mechs.All hell broke loose. The critical fault that brought the defenders down was that they consisted of many different outfits. The Mech Corps occasionally bossed them around, but they lacked convincing power due to their limited numbers.Right now, the Carabiniers succeeded in smashing hundreds of mechs at a time by defeating the different outfits one by one. They actively shied away from larger concentration of mercs, and only engaged when they outnumbered their prey.It was a very despicable way to fight, but it worked. The Carabiniers moved fast and managed to hit the outfits before they finished their preparations. Right now, they employed their considerable edge in speed into hunting down the stragglers that split in every direction and ran for the hills."Goddammit, I should have never gave in to my greed!"A scattering of laser beams struck from behind. The raking fire briefly added another scorch mark to his Crystal Lord's back. Yet remarkably, the rear armor largely held up. The thin layer of Veltrex armor proved to be highly effective in absorbing short bursts of energy weapon fire. As long as Barras immediately jinked his mech, he could make sure that no single spot on his mech suffered from a sustained burst of fire."At least I'm getting my money's worth!"The combination of armor and speed on the Crystal Lord allowed for unexpected synergies. It performed extremely well against laser weapons, which happened to be the mainstay weapon of the Kallas Carabiniers. The Crystal Lord lasted much longer against them for that reason alone.Still, that hadn't been enough to turn the tide in the opening battle of the Orange Liskers. Barras had to witness first-hand how each of his trusted comrades-in-arms faltered due to the disparity in discipline and battle spirit. Some of them managed to eject, while others breathed their last on Herendal.Tears began to well up in his eyes, but Barras quickly shook them away. Everyone who took up the mercenary life accepted the risks that came with this vocation. It was a rough and dangerous life, but one which mech pilots also enjoyed a lot of freedom.Thoughts of vengeance percolated in his mind. Barras checked his fuel and battery reserves and noted that both were critically low. Even if his mech provided him with an amazing amount of endurance, two days of constant chasing took their toll."I can't run any further without shaking off my pursuers."The Crystal Lord slowed down in its steps as Barras prepared his exhausted mind for yet another battle, which might be his last this time.The pursuing mechs emerged from the trees, and as soon as they got a clear view of the Crystal Lord, they fired their laser rifles at it without hesitation.Some of the laser fire raked the crystal embedded in the center of the chest, while the rest of the energy splashed harmlessly against the armor of the premium mech, though some sections of plating started to get dangerously thin.Barras ignored incoming fire and aimed carefully before shooting a high-powered beam from his surprisingly slim rifle. The laser hit one of the Carabinier mech and burned a nasty gash at its leg armor. Though the laser failed to penetrate the internals, another hit might finish the job.As Barras waited for his rifle to cycle away the heat, he immersed himself in his mech and moved nimbly between the trees. Though the tree trunks looked substantial, they could not be used as cover as most laser beams instantly burned through them. Barras mainly took the presence of the trees as mental comfort."Three opponents. They've been running for a while as well. They don't look as fresh as before."The Carabiniers had split up their forces in order to mop up the routed defenders. While the models of the Carabiniers couldn't rival the longevity of the Crystal Lord, they regularly rotated the mechs on the field by deploying transports in the air. The fact that they secured orbital and aerial supremacy meant that they could shuttle around their mechs with near-impunity.However, they still needed to be cautious in the presence of an enemy ranged mech like the Crystal Lord. Barras almost managed to burn through the armor of one transport that strayed too near."If my estimates on their timing is correct, then this trio should have been switched out in an hour. This is the best time for me to thwart their pursuit!"Barras hated himself for getting away when much of his men and women got killed or captured by the Carabiniers. He channeled his fury through his mech, who seemed to be as eager for battle as him. Several strange insights started to flow past his mind as his mind studied the terrain and his opponents for any potential opportunities."There!"Barras drove his Crystal Lord back, which sprung like a gymnast as it turned around and ran towards a certain destination. The three Carabiniers jumped in pursuit.The Crystal Lord didn't need to run very far before it reached a rushing river. Barras hesitated for a moment, but jumped his mech knee deep into the waters. A large bout of steam escaped from the lower surface of the mech as the persistent heat it built up started to dissipate into the cold, rushing water.The Carabiniers caught up again and started to fire at the Crystal Lord. Due to being in the water, its mobility had become affected, leading to serious damage. Some of the internals even started to get exposed!That was when the Crystal Lord unleashed two laser beams at once. It bracketed the Carabinier with the damaged leg from two directions. Though the mech dodged away from an incoming beam, it did not expect the other beam released from the Crystal Lord's chest. It got hit in the leg!"Yes!"Barras quickly adjusted the aim of his rifle and managed to compound upon the damage to the leg of the faltering mech. Its momentary slowdown proved fatal as the laser beams finally burned past the thin leg armor and wrecked the internals.The Carabinier mech collapsed onto its knees.Barras had no time to finish it off. It kept wading through the waters, moving away from the immobilized mech while the other two Carabiniers focused on taking down their persistent prey."Hahahaha!" Barras laughed as he saw the chest crystal getting charged up again. Though its capacity wasn't very great, it fired off many times more than the crystal of a gold label mech.Again, Barras repeated the same trick that snagged another Carabinier. This time, he hit the mech in the chest, which didn't amount to a lot of damage."Damn!"It took a couple of successive hits to finally penetrate its chest armor. At this point, the Carabinier who piloted the mech fell back. It had no choice but to do so, because one more hit would have disabled or destroyed the mech."Now, there is only one."The only problem for Barras was that his laser rifle's last battery pack was spent. "Tch! If only they didn't destroy my backpack module!"The Crystal Lord kept all of its spare battery packs in its backpack module. That worked fine most of the time, but in a running engagement like this, it had been one of the first things to be destroyed."I can only put my faith on this crystal."After making a decision, Barras resolutely turned around his Crystal Lord and charged the remaining Carabinier. The Vesian mech had seen two of its fellow mechs falter in succession against this supremely tenacious mech, and its mech pilot was starting to feel the pressure.Laser beams raked the Crystal Lord in a chaotic manner. Only some of it hit the exposed internals, while the rest splashed against the mostly-intact sections of armor.A significant amount of energy channeled into the chest crystal as the laser beams kept comping. Once it had reached saturation, it unleashed a tight but potent laser beam that Barras aimed straight at the enemy's laser rifle.The weapon got hit, and promptly malfunctioned. Both sides lost their primary weapons and resorted to their backup knives. The Carabinier started to back away, but the Crystal Lord wouldn't have any of it. Barras was fully engaged in the fight and wanted nothing more than to dish some hurt onto his pursuers.A brief but brutal exchange took place. The Carabinier mech was of worse quality than the Crystal Lord. Its uncompressed armor allowed the Crystal Lord's weak knife stabs to enter after a couple of sustained stabs.Barras screamed as the Crystal Lord's knife slipped through the cockpit of the enemy mech. The Carabinier mech futilely tried to stab its knife through the exposed weak points of its adversary, but Barras constantly kept his mech moving to avoid getting pinned down in such a manner.Eventually, the Crystal Lord hadn't let him down. The mech stood over the fallen Vesian mech, worn and almost out of fuel. Barras laughed ruefully at himself as he looked at this situation."This is both the best and worst purchase I have ever made."