The Mech Touch Chapter 460

Chapter 460: Research Base
Ves couldn't help but feel relieved that his educated guess panned out. Analyzing the Amavon Mark VII Type D on the fly was very difficult because Ves could only base his conclusions from past versions of the mech model and its visible performance. It was as if he cracked the code of a simple keypad by observing it from a distance and looking at the marks left behind. After the initial pass, the Inheritors turned around and dove again. Combined with the push of the Vandal landbound mechs, the defenders faced a hellish dilemma. They needed to pour their firepower to the encroaching ground pounders. Once the Vandal melee mechs reached the walls, it was over. Yet if they neglecting the Inheritors buzzing above, they'd be dead as well. Ves didn't know if their commander was stupid or desperate, but around half of the rifleman mechs focused on each of the Vandal threats. This happened to be one of the better outcomes for the Flagrant Vandals. By splitting up the attention of their enemy, they insured that they spread their fire. Though the individual mechs still focused their fire on a couple of hand-selected targets, the Vandals already started to adjust. Any mech that got targeted would instantly retreat or find cover from their comrades. They did everything possible to spoil the aim of their enemies, and if they couldn't hold on, their pilots would eject regardless of the waste. This preserved the lives of the mech pilots but led to a slight increase in wrecked mechs. Still, as long as the Vandals won the field, they would easily be able to salvage their fallen mechs and bring them back online. Of course, the true prize in this assault would be to salvage the enemy mechs. Though they weren't all that valuable, the Flagrant Vandals brought out a lot of transports, and their logistics ships held an abundant amount of cargo holds as well. Unless the Vandals encountered a large stash of exotics, recovering mechs was always the most cost-efficient option. They took up less space and weighed a little less than containers worth the same amount. Nevertheless, this attack would generally be considered a loss. A lot of damage had been sustained that needed to be repaired later on. This drained a lot of money, but also wasted a lot of time that could have been put to more productive uses. Overall, Ves estimated the Vandals lost more than they would be able to salvage from the battlefield. The pressure on the Flagrant Vandals therefore continued to pile up. If they weren't able to raid the the wealth-laden surface of Detemen IV very soon, the mech regiment would certainly succumb under all of the debt it accrued. "Without the support of the Mech Corps, the Vandals judge every action according to how much money they would gain or lose." It was an awful way to run a mech regiment because it led to overly mercenary decision making. What was best for the Flagrant Vandals might not be best for the Mech Corps and the Bright Republic. Ves had seen plenty of the Vandals to know that they wouldn't lose much sleep if they worked against the Republic's interests. The key figure here was Colonel Lowenfield. From what he heard, Lowenfield pulled the Vandals from the depths of despair by using her extensive administrative acumen to clean up their finances. Still, she could do only so much, hence the need for the attack on a fat sheep like the Detemen System. "The Vesian defenders are pulling back!" Emboldened by the sudden decrease in enemy fire aimed in their direction, the Inheritors boldly dove at the rifleman mechs over and over again. They leveraged their speed to the highest order and completely threw the defenders in disarray with their maniacal upfront passes. Under these circumstances, the casualties of the defenders rapidly piled up while the Inheritors lost less and less mechs with each pass. Eventually, the Vesian mechs broke and abandoned the outer wall. They contracted their lines and congregated at a smaller but more defensible inner wall. The Inheritors pulled back into the sky while the landbound mechs slowly climbed over the outer walls and made their way to the inner walls. At this point, Ves pretty much considered the battle to be over. The ballistic rifleman mechs already expended most of their ammunition by now, and the laser rifleman mechs lost too many of their number to pose a serious threat to the Vandals. Everyone in the command center loosened their shoulders. Even Major Verle started to sit back in his chair. As long as the Vesians holed up in the inner sanctum of the lunar fortress didn't spring them a surprise, the moon was as good as conquered. "How is the assault on the research base progressing?" Major Verle turned to another officer who had been tasked with taking care of the third moon. "Sir, we have been forced to halt our mech deployment when we detected signs of heightened mech activity." Verle frowned. "What have you detected?" "Resonance." Everyone briefly paused when they heard that word. Resonance could be detected at a fair distance under certain circumstances. Anytime a sensor detected resonance, a lot of other sensors would point their arrays in the direction in question. "Is it confirmed?" "It's confirmed, sir. The Vesian researchers aren't being circumspect about it. They're actively flaunting it as if to warn us back. In response, I aborted the drop lest we risk our combat carriers." "You made the right decision." The Vandals only allocated two companies to assault the research base, which should have been enough to overrun most bases of that size. As their ships orbited closer and closer to the moon, their scanners detected even less active mechs than projected. It should have been a cakewalk to take over the research base, but the presence of a resonating mech threw all of their projections out the window. A heavy weight descended on the command center. "Strength?" "Thirteen laveres." Some of the specialists let out a sigh. The resonance wasn't as strong