The Mech Touch Chapter 546
547 Desperate Mob
The Vesians lost over forty mechs, which was more than enough to cause any commander to disengage their attack run. Not so for the commanding officer of the Frosty Meteors. Their mech doctrine emphasized an attitude of committing to an attack. No matter how many mechs they lost, they wouldn't break and scatter.
Because they were the Frosty Meteors. Billions of Vesian citizens looked up to them. They upheld their creed of getting hit but hitting back harder. In no way should any mech pilot of the Meteors falter before they reached their targets. Their myths said nothing about abortive attacks.
Still, the Flagrant Vandals made it harder for them to reach the stranded enemy vessels intact. Venerable O'Callahan picked off several mechs of the Frosty Meteors with disturbing regularity.
In front of the Parallax Star, no amount of armor could save a mech from doom. The famed heavy armor of the Frosty Meteors turned from asset into a liability.
The Caca Similas, their rifleman mechs, their Rwindo Secundus, their medium space knight, and their Charix Magansus, their medium lancer mech, all benefited from some of the finest mass-produced compressed armor from Venidse.
The benefits all of this armor brought to the Frosty Meteors enabled them to excel in frontal clashes.
However, getting pelted from all sides by the Flagrant Vandals was a whole different beast. Besides the unstoppable attack runs from the Parallax Star, the rest of the Vandals proved their mettle as well. The copies of the Caca Similas barely endured the focus fire from the harassasing Vandal mechs. Due to the low firing rate of their heavy ballistic rifles, the Caca Similas mechs barely managed to land a hit on the agile Vandal mechs.
However, any Vandal mech that did managed to get hit often went down for the count. Even a single hit was sufficient to disrupt them, leaving them open to follow-up attacks that instantly wrecked the disoriented mechs.
Vesians and Brighters screamed in fury as they let the battle consume their fears. None of them held back from doing their best in the battle. Every now and then a mech of the Frosty Meteors or the Flagrant Vandals spun out of formation with debris expanding from the wreckage like a cloud.
Sometimes, cockpits ejected in time, and these would navigate back to the safety of the combat carriers. Other times, the cockpits hadn't escaped in time, and their occupants suffered the fate of those who died in space, with their piloting suits breached and their bodies broken, frozen and decompressed.
The entire battle showcased the determination of both sides. Two different mech doctrines clashed against each other in a brutal confrontation. While it appeared the Flagrant Vandals held a decisive advantage with the help of their expert pilot, in fact they were running out of time!
They couldn't pick off the mechs of the Meteors fast enough!
Back at the command center, everyone who hadn't changed into their hazard suits had already done so. With the Frosty Meteors reaching the ships of the Vandals in just a couple more minutes, the odds of sustaining heavy damage was high.
Nobody could be sure how many ships would be left after this battle.
Ves worked frantically to discover any weak points in the Meteor mechs, yet nothing stood out that was worth focusing on except for their flight systems, and even those had been clad with armor.
"We're all out of cards." He sighed. "Even though we're downing the Meteor mechs by the dozens, we don't have much time left."
Iris placed her armored gauntlet over his own. Their suit armor clanked as they collided against each other. "You're wrong. We haven't put in everything in the battle. There is still one more decision that the Vandals can make."
She looked onwards to Major Verle, who seemed to struggle with an invisible dilemma behind his helmet's faceplate.
Eventually, the commanding officer gave the fateful orders. "Go all in. No holding back."
Those words set off a chain reaction as the captains of the different mech companies in the field received orders to switch up their tactics. Instead of using their superior mobility to peck at the edges of the Frosty Meteor formation, they had been ordered to commit to a charge!
The Inheritors took the lead. As the lightest, fastest and most expendable mechs of the Vandals, their pilots had become accustomed to their role as cannon fodder. They all spiralled towards the hedgehog-like formation of the Frosty Meteors.
In this, their excellent acceleration and agility preserved most of their mechs. The heavy ballistic rifles of the Caca Similas mechs fared poorly against such agile targets. It was as if they attempted to shoot a cannon against an annoying fly that flitted around them with zippy wings.
Once or twice, the rifleman mechs took out an Inheritor, but the Vandal mechs came as a swarm. It didn't take long for the Vandal mechs to reach their formation, and that was when hell broke loose.
The Inheritors couldn't penetrate the Meteor's formation. All the melee mechs formed into a ball with their weapons and shields directed outwards. The ranged mechs hid safely inside as they shot their weapons through the gaps of the formations.
The light skirmishers instead turned into a nuisance. They harassed the melee mechs and baited them into making a fruitless attack. Very few Inheritors sustained any damage because they always managed to dodge long before the sluggish mechs finished swinging their weapons.
A short time later, the real attack arrived.
The Inheritor mechs at the rear of the charging Meteor formation dispersed just in time for a substantial volleys of missiles to crash against the hefty mechs. Their defensive formation held up against the explosions, but solid spikes of giant nails followed soon after. The kinetic energy behind the nails further unbalanced their defensive posture.
The Hellcats themselves arrived soon after. The hybrid mechs had been designed for shock attacks, and right now they attempted to pull one off against mechs that could arguably do much better!