as everyone feared. Ves incidentally learned a lot about resonance through the System, so he knew the significance of detecting a strength of 13 laveres. One of the early pioneers of mech design came up with a standardized scale of measurement to determine the strength of resonance between an elite mech pilot and a mech that was geared for resonance. Master Lavere named his own scale after himself, and for some reason the entire mech industry accepted it over other proposed measurement units. In a nutshell, a lavere measured the overall amplifying strength of resonance at a scale of 1 to 10,000. An expert pilot that barely ascended into the ranks of the elites would measure just slightly above 1. A newly ascended ace pilot possessed could exert at least 67 laveres of resonance. God pilots started out with a whopping amount of 1545, and was theoretically able to flex their ability to resonate with mechs until they reached the arbitrary number 10,000. What happened after that, nobody knew, because no god pilot ever lived to grow to such a monstrous level. The exact mathematics behind the lavere scale was very complicated. The scale wasn't linear, so an expert mech that measured 20 laveres wasn't stronger than another expert mech that reached a level of resonance of only 10 laveres. Nevertheless, the suspected expert mech within the research base could still inflict a massive amount of damage to the invading Vandal force with only 13 laveres of strength. Naturally, this depended heavily on the type and weight class of the expert's mech, but regardless of its form, no expert should be underestimated. After a moment of consideration, Major Verle came to a momentous decision. "Put Venerable Rix O'Callahan on standby." "Acknowledged, sir." A moment passed before a communication channel forcibly opened up to the command center. "Verle!" An irascible voice exploded. "I'm not going out!" Everyone turned a little glum. Ves looked around a bit cluelessly until he started to get it. "This old man's voice…" Was this Venerable O'Callahan?" "Venerable, please. We have encountered signs of another expert, so we have no choice but to call for your services." "Bah! I heard what's going on! A brat that can't resonate beyond thirteen laveres is not worth my time! Go pile up on him with a couple of hundred mechs and leave me alone!" Major Verle looked like he wanted to explode, but he successfully kept himself from lashing out. He swiped his hand at an angle, causing a minor interference field to deploy that blocked their conversation. Ves wouldn't be able to eavesdrop any further. "Is Venerable O'Callahan our expert pilot, sir?" "For better or worse." Alloc sighed next to Ves. "The man's on the wane. He used to be a hotshot expert in the wars before, but age eventually takes its toll. He lashed out at the Republic for refusing to provide him with age-prolonging treatments. Ever since then, he assumed position as one of our resident expert pilots." "Why isn't the Venerable trying his luck with the Coalition if he's so desperate to prolong his life?" Alloc shook his head in pity. "Oh, he tried. He only spent two years bouncing from partner to partner until they all got fed up with him and chucked him back to our embrace." Practically everyone worshipped expert pilots, so Ves found it strange that the Vandals regarded him with such indifference. It was yet another quirk to add to the list of oddities. A few minutes passed by as Major Verle negotiated with Venerable O'Callahan. Ves and Alloc awkwardly sat at their seats. They didn't have much to do since the battle at the second moon was pretty much over while the battle at the third moon hadn't started yet. The research base kept everything under wraps besides revealing the fact that they possessed an expert mech. Ves didn't know why they revealed one of their trump cards right off the bat. Shouldn't they have kept it hidden until the Vandals wandered into their trap? They could have killed a lot of Vandals with such a trick. When Ves posed the question to Alloc, the Journeyman smiled ruefully at him. "Don't you see that we have military superiority? If the research base is staffed by loyal fanatics, sure they would want to wipe out as much of our numbers as possible. That they chose to forgo that choice shows that they are cowards who value their lives over any possible damage they can inflict on us. Revealing their expert mech up front is supposed to serve as a deterrent." "Aren't the Vesians supposed to be motivated to die for the cause? Why are they acting so timidly?" "You mistake their mech pilots for the rest of their society. Every mech pilot in the Mech Legion is willing to go to any extremes to earn a lot of merits in battle because if there is one thing the Vesia Kingdom is good at, it's with rewarding the families of their fallen. They know that they can die in peace, knowing that their spouses will be taken care of and their children would be able to enter exclusive academies. In some extraordinary cases, their children may even be elevated to knight or baron to reward instances of exceptional valor." In other words, it wasn't as if the Vesian mech pilots fought for an abstract cause. They fought for the same goals as any human, to better their lives and the lives of their families. This motivating force was largely lost when it came to rearguard units and those that worked in a non-military capacity. Whoever called the shots at the research base did not wish to die in vain. The interference field suddenly dropped. Major Verle glowered and gnashed his teeth as the comm channel closed by itself. "Recall orders to ready Venerable O'Callahan. The honorable expert pilot is… not feeling well enough to sortie." Ves sat stunned as the rest of the Vandals accepted that sorry excuse. Although expert pilots enjoyed an elevated status in the Mech Corps, they had not reached the point where they could outright refuse a direct order from a superior. This was the first time he had witnessed such an event.