The results turned out to be rather mixed. The Vandals had taken the initiative, and they somewhat succeeded in unbalancing some of the Meteor mechs.
Unfortunately, the Meteor mechs had been built to withstand much worse. Virtually none of their mechs suffered any damage from the collision. Instead, the Hellcats arguably suffered substantially worse. The hybrid knight design fell short compared to the Kenas Oliphant and the Rwindo Secundus.
Both models of pure knight mechs viciously counterattacked against the Hellcats. Several precious Hellcat mechs went down from the combined attacks of the enemy knights and other mechs.
"Vandals! Fight until there is nobody left!"
Salvation arrived when the rest of the Vandal mechs came close. The ranged mechs kept a fair distance from the melee and pressured the Meteors from the flanks, well away from any angle that increased the odds of friendly fire.
The ranged mechs only served to pin some of the Meteors down, particularly their ranged mechs. The true threat to the Meteors consisted of the Hellcat and the other melee mechs of the Vandals!
With numbers on their side, the Vandal mechs attempted to gang up on the Meteor mechs and attempted to drown them in mechs! Any knight mech could ignore a single enemy mech in its face, but two would be stretching its defensive capabilities.
Three mechs at a time posed a substantial threat to its continued operation. Right now, this happened on a large scale as the Vandal melee mechs attempted to pry open their hardy shells with countless hands!
The mobbing tactic lacked the grace and forethought of the other tactics and formations that the Vandals demonstrated so far. Ves winced as he saw the casualty numbers pile up. Fighting the Frosty Meteors in formation was almost as futile as barbarians storming a Roman shield wall.
It was a good thing that the Vandals made a lot of progress. Many Meteor mechs fell out of formation as the flood of Vandal mechs overwhelmed their capacity to defend!
Employing huge crowds of mechs against a disciplined enemy was usually folly, but Major Verle proceeded anyway because they didn't have any choice! The Vandals could only trust in their numbers!
The dense collection of mechs made it difficult for anyone to judge how the battle progressed. However, Ves started to notice an encouraging pattern. The Vandal mob succeeded in destabilizing the defensive formation of their opponents. With so many enemy mechs crowding against them, they started to suffer unnecessary losses.
Each mech that fell diminished their numbers. They went from a hundred mechs to eighty mechs in quick succession, and their numbers declined even more now that the Vandals exploited the openings.
The only problem was that the Meteors retained much of their heavy mechs! If necessary, the Meteors wouldn't hesitate to abandon their medium mechs as long as their heavy mechs pushed through!
"We're making progress!"
The Parallax Star dove in for another attack run. Any Vandal mech in the way quickly disengaged from the brawl and and an opening for the Venerable to feast!
The energy field around the Parallax Star might have become a bit more frayed, but the Venerable still held on as if he bore the weight of the galaxy!
Surprisingly, he refocused his attack towards the heavy mechs! His spent a little more time circling around for this attack run, and it showed as his glowing mech plowed through a Kenas Oliphant, a Caca Similas and heavy cannoneer!
"Two enemy heavy mechs are incapacitated!"
Still, seven more heavy mechs remained! This time, the Parallax Star couldn't afford to dilly-dally with building up its momentum any longer. By the time it had readied its next attack run, the Frosty Meteors would have annihilated the vulnerable Vandal combat carriers.
The only choice was to join the mob!
"The Parallax Star has discarded its lance for its shortspear!"
Ves winced again. That lance was made out of an expensive mix of medium-grade exotics laced with trace amounts of high-grade exotics. Venerable O'Callahan just threw away a lance worth more than a billion credits!
He couldn't help but pass on a low-priority order to the queue. "Someone retrieve the Parallax Star's lance! Don't let it drift away in space!"
To his vast relief, a heavily damaged Inheritor mech that lost its entire right shoulder and arm had disengaged from the melee and chased after the lance.
O'Callahan deliberately halted his most effective attack in favor of helping the Vandals tear apart the remaining heavy mechs. The Kenas Oliphants remained the most acute threat to the Vandals. Once those heavy space knights fell out of the picture, the rest of the Frosty Meteors should be easy pickings.
With a guttural war cry the old man dove into the fray. Vandal mechs willingly made way for the expert mech as it charged towards the nearest heavy space knight. The Oliphant mech held up its tattered tower shield in an attempt to block the Parallax Star's diminished charge.
"Just because I like to charge doesn't mean I only know how to attack from one direction!"
The Parallax Star may have been designed for its powerful charges, but it possessed enough agility to slide around the Oliphant, dodge its slow but powerful sword slash, and stab the heavy mech in its rear.
Though the spear stab didn't have much power behind it, a casual blow from an expert mech couldn't be underestimated! With a light whiff of resonance, the spear successfully punched through the Oliphant's rear armor and damaged something vital!
The Oliphant wasn't down for the count yet due to its high redundancy factor, but other Vandals already started to kick the weakened mech now that it was down.
Venerable O'Callahan already shifted his attention to another Oliphant. Time was running out and all of the heavy mechs needed to be taken down!
"Heavy mechs or not, none of you can stand against my spear!"